Poetry Unplugged

Escape Pod

X tries to unlove someone after the heart has opened.

A billion stars, I say. A billion



Have tried to unlove the loved, they have torn themselves into

holes trying and


into them now tired light seeps and into them tired light seeps

And therein, (there or in the cavity of your chest, X) tired light



its knuckles, breaks its thin bones seeking respite from godliness.

First published in the Dillydoun Review.

Philip Jason’s poetry can be found in Spillway, Lake Effect, and Summerset Review. His first poetry collection I Don’t Understand Why It’s Crazy to Hear the Beautiful Songs of Nonexistent Birds is forthcoming from Fernwood Press.

4/5th a Sonnet: At Burger Joint Drive-Through, I Remember a Rookie Calf, Running & Kicking & Being an Ass

Driving home from work, a pasture

on the right. Among the placid,

grazing herd, a stricken, manic

calf, not older than yesterday,


starts up from experimental

grazing and, at a run, kicks

at air, kicks at the principle

of standing still. He’s blessed with slick


ignorance of a future writ

in hamburger, of his fueling

this dull line at a fast-food window

where I’ve one car-length up to move


while offering resquiescat,

and saying No.

                            No fries with that.

Samuel Prestridge lives and works in Athens, Georgia. He has published articles, poems, essays, and interviews in a wide range of publications, including Literary Imagination, Style, Better Than Starbucks, Arkansas Review, As It Ought to Be, Appalachian Quarterly, and Southern Humanities Review.

The De-Nazification of Richard Strauss

An old man reads old notes. His father’s cold brass

horn mounted over the piano’s black

mirror. He could hear his imperfect past

on fresh mornings, see his music sheets stacked,

ordered, like soldiers marching. One last task

called him — songs he knew needed a hearing.

He straightens his tie himself. Shadows cast

by history escape him. These cruel hacks

who ruined beauty with blood. Yes, he stood

by. Made melodies to comfort killers.

He was pleased by praise, by his home in the woods.

So, he took what was given and wrote filler

for rallies. He said so at his hearing.

They scratched notes to teach him how to be good.

Mark J. Mitchell’s most recent is Roshi San Francisco from Norfolk Press. He’s fond of baseball, Miles Davis, and Dante. He lives in San Francisco with his wife, the activist Joan Juster, where he makes his living pointing out pretty things.

Roadside Buffalo Grass

A stretch more verdant

and lush than my own yard

of dandelion and crabgrass,

it greens the highways,

a useless bicker with progress.


Inmates in their shock

of orange free it from trash.

No one else walks here, save

the broken down and homeless.


Seeded, tended, a blurred rest

from the miles for passengers’

eyes, a catch for topsoil.


How quickly, efficiently,

we cut it back from its hope

to cover what man has wrought.

Renee Emerson is the author of the poetry collections Keeping Me Still (Winter Goose Publishing 2014), Threshing Floor (Jacar Press 2016), and Church Ladies (Fernwood Press, forthcoming 2022). She lives in the midwest with her husband and children.

Abecedarian Prayer

Autoplay videos.

By all that is holy in society, Earth, and

Canada, we pray that the

Divine will deliver justice

Everlasting in Hades for the

Fallen, feeble, fatuous fiasco of a fool whose

Gall resulted in the glitchy gimmick

Hamstringing web sites whose owners

Insult the audience by pasting in

Jaculiferous Javascript that

Kills your browser for forty-five seconds.

Loving god, who may or may not exist,

Magnanimous deity, you who abhor vigilante

Nonsense, when the creator of autoplay ads

Opens the door to your gilded celestial temple,

Prepare a fitting eternity:

Quickhatches eat a spleen that

Regrows each day at midnight.

Syphilitic saber-toothed tigers snack on

Tongue and toes and thumbs.

Unending epochs marching on a

Vinyl treadmill studded with Legos, then through

Wading pools filled with Carolina Reaper hot sauce while the

Xenomorph from Alien hosts an edition of This is

Your Life in which all of the guests are angry exes who unburden their souls over

Zydeco music blared at 150 decibels.

Kenneth Nichols holds a Creative Writing MFA from Ohio State and teaches writing at SUNY Oswego. His work has appeared in publications such as Prime Number and anthologies from Catapult Press and The Raving Press.

Devil In Me

I cough up black smoke.

I tell people it’s because of the Devil.

The Devil smokes a pack a day.

He’s been inside of me forever.

We chat a lot about life sometimes.

Sometimes we talk a lot about music.

He jokes around sometimes too.

I like this one joke he makes.

Old Scratch and a preacher walk into a jazz bar together.

They talk about soul.

Hosue Rodriguez was born in Texas and later raised in Louisiana. After graduating from high school, he became a student at Northwestern State University working towards his bachelor's. His poem “Fabric Tiger” was published in the magazine Argus.


Saint Frosty

It’s cold and he hates it.

He doesn’t know what else

there is. He has no racial

memory, no glacial memory,

of being warm. Warmth

is not in the snowman vocabulary.

In the snowman hagiography

Heaven and Hell are the same.


There he stands, freezing his balls off.

Or in this case, his carrot, trans-

planted from his head by the brat next door.

And thus he stands, waiting,

with a carrot for a banana.

Waiting to get warmer,

but he knows, somehow

he knows, that it’s not

going to happen and if it does,

it’s not going to happen

the way he wants.

First published in Just So You Know.

Edmund Conti has written more poems than you can shake a stick at. And many people have. Shake if you want. Conti will continue to Rattle and Roll. (Mostly former.)

David Clode on unsplash

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