Tony Burfield





The sabbath, I pray to the cliffs. The Button Rock Hermit chants somewhere back in the pines. There is wind over everything, even the far highway roar. Our complicity sinks heart, sinks bone. I shift from reverse to first and bounce down the rutted driveway, rufous and juncos darting.

bees on the feeder
fewer hummingbirds
than yesterday





Tony Burfield lives with his wife in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and works at the Boulder Public Library. His chapbook, Sawhorse, won Middle Creek Publishing’s Fledge Award in 2017.

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Ian Mullins




pollen count high –
bee on a cherry coke
splutters its wings


burr of phones –
the soft hooves of
the Glasgow train


slicing cellophane –
three a.m cab hushes
the snow


summer fall –
ripe blackberries
juice underfoot


pink frosting –
slavered gum
frozen overnight


flowers losing
light – white blossoms
the full moon







Ian Mullins bails out from Liverpool. The chapbook Almost Human (Original Plus) was published earlier this year. The music-themed collection Laughter In The Shape Of A Guitar (UB) was released in 2015.

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Christine Taylor




the “bookettes”
meet to discuss
the latest gin


my students
strive to earn an A–
lockdown drill


no more
navy blue boy blazers


freshly cut chrysanthemums
another memorial
along the highway


sticky willow
another message
to delete



Christine Taylor, a multiracial English teacher and librarian, resides in her hometown Plainfield, New Jersey.  She is the haibun editor at OPEN:  Journal of Arts & Letters.  Her work appears in Modern Haiku, Glass:  A Journal of Poetry, Room, and The Rumpus among others.  She can be found at  Follow her on Twitter @cetaylorplfd.

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John Hawkhead



late again
she calculates the arrival time
of his first lie
small white butterflies
she starts to think
it might be too late
making a padlock
of their certificate





John Hawkhead is a writer of haiku and other short poetry forms. He is a winner of the 2016 Lincoln Underground international haiku competition and a previous winner of the Haiku Foundation’s international haiku competition. His work has been published all over the world and his book of poetry and haiku Witness is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and iTunes.


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Charles Tarlton







1) Bright sun overhead in a cloudless sky.
2) Dying flowers in a dry garden bed.
3) Shimmering mirages on a desolate highway.
4) The Navajo-Nation Bank digital thermometer reads “108°F


a little tin house

sits in the desert of hours

only tiny tales

to tell. As we look inside

the moment becomes pregnant



NIKKI, a seven-month old wooly black poodle stands at the screen door, looking out into the yard. Her tongue hangs out and she is panting.

TAHOMA, about 16, in a tank top and undershorts, comes up behind the dog, shoves the screen open, moves past the dog, and steps down into the yard.

Nikki follows eagerly, jumping and mouthing Tahoma’s hand as he walks over to a hose with a spray nozzle.

Tahoma turns on the faucet and a fan of water rushes out, making rainbows in the sunshine.



the driest sand dunes

are in the mind (I almost

said in someone’s heart

we roamed fearlessly back then

through the long cold desert nights


He turns the spray on Nikki, who jumps and runs away, shaking her head.
Tahoma comes closer, trapping the dog in the corner of the porch.
At first, Nikki tries desperately to get away, but Tahoma blocks her path every time.



love is some magic!

hold the mother wracked with birth

with every action

comes the wondering. Did they

do this and the same way back then?


Finally, Nikki gives in and just stands there as the cold water hits her, drenches her thick black coat, and runs in rivulets to the ground.

Out of sight, Coyote watches.

Eventually, Nikki turns her face fully into the water.



When will you learn to

trust me?






Charles Tarlton is retired from university teaching and has been writing tanka prose (and poetry more generally) full time since 2006. His wife, Ann Knickerbocker, ( is  an abstract painter and they and work in Northampton, Mass.

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Anna Cates





steaming beef—
hidden in a country song
lady’s patootie

The songwriter didn’t know how best to juxtapose the image and so chose innuendo, stars and asterisks, patootie metaphors, shimmering beneath the disco ball.

The singer chuckles out the tune he thinks only whores can translate.  But the Ph.D. on vacation is no analphabetic.  She’s fine with the lady’s patootie, has one herself, and the Planned Parenthood website mentions back door porking.  Perhaps she’ll write a poem

about it for women’s history month.  She sips her sex on the beach, head ducked . . . or perhaps not.

The red-faced ranch hand tastes the tobacco smoke and peanuts.  His upside-down cowboy hat brims with twang as the beef steams, and the Bud fizzes, and the dancers twirl, and the black and white tiles blur, multiple angles converging as all succumb to the music theory.



Anna Cates is a graduate of Indiana State University (M.A. English and Ph.D. Curriculum & Instruction/English) and National University (M.F.A. Creative Writing).  Her first collections of poetry and fiction, The Meaning of Life and The Frog King, were published by, and her second poetry collection, The Darkroom, by Prolific Press.  She lives in Ohio with her two beautiful kitties and teaches education and English online, including graduate courses in creative writing.  Links:




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Carla Scarano reviews ‘Scarlet Tiger’ by Ruth Sharman



The most recent collection by Ruth Sharman, Scarlet Tiger, Templar Poetry 2016, won the 2016 Straid Collection Award. It is dedicated to her father and to her son. It is a substantial collection, featuring fifty-nine poems divided in three sections. The first part is mainly about her father and their relationship; the second one is about her son and the last section is on butterflies and paintings, that is ekphrasis, descriptions of paintings in words.

References to butterflies and moths is a leitmotif that recurs all over the book. Her father used to collect butterflies catching them with a net, trapping them in a jar and finally piercing them with a pin to ‘fix a soft abdomen in place’. He clearly loved and enjoyed nature but had also an ambivalent attitude of caring for animals, that is he also trapped and killed them. This is never said plainly in Sharman’s poems, which often allude. Her poetry isn’t a straightforward kind of poetry (though she wittily says at the beginning of the first poem, By heart, ‘I want to get things straight’), it is a sort of ‘slant’ poetry. And maybe things are never easy to express in poetry and in life; they are often complex, hinted, interpretable, alluding to something else. The final sense often eludes us, slips away whenever we believe we are holding it.

She has a touching affectionate way of remembering her father, although never sentimental, especially during his last days. He couldn’t catch real butterflies any more, only paint them in faded watercolours, a sad, compassionate image of his losing grasp with reality. From her poems, his father emerges as a brave, tough person though helpless in front of death, a bit of a British stereotype: shy, awkward, complex; woods were his heaven and his final advice was to ‘beware strong emotions’.

Being Italian and an opera goer, I can’t help linking the theme of butterflies to Madama Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini, a story where the protagonist is exactly pinned down by social conventions and her desperate love for her deceitful husband. She is literally pierced in the final act when she commits hara-kiri. A beautiful butterfly caught in a fatal trap. So butterflies seem to be linked to images of women.

In another poem the poet compares herself to a moth:

I’m hovering like a moth (Dusk)
Differently from colourful butterflies, moths are
difficult to pin down in a book….
They’re pictures out of focus.
A reminder of otherness
and elsewhere, of only half
belonging in the world of light. (What is it about moths?)


The poem that titles the collection, Scarlet Tiger, is exactly about a moth who refuses to feed; a mutant, who takes its time to change then flies away. I couldn’t help linking it to an essay by Virginia Wolf, The Death of the Moth, where moths are described as ‘hybrid creatures, neither gay like butterflies nor sombre like their own species.’ She narrates him struggling against the approaching inevitable death and acknowledges there is nothing she can do to help. What Virginia Woolf particularly admires is the’ gigantic effort on the part of an insignificant little moth, against a power of such magnitude’.

Another recurrent theme is fire (After the fire and Tabula rasa), a real experience or a symbolic one (it doesn’t matter in the end) that burns the past, objects and memories, and leaves you dispossessed but lighter.

The poems about her son are cute memories of a mother observing how her child grows, learns and plays; sometimes his peaceful attitude is compared to a Buddha.

My favourite poem in this series is Curtains, a ‘slant’ poem again, where the thin ‘dark wine, wet sand’ sarong curtains ‘bought on honeymoon’ enwrap the baby like a womb, shading his quiet sleep, letting the light in, hinting to his conception and birth and to what came after:

We switched to blue velvet later
to block out the light
and the flesh-and-blood patterns hang

in the new house, in a room
that’s sometimes spare,
sometimes his dad’s, depending.


The poems of the last section, mainly about paintings, are evocative and graceful but less poignant  than the previous ones.

The last poem of the collection, Wishing tree, is a philosophical poem meditating on human beings and life:

longing to connect, longing
for answers from somewhere
beyond ourselves – never
quite at home in the moment,
the moment never enough,


Our shifting, ever changing kind of being is never completely happy or satisfied, even in our best moments. We don’t seem to be able to live in the moment plentifully, except in dreams or in fragmented instants rapidly shifting through time.

Scarlet Tiger is a collection of brilliantly crafted, subtle poems to be enjoyed till the last line.



Order your copy of Scarlet Tiger here:



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