the bleeding horse at sea

Félix Bonfils “Mer morte et montagnes de Judée” Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program


the bleeding horse at sea

By John Sweet


the bleeding horse at sea

and then it turned out
that the trick was just to
give in to depression, and of course
i felt like a fool for not realizing   
                                 this earlier

i sat there in an empty house
listening to water run down the walls

sat there listening to
the starlings in the attic

thought about my oldest boy

about all of the apologies i owed him

kept wishing i was asleep
until my alarm clock
woke me up the next morning


About the Author: john sweet, b 1968, still numbered among the living.  A believer in writing as catharsis. Opposed to all organized religion and political parties.  His latest collections include APPROXIMATE WILDERNESS (2016 Flutter Press), BASTARD FAITH (2017 Scars Publications) and the limited edition HEATHEN TONGUE (2018 Kendra Steiner Editions).  All pertinent facts about his life are buried somewhere in his writing.

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All of the Above

“The Bad Book” Unknown Artist, Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program


All of the Above

By Jason Ryberg


All of the Above

A book of poems is
a family photo album
for a spectacularly dysfunctional family,

a scrapbook of newspaper clippings,
wedding announcements, obituaries
and concert ticket stubs,

a file cabinet full of classified documents,
elaborately detailed conspiracy theories
and jealously guarded recipes.

A book of poems is
a jelly jar full of fortune cookie fortunes,

an ancient tome of forbidden knowledge,

a grimoire of (otherwise) benign
spells, hexes, hoodoos and charms.

A book of poems is (at least)
equal parts scrapyard and curio shop,
(bus station at 2am  / country crossroads at midnight),

a shoebox full of old post cards
and love letters,

a rolodex of dead or merely
recommissioned phone numbers
(I’m sorry, who were you looking for?)

A book of poems is an estate sale for a wealthy,
eccentric hoarder who has been missing
and presumed dead for nearly a decade.

an operator’s manual for a machine
that hasn’t been invented yet,

a road atlas for a lost continent.

A book of poems is …

all of the above.


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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Leadwood: A Conversation with Poet Daniel Crocker


A Conversation with Poet Daniel Crocker

By Chase Dimock


In Leadwood, Daniel Crocker surveys twenty years of his work as a poet. Ranging from the metaphysical significance of the McRib to courageous deep dives into bipolar disorder, Crocker’s book is more than a collection of poems; it’s a chronicle of a poet’s maturation and a man’s coming to terms with his upbringing and identity.

Leadwood is the Daniel Crocker origin story. He was born among the long closed lead mines and chat dumps that littered his rural Missouri hometown. In his poems he confronts poverty, bigotry, and religious zealotry along with personal tragedies that shaped him as man and a writer. As a middle aged poet, Crocker depicts the lingering effects of Leadwood, balancing nostalgia and care for his home with trauma. In his newest poems, he crafts vivid insight into his relationship with bipolar disorder.

No matter his age, his work has always been confessional and brave. Crocker is a rural Anne Sexton, a Sylvia Plath raised on Sesame Street and WWF wrestling, a John Berryman in the Wal-Mart aisles, a Robert Lowell with a smirk and morbid punchlines.


Chase Dimock: Although this is a collection of your work from the past two decades, you decided to give the book a title: Leadwood. Once the reader hits the first poem “Where We Come From,” they will learn that Leadwood is the name of your small hometown. Why did you decide that this one word would be descriptive of two decades worth of your work? What does understanding Leadwood as a town achieve toward understanding Daniel Crocker as a poet?

Daniel Crocker: This kind of dates back to my very first full length book, People Everyday and Other Poems (Green Bean Press, 1998), which I dedicated to  Leadwood. Later, me and my wife, Margaret, would do a chapbook together called “My Favorite Hell.” It was put out by Alpha Beat Press. We used the Leadwood population sign as our cover art. So, I guess Leadwood has had a hold on me from the beginning.

Like you said, it’s my hometown. I think most of us are shaped by where we grew up–for better or worse. Most of my formative experiences happened there, and I’ve written a lot about them.  And, I certainly have love/hate relationship with Leadwood. I have many great childhood memories, but also worries about lead poisoning and the ecological disaster that my home town is. Mostly, however, I wanted to make sure that the voices of my small town, and by extension other small towns, aren’t lost. There are small towns all over the country that have been ravaged and left behind by corporations–whether it’s Leadwood, which was founded by a lead mining company who later up and left the town with huge piles of chat (lead and dust) that were as big as football stadiums. The cancer rate there is extremely high. The soil has been tested there was found to be 10,000 more times the lead in the soil that is considered safe. Continue reading

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Sally with the Accent

Pablo Picasso, “Femme couchée lisant”

Sally with the Accent

By Kevin Ridgeway


Sally with the Accent

she’s from Yonkers
has white skin
white hair
and a bright smile
she used to do social work
and her insight means
she can finish our 
therapist’s sentences
and initiates 
the growing
of others
so much
until she stops 
responding to her name
and denies everything
into the fog 
of disassociation
and waking up lost, 
not knowing
where and how
she’s found 
herself again.


About the Author: Kevin Ridgeway is from Whittier, CA. He is the author of six chapbooks of poetry. His latest book is A Ludicrous Split (alongside poems by Gabriel Ricard, Alien Buddha Press). Recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in SlipstreamChiron ReviewUp the RiverNerve CowboyThe American Journal of PoetryMain Street RagCultural WeeklySan Pedro River ReviewLummoxMisfit MagazineThe Cape RockPlainsongs and So it Goes: The Literary Journal of the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library. He lives and writes in Long Beach, CA.

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Cape Split

Cape Split

By Tobi Alfier


Cape Split
      Cape Split is quite literally the “end of the world”
                                                                         Google quote


Pain is like the prenup you forgot to get,
it takes all the sweetness, leaves you
with the pawn tickets. You will never
be able to buy back an unfurled forehead,
true smile and the grace of comfort.


So you sit in the bar, listen to complaints
of other people’s unwanted houseguests,
drink just enough. One more winter
outlives its welcome as you as you lick
your cold lips, search for a warm face.


The weather is ice over shade,
you need an elbow to pity you home.
This is not the first time. The tide is out,
you are resting on mud, you need a pilot,
who knows your analogies are weak

and your pride is mighty. Like a ship asail
with no engine, you pray for wind to lead you
past the soft swell of young lovers to the breakwater
of hearth, to tea and the quiet compass of a stranger’s
voice bidding you safe travels, small hurts.


(This poem first appeared in Sterling Magazine)


About the Author: Tobi Alfier (Cogswell) is a multiple Pushcart nominee and multiple Best of the Net nominee.  Her chapbook “Down Anstruther Way” (Scotland poems) was published by FutureCycle Press. Her full-length collection “Somewhere, Anywhere, Doesn’t Matter Where” was published by Aldrich Press. “Slices of Alice & Other Character Studies” was just published by Cholla Needles Press. She is co-editor of San Pedro River Review (

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Walking West on East 5th Street

“Main Street, Benson, Arizona” By Jeffrey Alfier


Walking West on East 5th Street

By Jeffrey Alfier


Walking West on East 5th Street
                          Benson, Arizona

It is spring, and in a town that awaits
the luster of fairgrounds to come alive,

the doors of taverns open early, like strangers
with a promise. Flat-roofed houses yield

to groves of mesquite. Their limbs stretch
streetlight halos into frail shadows veining asphalt

that webs the neighborhood. The trundling
iron of the Union Pacific enters town at a late

hour. Its headlamp startles shacks to burnished
yellow as it floods for mere seconds the frame

of a drunken soldier, home on leave from a long
war. He shuffles through an unpaved alley

like an astronaut scuffing the dust of the moon.
A final blast from the locomotive seems to hew

the world into the past tense. It surmounts cheers
unreeling from a small crowd seated under

the ballfield lighting of a pickup game. A young
hopeful sprints homeward, rounds third, already out.


This poem previous appeared in Idyll for a Vanishing River (Glass Lyre Press, 2013)


About the Author: Jeffrey Alfier is 2018 winner of the Angela Consolo Manckiewick Poetry Prize, from Lummox Press. In 2014 he won the Kithara Book Prize, judged by Dennis Maloney. Publication credits include Crab Orchard ReviewSouthern Poetry ReviewAtlanta Review, Copper NickelEmerson ReviewIron Horse Literary ReviewKestrelHotel AmerikaMidwest QuarterlyPoetry Ireland Review and South Carolina Review. He is author of The Wolf YearlingIdyll for a Vanishing RiverFugue for a Desert MountainAnthem for Pacific Avenue: California PoemsSouthbound Express to Bayhead: New Jersey PoemsThe Red Stag at Carrbridge: Scotland PoemsBleak Music – a photo and poetry collaboration with poet Larry D. Thomas and The Storm Petrel: Poems of Ireland. He is founder and co-editor at Blue Horse Press and San Pedro River Review. An Air Force veteran, he is a member of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

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By Andrea Sherwood

I lived a year in a small black box

under a barbershop

some nights not even an inch

of moonshine would sit on the windowsill

the room                                    purgatory

with no objects no

thing save the thick dark

dark dark

large dark

screaming three a.m. why aren’t you sleeping

are you still breathing

like you could slip from light (or is it life) and no one tells you

no      dark was too loud to keep itself shut

but light     this big quiet light     it could swallow us whole

it could be wiping its lips right now

Today’s poem was previously published in Issue 14 of Rivet: The Journal of Writing that Risks and is reprinted here today with permission from the poet.

Andrea Sherwood’s work is published or forthcoming in Pennsylvania’s Best Emerging Poets, Lavender Review, and Rivet. Currently, Andrea is pursuing an MFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Guest Editor’s Note: Repetition is effective in conveying palpable fear and panic in Sherwood’s piece about loneliness and dread. The light and dark entities in this poem reach out like hands to the throat, alternately choking and releasing air and emotion. The airiness of the lines allows space for feeling and time to process, and line breaks leave breathless openings for more. Form operates successfully to produce an uncomfortable disposition and an opportunity for understanding of the speaker’s secret inner turmoil.

The metaphorical box feels real and turning light into a terrible monster is a remarkable turn at the end of the poem. The trepidation lingers long after the terror has been distilled in the image of “screaming three a.m.” which bends the poem into a new perspective and a dialogue with the dark. Light then becomes a colossal entity more unexpectedly frightening than living in the “thick dark” of a “black box / under a barbershop.” The final image of the light that “could be wiping its lips right now” is an alarm sounding somewhere, maybe even silently, that what is true in the dark is also true in the light and fear knows no difference.

Want to read more by Andrea Sherwood?
Pennsylvania’s Best Emerging Poets

Guest Editor Anne Graue is the author of Fig Tree in Winter (Dancing Girl Press), and has published poems in literary journals and anthologies, including The Book of Donuts (Terrapin Books), Blood and Roses: A Devotional for Aphrodite and Venus (Bibliotheca Alexandrina), Gluttony (Pure Slush Books), The Plath Poetry Project, One Sentence Poems, Random Sample Review, Into the Void Magazine, Allegro Poetry Magazine, and Rivet Journal.


After nearly ten years as Contributing Editor of this series, it is an honor and a unique opportunity to share this space with a number of guest editors, including the editor featured here today. I am thrilled to usher in an era of new voices in poetry as the Managing Editor of this series.

Viva la poesia!
Sivan, Managing Editor
Saturday Poetry Series, AIOTB

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