Two Poems by R.B. Simon

Canto of the Earth’s Song
In the flowers eye, lashes of goldenrod wink their fringe, dusting petals with the blueprints of the world.

There’s a scent on the air of a day forgotten in the woods, wilding witches drinking mead around a bonfire, acrid with the smolder of mugwort.

While wandering the murky forest, the ghostly bear searches for her phantom cub. Part shriek, part roar, too loud to be bird, too soft to be nearing motor, she moans and squawks.

The sound is vermillion and bronze, splashing the vision, filling nostrils with the pungency of crushed herbs and broken wood.

Clouds tumble over treetops like dice. Lightening prays to the sea, a crackling spark, I beg you open, take me in; I am providence, receive me.

On my last day walking this miniscule planet, I, too, will throw my cells sunward, expanding with gaseous heat, contracting like dew to land among the clouds.

Ex Gratia

I am uploading my new engagement photos.  
Thoughtlessly using the same app that you and I
used all those years ago, the one that lets you
create your fantasy wedding and website. Well,
machines have memories longer than elephants,
and as I open it the screen stubbornly flashes your name
in forty-eight-point font across the ornate scrollwork headline. 
My fingers click the mouse furiously, back, back, back
arrow to find the offending field still carrying your name
before my fiancé’s attention shifts away from their work,
over to my screen. It is not as if we have not all acknowledged you,
haven’t all become a strange little family: me and my fiancé,
you and your husband, the five of us (with the ghost of our relationship past.)
Together at Christmas over baked ham and sweet potatoes.
Swatting the mosquitos away from each other at summer BBQs.
Folding each other’s laundry over Starbucks and home baked treats.
And I would be lying if I didn’t say I don’t think about the future and you
as guest at my wedding, all four of us grown old and grizzled together. 
How you and I had once pictured the front porch, the rocking chairs.
How the view has changed since you lived here. 

R.B. Simon is a queer artist and writer of African and European-American descent.  She has been published inmultiple literary journals, and her chapbook, The Good Truth, was released by Finishing Line Press in July 2021.  She currently lives in Madison, WI with her spouse, daughter, and four little dogs. 

Guest Editor Hyejung Kook’s poems have appeared in POETRY MagazineDenver QuarterlyPrairie Schooner, Glass: A Journal of PoetryPleiades, and elsewhere. Other works include an essay in Critical Flame and a chamber opera libretto. Born in Seoul, Korea, she now lives in Kansas with her husband and their two children. Learn more at her website.


Childhood Friends                                                                  by James Diaz

We are the measure and the measured
Time, I'm saying
We waste and want more
In that aching that is ours to plow through
No one says whole
No one says time
Heals and if they do,
If they do:
Necessary lies
My father built houses all his life
For others to call a home
While we froze in winter
Wandered fields behind the section 8
Taught each other the long game of body burning
Brighter than future's not ours
Boys who died from too much
Or not enough
Girls who birthed their fathers
And braided ladders in their mind
To the moon
These ungodly creatures
From whom time took
Everything in sight
But in the barn one night Clara pointed
To the sky and said "just like that,
It's how I want to be,"
Never mind that everyone broke us
Never mind the light that fell
Across us scattered birds
Like everything else
Just out of reach
Because I remember holy was
Holy were
Don't ever think we came here wasted
We came here hungry
We ate the night
We were beautiful
We wanted more
We were at the altar
But never on our knees
Circling the barn
We talked our futures bigger than possible
We talked our lives with our mouths on fire
We kept each other warm
Kept each other circling
Higher and higher
The freeway humming
We ate the damn thing whole.

James Diaz (They/Them) is the author of This Someone I Call Stranger (Indolent Books, 2018), All Things Beautiful Are Bent (Alien Buddha, 2021), and the forthcoming Motel Prayers (Alien Buddha, 2022). Founding editor of Anti-Heroin Chic, their work has appeared or is forthcoming in Thrush Poetry Journal, Corporeal, The Madrigal, Wrongdoing Magazine, The Lumiere Review, Resurrection mag, and Apricity. They reside in upstate New York. 

Guest Editor Latorial Faison has authored 15 books, including Mother to Son and the trilogy collection, 28 Days of Poetry Celebrating Black History. A graduate of UVA and VA TECH, she recently, completed doctoral studies at Virginia State University and published The Missed Education of the Negro: An Examination of the Black Segregated Education Experience in Southampton County. This Furious Flower Poetry Center fellow, Pushcart nominee, and Tom Howard Poetry Prize winner has been published in Artemis Journal, West Trestle Review, Obsidian: Literature and Art in the African Diaspora, PRAIRIE SCHOONER, and elsewhere. Forthcoming work, Mama Was a Negro Spiritual, was a semi-finalist for The CAVE CANEM POETRY PRIZE. Faison is married, has three sons, and teaches at Virginia State University.

Birdsong                                                                                 by Cameron Morse

The difference is not that it is light
when I wake but birdsong
added to the darkness
lets me know I am no longer alone.
Lili is usually not in bed beside me
when my iPhone vibrates
on the nightstand. One of our children is,
or no one, and I have to go searching
for my wife, passed out
somewhere with the newborn
clutched to her chest, who wakes often
to check on us and make sure
the song that surrounds her with warmth
continues to play in the darkness.

Cameron Morse is Senior Reviews editor at Harbor Review and the author of eight collections of poetry. His first collection, Fall Risk, won Glass Lyre Press’s 2018 Best Book Award. His latest is The Thing Is (Briar Creek Press).

Guest editor Denise Low, MFA & Ph.D., was Kansas Poet Laureate 2007-09. She won the Red Mountain Press Editor’s Award for Shadow Light. Other books are Wing (Red Mountain), Casino Bestiary (Spartan), and The Turtle’s Beating Heart: One Family’s Story of Lenape Survival (U. of Nebraska Press), a Hefner Heitz Award finalist. At Haskell Indian Nations University she founded the creative writing program. She is a contributing editor to Essay Daily’s Midwessay project.

Drafts of Every Obituary for a Death by Suicide             by Maya Williams                                                             after Olivia Gatwood

Maya Williams (ey/they/she) is a Black multiracial nonbinary suicide survivor who is currently the seventh poet laureate of Portland, Maine. Ey has work published in venues such as Indianapolis ReviewFreezeRayThe Portland Press HeraldHomology LitglitterMOB, and more. You can find more of their work at

Guest Editor, Joan Kwon Glass (she/her) is the biracial, Korean American author of NIGHT SWIM, winner of the 2021 Diode Editions Book Contest, & is author of three chapbooks. Joan is the Editor in Chief of Harbor Review, a Brooklyn Poets mentor, poet laureate of Milford, CT, a Connecticut Office of the Arts Artists Respond grantee & poetry co-editor of West Trestle Review. A proud Smith College graduate, she has been a public school educator for 20 years. Her poems have appeared in Diode, Rattle, South Florida Poetry Journal, & many others. She grew up in Michigan & South Korea & lives in Connecticut with her family.

How our rooster taught me to love? ~Amirah Al Wassif

My father picked me up with one hand.
Even I could touch God's throne.
I laughed so hard.
I laughed until I lost my voice.
I call my father Mr. Rooster.
He isn't a real rooster
And, of course, I am not a little hen.
Our identities prove that.
Yes, we are human.
In our Arabian Nights,
The rooster has a prominent place.
He is a storyteller
Just like my father.
As a little kid,
My Mother hung me
In her ears like a star. 
Shiny ones.
She taught me how to weave
A fairytale around
The waist of the universe.
We were playing drums
During baking bread.
Our dusty faces before our stove,
The birds pecking our napes.
Many delicious stories
Float through our bodies.
I am a verse hovering over the air.
My mother's scent enfolds
The horizon.
Our rooster starts telling us
How the ancient Queens and Kings
Revealed the secret of embalming.
We are in love with braiding
Our grandmother's hair.
Me, my father and my mother,
Fighting against the pain.
We dissolve our salty tears
In a glass of sugar and wine.

Amirah Al Wassif’s poems have appeared in print and online publications including South Florida Poetry, Birmingham Arts Journal, Hawaii Review, The Meniscus, The Chiron Review, The Hunger, Writers Resist, Right Now, and others. Amirah’s poetry collection includes, For Those Who Don’t Know Chocolate (Poetic Justice Books & Arts, 2019) and a children’s book, The Cocoa Boy and Other Stories.

November Editor, Ronda Miller was state President of Kansas Authors Club, 2018 – 2019. Miller has three full-length books of poetry: Going Home: Poems from My Life, MoonStain, WaterSigns, and a chapbook, Winds of Time. Miller’s first children’s book, I Love the Child, was published 12/13/2020. The book’s illustrator is Katie Wiggins, a found cousin. I Love the Child won first place for The Children’s Book Award at the Kansas Authors Club State Convention, October 2020.

Backyard    by Melissa Fite Johnson

This scooped-out hole was once
the Bradford pear a friend and I sat under
last May when she lifted her shirt
to let me feel the life inside. Through
the dark soil, the tree’s roots still stretch
like lines etching a cracked egg.Melissa-Fite-Johnson_sm

She became a mother. I didn’t.
She secures the stroller’s strap, follows
her son to the park. She sits with other
in the shade. The older children
pile acorns in their mothers’ laps
until they spill to the ground.

At home, my husband and I read,
opposite ends of the couch, my feet tucked
under his side. Our tea steeps
in the kitchen. I’m not holding on
to nothing anymore. In the neighbors’ yard,
branches quilt patterns into the sky.

(Originally published in Broadsided Press, May 2017)

Melissa Fite Johnson’s first collection, While the Kettle’s On (Little Balkans Press, 2015), won the Nelson Poetry Book Award and is a Kansas Notable Book. She is also the author of A Crooked Door Cut into the Sky, winner of the 2017 Vella Chapbook Award (Paper Nautilus Press, 2018). Her poems appear or are forthcoming in Pleiades, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Broadsided Press, Sidereal, Stirring, Whale Road Review, and elsewhere. Melissa teaches English and lives with her husband and dogs in Lawrence, Kansas.

Guest editor Julie Ramon is an English instructor at NEO A&M in Miami, Oklahoma.  She graduated with an M.F.A from Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky. Among writing, her interests include baking, sewing, traveling, and garage sales. She is also a co-organizer of a Joplin, Missouri poetry series, Downtown Poetry. She lives in Joplin with her husband, sons, and daughter.

Visiting my Grandson during the Pandemic      by Debbie Theiss

My grandson plays on his driveway
chalk in hand as he draws
large yellow daffodils and red tulipsDebbie Picture
sidewalk paths
trees with orange and cherry blossoms
me under the branches with
picnic basket full of cake and
cookies in blue-checkered napkins
a robin’s nest above my head
with four tiny egg blue gems

I watch him from my car, window down
sun fading in the pink-streaked sky
I beep twice, he looks my way
I throw him kisses; he catches each one
I pull away still watching him and
wish that someone would have HIT PAUSE
before now.


Debbie Theiss (Lee’s Summit, MO) grew up in in the Midwest and finds inspiration in the unfolding art of daily life and nature. She is a member of the Kansas City Writer’s Group and has poems published in I-70 Review, Helen Literary Journal, River & South Review, and others.


Julie Ramon is an English instructor at NEO A&M in Miami, Oklahoma.  She graduated with an M.F.A from Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky. Among writing, her interests include baking, sewing, traveling, and garage sales. She is also a co-organizer of a Joplin, Missouri poetry series, Downtown Poetry. She lives in Joplin with her husband, sons, and daughter.