You Would by William Doreski

Who does what in New York behind a whitewashed facade doesn’t concern me. Your graffiti style beckons, but I can’t respond in tonalities rich enough to deter you. The two rivers draw you equally. You would if I would first, but I can’t. You claim I did, but I didn’t. The stink behind the façade proves me right. If I opened that latch someone uglier than a demolished building would emerge, dripping flavors. You wouldn’t recognize me behind that mask. Too many bristling retorts, too thick a film on the smile. You’d still claim that I did what you would do, but the gaping hole in your favorite building would cough up bats and ghosts. None would praise or even thank you.

Starved by Courtney LeBlanc

Do not mistake my silence

for absence: every day I think

of you and every day I say

nothing – no message sent,

no phone call made, no

letter mailed. With you it had

to be – has to be – all or none.

I loved you once, I think

you kept part of my heart

tucked into a pocket,

held close to the warmth

of your body. Even though 

we no longer speak, look

between the silences, find 

the quiet meaning in the spaces

between the words, small enough 

to swallow whole. Language

is a kind of hunger and I am 

always starved.


Courtney LeBlanc is the author of Beautiful & Full of Monsters (forthcoming from Vegetarian Alcoholic Press), chapbooks All in the Family (Bottlecap Press) and The Violence Within (Flutter Press), and a Pushcart Prize nominee. She has her MBA from University of Baltimore and her MFA from Queens University of Charlotte. She loves nail polish, wine, and tattoos. Read her publications on her blog: www.wordperv.com. Follow her on twitter: @wordperv, and IG: @wordperv79

This poet, by Michal ‘MJ’ Jones

This tall glass
of freshwater
from river’s edge,


makes memory my magic
looses locked logic
into gilded dust.


Whittles me
down to a writhing rag
wrung & wrung which remains wet.


I’m a knee-knocked
goddamned drunk juggernaut of
bunched nerve endings,


French braided fingers on neck napes,
a deep-sleep susurration at darkness
billowed into dawn that


jostles the willow’s whips, gathers
glacial eyes closed like
contented curtains.


Let me be your lilted line,
a zephyrous sigh –
I’ll make it wine.


Michal ‘MJ’ Jones is a Black queer, and non-binary poet and activist living in Oakland, CA. MJ’s work has been featured at Foglifter Press, Terrible Orange Review, Everyday Feminism, Black Girl Dangerous, The Body Is Not An Apology, and Wear Your Voice Magazine. They are currently the Community Engagement Graduate Fellow in the MFA program at Mills College.

Happiness by Jared A. Carnie

Happiness eludes me like a

simile.


Sometimes it’s a sharp crackle

and sometimes it’s a wall

painted like a dark window.


There is warm skin

on my cold skin

and smiles

like baskets of guilt

through the trapdoors

of my eyes.


Jared A. Carnie’s debut novel, Waves, was released in 2016. His first poetry release, LYME, will be available soon from Paper Swans Press. He can be found at www.jaredacarnie.com.

Homeless by Megha Sood

Those dark cumulus clouds circling in the sky

Pregnant with the rain. A silent pause.


circling the abyss before they fall and wreak havoc.
tightening the vortex around my chest, those grey skies
fondling the belly of the umber earth.


the pain slowly drips and gathers in the drain.
that sluice channels it all over the city.
wreathing in pain. Pointed and pinched by those sharp pointy
heads of the skyscraper.


Anxiety slowly seeping in the pores of this vapid city.
Rain unearth the worms, renders them homeless.


I’m sleeping unaware of this voiceless din.
The hairy worm slowly crawls in my ear.


Megha Sood is a contributing editor at Free Verse Revolution, Heretics, Lovers and Madment, among others, and is Poetry Editor at Ariel Chart. Sood has published over 300 words in journals such as Better than Starbucks, Kissing Dynamite, and Foliate Oak. Sood is a two-time state-level winner of the NJ Poetry Contest, and a national-level poetry finalist in the Poetry Matters Prize (2019).

Beckoning by Gerard Sarnat

Thoroughly deranged by Rimbaud, quit tagging at 18, we’re poles apart giraffes and groundhogs —  he a genius, precocial, hatched full form; me more accountant, pasticheur, froggy, altricial.

Still, apothecary Keats and doc Williams managed to be read.

Kunitz succeeded Sophocles and Frost as the oldest working poet, peaked in his 90’s, may Stan’s word storm rust in peace.

Healer molt to anecdotalist at sixty-two, soup stewing back of the stove bubbles up chance memories.

Only once in a while chunks of reality drop in.

Future problematic, address book tattered, thinned; more meditative present merges with wilier pasts; divisions  time  truth   breakdown    ellipse     branch       bog in begin.

Polonius, don’t overreach as Wally Steven’s mickey mocker: after shaving (how are you tied to that jowly ripe man?),

sing your stories outloud as the nascent troubadour I am.


Gerry Sarnat MD’s won Poetry in Arts First Place/Dorfman Prizes; was recently nominated for a handful of Pushcarts/Best of the Net Awards; authored HOMELESS CHRONICLES (2010), Disputes (2012), 17s (2014), Melting The Ice King (2016);  and’s widely published including recently by: American Journal Of Poetry, New Delta Review, Brooklyn ReviewLos Angeles Review, San Francisco Magazine, New York Timesgerardsarnat.com

Ave Maria by Justin Karcher

There are nights

me and Sam get together

and play darts


with the used syringes 

that have killed

our acquaintances


maybe if we were better people

those acquaintances 

would’ve been friends


but those opportunities 

are long gone

Sam always tells me


that you can’t cry in space

that your eyes 

make tears


but they stick as a liquid ball

in zero gravity

and can’t flow downward


the way they do on Earth

in conclusion

the universe doesn’t care about our momentum


to feel better about this

I tell myself that aliens are real

that they’re sitting in flea market lawn chairs


on the beer belly 

of the Aurora Borealis 

and staring at everything


oceans, rolls of toilet paper

bars on the Strip

cancer patients riding carousels


I imagine

the aliens are impressed

with how we persevere


how we keep waking up

despite always missing

the bullseye


Justin Karcher (@Justin_Karcher) is a Best of the Net- and Pushcart-nominated poet and playwright born and raised in Buffalo, New York.