Three Poems by Arlene Weiner

For Loneliness

                  —The Prime Minister of the U.K. has appointed a Minister for Loneliness

I know a woman who in widowhood
became enamored of a pet fish,
and a woman, long divorced,
who delights in seven fish,
each in his bowl.

During a time when I lived alone
I would hear a cricket chirping at night.
It fell silent as I passed through the room,
so I knew it knew me. And I grieved
when it no longer sang.

Minister for Loneliness, we have to sing
the angels back, we have to cherish
the creatures, even the smallest,
whose wings make song,
who may be the angels themselves.



Far from any tree or blade of grass
on a street where sparrows
chirped above a storefront
it appeared in my bedroom

We children believed there was
a two hundred dollar fine
for killing a mantis
but who would have hurt it

so green and large and human
so upright and grasping
surely an ambassador
to me in that room

where my mother drew down
the dark green shade
that in summer admitted
pinpoints of light

my first constellations


In the Night

Someone is sitting beside you reciting.
The room must be cold, to hold you
from Friday to Sunday. All night
someone is near you, reading psalms,
as your mother read to you in your bed.
You do not hear. Outside this morning
I heard a bird say keep, keep, keep,
but we cannot keep you, cannot hold you.
You are still but you do not sleep.


Arlene Weiner lives in Pittsburgh. She has been a Shakespeare scholar, a cardiology technician, an editor, a den mother, and a member of a group developing computer applications for education. Her poems have been published in a variety of journals and anthologies, including Pleaides, Poet Lore, and Paterson Literary Review. She held a MacDowell fellowship. Ragged Sky published two collections of her poetry: Escape Velocity (2006) and City Bird (2016). She also writes plays.

Periwinkle blue, a spring night’s by M.J. Iuppa

Periwinkle blue, a spring night’s

slow awakening— a steady drag &
           lift through depths of iciness

hearing the shrill whine of a lone
           tractor spraying the orchard’s

shadows before daylight & bees’ due
           diligence, only the cab’s lantern

casting a line of sight for the lonesome
           farmer who steadies the wheel

of this hour, moving forward, willing
           to carry his father’s obsessiveness

as if it were his own.


M.J. Iuppa’s forthcoming fifth full length poetry collection The Weight of Air from Kelsay Books and a chapbook of 24 100-word stories, Rock. Paper. Scissors. from Foothills Publishing, in 2022. For the past 33 years, she has lived on a small farm near the shores of Lake Ontario. Check out her blog: for her musings on writing, sustainability & life’s stew.

All the Hours the Night Has Left by Wendy Drexler

All the Hours the Night Has Left

What I’ll never have is close to, or nearly equals,
what I’ve had. I find myself at equilibrium,

which may last only a day—the mayfly’s
brief happiness—no way of knowing

if this is happiness or merely the acknowledgment
of where I am, skittering and buzzing and looking

all around, the pond by now thick with my own kind,
the water the halfway shade of tea light and twig—

it no longer matters I can’t see clear
like the elephant god, remover of obstacles.

The first time I heard a concerto, and someone
told me what makes a key minor

is the lowered third, I listened to the sorrow
for myself. At last I can name it:

brokenness, beauty, the way through.


Wendy Drexler is a 2022 recipient of an artist fellowship from the Massachusetts Cultural Council. Her third poetry collection, Before There Was Before, was published by Iris Press in 2017. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Barrow Street, J Journal, Lily Poetry Review, Nimrod, Pangyrus, Prairie Schooner, Salamander, South Florida Poetry Review, Sugar House, The Atlanta Review, The Mid-American Review, The Hudson Review, The Threepenny Review, and the Valparaiso Poetry Review, among others. Her work has been featured on Verse Daily and WBUR’s Cognoscenti; and in numerous anthologies. She has been the poet in residence at New Mission High School in Hyde Park, MA, since 2018, and programming co-chair for the New England Poetry Club. Her fourth collection, Notes from the Column of Memory, is forthcoming from Terrapin Books. All the Hours the Night Has Left is the final poem in this collection.

ONE NIGHT ON THE LEVEE by Sharon Corcoran


For Betsy, Barbara, and Celia

We were three small girls
left in Dad’s care. After dark the phone rang,
and hanging up, he said,
girls, we have to go out.
We put on coats over Winnie the Pooh
pajamas. We gathered up
Chatty Cathy, Raggedy Ann, and a teddy bear.

He drove us down to the flood plain
where a small airplane had crashed.
It smoked, but didn’t burn. Car lights churned the dark.
A farmer had made the call to Dad, mayor
of that almost uninhabited place.
Police were there, and an ambulance.
Dad drove onto the levee where,
in the light of several cars, I saw
two men, one dead, one bloodied
but alive, pulled from the crushed
and splintered plane. I held
a doll’s unblinking gaze in front of my eyes,
too late.


Sharon Corcoran lives in southern Colorado. She translated (from French) the writings of North African explorer Isabelle Eberhardt in the works In the Shadow of Islam and Prisoner of Dunes published by Peter Owen Ltd., London. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Kansas Quarterly, River Styx, Canary, The Buddhist Poetry Review, One Art, Sisyphus, Literary North, and Bearings Online among other journals. Her collection of poems, Inventory, was published in 2018. A second book, The Two Worlds, is forthcoming from Middle Creek Publishing in 2022.

The Night You Returned by W.D. Ehrhart

The Night You Returned

A road crew was paving the highway
the night you returned from the war.
It was March; they had set up floodlights;
the black viscous tar steamed in the cold.
The workmen didn’t notice you.
Why would they?
You weren’t any different
from all the other passersby that night
or any other night, just another car.
They had a machine;
they were laying macadam
mile after mile.
Black. Viscous. Steaming.
Mile after mile after mile.
Deep into the night.

W. D. Ehrhart is an ex-Marine sergeant and veteran of the American War in Vietnam. His latest book is Thank You for Your Service: Collected Poems, McFarland & Company.

Five poems by Joanna Milstein

Halloween Party

When you called I told you all about the party on Halloween.

About the cape and the pearls and the fishnets and the fangs.

About the men who asked me to dance to the slow songs.
The handsome one who showed me around the haunted house and let me, tender me, spooked by suspended skeletons and disposable ghouls, grab his arm.

That I woke up at 6 a.m. the next morning
between the grey satin sheets of a stranger.

What I didn’t say is that I stayed at home alone on Halloween.
Listening to public radio in my pjs.
That at midnight I ate the last bag of candy that the trick-or-treaters hadn’t picked up outside my door.

That yours was the last number I’ve dialed in weeks.

That I’ve been sick all autumn.


Red birds

The voices of the red birds invade my house at dawn chirping and fluttering.
They ask so many questions that I cannot answer.
I am mute until dusk.
I have a mouth but not until the inky darkness does it dare to whisper.
I want to chant the quiet things but I am tone-deaf.
I long for a new voice.
A voice content to be alive.
Grateful to hear the birds hum each morning.
With that voice I could join the dawn chorus
I could soar like the immortal birds.
I could respond instead of just listening.
And with that voice I could sing.
With that voice I could sing you a song.


Beach witness

I walk for the wet silence
And the non-manmade noises
The unheard and the untranslatable.
Only available Tuesday evenings after seven.
But please don’t tell.
Families have gone home and it is just me and the vanishing light and the roll of the short waves up and down and up again.
I step over electric blue latex gloves and a plastic fork and a razor blade and a supermarket bag and a Barbie doll and an empty bottle of bleach.
A soaked branch decays. A black feather shivers.
Nature kills nature all the time and no one complains.
Fingerprints and footprints dissolve when the tide rises.
Scars fade but never disappear.
The gulls are crying and the prehistoric birds extend their wings to dry as washed linen on a clothesline.
You told me once that horseshoe crabs cure leprosy but their carcasses also listen when you tell them your secrets.
Dead things make great confidants.
Green sea glass sparkles, edges softened by the hand of time.
Crabs like spiders crawl on fuzzy rocks.
Did you know that female spiders kill their male partners after mating? I learned this in biology.
You always told me I was bad at science.
The tide is low and the sea has hemorrhaged rusty red seaweed and artificial possessions and the blue-grey detritus of dreams.
The ocean breathes in and out
I try to breathe like that, I like how it makes me feel.
Tide pools brim with new life, things are reincarnated there.
Streams feed a thirsting sea.
Maybe you were a brilliant scientist,
but you were a terrible father.
My sandals gently crush a graveyard of white seashells.
They crackle under my feet like crepitation in the bony joints of cruel old men.
The sand flies hum, shells become sand.
The flecks live forever. Their tiny ears hear everything and their little eyes have seen the manmade deeds that lie at the foot of the wakeful seabed.
Teeth eat flesh but hard things disintegrate, too.
Everything devolves.
Everything becomes wet dust.
I believe in the eternal silence of beaches.
So many secrets shared between me and infinite particles.
They whisper:
We know we know we know we know we know we know we know we know we know.


Night traveler

Last night I traveled to Brazil
forced to navigate the rainforest
I stopped a friendly stranger for directions
struggling with a guide to basic Portuguese.
The heat nearly felled me, the thirst torturous, I opened my mouth and let the rain drip past my tongue down to my parched tonsils.
You were there, too.
Arm in arm we penetrated the forest’s dark canopy.
Together we wrestled man-eating tropical plants and gargantuan snakes,
You stole perspiry kisses, pushing my back against king-sized kapoks.

I awake covered in sweat.
Not from struggling with anacondas but from this miserable cold
my passport still in the drawer next to the four-poster bed.
I reach instead for Robitussin to soothe my throat, Advil to cool my torrid temperature.
No need to brush up my Portuguese.
I’m not sure which is farther, you or Brazil.
I don’t even like hiking.
And I lost you a long time ago.


Scheherazade for one night

If you stay I won’t ask questions. I’ll tell you stories, she said.
I’ll weave a quilt with them, I’ll tattoo our earth with rainbows.

And so she told him about mythical creatures and cold seas and spirits who haunt and others who don’t and kings and traveling salesmen and warm-blooded fish and fishermen and manipulative genies and healing herbs and poisons and stone souls and mermaids and an automaton and grief and prophetic dreams and blooming jasmine and secret languages and purple skies and apple trees and lovers and peripatetic courtiers and long suppers in the fourteenth century. About rewards. About women who lie with men and those who lie to them. About so many selves.

But in the morning he left anyway.

She stayed home, listening to their music, her footsteps caressing the carpet where his soles once danced.


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Joanna Milstein is a New York-based writer. She received her MFA in Fiction from New York University in 2019. She holds a PhD in History from the University of St Andrews. Her most recent short story is included in the winter 2021 issue of The Writing Disorder. She is currently working on her first novel.

Nightfall by Samuel Strathman


Tonight is for forgetting.

Rushing into the black-lit apartment,
closing the door,
missing the light
every time I go
for the switch.

Where could it be?

It was on the side here –

Darkness threatens
to stare me stiff.

I just had it –

the full-length mirror
is a pale angel.

Windows clear.
No noises –

and just when all
feels safe
my hand is swallowed
by night.


Samuel Strathman is a poet, author, educator, and the founder/editor-in-chief of Floodlight Editions.