This Week's Interview: Marc Swan.

Why I write:
If I can touch a reader with a thought, image or rekindle a memory, that's the crux of it. I think of Ray Carver. When I read his work, I’d often be struck by the "how does he know that, that's how I felt or experienced a similar situation." I focus on the narrative, telling the story in free verse as honestly as I can.

The process:
I hold onto my appreciation of print—being able to hold the book, magazine in hand. I also love the process of submitting. I choose the poems, rework the submission to what I feel may be a good fit with the publication, type the envelope on my 1960 Smith Corona Galaxie Twelve, slip in the SASE, pick a suitable stamp and take it to the post office. That being said, the other piece is continuing to develop the relationships with editors/publishers who support my work. Many have moved to online. The shift to online was inevitable. I'm not a large fan of Submittable, but understand the need for it. The increase in submitters must be staggering. It's so easy to create the Word file and pump it out.

Every acceptance is important to me. The fact that my poems traverse that seemingly insurmountable wall and drop safely on the other side.

On publishing:
My last two books were published by tall lighthouse in London England. Les Robinson, the publisher at the time, worked tirelessly with me long distance to fine-tune the work. We created two collections that I feel capture the essence of my first twenty years in the po-biz.

On reading other poets:
For me writing is an evolving process shaped by the life we live and what we learn from others living their version. I mentioned Ray Carver. He found truth in the human experience—simply stated, universally understood. I recently read Nicanor Parra's Anti-poems. He creates a unique counter spin on the poetry world. Billy Collins hits the right notes on the saying it simply with a titter and a bang. Jack Gilbert captured the essence of love and loss. I like some of the new poets I call the war recorders. Kevin Powers, Brian Turner are two. I appreciate their first person reporting on the atrocities we only know from the filtered press. The current issue of Toad Suck Review has a short spread on Jo McDougall. I like her pithy takes on life.

Online magazines:
There are a few that never fail to resonate with me. Red Booth Review is consistently a good read. Another is Misfit. Alan Catlin is the publisher.

A guiding principle:
Know the names of things.

Editor's Choice:
Dead End
Beer, Jazz & Weed
Millennium All Star Review

This Week's Interview: Lucille Gang Shulklapper

What are your goals when you write poetry?

A poem comes to me in fleeting, disparate images. The images are disconcerting, maddening, because I have no idea of their relationship. It's only when I sit down to write that the images come together through my fingers as though they have lived in my subconscious all the time, the way dreams exist. When the first draft is finished, I read it and discover what I meant. A poem may sit for a long time until I find the words and form to express my feelings. My first goal is to give voice to the inner, nagging one.

Other goals follow:
  • To experiment with form and style in shaping my vision.
  • To rethink and “ re-vision”
  • To not be afraid to reveal in my poetry what I have hidden from myself and others
  • To make connections between my inner world and the world around me
  • To develop greater insights
  • To "sing" as long as I can (to persevere)
  • To help others find the poetry within themselves

5 Poems • Barbra Nightingale

from Alphalexia


Genetically speaking, we’re all over the map,
moving up or down, notch by notch,
one gene at a time, generating myriad codes
from a pool as generative as tadpoles.
We morph from gamete to General,
genus to genius, gullible to galled.
Look at it: complexly figured, all curves and angles.
A geometric anomaly.
Is a glow-worm so different from a grub?
A Guava from a gourd?
Do grudges mutate generationally
(like the Hatfields and McCoys)?
Or do they only gyrate wedges between us?
In the general sense of the world,
our gilded grievances aren’t worth a gigabyte of time.
Time to trade up.


Holy hell, he hiccoughed, how hateful
hypocrites can be, how hermetic
in nature, how homogenously hindsightful.
Take all those beefy rhetoricians, choosing
and changing sides.
Give me a hypothesis, hypothetical
or not, hysterics will be spinning
on saucers in hypnotic trances.
But what the heck.
It’s only politics, you say?


Aye, there’s the rub!
If I am imagined,
What’s there to see?


Jumping Jehosephats, Batman!
Just when I thought this would all be jabberwocky,
J sprang out like a jack-in-the-box unhinged,
grinning like a jack-o-lantern, the Joker
all green and jacked up on some kind of juice.
I’m no Jungian judge of character,
but that jitterbug has one helluva junked out mind.
No telling what turns a Judah jubilant or a Joseph jocular.
Harder to imagine Batman himself
having a jolly old time, dour as he is from hanging
upside down most of his life.
Even our heroes have some sort of jitters.
Watch out for jokes and falling rocks.
Let’s get the jetsam outta here!


K for potassium, my best friend’s name,
for karat, a thousand, ka-ching!
Such a harsh sound in the value of things.
K is iconic: Kindle and killer bees,
Krypton, Kleenex, Captain Kidd.
Did you know there are dozens
of variant spellings for Kaballah?
If you can’t spell it, it has no name,
known only by rumor and mystics
who can conjure empty space,
exotic place names for where
we’ve never been: Klondike, Kyoto, Katmandu.
What is knowledge but the absence of innocence?
The filling of a brain with facts.
Did you know Katzenjammer means hangover
and a kittiwake is a gull, hiding in the cliffs
up north, feeding on a cold, grey sea?
From kitsch to kazoo, our karma is calling.

This is an ambiguous title • Katie Lewington

Night began cold
             became warmer
with each drink he thrust down his throat from a tumbler
           supplied by the bar
           he sat on a stool
and as the liquor crashed
                         like waves
                                      into his stomach
the room appeared to shrink
awareness stolen from him –
                                 fucking thief
he remembered
                        visiting the toilet
and somehow
                   found himself outside
       fell asleep around the stone statue
on a step
that they     posed on
like a refugee, alien
one stuck and the other

pushing his head deeper
                           into the
         curves of the sculpture

as  if he is the person
attempting to hold them in
               a hemline
causing a mark on the skin

he slept
for this statue to become
                         a woman
the step a bed

for them to both to lay low

in bliss. 

Poet Diva Chick • Erren Geraud Kelly

who has coffeehouse
or whole foods market
running through her
scan her dna and you'll se
thrift shop
in it
hear her open her mouth
and youll hear alternative music or
hip hop living in it

she gives kids on the streets m&ms or
now and laters

she sees you
gives you a kiss now
and promises another one,

maya angelou, amber tamblyn
and jill scott
are some of her sisters
dauxrianne laux , wanda coleman
Nikki Giovanni and Nicole blackman
you cant resist her

she can give her love freely like
edna millay, floating like a feather
or like Sylvia plath, a thunderstorm
no matter the weather

her body may be a temple
or she may look like a

she's not out to impress
as she's blowing bubbles
but she'll school ya

words ride the hemn of her dress
her love is a hymn she gives to

when she opens her mouth
like a bell, she's always heard

she chews licorice like a communion

a high priestess of words

This Week's Interview: Erren Geraud Kelly.

What are your goals when you write poetry? 

I want to make sure I convey a message when I write; in the past, I worried a lot about the reader "getting," the poem, but that shouldn't be the poet's job. The job of the poet is to show the reader the world, the way he sees it; how the reader wants to interpret the poem is up to him/her. I've always loved poetry because no two people will come away with the same interpretation. though I don't write abstract poetry, I still read a lot of abstract poets, to see what I can take from them and see how can expand my world.

Cathy Park Hong's "Dance Dance Revolution" blew my mind; e.e. cummings' work and Amiri Baraka showed me a few things as well.

Usually, it takes me two or three drafts to say the things I really want to say, but I don't believe in excessive editing. I think constant editing takes the soul out of the poem. Once I get a poem published, I leave it alone.

Graphos #33 • Alice Adamski

Too Late • Michael Estabrook

I’m back in the Northfield Avenue house
in the driveway
no one’s there it’s dark
but the doors are open
I go in the side door and call out
turn on lights stick
my head in Kerry’s room
but of course he’s not in there
at his desk or ironing
and the dining room is a clutter
living room too
there’s a barbell in the kitchen
that’s odd
the old phone on the wall by the hallway
no door leading upstairs
where’s Kerry dammit
not the same
nothing’s the same
without my brother Kerry
he took an alternate path in life
could’ve been happier
if he finished college, married Pam
but too late for that now
too late

Three Poems • Howie Good


Skulls sprout wings.
I was talking about this
just last night. There’s
nothing any of us can do
about it either, not even
crouch under tiny desks
as we did in Miss Dolan’s
class during duck-and-
cover drills. It’s my life,
dammit, a rising mushroom
cloud, untitled and dated
1951. A photographer with
an old-style box camera
on a tripod, a funereal
black cloth draped over
his head and shoulders,
goes on adjusting the lens.
I wait at some slight distance
to be told when to smile.


A Spotted Cat

I turned from the window
to put my cup down,

and when I turned back,
the spotted cat that had been easing
along the low rock wall

with the exaggerated leisure
of a tightrope walker

was gone

and nothing to show
that it had even been there

but for a pale shadow,
a shimmer, a song somehow
sung without any singing.



Some days
I walk to think,
some days
just to escape,

but today, today
I found myself
in archaic woods,

the bristly spikes
of bare trees,
a spidery light,

the hateful look
my father used
to give me that said,
What are you,


One Photo • Mark Myavec

Beer, Jazz & Weed • Marc Swan

trying to piece together time and place
I think it was '65
at Thompson & Bleeker
in front of the Village Gate
Hound and I after an afternoon of hoppin’
one bar to the next
first McSorley's for a dark ale deuce
followed by a dark ale deuce
followed by a dark ale deuce
followed by a lost count dark ale deuce
then the White Horse Tavern in honor of Kerouac
Ginsberg and Cassidy
dusk falls on two ass-dragging guys
snappin' fingers
whistlin’ an off-beat tune
sharing a joint with a jazz musician—
bass player as I recall
laughing at a bunch of shit we barely understand
on the way back to Wilton along the Merritt Parkway
in my stuttering red and white '56 Plymouth sedan
Hound's head hangs out the window
sucking air
then puking all over the door
next morning we drive to Stamford to see Scratch
another ragtag from Tampa U
who takes us to a friend's house to score Mexican weed
from his dealer
actually two guys coming off heroin
wrapped up like Indians in a John Wayne flick
in multi-colored horse blankets shivering
dancing around
the whole time we’re there

Polydipsia • K.G. Newman

Drinking my beer while holding
my baby is the closest I come
to being Buddha—night after
night, neighborhoods of my liver
dying off while he outgrows
one onesie, then the next.
It’s like scoops of flickering
streetlight plus the gravel
we rode in on, all the fine bits
of rock and time I can fit
in a fist. It’s cross-eyed looks
we give each other at
the end of every sixer,
birds in blue who flock
to smoke, grass growing
in the patchy backyard where,
in the corner, I pour out
the last sips and hope
to grow a tree.

It is the air Persephone breathes... • Gabriella Garofalo

Is it the air Persephone breathes
When free from the caves -
It is, the woman says -
Is it the ivy eating away the ancient walls -
It is, the woman sighs -
Is it the cussed shadow you can’t shoo away
No matter how hard you clean in the corners -
It is, the woman replies -
Is it the gnarly old lady who sits in the room,
Best friend to the cobwebs, both declining to go -
It is, the woman agrees -
No need to spring clean:
Leading you astray by moon or by seed
Doesn’t work for the sky, he’s hungry for more -
So don’t ask if he deserves your eyes,
It’s not a tryst, just the hunt she dreamt up
When eyeing white books -
Not death, but nearby lights in suburbia -
Oh yes? And since when you’re an expert on light,
Dazzles, mood swings?
You, a soul?
Ask Odysseus for tips,
He might oblige
If you say yes to his womb -
That’s what she hisses, no waste of words,
So keen on fraying fabrics or plots
She just drops the ivy and the air,
The cobwebs, the shadows, the ladies,
She even forgets all her aliases -
Depression when rushing to a cuppa or a drop.

Two Poems • James B. Nicola

Birthday Suit

What I am wearing now
I shall wear at close of curtain.
My birthday suit's
the foundation
layer of a shroud.
Of course they'll add a tie, a smile, a coffin
or a kiln.
Meanwhile I've added bagatelles
to keep warm and alive
absent you.


The Letter Not to Send

September was the time to see

November, time to telephone

January is the time
To bury under snows

That March might thaw
And April melt
And May return

As more than nothing

Starlings • Robert Lietz

   Soles, and half-sizes, styles, carried like names
you knew by heart for decades, into
the indifference everywhere, and how you phoned
from that hotel, “in the neighborhood,” so
she responded one July, between ninth grade and ten,
when Mantle and Maris heated up the year
and your attention, sure as you were, fourteen,
you’d talk or never talk with her forever,
with so many miles, and so much shyness to make up for,
and soles, half-sizes, the power of speech
you’d just begun to feel, when she moved away for good,
for whatever that became, because the fuel
ran out, because you were sure it wasn’t starlings
she had asked you to remember, or anything,
you think, but an assuming gravity, bringing shapes
to worlds, when attractions changed, and
you were changed among the outfielders, the pols,
by the scenes in dog-eared monthlies,
in the dentist’s say, and in the barber’s “offices.” What
was it besides the soles, styles, the stories
you made, packed, carried with you into Bowling Green
and elsewhere through Ohio, that season
with such and such, birds you could never make stars of,
sent packing as you were, inured to both
the blame and its reporting, to the names you scratched
into a porcelain framed tablet, or the names
you heard in lines, but only her name, forever etched
on an old surface, erased how many times, that
you can see it afterwards, having arrived as migrants
Ohio blew around and dried for, coached
as you were to gardening, and schooled no less
by neighbors, by the sets they shared
and disks they tractored up a yard with, sleeping
along state routes, through
dreams you’d always meant to learn
   the orders of.

She Who Awaits • Lana Bella

It's not the sunset
you cannot see,
nor the emerging
moon leaving
gold on your hair.
It's the skeleton-ribs
of her voice that
leave crunches over
the cobble-stone's
hoary grass, with
frost skims through
the perfume of night
blooming jasmine.
When the feathers of
her tremor brush
his hives of buzzing
hums, he falls into a
quiet quieter than
earth, staring across
the reach of five fingers
to eyes lodged beneath
the eaves of amber-
blue. So leaps her thin-
mouth orchid smile
that surges shivering
birds who stir his
heart toward flight.

As an Underground Poet • BZ Niditch

You first read in the subway
the open sea still inside you
with its salty brine
in a subterranean approach
at the primary abyss
of a mike's unexpected voices
by the bandstand and gazebo
fountain by a myriad of tulips
and radiant lilacs
here in leather gloves
opening unruffled pages
my voice communicates
through long suffering history
to an attentive crowd
presented at a pallid wall
of city graffiti at your back
under lantern lights
a skittish beer
spins on my tongue
in a nostalgic adolescence
my fans and unknown friends
daily disguises are removed
under the motioning wind
an underground poet
wanders off alone
still hearing street cars
in the subway homeland
being driven by memory
in a language inside ourselves
covered by an hour of words
to capture a whistling myth
of metamorphosis in a funky way
after the bandanna is put on
your auburn hair net
we found at the bazaar
along with my blue visor
taken along the park
now removed from us
you sing out as my sax moves
along with you on the dance floor
remembering my poem
you left in the cloakroom
and recognizing enchantments
rescuing us in a later than
you think Manhattan moment
in my mobility of riffs
a thousand sounds
in luminous hands
of reborn black tulips move
in a nocturnal laughter
to watches the sparrows
in Central Park
they stir their wings
expecting tomorrow's beat.

Three Drawings • Allen Forrest

Deja Vu

Nick and Nora Noir 1

Nick and Nora Noir 2

Three Poems • Holly Day

The Last Day

on the last day, the vampires opened the caskets, crept
out of basements, mausoleums
underground bunkers, to find a world
peopled by the shambling
dying and dead, a radioactive

landscape glowing as red and molten
as the day the Earth first
began to cool. they strutted around
for the first few hours, kings of the world
before becoming sick themselves
from feeding off of
the radioactive dead

the dead blood burning like white lightning
all the way down. soon, even the last vampire
shuddered into dust
long before the rays of the sun pinked
the flaming horizon.


The Night Out

on our knees we
drag the rope
make a circle
to keep the snakes out. stake down the tent
roll out the sleeping bags, set
the camp stove
on low, make
soup. the children’s eyes glow
in the dying
light of the setting sun, cheeks
pink with anticipation
of sleeping under the stars. moonlight
makes the shadows creep
far across the desert and up into
the hills.
I nestle
my head against
my husband’s chest and dream.


The Wife

hand in hand, fingers locked
in a bright show
of marital bliss, smile for
the outside world
to see. no reflection of nightly
rituals of blood
and bone, of skin against metal
the room with a

drain in the floor. her smile is
carefully controlled, quiet
years of hiding
a mouth full of
chipped, dying teeth, lips rouged to hide the hairline
splits in her flesh, the way the

skin puckers
in too many directions
when she tries to speak. he shelters her with
his body in public, banishing questions from
friends and family who ask
why she never calls anymore.

Two Photos • John McCluskey

Fire Escape, 18th St, Chelsea, December, 2015

Empire State Building in fog, December, 2015


John McCluskey lives in Connecticut and 
has published literary fiction, poetry, and 
photography in numerous small literary magazines 
and anthologies. His photography centers around the 
New York City area, though not exclusively. 
"I am drawn to the visual challenge of presenting 
 the ordinary in a slightly more, and hopefully 
successful, extraordinary light."

Blue • Robert Lampros

Wave after wave, countless,
they roll upon our shore,
the sand rolls under, away
and tumbles to the surface.
I feel your eyes in this.

Am I in orbit like the
Earth, like the moon around
this fiery, watery world,
or is it you who orbits me?
I rise to stabilize what

Falls and loosens, comes
apart beneath the waves,
I try to hold us together
all day, and form a place
to last, to roll onward…

Leave Me Alone • Scott Laudati

you’re the new guy so you work the graveyard shift
and the boss has finally gone home,
you can smoke a cigarette in peace
no hiding
no sneaking around the corner.
the garbage trucks clean up the streets.
you watch the last of the drunk girls stumble out,
some go home alone
some fight with their phone.
the city is finally yours.
just a faraway hum of an ambulance
no taxi horns
no one is left to ask anything of you.
and the soft grey clouds
reach over the low tenements
like an exhale of breath
and if you listen closely
you can almost hear god in the silence
whispering the resonance of something you used to know by heart
but can’t quiet remember.

the last day has left
and the new one hasn’t quite come.
it’s a feeling almost like happiness.
you can love anything
under the light of the moon.
it’s another story
come dawn

This Week's Interview: Howie Good

What are your goals when you write poetry?
A poem is a made thing. I use whatever materials I find at hand. If I have an overriding goal, it's to make something that challenges or subverts the dominant mode of contemporary consciousness, which I believe to be incoherent, oppressive, and deadening.

What's your attitude about the poetry business, the print, the online, magazines, book publishers, etc?
I'm much affronted by the ever-increasing profusion of reading fees. It's like you're paying for the privilege to be rejected. Poets do it for love; I don't see why editors of most publications shouldn't, too. Money is necessary, but there are other ways to raise it than on the backs of poets.

When you read poetry by others, what do you get from it?
A sense of fellowship.

What's an online mag that you love and look forward to reading?
There are a number: Right Hand Pointing, Posit, Uut Poetry, Your One Phone Call.

What's the one bit of knowledge you have now that you wish you had when you first started writing and publishing?
Trust your intuition.

Editor's Picks
Notes of a Very Minor Poet
Two in the Morning

Our Featured Poet: Philip Dacey

Two Photos • Mesmerine Adwalla