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.

Why Bindweed Magazine is a labour of love

Bindweed Magazine celebrated its 1 year birthday on 3rd April this year. With the end of the tax year also in sight this month, Editor-in-Chief Leilanie Stewart has published, for a little insight to readers, Bindweed’s financial incomings – and outgoings – showing why the magazine truly is a labour of love to provide another platform for writers and poets to market their creative work. Read the full article here:

To support the magazine you can buy back issues at or at

Kyle Hemmings – Fiction

Old World, New Day

It’s a  new world, one sans my longtime roommate, Munch. He’s always overdosing on insidious poisons from his past, and I wonder what fine morning I will wake up to find him frozen for good in a fetal curl. All the rooms of the apartment are empty. Munch, the ex-engineer who once worked for S & E, who developed a new plastic that sent the company’s stock soaring into space, who after failing rehab after rehab was salvaged by moi, rescued from underground shelters and a confederacy of stray cats, has vaporized into an emptiness too vast to locate him. 


I always tell him there’s hope, the kind of hope Frank Sinatra and Doris Day once sang about, that some night, chancing a walk without raincoat, he will feel the droppings of some sweet melon moon. He can only believe in pain and the luxury of its aftermath.


We are both bonded by the stigma of being lovable losers. It’s a kind of friendship with strong roots and sickly leaves.


“Love never lasts,” he once told me, “the better half of each couple on a moon colony have deserted for lack of proper space shoes. The other half are resigned to their personal craters. Either on earth or moon, you are doomed to masturbate into oblivion.”


Calling Munch’s name a thousand times, whisking through each room again and again, just to justify that I have done more than my share to save the both of us, so that I can feel lighter on my feet in my guilt-free shoes, I find Munch’s old tape recorder conspicuously situated on a wicker chair in his bedroom. Hesitant to turn it on, suspecting it might contain Munch’s long good-bye without the noticeable twitches and facial blushes, I finally hit RUN. 


“Charley, I know this is awkward and as the French say, pueril, I’ve decided to say good-bye this way without all the melodramatic hard-on soliloquies that in the end come to nothing. A misfire. You see, Charley, I’ve gone mad without a lover and I was even madder when with him. At first, I couldn’t stand to be apart, that some force of nature, either rain or sun, had destined us to idle in cafes, to pander to each other’s self-sinking indulgences, to fondle each other in ravaged hotel rooms without discount. I truly believed it. Then, Master Bot (my personal sobriquet for him) began to grow tired and twisted, justifying everything by trying a new shape for his needs. After loving one another with root and gut-instinct, Master Bot would burn my fingernails just to hear me scream, just to confirm that I was alive and well in the vortex of pain. I let him do it because I loved him or maybe I felt I deserved pain, that I had no right to protest what’s inevitable.


 He said I reminded him so much of the small animals in his childhood, ones in captivity, and the matchsticks, he added, were something he never outgrew. He burned down, he admitted, so many paper houses that could not shelter his flimsy lovers.” 


And so Charley, I’m a wreck. Well, when haven’t I been? I want to die, but not sure how or when, or that maybe the whole thing is superfluous because I’ve been dying all along. It only takes a quick of the hand, but I want to have a drink first and remember the good times if there were any. And I want to thank you, above all, Charley, for sheltering me from a storm that soon raged too wildly, broke into every sanctum. Perhaps, we’ll see each other again, veil ami, perhaps not. Take care of yourself. You are as precious as moon children, although I no longer believe in the moon.”


I have to find Munch before he turns to nothing and isn’t discovered for months.


I rush along city blocks, noticing the squirrels bungee-jumping from branch to branch, that is, without all the cords, witnessing the rose-chested Grosbeaks perched on trees as if they could be an oracle. Tell me, I want to ask them Where is Munch? If I don’t save him, I will surely die from self-neglect. Their answer in a song is both obvious and cryptic. I can’t understand their language and the meaning of their octaves, but they give me hope. Sometimes it’s good to be alive.


I search Munch’s usual haunts, the late-night diners and the bars on the outer circumference of town. In one bar, The Golden E-gal, I strike it rich without matchsticks. The barmaid, a middle-aged woman with large brown eyes, the daughter of holocaust survivors, tells me that Munch is upstairs in a private room and that he doesn’t wish to be disturbed. I tell her it’s an emergency. She understands. She can guess the secret-terrors behind Munch’s eyes. She understands his voice-imprisoned-within-another-voice.  

Sitting next to a far window with streaks, Munch is staring toward a wall. A half full mug of beer sits before him. I sit down across from him. The table is small, round and nicked to shit.


He speaks without looking at me.


“So you found me, Charley. You’re a good hunter. But I’m not much of a find. No reward for you boy-o.” 

He brings one hand up to wipe his lips. I gently grasp his hand, inspecting the missing fingernails, the cinched nail beds, their purplish color.


 “Does it hurt, Ernest? Do they hurt?” 

He smiles as if to himself. He still doesn’t look at me. 


“Everything hurts, Charley. It hurts everyday. I’ve been condemned to hurt.”


I guide his hand to the table. I stroke the back of his wrist.


“They’ll grow back, Ernest. In time, everything will grow back.”


“Will they, Charley?” he says with a slight twist of lips, a twinkle in his eyes.





Kyle Hemmings lives and works in New Jersey. He has been published in Elimae, Smokelong Quarterly, This Zine Will Change Your Life, Blaze Vox, Matchbook, and elsewhere. His latest collections of poetry/prose is Future Wars from Another New Calligraphy and Split Brain on Amazon Kindle. He loves 50s Sci-Fi movies,  manga comics, and pre-punk garage bands of the 60s.

Glen Wilson – 4 poems

The River Rother Engineer


The levels are high again,

noticeable now to the naked eye,


between finger and thumb

I mark out the integrity of the washlands,


Its life once blackened sour

by the coke plants at Orgreave  and Brookhouse,


chub, roach and perch ,

are now able to sustain themsleves enough


to let the angler’s hooks,

cast a bounteous bait and switch,


there is taking, receiving,

and we must be careful in what surfaces.


The landscape only lets

us sculpt for the breadth of a season.


Will our hands make

the right moves to dam the water’s desires?








It is ugly.


Comissioned by a Lord something or other,

the artist’s name has too many letters

and it sounds foreign.


It has no straight lines, it is bent

with sharp edges at all angles.


A pensioner complained to the supervisor

“You’ll have someone’s eye out with that”


I agreed. A pile of nonsense.


The lawyers stride past it then past me

barely looking up as they show their passes.


I remember their applause at the unveiling,

the clink of glasses as they talked shop,

the sculpture standing naked, the red sheet

lying sadly on the marble plinth.


I watch the visitors who gawp at it,

tilting their head to one side then the other

as if it could be made to make sense

by simple geometry.


I look at the scrawls on the visitor ledger and wonder

How many would remember me,

my uniform clean and well …uniform Ha! –

–  how like my pass photograph

I look, don’t they see purpose there?


I follow the curves of the sculpture

as they either curl back into themselves


or splinter off into space.




Rapid Eye Movement


Is the shape of Love the space between


our sleeping bodies?

Found in the moving penumbras of light,


an opera of shadows and mute players,

our limbs loll to align with stars,


marking out our territory.

Two foetal spine to spine postures,


defending our middle ground,

switch to face to face, to feast on the stories

coagulating in the valley between,


to give us the strength to shift worlds in our dream,

to ready dreams for our world.


There are no schedules here, no appointments of dread,

no lesser addictions to cope, we breathe


in each other, chests filling up, eyes flicker like a meter

we are all upward pull,


only these sheets and the weight of our flesh

anchoring us here.




Skimming Across Lough Neagh, Late September


I plunge my hand in the shingle and silt

and pick up a stone, smoothed by tides

that tease the edges by the pier stilts.


I release it, smudging the water’s skin,

each time touching, briefly knowing

first impressions of holiness and sin.


Faces flick like fine spray in the shallow,

wetting, creasing, becoming less clear

going further out where I can’t follow.


All the stones sink so it doesn’t matter

how many times it skips across the water,

any throw can catch the wind, be faster.


I pick another one, trace along the stray

cracks breaking the illusion of surface,

see the glint of treasures thrown away.


A mackerel sky portends a speaking swell,

pushing us back towards our cars, who of us

can stay and face the accusatory knell.



Glen Wilson was highly commended inThe  2015 Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Competition. He has won the Poetry Space competition and was shortlisted for The Wasafiri New Writing Prize 2014 and the Seamus Heaney Award for New Writing 2016. Twitter @glenhswilson

Simon Robson – 2 poems

If I could miraculously develop a
second brain at the back of my neck,
not too heavy, all my weekend bets off,
I’d win the lottery –
gravity still allowing me
to drag my left leg over
the cracks in paving, steep, rising kerbs,
never falling over, ice and snow.

I’d go around every cine-plex showing,
me and my two brains together,
tiny sardine shoals of fish,
worth millions, vibrating, silver –
more than Argentina, Buenos Aries,
galloping polo players, armadillos,
I’d be worth spacious New York apartments,
a fortune in timber, match sticks, my ankles…

I wouldn’t be standing here now,
trying to piss straight, golden Lucozade –
I’d be careful with my movements,
strange, adding a second brain,
more wisdom, intellect,
bottles of embryonic fluid I’d happily sink…

I’d rather be a fish,
thanks to my mother’s womb –
I’d still be swimming around with two brains,
all that truth, nervous, untidy, my ankles –
still fumbling in my front door,
I’d like to see things differently,
less knowledge, dignity, respect –
one day, two brains.




Expect further delays,
that’s what I’d say,
you may as well be
in your pram sucking on your mother’s
nipple – I wish I was in charge.

There wouldn’t be a completion date
for motorway safety improvements and
maintenance, four lanes –
your mental health in tatters.

I’d have 500 useless workers at any one time,
shuffling dumper trucks, cabins, diggers,
Smart phones, taking dirty photos of trenches,
dilapidated, flapping fences, concrete paving,
useless, their endeavours, empty, limp diggers.

I’d have everyone slowing down to one lane,
miles of one-way upright traffic cones,
a few minor diversions just to confuse you further –
decapitated immigrant’s heads bouncing off
BMW and Landrover windscreens like expensive
Chelsea footballs, cocks, yachts from
Southampton docks.

A lorry driver who can’t change gears, lanes,
a DJ with his turntables and equipment,
a painter and decorator from Bagshot,
one bridge demolished, leaving residents cut off –
me and Anees, my driver,
on our way to work, Hounslow heath,
hampered by the roadworks and delays.

It’s been years, I wish I was in charge –
I’d commission an enormous machine to
produce more industrial thick fog, sleet and icy rain,
whirring helicopter propeller blades,
ambulances, medics, traffic cones,
more diversions to Essex, Epping forest.

It’s a government project, scam, I know,
worth £174 million, an idiotic investment, endeavour,
just above your average Chelsea football player –
all improvements to safety, none.
It’s been years,
I wish I was in charge –
I’d have fifty miles an hour
speed cameras to boost revenue further,
information signs that lead to Brookwood, Woking,
the Polish cemetery there,
some trained through the Skills Academy,
Farnborough Sixth Form students, NVQs, Job Centre Plus –
four lanes, improved safety, yellow information signs.



Simon Robson 

Jan Wiezorek – 1 poem



Surmise: defacing tool,

creating faux relief.


I, handheld and struck

to imprint.


Pressed by palm,

administered tactile,


scrolled in difference,

alerting courtrooms,


documenting valleys

and ridged fingers,


forced between

two appointed orbs


that never orbit. 

Once free, I sit amazed,


caught in produced



and surface

blood blistering


by bounding



at skin canvas

squeezed to chest and navel hair.



Jan Wiezorek has taught writing at St. Augustine College, Chicago, and his poetry has appeared or is forthcoming at The London Magazine, Southern Pacific Review, PanoplyzineBetter Than Starbucks, and Schuylkill Valley Journal. He is author of Awesome Art Projects That Spark Super Writing (Scholastic, 2011) and holds a master’s degree in English Composition/Writing from Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago.