Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Three Poems, Joshua Merchant

Sun Dial

a woman cornered finds a tooth to sink even
if they’ve been whittled down for others’ comfort.

I knew I truly hurt my mother when she held the belt.
I crumbled watching her let loose silent tears in search of comfort. 

praxis creates the muscle for self-care. she wasn’t always 
a cherry stick lit hospital; she sucked her thumb for comfort.

she wasn’t a heavy drinker. Enjoyed a nice wine. a spritzer. 
don’t recall a lot of water bottles. she chewed ice to my discomfort.

we were all as sensitive as my teeth. three cancers in one house.
the other? two and the reason I see geminis and seek comfort 

because we all get a bad wrap eventually, I try to show my true 
nature first. don’t ask about my bite if you want comfort 

ask Her. see if the wind howls a cheat-code for my nerves. she 
gives what I try to- patience for your comfort.

if I show you my browser history, the amount of receipts tethered 
to the corner down the street, will you show me your comfort?

maybe I’ll learn something. give me an interview to try, an error
bottled, a carrier blood vessel sifting through clouds to your comfort.

if not off; if not away- the ledge as fashion statement. ignore 
the spaces seen through me. all my greats have this comfort. 

the bruise we joke about being invisible; the many ways we learn
to clean a cut: I lay by the pool sweating in discomfort

The Headless Horsewoman

in another poem from another
world ago I mention 
an axe in my face. 

I never told you about the hands that threw it
there. funny story, a woman with a raincloud 
for a head actually believed her mother

when she was told I was a dirty 
motherboard. when I survived her 
I asked of what another bark-toned

nose like mine did to hers. 
her head dispersed. I don’t know if 
my eyes melted but I could feel my face 
painting my toes red. told my momma;

she said my mouth was closed and sent 
me back to her- I asked the headless woman 
what happened. she said I blew on her 

too hard and wielded her sword. 
I would’ve popped her but there was nothing 
there. I had no weapon, no tools 
from another poem with an axe in my face

Pack A Day

She sits on the patio holding a dollar’s worth of life.
or maybe tapping the opposite; the cool breeze 
meant to air out the house splitting the smoke 
between grass and couch is more honest. If I 
asked for a list of names leaving her face drifting 
in furrows she’d giggle. somewhere an ungrateful 
farmer became a tool rusting in the rain. Gods laugh
at those who think themselves lightning; caress 
the scorched earth with two fingers knowing 
somewhere the soil is still good. 

the scorched earth caresses Her with two fingers; still, 
the soil is good. She is held on the patio. sitting. a dollar’s 
worth of life. or maybe believes god is laughing at Her 
lightning. the cool breeze slamming the door 
between the living room and outside is just as honest. 
being outside reminds her She’s free to cry but a halt 
cannot exist where rust will take its place in the rain. 
when I asked for the location of hands to be crafted 
into good luck charms she giggled.

I’d drape the living room with the hands of bill 
collectors like christmas lights just to hear more giggles. 
next, the palms promised as thrones - two fingers 
snipped; shoved into the scorched earth - She’ll caress 
during the rebirth of the good / die wicked. the wild die quiet. 
the scorned and depleted are born outside waiting for rain. 
She is a patio holding a dollar for safe keeping for life. 
at least natural disasters are honest. torches have 
no reason to complain to lightning. 

ever ask a fool the difference between a solar beam 
and a strike of lightning? She asked me this; nervously I giggled. 
one has already lived fully, the other, spur of the moment; both 
are honest. one’s impact is based solely of that, a force, the other’s 
not seen as bad or good. just a necessary experience, a part of life. 
I guess both are, huh. you smell that? finally, rain.

somewhere an ungrateful farmer is putting a rabbit’s foot to shame - 
his hand dangling around my neck as I play in the rain. my mother 
sits on the patio waiting for a second strike of lightning. She is a god. 
a majician. almost feral; testing one of her theories about life. 
when she finished her cigarette and nothing happened 
she giggled. I ran to the patio excited, how’d I do? my first 
attempt at flying. you did good. even when she lied, he was honest. 

in her eyes I won’t always be honest. I don’t think she minded 
if it meant I wouldn’t have to be a souvenir in the rain, 
or dead to be good, passionate without the lightning. 
to be - to be the face - to be in the face of fire 
and softly giggle. to be - to be in the eye 
of any storm and still in awe of life. 

the cool breeze slamming the door between the living 
room and the child who smells like outside is just as honest 
as them laughing like a god discovering lightning.

being outside reminds them they’re free to be dirty 
and laugh about it in the rain. they tell their mother 
they already showered. she giggles.

the child soaking the carpet doesn’t make 
them good or bad. it makes them young. 
She remembers that life.

Joshua Merchant is a native of East Oakland exploring what it means to be human as an intersectional being. They've had the honor to witness their work being published in 580Split, Eleven Eleven, and The Rootwork Journal.

Shampoo, Laura Stamps

Turn, turn, turn. In this dog magazine. To the next page. An article. How to give a dog a bath. It’s about that. But this. This I wonder. Bathing a dog. Is it like giving a cat a bath? Or trying to. I mean, let’s face it. Trying is all you can do. With a cat. Just ask Paula. My best friend. Last year we gave her cat a bath. In the kitchen sink. A blood bath. That’s what it was. For her. For me. But not for her cat. Never her cat. That crazy boy! Although, he was hyperventilating. He was. I swear. By the time we finished. He was. But dogs. They love water, don’t they? If I had a dog. (Okay. I don’t. But maybe. One day. Maybe. I might. Possibly.) I’d give him a bath. Every month. I would. Just like this article says. Plus, there’s dog shampoo. And so many kinds to choose from. Lavender and mint. Oatmeal for sensitive skin. Deshedding shampoo. (Really?) Whitening shampoo for white dogs. (What? What?) Probiotic shampoo for dogs with hot spots. (Are you kidding me?) Green tea. Bergamot. Honeysuckle. Shampoo, shampoo. It can change your life. It can. Seriously. This. This I know. Because, because. On that day. Years ago. When I arrived in Wilmington. All I had was my purse. And my car. That’s it. No clothes. No luggage. Nothing. But when you escape. You grab what you can and run. That’s what you do. And I did. But in Wilmington. I stopped. For necessities. You know. Toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, comb, shampoo, makeup. That stuff. And there she was. A woman. At Walgreens. In the shampoo aisle. Talking on her cell phone. Placing an ad in the local paper. A furnished apartment. Hers. For rent. It sounded nice. Really nice. So I grabbed the shampoo. And turned toward her. “I’m interested,” I said. That apartment. Saw it. Loved it. Still love it. Still live there. Ten years later. And I’d do it again. Leave my ex. That is. Start over. With just the clothes on my back. And no shampoo. I would. Again. In a heartbeat. 

Laura Stamps loves to play with words and create experimental forms for her fiction and prose poetry. Author of 43 novels, novellas, short story collections, and poetry books. Most recently: CAT MANIA (Alien Buddha Press 2021), DOG DAZED (Kittyfeather Press 2022), and THE GOOD DOG (Prolific Pulse Press 2023). Winner of the Muses Prize. Recipient of a Pulitzer Prize nomination and 7 Pushcart Prize nominations.  

Murder Or This, Kristin Garth

after Lori Vallow, “The Doomsday Mother” and “Twilight” 

Explain to a bishop it will be murder 
or this — divine rites of the temple (not 
teen vampiric kiss scribed by girl latter 
day saint, a hundred million or so bought,
alternate scripture, eternal bodies 
perfected by blood a bikinied 
martyr imbibes with pressure-canned purple hull peas 
from your year’s supply.   Any female you heed 
you learn by eight to deny like all the rot 
and dark thoughts behind a cheerleader smile,
the incest you fought, acquiesced and then sought 
to fashion an executioner you have beguiled. 
Deem you immortal. the temple spirits,
and no one believes you would murder for this.)

Kristin Garth is a womanchildish Pushcart, Rhysling nominated sonneteer and a Best of the Net 2020 finalist, the author of THE MEADOW (a novel from Alien Buddha Press, October 2022) and 26 more books of poetry and prose.  She is editor of eight literary anthologies. 

Four Poems, Sneha Mohidekar


skin in/side means
viscera/l lee-side protects
interstitials buttoned/interstitial
buttons protect
the biting wind/she
eats/the skin off her lips
eats her lips eats her skin
enamel enables
whispering/requires the means
to close your mouth

cut fruit

she douses her hands in orange juice
pretends it’s blood
pretends to have slayed a giant, harvested its heart
pretends the empty chambers are whisper galleries
pretends to hear secrets, technically articulated
pretends they’ll slip on a technicality
pretends that was the question

she sucks blood off her teeth
pretends it’s orange juice
or, doesn’t pretend—

end of the world as we knew it 

the fish are tilting at windmills
the pigs have bulked up and backwards and sprouted feathers
like a dinosaur, or a chicken
we stay inside and watch
and try to keep our siblings from escaping out the bathroom window
to tilt their heads back and stick their tongues out and close their eyes
trying to catch scraps of sky
falling as brown-bottle sea-glass

the atmosphere is fracturing along ley lines and 
we were wrong about them
(their placement not
their existence)

all the perforations in the earth
(oil wells, water wells, well, well, well)
are singing best of the 2000s
I can hear you harmonizing

one of your sisters asks if we can go get milkshakes
my brother asks if he can drive
he isn't licensed, though, I remind him
and he laughs so hard I think he's folded his lungs into origami shapes
shooting star, airplane, butterfly

when we leave the drive-thru, I have a foot out the window
and one and a half fingers on the steering wheel—
my body has become liminal
you have an arm and half your torso out the window
reaching to pet the wind's soundwaves
you raise your whole chest to ask me
voice curling gentle between the cupholders and the gearshift
will it hurt
I pretend not to hear over the sound of the smog ripping into composite parts 
you don’t ask again
our siblings are in the back
they're so big
expanding into the space and then expanding it
they're making shapes out of the clouds
and dripping hamburger juice onto my seats


the cartographer draws
fractals and eats them
the wind brings her erosion
the cartographer carves her face
of the cliff with her maps of the cliff
hangs reality on record
there is salt in the water
and in the wind and in the way
displacement is a vector and
is loadbearing caves walled in water
carry the cliff

Sneha Mohidekar (she/her) reads poetry theory and queer space operas on the train. Her work can be found in The Indianapolis Review and Ghost City Review.

Selected Works, Tamiko Dooley


are you here

again you love

can I see you


There are things you learn

From doing the same job every day

Tasks you repeat OVER and over

Like, aren’t we all the same?

Plugging in the hose 

The brushes out for meticulous scrubbing

Pulling the hazmat on MY legs

Elasticated cap, gloves, rubber boots

Nothing to be afraid of

They’re already DEAD

Pressure-wash them down

Blast that Stravinsky, something dramatic 

Vaseline in the nostrils

Doesn’t help with the smell

You leave, throw away the suit

The smell penetrates through

When you take a shower that night

You sniff it on your skin

So you scour your naked BODY clean

I mean, 

Isn’t that what you’ve been doing all day, anyway?


On a bright autumnal afternoon
When the sun’s behind me
And my back begins to warm

I think of you

That shaft of afternoon light
That used to reach the middle of your bedsheets
College house, single dorm
Your desk lumbered with
Tacitus and Virgil, Sallust and Homer

On a Friday after double Greek was done
I’d find you there
Eyes closed, smiling
Your skin glowing

When I leaned in towards you
The heat would hit the nape of my neck
With the strength of blazing rays
That scorched Icarus’ wings
To slowly melt the wax.

Tokeru (Melting)

you watched me catch with my tongue
the drips that threatened to
slither down the cone onto my hand
and laughed, kimi ga waratta

ahead kite surfers and jet skis roared across the Okinawa skyline
the Pacific tide was creeping towards our toes
waves pounding the shore louder and closer

and when you leaned towards me and
licked a drop of my matcha ice-cream 
to save it falling

the icy fingers of the umi gripped my legs


I glimpsed you from the shore
Footprints leading to the water
Blurred sand and gritty salt

I had been stumbling through 
The thicket for hours
Losing my sense of direction
Aiming for the open sea

I kept thinking I saw you
In disguise, hidden behind palm leaves

When the branches finally parted
You appeared
Waving from your broken boat
A battered shipwreck

It started to rain 
As the drops began to lash down on me
It became harder to see
The wind seemed to take you away

I thought I saw you
Blurred and gritty drops
Began to sting my eyes

I was losing my sense of direction

I glimpsed you from the shore

A shipwreck

Aiming for the open sea

Tamiko reads Latin and French at New College, Oxford. She was the winner of the BBC Radio 3 carol competition 2021.

Excerpt from THE DIRECTOR'S CUT, John Yamrus

he was 

and more 
than a little bit crazy 

made the mistake 
of leaving the live video feed 

his computer open 

and when 
he was done reading his poems 

all that 
was left was this sad 

old man 
and the sound 
of him walking from room to room 

to see where 
the magic had gone.


the mistake

complimenting him 

his poetry.

the strength

one poem,
he wanted me
to introduce him to


i refused,
when i said
i’m sorry, but
i just don’t do that,
he went crazy on me.


went from

to shit.

than anything
he so desperately

his fifteen minutes


here you go, buddy...

you go.


his favorite color.  

was also 
his favorite word 

words, if
you wanted to 
get technical about it). 

it was kinda sorta fitting
that he had already turned his
favorite color that Sunday morning 

they found him
face down under the Penn Street Bridge.

Tony The Lip

older than he looked,

by the smell of his own farts,

about everything,

held a job for long,



changed his shorts

than once a week.

Tony had
3 bad marriages,

4 shack-ups,

that one month he
never cared to talk about.

liked Tony.

you lay in bed and

there’s a train whistle somewhere
off in the distance and
it takes you back 
to a place and 
a time you 
even care to remember 
where it was or

back to a place with dirty sheets 
and dust in the corners and 
under the bed and you 
start thinking about 
why and who and 
where and 

and you know it doesn’t really matter 
because there will always be trains 
and beds and sheets and the sun 
coming up as you wait 
for another day 
that’ll bring you that much closer to
whatever it is that’s out there, 
waiting to

do you 

in dog obedience class…

for once, 
my little Abby
did everything right.

she didn’t 
bite, jump or pull.

this time
she paid attention

and sat 
and stayed

and came
and listened…

just like all the other dogs.

i can’t tell you how much
i hated 

he was 

to this bit 
of graffiti he saw 
written in white paint
on the side of a building. 

it was 
in an alley, 

and it read: 

“fuck the world – 
and fuck you if you don’t love it.” 

later that week, 
looking to get the words just right, 

went back, 

when he 
got there, it was gone – 

just the words

the wall, 

the whole 
damn building. 

torn down. 


and, fuck you if you don’t love that.

These poems can be found in John Yamrus’ recent collection: SELECTED POEMS, THE DIRECTOR’S CUT (Concrete Mist Press, 2022), available for purchase here.

In a career spanning more than 50 years as a working writer, John Yamrus has published 35 books (29 volumes of poetry, 2 novels, 3 volumes of non-fiction and a children’s book). He has also had nearly 3,000 poems published in magazines and anthologies around the world. A book of his SELECTED POEMS was just released in Albania, translated into that language by Fadil Bajraj, who is best known for his translations of Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Bukowski, Ginsberg, Pound and others. 
A number of Yamrus’s books and poems are taught in college and university courses. His most recent book is SELECTED POEMS: THE DIRECTOR’S CUT (Concrete Mist Press, 542pp).

Selected Works, Howie Good

Rumored Whereabouts

There was nothing I could do. I was under a car, sheltering from the debris raining down, bricks and glass and chunks of concrete. Until that moment, the state ideological apparatus had obscured the real conditions of our existence. I resolved to henceforth be like the unruly drunks you read about who are unaffected when tasered by a cop – even when tasered again and again. In the meantime, the boat in the nearby slip was on fire. Smoke engulfed my head. I swear I could hear the phone bot saying, “All our representatives are resisting other customers at this time.”

The Little Voice in My Head

People with a history of using LSD are more likely to see faces where there are none. The EMT in the ambulance with me had mint green hair. She was trying frantically to undo some knots in the IV tubing. A little voice in my head said, “What have you learned, and whom have you helped?” The acid I’d taken earlier had lasted longer than expected. It was as if I’d stepped through my eyelids. But the potato chip really did look like Elvis. 

Street Song

A skateboarder in a black T-shirt and holey jeans and backwards baseball cap rolls down the sidewalk under tall leafy trees, and with his arms extended like wings, clutches the top of a brown lunch bag in one hand and, for a kind of counterbalance, a cup of pink strawberry ice cream in the other, and on his face as he passes through splashes of sunshine and shadow not a smug smile precisely or a frown of intense concentration, but a little of both, like something seen in the only ever photograph of a dream.

Death by Emoji

I receive a postcard in the mail guaranteeing me a chance to win one of 1,000 prizes. Me! A man who thinks clouds look like things! Meanwhile, a new study has found frequent emoji users “Wear civilian clothes, pass messages, kill.” It’s not unlike what happened at the world premiere of the Moonlight Sonata. Beethoven played the piano with such violence that the strings snapped and became entangled in the hammers. There have been nights I’ve been woken up by sirens and screams and thought, “You’re in the middle of history now.” Even the worst weather cannot stop it or prevent a personal Jesus from selling counterfeit tickets to heaven behind the KFC. 

Me Being Me

There’s bad shit going on. An unexploded rocket sticking out of a field. Wildfires capable of creating their own weather. Supply chain problems. Often one has to make things oneself in order to have or see them. Just ask meth cooks what that means. Meanwhile, the ground is wet with rain, and yet a book is lying there dry. I pick it up. It’s called Closer to the Light, about the near-death experiences of children. The universe instantly seems smaller, almost claustrophobic. I would construct a bigger universe if I could and insist that there be an “e” in lightning.

American Century

A van drove up with 20 of them, all armed. The police couldn’t – or wouldn’t – do anything. Somehow you slept right through it, the end of the American Century, dead bodies strewn in the road, a few already bloated. 


The air is colorless but charged with virus. “Imagine you’re lying in the shade of beautiful trees,” the meditation instructor on Zoom encourages. The coffins keep arriving. 


Now I understand what Jeremiah, aka the “Weeping Prophet,” father of orphans and the inventor of mental funk, was saying. He was saying, foreswear this world, if only to not disturb the birds nesting in its empty eye sockets.


A man in Warrenton, Missouri, posted a video of himself licking deodorant sticks at the Walmart and asking, “Who’s a coward now?” I was like yes, yes, yes, I want to do that. In those days I would frequently experience such sudden enthusiasms. It was a furious time, with popular pundits preaching that you must kill what is in order to bring about what is not. I didn’t stop to consider that others might be as important to themselves as we are to ourselves. And so the wind rushed in, and the forest swayed, and an army dump truck packed with corpses backed up to the burial trench. 

The Infernal Machine

People would just repeat the same phrases – “Thank you,” “I love you,” “Awesome!” – over and over in the mindless manner of talking dolls. Then the war started there. They took your passport, phone, and money, and locked you up in a room. Now it’s also started here. “Name,” the stern older woman behind the glass commands, hands poised over the keyboard. She doesn’t look at me but focuses her severe gaze on the computer screen. Most of what she says I can’t or don’t want to understand, and they beat me for that. Everything goes dark. The infernal machine has its own internal illumination.

Howie Good's latest poetry book is The Horse Were Beautiful (2022),  available from Grey Book Press. Redhawk Publications is publishing his collection, Swimming in Oblivion: New and Selected Poems, later this year.

Three Poems, Heller Levinson


reared oblong

obliquity scatter

                                                corner table

                                                tether fray

                                                loin wobble


an iridescence at the foot of plunder


caged colloquy flirt transmissible, high-

strung hollows gape, astir with

unblemished ritual,

sweetening the backside of archaic resemblance patterns born of infidel grow contagious


throats glow




rail thin

                    vapour from a past idle

                    air as contraband


unseemly deposits dwarf the earnest


                    looking for clues   an

                    early tide



change heart


Note: SENTINEL Hinges to Richard Capobianco’s masterful Heidegger commentary, Heidegger’s Way of Being.

Richard writes: “Sentinel” in its root meaning is one who is open to and receives and takes in what is; one who “senses” all that is…. The “sentinel” as “herald” makes manifest what is manifest.

& Richard’s English translation of Heidegger’s translation of the Heraclitus fragment 93 is also pertinent:

The high one, whose place of the pointing-saying is in Delphi, neither uncovers (only) nor conceals (only); rather he gives signs.

Poet Will Alexander says this about SENTINEL:

Thanks for sharing this wayward musical drift, this wayward ensemble of splinters, this daring motific of blankness, the seeming thrill of in-action. Somehow blizzards burn and trace themselves by randomity, by a curious sanction of spells.


pass-through                     alight

          heft flex hammock burl




bell overleaf

trill embark


the anchor

sinks back


into its own


Heller Levinson is the author of LURE (Black Widow Press, 2022), and lives in New York where he studies animal behavior.

Excerpt from A Spontaneous Prayer, David Hay

Hands broken from blacksmithing the stars, Eltri took a sip of blood falling in perfect tear shaped droplets to stain Gologtha – another god another death he decanted to the young boys’ empty eyes still fascinated by the movement of leaves – he brought no suffering in his time, but his name shall map innumerable atrocities – so deep in sin has man slumped, you can’t even see his arse.

A beggar old, wizened not so much by time but his lifestyle choices – you know being poor, kissed the Messiah’s feet, with each lip touched to his holy dirt he felt his soul anointed by the everlasting spring of heaven.

He went back to his cave and took up a tree branch and in the sand he drew shapes he thought were letters and words until he described with perfection these feelings of sublimation gave him – he sat down with an ox-bladder of wine and drank until his bones were untethered from gravity –  when he woke the wind had erased all his all his transcribed wonders, he then proceeded to throw up on the section written concerning prayer, staggered forward, slipped on his own vomit, fell over, cracked his skull head on a rock he’d never noticed and died.

Down the road a priest was writing a book in a language none of the people understood, laying down in convoluted but poetically stabbed psalms, how to use god’s son to make money and molest children. Either one was desirable.

Jesus spoke to the child through the hole in the tree trunk, ‘never trust men who dress in robes and wear funny hats’ – that should be obvious but it somehow isn’t. 


I sprinkled holy water on my syphilitic wounds that crawled away from the light, I expected Jesus’ hand to reach through the clouds and heal my sores

but nothing happened, oh lord only a fool would think it would end differently.


In the night, slowly swallowed by the oak tree, a woman and a man are drunk, shouting slag at one another as they stumble from pavement to road, to pavement again. A hedgehog trapped in the shadows by the light of the moon cries and the boy in his fortress of damp wood cries with it. The couple look at each other, shut up and quietly stagger back to their house that contains three bathrooms but only one sink. 


You are alone, I am alone and that’s it his mother says while chopping onions. She nicks her thumb and the blood lumps out. This is all your father’s fault she snaps.


After much deliberations two teenagers in a friend’s living room drop acid. They look in to each others eyes far too earnestly. He sees himself wearing a wing-suit and jumps out the second floor. As he climbs out, he imagines his body cascading down mountainsides, weightless as light, his nose gently skimming rocks, before flying above a cliff side covered in pines to reveal a small Italian town. He sees another wing-suiter (?) release his parachute to glide him down to the postcard perfect grass. He appears onwards into the town to splat against a rich man’s car – a final fuck you, not to god or the world but to all the dickheads who look like they invest pork directly into their veins. His friend screams his name. The vision and real-life wobble into each other, touching in a sickening way, the kind of touch that brings back that uncle who left his hand too long upon your spine. His foot is at the wrong angle. He stares at it then everything goes black. When he wakes his dad calls him an idiot. If you think you can fly, try taking off from the ground next time. 


The sky is full of memories, much like clouds choiring with thunder, the past with its muscles and hammy moustache and black coffee breath forces the blue drowning days of youth to tap out and submit.

Welcome to life boy! He screams before seeing mustard all over his tiny shorts that repulse you more than bestiality. 


David Hay was inspired to write after discovering the Romantics, particularly Keats and Shelley, as well as the works of Woolf and Kerouac. His work has been accepted for publication in Dreich, Abridged, Acumen, The Honest Ulsterman, The Dawntreader,The Babel Tower Notice Board, Ink, Sweat and Tears, The Lake, Selcouth Station, GreenInk Poetry, Dodging the Rain, Seventh Quarry and Expat-Press, among others. His debut publication is the Brexit-inspired prose-poem Doctor Lazarus published by Alien Buddha Press 2021. 

Four Poems, DS Maolalai

Everyone's generous

a park around 7. and sunset.
and march. sun bouncing up 
from the grass at all angles
and this soft falling hill
like a candleflame light 
and a saucer of warm liquid wax. 

some dogs playing chasing.
some people 
sitting out. my god – 
there are times in the world
you'd be generous
to offer a share of.
and everyone's generous,
passing out bottles 
of beer and their loose
of cigarettes. ten-year-olds 
bike riding, teenagers kissing,

a woman, some distance off
reading and smoking 
a joint. and that's 
spring air too, 
and the smell of it
wafting occasionally 

over: like cracked open
crowding with mushrooms
on wood. wet scents
and plants mulching. 
composts and 
burning weather.

The iron.

the street fires; flat
as an unironed shirt, and an iron
pressed down, raising steam
in an arrow. now 
it is 8am, morning 
and burning past buildings. 
I drive up clanbrassil st,
rolling like a hot marble
on tarmac and in
between slant beams of sunlight
which fall sideways in shafts
as light does in a church
through tall windows.
a coffee shop open, a newsagent.
a man on a bicycle.
an office block, open
in an hour or so. I push on a pedal;
the world streams behind me
and flat. the street fires – 
creasing in one 
long direction.


has come rolling 
from branches.

peace is out 
the air. 

going to the park
or the countryside.
making some shade
upon avenues. 
a simple relaxation 
of leaves in the sun,

like a garnish
in a drink
and on a south-
facing patio. I roll 
up my sleeves
and walk 
for a while
underneath them.

the skin
on my forearm 
dapples flicked

like ripples
on a leopard's 
muscled hindleg.

On the seafront in portugal

(and I want to say lisbon,
but it might not have been)
where we saw our first statue 
there the whole trip
after such a long time hiking 
countryside; some poet or patriot – 
someone or other – 
in a market square 
facing some docks

there were boats coming in: 
a scene and an outflow pipe 
pumping continuous under. 
and the water was festering, the water 
was fishes, all crawling oil mackerel-
scale, guppies and something else
brown. the sea lapped like fishscales
with the wet necks of fish,
pressed against the shore
and devouring sewage and run-off. marvelous,

this nature, and hungover. 10 years
ago – 20 years old. like dirt in the pearl 
of a live opened oyster. 
and johanna said gross, and cian
said also; I said it was cool, 
but the wind overruled me 
by suddenly turning and throwing
the air in our mouths. in town
two blocks out from the seafront
we went to a cafe for lunch
and then to a bar. I shit only once
and pissed 4 times in succession,
thinking about fishes
as they chewed into my tide.

DS Maolalai has received ten nominations for Best of the Net and seven for the Pushcart Prize. His poetry has been released in three collections, Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden (Encircle Press, 2016), Sad Havoc Among the Birds (Turas Press, 2019) and Noble Rot (Turas Press, 2022).  

Two Poems, Nick Boyer

To whom it may concern:

I hope all is well. I am writing to follow up on my application for felicity. I spend my days counting the seconds between lightning and thunder, so feel free to contact me anytime.

I applied for the emotion 22 years ago and still have the paperwork (I can attach the certificate in a message if you’d like). See my attached resume for several examples of how bliss has escaped me throughout my tenure here.

Now, I am not a blind man; I see the efforts that were made. But I am still in the cycle, and recently, I have begun to feel less than a gear. And today, today is not a good day. 

I see you brought everything you have; tossing buckets on my window, dimming the day, and laying collared shirt pelts on the path to prosperity. I do not want to prosper, I want to be pacified. I am here, but that is all.

I think about the stale rain droplets all day; I feel for them. They are stagnant and waiting. Are they living in ecstasy? Can you at least answer me that? Are my fingernails in the crevices of my couch glad?

Again, I am writing to follow up on my application. Considering the reasons I listed above, I believe my request for felicity is due. I will follow up in another five years, but after that, who knows? You, probably.

Nick Boyer

Questions I will ask later

Jogging gray gravel split by yellow paint
Do you feel my feet?

Thin gray cloud puffed and erased
Am I breathing?

Swirling liquid brown old leather couch aroma
Can you warm my insides?

Inked pages passing shreds of the message
Would you spill your secrets?

Honeycomb lungs
Why do I scar you?

Harmony of strings and percussion
Can you feel my beat?

Passing faces shrouded in the day’s mask
Is the mirror clean?

Good sense giggling and grazing legs
Why must I raise my voice?

Pentagon of limbs
Which direction is it now?

Howling city folk
Did you forget the forest?

Untrained steps
Why do I fear you in my sleep?

Black canvas
Why did I only bring ink?

Why do I feel uninspired?

Flaking ceiling 
Would you hold until I blink?

Bloodied lamb
Why do you look tasty?

Shriveled plant
Why do I pluck you?

Imperfect time
Why do I try to set an alarm?

Vibrant vision
What is your cost?

Can you open my eyes once more?

Nick Boyer is an emerging poet writing in Upstate New York. He recently self-published his debut novel, Steady Progress Home, and his poetry has been published in Taj Mahal Review. More of his writing can be found on the web at or @poetryforthegrave on Instagram.