Justin Hamm

Ohio County, Kentucky, 1985


I stand in our
ancestor’s field
all of Kentucky
a green inferno
at my back 

I stand there in
one shoe
Grandmother trying
to get ahold of me
so as to spit shine
my filthy face 

Grandfather picks through
the warped-wood barn
for his history  
before the coal company
has its way 

The air in this place
is ripe
with some kind
of weather 



They called my grandfather’s
grandfather The Preacher
and that is what
he was 

This land was his land

He rode these backhills
in his black coat
carrying the hidden ear
of judgement
close to his heart 

His whip they say
he kept down inside
his saddlebag 

I see him that afternoon
me as I told you
in his field
in my one shoe
don’t ask me how 

and when
the corpse of him
opens its vast red mouth
the crows pour out
like the shadows
of a thousand diamonds   



All around us
the insects whine 

All around us
Kentucky like one
great green blaze
of summer 

Grandmother closes in
reaches for the sleeve
of my t-shirt 

I see the dead man
out there on his mount 

I hear him speak
the bodies of those
dark birds

I know the family

I know all of them

The skies now
the color of healing

I look up
into Grandmother’s
horse-wild eyes 

I let her catch me

Originally from the flatlands of central Illinois, Justin Hamm now lives near Twain territory in Missouri. He is the founding editor of the museum of americana and the author of American Ephemeral and Lessons in Ruin, as well as two poetry chapbooks. His poems, stories, photos, and reviews have appeared in Nimrod, The Midwest Quarterly, Midwestern Gothic, Sugar House Review, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, and a host of other publications. Recent work has also been selected for New Poetry from the Midwest (2014, New American Press) and the Stanley Hanks Memorial Poetry Prize from the St. Louis Poetry Center. justinhamm.net


Devon Balwit

nine to five

every day, I thread the intravenous line,
platelets and plasma 

for another after I drag myself, anemic,
to the line.

walk away walk away the voices sing
over the bones

of those who have. it’s hard to become
a different kind 

of nothing. I fold their counsel
like crumbs

in a napkin, to pick at during the night’s
long interrogation.

death is certain. to die in open air
perhaps better 

than beneath florescent lights. either way, 
I am an animal.

Devon Balwit lives scarily close to the Cascadia Subduction Zone. She has six chapbooks and three collections out in the world. Her individual poems can be found or are forthcoming in journals such as The Cincinnati Review, apt, Posit, Cultural Weekly, Triggerfish, Fifth Wednesday, Rattle, The Free State Review, etc. For more, see her website at: https://pelapdx.wixsite.com/devonbalwitpoet.

Jude Brigley


She heard of her father’s death,
waking in a Pennsylvanian Sleep Inn
on a sunny, chill Boxing Day.

The room shrank to his isolation
where she had washed her hands
with chemical thoroughness.

The involuntary cry escaped
her, only to be expertly packed away.
She could not think of her mother

or of the daughter she
would have to tell, as though
she was pulled together.

Instead, she combed her hair
and took the elevator down,
ate pancakes, cereal, strawberry

yoghurt, pouring strong coffee
to strengthen her resolve
for the long day ahead.

At home, the day
was already closing

Jude Brigley has been a teacher, an editor, a coach and a performance poet. She is now writing more for the page.

Nate Maxson

Notes on Patriotic Birdcalls

             What we threw in the river
A scheme against the future, all the skinny Russian children who look a bit like I do
They say your arm goes numb before a heart attack, like something trying to escape before the event
A human seismograph, what the animals don’t ignore according to urban legend
A backup plan: we’ll build an ice skating rink in the arctic
Like an oasis in the desert, what we give up on: to keep moving
Before an anesthetic deep dive: all this (I gesture with my hands), a permanent dawnlight burning
You could make a national anthem out of the fabric
While I ramble on, all year long, about how we ruined Halloween
             Like skimming a subtle red object
             Off the water with my eyes closed

Nate Maxson is a writer and performance artist in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Don Kingfisher Campbell

A Gerund Life

of hot showers and chocolate chip cookies and canned
macaroni and cheese mixed with chili and plastic
lizards on Lost In Space T-shirts and gimme gimme
commercials yelling I didn't want this at Xmas and
wearing black framed glasses playing basketball
left-handed on asphalt and losing the junior high
presidency to Arlene Vasquez and her polyester pants
and being driven in the snow in a white Buick Skylark
getting patted on the ass by my sister's best friend
while Could It Be I'm Falling In Love played and
dreaming of Linda Ronstadt's nipples and finally
frenching in an elevator in the Ahmanson and poetry
made me fucking love life even more thank you

Don Kingfisher Campbell, MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University Los Angeles, has taught Writers Seminar at Occidental College Upward Bound for 33 years, been a coach and judge for Poetry Out Loud, a performing poet/teacher for Red Hen Press Youth Writing Workshops, Los Angeles Area Coordinator and Board Member of California Poets in the Schools, poetry editor of the Angel City Review, publisher of Spectrum and the San Gabriel Valley Poetry Quarterly, leader of the Emerging Urban Poets writing and Deep Critique workshops, organizer of the San Gabriel Valley Poetry Festival, and host of the Saturday Afternoon Poetry reading series in Pasadena, California. For awards, features, and publication credits, please go to: http://dkc1031.blogspot.com.

Kaye Spivey


I am the one pointing out constellations now,
seeking them with one finger as they blend in
among so many stars.

I am learning to recognize Jupiter
where he sits on the horizon,
and Cassiopeia across the way on her throne.

I point out the bears and follow their guide
to the swan, the great cross in the sky.
The milky way lights up the night

and sometimes I wonder how there can be so many stars—
they wash upon each other in pools of endless worlds.
I want to lay out blankets long after dark

and catch shooting stars with wishes.
I want to recognize the stars the way my mother did—
retelling stories to the sky.

Kaye Spivey is a writer and poet based in the Pacific Northwest. She has published two poetry collections, Fragments and An Isolated Storm. She has also been published in such literary journals as Written River, Sterling Mag, Ghostlight, The Penwood Review, and Northwest Boulevard.

Sara Moore Wagner

Old Wives Tale

What can we understand
of history except this: a figure
walked the wall beside your grandma’s
house night and day, day and night, 
and if someone took a picture, it must
have happened. An apparition, I think;
Someone was happy or unhappy, 
and her hair shown in the wind
like a dove. We thought it was
some kind of bird, but our mothers
said silly, silly. Later, we pretended
to get married like we saw the girls
do on TV, because it meant we’d grown
up enough to let a man tell us
to come in now and sit down, 
to let a man grunt his sorrow into
our little ears just when we wanted to stop it. Just
stop it. We pretended to dive
off every bridge in all white, hand fasted. 
I said to you, promise me if we die
tonight, we’ll come back here
looking like this. We’ll sing Glory, 
Glory, Glory—Almighty. 
It’ll terrify. I always leave
something out here, misrepresent
the narrative. Walk the wall with me now, 
full grown, hen-tied. Invent
a tale with me to replace
the truth of it all. Help me undo
this childhood like an old corset, 
the past nothing more than
scratchings at the door
or on the page.

Sara Moore Wagner is the Cincinnati based author of the chapbook Hooked Through (Five Oaks Press, 2017). Her poetry has appeared in many journals and anthologies including Gulf Stream, Gigantic Sequins, Stirring, Reservoir, The Wide Shore, The Pittsburgh Poetry Review, and Arsenic Lobster, among others. She has been nominated for a Pushcart prize, and was a recent finalist for the Tishman Review's Edna St Vincent Millay Prize. Find her at www.saramoorewagner.com

A.S. Coomer


Into the dying day
        a little boy that can speak to snakes
        a tree that spills no leaves
        a familiar scent whiffed as you flee into an unknown part of town

Meant to be?
        Or just another lapse of the                      peculiar
               understated understanding of the way things are
        or     should be?

One of the great regrets of my life           is not             trying
        or not trying                    hard                     enough

Choose the form of your redemption
                     Is intention beside    the         point    ?
Teach me about wintergrass
        One: a quiet place
Sing to me about the nighttime wings
                    Two: the drawer that served as your first crib
Ignore the rising sun & the sad-eyed day to come
        Three: a damp piece of earth no one will ever find again

Home & the will to be      withered        wayward      &       free

Give me death in bites sized for my prized decline
        in appetite
                 small & shrinking
                 at fault & shrieking
Show me. Show me. Show me.

A.S. Coomer is a writer, musician, and taco fanatic. Novels include Rush’s Deal, The Fetishists, Shining the Light, & The Devil’s Gospel. He runs Lost, Long Gone, Forgotten Records, a "record label" for poetry, and co-edits Cocklebur Press, a micropress for "books that stick." His 12-song studio debut, goddamn it anyway, is available from all major streaming services. www.ascoomer.com

Bill Abbott

Three Trains Passing in the Night
(Famous Train Wrecks of Ohio, Amherst Edition)

When children play with trains,
going off the tracks is high entertainment.

In 1916, two trains from Chicago to Pittsburgh,
in the middle-of-the-night heavy fog
of Amherst, Ohio, collided when the first
stopped for a faulty signal.

When the 50-miles-per-hour train hit the
stopped one, their wreckage spread to the next track
where the 20th Century Limited, also doing 50
ran into it from the other direction. 

28 people were killed, and train passenger and
the biggest silent film star of her time, 
Mary Pickford, and her understudy,
Ella Hall, joined local volunteers in
giving on-the-spot medical care to
the victims of the crash.

After every tragedy, we clean up. It takes
time and effort, but eventually people
can’t even tell where the pieces fell,
where the bodies bled into the ground,
where their world changed. 

Bill Abbott is the author of Let Them Eat MoonPie, the history of poetry slam in the Southeast. He has been published in Ray's Road Review, Radius, The November 3rd Club, Flypaper Magazine, and The Sow's Ear. Mr. Abbott lives in Ohio and teaches creative writing at Central State University.

Jared Strickland aka 8ball

Observed from My Porch in Russell, Pennsylvania

a lone firefly floats through
my neighbor's yard across
the road
sends out his glowing green beacon of hope
hope for a response in kind
a simple signal fire in solidarity
a sign that he's not alone
he flutters beyond my sight
his insistent luminance
grows faint in the distance

a choir of frogs from the creek
nearby serenade the night
harmonizing by instinct
as the pulse of distant
dying or dead suns keep time
the syncopation of the sky
music of the night
song of the eternal

indistinct music plays from my neighbor's radio
white noise to aid in peaceful
or just to mask the true music
until her window air conditioner
gurgles to life drowning out even
her songs to block the nightly strife

cats of every stripe or none
slide silently from the shadows
nature's assassins gathering
in a nightly convention
at a point in the middle of the street
the significance of the place
and gravity of their conclave
lost on me the only human observer

they come one by one
from all directions
one lays in center paws forward
twitches their tail as if to signal
the appointed time
the rest join one at a time
lounging, glancing at each other

one looks in my direction
a silhouette with tiny, twin singularities for eyes
tales stop switching
in unison they all turn silently
regard me for a time stop eternity
assessing my threat maybe
ultimately turn back to each other
continue their incomprehensible

I feel intrusive
get up to go inside
the cat coven adjourns silently scatter back into safe shadows
except one
who first took note of me
they stand as a rear guard watching until the rest
are away
then my observer disappears
as well

Jared Strickland is a small town boy, US Air Force veteran, IT guy and computer applications instructor who has a passion for writing and poetry. He hesitates to call himself a poet but other people do so he goes with it.

Brigid Hannon


it’s halloween, and I’m haunted,
and hunted,
ghosts from holy hallways here, again.
i built castles to house these Moorish banshees,
these wide-winged vultures,
safe behind stained-glass windows
that block out the light.
the darkness is quiet,
though these whispers too loud,
bringing light into those shadowed places.
i steel myself for visions of my demons,
and the feeling of bile.
rising like lava,
fever coursing my veins like morphine
causing me to bend and shatter.
to hide is useless,
to run is to keep running.
i stumble and fall, 
this abyss swallowing me whole,
too weak to fight,
he tears me down again.


Brigid Hannon is a writer and caregiver from Buffalo, NY. She is currently digging through twenty years of writing looking for pieces for possible publication, and has likely fallen asleep at her desk. She can be found at https://hamneggs716.wordpress.com and on Twitter @stagequeen.


Alexa Locksley

View from El Cortez

Outside my window
an enormous Gila monster
sprays venom
across the side of the next building,
dissolving concrete. 
The mountains in the distance
between lies dry sand and the dark
discrete spots of green, palm trees and
desert grass
mixed with the occasional glitter
of a car or window.
The cacti crunch,
gritty florets of broccoli
with an extra bite
of needles. 
A haze separates mountains from land
and makes them a part of the sky. 


Alexa Locksley is an escaped Midwesterner who currently lives in Las Vegas with her spouse and dog. She teaches English and film studies, and sustains herself primarily on black coffee. She has previously published work in Crack the Spine (as Jocelyn Locksley) and can be found on Twitter @AlexaLocksley.

Anne Myles

On Being Asked to Write a Hallelujah in a Darkening Time

I said but how can I
when we live on the hinge between terror and denial

When they say take comfort in your loved ones, I say
well show them to me then

I said what right have we to praise
even the broken
, immured in our shining
transparent walls that seem to hold for one more day

I said words are impossible

Only the silence then
Only the gaps
Let these be the places of praise:

the wink in the missing eye of the cat
who clings against me as I try to sit

the space between my resting hands and softening belly

the shift in new leaves on the flooded geranium
from unfurling to unfurled
put forth as the mind puts forth its thinking

the stillness at the bottom of every breath, where it is only now

the awakening ache of what refuses to be filled
by any false refuge

the beat between two caws of the crow
as he carves an arc under the sun
as he has done, as he will do
again over whatever waste

the blur when waking tumbles into sleep
and breathing deepens in the chest of a caged child

Anne Myles is originally from New York and has a PhD in English from the University of Chicago. She is an associate professor of English at the University of Northern Iowa. She has published numerous articles and chapters in the areas of early American literature. Trained in poetry early on, in midlife she is returning to recover her creative voice, which she somehow let go of.

Betsy Housten

Spectacular Failures & Other Gifts

Second most miraculous: I'd kept my lipstick all night, 
stuck to my palm when I came to on Jack's bathroom floor. 
Crinoline ripped, hem wine stains, earring lost to a grave
behind the toilet. Friends on the couch, rehashing my party. 

Faces said I looked wrecked as I felt, wrung-out stomach, 
throat post-exorcism. In daylight the gin cask lurked
like a monster. I went to you in my uninhabitable dress. 
You tucked me into your bed, white noise machine purring 

oblivion; I surrendered my life to you, angel sent to earth
to pluck me from the cataclysm of that year and cradle
my desperate bones into something sacred and deserving – 
the first girl who broke my heart, the apartment I loved 

infested with bugs that wouldn't die. Every terrible leaving
rendered transcendable: your hands in my hair. I slept. 
Hours later in your kitchen, a vision in flannel and denim, 
you warmed leftovers, root vegetables with herbs, and

right then I believed in an order to the world, some grand
unknowable plan to guide our scuffed, stumbling souls.

Betsy Housten is a Pushcart-nominated queer writer and massage therapist. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Cold Creek Review, Terse Journal, Cotton Xenomorph, Vagabond City, Bone & Ink Press, Burning House Press, Longleaf Review, Memoir Mixtapes and elsewhere. She lives in New Orleans, where she is pursuing her MFA in poetry.

Mary Hanrahan

6 am

evening undone
  into morning song
my daughter at the piano
  I wake up inside the music  
the new piece
  she is mastering
sorrow in every note
  every word a tear
held inside the slow
  progression of the sun
into the winter sky


Mary Hanrahan is an artist and poet living with PTSD. She holds an MFA from Ashland University.  Her work appears or is forthcoming in Ellipsis Zine, Ephemerae, Magnolia Review, Frogpond and elsewhere.


Zoë Brouns

St. Louis Summer Hymnal

these days the sun rises closer to ten pm. 

the city has grown to love you--shakes her mane, showers you with
of thunderstorms and movement, 
in the deep shadows of traintracks laid out cleanly
beside her
waiting to become maps of a new world. 

cherry trees blossom right
out of your mouth.
the flowers make it hard to breathe, 
you treasure the taste of dark kindness in your cheeks.

you become part of the border
between the houses

and the woods you offer
honeysuckle rusted chainlink fences crushed casings under pine needles
from military exercises when there were such things. 
you see too much

and remember more. 

the women looking for an escape,
for laughter, for the first day
of the rest of their lives
find you

you make coldpressed juice with the sides of
their necks and thighs
the back of your mouth the same
colour of smashed fruit 

you knot them
cherry stem after
cherry stem after
cherry stem
tying together
the bits
and pieces
of love to form

first crowns, then thrones,
then houses that turn into
homes with wooden
shingles and messy
beds, broken bookcases
no record players, every wall, 
the porch lights and footprints
muddy on the front deck

all of it, all of it
stretching towards the light,
towards something real. 

Oh, what we would do to each other
if we had the chance. 

Zoë Brouns is a queer woman living in St. Louis, Missouri. She works in public service, but finds that writing helps her breathe more easily. You can find her on Twitter at @alonelysloth and her work on Vagabond City and sea foam mag.

Caitlin Wolper

Your Skin is Tough & Yours

for Samantha Faller


The city trick is pretending
you’re an ignorant island:
see no, hear no, speak


He asked to touch
my hand & then
stopped asking. 

In the bedroom I stood
beside my body: we all know
what that’s like, forced to split in two
ghosts, each still, both cold,
surrendered to the ease
of letting anything happen.
What does it matter, we’re all skin
bags anyway, I’d told
my friend the hour before.

Can I be a borough now? Adrift
in anonymous mass, allowed
to write strange lines
that strangers can’t see
through the heavy subway crowds?
Hide me in throngs so I might forget

he asked to touch my hand
& then stopped asking.

Let me be Brooklyn, wide roads
and quiet mornings, quiet
murders and rapes and the hand
that opened me with a rip
like Velcro unhinging.

Caitlin Wolper graduated from Penn State's BA/MA in poetry, and her chapbook Ordering Coffee in Tel Aviv is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. She has been published most recently in Longleaf ReviewHooligan Magazine, Yes, Poetry, and Z Publishing's Best Emerging Poets Series. Also a journalist and writer, she has bylines in Teen Vogue, MTV News, Brooklyn Magazine, Reuters, and New York Family, among others. Follow her on Twitter @CaitlinWolper

Jeanette Powers

Miley Cyrus makes an honest mistake

Miley Cyrus finds herself
in the swimming pool
and the water is sick with chlorine stench
and the children are playing with abandon
which is to her horrendous
and she holds her guts squirming
because her head-ache
is a poltergeist shrieking at the sinking moon
and her stomach is full of butterflies
with chain-saw wings
and she doesn’t know why
her body is at war with her
and she doesn’t know why
she cannot catch her breath
and she’s bobbing in the water
and her heart is exploding in her chest
she knows death is knocking on her rib cage
shaking the bars of her heart to rattle
rattling like the poison and desert snakes
and the children are caterwauling
her throat seizes, she’s caught
suddenly the water is too cold
too cold, she will get hypothermia
her body will collapse
all the children will find her dead body
in the deep end, they will dive into her body
lifeless, limp, hair snaking, bloating away
they will have never seen a dead body before
and Miley becomes frightened
she reaches out for a life jacket, bright orange
but grabs a small child instead
she can’t see the difference between
innocent life and a life preserver
she carries the child out of the pool
she cannot hear the child screaming
over the lacerating panic in her own head
the child’s frenetic kicking
feels only just like her own throbbing heart
the scratching nails are only the pain
of not being, of having never been
she doesn’t even exist
she’s not even moving away from the pool
she can’t even move.
Miley is on the ground
her teeth breathe wet concrete
and ten knees are imprisoning her body
the safety ring flotation device
is moving away in a blur of orange tears
she sees it is not a buoy
it is a little girl.

Grown-ups are weeping and signaling
she can’t read lips or braille
she knows that teeth are bared
Miley relaxes into the dark floor
whimpering …

it’s me
it’s me
it’s me

I’m not even here.

Jeanette Powers is a working class artist and non-binary queer with a penchant for anarchy and misadventure. She enjoys finding unusual spaces for poems to live in and also swimming rivers with a pool noodle. Her latest chap, Gasconade, is available through NightBallet Press. jeanettepowers.com and @novel_cliche


Kat Giordano

Poem After Realizing Your Entire Family Unfriended Me on Facebook

in an instant, i recall that they only love you
unconditionally, and a fist shuts inside me. it’s not
that i’m changing my mind, that i should have kissed you
when you asked me from the middle of my kitchen
in tears last time we spoke. it’s the deed love becomes
when it’s time to sell the house, the fine print
of having nothing i own and how it doesn’t matter
that none of the plants you’ve watered were yours
until you’re not allowed back inside. i know
there are ways through this, but why are they all
surrender? there’s a glitch in my empathy
and i don’t know how to reverse our roles.
i think of your mom waiting in the car
the night she drove you to our breakup,
her arms at the end of my cruelty the real dividing
of possessions, and it occurs to me everything
i’ve ever held has been rented.

Kat Giordano is a poet and massive millennial crybaby from Pennsylvania. She co-edits Philosophical Idiot and is the author of one full-length poetry collection, The Poet Confronts Bukowski's Ghost. She is also the author of many highly embarrassing social media meltdowns, which she kindly archives on her Twitter account, @giordkat, and tries desperately to compensate for via self-promotion on her website, katgiordano.com.