Poetry by Gayane Hovsepyan, James A. Sanchez, Todd Mercer, Jonathan Simkins, Mark Burke, Georgia Tiffany, Heather Browne, Dave Shorr, Joseph Lisowski, Michael Salcman, and Hadley Hury

Three Untitled Poems by Gayane Hovsepyan



She had

quotation mark


and he had







 Ants on a watermelon rind

march into the pink innards

and sticky crevices

with the poise

and roughness

of soldiers in the trenches,

their return not guaranteed.



You were my still life painting

And just like I arranged

the flowers

in their vases

and the apples

in their bowls,

I arranged you in my life

sitting still,

painting only at certain

times of day

So that the light from the

porch would slant

at identical angles

and my memory of you

would be consistent. 


Three Poems by James A. Sanchez



He stands on conviction—

A lover dressing after a one night stand

So coy and smart

So terrified of the prospect of eternal loneliness

He laughs nervously as the young girls circle him and ask why

He answers with grace and humility

I fell in love outside a factory in Puerto Rico

She was twenty, dark, poor, and hungry for touch

I fell for the aroma of rice and beans

The scent of mop water

The idea that her life could be me

Sex was a gift back on that island

It was never power—never a sickle

Wrapped in ebony silk

It was love…


I was whole

I watched my back expecting the end

He sits now alone watching the clock on the wall

Mutters to himself

Love… ebony… silk … scent… sweet labor

Misery collects at his feet



Hurricane Michelle


The soft rain falls on my hope for your return

I drown in the thought of love making near Boston harbors

Foghorns—a siren’s song leads me to death

Your face on my hands

Cracked, linear, callused from sojourns into doubt

I dream of you while the wind blows Las Villas apart

I watch shingles from tourist hotels impale the dream of the revolution

Thousands of oranges—severed heads lining the soil

I think of us while mothers scream into ashy hands

Blisters from nights of tears and masturbation

Touching themselves writhing in ecstasy

Raped by the promises of a saint

I wait for you tonight by a silent phone

The thought of your love—oppressive

Shackled to your vision—to the hallucination of love

I pray to god through parched lips

Your kiss like vinegar I long for



 She smells of ash

Mountains across time

Guardians of syrupy secrets

Kisses underneath mama’s quilt

The family bible trembling on the high bookshelf

Dusted prayers collected across despair

Don’t touch me there

He had softer fingers

Malleable digits

Curved just right

Cascades of guilt

Skeletons spinning bottles in closets

Your turn fetish

Conceal yourself

Cloak of wheedles

Overcoat of faux smiles

The maggots eat slowly

Full of ache

Each bite

Seismic up the spine

Like smoke signals from a wounded tribesman.



Awkward Moment by Todd Mercer


Awkward Moment 

(A Tempestuous Then Long Quiet Drive From Hyde Park Back to Swillwaukee)


The University of Chicago is where Fun goes to die. The neighborhood beside it is where Couple X went, apparently to learn about insularity, ivory towers and contradictions. Like the brief, sordid history of parties they didn’t belong at.


That awkward moment when one couple says ’all is cool, friends,’ while another wonders, ‘why is everyone taking off their clothes?’


His notion of a party is a twelve-pack of Swillwaukee. Her conceptualization tends toward cerebral quagmires—Prisoner’s Dilemma, Truth or Consequences, I Would Never.


What the fuck? is the trending question in the car, where the evening’s  mojo swirls counter-clockwise, similarly contrarian.


That awkward moment when one asks “Why Not?” and the other asks “Who are you?”



Saloon a Tune by Jonathan Simkins



Saloon A Tune


A light comes on in

The tractor fuck trailer


Parked behind the bar

As police in the parking lot


Are slipping on rooster masks

To make more effective


Wake up calls. A naked woman

On the back of a white mare


Exits the trailer and gallops

Toward the road. The police


Look at each other and try

To crow but discover they


Have gone mute. Somewhere

The first hour of the dawn is


The last hour of a jukebox’s life.


Three Poems by Mark Burke


Church Dance


I was walking the long way home in the dark

with two girls from the Catholic high school.

I’d only seen them before on the bus

in their school uniforms, white blouses,

waistbands of their navy-blue tunics

rolled high to show their legs.

But I was too shy then to talk.


It seemed an accident

that we’d come to be together that night,

walking on the street by the ravine,

wending through the dark

between each pool of streetlight.

Before the dance, the priest stood 

on the stage and said a prayer

for respect and good judgment.

As we walked, the taller one

talked about original sin,

how we’re already stained at birth.


She laughed and ran ahead each time

the path came close to the slope

and I felt the touch of the quieter one’s hand

when the woods made its sounds.

I asked how the sin showed,

if we could ever get it off.

The tall one parroted the priest

in a sing-song voice as she ran ahead,

“only by self denial and repentance.”


I knew a shorter way, a trail

below the slope where the deer

would go to lie in the grass.

I wanted to feel her hand again,

the quiet one who

walked slower in the shadows.

I saw, like a gift I’d never been given,

how the tall one went on

and that we’d be only two,

drifting out of the streetlight’s halo,

into the darkness by the trees.


 When I Was With Them


When the loneliness welled,

I’d bend sheets of wire-mesh

into statues, soak torn newspaper

in a flour-water slurry

and cover the figures

in sheets of words.


The bodies twisted and bowed,

knelt in bent postures

as they dried.

Some collapsed from the wet weight

and fell, crushed

as if they’d been beaten.

Still, it was a comfort

to be with them.


Days away, I’d come back

surprised to see

how they’d hardened,

hunched and silent.

I’d stand by the window

watching the traffic of bodies outside

and leave for the dancehalls,

looking to find a woman


who would touch me

the way I touched as I made them.

I’d wait there along the walls

watching for the lock of eyes.

But I offered no promise

to those who followed me back,

staring at my figures

as we went to the room

where a cloud of longing

hung above the bed.




When You Were Gone


I washed your blouse and under-things,

hung them to dry outside

in the clean stone-rush of wind,

sleeves billowing as if

you were a priest blessing

the gusts of sky and leaves.


I carried the cotton ghosts

inside before dark,

piled them onto your side of the bed,

a soft body I shaped

and curled against, the scent


of your hair still on the pillow.

I could hear

two breaths flow

like rivers into the bay of night

as I counted the splash of stars,

praying to any god who would listen.



Two Poems by Georgia Tiffany


Sunday Drive


When my mother asks, "Why

can't we take a nice Sunday drive

like we used to?"  I do not think

about history, not how we reinvent it,

or why, for I am consumed with wishing


someone else would bundle her up,

someone else help her

shuffle down the sidewalk to the car

in this harsh October wind,

someone else relive the history--


stores closed on the Sabbath,

my sister and I piled into the back seat

fighting over comic books,

Betty and Veronica, Superman,

my father at the wheel


thumping his index finger

and counting to five for silence,

my mother cowering next to him,

wearing that silly pillbox hat

she always wore on Sunday.


"Don't you remember cowering?"

I want to remind her, his old white Ford

bumping east toward Montana

or north into Spirit Lake country,

or south, where red-tailed hawks


poised on phone poles

and wheat stubble clicked like bones,

my father explaining geology,

my mother listening to the rush

of insects in the dry peas,


my sister eventually asleep,

me picking at a scab on my knee,

both of us dreaming of another history,

one that will not consume

the rest of our lives.


Is it Sunday? my mother wants to know,

hatless now, me driving

a familiar dirt road toward the river,

chattering about heron we would watch

if there were heron, if we could see.


She slumps against the seatbelt.

Her fingers stroke the wool afghan

I've draped over her lap

and tucked under her legs,

all that is gone by October gone--


mating rites, migrating birds, tourists

in their white shorts and canoes.

By tomorrow, winter will have closed the road. 

She is sure of it.

"Is it still Sunday?" she asks again.




Walden 1812

            You can always see a face in the fire.     Thoreau


Maybe they came upon the little house

late in the afternoon,

and maybe they were glad

nobody was home,

or maybe they imagined it was the house

America would die in.


Maybe she'd gone to gather hickory

and stopped to watch a loon, or maybe

she'd taken her handspun linens to town.


Or had Zilpha heard them first?--

picking their way toward Concord

like the prisoners they were,

grabbed her tobacco and brandy

and fled into the woods


calmed by sounds she understood--

dusk astir,  chickadees,

post oaks in the wind--

to search the growing shadows             

for an animal to bed with.


How long did she wait

when she smelled smoke?

Did she approach cautiously, or run?


Perhaps she put her fist in her mouth,

or did she beat and beat the blackened oak

and in a loud shrill voice repeat

as she'd been heard to do,

"Ye are all bones, bones"?


Zilpha had a head on her, some said

deranged, and a heart of fire.


Coming upon the ash,

townsfolk noted that the dog

had burned, and the laying hens,

and the cat, and where she went

no one asked.


*Zilpha White was an ex-slave who made her home in Walden Woods.  Captured English soldiers, who had been paroled to Concord until they could be exchanged, set fire to her house.


Your Keys by Heather Browne


Your Keys


Seventy-three keys

Silver, bronze, brass

Each unique and precise

Made specific, saved

None fit our house, our cars

I’ve tried each one

None lock, nor protect


Seventy-three keys kept

By you

For just that moment

Your fingers knowing the lock

Making it safe


The biggest key inscribed Axxess


I am left open

No way to shut


And your fingers

Which know my lock

Are missing



Preposterous by Dave Shorr




Ladies and gents we can agree

If I were you you’d be me, if I were A, you’d be Z

Not trying to be ambiguous, just talking about the ridiculous


A penguin in a palm tree

A Charlie Sheen pre-nup that you can read in less than 1 minute

A short fat tall guy with a hair lip

Asking a barber if you need a haircut

A one-legged waitress at I-hop

Or the sign in the intensive care unit at the Peekaboo, Mt. hospital that says--Peekaboo I.C.U.


At the risk of being uncouth

Here is one more absurd truth


Whatever ethnicity, religion, political party saying we have to conquer, kill and destroy because we stand for everything that’s good, wholesome and worthwhile in this world



Two Poems by Joseph Lisowski



Autumn Loss


A certain crack

In early autumn

Evening sends a shaft

Of dying sun through

The coal shutte

Making dust dance,

Sparkle, multi-colored

Gems risen

From light.

This drab, poor life

Then implodes


Into Renaissance art.


How can it be

That only now after

Fifty years

I notice.



Mid November



The color of fall



Nest in a shed


My apple tree.


Fruit rotting

On the branch



A slicing wind

Buffets clouds,

All birds gone.




Two Poems by Michael Salcman


At The Reading I Don’t Mean


I don’t mean to turn my back on you

like Miles Davis blowing his horn

with bop.


I don’t mean to be impolite

like a cat scatting through the garbage

for fried goodies thrown out

a window

after all the limes are squeezed and gone

and the bottles of Corona smashed

into stars.


I don’t mean to flex my lats

in your face

or deflect your gaze from my gluts.


I don’t mean nothing about posing

my poems this way

but shame on me if they ain’t good enough


to blow a hole through your head

and set the top of your tingling spine


like a gong set free in the wind.




The Doctor Looks Up Secateurs


It’s a specialist’s word dropped in the Style section,

a snobby way for the Times to say something

recondite rather than clear. Once before

the doctor searched out the meaning of secateurs

but foolishly forgot this elegant bit of argot.


In the legend to a snap of a posh country house

Britain’s most esteemed interior decorator

is said to be holding them, secateurs—

they’re buried in his hand, almost invisible

in the late afternoon light, a tool with a purpose


as foreign to me, the doctor thinks, as a bone saw

for opening the skull must be to him.

Secateurs sounds French so he’s sure this bespoke pair

came from Homewares at Harrods.

What ever would a surgeon use them for—


snipping wires, shearing sheep, a mid-line sternal split

at an autopsy? Forced again to look them up

the doctor discovers three basic types, anvil, bypass

and parrot-beak, though one can’t beat, go around

or squawk with them. Nothing this obscure exists


in the entomology of knife, sword or spear.

Having tried to clarify its meaning the doctor is cheered

that those who feel compelled to don a sun hat

and trim a rose can turn guilt-free to a spouse and ask

(very nicely): “Dear, hand me my secateurs. Please.”


Two Poems by Hadley Hury


I Would Be White Tulips


You have many favorites throughout the year—
cerise cyclamen, hellebores, daffodils,

yellow roses, chrysanthemums—
but for your birthday it must be white tulips.

I don't remember your ever asking—
it's an unspoken rapture I've discerned

over the years like discovering

the atavistic keenness we share

for the great songs of the '40s,
which particular phrases from a handful of tunes
cause you suddenly to murmur along and sway,
something you rarely do, something

that reinforces the image of you

as the girl you are.

I would be white tulips,

perfect pale flesh rounding out of celadon

in a cut-glass vase on the small table,

gleaming in the early sun

for you to see first thing
when you come downstairs—

not newly cut and just brought home
but on that fourth or fifth morning, 
when I am bowing toward you

as mated swans do,

yearning out with all I am,

to be at once with you

in the fullness of that grace,

the memory that always brings us home,
that brings now a little catch to your throat


as you turn at the foot of the banister and see me,

and "Heaven Can Wait" or "The More I See You"

shimmers golden-moted

in the morning light.



A Peppermint


Four days before you died, you lay

on your side, pulled in, fetal.

You kept your eyes closed,

made yourself small, waiting—

unable yet to be away.


The skin of your forearm was brittle,

almost translucent, and the hand

that curled in toward your shoulder fluttered,

touching a tissue to the oxygen feed

in your nostrils over and over again.


The only thing that you asked of this world

I could not give you.


I’d like, you said, a peppermint—for my throat.

And I said, Mom, I know that would be nice,

but with you lying down, and with that cough,

I’m afraid you’ll swallow it.


Yes, that’s right, you said, that’s right—

and I gave you, again, a sip of water

through a straw.


Every two or three minutes,

you asked again.


My grandmother, your mother,

for decades kept peppermints

in a cut-glass bowl on the sideboard.


Once long ago at the beach,

after swimming and sandcastles,

after shrimp and hushpuppies

and coleslaw and French fries,

I asked for a second serving of ice cream.


You said you were sorry

but that I’d make myself sick,

and your beautiful face—so young, I see now—

shadowed for an instant with some fleeting

sorrow I could not understand,

regret that the summer evening and paradise

could not go on and on and on and on,

even for me.







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  • Response
    Harrods is the best store for homewares and fashion shopping but I have just one more store named Zuhni in United States of America and they are also very good for discounted shopping of homewares, furniture and bedding.

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