Fall 2019 Edition 
Since 1996 Volume XXIV
Dedicated to the memory of Richard E. Schiff

Melanie Simms

Melanie Simms is an award winning poet with hundreds of publications of poetry and articles in magazines, literary journals and newspapers. Publication credits include; The Pittsburgh Post Gazette, The Galway Review, Blood and Thunder Literary Journal and the Santa Cruz Sentinel. She is the author of two books of poetry, Remember the Sun (Sunbury Press) and Waking the Muse, and is the recipient of a Vermont Writers Studio Scholarship, a Richard Savage Award finalist (second place) and a Sophie Award. She is also a poet laureate emeritus from Perry County, Pa. She currently has a science fiction novel in-progress.
Melanie is  pursuing her MFA at Seton Hill University in Popular Fiction.

Observations from a Window

             (for Tom)

To breathe

In Juniper, Mint and lavender

Outside my writing window

Or to watch how sunlight shifts through morning fog

Observing sounds of an early rain

Or the delightful laughter of children from the school yard

Or to hear the caucaphany of bird song,

Decree the beginning of summer.


On this particular morning

A finch comes to my window ledge

Taps her beak, like a maestro taps his baton before an orchestra

Then sings her morning solo,


As she sings, it’s easy to forget myself

And I imagine that she and I are flying across corn fields,

Or engaging a blue-eyed sparrow

In a race of wing speeds

Enjoying the expanse of a skyline

 that never ends



The Mathematics of Chance


The gods of chance

Have left me skewed

My distribution, variable!


With ranges far, and ranges wide

My navigation's terrible!


My compass finds no peace of mind

With scattered  correlations

And so I seek  outside the range

 for divine inspiration.


And set  my course upon the sea

and find an island near


and meet the bearded wise man at the board of "here" and "here"

with pi's and squares and soft brown hair

he sets me on a path,

and off I go, and lose myself

and then we have to laugh!


In final desperation

I call out to the gods,

Shesheta, Horus, Thoth,

Please invoke

 mathematical thought!


But they do not reply

And I find myself dismayed.. just

 a lonely outlier on the shore of "cant be saved."


Alas I have concluded:


I may never know the measurements

precisely of the trees

or calculate the finer angles found within a breeze

but my mode of transportation

will be my heart and soul

and no matter how I calculate

I am destined for my goal!


So skew me right or skew me left

or hit me with a pi

But know this now and know it well

I'll aim my chances high!



Ominous shadows

The high screams of two alley cats sparring in the the sweaty heat of August,

This is where the night is,

Where demons and werewolves, rapists and switchblade aficionados inhabit

In wait for the next victim; victims who believe that faith can save them

As they cling to light from the next street over,

Casting glow on little but the graffiti warnings of the same two gangs

who have been warring here for years

For this same futile ground.


I can hear their screams as teeth or knives or fervent hands incur their blows.

Their ghosts cling to the air, unable to move beyond their fate;

Unable to let go of the surprise of that last gasp of breath


For some inescapable reason, as I walk through the alley,

Seeking an excuse to shed off this life

like a hundred-year-old snake

Who tires of transformations,

It begins to rain.

It's an unexpected rain.

It cleans the streets as moonlight glistens through its drops

Illuminating the dangers that now scatter from its cool clear wetness

as though it were holy water, raining down from the Christ himself.


I decide to turn around and seek shelter.

I will exist for another day.

Infected with a hope

I never asked for.




(for Dr. Tom Martin)

I lost my wings

One night

They were

Torn from my body

By a perilous storm

And I plummeted from the heavens

Colliding wingless and forgetful

With the earth.


You found me, lifted me from the ground

Like a delicate bird

And carried me into your care.


I perched

In your white-winged chair,

Trilling the song of my life, (as I began to recall it)

Under the milk-white moon

Where I swam on honeyed seas and danced with my immortal sister

To the music of the stars

And I remembered my golden wings, flying

High above the ancient green earth

Free from gravity

While you, with your techniques, degrees and titles

You with your silver-tipped hair and practical smile

Sought fervently to excavate some note of truth

To repair me with.


(Like Osiris, god of the Earth, nourishing me

With your soft fluid voice,

Judging my soul to be worthy

Of the afterlife that would lie ahead).


It was your duty you said

To teach me the ways of the earth; to live without wings.

Insisting my wings were a false memory and

Warning me of what happened to Icarus


The more you sought to disprove me

The more I became one with my truth.


How can I make you believe me?

Why don’t you call me by my real name? I need to hear it.

I know who I am now. This is not a resistance. This is not a delusion.

I am ISIS. Moon Goddess, Bird Goddess

ISIS: Goddess of Medicine and Wisdom.


Call it out to me!

Throw out your manuals and preconceived notions.

Believe in the unbelievable!

Offer me instead

A gentle caress

On the space

Where my wings once were.


They were not so imaginary as you believe, doctor.

Can you feel the yearning from my breast to fly?

How strongly I seek to be freed to fly amongst the gods?

I can no longer bear this exile!


And in this hour in your office, should you name me,

And speak me into your earthly realm,

Let me reach out to you,

Let me say YOUR name,


And I will make you immortal. Create you into various stars and shoot you into the night sky,

And you will rise, like the Egyptian Phoenix from the ashes,

And then you too can know the exhilaration of flight,

Released from the shackles

Of this man-made sanity.


And I can finally go home

Awakened and freed,

Flying high on new wings,

Whirring past bright stars and galaxies,

Reunited once again

With my sister on the moon


Mary Barnet


Grace Cavalieri

Joan Gelfand

Janet Brennan