Lynette Esposito

Death in the Living Room December 25

suicide is always questionable
like his angelic face as he lay there relieved
of all his duties.
relaxed finally…
black liquid wings feathering through the wound,
flightless arms flung out

His eyes suck me in and hold my vision
like finished art,
a watercolor painted
with blood.

Jan 22 2016

you gain a name when you are saved
like the cow that ran for freedom in Queens New York
on January 22,2016
fleeing the slaughter house with nowhere to go…
still. it
took hoof and blindly ran the streets.

I was devastated she was caught and brought back to death…

Then, my daughter called…the bells tolled but
not for Freddie….he was saved by hands who could and did
reach out and touch that beast with kindness
oh that God would do same for me.

Jonel Abellanosa


On my way to the clinic
sunlight kills me softly
like the popular song,
its tongue warm to my skin,

No one is more out of touch
than the sanctioned shaman
with the stethoscope.
Touch isn’t his aim.
My presence reflects
his prescription pad’s
white space


Bloodwork like water
reflects, my lies to myself
taking health for granted
for decades. Flow through
my ribcage finds my eyes.
I remember the garden, circle
of concrete that holds decades-old
water. I hear the rain, frogs.
Staring at lab results
I pry the scab in my toe.
It blooms a red lotus.
The tear lengthens.
I used to pull my foot up,
meet it halfway to smell
the wound’s caramel
but my spine now says no.
The mirror and me
we reflect like kidneys

David Magill

The Calamity of Lament

Light blue flowers are scattered
along the base of the hill.
I can’t name them but I know I have seen them before.
The ridge above me is lined with maples
and the sunlight bends through their leaves,
casting the day’s last light on the grass below.
I close my eyes
and see the death of my father
through the fog of a future wish.
Raccoons feed on his body
near the banks of a lake that was once three rivers.
It is not grotesque or unnerving.

If I knew
if I opened my eyes and knew
I would walk up the driveway
and into the trailer to stand in front of him.
“Your luck has run out.” I would say.
He would be in his bed,
the sheet pulled
all the way past his head.
He would turn his head toward me
from under the sheet
making me flinch.
I would turn and walk
out of the trailer, back down the driveway
to the road below.
The raccoons would be gone,
only bones under a thin moon.
I would feign a magnificent smile,
my teeth crumbling in my mouth.
I would look away and up,
understanding the sun.
It will burn holes in you if you let it.

There is no luck in this world.
Only God and His decisions
on cruelty or kindness.
I’m not sure what
has decided, yet.
We are all just waiting for
to make up

This is what lives under the rot of memory.
The black moss on a wooden dock.
The calamity of lament.

Some People See Them

I broke a knuckle crossing my fingers,
waiting for my luck to suit up
and set the red carpet on fire.
Lucky turned into “Hey, I’m
alive.” and I buried all the tricks
and signs and checkered thoughts
right along with the gimmicks, somewhere
safe, where I would not be tempted to look.
Today I stumbled across them, in an X-ray
folder, Dr. Somebody
said there was nothing in them
but I saw them
taking a bow;
the rabbit’s foot
the clover with all four,
a cross, slightly bent
three magic beans
my grandfather’s photo
an unreadable poem
two shots of Bushmill’s finest
an old necklace
from a woman who squeezed my heart flat and flung it skyward
a black Bible
a brown snarl of hair
from a white horse
and a crystal ball
with praying hands
that were creased from neglect
and bathed
I will not claim them.
They have served a higher

Ben Nardolilli

All the Features You Love Plus More

Mrs. Doris Hussein (no relation) doesn’t know me
And I don’t know her, but it seems
We have been thrown together in a kinda of strange
Zany comedy of errors and strangers,
I won’t lie, it’s good to meet new people,
Make new contacts, and try to be of help to someone

I guess this is more of a black comedy,
Because the reason she’s reaching out to me is cancer,
No, not her sign, but her symptoms,
She wants to get my attention to help her set things up,
A trust in her name with me in charge,
This could be the beginning of a beautiful premise

Convention Outline

The program directors reflect on what they’ve learned
And the paths going forward from here,
There’s the Chicago commitment and looking at the forest,
Followed by a detailed and lengthy solutions seminar
That discusses why cooperation with China is critical on security

Before lunch, get ready to listen to a speech on criminal justice,
And how local police forces are forging
A new path on racial equity (not just equality) there,
During lunch, (you thought you could escape?)
You’ll hear about the impact of investments on enterprise

Level on down to the breakout sessions, for experts
In small rooms who will regale you all with tales of the media,
Such as how to challenge the master narrative,
Support creative collaborations, or facing up to challenges
Of the nuclear variety in the decade that awaits us

Back in the main room for cocktails and the last round
For presentations from our final experts, saving the best for you,
Learn about Nigeria and taking stock of accountability there,
Before listening to the rants of Benjamin Nardolilli,
Who will tell us we’re all doomed, hopelessly, hopelessly doomed

Solo Shows

An old man in an old painting is looking straight at me
with oily eyes that seem to judge
my oily skin getting too close to the red silken furniture
he once owned before departing the earth in spirit
and leaving this image of his former body on the wall

I hate to think I’m being disrespectful, should I honor
him and leave the room immediately?
A violation of sorts probably occurred when I walked in
with wineglass and cheese cubes in my palms,
on the other hand, I’ve done worse things in here before

Jason Melvin

Motherfuckin’ Murder Hornets

crisp air creeping through the windows
sun blazing on a cloudless morning
an invitation I can’t refuse
grab a novel pen and notebook
hoodie the dog and hit the porch
attending to the bird music pen in hand
staring at the landscape stones
bulbs planted that haven’t yet bloomed
inspiration there somewhere

the buzz so loud so close
I’m afraid to turn my head this
is not the sound of an everyday bumblebee
A goddamn motherfuckin’ murder hornet
white knuckles clenching the sides of my notebook
the buzz gets louder closer
synapses popping the impending drama plays out:
a two-handed swing connecting full force
large insect body flinging off the notebook
Crashing into the front of the brick house
Slumping to the cold porch cement
Convulsing shuddering then nothing
the dog comes to sniff the corpse
Whose murdered now? Bitch!

I’m ready a covert glance to get the
trajectory of my swing just right

Wings almost invisible rapidly rotating
little body perfectly still suspended
needle beak mere inches from my face
tiny head twitching studying
curiosity streaming in both directions
a quick nod whirls and zips away
back to the bush from whence it came
so beautiful simple peaceful

What if I hadn’t looked? What if fear dictated
a wild and blind swing? The slideshow plays:
it’s feathered body quivering on the cold slab porch
tiny beak snapped broken kazoo sounds emanating
disapprovingly the dog growls and snaps at me
I look to the heavens asking why?

I nearly murdered an illustrious hummingbird
this is why I shouldn’t watch the evening news

Ian Copestick

It’s Hard To Stay Happy

It’s hard to stay
happy when misery
is all around you.
Everywhere I go, there
is illness and pain.
Poverty, depression,
and desperation.
Happiness is almost
an unknown quality,
and there’s no quantity
of it, as far as I can
see. Some people, it
seems that they would
rather stab you than
smile at you. Every
single word is spoken
in a whining whinge.
Their only topic of
conversation is how
unfair life has been to
them. They live in the
first world, they are
neither hungry, nor
homeless. Yet they’ve
suffered more than any
other person in history.
As I say;
It’s hard to stay happy,
but I’ll never get as low
as that.
Just 5 minutes after
escaping from them, I
feel lighter than air.
I feel like dancing, a
huge smile on my
happy, happy face.

Thomas Zimmerman

Nightmare Sonnet #15

You’re driving home in icy moonlight, straddling
that flat roadkill skunk below your moaning
tires, lapping mulled guilt oozing from
the cleft your marriage makes between your eyes.

Pale girlfriends curse within your house’s walls
and gnaw the nails on which your artworks hang
like weapons. When your rub your demon lover’s
scars, she rolls her Rs, and your reflection

bobs, a shrunken head in her saliva-
slicked incisors. Then it’s kiss, kiss, kiss,
your torsos grinding, hot gears misaligned

and belching putrid smoke—just like the stars
tonight. The blind mad god that built the engine
of the world is giggling at its wreckage.

can do

memory of a cartoon caption

hung-over morning
you sprayed paint in your armpits

then tried to deface a public monument
with a can of antiperspirant

Warm Ghosts

Star-crossed, cross-gartered, thinking hard about
dead bards. There’s music on and coffee left:
my dendrites and my synapses spark stout
as fuses treble-twined. My daydreams heft
the borrowed stories hammered into forms
beguiling and sublime: of villain, fool,
and queen; of women bucking culture’s norms;
young lovers reuniting; kings’ misrule;
heroic ambiguities. Hot blood,
cold tears commingle, pool to flood the worn
boards of my psyche. Words, words, words: the thud
of charged and fractured hearts; I’m healed, then torn,
then whole, then wounded fresh again. We’re just
warm ghosts: the verse might live; the rest is dust.

J.J. Campbell

nothing to see

on the highway from
ohio to indiana

nothing to see as usual

and they wonder why

so many of us do drugs


wished for your death

picture a sunny
day in late july

your father never
loved you and
wished for your
death since the
late 70’s

you swear you’re
going to visit his
grave one of these

maybe to even do
something other
than pissing on it

Emalisa Rose

how to impress the editors

i read a poem about a woman
dunking her hibiscus tea bag
in her steamed hot water as she
stewed about her cheating husband

and there’s one about making paella
and burning the frying pan heirloom
the poet’s dead grannie willed to her

and the ones about the unrest, the
rape of Gaia and the atrocities in
countries i can’t quite pronounce

i write like me..sometimes it sucks..
sometimes it lands

my old hippie friend told me to write
more ‘fuck poetry’ from when i was a
wayward slut shuffling my body downtown

i told him to leave me alone with the clouds
and the sky and the sea…it’s safer that way.

Jeffrey Zable


Okay so I made it to another birthday. This one a Covid

birthday. Let us celebrate with imaginary cake, ice cream,

and a dancing monkey who hands out balloons. Blow them

up and send them out into the world, and as you run barefoot

through the field, you may kiss the dead bodies along the way,

but please do not take anything out of their pockets as that is

reserved for loved ones and former teachers, all of whom

will be along soon with the test results to determine whether

you’re a candidate for enlightenment or whether it will mean

a life at McDonalds, eating regular meals of burgers and fries,

and becoming a regular fat person you’d meet on any given street…

                      NOT FOR ME TO JUDGE

This isn’t an immortal poem, but then I’m not an immortal guy.

Of course, I’m somewhere in-between immortal and a slug

crawling along on a warm day looking for a mate or something

to eat. Beyond this, I must say that if I had to do it over again

I’d prefer to do it as a lion, a killer whale, or a grizzly bear—

an animal that has no natural predators– which would allow

me to lounge around all day in my favorite chair and take in

the action, not all of which would be pleasant to watch, but

I’d just tell myself it’s all part of life, and not for me

to judge.

                 YOU JUST NEVER KNOW

First off. . . thank you for acknowledging that it took

courage for me not to commit suicide today even though

today was no different than most other days, except that

I was particularly bored, depressed, and while watching

television I wanted to slap many of the people, or have sex

with the pretty women who I’m sure would have rejected

me because of my age. They might even have rejected me

because I don’t have a lot of money. Anyway, I’m neither

glad nor sad that I didn’t commit suicide, but as I’ve said

before, “There’s always tomorrow, and given that I’ve

considered suicide off and on throughout my life, you just

never know. . .”