Wednesday, 5 February 2020

After Panic by Stephen Mead

Volcanic Ash by Filter Forge via Flickr

After the volcanic shock,
the literal ash covering,
covering soft as leaves on any
body gagged by thrusts,
the rape of knives thrashing away…

After that, the extreme reflex
of what is trauma should not seeing
take a while?

Understand now I was rock
upon a walking aorta
& the limbs were my own.
Understand hope, a chance to trust
became the old tremors for a what if,
for a re-run, for a silent running.

One day Blues belted this out
& then Pride cried “Released,
I shall be” to believe in
what wasn’t just pain.

Maybe you understood it,
that my fear was an ignorance
that any one thing safe
could possibly exist.
Maybe I reacted badly,
had a minefield of reasons
& a gun of flesh down my throat.

If so, forgive me.
I didn’t know birds would return,
that skin wouldn’t always be metal
or that a garden could exist without brutalization.

Now the ruins have overgrown
though the wind may still show slices.
Now to love fully is to know
you will give that love elsewhere
so why not say
blessed be?

Once the Earth got angry
& had to show that somebody was killing.
Once I had to fight just like that
to push out the hateful knives.

Explosions, a misfiring, & the ash may fall
not at all where wanted.

Then comes the apologies & the gardens,
the Earth saving itself & what it can.

So I send you these roses.
Plant, give each one to whomever you will.

And so on, and so on.

Thursday, 23 January 2020

The Flood by Holly Day

Jakarta Flood by International Rivers

The coffins float to the surface
like rebellious architecture, buoyed by the floodwaters
that have shaken everything loose. We pass sandbags
hand over hand to build a wall between us and the river
shouting panicked instructions to the trucks to bring more.

The water pouring in from the river is frigid and cold
numbing ankles and hands, but the water
running off of the bloated cemetery is warm, as though the water
is carrying the last breath and embrace of the dead
across the grounds to keep us from freezing.


Holly Day’s poetry has recently appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, Grain, and Harvard Review. Her newest poetry collections are In This Place, She Is Her Own (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press),  A Wall to Protect Your Eyes (Pski’s Porch Publishing), Folios of Dried Flowers and Pressed Birds (, Where We Went Wrong (Clare Songbirds Publishing), Into the Cracks (Golden Antelope Press), and Cross Referencing a Book of Summer (Silver Bow Publishing), while her newest nonfiction books are Music Theory for Dummies and Tattoo FAQ.

Sunday, 12 January 2020

One Day by James B. Nicola

The subtle aggregation of the years
is brought to light as sudden as the day
the couple arrives. Unnecessary things amassed
like popcorn kernels sitting on a flame:
occasionally, then regularly, and then
a steamy, thrilling bursting to a climax
just short of an explosion, the pot overbrimmed
right before the flame went off. Among which they find:

Paperweights and porcelains.
Kitchen gizmos, their use a mystery;
     refrigerator coated in quilts of magnets.
Figurines of elephants, giraffes,
     pink pigs and piglets, orange orangutans.
Gold-lettered cups and over-painted eggs.
Mementos of excursions unrecalled.
Walls frame to frame and shelf on spilling shelf,
     all corners hutched by corner hutches, snug.
Ceilings ribanded and dressed
     in hooks and pegboards, unrelieved reliefs.
No room but room she’d make—she always
     managed somehow for beloved things.

She could have eaten better, but the change,
as I said, was subtle, as her things took over.
Now she lies in a fetal fervor on the floor
lower than her credenzas, full of things
unknown surrounded by the known, which have visibly
fallen like plastic hailstones around her frame;
they’ll never melt, and so must be removed.
She looks like a gardener in love with flowers,
who decided to take a nap one day in spring
in a flowerbed, never to wake up.

The wife hangs up the phone to silence its tone.
The husband closes a window. There must have been
a wind, he says as he starts to move the things
nearest his grandmother—or will, one day.


James B. Nicola was published several times in mgversion2>datura—which is proudly featured on the acknowledgments page of his second, third, fourth, and fifth full-length poetry collections, and will be again in his sixth. Born: Worcester, Mass. Lives: New York City.

Monday, 30 December 2019

The Place Where The Stars Are Buried by Lynn White

Greater stitchwort (Stellaria holostea)
Photograph by Evelyn Simak

First published in Midnight Circus, June 2016

I’m on my way to the place
where the stars are buried
under a roof of rain.
I won’t get lost.
I’m following the silver snail
trails and the muddy pools
with the little shimmers of spangles.
When I get there - to the place
where the stars are buried.
I shall dig a little, dig
just enough to let
a glimmer of light out.
Just enough to let
the love sparkle and
sizzle in the light
before it burns.


Lynn White lives in north Wales. Her work is influenced by issues of social justice and events, places and people she has known or imagined. She is especially interested in exploring the boundaries of dream, fantasy and reality. She was shortlisted in the Theatre Cloud 'War Poetry for Today' competition and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and a Rhysling Award. Find Lynn at: and

Thursday, 26 December 2019

Silver Baubles by Lynn White

Photo by Susanne Jutzeler from Pexels

First published in Cirrus, December 2018

The little girl loved the glass baubles
loved their shiny surfaces
that could catch the light
and shine it back
loved the fragility that
she was not allowed to touch.
The oldest ones were especially fragile
like old people, she thought, so easily broken.
They had been bought by her grandmother,
her old dead grandmother,
so old she had never known her.
Their colours had faded,
it happens with time
she was told.
The glossy paint had cracked and peeled away,
it happens with time,
the heat and dryness does it
like wrinkles and flaking skin
even here where cold and damp prevails,
yes, it happens with time,
even here.
But the baubles were still shiny
gleaming silver
underneath underneath their fading colours.
The old people she knew weren’t glossy
just wrinkled, dry and fragile.
She wondered when they would become silver.
She knew that just a touch could break a bauble
shatter them
so they no longer existed
just like her grandmother
and they other dead people.
She wondered if they became silver,
perhaps it was after they died.


Lynn White lives in north Wales. Her work is influenced by issues of social justice and events, places and people she has known or imagined. She is especially interested in exploring the boundaries of dream, fantasy and reality. She was shortlisted in the Theatre Cloud 'War Poetry for Today' competition and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and a Rhysling Award. Find Lynn at: and

Monday, 23 December 2019

Celestial Freefalling by Stephen Mead

“In my dweems we fwy,” is a quote written on the cover of Joni Mitchell’s 1979 album “Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter”.  The cover also features Joni as an African American, a fact I did not realize until, years later, when I read a Musician magazine interview with Joni where the late great jazz musician, Charles Mingus, calls Joni “One nervy broad”, for pulling off such a racial pigmentation change.  I did an internet search attempting to locate where the quote “In my dweems we fwy,” originates but had no success.  It sounds like lines from Peter Pan or an old Hollywood romance such as “Now Voyager”.  The fact that I keep hearing it being it said by a voice which sounds like Tweety Bird though, causes the horizons of my mind to enlarge with cartoon balloon after balloon.  Here comes Bullwinkle bouncing with Rocky in a tickertape rain.

Flying, in concept and in reality, is pretty much like this for me anyway, an extension of dreamtime.  There is an expansion between my ears not unlike helium, but more sonorous, and deep tones are allowed entrance as a humming undercurrent which sustains the whole.  Is this the cerulean siren song which called to Da Vinci?  I admire his Icarus elegance, his locks flowing like Ganymede’s, and there must be such determination in his gaze, an angel’s ruth, even as the panic of plummeting begins.  If there is a crowd watching, does not awe turn to terror and sorrow, or is there only derision at the sight of feathers exploding like a plucked duster?  (Actually if I were Leonardo’s maid I too may be tempted to roll my eyes, thinking Mama Mia,  all those good goose down pillows gone to waste.)  Still, we have the meticulous drawings and notes in his journals to put a cork in more cynical speculations, and the fact that history proved his dreams right.  Not every human, let alone every artist, can say as much.

Lucky Leo.  It wouldn’t take Freud to figure out what’s at the crux of this fantasy. 

Oddly enough, while up in the air, I do not picture the mechanics of airplanes or copters at all, only the wonder of how something of substantial weight and mass can possibly defy gravity.  To me it truly is a suspension of disbelief. The clouds become blueprints that slowly fill with sepia.  I imagine newsreels of the Wright Brothers’ trials and errors, along with grainy footage of a regal Amelia Earhart and a gallant Charles Lindberg, waving to a sea of well-wishers.  My own art, at one time, had been obsessed with such a sense of the wondrous, the ideas of floating or falling, yet falling in such a way it was slow-mo and somewhat giddy.  One of these mural-size works, “Go Ahead, Now You Try”, which eventually became a short film, was filled with these airy themes:  wing walkers, acrobats balancing on chairs, sky divers riding parachute currents before a large sun-orange hot air balloon depicting two lovers. 

Chagall understood such need to be apart from the heaviness of earth, the weight of it, though I can also see the reason behind the thematic skies of a photographer like Robert Parke Harrison.  All is gray in his landscapes, his protagonist a tie-less man in black with a white shirt, an inventor of some sort creating machines that are a mixture of the organic (thistles and tumbleweeds), and mechanical wheels and propellers pulled from some endless scrap heap.  The world he lives in appears post-apocalyptic, but there is something very humane in the narratives, for this inventor, whether on unicycle or telephone wires, appears to be attempting flight, attempting to make progress out of chaos.

Lately my own flying dreams have taken on such dimensions. When younger and flying, always without the aid of machines, but just by using my arms, there was true ethereal exhilaration, and landing woke me with a bounce. In fact, in some of those visions there were even other mythic prehistoric beasts, Loch Ness Monster-shaped, also taking to the skies.   Now such dreams are rare, and should they occur it is usually due to plight as opposed to flight, the need to escape something which is simultaneously cryptic, sinister and yet mundane:  the drear of office work perhaps, or dim-lit grocery stores where zombie customers saunter with vacant hope of ever finding what they seek.


A resident of NY, Stephen Mead is an Outsider multi-media artist and writer.  Since the 1990s he's been grateful to many editors for publishing his work in print zines and eventually online.  He is also grateful to have managed to keep various day jobs for the Health Insurance. In 2014 he began a webpage to gather various links to his published poetry in one place,

Saturday, 21 December 2019

Emma (Not by Jane Austen) by Alex Phuong

Emma Bovary by Helena Perez Garcia
from Flickr

During the fall semester at Brown University in 2017, a young woman named Emma had big dreams of becoming a Hollywood actress. Emma had a very interesting childhood given that her name was the same as many famous individuals in both literature and film. When Emma was a little girl, her favorite Disney movie was Beauty and the Beast (1991). Emma was a lot like Belle because they both loved to read. In fact, Emma was a Janeite because she loved the novel Emma by Jane Austen as well as admired Emma Thompson’s Oscar-winning screenplay in the 1995 version of Sense and Sensibility. Emma was also a fan of Emma Thompson’s work in films ranging from Howards End (1992) to her roles in the Harry Potter series.
Speaking of Harry Potter, Emma obviously loved Emma Watson, and Hermione Granger was Emma’s favorite character from J.K. Rowling’s series. Emma loved Emma Watson so much that she spent her entire spring break watching the 2017 remake of Beauty and the Beast. Emma had high hopes that Emma Watson would receive nominations for playing Belle during the 2018 awards season. In fact, Emma went to Brown University simply because Emma Watson was an alumna from that prestigious school!
Emma was also a huge fan of Emma Stone. She loved the film La La Land (2016), and thought that Mia was a very inspirational character. Emma was in her film class watching Birdman (2014) one day when “someone in the crowd” noticed her uncanny appearance to both Emma Watson and Emma Stone. That person was a casting director looking for a singer for his Broadway adaptation of La La Land. It was a funny coincidence, actually, because Emma had brown hair like Emma Watson, yet had the facial features of Emma Stone.  That someone in the crowd was definitely the person that Emma needed to know.
The casting director’s name was Ryan, and sounded a lot like Sebastian from The Little Mermaid (1989). Ryan asked Emma if she would be willing to audition for the role of Mia in his Broadway adaptation of La La Land. Emma agreed because she wanted to achieve the notoriety of the famous women who shared her name. Emma performed the song “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” for Ryan, and he was blown away. Emma went on to have a long and interesting career that was as “emmazing” as the lives of Emma Thompson, Emma Watson, Emma Stone, and Emma Woodhouse.


Alex Andy Phuong graduated from California State University-Los Angeles with his Bachelor of Arts in English in 2015. He currently writes articles and film reviews online, and resides in Alhambra, CA, USA. His writing has appeared in The Bookends Review, Society of Classical Poets, and Wilderness House Literary Review #12/4.  The link to his movie review profile is Alex Phuong, Author at MovieBoozer