Cynthia Anderson – 2 poems

The Regular



Every afternoon around two,

after lunch, after a nap,

he puts on his wide straw hat

and blue jacket, and walks

a few blocks to the park.

He’s sure to see someone

he knows, and today it’s me,

a friend of a friend, saying hello,

and he remembers, though

I must tell him my name.

They say his wife isn’t well,

she can’t get out any more,

and today he seems distracted,

not quite sure what to say.

Still, we talk for awhile, mostly

about our friend and the fine

day that’s come out after rain.

As I say goodbye, he takes my hand

like a lifeline, squeezing hard—

I know that grip of the very old,

the one that says, Don’t go

the one where loneliness spills over

as the stranger walks away.





The Ticket-Taker


He was a fixture at the Riviera

Theatre, in his blue blazer

and red bow tie, peering out

behind old-fashioned glasses.

Stationed just inside the front

entrance, he greeted each patron

as though he were their host,

tearing their tickets with aplomb.

If asked, he offered his take

on the feature, and his opinion

carried weight—anchored

by a vast knowledge of film.

He was a throwback, like

the theatre itself—worn seats,

limp projection, muffled sound.

But the movies were first-rate,

foreign and independent, never

run-of-the-mill. Authentic.

Then the 21st century arrived:

new ownership. Improvements.

The ticket-taker jettisoned.

He wasn’t the kind who could

start over, though he tried—

he moved to Los Angeles,

failed to find work, drifted,

committed suicide. That wind

in the eucalyptus, those ripples

on the reflecting pool—he haunts

the place where he thrived,

twilight dimming the city,

the show about to begin.





Cynthia Anderson lives in the Mojave Desert near Joshua Tree National Park. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals, and she is the author of nine poetry collections. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. She co-edited the anthology A Bird Black As the Sun: California Poets on Crows &


Ken Poyner – 2 poems



We could live the life of chaos.

Waving to strangers from the windows

Of yellow houses.  Ordering tea sets

For yachts adrift in the Interstate median.

Professing our love of horses

To the mad young boys who ride turtles

And condemn the grass.  There would be

So much

We could do.  But our lives are regulated,

Beginning to end, beginning to end, one thing

Ended and another beginning.

For our purposes a cigar

Is always a cigar, a train tunnel

The dark of the journey.  Waving

From the murderous windows of yellow houses

Is an excitement for people without mortgages.

Wave with me anyway.

The boys are strapped to their turtles,

The grass has had its come-uppance,

And everyone loves horses, loves tea sets.

There are strangers just over there.  Wave!

They pull off their blue shades and look at us,

Regard their watches, one

Starts at least a half gesture to wave back

And you can see cause and effect

Weighing on him.  He will make

An independent decision, and our world

Out of that one humid fact might go on.


His fingers in the air like bamboo

Twittering as though at the start of a race,

His wave, the sleek economy of it:

His waving.







Beneath the bed she can hear

The ocean heave, lap at itself,

Crest and growl:  independent.

She does not know how long she

Has been adrift, or this room

On the third floor awash.  Years

She has not peered under the bed,

Vacuuming with the length of the hose:

No smell of salt, no cry of seabirds,

No clatter of exoskeleton joints.

How long has the ocean hidden, how long

Did its infinite biology transpire

Beneath her bed – the bed

Barely as wide as she, barely

As long?  Brine and octopus

Calligraphy, mollusks as danced out

Through centuries of washed stone, the joy

Of fish in ordered numbers.

She has suspected.

Now, ever so cautiously,

She leans over the side, pulls up

The drape of cold, night blankets.  The

Clear sea breezes bring as well

Some stench of what gets cast

To the shore: the sea’s refusal

Of failure, the inept and worn out,

The decay of creatures falling behind.

Her hair is free to wash across the floor;

The spray there is mineral and oily.

She leans farther, past the box springs,

Balanced with only a fistful of mattress,

Wanting only to look, to look deeper,

To witness the joy of land-loving mermaids

Giddy with the sea, gasping in air.






After years of impersonating a Systems Engineer, Ken has retired to watch his wife of forty+ years continue to break both Masters and Open world raw powerlifting records.  Ken’s two current poetry collections (“The Book of Robot”, “Victims of a Failed Civics”) and three short fiction collections (“Constant Animals”, “Avenging Cartography”, “The Revenge of the House Hurlers”) are available from Amazon and most book selling websites.  Visit him at

Frank C. Modica – 1 poem




He trekked three hours

to his dad’s house, his duty,


driving him to the hospital

for bypass surgery.


In the hospital for 9 hours,

he walked loops around the


brightly lit corridors, prayed

with the rest of the family.


Feeling like a boat tossed

about in the wake of a storm,


he raged against the gods,

besieged the nurse’s station.


He drove back home to rest,

waited for news. At the tenth hour,


a phone call–the blood sacrifice

on a surgical table. No mercy.





Frank C. Modica 

Ceinwen E. Cariad Haydon – 1 poem

Late Love


We met against the odds
as a door shut gently on your prime.
And me? I was five short years behind.


I glimpsed, almost touched,
your virile thrust before you softened
much against your will. Now I know
my desperate desire tugged at your loss.
Hurt –
love’s prospect often made you hide
remote and knotted.


Both bewildered,
fraught with singular longings.
Why did our parallel paths
fail to cross when our skin was supple,
our blood hot.


Yesterday, at last,
you told me how you felt


and undefended: I fell in love. Shed
twenty years of straining at the leash
in one connected moment.
Both of us, joined in shared pain.
I understood truths I’d missed
found beauty in our twilit, struggle-led devotion.
We kissed, stroked and warmed our age-thinned blood.



Ceinwen lives in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, and writes short stories and poetry. She has been widely published in web magazines and in print anthologies. She was Highly Commended in the Blue Nib Chapbook Competition [Spring 2018],  won the Hedgehog Press Poetry Competition ‘Songs to Learn and Sing’. [August 2018] and was shortlisted for the Neatly Folded Paper Pamphlet Competition, Hedgehog Press [October 2018]. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Newcastle University (2017). She believes everyone’s voice counts.

John Grey – 1 poem



He doesn’t rest or sleep,

merely occupies that hospital bed.

Same with his brain, his body.

They’re just death’s waiting rooms.


Our bewilderment is contagious.

Is this really our father?

Conversations with dad lately

have been like twisting and turning the radio dial

and merely cranking up the static.

Our mother says he’s been reliving his childhood.

And he’s taken to singing nursery rhymes.

“Ding! Dong! Dell!”  is not what we came to hear.


Sadly, she’s not much better.

But she knows our names at least,

even if, from time to time,

she connects them to the wrong face.

But she insists, in heaven, it will be different.

They’ll be together, in their prime,

and remembering every last detail.

So, to her, he’s a date in the future.

To we kids, he’s a presence,

so like him and yet so unalike,

but enough of him still alive

to block our better memories from kicking in.


And he makes me conscious of my own vulnerability,

how life was not designed to hold together

the way I wish it to.

Not in the long term, at least.

And he’s at the very end of that long time,

one ruinous breath, one discredited heartbeat away

from the obituaries.

His dying is ruining it for the living.

The more he forgets, the more we don’t want to know.


John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Midwest Quarterly, Poetry East and North Dakota Quarterly with work upcoming in South Florida Poetry Journal, Hawaii Review and Roanoke Review.