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whispers of elusive promise. Flamed
light hovers, make-shift halos
for the hesitant. Everything flutters
in its dance. Touch darkens the subtle
irrelevancies of time. The mind beats
its own thoughts. An eloquent drumming,
proceeds a roll of silence, sucking
on the sound of each invisible note.
A.J. Huffman is a poet and freelance writer in Daytona Beach, Florida. She has previously published six collections of poetry all available on Amazon.com. She has also published her work in numerous national and international literary journals and is the editor for six online poetry journals for Kind of a Hurricane Press ( www.kindofahurricanepress.com ). Find more about A.J. Huffman, including additional information and links to her work at http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000191382454 and https://twitter.com/#!/poetess222.
Autumn grows cold
autumn grow cold,
the sun fires too late
as the moor laments.
frost thickens on the grass.
the gift of plenitude
has no house here.
I have been published in over 65 magazines and journals including The Endicott Review, Fowl Feathered Review, The Bitchin' Kitsch, Vox Poetica, Abbey, Iconoclast, Puckerbrush Review, Nerve Cowboy, Mobius, and many others.
What They Will Find
When I leave this world and they clean out my house, they will
discover what I couldn’t throw away— vinyl records, textbooks,
unpublished manuscripts, garter belts with brittle elastic,
real stockings, my sister’s letters.
Because I will surely die alone, under mysterious circumstances,
the M.E. will do an autopsy. He’ll make that long incision from chest
to pelvis, startled by what flies out of my body—
a slender girl with wavy waist-length hair, playing guitar, singing
Joan Baez tunes. From under my heart, a plump woman will pop, shaking
her dark curls, handing out cookies. She’ll offer a sweater to the poor
M.E. rocking on a stainless steel stool, clutching his apron.
Threads of smoke will rise from my toes, take shape as ballerinas
in stiff tutus, turning in unison, drifting through the morgue
over tabletops and counters. Each time he touches an organ, another
of my hidden selves will appear. Going deeper,
what he’ll find will make him run howling from the room—
what I’ve always known was there— one wolf, one parrot, a smiling
dolphin, and a half-ton Polar bear. Last, an elephant will emerge,
trumpeting under fluorescent lights, tusks gleaming.
[Published in The Penwood Review, Spring 2005]
He said we’d have six children,
a garden, goats, old farm house.
First pruning came before I said yes.
He told me to quit the college chorus,
feared I’d meet another boy.
What silent grafting came when I was unaware?
He taught me to make an omelet, iron his shirts.
Who else would want me after I’d been had?
Don’t look too sexy.
Don’t go to graduate school.
Don’t go out without me.
Don’t go out alone.
Don’t go out.
My leaves grew tiny,
He shaved my bark,
my outstretched limbs.
Out of view, I sent a root
over the edge of his
grew beyond his garden,
snaked into the wilderness.
[Published in Confluence, Volume 15, September, 2004 and in
The Scottsville (VA) Council for the Arts Newsletter, January, 2008]
Joan Mazza has worked as a medical microbiologist, psychotherapist, sex therapist, writing coach and seminar leader. She is the author of six books, including Dreaming Your Real Self (Penguin/Putnam 1998), and her work has appeared in Potomac Review, Rattle, Off the Coast, Kestrel, Permafrost, Slipstream, Timber Creek Review, The MacGuffin, Writer’s Digest, The Fourth River, the minnesota review, New Verse News (9 poems in 2012), Personal Journaling, Playgirl and many others. She now writes poetry and does fabric art in rural central Virginia. www.JoanMazza.com
Wander the Sunshine
Sift slide through cornstalks
clothed in deep green
Scarlett O’Hara silks
sewn from earth curtains
as brilliant sun pulses
glide to soil and silt,
blood brothers of lands
forgotten by industry’s
children in scrapers
rending the sky
in black spires.
Swim swell in streams
flowing in salmon
arcing wetly up, up
and out over rocks
smooth polished over
eons, carved downward
by thick water knives
deepening into bottoms
clearly visible and sparkling
like purest diamond’s
Shine sun through trembling
flares arcing in space time
stretched adamantly with
no meaning across voids
uncharted, unseen by human
eyes glimpsing only miracles
of earthbound heaven,
ringed in celestial pirouettes,
as life’s dance breathes
in a festival of ecstasy.
An animal’s scrabblings bite across the pavement,
chased by a wind laced with rain
across the glowing asphalt by
the light of the streetlamps
casting grandfatherly illumination
on natural and manmade alike
and I saw it was merely a leaf
dead, bereft of vitality,
curled, shriveled in gnarled old age
blown about by October’s autumn voice
Return from whence you came, little one
and soak into your mother’s flesh
as her heartbeat slows for sleep.
And it obeys with no reluctance or
human sentiment for a life short-lived
and now gone, yet lived to the fullest
among neutral oceans of green forest
followed by a hail of dying bursts of color
in a candlelight vigil for summer
that decelerates to naked trees
and a blanket of white over heaving hills
where everything breaths through warm mouths
from warm souls that twine around one another
in a muffled dance of affection
until they burst anew in mortal life.
Warmth brines my body
from the shower head
spraying city’s water
supply over me in a
from the cold to which
I have grown accustomed,
the cold that I love
for the hardening of my
heart, for which emotion is
blinding and painful, to the
point where the shower is
the only place where I can
truly be myself.
Matthew Nichols is currently a graduate student in history at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. Born in Ohio, he grew to love writing and the humanities, and writes science-fiction, horror, and fantasy stories in addition to poetry. He presently resides in Illinois.
Somebody walked the dog
A speck, a fleck, a dab of snowy
Sails through frosty morning air
Like a galaxy skipping away from the bang,
One casual consequence of
A leaping, panting, frothing, wagging
Will never again raise his baton,
But the orchestra plays
Tashkent, Bukhara, Samarkand.
Wind is a thread
From distant mountains.
Steppe grasses hiss
More sand, blows.
A pony waits,
Like a violet scarf
Across day's face,
Here at time's end there is
But no tears.
My novella "Vienna Station" won the Galaxy prize and was published as an e-book. It is available for Kindle on Amazon. My "Dogwood Dream" won the 2011 New Millennium fiction short fiction contest and was subsequently published by Steel Toe Journal. Most recently, my short story "Like a thorny Child" won the Central Coast Writers spring writing contest. If you need more information about me, please check my website. http://chaosgatebook.wordpress.com/
Cult of Domesticity
American, Swiss, Cheddar,
Provolone, Parmesan, Brie...
Go ahead and scurry your little fingers,
Soft yet firm,
Through the grandly assorted
Castle of Cheese
Your fingers scurry
Now, Once as mine
Over moist, dewy nethers
--Sundry lands In The Beginning
Of an existence
Saturated by passion
Instead of assorted cheeses.
Our love has become
A Hickory Farms gift set,
But I doubt the honey mustard
Is enough to get me off.
Perhaps between the minivan
And the teddy bear humping pug,
I could have found some pleasure
In the cold, concrete studio floor.
Perhaps the stains in the sheet
Could have sustained me
...a little more.
The cracks in the coffee cups
The roach food under the sink
The soap stains in the tub
The calcium in the pipes
--all so imperceptible
The dishes in the sink!
Is this the stuff that dreams are made of?
Is this my Breton Lay?
Achilles--you fleet-footed juggernaut--
You had it right all along:
Better to die young and full,
Far from your piss-ant town,
Than to die
Thought for a poem
And all that comes up are lines from Milton
And a life of abstraction
Dichotomous, far very dichotomous
Take that nail I pounded into the drywall
Or that spark plug I extracted
A life of movies and stories and old legends
If Beowulf were alive now
He'd be waiting at the bus stop
Triumphantly yearning for the five tatertots he'll eat at lunch
And this time with ketchup
Jolly Green Giants
Pasted onto cans of green beans
And polar bears drinking Coca Cola
Pray find your corner in these dying yawning breaths
Pick the tags off of your mattresses
And unravel your gaudy turquoise sweater
Aaron Lee Moore is the chief editor of Floyd County Moonshine, a returned Peace Corps volunteer (RPCV), and a full-time student of Mandarin Chinese at Southwest University of Finance & Economics in Chengdu, China. He holds a Master of Arts degree in Literature from Florida State University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Radford University. Prior creative and critical publications include Arthur C. Ford’s The Pen, Virginia English Bulletin, The Roanoke Times, Game Guides Online, and Interdisciplinary Literary Studies. He has literary criticism forthcoming in Pennsylvania Literary Journal, essays forthcoming in Ascent Aspirations Magazine and eChinacities, and poetry forthcoming in Deep South Magazine. He grew up in Floyd, Virginia and graduated from Floyd County High School.
Even Here In The City
At the McKinley Park pond we are subject
to the dance of an occasional blue heron,
to its overflight: searching swoops as if
in pursuit of a pad of vapor to cushion
its landing. It could be the same heron
near the canals and agricultural fields
in the North State, suddenly taking flight,
chilling our hearts, going into that infernal
banking, producing those extended shadows,
plaintive complaints that tweak the ear---
its coat of indefinable blue-gray caught
in the glint of the sun as it heads for a
nearby field to forage, commanding it like
a god. Even here in this city, imagine the
landscape without them, however errant their
course. Imagine their flocks a mere century
ago, many a time, span to span in a crowded sky.
If These Colors Of Bark Startle You
it is probably because the natural
eye expects, and you only accept
something else, what the trained
mind betrays. But this special look,
behind the curtain of color,
reveals so much of what has been
hidden in plain view. Invest some
time here, let consciousness
flow into all the possibilities
of being, into an expansiveness,
that now, even the sycamore
Contemplations Of Sycamores Of A Deepening Fall
with their widely spreading arms,
their pervasive and defoliating bark,
their brown blanket of crimping leaves
spreading all around them.
And you know, can feel,
their strange attraction, attractiveness,
your eyes given to wanderings
over their exposed and camouflaged
existence, following exotic morphings
that fill and fill your eyes, and your ready
camera, introducing new perspectives,
and now and then, capturing so much more.
Co-editor of Ekphrasis, Laverne Frith has chapbooks from Talent House, White Heron Press, Rattlesnake Press, Choice of Words, and Finishing Line. His full-length collection is from Cherry Grove Collections. He was runner-up for the 2004, 2005, & 2006 Louisiana Literature Prize in Poetry, and his work has been accepted or appeared in Poetry New York, Christian Science Monitor, Sundog, Comstock, Montserrat, Dalhousie, & many others. He is on the reviewer panel of New York Journal of Books.
Frank De Canio
Of all life’s oddities, it seems most strange,
that couples treat as if they had the mange,
fellow travelers searching for that love
the paired are shamelessly partaking of.
Would they plant smooches on their woolen gloves
then snuggle to them like they’re turtle doves
because they saw some bloke whose hands were cold
or jump with youthful joy to mock the old?
And would they, teasing, dangle from a fork
in bistros, appetizing chunks of pork
at vagabonds who can’t afford to eat?
Just so they play with amatory meat
beside starved men who only have a bone
to soothe themselves while journeying alone.
Do gourmets gorge with smacking emphasis
near dietary fare like lovers kiss,
as if filet mignon and Peking Roast
taste better next to tuna fish on toast?
Then pity those who living on the dole,
are treated like they didn’t have a soul.
Although rejection hurts and hearts can’t bide
the agony of unrequited love,
the harshest pain is never to have tried.
Withdrawal hurts as much as any shove
the forward womanizer gets who fails
in his pursuit. How sweet is sleep in war,
or beating a retreat when it avails
combatants in a tattered army corps.
But what remorse Columbus would have felt
to voyage near a hospitable land
whose rolling hills were emerald as veldt,
if docking he did not extend his hand
to natives who seemed bristling with intent
to form a bond he’d happily cement.
There’ll be no more shuffling among the trees
in this deserted garden of Eden.
No footsteps, heavy with expectancy,
from that tender, nocturnal nurse, hourly
materializing in some satin
nightgown, among the rustling of the trees,
to spoon relief like an epiphany.
Love’s harvest has already been eaten,
and footsteps, heavy with expectancy
now echo with a hollow litany
of lost comforts I’ll never know again
among the autumn rustling of the trees.
This last sickness has brought me to my knees
with grieving. But there’s none in time’s prison
whose footsteps, heavy with expectancy,
can resurrect those former sympathies;
just rows of scarecrows propped on a frozen
tundra; winds whistling where there once were trees,
and footsteps heavy with expectancy.
Born & bred in New Jersey, I work in New York. I love music from Bach to Dory Previn, Amy Beach to Amy Winehouse, World Music, Latin, opera. Shakespeare
is my consolation, writing my hobby. I like Dylan Thomas, Keats, Wallace Stevens, Frost , Ginsburg, and Sylvia Plath as poets.
They had plans for the plot.
It was to give birth to a prepackaged shed,
bent on leaving a ghostly imprint on that piece of earth.
Sweat equity would make it ours,
a splinterless tool haven, shroud for that bit of earth.
Father and son toiled,
sun a constant that failed to melt their resolve.
Father corrected son’s plumb errors,
son rolled his eyes and they continued.
Father shrugged and made even
what was filled with canted charm.
Men a chasm apart built their pyramid.
It stood a monument.
One bloody corner smeared with the son’s blood, baptized it.
They hugged and lingered as the sun dipped in the sky,
a patch of gold streaking the roof like a bolt of lightning.
He comes riding in and then canters out. Oftentimes, the head is bowed by reality; other times, he is proud to have said something noteworthy. cRetired after forty-two years as teacher/school administrator, he now resides in Mount Sinai, far from Moses and the tablets. This has led him to find words for solace. He spends his time writing and playing his guitar. He has published in many online publications such as BlogNostics, Every Day Poets, and The Weekender. One of his poems, Forsaken Man, was selected for Best of 2012 poems in Storm Cycle. Also selected Poet of the Month in Poetry Super Highway, September 2012. His work was also read at Palimpsest Poetry Festival in December 2012.
I was glad to. After all,
it would be just him and me in the cab
together for eight whole hours,
talking. He'd been away at college
for four whole years, text-messaging
every now and then, and now
I expected some full sentences.
That was the deal. In return
we'd use my credit card and I would drive
him and all his worldly possessions
home. Somewhere around Delaware
the mirror on the passenger side
started turning inward against the wind
and I couldn't see, and it wouldn't
stay when he opened the window
and readjusted it. I told him
to take off his shoes and give me his laces
and I'd pull over onto the shoulder
and tie the mirror to the antenna to keep it
from drifting. He asked me why his shoes
and not my shoes? It was a good question,
the kind of question you might debate
in a sociology class up in college
if you were still in college. But we were
speeding down I-95 in a U-Haul
with one functioning mirror, a resourceful
father at the wheel, a credit card
in his pocket, his thumbs keeping time
to an old-fashioned song in his head
that only he could hear, and a son
drowning out that song, turning
the radio on. Loud. Louder. Silently
bending down to untie his shoes.
Once out walking
with my dog in the woods,
I stopped beneath a birch tree
to pee. And before I was halfway done
she came bounding up beside me,
assumed the position, and peed
in sympathy. That's when it dawned on me:
the good stuff, too, is contagious--
the yawns, the laughter, the hard-ons,
and all the manifold sweet
release. It was just the two of us
out there in the wilderness,
sharing the joy, the sacred
stream across species. And it felt like
a scientific discovery, or maybe
a spiritual one, a kind of
wedding there beneath the white
sleeves of that birch tree
blessing us, our separate
rivulets running past my shoe and her hind
paw, joining together somewhere
farther downhill, downstream, as we
each bent toward our own brief
relief, voiding there on that little
patch of earth pushing up above the great
Void. Then I shook myself and zipped up
and patted her bony head,
and she took off running
through the understory, and I
continued on my solitary way
through the world, feeling
more connected than ever
to the great chain of things.
The sun is raising its hand.
It's practically levitating in its seat,
reaching its fingers up as far as they will go,
spreading them, wiggling them, stretching
and straining its toes and kicking out its feet,
exploding with oh, oh, oh, I know, I know, I know.
It's dying--the sun is simply dying--to get the earth's
attention. But the earth turns an infinitely
patient, sardonically tilted, patronizing
eye toward the sun, and the birds juke and jeer
and the trees bend over backwards with
laughter. And what can the people do
but get up, urinate, roll their eyes and yawn
at the sun's same old wrong answer.
Paul Hostovsky is the author of four books of poetry, most recently Hurt Into Beauty (FutureCycle Press, 2012). His poem have won a Pushcart Prize, two Best of the Net Awards, and the Muriel Craft Bailey Award from The Comstock Review. He has been featured on Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, and The Writer's Almanac. To read more of his work, visit him at www.paulhostovsky.com
Swallows in gray winds dip over her beauty
as she pauses, throwing light onto a great space
She is forgiveness with a smile, a trouble so
pleasing I am at fault with compassion.
Spirits unknown seek allegiance
for her company, yet are rejected to the lost.
She is a vacuum of passion. A red room of desire.
An oracle of saving. The music of morning.
A voice of a flower. A spirit without tears.
She is short on time though long on failures
of shadowy achievers.
Everything I have holds in the questions she
asks of me.
small quiet spaces
are the places
with the freshest air
the silence between
the blades of grass is
patient and unperturbed
by the buzzing of others
a silence needing nothing
the spider drops
into the quiet fullness
between the blades
a single thread
as she plays joyfully
in the breeze
her eyes closed
she breathes crisp cool air
her heart and her head
down to her toes
for a while
for a little longer
before she goes out
into busy places
where she humbly
weaves the webs
to feed her children
patient and unperturbed
by the buzzing of others
Jack Williams is a science professor (physiology) at a university in southern Maine. When he is not at work or playing with poetry, he likes to head to the woods in his canoe. When indoors, he sometimes builds canoes or plays bluegrass on the upright bass with friends.
I am all things
breath nor heavy
light nor air
Be aware ~ Be aware
I walk in stillness
moving as waiting stars
collapsing to share
I am there ~ I am there
When you are bathed in sorrow
heavier than the light of breath
deeper than the stars’ silent flare
Be aware ~ I am there
I am there ~ Be aware
Jeff Dutko lives in Farmington, CT with his wife, two children and crazy dog. He often tries to give voice to the special needs children he teaches through his writing, but has also produced poetry for twenty-five years on a variety of themes and social issues. His first full-length book, Beyond the Margins, was released in August of 2011 by Antrim House. Some of his most recent work has been published in Right Hand Pointing, Rattlesnake Review, Slow Trains, Haggard and Halloo, miller’s pond, Writer’s Bloc, Interpretations, The Writers Block and The Furnace Review.
What keeps me on the road?
without closing my eyes—
street signs and mail boxes,
an old gas station where
they sell home-made pie;
and the same panorama
of insects so thick
the wiper blades bump
over and through their stories
as if they were mine,
your mouth still
that beautiful ellipsis
of ongoing surprise.
When she leaves mad
the door slams shut
and the car starts like usual
with a shudder
as though every day was a day
in March, cold, sluggish
but not as cold as January,
the Christmas tree still up,
the crèche on the mantel
reminders of a faith few
can’t wait to put away in boxes
while yours hangs around,
its yellowing needles falling.
You looked hungrily
at another woman,
adultery in the heart, again,
and again your faith
in yourself sagged, you,
this windless sail on water
already dark way down
while she couldn’t wait
to hear confession.
Since last appearing in Miller's Pond, I've published poems in Brilliant Corners, Nashville Review, Southern Humanities Review, The Wallace Stevens Journal, and elsewhere, helped edit the Iowa Poetry Association's annual publication "Lyrical Iowa," and been nominated for a Pushcart Prize (2012).
James B. Nicola
When you read
When you read a book you are not alone,
ever. That’s just the way reading is.
There’s a guy crouched just over your head,
or an androgyne—could be a gal or a guy,
or something between. An “androgyne”
being a word for something between,
or including both. You know that word?
The soul, or spirit, might include both,
for instance. So it might be a spirit
who’s reading along and perched just so.
I didn’t want to interrupt your reading
of this poem, though it’s brief, for want
of a dictionary. Even though
you might not need a dictionary
to look up androgyne, I did not
want you to think of looking up from
your reading. So even now, you are
not alone: a part of Me is reading
along. You say you still feel alone?
That’s because, as we read along, we
wear a hood and cloak, and crouch. And that’s
why we seem invisible: The hood
and cloak are magic. I’m using “we”
because the gal-or-guy-in-the-cloak
is also partly the gal-or-guy
who wrote what you are reading; partly
everybody else who’s read what you
are reading, or will. Plus someone else:
a part of you that, when you’re reading,
crouches in the cloak with us, as you
are doing now—rising, as the cloak
elevates a bit. What you’re doing,
feet tucked under your hips, elevates
likewise. See, our spirits have no feet;
they fly! If, reading, you sit likewise,
you can’t be alone. Ever. When you’re reading.
- after the John Singer Sargent murals at the Boston Public Library
James B. Nicola has had over 300 poems published in periodicals including miller's pond, Atlanta Review, Tar River, Texas Review, Lyric, and Nimrod. His book Playing the Audience won a Choice Award. As a poet, he also won the Dana Literary Award and a People's Choice award (from Storyteller); was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and a Rhysling Award; and was featured poet at New Formalist. His children’s musical Chimes: A Christmas Vaudeville premiered in Fairbanks, Alaska—with Santa Claus in attendance opening night.
William G. Davies, Jr.
A red cardinal
in morning sun
as if having nailed
returns for an encore
to a blue mezzanine
I live in central Pennsylvania with my wife of thirty-eight years. I’m semi-retired and enjoy writing and reading poetry. I’ve recently been awarded Perry County Poet Laureate for 2013. Some of my work has been published in Miller’s Pond, the Cortland Review, Jellyfish Whispers, The Wilderness House Review, Foliate Oak Literary Review and many others.