Somewhere Out There by Deron Eckert

Somewhere Out There

My little cat,
how long
has it been
since you fled,
run off by
the swift swipe
of an old broom,
never to be seen
thirty years?
Was your time
in this world
Is it still?
Do you scrounge
for food left out
to the strays,
like you,
or did you
find comfort
in a welcoming
one without swipes,
where the only
gesture your way
is a pat on the lap
you love,
asking you to come,
you never leave?
Please know
I prayed, too.


Deron Eckert is a writer and poet who lives in Lexington, Kentucky. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Rattle, Door is a Jar, Ghost City Review, Maudlin House, The Fourth River, Flash Fiction Magazine, and elsewhere. He was a flash fiction finalist in New Millennium Writing’s 54th Writing Awards. He is currently seeking publication for his Southern Gothic, coming-of-age novel and his first collection of poetry. He can be found on Instagram at deroneckert and Twitter @DeronEckert.

Two Poems by Betsy Mars

Hope is Also a Flower

I find it in the grove, yellow
flicker at the edge of my dark
perception. What matters
is the aperture, a tiny crack
in my cataract-clouded vision.

My filter captures dross, sapped
ground, equally traps gold, a slight
twist or refinement of the lens
then: mist rising,
a calla lily blooms again.


Deconstructing a Cat

A pile of paws: see how the nails retract,
out of the way for daily life,
the way they extend in fight or hunt,
thumb hooked – better to grab on.
The slinky spine, sharp shoulders high
and narrow to slice through grass,
deliver a sparrow. Haunches
muscular under such fine fur.

Eyes like glass: pupils slit in daylight,
full moons at night.

A tail built for balance,
whiskers flick at boundaries.
Nose a dainty triangle, nostrils twitch
at scent. Wrapped around my head
you chirp, clutch my heart with your kneading,
a tiny tiger in my ear softly breathing.


Betsy Mars practices poetry, photography, pet maintenance, and publishes an occasional anthology through Kingly Street Press which she founded in 2019. In 2020, her poem was selected as a winner in Alexandria Quarterly´s first line poetry contest series. Her poetry has recently appeared in Sky Island Journal, Sheila-Na-Gig, and Autumn Sky, as well as numerous anthologies and journals. She is a Best of the Net nominee and her photos have been featured in various journals. Betsy is the author of Alinea (Picture Show Press) and co-author of In the Muddle of the Night with Alan Walowitz (Arroyo Seco Press).

Offerings by J. David Hughes


Regularly I come home and at the worn altar
of the mat that says Welcome,
a puff of feathers,
a squirrel’s tail with a scattered foot or two.

Gestures of conciliation or appreciation?
Or each a separate, singular solicitation,
a logosyllabic language of blood and bone?

The halved chipmunk,
an orison for a different daily kibble.

The mouse’s head alone,
a prayer for more playtime.

The unmarked, unmoving robin,
a supplication for wings.

Coolly, he watches and cleans a paw
as I sweep the latest up in disgust.
And I wonder whether he wonders
if he is cursed with an illiterate deity,
or worse, a deity in denial
of what it is a god desires.


J. David Hughes lives, works, and writes in Oxford, MS.

Two Poems by Linda Lerner

About Whales and Breathing

I’m thinking of whales
who sleep using only one side of
their brains, the other half stays awake
to make sure they’re still breathing;
thinking of how it used to be
before breathing had become routine
before it stopped, and someone
nudged me awake, how everything
I’d do, like making coffee in the morning
once was like breathing, I’d feel
every breath, could taste and see it,
I didn’t need someone else
to remind me, when breathing wasn’t
just pushing out one gray day
to let another in; I’m thinking

of people struggling to let out
each breath, tied up to ventilators
for months, not making it, and
thankful to be breathing at all;
I’m thinking of whales this Thanksgiving
how they breathe, and what
it takes to be alive every minute


Not Them Again

I wasn’t thinking of Eve
mythed from Adam’s rib when
I broke off the last part of my cat’s name,
Samsara, to create hers, six weeks
after he was gone on his 17th birthday,
a few days before my estranged brother also left…
did it to get Samsara back,
sister to a brother she never met
brings back my own brother
but this poem is not about him

Sara, would have none of it.
No lap sitting cat, would not let me
force her into his image, led only
by her instinctive nature
I watch her breathe new life
into this name, to own it absolutely

and see a long line of women
shadowing her, my own struggle against
a favored male sibling I resented…
that ongoing fight for women
to be who we are, a fight
for not against who we’re not


Linda Lerner is the author of 17 collections, including Takes Guts and Years Sometimes & Yes, the Ducks Were Real from NYQ Books (2011 & 2015) and When Death is a Red Balloon, her most recent collection (Lummox Press, 2019) Her poems have appeared in Maintenant, Paterson Literary Review, Gargoyle, Chiron Review, Free State Review, and Rat’s Ass Review among others.