The Coincidence                                                                   by Cameron Morse

Just an instant
of unobstructed sunset
grabs the surprise
 
downfall by the shoulders,
silvering rain
with the dregs of day
 
light before
a cloud occludes
the wound I am wound by,
 
wound up and released
from the kitchen
just in time
 
to catch a glimpse of this
coincidence.
A glimpse is all I get.
 
The rain angles away
from the sliding door
I'm backed by, reflected in,
 
though no one sees this.
No one sees me
out here
 
in my ratty pajamas.

Cameron Morse is Senior Reviews editor at Harbor Review and the author of six collections of poetry. His first collection, Fall Risk, won Glass Lyre Press’s 2018 Best Book Award. His latest is Far Other (Woodley Press, 2020). He holds and MFA from the University of Kansas City—Missouri and lives in Independence, Missouri, with his wife Lili and two children. For more information, check out his Facebook page or website.  

Guest Editor James Benger is the author of two fiction ebooks, and three chapbooks, two full-lengths, and coauthor of four split books of poetry. He is on the Board of Directors of The Writers Place and the Riverfront Readings Committee, and is the founder of the 365 Poems In 365 Days online workshop, and is Editor In Chief of the subsequent anthology series. He lives in Kansas City with his wife and children.

Day Is Done. Is Beginning.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              by Marjorie Maddox and photograph “Two Hearts” by Karen Elias

Evening grays into rest:
low light, cool earth; 
 
cushion of moss;
scent of clover or pine
 
that fastens the mind
to the living beneath,
 
around, or above
the expanding arc
 
of our hearts if only
we’d breathe in
 
the pulse and hum
of the land and the one
 
beside us now, reclining
like this on dirt that holds
 
and enfolds us in Earth’s
quiet comfort of calm,
 
this needed rhythm
of rest/rise/repeat singing 
 
us toward each day’s
shimmering season of sleep.



Two Hearts, Karen Elias (USA). Contemporary.
Marjorie Maddox

Marjorie Maddox, professor of English at Lock Haven University, has published 11 collections of poetry with 2 forthcoming in 2021, a short story collection; 4 children’s books.

Dr. Karen Elias taught college English for 40 years and is now an artist/activist, using photography to record the fragility of the natural world and raise awareness about climate change. Her work is in private collections, has been exhibited in several galleries, and has won numerous awards. Their collaborative book, Heart Speaks, Is Spoken For, is forthcoming from Shanti Arts.

Guest Editor Julie Ramon is an English instructor at Crowder College and SNHU. She graduated with an M.F.A from Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky. She is currently working on two poetry chapbooks and serves as a co-director of Downtown Poetry, a Joplin, Missouri poetry series. She lives in Joplin with her husband, daughter, and sons.

When you undo the done                                                                                                                                                                                                                by Allison Blevins

you startle like a tall step, a red sign, a flashing light. Some unbecomes happen slowly—melting ice on granite, the swiftly turn of a hand lifting, bread fresh six days: how mold seems to rise rather than fall to rest and spread. Some unbecomes happen quickly as lace or thin surface water, frozen, scraped to curls. 
 
To unbecome your pain is to become pain, to warm bathe in short breath and the quick shallow beats of your stumbling heart and know every day the pain will come, the car drive away, the door shut, the lid close.

Allison Blevins is the author of the chapbooks Susurration (Blue Lyra Press, 2019), Letters to Joan (Lithic Press, 2019), and A Season for Speaking (Seven Kitchens Press, 2019). Her books Slowly/Suddenly (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press, 2021) and Cataloging Pain (YesYes Books, 2023) are forthcoming. Chorus for the Kill (Seven Kitchens Press 2021), her collaborative chapbook, is forthcoming. She is the Director of Small Harbor Publishing and a Poetry Editor at Literary Mama. She lives in Missouri with her spouse and three children where she co-organizes the Downtown Poetry reading series.

Guest Editor Julie Ramon is an English instructor at Crowder College and SNHU. She graduated with an M.F.A from Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky. She is currently working on two poetry chapbooks and serves as a co-director of Downtown Poetry, a Joplin, Missouri poetry series. She lives in Joplin with her husband, daughter, and sons.

On the Day My Bridal Dress Goes to Goodwill                                                                                                                                                                                       by Shuly Xóchitl Cawood

I kept it twenty-two years in my childhood closet,
shoving it aside when I visited my parents
to make room for a purple hoodie, a long-sleeved
blue sweater, a pair of jeans
folded on a metal hanger. I wanted the dress
 
to go to someone young I would surely find
who could not yet afford a fancy frock,
who could not afford lace edgings
or capped sleeves, who could not afford
 
to divorce because surely someone else
would have better luck in that dress if I just found
the right person. But anyone knows that luck
 
is what you get when you stop looking, when you stumble
upon it on the far side of a thrift store rack
hanging there as if it has nowhere to go but home
 
with you, as if it’s been waiting all along,
tucked into a plastic bag that knows how to zip
up its secrets. Luck is almost the same
thing as hope, just a little less shiny,
a little less white.


Shuly Xóchitl Cawood is the author of The Going and Goodbye: a memoir and the story collection, A Small Thing to Want. Her poetry collection, Trouble Can Be So Beautiful at the Beginning, won the Adrienne Bond Award for Poetry.

Guest Editor Julie Ramon is an English instructor at Crowder College and SNHU. She graduated with an M.F.A from Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky. She is currently working on two poetry chapbooks and serves as a co-director of Downtown Poetry, a Joplin, Missouri poetry series. She lives in Joplin with her husband, daughter, and sons.

Gerrymandering                                                                     by Marjorie Maddox

 –after the photograph “North” by Karen Elias
 
From down here, 
            up there is 
nowhere close to 
            click click there’s no place like
City Hall to haul your 
            cracked compass spinning, 
spinning its shiny tin arrow, True North
            a myth lost in the reshuffling
of district lines and Which way do the monkeys fly?
            voting booths Pay no attention to yourself
behind the curtain. Or do that keep you looking
            both ways, keep you crossing streets,
rivers, endless fields of deceptively sweet-
            smelling poppies all the way
to the Emerald mirage you mistook
            for your own backyard Toto, this isn’t
Pennsylvania anymore, the familiar still
             in focus but slanted just enough
to help you see the unreal not paved
            with yellow bricks, but the ordinary
cracked choices of Now, pointing someplace
            not here, not home, not anywhere
close to the bright blue skies harboring
            tomorrow’s tornadoes. 
“North” by Karen Elias. USA (Contemporary). Used by permission. “I took this photo at an event held at the Clinton County courthouse to celebrate the fact that every one of Clinton County’s municipalities signed on to a proclamation asking for gerrymander reform.  I looked up, saw the sign for “North” and snapped the picture.  Margie’s poem highlights the abysmal gap between what we might call the true north of our intentions and the discouraging political distortions that skewer our lived maps.”–Karen Elias.
Marjorie Maddox & Karen Elias

Marjorie Maddox, winner of America Magazine’s 2019 Foley Poetry Prize and Professor of English and Creative Writing at Lock Haven University, has published 11 collections of poetry—including Transplant, Transport, Transubstantiation (Yellowglen Prize); True, False, None of the Above (Illumination Book Award Medalist); Local News from Someplace Else; Perpendicular As I (Sandstone Book Award)—the short story collection What She Was Saying (Fomite); children’s books; Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania (co-editor); Presence (assistant editor); and 600+ stories, essays, and poems in journals and anthologies. Her newest books Begin with a Question (Paraclete Press) and collaboration with photographer Karen Elias, Heart Speaks, Is Spoken For (Shanti Arts), are due out in 2021. www.marjoriemaddox.com

Dr. Karen Elias taught college English for 40 years and is now an artist/activist, using photography to record the fragility of the natural world and raise awareness about climate change. Her work is in private collections, has been exhibited in several galleries, and has won numerous awards. She is a board member of the Clinton County Arts Council where she serves as membership chair and curator of the annual juried photography exhibit.

Elias and Maddox are engaged in an exciting, mutually inspiring project, combining poetry and photography in creative collaboration. Their work has been exhibited at The Station Gallery (Lock Haven, PA). In addition to their forthcoming book Heart Speaks, Is Spoken For, additional collaborations have appeared in such literary, arts, or medical humanities journals as About Place, Cold Mountain Review, The Ekphrastic Review, The Other Journal, Glint, and Ars Medica.

Guest editor, Morgan O.H. McCune, currently works at Pittsburg State University in southeast Kansas. She is a native Kansan, and holds an M.F.A. in Poetry from Washington University in St. Louis (1991) and an M.L.S. from Emporia State University (2002). Her poems have been published previously in River Styx and Flint Hills Review. 

River Satoris                                                                             by William Sheldon

i.
 
Sometimes a knife won’t take an edge
becoming only a weight
you choose to carry, or leave behind,
despite the day you found it close
beside the arrowhead, small
stemmed heart, sparkling among gravel,
as you waded from the river onto the bar.
The finely worked flint hangs
in a frame, but the little knife, once
you knocked off the rust and whet it,
has stayed in your pocket for years, called on
to sever twine, never cut the first time,
or dig a thorn, but it would not stay sharp.
So, the day comes when you’re cutting rope,
sawing really, and are forced
to walk back to the shed for a better blade.
It is an old idea—of religion, say, or governance,
the workings of the world—you’ve held
dear and true so long it’s like your heart
working quietly, laboring till it goes bad.
You hold it against your palm, weighing
your thoughts, saying good-bye
before you set it on the shelf, drop it
in a drawer, but do not give it to your son,
knowing how jaggedly
a dull blade cuts. That arrowhead hangs
framed on the wall, five hundred years
old, exquisitely chipped, sharp
despite the river’s tumbling.
never to be hafted again.
Step from the gravel, back
into the heart of a new current.
 
 
ii.
Sometimes it happens at evening,
when, without the three quarter moonlight,
wading upstream would seem foolish,
ankles caught by logs along the shoreline,
stumbling into chest-deep holes.
As you crawl along a deadfall
in such feeble light, you marvel
at peace passing your understanding.
As you make your way
down off this pile of limbs into pampas
grass and salt cedar, what little light
is left seems perfect. Coyotes singing
close in a field above the bank
match the pitch and yaw of earth’s turning.
All this strikes you like a stick snapping
back into place. The river is a koan
perhaps rather than a poem. You wade on
knowing it will be dark
before you reach your truck at the bridge,
pleased by this discovery.
 
 
iii.
Wading cold water upriver,
under the skirl of paired hawks hunting,  
you find a dog’s jawbone skimming pea-gravel,
smooth and clean in your hand
Dropped,
  it moves again
a different direction from yours,
the same destination.

William Sheldon lives with his family in Hutchinson, Kansas where he teaches and writes. His poetry and prose have been published widely. His new book is Deadman (Spartan Press, 2021). He is the author of two other books of poetry, Retrieving Old Bones (Woodley Press, 2002) and Rain Comes Riding (Mammoth Publications, 2011), as well as a chapbook, Into Distant Grass (Oil Hill Press, 2009). Retrieving Old Bones was a Kansas City Star Noteworthy Book for 2002 and is listed as one of the Great Plains Alliance’s Great Books of the Great Plains. He plays bass for the band The Excuses.

Guest editor, Morgan O.H. McCune, currently works at Pittsburg State University in southeast Kansas. She is a native Kansan, and holds an M.F.A. in Poetry from Washington University in St. Louis (1991) and an M.L.S. from Emporia State University (2002). Her poems have been published previously in River Styx and Flint Hills Review. 

White Patsy: Raised Racist                                                 by Ronda Miller

Rust-colored hair and
freckles like mud specks
made me a target, easy
prey for schoolmates
of mixed races. Brown
children chased me through
the mile-high city projects
of Denver with worms,
they threatened,
sometimes managed,
to slip down the back
of my shirt as I ran screaming
toward the direction of wherever
home was those days. My
older brother pummeled
them with balled-up fists.
Determined grit showed
in his eyes and mouth.
He blocked their pathways,
took their wrath, as I ran and
ran and ran from their chants
of, “White Patsy! White Patsy!”
We were five and six years old.
It was the full-bodied, black-
skinned woman, who lived in the
same building as ours, who
motioned me in as I watched
hungrily from her open doorway. She

kneaded white flour mixed with brown
into loaves of bread. Soon,
delicious smells of rising yeast
floated throughout the cold, rat-infested
building. She’d lift the top from a barrel
beside where she stood, rub her warm
brown hands across her apron, take
a slice of day-old bread, sprinkling
sugar and cinnamon on it, before
placing it into my outstretched hand, then
pull me against her for a quick, firm hug. I
was a stray she fed daily. Decades
later, the day my stepsister
called to tell me my father
had killed my mother, I learned
her name was Myra Hodges.

Ronda Miller is a Life Coach and author of five books of poetry. Her latest book, I Love the Child, took first place at the 2020 State Kansas Authors Club Convention. Miller is a former state president of Kansas Authors Club, 2018-2019, and created poetry forms Loku and Ukol. Miller’s presentations across the United States include, Rewriting Your Trauma, and Talking to Crickets (we all live until we die).

Guest editor, Denise LowKansas Poet Laureate 2007-09, is winner of a Red Mountain Press’s Editor’s Choice Award for Shadow Light. A new book of poetry from Red Mountain is Wing. Other recent books areThe Turtle’s Beating Heart: One Family’s Story of Lenape Survival (a memoir, U. of Nebraska Press); Casino Bestiary (Spartan Press); and Jackalope, fiction (Red Mountain). She founded the Creative Writing Program at Haskell Indian Nations University, where she taught and was an administrator. Low is past board president of the Associated Writers and Writing Programs. She has won 3 Kansas Notable Book Awards and recognition from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Sequoyah National Research Center, Poetry Society of America, The Circle -Best Native American Books, Roberts Foundation, Lichtor Awards, and the Kansas Arts Commission. Low has an MFA from Wichita St. U. and Ph.D. from Kansas U. Her literary blog is http://deniselow.blogspot.com.

Next Year’s Garden                                                                  by Pat Daneman

Is it flowers we are wishing for
when we loop jewels around our necks,
string up colored lights in winter?  
What strange blooms do we imagine 
 
as we rest
our heads against a window white with fog,
feel the train wheels churning? Nothing is less
concerned with beauty than a flower.
A bee rises from a dusty dream,
 
a bead of rain 
rolls like a kiss around a petal’s curve
and we forget last year’s frost. Too heavy
for its stalk, a blossom bows to earth.
 
Fragrance, blind, sweet, 
slips beyond the gate.

Pat Daneman’s recent poetry appears in Atlanta Review, Freshwater, Bryant Literary Review, and Typehouse. Her collection, After All (FutureCycle Press 2018), was first runner-up, 2019 Thorpe-Menn Award and finalist, Hefner Heitz Kansas Book Award. She is author of a chapbook, Where the World Begins.

Guest editor, Denise LowKansas Poet Laureate 2007-09, is winner of a Red Mountain Press’s Editor’s Choice Award for Shadow Light. A new book of poetry from Red Mountain is Wing. Other recent books areThe Turtle’s Beating Heart: One Family’s Story of Lenape Survival (a memoir, U. of Nebraska Press); Casino Bestiary (Spartan Press); and Jackalope, fiction (Red Mountain). She founded the Creative Writing Program at Haskell Indian Nations University, where she taught and was an administrator. Low is past board president of the Associated Writers and Writing Programs. She has won 3 Kansas Notable Book Awards and recognition from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Sequoyah National Research Center, Poetry Society of America, The Circle -Best Native American Books, Roberts Foundation, Lichtor Awards, and the Kansas Arts Commission. Low has an MFA from Wichita St. U. and Ph.D. from Kansas U. Her literary blog is http://deniselow.blogspot.com.

Poem for Early Crocus                                                          by Laura Lee Washburn

Sun full on, popcorn’s best butter-
-y oil soaking the red-striped waxed bag,
cup small girls hold to their chin
and the reflection on skin, bright stamen
threading cloudless days into white rice,
the million wares of the Ponte Vecchio, the painted 
tromp l’oeil of the Ponte Vecchio on the Ponte Vecchio,
eyes of the domestic cat caught in darkness,
the squeaking toy’s dog-bit serenade, how
honey dreams of itself in the comb, how the world
moves even while folks shiver in drafty
offices or windowless workrooms, backlit
silk whispering China, whispering India, 
whispering home: the crocus promise, the crocus
accepts its bed of dead oak leaf, the crocuses 
wet and fold, and each small fist of gold shrivels
over its own bent but still green stem.

Editor-in-Chief Laura Lee Washburn is the Director of Creative Writing at Pittsburg State University in Kansas, and the author of This Good Warm Place: 10th Anniversary Expanded Edition (March Street) and Watching the Contortionists (Palanquin Chapbook Prize).  Her poetry has appeared in such journals as TheNewVerse.News, Carolina Quarterly, Ninth Letter, The Sun, and Valparaiso Review.  Harbor Review’s microchap prize is named in her honor.

Guest editor, Denise LowKansas Poet Laureate 2007-09, is winner of a Red Mountain Press’s Editor’s Choice Award for Shadow Light. A new book of poetry from Red Mountain is Wing. Other recent books areThe Turtle’s Beating Heart: One Family’s Story of Lenape Survival (a memoir, U. of Nebraska Press); Casino Bestiary (Spartan Press); and Jackalope, fiction (Red Mountain). She founded the Creative Writing Program at Haskell Indian Nations University, where she taught and was an administrator. Low is past board president of the Associated Writers and Writing Programs. She has won 3 Kansas Notable Book Awards and recognition from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Sequoyah National Research Center, Poetry Society of America, The Circle -Best Native American Books, Roberts Foundation, Lichtor Awards, and the Kansas Arts Commission. Low has an MFA from Wichita St. U. and Ph.D. from Kansas U. Her literary blog is http://deniselow.blogspot.com.

What I Know Today                                                               by William Sheldon

The opposite of life is…
Well, death’s opposite is hunger
“Love and death,” the poet
says, “love and death.” Horsetail
clouds framed by a window tease
dying leaves, red in setting sun.
 Bah.
All preamble to my saying again,
how much I love this graveyard
we tread daily. Let me walk thigh-
deep in the river, sit under winter’s
red skies.  We can be friends, but dirt
is my only lover.  We will lie together,
rise in each other’s clothes.

William Sheldon lives with his family in Hutchinson, Kansas. Books of poetry include Retrieving Old Bones (Woodley), Into Distant Grass (Oil Hill) and Rain Comes Riding (Mammoth).  A new full-length collection, Deadman, is forthcoming from Spartan Press. He plays bass for the band The Excuses. sheldonb52@icloud.com

Guest editor, Denise LowKansas Poet Laureate 2007-09, is winner of a Red Mountain Press’s Editor’s Choice Award for Shadow Light. A new book of poetry from Red Mountain is Wing. Other recent books areThe Turtle’s Beating Heart: One Family’s Story of Lenape Survival (a memoir, U. of Nebraska Press); Casino Bestiary (Spartan Press); and Jackalope, fiction (Red Mountain). She founded the Creative Writing Program at Haskell Indian Nations University, where she taught and was an administrator. Low is past board president of the Associated Writers and Writing Programs. She has won 3 Kansas Notable Book Awards and recognition from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Sequoyah National Research Center, Poetry Society of America, The Circle -Best Native American Books, Roberts Foundation, Lichtor Awards, and the Kansas Arts Commission. Low has an MFA from Wichita St. U. and Ph.D. from Kansas U. Her literary blog is http://deniselow.blogspot.com.