Issue 6 September 2015


Editor's Comments

Welcome to Issue 6 on the theme "Japanese". Below you will find a wide range of poems about things Japanese or using one of the Japanese forms. It was a joy to read so many strong submissions and to welcome both familiar names and newcomers. I hope you enjoy reading the issue.

Sally Long


accordion man plays
            in the cobble-stoned doorway
old Buddha in the shadows

Karen Hubbard 

The Buddhist Master Instructs Me on Life and Death

After meditating with him
for a month I ask what
happens when we die and

he tells me he doesn’t know
and I say but you are
a great master of the dharma

yes he replies but not
a dead one

Jeff Coomer

There! In the dead leaves,
one slowly stirs and flutters!
...moth awakening

Art Gatti


She wears a gold ring
To show that she is married
It shines in the light
As she taps on her mobile
The time she’ll be home tonight.

David Subacchi

A lamp hung atop
perennial sadness. The
moon in the willow

Art Gatti


Dark skies roam the city
chasing shadows
back to the light

E Wen Wong

Now he is just ash
for fluttering through the flame
Poor foolish young moth

Art Gatti

Family Photos

It doesn’t take a
dog’s nose for my nose to know
my dog’s nose now knows
where the rabbit knows to go
when the rabbit has to go.

That lone mocking bird
whose call splits the weight of night
outside your window
every day at 4:00 a.m. –
when you leave, you’ll miss him too.

If I knew fewer
words and could strand them taut like
pearls, I’d speak so the
most radiant stone would fall    
at the cleavage near your heart.

Rodd Whelpley


the pelicans hover like claws
above the surf

I watch them drop
then disappear
into the ocean

I imagine kelp groves
with sea creatures
trolling below the surface

always I’m trying to enter
the dark light of mystery

I’m like my grandfather
the family crabber
sinking his one and only trap
from the wooden edge
of introspection

the pelicans emerge
filled with fish

a numinous pageant

visceral with a sky
with more skies

Michael Spring

To my dog, in all his disguises

There were always dogs for company.
In the absence of siblings a dog is a poor second
or a vast improvement,
depending on your point of view.
Now, they seem like one animal, one spirit of a dog,
whose body constantly metamorphosed:
from a Dachshund to a Labrador
to a sleek Alsatian,
then a matted black Spaniel that pilfered canapés,
now a Bullmastiff that could be ridden like a horse.
It bit a school friend on the hand.
It jumped out of a first-floor window.
Bolted the neighbor’s chickens.
And would not budge from that spot
by the chair where its previous owner had sat
and commanded it to stay.
I expect if we had not called her back
it would still be there, a discovered pile of loyal bones,
mutt-spirit pawing for the outdoors,
pining for fresh earth and blissful adventures.

Lee Nash

Hurricane by Moonlight

That afternoon before the worst storm
to ever hit Florida was all blue sky.
I was ten and had spent the day
watching white light dapple down through the avocado trees
while a tropical wave off the coast of Africa drifted West,
its ridge a shark fin gaining speed.

A shift in pressure:
the mockingbirds had gone
sometime after sunset.

9 pm and the pattering of rain fingers moved to punches
and the windows shattered in shards.

My mother, brother and I moved to the closet in the center of the house.
Water started rising across our toes; mine shoeless
standing on a bag of white rice.

My mother’s clear rosary hung in her clenched hands.

The eye of the storm: pelagic birds fly overhead
in that cone of silence,
like angels trying to get back to heaven
stunned by the moonlight.

The roof started to fall like it was on fire.
None of us are sure that we are going to make it.
We don’t breathe air, only water.

The storm abates.

Just before sunrise, we stumble outside.
Palms littered the road in soggy sadness.
Traffic lights are simply gone.
There are sailboats in the street.
Scattered about are red roof tiles.

I throw up pineapple.

Marie Kilroy

despite the stink
the carcass
still attracts flies

Nikhil Nath

It is the white hour
between deep night and soft dawn.
Even the wren stares.

Joan McNerney

Sleeping with Magnum 
As an eight year old, she rode through Oklahoma into Kansas. A train ride without parents—shipped from aunt to aunt, mother searching for work, father taken by pneumonia. She danced the aisle of the Pullman. She hummed and twirled for the other passengers, laughing as she imagined a princess riding a cloud of dust.

                                      one bright dress
                                      in the passing train
                                      moonless prairie                                 

The windows at the nursing home are locked. Her son sits with her. Each night they watch reruns of Magnum P.I. until the Xanax settles and she begins to doze. Then he tells her good night and kisses her on the forehead. Yesterday, she didn’t recognize his kiss, fought to fly from her wheel chair. As he held her, she kicked, flailed her boney hands in the television’s Hawaiian face.

                                    cardinal beating
the window
glass sunset
Al Ortolani




Carried on a cat’s paws,
royal and yet somewhat humbly,
inspiration came to me.

It embraced me from behind,
stripped me down letter by letter
to the place of untouched words.

It bestowed renown
upon the irreclaimable space of thoughts
and their circular time.

I could sense the coming rhyme
when suddenly a wrong phrase cut
the bliss of the unspoken.

Inspiration left,
and all that remained
was this poem.

Eleni Cay

(Japanese; A way of existing that focuses on finding beauty within the flaws of life and accepting peacefully the organic cycle of evolution, growth and decay.)

The secret of cancer is that it will
kill you anyway, no matter
the treatment: chemo, radiation,
the scalpel tugging at your skin.

The secret of babies is that they are alive –
a few soft tufts of hair, tiny hands
and that infectious smell belonging
solely to newborns. The secret

is something I might not be
able to give you. It is made from
giggles and sticky fingers and
silky skin. I could not take

that treasured onesie, could not
keep the footie-pajamas in our
attic forever. So I held my hands to
the scarred planes of my stomach,

traced my ribs all the way to the
twice sliced port incision, and let
them rest there. Let them drift to
the steady thumping. I wanted to

be filled with more – heartbeats –
not Cytoxan flushed with saline. I
can still taste it, the metallic salt,
the way it cools your veins.

Lillian Brown

Note: Inspiration for the structure of this poem came from Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s “The Secret of Soil”.

Conversations With My Father

there’s a moment of silence and the questions
push their way into my head, was I loved as a child, was I
the mistake I always felt like, why did I
always feel so alone. it’s a familiar plug

in the lull, and I rush to fill the gaping hole
with more talk about the weather, my job
my own children and the bright things they’re doing.
I don’t talk about what it was like

stumbling across his neatly-typed suicide notes
coming home to an empty house after school
the nights I spent alone, wondering where my parents were
wondering if it was all my fault.

Holly Day

Little drifting soul

Little drifting soul, 
you cannot understand your meaning 
any more than the bee understands 
its place among the flowers.

Naomi Saffron

A Name We Don’t Know Yet

My mother is mixing a half-dozen muffins
this March evening.  Tall in her high heels,

she creams the butter and sugar, then slowly adds
the eggs.  She smells of Shalimar and vanilla

in the oven-warm kitchen.  Intent, she doesn’t speak
except about her own mother’s cakes.  I am

waiting as patiently as nine can for a heaping tablespoon
of batter for my jar-lid pan for a tiny cake of my own.

Still wearing his jacket and tie my father’s reading
the newspaper.  Through the glass door, we can see him

sitting in the big side-winged horsehair chair
in the bay window.  We know he’s waiting too

to read the war news to us as the house fills with the odor
of rising dough.  Hiroshima is a name we don’t know

yet.  Outside the gloom sits on the porch settee
and whines like a dog to be left in.

Finally, it is time.  My mother’s muffins have billowed
high out of their cups, golden as the kitchen ceiling

and edged with a perfect complement of brown.
But my tiny cake, left in too long, is flat, rock-hard

and charred black. Oh, how I weep like a lost child
now for my childhood and that little ruined cake.

Sarah Brown Weitzman

Dedicated to my Sumi-E Teacher, Sensei Koho Yamamoto

In breath, stroke
out breath, resting brush.
This is ingress, you say
push: delve deeper
press & release bamboo’s
clustered crush
wing across the vein
of winter’s eye 
wrest the furious
persimmon’s blush
Outside, the blizzard kissed
Manhattan to a fleeting 
hush,  pock marked
pigeon grey, as if time 
feathering on a tangent
had flown & homed in
to you, nearly ninety
but still hanging out 
Sensei, at the corner
of then and now, you
just inked and winking
koan, lush, lunar sun

Sophia Pandeya

Woodblock Eyes

The eyes stare out
from the narrow woodblock print
hung in the narrow gallery
filled with Japanese ghosts
and demons.

The eyes of Shoki
the Demon Queller

stab out so fiercely
that even an all-purpose agnostic
knows who he will call if he is ever
spooked and scared and needs
a demon quelled.

Kim Peter Kovac


It means “cup of tea,”
which, for most, he is not.  Oh,

J.R. Solonche

Silk Trees After Storms

A week of western storms
peeled off roofs, smacked down signs
and bent these silk trees into prayer.
Backs now curved into half-moons,
the roots barely hold while their fern-like
crowns sweep the ground.

Everything that lives to see another day
pays a price. Colors fade, foundations crack,
all things ravished by choice or chance.
And whatever can’t bear the loss of what
once was, must fly with the wind.

Other storms will come, these trees
may not survive. Perhaps they’ll die
to see a better day. Beautiful as they were,
beautiful as they are.

Peter Serchuk

A Certain Slant of Rain 

Daybreak, but still dark with rain, a Thursday, 
but my mind’s saying today’s Saturday.

Mammalian instincts respond to rain
and darkness, the steady sound of dripping,

patter of droplets on windows tells me
to stay home, stay in, drop back into bed.

Retired, alone with my cats and old dog,
we hibernate, listen to the ancient call

to sleep, restore the store of energy.
But something stirs this morning, ordinary

Thursday, nowhere I need to go but inward,
face myself, writing words in a notebook,

listening to my inner voice and rain,
searching for something I can’t find or name.

Joan Mazza 

Performance Poetry

In the back of some dimly lit hipster bar,
Where they only serve homebrewed beer,
Where the food is the antithesis of Michelin star,
A group of men, all bow tie and beard,

Stand with Doc Martined girls with pierced septums -
Who clutch sheaves of feminist manifestos
That rave against everything from contraception,
To the misogynistic values of the local Tesco -

Who are all waiting for the readings to start. 
The lights dip, and on stage stands a girl
Who talks about the banality of modern art,
About the need for conservation in the natural world.

She is followed by a man who writes verse
From takeaway menus and pages from Wikipedia.
He is followed by a woman who curses
God and men and cricket and the media.

We get up to leave; realising this isn’t our scene,
Threading our way through the tables and chairs,
To the door. On stage a man screams
Obscenities to a lover who no longer cares

And the crowd lap it up, cheering, clapping.
Yet, for all the performances, rants, sound bites -
The actual poetry was missed by most; the wrapping
Of your hands in mine, as we stepped out into the night.

Colin Bancroft


May morning; in silence
you slipped your moorings
   and set sail. Fare well.

Rod Hacking


Colin Bancroft works as an English Lecturer at a College in the North-East. Originally from Manchester, he completed an MA in English at MMU, under the tutelage of Jean Sprackland. He has previously had poems published in Acumen, Agenda, Ariadne’s Thread, Black Light Engine Room, Broken Wine, Cannon’s Mouth, The Copperfield Review, Elbow Room, LondonGrip, Message in a Bottle, Neon and ScreechOwl. He has also been shortlisted for the Manchester Bridgewater Prize, Corinium and the New Holland Press competition.

Lillian Brown is seventeen years old and currently finishing high school at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. She plans to attend Sarah Lawrence College in the fall.

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

Eleni Cay’s first collection ''A butterfly's shivering in the digital age' was published after she won a national poetry competition in her native country Slovakia. With her English language poems, Eleni won the MK Calling Prize 2013 & 2015. She is currently Poet in Residence at the Westbury Arts Centre.

Jeff Coomer is a recovering overachiever who once had a career as a technology executive for a global Fortune 500 company.  He now lives in Charlottesville, Virginia, where he writes poetry and serves on the board of nonprofit organizations.

Holly Day has taught writing classes at the Loft Literary Centerin Minneapolis, Minnesota, since 2000. Her poetry has recently appeared in Oyez Review, SLAB, and Gargoyle, while her recently published books include Music Theory for Dummies (3rd edition), Piano All-in-One for Dummies, The Book Of, and Nordeast Minneapolis: A History.  

Art Gatti was the recipient of The Dwight Durling Award for a Manuscript of Poetry while at Queens College, has been published in small magazines and cyber pubs, ran a poetry and short fiction workshop at WestBeth artists’ housing for two years, and had a column in The WestView News. He studied under and consorted with accomplished poets, corresponded with Robert Bly for two years and currently writes for a local small magazine called And Then. Art has recently become involved with several local poetry groups and has read at the Cornelia Street Café.

Rod Hacking was an Anglican priest for more than 35 years but ‘no longer can be doing with that sort of thing’. He lives in Salisbury UK where he spends his time writing and reading poetry, and never goes to church.

Karen Hubbard currently lives in West Orange, New Jersey. She has published poetry in Amelia, A Stone Unturned (Anthology), Austin Downtown Arts Magazine, Maultrommel, Open Doors (Anthology), Promethean, Shot Glass Journal and in her ChapbooksRain (2006) and The Day is Quieter than Night (2012).

Marie Kilroy has recently been published in the Silver Birch PressThe Red Wolf Journal and the Lummox Press. She graduated from the University of Mary Washington with a B.A. in English and lives in New York City.

Kim Peter Kovac works in theater for young audiences with an emphasis on new play development and networking.  He tells stories on stages as producer of new plays, and tells stories in writing with lineated poems, prose poems, creative non-fiction, flash fiction, haiku, haibun, and microfiction, with work appearing or forthcoming in print and on-line in journals including The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Red Paint Hill, Elsewhere, Frogpond, Mudlark, and Counterexample Poetics. He is fond of avant-garde jazz, murder mysteries, contemporary poetry, and travel, and lives in Alexandria, VA, with his bride, two Maine Coon cats, and a Tibetan Terrier named Finn. www [dot] kimpeterkovac [dot] tumblr [dot] com

Joan McNerney’s poetry has been included in numerous literary magazines such as Seven Circle Press, Dinner with the Muse, Camel Saloon, Blueline, Poppy Road Review, Missing of the Birds, three Bright Hills Press Anthologies and several Kind of A Hurricane Publications. She has been nominated three times for Best of the Net.

Joan Mazza has worked as a medical microbiologist, psychotherapist, seminar leader, and has been a Pushcart nominee. Author of six books, including Dreaming Your Real Self (Penguin/Putnam), her poetry has appeared inRattle, Kestrel, Slipstream, American Journal of Nursing, The MacGuffin, Mezzo Cammin, Buddhist Poetry Review, and The Nation.

Nikhil Nath has been writing poetry for eighteen years. He has been published in various magazine in India, the USA and the UK. He lives and works from Kolkata, India. "Write rubbish, but write", said Virginia Woolf. This is Nikhil's maxim for writing.

Lee Nash lives in France and freelances as an editorial designer for a UK publishing house. She is previously published by Biscuit Publishing, Subprimal Poetry Art Ezine, Bluethumbnail, and more of her poems are soon to appear in Ink Sweat and Tears, The Dawntreader and Silver Birch Press.

Al Ortolani’s poetry and reviews have appeared in journals such as Prairie Schooner, New Letters, and the New York Quarterly. He has published six books of poetry. His newest collection, Francis Shoots Pool at Chubb’s Bar, was released in February of 2015 by Spartan Press. He co-edits The Little Balkans Review, a regional journal out of southeast Kansas. Currently, he is teaching English in the Kansas City area and serves on the Board of Directors of the Kansas City Writers Place. He performs his poems widely and is a member of the troupe White Buffalo Poetry and Blues. 

Sophia Pandeya is an Asian-American poet. Publications include Cactus Heart, Askew Poetry, Bank Heavy Press and Spilled Ink as well as Poetry International, The Adirondack Review, The Daily O, Lantern Journal, Convergence Journal AntiSerious and Full Of Crow.  Her debut poetry collection, Peripheries, is being published by Cyberhex Press in July. 

Naomi Saffron is a writer based in London. Aside from poetry, she has written articles for The Girls Are, Holdfast and The East End Film Festival. Naomi has a BA in English from Goldsmiths University.

Peter Serchuk's poems have appeared in a wide variety of US literary journals including Hudson Review, American Poetry Review, Poetry, North American Review and other journals. He is the author of two collections: "Waiting for Poppa at the Smithtown Diner" and "All That Remains", has just finished his third book “Threads” and has begun a search for a publisher. Peter lives in Los Angeles, California.

J.R. Solonche, four-time Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee, has been publishing in magazines, journals, and anthologies since the early 70s. He is co-author of Peach Girl: Poems for a Chinese Daughter (Grayson Books).

David Subacchi studed at the University of Liverpool. He was born in Wales of Italian roots and writes in English, Welsh and Italian. Cestrian Press has published two collections of his poems. ‘First Cut’ (2012) and ‘Hiding in Shadows’ (2014).

E Wen Wong is a 12 year old student in New Zealand. She likes poetry because it isn’t too restricted and allows the writer to be free to express what they want to into words. Besides from poetry and writing, E Wen likes running, biking and mathematics.

Rodd Whelpley lives just outside of Springfield, Illinois. His novel, Capital Murder, was published in 2002. His poetry has appeared in The Minneapolis Review of Baseball, Elysian Fields Quarterly, Elm City Blues and Illinois Times. He has poetry forthcoming in Aethlon.