Issue 1.5


A silent street lined by blank buildings —  
plastic petals painted the sidewalks,  
replacing trees.  

The ocean surrounded us still, before the swallow  
of pollution’s vacuum, and I tasted love’s velvet — 
salt water in a kiss. 

In my dreams I planted an orange orchard.  
You and I danced  
with falling water.  

When the night finally folds 
I will place my chair  
beside the open window  

and sit in the last reflections  
of surviving flowers singing — 
bright blue songs. 

Winter’s Circle 

In early fall, the sun starts
sleep sooner and days
are stretched thin. The sky
is an amber lampshade with
a short battery. In the garden,
purple and green desert plants
melt into Venn diagrams. I
look over Mama’s saved
newspapers and I can believe
my memories are clipped
photographs. The leaves of
dying daffodils are waiting
for the moonlight to cure them
as if time were a circle. And I
suddenly I let the geese go
because I no longer have to
hold on to the fear and the joy
of predicting the end because
I am unsure now of the beginning.

Natalie Marino is a writer, mother, and physician. She earned her BA in American Literature from UCLA and her MD from The University of Pittsburgh. She has been published by or has poems forthcoming in Detritus Online, Idle Ink, Indolent Books, Mineral Lit Mag, and Royal Rose Magazine. She lives in Thousand Oaks, California with her husband and two daughters. She can be found at Twitter at @n_marinopoet. 

Inhaling Smoking Particulate from Alberta Forest Fires

Young wildfire
chasing the sun,
a fevered graze
licking down the land,
dancing heat
deconstructing greens
into black scars and blisters
while We, the city,
breathe in the remainders of death,
ashes taking root in our chest,
as soot-stained dreams
boil the sky,
capture a bird in hand,
and pluck the feathers
for smothering.

Drinking Tea During an Evening Thunderstorm that Forecasters Forgot to Predict 

Not all light falls cracked like this,  
sharp, jagged toothed,  
and spitting hiss. 

Remember umbrella pines, 
honeymoon nights sheltered 
by roadside shrines. 

A hummingbird tosses rain, 
flits feathered wings to 
sky again. 

Clouds dissolve unheard – 
into black and sugar-stirred.

Jenny Wong is a writer, traveler, and occasional business analyst.  She resides in the foothills of Alberta, Canada and is currently enjoying clear blue skies and jasmine green tea.  Recent publications include Claw & Blossom, Atlas & Alice, Whale Road Review, and Lost Balloon.  Follow her on Twitter @jenwithwords. 

In Situ, a Farmer Regrets  

“Sons, you assume the legacy of eight resistant peoples  
on the prairie. Each augments in its time: each devotes 
its toil to a patient night; each day inches us to mastery 
of flat land light: in situ you claim a descendant’s right.” 
“You know wholly our forebears lessons: work for lives, 
whether family in the parlor, mice in the dust, the eagle 
in the sky; the eels under the falls; that God damned cat 
from Rucker’s farm; or barbers in Keokuk. Remember 
our debt to Americans we defeated; ready your defense.” 

‘Occupy every quarter of this spot; guard the firm circle  
that became our center until the body fails, the mind too 
needs relief; then give thanks to forces you employ; rest 
amid the worth you’ve gained. Above all remember joy.’ 

“That’s my father’s creed, and his before, and earlier yet.” 

Now silently the man confides: 

and mine today. But by the morning, no longer obliged, I 
am not wise nor certain of my duties. As my bodily war 
with bodily peace comes near, forever rebutting buzzes 
and beats, sirens within the thicket, screams on a hillock 
in far acres, (to cease is so strange) may I drive a truck? 
May I thumb my way along local roads? Or spin a trout 
on my rod, or see it slip over pebbles to devour my bait? 
I’ll lose my way on a common road to pick up your kids? 
Will my line unreel? My lure decoy? My reason begone? 
If I should lose my grip, will God admit a flaw in plan? 

A hot day threatens ice. Both bully the prairie. My breath 
exhales to mist my day, so I dance, to re-spark the spirits. 
And my sons absorb the warming rhythms of their work. 
I can not partake. My light reaches speed, to pass behind 
their lives, wordless now, noise chasing behind in waves.

Keith Moul, born in St. Louis, has lived among these voices, owes them fealty because people survive the plains under the most adverse conditions. He has come to appreciate the knack to this bravery, now much later in his life. Find him online at 

Grandpa Is a Green Chair, Grandma Is the Grass 

Their cherry trees die from the top down  
every summer, beautiful for a few weeks.  
The grass below them grows in the dark—  

ripping it out of the ground kept her alive  

for a decade after he died opening the blinds   
shakily hoping to see them shifting in a breeze.  
More than one root gnarls its way out of the earth,  
reaching for the white pine well beyond its drip line.   

The kitchen separates their deaths.   

My brother found her on the carpet: half blue,  
ear down like she was tracking game.  
I celebrate holidays between their names,  

fixing the flowers and wiping my face,  
shadows moving, Buffalo grass remembering  
the shape of my body.  

The Beginning of Feathers  

The speckled shells will be ugly  
and loud before long: at least  
one will fling itself skyward  
and die, a pink stain on the ground,  

the beginning of feathers  
stuck to its wings. The soft sound  
of soft bodies breaking  
the edge of their hard world only  

to find it is cold in the next  
echoes not very far at all.  
All mouth, these baby birds  
regret the warm twist of branches  

reminding them to leave is to find   
yourself back in a place you just left.  

Calvin Olsen’s poetry and translations have most recently appeared in Poet Lore, The National Poetry Review, AGNI, Asymptote, and The Cortland Review, among others. He lives in North Carolina, where he is a doctoral student and the poetry editor for The Carolina Quarterly. More of his work can be found at 

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