SPOTLIGHT: Circles of Roses Forever by Chani Zwibel

Let me die in your arms.
Let them carry me away
holding your hand.
I’ll hold your heart
like a circle of roses forever,
grown round my heart like ivy.
Let “I love you”
be the poisonous kiss
that seals our sleep.
We’ll need no “‘til death,”
but we’ll play our part.
Let us love.

Roses adored in your garden below
Now frozen and bitter with snow
Fairytale lies that you spun like a show
And caught me with nowhere to go
Morning and sunset I wonder too much
And shadows and whispers come close
Telling me gently of roses forgotten
And where the good little child goes
When was the moment when you saw me
When was the truth of my name
How did you ever come into my life
And, worse, in my heart have a place?
I’m not sure what love is, for true or not,
I’ve never loved anyone, no,
But fondness and friendship aren’t foreign to me
I know where the roses still grow.

Roses upon your kitchen counter, dried from summer’s light.
Memories of each sunny day to last each winter night.
So cold and so vacant, so left behind,
the world of winter never touched by time.
The sun comes through a miracle you see in each eye.
Spring is only around the corner, once more a sunny sky.

My heart is a spider web that caught you, caught you.
My heart is the delicate lace that you spun, you spun.
My heart is the precious stone that you found, you found.
My heart is the place from which you run, you run.

Winter is a chill,
But my love is a frost.
It can’t be unrequited warm,
So my love for you is lost.


SPOTLIGHT: Of Weeds and Witches by Shelly Jones

Penelope Learns to Weave a Double Helix

I walk along the craggy hillside
overlooking cliffs, green waves below.

My drop spindle careens from these heights,
deftly spinning the wool tended by Melanthius
as I search for your ship in the distance,
that I might cast my line and draw you near.

Like you, my wool is roving, a grizzled storm cloud drifting over the sea.

Like the winds on your sail, I wind on, my journey brief, my work undone.

Murky memories of you surface
when the morning light shines
on our son’s tanned face,
when a sheep bleats, alone, scared,
in the black hours that belong to Nyx,
when a storm cracks your name
across the sky, rain muddying our fields.

But the years wane, my hair greys, my belly sags,
and the bed, carved from an olive tree
by your calloused hands, molders in your absence,
its roots rotting in the brine of my tears.

I turn to the spindle, splicing together
a ram’s fleece, algae, a bit of stag hide,
sacred to the virgin goddess of the hunt,
who nimbly wields a bow (even better than you),
flax, grapevine from your father’s land,
a hair from your pillow, preserved, still golden.

I adjust the tension, slow my tread,
the thread elastic in my hands,
strands of you plied not with a witch’s herbs,
but the fibers of my existence without you.

For years my fingers cross warp and weft,
weaving a new flesh to press against my face,
to soak up my tears, caress near-virgin skin.

At last I finish, selvedge raw,
snip the loose threads like a Moirai in training,
stand back to admire my creation
before it wraps its arms around my waist,
woven torso snug against my chest.

We fall into bed, ever-fixed
to the sallow olive tree,
and shake its branches bare.

You are not the only one
who has slept with monsters,
but mine are of my own design.

I breathe life
into the fibrous body
beside me, and
ignore the knock
at the door – at last.

The Azure Captain

They say her hair turned azure
from the sea, salt-tinged, waves like tongues
lapping at her, marking her as theirs. A badge
of acceptance, of expertise, her men begrudgingly
do her bidding. She navigates the straights of the sea serpent,
the coves of the kelpie, steers a walty mizzen past
sleeping harpies to the keys of Kallisto
using only the memory of stars to guide her.

She anchors off the reef, musky aroma of jungle flowers
on the nearby keys knot her blue hair, overwhelm
the men’s senses, drawing them portside. The captain
retires to her cabin, the sun-colored horn, a trinket
from a previous expedition, jangling at her hip,
orders her men to keep watch, but the keys call
to them – the lure of land, gravel, dirt
between their toes, backs sinking into sand.

They whisper below deck, tales of muder, mutiny,
their suspicions pour over the hull like swells
cresting the ship in a gale. She feels the wood listing
beneath her boots, knows the riotous winds shifting,
closing in around her. Cursing the captain, the crew
leap overboard, swim bare-chested in the moonlight,
the reef lacerating their hands, arms wading
through blossoms of blood until they reach the island.
They kiss the sand, rub it up their arms to stanch the blood,
until one man shouts, points at bones softened, wind-whitened,
strewn along the beach. In the dark, they hear the low
trumpet of a horn, turn to see a flash of blue billowing
against worn sails before hearing the growl behind them.

A Feline’s Guide to Astronomy

Pinholes in curtain:
constellations of starlight
To navigate home.


2 starved children (variety: hungry will do, unloved taste sweeter)
1 dusky forest, poorly marked and overgrown
1 gingerbread house (pre-fabricated acceptable, but guests will know)

Coat the starved children in tattered rags and lies. Lead
them to the edge of the dusky forest, their trust as thin and brittle
as the apologies of a feckless father.

Fold the children into the woods, aching limbs tumbling over upturned roots,
ducking beneath flagging branches. Listen as their stomachs
churn, breaking down the memories of bread, moldy and stale.

Place the gingerbread house, with sugar-coated shingles,
caramelized shutters, frosted panes in the middle of the forest,
at the cusp of the children’s exhaustion.

Make it impossible for them to turn back, turn around,
only turn on each other.

Fill the children with confections, doughs, icings, delights their step-mother knew,
but was too practical to bake or buy, yanking them away from the bakery
window on every trip into town, muttering something about sweets and rot.

Pull apart the siblings, sever their tender, familial sinews.
The bond that grew in the woods withers when brought to light,
stumbling across the witch’s syrupy threshold.

Marinate the girl with memories of a timorous father, stooped and fallow,
eyes hooded, dull like the boy’s; a willful step-mother;
an empty store cupboard, crumbling pantry, hollow larder.

Double check that the oven is preheated, the fire blazing, ready,
once she’s made her choice.

Knead her with strong hands, shaping her will, rolling out her future, papery thin,
only enough to cover her scraped limbs, no scraps, no extra wasted in the woods
by a prodigal brother, feeding sparrows, the hare, rather than surviving.

Allow the girl to rest, calculate the risks. Set a timer for five minutes. Do not allow
her to over-think her next move, to regret her decision. Any longer and pity
overwhelms her plot: escape, revenge, desserts that seem just to a child’s palate.

When she is ready, pinch her cheeks, dole out compliments.
Garnish her with the courage to never look back.

Clean the oven once the girl has gone to bed, tucked in deep beneath
layers of blankets to keep out the cold, the dark, the smell.

Toss the bones in a pot to simmer and cook down overnight.
Nothing wasted, everything earned.

“Take This”

“Take this,”
the minotaur snorts,
holding a mirror
out to Theseus,
before he locks
the serpentine labyrinth
and steps into the sun
for the first time,
hooves biting
unblemished soil,
horns stretching up
toward the blue sky.

SPOTLIGHT: Casting Seeds by Donny Winter

Seedlings in the Window

The milk cartons bow
on the sun-soaked windowsill.
As seeds peak from soil
the plastic wrap greenhouse lifts
and leaves finally breathe anew.


I began: a sprout
on a warm spring afternoon
and while the sun sank
far beyond the western field,
she sat; a sunhat—her shield.

The Invitation

Clods of dirt cascade
atop the wilted weed pile
and she waves at me,
invites me to the garden
to plant my roots in the soil.

“Come Along with Me and We’ll Plant a Tree”

every spring she’d sing,
citing some forgotten song
from her younger days
while I, with a child wonder,
planted seed to memory.


A spring storm has left
the hollyhocks heavy, bowed
by microburst force.
As the wind switches again,
their faces lift toward the sun.

SPOTLIGHT: Special Features: DVD Poems by Sara Matson

<ur so pretty it makes me sick>                              tank girl

she speaks in mustard crusts                             tinny
                                                                a beer can punted across a highway

sandstained tube sock strappy hungover

the shoulder boulder holder (targeted)
yellow plastic braids attached

to dusty bowler

(cult classic ultraviolence /// reference)

apocalyptic luxury cultivated w/
flamboyant                           maniacal generosity

single grain revelations amongst an ocean

of sand                   hotblonde dishwater

rooted at fluorescent random                            magenta

maintained + ignored rolling across

missile tits                             the fucking coolest

her own elegant mechanic instincts

flourishing muted horn domesticity

sexywar battered deeply anachronistic           icon

(of the world i wanted to resist in)

growing up is modern dissertation waltzed

across aches of traumaspit + rigorously mulling the
spicy pretties w/ plaid waists +

feathered boleros

(she shared breath               w/ Bowie)

while trying to find my own teddy on a stick

+ scoop my pelvis forward to lengthen my spine
(too                                         tall)
her winged-quirky hive lightup giggle
wandered thru time past the decrepit mansion

crushing sadness // sweet love /// devastating loss

(stop                       memory                 stop)

swiveling in roasted curiosity + eternal


mistaking kindness for weakness

is something only done once
when a loaded boltgun is pressed

to any manner of cheek

<a little ingenuity>                                                    mcgyver

without thinking
unbend it

demand in             or w/ merit            (but still)

ankle deep in cocktailnapkin napalm

i fiddle w/ the gentle promise of

familiar demolition

                blackedout eagle spotting

why is it always the humble + miraculous

(if temporary) that crave the frosty

geometry of buzzing planes 

the remarkable luxury of spontaneity

is reserved for those crafty + aggerate

bird of prey                           types

i remain antecedent            (to myself)

wires melting        (physics the real hero)

an entranced curator

coughs up silver paperclips in whipped tufts

brutal texture opening new possibilities

(undulating mylar tease)

working in tandem

copper droplets liquify

+ the resulting spyrographic forms

release the grip + soothe the concentric nerve

guide my neck back                            to center

slicing playfulness w/ the fierce style

of burning books in a dusty field

<hold me>                                          edward scissorhands

waist deep bouffant
pastel silver + weightless
mid-career estheticians (hi, mom)

lush + groovy topiary existence
slender + cold
blades                    haunting the profound

he was my grandfather how

all kindly old men are related to me

// by blood or sadness or diner food

raspy // honey soaked private
affirmation rolling posey pink

like a lovers moisture                         down my throat

in conjunction w/
slinky blonde devotee snow spiral
inimitable or deeply romantic          

cold nostalgia gently floating

down to earth potential

sliced                      like overgrown fringe

honor the ancient magic
w/ vibrant organ or
devilish hedge trimmed /// in velvet

seminal collection of signature
beehives stark + impersonal pastel

electric against plasticized suburbs

not bad just


(is                            there a difference?)

polished alternative
in laminated metallic or thick tubes
weighty regrets

worn as a reminder

of how nostalgia ages as memory soaks my tongue

SPOTLIGHT: What Lies Beneath by Maggie D. Brace

 Dread Faeries’ Mischievous Deeds

Stag beetles scamper upon the heath
where highway men once trod.
Now lazy picnickers lie beneath
asleep upon the sod.

An otherworld lies near the bog,
unbeknownst to men,
who heedlessly walk their dog,
and tumble into the fen.

Lurking amidst the pen ponds
wee fairy folk lie in wait,
they slip from their fae bonds
to gather at garden’s gate.

Planning their mischievous deeds,
they gambol and caper away.
Hiding betwixt the sedge and reeds,
they giggle away the day.

All escapades and pulling pranks
they wile away the hours,
pushing tourists down grassy banks
and pulling the heads off flowers.

Hiding stinkweed in the heath
and tripping up the runners,
sprinkling itch powder beneath
and butter atop the sunners.

Their naughty day is over too soon.
The faeries fly home for bed.
Lying below the crescent moon,
plotting their next day of dread.

           Along the Lazy Gunpowder River

Ensconced within our tubular crafts, with dangling arms and feet,
we slowly traverse down the river, attempting to beat the heat.

The morning mist lingers long as we slip amongst the stones.
The little ones cause us no harm, the larger bruise our bones.

Tubing by the nodding ferns, slipping past the forest floor,
the mighty river trundles us onward, greeting us with its roar.

Fisherman, with legs akimbo, reel out their translucent lines,
while gawking deer stand poised to run, nestled beneath the pines.

Slow and deep the current runs, then shallow, swift and raucous.
The twittering birds dip bills to drink, then resume their caucus.

Fuzzy owlets peer down at us as we navigate ox bow turn,
while salamander and twisting newt regard us with concern.

Dangling vines and dipping branches swathe us in their arms.
Beaver gnaw and fox hole scat, just a few of many quaint charms.

This pulsing waterway is life-filled, magical, and long.
cradling us in majestic beauty, accompanied by nature’s song.

Winter Sentinels

Our Hollow was quilted in a crisp white layer, cloud laden skies pressing down upon us.
The crunch of our sinuous movements echoing eerily through the woods.
My skis slid smoothly in the unblemished blanket, scritch-scritching in a rhythmic beat.
The birds, seeking to escape our intrusion, flew aloft in unison, then wheeled northward.
Heavy breaths forming icy crystals, escaped effortlessly from my lips.
An ominous hush envelops us, as we pause to take in the winter spectacle.

Following the curving path through the forest, we press onward and upward.
Filtered light shimmers down through the snow laden pines, playing tricks on our eyes.
Adjusting to the looming darkness, catching sight of flickering movements, we pause.
What forest creatures beleaguer us? Shadowy silhouettes teem about the trees.
Clawing branches tear at our hair, gnarled roots engulf our skis, cones pelt us from above.
Sinister slavering sounds send shivers down our spines, sending us once again on our way.

Frozen in time, a waterfall spirals and careens in its tortured path toward earth.
Fooling our eyes with seeming visual movement that never stirs, yet is in constant motion.
I imagine fearsome faces embedded in the crystalline ice in league with the tree sentinels.
Body tired and chilled to the core, we navigate homeward in unspoken duality of fear.
Warmed on the inside by potent potables, and crisped on the outside by the hearth,
We entwine and reminisce on our winter playday filled with fearsome, fantastical beasts.

   Fey Adventure

Siafra gently folded
her gossamer wings
about the crocus bloom.

Protecting the tender petals
from the nippy snap
of winter’s last hurrah.

Trailing her auburn locks
in the freshly falling snow,
She snuggled and nodded off.

Awoken with a start,
engulfed in a soggy mitten
she sputtered in anger.

Fiona’s eyes peered in awe
at her captured prey,
unclasping, she smiled shyly.

“Pardon me, sweet faerie,
I didn’t mean no harm,
off you shoo! Ta”

Pleased with the politeness,
Siafra forgave her momentary capture,
and fluttered off in frolicking freedom.

     Pensive Frolic

A pensive frolic through winters past we’ll take:
Muffling silence greets me as I awake,
The slanting brightness confirms overnight snow.
Toes curled, anticipating, ready to go.

Layer upon layer bedecks my wee frame,
rendering me hulking, unhappy, and lame.
Enrobed to the satisfaction of mother,
I trek outside, with big and bigger brother.

Ginger precedes us, her moist, black nose kept low,
leaving paw prints and hot, steaming yellow snow.
Stepping carefully in my brothers’ boot marks,
I listen to her steam-spewing, joyful barks.

Merriment ensuing is etched in my heart.
Angels, sleds and snow forts all play a big part.
We frolic and hoot till we can’t feel our toes,
we gambol for hours, with dripping wet nose.

At last, we trek homeward, too tired to go on.
We yank off our wet layers, stifling a yawn.
Mother serves us cocoa and cozies our bed.
Fond memories remaining in heart and head.