Issue 11 December 2016


Editor's Comments

Welcome to Issue 11, on the theme of travel. This proved to be a popular topic but one on which it is hard to write well. The poems chosen for this issue approach travel from a variety of angles. Maybe evoking memorable images of places once visited, or the taste of the exotic or relationships that have moved on and come to an end. I hope you enjoy reading them

Sally Long 



City of mirrored nakedness
and shining heat.

Dresses, shifts
strung out across the water
sill to sill like bunting,
exchange of secrets
intimate and shy.

Gossip along the line
of how they lifted
to his touch, all afternoon
the gondolas passing
underneath her window
a busy world away.

Filling these draped
embodiments of absence
sunlight moves  
on stippled flesh
and honeyed surfaces,
each skin a memory
still printed with desire.

John Mole

A Recipe for Sangría

                                 for Bill Rubin

A single orange, a tender peach, sliced
and cubed, respectively, then strewn with care
into the pool of grenadine, at least
until the fibers of the flesh flicker

with crimson.  Do not resort to sugar
or be tempted by ignoble wine, if
shame is of concern; most adepts figure
syrup, fruit and grape give ripeness enough.

And to bring the elixir to piquant
perfection necessitates liquid jade
nestled in limes’ crescent flames: opaque knit
of succulence, tartness artfully wedged.

That waiter in Salamanca might tell
you there is one essential—you must lace
it with gin—though further west a hostile
wince would deem this innovation reckless

heresy.  Yet fine mineral water
is needful, and whatever ritual
you observe, the glimmers of a guitar
should invade your hands.  Let this nectar chill

until the colour turns melancholy
and night comes drifting like a sable swan.
Taste, then, those woeful joys that fill your skull
as the sun’s blood and earth’s ghost intertwine.

Michael Bradburn-Ruster

A Daughter at the Shore
(Bixby Beach) 
                        for Elizabeth

Across the creek, bare-soled, the soaring bridge
behind. I’ve brought no food: we’re all we need.
No fog tonight, to sift the surf’s harangue
as sun declines unseen beyond a quilt
of cloud. She prances, flings her arms, delight
becomes a song, her face an offering.
She murmurs, “When you die, I will pretend
you’re still alive.” We watch the dusk emerge.

Michael Bradburn-Ruster

Going East

Down stream to the Eastern sea
the river flows on its normal way
and I follow looking west
beyond the mountains.

I leave this place looking backwards
at what remains—
the setting sun glowing
as it falls beyond rice terraces,
water buffalo, naked boys
swimming, stone farm houses.

Soon it will be dark
hiding the final hours
as the train speeds east
toward the last city, the last views—
I don’t want to look, don’t want
to know the destination, only
where I have been—

I am leaving backwards
watching the past.

Emily Strauss

travel bag packed, but not ready to go

1. with a passport to countries dreamed up on midsummer nights or stolen from vintage postcards and nat geos still smelling of faraway seas/ remember the waters of a medieval venice, gleaming like a dirty mirror/ remember the street lights shimmering in that strange arabian city where we first found the scattered fragments of our soul/ remember

2. the peppermint toothpaste that your lips tasted of on sunday mornings made of stale television and espresso/ canned tuna skewered into cold sandwiches/ we never checked for expiry dates/ you telling me of destiny/ i answering with a tale from grandma’s mouth/ of a goddess who stepped on the eggs of ants/ and watched each of her hundred children die

3. my wallet still filled with wishing coins  and tickets of roller coaster rides we’d been on/ half a century ago/ and a postcard of a memory we are yet to make/ we who were born of stardust and ancient as the old moon/ that the wolves don’t sing to anymore

4. i keep the gyspy clothes you’d make me wear on nights i spelled fortunes for strangers whose dreams were stolen from them/ the rabbits outside our tent were making violent love/ do you remember the red satins, the purple velvets, your mother’s jasmine-selling faded silks/ my fingers are blistered from ironing them/ day after day after day

5. the medicines i store in old dusty perfume bottles/  medicines that were once potions to cure heartache/ made of herbs collected by the light of a waning moon/ in forests bleeding with music/ now we’ve lost the instructions too/ our alchemical love withering into dust and rust and black-

6. remember the wrong shade of lipstick i always wore/ like the pink of an evening sky that cannot make up its mind/ you telling me how it was the lights that were always wrong/ how you loved me best in darkness/ and i believing you, sang our soul into shadow

7. i’ve memorized the maps so often, i feel they’re a part of my skin/ but love is this continent i’ve always wanted to visit/ but could never afford the ride/ i, the lonely half of a hyphenated word/ teach me again, the cartography of the heart/  and perhaps this time/ my soul will be worth a wishing coin

Archita Mittra

Road Trip

Stormy weather to the south,
sucker hole to the north,
wind shuffles its shoes

across my blue pine floor,
beckons me to dance.
From a Juneau radio station

Katie B. spins old tunes:
Stevie Nicks, Sinead O’Connor,
the inebriate mix of storm, and song,
the end of another school year.

A hat tip from the road:  rain-
speckled windshield, a pocket
full of loonies, the hook
of a moon to hang
my joy.

Kersten Christianson

riverbank -
a blind boy carving
wooden dolphins

Lavana Kray

thirteenth of September
trembling with another kiss
her traveling bags

Goran Gatalica


Clearly a mistake
to leave the cool green,
admittedly wet,
summer of soggy,
beautiful Scotland.
Exchanging our home for another
in August heatwave-heavy

We lived like vampires.
Hiding in shuttered rooms
from infernal sun.
Emerging at dusk
to a city alive with people:
hearts beating fast
as sweat evaporates
in sweltering dark.

A gorgeous mistake.
Catalonian colour and vibrant lights.
Layers of truths told
in art and architectural splendour.
In the light of the fountain
the kids danced
for wind, for green,
for the rain's sweet kiss.

Cara McKee

The Paradox of the World-Wide Hotel Chains

The farther we travel, the more we feel at home
booked in for business or holiday at the base
of the Himalayas, in a Brazilian tropical rain forest,
in the desert in Sudan, in the barren waste of Connemara,
in the Everglades swamps or in the coastal city of Yokohama
the a/c maintains a temperate room temperature of 74.

The room décor is a standard American design,
an exact copy of the room in all previous locales
and having the same smell with a stocked mini bar,
pay-per-view tv, plastic glasses sealed in plastic wrap,
small bottles of toiletries, towels in several sizes,
a personal safe, a coffee maker, an ice machine
in the corridor, 24 hour room service so no need
even to leave the room or to deal with the inconvenience
of foreign cultures until back home and our real lives.

Sarah Brown Weitzman

At the Tate Modern

Barely awake
fever broken
but lingering
in the sweat
at my hairline;
I stand
to a sculpture
than I am,
by a woman
from any place
I have
ever been.
A friend
snaps my picture,
in a red shadow.

Heather Whited

Boatyard, Kos

A white pelican
with one drooping wing
moves among the wooden beams
that cradle the barnacled hulls
of the small fishing boats.

I wait for you here.

Nothing stirs
among all these stilled vessels
except this wounded pelican and me.

I know you will not arrive,
for you are now a continent away,
but I have waited so long
that I do not yet know how to stop.

I will not tell you
I was not in the Plaka in Athens
drinking ouzo and breaking plates
with dancers in white shirts, no,
but here in this deserted boatyard on Kos
waiting to stop waiting.

M.S. Rooney

Potholes and Panhandlers

If it has been said that from space we look like ants—
after a long winter, we now look like bees.
The way we bob and sway between potholes,
our vehicles doing a choreographed, dodging dance.
And the potholes, God bless them,
patient panhandlers with their hats flipped upside-down, take a bow—
will you toss in a quarter? 
They wait for alms,
graciously offering to swallow our tires.

Brandon Hartman 

Addressee Unknown

Quito, I could have loved you. 
I was on the run from expectations,
a curdled affair, a cold unwanted draft. 

I wanted to fall in love again.
The “Definitive Guide” said I would
but failed to mention that even at the equator
a cold rain is a cold rain. Gray. 

I wanted more than to imagine
the mountains behind the clouds
that surrounded the city. The rain, the rain.
The polluted Machángara river. 

I was vulnerable, a windblown umbrella,
and you didn't help with your plain clothes
policemen knocking at my hotel door. 

Did I mention the rain? 

Les Bares

Borscht, Bolshoi & KGB

Giving birth in a Siberian Gulag was looking like my new reality,
as my husband and I sat in a tiny room behind locked doors,
a flickering fluorescent pendulum swaying above the table.

It started out as a beautiful day in Moscow, 
the gray cement coming to life as we walked the Art Platz,
its array of folk musicians, nesting dolls,
local artisans selling their wares.

Twenty Deutschmarks for a watercolor of St Basil’s Cathedral.
Little did we know—our currency was illegal.
Naïve and pleased with our purchase, we continued our stroll, 
the pigment still a little damp on the canvas.

The officer wore an olive drab wool blazer, punctuated with
crimson epaulettes and brass buttons. His command concise—
Come with us, as he placed his black leather gloved hand
firmly upon my husband’s shoulder.

Our request for escort to Embassy fell upon deaf ears
among the insidious laughter of burly men smelling of vodka.
My son kicked from inside my belly, sensing perhaps my fear.

Hours passed before we were freed, our tour group long gone, 
our linguistic skills severely lacking. To this day, I’m not sure how 
I deciphered the Cyrillic subway signs. But we made it back in time 
to enjoy a hot bowl of borscht before heading off to the Bolshoi. 

The pigment has since dried under the glass.

Shawn Aveningo

Prospero Returns to the Island

He grows kale and red onions, and listens
to the ocean puzzle the blackbird. When night
comes he takes solace in the laying of firewood
in cross-sections against the corner of the hovel,
so there will always be warmth whenever he demands it.
When he grows sick of the sound of his own breathing
he takes long walks to the new ferry terminal or back
along the irrigation ditches to the tavern, where he drinks
Guinness with Caliban and plays chess.
Often he remembers his daughter and the grand-kids
he's not allowed to visit and later he stumbles home along
the tow-path, pausing to see the red light of a Boeing
passing overhead. The world becoming smaller,
and yet more distant. 

Jack Warren

Strange Virus

It was all delirium and melodrama. 
That spar that I clung to, my hospital bed,
a rack for my grating bones. How could I 
guess my level of discomfort for my 
hovering doctors and interns? Or were

they wise owls and kindly robins? Each day 
they smiled down at me, probing, pondering. 
I was their mouse, their earth worm, their puzzle.
Pain sang hello, goodbye. The nurses came,

soundless in their practical shoes, ears tuned 
to the pinging monitors. My TV 
was a montage of old westerns and kids 
dancing their legs off, singing their hearts out. 

But my pulse had me under lock and key. 
The doctors claimed I was better, but why 
could I not come up with one clever quip? 
Why was my IV not pumping me plump? 

The tall pale windows were my calendar. 
Weather kept repeating, 
Someone was calling, come out and toss the ball 
for the old lost dog. Then panic came to visit
but I opened my eyes and your lovely face 
was there and I said, Don’t leave me, Dear One. 
Not yet. Not yet. I am so afraid.

Mark DeFoe

When we first meet, I’m not going 
to tell you 
I’ve never been to Las Vegas, 
as if you would find that shocking. 
As if you would think less of me. 
If you’re an old friend, I’m not going 
to remind you 
I’ve never been to Las Vegas. 
As if you’d think I’m missing something, 
as if you’d think I’m asking 
to be taken there.
As if my life is less 
as if I am less 
of a person 
because I’ve never been 
to Vegas.

Cathryn Shea

Write to Me

Please write to me by hand
I miss your presence
in the curve of your letters
the beats of your heart, and
words from your lips
in the pressure of your pen
and the lines of your ink
on the page

Please write to me by hand
the time it takes me
to puzzle 
an ill-formed character or word, and
something crossed out
allows a moment to
breathe quietly
in your air 

Please write to me by hand
your non-checked spelling
the way you crab words
on the page, and
how the lines are filled
with pink glitter, sometimes still
you haven’t changed
nor I

Please write to me by hand
the rhythm of 
your words
the hesitations, and
pauses of your ponderings
the beauty in your flow
a dying art, we might be the last
to know

Please write to me by hand
and I’ll remember 
the physical act of you writing 
memories that can
skewer me: your pen
piercing my farflung heart 
you write to me by hand

Claire Doble


some days
i stand so still
in this beach
that the rising light
just flows around me,
eroding my edges.

one day i think
i will be worn
into pebbles, round
and polished often,
by stranger's hands.

maybe then time
will more easily
clench me
in its palms,
skip me like discs, carving
sparkling rings
across the sea

before settling
onto wet land,
as the remains of me
are washed away
by the humble salt,
understood only
by the discerning eyes
of the fish.

Deng Xiang


We walk towards each other,
doubt between us like a bridge.
Eyes locked and searching,
arms raised in communion.
Ascension to love.

Our faces reflect
“I know you,”
while our feet steady themselves
against fleeting uncertainty.
We smile.
We arrive.

Tova McKenzie-Bassant

English as a Second Language

Twenty adults, all Vietnamese,
sit respectfully in a classroom,
San Jose City College, eager to learn
but silent. The point is to talk (in English)
so the instructor asks, “How did you
get here?” Hesitantly, first one:
she walked a hundred kilometers
carrying two children, paid a boatman,
took many people, the boat sank,
a child drowned. Next one: attacked
by pirates, daughter stolen, never seen
again. Then an outpouring: typhus,
an ambush, cheated, an angel
in the form of a helicopter.
Courage, heartbreak, luck.
And plenty of talk.

Next class. “What is the most beautiful
sight you’ve ever beheld?” They
traveled, reluctantly
half the planet. What splendors
have passed their eyes?
A hesitation, then the first:
“Most beautiful thing I ever see
is San Jose Airport.” Immediately
a chorus, they all agree.
First glimpse, descending
from broken clouds.
San Jose Airport.

Joe Cottonwood

A Picture Change

Sitting on this couch, looking at the wall where once
a picture hung, a picture of two smiles and rings,
where once
someone looked with hope,
traveling to a future where hands were held
together, where hands together
built something.
Now that traveling is barred.

On the wall there now hangs a picture of flamingos
against the red and orange (and brilliant yellow) sunset,
filaments suspended in the sky,
filaments for legs silhouetted as stilts.
Memories of that world filter up:
when and where it was bought,
the special rental car and hotel - memories
that bring back that one beach,
that one walk at sunset,
and traveling in the past,
that one smile which finally reflects in the picture.

Steve Ullom


Some days I sit, a beggar beside the road,
my hands cupped like a bowl for rice.
The people are generous;
not because I am a stranger who has nothing,
they give because they have little.
I have less than a dollar, a pocket knife 
and a blanket. But I’ve walked 45 li
since yesterday toward Chun do
when the rain began and I knew
I would not be allowed to cross
into Tibet. I still see the mountains,
blue in the clearing mists. And hear 
the laughter of the soldiers
who searched my bags.
I can only guess they followed me
to the field where I slept last night.
And waited until I dreamed
their dream of a water-buffalo
as it horns hooked my pack
and made off with my drawings
my brushes and paint, and diary.
That memory follows like the sun 
at my back, awake to what I leave behind,
awake to the shifting wind
now coming from the south.

Richard Weaver


Shawn Aveningo is a globally published poet whose work has appeared in over 90 literary journals and anthologies. She’s a Pushcart prize nominee, co-founder of The Poetry Box, editor of The Poeming Pigeon, and journal designer for VoiceCatcher. Shawn is a proud mother of three and shares the creative life with her husband in Portland, Oregon.

Les Bares lives in Richmond, Virginia. His poems have appeared in The Cream City ReviewThe Evansville Review, Stand Magazine (U.K.), Spillway, Pinyon,  Illuminations and other journals. 

Michael Bradburn-Ruster’s poetry, fiction, translations, and scholarly articles have been published in a variety of international journals, including Able Muse, Sacred Web, Dappled Things, Studia Mystica, Cincinnati Review, Eastown Fiction, Damazine (Syria), andGrey Sparrow Journal, with frequent contributions to Poetry Salzburg Review. He teaches philosophy and world religions in Arizona.

Sarah Brown Weitzman, a Pushcart Prize nominee, has been widely published in hundreds of journals and anthologies including The North American Review,  New Ohio Review, Rattle, Mid-American Review, Poet Lore, The Bellingham Review, etc.  Sarah received a Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.  A departure from poetry, her fourth book Herman and the Ice Witch, is a children’s novel published by Main Street Rag.

Kersten Christianson is a raven-watching, moon-gazing, high school English-teaching Alaskan.  She will earn her MFA in Creative Writing/Poetry through the University of Alaska Anchorage in 2016.  Her recent work has appeared in Cirque, Pure Slush and Inklette.  Kersten co-edits the quarterly journal, Alaska Women Speak.  She lives in Sitka, Alaska.

Joe Cottonwood has worked as a carpenter, plumber, and electrician for most of his life.  Nights, he writes. His most recent book is 99 Jobs: Blood, Sweat, and Houses.

Mark DeFoe’s poetry has appeared in numerous chapbooks and in Yale R., Kenyon R., S. Carolina R., Notre Dame R., North American R., Denver Quarterly, Salmagundi and many others. He teaches in West Virginia Wesleyan's MFA Writing Program.

Claire Doble is an Australian-born writer and poet who lives in Zurich, Switzerland. Read more of her work at

Goran Gatalica (Virovitica, Croatia, 1982.) graduated in physics and chemistry from Zagreb, after which he entered doctoral study.  He publishes poetry, haiku and prose in literary magazines, journals and anthologies. He won several awards for poetry and haiku in Croatia and abroad. He is a member of the Croatian Writers’ Association.

Brandon Hartman is in the throes of shopping his third novel while completing his MFA at Rosemont College. He and his wife Jennie hail from New Jersey where he drinks too much coffee but is trying to make the conversion to tea. 

Lavana Kray is from Iasi – Romania. She is passionate about writing and photography. She has won several awards, including WHA Master Haiga Artist 2015. Her work  has been published in: Haiku Canada Review, The Mainichi, Ginyu, Haiku Masters, Ribbons, Cirrus, Ardea, etc. She was chosen for Haiku Euro Top 100, 2015. This is her blog:

Tova McKenzie-Bassant grew up in a leafy suburb of London. She studied Fine Art at Goldsmiths’ University, before a Masters (Art and Design in Education) at the Institute of Education. Tova has written and made art exploring/expressing ideas aabout history, self-actualisation and the complexities of multiple inheritances.  

Cara McKee, Yorkshire born, now lives in Largs, Ayrshire, with her young family and sick cat. She writes for Scotland 4 Kids and blogs at She’s working on some poetry and her first novel. Cara likes being warm, crafting, Instagram, and wearing black. She dislikes phone calls and five o'clock.

Archita Mittra is a wordsmith and visual artist with a love for all things vintage and darkly fantastical. She occasionally practices as a tarot card reader. Find out more on

John Mole’s most recent publications are The Point of Loss ( Enitharmon ), and Treatment  (Shoestring Press ) which monitors his response to a course of chemotherapy. He has received the Gregory and Cholmondeley Awards, and the Signal Award for his poems for children.

M.S. Rooney lives in Sonoma, California with her husband, poet Dan Noreen. Her work appears in journals, including AllegroBluestem, The Cortland Review and Illuminations and anthologies, including American Society: What Poets See, edited by David Chorlton and Robert S. King (FutureCycle Press). Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Cathryn Shea’s poetry has appeared in Absinthe, Main Street Rag, Permafrost, Gargoyle, Poet Lore, Quiddity, Tinderbox, and elsewhere. Her chapbook, Snap Bean, is by CC.Marimbo (2014). Cathryn was a merit finalist for the Atlanta Review 2013 International Poetry Competition, and is an editorial assistant for Marin Poetry Center Anthology. See and @cathy_shea on Twitter.

Emily Strauss has an M.A. in English, but is self-taught in poetry, which she has written since college. Over 350 of her poems appear in a wide variety of online venues and in anthologies, in the U.S. and abroad. She is both a Best of the Net and Pushcart nominee. The natural world of the American West is generally her framework; she also considers the narratives of people and places around her. She is a semi-retired teacher living in California.

Steve Ullom's work has appeared in Quail Bell Magazine and the anthology Colours of Refuge. He lives and works in the middle of Illinois, in the middle of the United States, with his wife and dogs.

Jack Warren was born in 1990 and has spent most of his life working in cocktail bars. He attended Birmingham City University and achieved First Class Honours in English Literature with Shakespeare Studies and recently completed a two hundred mile journey on foot from Somerset to north Wales, following the River Severn. He currently lives in Prague. 

Richard Weaver was one of the founders of the Black Warrior Review, and later its Poetry Editor. He later managed a bookstore in the French Quarter before opening his own store in Alabama. More recently he was a Reference Librarian and Archivist at a Jesuit College founded in 1830.  His  interest in the life and art of Walter Anderson, a Mississippi Gulf Coast painter has produced a Ltd edition book, The Stars Undone, with previously unpublished pen and ink illustrations from the Anderson Estate and the libretto for a symphony, Of Sea and Stars, performed 4 times to date. His poem in this issue, Beggar, is from a section set in China during the 1950's cultural revolution. 

Heather Whited graduated from Western Kentucky University in 2006 with a B.A. in creative writing.  After working in Japan and Ireland, she spent two years in Nashville, Tennessee earning her Master of Arts in Teaching before relocating to Portland, Oregon.  She has been published in the literary magazines Lingerpost, Straylight, The Timberline Review, and soon Foliate Oak. in August 2105, she received an honorable mention in Gemini Magazine's annual short story contest. She has been a contributor on The Drunken Odyssey podcast. 

Deng Xiang graduated from Singapore Polytechnic with a Diploma in Creative Writing for TV and New Media. Through his diploma programme, he was involved in media-related assignments such as television and online journalism, creative story writing, and filmmaking. He likes writing poetry, short stories and commentaries.