Liliana E. Guzmán

Issue 18

Her Name Was Maggie Magic

On the other side of the beach
She sits, wringing her hands
biting her thumbnails,
(possibly to keep calm)

She was curvy, white, as well drunk
smiling a little, while praying
(or at least trying)

Tells tales of a beardless girl
Dirty shores, and unborn
babies in fallen worlds
Comforting yet boring

Pulls out her glass eye to show us
No telling what she’ll do
Though I know we’ll know soon
For I hear the sirens…

Source: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.

Liliana E. Guzmán is a Mexican-American poet and music journalist from Kansas City, MO. Their work has been previously published in Scrittura Magazine, Bridge Ink., Five2One, among others. They have forthcoming work in Moonchild Magazine and KidSpirit.


Joel Best

Artwork, Issue 18


Source & Method: Text from the juvenile novel, Jerry Todd, Pirate, by Leo Edwards, copyright 1928. My method involves the pasting over of words in such a way as to create new messages while also providing an interesting background in the midst of the message.

Joel Best has published in venues such as Atticus Online, Common Ground Review, Crack the Spine and Apeiron Review. He lives in upstate New York with his wife and son.

Michael Prihoda

Issue 18


the hospitals

of meat.

the recollection
of toil

empty of hope.

the screams.

when grief                      is active

and halfway

the steps.

Source & Method

This poem is a redactions of Geraldine Brooks’s March. The text comes from a single page, 10, and that page number is the title of this poem. This is similar to blackout work, except that I have lifted the words in the order they appear and given a more poetic arrangement than traditional blackout allows.

Michael Prihoda lives in central Indiana. He is the founding editor of After the Pause, an experimental literary magazine and small press. His work has received nominations for the Pushcart Prize and the Best of the Net Anthology and he is the author of nine poetry collections, most recently Out of the Sky (Hester Glock, 2019).

Photo is remixed by Dale Wisely from source photo by Gilberto Olimpio.

Shirley Harshenin

Artwork, Issue 18

A   B o o k s h e l f   P o e m   a n d   a   C e n t o


The View From Here

Small beneath the sky,
a work in progress—the story of my life.

The hour I first believed,
Family ties that bind—people of the lie,
witnessed. The body keeps the score.

Pluck the courage to heal everything,
A million little pieces
made beautiful by scars.

Living a life of awareness:
A quiet kind of thunder.

Sources: “The View from Here,” The New Quarterly Issue 143, “Small Beneath the Sky” by Lorna Crozier, “A Work in Progress” by Connor Franta, “The Story of My Life” by Helen Keller, “The Hour I First Believed” by Wally Lamb, “Bittersweet” by Mary Summer Rain, “Family Ties that Bind” by Ronald W. Richardson, “People of the Lie” by M. Scott Peck, M.D., “Witnessed” by Budd Hopkins, “The Body Keeps the Score” by Bessel van der Kolk, “Pluck” by Laisha Rosnau, “The Courage to Heal” by Ellen Bass and Laura Davis, “Everything, Everything” by Nicola Yoon, “A Million Little Pieces” by James Frey, “Made Beautiful by Scars” by Veronica Farmer, “Living a Life of Awareness” by Don Miguel Ruiz, “A Quiet Kind of Thunder” by Sara Barnard

The Important Part

Into the shadows, pausing
we glide along the river’s graceful turn,
and sparkle with the glint of tiny stars,
unravelling the cause of night.

As if in a dream, we were already there
above the maples, poplars, oak,
the green-roofed barns—upon the infinite
simply by thinking
and it was.

Then the star-less night sky, its darkness so clear,
we were both now as far, we were both just as near,
awake and trapped in the was of night.
See then your world as lights whirled in the dark,
and lilt of its wings on wind—all that matters.
The important part is we’re here.

Sources: “Woods” by David Waltner-Toews, “The Ferry to South Baymouth” by Bruce Meyer, “Of Night” by Molly Peacock, “Villanelle” by Catherine Owen, “A Wake” by Liz Howard, “City Park Merry-Go-Round” by Eli Mandel, and “Little Miracle” by Molly Peacock.

Shirley Harshenin writes from her home in British Columbia. She believes in angels, caffeine, and the human spirit’s extraordinary resilience. Her work has been published and is forthcoming in Room, Contrary, Entropy: Woven and others.



Betsy Littrell

Artwork, Issue 18

click for larger version

Source & Method: I have been keeping a bag full of papers that I have found on the ground. I then cut out interesting words or phrases, lay them out, and wait for them to form a poem. The cut-outs contain words only found on the ground.

Betsy Littrell is a whimsical soccer mom and poet, working on her MFA at San Diego State University. She volunteers to teach poetry to under served youth and also works as a journalist.


Patrice Boyer Claeys

Issue 18


Long before there were words
the wind blew the leaves
like stolen kisses. And where the scritch, scritch, scritch
ran out and ran out, the brain shook as if stunned,
as if death were nowhere.

Slow hallucination
and brave music poured
on your fine and hidden fingers,
the single clenched fist lifted and ready
and your shoulder blades aching for want of wings.

Source & Method: Cento Sources: Charles Simic, Denise Levertov, Galway Kinnell, John Berryman, Li-Young Lee, Elizabeth Bishop, Stanley Kunitz, Elizabeth Garrett, Carl Sandburg, Nina Cassian. I make centos from single lines of other people’s poetry. The energy sparked when these lines bump up against one another keeps language fresh, and the borrowed voices allow me to zero in on highly personal or emotional topics.

Patrice Boyer Claeys lives and writes in Chicago. Her first full-length collection, Lovely Daughter of the Shattering, was released in 2019 by Kelsay Books. She has been nominated for Best of the Net.

Photo by Volkan Olmez

Sal Kang

Issue 18

music / unraveled

the ‘death car’
came out of the darkness,
its color

violently extinguished
with dust

with the need

for vitality

we slowed down
we became hollow
we walked toward a sound

we walked

into God


Source & Method: The poem is from The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald. I located a random page in the novel and tried to make something new out of the words in that one page.

Sal Kang is a multifaceted artist who currently works at an art museum and makes tender lo-fi tracks in her bedroom when she has a moment to spare. She finds ‘normal’ life tiresome.

Photo by Will Swann

Michael T. Smith

Issue 18

3  P o e m s


You remind me of somebody that I never met

(a cover of Andre Breton)

As Nadja said, “with the end of my breath,
which is the beginning of yours.”
I felt enraptured with those spaces,
those sudden intervals between breaks
in the words we perpetually speak.
Ne’er spoken to you, but tattooed
on my tongue as if some
hiraeth for a strange desire.
I fell into the present with a bang,
the world else nothing but an elison,
the only sound that of your name.
I fell into this space, forever reading
that which was not there
where I get stuck in your words –
“you remind me of somebody
that I never met.” But words
can’t even come out of my mouth
and fall into this humble verse
because it wouldn’t be as perfect
as this fleeting moment is.


Three Oddest Words

(A cover of Wislawa Szymborska)

I destroy words even as I speak them
My lips disassembling them outright:
Future – the first syllable already
In the past by the time it manifests.
Silence – decimated by a wrecking ball
Of consonants spoken over the teeth.
Nothing – a poor word betraying itself
On my lip’s a priori insistence.



City Lights

(a cover of Charlie Chaplin)

*There are 574 total words in the intertitles of Chaplin’s magnum opus City Lights.  This homage poem is constructed from those words alone.

………..The people will face life,
the sober dawn shall take possession,
a different man
…………………..has a fever and…
tomorrow the birds shall sing

To the people of this city:
our prosperity, like flowers,
………….the fever will burn up.
For the cure,
We will donate our prosperity:

Rent your attention,
rent your face,
your home
your car.

………….the people will face
the autumn conquest.
………….The people will face it sober:
Split your home,
swell your news,
for nothing but what’s returned.

Source & Method: These poems play with the concept of a poem “cover” much as musical artists will cover someone else’s song.  What this means is an idea played with throughout the poems – from a poetic adaptation of Breton’s novel Nadja, an adaptation of a famous Szymborska poem, and a cento-esque poem composed from the intertitles of Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights.

Michael T. Smith is an Assistant Professor of English who teaches both writing and film courses.  He has published over 100 pieces (poetry and prose) in over 50 different journals.  He loves to travel.

Photo (detail) by Alexander Krivitskiy

Shloka Shankar

Artwork, Issue 18

Source: An erasure culled out from p. 11 of Flowers in the Attic by V. C. Andrews.

Shloka Shankar is a freelance writer and visual artist from Bangalore, India. A Best of the Net nominee, she is the founding editor of Sonic Boom and its imprint Yavanika Press.

Jen Karetnick

Issue 18

2  p o e m s


The Invention of an Individual

Old-fashioned and bitter
in an instant? Resigned to
the holy, crisp career
of fate? Simply pour another

layer into business. One dips
into all sorts of tricks: some
simple, some pretty fancy,
others that require being push-button

content. Before the final step,
many transformations also can
take place which require no
desperate directions whatsoever.


Source: Ray, Marie Beynon. The Five-Minute Dessert: A Cookbook by a Non-Cook for Non-Cooks. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, 1961.


The Principle of a Liaison

Practically everyone knows
the problem is as old as Apicius—
let the two become separated,
and then what? The arithmetic

postpones senility but it is
a relentless puzzle, backwards
and forwards. In this best of all
implausible worlds, commonplace

refinements are feats that surely rank
with the greatest of Pythagoras, Galileo,
Einstein, of which few people seem to be
aware. Step one: Lure the lady away. Two:

Take care to provoke. Then, after giving
instruction, abandon over a low flame.


Source:  McCully, Helen, Jacques Pépin, and William North Jayme. The Other Half of the Egg, Or 180 Ways to Use Up Extra Yolks or Whites. New York, NY: M. Barrows & Company, 1967.


The winner of the 2018 Split Rock Review Chapbook Competition for The Crossing Over (March 2019), Jen Karetnick is the author of eight other poetry collections, including The Burning Where Breath Used to Be (David Robert Books, 2020). Her work appears widely. She is the co-editor of SWWIM Every Day.

Source photo by Parvesh Kumar

Peter Cherches

Issue 18

The Sick Tourist

I wish to see a doctor. An American doctor. I do not sleep well. My foot hurts. My head aches. I have an abscess. Appendicitis. Biliousness. A blister. A boil. A burn. Chills. A cold. Constipation. A cough. A cramp. Diarrhea. Dysentery. An earache. A fever. Food poisoning. Hoarseness. Indigestion. Nausea. Pneumonia. A sore throat. A sprain. Sunstroke. Typhoid fever.

What am I to do? Do I have to go to a hospital? Must I stay in bed? May I get up? When do you think I’ll be better? I feel better. When will you come again?

Source & Method: “The Sick Tourist” comes from Berlitz Chinese for Travelers. It’s pretty much compiled from the English phrases in alphabetical sequence, with my paragraph breaks.

Called “one of the innovators of the short-short story” by Publishers Weekly, Peter Cherches has published in scores of journals, anthologies, and websites over the past four decades. His recent books include Lift Your Right Arm, Autobiography Without Words, and a historical study,Star Course: Nineteenth-Century Lecture Tours and the Consolidation of Modern Celebrity. His next collection,Whistler’s Mother’s Son, will be published by Pelekinesis in 2020.

Image: Remix of a photo by Alexander Ramsey

Jayne Guertin

Artwork, Issue 18

The World Untangled

Source & Method: The letters of Vincent Van Gogh during the time he lived in Arles. Method: An intuitive mining of Van Gogh’s letters, to which I’ve been drawn since they were published online, and of which I’ve found new meaning through the omission of words, sentences, phrases and by coupling those words with images — they are poems that both speak to and haunt me.

Jayne is a Rhode Island-based writer and visual artist. Her work has appeared in Entropy Magazine, Rappahannock Review, [PANK] Magazine, Smokelong Quarterly, The Tishman Review, Literary Mama, Star 82 Review ,and elsewhere. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Bennington College.

Jennifer B Pierce

Issue 18

Inbox, A Lovesong

I hope you are not in the city now,
Earliest Recorded Northern Explorers.
Egwene stepped out of the silver arch cold and stiff with anger. Pallid-faced.
He said I was a swamp sunflower,
Dew-dabbled parasol fern.
And off the white smoke swims,
A frame of glided twilight.
My future, moot; my future, passage penny.
Better future: wedding gown.
Motto: kiss.
I hear these mermaids’ voices singing,
Idly attend to all their offerings:
Dear Beloved –
I must solicit your strictest confidence –
There is still time to register —
Autodesk Autocad Save.
I do not think they sing to me,
Yet I drown.

Source & Method: Aside from three lines directly from T.S. Eliot’s “Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock,” and two that adapt the utterances of Prufrock (‘Idly attend …’ and ‘Yet I drown’), all these lines come from various spam messages that once accumulated in my inbox. Each line emerges from a different email. I saved the messages for a while because of their distinctive phrases, before arranging them in this sequence with the added / amended commentary. We think of spam as junk. Some of it, though, is lovely, rivaling conventional poetry. Rather than something to be dismissed, they captivate and beguile.

Jennifer B Pierce lives and writes in the Midwest.

Photo by Nate Neelson on Unsplash


Katherine Fallon

Issue 18


He was near the point of breaking with
a desire to stay relevant. He had no

choice but to gravitate toward the dead.
Upon release of his spirit: a skintight suit.

Crude fool, obscure anti-hero filled to the brim
with insensitivity, he ceased. He was a spastic

backbone. He was a lap worth sitting on.

Source: Student paper on “Deadpool,” written by Chris Fuevrel for my Composition II course

The Book on Fractures III

The child, an anchor for origin, has a breaking
strength comparable to that of medium steel,

able to be bent or twisted and still return
to mature gradually into an adult. In general,

this regenerative phenomenon is a fall from
a severe height, the result of withdrawn

strata. Humans cannot survive farther than
early puberty—that gross, indirect violence—

without skin, without bone, without roots.

Source: Fracture Treatment and Healing, Bruce Heppenstall, 1980

Method: Having recently begun teaching college freshman composition classes, I have been working with student research essays to seek unexpected poems. I find their curiosity and varied, chosen topics create a rich environment for found poetry. I also look to textbooks, current and withdrawn, for a more clinical feel. I generally create a word bank from each source I select, and erase those words as they find their way into my poems.

Katherine Fallon received her MFA from Sarah Lawrence and her chapbook, The Toothmakers’ Daughters, is available through Finishing Line Press. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Colorado Review, Meridian, Permafrost, and others.

Charlotte Hamrick

Issue 18

2   C e n t o s



I am nothing but the empty net
which has gone ahead, tilting

with the winds on arrowy stems.
Everywhere you go will be somewhere

you’ve never been, a gossamer layer
of holy tissue beyond the retina, rebounding,

shouldering past the swirling dust motes
in those beams of light. What feels

like pulling might instead be pushing,
what feels like falling is something rising.

No matter how deeply I sink my hands
into these high mounds of earth,

my restlessness remains.
I’ve always been more wind than root.

Sources: Pablo Neruda, “Enigmas,” Sylvia Plath, “Southern Sunrise,” Natasha Trethewey, “Theories of Time and Space,” Robin Schiff, “The Mountain Lion,” Katherine Lo, “Gravitational Time Dilation,” Carrie Jerrell, “Love Letter Written While Watching a Hawk Above the Petersburg,Texas Cemetery.”



I’m not perfect but
does that mean I can’t live?
I run like the breeze
to catch this life
but sometimes
get a need
til I bleed.
I am
a spark of this machine,
sneaking out where the shivers won’t find you.

I can’t fix your cracked up
dreams, a path
I’ll never tread.
are the dreams
I’ll dream,
mine are made
to last.
Deep in the struggle
I have found
the beauty
of me.
I’ll keep my cool but I’m fiendin’.

Sources: Dido, “I’m No Angel,” Annie Lennox, “Why,” Neko Case, “Atomic,” St. Vincent, “Strange Mercy,” Missy Elliott, “Get Ur Freak On,” ZZ Ward, “365 Days,”
Macy Gray, “I Try” & “A Moment to Myself.”

Method: I make notes of lines from poems or song lyrics that touch me, make me think, make me go “wow.” When I’m feeling uninspired or in a funk, I try putting these lines together into a Cento. Best therapy I know for spiking creativity.

Photo by Motah