Two Poems: Neon Boneyard and Disobedience


Two Poems:

Neon Boneyard



By Ruth Bavetta


Neon Boneyard

The desert ends in a pit of light,
streets cacophonous
in their escape from dark.
They’ve pried the gas
from its place in the Periodic Table,
stroked electricity
from the demon’s feet.
A hemangioma
of multicolored tubing,
burns blisters in the sand.



I will wake the lilies under
the window. I will bite deeply
into the apple’s defenseless cheek.
I will follow the seagulls over
the waves as they etch the air
with their wings. I will not
be good. I will not be safe.
I will ride the tide as it goes out.
And when the man comes in the dark,
I will show him the family
silver’s shining secrets.


About the Author: Ruth Bavetta writes at a messy desk overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Her poems have appeared in Rattle, Nimrod, Tar River Review, North American Review and many other journals and anthologies. Her books are Fugitive Pigments (FutureCycle Press, 2013) Embers on the Stairs (Moontide Press, 2014,) Flour Water Salt (FutureCycle Press, 2016.) and No Longer at This Address (Aldritch Books 2017.)  She likes the light on November afternoons, the music of Stravinsky, the smell of the ocean.  She hates pretense, fundamentalism and sauerkraut.

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O’Brien’s Tower



O’Brien’s Tower

By Stephen Roger Powers


O’Brien’s Tower

If you stand on the beach in Montauk
and launch miniature ships from your eyes—
indulge in breaking miniature champagne bottles
across their bows first—the line of ships will,
if they don’t change course, brush Rio Grande do Norte
and Paraíba, approach Australia from the south, and make land
near Perth. The things you learn from YouTube.

Today I am at the Cliffs of Moher throwing a message
in a bottle over the edge, none of anyone’s business
what it says, charting it toward a discoverer
who will uncork and unroll it waves and winds
and continents away from the straight-line recipient.

Sea-mist mornings like this, it is easier to imagine
the nosey finder puzzled and riddled
and pulled by the tease of its suggested narrative
than it is to map the direction
over the horizon and a thousand
unseen horizons after the first
where my country is from here.


About the Author: Stephen Roger Powers started writing poetry almost twenty years ago to pass time in the middle of the night when he was too energized to sleep after coming off the stage in comedy clubs around the Midwest. He is the author of The Followers Tale and Hello, Stephen, both published by Salmon Poetry. Other work has appeared in 32 PoemsShenandoahThe Southern Poetry Anthology Volume V: GeorgiaRabbit Ears: TV Poems, and Stone, River, Sky: An Anthology of Georgia PoemsHe hasnt done stand-up in a long time, but every once in a while he finds avenues for the performer he was born to be. He was an extra in Joyful Noise with Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton, and he can be seen if you know just where to look.

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Capitol Island

“The Spent Wave, Indian Point, Georgetown, Maine” By Marsden Hartley” (1937)


Capitol Island

By Robert Boucheron


For the annual First Year Building Project at the Yale School of Architecture, students design and construct a small building, often a wood frame house in New Haven. Unique at American schools, the project is required of all students in the program. A faculty member who is also a contractor guides them through weeks of rough carpentry, roofing, sheetrock, and more.

In the spring of 1976, I was in the first year class. Our project was to be an office and sales showroom for a quilting cooperative in West Virginia, but it fell through. Funding for a house renovation in a black neighborhood of New Haven also stalled. The faculty was at a loss. As students made plans for the summer, the building project was likely to be cancelled.

At this point, a classmate offered an alternative to anyone who was interested. Ken Colburn and his wife and his older brother Ted had just bought an old cottage on the coast of Maine. They had spent summers there as children, and they had relatives nearby, including two cousins who lived there year-round. One of these, David, was the realtor who sold them the house. The other, Bob, was a home builder or handyman. The project was to make badly needed repairs.

The Colburns wanted to rent out the house during the summer months and use it themselves off-season. When I searched online after forty years, I found the “Colburn Cottage” is still available for rent, one or both of two furnished units, right on the water, and fifteen minutes’ drive from Boothbay Harbor. In the photos posted, the house looks unchanged. It is on Capitol Island, east of the larger Southport Island, reached by a narrow wooden bridge. People from Augusta, the state capital, bought and developed the little island in the early twentieth century, hence the name. Continue reading

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Punk Rock at 45


Punk Rock at 45

By John Dorsey


Punk Rock at 45

when i look at your life now
i think nancy spungen got off easy
breast cancer at 45
you have be a fighter
to sleep in the streets
with your broken heart
just dangling there
like a locket made of bones

i remember you at 30
& sad

talking about your family
as we drove to 7-eleven
to get hotdogs on christmas eve

how it all came flooding back
your father threatening to drive
the whole family off a bridge
into icy cold arkansas river water
on christmas morning

or the near rape
by a family friend
at fourteen

or the countless bad relationships
that became your anthem
as much as nick cave
or the murder city devils
ever were

your lungs filled up with silence

as the night sky balled up
into a fist
& hurled your childhood
into the past.


Check out our interview with John Dorsey on his book, Letting the Meat Rest.


About the Author: John Dorsey lived for several years in Toledo, Ohio. He is the author of several collections of poetry, including Teaching the Dead to Sing: The Outlaw’s Prayer (Rose of Sharon Press, 2006), Sodomy is a City in New Jersey (American Mettle Books, 2010), Tombstone Factory, (Epic Rites Press, 2013), Appalachian Frankenstein (GTK Press, 2015) Being the Fire (Tangerine Press, 2016) and Shoot the Messenger (Red Flag Press, 2017). He is the current Poet Laureate of Belle, MO. His work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. He may be reached at


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“Blue and Green Music” By Georgia O’Keeffe (1921)



By Mike James



Before she chose her one new name, she trembled through a dozen baby books. Walked through library stacks and touched every Anna and Sylvia, all the Marianne’s, Eileen’s, and Audre’s. Said each in a slow whisper, elongating vowels into a wish. Now and then, imagined saying the name with a confident rasp. What she wanted was not a mark of winter, but spring’s first color and the alchemy of change.

Finally, the choice stood out as much as her dark over-tall frame, as much as her cliff-sharp cheek bones. Jacob, her former self, became a passenger on a bus headed to an endless west.

The directions were in the small compass of her hands.


About the Author:  Mike James is the author of eleven poetry collections. His most recent books include: Crows in the Jukebox (Bottom Dog), My Favorite Houseguest (FutureCycle)and Peddler’s Blues (Main Street Rag.) He has previously served as associate editor for both The Kentucky Review and Autumn House Press. After years spent in South Carolina, Missouri, Pennsylvania, and Georgia, he now makes his home in Chapel Hill, North Carolina with his large family and a large assortment of cats.

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My Bipolar Ex-Love

My Bipolar Ex-Love

Nathan Graziano

I was at work, eating my lunch alone in my classroom—I generally try to avoid the teacher’s lounge and the ubiquity of its gossip hens. With my turkey sandwich in hand, I sat in front of the computer, entering grades, when my gnat-like attention span turned to Jessica, a woman I dated in my 20s and with whom I had my most tumultuous relationship.

I have difficulty believing intimacy between two people simply vanishes, ceases to exist in our thoughts and memories once we’ve moved on, so I have a tendency to tabs on my exes, either through social media or, in some cases, correspondence. Of course, some would rather not have anything to do with me, and that is also fine. As long I know they are well.

With Jess, she disappeared entirely from my life, never showed up again. I found this somewhat unsettling so I ran an Internet search on her name.

I nearly choked on a piece of half-masticated turkey when the results popped up seconds later and knew immediately that I wouldn’t be finishing my lunch.

The first search result was a link to Jess’ obituary.


After finishing college, with few prospects for teaching positions on the East Coast, I moved to Las Vegas where I taught high school for a year. The experience unfolded as one might expect the experience to unfold for a 23 year-old man living in a place that celebrates its tireless debauchery. I met Jess, a transplant for California, toward the end of my stay in Sin City.

One night, after taking a tough and ill-advised hit at a blackjack table—a gambler, I am not—I retreated to a bar around the corner from my apartment in North Las Vegas to soak my wounds with my friend, Brad. While lamenting the fiscal fuck-up that would leave me eating straight grilled cheese for a week, I spotted a striking brunette sitting alone across the bar.

“Look at her,” I said to Brad. “She is stunning.”

A gay man, Brad gave her a cursory glance to appease me. “Pretty,” he said. “You should buy her a drink.”

“Why would a girl like that be interested in me?”

“Stop it, Mr. Self-Deprecating,” Brad said. “Besides, how much more can you possibly lose tonight?”

Continue reading

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Sometimes the Moon is Nothing More Than the Moon

Sometimes the Moon is Nothing

More Than the Moon

By Jason Ryberg


Sometimes the Moon is Nothing
More Than the Moon

Sometimes the moon comes down
(if she happens to be in town)
from her royal couch of clouds
to drink with us (my shadow
and me) when no one else will.

Sometimes the moon rings like a temple bell
on a brittle, breathless, freeze-dried night,
signaling the beginning (or maybe the end)
of something important and radiates
with a halo of steam like a luminous
ball of dry ice.

Sometimes the moon is a curved dagger
that some Bedouin bandit prince
might have brandished in the blue and grainy
late, late show of my childhood dreams.

Sometimes the moon is a white rose
that drunken fools inevitably try
to shoot arrows and poems at,
knowing full-well that both return
to Earth with potentially dangerous results.

Sometimes the moon is a pallid face
peering in at us through a Winter window scene
while the radio begins to glow with a moody
Ellington Indigo and a car down on the street
is struggling to clear the early frost from its throat.

Sometimes the moon is a cop’s
flashlight cutting a cautious path                                                                                                          through film-noir ghosts of gutter steam.

Sometimes the moon is a 60-watt bulb
shining from the back porch,
out into the sweaty, firefly-infused,
backyard jungle nights of long ago.

Sometimes the moon is a guard tower spot,
always trying to catch us with its magic lasso
whenever we make our midnight raids, over the walls,
into the Garden of Earthly Delights.

Sometimes the moon is a silver dollar
that’s been sheared in two by a dull
and rusty pair of tin snips.

Sometimes the moon is a shiny dime
flattened on a railroad track,
in which, if one looks just right,
a semblance of Roosevelt’s confident
and reassuring smirk can still be seen.
Sometimes the moon is a fat, blue
androgynous Buddha, grinning out
at the universe in every direction at once.

Sometimes the moon is a single bright eye
of a dark god of the ancient world,
peering down at us through a hole torn
in the top of a circus tent of clouds,
or up from an inversely alternate underworld
through the dimensional portal
of a swollen, marshy pond.

Sometimes the moon is nothing more
than the moon.


That’s never true.


About the Author: Jason Ryberg is the author of twelve books of poetry, six screenplays, a few short stories, a box full of folders, notebooks and scraps of paper that could one day be (loosely) construed as a novel, and, a couple of angry  letters to various magazine and newspaper editors. He is currently an artist-in-residence at both The Prospero Institute of Disquieted P/o/e/t/i/c/s and the Osage Arts Community, and is an editor and designer at Spartan Books. His latest collections of poems are Zeus-X-Mechanica (Spartan Press, 2017) and A Secret History of the Nighttime World (39 West Press, 2017). He lives part-time in Kansas City with a rooster named Little Red and a billygoat named Giuseppe and part-time somewhere in the Ozarks, near the Gasconade River, where there are also many strange and wonderful woodland critters. 

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