I, flounder, by Joseph Felser

I, flounder
by Joseph Felser

Flat fish
I drift
floating in
turbid blues
carried by cross
you left
in your

I sink
to bottom
holy abyss
gaze fixed
eyes locked
blind to
golden treasure
buried deep
in wet black
beneath me

the world
is flat
one sided
all over
even if
tries to be
my hoop
is broken

Joseph M. Felser, Ph.D. received his doctorate in philosophy from The University of Chicago. He is is on the faculty at Kingsborough Community College/CUNY in Brooklyn, New York, where he has taught since 1997. The author of numerous published articles and reviews, as well as two books, The Way Back to Paradise (2004) and The Myth of the Great Ending (2011), he also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of The Monroe Institute in Faber, Virginia. He recently began writing poetry, which has appeared in both print and online journals, including Whatever Our Souls, Wildflower Muse, Ordinary Madness, Joey and the Black Boots ReBoot, Red Wolf Journal, Ariel Chart, and The Mystic Blue Review.


Choke, hold, by Joseph Felser

Choke, hold
by Joseph Felser

I wrestle
with you
bless me
last time
you left
for dead
laid out
on a
stone cold
of cruel
this time
I won’t
let go

Joseph M. Felser, Ph.D. received his doctorate in philosophy from The University of Chicago. He is is on the faculty at Kingsborough Community College/CUNY in Brooklyn, New York, where he has taught since 1997. The author of numerous published articles and reviews, as well as two books, The Way Back to Paradise (2004) and The Myth of the Great Ending (2011), he also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of The Monroe Institute in Faber, Virginia. He recently began writing poetry, which has appeared in both print and online journals, including Whatever Our Souls, Wildflower Muse, Ordinary Madness, Joey and the Black Boots ReBoot, Red Wolf Journal, Ariel Chart, and The Mystic Blue Review.

Just The Flu, by Andrew Hubbard

Just The Flu
by Andrew Hubbard

It sounded like the doctor
Was talking from far away, underwater.
He said, “little kids spike a high fever
He’s strong, just give him lots of fluids
He’ll be right as rain tomorrow.”

So I shook and baked and sweat
And slept and dreamed
I was in a field of tall brown waving grass
And low, lush blueberry bushes
Bent with heavy loads of bursting fruit.

I had the scrubbed-out lard can
Mommy gave me for berries
And I was on my knees picking
And dropping berries into the can
And as they fell each one turned into a pearl
Pure white and gleaming.

The pearls all whispered
And their voices blended
Saying, “you won’t be poor any more,
You’ll never be poor any more.”

“Food—all you want
And a puppy, and the clothes
Mommy’s ashamed to ask for
And medicine for sister.”

I ran home with the lard can
Hugged to my chest and the pearls
Clicking together like marbles.

I gave them all to Mommy
And she held me and cried
And cried. Her tears dropped
On my face, and I began to know
I was not there, I’d left
Without even knowing
For the place
Pearls come from.

Andrew Hubbard was born and raised in a coastal Maine fishing village. He earned degrees in English and Creative Writing from Dartmouth College and Columbia University, respectively. He has had four prose books published, and his fifth and sixth books, collections of poetry, were published in 2014 and 2016 by Interactive Press.


Barbara Young


Water boils cold and clear through gravel sand
somewhere in eastern Kentucky, becomes more,
becomes a river. At the first dam, pools back, fills
the steep round valleys with fish. And sky. Steps down
from corps-created lake to lake, will meet
the bigger Ohio near the navel of waters.
We are in Tennessee; river’s turning into lake, summer into fall.
Sonar could display, below us tied to a snub red buoy,
the bed of Birdsong Creek. There’d have been a bank
here near where it joined the Tennessee, maybe limestone
it had worn smooth, maybe mud.

We’re in a small aluminum boat.
Welded seams a tactile evidence of construction.
It used to be green. A kid painted a name on it
“Green Star” with red paint. Some red remains.
Water, from this and that–spray of passage,
minnow bucket, dripping anchor and knotted rope–
settled in the downward, upward curve
smells algal, minnowish. The rim of the boat,
the gunnel, shines hot in the sun, below the water line
the metal is cool.

In the shallows a heron is fishing. A flock of yellow
like wild canaries. Jets leave contrails. Barges,
yoked in pairs–two, two, two, two, a football field afloat–
are pushed upstream or down and throw a wake wave
that lifts us, crumbs and the tablecloth, goes, slaps
the mudbank island top of a drowned hill. The buoy rocks,
the next up the creek rocks less.

We have lines in the water. We are fishing.

        “Father forgive us for what we must do.
        You forgive us, and we’ll forgive you.
        We’ll forgive eachother til we both turn blue
        then we’ll whistle and go fishing in heaven”
                        John Prine, Fish and Whistle

What can’t be forgotten
while faint vibrations communicate
        by way of steel, monofiliment, and braid
        by fingerprint and wrist, eye and lash
        from twenty feet down deep and murky
the fan of a fishtail

        will the leaves turn next October
        will the clock chime ten or stop at nine
        will the pain return
what can’t be forgotten, forgiven, fishing
oh, fortuna, whirling wheel
is too small.
Process Notes: “‘What Can’t Be Forgiven’ and ‘At the Mouth of Birdsong’ are part of a series in progress: Footnotes to a Photograph of My Father, Fishing.”

Barbara Young is from Nashville, Tennessee. She prefers fishing with minnows, not worms. She likes writing from prompts, and still mourns the website RWP which opened her eyes. Her poetry can be found at FredHerring.

Martin Willitts, Jr.


This light blue-green gemstone of calm waters 
before a ship sails out troweling for fish
will pick up your spirits. Wear it while meditating, 
until you hear buoys where there isn’t any. 

This morning, I drop my net of worries
into the stillness like stones.
Process Notes:‘Aquamarine’ is both a color as well as a name of a gemstone. One of the many things I do is called “gemstone readings” in which each gemstone has their own properties. Also, each gemstone has a connection to astrology and to psychic readings. Furthermore, the gemstones can affect a person’s chakras. I combine this information in my readings, In this meditative poem, I focus on the psychic attributes of the stone and connect it to water.”

Martin Willitts Jr is a Quaker and organic gardener. He has 6 full-length poetry collections including contest winner “Searching for What Is Not There” (Hiraeth Press, 2013) and over 20 chapbooks including contest winner “William Blake, Not Blessed Angel But Restless Man” (Red Ochre Press, 2014).

Will Wells


Once we’re under way, the river guide remarks,
It’s been a banner year for bodies. I found
two boozed-up college boys who flunked the test
on hypothermia, then a rookie
kayaker wrapped around a boulder, neat
as a Christmas bow. If we spot another,
I’ll put it in tow, unless you object….
He brandishes an extra coil of rope,
Eagle Scout of fresh disaster. Though we
came separately, our shudders school like fish.

A blue heron arrows in ahead of us,
skimming the water like an Egyptian god
trolling for souls. The Colorado crooks
a finger and beckons us around a bend.
And there, a doe and her two fawns wade in,
untroubled as we fumble for snapshots.
Relief unfolds like the float between rapids.

But I can’t help asking, What happens if
we find someone? And so, we earn badges
in no nonsense. It should be beached on high
ground and moored to a tree or boulder.
Triangulate landmarks and phone it in.
A shirt can mark the spot, and brush cover
lends modesty and keeps the buzzards off.

After bobbing up in a dead-man float,
the Boston fireman who went for a swim
climbs back on board, cracks a beer, and reflects,
If a fire victim has been charred, it smells
like a cook-out. Droplets on his pale skin
prism into burn the rest of us neglect
to mention. Each calm stretch, we scan the banks.

Alone at the stern, one passenger trails
her cupped hand under the surface, opens it
and jerks it back as if the water stings.
The river slips a finger through her ring
which will tumble until rushing current
slows, then find a bed in sediment.

Past the next meander, a sandbar splits
the flow. Posted like a semaphore,
the waiting heron poses all our grief.
We raft on by, married to the moment,
trying to see just what we came to see.
Process Notes: “As described in the poem, the poem describes an actual rafting trip I took on the Colorado, with as much accuracy as possible. I wrote the poem six months after having the experience. Some of the river guide’s quoted comments had lodged so firmly in my memory that I had to write the poem to attempt to exorcise them. Essentially, it struck me as odd that some thoughtless comments by the river guide could warp the entire purpose of the day-long river rafting experience from an intended outdoors idyll to a reflection on personal mortality and the limits of human compassion. The poem has been tinkered with subsequently, to improve individual lines, but is essentially intact from how it originally emerged. It is also faithful to the experience with the exception of the lost wedding ring, which occurred on a different rafting trip.”

Will Wells’ most recent volume of poems won the 2009 Hollis Summers Poetry Prize and was published by Ohio University/Swallow Press in 2010. His latest manuscript, “Odd Lots, Scraps and Second-hand, Like New” is seeking a publisher. Will has been a fellow at various writers conferences including Sewanee, Bread Loaf, Wesleyan and West Chester, and a previous book-length collection won the Anhinga Prize.

Robert Walton


This river slips slantwise
Over snowy granite,
Flows smooth as smoke
Over hidden edges.
Ripples at my feet
Wear capricious jewels,
Mischievous in moonlight,
Like you.
The current’s curves
And star-polished boulders
Blend with the ease
Of long acquaintance -
So our friendship
Has flowed years long,
Though you are a girl to me,
Still a girl.


Breeze off morning rapids
Is a gift trailing scents
Of pine, of lupine,
Of sweet woodsmoke,
But its first touch
Is a blue blade
Pulled by dawn from its sheath of
Photographs by Jonathan Walton. Used with permission.
Robert Walton is a retired public school teacher and lifelong mountaineer. His poems and stories have appeared in numerous journals, including the Sierra Club’s “Ascent”. Most recently, his historical novel Dawn Drums was published by Moonlight Mesa Associates.

Marian Veverka

Tiny leaves have appeared
on the branches of the willows
A haze of green now decorates
the muddy river bank.
We speak few words as we paddle
through the narrow channel-
we do not mention cancer
or the beading of new cells.
You had asked to be kept
informed though you could not
cheat the beastly cells, so
relentless in their onslaught.
Our small canoe keeps pressing
onward.  The waters parting before
us as if they could deliver
your release.

Marian Veverka worked part time at the Port Clinton OH public library for over thirty years. Her poems have appeared in many literary journals and magazines. She lives near Marblehead OH, on the shores of Lake Erie.

Christopher Oak Reinier

They've taken down
the summer dams.
Over-night the river
has returned to its
drained and naked self.

In a dreamscape of loss,
the river’s bed has been
abandoned by water hurrying
away to the ocean,
leaving the dregs of a
false lover's lust.

It is a bed of muddy stones.

Far out on the bereft channel
a silhouetted man bends,
picking up things,
examining them.

I step out across the slippery rocks,
and ask, “What are you finding?”

“Pretty stones,” he says, “Indian beads…
This river’s been running for thousands of years.”

“You’re finding Indian beads?”

“Ah, sure, “ he says,
digging in his frayed pant’s pocket,
extracting a bent nail, a penny,
a paper clip, a common stone…
"Guess they’re in my knapsack”, he shrugs,
gesturing at the pack on his back.

“Okay," I say, sensing it time to wander away.

As I step back across the rocky sludge,
he calls, "I found a diamond once…"

"All right!" I respond,
and look at the muck
of the river bed,

morning sun glistening off
the dying river weeds…

Christopher Oak Reinier lives near the Russian River in Northern California, a river that inspires many of his poems and songs.

Joan Leotta


My father walks into my room
wearing his long tan trench coat.
A finely blocked felt hat
tops his jet black wavy hair.
He tamps down the tobacco 
in his pipe, then turns
to me, his brown eyes twinkling,
his lips curling up in a smile around the pipe.

He steps back into
a poorly lit hallway I do not know,
removes his coat and
sits in an orange plastic chair.
Coat on his lap, 
he draws softly on the pipe
and nods at me.
Cherry tobacco smoke wafts toward me.
He’s waiting for me, 
as always.
Through theatre classes
piano lessons
dance lessons
patiently enmeshed in his own thoughts
without complaint.

Suddenly I wake. 
I am at home. No hallway. No chair.
No cherry tobacco.
No trench coat or hug.
Only the smell of coffee.
My father smiles from his photo.

Some say dreaming across the Styx means
Charon will soon come for you.
I chuckle as I prepare 
to face my day.
No fears.
Instead of Charon,
my own beloved father 
waits patiently to 
ferry me across the Styx
in his white 1960 Thunderbird.
Process Notes: “This poem was actually inspired by a dream about my father who crossed the Styx himself in 1988. I began to think about the old saying that if you dream about someone dead it means you are going to die soon and decided I did not agree with that, nor did I think I needed to fear death, so I wrote this poem.”

Joan Leotta’s artistic goal is always to show the beauty of the ordinary and encourage the audience. She now lives in Calabash, North Carolina with her husband and has published several books (fiction and non-fiction) and many short stories and articles. Her blog on writing and performing is at joanleotta.wordpress.com.