Monday, December 4, 2023

Sarah Sarai | Low Life, Malibu

Low Life, Malibu


Buoyant and so damn blasé about it,

the ducks are all You looking at me?

I can float, sucker.


While those puffed-up fighter pilot

gulls straight up sneer, Haw! Haw!

fools, we’re slumming it.


Unhinged as their jaws, they swoop in

on darting fish close to the surface,

then circle our scraps for dessert.


You and me, slouched on wet sand, we

feel the day’s chill as a flesh-crawling

parasite. We consider following


the sun as she shimmies down,

searching new and newer horizons,

and each time, we invite her to join us,


up the highway, in a cracked red-

leather booth shaped like a crescent moon.

She might want to but never shows.


We’re not big on duty, but we get it.

We have us one responsible sun.

The I’m-all-that flighty couldn’t care less.



Previously published in Pine Hills Review, August 2, 2023.



Sarah Sarai is the author of several poetry collections including That Strapless Bra in Heaven (Kelsay Books, 2019); Geographies of Soul and Taffeta (Indolent Books, 2016); and The Future Is Happy (BlazeVOX Books, 2009). Her poems are widely anthologized, most notably in Gerald LaFemina’s Composing Poetry, a Guide to Writing Poems and Thinking Lyrically (Kendall Hunt Publishing, 2016); Like a Fat Gold Watch: Poetic Responses to Sylvia Plath edited by Christine Hamm (Fat Gold Watch Press, Brooklyn, 2018) and Say It Loud: Poems About James Brown edited by Michael Oatman and Mary Weems (Whirlwind Press, 2011). A native New Yorker, born in Long Island, she grew up in Los Angeles, returning to attend Sarah Lawrence where she earned her MFA. She currently lives in the big city and works as an independent editor.

Friday, December 1, 2023

Bruce E. Whitacre | The Foldout Couch

Jesalah Love Art Neon Sign
After Keith Haring

The Foldout Couch


His force thumps the entire divan

against the renter-white wall,

adding to the small dents.

These are the good years.

Galaxies revolve like the club door, powered

by magnetism and mystery.

Tossing cushions is foreplay,

though sometimes here the fizz goes flat.

A bicep in the red lava light,

an ass in the veil of blue smoke, its globes

green glitter-strewn and sweating. Heaving

planets and stars call

to the white light between the eyes,

the fire in the throat

as you take all he’s got.

The collapse, the caress, the clip

of the spring through the mattress.

Another notch in the floor.

Counting down the security deposit.


Previously published in RFD, Issue 190, Summer 2022, pp 55-57, with other poems from Whitacre’s forthcoming Good Housekeeping.



Bruce E. Whitacre’s recent publications include his debut poetry collection, The Elk in the Glade: The World of Pioneer and Painter Jennie Hicks (Crown Rock Media, 2022); Sky Island Journal; Poetry X HungerDear Booze; Diane Lockward’s third volume on craft, The Strategic Poet; and the 2022 anthology I Want to Be Loved by You: Poems on Marilyn Monroe. Work here was nominated for Sundress Publications’ 2020 Best of the Net Anthology and the 2024 Pushcart Prize. A featured poetry reader at the Forest Hills Public Library, he has read his work at Poets House, the Zen Mountain Monastery Buddhist Poetry Festival, Kew Willow Books, Lunar Walk, and other venues. He holds an MFA in Dramatic Writing from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and has completed master workshops with Jericho Brown, Alex Dimitrov, Rowan Ricardo Phillips, and Mark Wunderlich. Bruce is a native of Nebraska and lives in Forest Hills, Queens, with his husband.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Patricia Carragon | Wild Is the Wind

photo credit: Roxanne Hoffman 

Wild Is the Wind

(sung by Nina Simone)


do you hear the wind?

see that scarlet leaf

dance on concrete?


I am that wind

I am that leaf

I am that dance


in the distance

Ms. Simone sings about

spring & kisses


in a dervish trance

you cling to that leaf

embrace the wind


the wind is wild

and logic & fear surrender

to oneness


the wind is love

and love is the light

that has no end



Published in Jerry Jazz Musician, February 17, 2022


Patricia Carragon is the author of several books of poetry and fiction. Her most recent poetry collections are Meowku (Poets Wear Prada) and Innocence (Finishing Line Press). Her debut novel, Angel Fire, was recently released by Alien Buddha Press. Patricia hosts the Brownstone Poets reading series from Brooklyn on Zoom and publishes an associated anthology annually.

Don Hogle | Red Geraniums

photo credit: Don Hogle
photo credit: Don Hogle

Red Geraniums


Was it on the ferry to Mount Athos

that the spring sun felt hot on my face,

the wind still cold on the back of my neck?

A priest with a black hat and straggly beard

snoozed next to me. Gulls flew alongside,

catching pieces of bread thrown to them,

their bodies unnaturally close to us.


Or was it in Budva, beneath the sign that read

Sailor, where someone took my picture?

Wearing my aviator Ray-Bans, arms folded

across my chest, I looked comically resolute.


No, it must have been in Kotor

with its trumpet blasts of red geraniums. Yes,

I sat in the warm sun, the air cool on my neck;

the flowers spilling from the window boxes

were so bright, I said, Yes, run me through

with your unrepentant red, for I have no desire

to ever leave here.



Published in Artemis, Volume XXX, 2023


A lifelong student of languages and an avid traveler (to some 40 odd countries), Don Hogle blogs at Postcards from a Traveler. Hogle is also the author of two poetry collections, a chapbook titled Madagascar, published by Sevens Kitchens Press in 2020, and a full-length book, Huddled in the Night Sky, forthcoming from Poets Wear Prada, fall of 2024. His poetry has appeared in Apalachee Review, The Carolina Quarterly, Hayden’s Ferry, Full Bleed, and The Inquisitive Eater, among other places. He was a finalist for both The Missouri Review’s 2021 Jeffrey Smith Editors’ Prize and Green Linden Press’ 2021 Wishing Jewel Prize, and a semi-finalist for Naugutuck River Review’s 2021 Narrative Poetry Prize. He lives happily in Manhattan without pets, children, or spouses of any gender or species.

Monday, April 3, 2023

Rhonda Zangwill | Fever


was fourteen when my best friend Kyra’s mother died. At the funeral there were flyers on the seats with a black and white photo. Underneath it said:

In Loving Memory 
Jayne Marciella 

That picture, it was all wrong. It made her look like a housewife, and I never once saw her do a dish. She was in a shiny dark reddish casket with gold handles. The top half was open, and I was thinking how glad Kyra would be that her mother didn’t look like that stupid photo. She looked beautiful. Exactly like she did when she napped in the afternoon. That nap was necessary, so Kyra’s mother would be fresh before she primped for cocktail hour at 5:30.

Me and Kyra got to sit on the two matching chairs that flanked her vanity table while she primped. Kyra’s mother always wore a full slip that was, she said, a little snug. She never let us turn on the overheads. She had two lamps that cast a patchwork of light and shadow. “This,” Kyra’s mother said, was the preferred environment for grown-up women. In the half dark, her skin looked translucent. Blue-gray veins covered her forearms like an intricate weaving, all pointing toward her pulse points. She always talked about pulse points, where they were, how they worked. She favored those on her neck above the collarbone. That was where the essence of scent was best released and appreciated. Kyra and I agreed that her mother did have a very nice collarbone.

Kyra’s mother always carefully prepared her “ensemble du soir.” That’s French, she told us, for the evening’s outfit. I already knew that from my French class. “Many parts go into a successful ensemble,” she said. I learned that these parts didn’t have to match, they just had to blend well, like the different flavors in her imported cigarettes. So, it was perfectly acceptable to wear the pink silk sleeveless shell with the rose colored skirt and top it with a blood-red bolero jacket with a delicate magenta scarf at the throat. “It’s all in the same family” she would say, “just like me and Kyra. Look how different we are, but we mix together so well. Besides, it’s deadly to sing a single note all the time. I am a symphony of reds.” And I had to admit that she was, especially if you counted her lips (sienna) and nails, painted in super high gloss pomegranate.

The best part of primping was when Kyra’s mother chose her shoes. They were arranged by color, season, material, purpose, heel height and age. When she was her red symphony, she could select the wine-colored satin sling-backs, open-toed leather mid-heeled pumps (although they were fraying at the back), high-heeled maroon sandals with the skinny ankle strap, flat cherry skimmers or five-inch spike heels in mirror-shiny fire engine red. She wobbled in these even before cocktail hour started, but so did me and Kyra whenever we tried them on.

* * *

I couldn’t tell if Kyra’s mother had shoes on because that part of the casket was closed. I really hoped she was wearing the specially-dyed-to-match shoes she always wore with the dress she was in, the one that has the 23 mother-of-pearl buttons up the back. Shoes, she said, were the piece de resistance for any ensemble.

* * *

Our job, Kyra’s and mine, was to prep for cocktail hour – strainers, straws, crushed ice, the little lemon twists and olives we put in a shallow bowl. We lined up all the glassware. Tumblers, flutes, snifters, and of course, martini glasses that we took out last since they had to be chilled properly, or you would ruin the whole thing. Sometimes we cut up little cubes of cheese and stuck red and blue plastic imitation sword toothpicks right in the center of each one and put them in a semicircle on the wooden board, surrounding the Ritz Crackers that we arranged in short stacks.

I always thought there would be other people at cocktail hour but there never were. Kyra and I had cokes with a lime garnish, or sometimes orange juice with a splash of grenadine. Kyra’s mother drank scotch-on-the-rocks. She always sat on the high-backed stool near the counter. It had long skinny wrought iron legs that ended in little circle feet and a shiny wicker seat and back. Kyra’s mother would line herself up with the stool and, depending on the size of her heels, either just lift her hip slightly and edge onto the seat, or do a little hop on to it, using the back of the chair as leverage. She always sat erect, head high and shoulders back like the Spanish flamenco dancers we saw in a filmstrip at school called “World of Dance.” She crossed her legs at the ankle “Never at the knee, girls,” she said, “unless you want early varicose veins.”

Me and Kyra usually finished our Cokes way before Kyra’s mother finished her cocktail. To tell the truth, I think we slurped them up fast because our refill (“it’s called your second round,” she said) was our cue to start the music. Earlier we had put a stack of records on the hi-fi, and at her nod we slid the lever over, watched the first one drop down onto the turntable and the needle jerk its way over. Kyra then handed her mother one of the long-necked beer bottles (unopened) from the ice bucket, and she would start to lip-synch along with “Paper Moon” or “A Fine Romance.”

* * *

I was getting antsy in my hardback chair when I saw Kyra edging away from that bunch of fluttery ladies all dabbing their eyes with embroidered handkerchiefs. She made her way toward the buffet table and waved me over. We met in front of the punch bowl. Kyra lined up two heavy cut-glass mugs and ladled them full of pink fizzy liquid, all the while singing, but real soft. I could just make out the words as they floated under the steady din in that room.

Never know how much I love you
Never know how much I care
When you put your arms around me
I get a fever that's so hard to bear

 “Fever.”  That was Kyra’s mother’s favorite song. Cocktail hour always ended with “Fever,”  all of us singing along with Peggy Lee at full volume.

Kyra and I belted out the refrain:

You give me fever

Then we clinked our glasses and drained them dry.


“Fever,” the song made popular by Peggy Lee in the fifties, was written by Eddie Cooley and Otis Blackwell (aka John Davenport) and originally recorded by Little Willie John for his debut album of the same name and first released as a single in 1956. In 1958, Peggy Lee covered the song, changing up the lyrics and the arrangement. Her rendition became a top-ten hit in the United States and her signature song and was subsequently nominated for the first annual Grammy in 1959 for both record and song of the year, competing with Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, Vic Damone, Ella Fitzgerald, and the winner Domenico Modugno.

The song lyrics are still under copyright  by Fort Knox Music Inc., Trio Music Company, Fort Knox Music Co., Trio Music Company Inc., Trio Music Co., Inc.; the limited excerpts reprinted here are considered fair use by the author and the publisher.


Rhonda Zangwill

Rhonda Zangwill
has long flirted with the literary life, writing, editing, teaching and rabble-rousing for New York Writers Coalition, Read650, PEN Prison Program and The Moth. She now runs writing workshops for the Educational Alliance and Sirovich Senior Center. Her published work is in print journals such as Calyx, Natural Bridge and Hoi Polloi. She reads around town, including at the National Arts Club, the NYC Poetry Festival, NYPL, and thanks to Fahrenheit Open Mic, in some of the East Village’s most charming community gardens.

Friday, March 17, 2023

Austin Alexis | Sunday Evenings

Dishes and Stage Curtains

Sunday Evenings


Dishes whimpered to be washed.

After that task, she swept the bathroom floor,

then swept the kitchen floor

and swept the needy kitchen floor again.

Most evenings, long boring chores

shoved toward her, even stalked her.

But one night per week

salvation graciously glided down:

the Sunday night opera on the radio,

allowing her to be a duchess for three hours

or an Ethiopian princess,

or a playboy, or a magical flute.

Her hands gracenoted themselves

out of the kitchen sink.


She let her husband toss and snore

under a sea of Sunday newspaper.

She let her feral kids play tent in their beds.

Her makeshift living room drapes

evolved into velvet stage curtains.

The perfume of an elegant audience

arose from her dusty carpets.

Everyone keeps a life jacket,

half buried, yet accessible,

and she had hers.


Austin Alexis [Photo credit: Linda Lerner]

Austin Alexis is the author of Privacy Issues (Broadside Lotus Press, 2014), the winner of 20th annual Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award, and two chapbooks from Poets Wear Prada, Lovers and Drag Queens and For Lincoln & Other Poems. His work appears in Barrow Street, The Journal, Paterson Literary Review, Otoliths (Australia), and in several anthologies. He earned Honorable Mention in the 91st Annual Writer’s Digest Competition (Script: Stage Play or TV/Movie, 2022) and Flash Fiction of the Month (May 2020) from Great Weather for MEDIA. Previously, he’s received a Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference Scholarship, a Millay Colony for the Arts Residency, and an Allen Ginsberg Award Honorable Mention. Some of his work has been translated into French, Portuguese and Japanese. He lives in Manhattan.
[Photo Credit: Linda Lerner]

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Elan Barnehama | Red Box

1516 Lincoln Blvd, Venice, CA [Map Data ©2022 Google]
Google Maps Street View
1516 Lincoln Blvd, Los Angeles, California 
Image Capture December 2017  
Map Data ©2022 Google


I turned into the parking lot of the 7-11 on Lincoln Boulevard. I’d been living in Venice Beach for a month and had made a lot of progress on my new novel but had not made any headway on new friends. I knew how to get dates online, but I had no idea how anyone made new friends. Especially anyone past fifty.

When I first arrived, I tried coffee shops, but no one talked in Venice coffee shops. They just worked away on laptops. I kept going to coffee shops to write by myself in the company of the silent. But at night I hit the boardwalk where I eavesdropped on conversations just to hear people talk.

I wore my ear pods and nodded my head, so it looked like I was listening to music and not being creepy. If someone said something interesting, I pretended that I was part of the exchange, part of their story, and I added my words in my head. I imagined that the nice people were my friends.

I’d spent the earlier part of the evening on my favorite benches along the boardwalk watching the sun disappear in the Pacific. My best listen that night was the woman who told her date that to be genuinely from Venice one had to stay AWOL. Always West Of Lincoln. I’d been AWOL without knowing it.

There were three homeless guys sitting on the pavement in front of the 7-Eleven as I pulled into a parking spot. My plan was to get snacks and sit in my car in the parking lot and eavesdrop as people entered and left the store. I hit the jackpot with a spot in front of the Red Box. I liked listening in on conversations about what movie to rent.

I shut the engine and this guy, a small guy in his twenties, tapped on my window. I hadn’t noticed him coming over. He almost fell onto my window. He was clearly wasted. I got out of my car slowly, backing him away with the door.

He asked me for a cigarette. I told him I didn’t smoke. That made him angry. Maybe he thought I was lying.

I knew him. Or kids like him. He looked like one of my students from when I taught at community college back before I decided to leave the classroom and Boston and head west. They never got older. But I did. I looked at the kid and wondered if I wanted to be a teacher again. I did not. He was twisted and irritated and that made him dangerous. Besides, I had no advice for him.

I locked the car and headed inside without saying anything. He started to follow me into the store. Inside, I grabbed some cashews and a coffee. When I went to pay, the kid was mouthing off to the young woman behind the counter. Funny, she looked his age and she didn’t.

I felt bad for her. I didn’t need to. She kicked him out of the store with ease and grace. As I was paying, she told me that he was looking to either get the shit kicked out of him or get shot. Or maybe, she added, he just wanted to get arrested so that he’d have a nice place to sleep for the night.

I was too sad to stay and listen to the couple in front of the Red Box trying to pick out a romantic comedy. Who even had a DVD player anymore?

I gave the cashews to one of the homeless guys and got in my car and drove home.


Elan  Barnehama

Elan Barnehama’s new novel, Escape Route (Running Wild Press, May 2022), set in New York City during the late 1960s, is told by the son of Holocaust survivors, who becomes obsessed with the Vietnam War and with finding an escape route for his family for when he believes the US will round up its Jews. Elan was the flash fiction editor for Forth Magazine LA, has taught college writing, worked with at-risk youth, had a gig as a radio news guy, and did a mediocre job as a short-order cook. “Red Box” is based on a section of Elan’s current novel in progress. It originally appeared as “Listening In,” in Rough Cut Press, Issue 11: WELL THAT ESCALATED.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Talena Lachelle Queen | Vin Rouge

Vin Rouge



Je parle vin

Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot

as long as it is red

Zinfandel, Syrah, Shiraz

with meals or alone

wine is the secret dream of the grape

none want to wither on the vine or jelly.

The grape wants to be loved

Malbec, and Pinot Noir,

Desire to be held on the palate for a while

They like the swish of the tongue

and flutter of the eyes

Just before swallowing.

le vin c'est la vie




Talena Lachelle Queen

In addition to being Poet Laureate of Paterson, New Jersey, since 2018, Talena Lachelle Queen is founder and executive director of the Paterson Poetry Festival, now in its fifth year. She is also founder and president of Word Seed, Inc. a team of literary artists who organize community outreach programs. Her publications include a forthcoming poetry collection How Do I Tell Them? (Poets Wear Prada), Soup Can Magazine, POETS UNiTE! The LiTFUSE @10 Anthology (Cave Moon Press), and When Women Speak (ed. Ameerah Shabazz-Bilal). A sought after artist, Queen has performed at many places including the NJ Governor’s Mansion, Hoboken Historical Museum, and with NYC Men Teach Hip Hop Cypher.

Carrie Magness Radna | Red (A Ghazal)

Kissy Coffee Cup with Lipstick Stain

Red (A Ghazal)



A smear of lipstick glazes your favorite coffee cup —  Passion Red.

 I’ve not been a coffee drinker, until recently, 

when I  started wearing makeup again, after your last yahrzeit — and red.

Passion was one of your favorite colors, but you hated the stain it left on your face.

Things keep changing since you’ve gone. I don’t sleep anymore. I gobble up red

meat, every meal. I wear leather, velvet & lace — chains by the bed.

I speak out. I shout. Your girl has grown up. I remember you with fresh red

roses every Wednesday — Daddy would surprise you, after work.

When will I feel okay again? Will I find the answers to life, traveling? I miss the red

clay of Oklahoma, where you once told me you would never leave. Momma, what a liar you are!




Carrie Magness Radna is an audiovisual cataloger at New York Public Library, a choral singer and a poet who loves traveling. Her poems have previously appeared in The Oracular Tree, Mediterranean Poetry, Muddy River Poetry Review, Poetry Super Highway, Walt’s Corner, Polarity eMagazine, The Poetic Bond and First Literary Review-East. Her latest poetry collection, In the blue hour (Nirala Publications), was released in February 2021. Hurricanes never apologize (Luchador Press) was published in December 2019. Her fifth volume of poetry, Shooting myself in the dark (Cajun Mutt Press), will be published in early 2023. Born in Norman, Oklahoma, Carrie lives with her husband in Manhattan.

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Sarah Sarai | A Thousand Deaths

A Thousand Deaths


Jack’s in Wisconsin with a girlfriend

whose father is down one cow,

which I become in its death,

the wandering-off cow Jack finds

“out in the woods with its legs sticking /

straight up to the stars.”

Its unborn calf is by its side.

Eight dead cow-legs point out

two escaped cow-souls.

And so I become animal mother

sorrow, my eyes aching and red,

searching night skies.

My legs pointing to the endless.

I am galled by the up and

down of love, a boulder

hard-shouldered every day.


Quote from “Thinning the Herd,” I Have No Clue by Jack Wiler (Longshot Press, 1996)



Sarah Sarai (photo by Any Holman)
Photo by Amy Holman

Sarah Sarai has published two to three poetry collections, depending on how you reckon, and a bunch of short stories. A native New Yorker, she lives in the big city, where she is an independent editor of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction.

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Susan Justiniano | Raspberry Kisses

SMOOCH: Raspberry Between Kissing Lips




Your kisses taste of raspberry

Tiny chills along lips swollen and red

slide down my throat

melt each nerve as they pass into me


the sexy — the want — I feel

hidden beneath lashes against flushed cheeks

pulse skips as your lips travel along my neck


our fingers slide

search to touch places

that make the sun jealous


threads of our clothes — prison bars! —

struggle to find escape

from liberated sensations

too inebriated to have names


sleeve pushed from shoulder

buttons undone by a nimble touch

raspberry kisses color of fire

brand bare flesh


hints of the enduring myth of heaven

paradise in your arms

give me rapture with each kiss

absorbed into layers


silhouettes dance under cotton covers

spread out on heated current

friction of flesh against flesh


our mouths explore one another

discovering delicacies uncommon to mortal man


there — that taste —






Elixir easily coaxed

Cherished fruit

To bear fruit

O wondrous raspberry kisses!




Susan Justiniano aka RescuePoetix

Susan Justiniano
aka RescuePoetix is the first Puerto Rican and the first woman to serve as Poet Laureate of Jersey City, New Jersey. She is a self-taught, bilingual poet with a deep love for knowledge, music, coffee, food, dogs, and the color red (not always in that order). Words are embedded in her life. Her passion for them started at age nine with a dictionary, notebook, and the latest paperback she could get her hands on. Like a bad penny, you can find her everywhere: