Ronnie Sirmans

The Problem With White Sheets

And even, even if we did
opt for plain white sheets
and a white bedspread, they
would not be snow, clouds,
or even meringue dividing us
in the clumping of what gets
shifted in nightly slumber.
Even after all these years,
after we’ve staked our sides,
always the same, on this bed,
countermands of no use now,
we would recognize the white
for what it was: liquid nitrogen
luring us, as if we’re again young,
to touch the diaphanous and burn.


Ronnie Sirmans is an Atlanta journalist whose poetry has appeared in Blackbox Manifold, BlazeVOX, Tar River Poetry, The American Journal of Poetry, and elsewhere. 

Michael Lee Johnson

Just Because, Bad Heart

Just because I am old
do not tumble me dry.
Toss me away with those unused
Wheat pennies, Buffalo nickels, and Mercury dimes
in those pickle jars in the basement.
Do not bleach my dark memories
Salvation Army my clothes
to the poor because I died.
Do not retire me leave me a factory pension
in dust to history alone.
Save my unfinished poems refuse to toss them
into the unpolished alleyways of exile rusty trash barrows
just outside my window, just because I am old.
Do not create more spare images, adverbs
or adjectives than you need to bury me with.
Do not stand over my grave, weep,
pouring a bottle of Old Crow
bourbon whiskey without asking permission
if it can go through your kidneys first.
When under stone sod I shall rise and go out
in my soft slippers in cold rain
dread no danger, pick yellow daffodils,
learn to spit up echoes of words
bow fiddle me up a northern Spring storm.
Do you bad heart, see in pine box of wood,
just because I got old.


Michael Lee Johnson lived 10 years in Canada during the Vietnam era and is a dual citizen of the United States and Canada. Today he is a poet, freelance writer, amateur photographer, and small business owner in Itasca, Illinois. Mr. Johnson published in more than 1062 new publications, his poems have appeared in 38 countries, and he edits and publishes ten poetry sites. Michael Lee Johnson has been nominated for 2 Pushcart Prize awards poetry 2015/1 Best of the Net 2016/2 Best of the Net 2017, 1 Best of the Net 2018. 178 poetry videos are now on YouTube.  Editor-in-chief poetry anthology, Moonlight Dreamers of Yellow Haze; editor-in-chief poetry anthology, Dandelion in a Vase of Roses. Editor-in-chief Warriors with Wings: the Best in Contemporary Poetry.

Eric Lochridge


Eric Lochridge is the author of three chapbooks: Born-Again Death WishReal Boy Blues, and Father’s Curse. His poems have appeared in SlipstreamDIAGRAMMojave Heart ReviewHawaii Pacific Review, and many others, as well as anthologies such as WA 129 and Beloved on the Earth. He lives in Bellingham, Washington. Find him on Twitter @ericedits.

Gerard Sarnat


Miles away – disguised
Buddha radiates light, almost
levitates – I wake.


Gerard Sarnat is a physician who’s built and staffed homeless clinics as well as a Stanford professor and healthcare CEO. He won the Poetry in the Arts First Place Award plus the Dorfman Prize, and has been nominated for Pushcarts plus Best of the Net Awards. Gerry is published in academic-related journals including Stanford, Oberlin, Brown, Columbia, Virginia Commonwealth, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Wesleyan and the University of Edinburgh. Gerry’s writing has also appeared widely including recently in such outlets as A New Ulster, Gargoyle, Main Street Rag, New Delta Review, MiPOesias, Margie, Blue Mountain Review, Danse Macabre, Canary Eco, Military Experience and the Arts, Cliterature, Brooklyn Review, San Francisco Magazine, The Los Angeles Review and The New York Times. His piece KADDISH FOR THE COUNTRY was selected for pamphlet distribution nationwide on Inauguration Day 2016. Amber Of Memory was chosen for the 50th Harvard reunion Dylan symposium. He’s also authored the collections Homeless Chronicles (2010), Disputes (2012), 17s (2014), and Melting the Ice King (2016). Gerry’s been married since 1969, with three kids plus four grandkids (and more on the way).

Michael H. Brownstein

The Day I Left Chicago

That evening a snapping turtle with attitude joined us on the porch
and, as shadows placed daylight on the back of the shelf, two toads
hopped against the edge of light near the wall.

That was the day I left Chicago,
the day of my wife’s birthday,
the day I drove a moving truck from one home to another.

That morning I walked the green path for the last time,
sat on the bench by the clay carved cliff
and watched a scattering of birds fly against a backdrop of sky and lake.
One sky blue line cut the lake in two,
one white scar connected the clouds.
The sun began to rise, slowly, the sky reddened like eyes too long on a task,
and the clouds framed themselves in a bath of pink.
The purple horizon lightened its skin.
Every bird found a rock or a branch.
We watched together.

Later the truck and I crossed the Mississippi at sunset,
the clouds on fire, the sky, the forest, the river,
and the highway narrowed and I could not turn to watch.


Michael H. Brownstein’s poetry volume, A Slipknot Into Somewhere Else: A Poet’s Journey To The Borderlands Of Dementia, was recently published by Cholla Needles Press (2018).

Jacob Spivey

Left Behind

The rumbling roaring of oil and rubber:
high-viz jackets, building houses for students.
The stinging of smoke in the choke of the town:
the staff outside Greggs on their cigarette break.

Gone are the days of industrial glory;
the factories standing as the loneliest ghosts.
The buildings that once ruled the world:
now a Tesco, a Boots and a Subway.

And the children of men who lived and died
on these factory floors are still there,
selling overpriced sandwiches for minimum wage
in a world that has changed and left them behind.

But beneath the stars on the hill,
Looking out across the Town,
these Tesco’s, Boots and Subways
mirror the heavens with their dazzling lights.


“I am a writer who finds that the more mundane things in life – the things taken for granted – are often the most fascinating and defining. In my writing all I want to do is explore these little bites of inspiration and try to make sense of them all.”

Daun Daemon

When Mama Sang “Mockingbird Hill”

Mama festooned the house
with her singing, draping her trills
and warbles over the furniture
like strands of sun-kissed roses
strewn over a dew-covered hill

She filled my heart with happiness
because she was happy when she sang,
all the world peaceful and still,
brimming with the goodness
of her thrilling mockingbird lilt

Now I wake to birds in the springtime
in the trees near my window sill —
though their songs aren’t as lovely
as the tra-la-la and tweedlee dee dee
of my mother singing her song to me


Daun Daemon’s stories have appeared in The Dead Mule, Literally Stories, and other journals. She has recently published poetry in TypishlyDime Show Review, Third Wednesday, Synaeresis Arts + Poetry, and other journals. Her poem “I hear her voice calling” won the Origami Poems 2017 Kindness Contest. Daemon teaches at NC State University and lives in Raleigh with her husband and four cats.

Benny Biesek


Back before me, case in point:
How apes like men destroy. The candelabra
Cleaned and dreamt-up, seance in a paper
Cup, a tin man out back trying his luck.

Say you’ll remember, how dawn becomes
Reckless, how caged mutes shout out
And gesture.

In the end no silent treatment, no plots
To overthrow the watershed mark. In
The end spilled lozenge and a token to ken.

Survive the wreckage, yes, we can. Can
Sardines, yes, we can. The world on
The verge, yes, why not.

Back before me, back to the wind:
How men devour like trophy cases.
How the seance was born famous.
The days, never-ending, never end.

The parlance of the watchtower. The
Americans, shut-down. The end,
Be it tomorrow or today, comes, cleans.


Benny Biesek is a reader for Frontier Poetry and Tilde: A Literary Journal. His work has appeared online and in print, including previously with Peeking Cat Poetry. He resides in California.

Gary Beck

Nice Change

This weekend I saw cherry blossoms
forsythia, hyacinth, daffodils,
all giving the illusion of Spring,
even though it was cold.
Then I saw Robins,
the first time since last year
and knew the sullen days
of winter were departing.


Gary Beck has spent most of his adult life as a theater director. He has 14 published chapbooks. His poetry collections include Days of Destruction (Skive Press), Expectations (Rogue Scholars Press), Dawn in Cities, Assault on Nature, Songs of a Clerk, Civilized Ways, Displays, Perceptions, Fault Lines, Tremors, Perturbations, Rude Awakenings and The Remission of Order (Winter Goose Publishing). Conditioned Response (Nazar Look), Virtual Living (Thurston Howl Publications), Blossoms of Decay, Expectations and Blunt Force (Wordcatcher Publishing). His  novels include Flawed Connections (Black Rose Writing), Call to Valor and Crumbling Ramparts (Gnome on Pig Productions), Sudden Conflicts (Lillicat Publishers). Acts of Defiance  (Wordcatcher Publishing). His short story collections include A Glimpse of Youth (Sweatshoppe Publications), Now I Accuse and other stories (Winter Goose Publishing) and Dogs Don’t Send Flowers and other stories (Wordcatcher Publishing). The Republic of Dreams and other essays (Gnome on Pig Productions). Feast or Famine and other one act-plays will be published by Wordcatcher Publishing. His original plays and translations of Moliere, Aristophanes and Sophocles have been produced Off Broadway. His poetry, fiction and essays have appeared in hundreds of magazines. He lives in New York City.

Temidayo Opeyemi Jacob

Shedding Off

This poem is not talking about oldness
running into the palms of newness,
This poem is oldness itself,
running into the palms of newness;
fulfilling the words of the preacher
who said “there is time for everything”.

Time to be born once and to die once:
Time to be born again and to die again,
such that whatsoever falls off and on
becomes an old city telling three tales:

of those things that died inside of us,
of those things that continued living
and of those things that started living.

Sometimes, my body becomes full
like a basket of fresh tomatoes, and
it starts to fall out of broken skins.
My body falls to the soil like flakes,
just to pick another body with flames.
My palms wipe off old sights, words,
acts, places, spaces and even faces,
as they draw in everything new again.
And pieces become peace in a dark room.


Temidayo Opeyemi Jacob is a Nigerian writer and photographer. His works have appeared on NaijaStories, TushStories, some anthologies and some blogs. He blogs at He is on Facebook as Temidayo Mayor Jake, on Instagram as @spillandspell, and on Twitter as @mayorofajegunle.