person Barbara Fant, poem

Barbara Fant, from Youngstown, Ohio, is a minister, poet, and artist facilitator. She has been writing and performing for over ten years. She has represented Columbus on four National poetry slam teams and five individual competitions. She placed 8th out of 96 poets in the 2017 Women of the World Poetry Slam. She has been commissioned by The Columbus Foundation, the City of Columbus, and the Women’s Fund of Central Ohio. She has featured with The Columbus Symphony, ProMusica Chamber Orchestra, and The Harmony Project. You can find her work in the Columbus Makes Art campaign, the Columbus Museum of Art, TEDx Columbus, and Columbus Alive named her a 2017 People to Watch. She is the author of one poetry collection, Paint, Inside Out (released in 2010 by Penmanship Books of New York City), and two chapbooks, Them Brilliant Suns and RibCaged (both released in March of 2017). She holds a BA in Literature, a Masters in Theology, and is currently pursuing an MFA at Antioch University Los Angeles. She has worked for years in juvenile correctional facilities and schools teaching art as form of healing. Currently, she works at The Columbus Foundation as the Nonprofit Outreach Administrator and teaches poetry at Transit Arts. Barbara believes in the transformative power of art and she considers poetry her ministry.


Black Woman Repetition – (After Terrance Hayes)

Black woman, college degree
Black woman, masters
Black woman student loans,

Black woman loaned her life over to student,
Student, Black woman, woman full time job

Single black woman over 30
Single black woman… 30?

Black woman, world calls bitter
Black woman bitten angry black,
Black woman bitter black angry broke
Is she the only thing broken?

Let’s talk about war, let’s talk about Vietnam men coming home limbless,
Agent orange where black souls should be,

Let’s talk about fathers, daddy didn’t come home,
Black woman got daddy issues, black woman daddy issues,
Black woman, 30 still dealing with daddy issues?

Black woman nurse black man, Black father?
Black boy too afraid of his own insecurities?
Black woman, black hole
Black woman not whole?

Black woman, black woman, you are more than just the hole your thighs uphold

Woman of black, Black woman you are not always the night,
you are not always black and blue,

Black woman not Jonah,
Black boy, are you Jonah?
What do you do when there’s fear inside you the size of a whale’s body?

Black woman wail, Black woman travail for black man,
black woman pray, black woman pray, black woman, don’t be another man’s prey

She swim, black woman float, woman water,
Black woman your face not always an aquarium’s explosion


person Carl Boon, five poems

Carl Boon lives in Izmir, Turkey, where he teaches courses in American culture and literature at 9 Eylül University. His poems have appeared in many magazines, including Posit, The Maine Review, and Diagram. A Pushcart Prize nominee, Boon recently edited a volume on the sublime in American cultural studies.



From its place on the sofa
the child, not yet three,
discovers patterns in the way
we talk and move. You call it
a filament of understanding,
incredible, and soon we’ll be,
you say, enveloped in its thoughts.
But you are the father,
the one with secrets who needs
a universe your own—a place
of maps and streetcars
with foreign names. For this
I hate you, as I am here with it,
aware of fractures, planning.
I must listen while you listen
to Pound name the wildflowers
south of Lanzhou, Eliot tap through
Russell Square, the snarls
of the ancients in his throat.
I am here to note the bleeding
the hours you go away,
to wipe the floor of toys
and matchstick gardens.
I am here for the moments
its world goes awry and yours,
vanished inside O’Hara’s impossible
and the light way Dickinson
comes to joy. Please remember
the casserole on the counter
and the way you licked my knee
that morning—when this
you often fail to speak of
became a portion of your world.



Looking back
at my mother in a book,
remembering what my father said
about beaches and galaxies—

no one believed him.
There was so much, just look,
we said: dunes and this depth
below our feet, forever down,

and under the water, too.
It didn’t matter—places on maps,
all those edges: Libya,
Cyprus, the northern stretch

of every continent.
One could swim forever,
walk forever, listen to gulls
over Greenland, Capes Horn

and Fear and Hatteras. My mother
read because of worlds
she could not know. I was three
and saw in those shapes

sand instead of words. I saw
my father heading back
to the cabin, a towel, his shoulder,
his ribs. They told me I was made

from a rib, so I counted mine,
my brother’s, until counting
turned to work instead of magic,
and I would have to start again.



Clara used to count the ants—
all summer she counted, mesmerized:
the exact without flash, work
without reward. She graduated, then,
to what she called more beautiful:
butterflies, kiwi flowers
on the windblown, sea-torn tree,
each the color of her hair,
and panicked when she realized
her grandfather was an ax, a man
to make things disappear.

On the Marmara Sea the birds
outnumbered her, but still she tried—
little fingers, algorithms of branch
and cliff, the stars exceeding,
Grandfather said, the grains of sand
on Five Houses Beach. But at breakfast
she was unperturbed: an egg for Mommy
and an egg for Daddy, seventeen
olives on the plate, six cups of tea,
and sugar enough for a lifetime.

But a lifetime—that is birth a one
and death a one and love between
and Grandmother’s spinach pastry
and apple cookies in Istanbul.
When did we stop counting?
When did it feel right
to give up the seven women I’ve loved
and lost—count the letters in their names—
or the seven funerals I’ve watched
in stilted amazement? Clara:
you’ve ceased your counting way too early.



Now that all the houses have burned,
we spend our afternoons with charts.
You must be in Quadrant C and you must be
C-3, I hear the woman say.

I had a thousand dollars hidden
in my Milton, my father’s wedding ring
buried inside a bowl of sugar. I couldn’t
calculate how far the flames had gone,

I couldn’t imagine going home. War
had transformed us to figures on a page—
any delight was geometry now,
the algorithms of whatever sins

had brought us here: volumes of flour
for loaves of bread, how many tins
of chicken broth comprise a base
twelve squared: unhappy pyramids.

Adorno was right: what use of poetry
in times of suffering? Bakhtin burned
his last, best book to roll tobacco in.
Dr. King watched Birmingham scowl.

Nazım Hikmet rolled his eyes
when pretty girls passed in flower-
print dresses. Metaphor hurts
if the only thing left is metaphor.

My mother turned away from the ash,
and in the simmering dark she counted
twenty-two cups untouched, three eggs,
four tablespoons of salt, and wept.

To console, I kissed her face, her hand.
All a flailing, pieces, bell-chimes, raisins.
Her stepping away meant I had to
measure what she stepped away from.



Let it be a lion, a persuasion,
and let the one whose hair is candy-flame
call back against the rising grass. Let her
be herself again

in the library, in the hall,
holding a book of angels,
and angels disguised, disgusted
with the flesh of men.

This was the month we came alive
and silently moved down silent streets.
No one spoke; we did not of love
nor what love meant

but paused among poppies,
the land enough even had we failed
to be inside it, stepping, passing
water. I thought of Lent,

my mother freeing herself of snow,
faded scarves and faded paint,
a kitchen with a calendar,
the Virgin, virgin peaches.

And so she did not come to me
again, and spoke to them Italian words
and allowed the blind to fall,
patterning her speeches

with platitudes—the lamb, rice
cooling with a bit of salt. March the holy
month on earth: left sounds:
her dangling earrings, dilemmas.


KNOCK – poems – Melissa Atkinson Mercer

poems, Melissa Atkinson Mercer
Half Mystic Press, 2018


‘…a mirror covered by a bright cloth.’ – {from} too emphatic,

‘Like me, already like me, all burial, all mask.’ – {from} hush now & heed:

As if named by, or for, a shape, Melissa Atkinson Mercer’s Knock extracts myth from the clinically elusive and gives oath an otherness that is unanswerable and local. Ritual is not routine, here, and voice not theft. With creatures unperceived by human brevity, Mercer not only honors the bodies that move from story to story but grants the before-life of their speaking an expanse in which to lead footprint by the mouth away from tightrope’s shadow. A stilling testimony of mobile cessations, Knock is exit music for silence.


reflection by Barton Smock


book is here:

person Natalie Mulford, two poems

Natalie Mulford grew up in Los Angeles. She has studied writing at Hampshire College, Idyllwild Arts, San Francisco City College, and the University of Iowa Writers Workshop Summer Program. She currently works at Ten Speed Press and lives at the base of Wildcat Canyon in the San Francisco Bay Area.



My sister’s 20 year old body
times mine
equals the age at which I will be dead times 10

Halve me you get my half-sister, my father divided in half
twice in two separate equations

Halve me, the decaying half-life, and get this quarter-life, the rest of her ratio a blank x on the page

Halve me and get possibility, a girl in a bikini painting red toe polish on by the pool
before her boyfriend comes over

I can almost make myself out in her face, glasses and nose wavering in July sunlight.

Him I don’t recognize, a stranger’s genes.
But he’s got the right math to multiply hers and outlive me forever.



Burnt umber baby
Lobster lunar landscape
Uterus lining the sun
The shape of an infant’s head
A year of waiting
The wholeness of a shadow of a thing


person Chella Courington, two poems

Chella Courington is a writer and teacher. With a Ph.D. in American and British Literature and an MFA in Poetry, she is the author of six poetry and three flash fiction chapbooks. Her poetry appears in numerous anthologies and journals including Non-Binary Review, Gargoyle, Pirene’s Fountain, and The Los Angeles Review. Originally from the Appalachian South, Courington lives in California with another writer and two cats. For more information:



My father built biceps working for US Steel
smelting iron in heat that humbled men.

Now I could break his arm
over my knee, brittle as kindling.

My father used to let me walk up his body
balancing my hands on his fingertips

till I flew from his shoulders. They began to sag
after my mother passed. Rising at night, no moon out,

she collapsed in the dark and never woke
as once my father fell when a clot in his head

tossed him down. He speaks of my mother
rubbing his back with eucalyptus oil and saves hair

from her brush, strands he wraps in kleenex.
At night with his whiskey, facing Jeopardy, my father

drifts off to Kargasok.
In the Russian mountains women live to be 105.

So do their men, eating dried cod with mushroom tea,
making love last forever.


The Pond Heron

The dead don’t write
but my cousin’s letter arrives three days

after he’s blown away by some kid
in his own platoon.

Maybe another Georgia boy
who’s never been so far from home

so scared he shoots at anything
moving in shadows.

The letter feels light
for my cousin’s voice.

He speaks of sheer petals rising
out of muddy fields

spreading before the sun.
Of a copper heron in shallow water

who dips his black-tipped beak
to spear his prey.


Unmark – poems – Montreux Rotholtz

poems, Montreux Rotholtz
Burnside Review Press, 2017


help me I’m partial – {from} Psalm

I call ash the blindfold of scar. I get my strength from paper dolls. Hypnosis skipped my mother. These, feel true. They, are not. Rare the language that knows what to say. And rarer yet the speaker who can make of voice a bread that rises at the footfall of ghost. Unmark has such language, and Montreux Rotholtz, good lord, speaks. As if summoned from the nonexistent archival footage of recent warning signs, these poems, these disorienting anticipations, are very here. They turn one to echo. They reshape the form one takes when returning home. Not one of these verses is lost, and Rotholtz is in command of such a possessive leavetaking that the reader feels as one created to recognize whatever blessed trespass they’ve gone to remember.


reflection by Barton Smock


book is here: