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Kathy Jo Bryant

United States

I didn't see it coming

I was caught by surprise

It knocked me flat upon my face

With no answers to my whys

My mind just keeps on reeling

And sweet sleep eludes my eyes

The way I feel I can't explain

It's hard to realize

How feelings can be hidden

Then surface with such power

Is more than I can understand

I'm learning, hour by hour

I must rise above my feelings

And view things differently

Not take for granted things will stay

The same, contentedly!



Sarfraz Ahmed

She threw like a spear

Came near

Pierced through his heart

At once his breathing ceased

Like an arrow that had been released.

For she did not know

That she’d killed him

There and then

With the look she gave

She destroyed him

Sent him to his grave.



Neal Whitman

California, United States

I have for years had a great deal of trouble with my shoe-strings,   because they get untied continually., 

             Henry David Thoreau, Journal, July 25, 1853

Miss White uses a leather boot

large enough for the beanstalk giant

to show us how to tie our shoes tight.

As usual, I am day-dreaming.

At recess we play Red Rover, Red Rover.

When my name is called, I run

as fast as I can. My laces untied, I trip

my way into the unbroken chain of arms.

On my first job interview I wear

black Oxford shoes shined to a gloss.

I step on a lace and trip

my way into the conference room.

I fall flat and do not get the job.

Do you remember 1, 2  buckle my shoe,

3, 4 knock at the door?

Next interview I plan to double-knot.



Karuna Mistry

United Kingdom 

Raging speed

  Gnashing teeth

Stocky thighs

Vestigial arms

  Preying habits

  Yearly growth

Rex, you lived long ago

But we know all about you

Fossil record



Through movies


  And fact books

A Jurassic walk in the park

But what colour are you?

Note: Etymology of “dinosaur” from ‘deinks’ and ‘saros’ meaning “terrible lizard” hence the play on the title



Wanda Herren

Victoria, BC, Canada

Vancouver – Scientists studying a meteorite that landed in the bedroom of a B.C. woman last year say it was diverted to that path about 470 million years ago….landing on her pillow, next to where she had been sleeping moments earlier. [Times Colonist, January 2022]

Maybe she goes to bed and forgets about the frozen chicken breasts. Forgets she left them thawing on the counter beside the fridge. Maybe something in her early morning dream makes her remember the breasts and she wakes before her alarm goes off. Wanders into her kitchen, places the limp but still cold breasts in her fridge. Maybe that’s the moment when the rock crashes through the bedroom ceiling.

Maybe on the anniversary of her close call she will go to her bank with the key to her safety deposit box. Take out the small black rock. Carry it home in her purse. Set it on her kitchen table. Maybe she will cook chicken breasts in commemoration. Offer up thanks for chickens, the farmers who raise them. Thanks for not being vegan. Maybe she will try again to imagine a path 470 million years long. Try again to remember the dream that woke her. 



Pratibha Savani

United Kingdom 

writing came naturally to me

just like painting a picture at school

  it unleashed itself

without me even realising

what I was creating

at a time of heightened emotions

going through my own troubles

  it provided a let go

when no one could understand

it helped calm me down

when I was battling that inner struggle

  something magical happened….

my emotions read back to me


capturing an intense moment in time

when I needed to have balance

  an equilibrium

that was missing

creating an avenue

  of creativity

  and it grew on me

not for only those low times

  but a pleasure to discover

on what else I could write

  so freely...



Diane Lefer

California, United States

After dinner, police at the door.

(It's a crime to wash dishes

if the neighbors call it noise.)

I said, Obnoxious. But

she said, No.

They've never complained

about the crickets or the frogs.

I'll invite them to join us.

Do you think they'll hear me?

I'll show them something.

Do their eyes stay closed?

I'll answer every question

even you never asked

while our cup has no bottom,

water sings in the pipes and

the cup can't be exhausted

of nothing.

(Stridulate, wings.

Swell, little throats.

Noisily we laugh. Yes, noisily.)



Carl “Papa” Palmer

Washington, United States

Giggling, she runs from the family room couch

where I sit and count, both hands over my eyes.

“1,2,3,4,5 and 5 is 10. Ready or not, here I come.”

First, in the kitchen, opening and slamming cabinet

drawers and doors, “No, not here. Not here, either,”

repeated loud while lifting corners of the tablecloth,

again as I look under a chair cushion, behind the curtain,

then seek into the living room to flip pages of  a book

on the shelf, “She's sure hiding good, where can she be?”

Muffled laughter in the closet, ever her same hiding spot,

as I pass the half open door, again not seeing her crouched

smiling presence as I continue my search into the hall.

“I wonder where that girl can be, I've looked everywhere.”

A tug on my pant leg, I turn around in wild surprise,

“Here I am, Papa, right here. See. You couldn't find me.”

“You certainly are a wonderful hider, much better than me.

Now it's my turn.” She counts with covered eyes as I slip

into the closet, same place as when her mommy was small.



Jane H. Fitzgerald

Florida, United States

She was a stray who
was thrust upon me
Dropped off on my porch
I really didn't want her
My load was too great
Her fate was death or me
Not being able to choose death
I said yes, only one night
Then we'll find her a home
One night led to two, then three
Now, years later
My adored dog is barely alive
She's deaf, she's lame
She sleeps a lot
Yet, she's still a comfort
She would give her life for me
Always sleeping by my side
Protecting me from danger
My constant companion
My heart is aching
I'm losing a love
That almost wasn't
She lived a life of devotion
A life embraced by me



Richa Dinesh Sharma

That lone kingfisher in its cerulean cape

watching over the walkers by the beach

the runner and the fish-catcher tribe

Quietly, it broods like a veteran from a battle;

only its battle is fought everyday

between the surface of water and 

where the light breaks into streaks

The dives need to be timed just right

preparing for the moment

shaping its well-honed flight

There is a distance, a long half a mile

between the treasure it seeks

swimming just above the shallow seabed

somehow, oblivious to its tie

with the winged creature outside

In the kingfisher’s world there’s no gratitude

there is just a wisdom in sharing

the same knowledge as the fish

that there is a suddenness in everything turning

against the elaborate tide of life

and ending stuck inside another’s teeth

Just like the slowing seconds of its glorious dive

emerging, its treasure writhing between its beak



Duane Anderson

Nevada, United States

Today was the best time for a tornado

to sneak up and surprise everyone,

at ten in the morning,

the first Saturday of the month

when the sirens were tested,

and most ignored their warnings,

knowing they were set to go off.

Yes, tornado, sneak up.

No one will know until it is too late,

except for one person, me, the worry wart,

who will be down in his bunker,

the only one waiting for a surprise attack.



Lakshman Bulusu

New Jersey, USA

What is this life I know not

What is this life I comprehend not

Where both rich and poor soar

Rich to rich, poor to poor

Where cities want to be built in a day

In each and every unimaginable way

Where everyone wants to be an Einstein

To know morals in science, none to opine

Where all praise nature so

For Keats and others did so

Where blooms divine beauty

Only to eulogize a mundane deity

Where all sing its psalm

Alas! In sadistic charm

An unexpectedly surprising life

I know not for what it is still rife



Judy DeCroce

New York, United States

It had once been a city without a name,

then they called it Consequence.

The streets were always crowded.

Executives rushing for meetings.

Shoppers—just people moving,

surging on a blue October Tuesday.

She kept speeding up,

keeping with the flow.

It had been a long time and things changed—

  people change.

She wasn’t the same person;

no one is.

“Wait,” he yelled.

He ran to catch up.

Slowly she turned.

It was then he noticed her eyes,

  flashing on and off.

Smoothing her fur,

while putting on a tricky smile,

she thought, “Finally he understands."

Later, in the car,

his glance was quick—furtive.

He continued to drive too fast.

Poem by Judy DeCroce first appeared in Tigershark Publishing May / 2022



Ken Gosse

United States

It was just a short doze

but the wind froze his nose

which he blows with a silken kerchief.

To his great disbelief

it broke off, and Good Grief!

A mouse carried it off like a thief.



Julie A Dickson

New Hampshire, United States

They told her she was barren,

damaged womb felt as sad

as her empty heart, no baby

to love -  until work from home;

quietly allowed fetus to implant, calling

to her, I will be born.

Dark blue eyes not open much

at first, so sleepy and hungry,

arms stretched out over his head,

emerged from my daughter, already loved,

held close to hearts, swaddled tight;

cannot stop touching his soft head.



Najma Naseer Bhatti


How is life…

Sometimes it’s like butterfly’s wings,

Sometimes it’s like the hot sand of the desert..

Sometimes it’s like falling leaves in autumn,

How is life…

Sometimes its like the flowers that bloom in spring…

Sometimes it’s like a little coral bud,

Sometimes its like walking barefoot in the desert…

Sometimes the rain is like raindrops,

How is life…

It’s like someone’s puzzle ever given,

It’s like the never-ending threads,

It’s like the ever-present fibers,

How is life…

Sometimes it’s like the darkness  of night,

Sometimes like the first rays of the sun,

Sometimes it’s like understanding in an instant,

Sometimes it’s like not


How is life…



John Muro

Connecticut, United States

It wasn’t the bird settled on bough.

but the pour of pewter caught

in a net of mid-day light.

A bafflement of brown,

some thirty feet from ground,

head of orchid white,

transformed into something other

than a burl of bark. A purple

brush of lilac

we had passed just steps before
spectacle came to sight; how discord

cradles then chafes.

Casually consuming its catch,

surprised it was not taken back

to nest. Perhaps the weight

of prey prevented further lift

beyond the marsh of silt

and brackish

water. A want to forestall

a life beyond survival

that even its keen sight

could not craft or fathom,

minding the fish’s gruesome

struggle for release

and our crude intrusion.


Mark Hudson

United States

I have a friend who once lived in Clarksville.

He said when he first moved there he was

reading in the National Enquirer that;

“Local funeral homes had abundance

of garbage to throw out, and they were

Burying it in people’s coffins with them,

or burying people underground without

a coffin, to save money.” And my friend

thought, “But it’s the National Enquirer!

It couldn’t possibly be true!” However,

it turned out to be totally true! Then

there was the case around here in Chicago,

Where a bunch of crack addicts were

burying three bodies to one grave to

Save money up for crack. Let’s “save

The grave” for its sacred place-a

Milestone in a lifetime of accomplishment!



Mike Ball

United States

“Do you have a brother around here?”

Odd question as that was, 

odder still to hear it many times. and places

In the Ukrainian bakery,

again in the tiny A&P,

One puzzled bartender had to say, 

“There’s this one guy who looks just like you.”

I live in the grit, knisheries,

and Hells Angels street theater noises.

Workday is order and elegance

at MOMA, where even coffee mugs

are part of the design collection.

I turn right to take the B or D,

until I met myself on the way.

Blond, cotton-candy hair and red ‘stache.

There was a guy who looked just like me.

In a sing song, he asked me for change.

Then he looked at me and I at him.

Of course, I would give him/me money…

We were the same, my phantom brother.

He was from New Jersey, our same age.

His Rutgers degree brought him no job.

His parents said, “Come home. Stay with us.”

He would try to make it on his own,

Local mendicants come in classes.

Some are dirty-smellies. Don’t touch those. 

A few are false starts, idling briefly.

He grows tired of his milk-carton seat.

Even Jersey can offer haven.



Antoni Ooto

New York, United States

there was always a hunt. That fall

I was workin’ the woods, my Blueticks

treein’ ‘coons.

Sure enough, one night I go put up a light

when Ole Jake gets a whiff of somethin’

and off he goes.

Now it’s me trippin’ all over creation,

like an ass, lookin’ to find him.

Finally, threw down my hat…damn it,

and left it there.

Sure enough,

next mornin’, son-of-a-bitch,

there he is just alayin’ on it…yup all night.

And with that sideways look, sayin’,

“Where You been?”

Poem by Antoni Ooto first appeared in

OPEN: Journal of Arts & Letters

Fall / 2020



Nolo Segundo

The doctor put the disc

into the side of the computer

so the old man could see

the MRI of his old brain.

She gently, almost lyrically

pointed to its dark spaces,

so he could see how time

shrinks all life, even the brain.

But the old man smiled,

and said to the young doctor

[who was but half his age],

‘It’s a funny thing, Doc,

how only in old age have

I become a poet, and

a published one at that!

My brain is lessening,

shrinking, while my mind

is ever growing--

reaching into spaces

both small and vast,

ever seeking,

ever wondering,

ever rhapsodizing

the world…’



Kassie J Runyan

New York, United States


Outside the house, 
is there any other place
where you could go?
Across the street
that is paved with threats
and a life…
Oh, my dear girl,
take a step outside. 
You know the threats 
live only in your head.  
Oh, my brave girl,
one foot in front
and then the other. 
Lift your head up high
and make your own damn path. 
The unknown future
is the best part.



Kassie J Runyan

New York, United States

i crash left


and dig my


fingers in.




with only the


slightest tremor,




sweet death.


Melanie Haagman

United Kingdom

The laugher that’s wholesome

Comes straight from inside,

The laughter that’s real

You’re unable to hide.

Nothing compares to laughter

When your stomach is in pain,

Even if you don’t feel it,

It helps you to stay sane.

The laughter where your cheeks ache

Is what I truly treasure,

You can’t overdose on laughter

There’s an infinite measure.

Smiling makes others smile,

Mirror neurons are so real,

And laughter has an effect

On how you deeply feel.

Reducing stress and even pain,

Immunity’s increased,

laughter is infectious

And endorphins are released.

Laughing is the best medicine,

In this life that can be tough

And if you can hold onto it,

It might just be enough!

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