Dogs can go feral when they’re lost a few weeks, constantly on guard and scared as they search for food, water, and shelter. They stay alive by avoiding danger. But surviving alone changes them. Don’t be surprised if a lost dog flees in panic when you try to help her.
I’ve been alone more than a year, diving deeper and deeper into myself. Isolation has turned me feral. I scream. I fight. I confront strangers over magnified slights. They say it’s best to socialize dogs slowly, so I just go out at night.
You can smile, but if you talk to me, I’ll growl. Don’t get too close – I bite.
Sheila Wellehan‘s poetry is featured in The Night Heron Barks, Rust + Moth, Thimble Literary Magazine, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Whale Road Review, and many other journals and anthologies. She lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. Stella Bellow is an illustrator currently attending Parsons School of Design in New York City.
I watched contempt simmer behind a facade of duty.
I need this job. The tips are good. But these shoes are killing me.
She’ll last a month, Maybe two.
The grey beards behind their glasses will mark her round ass and swirl their wine.
Her feet shuffle under narrow hips and a bulging waistline while she bats her eyelashes at the couple occupying Table Three.
I can see behind her mask. Terse lips. Small pride. But a roar that whispers in the wings, waits for the spotlight to drop,
Heather Bonea is a poet, painter and photographer in Chico, CA. Her poems have been previously published in the online publication, Califragile, as well as the Chico News and Review. Stella Bellow is an illustrator currently attending Parsons School of Design in New York City.
Glossy photo books were tumbling from the shelves.
The Endangered Polar Bear The Wine Road of Piedmonte Untouched Appalachia Ghost Motels of Route 66
Our dinner guests used to leaf through these books while we lobbed cheerful questions from the kitchen, while we poured stuffed olives into wooden bowls.
These books had not been touched in a while.
And now, they were scattered on the floor.
My wife looked at me with the wildest eyes. Her hair was everywhere.
“The Appalachia book was sticking over the edge. That’s how it started.”
“But why’d you throw all the books on the floor?”
A tear slid down her cheeks.
“It didn’t bother you?”
Stefan Sullivan is the author of a novel set in 1990s Siberia (Die Andere Bibliothek/Berlin) and Marx for a Post-Communist Era: On Poverty, Corruption and Banality (Routledge/London). His poetry has appeared in The Secular Heretic, Barzakh (SUNY Albany), and on the radio with WNYU fm. He lives in Washington DC. Stella Bellow is an illustrator currently attending Parsons School of Design in New York City.
Make beer bread w/one can of cheap lager. Consider becoming more flavored yourself. Eat more bone marrow. Reduce cruciferous vegetables, especially cabbage. Soak your feet in well water centered with rind of blood orange.
Remember clubs of cheery types of people who gather in groups like knitters, coin collectors & those who like old dolls. Do more meditation when recycling & garbage has finally been collected Sing at sunrise or when the dew comes off the grass.
Embrace your household of living beings – mice, squirrels or your offspring. Find a handful of fountain pens, freaks & curlers or the right side of the bed. Ask everyone one song that makes them cry every day.
Ellen Stone taught special education in public schools in Kansas and Michigan for over 30 years. She advises a poetry club at Community High School and co-hosts a monthly poetry series, Skazat!, where she lives with her husband in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Ellen is the author of What Is in the Blood (Mayapple Press, 2020) and The Solid Living World (Michigan Writers’ Cooperative Press, 2013). Her poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart prize and Best of the Net. Stella Bellow is an illustrator currently attending Parsons School of Design in New York City.
We forged a friendship when the kids were small, money tight, the unexpected birthday gift that screamed of possibility;
this machine with its basic straight and basting stitches, its practical and fun zigzag, and other sexier stitches
I later learned earned names such as Scallop, Icicle and Diamond, all contributing to the creation of shiny silver knight costumes,
long-tailed green dragons with gold bellies and oversized paws, quilted Christmas stockings sporting each child’s name on the cuff,
wide wale corduroy knickers for the high school version of Carousel, all tailored with my reliable indestructible sewing machine.
Cancer changed priorities and my Singer found a home in the back of the closet with other abandoned pastimes
until Covid coaxed it out to fashion protective masks but instead, sewed one straight row, then jammed in reverse.
Elaine Sorrentino is Communications Director at South Shore Conservatory in Hingham, MA. Her work has been published in Minerva Rising, Willawaw Journal, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, The Ekphrastic Review, The Writers’ Magazine, Haiku Universe, Failed Haiku, and has won the monthly poetry challenge at wildamorris.blogspot.com. Stella Bellow is an illustrator currently attending Parsons School of Design in New York City.
of a toilet seat from next door, we share a wall, I wonder what they hear, we don’t yell, in fact, last night you won a gold medal for strongest
Tickling the sheets for an extra hour, watching TV Land reruns, calming the old dog, scolding the late night teen, replaying long forgotten embarrassments, existential worries, stop snoring, give me the blanket,
Cut your ragged jagged toenails already
And still at 5:30am
I am up, slippers, bra (yes, bra) and coffee in that old, stained mug, wearily proclaiming me World’s Best Wife
Yet morning is my only solace
So please dear sleep until noon
Elisa Subin is a poet whose work has appeared or is forthcoming in 34 Orchard Literary Journal, CCAR Journal: The Reform Jewish Quarterly, Not One of Us, Jam & Sand and Nebo: A Literary Journal, among others. She won an Honorable Mention in the Reuben Rose Poetry Competition.Stella Bellow is an illustrator currently attending Parsons School of Design in New York City. The illustration depicts Emily Dickinson in a cable-knit sweater.
what I wanted was a Ray Griffith sweater, one with bulk, hand-knitted
by an aunt, decades old and worn, warm, awkwardly fit yet comforting,
with measured sleeves and cuffs not frayed though pulled and loose at the elbows
with that little collar that fenced the neck from cold, that when you pulled out a pen
and paper something warm and witty spilled onto paper, or a letter glib
with insignificant news, a caricature or profile of idiosyncrasies,
a letter of comments on the weather, a teabag like a wet plum on paper.
Jeff Burt lives in Santa Cruz County, California with his wife. He works in mental health. He has contributed to Heartwood, Williwaw Journal, Red Work Journal, and Montana Mouthful. He won the 2017 Cold Mountain Review Narrative Poetry Prize. Stella Bellow is an illustrator currently attending Parsons School of Design in New York City. The illustration depicts Emily Dickinson in a cable-knit sweater.
I used to have space, a place where my stomach could go–at least for the few seconds I’d try to tuck it in to achieve that flawless flatline profile I knew was mine.
Post pandemic quarantine, pizza-ed, macaroni-and-cheesed, fed fresh bread and potatoes mashed, I am now one solid mass. No room inside for anything to inch. Everything’s rounded, filled to the max. No spaces between even organs, arteries, nerves. Vertebrae? Packed tight.
But more than the starches, the carbos and fat, I’ve swallowed, sucked up months of virtual everything: concerts, coffees, choirs, holidays, birthdays, church. Too many boarded-up windows and doors down empty streets. Tired of all the blue links cramming my computer, the masks hanging from everywhere–doorknobs, pockets lamps, ears, even from my rear view mirror.
I’ve swallowed isolation, which you would think might be empty, but it, too, grows inside me, protruding, pressing against each inch of my taut drum skin. I ache for some space to break free
Patricia Mosco Holloway is a writing teacher residing in Denver. Some of her work can be found online at Rattle, The Ekphrastic Review, New Verse News, in The Explicator and in college textbooks teaching writing about literature by Rolf Norgaard and writing about theater by Suzanne Hudson. She is a 2019 finalist in the Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest. Stella Bellowis an illustrator currently attending Parsons School of Design in New York City.
Though fake fire hisses out gas flames between logs fashioned from steel, the convivial intent seems real. Today, the gaseous blaze plays
to an empty alcove inside an emptied coffee house with seats taped over. PLEASE ENJOY on first read really pleads TAKING TREATS OUTSIDE.
The adjacent jazz-worshipping bar’s taped over too, FUN PREVENTED BY ORDER OF HEALTH DEPARTMENT Let’s Drink Again, Together, Next Spring
Somebody’s grandmother subs, working as a barista, aw-hecking when she flubs another order. “So sorry, bub!” Outside, two friends try distant lurking
in puffer jackets, wool hats––darts of mammal steam with each word more. You’d think they’d been expelled outdoors, mere beasts feeding in the cold, apart.
Lee Patton, a native of California’s Mendocino coast, has enjoyed life in Colorado since college. His first poetry collection, In Disturbed Soil, is forthcoming in 2021. Recent poems appear in Heirlock, Impossible Archetype, and New Verse News. His fifth novel, Coming to Life on South High, comes out in 2021. Stella Bellow is an illustrator currently attending Parsons School of Design in New York City.
I say it must be coming for us because I don’t see it coming for us. I look at the dog’s picture from 3 years back and find an old, old beast, tired of delivering to us his loads of love. He greys and whitens, mats and tufts. How exhausted he is, and how greedy I am not to see it, urging him on to and on to August when he was ready that April, the same month a doctor felt my husband’s neck and frowned. I turn to his picture and from here I see swelling, the push in and out of tumors that had grown for years, perhaps a decade, but when I’d pressed my lips to his neck and lingered, I felt only desire, never disease. Each day now I say we are fine. Let the record show I believed it and knew all along I was wrong.
Jessica L. Walsh is the author of two poetry collections, most recently The List of Last Tries, and two chapbooks. Her work has appeared in RHINO, Ninth Letter, Sundog Lit, and more. She is a community college professor outside of Chicago but a native of rural Michigan. Stella Bellow is an illustrator currently attending Parsons School of Design in New York City.