2 Poems by Jill Bergantz Carley


Soft Tissue


Tonight the animal of my grief pads down the hallway in a light blue nightgown clawing a cold bottle of white and the end of a roll of Brawny paper towels, the kind that are perforated closely choose-your-own-adventure when I drop them not a single muscle cares: I’ll retrace that path in the late of night cracking open every window a wish for one cool breeze upon my cheek; the earth owes me that much at least last week almost etherized I spread my arms for a scrub nurse deploying soft restraints a little horizontal crucifixion I awoke wombless  mine own bloody coup finally: do you understand I will always trace this low scar my fertility no longer a dark mark against me a threat made love to me in bed I am the last of me and I am wanting a warren in which to keep my heart I would crawl to the ocean on my knees I would leap from the bridge in early light there is a razor edge where I end and time begins and it will not begin anew with me, let me spare you this neverdaughter, let me be the death of you.




Five Star Review for a Cordless Rotary Tool


With the diamond-edge Dremel blade I gave you at Christmas; you
deserve beauty; you
told me to hold still left palm up standing naked at our bed; you
cut the ring square off my finger, ease-steady with a sureness I’ll never know,

The suddenness and the surprise of the welt wringing the raw skin where my wedding band has lived since the evening you placed it on my finger under an arbor of mistletoe crashing the oak branches under which we took our vows,

kiss, now, the world goes, asking quietly,

The reaction of your body to mine a stiffening and a steadying were you even touching me or was it the extension of your fingers small buzz saw sharp as day light 

it was my own arteries pumping away,

The whirr of your machine it radiated to my heart; I
am feral, darling; I
am making Vantablack dark jokes; I
am crying about absolutely nothing; I
am an all-consuming vat of fear and I
am the photograph of a black hole in our universe and I’m
hungry or I’m vomiting and my fear is a branch of forsythia the cold day it vaults to a caution yellow soft as gold.


Jill Bergantz Carley is a Pushcart-nominated poet living in rural Northern California.  Her work has appeared recently in ENTROPY, OPOSSUM, Collective Unrest, Okay Donkey, Headlight Anthology, and elsewhere.  She’s very, very left-handed, which makes this poem even more uneasy; she trusts her husband a whole damn lot.

jillbergantzcarley.com ✏✨
@jbergantzcarley 🐦
@jillbergantzcarley 📸

3 Poems by DS Maolalai


Dollymount Strand.


the best thing – the city
swings inwards, sea
a swelling belly
disgorging itself of seaweed, wrack
and whales from every storm. off east
you see britain
or imagine it,
and sometimes
only the haze of other countries
you would some day like
to see – we share sandwiches, wine
and beercans cooled in rockpools. trade cigarettes with strangers
and drop ashed cotton
to blow into the dunes. northward
howth burns blue
with stacked driftwood
and south dun laoghaire shines like lighthouses
and imagined wealth. it’s been so long
since I’ve lived near the sea – I love it.
walking barefoot, holding my shoes
and tasting sand. salt air
cold and toothsome,
snacks, and the sky open,
filled and brimming with birds.






Everyone out, and flowers.


taking corners
without slowing, moving
like a swinging
pendulum, or like being
a bat, flying
toward buildings
and turning at full speed. biking home
in hot summer
while kids cross the road
and men in vans
play loud music
and lean through open
windows. it’s a joy;
everyone out,
and flowers. cans by the canal.
girls in dresses
smoking cigarettes
rolled up
at 4pm.






A naturally skinny man.


I remember
this prof we had
in college. he taught poetry
and was a poet himself, though I never read
his stuff. Ger Dawes – tiresome old rabbit. and my biggest impression
leaving his lectures
as a 20 y/o
was that a naturally skinny man
should be careful
never to get fat. for him, it lived in his throat.
thin arms, thin legs,
a chest like a bottle
and the expanding neck
of a bullfrog. 

but anyway; I remember, this lecture
he did on his own
poetry – the balls
that takes. all these kids listening embarrassed
as finally
the passion came over. there was one with capitals
he wrote, young as we were
then, and the words –
he really
yelled them. yeah; imagine the balls
and the passion – I hate to think
that at 60
I’ll be so passionate
about what I’m doing


DS Maolalai has been nominated for Best of the Web and twice for the Pushcart Prize. His poetry has been released in two collections, “Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden” (Encircle Press, 2016) and “Sad Havoc Among the Birds” (Turas Press, 2019)

“HOME AT LAST” by John Grey


to a dark pleasure hole,
a kind of low mass,
labor-saving devices,
dismal yellow wallpaper –
no wonder a man drinks
from boiling hell,
a kitchen table will have to do,
a series of apposite deluding
sermons on the pleasures
of the self-
beliefs balance so precariously
and here’s me praising them,
refusing to leave the building,
as solitude stares out at the universe
and then some –
where the stars cheer
at whatever Duchamp is painting these days,
as booze reclaims its place in religion,
colorless morphine for the masses
turning the world away from me –
what is it like out there anyhow?
baritone voice through megaphone,
boutique balustrades, psychotic rainbows,
bums pissing in the gutter –
can’t clean myself up for
if I shave I leave blood in traces,
can’t ask the light::
causality has never been so clean-shaven –
heady days of the early nineties,
don’t wait for formal burial,
enlist in a war with even electric shavers
and foam licking bloody chins –
a laugh riot for all who believe
in the rotting worth of bodies.


John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in
That, Muse, Poetry East and North Dakota Quarterly with work upcoming
in Haight-Ashbury Literary Journal, Hawaii Review and the Dunes

2 Poems by Rickey Rivers Jr.



Hotel Room Floor

on the hotel room floor,
not knowing where I’m going.
Where is my life at this moment?
Do I even deserve it?
My tears soak the carpet.
I belong on the floor.
It is the only thing that would have me,
welcome me
with open arms.
I lay here.
The rough bristles caress my face
as I ponder my future.
Do I even deserve it?
Nothing I have now means anything.
I am at peace.
Let me sink
and merge
into the carpentry.
This is indeed a place for me.




Sorry for Breaking It


I switch; a dumb move precedes catastrophe.

Amazon in a printed dress, her neck fragile,

shatter ceramic, apologies are like glue,

fixing mistakes. I feel terrible, still.

Accidents forgiven, not forgotten,

mistakes make or break creatives.

Things were fine seconds ago.

Let this not become a “remember when you-” moment.

I apologize. Please, let the glue do its job.



Two Poems by Emily Nicol





I have been feeling
very much like a worm, lately.

Small and writhing,
need to be beneath
dirt, a larger filth.

To roll in silt, to avoid
the pull of light, some
other euphoria.

Very much a deeper
downwards, warm
sodden womb-like.

Virginal worms,
soft round and

pink, laid out in loam.




For Now I Think of Teeth

I have always wondered
about wearing the dead.
Hair lockets, mourning rings.
But have you hung the teeth?
Have they rattled around your neck?

Pulling myself apart, I should like
to give my teeth to my mother,
each split in half,
to be seeded and sown.

If someone should dance in my skin,
let it un-fit them. 


 Emily is a graduate student and bookseller in Northern California.

find her on twitter and instagram: @johnbrownsbabe


“Never Wednesdays” by Donald Ryan


It was 1994 and he was working
at this restaurant outside Shreveport,
Pearl Jam on the box
and a broken wrist.
It was his day off, a day of rest.
Yet he was standing in the kitchen.
Glove stretched over his fat palm.
He should have said no, I’ve got plans,
and the joints he smoked agreed.
It was the extra pain pill popped said yes.
So he dropped baskets and burnt toast
when walked in


Bright painted fucking joy, fucking hi-yuck
rictus kiddies, here’s a balloon twisted gimmick
as if the free kid for every adult meal didn’t bring
the families in in hordes (it didn’t).
There was Streamers.
In all her fearfulness cheerfulness.
In all her fuckery. 

Just get a drink and don’t look up
Just get a drink and don’t look up
Just get a drink and don’t look fuck.
“How are we today?”  We?
Words of terror from a Chelsea grimace
between cheeks painted rum red.
Just forget the drink and don’t piss self.
“Do we know how Kathy’s doing?”
Kathy had cancer.
Streamers came claiming Kathy.
“Kathy.  Fucking fan-tastic.”

The line dead, wag dragon fired,
the fool kept focus on death’s swinging doors.
Fear held no bound as long as he
was on the safest side.
He went home early, on account of
his hand and all—right—
fucked stasis fakes
bravery in composure.

She chose to paint her face;
The sweet southern belle.
“A dissident is here,” he said.

Never Wednesdays.


Donald Ryan’s words have appeared, or are forthcoming in, Cleaver, Fiction Southeast, Hobart, Soft Cartel, Owl Canyon Press’s hackathon anthology, Short Edition’s international story dispensers, and elsewhere. He’s a full-time part-time librarian in the GA Pines. donaldryanswords.com and/or @dryanswords because, you know…

“i’ll ask the shower walls one more time” by Jared Povanda


do you know what the tooth fairy does with all those teeth?
do you know how heavy her sack must be after a single night?
bicuspids, i think,
but i don’t really know
because the dentist never sits and
explains which teeth are which teeth instead
she just points
to the generalized moderate bleeding of
my gums with a sharp tip
and tsks jared i know you know
but do you know what the tooth fairy does with all those teeth?
i imagine she builds bridges and paves roads with
fairy tale taxpayer dollars going to the coins left under pillows
and all those workers in their pink vests
patch potholes with polly’s baby
teeth clicking and pissy because the easter bunny’s egg shells
collected last april just wouldn’t cut it

Jared Povanda is a writer who just started dabbling in poetry recently. His prose has been published in Back Patio Press, and also in Cheap Pop, Riggwelter Press, Maudlin House, and Lammergeier, among others. Follow him @JaredPovanda