By Iris Jamahl Dunkle

Apples are imagining themselves
onto hillsides – pink petals stick out their
tongues from the dark mouths of branches 
and the forest canopy ripens overnight
until it pulses like a green heart. Spring
frankensteins us all—softens our cyborg
brains (Admit it:  you were thinking about what
mysteries your phone will sing out!
) While your
body turns like a tree toward the light. Reader,
somedays it’s just too much: powder blue sky,
light wind stirring the leaves as if they are
waving, no, beckoning me to root 
and join in. How could I not give in? Trying
to find the song that’s buried in the soil.

Today’s poem first appeared in SWWIM Every Day and is reprinted here today with permission from the poet.

Iris Jamahl Dunkle was the 2017-2018 Poet Laureate of Sonoma County, CA. Interrupted Geographies, published by Trio House Press, is her third collection of poetry. It was featured as the Rumpus Poetry Book Club selection for July 2017. Her debut poetry collection, Gold Passage, was selected by Ross Gay to win the 2012 Trio Award. Her second collection, There’s a Ghost in this Machine of Air was published in 2015. Her work has been published in numerous publications including San Francisco Chronicle, Fence, Calyx, Catamaran, Poet’s Market 2013, Women’s Studies and Chicago Quarterly Review. Dunkle teaches at Napa Valley College and is the Poetry Director of the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference. 

Guest Editor’s Note: The octave from the beginning of this beautifully imperfect sonnet presents pastoral images that set a mood disrupted by the use of frankensteins as a verb, an abruptly delightful and unexpected choice by the poet, reminding us of what humans have done to the natural world to which we are aching to return and how it has affected us. And yet, “It’s just too much” for the speaker who in answer to a final question becomes a tree, as the mythical Daphne did to escape Apollo just before he caught up to her. Escaping into the natural world is an appealing idea when faced with how things have turned out or how things are headed for disaster.

This melding of sonnet forms—traditional, modern, old, and new—offers two voltas, significant turns in meaning, and the first happens at the beginning of the sestet with a simile that compares the body to a tree as it turns toward light. This is where the sonnet leaves its mark on the reader, who is then addressed directly with an anguish of images that lure the speaker to dig deep “to find the song that’s buried in the soil.” The second turn is the speaker’s response to the leaves and their beckoning. Once the speaker has taken root, this “broken sonnet” ends in a line of perfect iambic pentameter, repairing itself.

Want to read more by and about Iris Jamahl Dunkle?
Iris Jamahl Dunkle’s Official Website

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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“The First Mourning” By William-Adolphe Bougereau (1888)



By Sister Lou Ella Hickman



was the original survivor story
evicted from her plush garden palace
which meant she had to start over
this time she would discover
how much life isn’t fair
when she lost both her sons
and she started over
another son
then her long shadow of silence
cast under a sun that had blistered
begin again or despair


About the Author: Sister Lou Ella is a former teacher and librarian. She is a certified spiritual director as well as a poet and writer. Her poems have appeared in numerous magazines such as America, First Things, Emmanuel, Third Wednesday, and New Verse News as well as in anthologies including The Night’s Magician: Poems About the Moon, edited by Philip Kolin and Sue Brannnan Walker, Down to the Dark River edited by Philip Kolin, Secrets edited by Sue Brannan Walker and After Shocks: The Poetry of Recovery for Life-Shattering Events edited by Tom Lombardo. Last year she was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Her first book of poetry entitled she: robed and wordless was published in 2015. (Press 53.)

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Wildfire in Simi Valley


By Ruth Bavetta



Moon dismantled,
sun a red disk, reflecting

sea a rusty mudflat,
hot wind hollowing

canyons, hills littered
with dust, ash, soot,

chaparral, squirrels, palm trees,
shingles, Chevrolets, dictionaries,

wedding dress, quilt stitched
by a grandmother fifty years ago,

the bones of those who stayed,
the hopes of those who fled.

Close the windows.


This poem previously appeared in 10×3 Plus


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 (Future Cycle Press, 2013) Embers on the Stairs (Moontide Press, 2014,) Flour Water Salt (Future Cycle 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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Five Hundred Channels and Nothing On

Five Hundred Channels and Nothing On

By Kevin Ridgeway


Five Hundred Channels and Nothing On

After Letterman signed off and the cartoon Peacock serenaded us with its three tone sign-off warning me to avert my eyes of the artificial bars of what looked just like the rainbow beam-stitched curtain but no Jack Paar successor hired to keep us all at ease, the retired magician who always demonstrated his improved golf swing in the wake of pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization, while an eerie beep told us to go to sleep. I can’t find those bars or that sound in the months following David Letterman’s retirement ten years after the death of a secret magic composed of wild, wild stuff comedy needs a transplant for so there will be no humorless misery in all the infomercial women that are not even beautiful enough to make an insomniac headache disappear in the nocturnal tenderness of a five am weather girl juvenile gameshow manning the remote from bed at three in the morning as human and animal faces plead with me to adopt them or let them predict my future and I snore through a public access channel’s encore presentation of Dorf on Golf that makes me dream in closed captioning.


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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The Jaroslavl Fresco

The Jaroslavl Fresco

By David Chorlton


The Jaroslavl Fresco

A likeness of God stares through the plaster.
At twilight he turns into a wolf.
His eyes are close together
and the pupils float on luminous globes.
Hair covers all
but the cheekbones

pushing against a patch of sallow skin.
It grows thicker by the century,
wild from its roots

to the frost on the tips
when he runs in moonlight
through the silent forest

with a star of blood
shining from prey in his teeth.


About the Author: David Chorlton is a transplanted European, who has lived in Phoenix since 1978. His poems have appeared in many publications online and in print, and often reflect his affection for the natural world, as well as occasional bewilderment at aspects of human behavior. A recent collection of poems is Bird on a Wire from Presa Press, and The Bitter Oleander Press published Shatter the Bell in my Ear, his translations of poems by Austrian poet Christine Lavant. A new book, Reading T. S. Eliot to a Bird, is out from Hoot ‘n Waddle, based in Phoenix.

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Paramnesia 2

Photo by Gertrude Käsebier (1905) Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program

Paramnesia 2

By Tim Peeler


Paramnesia 2

The deluge of nighttime dog barks
Pauses for the after storm gutter drip.
There was a game, he says, can’t
Remember if it was 47 or 8, but we had
A two run lead in the bottom of the ninth.
Crickets like a crowd roar and the faint
Leaving of a train across the river gorge.
You got a light. Thanks. Well they got
The bases loaded, drunk as they say.
The old man’s profile, a Hemingway
Hillbilly with bifocals in porch light.
And coach, he hollers for me to get in there
To pitch to this Babe Ruth no neck left hander. 
A bawling cow somewhere, the Judge’s braying
Donkeys, hungry in their dark pasture.
So I say a little prayer ‘cause I believed back then,
Hid the ball in my glove behind my back.
A neighbor’s old pickup truck inching
Through the front yard of his trailer.
I throw it hard and outside at the knees.
He swings and misses. Lights was so bad.
An owl in the maple top, sounding out a
Whole summer of loneliness.
When he struck at the third bad pitch, that was
The game, but then he come after me with his bat.
A Hmong woman across the field, singing by the
Lanterns in her vegetable garden.
Our first baseman, Rosenbluth, stopped
Him out between the bases.
The hiss of traffic on the wet road,
River like a belly against the old dam.
We piled on him, beat the shit out of him
Before his teammates got out there, must have
Been 48, same year I met your mother.

About the Author:  A past winner of the Jim Harrison Award for contributions to baseball literature, Tim Peeler has also twice been a Casey Award Finalist (baseball book of the year) and a finalist for the SIBA Award. He lives with his wife, Penny in Hickory, North Carolina, where he directs the academic assistance programs at Catawba Valley Community College. He has published close to a thousand poems, stories, essays, and reviews in magazines, journals, and anthologies and has written sixteen books and three chapbooks. He has five books in the permanent collection at the Baseball Hall of Fame Library in Cooperstown, NY. His recent books include Rough Beast, an Appalachian verse novel about a southern gangster named Larry Ledbetter, Henry River: An American Ruin, poems about an abandoned mill town and film site for The Hunger Games, and Wild in the Strike Zone: Baseball Poems, his third volume of baseball-related poems.

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The Pop-Up Halloween Store


The Pop Up Halloween Store

By Chase Dimock


The Pop-Up Halloween Store

is the zombie corpse of a long dead
retail outlet rising from the grave.
Beneath the orange banner
looms the faint spectral glow
of a Borders Books sign.

Crumbling red Circuit City tile
lines the gates of hell.
The ghosts of VCRs and Walkmen
haunt the shelves now lined
with sexy nurse costumes
and adult sized My Little Pony onesies.

The souls of empty Blockbuster DVD cases
moan in the aisles, grieving the hole within:
the lost copy of Shrek II that will never be returned.
Radioshack floppy disks flutter like bats
in the rafters, blindly searching among
the plastic pitchforks and novelty severed hands
for the Tandy computers they once called home.

The death mask of Geoffrey the Giraffe
silhouetted in dust and grime on the wall
looks over a display of polyester werewolves
hears the faint memory of children jumping rope
and dressing Cabbage Patch Dolls drowned out
by the eternal loop of “Monster Mash”
bellowing from the rusty intercom.

Come November,
when Smarties and Almond Joys line
the discount candy bin and the trucks collect
boxes of unsold rubber Pennywise masks
the retail Zombie will shut off the fluorescent lights
and bury himself again beneath the crumbling
asphalt parking lot and the scuffed linoleum.
It once more becomes the haunted K-Mart
teetering on the hill. The ghosts peer out
eyeholes cut in their Martha Stewart bedsheets.
The damned wipe Ecto-Cooler off their chins.


About the Author: Chase Dimock is the Managing Editor of As It Ought To Be. He holds a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Illinois and his scholarship has appeared in College LiteratureWestern American Literature, and numerous edited anthologies. His works of literary criticism have appeared in Mayday MagazineThe Lambda Literary ReviewModern American Poetry, and Dissertation Reviews. His poetry has appeared in Waccamaw, The San Pedro River Review, and Trailer Park Quarterly. For more of his work, check out

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