Changing rooms by David Hanlon

Changing rooms

long wooden benches
no backs
oversized white shorts
string vests
pink/pale flesh
hairless legs

rows of coat hook rails
uniformed hooks
soldiers’ heads

I’m wearing
my new two-tone Nike trainers
boys remark
how cool they are

before one boy
the most popular

then gay boy
gay boy gay boy gay boy
with gay trainers


David Hanlon is a poet from Cardiff, Wales. He is a Best of the Net nominee. You can find his work online in over 50 magazines, including Rust & Moth, Kissing Dynamite & Homology Lit. His first chapbook Spectrum of Flight is available for purchase now at Animal Heart Press. You can follow him on twitter @davidhanlon13 and Instagram @welshpoetd

House of Cards by Shaun R. Pankoski

House of Cards

I never left the house yesterday,
except to open the gate
so the cat could venture
through a tunnel she made in the grass
at the vacant lot next door.
Searching for the big-headed tom
that she loves to fight with,
she came home at 2am, soaking wet.

Tuesday I met a friend for lunch.
We ate mediocre Mexican food
and talked mostly about her father
who had recently died in hospice.
The whole time, I kept thinking
of the last time we ate together.
She told me then that she thought
Trump had some good ideas.

When I got my diagnosis,
it occurred to me that I probably
wouldn’t live long enough
to cook all the recipes
I had clipped and collected. That,
and who would take care of the cat.
But I still clip recipes, buy the ingredients.
I have an appetite now.

My baby brother, once my heart,
came home on a hot July day,
went into his bedroom and shut the door.
When his wife went in to check,
she started to scold him
for not removing his shoes before lying down.
He was dead. For this, and other reasons,
I hate my birthday.


Shaun R. Pankoski (she/her) is a poet most recently from Volcano, Hawaii. A retired county worker and two time breast cancer survivor, she has lived on both coasts as well as the midwest as an artist’s model, modern dancer, massage therapist and honorably discharged Air Force veteran. Her poems have appeared in The Ekphrastic Review and Verse-Virtual. She will soon be a featured Storyteller of the Week in Storyteller Poetry Review.

Two Poems by Kelley White


as if it would rain on a day of ninety degrees
before sunrise, as if you and I woke
before that dawn and turned from each other
caring nothing for birdsong and hope;
and only our old angers simmering, called out
nevermore by crows and tomorrow by mourning
doves, old spinsters, left rattling the empty trees


A NH car dealer is giving away an AK-15 assault rifle with each sale

Pontiac or Jeep. Do they even make Oldsmobiles
any more? It doesn’t seem right to put a gun
in a Volvo station wagon. Or even a Dodge
Caravan. Soccer Mom cars. No, it must be the Dads
want these. A Durango, a Maverick, a Thunderbird.
Or perhaps it’s better with an unmarked car. No license
plate. Hard to trace. When he pulls off the road
at what he didn’t know was his destination. Leans into
the viewfinder and lets loose.


Pediatrician Kelley White has worked in inner-city Philadelphia and rural New Hampshire. Her poems have appeared in Exquisite Corpse, Rattle and JAMA. Her most recent chapbook is A Field Guide to Northern Tattoos (Main Street Rag Press.) She received a 2008 Pennsylvania Council on the Arts grant and is currently Poet in Residence at Drexel University College of Medicine. Her newest collection, NO.HOPE STREET has just been published by Kelsay Books.

Fragments of a visit to Buchenwald by Julia Caroline Knowlton

Fragments of a visit to Buchenwald

a survivor on film recounts
one prisoner killing another

over a fistful of potato peels
meant to feed the officers’ pigs

the iron table where gold fillings
were extracted

from angel-light corpses

our guide showing us art
made by prisoners
how did they get paper and pencil
I asked

our guide our teacher
the angel-light art still here
bearing witness

on Sundays some prisoners
held small concerts
singing songs remembered

reciting poems


Julia Caroline Knowlton is the Adeline A. Loridans Professor of French at Agnes Scott College in Atlanta. Recognition for her poetry includes an Academy of American Poets College Prize and a 2018 Georgia Author of the Year award. Kelsay Books will publish her newest chapbook, Life of the Mind, in the autumn of 2023.

STOPPING BY by Kenneth Pobo


My mother said
butterflies visited her
in dreams. Outside
my bedroom window,
a yellow butterfly.

That’s her, stopping by,
then off she goes.


Kenneth Pobo (he/him) is the author of twenty-one chapbooks and nine full-length collections. Recent books include Bend of Quiet (Blue Light Press), Loplop in a Red City (Circling Rivers), and Lilac And Sawdust (Meadowlark Press) and Gold Bracelet in a Cave: Aunt Stokesia (Ethel Press). His work has appeared in North Dakota Quarterly, Asheville Literary Review, Nimrod, Mudfish, Hawaii Review, and elsewhere.

My Mom Dies During a Pandemic by Laurie Rosen

My Mom Dies During a Pandemic

A hospital bed replaces
the one she shared with my father
for over 70 years,
her brain long ravaged
by Alzheimer’s.

She writhes,
the nurse says she’s transitioning.
I stand masked
in her bedroom doorway, immobile,
scared. I leave her dying

to the professionals.
It’s her birthday. I carry a card,
decorated with flowers and sparkles,
nothing more.


A lifelong New Englander, Laurie Rosen’s poetry has appeared in The Muddy River Poetry Review, Peregrine, Oddball Magazine, Zig Zag Lit Mag, Gyroscope Review, Wilderness House Literary Review, Inquisitive Eater, a journal of The New School, Pure Haiku and elsewhere. She is a proud member of the Tin Box Poets in Swampscott, MA and was a reader at The Improbable Places Poetry Tour in Beverly, MA.

The Black Madonna by Attracta Fahy

The Black Madonna

Somewhere there is guilt 
that this is happening to you,
as if your existence was an intrusion
on the world, everything built
on a collective belief that you are fine.

I bound my shame into control,
like when a rubber band is stretched
too far, it snaps.
I kept snapping, stifled my rage
smothered with sugar, then threw up.

Survival meant moulding a false self
into a montage. Pretence is an art.
Distracted from loss, tortured,
I turned everything inwards.

I can’t name all the flowers in my garden,
still, colours reflect some bit of comfort.
It’s true, the vulnerable are always victimized—
now I let everything grow wild, weeds too, and
I don’t need names to know how to love.

Possessed by the Black Madonna,
I made an altar in my garden. We live
on mother, she feeds us, our great
oesophageal snake, the open mouth
of a hungry gut that cannot decide
which to choose; life, or death.

It’s good to have something to pray to,
her soothing blue campanula, alpine
growing from a thread beneath rocks.

Not allowing anyone to see me like this-
I wanted to be seen. Like a robin, anxious
and startled, flies under a bush, then slowly
with trust, eats from your hand,
I too hungered to connect.


Attracta Fahy, Psychotherapist, MAW NUIG ‘17. Winner of Trócaire Poetry Ireland Poetry Competition 2021. Irish Times; New Irish Writing 2019, Pushcart & Best of Web nominee, shortlisted for: Fish International Poetry Competition 2022, OTE 2018 New Writer of the Year, Allingham Poetry competition both 2019 &’20, Write By The Sea Writing Competition 2021, Dedalus Press Mentoring Programme 2021. Her poems have been published in many magazines including the Crannóg, Stinging Fly, Banshee, Poetry Ireland Review, Honest Ulsterman, Poethead, Orbis, Abridged and several other journals and anthologies at home and abroad. Attracta was a featured reader at Over The Edge Reading in Galway City Library, Cultivating Voices, and read with poet Paul Muldoon and Adrian Rice at The Poetry Salon with the Irish American Society of New Mexico. Fly on the Wall Poetry published her debut best selling chapbook collection Dinner in the Fields, in March’20. Her chapbook was chosen by Poet Kevin Higgins as one of the best poetry books of 2020 for The Morning Star Newspaper. She received an Arts Council Agility Award 2022 and is presently working towards a full collection.

Two Poems by Amy Beth Sisson

The Abrasive

Sweat sheened my forehead
Under the mass of Jewish frizz
That gave me my nickname: Brillo

I wanted it off

I side-eyed the breasts on girlie
Mags littering waiting tables
Me, in my Members Only cordovan
Leather armor—stiff and shiny

As he buzzed my head,
The barber said,
I’ll cut girls’ hair.
Not the oriental.
It’s like needles.
Gives me splinters.

Half shorn silent—half blind—pinned
A barbed hook resisted removal

He read my disapproving grimace
Attacked with his clippers
I put on my glasses

Saw my scalp glinting in patches
From under the fuzz
And cried

When I got home—I tore off
My t-shirt and slapped at black shards
On my scoured neck

My girlfriend shoved me
Into the shower, lustful
Your head is incandescent.

The prickle of her hands
Hot on my scalp
Stroking the sparse bristle


At my ex’s

My son grabbed a ballpoint from the glass coffee table -click
Thumbed small lever: open shut, open shut, with each one -click

In the upholstered armchair sat the small-town policeman
Dark uniform, with holstered gun -click

His eyes glared at my child. Fifteen, 6’3”. Stubbled
I still saw him in soft cotton PJs. Robotman -click

That night in a Hendrix tee, sagged jeans
Shrugging, slouching -click

Until the officer shouted, “quit that”
But this story is wrong. The cop picked up the pen -click

No one could ask him to stop
With each click my son flinched in his wooden seat -click

Until the cop shouted, “quit that”
An order. My son sat up straight -click

This is still wrong. My son doesn’t recall me there
His memory: the cruiser’s hot hood

Where the cop pressed his face down
Before he was cuffed -click


Amy Beth Sisson (she/her) Poetry has appeared in Cleaver Magazine, The Night Heron Barks, Ran Off With the Star Bassoon, The River Heron Review, Philadelphia Stories and is upcoming in The Shoutflower. Sundress Publications selected her manuscript I Instruct My Toad How to Write Poetry as a semifinalist for its 2022 Chapbook Contest. She got her MFA in poetry in 2023 at Rutgers Camden, is a project manager for the Institute for the Study of Global Racial Justice, and an Editorial Assistant for FENCE Magazine.

Three Poems by Caroliena Cabada

Small House

Our parents never kicked us
out of the nest, but now
that we’ve left, they can’t
leave it behind like
robins do every season—
stuck in the forks of an oak
or maple until the fallen
leaves reveal the hollow home.


Today, my anger was a falling knife

Today, a sanguine sunset filled
my vision—I blinded myself in
anger, self-inflicted. Why I am mad
was a small thing, a pebble gumming up
a gear. Today, I was an angel,
falling. Today, my anger was a falling
knife, gyrating on its long axis.
I keep my knives dull—yes, you
caught me—even though it’s dangerous.
By the time I get around to sharpening,
the urgency is gone. And this way the
blade I catch doesn’t cut.


Self-Portrait With Aphantasia

I write this poem with no inner eye—only
the words on this thin page appear
before me. There is ink that has still
not dried, transfers green on my arm
like grass stains. I can say whatever
I want, and you’d believe me: that I am
sitting on a freshly-mowed lawn near
the library, that I am letting an ant crawl
all over me, tracing the path that
a melted popsicle left. I can say
that I bleached my black hair bright blonde
and can still smell the chemical, even under
the scent of the green dye that makes me
look mermaid-like. I write this poem
imagining my ideal without images.
You can see her: right-handed, filling
up the blank page. Isn’t she beautiful,
the way she takes up space?


Caroliena Cabada teaches first-year composition and creative writing at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she is earning her PhD in English. Her debut poetry collection, True Stories, is forthcoming from Unsolicited Press in 2024.

Two Poems by Shannon Frost Greenstein

I’m Not a F*cking Superhero Just for Raising My Autistic Son

I just don’t know how you do it, she says, marveling,
her eyes wide like prey to express
just how awe-struck she truly feels.
You’re a Superhero.

My son, stimming, cavorting happily around the room;
neurodiverse, a bright ray of sun, simply delightful,
and brilliant like a savant;
she sees his meltdowns
his struggle to use the bathroom
declares me to be the Ubermensch
and I resist the urge to roll my eyes.

There is consolation in her voice;
like she is sending up a holy prayer
of thanks
her own children do not have special needs.

It is really condescension, though,
because I am someone to be pitied; because I am someone
with something broken.

But hold up for a second there, Miss Becky Home-ecky.

My son is perfect precisely as he is; he is a joy to nurture and get to know.
There’s no need for heroism,
because loving him
requires nothing superhuman at all.

After all, it doesn’t take an Avenger
to be an Autism mom;
it just takes
a mom.

So save your pity
when you meet my child on the Autism spectrum
because we are both doing just fine.

And I am not a f*cking Superhero
just for raising my autistic son.
I raise my autistic son
because I am his f*cking mother,
and that is just
what mothers do.


I Blame George Balanchine

I blame George Balanchine
for decades upon decades
of the most vicious kinds of eating disorders;
for veneration of the waif
at the expense of growing old;
for the toxicity and abuse
that defines professional ballet
and the pervasive legacy of exclusion
that still persists to this day.

I blame Saint Augustine
for the devaluation of women
and the marriage of church and state;
for back-alley abortions
and unresearched stem cells;
for the stigma of sex
just for the sake of sex
and the pervasive legacy of judgement
that still persists to this day.

I blame Nancy Reagan
for propagating systemic racism
as the face of the War on Drugs;
for equating addiction
with weakness of character;
for commanding us all to Just Say No
as crack ravaged the Black community
and the pervasive legacy of an epidemic
that still persists to this day.

I blame Donald Trump
for his epidemiological illiteracy
and killing one million Americans;
for misogyny and bigotry and prejudice and hate
because he is just the worst kind of person;
for humiliating our nation
on a geopolitical scale
and the pervasive legacy of intolerance
that still persists to this day.

I blame them all for the damage they’ve caused
and for reinforcing the otherhood of people like me
and if you agree with anything they have to say
then, you prick, I fucking blame you, too.


Shannon Frost Greenstein (she/her) resides in Philadelphia with her children and soulmate. She is the author of “These Are a Few of My Least Favorite Things”, a full-length book of poetry available from Really Serious Literature, and “Pray for Us Sinners,” a short story collection with Alien Buddha Press. Shannon is a former Ph.D. candidate in Continental Philosophy and a multi-time Pushcart Prize nominee. Her work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Pithead Chapel, Litro Mag, Bending Genres, Parentheses Journal, and elsewhere. Follow Shannon at or on Twitter at @ShannonFrostGre.