Palmistry by Jemshed Khan

What did she see

in my hands

upturned to heaven?

Perhaps bats rising

from my palms, swarms

winging into the night.

In the glare

of my smartphone

I Google death

stare at a picture

of an infected Princess

off the coast of Cali.

In the cradle of my hand:

maps of the earth,

red circles rising.

I walk to the sink,

scrub with soap, wash

until water runs clear.


I used to cross the street

from my office to see Dad.

We munched on samosas

and forkfuls of biryani.

Sipped chai

and talked Dow Jones.

Now a phone call is all.

“What did you just say?”

I raise my voice, enunciate,

but he still mistakes me

for my brother.

“Oh fine,” he replies,

and then jumbles English

and Urdu

into nonsense.

Once a week I set

a grocery sack

of canned soups, oatmeal,

oranges, bananas, milk

outside his door:

ring the door bell

and head for the car.

Jemshed Khan lives in Kansas City and has published in Heartland 150, I-70 Review, Chiron Review and Coal City Review.

September Editor James Benger is the author of two fiction ebooks, and three chapbooks, one full-length, and coauthor of three 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.


Dancing on the Head of a Pin . by Jemshed Khan

In the bang of war

the rifle butt smacks

the sniper’s shoulder:

another bullet swifts

the long dark hollow

of the killing barrel.


Minutes after the landing

the Rooster is strutting

The cameras are rolling

Hand shakes all around

Top brass is beaming

and cheering begins.


I scarcely fathom the howl

of all this volumed Kevlar―

yet my nation dances

on the bones of the dead

to bend the will of others

to a pin on a map.


Jemshed Khan has published poems in such magazines as Number One Magazine, Wittenberg Review, #BlackArtMatters (2016), Read Local (2016), Rigorous (2017), NanoText(Medusa’s Laugh Press, 2017) and the chapbook Paean for Billy Collins (Calliope Club Press, 2017). 

Guest Editor 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, Cavalier Literary Couture, Carolina Quarterly, Ninth Letter, The Sun, Red Rock Review, and Valparaiso Review.  Born in Virginia Beach, Virginia, she has also lived and worked in Arizona and in Missouri.  She is married to the writer Roland Sodowsky and is one of the founders and the Co-President of the Board of SEK Women Helping Women.

#48689 — By Jemshed Khan

She was nearly seventy and catching the evening news

when the buzzcut Skinheads appeared on the big screen TV

gathering to explain that it was all just a hoax.


She had thought the Dead dead,

but now the remnant past prickled about her

and the peephole of memory swung open.

Tiny white bones began rising up to consciousness

and she journeyed back into cattle cars

and marched through the fresh and falling snow.

When tilling fields for crops she was startled again

by the tiny white bones of babies turned to fertilizer.

She revisited the half-living about the edge of fire,

and heard voices from her childhood

that had gathered to the chambers.


Now, when I walk in her sewing shop

she looks up and her pale eyes flash and smile.

The bulb of the vintage Singer machine

blazes yellow on the backs of her hands

as her fingers draw thread

through a needle’s eye.

Her veins are old, full and blue like tattoos.

When her hand feeds fabric to the seam,

the veins bulge and I see the dull blue numbers

on her forearm are ink from another century.


She tells that a few survived the chambers:

Those bodies that still breathed

were dragged out no differently

and stacked with the dead;

all then doused for the burning.

After the blaze of fuel was spent

and the fiery core had already sunk to ash,

the edge of the smoking heap was mostly char.

Little much survived past that smoldering edge –

Just the upper body still alive

with a hand that moved a bit

and a face tilting upward.

The eyes locked intently upon her,

sharply holding her at witness.

~ Jemshed Khan

Jemshed Khan has published poems in Number One Magazine, Wittenberg Review, #BlackArtMatters (2016), Read Local (2016), Rigorous (2017), NanoText (Medusa’s Laugh Press, 2017) and the chapbook Paean for Billy Collins (Calliope Club Press, 2017). The author is slated for Clockwise Cat, Issue 36 (2017) and I-70 Review (September 2017).

Pat Daneman has published poems and short fiction in many print and on-line journals. Her most recent work appears in the anthology New Poetry from the Midwest, Moon City Review, Stonecoast Review, Comstock Review and Bellevue Literary Review. Her chapbook, Where the World Begins, was published in 2015 by Finishing Line Press. After All, her first full-length poetry collection will be published in 2018 by FutureCycle Press.

Flint Hills, Kansas — by Jemshed Khan

Snowmelt scours the Rockies until the creeks flash.

Gravel and sand wash into Beaver Creek and the Solomon River.

Cows are calving as water sweeps the land.

The jet stream drops from the north like a Cheyenne raid―

Rain slams the high plains, rivers churn,

and spring calves stumble into the drowning snarl

that roars through the Smoky Hills.

Anvil-grey thunderheads rumble the Flint Hills.


Thirty million bison roamed the tall grass prairie

before General Sherman’s final solution to the Indian problem―

kill, skin, and sell until the buffalo is exterminated.

They shoot them down on foot, horseback, and from trains:

The hides are stacked, hacked, carcasses left to rot―

to starve out the Pawnee and Osage tribes:


Now bison bones still wash into angry creeks,

with mastodon teeth, arrowheads, deer antlers.

The surly boneyard river reminds whose land this was.

Barbed-wire fences bristle and glint in slanting rain,

Angus, Herefords, and yearlings graze on wet bluestem grass.

The drenched bovines munch ancient fodder,

the white settlers keep Sunday clean.

Soon the calfs―fattened under the summer sun―

move to feed lots and holding pens.

When the box chute opens to the kill floor

the cows will know the bison’s fate: kill, skin, sell.

~ Jemshed Khan

Jemshed Khan has published poems in Number One Magazine, Wittenberg Review, #BlackArtMatters (2016), Read Local (2016), Rigorous (2017), NanoText (Medusa’s Laugh Press, 2017). The author is slated for Clockwise Cat, Issue 36 (2017) and I-70 Review

Guest Editor Denise Low: The University of Nebraska Press published Denise Low’s 2017 memoir The Turtle’s Beating Heart, about her grandfather’s Lenape heritage. Other recent books are A Casino Bestiary: Poems (Spartan Press 2017), Mélange Block: Poems (Red Mt. Press), Jackalope (short fiction, Red Mt. Press), and Natural Theologies: Essays (The Backwaters Press). Low is former Kansas poet laureate and past board president of the Associated Writers and Writing Programs. She teaches for Baker University’s School of Professional and Graduate Studies.