Submit your poetry and/or art for this site by emailing before 11:59pm PST on Saturday, February 19th, 2022.

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Angela M Franklin

A Grim Fairy Tale

Once upon a time 

a baby girl was born with both hands

planted firmly on slim hips

in Naperville a city known for its wind.

Geneva named her reed of a rebel Sandra 

born to protect innocents weaker than she 

activism seeped through ebony skin armed

with shard-laced tongue was everything but bland.

Then one fine day came good fortune.

A new job drew word warrior hours away 

to chase an American dream nestled 

in alma mater near a Texas city 

full of prairie views and monster cops. 

Arriving at destination with a little hesitation

she oops and made a fraction of a traffic violation 

tale-gating trooper saw and stopped the car

ran license and tags then flashed his badge. 

He waited agitated claimed to choke 

on Sandra’s second-hand smoke wafting

from her lit cigarette not close 

the officer was no gentleman.

Put yer cigarette out, the Jim Crow throwback demanded

Or I will light you up.

I’m in my car she smarted. You feeling’ mighty good ‘bout yourself?

Step out the car or I will remove you

Step out the car or I will remove you

Step out the car or I will remove you

For a traffic ticket, for a traffic ticket, she protested

was arrested, forced to shuffle with hands locked behind back

wearing his matching metal bracelets. 

Body slammed and shoved into a cell

Sandra soon tired of itchy orange prison wear

cellmates said she stuffed the rough 

jumpsuit inside a hefty trash bag

then jumped from her bunk plastic 

on neck and dangled until she was dead; 

at least that’s what the lying jailers said.

The End

(This year 2022, Sandra Bland would have turned 35 February 7th)

In Black and White: A Close Encounter of a Blue Kind

Ya got any pcp?
He screamed at me
I stared at thin pink lips
in disbelief his mouth full 
of yellow jagged teeth sagged 
like a picket fence needing repair
mold-colored eyes menacing pinwheels  
high beams of hatred set in a 
carnelian-shaded face and neck. 

The cop violated law to lay hands 
on me with defiling clutching claws 
ignored my command don’t touch
I thought you were a man he lied
I, in plain view 5 feet 2 and buxom.

His right hand rested on a .357
the wrong one probed my coat 
searched for elusive contraband
my kind was rumored to have.

Put your hands up, he ordered 
my puzzled female passenger  
& three boys--12, 8 & 2 years young 
sprawled in the back seat 
my moving violation unclear
anything in South Central was suspect.

The cop was on a mission but
it wasn’t from John Belushi’s God 
his mission was to snatch comfort 
to strike fear from that day till now
when driving Figueroa I watch my rear   
view since Winter of 1979  
when widow Eulia Love was blasted 
12 times in front of her babies
from two officers’ hands planted 
on guns that were paid to serve and protect her.

Warning: disturbing content about global pigs

I remember the feast of my first luau
I could tell you about the drinks, native songs,
buffed Polynesian men brandishing flaming batons
but lean in and listen while I tell you about the roasted pig,
the spit shined burnished skin, crispy mouth wrapped 
around a wrinkled apple
the animal’s singed eye sockets ringed 
with cherries and pineapples
its body reposed on a carpet of lettuce, scattered wedges 
of watermelon and grapes decorate the pork platter.
Hold that image.

Now let me tell you about the rape  
of Eritrean women spoils of conflict. 
Men declared war but woman and children died.
One young woman ripped from her village
12 soldiers zealous to ruin their enemies’ wives
thrust and spent themselves inside her womb 
12 hours she begged and wept.

The men thought they killed 
her to send a message so they packed  
her tight with rocks, glass, sticks, and trash
stuffed her like a pig shocking 
the attending physician as each bloody piece he pulled
clinked when dropped inside the tin bin by hospital bed.

Half dead the woman’s thin legs unable to stand
remembered how the men tossed her battered 
and bloody in the gold soil that clung 
to their shoes forever a testimony against them
and roasted pigs.
Hold that image the next time you dine on swine at a luau.

Beverly Higginson

Photo by Charles Ardinger

"Will this be the day that I die?"

I drive up the highway alone, north to the mountains

a familiar road, nothing to fear

until there is.   Billows of white,

a wall of white that closes behind me

I drive through fog like I've never seen before

so dense & thick I can't see beyond my hood

It had not crept in on little cat feet

it was a lion that did not roar, a snake without a rattle

in an instant, visibility disappears; I cannot see lines on the road

my eyes play tricks; I can't see the road

cliff drop-offs border the right

my knuckles turn white gripping the wheel

mountains & trees lost - signposts gone - off ramps shrouded by ghosts

creeping along forever I drive as if on a tightrope

suddenly in the distance I see taillights--or is it a mirage?

I trail this beacon, praying   Do not get too far ahead of me

But fog is unforgiving  - the beacon vanishes as if it was never there

That's when I feel it....this is how I'm going to die

The road narrows - gravel rock crunches under tires

too close to the edge - but I can't see the edge

too late I glimpse the outline of a signpost

but I can't get over

dread replaces the pounding in my heart

terror takes hold, fuels horrific images

        My car plunging over the embankment

        The body of a woman found

Regrets fill my head for all the things not done

No.       This can't be the day that I die

I've not yet reached my destination

I loosen my grip and get a grip on surviving

Chorus for Sisyphus  (GT)

Knowledge of Greek mythology

curses, death & what not

Required the aid of a Wiki* response

to flesh out your earnest plot

Aware & forlorn your meaning came clear

like pulling teeth - an old refrain

Repeatedly the rock increases in weight

you must pull those teeth once again

Spectrum breathes by the skin of its teeth

Supporters exist by a thread

Your plight relentless - ledgers & debits

A shorter list cuts to the edge

What to do? What to do? To level the rock

your reminder in print is a start

Satin paper suggests optimism prevails

your efforts resonate to the heart

Inspired by a poet -- I'm not one, I know it

yet desire hews cracks in this confession

For struggle I do to place words in a queue

to express the measure of my passion

Pulling back from that struggle

self-released from a poet's bubble

Support for your effort remains

Enclosed you will find

my renewal in kind

Hail Sisyphus & sustainers

who have stayed



Photo by Charles Ardinger

Close Encounters of a Suicidal Kind

I’ve had close encounters with the knives in my kitchen

staring at them like they are my salvation

I could pierce right through my agony and find peace

I’ve had close encounters with plastic bags 

which could hold my anguish, placed over my head 

tying secure knots, suffocating my pain

I’ve had close encounters with the pool 

in front of my apartment, I stare at calming waters

picture myself diving in to drown out my despair

I’ve had close encounters with the Lake Street bridge

where the metro rail zooms underneath it 

contemplating jumping to get ahead of my racing thoughts

I’ve had close encounters with the Santa Monica pier 

placed over a dozen heavy rocks in my pockets 

so that I could sink to the depths of joyful submersion 

I’ve had close encounters with a means to end my life 

Persona Non Grata 

He says it’s a lot of work to make love to me.
As if he needed to punch in and out for his shift
and be paid for his services.

When Valentine’s Day comes up we argue 
about how he bought flowers and chocolates
for every other woman he pursed but me.

He asks me if I want to be bought, 
as if my worth where something 
he could ever afford bussing tables.

I tell him I want to feel 
like more than just a 
slowly rotting corpse lying next to him.

It’s been seven months since I’ve had a shower 
and no one not even my children 
want to help clean my feet or wash my nappy hair.

I don’t have strength enough to bird bath myself 
let alone write a poem about my emptiness
for your amusement or attempts to relate to my being. 

Is it really that hard to love and care for a person 
with “mental issues” that wishes for nothing more than
to be heard, accepted, and treated like someone who matters.

He bought me flowers a few days after Valentine’s Day. 
After my sister’s 2 date boyfriend showered her with 
cookies, gifts, and a heart felt message inscribed on the box.

I thought I would sleep peacefully that night.
My eyes and heart glistened in 
what I imagined happiness felt like.

That night I had a horrible nightmare…
In my dream state he tells me –
“I could never love someone like you”. 

It was a close encounter with feeling 
like I could ever be anything other than
an unwanted burden just begging to die. 

R A Ruadh

Photo by Charles Ardinger


My great uncle was wise

in the ways of the woods

conducting our walks together

in right relationship with all that was

He gave me teachings

of this world and beyond

not all things are as they seem

although they are real enough

I learned to sit so still

that birds and other creatures

large and small and tiny

would assume I was the landscape

He taught me the lore

of the little people

their blessings and tricks

and not to look them in the eye

I learned about spirits

the shapes they might take

not to be afraid of the good ones

and how to interpret messages

One moonless night

as we watched the fireflies dance

I pointed politely with my chin

toward a floating orb over by the woodline

We held breathless still as another

joined it and then more in

glowing colours that had no names

courtly and sedate but not silent

They sang in a language I hadn’t learned

yet I understood their glimmerings

of things so ancient and eternal

I thought I had fallen into the sky

After awhile they flashed all at once

then disappeared as if they had never been

he sighed into a night

that was too quiet

It was then he told me

the Sight is given to few

and those who have it can

always see the will-o’-the-wisps

They had given me my gifts

knowing when a last journey is beginning

the touch for finding illness

a sense for what the healing may be

The years have passed

with them also my great uncle and

all my elders and more

I touch I heal I guide

I watch spirits rising from earthly limbs to the stars

walking the Milky Way in beauty

becoming that song I first knew

on the night of the will-o’the-wisps

Charles Harmon

reading Spectrum
at the library together
family fun

Close Encounter of the Costco Kind

First became conscious of her presence in the dairy section

when she sidled up, brushing against me, her cart full of low fat

as I pulled out jugs of 2%-- why did she look so familiar?

Ran into her again in diapers, six cartons in her basket.

She asked me, “Do you prefer Huggies or Pampers or Luvs?”

Here she was again in kiddie clothes, toys, children’s books!

I realized this was no coincidence—she was following me!

Spark of recognition, read about her in the papers, saw her on TV.

She lives in this town, six kids go to school just down the street,

Eight more born recently by in vitro fertilization—it’s OctoMom!

I make my getaway; she can’t catch me with that overloaded basket!

But her desperate voice follows: “Wait! Come back! I need a husband!”


“Already married!” I reply, waving my ring in the air as I race for the exit.

Just what I need—fifteen more mouths to feed when I’ve already got four.

I married a widow, adopted two orphaned step-kids, and was blessed

with one more of my own. But it’s a lot of work, responsibility, money,

and love raising three kids with two parents.

I can’t imagine raising fourteen kids all on her own.

No wonder she wants help, but it ain’t me babe.

She seemed to want to be seen as some kind of superwoman,

but in reality, I had read that she had made a botch of it.

She got the attention she craved, but how good a job could she do alone?

I felt a little sorry for her, but even sorrier for the kids.

I could understand, I also had wanted a large family, but not that large.

Maybe if I were a farmer and needed field hands.

If having a kid makes you happy then why not have a dozen or more?

Especially when they’re cheaper by the dozen?

But is the more the merrier or is quality preferable to quantity?

How many can you juggle before your little heaven turns into living hell?


I know the prejudice against large families, but one of my best and brightest

and most successful students came from an intact family of ten.

Franklin, Bach, Mendeleev, Shakespeare, Mozart all from large families.

But my parents didn’t do a very good job with only five.

Is OctoMom happy now with her enormous brood, or is she still lonely,

crying alone in the bathroom detesting herself and her angry neglected kids?

I was happy helping other people as a teacher, as a husband and father.

Does it take a village to raise a child or just personal responsibility?

Hope she can grow up and fix herself so she can raise those kids,

but it’s hard to put spilled milk back into jugs after it’s spilled.

Thom Garzone

Photo by Charles Ardinger


I traveled to her, a city in 1982, having just been ousted by the Army

discharged due to a two-dimensional mentality

Dim clouds rained on the homeless, pouring realization on the asphalt and paved scenes

in drops of meaninglessness etched in faces under the downpour

I encountered a woman who survived off local plants and she had haunted my poet’s soul

as I read her my work I imagined to be epics, and chanted to her the fragmented narratives of my mind

Beat writers had possessed my psyche, living among them when daydreaming amid their ghosts

peering into their images thru book covers and photos that were volumes in my bereft thoughts

The BART system became tunnels to other worlds, transferring me from the East Bay and back

a jettison from body to soul

to Sather Gate that had illuminated me at the foot of the university

Once a streetwalker saw me in my crew cut, and thinking I had cash

offered herself to me for the military discount of $15.00

And it was Oakland’s darkness that always led me back to her, the city of Berkeley,

college town of my dreams, a place whee the Doonesberry characters ought to live

a scene that had lived in a story of my senses


Photo by Charles Ardinger


How I made my first encounter, or when, I may not recall, but only where the cafe door:

12 North Harkness, Pasadena, CA, and to declare an exact time, I can only let

its cafe walls welcome me like a wanderer who seeks words, food, or shelter,

a homeless poet before I found the News Junkie. For several years I lay embedded

in their divans, my name engraved on their seat where I started an open mic

for aristocrats to emerge, writers of all cutltures and classes that converged, anachronistic

flower children who served oxymoronic coffees, where Chinese business women

tutored me in Mandarin, and elderly Czech refugees poured out their morose hearts,

a spot where an aging teeny bopper led me through my poetic journey at play with

my senses. I remember the new owners changing its name, my venue fading in the

shadows of Hollywood, Venice Beach, and San Pedro, assemblies of authors,

musicians, and philosophers entombed by time. Aside a junior college, an oasis shedding

promise secluded off of Colorado Boulevard, never caught on televised Rose Parades,

but an asylum where I consume textbooks, biographies, music, and objectionable

independent movies. I bid the manager farewell, witnessed the News Junkie become

Sexy Sadie's, and years after other names transferred, yet always a space within the

universe to ponder, write, and struggle, or dream till forming a palpable image, and

when cycled away, I only hungered this bardic paradise, beneficent sanctuary granting

light into dark academia.

Photo by Charles Ardinger

Welcome to Their World

Below the storm of a nation clashing with blind narrows
amid wondrous wealth ingrained as yet heaven
has enveloped the earth
So I ask: Why do unknown souls hide below rain,
converge on libraries shielding their meekness, a figurative
barrier to the cold, and just welcome them to read and
check their emails?

The hum of the universe prevails in our destiny,
some lost, and beg for abstractions, who toil among
the shelters of their dreams
failed by human apathy
they who have not gained from these crossroads
though sunken further in its depths
beneath the borders of loss

Wonder as I do, great becomes this gift I give from the depth of my being
& the forces of my mind

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Patricia Murphy

Artwork by Raundi Kai Moore-Kondo

Close Encounter

I feel like I'm in a close encounter.  

Like I'm a black widow spider 

Caught in it's web and can't get out.  

I keep spinning my wheels to no avail. 

Eventually the spider can't go on, 

Gets sick and dies.  

The spider tries and does it's best 

But is not appreciated.  

So, it has no other choice, and must leave.  

She's on another journey in her short life.  

Hopefully, next time it will be better.  

It carries on in another realm.  

And so let the journey begin.  

Rise Above It All by Raundi Kai Moore-Kondo


I've had many close encounters 

But none of them have been the same.  

Some of my encounters are unimaginable. 

Others are just too short lived.  

Many of them are unattainable.  

Some are exceptional.  

But most are accessible.  

Some encounters are creative.  

Others are inspiring.  

Yet many are interesting.  

Encounters can be wild.  

They are exciting.  

They are lovely.  

They are realistic.  

They are excellent.  

They are sent by God.  

They are sensitive.  

They are great.  

They are good.  

They are directive. 

They are calm. 

They are wonderful.  

They are close encounters.  

Lori Wall-Holloway

Chance Encounter?

A brilliant, humble family man

with intelligence well beyond 

his years encounters a red oval 

aircraft in the 1950’s

on a lonely empty road

He is told not to fear

because those inside

are friends

What begins as a supposed

chance meeting with a saucer

leads to two years of continued

engagements with the space

beings who reveal a true reality 

difficult to comprehend

God is the only one

who knows if they

were messenger 

angels sent to teach

or visitors who claimed

to be older brothers 

from another 

time concerned 

for our world 

Unable to interfere 

in Earth’s affairs

they assure their contact

we are greatly loved

(Inspired by a written saucer


From the Kingfisher Archive

Too Close Encounter

I take delight in wildlife

but one encounter spooked me

It was late at night

when I took fright

from a giant rat I see 

He sat on my step, a frozen threat

when he finally ran to hide

I then realized 

because of his size

he was only a small opossum

Jeffry Michael Jensen

Close to the Line Where Trembling is Worshipped


I traded in my 2008 Dodge Caliber for a 2019 Kia Sportage.

In a Dodge, I went slick-to-slick to Hell and back countless times.

In a Kia, I tend to go reclusive into a Sirius bag of Beatles.

For years, there has been a widening tear in the fabric of my nutritional boundaries.

My Granada Hills library is closed for carpeting and asbestos removal.

I’ve been dropped into the West Valley library pool without a calming supply of oxygen.

I’m still working as a Los Angeles city librarian at 72.

Baby Boomers refuse to get off the stage, refuse to believe in mortality.

I’m retired from being a research editor and a community college professor.

I have not retired from bluffing up a storm now and again.

I always want to be open to the vibes coming from cats in the field.

My community cats see toxic zombies in the dark.

My flashlight only seems to catch the eyes of a younger me.

Gods have taken to summering in a Hawaiian beach house while Heaven is being fumigated.

Eileen and I like to hike up the early side of morning before insanity can spit on the day.

Eileen makes sure that she cooks up enough Indian masala

and Thai chicken to tide me over for the duration.

I like to sleep with my inside cats surrounding me for protection,

and it is best to sleep on my left side, never on my back or stomach.

As soon as I close my eyes, I seem to encounter soap bubbles full of messed up poetry.

Sometimes I don’t make it to bed before the sandman

takes to playing with my face for dramatic effect.

I don’t always wake up in my recliner before trembling takes over the night.


Friday, February 18, 2022

Mary Mayer Shapiro

From the Kingfisher Archive

Close Encounter:


While driving home, I picked up my cell phone to call home. It was only a moment my eyes were off the road. A rabbit ran in front of my car. I swayed to avoid the animal and t lost control of the car.

Close encounter.

I took a sip of my water and put it down, It was only a moment I took my eyes off the road. I almost went into the ditch.

Close encounter.

I adjusted the radio. It was only a moment my eyes were off the road. I swerved to the left and was in the wrong lane.

Close encounter.

My cell phone texts me. I went to text back and had to stop short or I would have hit the raccoon.

Close encounter.

My water bottle dropped and I reached to retain it. My eyes were not on the road. A deer ran across the road. I almost hit it.

Close encounter.

I drove into my driveway. Neighbor waved to me. I waved back and hit the garage door.



Driving is a privilege, not a right. Watch the road, beware of the environment, no alcohol or drugs, no distractions, attention to the road only.

Rick Leddy

Flying Saucer Safari

The Suburban Lawns are playing 

at the Nugget-A-Go-Go

Su Tissue a psychotic bird singing

Flying Saucer Safari:

Station wagon full of Fritos

Coke and Twinkies, stale Doritos

Head for the desert, Interstate 10

Pull off anywhere, and then

Concentrate, don't make a sound

We'll psychokinetically pull one down

Flying Saucer Safari

Flying Saucer

Flying Saucer Safari

Her eyes wide darting warbling comatose helium-induced screams 

We are filled with Quaaludes and alcohol

As Rick shanks the dance floor with his rage

Growling at the World 

Elbows jabbing, legs kicking to the staccato beat

His body inundates the dance floor 

A flood overwhelming all in its path

A surge that cannot be contained by false pharmaceutical dams

It is felt by the Lakewood Punks 

Sharks sensing blood, predators swimming in waters

where they are not welcome

Our Ocean, Our club

Fucking Lakewood Punks 

Bodies Move in Slow Motion Blur

My lips and cheeks numb from the yellow pills

And Rick Dances a Dance more murder than celebration

Cancer they said, his Brother's cells rebelling against themselves

He fights the Monster the only way he knows

Lashing out in movement, wounding air

The floor explodes in Spontaneous Inevitability

Arms waving like psychotic wheat

As a body flies into the drumkit

Set in Motion by Rick,

a black hole sucking in the violence of worlds

Another Lakewood Punk rolls over a table

Leaving spilled beer and anger in his wake

It’s an All-American movie barroom brawl

Violence with Rick as event horizon

Fighting three to one 

One Lakewood Punk pounds

his back as he smashes another to the floor

Beer Mugs fly in slow motion 

Missiles exchanged leaving thick dark liquid contrails

We try to hack through the Jungle of Anger and Panic

To get to the madness vortex 

Rick’s dust devil fists wind milling

Bodies thrown in the tempest’s path

As I am spun around by unseen hands

and contact is made by an invisible fist

My glasses flying, shock stars bursting

Then suddenly it’s calm

The storm cloud of bodies parting

Revealing Rick

Half-naked dangling commando,

his pants ripped and disappeared

somewhere in the screaming night

Wounded punk warriors limp

Across shallow blots of alcohol 

Kicking up ground French fries and nachos

The atmosphere thick with fear, confusion and elation

Theatre Art Kids crying and traumatized

at dress-up become shockingly real

When a Lakewood Punk Runs up

Yelling Face to Face with Rick

Why did You Start the Fight?

It’s spitting a spark into dry tinder

Rick Pausing, thinking, a thousand thoughts racing

Synapses Refusing to Connect with speech

Unwilling to explain

He punches Lakewood and the room explodes again

Half-Naked Warrior keeping usurpers at the gate

The crowd coagulates into a single beast

Faces and body parts blurred 

Its maw chewing rage and testosterone

Electrified, feeding and enlarging

And then All Quiet Once Again on the Long Beach Front

Christie covers Rick with a borrowed shirt

A 99-cent thrift store kilt with sleeves

As the audience thins and moves on

Bored, leaving to find other stories written in insanity and ugliness

The lingering ghosts of violence swept up and sanitized

until the next show

I search for my glasses

And find them cowering in a dark corner

The damaged frames twisted and wrecked

I put them on, one lens dangling

And we all leave, licking wounds both real and psychic

I drive home in the early morning pitch

Bitter Moon Leering

El Camino roaring in breakneck 405 emptiness

Laughing even though it hurts

I Believe

When I was a kid

I believed in flying saucers

As I peered out my night window

From the top bunk bed

I saw one fly into my dusty, rectangular universe

It hovered and blinked kaleidoscopically  

A vision of better worlds not filled 

with muffled arguments from behind closed doors

And I knew

It was coming for me 

To take me back to my real planet

Because I knew I didn’t belong here

It was the only explanation for the anger and pain

The only way to comprehend the loneliness of my alien skin

I believed in flying saucers

Even though we lived under a flight path

and I had undiagnosed astigmatism

Because I wanted to believe that there are miracles

Instead of a dark, endless universe

filled with people like me

Waiting to be taken Home


Radomir Vojtech Luza

Photo from the Kingfisher Archive

Close Encounter with the Maker

Every day in every way

I commune with the Holy Spirit

Chalk-colored clouds

Blowing in the brazen breeze

As I walk through the licorice abyss

Challenging what is with what could have been

What was with what will be

Mixing love and pain

Loss and gain

My relationship with God and the wrongly slain

Opening my mind to blonde moons and crimson bane

Jesuit priests galloping through my veins

Yahweh riding shotgun

Multiplying the morning sun

Close Encounter with my Friend the Rock Star

(Dedicated to Fred Leblanc of the band Cowboy Mouth)

I once thought of you as prophet-like

The way you attacked those drums in that 

Famous Southern rock band like raw meat

You seemed from another land

No problem making a stand

The transformation from overweight, unruly, rebellious 

High school Sophomore to muscular lead singer and

Driving force behind the music made me weep in its

Innocence, simplicity and courage

The cassette you gave me with three songs you

Wrote, performed and recorded in your parent's home

Outside of New Orleans, LA all those 36 years ago

Forced me to question my existence

But the seeming end of our friendship 

Over bruised ego and misunderstanding

These last three-and-a-half decades almost killed me

For you were so much more than a friend

You were inspiration, enlightenment and illumination personified

I stood in the power of your divinity like a younger brother

Searching for solace, sustenance, substance and style

Instead finding heartbreak, never ending depression and a

Piercing nervous breakdown at the end of your

Magical wizard's wand

There are but five short words left to utter:

I will always love you

Tish Eastman

Come Sail Away by Raundi Kai Moore-Kondo

Three Artworks

i. Pastels, T. Eastman (2021)

This is the world we come from

Pink mist billows on the ground 

Angular blue gray mountains

An echoing dark cavern 

A ledge with sweeping vista 

ii. Acrylic, G. Orozco (2020)

This is the world we come from

A blue stone ledge, a pink vale

A woman sits cross-legged 

A sea of upraised faces

A ring of jagged mountains 

iii. Oil, J. Eastman (1963)

This is the world we come from 

A circle of blue gray cliffs

Raspberry mist in valley 

Crumbling purple pyramids

Abandoned white-spired city

Photo from the Kingfisher Archive


cross-legged on blankets under the stars

binoculars and night-goggles fixed on the sky 

excited as children trying to catch 

Santa in the act of unloading his pack 

but these shiny santas do not fear being caught 

or documented with shaky-hand-held phones 

posted, tweeted, liked and shared  

like a global-scale first-grade show-and-tell

brazenly toying with our laser pointers  

prancing and dancing and dashing like comets 

Oh! the children gasp and cry

staying up way past their bedtimes 

to spy luminous orbs 



a gossamer 


as if

it slid 

off Santa’s


* * * * * *

* * * *

grownups should  know there’s no Santa Claus 

no matter how much children  may wish it

sitting cross-legged chanting 

om shanti shanti shanti

if we love you, you won't hurt us

if we love you, you won't hurt us

lasers blink out dots and dashes, SOS, save our souls 

high above our precious earth the stranger flashes back


so gently, or so the watchers think

with low expectations of what passes as love 

if a blinked eye in the night sky comforts us 

tells us we’ve been good all year 

by carelessly dropping off a cheap gift

on Christmas day

like a deadbeat dad  

grown ups say that, much like Santa Claus

the unidentified don't exist

NASA watches, SETI listens

for sight of sleigh or sound of bells

proof is redacted, conclusions inconclusive

we are well-schooled that it’s a children’s tale 



one night   

in a snowy 

forest in Alaska 

where Christmas trees 

grow wild not far from 

the North Pole where santa 

supposedly spurs his sleigh into

an elusive blur 







so perhaps the children are right after all 

magic can fly, reindeer graze in a field of stars

shiny noses without bodies or form

here only to amuse and delight

to make us oooh and awe

Marianne Szlyk

Close: Al & Sly by Marsha Grieco

In the Next Life, the Former Cat Thelma 

dines on raw carrots

and red grapes, no milk, no meat.

She longs to perch on the arm

of the near-antique chair, still

plush and low to the ground.

She longs to sprawl

over a matching sofa

she does not own yet.

In a one-bedroom condo,

close enough to Atlanta,

in almost-silence, with walls

where tape does not stick,

she is reading a Christmas

comfort book on Zen.

She remembers a woman saying

that humans who devoured meat

would return as dogs and cats.

Her neighbor turns on his stereo.

Too loud, his songs remind her

of her last life: bass, drums,

and saxophones, the days 

when she was fascinated

by the carrots and grapes

her people ate.

Drawing by Billy Burgos

In My Next Life

I wake to the dark, to a bench,

to the belly of a vast ship

in vaster space.  Someone snores.

Someone else walks past, 

waves a wand of bells

so that we will all dream

of leaves, of light, of water,

anything that will shimmer,

that will keep us from realizing

that we are not close

to the planet where we will

live and die, never leaving.

In a desert lit by a dimmer sun,

what will we dream of?

I close my eyes to cling

to the shimmer of leaves

above water, a mirror

for bright sun, warm winds.

I shut my eyes to remember

places I’ve only read about,

places I’ve never been to.

 Brainstorming In Color by Raundi Kai Moore-Kondo

The Night the Aliens Came to Worcester

“45 Years Later, Worcester Area Residents Still Say a Large UFO Hovered Over Their City.”

Isabel Sami, Worcester [MA] Telegram, Dec. 22, 2021

Three days before Christmas, snow masked the ground.  

Dry and gritty, it glittered beneath moon,

stars, and streetlights.  Air scraped our throats and lungs

as if it were sharp metal.  Stars seemed so

far away.  The moon withdrew from us too.

We’d never fly there again.  We lived on

earth.  College students drank Budweiser, talked

basketball.  The last bus wandered narrow

streets past dark churches, past darker houses.

Water tasted like dank pipes.  We drank milk.

That night the white ship, a bulging disk topped

with red lights, swung over the seven hills,

the bus station, the expressway, the tracks

past Union Station, boarded up and blank

like the moon God left hanging in the sky.

A boy and his father ran up a hill

to watch the white ship circle their city.

It might have been searching for a place to land

on the hills, some covered with houses, some

covered with trees, all swaddled in thick snow.

At the last minute, the ship backed away

despite downtown Christmas lights and the mall

as white as if it were made from the moon.

The ones on the ship knew the boarded-up 

station and narrow streets were not for them.

Years later, the boy, then a grad student,

watched Star Trek on his black-and-white TV.

He knew this show was the past, the Cold War

never ending, days when we thought we could

visit the moon, could bounce around up there.

He wanted to know if he would ever

meet an alien.  He wished that the ship

had landed on the dry, glittering ground.

Beneath the new moon the last bus

passed the all-night store and sighed.


Thursday, February 17, 2022

Jackie Chou

Photo by Charles Ardinger

Screen Doors

Mystery lurks 

behind rattling doors

Silhouettes swing 

on rice paper screens

Are they spirits of the undead?

Their voices have become my own

inhabiting the air I breathe

shadows I cannot shed

Taurus by Raundi Kai Moore Kondo

The Alien

You appear at my window

never to pass as one of us

flimsy silhouette

yellow skin

almost sallow

six-fingered hands

webbed feet

gait askew

a ticking time bomb

in your gut

reminding you to go back 

to where you came from

or be annihilated

your one green eye 

filled with tears

Jim Babwe

Photo by Charles Ardinger

UFOs Above the Trailer Park


Shortly before

the sun pulled down the curtain

to change light into dark,

I saw UFOs above the trailer park.


Babies cried.

Women screamed.

Grown men yelled,

"Mommy! Mommy!"

I tried to find a place to hide,

but aliens looked down and saw me.

Transported by a beam of light,

I floated off the ground.

A silver door opened wide.

I heard a voice from somewhere say,  

"Feel free to look around."

They took me to the future.

They took me to the past.

They took me into outer space.

This little green creature

tried to stick a metallic object . . .

I mean . . .

that UFO was really fast.

They dropped me off at four o'clock,

before the break of dawn.

They landed here--on the liquor store.

They let me out and when  

I turned around,

they were gone.

Listen, Officer Mendoza,

I know it all sounds kind of crazy,

but my story is the truth.

I saw UFOs above the trailer park.

I was abducted, flown around,

and then released right here--

at the liquor store.

That's why 

I'm up here 

on the roof. 

UFOs above the trailer park.

Billy Burgos


Walter Feller

Thin Window

Through the thin window, I watch the torn-away sky

clouds shredded and stolen as sharpened winds howl by

Spinning wildflowers and tumbling weeds

frantically, frantically spreading their seeds

Two birds in a bush warbling in trills and quavers

it is the lopsided melody the garbled song favors

Trade rats somersaulting across the bare ground

cartwheeling badgers angrily claw as they wheel round and round

Stiff-legged coyotes hobnobbing in play

catching jackrabbits and cottontails that can only jump up, not away

and dust swirls into dust devils then dispersed above

All of this, all of this, lonely, barren, wind-scarred, and loved. 

Scott C Kaestner

Contemplating the Cosmos by Raundi Kai Moore-Kondo


Vibrations and constellations dance

in the ever tantalizing sky, the air

awash in a mere chance

he reaches for her hand

she extends her hand to his

touch is electric connectivity

the planets align, glowing

golden moon shines bright

illuminating the space

between the two of them

interwoven in this moment

a world of possibility.

Dean Okamura

Our Late Encounter

None disturb at One O'clock, 

Awake far after prime-time waves. 

Not that we surf, stream, or binge, 

Midnight marks us lost again. 

Alone, our souls perchance reclaim 

That semblance sense—calm refrain. 

Spectral sighs that break the spell, 

Escape the windless wilderness. 

Falcons rise & shred the skies. 


Why burn the candle in darkest night? 
Timid rattles of the clock 
Serenade the gloom. 

Solitude of restlessness. 

I told people I had insomnia, which
Sounded better than admitting 

Throughout most of my adulthood, 
After a childhood of 
Repressed fragility. 

My real estate agents 
Promised a wonderful life. 

It was a lie. 

Said things 
They thought I wanted to hear. 

So small a soul 
Captured on a 
Scrap of paper. 

This poem on wrapping paper. 

Before it’s used 
To line the trash can. 

But it’s quiet now, 
As others sleep, and 
I play the part of somnambulist. 


When I encountered 
Aphrodite’s face lit 
By the rays of the rising sun, 

A soaring falcon never flew so serene. 

Anticipation gripped my shoulders, 
Pulled me out of the pit of dread. 
She encouraged me to come closer. 

Go easy. She said… 

You are designed with flaws. 

30 Pieces

I walked along the cliffs to work on a poem based on 
and the 30 pieces of silver, 

but as I strolled along the path, I was greeted by 
the sun, 
who smiled over Catalina Island. 

It was then I noticed after 
30 seconds, 
30 waves, 
30 cactus plants, 
30 palm trees, 
30 resort Casitas. 

(Casita means a tiny house in Spanish, but 
these ocean-side villas sell for more money than workers make in 
30 lifetimes.) 

30 boats in the channel cross 
30 miles from here to Catalina. 

30 bugs buzz in bushes. 
30 birds decorate rocks with white pigment. 

30 outdoor heaters from yesterday's party 
stand at attention, ready for their next commission. 

30 umbrellas stand shoulder-to-shoulder, 
on alert for their next comic relief mission. 

30 steps down the stairway where 
30 pelicans glide over the water. 

The largest bird looks me up and down, 
30 times. He wonders why this poet keeps staring. 

30 cargo container ships sail in circles. 
30 seagulls fly in circles. Ships followed by gulls lined up for something to do. 

30 Cholla cactus guardians armed to stick me with 
30 fiery barbed spines that tear into flesh, like we disrespected their grandma. 

30 whales on migration. I imagine it's their 
30th cruising season from Puerto Vallarta to Glacier Bay. 

Cormorants swim then dive to catch fish. They stay submerged for 
30 seconds. They appear to have perished under the water. But then 

30 meters away, they surface, give me a puzzled look, cock their heads, 
peer at me with one eye. “What’s your problem? The water is awesome.” 

Two lovers hold hands and 
stroll along the sidewalks. 

A little boy plays with 
30 toy cars and planes. 

There is no limit to his imagination. 
The number of planets he visited today totals over 

30 close encounters. And if his mother didn’t stop him, 
he would have traversed 30, 60, 90, or more. 

Today, I walk the trails of Vicente Bluffs Reserve. In 
30 years, they will scatter my ashes. My molecules will rise to the tops of 

30 majestic trees, 
or humble blades of grass. 

Mark A Fisher

Photo by Charles Ardinger

closed encounter

the door is shut up tight

and the windows are dark

there’s nothing waiting

just another casualty

of the invisible hand

foggily groping down

boarded up streets

of second hand stores

and small town churches

still clinging to a dying

clientele entombed

by traditions and fear

leaving bricks and mortar

crumbled into weedy lots

haunted by mere shadows

of ghosts filling all these

empty streets

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Shih-Fang Wang

A Web Of Eyes by Raundi Kai Moore-Kondo


In the moonless-cloudless stary night

Looking up into the sky 

Contemplating there must be 

Other kinds of lives somewhere

Among sextillions of planets 

Mesmerizing high up there  

An unthinkable form of life

Evolved on a remote orb 

Happens to look toward my direction

Our gazes might meet 

Somewhere in the cosmos

Wondering if we ever will have a chance 

To look into each other in close encounter

Yet, maybe it is better not to meet

Aliens on our doorsteps

If their fleets hover over Earth

Apocalypse could occur


Pondering they have to traverse

Distance of light years to reach us 

What magical power they hold

To survive such a long voyage

Realizing our spacecraft can’t even 

Break free from our solar gravity

If their ships pierce through Earth exosphere

It’s a proof their intelligence far exceeding ours

Their planet might have formed earlier  

Their evolution started way before ours

Say million years ahead 

How could we ever catch up 

We might be relegated to a lower life form 

In the arrived aliens’ eyes

And at their mercy

Like we deal with ants and worms

Better they don’t reach us

Rolling In The Deep by Raundi Kai Moore-Kondo

My Kind of Aliens

Before a close encounter with 

Space visitors takes place

And their mystery unveiled

I have the liberty to fancy my kind of aliens

With great revere and wild imagination

They must be unthinkably different 

From any creature on Earth including

Those in unreachable deep seas 

And remote mountains yet to be explored

Their intelligence is way ahead of ours

Our brainpower lags behind as far as 

The distance between Earth and their planet

They roam in the cosmos

Like we travel around our globe

They navigate in space of 

More than five dimensions

They know the border of the universe

And have solved the enigma of big bang

We can’t survive long trips in the galaxy

As food water and air needed for life 

Too much to carry while our lives too short

For space voyages last for many decades

Yet my kind of aliens travel light

They have no problem to traverse 

Distance measured by light year

Their guts and lungs turned vestiges

After long evolution

They transform energy from cosmic rays 

To sustain their lives and to fly their saucers

No food nor excrement to worry about

They don’t have frames like our bodies

That get ill and soon aged 

Their lifespan is near immortal 

Like Jurupa oaks live up to thousand years

Required for long travel between galaxies 

They don’t depend on limbs

They fetch objects using innate drawing power

They walk like winds, shift like shadows

They see more colors than

Those derived from a rainbow

Hear various sounds exceeding 

Our audible wavelengths

Yet they don’t need eyes or ears

They directly integrate those 

Vibration energies into their vibes

Surely their thinking modes are different

They communicate with means like telepath 

They read minds and foresee future

They have mutable forms and 

Turn invisible as they wish

This is my kind of aliens and 

I am not talking about deity or ghost


Photo by Charles Ardinger

Close Encounter 

The moment she let go 

She regretted

It must be her doomed fate 

She thrashed her limbs

Struggling in vain

The noose was tensing up

The air thinning out

Her senses fleeing

Face turning purple

Body losing tones

She was sinking into oblivion

An unseen hand from her destiny

Reached in time

The hook on the wall

Where the rope suspended

Suddenly broke

Before the fateful moment

She dropped to the ground

Her chest started to heave

Senses were coming back 

She opened her eyes

Unsure where she was

Heaven, hell or Earth?

Then she realized how close was 

Her encounter with death

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Jessica Lea

Photo by Charles Ardinger

Digital Encounters 

watch zoom participants

sending air hugs


imagine their true embrace

being uncomfortable



        they are wearing a scratchy coat

just dyed their hair

put on too much perfume

came in too close

held me too long

made it weird


imagine the feel of anything


the digital void

Eight by Michael Sedano

 Click on photos to enlarge...

Hedy Habra

No One I Know by Raundi Kai Moore-Kondo


In the tower of a restored Italian cloister a bourgeois restaurant

flourishes in its loggias I meet the high dignitaries of my adventures

my djinns and afrits

We're trapped in the basement of a building in Beirut with many 

unknown families we'll have to cross the street at dawn

to change shelter during the next truce

In a car parked in a dark alley a hand slowly outlines my eyes 

the bridge of my nose lingers at my lips and neck 

everyone hears my heartbeat

Alone in my bed again crying I hit with my fists the indifferent wall

On an indefinite sheet of water surrounded by two lines of rowers 

she watches the rhythmic synchronized movements 

of their gigantic oar

the boat barely touches the surface  

Your smile tells me in a stairwell "You haven't changed in twenty 

years you stood it all well" 

it's getting harder to sit i become heavier every day i'm no longer

good for anything anymore i'd like a small drop to warm 

my heart up children bring my shawl please

We walked hand in hand over brittle pine needles wild oregano

in bloom thorny umbels swarming with shiny ants

its impossible my house isn't for sale i'll never sell 

First published by Linden Lane Magazine

From Tea in Heliopolis (Press 53 2013)

Water Over Troubled Bridges by Raundi Kai Moore-Kondo

How the Song Turns into a Legend

We all have but one song, spend a lifetime 

looking for ways to say it, 

as one recites an unending poem, 

a chanson de geste

a canto, or an epic. 

What happens then if you whisper it only to yourself, 

burying it deeper every day? 

Wouldn’t it wilt as petals pressed 

between the pages of a book? 

And couldn’t a garden die of indifference? 

But take any couple, an encounter, turn it into a legend, 

make it last...  Their story told and retold, 

ritualized by repetition, 

until their stature grows, their eyes brighten, 

until their voice is heard,

 their sin forgiven...

Recount tales in tongues, in parables, uttered in public squares, 

whispered in corners 

in sotto voce

from mouth to mouth,

hear a mother’s voice warn her children 

with a half-smile, 

witness puppets parody star-crossed lovers in street fairs, 

in jest, in awe, 

in ever-changing roles and settings.  

Watch words form lines, notes, scripts, scores written in scrolls, 

in parchment, in manuscripts folded in folio, 

in quarto, 

scribbled in notebooks, in recipe books, 

in brown paper, engraved in stone, in bronze,

gold or ivory, 



until only names are left untouched. 

When so many variations deafen the original song, 

then, and only then, 

the images retain their spell,

 become universal, 

art legitimizing what could never endure

First published by Puerto del Sol

From Tea in Heliopolis (Press 53 2013)


Good Morning Pink by Raundi Kai Moore-Kondo

Encounter in the Yellow Hour

You’d think we’re about to engage in an elegant minuet, right hands 

raised in the ritual sequence of honor, yet her left hand waves the 

bouquet of wildflowers away from me as mine struggles to hold 

down my vest blown by the wind: but wait, rewind the tape to when 

I first saw her walking towards me, as though floating in that sea of 

wheat, holding wildflowers gathered just for me, for she must have 

mistaken me from afar for a pirate with my kilt and wide-brimmed 

hat: how I fooled myself, falling into my own trap, a motionless 

ready-made, unable to take her into high seas like a one-legged sailor, 

nor make love to her in the golden swaying waves of wheat, I, the 

trickster would-be scarecrow won’t come to life like the fairy tale 

frog, even the scorching heat won’t cast away my self-inflicted spell: 

this is the end of the minuet, the last farewell steps of the ritual 

sequence of honor, she’ll let the flowers scatter in the wind, the still 

dance lasting for an instant merging end with beginning.

First published by Poetic Diversity: The Litzine of Los Angeles

From Under Brushstrokes (Press 53 2015)

Angela M Franklin

A Grim Fairy Tale Once upon a time  a baby girl was born with both hands planted firmly on slim hips in Naperville a city known for its wind...