Thunder Rumbled, by Annette Gagliardi

like men arguing
in the next room
Their grumbling
continued the squabble
through the darkness.
Relentlessly incessant
with no hope of compromise

Shy clouds peek-
a-boo lightening acting
like paparazzi
on a feeding frenzy.

Rain beat an irregular
rhythm directed by fierce,
then placid winds, washing
the rain this way and that —
into every crevice and cranny.

Rabbits and squirrels scampered
to burrow and bough
in search of refuge.
Snuggled safe in their shelter,
they close eyes tightly
against the storm.


Annette Gagliardi has poetry published in Motherwell, Wisconsin Review, American Diversity Report, Origami Poems Project, Amethyst Review, Door IS A Jar, Down in the Dirt Online Magazine, Trouble Among the Stars, Poetry Quarterly, Sylvia Magazine, and others. She is the co-creator and co-editor of Upon Waking. 58 Voices Speaking Out from the Shadow of Abuse poetry anthology published in April of 2019.

Not Us: A Sijo Sequence, by Rose Menyon Heflin

I.
The cranes are leaving now, heading south on winds of ancient instinct –
heading south without me, with nary a goodbye, wings outstretched
as if to greet the clouds of autumn roiling through the gray sky.

II.
The first leaves turned a couple weeks ago and softly fell,
blood red, to the grass without any showy pomp or circumstance.
More will follow soon in a short-lived blaze that chars the soul ashen.

III.
I will don sweaters and crunch the dried leaves underfoot on my walks,
secretly reveling in the noise of destruction and decay –
music to my ears amid the morning silence of these streets.

IV.
But sadly, no good thing can last forever in this cruel world –
not the warm color rainbow on the trees, not the perfect weather,
not the doorstep pumpkins, not the pecan pie, not you, and not me.


Rose Menyon Heflin is a writer and artist living in Madison, Wisconsin, although she is originally from rural, southern Kentucky. She has called the Badger State home since 2004. Her poetry, which has appeared in numerous journals spanning five continents, won a Merit Award from Arts for All Wisconsin in both 2021 and 2022, and one of her poems was choreographed and performed by a local dance troupe. Additionally, she had a creative nonfiction piece featured in the Chazen Museum of Art’s Companion Species exhibit. Her poetry has recently been published or is forthcoming in Abyss & Apex, Backchannels Journal, The BeZine, CREATOPIA, Deep South Magazine, Fathom Magazine, Fiery Scribe Review Magazine, Fireflies’ Light, Hare’s Paw Literary Journal, Isotrope, Moss Piglet Zine, Of Rust and Glass, OpenDoor Magazine, Pamplemousse, Poemeleon, Red Weather, Salamander Ink Magazine, San Antonio Review, SPLASH!, and Xinachtli Journal (Journal X). An OCD-sufferer since childhood, she strongly prefers hugging trees instead of people.

The Ginko on Francis Place, by Douglas Twells

Even the litter surrounding it
has faded to a dull brown.
Stripped of its magnificence,
it stands now like a warning.

You should have been there
Friday morning for the show,
the early sun shining
through a gentle rain of leaves,

the lawn decorated, and the tree
a royal lady holding court.
Seated there, smiling, she spread
all around her golden gown.


Originally from northwestern Ohio, Douglas Twells served in the Peace Corps in India and studied at the University of Chicago. He is retired from a career in university administration and, with his wife, lives in St. Louis.

Variations on a Text, by KB Ballentine

                                *Louise Glück line

There are infinite endings,
so which do we choose?
The clock where time ticks down,
the wail of a winter storm,
the race up winding asphalt
where a deer surprises
our hands on the wheel –
a lurch then sailing into the stars?

For every certain beginning
has its uncertain ends,
and the trail we hiked yesterday
might tomorrow be tangled in gloom,
and the wishes we whisper
into dandelion fluff may abandon
the seeds into sand or water or dirt.
Do we swallow the loneliness
or accept the chaos of crowds?

This season is almost over,
snow beginning to fall.
A waning crescent pulses,
we can feel that it’s there,
wrapped in layers of clouds
while stars flicker and call.


KB Ballentine loves to travel and practice sword fighting and Irish step dancing: those Scottish and Irish roots run deep! When not tucked in a corner reading or writing, she makes daily classroom appearances to her students. Learn more at http://www.kbballentine.com.

Whispering Trees, by Paula Frew

Whispering trees
Tell tales of
Loss and
Rebirth
Until they breathe
Their final breath, and
Send their leaves back
To the earth.

Red, Plaid Shirt,
by Paula Frew

It speaks of crisp days and
Crisper nights around the
Bonfire, roasting marshmallows
Like so many melting pillows.
It speaks of nights growing
Colder and of me borrowing
Your red, plaid shirt
to keep me warm.


An Ohio native, Paula Frew wrote her first poem in the fourth grade. It was entitled Daffodils. At that time, she fell in love with the form. She wrote through the angst of adolescence and into the beauties and dissonance of adulthood. She has of late begun to write flash fiction. It speaks to her as another short form. Her first chapbook, Lyrical Legacy, was published in 2021.

Abandoned, by Carol Lee Saffioti

We walk into the tangled yard
your bike tire flat
about five miles from the nearest town
you look for a place to set the bikes down
when we hear
a door in the wind
look up and sure enough.

I reach for my camera
you for the bicycle pump
and we climb over rotted steps
onto a weak floored porch.

Looking out into the field
a wood-slatted silo falling in on itself
crafting hands I imagine splintered with time.
A 1950’s Buick sedan
fading black into grey
flaming red autumn sumac
growing up through
the open hood.

I catch the door
while you are still on the porch
and I am in a scorched room
with rotted out couch
cinder and smoke-ridden cloth
burned furniture
near the walls
someone’s taken a charred stick
branded the wall with swastikas.

It’s all far too tempting
for me and I load a roll of high speed
black and white into my old SLR Canon
worth the dark room reveries
when we return to the city
Crivitz the name of the town
and I think about how it got its name
who were these people
then, and now
the door making us jump.
You raise the bicycle pump
as if it could defend us
and I wonder, could it
but I am firing off more shots out
window frames into the fading day
catching parts of roofing, finials, scroll work
that must have made this house more than
just a farm house in its high time.

Whose time, you ask, and I conjure
a family that had managed to till
4 forties into a productive farm at some time
with children in cotton dresses
running down the stairs
into the yard.
but why did they leave
all the remains
and where did they go?

Were these other interlopers
we conjure
kids on a spree
or were they staking a claim to return?
We see dark wings circling
as we gingerfoot our way out
you head to the bikes
and I catch one last shot
of the vultures above the silo.


Carol Lee Saffioti is a retired college teacher in the rustbelt-reinvented town of Kenosha, former librarian in the north woods of Wisconsin, and until recently, a volunteer EMT in a local town. Her poems have been included in anthologies of the Root River Poets, and in Unsetttling America (Penguin Press). Her work has been published in three countries, and can recently be found in Ekphrastic Review, Poetry Quarterly, Rosebud, Moss Piglet, Poetry Hall, among others. Her chapbook is The Lost Italian and the Sound of Words.

Third Date in October,
by Cindy Bosley

My list to him starts with a title:
Some Things to Talk About.

I have about an hour after the dentist
before meeting my daughter
to put her sewing machine, shampoo,
and fabric cutting tools
into the back of my car for an overnight.

If I text my new love interest
(we haven’t phoned each other yet)
to say, How about an hour
with arms around each other,
would that convey the wrong idea—
intrusive, hungry, clingy?

And Brussel sprouts: yea or nay?
is next on my list. Please discuss,
I wish to ask him, your porn habits, generally?

What I really want to know is
can he be spontaneous for the odd
window of time with me,
here and there, between errands?

Does he like elements,
you know, bits of chocolate
or fruit, in his ice cream?

This, this, this, I’m saying
to no one at all with my hands
pushing together then out
through the air, as if parting water.
I mean both the this
of the heart and the this
where my skin meets my skin.
Is it anything he wants?

I mean to heft the strange
and humid October air
before it’s plundered by the first
cold front. Mean to convey
both the force
and the emptiness of Autumn.


Cindy Bosley, native of Ottumwa, Iowa, is a poet, essayist, and quilt artist. Her recent and first collection is Quilt Life, (published by Bottom Dog Press) and she has a chapbook publication, The Siren Sonnets, (published by Finishing Line Press). Bosley’s poems and short fictions appear in many literary journals, and she’s had two essays printed in a college composition textbook, The Composition of Everyday Life. Additionally, one of her quilts appears in the gallery photos section of One Block Wonders of The World (published by C&T Publishing). Cindy lives in Toledo, Ohio, works in medical credentialing, and shares space with her high-schooler and two cats. She holds a poetry MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, class of ’91.

October Alcaic, by Diane Kendig

Sky leans for color, trails out its stratus of
pink, blue—and fades again to its subtler shades.
The gray, a part of what is waning,
past. In the very becoming, fleeing.

None note the loss. Reflection is deadly when
lives, filled with sleep yet, ponder philosophy.
Today means now. We lift the cup of
coffee from counters and thermos, drink and

talk, slake some need with neighborly details and
facts. Liquid words solidify, adamant,
and turn our dreams to things, the future.
Outside the mist, an abstraction, reigning.


Diane Kendig‘s latest book is Woman with a Fan. Her writing has appeared in J Journal, Wordgathering, Valparaiso Review, and other journals. She ran a prison writing workshop in Ohio for 18 years, and now curates the Cuyahoga County Public Library weblog, Read + Write. Her website is dianekendig.com

Serenade for the New Baby, by Diane Kendig

                          The last moon shines a cradle tune,
                          And who will croon it?
                                          Miguel de Unamuno, “Song for a Grandchild”


Just as you sleep your first sleep in your new home,

     day slumbers out of night

Ever earlier falls under

                          the November evening.


Jet-black in the sky rises the half-full moon,

     a cradle loaded with darkness

Ebony and gold, pouring lullabies

                          into our evening.


Jumpy, though. We were so surprised

     at your sudden arrival, you tiny

Elephant in our room. Then we warm to you–

Just that quickly, the kaleidoscope sky flicks on stars

     a bright night in Tampa, one filled w/diamonds.

Even now your presence glows precious, grows

                          part of our evening.


Elijah James Eversole-Janus on November 10, 2016

 

Guesswork, by Lizzie Purkis

The last day of summer
came yesterday;
mild early on,
when the morning glories
put forth their blue-tinged bells
for dog walkers and the paperboy.

It was a day of sandal weather,
interrupted at noon
by news of the season’s
quarter turn.

Hearing the announcer
part this day down the middle
I feel regret,
not for this day, that still burns,
but for those still to come
and the slow sapping of their warmth;
not for the dusk in these streets
that inches towards suppertime,
but for when we’ll first miss the
moonflower on the trellis,
its gift as we pass
on the way to bed.

It all leaves me uncertain
quite how a tug at the blinds
starts the whole imperceptible fall.

It could be late October
before we breathe the old sorrow.
It coats the windshield,
and forms a crisp layer over
the dark earth; it will sink into
any pile of leaves you rake,
and cling to the walls of
emptied swimming pools.

Then we look back to that
invisible cusp we stood on,
the day summer shut up shop,
when we climbed to the
top of the highest sand dune
and looked out.
A break in the clouds and
one last dash to the sea.

Tonight, I take a dip
barefoot in the sodden air,
slowed by the salt-stickiness
on my skin; hours that
chafe now or drag humidly
will skate by on a brittle wind
before we know it.

It’s just guesswork
whether the last leaves will
drop like ripe plums
or be torn off in a furious gust.

There is no way to slow
the uneven depletion that
creeps from branch to branch.
Though of the trees
that line the block
most will survive
this late harvest.

But in their midst are those
whose summer foliage was scant,
all signs of hardiness swept away
with whatever ailed them.
They await the arrival
of winter’s first storms,
which in time will deliver
gravity’s final touch.


Lizzie Purkis is a British-born poet, who has made Chicago her home. She enjoys the gritty landscape of the “City of Big Shoulders”, and lives near where Carl Sandburg penned “Chicago.” Through various life stages, she keeps returning to poetry. She has published in journals in the UK, the USA, and Canada. She plays the mandolin for her own amusement.

October on the Shore, by Marjie Giffin

I find a gray-dead log of driftwood and sit,
content to turn my face toward brisk wind

and strain to catch the last feeble rays
of summer on my nose and cheeks and hair.

Iridescent blues of water in June and July
have darkened into shades of navy and slate,

and as waves crest and crash against the shore,
they converse with me in less rapturous tones.

Even the seagulls seem less intent on making
friends, and the sandpipers have lost their skip.

There is a stark beauty, however, to the shore
in Fall, and I feel a greedy pleasure in not having

to share. When I rise and climb among the rocks,
bracing air lifts my spirits despite the time

of parting. I find invigoration in solitude,
the panoramic landscape, even grit of cold sand

between my bare toes. I feel inspired, despite
the waning year, despite a weakening sun,

despite the desolation of winter sure to come.
It’s me and the shore together, alive, communing

one last time before icy winds blow, waves
sculpt in place, and I am forced to retreat alone.


Marjie is a Midwestern writer who has authored four regional histories and whose poetry has appeared in Snapdragon, Poetry Quarterly, Flying Island, The Kurt Vonnegut Literary Journal, Saint Katherine Review, Northwest Indiana Literary Journal, Blue Heron Review, Tipton Poetry Journal, Agape Review, and the anthologies The Lives We Have Live(d), What Was and What Will Be, Leave Them Something, and Reflections on Little Eagle Creek. Her work was recently featured online by the Heartland Society of Women Writers, and her first chapbook, Touring, was published one year ago by Finishing Line Press.

October, by Michele Mekel

Born under Yule’s moon
with a Samhain soul,
my lips taste of dark, heady honey

               :: pumpkin spice ::

                              :: fallen leaves ::

                                             :: hungry ghosts ::

Wolf Woman, by Michele Mekel

She begins to transform—
from tresses to toes.

Becoming wolf-like,
she tosses her head back.

She howls—
long and eerie
at a pale moon.


Living in Happy Valley, Michele Mekel wears many hats of her choosing: writer, editor, educator, bioethicist, poetess, creatrix, cat herder, witch, and woman. With more than 130 poems published, her work has appeared in various academic and creative publications, including being featured on Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac and nominated for Best of the Net. Her poetry has also been translated into Cherokee. She served as co-principal investigator for the Viral Imaginations: COVID-19 project (viralimaginations.psu.edu).

 

Autumnal, by Molly O'Dell

When leggy vines creep across
the sidewalk & cone flowers’
purple fades, the heft of leaves

recede, colors ungreen—
their flight path no longer riffles
vertically to ground. And when cuneates,

lyrates and reniforms loft through
yard’s air space, land on my front
porch, wedge between floorboard cracks,

snags in the circular grass rug or rest
in a cobweb in the northwest eave,
it’s the end of sunsets after eight.


Molly’s poems and non-fiction reflect her experiences as a physician, mother, friend, daughter, sister, writer, dirt digger and student of the woods. She lives in Buchanan, Virginia.

Empty, by Merryn Rutledge

A house that has been experienced is not an inert box.
Inhabited space transcends geometrical space.
               Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space

I startle just before falling
down a dark dream well
but not before sensing that
this, my living room,
is an empty cell.
Rivulets of fear find cracks
in the plaster walls
of the day-by-day-as-usual,
which crumbles.
A dear friend moved away today.
My aging sister will soon shrink
into a retirement home apartment,
her last before an urn.
It is late August,
when the slanting sun
points toward shorter days.
Darkness falls fast.
In August I have three times
lain on this couch
too ill to write, read, eat,
my mind furnished in misery.
It is the time when I was squeezed
between a wall of grief
after my husband died
and a wall of projected shadows
of the thieves who stole all peace
after he was gone.
He fell sick in late summer.
In this room he lay
listless, jaundiced,
his spirit slack.
By All Saints’ Eve,
the house was empty.

 

Merryn Rutledge is a poet, reviewer, and teacher. Poems have appeared widely in the US and abroad, for example, in Pensive, Pure Slush, Open Door, and Speckled Trout Review. A poetry collection is forthcoming from Kelsay Books. Merryn taught literature and creative writing, ran a national leadership development consulting firm, and continues to work for social justice causes. She teaches poetry craft, sings, dances, and plays in the pine woods and ocean near Boston. While living in New England and Wisconsin, she has never gotten used to the cold weather that returns each autumn.