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Joan Gerstein

California, United States

Little Goldilocks wanders through the woods,

our fairest maiden with hair the color of wheat.

She enters a stranger’s house, tests furniture, 

then finds the kitchen for something to eat.

The first porridge’s too hot, the next one’s too cold.

Conduction may explain how that could take place.

But how do you explain such entitlement?

She’s trespassing in someone else’s space.

Well, wouldn’t you know, the bears return

to feast on their porridge, honey sweet.

Goldie hightails out of there so fast, 

she doesn’t even have time to tweet

and tell all the world of her escapades.

I can almost hear a southern drawl.

She not only had a video to show

She did interviews, wrote articles withal.

She never mentioned she left the house a mess,

nor admitted this home-invasion was not right,

but the bears feared to call the cops on her

because they were brown, she was very white.



Mara RZ

I tried to be perfect

To fulfil my role

Not dishing neglect


Needed be my goal


Cleaning and birthing


Servant and whore


When I realised


Not ever more!


"I'm sorry


I can't be all that you dream


I'm just me


so's time to self 'steem"



A found poem from the words of A. W. Pollard’s 1903 edition of Le Morte d’Arthur, Book XIX, Chapters I-II.

Rachel Finney

United States

I have loved you many a year—

you season, clad in green silk;

you castle of herbs, mosses, and flowers. 

Your woods and freshest fields 

are long and many,

be-dashed with light

on every early morn.


In this month,

each knight shall walk

with a lady beside him;

the queen shall be with king again;

the day shall meet the morrow

in the east.



Phyllis Meshulam

1. Arts Program, 2003

We are here to show what people, even little children, can create. It’s a shame our government is poised to destroy. Music Teacher, Oak Grove School

School arts assembly 

on the eve of the Iraq war. 

Music teacher speaks

to an audience of parents.

Children create rivers 

with scarves and rhythms, 

villages with song. 

Later I scan

the broadcast,

x-ray of an invasion, 

for tell-tale 

silver streamers of 

depleted uranium. 

Nab the banned: sub: stance: deflect: defect: of birth: of birds

2. Arts Program, 2011
School chooses Firebird 

arts theme. Children 

construct forests with xylophones, 

turn their bodies into horses and birds. 

Then Fukushima, 

then memories of Chernobyl. 

Fifth-grader Quinn writes, 

A bird, all life on the tips of its wings.

If it flaps them, a giant earthquake 

cracks the earth in two. 

Who can: forget: the hearth heap: or: remember: the kin: ship of skin: and fin. 

Ukraine’s Red Forest 

begins to sing again, 

sometimes through double 

or crooked beaks. 

Firebird, flitting

racing, tracing  

a way out, a way forward? 

How to: reap reply.

3. In Search of Story Serum
The Firebird in fairy tales is usually as an object of a difficult quest, initiated by finding a lost tail feather, most often at the bidding of a father or king. 

Stories haven’t saved us yet (except

Scheherazade, saving herself). 

Still slip me a potion, sail me away

on a Kafka-craft, in search, in search. 

It seems there is a tsar who can’t abide 

the nightly loss of just one golden fruit

from his royal grove. He sends his sons, one 

by one, at dusk to find the orchard thief. 

A library table as my craft, 

a raft to ride me from the high seas 

of my emotions. At least save me from 

a melt-down thanks to the interruptions 

of the couple at the desk nearby, loudly 

(and badly) teaching and learning geometry. 

Don’t they know what’s at stake?

Each son will say he kept his watch but sleeps 

then lies about it. Until Ivan, the youngest,

anoints his eyes with dew, keeps vigil, observes 

a midnight sun appear, a flaming peacock 

which gobbles the radiant fruit. 

Ivan lunges and captures a single tail-feather torch. 

And then the orchard thieving stops.

But the tsar burns for the rest of the bird. 

He commands his sons, “Now, go bring me that feathered fire.” 

And I keep asking myself, “where is the map, 

the blueprint, the key to the code?” It must be 

around here somewhere. Over that horizon. On that shelf.

Hard-hearted tsar: feathered fire: untethered fire: nuclear fire

4. At Sunset

The future can exist only when we understand the universe as composed of subjects to be communed with, not as objects to be exploited. Thomas Berry, The Great Work

I am trying to make the shape of 

that cloud into a dragonfly 

but really, it doesn’t look like one. 

The only cloud that looks remotely

reptilian (I do think of dragons  

as reptiles, even when they are insects) 

is long and snake-like, 

perhaps a feathered snake, which, 

like all the clouds right now, 

is the color of nectarines blended with cumulus. 

I am trying to make the color of the sky

into the blue of the Virgin’s mantle, 

that shade of blue so precious,

ones made from ground-up Lapis lazuli, 

or Egyptian blends of copper and sandstone.

But really, the sky is a much lighter 

blue right now. It holds the deeper 

blue in reserve, whistling Delft 

for another twenty minutes or so. 

But back to the non-dragonfly cloud. 

It now looks more like a baby bird 

fallen from its nest: unfledged, scrawny, 

wings skeletal, a fire-bird chick

flattened against blue tile. 

Tile fire blue



Nolo Segundo

United States

My wife and I walk every morning,

a mile or so--

it’s good for us old to walk in the cold,

or in the misty rain, it makes less the pain

that old age is wont to bring to bodies

which once burned bright with youth,

though now I wear braces on ankles,

braces on knees, and I walk slowly

with 2 canes, like an old skier,

sans snow, sans mountain.

We passed a tree whose leaves had

left behind summer’s green and now

fall slowly, carefully one by one

in their autumnal splendor.

My wife stopped me--

listen she said-- but

I heard nothing—hush!,

stand still, she said,

and I tried hard to

hear the mystery….

Finally, I asked her, knowing my hearing

less than my wife’s (too many rock concerts

in my heedless youth), what we listen for?

She looked up at my old head, and smiled--

only she could hear the sound each leaf made

as it rippled the air in falling to the ground.



Ann Howells

Carrollton, Texas, United States        

White Stetson and hand-tooled boots,
a jackrabbit rustles chamisa,
I’m late! I’m late!  Me?
I’m crying on shoulders of field mice.

He, bloated and grotesque,
blocks chamber exits -- swollen cork
wedged in a bottle. He's consumed
everything labeled Drink Me.

Caterpillar draws his pipe, 
skunk smell wafts. I'm not surprised;
what is a caterpillar anyway,
but a three-inch worm in fake-fur chub.

At Hatter’s mad, mad, mad party,
tea is pre-sweetened, place cards blank.
Hare wears a side arm;
Dormouse is decidedly uneasy.

Cards wobble when I trump the Queen,
throw down a harlequin:
tri-belled cap, leotard, fringed boots.
He behaves as Jokers always do.

Mock turtle tears trickle my narrative.
I am not the person I was.
Sea-dark eyes lock into mine.
Someone rattles teacups.



Jennifer Kindler

United States

Deep in the forest was a watering hole.

It must have been there since long ago.

But then I must say I really don't know,

Because until lost I came upon it one night,

It had never been mentioned that I can find.

But there I was that night lost and alone,

Getting deeper in the forest and further from home,

Fear telling me I could never get out on my own.

When there suddenly shimmering in the moonlight,

My eyes met a most incredible surprise!

Fear now forgotten my eyes stared in disbelief.

No longer was my heart bogged down in grief.

This watering hole brought to me great relief,

For it was not the watering hole usually found;

This one had bubbles floating all around!

The moon found the glimmer of some of the bubbles.

Curiosity found me soon forgetting my troubles.

I walked over closer through the forest stubble.

The world around me seemed all black and white,

Just the dark night forest and the white moonlight.

Around the water then I noticed some flowers.

Above the forest floor they towered.

Yet this was a very unique encounter,

For the flowers had no color or dimension,

As shadows around the water, they stood at attention.

What was going on?  What to do?

It wasn't too long before I knew.

Hot and tired, my attraction to the water hole grew.

I went over and began to check it out,

Convincing myself it was safe beyond a doubt.

So, I eased on into the water and there I lay.

In soft moonlight and bubbles there seemed a way

To believe that come day, everything would be okay.

Having fun in the bubbles, I created a splash,

And then as if by magic in just a flash –

As the bubbles hit the shadows that as flowers stood,

The flowers began to expand; it was so good!

Then to their added dimension bright color could

Be seen in all the flowers even in the dark forest night;

In all my living days, I will never forget that sight!

The next day finally able to walk out of the forest,

I felt as if bird angels were serenading me in chorus,

And wanting me to always remember evermore –

That in the scariest night, still are blessings to be found;

And the happiness you find, may spread happiness all around!



Chuck Madansky

United States

In the old stories, one tree looks just like another

and soon, you are hopelessly lost.

You come to a clearing—a cottage—and your panic melts.

You just feel sheepish, relieved.

Smoke, the sweet smell of barbeque, pours from the roof— 

maybe they’ll ask you to lunch. The knocker crumbles like sugar.

Naive to think that things are better, just because

we can see the sun. The old ones knew about shadows,

how night is the shadow of Earth, and the absence of light 

is the least of what blooms at dusk.

The forest reveals itself in moist fragrance, quiet tones of rust

and green, in stillness the brilliance of daylight dissolves.

Turn and re-enter the uncertain light.



Nadja Maril

Maryland, United States

Throughout the castle the court slumbers,

At the top of the tower the princess sleeps,

Waiting for the right hero.

The wise fairy won’t let just anyone past the brambles

To change destiny.

Thorny thickets preserve the status quo.

They say a person needs a knife

To cut their way through it all.

But you can coax the vegetation

To yield with the right intentions.

Anxious to be the hero

You cut down branches with axe and scythe 

Magic keeps them growing

Despite desire to restore her life.

To a spindle she touched her hand

Despite spinning wheels banished from the land

Tempted by the disgruntled fairy, ‘Dearie try this.”

The princess falls asleep to await her kiss.

One hundred years, one hundred ways

To ignore an ancient castle

Surely if she’d awaken now

To the world she’d be forgotten.

A kingdom without spinning wheels 

Stops making yarn and thread.

Synthetic textiles replace natural fibers.

Fabrics cease to decompose

Plastics pollute the earth.

The land and sea is filled with trash.

Nothing is saved, but the memories

Of a fairy tale happy ending.

Could there be a rescue not involving cash?

I’ve been waiting to find a girl like you

Together, says the prince, we’ll start a farm

Raising sheep, goats and greens

We’ll grow linen, cotton, and beans.

The good fairy knew her stuff.

The site of a tragedy

Can become the kingdom’s redemption.

The lovers minister to the world


Resisting personal greed

Weaving new threads of inclusivity

Hosting a celebration

They remember the need

to invite everyone.



Molly O’Dell

Buchanan, Virginia, USA


I float up the Cenozoic staircase 

to catch a ruckus in our clearing.

Knapweed and salad burnet bloom.

There’s a lass dancing the circle,

chews burnet and slips a sprig

of pignut behind her ear.

Her lad fishes the river Wharfe 

and she wanders the dales, discovers

our ring of stones

pirouettes between boulders,

naught pierced by sunlight,

then arabesques above my space.

Our clearing invites walkers

and airmen who crash. We keep 

watch over all who come and go.

She hears me stir, hops down

and bows to try and wrest me

but I’m too long set,

since the Bronze Age, in a ring

cairn proper, a small circle of stones,

us kerbs all what’s left.



Rosie Garland

Manchester, United Kingdom!/What-Girls-Do-in-the-Dark-Rosie-Garland/p/215785787

I make it on my own. Months of hard slog crawling

back to light, shadows snarling at my heels. Don’t

look back. Washed up on a tough shore,

mouth clogged with silt, on all fours

and retching, coughing

mud. Don’t

look back.

I am no savage god. No Lord of Death. The Lord of Absence,

perhaps; my subjects locked into private loneliness. This is

not the first time you have visited, adding your unique variety

of sadness to the void. Think of it as a time for letting go.

Yes, my night is dark. Like the night, I wax and wane.

Enjoy your return to light. We shall know each other again.

I have been

a ghost of myself.

Surfacing at last into taste

and touch, I sour the pomegranate

sweetness on my tongue. He’s waiting,

reaching out tempting arms, weaving old

magic. Next time, I will still be terrified, but not lost.



Ben Groner III

Tennessee, United States

Before sharing about my ailments,

she figured I’d had an easy life:

popular, carefree, getting by on

an aquiline jawline, an aqueous gaze.

Like Adonis. It reminded me of

the friend in high school art class

who said, You could play Adonis,

hiding her blush behind her brush.

The acrylic auburn horses were

a wilderness reborn from her wrist.

But I am no lord, dying and rising

again. No alluring youth, desired

by a pantheon. I should have told

them. We all get gored by mirrors

when we’re alone. I’m just as lost,

inchoate, feeble, bewildered as you.

Just as thrumming, as resplendent.



Kait Quinn

United States

Instagram @kaitquinnpoetry

A yellow orchid with one petal folded

over signifies betrayal.

Mid-October snow: prepare

for a winter that blizzards

into April.

A ring finger bends back at first


a grave has been disturbed. 

When the neighbor's row of marigolds

wilts all at once  overnight, scorned

corpses will meet  at midnight

parched for blood, giddy

for revenge.

Watch the sugar bowl. A topple

with a spill

welcomes poltergeists.

If the fairy lights are strung and the apples

bob, but the spiced candles

on the mantle won't light, a witch

is casting obsidian spells

with cold, cardamom breath.

A white squirrel caked in cemetery dirt

does not bode well for this year's harvest.

Pin your gaze to rabid eyes, and you will spend

your life searching for more

beyond the more

beyond the moor.



Sister Lou Ella Hickman, OVISS

United States

Once upon a time there was a widow 

who lived with her two daughters.

One was ugly and greedy. 

The other was good and beautiful. 

Because the daughter was good and beautiful,  

she was treated badly by her mother.

Even though her chances of being loved were slim to grim 

she still swept, cleaned, and spun her spindle

until her fingers bled.

One day when her fingers bled while spinning

she tried to wash her hands in the well.

However, her spinning spindle seemed

to have had a mind of its own

for it sprang out of her hand   

and into the well.

Of course, her mother blamed 

this good and nameless girl for this mishap.        

Since she good and obedient,

she followed her mother’s orders to retrieve the spindle.

She jumped into the well 

and as she fell, she fell asleep as good girls are wont to do.

She woke up in a different world—

a meadow replete with sunshine and flowers.

Walking out of what seemed like heaven, 

she heard loaves of bread in an oven cry out,

“Help us, help us lest we burn.!”

So, she did.

Then she walked on.

As she did, she heard an apple tree speak,

“Shake me for my apples are ripe!”

So, she did.

Third time was the charm when she met Mother Holle.

“Stay with me.”

And so, she did.

True to form, she did as she was asked:

she swept and she cleaned.

She even shook out the bed linens.

During her stay, Mother Holle cared for her.

As a result, the beautiful, obedient girl felt appreciated and loved.

During her stay, she became homesick and decided to go home.

She told Mother Holle goodbye; 

thanking her for her appreciation and love.

As the beautiful, obedient girl 

walked through the courtyard gate 

she was promptly showered with golden rain. 

A gift from Mother Holle.

After sharing her story when she got home, she returned to her spinning.

Not only was her sister ugly; she was also greedy.

It was no surprise when the mother told the ugly one,

“Now’s our chance to get rich.”

 Agreeing, she knew she would be a far more golden child than her sister

 so lickety split she leaped into the well.

 She woke up in the same almost- heaven world

 her sister spoke about.

 As she left the meadow, she heard the same loaves of bread cry out,

“Help us, help us lest we burn.”

“Sorry, I can’t get my pretty hands dirty.”

 Walking on, she heard the same apple tree cry out,

“Shake me, my apples are ripe.”

“Sorry, one of them might bonk me on the head.”

Like her golden sister before her,

she met Mother Holle.

But being the lazy girl she was—

she couldn’t hold down the job

of sweeping, cleaning, and shaking out the bed linens.

She left, lickety split,

only to be doused with pitch 

as she passed through the courtyard gate.

A gift from Mother Holle.




(The winged unicorn is called Pegasus, a winged divine stallion, a symbol of poetic inspiration.).

Its flight is an allegory of the soul’s immortality.

I was sitting at my corner this morning

Thinking to write something poetic,

Something for love,

Something that melts the heart,

Something that burns the imagination.

And…I wished myself very good luck.

My Pegasus was curled on the floor

Resting next to my couch.

I hoped he’ll get up and fly,

I hoped he will glide,

But… he said “I’m on strike”

And pointed out the dazzling chandelier

With his twisted sparkling horn. Oh, Dear!

My pen began dripping blood.

Dark blue cloud darken the sky

And purple hell began drumming on the path

Of my creative imagination.

Then, came the flood of useless words,

a tornado of unfitted verse after verse -

With no rhythms, no rhymes.

The page became thin, almost transparent.

My magical feather made whole after hole;

Scratching deep to the table.

I was thinking: “I’d better

Write on paper tissue”.

My stallion nodded his horn: ”True”

And went back to sleep.

How I deserved this?

– He telepathically read my mind.

“You abused me every day and night.

From sunset to sunrise you write

And you write, and you write…

I am hungry and tired, I cannot fly.
So, I’m on strike. At midnight

At least you can share with me glass of wine.”



Briana Bostic

United States

With shaking wings,

Moving along the root

Of a tree

Crawling along,

Before still

To rest

Glinting in the sun

Talking to the magic

Of the dust

Finding the treasure

Of the mushroom

The vine, the bee, the branch


In the mist of dawn

Raising a new beat in flight



Diane Funston

Marysville, California, United States

Glass cobalt evil eyes from Turkey

hang in a window in each room.

A hammered tin Hamsa

hangs outside every doorway entrance.

These baubles I placed for protection

from all harm, the seen and unseen.

After passing centuries of abuse,

words and other wounds

I forgave Baba Yaga,

whom I believed could no longer eat children.

Her advanced age, gnarled weak bones

grew frail in unforgiving winters,

she grew lonely with failing powers.

I moved her out of her high-rise hut

into our warm home

far away from black ice.

I tended my garden

as she grew accustomed

to nourishing meals and healing sun

I began to wonder if there was a little love

or merely a place to eat and rest.

Her voice regained familiar strength and timbre

I heard her chanting spells behind her door. 

Her responses to questions growled back

while her elderly hands grew talons

ready to pierce and slice

even the most innocent requests.

I found myself denying recent scratches

rinsing drops of blood down the drain.

In between battles from last century’s war

I prayed daily to my god of poetry.

I shielded torn flesh from my loved ones

I was cursed with guilt

for welcoming her in.

When the plague locked us all inside for months,

it was easy to cover my scars and wounds.

After all, Baba Yaga hissed one day,

after she again drew blood with her tongue,

“Mother knows you still need mending”.



Mary Janicke

United States

O Children

Beware the spider

She lurks in corners

Ever watchful

Her home built of silky strands

Her offspring hidden in glistening sacs

So, watch out

Who knows

She might be a deadly 

Black Widow or

Brown Recluse

O Children

Be vigilant

And patient

And brave

As a spider

Don’t get snared

in her sticky web



Julie A. Dickson

Exeter, New Hampshire, United States


No surprise, brother and I had peeked inside,

parents gone to a party; mom wore black crepe;

carefully peeled back tape on wrapped gifts,

sweater in itchy wool, scarf hand-knit by Nana,

books and drawing set. No Santa anticipation

by morning, stockings weighed down with oranges.


Hand bloody, violently forced rhythmic twist

just to present tooth. Father exclaims, rinses

fairy-bait wrapped in tissue under pillow, check

repeatedly before succumbing to sleep -  See?

brother chides in morning, shiny half dollar

in my palm, sore mouth already forgotten.


Notes followed room to room, under table

skirt, in the garage, run upstairs to bedroom

closet. [That bunny gets around!] Back to kitchen

peering inside dishwasher to discover bright yellow

wicker basket stuffed with annoying fake grass found

everywhere for months, candy long since eaten.


Childish fantasies dissipate, tiny molars, bicuspids

moldering in bureau drawer, no pillow dreams,

each ebbing away as fine sand through fingers,

pebbled memories, marbles rolling under sofa,

lost among dust bunnies too far to reach

with broom, escaped smoke up the chimney.



Gene Goldfarb

New York City, NY, United States

If wit desert me be gentle friends

for knives amuse and dullness offends.

There was a man who loved a maid

over and over it’s been said.

What have we here: a comedy

or dark and rueful tragedy?

Patience, sweet patience—persevere!

Listen, be good and you will hear

a tale of woe and merriment

of earthly cares and heaven sent.

The princess lived in a treasure land,

the prince in a kingdom just as grand.

They met one morn’ in a wooded glen.

He could only cough and say “ahem!”

She softly urged him, “Oh, speak, dear prince.”

He could barely sigh and gave a wince.

She took this for a boorish token

of dumb retreat from true words spoken.

With a grunt of disgust cold she turned.

He’d lost his tongue and she’d been spurned.

She mounted her steed and off she flew

cursing the prince and this rendezvous.

So, our sad tale would here have ended

were strange fate and chance not so blended.

Then a fortnight anon one fine day

prince and princess on horses astray

chanced to meet in a market square.

He’d learned to be bold, and she was fair.

“Dear princess,” he said, “forgive my tongue

afraid to sing when it should have sung.”

“Sweet prince, I listen. Present your song.” 

He knew to speak and make it not long.

A crowd had gathered and close on pressed 

the prince to hear the words from his breast.

“Oh fine lady,” he exclaimed for all,

“You own my heart, a thing not so small.

In deeds or songs though the price be steep

I’ll pay it in full without a peep.

Be mine and glow ‘neath the jealous sky.

We’ll be for we ‘stead of me for I.”

The crowd held its breath the sun its heat

the princess to speak, the match to greet.

Her answer rang like a joyous bell,

“I’ll be your bride and forever dwell

with me at your side and we on high

will rule together, not you or I.

The crowd resounded with thund’rous glee.

All were for all ‘stead of me for me.

And so this tale is brought to good close,

welcome our beds and happy repose.



F. Kate Langan


There is magic in the fields

with sheep all around

but the wind sends us kids

hurtling into the woods where

ghosts of fallen soldiers

still dive for cover

in the air-raid shelter

at the roar of overhead bombers.

We are running like death

between the lowering shoulders

of sharp-nailed spruce

until the light changes

to echo softly off the bark

of birch and beech,

and we, glancing back, see

the pursuing ghosts

remain enmeshed, trapped

within the dimmer sentry

of clawing evergreens,

freeing us to play once more.



Judy DeCroce

New York, United States

“Boy, where are you going with that cow?”

“We’re going to town so I can sell her.”

“She is a very skinny cow.”

“Yes, sir, she is thin but from exercise.”


“You mean walking to town?”

“No, sir, she dances.”


“Oh, come now, a dancing cow. I don’t think so. Make her dance.”

“Sir, she will only dance for her owner.”

“Well, boy, you are the owner so…”

“I no longer own her for I am going to sell  her and because that process   has begun she is no  longer mine.”

“Then you have no proof that she can dance.”

“Oh, I do, sir, I have a certificate. Read this.”


“Yes, it’s a certificate and appears to be valid. But  it’s for 7th place in the 3rd Grade Spelling Bee.”

“Sir, if I was to lie, I would have claimed to  be the winner.”


“That is true. Hmmm… How much for the cow?”

“5 gold pieces, sir, I am to take no less.”


“Well, I have no gold but I do have 5 magic  beans.”

“Sir, those don’t look magic.”

“Ah… but the magic is hidden inside so it can’t be  seen. I tell you… plant these and their power will  take you to treasures you won’t believe.”

“This is true?”

“Yes, son, I’m as honest as you.”




Hmm…. if strength comes from these beans, I’ll  swallow

them here, and be the strongest, smartest, cleverest,  boy ever!

There, done…Poof!..............”Moo.”



Rina Malagayo Alluri


The rhythm of the traditional

pedal loom, pangablan

keep the wheel spinning

their voices keep on singing

sharing Pinoy folk tales of 

cunning animals 

glowing in deceit

swift calloused hands 

cautious so the kapas thread 

does not tangle

turtles outsmarting

greedy monkeys

out of banana trees

with crocodile warnings

a knot would cause turmoil

for the weaver and the weaved



Mike Ball

United States

At her wooden shack on Gravel Lane, Granny Shank 

was a sorceress who looked like a movie witch.

Plain as a pickle, a dill pickle,

Granny was sweeter than her creased face.

My uncle’s wife was blood kin to her,

so by Southern rules, I was once removed,

but for no good cause, we kids avoided her.

Yet I sought her on the advice of Uncle Bill.

You see, my left thumb had two warts,

and Bill said Granny could talk warts off.

I was in fourth grade, read lots of science,

and I remained to be convinced.

Climbing three wobbly, tilting stairs to her porch

was one act of a 10-year-old’s courage.

Knocking on her bell-less door was another.

The floppy screen door bounded back with each knock.

Bill had told her I’d visit.

She was as cheerful as a country crone could be.

She quickly asked to see my warts and

droned an appropriate hmm as she bent close.

Would that be witchcraft or feral medicine? No matter.

Cupping my thumb gently in calloused hands, 

she rubbed the warts, then muttered 

words too low for me to know.

I would have loved a cartoon resolution 

—two warts flying off at once.

Instead, four days later, they were gone,

just gone, after years of living on me.

I was convinced. Pickle power.



Cora McCann Liderbach

Lakewood, Ohio, United States

Sunset fades to indigo above the shoreline’s

fairy lights / Lake Erie’s frigid waters murmur

You’re here now, you’re here / waves relax you, invite your

imagination to roam / plunge into the murky depths / in your mind’s

eye, you spot her / long, reptilian body slithering /

on sand and silt / large eyes sleepy, watchful over

triple rows of teeth / fins ever so slightly rotating / tail trailing behind /

but the Lake Erie Monster is shy / doesn’t like attention / passing


sailors have fired muskets on her / labeled her

vicious / likened her to a sturgeon, surely the ugliest


beast in the Great Lakes! / Bessie is tired of the outlandish

fiction / has lived for three centuries now / heavy body


dredging the lake floor / hasn’t she earned the right

to peace in home waters? / to pause, as you do


even now / watch

the moon mount


its sapphire dome?



Abigail Elizabeth Ottley

Cornwall, United Kingdom

I hush back to sleep the brindled cat that

dozes, its head between its paws


then I slip the latch and tiptoe out

softly closing the door.


I plead with my crows not to raise their voices:

Caw, caw, caw. I promise them tidbits,


chicken bones to pick at. Cat kibble,

all they desire.


Silent as mourners in their smart black suits

they signal their sly assent.


Grark demands the fledgling, baby-gaping pink.

One by one, they turn to watch me go.


But I am not free yet. I look over my shoulder,

see your malted door closed like


an eye. I think of you then, snuffling through

your dreams, rooting for pignuts,


turning up truffles like moist, black jewels,

pink trotters tidily tucked in.



Daya Jaggers

United States


The Divine dream

Constantly recreating


will always remain

being able to be


We are it and

It is we

It just is

No need for


Just come along

soar with the endless spark

The unknowing

The show

The yarn

The myth

The mysterious


Relish in complexity

Ponder Wish Adore Despise

Conjure Practice Multiply

Embody Play Decide Divide


Enjoy coming and going

Through the Lore



Tulip Chowdhury

Looking into the table mirror, Rani sighed

There was no nose pin on her nose anymore

an ornament that had been a symbol of her married life

sign of being a wife in the village of Bangladesh, her home.

It meant she had her husband Rahim to protect and provide

but the absence of a nose pin announced in silence

an endless void in her life.

The nose pin, a tiny glass piece, a small but significant

twinkled when the sunlight played on it.

The nose pin brought envious glances from other women in the village

The nosepin was her proud status among them.

Long before the nose pin brought Rahim to her

Rani’s mother pierced her nose upon puberty

a village norm in readiness for marriage

and fed sweets to women who chanted with the ceremony.

Inside the mirror, Rani looked long at the pierced spot on her nose

at the soft hole whispering of days gone, times spent in loving care

The empty place reminded her of a life chapter gone forever.

Rahim was no more.

A widow’s symbol was no nose pins, and neither did Rani.

In the mirror, she envisioned Rahim’s face where the nose pin used to be.


The Lawson Lane Witch

Maya Klauber

New York City, NY, United States
I’d talk about it to anyone who’d listen:

our steep climb above grampa’s house.

Stone by stone, I knew you were behind me.

You said, I heard her soup’s made from

children’s knees, and I said, I know

(over a puffed-up chest). We caught one

glimpse of somebody and fear tightened

around us. Then the dizzy, screaming run

downhill! Still, I knew then what I know

today in this hospital: although I’m tubed

& tendrilled and hurting like hell, that

you’re here and nothing’s gonna get me.



Shaun Anthony McMichael, MAT

Seattle, Washington, United States

Then up got Jack and said to Jill, 

‘Brush off that dirt for your not hurt.

Let’s fetch that pail of water.’ –English Nursery Rhyme

Do you remember how young we were

when we bought this field? Old enough to know

of the risks, too young to care

about things like infertility and thirst.

That great teacher of ours talked a lot about living water, yet

I feel more like Jack and Jill, having to daily draw

water just to sweat it out again. If we knew

how hard we’d have to work to get a decent yield,

would we have bought the field

in the first place? We might

have at least waited.

Time has taken us to task, making us fitter

for the tending and falling. I stumble

just to find my way up to our well.

Sometimes I think you ‘tumble down after’ 

just to make me feel better, just to give

me an occasion to rise to, to get over my broken

crown by helping you up, my hurt eclipsed by caring

for you, by hurry, by thirst. Taking care

of this ‘ours’ is my husband suit, my best fitting.

Some seasons we’ve had only tears for rain,

like a tide in our separate sets of eyes, lit

inside by the same fire. Each time we fall,

we rise a wiser pair, our two lives working  

as one life, feeding each other with hands washed

not by lye but by earth whose fruit,

to our mouths, we lift. And maybe this is the water

by which the teacher meant for us to live.



Previously published with Blood & Bourbon



Laurie Kuntz

Florida, United States


She had nothing,

but work and soot, 

ashes, cinders, and harsh crones, 

who spun envy into a cloak of abuse.


She had her night, 

as if one night could suffice. 


When Prince Charming sought

to fit her life into a slender glass slipper,

caped in her new-found strength,

she remembered all eyes on her, 

and the dance she could shimmy to.


Now, with no curfew,

she flung broom and dust pail 

to her spinster -to- be step-sisters.


Spurning the glass slipper,

that one day will shatter 

and settle in dusty corners,  

she put on her sneakers,  

stretched her strong legs

and began to run.



Genevieve Ray


In the hands of emerald green In

hands cut with shame Facing the

Northern star Facing the

thickening air She, with no


Just a title


Just a direction


Just a place


In hands, pointing to the dawn In

fingers an ancient tom

Rocketing into the sky

Vanishing from the world below

She, without a family


Just a talent


Just a mission


Just an expectation



In hands shaping destiny In

black cape and gown Graduating

from lonely child To exceptional

magical woman She, with a retold



Just an emblem


Just a villain


Just a Musical heroine



Jen Colclough

Nova Scotia, Canada

I want to leave you with something,

the mother says.

A feeling that swallows every other one, 


She chops her lettuce on the table,

beheading it.

A mother

is anyone who looks for you.

Odysseus could have come home sooner.

The hearths were more than ready,

Penelope’s hand in the doorway, 

doubling as the ground beneath his feet.

Come home to Ithaca.

Odysseus, come home.

The mother turns on the stove

and tosses in the broken heads,

weeping for none of them.

I want to leave you with something,

she repeats.

And though you don’t know why,

little ‘sorrys’ fill your mouth like wine.

Dinner isn’t ready yet.

Don’t spoil it by swallowing the silence 


& down 

& down.


are their own alphabet.

In classical music,

the un-played note is also a choice.

The mother

is asking you to come home

even as you pass her the salt,

still trailing three years behind.

Tied to a mast, 

you peel the carrots

to shield yourself

as the black-seed sirens chant:

Welcome home, 

Welcome home, 

Come home,

among the rocky breakers.

You will have many homes 

before you’re done

and most 

will be made of paper.

You will knock on doors 

with bread in your hands

—an offering.

And when a man answers, 

you will ask him to 

tell you your name

in a language you can 


Inside your body

lies the potential for violence

— your task is to beg your own forgiveness.

A hand extends, 

but some people 

can only love through windows,

or gloves,

their breaths fogging the glass 

they do not dare to breech.

Come home,

the mother says,

this time in words.

“Dinner is ready.”



Duane Anderson

La Vista, Nebraska, United States

Two knees sit before me.

I never thought I would call

one of my knees beautiful,

but as I look at both of them

after a surgery to repair one,

I now call one beauty, and the other beast.

Beauty, the boney one,

and beast,

the one branding a new scar

down its front, swollen,

after taking a beating from the surgeon’s knife,

along with plenty of scabs from a rash.

The beast, having a fierce competition

with my face. They could be twins.

Now, newfound friends,

with something in common.

They are in love with each other,

while I, once again, lose out.



Linda M. Crate

Meadville, PA, United States

let's write our own fairy tale,

you can be Tinkerbelle

and i'll be Wendy;

this time it's a love story

and the magic is in our love

more than that faerie dust—

i'll write my books and show you

whispers of light from the moon

of my soul,

and you'll silhouette me in all of

your golden sunshine and show me

every shade of green;

we'll build our dreams 

twining ourselves deeper and 

deeper in our love—

they'll understand then that

no laws could ever stop love,

because love is beautiful no 

matter what shape she takes;

so take my hand and take me

to never never land because reality

is too heavy and too harsh

for me to accept.



Karuna Mistry

United Kingdom

Morning lads, I’m looking 

For a chap named Jack 

Have you seen him?

Saw him last autumn

Was into scary costumes

I recall the Jack O’ Lantern

You mean mechanic Jack?

Worked at the local garage

Further down our road

Was telling stories all the time

Yeah, like Jack & Jill or

Jack & The Beanstalk

Always eating his favourite food

Jacket potato with cheese

And Jackfruit for dessert

Thought he was a plumber?

No sir, Jack of all trades he is

Joined the workers’ union too

Is that the famous Union Jack?

United the land, fine lad

God bless him and his soul!

Hmm, I think I know Jack 

Always brought his own playing cards

Ace, King, Queen and …Prince

Funny, saw him at the casino once 

Yes, that was Black Jack that night

He even wore four suits 

He was always at the gym, that chap

Jumping Jack, number one

No one could ever beat him

Those well-toned muscles 

And high stamina, all jacked up

- Could only be pumping drugs

My, what a jackass idiot!

Must be some kind of donkey

…Or mule, whichever

Soon after, he stowed away

Flew on a cargo plane

A real Jack in the box

Where did he end up?

Australia or somewhere

What a silly Jackbird!

You may have heard 

Many more tales 

Of Jack as whoever

But we still don’t know

Who Jack really is

Or what he’ll do next…



Ken Gosse

United States

On the first day of spring Adam found he was sprung

(an amazing physique which was very well hung)

but he hadn’t a clue what that one piece was for

till a rib was removed and was tossed on the floor

(or the ground, we should say, since it wasn’t a room—

without roof, doors, or windows, no need to assume

that a visiting neighbor would soon make a call—

there was no need for privacy, none for a wall

in those days before anyone else would arrive)

then he noticed his spare rib had started to thrive.

On the first day of summer, young Eve came around,

more lithesome and lovely than all else he found

and he noticed another bone rising in awe,

overwhelmed by the shape of the creature he saw.

The hint of her smile would entice his first grin

and he sensed what he thought was original—sin—

when she reached for an apple and offered a bite

as they fell to the ground where they spent their first night.

The first fall arrived with their fall before dawn

(the seasons were young; summer came and was gone)

but the sunrise that day brought a chill to the air

and the garden they lay in was suddenly bare

because winter had brought the first fall to its close

and the cold, not their shame, showed them they needed hose,

pants, and shirts, even hats to protect their bare breasts,

thighs and nethers and heads, from their toes to their crests

as they headed out east in their search for fresh loam.

Where the first day had dawned, they might find a new home.

Soon, spring sprung again as did women and men

from the body of Eve since they still had a yen

for the apple they tasted upon their first date—

hence an orchard was first to put food on their plate.

They tilled and they toiled, they roasted and boiled

the food that was needed to feed their new brood

but it seems that today, though they each had their way,

their descendants condemn that first coupling as lewd.



Michael Lee Johnson

Downers Grove, IL, United States


If you must leave me, please

leave me for something special,

like a beautiful bowl of black petunias—

for when the memories leak

and cracks appear

and old memories fade,

flowers rebuff bloom,

sidewalks fester weeds

and we both lie down

separately from each other 

for the very last time.



Kelley Jean White

Philadelphia, PA, United States


I wanted to name myself Sparrow

though I’d never heard that bird’s song,

I had walked through three houses with rage

and forgotten the cause of my pain

and my mind had filled up with such smoke

I decided to name myself Ice.

And I’d move to a house made of ice

beneath the deep snow where the sparrow

might heal, be reborn through the smoke

of those nights and relearn her song.

I knew ice was good to numb pain

but it wasn’t a known cure for rage.

I was proud of it, carried my rage

out into the bright sky of ice

I’d forgotten the cause of the pain,

thought soon I would fly, little sparrow

and surely, I’d grow my own song

mind clearing its memory of smoke—

I forgot hidden flame made new smoke,

hadn’t known hidden pain made new rage.

I found I had no gift for song

and my voice had been numbed by the ice.

The bird I had chosen, the sparrow

could not fly high enough to leave pain.

It kept ruling my life, that pain

though I had forgotten it’s source. Smoke

hid memories in the little bird, Sparrow,

my little girl heart. She whispered to me rage

was his message, born of ice,

winter wind and cold struggle. Her song

wanted the voice of an eagle, a song

less her own than the pain’s.

Like wind chimes of ice

it rattled in sunshine and through smoke.

I owned this new song of rage,

whistled by the little wise sparrow.

Oh, bird born of smoke, little Sparrow,

lullaby, cradle, this little girl’s pain,

teach her song born of rage, melt her ice.



Mark Hudson

United States

(Based on the Grimm’s Fairy Tale)

Once there was a goat with seven kids,

no one loved them as much as she did.

She had to go to the forest on a mission,

She said, “Avoid the wolf. Use suspicion.”

She knew the wolf liked to eat goats,

and if he ate all seven, he would bloat.

So off she went into the woods,

hoping her seven kids would be good.

Sure enough, the wolf appeared,

“Open up,” he cried, and they feared.

But his voice was rough, and gruff,

the goat children called his bluff.

The wolf came in a different disguise,

he caught the children by surprise.

He ate them all with an intense hunger,

the only one who escaped was the younger.

The wolf fell asleep underneath a tree,

when the mother returned, shocked to see.

The younger one called to her, alive,

they went to see if the wolf did survive.

He slept under a tree, belly full,

but he ate all the children whole!

The mother took scissors, opened his tummy,

and the kids leaped out of the dummy.

The mother placed in the stomach stones,

and back together, the stomach was sewn.

The wolf woke up and stumbled to a well,

and to his death, the big bad wolf fell.

The family of goats was reunited,

and that left the family very excited.



Pratibha Savani

United Kingdom

Shimmer glides as they pass on by

Kicking freely in air

They somersault and sigh

Beautiful stretches of colours flow

Magical gentle beings

With an impressive horn that is powerful

Trails of rainbow glitter

Drift infinitely high

Leaving their mystical mark

As they touch the blue sky

Every time we see

A glimmer or a glow

They sparkle in the sunshine

We just don't ever know!



Shampa Saha

West Bengal, Kolkata, India


A big tiger was eager to marry a little girl

when she was playing on the ground with her pal

The girl had long black cascading hair

The tiger passing by the field, with a fear

that if the people can see him,

they will shout loud to call Jack and Jim!

"Oh my god! How big the giant,

How long the tail!"

They could shout and make a crowd,

To tell everyone the tale!

But the beauty of little girl,

forced the tiger to meet her father,

and make a deal.

The girl’s father was a poor farmer,

he shivered to see the groom!

Roared the would-be-groom so very loud,

"I want to marry your daughter", being proud!

The farmer just nodded his head,

but had a lot of tears to shed!

He started to cry in a pitch so high!

Oh God! Save me, and my little girl,

and rebuked his wife, why had she said to play it out,

and now what a dilemma, and what of the drama,

if a tiger would be groom!

But all the villagers and all his neighbours,

patted his shoulder and said to be calm.

Then they invited the tiger for his turn.

As they waited, the tiger came

wearing a coat, trousers, and crown with gems.

In the meantime, all the villagers

boiled oil in large containers and covered them all.

And they made loud noise, danced and joy,

that made the tiger happy!

The tiger groom, before entering the room to see own bride,

was told to have a seat, on the top sheet,

over the overcooked oil!

Tiger in joy, jumped on to the sheet with hay

that made the groom hot and boil

The pretty little girl and her father

where saved by their neighbours

by the little trick

and became free of being stuck.



Neal Whitman

California, United States

Once upon a time

my grandfather, Moses Vitman,

sat at my bedside and told me

that his grandfather, Issac Peritz,

once sat at his bedside and told him

that once upon a time

there was a small village in Ukraine –

it can longer be found on a map –

where the rabbi disappeared one night a year

between Rosh Hashanah* and Yom Kippur.**

Villagers wondered if perhaps the rabbi

went to Heaven to pray on their behalf.

The devout hoped that the rabbi 

would be interceding for the whole village 

and asking G-d to forgive 

their wrong-doings of the past year. 

Even good people sometimes 

fall short of the Mosaic law 

that whatever is hurtful to you,

do not do unto others.

One young man, a skeptic,

not much older than me, 

did not believe such things. 

He hid under the bed to see

where the rabbi went.

Surely, not to Heaven.

I, too, am a skeptic. 

I asked my grandfather

what his grandfather told him.

Here is what I learned.

Before sunrise the rabbi

dressed as a common woodsman

and went into the dense forest

to chop wood he brought to the home

of a widow who was old and poor.

He kindled the wood. In the warm hut,

he prayed with her and readied to leave.

She apologized for not having six kopeks

to pay for the wood, but he told her

it was a gift from Heaven. 


That young man became a disciple

of the rabbi. When anyone says 

on the day the rabbi is missing 

that perhaps he is in Heaven, 

 the disciple adds quietly, 

“If not higher.”

A good-night story is supposed to make

children drowsy and ready for sleep. 

But the story my grandfather’s grandfather 

told him kept me awake for hours. 

*Jewish New Year

** Day of Atonement



Kassie J Runyan

New York City, NY, United States


Once dwelled a young woman

residing in her brick tower

where serenity reigned

Candles emanated a golden glow

Companions sang and danced merrily

Even cozy pants with stretchy bands were the norm

Beyond those walls lay a world of trepidation

A realm filled with strife and worry

Responsibilities weighed upon her shoulders

Ensuring her people were fed and clothed

Amidst fire-breathing dragons and irate villagers

She had to venture out,

concealing her hair beneath a hood

And confront the outside world

For without it, her tower's tranquility couldn't endure

With a brave smile, she took one step after another

Enduring the scorching heat and biting cold

Each day was a new challenge

She attempted to sing with the rats

That lived beneath the ground

But they rarely sang back

instead responding with bared teeth

In search of the tranquility of a candle's glow

She encountered flames from a lit bin instead

She tugged at her snug dress

wriggled her toes in her high heels

Attempted to tame her wind-blown hair

Smile girl, just smile

soon, you can return to your sanctuary

And dream of lush lands

painted with green and blue

Leaving your tower behind for a calmer world

Where the outside matched the inner serenity

Sleep long and dream

Of your prince.. who is bed beside you

And cuddle with your loyal companions

Who purr and snuggle closer

One day, my dear, you can cease

Venturing out into a world teeming with evil queens

And wrathful witches,

And self-absorbed, irrational people

Who shout at the heavens over perceived wrongs


But not tomorrow...

Tomorrow, she would once again leave her tower

And the day after that

And the day after that

Yet she continued to dream

Of that "someday" that might arrive.


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