Undone by My Own Hands by Angela Hoffman

Undone by My Own Hands
-After Mary Oliver, “It Was Early”

I’m in grade five. I notice a snag in my tights.
I pull the loose thread. The unraveling begins.
I try in vain to leave it alone, but I continue to pick at the flaw
until one half of my tights sags around my ankle,
leaving the other half to rest above my knee.

I try everything to close the gap:
knotting, self-pity, paper clipping, hiding,
but come to terms that the only way out is to stand,
allowing all in the room to gaze upon this mess I’ve made.
Sometimes things have to fall apart in order to see
the blessedness hiding underneath.


Angela Hoffman’s poetry collections include Resurrection Lily and Olly Olly Oxen Free (Kelsay Books). She placed third in the WFOP Kay Saunders Memorial Emerging Poet in 2022 and was a runner up in the 2023 Wisconsin Sijo competition. Her poems have been published in Agape Review, Amethyst Review, As Surely As the Sun, Blue Heron Review, Braided Way, Bramble, Cosmic Daffodil Journal, Moss Piglet, Lothlorien Poetry Journal, Muleskinner Journal, Of Rust and Glass, Poetica Review, Solitary Plover, The Orchards Poetry Journal, The Poet Magazine, Verse-Virtual, Visual Verse, Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets’ Museletter and Calendar, Whispers and Echoes, Wilda Morris’s Poetry Challenge, Writing In A Woman’s Voice, and Your Daily Poem. Her poems have also appeared in Amethyst Review Poetry Anthology: All Shall Be Well and The Poet Anthology: Our Changing Earth. She writes a poem a day. Angela lives in rural Wisconsin.

Two Poems by Gaby Bedetti

Civil Suit

We assemble in the hall
eager to administer justice and pick
an amount fair to both sides.

The plaintiff’s back is said to be
blotched by light therapy
despite smiling cruise photos.

Her attorney
approaches her in the witness box,
and offers a packet of Kleenex.

Hands resting on hip,
her counsel locks eyes
and presses for compensation.

The litigant meets our verdict with
a blank stare. The settlement
mitigates her suffering.

Outside the courthouse a man
sleeps on a steel bench. Snowflakes fall
on his head.

Citizens turn to look
at the pink blanket-draped


Tricky Notes

The choir director prays for us to abandon
fear, yet by the fifth verse I forget my one note.
What I would do if I were not afraid:
make the swamp oak shudder like thunder,
disrupt the cheeping that holds the flock together,
let my hair fly free and tangle in the wind,
eat hot wings and listen to dance tunes,
go to sea with the owl and the pussycat,
tango with my sage, battle my saboteurs,
pop the infant off my breast,
smudge the love letter,
commission a raise, chip
the china, leave a sandwich for the man
under the bridge,
sing tall the tricky notes.


Born in Schaffhausen, Switzerland, Gaby Bedetti is the American translator of Henri Meschonnic’s work, a contributor to Lexington’s poetry blog and a professor at Eastern Kentucky University. She has published in Off the Coast, Poet Lore, Italian Americana, Cold Mountain Review, and elsewhere.

Kindergarten by Matthew Murrey


“It’s boring, boring,
boring. I hate school,”
he said near tears
on the way over in the car.

Big hand, small hand:
I walked him to class,
then turned my back
and left, though he begged
in a raspy whisper—
chin and lips quivering,
eyes brimming and blinking,
“Stay longer—please
don’t leave, please.”

Like a doctor who lost
his patient, or a priest
who lost his faith,
I headed off to my job.

Before lunch at work
I was thinking of angels;
“Pity us,” I whispered
as if there were pity,
as if there were angels.


Matthew Murrey’s poems have been in One Art and other journals. Poems have recently appeared in The Shore, Whale Road Review, and EcoTheo Review. He’s an NEA Fellowship recipient, and his collection, Bulletproof, was published in 2019 by Jacar Press. He was a public school librarian for over twenty years and lives in Urbana, Illinois. His website is at https://www.matthewmurrey.net/ and he is still on Twitter @mytwords.

Carrying Water by Mike Bagwell

Carrying Water

The year of the sheep got lost in an airport
and just bounced from shoulder to shoulder.
The crowds left blurred vapor trails of themselves
and the whole place swirled in light browns
and the faded azure of jeans.
Everywhere I went crows called
themselves Adam, crawling
out of pitch-black pools and drying off their feathers.
I never quite grasped the significance of this,
no matter how many times they demanded
I pull out one of their ribs.
“I’m not God,” I told them, even though
I was having clear, frictionless thoughts.
At 1 p.m., a sheep becomes insecure about
anything with the color purple.
Suitable gifts:
bathrobe, broach, peppermint oil, seashells,
massage, theater tickets.
Maybe the soul is joined to the body by deep pits of water:
you pull feathers out of your mouth
and walk around a crowded airport.
Instead of diving back in,
you just get comfortable.


Mike Bagwell is a writer and software engineer based in Philly. He received an MFA from Sarah Lawrence and his work appears or is forthcoming in trampset, Halfway Down the Stairs, HAD, BULL, Bodega, Whiskey Island, and others. Some editors have kindly nominated him for a Pushcart. He is the author of the chapbook A Collision of Soul in Midair (forthcoming from Bottlecap Press). He was the founding editor and designer of El Aleph Press and his work can be found at mikebagwell.me.

Two Poems by Lois Roma-Deeley

For All the Little Lost

If today you should find yourself staring into the blue
fluorescent lights swinging overhead
at the Wal-Mart store, just leave
the half-full shopping cart
in the middle aisle. Go and find

the boy standing under a street light
looking up at his stolen shoes
hanging around the metal pole.
Tell him there will be other days

filled with unasked-for kindnesses, like a kiss
waking him from sleep. Now turn your thoughts

to sea flowers waving their tentacles.
Cast a spell in his direction.

What will it cost you?
Remember the cashier at the Circle K
who thinks you might have a secret life?
The one in which you’re loved and perfectly whole.

But you, Reader of Signs, know better.
Like the five pointed star tattooed over your wrist
or the three rings of bruised grass on which you stand
try to interpret the designs of each life,
the context of desire.

Open the Book of a Thousand Titles,
where vermillion snakes and indigo lions
wave to you from the edge of every page.
Study the illuminations….Like this

—oh just mouth these words—

reach into the future and take hold,
for whatever it is that comes for us,
like a lightning bolt striking open water,
don’t let go.


My Heart, A Broken Compass

When giant Saguaros lift their hallelujah arms
and creosote bushes weep sweetly
for the brief relief of monsoon rain,
I take to wandering in circles, my heart
a broken compass in a wilderness of despair.

Then before the sun rises, once again,
over Windgate pass, mercy notes
rise up from wide city streets,
float over the tops of olive trees
settling in the tallest branches.
And now I find myself

standing on a crowded sidewalk.
surrounded by familiar sounds,
the push and pull of steady voices
echoing in and around small shops
and mountain passes. The city hums—
but do I hear it?
better days are coming.


Lois Roma-Deeley’s poetry collections include Like Water in the Palm of My Hand, The Short List of Certainties, High Notes, northSight, Rules of Hunger. She’s published in numerous poetry anthologies and journals, is Associate Poetry Editor of Presence: A Journal of Catholic Poetry. and is Poet Laureate, Scottsdale, Arizona, USA. www.loisroma-deeley.com

Connections by Sharon Waller Knutson


Michael is missing, his mother tells me
as she buys Louis Lamour novels
in my Idaho Falls used bookstore
while the sky is streaked with black clouds.

Although we lived in the same small
town briefly and were the same age,
Michael and I never met but his mother
was a longtime friend of my father’s.

Michael’s hound howls from her Jeep
Cherokee. The dog was discovered
on the road between Blackfoot
and Pocatello where we drive often.

Her son was last seen with two strangers
in a bar across from the bus station
where my grandmother met the Greyhound
carrying me as a child to Idaho from Montana.

A month later, cops arrest two cowboys
driving Michael’s Ford Explorer
with blood in the trunk in Billings
where I was a reporter in the sixties.

His mother won’t stop until she finds
her son and puts his murderers in prison.
Michael’s body is found near Whitehall
where my father rodeoed in the fifties.

The murderers will die in a prison
near Deet Lodge where we spent the summer.
I understand the grief etched on her
face many years later when I lose my son.


Sharon Waller Knutson is a retired journalist who lives in Arizona. She has published eleven poetry books including My Grandmother Smokes Chesterfields (Flutter Press 2014,) What the Clairvoyant Doesn’t Say and Trials & Tribulations of Sports Bob (Kelsay Books 2021) and Survivors, Saints and Sinners (Cyberwit 2022,) Kiddos & Mamas Do the Darndest Things (Cyberwit 2022,) The Vultures are Circling (Cyberwit 2023) and The Leading Ladies in My Life (Cyberwit June 2023.) Her twelfth collection, My Grandfather is a Cowboy is forthcoming from Cyberwit in January 2024. Her work has also appeared in more than 50 different journals. She is the editor of Storyteller Poetry Journal, dedicated to promoting narrative poetry.

Postpartum by Tamara Kreutz

                after “Forgetfulness” by Billy Collins

Just when I thought I’d be myself
again, my belly flops beside me in bed—
stretched, gelatinous,
an upper lip at the smile of my pelvis,

And standing before the mirror
I find my body has forgotten who she was—
my hips sway wide, my feet ache from falling flat.

Stripped of sensuality, my breasts, stiff and dimpled, drip
like garden hoses—twin milk stains through my cotton shirt.
They throb for the creature who spends most of her hours
with her mouth latched onto me.

Slumping through the house, half asleep
in daytime, I’m half awake at night,
listening to the rhythm of my baby’s breath.

I hate my husband beside me.
He’s stolen my sleep and hoarded it all
for himself. His body and brain seem so unchanged

while a stranger lives in my pendulous skin,
and memories of me before birthing are shelved
in gated-off corners of my mind.

No wonder my phone lights my face up in blue, as I nurse
and scroll through timelines on bouncing back
No wonder I watch the moon each night,
as it drags me through the dark into each new day.


Tamara Kreutz lives with her husband and three young children in Guatemala, where she works as a high school English teacher at an international school. Poetry gives her grounding in a life full of moving pieces. She is currently working towards her MFA at Pacific University and has had her work featured in Rattle – Poets Respond, Stonecoast Review, and Verse-Virtual among others.

Two Poems by John Kucera


The memorial to the lost memorial
could be a child’s tug, a pallor, a pall,
a locomotive, its banner of exhaust,
the spit of steam as the iron comes to rest.
What you do not know you know can break
a spine or set ablaze a stack of books.

Or harbor the tragedy yet to happen.
Rain falls into a chronicle we call rain,
and what abstracted politician can tell
the water from the word, the arrival
of spring from the crackle of erasure.
What downpour shapes a monument of tears.

These woods are full of statues if you listen.
I have heard the cries of lost children
float through the halls, and a hush at the end
gave each a stone to lay against a stone.
I saw once, in a dark museum, a small
striped jacket, a signet of the Holocaust,

pinned to a cloth. I swore to remember.
We all did. But whom? A friend, a number,
our own child inside the coat. The cap
beside it, no larger than a bowl of soup.
I swore again to recall the nameless
and left my bones behind me in the rain.



I never had to beg
For a pet. The horses just
Were—muscled motion,
Familiar as milkweed
Seeds. My mother
Had a college degree and my father
Thought that should make
Us all as angry as he was,
Poor delicate out of control
Tyrant with his fists
Clenched tight. We lived
So easily then but no one
Knew it, the 1980s full
Of fear as any decade.
I knew thorns
And barn smell, freedom
On bike and horseback
And sneakered foot,
Place as solid as ice
In the water buckets come
Winter. And then they sold
The horses—I had not known
You could sell family—
And we moved to town.
That must be when I stopped
Believing there was a such thing as forever.


John Kucera was educated at Carlow University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His work has appeared in New Reader Magazine, The Sandy River Review, Connections Magazine and Friends Journal. He lives in Arizona, where he writes and teaches.

2 Meters Down by Brian Duncan

2 Meters Down

Nearing the end of a hike one day,
I overtake a man and his young son.
Their little white dog busies
himself sniffing bushes
at the side of the trail.
The boy pokes a mushroom with a stick.

We chat, the man and I,
and he extolls the virtues
of his dog’s breed.
In a heavy Slavic accent, he says:
Did you know that a Jack Russell Terrier
Can dig 2 meters down in the earth?
Some day he will dig my grave.


Brian Duncan lives in Kendall Park, New Jersey. He has poems out this year in ONE ART and Thimble, and in an upcoming issue of Whale Road Review.

Two Poems by Daniel Edward Moore

Small Obsessions

Moved as I am,
          to love little things,
like a mote in the eye
             of a blinking god
or the spider whose life
          depends on my foot,
marrying a ballerina
                    or soldier.
What is it about
          the intensity of small,
beating my chest like
       a handsome paramedic,
breaking my ribs as
    the hummingbird’s beak
pokes me with the meaning
          of pierce and release?

The older I get the
                    more torn I am
by how tenderness
      looks like a tiny house
built by the starfish
            of rugged hands,
big and wide as the
         ocean that made them,
my heart, a million pieces
    of shells, happy
to hold those rays
   of light from which
I am bound to burn.


I am Not the Face

If you’re living in a
warehouse of secret rooms

find a face you can trust,
to tell you what is real.

You forgot your address years ago.
Make sure they know that.

Make sure your ghostly breath
stumbling through lips

on a Sunday morning
reminds you of the way a

soldier kissed after laying
his gun before God.

Then ponder the
question of trust.

How its absence
has a seductive power

to harm tender things,
forcing wrinkles to open

so words may die
peacefully under the skin.

All it takes is a face.
I am not the face.


Daniel Edward Moore lives in Washington on Whidbey Island. His work is forthcoming in I-70 Review, Passengers Journal, Watershed Review, Flint Hills Review, Sugar House Review, The Main Street Rag Magazine and Impossible Archetype. His book “Waxing the Dents,” is from Brick Road Poetry Press.