First Love Debunked by Andrea Potos

First Love Debunked
               for Win

It’s the second love
I remember, the boy
who baked a banana cream pie
from scratch
for our first dinner,

played a Brandenburg concerto
and told me that,
with orange juice, it was the best
hangover medicine,

the boy who whirled me around Milwaukee
in his red convertible MGB, and,
like a cliche come true, ran out of gas
on our first date.

The boy who, whenever
he came to pick me up,
paused before his rearview mirror
to straighten his wind-messed chestnut hair,
a gesture a girl might do, I’d watch him
through the sunroom window, he wanted
to be beautiful for me,
he landed on my doorstep like a prince, written
in a better story.


Andrea Potos is the author of several poetry collections, including Marrow of Summer and Mothershell, both from Kelsay Books; and A Stone to Carry Home from Salmon Poetry. A new collection entitled Her Joy Becomes is forthcoming from Fernwood Press this November. Recent poems appear in The Sun, Poetry East, and Lyric. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin.

Love Warrior by Alison Luterman

Love Warrior

In the hard months after I’d split from my first husband
there were times when I could not bear
to listen to music at all and especially not
to Tuck & Patti
and my favorite album of theirs, Love Warrior,
with its refrain: “We give up on Love
so easily…” because Patti Cathcart’s voice always sounded
like it had been soaked in the dark rum
of requited passion for a thousand years,
whereas I’d been stripped down to the bones
of myself, and they were bare, honey,
they were dry as unbuttered toast,
so whenever I heard that song
I’d find myself in a sodden heap on the floor.
Patti’s voice was an infusion,
almost unbearable in its potency, a womanly call to rise
and face life’s entwined and ever-shifting harmonies,
syncopation of the sublime against a backbeat
of the real; the tune I needed to hear
with my whole shattered heart.
You can’t put that kind of art
on a staff with notes and a treble clef.
Who knows where it came from, what battlefield
she had to stagger through to sing it
with that kind of conviction, blood-streaked,
smoke haloing her curls,
yet clothed in a faith I let enter me
through osmosis, praying that someday its sweet echo
might find me on my feet again.


Alison Luterman’s books of poems include The Largest Possible Life (Cleveland State University press), See How We Almost Fly (Pearl Editions), Desire Zoo (Tia Chucha Press), and In the Time of Great Fires (Catamaran Press). She has published poems in The New York Times Magazine, The Sun Magazine, Prairie Schooner, Nimrod, Rattle, The Atlanta Review, and many other journals and anthologies. Two of her poems are included in Billy Collins Poetry 180 project at the Library of Congress. Five of her personal essays have been collected in the e-book Feral City, published at She has also written half a dozen plays, including several musicals. She has taught and/or been poet-in-residence at California Poets in the Schools, New College in San Francisco, Holy Names College in Oakland, The Writing Salon in Berkeley, at Esalen and Omega Institutes, at the Great Mother Conference, and at various writing retreats all over the country. Check out her website for more information.

The Grapefruit by Bethany Reid

The Grapefruit

In Matisse’s Violinist at the Window,
shades of ochre and orange
make me think of the grapefruit
my husband bought yesterday
at the market, and of the grapefruit spoon,
a Valentine’s Day gift,
that I used this morning at breakfast.
The song the violinist plays
is Chopin, a prelude, or a nocturne,
notes lifting from his bow
both sweet and tart.


Bethany Reid’s poetry books include Sparrow, which won the 2012 Gell Poetry Prize (Big Pencil Press 2012), and The Thing with Feathers, which was published as part of Triple No. 10 (Ravenna Press 2020). She and her husband live in Edmonds, Washington, near their three grown daughters. She blogs at

Love in the Time of Sunnydale by Michael J Carter

Love in the Time of Sunnydale
                                                      -for Steven

My love for you is like Buffy dusting
another vampire with her favorite stake,
Mr. Pointy. Or it’s like Buffy beheading
one more demon, sword slicing some evil
lackey with a relentless arc, stopping
or at least stalling the nefarious dealings
meant undo her. That’s love in action:
sharpening sticks for battle, frying the undead
with holy water all while punning
and finishing first year psychology
late into the night. Taking down a secret
government op with its brilliant leader
and Frankenstein creation who is only undone
by a combination of magic and guile conjured
under less than ideal the circumstances—
a hostile take-over of the whole world
by demons. This is one difficult life: apocalypse,
apocalypse, apocalypse. My love for you eats
them for breakfast all while wearing stylish
but affordable boots while battling the Bringers,
harbingers of the first evil, acolytes of the worst
of the worst with their eyes stitched shut,
two crisscrossed x’s like kisses.


Michael J Carter is a poet and clinical social worker. A graduate of Sarah Lawrence College he holds an MFA from Vermont College and an MSW from Smith. Poems of his have appeared in such journals as Boulevard, Ploughshares, MomEgg Review, Western Humanities Review, among many others. He spends his time walking his hounds and knitting.

Unrequited Love by Ruth Hoberman

Unrequited Love

I used to shun unrequited love.
Better to wait for someone
who could love me back.

But now the rocks ignore me;
the cedars, ruddy and disheveled,
lean away; the goldfinches flee

as I approach. Should I pretend
indifference? I study the robin’s
chirrup chirroo, the chickadee’s

yoo hoo, yoo hoo: the party-guest
no one wants to talk to, too dim
to understand the conversation,

much less join in. Still my silly skin
aches to love them all. This world
lays waste to reticence, upends

my glass, spills my wits,
my dignity, hangs my heart bare
as the binoculars splayed on my chest.

So, nothing returns my call.
At seventy I’ve given up
keeping score—willing

myself (at last) to love
what turns away.


For thirty years, Ruth Hoberman taught English at Eastern Illinois University. Since her 2015 retirement, her poems and essays have appeared in such journals as Comstock Review, Naugatuck River Review, Smartish Pace, RHINO, Michigan Quarterly Review, and Ploughshares.

Daily Greetings of Love by Martin Willitts Jr.

Daily Greetings of Love

In the tight, compact storage,
there’s room for overflowing love.

Inside love, there’s room for all of us —
pearls of star-jewels, asparagus,

stuff we cannot even imagine,
objects we cannot even name —

firecrackers of love, the illusion of fire
from the arbor lights for returning boats,

stars that witnessed the Cretaceous period,
the whole periodical table of love.


Martin Willitts Jr. edits the Comstock Review. His 25 chapbooks include the Turtle Island Quarterly Editor’s Choice Award, “The Wire Fence Holding Back the World” (Flowstone Press, 2017), plus 21 full-length collections includes 2019 Blue Light Award “The Temporary World” and “All Wars Are the Same War” (FutureCycle Press, 2022).

Two poems by Carla Sarett

They Made Wars

We drank sweet Turkish coffee
and talked long into the night
of mothers who lost children in cities,
who locked them out of houses in thick rain,
who foresaw snow on a warm spring day,
how snow fell after their words.

By dawn, we forgot which stories
we had told and which we had forgotten
in the eagerness of our first revelations.

By starlight, we whispered our terrors:
Giant mothers outgrew houses.
They made wars without anyone noticing.

We never mentioned fathers.
Those pale and harried men.


no one says it

Deirdre’s sending
love w/ exclamation points
love! love! love!
John texts it (love)
no point wanting
a love letter she knows
that’s not the #love
they’re sending
& that song
love love love
all you need is
not the #love
she needs


Carla Sarett’s recent poem appear or are forthcoming in Blue Unicorn, The Virginia Normal, San Pedro River Review, The Remington Review, Sylvia, Words and Whispers and elsewhere. Her novella, The Looking Glass, will be published in October (Propertius); and A Closet Feminist, a full-length novel, will appear in 2022 (Unsolicited Press.) Carla lives in San Francisco.

Four Poems by Mehak Goyal

The Trophy

Late evening, I reach home
after tennis practice carrying
my golden trophy close to my chest.

Radha opens the door.
“Mummy, Papa- back from work?”
I ask, dismayed, not finding their car outside.

“They are having dinner with friends.
You must be hungry.
I will serve yours.”

My trophy tucked like a
teddy bear in my bed, I force my eyes
to stay open, but sleep catches me.

Next morning
Radha serves breakfast while
my parents are getting ready for work.

My school bus honks.
I stare at the golden cup one last time,
its gleam not reaching my eyes.


What was said when he fell in love

She can’t even cook Okra
She drinks tequila
Look! This guy is hugging her on Facebook
Short skirts. Hot pants—
that’s all she’s wearing
She likes her job more than you

You’re innocent
I have seen the world

Your love won’t last
Promises won’t be kept

You have had your fun
I only care about you and your happiness
I will choose someone for you.


What was said when she fell in love

He drives a Honda
He has been at the same company since the last 5 years
You will just be shifting from one rented house to another
My astrologer assured me that you would rule a business empire

Leave him

I only care about you and your happiness.

Stop crying, I will find someone.


Swimming Pool

Conforming to his moods
and schedule, I am his
personal swimming pool.

He dives inside me.
My coolness envelops him.
“You’re a blessing on a hot summer day,”

he says, coming out for air.
He plunges again—
strokes quicker

until he has finished.
His body leaves me.
“Another lap?” I splash.

“Work is hectic.”
He walks out, takes a
quick shower, changes clothes.

“Tomorrow, then?” I bubble.
“I will call you.”
Typing on his phone, he departs.

My waters still and murky.


A Computer Science Engineer with a Masters in Management from Imperial College London, Mehak Goyal ran a couple of profitable start-ups, before committing herself to becoming a full-time writer. Shortlisted for the Sakhi Awards and the Cinnamon press literature awards, her writings have appeared or are forthcoming in The American Journal of Poetry, The Madras Courier, The Woman Who Roar, Muse, The Alipore Post and elsewhere. She is working on her first poetry collection.

Unwelcome by Ann E. Michael


The caller
a stranger
I don’t
know what
I told her
is not
a good time
my father
is dying
I hung up.
as night
I find my
self awake
I think of
and how
I was
to that young
in a call
a stranger
I failed
to welcome
my heart.

Ann E. Michael lives in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley, slightly west of where the Lehigh River meets the Delaware. Her most recent collection of poems is Barefoot Girls. Her next book, The Red Queen Hypothesis, will be published sometime in 2021. More info at

Love Poem by Kip Knott

Love Poem

The paper heart that I’ve carried in my chest
has finally caught fire. It’s burned for six nights
now. There’s no snuffing the white flames
that flicker up my throat. Arteries and veins cauterize,
bones sizzle, a network of fuses feeding one
explosion. My mind glows, a new star hot enough
to fuse atoms. These words are its radiation.


Kip Knott’s writing has appeared or is forthcoming in The American Journal of Poetry, La Piccioletta Barca, Still: The Journal, and trampset. In addition, he is a regular monthly contributor to Versification. His debut book of poetry, Tragedy, Ecstasy, Doom, and so on, is currently available from Kelsay Books. His second full-length collection of poetry, Clean Coal Burn, is due in 2021, also from Kelsay Books. More of his work can be accessed at