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Free Verse  with Vera Ignatowitsch

Swimming in Antarctica


How she accepts it. How she enters willingly

into the cold. How her skin, almost immediately,

becomes cold as the water is, her body’s heat

pushed deep down under, to protect

her internal organs, which flush with blood, and float

like fish in some warm Mesozoic ocean

as her heartbeat thunders round them, as they move,

just for now, companionable, together.

She sees penguins on the dipping, rising shore

and people bundled up who look like penguins,

black against the snow. Her back up team

lean from their inflatables as she threshes water

up like bed sheets, speeding, swimming faster

than she ever swam before, to generate

more warmth, to stay alive, then something

shifting inside her as she starts to swim

straight out to sea, moving so fast they

can do nothing now but watch her slip away.


First published in Autumn Sky Poetry Daily.



Ciarán Parkes lives in Galway, Ireland. His poems have been published in The Rialto, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, The Threepenny Review, and other places. He writes song lyrics for the Galway band, This Lunar Mansion.

Winter Story


Give me your abalone-ear:

Listen to the hushed voices babbling as

Blue-shelled baby fingers might reach for precious baubles.

A hanging mobile still swiftly spinning, until mother returns with


Bare breast for suckling sweet milk, until

Stomach is sick from doing this

Protean performance. She wriggles, wormlike and warm

Beneath the winter sun.


It cuts harsh lines across your face with

Ice-gold rays. A paltry woman is she, meager while her

Quick hands stroke green fronds awaiting spring.

Pine-dark sea still churning, hungry for


Sailors drunk on honey-wine. One falls out, tips

Overboard so stiffly and calls out to his comrade, now

Laugh with me, as the sea opens its angry mouth.

Siren begins singing. Gentle-sounding, like a


Nun’s bells. One tips her shaved head in prayer, her

Red beads rattle in hilltop temple.

The prayer slips out, quiet, into

Motionless black night.


Echo returns, falling into bearded

Heaven’s lap. Together, turning heads upwards, they watch the

Solar eclipse. Now, corpse-white corona

Hissing flails its arms around the black sun-eye.


Spider lily crawling, grows in a

Glass greenhouse kept warmer than is natural. So that

Outside, the barren earth surrenders to frost, while the gardener is busy

Tending to his precious perennials.


Emily Tsai is an undergraduate student at the University of Maryland,

College Park. This is her first publication.

My Dreaming Lady


My dreaming lady,

cameo of perfection,

I love your lips,

guerdons, satisfactions,

revelations of evolution,

sweet guardians

circumvoluted, glorious,

they have lured me

with their fine lines

and perfect creases

tender to touch

with tongue, lips,

trembling fingers;

a silent “oh”

from these wonders

and I’m undone;

a silent “oh” is

all it takes, is

kneeling before you

your patience to awake;

like a lamb of sacrifice

awaiting the grace

of your fatal hand.


Jack D. Harvey’s poetry has appeared in Scrivener Creative Journal, POETALK, The Comstock Review, Better Than Starbucks, The Antioch Review, The Piedmont Journal of Poetry and Fiction, and others, including a few anthologies. He has also been a Pushcart nominee.


Before the Fog Cleared


On Valley Drive near 15th Street

sits what we call the tot lot.

Swings and sandpits have not changed—

young mothers sit on the same shaded patch of grass

while wobbly little legs scatter about.


It has taken me fifteen years to walk by

that chain-linked fence

without dragging those black years behind me

when autism clung to me

in the arms of my son.


God, I wish I had known then

that he would turn out okay.

I could have sat my younger self down on a bench

where each minute of play was therapy,

and tilted her face to the sky,


read to her piles of his poetry,

told her how he reads and reads,

pounds the basketball in the alley,

skateboards with the neighborhood boys,

dreaming of a global studies degree,


and those arms, I would tell her,

still wrap around me,

just a deeper voice now,

telling me not to worry, not to nag,

he can do it now, all on his own.



Jennie Linthorst’s poetry has appeared in Bluestem Magazine, Edison Literary Review, Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, Forge, Kaleidoscope, Literary Mama, and more. Her poetry books are Silver Girl and Autism Disrupted: A Mother’s Journey of Hope. Visit her website at



‘They is, they is, they is.’

“Bullet in the Brain,” Tobias Wolff


They is

like stars that realize they’ve already died

and peripherally burn;

a sacrosanct illusion for astronomers

knowing that looking through telescopes

each day is better than

the hangover of someone asking for help

without the safety of the lens;

1/4th smile and a twitching eye

and then there’s

the nothing—


the inaudible

I’m sorry

and an awkward


and no one really knows what to do

after that

but keep on walking

and walking and wondering

who could I blame more than myself for that?

On the rooftops of swollen nights

we watch stars die

and peripherally burn

through city streets at dusk

your 16 oz McDonalds cups

empty like an atom held in a hand.

Some ask politely

but we prefer the musicality of fuck you

as rain taps its foot along to a cup of quarters.

I gave a man my lunch;

he looked disappointed;

so did I.



James Steck lives in Washington, DC. He sketches, performs at open mics, and enjoys sitting on his fire escape watching commuters. His poetry and drawings have appeared in Goat’s Milk Magazine, The Odd Magazine, The Wild Word, With Painted Words, and others.

Archive of Free Verse Poetry with Suzanne Robinson by issue:

     January 2020     November 2019     September 2019    July 2019    May 2019   

 March 2019     January 2019     November 2018      September 2018     July 2018     June 2018     May 2018     April 2018   

  March 2018     February 2018     January 2018     December 2017     November 2017     October 2017     September 2017   

   August 2017     July 2017     June 2017     May 2017     April 2017     March 2017     February 2017     January 2017   

  December 2016     November 2016     October 2016     September 2016     August 2016     June 2016     May 2016

Archive of Free Verse Poetry with Vera Ignatowitsch by issue:

     January 2020     November 2019     September 2019     July 2019     May 2019

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