poem by James Penha

Tomorrow could be the coldest day in three years in America
meteorologically, but it’s the fever of its politics
and the warming of our oceans that chill me to the bone.


A native New Yorker, James Penha (he/him) has lived for the past three decades in Indonesia. Nominated for Pushcart Prizes in fiction and poetry, his work is widely published in journals and anthologies. His newest chapbook of poems, American Daguerreotypes, is available for Kindle. His essays have appeared in The New York Daily News and The New York Times. Penha edits The New Verse News, an online journal of current-events poetry. Twitter: @JamesPenha

Two Poems by Peggy Hammond

The permafrost is melting,

houses and roads
collapsing. Siberia
is scribbling notes
to the world,
teaching rising

My aunt once said
she thought I couldn’t
have children. Those years
watching me without issue,
deciding there was
something wrong.

Foreign to her, my choosing
not to place one more
human in the arms of a
world clumsy with people,
heavy with nearly
eight billion bodies.

In Antarctica, warming
seas press kisses on glacial
bellies, old ice releases,
water levels lift. In oceanfront
towns, residents slosh down
rivulet streets, mourn

what was.


When Light Became Brushstroke

In Knoxville’s art museum, who can
remember the artist, we lean in

for a closer look, startle when
a guard growls, don’t touch the painting.

Hands resting behind backs, we laugh,
whisper, bet he’s waited forever

to say that. From then on, in hard
or easy moments, we tell each

other, don’t touch the painting,
snicker. When cancer overtakes you, I

become helpless guard pleading for cooperation,
circumstance giving me the side-eye, grinning.

On the last morning, shades of who you were
shimmer and blink, your horizon and sky

dimming, blending into an unending
line I cannot follow. And just before

you leave this life we spun into gold,
I murmur permission, go ahead,

touch the painting.


Peggy Hammond’s recent poems appear or are forthcoming in Pangyrus Literary Magazine, The Comstock Review, Crosswinds Poetry Journal, For Women Who Roar, Fragmented Voices, Scissortail Quarterly, The Sandy River Review, Moonstone Arts Center’s anthology Protest 2021, and elsewhere. She is a Best of the Net nominee, and her chapbook The Fifth House Tilts is due out fall 2022 (Kelsay Books).

Smoldering by Ace Boggess


Hillside burned, burning.
Trees, fallen, smoke
from wet black ends
like a lit cigarette
dropped on a rain-slick walk.

Leaves resemble paste of ashen paint
on the left, opposite the Elk River
as we pass along a rural route to her dad’s.

“It happens out here,” she says.
“Nobody pays attention.”

My head fills with newsy images
of far-off California
where flames look as if they burst
from a million wicks. Here,

no fire cares to aggravate the populace.
It keeps to itself, smoldering inward.

Same an hour later when I double back alone.
No fire trucks, spectators.

The end of the world came & went, &
none of us noticed, which,
I suspect, is what it always does.


Ace Boggess is author of five books of poetry—Misadventure, I Have Lost the Art of Dreaming It So, Ultra Deep Field, The Prisoners, and The Beautiful Girl Whose Wish Was Not Fulfilled—and the novels States of Mercy and A Song Without a Melody. His writing has appeared in Michigan Quarterly Review, Notre Dame Review, Mid-American Review, River Styx, and many other journals. He received a fellowship from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts and spent five years in a West Virginia prison. He lives in Charleston, West Virginia. His sixth collection, Escape Envy, is forthcoming from Brick Road Poetry Press in 2021.