Thirteen Myna Birds

Last night I ate half a pomegranate.
Attacked it with a spoon
prying out rows of seeds.

Suck-chewing seeds,
bursting tiny envelopes,
purple-red stains, white counter.
Spit seeds into paper towel,
unsure if these would wreck
garbage disposal we just replaced.
Nothing attractive
about a man my age eating a pomegranate.
Almost as much work as lobster.
Damn mess.
The myths don’t tell you that,
or maybe they do.

I know Persephone ate one
for some reason.
Haven’t retained that material.

School was a long time ago,
and I’m not as well read
as I’d like you to think.

 ~Jason O'Toole~

(a poem from Jason O'Toole's NEW Blood Pudding Press poetry chapbook, "POISON MOONLIGHT",  available here -

(you can also listen to O'Toole read this poem, here - )




Bloodless face
kitchen window framed,
weds your spectral reflection
in the black glass.
Enflamed, she drowns stars.
Covetous for your notice.
Looking down on a town
not your own.

Only man and moon,
lighting your path.
Under your stagger,
sidewalks glow white.

Winding through bracken
in which sharp tooth
creatures stir

(a poem from Jason O'Toole's NEW Blood Pudding Press poetry chapbook, "POISON MOONLIGHT",  available here -




First, protect yourself. Don’t nurse
the squirrel with eyedropper, skin, and salt,
but with the darkness
of a punctured shoebox. Do
not cuddle him with your body.
Leave the animal alone.
Your noises
are wrong for him.
You confuse him. You prolong
his suffering and his death. He will
linger under your guidance,
not to mention the languages you’re
stilling in his heart, not to mention
the languages stilling
in your heart.
~Louise Robertson~



About the Deer in the Neighborhood
They carry betrayal in their stomachs,
in that series of pouches
—tight drawstrings at each end.
Usually, the betrayal comes at them
from their former selves,
who devised a time-delay
problem that another former self
let waft forward.
They betray themselves with bad food, with traps,
with solitude, with the inability
to look at how they spend their time.
They kneel on front knees and wonder
who does this to them
again and again.
~Louise Robertson~



mannequin issues in the cpr recertification room

i step up to the vinyl torsos
an infant and an adult both mouths agape
i don’t want to think about if these were people i knew
i don’t want these to be people i don’t want people to die
or gasp or feel awkward or have to wake up unloved
or to go to sleep unfulfilled or to have to respond
when spoken to or have to have hopes which may be detached
from their names like the lower half of their bodies

i feel sad to be alive sometimes feel sad for the dead
feel sad for the merely surviving so why am i so diligently
attempting to bring these lifeless beings back? why can i
feel the spring mantle of sky crack and wash over my sadness
like a warm yolk? how can i love when the howling floor
keeps howling open? my ankles dangle into a dark
mechanical mouth—the one i am supposed
to breathe into

 ~Scott Ferry~



Man, Woman, Birth, Death, Infinity

The ground is littered with used paper face masks. I want to shake this person and that person and tell them, “You can’t be lost in your own world all the time.” But, of course, I won’t. A purplish darkness creeps over the city. I stream a movie about an international crew of astronauts on a journey to the cosmic womb. The ship malfunctions. Their sanity frays. They slowly turn against one another. Something out there in space is acting like a hulking bouncer who won’t let them through. If they knew what I know, they would just chuckle. A month from now my daughter is having a daughter.

~Howie Good~




Closer to being found dead,
perhaps in this blue armchair
I bought years ago
at a used furniture store,
but it’s comfortable
and I can elevate my legs
in the company of flies buzz
attached to the sticky fly strips
stuck to the front window            
where the house flies land
and pull their bent legs stick
straight from where they hang
stuck with their deadbeat wings
and complicated eyes,
and will I stretch my legs out
straight, try to pull away
from death’s permanent catch,
when the mind lives longer
and tries to escape, cries unheard,
grieves stuck as these insistent flies.

~Carol Ellis~




 I read today that noise in the ears means the brain is dying,
dying loud, don’t need any more of that, so: bells in the ears,
every day Sunday church and I am dressing up, my white
gloves in another century, my hat: a rebellious looking
black beret. I always pretend to be in Paris. And once I was.
Now I am here eating croissants. My moment in the afternoon.
~Carol Ellis~



May Flower Moon

Big enough to love stones falling from its face,
landing on earth somewhere in a valley not
yet discovered, but certainly impacted
by an open atmosphere ready to receive
anything from the sky. Now it rains
hitting everything, and by chance neither pure
nor desirable, but nobody yet flattened
by falling stones, and if it gets sunny
maybe a rainbow or is that asking too much?
The moon fills the entire sky, stars bloom,
no one gets hit yet, no one gets hurt,
covered in blood, the moon twists and
turns in red stones, but who deserves
to look it in the eye to say good bye?

~Carol Ellis~



My Mother’s African violets made our southern
exposure window a suburban jungle. Deconstructing
fish, her busy hands would bury delicate cartilage
in the potting soil.
The secret’s in the bones, she’d whisper to me, her cling-on,
while we ate lunch and I had her all to myself before my sister
came home from school.
This botanic curtain framed my life through high school.
During college the African violets were gone, damn aphids,
my mother said when I came home for Thanksgiving.
Diseased perennials, the death knell of indoor plants
for my mother. When we were old and older and lived
like gal pals in a garden apartment, I’d hold my mother’s
hand, rough as the bark of a tree. We’d walk along the paths
and admire the apartment’s hydrangeas. My mother took out
pennies from her pockets and buried them under the plants
with the toe of her sneaker and whispered to me,
there’ll be a change in color come next spring. A cane and
then a walker then winter—
I did not tell her it is science not secrets that make things true.

~Vicki Iorio~



Functional Existence                                                                                               

There are only two                           Sisters living out their old age together in
northern                                           Florida
white rhinos                                     see leather, distressed when they look at each other’s skin
left on earth                                     widowed and divorced they are old maids
they live out their days                    on a beige velour couch
in a strange existential twilight—   pinked by the tropical glare
a state of limbo                                the light fades along with their ancient mother
that scientists call                           choking in her easy chair
with heartbreaking dryness            one sister recognizes the death rattle, 
“functional extinction”                   the mother goes before the ambulance arrives
as two females                                 two orphans still life in the living room          
cannot save their subspecies.          waiting for their light to be extinguished.


Italicized text excerpted from a New York Times Magazine article: “The Last Two Northern White Rhinos on Earth” by Sam Anderson, Jan. 14, 2021

~Vicki Iorio~



I just gave up”                             The angel of despair listens and waits in a kitchen shadow          
Queens mom                                it is never the dad, where is the dad, but the mother
accused of slaying                       whose body, so abused by drugs, didn’t even know she was 
Her twin babies                           Dallas and Dakota, why name them if you let them go
Poisoned the infants’ milk           Lysol mixed in formula and if this doesn’t work
Scalded one with hot water         the angel points the mother to the bathtub
The newborn baby                     birthed in a bathroom, midwifed by the angel of despair
Found outside                            walking his dog, a man finds a naked baby bleeding from the umbilicus
A Queens home                          outside the brick attached house, a baby cries
Thrown out                                 or maybe it is a kitten, either way it’s not wanted
A bathroom window                   and the angel of despair looks at the fallen, swears it is
By his mother                             no fault of the father   
Italics from the NY Daily News and the NY Post     
~Vicki Iorio~




Fire burns a smile
across the sky
that we all capture
on phones that barely
carry our voices anymore,
these pictures we then
post to unknown friends
and digital strangers
across the world which
no longer holds its shape,
not asking where the fire
flamed from, nor lifting
our eyes from the screens
to notice the smile
grow wide, a knowingness
in its flickering flames,
even as the sky grows dim.

~Edward Lee~




I do not regret
the leaving,
though I regret
how I left,
confrontation and
deserved explanations
never my strong suit.
But how else
could I have left,
without not living?
Neither of us
would have won
on that one, though
I know you wished for my death
in the years following, anger
the bedrock
of your new reality.
I do not regret
the leaving - my
last lie to you, I swear - but
I hope you see,
when the lives lived after
are measured, that I,
foolish and forever selfish,
lost more than you.
~Edward Lee~