Robbie Masso – 2 poems



Don’t think I don’t care about you, darling,

I’ll just always be married to death.

I can’t imagine a greater feeling or thrill

than attending your own funeral.

I long for that eeriness more than love. 






“Show me the city.” I said to her.

She smiled and grabbed my hand.

“I’m ready to be spontaneous.”

“I’m the one to be spontaneous with.” she winked.  



I bought a ukulele, just for the hell of it,

at an old Spanish music store.

What would I do if the strings broke?

I didn’t care.  



I didn’t want to fly back home with it.

I also didn’t want to leave it for her.

She already had one.

I’ll guess I’ll have to live here  



because of the ukulele – not her. 




Robbie Masso is a twenty-year old poet and artist from New Jersey. He has work published on ( and has further work on his social media (Facebook: Poetry by Robbie Masso, Instagram: @robbiemasso).  


Linda M. Crate – 1 poem


No one

wants to hear the

story of how

I sewed myself back


after the throes of lust

nearly ravaged 

me into ruin

they only want to hear that

I am “fine” when they ask how i’m doing,

but I’ve never been the type

that can hide my emotions and why should

I want to?

why is it so wrong to admit

that I feel

as deep as the earth holds her roots or as high as an

opera singer can psalm or as jaggedly as an

quaking mountain?

my strength

is my empathy, my kindness, my love, 

and my caring;

I will not cut that part out of myself because it makes

some uncomfortable or insecure or vulnerable

I will not be ashamed of feeling

because sensitivity is both a weakness and a strength.




 Linda M. Crate 

M.A. Schaffner – 5 poems

Received Wisdom


Didn’t we have a time that decade we don’t

quite remember or agree on? You know,

the one with that weird dance, or was it song?

A buzzard never changes style, nor do squirrels.

That’s why we call them both inferior

as we study them on our way to work.

Whoa there, fella. Row that leaky boat ashore

and come in out of the rain for a drink.

We need to recall which era it was.

Our people were here before the Indians,

supping on codfish and mastodon pie,

chipping beautiful spear points and losing them.

It’s all in the epic we learned in school

and then recited by heart. Or maybe

none of that happened. Or maybe just some.





We’ll have the cookies till the drugs kick in.

Your organs aren’t failing, just dropping off

into a state resembling work to rule

or whatever we do in lieu of caring.

Already have insurance? Not enough

to live forever unless you have faith

or a related disorder. Funny,

but people burned or butchered each other

just for the ratings. In time we grew up

into commercial metastases,

a kind of consumerist zoo. And today

the king offers his horse for freezer space

and a place in the country where the walls

enclose a ceremonial golf course, lakes

with seasonal fish, and a club house filled

with peers and medicinal beverages.

Almost a life, it takes his mind off death.




 Invisible Wing

One definition of street had become

a community of shopping carts leading

to a cluster of depots and barracks

of the Grand Army of Consumption, which

promised ongoing ultimate victory

ultimately fueled primarily by

the fantasy that it was possible –

life as an unending tipsy orgasm

with production devolved to Alberecht

and his Third World dwarves. We’re so beautiful,

the films made in our praise are infinite,

though only a minute long, and billboards

greet us with gifts from every building filled

with our twins. They simulate work as we

text them from the neighboring block. It works

only so far as we don’t, then it falls

like a hawk who has forgotten to fly

and doesn’t know it yet, but loves to dive.




Civic Dedication: Lessons From The Lincoln Conspiracy

Not as buyers, but with ideas we keep

the future of the republic secure.

Let’s not, but say that our fierce rivalry

has implications beyond breakfast foods.

Notice how we mature – from sippy cups

to morning take-out beverages with names

evocative of foreign vacations

on ever less sleep because time presses.

Everything is an obvious casualty

of having traded species for product,

and the latest hour of decision looms

like an appointment to have one’s teeth cleaned.

Each franchise leader goes to market with

a “radical” proposal. Each network proclaims

a belief in people in the abstract.

I believe in me as an abstraction,

not a sentiment but a strategy

for surviving the inevitable storm,

for calibrating hope and affection:

not what Booth said, nor Boston Corbett did.




 Annual Report

An air of righteousness unjustified

by the underlying contribution,

like masses for those who’ve already died —

no matter how often the name comes up

this is about the organization

and its loyal staff, starting at the top

and ending not far below. It’s a law,

not of nature but of information

pertinent to most managers who draw

little lines from labeled box to hollow square

with steadily less consideration

for whoever might be working there,

though often praising their contributions

in speeches that thud like clods on coffins.




 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.

Michael Lee Johnson – 3 poems

Sing it Frank, Physical Therapy


Sing it Frank

I’m busy at physical therapy

struggling with back spasms

looking out this window, these clouds

this rain, slice this thunder,

listening to your songs over again

on the Muzak for this 6th week in a row,

peddling this mechanical bike,

might as well be a mechanical bull

with a heat pad on my spinal cord.

I’m deep inside your larynx 10 minutes

3 times a week tickling it back and forth,

jousting and reviewing those playgrounds

of all your illicit affairs.  With a few shots of vodka

peddling these wheels with intensified pressure

I can appreciate Lana Turner, Judy Garland,

Lauren Bacall, even Marilyn Monroe.

“This is my kind of town Chicago is,

my kind of town Chicago is.”





Give Me Booze or Give me Jesus


Give me booze or give me Jesus

If we listened to the bottom of the vodka bottle,

or finished the last chapter book of Revelation,

the spirits toss in the cards, the chips-

pray for a gambler.

Listen to summer sun, birds that chirp,

these are the beginnings and where it ends.

Maya calendar.





Journaling, Labeling Theory


Breaking news this just in,

1:15 PM December 15, 2013,

I found out labeling theory

has a personality.

It has impact of its own.

I love today because I

found out I have a mental illness.

Formally, diagnosed,

now I am special.

Shrink, Dr. Pennypecker, knows me well.

We visit 15 minutes every 3 months.

I have known him for 9 months.

Simple sentences just make more sense.

Simple sentences make me feel more secure.

After 9 months he says, “I’ve sort of figured

you out, you are a manic depressive, stage 2 hypo-mania.”

I ask my shrink, “can I cast my vote?”

In this PM news, I gave him permission.

Life is a pilgrimage of pills.

I cast out my net to catch myself,

save myself.

Life is a pilgrimage of prayers.

Note:  it could end here.

He does not know the difference

between manias, verses six shots of vodka.

I suffer from a B-12 deficiency.

I need extra thiamine symptoms psychosis.

I place my lid down on forsaken table,

foreskin, I forgive.

A dead shrink, middle of the road.

I crack my knuckles,

pass sleep two next night.

Creativity flows fragmented.

I kick gravesites up then down.





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 108 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:  A second poetry anthology, Dandelion in a Vase of Roses, Editor Michael Lee Johnson, was released in January 2017.