Author: The Editors

Roundelay for the Pandemic Ann Howells

Roundelay for the Pandemic Ann Howells

It will linger,
this sense of violation, vulnerability,
will judder minds through months, years –
carousel, warning bell, bombshell,
came as blackout, ack-ack,
off-the-cuff blindman’s bluff,
bourgeoisie fisticuffs.
Imagine yourself anonymous, impervious,
tintinnabulous,
the virus in ennui, fiddle-de-dee,
austere among irises. Is it even real?
Thunder crack. Zodiac.

Remember easy street, honeysweet,
then heat, bleat, cheat.
All this metaphor, meteor battering,
cudgeling, walloping, a simple scrap of RNA
loose among quarks and leptons,
lost between matins and vespers.
Go ahead, marshal trepidations
(life reeks of brimstone).
Annihilation is a slavering chimera
settling on its haunches,
and you, were caught star-gazing. 

#AloneTogetherConcentric circles, suns, moons, comets,
and Fibonacci sequences –
breaths is just a fragile puff of air.
Humans are stardust:
hydrogen and carbon, nitrogen and oxygen.
Knowledge flares like napalm.
Wrapped in anxieties, we fester or effervesce.
Remember, try to remember,
a time you walked unmasked.

Prophesies remain unimaginable. Relax,
tip an ear to spherical hum,
music of lei-lines swells like summer cicadas.
The world seems upside down,
but don’t submit to pricking of your thumbs:
what comes is neither wicked nor benign;
it’s inevitable as yesterday. 

Author Bio: Ann Howells edited Illya’s Honey for eighteen years. Her books include: Under a Lone Star (Village Books Press, 2016), Cattlemen & Cadillacs as editor (Dallas Poets Community, 2016), So Long As We Speak Their Names (Kelsay Books, 2019) about Chesapeake Bay watermen, and Painting the Pinwheel Sky (Assure Press, 2020) persona poems in voices of Van Gogh and his contemporaries. Her chapbooks include: Black Crow in Flight, published through Main Street Rag’s 2007 competition and Softly Beating Wings, 2017 William D. Barney Competition winner (Blackbead Books). Ann’s work appears in many small press and university journals.

The future of generations- Robert S. King

The future of generations- Robert S. King

In our subdivision, we’d never break
a fresh loaf of bread together.
At night, we keep the blinds closed
so that our private lights never touch,
denying that the light of day
exposes us both.

We are more strangers than neighbors,
you a property owner in his right mind,
I a deed holder on your left.

Could we ever be brothers
instead of bothers, each worried
about the other’s age, health, hardening
of the arteries and of the heart?

One side of a fence seldom feels the other.
No, we can’t straddle a wall and mend it,
nor can trust return to tear it down.

Perhaps one day our children
could play together.

Robert S. King lives in Athens, GA, where he serves on the board of FutureCycle Press. His poems have appeared in hundreds of magazines, including Atlanta Review, California Quarterly, Chariton Review, Hollins Critic, Kenyon Review, Main Street Rag, Midwest Quarterly, Negative Capability, Southern Poetry Review, and Spoon River Poetry Review. He has published eight poetry collections, most recently Diary of the Last Person on Earth (Sybaritic Press 2014), Developing a Photograph of God (Glass Lyre Press, 2014), and Messages from Multiverses (Duck Lake Books, 2020) His personal website is www.robertsking.info.

Mourning by Zebulon Huset

Mourning by Zebulon Huset

The freezer is stuffed with empty boxes.

I would throw them away, but,

the trashcan is full, and the dumpster’s so damned far.

It’s late. The TV is static.

I never paid the cable bill,

so after awhile, all the channels

were snowed in like the Tioga Pass in January.

I prefer the static’s zs to silence’s buzzing.

Similar, but I’ve learned to tell the difference.

Last night I left the Frosted Flakes open

when I passed out off the remnants of

all the ‘almost gone’ bottles in the apartment,

so they’re stale now, too soft to enjoy, yet,

I eat some anyway, dry.

Milk goes bad too fast.

Tomorrow I may have to drink the Vermouth straight.

I’m not looking forward to it.

Maybe I’ll put in some applications,

or beg Sean to let me work at Sears again,

or at least donate some plasma.

The first is only two weeks away.

They say Rome wasn’t built in a day,

but the Great Library of Alexandria burned

in one afternoon.

When I tell people that, they say

I’m avoiding the issue, but I say no, no, listen…

It takes a long time to build something great,

but only moments to reduce it to ruins.

Author Bio: Zebulon Huset is a teacher, writer and photographer living in San Diego. He won the Gulf Stream 2020 Summer Poetry Contest and his writing has appeared in Meridian, The Southern Review, Fence, Atlanta Review & Texas Review among others. He publishes the writing blog Notebooking Daily, edits the journals Coastal Shelf and Sparked, and recommends literary journals at TheSubmissionWizard.com.

I don’t want to die but it’s out of my- Gale Acuff

I don’t want to die but it’s out of my- Gale Acuff

hands says my Sunday School teacher, we all
have to, she says, but we shouldn’t kill our
-selves or be reckless so I asked her why
life matters so much–it just gets taken
away and God’s in charge of everything
so however I die isn’t it His
fault, and for my questions I got sent out
into the hall, it’s lonely here but still
quiet and one day I’ll die and my soul
will soar to Heaven but solely to be judged.
I can imagine Heaven with this kind
of hallway leading to the throne of God
and there He’ll sit and when it’s my time check
the Book of Life for me. He’ll have to squint.

Gale Acuff has had poetry published in Ascent, Reed, Poet Lore, Chiron ReviewCardiff Review, Poem, Adirondack Review, Florida ReviewSlantNeboArkansas Review, South Dakota ReviewRoanoke Review and many other journals in a dozen countries. He has authored three books of poetry: Buffalo Nickel, The Weight of the World, and The Story of My Lives. Gale has taught university English courses in the US, China, and Palestine.

Rose Knows – Zach Murphy

Rose Knows – Zach Murphy

Every autumn day Rose passes by the hot air balloon field in Stillwater, wishing she had enough money in order to go up for just one ride.

Last winter had not just taken a toll on Rose; it took nearly everything she had left. Now, she has a frostbitten toe and a frostbitten heart.

Rose knows that even the happiest golden leaves grow weary when they catch the first gust of winter’s harsh might. Rose knows that if the sun ever decides to go away for good she’ll try to make it promise to come back. Rose knows that if she would have had her life together, her adopted boy Frankie would still talk to her.

Across the air balloon field, sits a pawn shop. A pawn shop is a depressing place when you’ve got nothing to pawn, nothing to sell, and not enough means to buy anything. A job application turns into a hopeless slate the moment you see “Three years of experience needed.” 

After staring at her weathered reflection in the pawn shop window, Rose turns around toward the field and observes an unattended hot air balloon. She crosses through the dewy green grass, looks around, and decides to hop into the balloon’s gondola. 

The balloon is much bigger than Rose thought it would be. Her eyes widen as she gazes up at the balloon’s bright rainbow colors. Suddenly, a pair of balloon tour guides run toward her, yelling “Stop!” 

Rose quickly unravels the ropes from the ground, boosts the propane flame, and takes off into the sky. From this view, the falling leaves look like fluttering butterflies. Rose knows that when she comes down she’ll be in a lot of trouble. So she squints up at the sun and gives the balloon some more power.

Author Bio
Zach Murphy is a Hawaii-born writer with a background in cinema. His stories appear in Adelaide Literary MagazineMystery TribuneGhost City ReviewSpelk FictionLevitateYellow Medicine ReviewEllipsis ZineWilderness House Literary ReviewDrunk Monkeys, and Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine. He lives with his wonderful wife Kelly in St. Paul, Minnesota.

The problem with Villanelles by Zebulon Huset

The problem with Villanelles by Zebulon Huset

The problem with Villanelles

is the repetition of sound,
like alarm clock beeps—
depressing, as the day’s crowned

with sounds bound
to meanings that repeat
the repetition of sounds’

redundant mound
of blah-blah-blah-bleep!
Depressing, as the day’s crowned

with less and less profound
combinations, as linguistics seep
from the repetition of sounds

we’ve come to frown
upon as the daily grind, the common, cheap
and depressing as days crowned

with sameness. The villanelle’s fault is it rounds
up meanings and sounds, familiar as life’s retreat
into the repetition of sounds,
depressing as the day’s crown.

Author Bio
Zebulon Huset is a teacher, writer and photographer living in San Diego. He won the Gulf Stream 2020 Summer Poetry Contest and his writing has appeared in Meridian, The Southern Review, Fence, Atlanta Review & Texas Review among others. He publishes the writing blog Notebooking Daily, edits the journals Coastal Shelf and Sparked, and recommends literary journals at TheSubmissionWizard.com.