A poetry collection by Beth Gordon

Unquestioned Loyalty

I’m not going to pay for groceries this week, not when my neighbors discarded half-rotted vegetables in the common garbage dumpster.   I’ll go for vodka and rob the gas station.  Please just do what I say.    I didn’t know my wife was pregnant, she didn’t want to tell me until she was sure.  We’ve been trying for years and now the moment has arrived, replete with dividing cells.  Open the cash register and give me everything except the one dollar bills.

I searched for you today in all the usual places.  The world wide web revealed nothing.

I understand these are extraordinary times but without word from you, vintage music videos, predictions of nuclear conflagration, my mind burns oil like my cousin’s low rider.  Choking on smoke        at every red light.  All things will slow to 33 rpms just as my bumper breaks through the retaining wall.  Everything I do is to keep us alive.  Don’t you know that, don’t you know that I’ve already seen myself die a thousand times for no purpose?  Pick me, I’m your driver.


Political Landscape

I want to wake up tomorrow as a beast outside of mortal reckoning.  Outside of starvation or elevators that skip the 13th floor.  A best-selling novelist gets on at seven and refuses to sign copies of His Masterpiece without compensation.  A quick kiss on his wrinkled cheek, a pair of unwashed panties, a chance to put his hand inside my blouse before we reach the lobby.

I want to exist outside of memory, forgetting the piano left behind when 2,000 miles of loose soil collapsed in our front yard.  Hunger is not the worst thing but it’s a close second to every other demise.  Near suffocation, whether by dust storm or plastic bag, leaves me in the same condition.  Traveling by wheelchair to family reunions with survival tales worthy of the grownup table.


Penny Pincher

The eyes do certain reflexive things when something interests you. Solar panels, pizza coupons, WD-40 rebates, all re-purposed and purposeful things.  If you spend it, you’re not saving it.  The sideways glance, the unplanned spark, the romantic dinner purchased for half price.  This is subject to abuse     with belladonna, lightning rods or sleight-of-hand rabbit tricks.

You’ll drive 10 miles out your way for free whipped cream whether or not you need it.  Your head battles with charity functions, the price of home-baked donated muffins. You’ll put your hand in a bag of poisonous snakes but you’re terrified to open your wallet.  The truth is it is a very hardcore sexual cue. The reason you’ve owned the same gasping dishwasher for over 30 years.


Beth Gordon is a poet who lives in St. Louis, Missouri and spends most weekends in the company of fellow writers, musicians, wine drinkers, and two dogs named Izzie and Max.  She is the lucky mother of three creative human beings, Matt, Alex and Elise, who fill her world with art and music.


A poetry collection – by Jon Bennett

When You Dream Your Teeth Fall Out


I finally fell asleep

next to a person

it’d been 7 years

I took lorazepams to do it

but then I had a nightmare

There’s a subconscious

man in me, I guess

and he started saying

“There is a body

next to you,

a body

next to you!”

I woke up screaming

kicked the bed on accident

and moved to her spare bedroom

The odd part is

I want there to be

a body next to me

it’s the man inside

I’m afraid of.


No New Center


Tom Waits once said

of sobriety

“When you drain the pool

you find out

if there’s anything

down at the bottom.”


all I found down there

was concrete

and concrete is boring

I’ve said so many prayers

at AA meetings

my atheism

is starting to waver

so I’m giving up on art

all I did was complain, anyhow,

and things are, God help me,

getting better.


The Black Domes


The 1st time I noticed the black domes

I was working Centerfolds strip club

if I sat down to rest for a minute

even in the dark

they’d see me and tell me

“Get back to work.”

These days, in the casinos,

the black domes are everywhere

and in the gym, the hotel lobbies

the libraries

I guess the kids don’t mind them

and for all I know the black domes

are only pretending to watch

“Half don’t even work,”

is what I tell myself

but which half?

I guess the safest way to go

is to be a watcher

instead of the watched

because even if the world ends

the watchers will still

be watching us.



Jon Bennett writes and plays music in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood.  You can find more of his work on iTunes and Pandora.  For booking please contact jonbennett14@hotmail.com.

Anniversaries / Famine – by Autumn Toennis



I carry anniversaries

in my hollow bones – rolled

calendar dates

of marrow-stained


and calcified



I course






We went hungry

to our pillows, and

I found salt on my cheek

this morning, a thin line


of sand shaken from my

eye to the smallest dot

on my jaw

bone. I didn’t know tears

left evidence of their

existence the way

the sea does on your

lips sometimes in the


evenings. I saved it

to use on the potatoes

tonight – the salt shaker

has been empty.



Autumn Toennis is a former beekeeper, part-time hawk, and traveling artist who loves spending time with her namesake for however long it sticks around in Montana (or whatever other country she happens to be in). Other work of hers has been published in Hypertrophic Literary, First Class Lit, and Opsis. You can follow her online at girlinthegrove.wordpress.com, on Etsy at AutumnMarieArt, or on Instagram at @autumn_toennis.

A poetry collection – by Paul Tristram

Dogs With No Tails


They hang around the back lane

of The Salvation Army

all morning.

Twelve of them,

used to be twenty three

last Summer

but the Welsh Winters

are merciless and unrelenting.

Prison and hyperthermia

take more people off the street

than cirrhosis or cancer.

All high level, top shelf

chronic alcoholics.

Drinking Frosty Jack’s

of a daytime,

then methylated spirits

mixed with kid’s cough medicine

of an evening.

Cheap Port and Special Brew,


‘The Brain Knuckleduster’

if it’s been a lucky day

‘Magic Shopping’

You can’t Beg nor Busk

anywhere within the city

without permission and percentage.

They take no shit or prisoners,

everyone of them, to a man,

has been decades on the road.

There’s not one still in their forties,

which means they’re on their last lap

and they absolutely know it.

They call themselves

‘The Dogs With No Tails’

A harder gang of men you’ll not find.

I personally owe them my life

on one extremely bloody occasion

and my freedom and liberty, twice.


Consecutively Not Concurrently


See that old Davey sat in the corner over there?

I call him ‘Old’ but, he’s the same age as me,

we were in the same class together.

He just looks ten years older

because of all his luck with the ladies…

if you can call that luck?

Crying into his pint like a widow at a funeral.

He’s got eleven kids by five different mothers

scattered all about the city,

but, he still spends Christmas on his own,

feeling sorry for himself

and whinging to anyone who’ll lend him an ear.

The ‘Last One’ he was with was alright,

not much of a looker, but, nice enough,

Scottish if I recall correctly?

But, he’s got a butterfly mind…

off from one flower over to the next one.

You just watch him perk himself up

if some skirt walks through them doors.

I tried all that ‘Carrying On’ nonsense myself,

back in my twenties, same as everyone else,

during my first marriage when the kids were babies.

I haven’t got the nerves, patience or constitution for it,

you live and learn eh, or you end up like that mess

over there with his ‘Woe, Woe & Thrice Woe’

Besides, I was sick and tired of getting stabbed.


The Heartbroken Skies Over Lawrence Street


There is a baby crying several doors away

and a dog whining and scratching

at a wooden garden gate close by.

These things, which others merely find annoying,

have become physically painful to her.

Like icicles stabbing into toothache,

a boot heel twisting the flesh of your cheek

or the wretching that follows vomiting

until your throat and stomach bleeds.

‘When did goose bumps start hurting?’

she wonders briefly,

before his ‘Cum-Face’ flashes suddenly

inside her tortured mind

like an old 1940’s camera bulb.

‘Is she staring lovingly into his half-closed eyes

as he peaks and trembles?

Of course she is, it’s where he regresses

back to a helpless little boy again.

When he releases power for a brief moment

and you can taste the ancestry and heritage

in the buzzing air around his handsome face.’

She rips off one more fingernail for luck,

stubs the cigarette out just below her ankle,

then limps over to the broken kitchen,

with fists for eyes, to scald some more water.


Oh, But To Feel Human Again


After traversing that emotional desert

for so achingly long,

with nothing but fading stamina

and wretched determination

to keep you going.

Finger-tip touches and gentle caresses…

bring upon giddying landslides and tidal waves.

The tenderest kiss is an atom bomb

exploding the senses into smithereens,

leaving you gasping to find your breath again.

It’s the ‘Little Things’ that rock, my dear,

building solid foundations

for skyscraper-high feelings.

To spend a blissful, lazy afternoon in bed

and to hear the ‘Ghost of the Child they were’

chuckle out from inside their heart

and smile twinkling through their eyes

as you tickle and torment, playfully…

is the magic and wonder

which makes all of the rest

of life’s scuffed-kneed nonsense seem worth it.


I’m On It and All Over It


That’s difficult, is it?

Well, that just makes it interesting.

I don’t just expect challenges

I demand them.

There is nothing more boring

or tiresome

than everything going your own way.

You can tell me ‘No’

until you’re blue in the face,

until it almost sounds like drumming.

I’ll take it ‘On The Chin’

with a smile

and treat it as fuel and encouragement.

Hard work is not a burden,

it’s a treasure.

Both mountains and molehills

are the very same to me,

one just has a better view.

I’m not waiting ten minutes

for that bus… I’m walking.

It’s just rain

and it’ll help clear the cobwebs away.

Line those problems up

and I’ll do them on my fag-break.

I’m yet to find a sticky situation

that I wasn’t strong enough

to traverse through and overcome.


Dropping Vulgar Stones


Some folk rather the chaotic

Reds & Oranges

to the calming, tranquil

Greens & Blues.

Spanner + Works = Funny!


are mere pathways to arguments,

pig-headed stubbornness

& a vented show of strength.

Find pleasure in the carnage,

demolition instead of building.

Trust, Empathy & Consideration

are not weaknesses.

Yet, viewed through the wrong eyes…

a rose becomes but a weed,

a Monet an object.

Whilst, a broken window

& bloodied, lacerated fist

holds more charm, interest

& thoughtful nostalgia

than Dickens in December.

The real difference between character

is often times as broad as it is long.

Right & Wrong

a childlike hypothesis.

The ‘Structure’ is for pointing at…

the real ‘Truth’ is clouded, hidden

& seldom anywhere near the middle.



Paul Tristram is a Welsh writer who has poems, short stories, sketches and photography
published in many publications around the world, he yearns to tattoo porcelain bridesmaids
instead of digging empty graves for innocence at midnight; this too may pass, yet.
Buy his books ‘Scribblings Of A Madman’ (Lit Fest Press)  http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1943170096
‘Poetry From The Nearest Barstool’ at http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1326241036

And a split poetry book ‘The Raven And The Vagabond Heart’ with Bethany W Pope
at http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1326415204

You can also read his poems and stories here! http://paultristram.blogspot.co.uk/








A poetry collection – by Bryony Wharfe


I’m sick of making every choice, fed up of all this change, all I ever hear is my own voice, it’s been so long it’s starting to sound strange.

Lately nothing feels right, everything is blurred together, like wearing someone else’s glasses, and trying to see through this rainy weather.

I just want to stay in one place, with one life and one face. But everything changes, everything molds into something worse, and no matter how little I move in the sinking mud, I drown faster and faster every time.

Please just stop changing. Stop taunting me of the lives I no longer lead.

I carry myself with hesitation that with one word my life can change, one movement and my stuff is packed into the same dirty boxes they’ve only just come out of.

My life is starting to sound strange now.

Just please stop changing.

I Have To

I’ve always been shit at explaining myself

And i can never get my feelings across

And so I’d write it down

Everything I wish I could say

But you wouldn’t even look

You wouldn’t give it the time or day

And so I’d cry myself to sleep

Wishing I could delete

Everything I did for you and did for us because now it’s hard for me to trust when all I do is get crushed so I just have to




Without your hand on mine

Without you in my mind


I just have to live



I used to look at some people,

And just see ugliness.

I wondered how anyone could love them, or make love with them.

I wish I didn’t think this, but I only ever saw my perception of beauty.

But last week,

I made a joke,

and one of these people, smiled and laughed

and it was at that very moment,

I saw their most beautiful part.

When they stopped, I no longer saw the ugliness I did before,

I saw a beautiful human being,

happy and smiling,

And that was all they needed to be beautiful in my eyes.

To smile.

Whiteness Of War

She raises her sword high towards the virulent storm,

bodies plunging from every cliff around her,

deep deep into the wreckage below

of a smothered town once white as snow.

Where does the whiteness go?

Buried far under the death and blood of war.

One house, once elegant and grand,

is now ravaged with darkness,

with the smell of burning wood still floating up the unscathed chimney,

it swirls within the fur of a fox

through the unblemished antlers of a stag

and across the ears of a haggard bear.

Do the heads always smell of smouldering wood?

Does it fade like perfume on a wrist?

Or vanilla on a collar?

Well now the aroma of burning bodies,

floats around their idle nostrils

cursing their icy skin of the terror of war,

and they can only dangle and watch,

as their new obscure home,

is destroyed again with fire and greed.


A craving unfamiliar to them,

but intimate and habitual to their killers,

and to the audacious woman,

who now falls also from the ill-fated rocks.

Such a shame,

to see these beautiful creatures,

with their lifeless heads stuck on flaking walls,

and angelic bodies long decomposed,

stuck within another fire,

a fire they can’t flee.

But what is also a shame,

is that I’m more publicly concerned,

with dead animals on the wall,

than human carcasses that fall,

that I’m more mournful

that they’ll never smell the likes of vanilla again

and how they are always,


surrounded by fire,

than the solidity of chronic homicide.


A Lone Wolf

I howl at the moon

I’m not supposed to

but I’m alone

I beg it to hear me

they’re all gone

I went for food

and came back to coldness and silence


My pups lay still

I tried to wake them

I nudged their paws

I whimpered in their ears

I licked their fur

but there is only redness

dark evil red from their skin


I try to find a new pack

but all that are left are greys

they don’t like my red fur

they bark till I leave

I am the only one left

I am alone

with no home


I try to find a new home

but all the trees are now in half

and the greenness is gone

now big brown rocks lay

with pink furless things that walk on 2 legs

the small pink furless things like me

the tall pink furless things don’t


I roam till my eyes turn dark

when the one big light turns to many small little ones

every darkness gets colder

it’s getting colder inside the tall pointy rocks

and even colder near the small trees

and when the sky cries and wets me

I get even colder


I don’t mark my scent anymore

I’ve forgotten what I smell like

I’ve forgotten what other reds smell like

I can only smell the greys

and I know they don’t want me

I am alone

all alone


I try to catch the hoofed animals

but it’s hard on my own

I try to catch flying food

but it’s hard on my own

I try to catch swimming food

but it’s hard on my own

everything is hard on my own


I won’t get to see the pinkness on the greenness

or the redness in the trees that taste so nice

the warm blueness that rushes over my paws

the many yellow flying things that make noises when they go by

I won’t get to see the whiteness when it falls

but I’ll get to see my pups

because I can’t survive on my own



A graduate of Philosophy and Creative Writing from Hertfordshire University now living in Plymouth, England. Bryony has been writing poetry since she was 16, tracking her pathway through homelessness, love, heartache, university, mental health and the pressures of being female, LGBT+ and human. Now at 23 she’s finally found the courage to share her work in hopes that they will touch and help people like their poetry did for her.

A poetry collection – by Anne Whitehouse


Traveling twelve miles from Bessemer to Birmingham,

my grandparents visited us on Sunday afternoons,

sitting stiffly side by side with my parents,

until I led Grandma by the hand to my room.

The door closed, we snuggled on my bed.


I nestled in the circle of her arms,

my small hands stroking her wrinkled skin,

investigating her swollen knuckles,

the ridges of her fingernails and toenails,

the way one toe curved over another.


On her lap, my book of fairy tales.

Too young to read, I leafed through the pages,

recognizing stories by their illustrations—

Rumpelstiltskin, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty.


Though I didn’t know how to read,

it seemed we read the stories together

for I almost knew them by heart,

could guess when to turn the page,

and helped her when she stumbled on a word.


Her funny accent twisted the vowels.

Almost sixty years later I remember

how I laughed at her pronunciation

with fervent four-year-old wisdom,

“It’s not ‘goyl,’ Grandma, it’s girl!”


Now I’ve become the old lady, playing

with my great-niece on a Sunday afternoon,

in her room, away from all the grown-ups,

with her quicksilver thoughts, her gentle touch,

a bridge across the years to my lost self.




I        The Old Jetty

The old jetty was removed

because it was rickety.

That was its charm, the way

it was curved and warped and bent

so it seemed to stretch to infinity.


I loved following its meandering

in pink-and-blue dawns

when the sun rose slowly,

and the sky was a tapestry of clouds

under trumpet bursts of light.


II       Snowfall

Somewhere on my property

I buried time—

by which I mean I lost my watch.

It slipped off my wrist

into the snowdrifts.


I was all over,

scrambling up the hill,

picking my way

between barberry and privet,

as a swirling snowfall

camouflaged my landmarks.


In the quiet aftermath,

I watched purple and blue clouds

roll over the landscape,

and the sun appear between

the barred shadows of bare trees,

casting a honey glow over the snow.



III     Olive Trees

Ancient olives, carefully cultivated

in terraces and groves, gnarled gray trunks

split by age and twisted by heat,

their fruit yielding oil, not juice,

delicate leaves pale green and silvery.


No two are alike in a grove of thousand.

Their indwelling spirits

outlive human generations.



IV      A Clasp Across the Generations

How I love to hear

in one poet that I love

the echo of another long ago,

the perpetual flow of music

through the souls of great artists,

their deep insights into the past.



I didn’t see it coming

when I walked slam bang

into an immense web

anchored to trees

along the path.


Jumping sideways

I narrowly avoided

the black, hairy spider.


A posse of red-nosed flies

with black-and white-striped wings–

how did they get into the house?



An exhibition is not

the conclusion to a project,

but the opening to a conversation.

It is the context that matters

as much as the objects themselves,

connections made for the first time

or revived from the well of forgetfulness.


How to design a curve

using only straight lines

so even a novice can build it.



Once a Cooper’s Hawk settled

outside the first-floor window

at the back of our Manhattan apartment,

perched on the wrought-iron bars

of an empty air conditioner cage.


In the cold, high realms of the air

it had traveled a great distance

and from afar with piercing vision

had spied our cage and courtyard,

one protected space within another.

It felt safe enough to rest surrounded

by high walls, like being

at the bottom of a well of air.


The hawk was so tired it didn’t care

that we were inches away,

separated only by a pane of glass.

Its head swiveled all around,

facing backwards on its neck,

and with its beak it ruffled

its neck feathers and tucked its head

under its wing and was fast asleep

while fierce-looking talons

gripped the bars of the cage.


It was a Friday evening, and the peace

of Shabbat was falling like a veil,

shadowing the world as the hawk slept.

Not wanting to disturb its rest,

I left the room dark as I set the table

next to the window and lit the candles,

softly singing the blessing,

shielding my eyes in prayer.


My husband and daughter and I

blessed the wine and the bread

and quietly ate our dinner by candlelight.

Twice the hawk woke and stared at us.

Its black pupils rimmed in gold

pierced me with inexpressible wildness,

as fierce and strange as God’s angel.


Like a sheet of mica clouding its gaze,

the hawk’s inner eyelid slid from front to back,

and again its head rotated, and it bent

its beak under its wing and slept and woke

and slept again. I woke in the night

and it was still there, a dark form

immobile against the darkness.

In the morning it was gone.


Anne Whitehouse is the author of six poetry collections, most recently Meteor Shower (Dos Madres Press, 2016), as well as a novel, Fall Love. Recent honors include 2016 Songs of Eretz Poetry Prize, 2016 Common Good Books’ Poems of Gratitude Contest, 2016 RhymeOn! Poetry Prize, and 2015 Nazim Hikmet Poetry Award.

A Ghost Revisited: The Nurse With the Dirty Knees – by John Dorroh

She appeared as an anemic ghost,

tapered A-frame dress with horizontal

black-and-white stripes, which threw off her frame

quite a bit. It was an appropriate fit

for her.


The neighborhood boys waited at the curb

in an old gray Chevy, hungry for details with what I’d do

with her

once I fumbled

with my right hand to stick the key in the lock.

Little did they know that what mattered was what she planned

to do to me, stooping down into the dirt,

lifting her dress

so that the horizontal stripes turned themselves up

toward the sky.


She mumbled the entire time, biting her bottom lip

every tenth word or so and pointed to a gift

that she’d left on the patio table.

I was afraid to touch it.


The plastic bag of groceries in my left hand needed a bit

of attention but no one offered

to help. They never do.


The house had been shut up

for three weeks and needed open windows.

That’s one of the things ghosts can do – suck

out the air in a room, leaving it empty

like an old nun’s womb.

It was fit for prayer

and pondering.


John Dorroh (JD) attempted to teach high school science for more years than he cares to admit, and maybe some of the lab chemicals affected his brain? He likes to travel, cook, bike, write, and play yard games. To his credit there is a book of micro-fiction (“99 Words”), about 30 science diddies (who reads those, right?), and a sprinkling of poems in Dime Show Review, Walk Write-Up, Haiku Journal, and Poetry Breakfast.