Friday, July 20, 2018

Poems I Admire #53

Nick Norwood

Remember that first time
you let yourself in – 
stunned by the sheer
silence of it all,

the sunlight blooming
on mute, blank-faced
walls. And how you
stormed, then,

from room to room
blistering furniture
and framed photos with your
hollering, commanding

the sunlight to go away
go away go away
because you wanted
to be alone.

Remember how you
yelled yourself
dizzy – exhilarated
and scared.

And how you
eventually dropped
into a chair
and watched

the sunlight
creep silently across
floors, up walls,
and let itself out.

2018 Pushcart
First appeared in The Greensboro Review

Poet Nick Norwoodis a professor of creative writing at Columbus State University and the director of the Carson McCullers Center for Writers and Musicians in Columbus, Georgia, and Nyack, New York. His poems have appeared widely in a number of national and international literary journals, online sites, and public broadcasts—The Paris Review, Southwest Review, Western Humanities Review, Southwestern American Literature, The Wallace Stevens Journal, Shenandoah, Southern Poetry Review, Pleiades, Ekphrasis, Poetry Daily, The New Ohio Review, Five Points, The Oxford American, The Greensboro Review, The South Carolina Review, New South, storySouth, Atlanta Review, This Land, the PBS NewsHour site Art Beat, U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser’s syndicated column American Life in Poetry, on NPR’s Writer’s Almanacwith Garrison Keillor, and many others.

Friday, July 13, 2018

The Struggle Is Real

And Gravity’s a son of a bitch.
In fact, The Struggle and Gravity

are Bad Luck and Trouble’s bastard
twins – the result of a sultry summer

liaison on that beach near Guadalajara
where they shared more than a pitcher

of margaritas one afternoon and ended
up panting together under the very same

ceiling fan. Hell, yes, The Struggle is real – 
real as the way either More or Less gets old

as tossing and turning inside twisted sheets
while Recurring Secret Dream takes its time

sucking off all the breath you’ll ever have.
Imagination’s real, too. How else could it

bury you beneath the way it makes Every Day
a viscous plod of going nowhere at the speed

of Refrigerator Light? But The Struggle? Well,
it’s reality not checked at the door, reality twice

warmed over, reality heavy as Gravity on a bender
halfway between Pretty Damned Good and Gone.

First appeared in Avatar Review

Friday, July 6, 2018

Galleywinter #7 - Ricki Mandeville

Bedtime Stories

Propped high in my narrow bed
I’d read them to myself, sometimes in whispers,
in the glow of my Cinderella lamp
that warmed the walls and blurred the shadows. 
I turned pages while outside the window 
the sky brewed mystery, as it does tonight 
behind the burned-out streetlamp: 
drifts of cloud that wisp across the moon 
exposing here and there scatters of stars 
like careless tosses of salt.

On spring nights, the breeze dragged lilac blooms 
across the window screen, scenting my room, 
where heroines lived lifetimes as the clock ticked 
toward midnight and past midnight,
and no one came to open my door 
or tell me to put out the light.
In winter, beneath my chenille spread,
I was a sun-scorched castaway,
lonely and fierce, lost until dawn 
outlined the neighbor’s roof.

It is winter now, my toes icy, the lamp dark,
book untouched on the nightstand.
The story in my head ticks on 
toward midnight and past midnight. 
In the darkness, I write and rewrite it: 
the bizarre plot twists, the stunning climax—
my happy ending a fingertip away.

Ricki Mandeville is a four-time Pushcart Prize nominee and has had poetry published in Comstock Review, San Pedro River Review, Gravel, Penumbra, Hartskill Review, Front Porch Review, Texas Poetry Calendar and other publications. She lives and writes near the ocean in Huntington Beach, CA. She is the author of "A Thin Strand of Lights" and two chapbooks.

Friday, June 29, 2018

There's No Quiet in Her Silence

unless you consider the wail
of a glacier as it splits down
the middle under the shimmer
of Aurora Borealis, the crack
of lightning striking the crook
of a branch so thick it creaks
and crackles on its slow fall
to the ground it immediately
begins to burn, or the groan
of ice crystals as they shove
a pebble from a mountainside
and the stampede of boulders
that roar against its absence
as sounds so soft they fade
like the hush of exhausted lovers –
lingering and panting in the dark.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Like Cold Wringing Water from Air

That’s how lungs become frostbitten
balloons of rigid suffocation,

how skin blues around bones
brittle as a lake’s last sheet,

how blinking hurts
against the forever-dark

of a wintertime working
to turn the heat of tears frigid

as wind-burned scars of icy need,
how I long to know your warmth.

First appeared in the Homestead Review

Friday, June 15, 2018

Poems I Admire #52

The Blind Woman Dictates a Poem to Her Love

I used to know how you looked:
strong arms, wrists like a deckhand
on trawlers, your nets reaping tons
from the sea. Arms that could go ten
rounds with anyone in the ring – 
you still have the belts and trophies.

The back of your neck dark red
from the sun. No hat could protect you,
only a hooded parka in snow, when your thighs
became tough as telephone poles
in Texas, relentless and intense
against twisters and hail.

The white of your covered and protected
torso. Narrow-waisted, ribbed from sit-ups
you do each night, the arrow of light brown
hair guiding me to another place I love,
the fiery part of you – the reason I learned
to always leave the lights on with you.

And your kind face. No words to describe
the ruddy intelligence brooding
behind thoughtful eyes the color of seaglass,
if collected from glaciers, white-blue and bold
as they showed without doubt how much
I was loved, no matter the amount we debated.

I can still hear your sit-ups, your counts as they
get short of breath and then breathless. Of course
I can feel your arms around me, hear your whispers
stroke my many insecurities. But the lights – absent
as color on a moonless night. How frost hides
the beauty of a mountain stream, so much is lost.

First appeared in Coe Review

Tobi Alfier is a multiple Pushcart nominee and multiple Best of the Net nominee. Her chapbook “Down Anstruther Way” (Scotland poems) was published by FutureCycle Press. Her full-length collection “Somewhere, Anywhere, Doesn’t Matter Where” is recently out from Kelsay Books. She is co-editor of San Pedro River Review (

Friday, June 8, 2018

Tracking Lovers on the Shore

I squat, squint. They’re barefoot,
married with two young sons.
She is pregnant with another.

They don’t yet know.
I slide my index finger
along the outer edges

of their soggy indentations.
She will fear another miscarriage.
He will fix the hot-water heater.

Tasting the gritty residue
with the tip of my tongue,
I know they are not moving away

from her parents, after all.
He has declined the promotion.
The arc of their path tells me

they spent all last night
reminding themselves of each other
to the steady rhythm of coming-

gray breakers.
I look behind, watch

their footprints begin to vanish
beneath the now rising tide
like forgiveness.

I move forward.
Step into their steps.
Think I can do this forever.

First appeared in the Homestead Review

Friday, June 1, 2018

Galleywinter #6 - Paul Hostovsky

Spectacular View

His life was this spectacular view 
that he’d stumbled onto in his early twenties, 
a feeling like falling in love every time he came home to it, 
just standing there without taking off his coat
and taking it in with a kind of dumb 
gratitude and awe, this breathtaking 
feeling of undeserved and unheard-of 
happiness stretching out like a horizon, 
the warm southern aspect welcoming him home 
like a lover’s eyes meeting his 
every time he walked through the door.
And this spectacular view
was his life and his life was this view. 
But then somehow, slowly, 
unaccountably, unforgivably, 
he got used to the view. He grew 
accustomed to the unaccustomed beauty
and luck of his own life. He walked through the door 
and didn’t see it anymore. He didn’t even look. 
He threw off his coat, threw down his keys and his phone
and headed straight into the kitchen 
for another beer. The view at the window 
had become just another wall 
in a life full of walls. It was a kind of blindness,
what they call facial blindness--
he could no longer recognize the faces 
of any of his own angels. It was also a kind of 
defenestration--he had thrown the spectacular view from a window
out the window. So it was a kind of death,
though no one actually died, and life went on like that
bleakly, and blindly, and for a very long time.

Paul Hostovsky’s poems have been featured on Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, The Writer’s Almanac, and Best of the Net. He has been published in Poetry, Passages North, Carolina Quarterly, Shenandoah, New Delta Review, Bellevue Literary Review, Poetry East, The Sun, and many other journals and anthologies. He has won a Pushcart Prize, the Comstock Review's Muriel Craft Bailey Award, and poetry chapbook contests from Grayson Books, Riverstone Press, Frank Cat Press, Split Oak Press, and Sport Literate. He has nine full-length collections of poetry, Sonnets from South Mountain (2001), Bending the Notes(2008), Dear Truth (2009), A Little in Love a Lot (2011), Hurt Into Beauty (2012), Naming Names (2013), Selected Poems (2014), The Bad Guys (2015), and Is That What That Is (2017). He makes his living in Boston as a sign language interpreter at the Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

Read Paul's poem in Poetry (click here) 

Here is a link to Paul's latest book (click here)

Friday, May 25, 2018

Dear Ruth

for R. B.

I am thinking of you upon the passing of your Leif.
As I write these words, I recall your instruction:
never euphemize death. So let me start over.

Dear Ruth, I am thinking of you upon Leif’s death.
I am also thinking of the pronunciation of Leif’s
name and of its irony. I am thinking I’m certain

that you, too, have considered this irony and won’t
hold it against me – the way my thoughts about you
and your wondering What now? turned immediately,

simultaneously, to poetry and how you are teaching
me to write it. I am sorry Leif is dead. I am also sorry
that I await the poems his death will inspire in you.

First appeared in Literary Orphans

Friday, May 18, 2018

Poems I Admire #51

On the Seventh Day

When God is leaning back, 
all full of himself, and resting 
on his laurels, I get up early, 
go to my desk and try to take 
his place, fill a few blank pages, 
create my own world. Maybe 
Monk’s Bright Mississippi 
or Ahmad Jamal plays 
in the background 
as the characters doo wop 
and stutter weave, in 
and out, between, the lines 
a twenty-one year old 
autistic boy, learning 
to be on his own, bites 
his wrist and slams 
his head on the floor 
and still can’t tell me why, 
my mom calls and we hardly 
ever have much to say 
except a cousin I never met 
died of cancer yesterday, 
a day before his 30th birthday, 
and she wants me to buy a card, 
write a hundred dollar check 
to help pay for the plot, and yes 
my heart is still slowly healing 
from this summer’s surgery 
and the load of loneliness 
that has always surrounded me 
feels heavier as I struggle 
to imagine what a good day 
could ever be like again. 
And when I take a breath 
step out of my head, 
I read about one more 
young black man, his hair 
freshly braided, walking 
down another unlit 
stairway with his girlfriend 
in Brooklyn’s Pink Houses 
as a rookie cop patrols 
the hallway toward him, 
his gun unholstered, and opens 
a door. I want to go back 
to my desk and pretend 
I’m God so I can write 
how the bullet whizzes 
past, ricochets harmlessly 
to the floor since God 
chose to sit idly by, act 
like he had little to do 
with any of it, content to speak 
through some Sunday morning 
preacher about a better place, 
that the lord never gives more 
than his children can bear, 
how we will one day understand 
his master plan when just once 
I want God to stand up, shine 
beacons of the brightest light 
and share the shame and blame 
while the wide world cries 
with its head in its hands.

First appeared in Paterson Literary Review and is included in Tony's full-length collection, "Until the Last Lights Leaves."

Tony Gloeggler is a life long resident of NYC and runs group homes for the developmentally disabled. He's been published in numerous journals including Rattle, New Ohio Review, Nerve Cowboy, Raleigh Review, Chiron Review, Poet Lore and Ted Kooser's newspaper feed. If interested, google will show your more work and his full length collections