I walk in the shadow of skeletal trees,

their fearsome, naked branches reaching out

in desperation, pleading for redemption

like ghostly soldiers back from war in search

of peace, an end to dreams

of screams and shattered flesh.

Scattered underneath, concealed among

withered, blood-red remnants of last year’s

flowers, lurk spiked seed pods,

tiny, inobtrusive land mines

set to detonate at slightest touch

exploding everywhere new seeds

prepared to sprout, to conquer, and

to dominate all lesser growth

exhibiting their red magnificence.

Until, again, the glory ends

in stark, bare desolation.


POETRY: LAURA MANARDO – Lemon Water in Lake Michigan

Lemon Water in Lake Michigan


Midwestern boys use tongue. And I’ve sprouted

from cracks in concrete. Midwestern boys use their fingers.

And I’ve used my hands

too. Trust me. I’ve used numb hands

to mold Midwestern boys. I know how they form words

in their heads before slapping asses

in beds that I’ve made.

I don’t wash my sheets anymore.

I used to know Midwestern boys, but they don’t bleed

with the vigor that I do. They don’t smack

ball of foot to earth the way that I taught them to.

And Midwestern boys use pretty words

like “only child” to water me,

make me grow, spread me

out, lick me clean. Midwestern boys borrow

my knitting needles and use them

wrong. Midwestern boys show me their photographs,

let me put finger to gloss. Let me put finger to mouth,

Midwestern boys. I’m stuck

between two slabs of planet

and all of the Midwestern boys are drinking

lemon water.

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POETRY: Laura Manardo – Irrawaddy Dolphins and Casual Sex

Irrawaddy Dolphins and Casual Sex


Like the Irrawaddy dolphin,

I have sex for pleasure

and it ruins me

because I need you to hold me

afterward in the Mekong River.

I need you

to swim alongside me

and let me take a breath

from your blowhole.

It is estimated that 91 of us still exist,

still swim together.

Well, every time I leave

your bed I feel the dead

dolphins lining the river’s bottom. They lived

their lives trying to breathe

in each others exhaled breaths,

trying to buoy themselves to see

the sun rise and fall

on each others backs.

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Where Are the Sidewalks?


Blades of grass slashed my feet.

“No Trespassing” signs smacked my face, screamed,

“Go back to your city, we have no sidewalks here.” Sidewalks,

sidewalks, where are the sidewalks?

Limping, dripping bloody footprints on the macadamia road,

I edged toward the school bus stop,

where hyenas brayed, “We are the cool of the suburbs,

worship at our Gucci feet!”  The school bus choked me

with a mix of diesel and fluffy yellow cake uranium,

crazy-glued me to the seat with chewed orange bubble gum.


The rambling, random brick walls of the school blocked my path,

spat at me, mockingly proclaimed,

“We have no use for you, little girl,

go back to your dingy drabby scumdummy school.”

The bell shrieked, “You’re late for your viral

algebra class! Your punishment:  prove theological theorems

for all to see. Pray to the icon of iconoclasm!”

Blackboards surrounded me,

erasers clapped together, suffocating with clouds of cyanide chalk.

The gymnasium belligerently belittled my body,

bleachers ripped off my clothes,

chanting, “Boo, boo, no one will ever make love to you!”


I hid in the showers and cried for the sidewalks.

But the sidewalks shed crock pot tears and

not for me.


POETRY: Husain Abdulhay – Devoted Dad

Devoted dad

Nothing more I reveled in than seeing my little kid’s blithe face.
One day we were sitting round my daughter’s birthday cake,
Say, ‘‘what you want for your birthday gift?’’
I will do whatever you wish.
There were some red fish in the aqua tank.
She said, ‘‘Please gulp them down in a blink of an eye.’’
Since I didn’t want to make her sad,
I swallowed them all at once.
Now I’ve got stomachache for two days long.
But I made her at last burst into lusty laugh.


Husain Abdulhay, born on 26 August 1979, is from Iran.

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After the breakup, our phone conversations
become space debris, steel pieces hardly
discernible hurtling haphazardly at five miles

per second. Where do the scraps go?
The gold taste of summer will impact the brain
and puncture, enflame. We wish to assist

the start-ups who seek to construct
machines to eliminate wayward spares
of satellites trapped in the gravity of a body,

propel its dust into the atmosphere to burn.
We drift wary of small artifacts
from failed missions to emerge

in the distance of night to strike
and make split into fragments
we will never assemble again.

Find James Jackson Online.


poetry: catherine wolf -hack attack

Hack Attack
Finally! Obama shot back at the Russian hackers
who attacked our computers, the Democratic National Committee,
Hillary’s email, and just fun Vermont’s power grid.

But shot with a BB gun, it could shoot someone’s eye out,
leaving him dazed and bloody, not like a nuke
which could destroy a country or a world,
leaving the scent of smoke no creature could smell.
Obama, did you smell the flaming planet?

Trumpeter tweeted Putin putting off his own retaliation,
shining “very smart.” Treason is giving aid and comfort
to an enemy. Is the president-elect dipping
into treason like chocolate mousse?

Trumpeter sided with WikiLeaks founder
who said “Nyet, not a Russian hack.”
Does dumpy Trumpy want to build a golf course
in Siberia? It’s all about money.

With his glowing bare muscular chest,
Putin must have a dozen women
Trumpet can grope.


Catherine G. Wolf studied language development in graduate school, and was fascinated by this unique human ability. In 1997, when she was stricken with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, her ability to speak was taken away by this disease. She found poetry had a special capability to express her innermost feelings. By losing her physical voice, Catherine found her poetic voice. Catherine has published in the 2016 Rat’s Ass Review edition of Love & Ensuing Madness, Rat’s Ass Review, Front Porch Review, Verse-Virtual, Cacti Fur, and Bellevue Literary Review. She uses assistive technology to communicate, and raises her right eyebrow to type.

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