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stop making art

Matthew J. Andrews

Jean Biegun 
Mark Danowsky 
Robin Dellabough 
Sophie Farthing 
Howie Good
Seth Hagen 
Mary Beth Hines 
Devony Hof 
Casey Killingsworth

Katie Kemple  

Pramod Lad 
Anne Mesquita 
John Popielaski 

Evan Rubenzahl
Michael Riedell
Brad Rose 
Jacob D. Salzer 
Claudia Serea
Larry D. Thomas 
Natalie Wolf 


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

The Note

Thanks for coming by. As always, my thanks to our editorial team. They are just great. I can't even tell you. And thanks to all who submitted and to those whose work appears in this issue.

Our next issue will be our 20th anniversary issue. Are you believing this? Dang!

Keep an eye on your email and/or our Facebook group for details to come. 

I’m teaching a section of Abnormal Psychology at a local liberal arts college. When I took the gig, I hadn’t taught undergraduates in decades. My primary professional focus in recent years has been to do a little part to raise awareness about mental illness. So this turned out to be a great opportunity to reach audiences of young people, many of whom plan to have careers in some aspect of mental health work.

It's turned out to be an experience so rich that I don’t even know how to tell you. So, a couple of stories.


I asked students to identify a question they have about mental illness, to do some informal research, and to do a 5-minute presentation. A student did hers on fentanyl. She looked nervous, which is not unusual, but did a fine job. I privately complimented her; and she told me that last year her brother died of a fentanyl overdose. After taking a few beats to recover, I told her that she is a brave person. I wish I had had the language to give her a better response than that. On the other hand, she probably noted I was choking back tears.

This week, a student talked to me about how a beloved uncle had died by suicide. Before he died, this student had a serious struggle with a mental disorder herself from which she has made a remarkable recovery. The uncle had written her a letter in which he said, “I promise it gets better.” After his death, she got a tattoo of that phrase, in his handwriting, on her forearm. I said to her, “You know, even though your uncle died, what he said is still true.” She knew that already, of course, as evidenced by her getting that tattoo.

We know that a lot of poets struggle with depression. We’ve lost some great ones to suicide. We’ve lost others to addiction. We are in a terrible mental health crisis. (I have said that I’m grateful I no longer see patients because I would not know how to tell the difference between a clinical depression and someone trying to live in 2024.)

So here’s what I say to you, dear reader, if you struggle with depression. Stay alive. Know that depression lies to you. Stay alive. Fight back. Stay alive.   




Mark Danowsky


Again I dream of the red-black rose
Its beautiful burn

I dream of a faraway sea
Black and turning back

A stunning albatross
This particular rose

Ringed around my wrist
Tethering me to the shore


Mary Beth Hines

Junk Drawer Spirits

Cleaning house, I open the old,
sticky drawer to a waft of winter-
green forgotten Wrigley’s stashed
beneath masks, stale, still wrapped
in plastic beside dried out markers
and a tortured letter from a long-lost friend,
and my old therapist’s business card
nestled against the cameo brooch
bought at twelve, a gift my mother wore
as if it were the real deal,
year after year till I believed
it was true, a hand-carved precious jewel.


Michael Riedell

Old News

War is an old newspaper that always has today’s date.
Turning those brittle pages, we read
the present in the past
and find the future yellowing there, too.

It’s what Orwell discovered
the way you might happen upon a hand
in a field, mostly chewed by critters to ligament and bone
but still together
and positioned like someone is waving to you
from beneath the ground.

Surely they aren’t just saying hello.


Michael Riedell

Another Shooting

I plant a small crop of corn, sweet peppers
and basil, and the act doesn’t console me
exactly, though the soil is cool and a goldfinch
nibbles at the feeder by the fence
that is still standing somehow
after all these years of storm and wind.


Howie Good


“Is this you?” the dark lady from the Islands asks, showing me my name printed in all capitals on a little stick-on label. I am who I am. She applies the label to a tube of my blood. An elaborate tattoo of apparent Polynesian design covers the back of her right hand. When a sailor in the Age of Sail died at sea, he was sewn in his hammock along with a cannonball and committed to the deep. Down in the darkness of the cargo hold, the cattle and sheep were oblivious as ever. Is this you? I’m the only crew on a worm-eaten wooden ship whose captain, habitually drunk on potent wine, has entrusted our destination to the whimsies of the wind.


Howie Good

Humans Are the Only Animals That. . .

I wake up after a night of bad dreams feeling a lingering dread. Brownshirts were smashing shop windows, punching and kicking pregnant women in the belly, overturning gravestones embossed with the Star of David. A wife asked her elderly husband, “If they take us to the slaughterhouse, will you hold my hand?” I couldn’t promise. Two hundred and twenty years ago when Napoleon, whose wars of conquest had caused millions of death, proclaimed himself emperor, the crown he placed on his own head at his coronation was said to be made from the nails that pinned Christ to the cross.


Casey Killingsworth

Everything that comes before skin cancer

The dermatologist lets me know the medicine
will burn for a few weeks and I laugh and say
there’s nothing that can hurt this leather
while the nurse looks away like she’s never
heard old-man humor before.

Not her fault. Getting old is not something you
get a degree in; it comes at you like a storm.

Look, I don’t have a clue about what parts of
history we’re supposed to hold onto and what
parts we drop and let turn into legend.
I stopped watching the news a long time ago,
acquiescing to whatever the world dreams up.
I just wish I could keep more of the future,
you know, a little more time to bake in that
bastard sun.


artificial intelligence

Note from Dale: As I assembled this issue, the software kept asking me to have its AI generate images. Here are some it made in response to my prompts.

"right hand pointing"

right hand pointing.jpg
right hand pointing.jpg
right hand pointing.jpg
right hand pointing.jpg
right hand pointing.jpg

"ambidextrous bloodhound"

ambidextrous bloodhound.jpg
ambidextrous bloodhound.jpg

"Dale Wisely"

Dale Wisely.jpg
Dale Wisely.jpg
Dale Wisely.jpg





"stop making art"

stop making art.jpg

Jacob D. Salzer


revealing salmon

in the river’s darkness

a trail of bones

in the bear’s dream


Natalie Wolf


There were hundreds of ravens, and she

was one of them, painted with obsidian shine

on the wall of her middle-school bedroom, watching

herself divide integers and scour YouTube, sneak

Doritos after nine, draw eye after eye after eye, ravens

for transformation, ravens mean business, smothering

the stupid little girl flowers, ravens for intelligence,

adaptability, felling enemies twice their size, for

a higher perspective, dreams no mortal ever dared

to dream before, soaring far above the paltry earth

and growing, multiplying, impossible to control.


Natalie Wolf

Although Everyone Will Celebrate the Light

you will not sing the darkness,
close your eyes and let

the cool breath of night
settle around you like moths

their whisper feet prickling
your arms, the top of your head;

she is always waiting for you

just behind your closed eyes

she was here in the beginning

and she will be here in the end

calling you home;

we came from the darkness
and it is where we shall return

before anyone said “Let there be light”

and after we have crumbled

into our own faults.


Larry D. Thomas

In Santa Fe

on hundreds of days a year,
the sky takes center stage,
a stage absent a single prop
for a play cast with a sole,
mute actor who mouths
a script of blue
and exits at least an hour
before the audience arrives,
is seated, falls silent,
and prepares as best it can
for the awe of the slowly,
falling curtain of the sunset


Devony Hof

Parasitic Wasp

Wings damp and legs shaking,
a wasp emerges from its living host.
The folds of skin a christening blanket,
swollen quiet, its first lullaby.

Darwin believed no god would design such cruelty.
A caterpillar whose wings are eaten before
they form. A drained lake, a plundered temple,
a crowded room feeding life with life.

This thing that spawns
doubts like white eggs
and feels
a halo of light
kiss its antennae as a mother
would her child’s head.


pramod lad


the moths took off
around evening
found the sky
homely and cold
nested and bred there
capable in numbers
they worked like migrants
selling their wings
and the bright stuff
out of their hearts
they became
fathers of blindness
hung themselves
from nowhere
to watch their sons
burn in a new tongue
what must be
by now aflame


Seth Hagen

Disappointing the Cat

What have I become
but a luxe log cabin,
a Rock City cave
with its diorama
of naughty children
blacklit in the dark?

What legacy?
I am the howling O
of the water ring
I left on my dead
grandfather’s desk.

Like a wooden horse
with wood hidden
inside, I made it
through the gates.
Now what?


Brad Rose

Kingdom of Sleep

Just a stone’s throw from here, the houses appear neatly arranged and law-abiding. Like sea anemones, they’ve gathered in the calm of a quiet cul-de-sac. With or without clouds, how much can the sky weigh? J.M.W. Turner loved painting the emptiness of the Venetian fog, until God said, “Welcome to the kingdom of sleep.” By the way, the world is yours. For now.


Sophie Farthing

Cover Girl

The day after I failed the driver's test,
I woke up trembling
when the iPhone camera clicked.
I was twisted up in sheets and shorts
and the bra I had to wear under my t-shirt
while my brothers shared the room.
Heart racing, I shrank away from the lens.
My father didn't lower the phone.
"I'm your dad," he said.
"I can take pictures of you
if I want to."


Claudia Serea

Beware of the dog

You could just guess
what happened next

when the city opened
its carnivorous flowers,

how the dogs of the night
barked at us,

how we chased love
on those streets,

whistling for it
the way you’d call taxis,

and how we shed the past
in rusty small flakes.

How they covered


Evan Rubenzahl

And How It Lingers

The floor mats are littered with crushed paper cups and cigarette butts, scattered George Jones CD’s, and empty disc cases. He wails from inside the dash. A picture of a woman younger than this world, secured to the driver side visor with an exorbitant amount of scotch tape, has turned pallid from the blank stare of the sun. The driver stares ahead at the world beyond his windshield. The dry sea of sagebrush split by the highway creeps toward the mountains, desolate in the dusk. He hammers his foot against the pedal and rages on along the asphalt. He keeps a .38 on him, double-action with a four-inch carbon steel barrel and a wood grip. The first time he fired it was the day he got it, showing it off to his buddies. The second time he fired it was just over a year later. He says it was an accident, but he knows it won’t be seen that way. What’s the point, he figures. It’s only a matter of time before he runs out of gas or runs out of road. What then? So he rolls down the window and stretches his arm across the passenger side, and he plays eenie-meenie with the mile markers. On Mo he pulls the trigger for a third, surely final, time. Nothing compares to the weight of a single shot—how it pierces the air and obliterates the silence. And how it lingers, suspended in the air forever as he drives on into the night, pumping smoke into the stars. The rising sun dances through the dime-sized hole and tickles the metal where the paint blistered and skips across the spent shell casing that rolled along the road before coming to rest in the dirt. A hundred miles away, the sun catches up to him. It blasts him through the windows, through the busted A/C, through the captured wailing of George Jones. His body glistens with sweat, his cap pulled low over his eyes as he sits slumped in the driver’s seat. There is no shelter in the sky, nothing to take him away from the black burning diesel and the beating sun.


John Popielaski

Accidents of Birth

Turns out the Book of Matthew doesn’t say
which magus brought the myrrh,
which got me thinking what the hell
is myrrh. Apparently a myrrh tree
birthed Adonis right out of the trunk
and bark, no afterbirth, no cord,
if you believe the oil paintings
of the Renaissance and after,
just a beautiful baby with a family
history the tabloids would have loved.


Jean Biegun


Jackson Pollock would jiggle every
last cherry drop of paint from his brush,
and air would murmur, confer with

the bright crimson listening sun.
All the sinewed visiting balderdash crows
would circle, call out their thick ebony

declarations. Farthest stars bound
for amber then suffused their glow
eons away and warmly

when Jackson Pollock would jiggle
the last cherry drop of paint
from his brush. Amen.


Anne Mesquita


Today the river thinks it’s the ocean,
wind whipping whitecaps
to shore at an angle, diagonal.
Little lines running
like the corduroy pants he used to wear.
Wave tips simmer
and loamy foam collects at inlet beaches
where seagulls gather.
I wonder if some ashes of you remain.


Robin Dellabough

Hiking Old Rag

After ten years of lack, I had a lover
who couldn’t come, he bit my nipple
too hard, wouldn’t hold hands.
He still raged against his dead father,
could not mourn his dead son.

I didn’t love this one last lover.
But when he took me to Old Rag,
we climbed through tight openings
in boulders that spilled over the mountain
until we reached the top’s wide blue,

and with more satisfaction than he ever gave,
I shouted down that Shenandoah Valley,
the vast green view, alone, elated.


Katie Kemple


The moon some nights
will bite you like Manhattan.
Big yellow gaudy light.
And your heart grows
the size of a wolf apple,
round and full of life.
If a dance hall existed
in this suburban lot
in a shipping container
or a dim store front,
would you open the door?
Your pulse quickens
at the tang of being bitten.
But you're only a core
of what you were before.


Matthew J. Andrews

A Beautiful Day

The devil is outside, whistling,
thumbing through my rose bushes,
flowers cradled in his fingers,
grip soft as his serenade.
Sometimes the fire is a warm afternoon,
the sentence a song, the roar
as faint as a kiss on the cheek.



Matthew J. Andrews is a private investigator and writer. He is the author of I Close My Eyes and I Almost Remember, and his poetry has appeared in Rust + Moth, Pithead Chapel, and EcoTheo Review, among others.

Jean Biegun is retired in California after a lifetime in the Midwest. Poems have appeared in many journals and proudly in Unbroken last year! Other recent publications are Third Wednesday, As It Ought To Be, and Amethyst Review. Her second book Edge Effects is forthcoming in 2024 (Kelsay Books).

Mark Danowsky is Editor-in-Chief of ONE ART: a journal of poetry. His poetry collections include Meatless (Plan B Press), Violet Flame (tiny wren lit), JAWN (Moonstone Press), and As Falls Trees (NightBallet Press). Take Care is forthcoming from Moon Tide Press in 2025.



Robin Dellabough is a poet and editor with a master’s degree in journalism from UC Berkeley. Her first collection, Double Helix, was published in 2022. Recently published poems in Gyroscope, Yellow Arrow, Stoneboat, Lines + Stars, Halfway Down the Stairs, Blue Unicorn, and Mom Egg Review.

Sophie Farthing (she/her) is a queer writer living in South Carolina. Her work is forthcoming or has appeared in outlets including Impostor Journal, Beyond Queer Words, Anti-Heroin Chic, and Impossible Archetype. Her poetry is also featured in the horror anthology It Always Finds Me from Querencia Press.

Howie Good's latest book is Frowny Face, a mix of his prose poems and handmade collages from Redhawk Publications.

Seth Hagen has works forthcoming in DIAGRAM and Sugar House Review. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia, where he teaches English.

Mary Beth Hines writes from her home in Massachusetts. Her recent work appears in Lily Poetry Review, Nixes Mate, Right Hand Pointing, Valparaiso, and elsewhere. Kelsay Books published her debut collection, Winter at a Summer House, in 2021. (Https://

Devony Hof is a poet, playwright and actor from Palo Alto, CA, currently based in Chicago. She has a BA in English Literature and Theatre from Northwestern University, where she received an award for Best Honors Thesis. Her poetry is published or upcoming in Spell Jar Press and Wildroof Journal.

Casey Killingsworth has been published in numerous journals including The American Journal of Poetry, Better Than Starbucks, The Moth, and 3rd Wednesday. His latest book is A nest blew down (Kelsay Books, 2021), and a new collection, Freak show (Fernwood Press), due out soon.

Katie Kemple (she/her) is a poet based in San Diego, CA. Her work has appeared in recent issues of Ploughshares, The Night Heron Barks, and The Ilanot Review. You can read more of her work at

Pramod Lad was born in India, educated at King’s College UK and completed his Ph.D. in Biophysical Chemistry at Cornell University He was a scientist at the National Institutes of Health In Bethesda, Maryland. He was part of the Artists and Scientists Group convened by William Meredith at the Library of Congress. Some of his poems have been published in an anthology published by the Washington Writers Group.

Anne Mesquita studies poetry at the Hudson Valley Writers Center. She is producing a collection about her father’s illness, grief, and coming-of-age. She works in Libraries Administration at Columbia University. She lives in Westchester, New York with her husband and daughter.

John Popielaski is the author of a novel, The Hollow Middle (Unsolicited Press), as well as a few poetry collections, including the chapbook Isn't It Romantic? (Texas Review Press). His poems have recently appeared in such journals as Clade Song, Roanoke Review, and Sheila-Na-Gig.

Evan Rubenzahl is a writer from the North Country region of New York. This is his first publication.

Michael Riedell is a poet, songwriter, and teacher living in Northern California with his wife. A Pushcart nominee, his work has been recently published in Blue Unicorn, Canary, Clutch, I-70, Stillwater Review, and Right Hand Pointing.

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

Jacob D. Salzer is a poet and editor from the Pacific Northwest who enjoys writing haiku, tanka, and haibun. Jacob is the current managing editor of Frogpond: The Journal of the Haiku Society of America (2023–2024). His recent haiku and tanka can be found in Heliosparrow, Hedgerow, and Ribbons.

Claudia Serea is a Romanian-American poet, the author of seven poetry collections, most recently In Those Years, No One Slept (Broadstone Books, 2023). Serea won a Pushcart Prize, the Joanne Scott Kennedy Memorial Prize, and the New Letters Readers Award for her poems. She is a founding editor of National Translation Month, serves on the board of The Red Wheelbarrow Poets, and co-hosts their monthly readings.


The 2008 Texas Poet Laureate and a member of the Texas Institute of Letters, Larry D. Thomas has published twenty-three print collections of poems and several chapbooks, both online and in print. He resides in the Chihuahuan Desert of southwestern New Mexico.

Natalie Wolf ( is a writer from the Kansas City area. She is an editor for One Sentence Poems and a former co-editor and co-founder of Spark to Flame Journal. Her short fiction and poetry have appeared in Popshot Quarterly, I-70 Review, JAKE, and more.

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