I Am I

The flowers may never be well again.
Wrapped in pearls and rain, some
odious presence still lurks, more 
than willing to suck the water from 
its roots, pluck off its dress skirts 
one by one. I may never be well 
again. Paper-thin, one-dimensional
in an all too-terrifying world. I
have drunk from the cup of youth, 
backwashing its unpromising taste. 
I wore dresses and went out with
boys I never even liked. This is the
dilemma—I am a book with no
page numbers, a house with no 
windows. There have been times of 
great disorientation, a game of pin
the tail on the donkey, blindfolded
and spun directionless. But it wasn’t
a birthday party. Even if a hand guided 
me, I could not follow. Even in the
dark,  I could not give myself to 
another’s body, flesh. All are distractions.
In the dark, I would whisper my 
name again and again until it meant
nothing. Was I too—nothing?
I have done it all. I have run through
downpours and tasted the sky’s flesh.
Alone, or with another boy. I am sad.
Maybe even sadder for him. I am 
a cat eagerly rubbing against a 
newcomer’s legs, sapping them of 
their affection and energy. Like a lion 
with no claws, I preach courage
but feign sickness at the sight of blood.
I am I. I am you. 

~Tonya Eberhard~




Cold fronts enter spring, but cardinals
sing their frigid songs despite soft snow.

Red lips still curl over the sidewalk’s cigarettes
but warmth dissipates when smoke leaves the body.

Pale hands reach from corners of blurry photographs–
push through crowds of these-were-my-lovers

tines of bright puncture darkness. Negative dust
turns to light: the telescope observed your eyes

wandering the dark. Believe the perched cardinal
is lost love thinking of you who sculpts the moon

out of papier-mâché– scope the abyss for stars
but smell the art’s silver crumble on your skin.



We reach for jagged rocks, the twist
and slide of fingers: morning rose in silk.
The cold sheets cling to warmth and
disassociate– that's when the open window
invites the low static of engines, white
noise of chirps. Our eyes thrush
and perch, cradle into shared twigs,
into thorns, and gently lift. We whittle
our words into stems too thin
to hold, the wind unafraid to take.

~James Croal Jackson~




Neither of us know
signs to look for

when the other
talks to another.

Glances become knives.
We fling blades

onto caution signs
which clang

then lay dull
on concrete

until the sharp
sun of morning.




I am full of vacancy and noise and technically six glasses
of water before bedtime. Much can be said about wanting

to purify yourself. I dipped myself in water again last
week. I’m telling you it works: you mash two bodies

together until fizzled and deflated on the cusp– saggy but
renewed. Steam leaves the bucket with a fat-lipped breath,

purple. Sometimes it does not work. By the hearth,
just your long, brown hair. By the heart, nothing.

Just a worn wood by the cabin in the woods.
Mountains of snow in my head– she freezes

my thoughts at the peak. A gambler. A hope.
Red strings. A harp. Faith. Burn, burn, burn.

Rides In

Visibly on treatment
Disguised in mind
After an unattached master nominates love
Addiction...is love

vacant sons and tombed monotones
candlesticks mimic belligerent
booze hounds, we are
stripped to the bear
I’ll charge the ride then let
you stay

drunken nights in fogged catharsis
hippie mambas with broken wrists, she’ll
take my chance with death’s kiss, pulled
her rubes out

I know
where to fake it
my conflicted patience
it’s your name branded on my mind among
fields of cotton candy suicides and …

Visibly on treatment
Disguised in mind
After an unattached master nominates love
Rehab...is love

make a plea then wreak myself, disoriented
nights in film noir motels
my better half is not for sale
I’ll solicit Gestaltian lines and then
I’ll wait

vicodin and maybe I’ll numb a song
trazodone then sleep will sing along 
transubstantiation is even on my mind
seek until noon,
a solicited sacrament of

Visibly on treatment
Disguised in mind
After an unattached master nominates love



the biography of Christian O’Keeffe

enshrined among
cherub chants of morose
“irises made of moth wings”
were the sextons
in the cemeteries
of his scars

a lost echo lingers

a shadowed
besieged in his verses for
your enlightenment

* “Irises Made of Moth Wings” by Christian O’Keeffe (Crisis Chronicles Press, 2014)




Experimental lab dog
locked up, caged,
used for drawing blood—
never barked
’til he saw me.

My sister rescued him.
Brought him to the farm.
Joined Lucy, Linda and Cassie.

Dad died and I moved home
to help Mom with the cattle.
Elvis—a flop-eared Basset hound—
soon joined the pack.

Tractors overheat
and antifreeze kills.

We buried Linda.

Mom adopted Tisha,
a diabetic poodle
whose owner could not keep her.

Mother moved to Minnesota
taking Tisha and Cassie with her
leaving Harry behind
to keep me and Elvis company.

One evening
no welcoming bay
greeted me.

Elvis’s golden voice silenced.

Smelled him, found him a week later
bloated in the sweltering sun
between the sandbox
and the paint-peeled board fence.

Harry became my sole companion.
That little off-white colored,
wiry- haired flea-bitten cur
traveled everywhere with me.

Once in a convenience store
while purchasing a soda and a snickers
a flea bounced out of my beard,
jumping all over the counter
as I endeavored to squash it.

I wanted to kill Harry
and told him so
when I crawled into the truck.

Harry loved chasing cows
and cows chased Harry.
Harry got trampled.
His hind legs became gimpy.

Harry aged over the years.
Fifteen, sixteen, seventeen,
eighteen…perhaps older.
No way to really know.

Harry and I traveled weekends
between the farm
and Kyle where I taught.

On one such farm visit,
Harry did not summon to my call.
I figured he was out romping
with the cows again.
Left him enough food
and water for the week
as I traveled back to Kyle.

Hoped he wouldn’t get trampled again.

When I returned,
I found him
drowned in the sump hole,
in my basement.

Looking for warmth
nestled next
to the concrete foundation,
fell through the open window
and drowned—
drowned in the sump pump hole
of my drowned basement floor.

Legs too gimpy to crawl
from out the hole.

Man’s best friend
drowned in that awful
dungeon hole.

legs too gimpy
to crawl
from out that dungeon hole. 


My tortured soul struggles,
eternally fettered
to the concrete wall
rising from my dungeon floor.

The demonic midnight
starless sky peering,
ever peering
through the wicked open window
into the blackened abyss
of my murky sump-pump soul.

My eyes eternally opened,
eternally staring
at the white hairy mass
floating in that garish hole.

~Daniel  G. Snethen~




we are waiting
we have been for hours, days, decades
we are abject
heads tilted towards the vacuum of space
or the vacuum within
we have exhausted our resources
our phones failing to distract
our loved-ones querulous
surely we are the playthings
of some thwarting force
set up and forgotten
look at our faces
slack eyes milky with fluorescence
we ought to slap each other
raise a hand against indifference

~Devon Balwit~




Neck snapped diving,
self severed into
before & after.

Then, I stepped
without thinking.
Now, I dream step.

People always wonder
what works—meaning
bowels & dick.

Bowels are bagged;
dick yields to other

cheek, chest.  Those
who love me
have hands for two.

Do I regret the jump,
the not-checking
for stones?

Do you regret heartbeats,
wasted urge
& impulse?

Slaves to Chronos,
we beget next,
scanning for signs.

All I can say,
you can say: life’s
better than death.

This making,
telling, taking—
I’ll take it.

~Devon Balwit~



That Love Shit—A Ghazal

Uh, I’m texting you, and all, because
I’m trying to, you know, convey shit—

It’s not so easy for me to write—I’d rather
shoot some hoops or drink than say shit—

But you ladies like romance, I’m told,
Netflix, candlelight—all that gay shit—

I like you, so I’m stepping outside the box,
taking it slow, trying to delay shit—

Can you gimme a sign, message me, something,
to let me know if we’re okay and shit—

I don’t wanna waste my time if you don’t dig me.
I’m crossing my fingers, but I won’t pray shit—

Come on, baby—a happy face, a thumbs up,
a Call of Duty mission—I’ll obey and shit—

You won’t be sorry.  I’m a good guy.
Do me a solid.  I’ll repay you.  Shit!

~Devon Balwit~



Breaking Up

You take the crab, now bright red
and grimy with Old Bay, and
pull its legs off. They don’t work
anymore. Crack them open; suck
the meat out, lips tight around
the soft casing. Bite down -
that’s fine. Some people
turn the thing over
and pull the penis off,
shiv the knife in under the shell.

My sister used to pile all the edible bits
to one side, to have all at once,
a feast. I eat each piece when
it’s hot. The spice burns
the mouth.

~Louise Robertson~



Back in College

He told me how he gets himself off, the position
of his fingers, how they penetrate, how
the knobs of his bones push on him.
I kept this to myself to prove something. I had to give up
the sneer on my face when I would have told it.
I had to be in the club of people who know
him like this. I wanted to put it down, a rock in the yard.
A rock in someone else’s yard.
I wanted to curl my face and spit out
everything he told me. He’s the guy who
thought I ate too much when I ate at all.
This showed his soft insides,
his yield and let go. No one should
ever know he was that human.

~Louise Robertson~