One Poem by Lorraine Carey


I caught snowflakes on my lashes,
blinked away a heavy memory,
speed walked those city streets for heat
to thaw out my feet
and surrender
to my caffeine craving.

In panda eyed oblivion, the kind barista
whispered my mascara had ran,
as I eye balled the counter
for my reflection, my pocket for a tissue.
With retrospection in Toronto
I wasn’t worthy a second glance,
the isolation of anonymity,
a monster of its own.


Lorraine Carey’s poetry and art are widely published in journals and anthologies including Poetry Ireland Review, Orbis, The Honest Ulsterman, Prole, Smithereens and on Poethead. Shortlisted in several competitions, she has contributed poetry to many anthologies. A Pushcart Prize nominee, her debut collection is From Doll House Windows (Revival Press).

One Poem by Martha Landman

Written in response to this month's Special Challenge.

What Those in the Photos on the Walls See

No-one sees what Mary holds in her arms in the dining room where days blend with oak table and sideboard and a white mantelpiece displays family trinkets from distant holidays. She stares at the painting above her as if saying where will my help come from? Mary’s bored as a brick in a wall her children out of sight and earshot in a household that reflects all-is-well. Mary’s much younger than her husband who sits in his favourite unwind-chair enjoying a lordly cigar after work and whiskey from a tall glass tumbler as he asks what she’s been up to while he laboured at the stock exchange. He doesn’t tell her about lunch with Ellie McBride at Hornet’s Nest — which Mary avoids when she and Ernest O’Neill have after-tennis drinks and her boys are at soccer club — on Sundays they all go to the same church.


Martha Landman is a South Australian poet and a previous contributor to Nine Muses.

One Poem by Felix Purat

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

A Glass Half-Empty

The glass is half-empty, the cigar half-smoked
Less than 50% renders Bamiyan Buddha as a replica
Why must we think otherwise of Lebe & Liebe?

A couples’ percentage pre-Princip depreciates;
Ennui gushes from the hidden vortex
The painter Sickert hears but never sees

The female sees only half the portrait
Gazing longingly into a featureless face, an NPC;
Already the blank slate future emerges

With its greenhouse of wilted, drooping roses
The male’s cigar won’t be the last savored narcotic
The rose blight won’t rest until love has decayed

And dysfunction runs rampant in the brigand’s greasy hands
Sewing terror into every national fabric; but always,
Always out of reach of spidery ennui’s domain.


Felix hails from Berkeley, CA but lives in the Czech Republic and travels frequently. In addition to four micro-chapbooks (all published by the Origami Poems Project), Felix has been published in numerous outlets and magazines and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. His poems have also been translated into Slovak. His webpage is:

One Poem by Kitty Donnelly

Giving Evidence

I’ll remember the cheap clock always,
ticking off the letters of the law;

the leaf-shaped stain on the chair,
the probe of the sergeant’s voice.

I hid my face like a child or a dog,
ears listening regardless.

Then the tape’s click: your broad hand
shivering above the statement.

It had rained when we came out –
the Derwent black and nearing flood-mark.

You said he’ll be free ‘till he dies. The bastard.
I swallowed, turning my eyes to the wind,

needing the bad man’s heart
to be weighed against the feather –

for somewhere to be safe, or sacred.


Kitty Donnelly’s work has previously been published in Acumen, Mslexia, Quadrant, The New Welsh Review and many other magazines and journals. In 2019, she received a Creative Future Award and was Highly Commended in the McLellan Poetry Prize. Her first collection is due from Indigo Dreams Press in 2020.

One Poem by Melanie Branton

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.


Glassy eyed, they co-exist
in their glossy magnolia cell,
with the chill elegance of a marble
mantel, where the fire has gone out.
Light glints off the patent leather
girdling her thickened waist,
her decanter firmly stoppered,
her sweet viscous sherry
nearly drunk up. The toffee apple
patina of the furniture reflects
a marriage that has had the sharp edges
sucked off by habit. Small creatures
with feathers are trapped
beneath a heavy dome. She stares
at a faded portrait of him in black and white.
The past flaunts its décolletage,
its bare shoulders. The present
is muffled in a thick brown suit.
Fire and water are on the table
in front of them, but colourless
and terrible, shining with a purity
that tastes of nothing,
the greatest of these is water.


Melanie Branton is a spoken word artist from North Somerset. Her published collections are Can You See Where I’m Coming From? (Burning Eye, 2018) and My Cloth-Eared Heart (Oversteps, 2017).

One Poem by Kathryn Sadakierski

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.


Walls, purpled by shadows
Lonely as the glass half empty
And the familiar ghosts of boredom,
Haunting still.

Caged butterflies,
Birds without the vibrant wings of flight,
A picture framed,
Life, frozen, confined,
For a moment.

The cigarette he smokes
Doesn’t glow,
Everything in this room
Is dulled by blue edges, cold.
Even the faint flickers of light,
The spots that shine,
Are more silver than gold.

After the dishes have been cleared,
And the sun has already tipped its hat
Below the horizon,
Bid goodnight,
The embers of day scattered beneath the stars,
Uncertainty sets in.

Everyone is left to their thoughts,
Restless minds in the dim corridors of ennui,
A compressed space.
Wilted flowers, they wait for direction,
For the sun to rise again.


Kathryn Sadakierski’s writing has appeared in The Bangor Literary JournalThe Ekphrastic ReviewTeachers of Vision, Dime Show Review, and elsewhere. She graduated summa cum laude from Bay Path University in Longmeadow, Massachusetts with her Bachelor of Arts degree, and is currently pursuing her Master of Science degree.

One Poem by Todd Mercer

Jimmy’s Serial Cities

Jimmy in a window seat of a Greyhound bus
bound for Battle Creek, the Cereal City.
First town in a five-stop circuit,
spread across his Spring Break week,
high school’s Sophomore year.
One night there, then next ticket—
on to Grand Rapids. He’s amazed
his folks allowed these self-directed visits
to apiece friend in each town. Grand Rapids
seems damned peculiar, if you haven’t been there,
been clued in. Three days there, then northbound.
Traverse on the bay that’s half their worker’s pay.
It’s Spring downstate, but Winter here. There’s sleet.
Jimmy calls Ma from the depot’s payphone,
says he’s fine and fed and not robbed yet.
He doesn’t mention how glad he is
that growing up is nearly over. Little patience
in him with the wait for full-time freedom
after this taste of it traveling. The tonic trip,
the last leg home, Jimmy has a five-hour heart to heart
with a stranger whom he falls in Like with.
This trip continues. This trip was launched
by one version of the guy, while another iteration
of him finishes. Jimmy comes home
slightly taller, ready for the road.


Todd Mercer was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in Fiction in 2019 and a Best of the Net in Poetry in 2018. His collection Ingenue is forthcoming in 2020 from Celery City Press. Recent work appears in The Lake, Dunes Review and The Museum of Americana.

One Poem by Randal A Burd, Jr.

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Bad News

A glass of water, half consumed, remained
Neglected at the table where she sat
Before her father tenderly explained
How nothing can be done, and that is that.

Oh, how can one so quickly lose all hope?
She asked herself as numbness settled in.
And as she wondered how she’d ever cope
He thought about the places he had been,

The accolades he’d hung upon the wall
In black and silver frames, advanced degrees,
Group photos from his days of playing ball,
His membership in nine societies…

With all of these and more he was undone
By forces far outside of his control
Accomplishments, hard-earned, now felt unwon,
Despair crept in and grappled with his soul.

He’d trade it all if he could ease her pain.
He hadn’t meant to make his daughter cry.
His life was lived too fully to complain,
Yet still he wasn’t set to say goodbye.


Randal A. Burd, Jr. is a married father of two and an educator who works with the disadvantaged in rural Missouri. He holds a master’s degree in English Curriculum & Instruction from the University of Missouri. Randal is currently the Editor-in-Chief of Sparks of Calliope magazine. His latest collection of poems, Memoirs of a Witness Tree, is forthcoming from Kelsay Books in Summer 2020.

One Poem by Alun Robert

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Party Until Dawn

Christine, they’re looking at us.
Just three of them out there.
Where are the connoisseurs?
Where are the tourists?
After all it’s Saturday.

Little wonder you’re melancholy.
Should be me too. But
my chair is so relaxing
my cigar’s a Fonseca and
my tumbler’s half full.

Do try to look interested, Christine.
Stop gazing up the wall.
Don’t turn your back to them.
Tate Modern closes in an hour then
we can party until dawn.


Alun Robert is a prolific creator of lyrical verse. Of late, he has achieved success in poetry competitions and featured in international literary magazines, anthologies and on the web. He particularly enjoys ekphrastic challenges. In 2019, he was a Featured Writer of the Federation of Writers Scotland.

Two Poems by Mark J Mitchell


She dreamed she was the littlest girl. At five
each morning dresses rose to her soft form.
Lost melodies sprung up around her. Warm
sunrise found straight paths through her window.
Slick tap shoes slipped onto her feet, alive
to music and morning. Dreams made her float
to labor, boredom. To crabbed, cryptic notes
left by people she didn’t want to know.
She was not little. She’d never felt small
in large rooms. She hid her jeans with shirt tails
and pasted smiles—ready for unliked crowds.
She’d miss the mirror then make morning calls
and coffee. Catch her bus where sirens wailed
like her alarm—whining too long, too loud.

The Sea Witch

A slow, silver tide rolls in.
The Sea Witch, tied to her float,
bobs lonely as a glass saxophone.

Moonlight’s carving thin
slices through the fog. Empty boats
summon tide-scrubbed bones.

No human beings can begin
these November songs—the loose coats
foghorns shed when they feel alone.

Some lost name, a misplaced sin,
drifts past The Sea Witch. A note
the bottle missed. A not quite poem.

Lost shark schools chase fins
that can’t cut water. Silverfish hosts
reflect the last light of this moon.

Now the tide goes red, coming in
below The Sea Witch. She floats,
bopping to a sad song from a saxophone.


Mark J. Mitchell was born in Chicago and grew up in southern California. His latest poetry collection, Starting from Tu Fu will be published by Encircle Publications shortly.

He lives in San Francisco with his wife, the activist and documentarian, Joan Juster where he makes his meager living pointing out pretty things.

He has published 2 novels, three chapbooks and two full length collections so far. Titles on request.

A meager online presence can be found at