“Touched By” by Morgan Boyer

A transit car pole can tell you many tales
of times their steel rod bodies were touched

By a community college kid with Kleenex-filled
jacket pockets as she braves through flu season

By a beer-breathed Penguins fan on the phone
with his wife, relaying the 3rd quarter like a war story

By a 2nd generation Hispanic woman holding her plastic
bags by the flimsy handles that stretch everso thinner

By an elderly man scratching off lottery tickets
like a dry dandruff-ridden scalp like bite-sized scraps

By a cardiac-eyed Medicaid card carrier
whose life-blood was replaced by metal
when the company switched to
an automated answering service

By a thirty-two-year-old Penn State grad heading to shovel french fries into buckets
just like his soot-faced great-grandfather shoveled coal

By the administrative assistant of a dentist who works solely
to afford anime merchandise and streaming subscriptions

Touched by a soul that was now lost, not found

Morgan Boyer is the author of The Serotonin Cradle (Finishing Line Press, 2018) and a graduate of Carlow University. Boyer has been featured in Kallisto Gaia Press, Thirty West Publishing House, Oyez Review, Pennsylvania English, and Voices from the Attic. Boyer is a neurodivergent bisexual woman who resides in Pittsburgh, PA.

“Lost Chicago” by Joshua Ginsberg

This will be the only key now
to the map that leads back
to that place I left –

All other directions take me
somewhere I don’t know,
down endlessly defeated rows
of broken, boarded windows
and too-quiet streets
beneath the lonesome
shriek of wind.

Empty towers lean shadows
over every intersection
of is and was,
like a just-finished necropolis
of glass and steel

waiting to find
new use.

Joshua Ginsberg is a writer, entrepreneur, and curiosity seeker who relocated from Chicago to Tampa Bay in 2016. He is the author of “Secret Tampa Bay: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful and Obscure,” (Reedy Press, 2020), and his poetry, fiction, and non-fiction has appeared in various print and digital publications. He maintains a blog, Terra Incognita Americanus and has been a business proposal and resume writer for over 10 years. He currently resides in Tampa’s Town and Country neighborhood with his wife, Jen, and their Shih Tzu, Tinker Bell.

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Two Poems by John Grey

On the Way to the Job

Another morning.
Traffic’s where I live.
It moves. It stops.
It stops some more.
Only traffic can freeze the scenery.
Only traffic can reduce the world
to the bumper stickers of the car in front,
the face of the driver
in the rear-view mirror.
Luckily, I’m going someplace
I do not wish to be.
This is my preferred speed.
It almost doesn’t get me there.

Morning in the Alley

Sunrise seizes on those
already with cheap gin on the tongue
like a slow, non-violent reflex action,
sets aside some shadow for the alley
but shines a thimbleful of light
on gray eyebrows, malted hair.
The world is busy elsewhere
but these men sit still
for whatever the sunshine brings,
everything patient about them
except their thirsts.
The day seeks out trembling lips.
shaking lingers.
a bottle passed around like gold,
a few cuss words
and an itching of the groin,
Dawn knows where to get a drink
at this time in the morning.

John Grey is an Australian poet and US resident. He was recently published in New Plains ReviewStillwater Review and Big Muddy Review with work upcoming in Louisiana ReviewColumbia College Literary Review, and Spoon River Poetry Review.

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“Notre Dame” by Patrick Vitullo

Was its best face seen from
the Quai de la Tournelle,
Pont de L’Archeveche,
or Square Jean XXIII?
Whether the proboscis of facade
or the gothic grey body worded
and etched from the bookseller’s stalls
on the Quai de Montebello,
every look was different.
 
An arch of neck brought one up
its twin towers and shunned down 
the spouting gaff of gargoyles.
Its rose window bloomed before the Seine
while pigeons peripatetic gathered
en masse before a statue of Charlemagne.
 
A man bedecked in the
beauty of his language
asked for francs, a baguette,
and then, when none were offered, 
simply said, bonjour.
 
Like the countenance of its people,
that lean church beveled 
its spire to the sky.
As Emmanuel tolled
solemnly the moment when
Christ died, the Elysian arms of 
Our Lady buttressed 
the man’s tired hands.
And all Paris
foamed in the wake of a bateau-mouche.
 
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Patrick Vitullo is a writer, poet, essayist, and world traveler who lives in Havertown, PA. He was awarded the 1979 John T. Fredericks Prize in Literary Criticism by the University of Notre Dame where he graduated with a B.A. in liberal arts. He also has a law degree from Villanova University and limits his law practice to representation of injured workers. Patrick has been published in The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Antigonish Review. 

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“Predications of the Municipal” by Colin James

Your wrecking ball smashed into
my theater’s old brick walls
past a surprised audience,
onward through the stage’s
painted canvass backdrop
releasing a cast of amateurs.
The Rimbaud posters
in the dimly lit dressing room
peeled at the edges.

Colin James has a couple of chapbooks of poetry published. Dreams Of The Really Annoying from Writing Knights Press and A Thoroughness Not Deprived of Absurdity from Piski’s Porch Press and a book of poems, Resisting Probability, from Sagging Meniscus Press.

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“9/11” by Pete Mladinic

In Cather’s story, “Paul’s Case,”
after the coach rides, the baths,
the tortoise shell brushes, mirrors,
satin sheets, chandeliers,
plush carpets and ornate tables,
after the champagne and caviar feast,
Paul takes his baggage of flesh
draped in soft clothes
onto a final coach
into final woods, and down to the tracks,
and hurls himself into the path
of a locomotive,
choosing this form of death over poison,
pistol, or rope.  It seems
he wants nothing to remain of Paul,
wants Paul himself obliterated,
wiped clean from earth’s map,
no corpse, no likeness for mourners
to view and close the lid on,
and lower into an earthen hole.
Now, a hundred years after Cather’s Paul,
a father named Paul bids his family
goodbye,
not knowing it’s his final goodbye.
A farewell in the dark:  he leans
to kiss his wife’s cheek,
and then to the room of his sleeping son,
also Paul (an only child of an only child),
and leans and kisses his son’s brow
and, with light approaching from the east,
walks out his gate and leaves
his familiar street, not knowing
the finalities of these minutes
of September 2001, and to others
“on floor” when the plane crashes
through, and the sky falls
and turns into a celestial inferno.
Nothing left of September Paul
and those on his floor, nothing left
of the floor, or the shoes
he was wearing, or his teeth,
his wallet, nothing left there.
How could he have so much, one moment,
and then not even his teeth, his hair,
his family.  How different his case
from that of Cather’s brooding protagonist.

Pete

Peter Mladinic’s poems have recently appeared in Neologism, the Mark, the Magnolia Review, Ariel Chart, Bluepepper, and other online journals. He lives, with six dogs, in Hobbs, New Mexico. 9/11 originally appeared in Academy of the Heart and Mind.

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“Abandoned Tenements” by Peter Mladinic

I lose the insomnia contest.
Someone stays awake the longest
who looks like but is not yours
truly. In a drawing contest I draw despair
as walls of black windows, hollow space.
Crossing the street I step up my pace
in the contest to see who leaves wins.
I stay on the street abandoned,
not wondering where did they go,
only mesmerized by the dark hollows
that were windows people looked out.
The next contest, to see who’s proud.
Yet I’m fixated on the empty street,
abandoned tenements, summer heat.

Peter Mladinic’s poems have recently appeared in Neologism, the Mark, the Magnolia Review, Ariel Chart, Bluepepper, and other online journals.  He lives, with six dogs, in Hobbs, New Mexico.

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Two Poems by Danny P. Barbare

The City of Charleston, SC

I like the old city. It fills me full
   of ghost.
How the horses still clop on the
   cobblestone.
A clipper ship floats in the harbor
   as if it has cross and bones
when the only lantern seems to
   be
   the moon
as steps draw nearer, between the
the shadows and the Spanish moss.

The City at Christmas (Greenville, SC)

These buildings are a little
   smaller
the sidewalks no longer run
nor the lights so many and
   magical
but I know they are there
somewhere in the
moonlight’s little coat.

Danny P. Barbare resides in the upstate of the Carolinas. His poems have recently appeared in Blue Unicorn and Ethel. And his poetry has been nominated for Best of Net by Assisi Online Journal. He has been published locally, nationally, and abroad.

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“Fourteen” by Joshua Ginsberg

Saw New York again last night
reflected, distorted
just like it never was as a kid,
inverted through a droplet
on the edge of an icicle
hanging off her balcony.
Suspended there for a frozen breath
before falling, shattering like a snow globe
spilling out its magic
into the slush and dirty tire tracks
over uneven cement three stories down.
On that day of crisp red brick against
a sky-blue no earthly painter can mix,
when she snapped a perfect picture
of our shared inexperience,
diffuse light gentle over smooth alabaster
and her lips an uber-clever citykid smile
that concealed everything I didn’t understand;
didn’t need to yet.

The world has kept busy
these thirty years since,
wrinkling and rending flags and flesh
planting planes in the side of buildings,
clawing endless pits – future home
of all tomorrow’s monuments.
Still through its stained fingers slip
one photo
of me and that girl
with the heart-shaped face.

Joshua Ginsberg is a writer, entrepreneur, and curiosity seeker who relocated from Chicago to Tampa Bay in 2016. He is the author of “Secret Tampa Bay: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful and Obscure,” (Reedy Press, 2020), and his poetry, fiction, and non-fiction has appeared in various print and digital publications. He maintains a blog, Terra Incognita Americanus and has been a business proposal and resume writer for over 10 years. He currently resides in Tampa’s Town and Country neighborhood with his wife, Jen, and their Shih Tzu, Tinker Bell.

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“Downtown, California” by Matthew J. Andrews

On streets placed as precisely as floor tiles
in the shadow of soaring office towers,

the zombies roam,

shuffling their feet in stunted, uneven steps,
staring blankly, eyes fixed firmly in the past,

muttering unintelligibly.

With reclaimed treasures stacked in shopping carts
and claims staked under stone doorway arches,

they live as ghosts

while the wind-whipping flag animates the
extinct bear and blood-red stripe

serpentines.

Matthew Andrews

Matthew J. Andrews is a private investigator and writer who lives in Modesto, California. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Orange Blossom Review, Funicular MagazineRed Rock ReviewSojournersAmethyst ReviewKissing Dynamite, and Deep Wild Journal, among others. He can be contacted at matthewjandrews.com.

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