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from east to west: bicoastal verse

Table of Contents: p. 3 p. 14 p. 23 p. 39 p. 47

a southern girl – poetry & art, Coleen Shin magic will rise – poetry, Pris Campbell & art, Diego Quiros travel – various poets & art by Lauren Simone indoor life of the heart – poetry, Alice Persons & art, Donna Young Contributors

edited by PJ Nights and Ray Sweatman cover art by Donna Young all works © 2009 by each individual poet and artist


poetry & art by Coleen Shin Little Kiss And Cute Boots he puffs up walking past her door, swaggers til the dust coats his bare feet at eight, he is a child no more, he cannot wait for her to find the white flower the rubbed shiny cobalt piece of glass from the shore, and the live mouse in the felt lined shoe box with one perfect lettuce leaf and a cats eye marble. a diorama of his affection, the loot and booty of his sincere and sweaty esteem his black eyes squint at the sun, by his best reckoning it is only nine o'clock the mouse should be ok for a couple of hours, though it shouldn't take that long she practices foreign languages in the back garden with a teacher early then skips her rope out front, he thinks no one skips as long without missing as she does, counting snakes, mistakes, and how many kisses does it take he imagines only one


Coleen Shin As Told in Prophesy and Telemundo It is not too late, we have mercy in cold storage, in black galleons off shore, under a thousand waves. to dispense a magic that is simple as a basic chord. Forget everything you know about power, about light about tomorrow. wander with your eyes closed hand map every contour of the closest body. This is your neighbor, your stranger, your whore sit in a congress of two and lay out your monies. Some won't think it a valid transaction, it's only one or it's 3.3 billion smaller more murderous factions I'm a simple soul, and it's worth less than it ever was sold on the open market We fall away one by one. Science, never once did it keep me warm, now it's the only thing that does, when it's cold when every shoulder is sloped, turned black as crow and harsh as the caw from a winter tree. I would hate every wake and every dream to be that alone, to know it like a liver or spleen knows only what it does and nothing more though integral to the whole, we still don't get it.. I am over here collecting dents, tiny speakers in my ears music I borrow from strangers, my rose hued lenses work as well as they are meant to. The sun will take a thousand million years to make its point. A shame, I love its warmth, sit in bright pools of it like a brittle, bent elder, forgetting what is wrong.


Coleen Shin Pirates and Whores mine lips, multi and magnanimous, candy and fruit concave crescendos, reflective surfaces pageantry, shadow works, news and history the marbled luminosity of blue pliant breast. car chase television ghost light, railroad ribs one a gift, the caged heart, the beat, therein yours dark, with one opinion, many options, teeth in your kiss, mobility, doorways, elevators caves and bone littered floor, bone on bone bruises, hunger, starvation, uncensored mores light and heavy and hot, every window open to good night, to insect music and celtic pipes ours one breath, one voice, the language of whim shiver rules , blue marks beneath the skin secret scents, harvested dowry of flowers rain warped walls, longing, sepulchral frisson ours ,the great dark world, wolves will howl. bells toll, ships left hallowed on silver shoals


Coleen Shin Sand Script I wanted a little symmetry, to be half a star lit strand hoarding shells up my sleeves, in my pockets, and sand poured slipping to fill the seams, a million small sparkles in my hand. Worried, I put everything, every bit of it back. Who would care, who knows it defines the woman I am. I accomplish little, spend one perfect hour, a ripe hour, watching the clock, each second sweeps past. Sixty minutes I warn myself , don't look away this is a test, part future, part past, part OCD part some inherent lack. I should be able to look see, learn something essential. I did. I hate time, love its round face and the purity of known absolutes. This time I won't lie when my lover asks me if I got mine. Another habit to break, 13 times, it takes 13 times to break a bad habit, but it's hard to not breathe his name to wiggle my hips to speed the process. I wonder now, wonder if he knows, if he even cares, and now it's really too late to ask. We own each other, grateful for those early reckless wars on the bed, the poor bed its broken slats. We are sound together still, though the light has dimmed, it is as warm as it ever was. Tonight, I will woo him, give it up with a dirty girl grin. Remind him how we tumble down mountains how we wreck like cars crushed and smoking like a storm with thunder and white spider lightning, we'll rain all over each other, mud slick thighs and somewhere, elsewhere the riots, the howling, the screw, the news, the great big win will mean nothing. We will matter We will rule benevolent. We will walk the dogs in the late violet night recognize the brighter stars, give each other their names a gift of diamonds in the first dark minutes of early morn.


Coleen Shin Poets As Pets she writes in a rage because she is young and beautiful and beauty like red flowers draws attention to itself, baby pretty girl long calves, knees and elbows sharp hair she draws like drapes to cover herself she wraps the magnets in her in russet hair she throws ashtrays, crouches in closets under stairs, has too many uncles, sales men just friends, rug burns and morning stained eyes she will not make the cut deep enough why should she? Lent will have her given up she'll rest only long enough to call home easy breezy cover-girl lies, borrow salt for her wounds, tape for her thighs, milk for her bones and teeth, runaway to him from him to him, walk a desperate mile for the usual, neat, water back, everyone here has always been here, every lie has been lied every bruise looks like the virgin mary and must be photographed, memorialized. She sings when she's stoned in the mirror sitting on bathtub's edge to a sleeping cat in plastic sink, swearing a soft lullaby a narrative for kittens on codeine a hymn for him, a hum of her own, an aria to shower by. She writes as if no one will ever read it like a wail from a well on an abandoned set writing sex sonnets to a man she hasn't met hates him at once, but loves him twice wants a pasture, a pond, peace, pie. Wants it to be over and over and over. It’s never over, I could tell her that but I couldn't stand to see her eyes.


Coleen Shin Criminal Mischief slipping things under doors is my style this is a stick up, stay inside, slide the most valuable of your valuables in the envelope and push it back I wonder why I'm not rich I want for everything, the niche market is limiting, is sadly compromised by the nature of my entrepreneurial lack I've a collection of receipts, of room menus and second hand valentines never a rolex, or ever cash I'm unwilling to shoot through doors abhor a sneaky hallway attack its not working out, I peel off the stamp. do you wonder? should I find other avenues to cruise in search of nervous ultimatums? a list of my demands 1. stop it this instance 2. wash my get away car 3. remember my blood type 4. tell me who you are Its fitting I am a thief and a liar I've stolen every day from its berth brought it in slim bright agonies through the deepest fog I asked you a question who is this sudden drop in temperature why is my shine graded on a curve where are we relative to the nearest tornado


Coleen Shin its all an unlit hall of mirrors a theme park with dark hollow rides I fear the turns that throw us hard together I'm glad we're on the same side


Coleen Shin I Won’t Die For You there's nothing in it for me I dangle my disease, try to catch a cure when they cut me, I dreamed of babies on my wide hip, their milk breath and eyes wanting to bubble gum on my breasts and sleep my scars are happy, they smile from hipbone to hipbone they fade as the years go by one puckers near my navel when you fall on me at night when you are hungry and I am a bone dry cynic I count ceiling tiles, I count the ones who died inside me I count on you for everything write inside my head a book of lists, endless and useless When you come, I go to shower away your minions slippery and a wanton waste I name them water nymphs Tell them love love love you tell them better luck next life wonder my self damp eyed none are mine, none are mine


Coleen Shin It's a good house, noisy the radio competes the dogs are children and spoiled it isn't enough, you must be won't you be? a lover at least of my unborn things? my glib pick-pocket life my wet paint and dandelions?


Coleen Shin 4AM Hero Practice He likes it when I'm fretful, fishing at sound outside the door knows I will put a soft knee to his kidneys, curl into his hair a whisper, go see, please while dragging his blanket and sheet bundling them to me, a soft hostage til his eventual return He will go, stand sloe-eyed and sleepy staring at the contents of the refrigerator, eat a few grapes, give a couple to the dog then wend his way to the front door, look through the peep into the night, make a bright showy sound of jiggling the knob before following his yawn back here to me, crawl back in bed divest me of wool and warmth, take even the pillow I lay on what was it, the sound I ask having left to stand one foot pinning the other, to peek through a white thin crack in the door to the hall It's some guy with a chainsaw, he has a flat, needs to use a phone this favorite line of his prefaced with a little snort, followed in mere minutes by a sonorous full fledged snore well, fine then I creep still anxious onto the bed, sit listening, leaned into the dark


Coleen Shin Southern Girls So, you have dusted off a yearning Found a belle to ring yours we who love you, love you well listen intently at noon and midnight to crickets and frogs, to owls wonder why, wonder how, you see historically we are encrypted with doubt We torture daisies for answers Are secretive and greedy Give and give and want wantonly Pine and pale, weave in and out And if you are not mad yet If you are not truly bent, bereaved It's not enough It is enough, on only Wednesdays How dare you, why don't you Please and please and not now A litany of lashes and pouts even then it is not that simple You must not know, but may assume It’s less treacherous Assume the door is open That just bruised your nose Assume the water is sweet and cold Measure in metric, absolve us of pounds Glances and simpers and sighs Read and read and write them all down Then for God's sake, burn it Have you a river of scars beloved What did you do to earn it? Did you long to know a secret That might well break a stoic's heart Then drink all night to return it? Oh the past, the future, forever Today, tomorrow and never It is a misery and we love that A delight with undertones of decay Must like a broken fluttering thing Be petted and sung to, wept for With shaking hands, a sainted heart Summarily packed away.


poetry by Pris Cambell, art by Diego Quiros

Until Lilies Overpower When we made our pact, lilies bloomed from my hands. I laid them on the graves of dead lovers. You were to come in the spring, wade with me in the seas where Vikings once sailed, kiss my breasts until the sun glinted pink off the morning waters, but I grow old waiting, love. My legs are pillars of salt. The lilies have dried up and long blown away. The sea snarls under my toes. Only in my dreams do I see you, bearing gifts of pale luminous gowns and bright bangles to spoil me. You lay your body across mine until an early tide moans, and I wake suddenly, the scent of lilies overpowering


Pris Campbell, Diego Quiros Innocence It's kind of like learning to slip your bra off under your sweater so he can touch you--those little tricks you learn over the years in some dark Chevy or maybe if you're lucky, a sofa. He learns to come with his jeans on begging for more and maybe you come too if he slips his hand down your panties and touches you just right. You learn how to find that safe line between teasing and pleasing because once you cross to the other side you can't ever go back and you learn later that innocence is an aphrodisiac and no boy will ever again quite love you like he did that night with one hand on your breast, the other down your pants, 'your' song on the radio and the moon writing its name on every heartbeat. ~Previously published in Poems Niederngasse


Pris Campbell, Diego Quiros All There Is Before it happens, you wonder... will it be like Rhett bearing Scarlet up the staircase, Brando's rough hands driving you crazy before he goes back to Stella. Maybe Cary Grant, with his chin-cleffed charisma, handing you a hot diamond first. You wonder about the blood. Will it stain the sheets or backseat, scarlet-letter your underpants? Might his rubber burst, your diaphragm fail or the pill double-cross you? But, it's no movie. He's young. His hands jam in your bra, zipper sticking, before ramming to his sudden ahhhhhh then you race to beat curfew, tissues in panties, feeling that sad thud inside, like when your ice cream drops off the cone, painting a puddled abstract on the hot summer sidewalk. You wonder if that's all there is. You wonder if the magic will rise for you, too, when the cinema lights next go down?


Pris Campbell, Diego Quiros Lost In Graceland Elvis wanders through Graceland, wonders why the rooms are roped off, why strange women in Elvis tees, scarves over their curlers, walk through his house weeping. He's tired of hearing Hound Dog on the speakers, could care less if he's anybody's Teddy Bear. He wonders where Priscilla is, why Lisa Marie looks right through him. He doesn't get the supermarket jokes, the bobbing Elvis dolls or why busloads of strangers light candles outside every day. He hears rumors he's dead but figures the Colonel hid him, cooked that up for publicity. Sometimes he takes a Caddy out onto the Memphis streets, shark fins cleaving a slipstream gobbling the memories behind him. He dreams of his sweet mama, peanut butter and banana sandwiches, his quieter days in Tupelo. Most of his sequins have fallen. They leave a starry trail to trace and retrace each night but he trembles when a new one tumbles. If they're gone before the Colonel returns, how will he find his way?


Pris Campbell, Diego Quiros Truth and Other Lies Huddled under Nam's deepening shadow we drank too much wine, ate burnt turkey, neglected while wading the Hawaiian surf. We strung shells into necklaces, talismans for our husbands to take back to war, promised friendships stretching to forever, but it's been years now since we spoke. I fall dizzily to ground ear the tremor of grass blades, hear old laughter and bare feet sprinting across gray sand, see youthful hands grasping for futures never meant to be held tight. ~ Previously published in MiPo


Pris Campbell, Diego Quiros Runaway Bare on the stained mattress, hair spread beneath her like the flame of a rising sun, this runaway, this woman fleeing her midlife, waits for the crazy man. He lives in a jade forest, cabin carved with his fingernails. They've spied on him since Nam, he's told her, aiming satellites close in to listen, painting cryptic messages across the sky with their jets. She doesn't care. She half believes him, wants to believe him in her rush to escape her glass house by the sea. For that moment, that sweep into another life in her wish for a new man inside her, a fresh mouth suckling her breast she has given up everything, but he carves deeper into the forest. The voices say she's the enemy, too. Thorns cut her feet leaving. Judas kisses away her tears. A cross marks the road home.

~Previously published in The Cliffs: Soundings


Pris Campbell, Diego Quiros Red Ones, Blue Ones A trained corsetière, my aunt measured large breasts small breasts just blooming breasts over the hill breasts randy breasts shy breasts well used breasts never been touched breasts. At least once a week she spoke of her dreams. Balloons. Always about balloons. Red ones blue ones white ones all set adrift and rising until, peak reached and deflating, they fell to the earth in soft plops. Like a late summer rain. Like the sound of a boy's gasp as he jerks off to a photo bought for a buck. ~Previously published in Ocho


Pris Campbell, Diego Quiros Last Rites I have often paddled past my margin of safety, once fucking a madman in the lull of a hurricane's howl. I have splashed eagerly through baptismal pools, immersing myself in sins shed by others, to sample ungodly fruit. I have seduced liars, beggars, rich men, & priests, stolen chocolates from old ladies, and called evangelical talk shows just to rate my last bedded lover. I do not come seeking absolution, confessional wafers or prayers for salvation. My only request is that I exit this lifetime straddling the lap of a warm, lusty man, muscatel tumbling empty from one fading hand.

~Previously published in Poems Niendergasse


Pris Campbell, Diego Quiros City of Forgiven Whores In this city where birds fly upside down, and sadness is a welt made by a raindrop he comes to me. He speaks of sleep-talking dreamers, whores dunked by blind preachers, then kisses me like when we were young. I tug him inside and we soar till our wings melt-two candles, burnt to the nub of a universe rebuilding. We fall past old gods converted to new ways of seeing into the clear cleansing river of Eros that finally Huck Finns us away. ~Previously published in In The Fray


various poets, art by Lauren Simone

Outside Oklahoma City Room 428 of the Holiday Inn. I'm lying on the Mexican-print bedspread, scratching my dog's belly. A tiny plane flies over the strip of motels. Bountiful hours. Around the shiny, spreading city, big red land. The sun covers everything for a thousand miles, and I turn my belly to it. On the color TV Elton John is singing his line of sunshine in a Donald Duck suit, and I'm on my way to downtown Oklahoma City any minute, a new American city, where space replaces time. ~Ruth Lepson


“travel�, art by Lauren Simone 'Paris' after we took the photo, just trying to capture the mist, I laid down in the snow, your mouth tasted like blackberry, your eyes didn't scare me with their loudness heh. you painted them with your skin till they turned quiet again I had to lay, my legs were jello WE had to lay AND we lost your white thong your coat was scratchy when I held you, I was back on the bayou, I was home we were high & I remember knowing that death was curled above us you were drunk, your eyes savage & their real green, the ocean under glass you said we would make it through the winter, that only our eyelids would be paranoid, that we could make paper boats for spring, buy a bubbly new houseplant, try a new tobacco are you sure I said, bubbly? yeah, I wrote it on the back of the photo in you , I always forgot myself


“travel�, art by Lauren Simone in me you were a velvet star, burning crimson in me you were a man & a child, you were my safety rope through winter, a storm that was not aimless and you, you shook the grey out of each day even now you are still my word heart, a flower in the snow ~Tasha Klein


“travel�, art by Lauren Simone

We Visit China You are sitting alone I come quietly into the room You look up and smile I kneel down to take off your shoes I kiss your dear feet.

Summer Journey The farther you travel the more beautiful the road deep through the deserted north country A handful of leftover snow turns to water in your hand Wild geese are flying south The river is deep here Now, at moonrise, step to the brink and tell me - What dreams? ~Grace Andreacchi


“travel�, art by Lauren Simone Stone Journey fugitive from bedrock, no longer pure, low-minded, stubborn, content to laze aside the sun's hip, hawking twinkles with its quartz, pestering shadows. a boy picks it up, flings it to score an owl hole in a pine, and the stone just sits in the dark, too proud to hatch, until the tree collapses after decades, and sunlight streams again. yet still the stone says nothing, no comment on its hurtling trip, or the long dead boy, or the time it almost flied. ~Chris Crittenden


“travel�, art by Lauren Simone Morning Meditation I go out into the bright Calumet dawn the nearby church bells clamor a familiar tune all this sun on last night's snow I'll need sun glasses to go to the harbor on Cliff Drive, Seneca Lake is ice snow snakes along the road in light wind brown grass and empty trees slip by a confusion of images until the cliff appears rising on the left, top lost in snow mist no one on the road, even with me, no one ~Tom Blessing


“travel�, art by Lauren Simone green spark at sunset I am a shade of stars heart of the sea dancing in the mist a poet sometimes without words for life. my possible companion, with me looking ahead at possibility, timid and strong, across the vast dry plain. and with a tongue of dew on lips of silent spaces listen to this void whisper eternally happy to try and be nearby while haunting words hunger for the time when the heart of the sea sheds its distance and dissolves its mist; my blue warmth whetting spaces whole, yet hilly, a horizon accepts sun, large eye, spark nestles in green comfort ~Jewel Forga


“travel�, art by Lauren Simone Mt. Namsan, Gyeongju, South Korea This heat exhausts us all. We rest for a moment beside the smiling Buddha carved into the mountain. Ours, for a moment, this sunlit cliff, cool wind sliding over channels of stone. Upward we climb again, hand over hand, the last twenty feet of weathered rope. Young, red-faced and sweating, we stand silent, breathing in the breeze.

Gyeongju, South Korea The hills disappear in this constant humidity, this periodic rain. Distance gone, only what is near is real: the path on the shore of this lake, all these words I cannot read. ~ Kristyn Blessing 30

“travel�, art by Lauren Simone

Oak Springs Trail scents of yerba santa, rosemary and sage, young yuccas towering, sun-drenched erections below spirals of ochre-black hawks, a single feather falling, my hand soon its candle, prop for speckled flame. lifting fingers high, waxy with glistens, i watch quill flicker, hot in july wind. then release it to fly, soaring on a wish that extinguishes us both ~Chris Crittenden


“travel�, art by Lauren Simone Awaking to the sight of blue wafting my nostrils and dust fogging my eyes almost viewing stacks of totes Tea totally Jack to the stir of latte bathed in cucumber cream And steeped in chunks of instant Maxwell house on a hotplate Ringing red with passion spent long ago in a faraway Louisiana Bayou swamping flies and alligator bellys booted with steel tipped spears Piercing dark babies ears and sparkling spit through the gap in the old man's two front teeth that belonged to the old lady two doors down from a song and a sin lost in aqua eyes that do not belong to the bone child. I turn and ask, "whose 'u' is it held by blue?" fading into denim Stone washed, scraped and stitched by little fingers playing tap doc Shoot the spot striking words from the record restraining and straining the eggs through dropped soup as cross examination began in the overstuffed recliner Between God and all cushions present and unpresently accounted for and to


The pickup stalling time then engining through the football goal tending Pucks fucking captains hats and croquet mallets as red and orange balls are Smacked through iron wickets bent with a 'u' that was not included nor Considered as a dropped option picking up the rain check without the purple umbrella flipping backwards and upwards in response to the howls of the children as they bark delight in the dark holding rubbery shrubs Scratching and sniffing silent sounds of sight as lightning strikes twice despite thunder chances at 555-lite media style input plugged looking for the router and love in grand Paris. For the law moving to the law as it lays the lawyer against the wall gaveling the hammer behind dark glasses and a black felt hat tickling feathers of the crow fortified against the snow atop the phone booth where Superman finds his 'S' and fills the tights to the brim of the tea cup stewing the old bag. ~Constance Pavliska

“travel�, art by Lauren Simone picking thimbleberries we're both too thirsty and tired to keep walking and our bottle of la fin du monde lasted only long enough for the trip to the point the end of the world we're there, you say laughing as you slap at blackflies deerflies horseflies sandflies and what are those? never seen those kind before well, they bite, just the same my ears bleeding like they always do stumbling among the broad, cloth-like leaves look there! a whole ten yards of them almost too ripe one week from falling off and rotting but here we are ready to save them three quarters go into tupperware the rest we eat rich with juice and sugars let the tourists pay ten dollars for a jar of jam we're here at the source amazing where three miles can take you Zachary Blessing


“travel�, art by Lauren Simone Relaxed Companions They finish the cactus-juice custard on the Beach of Souls, and walk slowly up the slope toward the street, ruby heat of the setting sun penetrating their backs. Custard cups bonk into the barrel with the buzzing flies. They hear "mira!", and turn around to catch the "Green Flash" just before the sun's slip into the ocean. It looks like the flaring of a torch plunged in water, a dancing twist of flame that dies out. They wish upon it, per local custom. Passing through the gate now, she slumps against the stucco wall, closing eyes, filling lungs with a last draught of sea air. Lips brush along above the collarbone and for a moment, only the touch exists, splashing across skin, bursting in the brain, making ears ring. He hums and helps her stand. There is only the sound of small waves, and the clicking of foam sandals under the darkening sky. ~Jim Knowles


“travel�, art by Lauren Simone Amelia Mary on Her Birthday Holding the saucer with a steady hand, you lifted the Earl Grey to lips which lay across your face twin leopards back to back motionless now, but not asleep. Such admirable hands. So capable. Motivated with equal measures of kindness and precision. At home on the throttles or with a pen / a napkin / a bandage. The leopards stirred to receive their due while owls above your cheekbones divided the horizon and measured Montana acres spreading. One hundred and seven today. Im so happy you could be here. Thank you for coming. The deep owls glowed keen with vitality; in perfect ignorance of their magnificence. Something happened on the Big Flight. Ive told no one before today. The cup and saucer now set aside. Your head eased back; resting a grey mane on thick brocade rolls. The runway at Lae had been left behind. Up into the July morning on metalled wings stunning. Nineteen thirty seven and you soon to be forty. All was Pacific below and beyond, as well as within.

Above New Britain, and onward through the afternoon. Seeing the Solomons stretch North and South; then fading in the propwash. With the Ocean dominant night arrived; and you spun your light into it. Midnight came and went, leaving no scent of passage. In the air through many nights since May cabin instruments updated constant briefings; their insincere glow sang dangerous lullabies. It came before dawn Howland Island and bed already made in the minds reckoning. Your heading, the Equator, the Date Line and at that singular intersection something left you. It was the feeling of a fire guttering out. A fire of need no longer felt. A fire of threat no longer feared. The Pacific had immersed you. That was that. Then, of course, a demonstrative dawn; a cheerful greeting from the "Itasca". Howland found and the sweetest sleep. There would be no more Big Flights. You had more than certainty. Many, many hours yet to indulge the vertical and return enriched but no more need 35

“travel�, art by Lauren Simone to stretch your signature around the world, so that it loved you. There. A small moment in a great time. You know I think that I am ready. Yes, I think so. A nap is in order, do pardon me. You rose and strode from the sunroom with only a hint of stiffness. Turning in at your door you gave the tiniest wave. An hour had passed. Clouds played above, mimicked by flat shadows draped over fields or wood. I had an urge to see you.


Off with noisy shoes and down the cool corridor toward the sound of your fan. You seemed a Bernini recumbent upon a granite back above [the] covers shoes together on the floor. Russell, curled at your feet, regarded me momentarily before returning to loud purrs and sleep hunting. So it was that I saw you last. Saw your chest rise steeply; then a savored exhale long, slow and ending in absolute stillness. ~Neil C. Leach, Jr.

“travel�, art by Lauren Simone Waits is growling 'bout the one that got away and i remember all those poems i thought of while driving from detroit to the keweenaw those poems that were lost in my memory along dark highways beneath a full moon reflecting off frozen waves along the shores of Lake Superior while tea cooled in the cup holder and Tom growled from the speakers and morning seemed no more than a despicable moment where everything seems distant and false ~Tom Blessing


“travel�, art by Lauren Simone A Moment In A Latitude With Death smiling like a widow who's been through many lies of men, wanton as she goes from bed to bed, mansion to mansion, every foyer that has given hope a tryinto jungles where baboons and tigers fade, back to sweaty profuse humanity, no longer a woman, more like a gasp that stalls lungs, cashiers their chores. off to a savanna where elephants dwindle down a tusky roadback to sick or violent people, legions of them feeding the ground, and others begging not to go there, clutching their wasted lives. ~Chris Crittenden


poetry by Alice Persons, art by Donna Young Revenge of the Metaphors Untrue lover, your treachery laid me low. When the ugly end came I carried a big empty space just behind my breastbone for a year and twenty years haven't revised the memory. You were the soft slipper hiding a scorpion, a familiar knife that slips and draws blood, the safe dropped on the unwary pedestrian.


Alice Persons/Donna Young Feng Shui "It's good to have poems that begin with tea and end with God." ~Robert Bly Cleaning out the pantry, I come across an old straw box filled with a motley assortment of tea bags going back years, and stand there musing over their histories, their provenance. This Ceylon tea from a former friend who faded away when I got a divorce; this jasmine tea a souvenir from an ex lover's trip to Japan - the one where I called his hotel at 3 AM and a woman answered; this herbal raspberry tea from a sensible vegetarian friend, during my regrettable phase of swearing off caffeine and sugar. These tiny scented envelopes recall my younger selves and those formerly vivid people once close enough to drink tea with, to give and take small gifts. All the ghostly tea-drinkers are lost to me - gone to other countries, other friends, unknown lovers, gone to seed, gone to California, gone to God.


Alice Persons/Donna Young Stealing Lilacs A guaranteed miracle, it happens for two weeks each May, this bounty of riches where McMansion, trailer, the humblest driveway burst with color -- pale lavender, purple, darker plum -and glorious scent. This morning a battered station wagon drew up on my street and a very fat woman got out and started tearing branches from my neighbor's tall old lilac -grabbing, snapping stems, heaving armloads of purple sprays into her beater. A tangle of kids' arms and legs writhed in the car. I almost opened the screen door to say something, but couldn't begrudge her theft, or the impulse to steal such beauty. Just this once, there is enough for everyone.


Alice Persons/Donna Young Sunday Stores are closed; the library's locked. I drive through an empty downtown. Without people, trash takes over the streets. On TV, old gray and white movies, women with dated hairdos, dark lipstick. Listen: the clock in the bedroom, a phone ringing next door, laughter blowing across the courtyard. Drinking tea, I read until the print blurs, undress in unbroken silence, lie waiting for sleep and vivid, human dreams.


Alice Persons/Donna Young To My Cat with an Eating Disorder You were thrown out of a moving vehicle on a dirt road in chilly winter downeast Maine, little fur scrap, and I hope you don't carry that memory with you, but the hunger, the deep fear that you'll never see food again is still there five years later when you are huge and sleek, a sumo Buddha of a cat. I've seen you, after a big meal, heave yourself from a sound sleep, pad into the kitchen, launch your bulk onto the counter, and check the food supply, then crouch there chewing and chewing, green eyes empty, concentrating on your burden, your compulsion, doggedly eating, whether you want to or not. There are stories about Holocaust or Depression survivors whose refrigerators and pantries are always full, just in case, how some of them still wake in the night and check their abundant supplies, run their hands over the packages, or eat without hunger, just because they can. Cat, I stand in the dark kitchen stroking your broad back, wishing I could banish the fears of one small, common creature, those bad dreams that awaken you, that hollow place in your memory which can never be filled.


Alice Persons/Donna Young Why I Have A Crush On You, UPS Man you bring me all the things I order are never in a bad mood always have a jaunty wave as you drive away look good in your brown shorts we have an ideal uncomplicated relationship you're like a cute boyfriend with great legs who always brings the perfect present (why, it's just what I've always wanted!) and then is considerate enough to go away oh, UPS Man, let's hop in your clean brown truck and elope! you ditch your job, I'll ditch mine let's hit the road for Brownsville and tempt each other with all the luscious brown foods -roast beef, dark chocolate, brownies, Guinness, homemade pumpernickel, molasses cookies I'll make you my mama's bourbon pecan pie we'll give all the packages to kind looking strangers live in a cozy wood cabin with a brown dog or two and a black and brown tabby I'm serious, UPS Man. Let's do it. Where do I sign ?


Alice Persons/Donna Young No More Nature Poems Okay, plenty of us like to look at birds. Flowers are swell, sunsets, trees, the stars -- all dandy. But let's face it -it's all been said, described, covered by thousands of writers. What could we possibly say that would improve on the ancient Chinese poets, anyway ? I concede that a few poets since Li Po have hit one out of the park, but how many of us are Hopkins or Oliver ? I'm a city woman. Give me poems with kitchen tables, toast crumbs, books and magazines, Grandmother's plates, postcards from Florida, baby pictures, Scrabble tiles, the smell of Sunday roast, the feel of the seats in Dad's old car, the Thanksgiving menu that never changed what it was like to leave, how it feels to go back; what you left, what you carry with you -all the messy, vivid indoor life of the heart.


Alice Persons/Donna Young Night Walk The dog and I silently pass by houses nondescript in the daytime now open curtains and yellow lamplight give me glimpses of strangers' lives figures passing through rooms the almost ubiquitous blue light of huge TVs often the screen is big enough so I can catch a fleeting look at what they're watching colorful explosions, a lion bounding after a gazelle the dog pulls me past quick snapshots children's artwork on the refrigerator door in a bright yellow kitchen where someone's baking something with cinnamon that makes my mouth water enormous family photos crowding a wall often a silhouette upstairs absorbed in another blue screen sometimes I'm rewarded with something different the soaring swell of a Verdi aria a cat in the window regarding me intently a quiet cottage with candles lit and no TV on and once, a house where the faint sound of Van Morrison's "Tupelo Honey" floated out and two tall white-haired people were waltzing through their living room


featured poets Pris Campbell's free verse poetry has been published in journals and poetry collections such as Poems Niederngasse, MiPo Publications (print/digital/radio), East to West Journal, Boxcar Poetry Review (her poem in the May 2007 issue won the issue's peer award), and The Dead Mule. She was recently featured poet in In The Fray, Empowerment4Women, Tears in the Fence and Thunder Sandwich. She has three chapbooks out: Abrasions, published by Rank Stranger Press, Interchangeable Goddesses, with Tammy Trendle, by Rose of Sharon Press, and Hesitant Commitments by Lummox Press ( for their Little Red Book series. Raised in the Carolinas, Pris has lived in the midwest, Hawaii, New England and now lives in the greater West Palm Beach, Florida with her husband, a spoiled dog and a cat who sleeps on her rough poetry drafts. Formerly a clinical psychologist, she has been sidelined with CFIDS since 1990. Alice Persons lives in Westbrook, Maine. Her three poetry chapbooks are Be Careful What You Wish for, Never Say Never, and Don’t Be a Stranger. She is the publisher of Moon Pie Press, which has published 45 poetry books, including five anthologies ( The latest anthology is one of animal poetry called Agreeable Friends, with the work of 46 poets. Coleen Shin is a writer and artist living in Cedar Hill Texas with her husband and son. Coleen enjoys spending time wandering the wooded hills behind her home with her dogs and watching the seasons change. Published works include poems in Women of the Web, Mipo Magazines, an electronic chapbook on From East to West as well as numerous works in online journals over the past 9 yrs. Coleen hopes to eventually relocate to the deepest greenest parts of rural SE Oklahoma where many rowdy little versions of herself roam and play in the form of five beautiful nieces.


featured artists

Diego Quiros is a poet, artist, and electrical engineer living with his family in South

Florida. He was born in 1962 in Havana, Cuba, lived in Spain for several years, and traveled to the United States by himself at age ten. His poetry, has been published in several issues of Ocho, Mipoesias, and Verse Libre Quarterly. Diego also co-hosted the MipoRadio show “Deconstructions”. Diego’s first collection of poems Alchetry, a study on the four elements of writing and their relation to the four basic elements; was recently published by Goss 183 (formerly Menendez Publishing) and it is available at Amazon. In June of 2004, several of Diego's paintings, mosaics, and stained glass panels were featured on a local PBS television station in the Miami area. He credits all his work to conversations with a Muse he describes as “a woman with long dark green hair, green eyes, and light green skin”. He claims she walks around his home in South Florida and drops subtle whispers here and there. Visit Diego on the web at

Lauren Simone drinks tea too hot and too quickly. This is because she lives in Portland, Maine. When she's not teaching art, she draws. Sometimes she draws maps that she imagines. You can find her work at Donna Young has her head in the stars as lead educator for the Chandra X-Ray Observatory. She constructs her art from photographs, images from vintage books and sheet music, and any other scrap that strikes her fancy. Her childhood farm in Maine is featured often. When going for Sunday drives with Donna, you may have to pull over suddenly for her to snap her camera at moss hung trees, abandoned buildings, or a cow with a white bird on its back. Visit more of her altered art at “travel” poets Grace Andreacchi is an American-born novelist, poet and playwright. Works include the novels Scarabocchio and Poetry and Fear (Andromache Books), Music for Glass Orchestra (Serpent's Tail), Give My Heart Ease (New American Writing Award) and the chapbook Elysian Sonnets. Her work appears in Eclectica, Word Riot, Pen Pusher and many other fine places. She lives in London and writes a regular literary blog 'Amazing Grace' ( and maintains a website at


“travel� poets Kristyn Blessing is currently an ESL instructor at Michigan Technological University. She recently received her MFA in Creative Writing from Minnesota State University, Mankato. She spent the summer of 2008 teaching English in Gyeongju, South Korea. Tom Blessing

lives in the old copper mining town of Calumet, Michigan where winters are long and life is good. He is also very please to have a son and daughter who are also poets.

Zachary Blessing is too busy playing Katamari Damacy to write a biography now. Chris Crittenden lives near a lighthouse in a remote coastal area. There are no traffic or street lights nearby. He believes poetry explifies the depth and honesty to which humans can attain. Some recent acceptances are from Poems Niederngasse, Poetic Diversity, DMQ Review and Thick With Conviction. Jewel Forga is a native Californian who resides in Long Beach. She has been writing

poetry for about ten years. Her poems have been published in Perian Springs, Tryst, Writers Monthly, and Mannequin Envy.

Tasha Klein lives in the Chicago area. She is inspired by the poetry of Anne Sexton, Jim Morrison & e.e. cummings. Her latest publications are in Numinous , Concelebratory Shoehorn Review: Issue 1 and 20, Starfish, Contemporary American, and Venereal Kittens. Jim Knowles is an engineer, poet, and artist who grew up in Maine and lives in Massachusetts. His work has appeared in Mipoesias publications, in From East to West, as a runner-up in the 2008 Poetry Superhighway contest, and in the air at open mics and readings in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine.


“travel� poets Neil C. Leach, Jr. was born June 2, 1954 in Richmond, Virginia. He currently resides in Concord, North Carolina and has been married 23 years to Katherine "Denise" Leach, a remarkable woman in every sense of the word. He has 3 sons: Marshall Derek Leach - age 23 - United States Marine, Andrew Dallas Leach - age 22 - United States Air Force, and Darin Scott Leach - age 18 - United States Air Force. He attended the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, concentrating on the Bachelor of Creative Arts program; working in serigraphy, stone lithography, etching, and graphics of numerous media. He wrote his first poem October 6, 2002. He has been honored as a featured poet of Liquid Poetry for the year 2002 and has several top ten NPAC finishes. He enjoys public reading from time to time and continues to pursue writing as a recreation. Ruth Lepson

is poet-in-residence at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. Her books of poetry are Dreaming in Color (Alice James Books), Morphology, and I Went Looking for You ( both from Her writing has appeared in Jacket, Carve, Big Bridge, Agni, and many other publications. In recent years she has been collaborating with musicians & has a jazz/poetry group, low road.

Constance Pavliska is a writer/artist/imagist who resides in Old Town, Maine with

her family and two dogs. Her work has appeared in The Stolen Island Review, MaineBeggar, Green Rock Review, Harlow Gallery, Lord and Carnegie Hall Galleries and is currently being shown online in both The Maine Art Scene Photography Show and The Maine Photography Show. Her website address is


Profile for PJ Nights

from east to west: bicoastal verse - winter '08/'09  

Quarterly journal with featured poets Coleen Shin, Alice Persons and Pris Campbell, featured artists Coleen Shin, Diego Quiros, Lauren Simo...

from east to west: bicoastal verse - winter '08/'09  

Quarterly journal with featured poets Coleen Shin, Alice Persons and Pris Campbell, featured artists Coleen Shin, Diego Quiros, Lauren Simo...

Profile for pjnights