Bruce McRae

Hell’s Kitchen

Today’s special is pride pudding,
smothered in poor choices.
On the menu is a rare insight,
with a side order of lifelong regret.

Chef recommends the fear of success.
Our sorrow pie is very popular.
Would you like a glass of tears with that?
Are you ready to order?

Mirrored Sunglasses

When you looked at me
you saw yourself
and did not like it.

Short And Sweet

Once upon a time, the end.

Forestry

Yesterday the elm trees nodded.
Last night the old oaks
were heard panting for breaths.
And tomorrow, the lindens will try
God’s ever-dwindling patience.

And So It Was Written

Michael said to Gabriel
something so beautiful
it must not be heard.

Gabriel replied
with a valley of mordant water,
with a sea’s worth of alum and tears.

With a hill of destruction.

Apologies

Dear Future:

Allow me to apologize
for the actions of my contemporaries.
I’m afraid they were quite drunk
on the wine of living.

~~~

Bruce McRae, a Canadian musician currently residing on Salt Spring Island BC, is a multiple Pushcart nominee with over 1,600 poems published internationally in magazines such as Poetry, Rattle and the North American Review.

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Bartholomew Barker

Early Birds

How I hate those poets who rise at dawn
to write a couple hours before work—
Wallace Stevens especially, Emperor of Ice-Cream,
my ass! You’re not the only one with a day job.

And don’t get me started on Ted Kooser,
who should be staying up late in the flatlands
to watch the milky way flow instead of drinking dawn
from a bucket some early bird probably pooped in.

My muse sleeps in a bottle and does not awake
until neon lights buzz. She inspires the moon
and I do her bidding beneath flickering televisions,
whipping a ballpoint to get every last drop.

The only time you’ll see me in the stark morning light
is if I’ve had to walk home drunk and forgotten the way.

Holding On

As the soft skin of your leg
conceals the strength of your thigh,
I lean in close to hear your voice—
quiet as dandelion seeds in autumn
with words powerful as a storm.

Hand in hand, enjoying your perfume,
your mouth and eyes straighten,
no longer curved like the rest of you.
I don’t want to relax my grip
but know I can’t clutch onto my desire
without losing that which I hold most dear.

Yes Man

I was the teacher’s pet
not because of my smarts
but because of my charm,
smooth chocolate compliments
and precision tattling.

I knew which bully to befriend
for much-needed protection
and when to stab him in the back
then upgrade to a bigger model.

There will always be men
who think they’re great
and need little guys,
like me, to confirm
their awesomeness.

~~~

Bartholomew Barker is an organizer of Living Poetry, a collection of poets in the Triangle region of North Carolina. His first poetry collection, Wednesday Night Regular, written in strip clubs, was published in 2013. His second, Milkshakes and Chilidogs, a chapbook of food-inspired poetry was served in 2017. www.bartbarkerpoet.com

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Daisy Green

Loneliness 

I see the candle flickering in the shadows, the sweet smell of jasmine arouses my thirst for sensual lovemaking. I sit alone in this dark stone cottage nesting in the hills of autumn. The trees are shedding the security of their warmth, of the cold winter that is approaching.  I sit all lazy and dazed. I dream of walking hand in hand with the beautiful man I adore, step by step, crunching and crushing the red, brown, and orangey leaves.

The sound of the lambs
The tweet tweet tweeting birds sing
From my garden swing

Embrace the Reality 

Today I feel alive. There’s someone at my door. My heart joining the tapping of every knock. I open the door wide just like the look in my eyes. It’s him, he is here, he’s finally come. I wrap myself around him and embrace him tenderly.  We are lost in a stare. My eyes are shut tight. I awaken from the night. I must have fallen to sleep. With the realization of my dream. The cold stone cottage dampens my joy. I crawl from my bed and blow out the candle but there’s no point in making a wish. I look from my window and the leaves have disappeared, replaced by the spirals of icicles neatly webbed between the branches of the trees. 

Tea in the morning 
Pot of herbal for my lunch
Wine in the evening 

Word Block

Writer’s block 
Hello
Knock knock 
Racing against the clock
Assignments piled up
Until you feel the door unlock

Sit in the garden
Sit at the desk 
Bring the pen to the paper 
The books you’ve read 
Will make the words flow

Let the words you drank 
Filter through your paws

Hidden Doors 

So many hidden doors
In this house she’s never lived in before
Only in her dreams and nightmares does this house appear
Each dream revealing a new room 
Which has familiarity 
Sometimes includes her family
Doors of happiness
Doors of sadness 
This is just life
Clearing her path 

Game Over 

A marital inquest 
In which one should enquire 
Forgetting the days of one’s desires 
Togetherness has just expired 

Hostage 

Hostage to the virus 
Where is my protected vest? 
Will this nightmare rest?

Daisy Green’s inspiration comes from being a victor of domestic abuse who continues to thrive in life. Her words come from the heart and are most often dark. Her purpose, through writing and sharing her poetry, is to empower others to identify their own pain but most importantly to give hope. You can find her work at her blog – Daisy Green and on
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Kritika Maheshwari

Hope

Lift that chin which dropped in love
Past hard time was best but tough
Heart is not an object, humans are dove
A full of hope Sky is always above

Dream Stream

Hand me the now empty glass
Want to pour in new dreams
While drunk on the past ones
I realize I have been sailing on a stream

Now a Beast

that purity of your soul
shouts like a mistaken beast
which not one can comprehend
but take themselves as your feast

that purity of your soul
knows the mind games they played
pampering you enough to beast up
until the monster they created is displayed

~~~

Kritika blogs at Undressed Thoughts. She has been writing since a year now and has one of her poems, ‘Red Nose’ published at Spillwords Press. Her blog consists of quotes, prose, short stories, artwork, photography and poetry.

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Frank Watson

Author note: These are six short poems compiled into two linked threads of three poems each, in free verse.

thin as light 

holding her
thin as light
as she looks
the other way 

there is nothing to do
as the world spins
and we lie there
in the softness of a rug 

until the final shade
had sipped the moments of light
into a soft-touch fade
within the arms of night  

midnight gardens 

in the world
beneath the moon
where secrets
shall never leave
the doors we close 

we follow the path
where the spirits play
until we see
neither wrong nor right 

unable to leave
until the morning lines
have drawn the world
once more in the mist
of breaking light

~~~

Frank Watson was born in Venice, California and now lives in New York. He enjoys literature, art, landscaping, jazz, and international travel. Publications include The Dollhouse Mirror, Seas to Mulberries, and One Hundred Leaves. In the Dark, Soft Earth was just published in April. His work has appeared in various literary journals and anthologies. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok: @FrankWatsonPoet

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Jaya Avendel

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Greed

In her hands a gift
Before her eyes a silver lining
Tied into a thousand knots of love
As she unwrapped diamonds
She threw her life into the mud.

Hecate

She fights with bared teeth
Raking raw old lies and truths
It takes one willing
To see their mistakes for her
To welcome souls with a smile.

Benevolence

There is a city
Resplendent with crystal dreams
Hiding in a lake
Where broken hearts swim in tears
Made of vodka and whiskey.

~~~

Jaya Avendel lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, where she dips her pen into the inkwell of fantasy and prose. Often inspired by life in the forest around her, she writes at Nin Chronicles

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Freya Pickard

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Odyssey

sailing 

Sailing
dark-lit seas
measuring infinity’s length
traversing star held territory;
explorer

velvet 

Claustrophobia;
wrapped up in velvet darkness
bright stars blinking past

universe 

sharp solar light flares
slants between blue, wooded worlds;
distant universe

stars 

the wideness of stars
agoraphobia chokes
no central anchor

transient 

no
refuge;
transient
world – keep moving
man

~~~

Freya2

Freya Pickard is the Author of The Kaerling series, an epic fantasy set in the world of Nirunen. She writes mainly fantasy tales, with some poetry thrown in. She has published 13 e-books and 6 paperbacks and finds her inspiration in the ocean, beautifully written books, and vinyl music. You can find her poetry at Pure Haiku.

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M. Brazfield

afterglow art backlit bokeh
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dishonest 

beige
irate
hidden well
within myself
smile rejoice believe
reverberate inside
deeply bury sorrow’s babe
float through imagined normal life
ignore the toxic warnings to be
honest with my pain and let it fly free

to kiss me

silent warm spirit
icy wet sweet poison pot
draw those thoughts from me

fulfillment

aging hand unfolds
soft palm up to the skyline
caressing her past 

~~~

M. Brazfield is a Gen X’er born and raised in Los Angeles, California. She is an untrained writer and enjoys sharing her work on her blog WORDS LESS SPOKEN on Word Press. Her inspiration comes from life in Los Angeles, particularly Downtown.

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Lisa Tomey

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Silence

The morphine drip is shielded
Hidden from plain sight
Tucked away in her nest
Snuggled under fresh covers
No pain, no worries
Just solemn slumber
Taking a cue from her
I push my recliner close to her bed
I press my body close to her side
Taking her hand, I close my eyes
And enjoy peaceful slumber
This is the supreme closeness we need
Hers to know she’s not alone
Assurance as she grasps my hand snuggly
As much as I grasp hers
And rest we must
Her for relief of pain
Me for energy restoration
And we sleep

Brother

What can I tell?
When the owl roosts on the branch
Each night watching me as I fall to sleep
Often, I wondered
If the owl knew my thoughts
My worries
And I often thought he did
He came to visit each night
Witnessing my young teen life
And it seems he stopped by
Just when I needed some assurance
Of a life truly meant to be certain
When my heart was breaking
Because of the loss of my brother
The owl stopped by each night
To make certain I could sleep
Hearing his call helped me rest
It’s odd, don’t you think?
How he came by each night
Just when I needed
The presence of my brother
He came by every night

Tulips Stand

The light as bright as paperwhites
Casting hues of silky sheened pinks
And purples, gray shadow tones
Tipped in white paintbrush strokes
Majestic pillars
Supporting the cast of orchestras
Trumpeting to the skies
Allegiance to life
Standing firm
Green pillars of strength
Mountains call their names

~~~

Lisa Tomey has been writing poetry since childhood. She believes in life-long learning and tender, loving care of one’s work. She published her chapbook, Heart Sounds in 2018, and has been in Wolff Poetry Literary Magazine and other publications. Lisa works with poets as an editor. Read her stories and poems online: Prolific Pulse

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Bruce Jewett

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across my cold quilt
a street lamp and moonlight
play shadow games

~~

gravestones with speakers
a tattered and torn screen
ruins of a drive-in

~~

thought I heard a bee
it was the tabby snoring
not even spring yet

~~

rained-on stone buddha
are you any the wiser
sitting in the mud

~~

dark and secluded
forest embraces the lost
never lets them go

~~~

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