Little Miss Muffet

What kind of lunch is this?
Curds and whey? Is this
what they call cottage cheese?
And what the heck's a tuffet?
Why am I in this stupid picture—
this snapshot of my life,
when I am not happy at all about it!?
Why can't I have hot dogs
or potato chips or cake like most kids?
My parents push it to the limits
with this "wholesome" mush stuff I'm forced to eat.
And you know what? I've now a stain on my tushy
from this tuffet that has me roughing it
out here in this beast-infested Bush.
I'll never come back here again.
No way! A spider, eek! How dare
he sit beside me, or is it a she?
Hey, I'm outta here.
This place is creepy!

by Lynne Goldsmith

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Lynne Goldsmith can be found roaming the beautiful Sierra Nevada mountains with a dog or two. Her upcoming book-length manuscript won the Halcyon Poetry Book Contest and will be published by Middle Creek Publishing. Check her out at lynneagoldsmith.com.


Dirge Wailed Against the Music on the Car Radio

I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving cats in the loud car.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the hard case we go, the wise and the lovely. Barred
From pedals and traffic, I know; but I am not resigned.

Kneaders and prowlers, into the box with you.
Be one with the thrum, the car's jarring and thrust.
A fragment of what you chased, of what you chewed,
A scratchpad, a treat remains—but travel you must.

The pounces quick and keen, the blinking look, the purring, the love—
They are gone. They are gone into the carrier. Elegant and curled
Are the tails of the mice where I go. I know. But I do not approve.
More precious were the mice in this house than all the mice in that world.

Down, down, down into the darkness of the car
Clutching I go, the beautiful, the furry, the kind;
Yowling I go. She says I'm supposed to be brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

by Elise Morse-Gagné

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Elise Morse-Gagné has been employed as a bakery salesperson, proofreader & copy editor, index-maker, translator, cobbler's assistant, researcher, lactation consultant, linguistics professor, and substitute teacher. She is a writer and photographer. She has lived in New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Norway, Indiana, and Mississippi. She likes lists. She also likes old things: old books, old furniture, old pottery, and rocks. Even her cell phone dates back to 2012.

Elise is a widow with two grown children. In 2018 she moved from Mississippi back to Massachusetts. The three-day truck drive appalled her hitherto strictly non-automotive cat, who remains horrified by road trips (though nowadays sedation dials the volume down from 11 to 7 on a scale of 10). Elise, too, is vociferously unreconciled to the unacceptable. This particular list includes put-downs, consumerism, condescension, white-think, complacency, boxes, potassium sorbate in cider, professorial hazing, Nestlé, authoritarianism, error loops in online forms, the school-to-prison pipeline, grammar sneers, cliques, bombast, shut doors that ought to be open, and open doors that ought to be shut (closet doors: there be monsters). Honorable mention goes to fakery: fake wood, powdered creamer, fenugreek masquerading as maple, inaccurate Olde Englisshe, ignorance posturing as expertise in any field, and scams aimed at the vulnerable. Occasionally she lightens up enough to write a funny poem.


Better Be

A part-time amateur spirit reader told me,
in her unsolicited opinion,
my work will be published soon.

I sit,
and hope,
for her sake,
that is true
so I won't have to write
a scathing Yelp review.

by Douglas S. Malan

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Douglas S. Malan is a writer who lives. A devilish risk-taker, he signs contracts and checks in pencil and refers to hashtags as pound signs.


The Traffic

Traffic!  Traffic!  Burning gas,
On the highways nose to ass,
What deranged, sadistic mind
Would jam commuters to this grind?

In what deepest darkest hells
Burns the poisons thou expels?
On what tires dare He roll?
What the wheel that lost control?

And what tolls, what breakdown lanes,
Could speed the neurons of thy brain?
And when thy brain should overheat,
What dread voice?  On what dread street?

What the road rage?  What the gun?
In whose brain should I put one?
What the horn?  What baseball bat
Dares the driver to combat?

When the drivers shout their jeers
And ram the others, sides and rears,
Did He smile his work to see?
Does He run the DMV?

Traffic!  Traffic!  Burning gas,
On the highways nose to ass,
What deranged sadistic mind
Would jam commuters to this grind?

by Bob Lorentson

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Despite not having an MFA, Bob Lorentson persists in writing. When not writing he likes to indulge in his passion for wondering. He is a wonderful wonderer who wonders about nearly everything, including why he would write this silly bio when he could be wondering why he can't find a publisher for his novels. Recent stories and poems however have found homes or are in the adoption process at Sleet, Praxis, Better Than Starbucks, Leaves of Ink, and Quinnehtukqut. He lives in rural Connecticut.


Calling in Sick

"I cannot go to work today,"
Said middle manager Peg McKay.
"I've had enough of bullshit meetings,
Mindless tasks and smarmy greetings.
My inbox fills me up with dread—
Two thousand emails still unread.
So many deadlines I could cry,
My blood pressure is crazy high.
My jaws are clenched, it's hard to speak,
My headache's pounded for a week.
My nails are chewed to bloody nubs.
My ego's bruised by boss's snubs.
Carpal tunnel wrecked my wrists—
I cannot type more to-do lists.
My shoulders hunch, my back is sore,
There is no strength left in my core.
My pants are tight, I chafe and groan,
I've gained ten pounds this month alone
From being chained to my desk chair.
I want to rip out all my hair.
Then I'd be bald as well as stressed.
I might be clinically depressed.
My head keeps bumping ceiling glass,
My lips are chapped from kissing ass.
My tongue is raw from licking boots.
Do I enjoy my labor's fruits?
No raise, promotion—not one perk.
My sole reward is tons more work.
I've lost all hope, my heart is—what?
What's that? What's that you say?
You say today is... Saturday?
I'm off to yoga, Namaste!"

by E.A. Cockle

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E.A. Cockle is as dedicated to writing as she is to being a good cat mommy. She lives in Toronto, ON, where she is a member of CITADEL. Her work has appeared in Hello Writer, Poetry Atlas, Bonsai Journal, and 2Elizabeths. You can find her on Instagram @ej_colling.