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  • Robert L. Giron

Issue 114 — Bill Christophersen, Betsy Hughes, Francis C. Klein, Kenneth Pobo, Mike Wall

Bill Christophersen


It’s not just the interminable afternoons. . . .

(The bees, their pollen put up, haven’t a clue

what to be about; the flight paths of June

no longer appertaining, drift, as I do,

from pane to pane.) It’s when the daylight sheers

and summer’s death rattle skirls in the field

beyond the house. . . . Lying in bed, I hear

the in-, then out-of-phase crescendos; yield

to waves of panic glasses of warm milk

won’t assuage, cool compresses won’t quell.

I get up, go outside (the air a silk

cravat) to stare it down. The clamor swells:

Darkness audible. Insomniac rune.

Primordial, incorrigible tune.

Copyright © 2019 by Bill Christophersen.


The medical equipment

technician delivering the

oxygen tank my emphysemic

father needs to help him

recover from the

exertion of walking from

one room to the next

is coaching him on how

much time to allot

each half of the

inhale-exhale cycle.

Here’s the deal,

he says, demonstrating.

Inhale: “Smell the flowers.”

Exhale: “Blow out the candle.”

Mnemonic was published by Hanging Loose (93: 2008). Copyright © by Bill Christophersen.


Here’s to the god that looks both ways: behind

to evening shadows on the noonday street;

ahead to daylight-saving time, upbeat

forecasts, the fantasy that all will find

restored to them what’s died, dried up, gone gray.

God of terminus and god of hope—

for that’s the trick, isn’t it? To cope

with one at night and glimpse the other by day,

so that this winding sheet of ice and snow

doubles as cocoon; so that this white

light that pains the eye and numbs the soul

disperses to reveal an Armory Show

of colors cavalcading out of sight;

so that the old year takes but its rightful toll.

January was published by Birmingham Poetry Review (34: Winter/Spring 2007). Copyright © by Bill Christophersen.

About the Author

Bill Christophersen was born in the Bronx and educated at Columbia University. He is the author of The Apparition in the Glass: Charles Brockden Brown’s American Gothic (U. of Georgia Press) and Resurrecting Leather-Stocking: Pathfinding in Jacksonian America (U. of S. Carolina Press), as well as three poetry collections: Two Men Fighting in a Landscape (Aldrich Press), The Dicer’s Cup (Kelsay Books) and Tableau with Crash Helmet (Hanging Loose Press). His book reviews and critical essays have appeared in Newsweek, The New Leader, The New York Times Book Review, The American Book Review and Poetry. His poems have won awards from Rhino, the Kansas Quarterly and the Robinson Jeffers Tor House Foundation, and have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and for inclusion in Best New Poets 2014. He lives in New York and plays traditional and bluegrass fiddle.

Betsy Hughes


You’ll find him in his smithy — poet’s yard.

He builds the fire and stokes it with a fuel —

imagination. See him labor hard

with such as hammer, anvil, powered tool —

the pen! It moves across the page to say

the writer’s telling truth, the bard’s intent.

Bright words are sparking, and the interplay

of intellect and heart convey, invent,

create anew the universal theme

from personal experience. He casts,

he shapes the heated mold, designs the dream,

he fashions in his forge the stuff that lasts.

That blacksmith’s skill, white magic, weaves a spell;

its artistry, its poetry compel.

Copyright © 2019 by Betsy Hughes.


Inspired by Walt Whitman

God’s presence in the world is manifest

in every blade of grass — the here and now.

With radiance in daily life we’re blessed,

divinity endowed in us somehow.

It is outside our selves in nature’s sight,

direct and vivid, beautiful and true;

it is inside our selves in inner light,

afflatus, holy breath, which surges through

creative, vital marrow. Yes, such grace

is in the present moment, growing green

and democratic in its every place

where poems of all the people we can glean.

While leaves of grass are blowing without fear,

our liberty will never disappear.

Copyright © 2019 by Betsy Hughes.

About the Author

Betsy Hughes graduated from Vassar College, earned her M.A in English from the University of Dayton, and taught English for 30 years at the Miami Valley School. She is fascinated by the sonnet genre because of its inherent qualities of sound and rhythm and its wedding of discipline and freedom. Her first collection of sonnets, Breaking Weather, winner of the 2013 Stevens Poetry Manuscript Competition, was published by the NFSPS Press in 2014. Bird Notes was published by Finishing Line Press in 2017. She lives with her husband in Dayton, Ohio.

Francis C. Klein


I buried my brother in an unmarked grave

with the other bodies jumbled in the pit.

For seven years, he didn’t know who he was.

For the last seven, we didn’t know where he lived.

Dust made from ashes, ashes from dust,

in a no man’s land’s arid plain.

Look to the sky for birds of prey.

Look to land for a scavenger’s name.

Man is as evil as he ever was,

Satan with a rifle, black bump stock.

Kill the children as they come from play.

Hunt them down if they run away.

The origins of crime are lost

in the chimp’s incisors, swinging fists.

Look to the enemy sunk within

reptilian DNA.

Are you my tribe? Am I on

your lengthy enemies list? It’s gone

viral, in electric spin.

We are all brothers under the skin.

Copyright © 2019 by Francis C. Klein.

In Super Eight

I wrote in a dark room,

the cave of the past

behind me as I reeled

the movie backwards

in super eight.

What frame should I stop in,

let the light burn through

the closed projector,

the scarred sprocket smell

of dust and acetate?

I found you

dancing in a basement,

in a yellow dress,

one measure

of the long waterfall of youth.

Where was my face

in this picture?

Others passed me,

screened my figure,

made a scrim of bodiness.

I will be gone

before you see me,

shade uprolled

into the valance,

shadow on the pavement of the flesh.

Copyright © 2019 by Francis C. Klein.

In the Gated City

Who is like me?

What man? what image?

I began as a cell.

Who, except me,

had my sequence of teachers,

advisers of the book?

On the first page,

I wrote in a garden,

maze of the fourfold path.

When I was yours,

I walked to all compass points,

a jetty in the sea.

When you were mine,

the oak gates opened,

vines in the towering trees.

You sat on my right side,

rib extension, stretch

over the core, the knee.

Kneel with me

in the gated city,

teach me

the constant consonants of the scrolls.

Copyright © 2019 by Francis C. Klein.

Iron Filings

Lay your hands on my shoulders,

one of the chosen ones,

made in the image of the wind.

Currents of air

come down from the mountains.

I walk through tracks of dust.

We make the magnetic bond

of lines of iron filings

in ellipses on the plate,

muted attraction and repulsion,

the positive and negative of place,

curves of the storm.

When I saw you,

you bent me to you.

Now we align as one.

What is the gap

between the index finger and the thumb?

What is the arc

that joins us in this moment,

mind over mind,

thunder in the palm?

Copyright © 2019 by Francis C. Klein.

About the Author

Francis Klein has had 3 chapbooks published by Finishing Line Press:

Podebrady (2011), Untouched by Morning (2012), and Dais (2017). His work has appeared in Mudfish 18, Fear of Success, A Letter Among Friends, red herring ii, Lion Rampant, Penumbra, Oberon, and The Ledge.

Kenneth Pobo

Brown Cords

His first time in

a gay bar, Steve wore

brown cords, a pack

of Newports in his pocket.

Some guy asked him to dance

to “Dancing Queen,”

put his hand on Steve’s ass—

part of him wanted to say

stop that,

part of him wanted to say

more please.

After the song ended,

the stranger slipped away

into other dancers.

Steve ordered a gin and tonic,

more at ease

but ready to go.

Copyright © 2019 by Kenneth Pobo.

Jeff Sees His Old Church Is a CVS

From age seven I sang in the choir.

Mrs. Selkie taught me

how to get notes to fall

just right. I got solos.

Deacon Pinter said he wished

every boy would be like me.

Maybe I didn’t look gay—

he’d have kicked my ass

in a most unholy way,

as they all would. Long ago.

At work I make up tunes

I hum silently. A few I share

with Jerry who once egged me on

to audition for Dancing With The Stars.

I dance too. Today

The Bible Church of Tibbs Ford

is a drive-through CVS.

We get bagged drugs while eating

McDonalds fries. Pills,

a small blue choir in a bottle.

We swell with praise,

forget what we’re praising.

Copyright © 2019 by Kenneth Pobo.

About the Author

Kenneth Pobo has a new book out from Clare Songbirds Publishing House called The Antlantis Hit Parade. Forthcoming from Duck Lake Books is Dindi Expecting Snow.

Mike Wall

MLK in Vermont

In the space between mist and slope

he feels borne aloft

but so bewildered at this cresting, bumpy

touch and go push up and rise

he forgets the wound scarred shut,

and laughs and glides

along a line of the Green Mountains

in how the hell did he wind up in Vermont.

He sees farmhouses up here,

pastures so sweet-green

he smiles at his pleasure.

He folds his arms

piston-ready, a runner’s brace

in this sudden young-body exultation

of ebb and flow.

The liquid of his joints renewed,

he rocks forward smoothly

a steady 3 or 4 feet off the ground,

climbs the contours of the fields in arcing light

until darkness slips around him

and he hovers

among fireflies,

dew glistening

on the shoulders of his coat.

Copyright © 2019 by Mike Wall.


(Considering a 1942 Black and White Photograph of Hundreds of Sailors at Ease on the Foredeck of the Japanese Battleship Musashi)

Perhaps they raced each other out

of the reek of diesel

up vertiginous stairs

and discharged into the sun,

and so young they gathered in packs by the rails and looked out

to the mild sea,

but no one approaches the prow

which runs into haze but pauses here,

captured by the photo which none of them

could have supposed I would see.

The engine pulse in the steel never stops,

the rhythm they felt habitual as their heartbeats.

Two men move away from the others.

One gazes out, one in a handstand,


smiling, I think.

At shrines tucked into corners below decks,

they offer thimbles of sake,

bits of dried fish

to the kami of Musashi,

to its gray elongation,

to the big guns turreted behind them,

squatting in their ancient geologic expanse.

Copyright © 2019 by Mike Wall.

About the Author

Mike Wall taught English for 36 years at Owen J. Roberts High School in Pennsylvania and now volunteers with rescue dogs and with retired police officers. He works at a bookstore. This issue constitutes his first publication which has created “a state of unexpected, happy delirium” for him.

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