Poetry/Short Story by Mark Anthony Smith :A Sidewalk Romance


Solid grey slabs
are sheened by the shortish
downpour that shimmers –
these blocks awash with the neon
signs that dance ‘open’
outpours in sudden puddles.
Here, there
are splashes of worn splaying
chewing gum or chalked
marks scrawling underfoot;
are they drawn to draw those niggles
away from the cracks? Perhaps,
you are shivering
or shaking that umbrella
when a weathered man or two
still holds onto values and holds
each door open. The rain
trickles down the nape –
roused by a nodding gratitude.
Shop the Spring
sale if you will for
that special occasion to
be snapped from a future lover.
Then, perhaps, later you’ll blow
to cool a green or Chai tea
and remember that we, once
hand in hand, had shared

the same hard pavement.


Mark Anthony Smith was born in Hull. His writings have appeared in Spelk, Nymphs, Fiction Kitchen Berlin, Pink Plastic House and Eerie River. Hearts of the matter is available on Amazon.

Facebook: Mark Anthony Smith – Author
Twitter: MarkAnthonySm16



Poetry by Samantha Merz : Peripheral Vision,Wind Chimes, Volcanoes Erupt


I like to focus on you
Unfortunately I don’t have tunnel vision
There is someone in my peripheral vision
Experiencing numbness from Carpal tunnel syndrome

Thought I saw a ghost in the reflection

Bad since birth
Paint chips and deli dips
Porcelain painted clocks
Poires Belle Helene
Wearing ruby red lip gloss
Glazed and dipped doughnut
Dreamiest scene

Cool Chrysler New Yorker
Seaside skyline
Cross my mind
Cinnamon chai
Crossing your mind
Why did the chicken cross your mind?
I think it’s definitely puppy love
Just like Allison and Russell
Fear of dreamers
Nothing I adore
Seen standing still

Boulevard Boy
Navy nights and stage fright
Caught me staring
On the bus
Saw a huge horned owl
Almost sunset
Quite Similar
Tiles for miles
Salmon berry sunset
Fortunate peace
Regal robins
Strange striated sidewalks
White snow fairy tale slide
Daffodils in dirt
Bye now
Before bed
Wild roses
Slow & stoned
Mechanical heart
James McAvoy Eyes

Jane and Jesse Pinkman
Descriptive distortion
Lush landscape
Pristine gardens
Slim stone statue
Pretty palace
Christmas decorating

Amazing alfresco ambiance
Meticulously manicured
Darkness of the soul
Spiritual healing
My way with words
On the right track

A brighter future
Complete concentration
Be friendly
Ready to travel
Think outside of the box
Mountain of magnolias
Glad you blaze

Riders Paradise
Musical West Virginia heaven
Playing John Denver in the sunshine state
Wearing my off the shoulder white mesh sweater

Florida key lime pie
Sweet slice of paradise
Coconut cocktails in Maui March Madness

Spring break bliss
Siren redemption
Heart shaped sunglasses
Listening to Marilyn Manson
I want to live in a black mansion

Sipping mango margaritas in Miami
Got to have my chai, Mai Tai in Hawaii
You feel real, highlights on the film reel
Feeling tipsy, running around the cul-de-sac

Not supposed to scream and shout, guess I should shut my mouth

Toujours bonjour
Et maintenant, au revoir

Seems like she has nothing to do, no one to see, and avoiding chores

Scrapes from speeding on Razor scooters on the Wide Island
Told by others I have a high pain tolerance, I guess you do too
Does he hold you down or put you on hold?
God knows what you’ve had to do for money

Wish I could’ve met your father, he was a glassblower

No laughing matter, a gaffer, not a myth but a glassmith
His ex-girlfriend stole your prized glassfish
Heaven sent at the winter event
I wore a classic Coach scent
So glad we went
Pent up excitement
Would never tell you to get bent

Who knows when he will next strike?
I sat down during your stand up set
You look like Kevin Parker if he had a buzz cut
Told I’m like Hermione with honey highlights

Birds of paradise on a mobile
Song birds on a carousel
Common birds on place mats and coasters
Framed Fendi Zucca prints on the walls
Mostly grey furniture to hide the stains
Idyllic Coffee Chain

Movement or cationic captured on campus cameras

Revelling in reverse
Army green on the scene


She finally chimed in during a drama class discussion about lovely sounds

Her favourite sound was the sound of wind chimes
Unfortunately, there was some unnecessary drama from the teacher

The student was told that the sound of wind chimes should only be heard in horror movies

The teenage girl became embarrassed and fell silent
She finally graduated years later

Moved on from theatrics and her wishes to be a contemporary celebrity
Observed a woman licking an unidentified object multiple times on the bus

Couldn’t look away

Didn’t want to assume the worst or tinker away to try to look better
Seeking positive energy to bring into her space

Wanting to find good luck outside, sweet dreams inside and a spiritual connection


It’s hard to debate with a mate

Good intentions backfire

Wooden bedside table replaced by a filing cabinet

Thinking about the possibility of a solar vortex, gobsmacked by the galaxy

His former flame enjoys watching commercials

She moves at a slower pace than him

Only after simple pleasures and routine

Cooking tuna casseroles after peeling carrots

Loves planting roses, dahlias and enjoys knitting

Left alone to shop; socialize.

Her subconscious gets the best of her

Volcanoes erupt

BIO: Samantha’s Passion Seeker poem was published in Lean In: A Collection of Canadian Poetry by Polar Expressions Publishing in 2018. Samantha’s Queen Carola’s Parotia on the Pergola, Rusty Red Roads, Surrounded by Vibrant Sun Conures, Girl On The Green, Sultry July, Hyper-Pigmented Psychedelia, Monster Truck, Paragon Paradise, Polvo, Drive Straight poems have been published online on Grey Thoughts in 2019. Samantha’s Volcanoes Erupt poem was published in Fevers of the Mind Poetry Digest Issue 2: In Memoriam, 2019.  Samantha’s work can also be found in Avalanches in Poetry: Writings & Art Inspired by Leonard Cohen 

Poetry: Footprints by Matthew M C Smith

(for my father)

Our footprints, the tracks of our play,

going all ways, ran deep along the shore.

All our lives we laughed along that stretch,

we laughed at simple games, splashing

through pools of silver, across sands of

burnished gold. We laughed against the sky

and you listened to young voices,

spellbound, time out of mind.

That day, the wind whipped the waves,

the swell surged, we were beaten

by torrents, caught in the rising storm,

the crash, deafening.

We floundered, soaked to the bone.

The light was cold, so very cold

and we shouted as we saw you,

separate, tides encircling,

gazing out in silence.

We saw your still, bowed head,

as if in prayer. The rip took your feet,

and you were taken, consumed,

the falling man.

We took your arms, hands,

searched in eyes of ages blue,

taking that curve of jaw, seeing your soul

as a burning ship and still your head was bowed.

As the tide slipped, you were white, so white,

kissed by time’s silent lips.

No cry, nor whisper, a cross shape near

crested roar and the people you love

carry you from the shore

BIO: Matthew M C Smith is a Welsh poet from Swansea. He has been published in Poetry Northern Ireland’s Panning for Poems and The Seventh Quarry and won the RS Thomas Prize for Poetry at the Gwyl Cybi festival in 2018. He particularly enjoys writing nature, cosmic and mythic poetry and has written much of it in the wake of his father’s death. Matthew is the editor for  Black Bough Poetry. He tweets at @MatthewMCSmith and @blackboughpoems The Black Bough website is at www.blackboughpoetry.com

Photo of Michael CAF Smith (Matthew’s father) 1948-2012

Skeleton Tree by Kaitlyn Luckow

It’s not like she didn’t plan on coming here. In fact, if she was brave enough to be honest, a part
of her yearned to be here. It all led up to this: home.

The forest, with its skeleton trees that still produced impenetrable shadows, made her feel as if
this was where she belonged.

She looked down at her t-shirt that used to hug her chest, but she didn’t need to be hugged
anymore. This was no place for that. This was a place where all around you moved in. The trees
enveloped you in their arms and held you as close to their ragged trunks and fallen leaves as
they could.

She had been here before; the trees creaked to her and sang her a song that hallowed out her
soul so that she could make it whole again.

“You feel like you deserve this?”


“And why is that?”

“I don’t know.”

“I think you do know. Can you tell me?”

“I’m nothing.”

“Why do you think that?”

“Because it’s true. It doesn’t matter. I don’t matter.”

“Why do you think you tell yourself this?”

“It’s all I’ve ever been told.”

“By others or yourself?”

“By everything.”

“So, is that why you do this to yourself?”

“If I’m nothing, then I should be nothing.”

The roots of the trees, the ribs of the trees, jut out of the earth, but she didn’t try to avoid them.
She liked the twinge of the sharp points, liked the way the rough edges took her breath away so
she could try to breathe again.

She looked around, desperately hoping to see her again. Last time, she had disappeared into
the roses before she had a chance to finish. Not this time. This time would be different. This
time, maybe the thorns would keep her.

“You mentioned once that you feel better. Is that true?”

“I feel more…right.”

“Describe right.”

“I don’t know. Like, this is me. This is who I am.”

“But it wasn’t always.”

“That’s because I didn’t know.”

“What made you know?”

“She did.”

The shadows of the skeletons wilted away to make room for the stars that never came. But she
was still able to see. The only thing she needed to see was the dark.

A gust of wind overtook her entire body and she felt emptily whole as she smiled.

She was here.

She filled her lungs with the wind and breathed out ash. It danced in front of her like blood in
water until the ash started to come together to create her pointed face of razor cheeks and
jutted lips. Her black wings were her cloak that she bathed in and sparse feathers dotted her
skull as the remaining ashes blew away.

Her black wings folded down over arms and she held out her hand.

“Give me your hand, Lily,” the woman said.

Lily held out her hand and touched her finger to the woman’s. Black ink started to fill up her
hand with cold and the black danced around her wrist and rooted itself through her elbow.

The woman smiled down at her when it was filled.

“Welcome home.”


“And what has she told you?”

“That I needed to be better. That I wasn’t good enough.”

“Why weren’t you good enough.”

“I was too much.”


“And do you feel better?”
The woman floated across the fallen leaves and wrapped her wings around Lily.

“My dear, I can finally wrap my wings all the way around you.” The woman kissed her on her
cheek. “And I can finally feel your bones.”

Despite the wings, despite the kiss, Lily was cold.

“Don’t be afraid, darling. It’s okay to be cold.”

She could always read her mind. That was Lily’s favorite part. Someone understood. Someone
made her not feel like, as her mother would say, “crazy”.

“Being cold only means that you can feel.” The woman smiled.

“Yes, I am better.”

“Your mother brought you here because you keep fainting. Do you think that’s really better?”

“Sort of.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“It’s worth it.”
The woman lifted her wings and held Lily away so she could look at her.

Lily stared back. Hoping she wouldn’t see. Hoping she wouldn’t notice–

But the woman lifted her eyebrows knowingly. “Lily.”

“I know,” Lily whispered. “I’m sorry.” She dropped her head to look at her thigh peeking out
underneath her shirt. The skin bulged up, the lines a gross reminder of all of her mistakes.

The woman put her hand on Lily’s thigh. “Let me help you.”

The black ink flowed from her wings, through Lily’s thigh. As the ink dripped from her body, so
did the fat, so did the lines.

Lily felt relief.

“It’s worth it? Is it worth it if this kills you?”

“Do you want it to kill you?”
“Thank you,” Lily whispered to the woman.

But the woman didn’t smile back, she didn’t take away her hand. She only furrowed her brow. “It
is not enough,” she said in a flat voice.

Lily’s eyes widened as she looked down at her legs to see them dripping, dripping, dripping with
ink. A black pool filled the forest floor. But it just kept dripping. Her legs kept dripping.
Disappearing. Lily looked back at the woman, panic filling her lungs.

“Please,” Lily said.

“Not enough,” the woman said flatly, not looking at her, but smirking at the pool of black she was

Lily tried to move, but she was trapped. She couldn’t lift her feet. And it kept dripping.

But then, she spotted it, a flash of red. A flash of thorns behind the woman who wouldn’t stop.

“I’m so afraid.”

“You don’t have to live like this. You don’t have to be afraid.”

“Help me.”
The roses reached up like flames behind the woman and swiftly grabbed her by the by the
wings. The force tore away her hands. The ink started to dry up.

“But, dear. We’re not done yet. We’re so close,” the woman said calmly as the rose branches
started to lift her up. Her eyes told of panic.

Lily didn’t say anything, frozen to the forest floor amongst the ink.

The roses lifted up its branches and dug it’s thorns into the woman’s skull. The woman
screeched as her feathers started to give way to ashes.

“Lily, you don’t want this. You need to–”

The largest and brightest rose lifted its bulb over the woman face. It opened up its petals and
collapsed over her screams. The thorns disintegrated the darkness into mere ash and all was

Lily felt something warm slide down her hollow cheek. She lifted up her finger and wiped the
tear across her face.

Maybe she didn’t have to be hollow.

This forest never had to be her home.

Twitter: @kaitlynluckow  Instagram: kaitlyn.luckow

Website: Kaitlynluckow.com

“Skeleton Trees” is a short story that follows a main character as she deals with her anorexia through conversations with her therapists and a magical realism world that she creates to justify her actions against herself.

Kaitlyn is a writer based in Portland, OR. Her roots are in education and she was a high-school English teacher for five years before taking the leap to follow her passion for increasing compassion and understanding through storytelling in writing.

She believes in the ability of writing as a vehicle for empathy. In order to tell stories that unite, she believes in the power of well-crafted writing, honest storytelling, and creating stories that connect.

Her creative writing has been previously published at Wide Eyes Publishing, Barren Magazine, and The Crybaby Club.




Poetry by K Weber : Untitled, Freelance Patient, Support System, Observation


nearing the sallow
fen, the natural

eye spots
a cardinal, up-

tick deer.

ragwort creeps
the footpath.

sun escapes
behind a yawn

of trees stretching
limbs to form

an awning. rock
and dust

sleep here
every night

without objection.

This untitled piece is from my 2018 online chapbook/audiobook “cling as ink.”

Freelance, patient

I am terrified
of whatever’s going wrong
with me but I am old
enough to know that
when it feels like a heart
attack, a broken
bone, diabetes,
typhoid, it’s not. It’s all
in my head like the pointy
fingers laughing at me
while I break in half
and halves again.

Support system
There are bones
relying on other
bones. Right knee-
cap is wrong.
Hip pops and thigh
crackles hot. Discs
light up with sparks
on tender meat.
Spinal fluid may
contain a patient
silt. It waits for any
color; determines
today as a mood ring.

The maple leaves
are little paws
in reflection. They
want to tap into
the river to reach
past stone and into
each fish.
My back
on the grass,
I eyeball clouds
through oak
and acorn. The roots
grow into me
and I await

K Weber lives and writes in southwestern Ohio. THIS ASSEMBLY is her 5th self-published online chapbook and audiobook project. Her writing has been included in issues of Memoir Mixtapes, Detritus Online, Black Bough Poetry, Writer’s Digest, Moonchild Magazine, Theta Wave and more! Her photography has appeared in such literary magazines as Barren Magazine and Nightingale & Sparrow. K earned her BA in Creative Writing from Miami University in 1999. More publishing credits and access to all of her online book projects at: http://kweberandherwords.wordpress.com