Sanjeev Sethi – 4 poems 


You were my stomping ground, regrouping

takes time. This is the essence of eldership.

I can intellectualize grief. Earlier on I would

weep and wail some more. Lamenting sans

lachrymatory spectacle is an age leg up.

Some things just dry up.







It isn’t easy to receive others

in registers other than

their ab initio downloads

onto our domes.

Noticing their gestalt

isn’t a natural impulse.

It has to be goaded.


Peeps are unlike arpeggios.

Like drawers in a sideboard

they split themselves in shelves.

Chasing their bliss folks

choose melded frontages

like fugues. In acceptance

we can clean our corners.







Mine is solitariness. Yours is fanning

a weighty contributor to your kitty.

The line of demarcation is delineated.

There is no confrontation. Alternate

day our telecon lasts for ten minutes.

Everything I say is right as rain. I only

hear *bilkul theek


*Absolutely right







Stowed you in a ship without the stevedores knowledge.

Instead of beseeching God to overslaugh your station 

conjure to be cared for in the slot you’re in. Grief isn’t

about scope or scale but skills as a surmounter. Gnat’s

bite is unbearable for a few, for others snakes are slight.




SANJEEV SETHI is the author of three well-received books of poetry. His most recent collection is This Summer and That Summer (Bloomsbury, 2015). His poems are in venues around the world includingThe London MagazineThe Fortnightly Review, Ink Sweat and Tears, Sentinel Literary Quarterly, Novelmasters, Zarf Poetry, The Galway ReviewEasy Street, W.I.S.H. PressDegenerate Literature, Linden Avenue Literary Journal, Darkrun Review, Spirit Fire Review, Zoomoozophone Review,  and elsewhere. He lives in Mumbai, India. 

Toti O’Brien – Fiction 

FIVE THINGS SHE DID ON HER BIRTHDAY                                

     On the evening of her twenty-first birthday she attends English conversation class. A small group. Two guys in their thirties, non-descript. A middle aged Chinese couple. The teacher, for whom she has fallen head over heels. Another girl, a bit older, the teacher clearly plans to get intimate with. Tonight.
     She has known the very minute she’s passed the front door. You catch these things by radar, at twenty-one, especially when directly involved.
     There’s a bottle of lemon vodka on the coffee table. She has her eyes on it, but she refrains momentarily.
     The class starts. None of the students, her included, is in very good shape. They are slow, they stutter, they blank. The teacher—a bright guy, on the brisk side—has to feed them each and every word. They are reviewing body parts. “How do you call this?” he asks, brushing her forearm with an awkward, quick caress. She knows what he means—la piel, la pelle, la peau. It is on the tip of her tongue. She so wants to please him. She tries. “Sky,” she whispers. Almost… Irritated, frustrated, he turns the other way.
     This is when she grabs the bottle, unscrews the tin cap, and down goes the whole damn thing.
     She awakes kind of late the day after, wrapped in a thick bathrobe. He has brought her a cup of coffee. She needs it. He is relaxed and smiling. No kidding: the other girl is still lingering in the kitchen. They are still pecking and flirting. Love birds.
     Her dress is almost dry, hanging on the balcony in the morning sun. A long tunic, with a small embroidery, white. They have thoroughly washed it yesterday night. They have washed her too, sticking her stark naked in the bathtub, since she has vomited all over herself. She remembers nothing. Her dress slightly damp on her sky—her skin—is refreshing.
     Thank you. I mean I am sorry. Goodbye.
     Since, she can’t stand the smell of lemon vodka. Alcohol should be drunk unflavored. Pure.

     She is still trying to learn English. Another small group in another area of town. She has fallen head over heels for a fellow student. A bit older, bit weird, plenty mysterious.
     Things were kind of evolving between them. Meaning they had exchanged phone numbers and such. Things were getting promising for the last few months—until he briskly vanished. Once a week she has sat at her desk and spied for the sound of his car, persuaded she could recognize it. She’d know when it would turn the corner, park at the curb. Then she only should wait for the door to be pushed open, and his lanky frame to appear. Every passing car made her ears bleed. Every passing car scorched her nerves, ripping her apart.
     On the night of her twenty-second birthday he comes back. He sits by her and sighs, “I’ll bring you out to dinner”. She holds her breath momentarily.
     He has picked a downtown joint, small and trendy. In a daze, she has no idea of what they are eating or drinking. A North African transsexual singer, just a couple of feet from their table, grabs all of her attention. Short and bold, not-too-thin, but gorgeous. And the way he sings in French, “Plaisir d’amour, ne dure qu’un instant”—whatever it means—is just mesmerizing.
     He was sent on a job, he says, that’s why he has missed class. Very well paid for once. Should he buy something special before squandering the unexpected sum? He’ll do whatever she says. Seriously? She tries focusing, but the singer makes her mind wander. She tries harder. “A motorcycle,” she spits, suddenly inspired. She details brand and model, she can almost see him ride. What about her? Not sure. “Chagrin d’amour,” goes the song.
     He was sent to India, in fact. He has brought back a stone for her birthday. Here it is, surrounded with soft cotton, in a real jewel box—a pink amethyst.
     Early the morning after she goes belly button piercing. She’s bringing along her gold chain—the one from her First Communion—to be melted in order to mount the stone. Can’t afford it otherwise, but the chain will do. She will wear the pink thing from now to eternity, or close. “Dure toute la vie,” wailed the singer. Is it how the song ends?
     Then he never returns to class. She keeps her ears tuned, in vain.
     Once, while waiting in front of a theater with friends, she sees him arrive with fracas on a sparkling bike—the correct one. A girl is behind him. They don’t look much in love. They look totally, boringly for-ever-matched. They look married.

     She has moved abroad. After a short breather, she has fallen head over heels for a guy she’s met on a typing job. Right. She is typing a super-boring book a writer needs on the spot. Please, please, please, can’t wait. Hunched over the keyboard, she sweats, when a guest comes in and starts fooling with her. Around her. Behind her. Making funny faces—awkward way to break the ice. It breaks anyway. He insists for the writer to keep the typist for dinner. They exchange information. She can think of nothing else since.
     She invites him at her birthday party. A small gathering—besides him and herself a selected girlfriend, just in case. The two of them are a bit older than she his. And way smarter, and perfectly tuned. Thus the conversation shine, which is good, because he is having fun.
     Too much fun? They slouch on her bed—a large mattress on the floor. They are talking psychoanalysis, dreams, and so on. “Have you fantasized to have sex with two guys at once? How often?” he asks. “With two girls?” her friend promptly replies. “Have you ever dreamed,” her girlfriend insists, “you had two penises instead than one?” He laughs, splitting index and middle finger like a viper tongue—his hands casually reaching behind this and that waist, to the right, to the left.
     She wonders if she should call it a night.

     She has moved abroad again and again. In her country of last destination, she has serendipitously met her first English teacher. They have made a beautiful child, then they have separated.
     On the night of her fiftieth birthday she has got a good gig. She will sing French love songs at someone’s birthday party. This is what she does best. She has left her son and her umpteenth boyfriend at home. They will have fun together. More than they would with her.
     Outside it rains cats and dogs. The address points to a residential area of town, up the hills. Tortuous little routes deepen out of sight, concealed, remote. In the fog she only can see a couple of feet ahead. Everything feels unreal, but instead of being scared she’s exhilarated.
     The gig goes impeccably. No one bothers her while she does her thing in a corner, niched between an aquarium and a flower display. Smoothed in, part of the furniture, enclosed in her bubble.
     Later, someone comes to pay a compliment. Her performance was perfect. Discrete, neutral, unobtrusive, tinged with just that drop of nostalgia. The organizer is pleased. He smiles while he puts the check in her hand. “It’s my birthday,” she cannot help whispering, but he’s gone already. She cries suddenly, without a reason, her face buried in the scores she’s packing away.
     When she gets home, they are sleeping.

     They have chosen today for her first communion. Are they trying to spare themselves a celebration? Save on dessert?
     She has been waiting. A bit scared, bit perplexed. She has never worn a long, white, embroidered dress before—not even for Carnival. It’s a strange, eerie feeling. Not so sure about the bonnet, hemmed with curly ribbons, tightly framing her face. Whatever Mom wants.
     It’s a cold gloomy day. They have driven uphill to a small chapel. Proto-Christian, Dad says. Spare, severe. Naked. She kneels in the first pew. Family is bunched behind her. No one else.
     The priest talks in Latin. She knows what about, but she doesn’t quite understand. She feels dizzy—something is squeezing her throat, oppressing her chest—the smell of incense perhaps. Or the scent of the narcissi she’s holding. So pungent. So pure, porcelain white, almost fake. Sculpted. Petrified. Dead, almost.

     When they step out, downtown looks alive, brimming with entertainment. Vendor booths crowd the plazas and the riverbanks, stores are open and lit, tourists everywhere.
     “And your favorite flowers?” he asks. She’s unsure. Until she remembers: “Narcissi. Isn’t that smell incredible?”
      He laughs. “They will be hard to find, girl. We’ll try.”
     “They are in season.”
     “That’s true. With a little luck.”


Toti O’Brien’s work has appeared in Peacock Journal, Sein und Werden, Avis, and Ink on Thirds, among other journals and anthologies. More about her can be found at

Michael Lee Johnson – 2 poems

Solo Boxing


Solo boxing, past midnight,

tugging emotions out of memories embedded,

tossing dice, reliving vices, revisiting affairs,

playing solitaire-marathon night,

hopscotch player, toss the rock,

shots of Bourbon.






Alberta Bound 


I own a gate to this prairie

that ends facing the Rocky Mountains.

They call it Alberta

trail of endless blue sky

asylum of endless winters,

hermitage of indolent retracted sun.

Deep freeze drips haphazardly into spring.

Drumheller, dinosaur badlands, dried bones,

ancient hoodoos sculpt high, prairie toadstools.

Alberta highway 2 opens the gateway of endless miles.

Travel weary I stop by roadsides, ears open to whispering pines.

In harmony North to South

Gordon Lightfoot pitches out

a tone

“Alberta Bound.”

With independence in my veins,

I am long way from my home.





 Michael Lee Johnson lived ten years in Canada during the Vietnam era. He is a Canadian and USA citizen. Today he is a poet, editor, publisher, freelance writer, amateur photographer, small business owner in Itasca, Illinois.  He has been published in more than 915 small press magazines in 27 countries, and he edits 10 poetry sites.  Author’s website  Michael is the author of The Lost American:  From Exile to Freedom (136 page book) ISBN:  978-0-595-46091-5, several chapbooks of poetry, including From Which Place the Morning Rises and Challenge of Night and Day, and Chicago Poems.  He also has over 103 poetry videos on YouTube as of 2015:  Michael Lee Johnson, Itasca, IL. nominated for 2 Pushcart Prize awards for poetry 2015 & Best of the Net 2016. Visit his Facebook Poetry Group and join  He is also the editor/publisher of anthology, Moonlight Dreamers of Yellow Haze:



G. Louis Heath – 4 poems 

The World Turned Upside Down



The sky and the earth traded places today.

Earth creatures whose feet gravitated to the


ground now breeze over shape-shifting

cotton patches. House morphs into horse


and horse gallops into mountains. These are

the New World. This upside-down reality


imposes Brobdingnagian challenges on little

cloud walkers. Scale and 3-D depth go awry.


Eyes must adjust. Little bodies are learning to

walk again on wispy feet shy of the blue sky.






All In The Family




His brother had been soft as pulpy leaves in autumn,

not soft and strong as parachute silk like Mom. In his


brother was enough of the quicksilver indulgence of

his Dad to spoil him and enough gentleness of Mom


to soften him, but not enough of either to stay his wrought

hand from a gun. Dad refused to plant any shrubs around


houses they occupied. His itch to move on could strike any

time. Mom would never have a home where she could get


to know other Moms and their kids, follow them through

the grades into adult life. Yet, his aimlessness somehow  


made her what she wanted to be. As she grayed, the more she

flowered in herself. The older and wealthier he got, the more


the man of parts fell apart.  His bluster and con waned as her

true strength waxed. His friends fled him as her circle grew.


He sank lower, as she rose. Her death did not veil his days with

mourning. He resented her leaving. Quick as a new house, he fell


into the trap of a young siren he adorned in his wife’s best clothes.

A month after he died, his last son heard about it with vast relief.







Chthonic Senescence




Glaucoma clouded my vision during palliative

care. I made a bad decision, staring at my liver


spots, my solipsistic stigmata of old age. I was

deluded, of weak faith. My mind, beset by dying


neurons, made me think myself a would-be saint,

a regular, good old boy Saint Francis, preaching


to the birds and staying the fangs of Gubbio’s wolf.

My body, my poor body, finds its way in shadows 


with no view to see the peaks from this valley. My

electric wheelchair climbs the access runway as 


I work the joy stick above the angry lake of fire.







Sunday Wash



My wash churned in suds cycle as she pushed a

laundry cart in. Sunday, 6 a.m. and society was

not around with its cleaner, 11 a.m. liturgical cycle.


I had seen her around, recently moved in on the

second floor. First sighting at this wash hole though.

Twig-thin, somber, her eyes hollow and stark for one


so young. She had a presence I felt strongly. We talked

as she stuffed a machine with her feminine stuff that

seemed to cycle more smoothly on her quarters than my


masculine stuff did on my quarters. (The ear can hear

sounds based on gender stereotypes, I had read.) Annoyed

I was there at 6, she was used to her choice of machines.


Her voice and the way she moved (also her under-things)

did not belong to a woman up for church I said. (We

sociologists like to interview.) She smiled thinly. She


needed to wash before her 8 a.m. Alcoholics Anonymous

meeting, a weekly washday where candor and tears cycle

guilt and redemption. I said, not in a superior way, I did not


drink. She wished she did not love drink so much, but now

she could hold down a job at the box factory. I could not

feel her pain. I am not privy to addiction. I do not even


imbibe that demon drink coffee. This I said. I knew the wash

was over then. But it wasn’t. She looked at me in a way that

connected our eyes in sync to the sturdy rhythms of the wash.


This has been going on for some time now as we try to cleanse

our souls in a baptism paid for by quarters from the local bank.

In these spinning pools lurk secret depths on Sunday mornings.







     Bio: G. Louis Heath, Ph.D., Berkeley, 1969, is Emeritus Professor, Ashford University. Clinton, Iowa. He enjoys reading his poems at open mics. He often hikes along the Mississippi River, stopping to work on a poem he pulls from his back pocket, weather permitting. His books include Leaves Of Maple, Long Dark River Casino, andRedbird Prof: Poems Of A Normal U, 1969-1981. He has published poems in a wide array of journals. He can be contacted at

M.A. Schaffner – 5 poems

Elder Statesman


Ninety percent of everything is crap” –

thought for the day on imagined samplers

intended to teach our youth not virtue

but the inevitability of despair.


Let’s say it doesn’t matter and move on

to the next plane of existence. Up there

this truth would only apply to poetry

and musical compositions, leaving


affairs of the heart free of foolishness,

at least past a certain sobering age.

But my age has sobered me all along

even as I resisted with rotten jokes.


No wiser and knowing nothing I move

from year to year of portraying an adult,

then open a door and see her smiling

in all innocence, maybe, though intent


on more, not knowing my fat stock of guile

and bad example. It changes nothing

but the clown suit and fright wig I put on

and when the grease paint smile becomes a frown.




Except The Beating Part


Your lover can’t be your lifeguard, your Christ,

your doctor or full time nurse. Not your whore,

your stud, your sympathetic furniture,

your bumper sticker or flag. Your lover

can’t lift you out of adolescence

or stay the steps of death. Your lover can’t

make demons disappear and angels sing

in praise of your nonexistent virtue.


Your lover might pretend to anything,

whether you wish or not – spend your money,

toy with your desire, drive you to madness,

embarrass you, or view you with disgust,

as long as they stay, and share what life gives,

grudgingly or beautifully together.




The Lamp And The Bat


She knew what I thought before I thought it –

sweet spectral smile and I’m an old buffoon

losing his wisdom before he got it

on a cool night, blue mist covering the moon.


Anyone can laugh and shake their head,

tell me to act my age as if that means

beyond a certain digit we’re all dead,

and have no right to love or hope or dream.


I see the gulf that keeps us both in line –

one that leads uphill, the other down,

but age improves the taste of more than wine

and though I cannot touch I won’t disown

the note of understanding in her voice,

the sudden pang in which I had no choice..




News From Near And Far


While I was watching they cut off his head.

A little later he fell in the street,

shot multiple times, as the spokesman said.

A drone observed the scene from overhead.


The victim’s phone produced this recording.

And it’s summer yet, flowers so pretty;

bees hum, birds whistle, children run and sing.

Government forces shelling the city


bring intimations of an early fall.

It gets so bright we want to turn away,

go back to school, watch movies in the mall.

Fatal accidents occur throughout the day.


Some fires you can outrun, but not them all.

The world will leave you with an oil slicked pall.

Your cocktails glitter untouched in the tray.

It seems too soon. You hardly know the way.






We met in a dark and intimate world

and later saw ourselves betrayed by day,

with daily needs to deal with and the sun

highlighting every blemish from the one

horizon to the next, and next beyond.


First seen, then seen too much, I disappear

into a curio cabinet of memories –

a romantic shade turned to dust catcher,

my transient ideal become collector

jumbling me into a drawer of random junk.


And there I will wait to see her again

as she passes with a newer treasure

into a newer room, carefully set

with all the objects dearest to her taste,

my life pending on the uncertain chance

she someday senses something else is missing.



M. A. Schaffner has had poems published in ShenandoahPrairie SchoonerAgni, and elsewhere — most recently in Former PeopleRaintown Review, and Rock River Review. Long-ago-published books include the poetry collection The Good Opinion of Squirrels and the novel War Boys. Schaffner spends most days in Arlington, Virginia juggling a laptop, smart phone, percussion caps, pugs, and a Gillott 404.

Christopher Barnes – 2 poems 

​Lord Byron Downloads A Zombie Movie


When to their                    hughies on a fuddled gale,

Shall call my spirit,           dark Guinness-tinged, pugilistic,

When, pois’d                    he rip-tides thick speech,

Or, dark in mist                 marks the spot before an unfermented head.

Oh! May my shade’s        giddy-pluck veins drain

To mark the spot              into a jotted fragment, a pub-crawl swig alone.

No lenghthen’d scroll       if that with bed-readiness this liver has glued

My epitaph shall be          with lurk-remembered charms        

If that                                only bugger-all shall lucidify

Oh! May no other             gaffes be misremembered. 


Glossary of slang: Hughie – Vomits.




Lord Byron Attends A Transvestite Party


One shade                   of forget-me-not dusts the eyes

   Had half impair’d       splotch on a rag doll cheek

Which waves                in a shagadelic hair-piece, nuzzling

   Or softly lightens        the boom-ting polkadot embodiment

Where thoughts            and amyl orbit the venturesome

   How pure                   this backdoor man daylights as Miss Salacia




In 1998, Christopher Barnes won a Northern Arts writers award.  In July 2000 he read at Waterstones bookshop to promote the anthology ‘Titles Are Bitches’ and at Christmas 2001 he debuted at Newcastle’s famous Morden Tower doing a reading of his poems.  Each year he reads for Proudwords lesbian and gay writing festival and he partakes in workshops. In 2005, Christopher saw the publication of his collection LOVEBITES published by Chanticleer Press, 6/1 Jamaica Mews, Edinburgh.

Tom Montag – 4 poems



It’s always about loss,

though when we are young

we think it’s about love.


There’s an emptiness

in the heart that blood

alone cannot fill.


There’s a black hole

at the center of our

galaxy which pulls us


to some last, great darkness.

That’s not about love at all,

for all we love will be


compressed to nothing

or as near to nothing

as atoms ever get.


You must push through such

losses, though, before

you find what you need.







And so you become

one with the universe,

one with this earth,

with the tawny grasses

that cradle you.

One with the vultures

that feast on you.


One with the sky

in which they fly.

One with wind. With

all of us, the huge

roaring greatness of

everything that is,

and was, and will be.






Such bright green,

this morning fire,


this consuming

light. We ask


for nothing, this

loveliness enough


to take us home.







Bitter cold. And why be out

in it? With wind an icy

sting above the river. And

snow on everything. With

fingers numbed lacing skates.

Why run the river’s fall towards

the Missouri?


                        To carve

the only marks the ice would

see that day. To skate free

as a poet would. To do

something that means something

even now, fifty years on.




 Tom Montag is the author of In This Place: Selected Poems 1982-2013He has been featured poet at Atticus Review (April, 2015), Contemporary American Voices (August, 2015), Houseboat (April, 2016), and Basil O’Flaherty Review (July, 2016), and received Pushcart Prize nominations from Provo Canyon Reviewand Blue Heron Review.

Welcome to Bindweed Magazine Issue 4!

Bindweed by Driss Tamdi.jpeg
Issue 4 cover photography: Driss Tamdi

For January, February and March 2017 all poetry and fiction published in Bindweed will be included in the later print anthology for Issue 4.

Bindweed Magazine Issue 3 will soon be available to buy in print. Read our news vine for more information:

If you want to submit for Issue 5 in April, May and June 2017 check out the submission guidelines at:

Happy reading, Heavenly Flowers!

Leilanie Stewart 🌺