Carl Griffin – 1 poem

Coffin Test


On holiday in Podgorica, a pilgrimage
you might call it, in the Palma Funerals
store we browse the urns, the chapel,
the preparation room for embalming,
but what we really came for are the coffins.


This is the store where Montenegrin Milo,
a man in his fifties, tapped some coffins,
checked the smoothness of the wood, whether
the particular shade of brown suited him.
He left on the counter what the staff later


realised was his obituary. We nominate
a coffin in which each of us will fit.
You quibble about the lid’s epitaph
but no one is dying yet. The staff
lay the coffin on the ground. And in you go.


Closing the lid, the staff leaving a moment
too used to termination to feign interest,
I sit on top, starting the stopwatch for your minute.
Your idea of testing trust, as if trust is as simple
as letting your partner out of a coffin as promised


or succumbing to the unexpected power.
Have you ever heard a gunshot ring out
from such a claustrophobic space? The staff in Palma
Funerals have, because Milo closed himself
in his coffin of choice and shot himself.


You’re laughing by the time I stand,
pause the stopwatch and heave away the lid.
Then usher me in. Your eagerness to close
your partner in might make astute men paranoid
but I’m more nervous about whether Milo’s


blood is staining the coffin. The darkness
doesn’t make me panic. Why would I writhe
when the staff will respond to screamed distress
even if you don’t? Milo was found alive,
the bullet through his chin. We’ve always wondered


how he missed his brain; if he’d had a brain;
why the staff hadn’t given Milo a refund
or why it was the man had requested one.
My minute must be up. I wonder if you’ve gone.
I suddenly can’t breathe and bang the lid.





Carl Griffin is from Swansea, South Wales, and has had poems published in Magma, Poetry Wales and Cheval. He used to review collections and interview poets for Wales Arts Review. He was long-listed for the Cinnamon Pamphlet Poetry Prize and the Melita Hume Prize.

Leah Mueller – 1 poem



If you eliminate
you can continue living.


In a contest between
keeping and letting go,
err on the side
of release. All is practice


for the big one. You won’t get
to hold anything. Trust is hubris,
a vain expectation someone else
cares more for your needs
than he does for his own.


You’re better off
pouring your own water.


The gods will punish you
swiftly if you throw a tantrum.
Look at you: legs spread wide,
glass upended on the floor.


Teachers called you clumsy,
said all you needed


was more practice. Somebody will
always snatch the glass away,
laughing at the spill.


You must be clever, willing
to let the container overturn.


Release its contents,
then walk away quickly.
Don’t try to go back.






Leah Mueller is an indie writer from Tacoma, Washington. She is the author of two chapbooks, “Queen of Dorksville” (Crisis Chronicles Press) and “Political Apnea” (Locofo Chaps) and three books, “Allergic to Everything”, (Writing Knights Press) “Beach Dweller Manifesto” (Writing Knights) and “The Underside of the Snake” (Red Ferret Press). Her work appears in Blunderbuss, Summerset Review, Outlook Springs, Crack the Spine, Atticus Review, Your Impossible Voice, and other publications. She was a featured poet at the 2015 New York Poetry Festival, and a runner-up in the 2012 Wergle Flomp humor poetry contest.

Joan McNerney – 1 poem




There is a

witch living

on the corner

where the four

roads meet.


Her eye is

evil, her

nose crooked.


She lays down

the tarot


with wrinkled



Asks “do you wish

tea of wormwood

or henbane?”


She will enchant

your mind now

into fields of

wild roses.




Joan McNerney’s poetry has been included in numerous literary zines such as Moonlight Dreamers of Yellow Haze, Seven Circle Press, Dinner with the Muse, Blueline, Halcyon Days and included in Bright Hills Press, Kind of A Hurricane Press and Poppy Road Review anthologies. She has been nominated four times for Best of the Net.