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Chris Hancock

All mothers dream
Their sons will grow up strong.

All mothers worry
Something will go wrong.

Sons grow up playing war
Coming to dinner with mothers at home.

Sons will go off to far away wars

Leaving mothers to live alone.

Enough mothers lost their sons

In far away battles of retort

For the mothers who lost sons

To get together for support.

The Gold Star Mothers
Sought to ease the pain.
The Gold Star Mothers
Brought grieving mothers back again.

 

Note: “The Gold Star Mothers” is excerpted from Mothers Forever, a book of poetry examining the lives of three characters
beginning in 1887 and ending in 1980. Each character loses a son in either
World War II, the Korean War, or the Vietnam War. To help them cope with
their grief, each joined an organization called the American Gold Star Mothers,
whose purpose is to help mothers manage the pain of losing a child through
military service and to support hospitalized veterans. This poem takes place in
1946 as Martha Jackson is becoming a Gold Star mother after her son was killed
as a soldier serving as part of the Red Ball Express during World War II.


Chris Hancock lives in Kennett Square, PA and teaches Health and
Physical Education. His writing and photography can be seen at
chrishancock789.com.

Kenneth Pobo

It’s hard to
have a heart to heart
with a cow,
explaining that
while cows
are like beautiful
brown ships
sailing through red
dusk, they
can be a nuisance,

yes,
nuisance.  They roam our streets
as they see
fit.  One brilliant cow
unlocked
gates–until
she got shot
and died
in the
Presbyterian Church yard.
Women in
long dresses peeve
when cows
splat on wood sidewalks.

Bovine
gangsters run the town.
We don’t
scare them.  We think
we’re
modern.  After all,
it’s the
late 1800s.  Progress
kisses
merchants’ bald heads.
Loggers make
homes possible

far from
where Lake Superior,
The Great
Unsalted Sea, freezes
so that we
can walk to Madeline Island,
no fear of
sinking.  Spring
brings
cinnamon ferns,
more cows
like gods that stare
through our
open windows.


Kenneth Pobo had three new books in 2015: When The Light Turns Green
(Spruce Alley Press), Bend of Quiet (Blue Light Press), and Booking
Rooms in the Kuiper Belt (Urban Farmhouse Press).  He teaches creative
writing and English at Widener University.  He gardens, is somewhat of
an authority on Tommy James and the Shondells, and read Hardy’s
Return of the Native this June.

Jane Rosenberg LaForge

 

I should have been reading
Nancy Drew or The Bobbsey Twins
but I was all about the salmon
in fifth grade; in the old classroom
made over for the future.
After years of waiting, the city
hired tractors and loaders to hoist
up one of our bungalows,
and swing it over the new foundation
before letting it drop, and just like that,
we had a new campus.
We set to work, the boys in their sports,
the girls in their mysteries,
and I with my fish, valiant,
hustling upstream to perform
solo acts of derring-do.
Much like a monk diving into
a rainbow of saffron and petrol
to make a point about how living
in his country without such miracles
had become untenable.

 


Jane Rosenberg LaForge’s is the author of a new chapbook In Remembrance of the Life, published by Spruce Alley Press.  Her next full-length collection of poems will be Daphne and Her Discontents from Ravenna Press in late 2016 or 2017. She is the author of An Unsuitable Princess: A True Fantasy/A Fantastical Memoir” (Jaded Ibis Press, 2014); and four volumes of poetry. Her 2012 chapbook, The Navigation of Loss, was one of three chapbooks chosen for publication by Red Ochre Lit in its annual contest. 
More information is available at 
jane-rosenberg-laforge.com.

Kenneth Pobo

Ever since Adeline was a little girl she wanted to be
rich.  Not rich, really, but rich beyond
compare, the richest woman in the world.
It could happen!  On late night TV
when she was seven she saw Ruth Chatterton starring in The Rich Are Always With Us.  At the end, charming rich Ruth married George
Brent, a sexy novelist—who made money.

For twenty-one years Adeline was married to a
porridge-looking guy, Ernie, who ran a sporting equipment store in the Divine
Gator Mall.  She never set foot in the
store, even when Ernie and his employees celebrated its twentieth year in
business.  That was the beginning of the
end.

“You
missed the balloons, Adeline.  Shit.  Some wife.”

“Everything
pops sooner or later.  Congratulations
anyway.”

Clearly, Ernie would not make her the wealthiest woman who
had ever been born.  It wasn’t Ernie’s
fault, she knew.  A guy who wore old
hushpuppies everyday, he wouldn’t get it.
In “real” life, George Brent and Ruth Chatterton got married.  For two years.  Real life didn’t impress Adeline.  It never had a fur collar.

She routinely entered the lottery but say you won 500
million bucks, you’re still not the richest.
It’s a boost, but you don’t get to be number one.

Adeline was like a mannequin in Ernie’s store, holding a
ball, something she couldn’t throw, an eternal pose.  She died at sixty-eight.  The lights went out, tennis balls huddled in
tubes, and the mall took an enormous pink pill and fell asleep.


Kenneth Pobo had three new books in 2015: When The Light Turns Green
(Spruce Alley Press), Bend of Quiet (Blue Light Press), and Booking
Rooms in the Kuiper Belt (Urban Farmhouse Press).  He teaches creative
writing and English at Widener University.  He gardens, is somewhat of
an authority on Tommy James and the Shondells, and read Hardy’s
Return of the Native this June.

(JoeFrank)

Alec Solomita

At a certain point, it’s all loss.
You can’t drive at night any
more. Calamari gives you
indigestion. Booze becomes
as impotent as you.
Friends peel off like old skin.
Parents are long gone. Children
turn on you like it’s your fault.
And your spouse just drifts off,
thinning into the blue sky
like smoke at the nursing home’s
Fourth of July barbecue.

 


Alec Solomita is an editor and writer living in Somerville, Mass. He’s
published criticism in The New Criterion, The New Republic, and
elsewhere. His fiction has appeared in, among other publications, The
Adirondack Review, The Mississippi Review, Southwest Review, and
Ireland’s Southword Journal. Recently, he’s published poetry in
3Elements Literary Review, Literary Orphans, Silver Birch Press, Turk’s
Head Review, Algebra of Owls, and Driftwood Press.

Windsor

Robert Carr


With
fingers spread wide a bonny boy

walks
the country fair.  His hands turn out

to
catch the smells, to see through palms,

to
taste with the white space beneath

his
little nails.  He touches everything –

the
flat nosed pigs rutting in a white-washed stall,  

the
draft horse muscle steam, the cow flows

of
milk and piss – the animals rise to meet him,

through
damp skinned pits they stumble knobby kneed.


Robert Carr is the author of Amaranth, a chapbook published in 2016 by
Indolent Books. His poems are published in Radius Journal, Pretty Owl
Poetry, White Stag Journal, The Pickled Body, The Good Men Project, Dark
Matter Journal, Canary Literary Magazine, and numerous other
publications. His published work can be found at robertcarr.org

Poppies

Robert Carr

I think
they’re supposed to be
opium
poppies

but the
abstract art in Dermatology
looks
like an angry cluster

of
pimples. I’ve stopped picking
the basal
cells beneath

my
wide-rimmed garden hat, the long
white
sleeves of my shirt.

There’s a
little boy with mom
and a bad
sunburn beside me.

He’s
playing with a rubber shark
that
swallows his pinky finger.

I’m
watching his tiny digits walk
across
the cushion toward – What

do you
think they’ll remove today?
The
poppies blister in anticipation.


Robert Carr is the author of Amaranth, a chapbook published in 2016 by
Indolent Books. His poems are published in Radius Journal, Pretty Owl
Poetry, White Stag Journal, The Pickled Body, The Good Men Project, Dark
Matter Journal, Canary Literary Magazine, and numerous other
publications. His published work can be found at robertcarr.org

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The Unsure Girl

Mitchell Duran

This
hasn’t happened yet.

That doesn’t mean that this this
may happen, because it may or may not. What may occur could be a number of
things and the events that have yet to occur all concern the Unsure Girl. Some
say that it’s not about the Unsure Girl, it’s about him or some say that it’s
never been about him, it’s always been about her. Some say it’s actually never
been about either of them; it’s just about love in life.

The Unsure Girl goes back to school
to really focus on that MFA and leaves him or she goes back to school and
doesn’t leave him or she goes back to school staying with him but moving out or
she stays with him but gets rid of their cat. College is a lily pad of farces
anyway. A few say the Unsure Girl left him because he didn’t ask her to marry
him fast enough or she left him because he didn’t have any passion or she’s not
one hundred percent sure if they’ll ever be on the same page, a very natural
reaction to have in your late twenties. We’re the only generation that believes
we should start at the top and stay there. The Unsure Girl can’t help but ask
herself every morning and every night the same question: is he the one? Or she
wants the security of a household, or the label of a wife, or a conflict free
diamond ring. Or she just doesn’t love him anymore. The Unsure Girl is not
sure.

A handful say the Unsure Girl
starts biking to school to get a tighter core and is hit by a car. By then, she
has re-discovered that she is in fact gay, something she assumed in her youth was
a phase. Or, she’s bi. After the surgeries of her pelvis, her femur, her
tailbone, her ankles, her big toe, her cuboid, her phalanges, she goes viral,
becoming a spokesperson for The United Cyclists fighting for the rights of all
cyclists, no matter gender, religion, or sexual orientation. A handful say why
should she be in United Cyclists if she can’t even ride a bike anymore? Though
– and this may be true or it may not be – a handful say she never rode again
and found herself only able to think of him as she laid on the bubbling hot
pavement after being struck by the car, her last wish being, if it were in fact
that, to tell him she doesn’t know how to say sorry for taking three years of
his life, leaving him with nothing but himself again. But even then, the Unsure
Girl was unsure whether she would even be able to do that. The only thing the
Unsure Girl was certain about as the paramedics guided her into the ambulance,
was that eventually, she would have to be ok with not being sure about
anything.


Mitchell Duran is a freelance writer living in San Francisco. His work
has been seen in the Turks Head Review, Penumbra Magazine, Riverlit.
He’s currently attending a short story workshop at The Writers Grotto.

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Parched At The Wellspring

Bruce McRae

I’m looking for a door or a
perfect sentence,

for a button dropped, a rose in
the loam,

for the source of a spring named
Sweetwater.

This is me peddling, like a bug
on its back.

I’ve drawn a circle around the
wide unknown,

a student paying homage to his
non-comprehension.

A fountain pen, if not the
inkwell.

It’s a warm night, unnecessarily
so.

The Ancient Watchmaker claims
it’s midnight.

This is Nowhere, and there’s no
reason to be here.

Sleepwalkers in the afternoon, we
require reason.

We crease easily. Our hands are
folded.

This is me in a hayfield, chewing
a straw stalk,

gnawing on the sublimely
ridiculous,

another inbred clodhopper, the
King of Mutton.

A letter arrives. And like it, we
are torn open.

For a while we read by an ancient
light,

a link among the unexceptional
billions.

An extra comma in the illegible
prose.


Bruce McRae, a Canadian musician, is a Pushcart nominee with over

a thousand poems published internationally in magazines such as
Poetry, Rattle and the North American Review. His latest book out now,
‘An Unbecoming Fit Of Frenzy’ is available on Amazon and through Cawing
Crow Press. His poems on video can be viewed on YouTube’s
BruceMcRaePoetry