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in the abyss

Andy Fogle

Brad Rose

Dagne Forrest

Eric Fisher Stone

Gretchen Rockwell

Howie Good

J.I. Kleinberg

Karen Neuberg

Lance Newman

Lynn Strongin

Malcolm Glass

Paul Dickey

Vicki Liu


Please use the pointing right hand icons to move through the issue. It's just a thing we have.

The Note

The Note is on vacation. It's a rare one for her. The Note, in addition to being the name of this nearly 20-year-old introductory column for Right Hand Pointing, is the nickname of my childhood friend. She has been in a long stretch of hard times due to the series of events dating back also about 20 years ago. A divorce, the loss of custody over her then-young children, and the loss of her license to practice dentistry. As you might guess, the engine of that particular train was addiction. Unless it was bipolar disorder first, then the addiction. The good news is that she has found employment that's a step up from her most recent position in a bar on Washington Street in Indianapolis. Thus, some paid vacation time.

"Where are you on vacation this time?" I chuckled into the phone when she called me at 11:00 PM on New Year's Eve and told me she was on vacation.

"Happy New Year to you, too, you jerk."

The inside joke is that The Note vacations alone and always in the strangest places. Places with zero tourist trade. Once a completely obscure little town in Kentucky with a decent view of some hills and nothing else to recommend it. Once in a run-down RV park in Louisiana. 

"I'm in Paris."

"Note, you are not in Paris."

"I am."

I could hear the slightest wry smile in her voice.

"Oh," I said. "You're in an American Paris."

"I'm an American in Paris."

"Okay, so my Google search has this narrowed down. Is it Paris, Arkansas? Paris, Idaho? Maine?"

"Why should I tell you with your snotty attitude about it?"

"Okay. I got it. You've been to Kentucky and Arkansas. You live in Indiana. I'm going with Paris, Michigan."

"It's nice here."

"What's there, besides snow and, uh, currently 24 degrees of Michigan air?

"A trout hatchery, but I'm not sure if it's still running. I haven't gotten there yet. Haven't been to the Eiffel Tower, either."

"Okay, enough already. Where are you staying?"

"In a really nice log-cabin vacation rental 10 miles north of here."


"I am staying here free. Don't ask."

"Note, I've learned not to ask when you tell me not to ask. So, how're you doing?"

"Doing okay. I'm getting more hours at the store. They gave me a pretty good raise. Listen, I wanted to tell you. I kinda got a girlfriend."

"Oh. That's nice. I didn't know..."

"Yeah, me neither. You never know. She teaches college. I met her at a meeting."

"And you didn't invite her to come to Paree? You know. The Michigan City of Lights?"

The Note laughed. The Note doesn't laugh much.

"Who said I didn't?"

"Well, that's good. I hope you didn't lure her to the middle of nowhere in Michigan with a promise of some kind of BS about an Eiffel Tower. But if she's smart enough to teach college she's smart enough to know better."

"Happy New Year, Doc."

The neighborhood fireworks start to pick up.

"Happy New Year, Note. Seriously."

My thanks to all the contributors to this issue and to my co-editors, F. J. Bergmann, F. John Sharp, Annie Stenzel, Bill McCloud, Steve Klepetar, and Ina Roy-Faderman.

Another program note. Since we last talked, we put out a special issue of Right Hand Pointing on the theme of "moral injury." You can find it here.

Happy New Year to y'all, too. It may get rocky. Stay in touch.



Lance Newman

I fell asleep in the damp
air of memory and art.
What music will wake me?
The fragrance of despair?
The drowsy wisdom of clocks?
Poems or bells at dawn?

*untitled poem from Proverbs of Earth (manuscript)


Andy Fogle

John Brown Visitation: Franklin Mills, Ohio (1837)

To lead one’s people out of bondage,
you gotta talk to God on a mountaintop.
Ain’t no shape to God—no graven image
will lead your people out of bondage,

so withdraw, strip down, make a home along an edge.
Find the place where setting stops.
To lead God’s people out of bondage,
you gotta talk to God on a mountaintop.


Paul Dickey

All Night

I was up playing bluegrass,
with steel smoke,
and the only bones for youth.

It is now morning,
I am no one to go to a particular one.
I just arose.

Let me always remember her,
last night
sometime taking off leather.


Malcolm Glass


Sometimes, the mind captures
and holds images sharper
than photos, like the pigeon
lying on a patch of quick
and certain grass outside
Westminster Abbey, its dark
beak still shining, its dusky wings
shuttered against wind it no
longer sails, no longer battles
upwind, no longer breathes.


Karen Neuberg


He walks to me, his two
walking sticks tap tap tapping

the marble floor of my building’s
lobby. All smiles. Oh, see him smile.

It breaks me over and over
remembering him smiling to see me.


Lynn Strongin


            The boy with earphones cannot hear the bullets. Smoke rises like a cross.
Hold me, brindle bird.


Dressed in duck velvet,
Call it down.
Calm me, the heart, that small beating machine ... rocking back and forth in the iron lung.

My holy grail
A northern
Wintry hail

I never have been, of two sisters, the younger one. We asked Mother what it was when we touched ourselves below the year, I was stricken.
Read me like braille
Tapered fingers raise expectations; cello or violin; duets or solo. Unimprison me
         Discipline in rein, Sappho 
         you know the outcome.


Look to the End

A white room, untouched by wing of angel; blue rib; no color this tumor.
IVs all one color. Bone marrow transplants cubicled with lymphoma
like steel repair.

No thumb smudge nearby.
Blood is born here
Intense, godly, vulnerable donors.

There’d been a storm gathering.
Marriage so near.
Breathe in air ashen. 

             This is a new place for God too, this tumor.

How Restore the Lost?

Pay attention
To dust on the doorknob, angels dancing, specks of dust.

The child’s recurring headache;
The trip to the doctor; all this is the beginning of devotion.

Hanging up rainy day coats on cloak room hooks.

Every day I break the shell a bit more
See daylight.

Winter upon us like knight upon peasant.
The nun praised staying alive, dodging the bullet.
Being at the front of the line, survival. Paying attention is the birth of devotion.


Dagne Forrest


Out on our bikes we spotted an eagle
on the ground. High-shouldered
wing, pure muscle.


But it wasn’t like an eagle at all.
Slumped, unmoving in the tall grass,
dark feathers misshapen,
like an ill-fitting suit.

Like finding God in the ditch.


J. I. Kleinberg


I want to be fierce. To slap
around words that sting, scratch,

dig claws into the ears of listeners,
shovel up insights caked with verbs,


vituperate, infuriate, defibrillate.
I want to write poems indelible


and deliberate as tattoos, piercing,
impious, consecrated in the abyss.


I want to mutilate complacency,
desecrate doubt, brandish certainty.


But what of the doe, the fawn,
the silvery crescent of moon?


Vicky Liu

Shades of Crimson

On the bus, I saw one of the Translink poetry entries on an ad slot.

It was incredibly lazy. You could interchange "bush meat" and "powwows" for any other cultural buzzword and its identity would still lie bare and skin deep. Canada will emphasize 'contemporary stories' and 'stories about hardships' like it'll bury out all marks of tarnish like a corporation manufacturing a diversity plant. When they care to.

Canada always cares. We don't bury a blood-baptized history of howling, pine trees rotting at the heart, and harsh fabric against fabric. This pain is home. Canada cares. Our buses are hideous. Our flag is crimson and burns like the shades of a maple leaf.

Canada needs stories because we have no stories to tell but genocide. One day poetry will be an archaic medium and these stories will trickle and become indistinguishable to advertising.

Infernos and deaths at stake feel like love, love ferments into wine, and wine coats your throat and the bottle is heavy and you are the bottle and you are your labored breaths. Love is the Indigenous reserves that cake in grime and are liminal and linear, it is a friend's house, a mimesis of home and so is this country.

Museums exist because they enjoy the raze and digging through the earth's roots just to find evidence of a supposed life outside of Sapiens. Aliens do not exist because diversity is a myth. There are real humans and there are failed humans.

They let the Inuit hunt in Northern Canada but there's nothing to hunt and no one knows how to.


Howie Good

Morning News

Most of the trees have lost their leaves,
and the morning glory vine
I grew in a planter on our back deck
should be dormant by now, too,
pale and shriveled, but every morning,
usually while I have the news on,
the saddest sound in the world,
that of human animals running around loose,
I’ll look outside and as many
as a dozen trumpet-shaped blooms
will have burst open on the vine,
brilliant little explosions of life,
defying the calendar and crimes against nature
and flaunting a color that apparently
without the typical irony or hyperbole
of modern marketese was called
on the packet of seeds “Heavenly Blue.”


Brad Rose


The wind carved the Sphinx. It was very humane. No tattoos and a lot of grit. (Insert a big whoosh here.) It doesn’t matter what you think about the sound of sand. It’s a giant cat. Saturday night, Silent Billy was deposited in a fallow field outside Lincoln, by one of those UFOs. A man of few words, all Billy would say was, It’s just one of those things you’ve got to see to believe.

An Underappreciated Fact About Cannibals

You can tell a lot about a place by the conviviality of its organ donors. For example, my bank has a relationship manager, and not just for marital emergencies. I guess everybody wants special treatment, although I’m not sure whether the sign in the window says don’t panic or don’t picnic. Naturally, you can expect a few trade-offs here and there, but they’re bound to happen whenever you count your blessings. Just because people eat people doesn’t mean they’re merely cannibals. They have other talents. Some are in sales.


Gretchen Rockwell

My Name Goes Missing

I bid you say my [    ] as if
you would. Do you miss
my [    ] as I do? I say you do.
Did. I am so sad. I kill
a lily. I am old. Days flow by
as if my [    ] was oakwood,
owls, moss, as if my [    ] was
possibly a kiss. Pull my [ 

off livid walls, walk away.
Look. Bad days will pass.
Fill my sky, say my [    ] loud.
Wisdom says my job is: look
up. Buds blossom. I ask boldly;
a way blooms. I said I would,
so I will. As I look up, [ 
   ] said, I fly.


Eric Fisher Stone

A Blue Whale’s Tongue Weighs As Much As
an Elephant

and filters krill through murk, marinating
Guinness-bitter shrimp in her guts.
Her nursing calf tastes resin-rich milk
and crackles and hums blues through the blue.

Michel Lotito, Monsieur Mangetout, ate bikes,
a small airplane, lug nuts clinking from his teeth,
petrol lubing his throat. Taste translates jackfruit
from an object to feeling,
the smelted asphalt of burnt coffee,
barbeque sauce’s sticky slug trails.

Second grade, I nibbled playground gravel
dusted with zests of blackened pasta. Once
I let custard wobble in my mouth.
A woman once kissed me by surprise,
her lips smooth as sweetcorn.

Malcom end

Malcolm Glass


Below the ivied brick, a starry
blanket of snow crust, a wrinkled
plain, a frail glaze over grass,
and rising defiant, nodding daffodils,
and the alert quizzical faces
of ice-edged pansies, their petals
quick with a March breeze.



Paul Dickey has appeared recently in Plume, Plainsongs,, and Apple Valley Review. Dickey has published over 200 online and print publications, including poetry, short stories, flash fiction, ten-minute plays, and essays. His collection Anti-Realism in Shadows at Suppertime was released in 2022.

Andy Fogle is the author of Mother Countries, Across from Now, and seven chapbooks of poetry, including Arc & Seam: Poems of Farouk Goweda, co-translated with Walid Abdallah. He’s from Virginia Beach, spent years in the DC area, and now lives with his family in upstate New York, teaching high school. He is poetry editor at Salvation South.

Dagne Forrest is a Canadian poet and essayist whose work has appeared in journals in Canada, the US, and the UK. In 2023 she won first prize in the Nick Blatchford Occasional Verse Contest. She belongs to Painted Bride Quarterly's editorial and podcast teams.



Malcolm Glass has published fifteen books of poetry and non-fiction. His work has appeared in many journals, including Poetry, The Sewanee Review, and The Write Launch. In 2018, Finishing Line Press published his chapbook Mirrors, Myths, and Dreams; and next year they will release his triple-hybrid collection, Her Infinite Variety.

Howie Good is, in no particular order, an author, ukulele player, cancer survivor, and professor emeritus.

J.I. Kleinberg is an artist, poet, and freelance writer. Her poetry has appeared in print and online journals and anthologies worldwide. Her chapbooks, The Word for Standing Alone in a Field (Bottlecap Press), how to pronounce the wind (Paper View Press), and Desire's Authority (Ravenna Press Triple Series No. 23), were published in 2023.

Vicky Liu is a 14-year-old writer who enjoys green tea and empty spaces. Plays the piano.

Lance Newman teaches literature, media, and writing at Westminster University. His poems have appeared in print and web magazines in the US, UK, and Australia. He has published two chapbooks: Come Kanab (Dusi-e/chaps Kollectiv, 2007) and 3by3by3 (Beard of Bees, 2010).

Karen Neuberg lives in Brooklyn, New York and is the author of the full-length poetry collection, Pursuit (Kelsay Press) and the chapbook the elephants are asking (Glass Lyre). Her poems have recently appeared or are in MAINTENANT 17, SurVision, and Unbroken. She is the associate editor of the poetry journal First Literary Review-East.

Gretchen Rockwell is a queer poet whose work has appeared in AGNI, Cotton Xenomorph, Whale Road Review, and elsewhere; xe has two chapbooks. Gretchen enjoys writing about gender, science, space, and unusual connections. Find xer on Twitter/Instagram at @daft_rockwell or at

Brad Rose was born and raised in Los Angeles, and lives in Boston. He is the author of five collections of poetry and flash fiction: : Lucky Animals, No. Wait. I Can Explain, Pink X-Ray, de/tonations, and Momentary Turbulence. His website is

Eric Fisher Stone is from Fort Worth, Texas. His publications include two full-length collections of poetry: The Providence of Grass from Chatter Huse Press, and Animal Joy, from WordTech Editions. His third book, Bear Lexicon, is forthcoming from Clare Songbirds Publishing House.

Lynn Strongin’s homeland is America. Her adopted country, Canada. She has twelve books out, work in over forty anthologies, and has been nominated for a Lambda Award, two Pushcart Prizes, and the Pulitzer Prize in literature. 

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