Central America in My Heart by Oscar Gonzales


Central America in My Heart
by Oscar Gonzales

On this voyage into the deep communion of solitude
I’ve casually come to know
the old and withered costumes of the sea;
I’ve walked carefully through the colors of copper
when the dusk has already conjured the last prayer of the day;
Through seasonal doorways
I’ve called upon the twilight ghosts
arched in the corners of the narrow cobblestone streets;
I’ve let my lips evade the necessary verses
to find the ending phrase for the afternoon;
I’ve disarmed the elusive equity of the night
to conceive an intimate verse from its fortified mysteries;
I’ve cast aside the grieving songs of my twilight
as the sky envelops the enamored vestments of the night;
I’ve done
        and undone
                so many things
                          in search of you…

Centroamérica en el corazón

Por este viaje a las profundas unidades de la soledad
he conocido sin planearlo
a la vieja vestimenta del mar;

he caminado con cuidado por los colores del cobre
cuando el ocaso ya ha lanzado el último suspiro del día;

he llamado por estacionales puertas
a los fantasmas del poniente
en las esquinas de las calles angostas;

he permitido a mi boca eludir los versos necesarios
para encontrar la frase terminante del atardecer;

he desarmado la equidad profunda de la noche
para concebir un verso íntimo de su faz amurallada;

he desechado los duelos del ocaso
cuando el cielo se cierne sobre el manto enamorado del crepúsculo:

he hecho
        y deshecho
                tantas cosas


PHOTO: Tegucigalpa, Honduras, photo by Vincent Croos, used by permission.

NOTE: Honduras is a country in Central America, bordered to the west by Guatemala, to the southwest by El Salvador, to the southeast by Nicaragua, to the south by the Pacific Ocean at the Gulf of Fonseca, and to the north by the Gulf of Honduras. Honduras was home to several important Mesoamerican cultures, most notably the Maya, before the Spanish Colonization in the sixteenth century. In 1821, Honduras became independent and has since been a republic, although it has consistently endured much social strife and political instability, and remains one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere. Tegucigalpa is the capital and largest city of Honduras, and is home to about 1.3 million people.

The Invisible Birds of Central America by Craig Arnold


The Invisible Birds of Central America
by Craig Arnold
For Alicia


PHOTO: Toucan, Costa Rica by Tanja Wilbertz on Pixabay, used by permission.

NOTE: The toco toucan (Ramphastos toco), also known as the common toucan or giant toucan, is the largest and probably the best known species in the toucan family. It is found in semi-open habitats throughout a large part of central and eastern South America. Research has shown that one function of the bird’s large bill is as a surface area for heat exchange. The bill has the ability to modify blood flow and therefore regulate heat distribution in the body.

At a Days Inn in Barstow, California by Chloe Honum

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At a Days Inn in Barstow, California
by Chloe Honum

It’s dusk on a Tuesday in June. A hot wind
      bears down and east. In my room, a stranger’s
hairclip lies like a gilded insect beside the sink.
      Hours later, it’s still dusk; it will be dusk all night.
Last month, I cut the masking tape from a box my mother left
      my sister and me. On the lid, she wrote, Life is hard, not
unbeatable. If I can do it, darlings, so can you. 2 am. A rosy dark
      dusting the window, the heat a ladder into sleep.

PHOTO: Route 66 sign, Barstow, California (2018) by Benny Marty, used by permission.

NOTE: Barstow is a city in San Bernardino County, California, located 67 miles north of San Bernardino. The population was 22,639 at the 2010 census.  Barstow was memorialized in the classic song “Route 66,” composed in 1946 by Bobby Troupe and first recorded by Nat King Cole. The lyrics read as a mini-travelogue about the major stops along the route: St. LouisJoplin, MissouriOklahoma CityOklahomaAmarillo, TexasGallup, New MexicoFlagstaff, ArizonaWinona, ArizonaKingman, ArizonaBarstow, California; and San Bernardino, California

ellwood beach, 1991 by Scott Ferry


ellwood beach, 1991
by Scott Ferry

climb the 2 x 4s up the eucalyptus
seesaw up to a platform 20 feet high
then a friend grabs the twine (a tail attached
to the thick umbilical cord pulsing 60 feet above)
and throws it up and i reach out and snag the rope
then i place one foot on the wooden slat tied
into the tendon and swallow all the gravity
then step off the perch
fingers ten prayers holding

and wind opens the teeth up the other side
of the canyon race and magnetic pause
until sweep back to the launch
head turns (to make sure physics
doesn’t malfunction and i hit the tree)
then slide back over the onlookers and a breath
and a flighted noise escapes as the distance swishes
slower closer to center 10 more pendulums
and nervously lower feet off wood
to the dust and grey-green leaves where shoes scrape
slide then stop now standing but still swimming
in epinephrine smelling like infinity

but one night after acid rolls the branches into velvet
ken and i both risk our bones for a weightless
streak and shout as the rope holds tense
just one time each and then we look up
near the elbows of the limbs and notice
the rope is frayed untangled and only
holding by 1/10th of the usual girth
and we point up and say something like
how did we not see that? and stare at each other
hoping we are not already dead and we curse
god damn but mean god bless…god thank you
and i feel like i owe a debt—a ghostly coin
a stomach of coins a throat of coins
which i have no idea how to pay back

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I found this rope swing by word of mouth while attending UC Santa Barbara. It was located in a coastal grove of eucalyptus (Ellwood Beach, Goleta, California), which also harbored thousands of monarch butterflies. The photo is not of me, but it is the actual rope swing.

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NOTE: Monarch butterflies fly to the City of Goleta, California, each year, coming from near and far across the United States west of the Rocky Mountains. As fall approaches, monarch butterflies begin what for some individuals is a 1,000 mile trip, arriving on the south coast of California in October. From October until winter storms set in, often in December, the butterflies move among many local sites. Once cold, windy and rainy weather comes to Goleta, monarch butterflies coalesce into large aggregations in the best protected locations. Ellwood Main monarch butterfly aggregation site is one of these well- protected places and has harbored overwintering butterflies for decades. (Read more in this report from the City of Goleta, California.)

PHOTO: Monarch butterflies in eucalyptus grove (Ellwood Beach, Goleta, California). Photo by City of Goleta, California.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Scott Ferry helps our Veterans heal as a registered nurse. He has recent work in Misfit, American Journal of Poetry, and Cultural Weekly. His first poetry collection, The Only Thing That Makes Sense Is to Grow, is available at Amazon.com. His second book Mr Rogers Kills Fruit Flies comes out in Fall 2020 on Main St Rag. Visit him at Ferrypoetry.com.

The Shoe Tree by Mary Langer Thompson

california big bear glowonconcept licensed

The Shoe Tree
by Mary Langer Thompson
For Paula

I don’t think I’ll ever see
this tree full of shoes again,
but I have a photograph
she sent, branches laden with tied-together
sneakers—maybe one pair was hers,
and she slipped away
from that rented room in the mountains
to add to it—that would be like her—
secretly flinging a pair of good shoes
up into the air, hoping for them to be caught
and preserved forever, protected by leafy arms.

But, wait. Don’t gang members knot theirs together
and toss them over wires
on busy boulevards so we’ll
know we are trespassing
on evil territory?

I’m sure she would say,
“You gotta love them, too!”

Today the tree stands before me in its natural state.
They say the town’s senior citizens hated the mess,
and had it de-shoed so they can remember
it was a real hanging tree
for claim jumpers, mostly.

She would probably laugh and say she never
got to be elderly, and she always knew
where her feet should go.

I for one think we need new blooms.

Undoing the straps of my aging, scruffy sandals,
I wonder if we wear shoes in Heaven.

Wing-tips, maybe.

PHOTO: Big Bear Lake, California, by glowonconcepts, used by permission.

NOTE: Big Bear Lake is a small city in San Bernardino County, California, located in the San Bernardino Mountains along the south shore of Big Bear Lake, and surrounded by the San Bernardino National Forest. The city is located about 25 miles northeast of the city of San Bernardino, and immediately west of the unincorporated town of Big Bear City. The population was approximately 5,019 at the 2010 census,  but it is a popular year-round resort destination, so the actual number of people staying in or visiting the greater Big Bear Valley area regularly surges to over 100,000 during many weekends of the year.


PHOTO: The Shoe Tree, Big Bear Lake, California. Photo by Paula. 

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: A favorite place for my family to vacation is Big Bear Lake in Southern California. After a family vacation, my cousin Paula took this picture of “The Shoe Tree.” The tree no longer has shoes on it and sadly, my cousin passed away, but I think of her every time I pass this tree when I’m in Big Bear.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mary Langer Thompson’s articles, short stories, and poetry appear in various journals and anthologies. She is a contributor to Women and Poetry: Tips on Writing, Teaching and Publishing by Successful Women Poets (McFarland) and was the 2012 Senior Poet Laureate of California. A retired principal and English teacher, she now writes full time in Apple Valley, California, where she received the Jack London Award in 2019 from the High Desert Branch of the California Writers Club.

The Prague Astronomical Clock by Jonathan Fink


The Prague Astronomical Clock
by Jonathan Fink

Inside, it must resemble a great churning mouth,
the three co-axial wheels, all with nearly 400 cogs.
Ignore the trinkets and pawns, the puppet apostles

that march but on the hour, the tiny skeleton
striking the chimes. They all are additions,
centuries late, to pacify travelers on the Royal Way.

For six hundred years it has marshaled the stars,
the revolutions of the sun and moon, the minuscule
placement of zodiacal signs.

The maker’s intent, the chronicles claim, was to “publish” the paths
of celestial bodies and meter the universe to discernible
time. According to legend, he labored for years,

forging every pin and cog. So when the clock was
first unveiled and the hands moved like conductors’
batons, the city fathers searched out the maker

and carried him to the centre square. At once,
he must have thought it grand—the streets spilling
crowds. Then the politicians closed around him

and the leanest produced a curling blade. The legend
claims their motivation as pride, never wanting another
clock built. And when they were done, each departed

his way, leaving the maker blinded behind. One version
of the story asserts that the maker found his way
to the clock, and throwing the switches only he knew,

swung open the dial and inserted his hand. Like a magician
producing a coin from the dark, he removed the smallest
discernible part. So was a modest reciprocity served:

the clock hands stayed, the ticking stopped. Yet a realist
would decry the story’s most obvious flaw, that after
600 years the clock still works, the sun and moon pass

on the painted sky. More likely than the fable’s neat turn
is that the maker crawled his way back to his home,
or died at once in the square from the blade. In truth,

he was probably never blinded at all, going on
to celebrity, honor and gain. With due respect
to the unknowable past, only the justice of legend

remains. So hail to the clock, precision’s grand shrine,
and hail to its lies, the peddlers of fame. After 600 years
they both persist, a feat, in itself, deserving of praise.

PHOTO: The Prague astronomical clock is a medieval astronomical clock located in Prague, Czech Republic. The clock was first installed in 1410, making it the third-oldest astronomical clock in the world and the oldest clock still operating. The clock is  is mounted on the southern wall of Old Town Hall in the Old Town Square. The clock mechanism has three main components — the astronomical dial, representing the position of the sun and moon in the sky; statues of various Catholic saints stand on either side of the clock; “The Walk of the Apostles,” an hourly show of moving Apostle figures and other sculptures, notably a figure of a skeleton that represents Death, striking the time; and a calendar dial with medallions representing the months. (Check out a video of the clock striking the hour.)

Photo by Alan De La Cruz on Pixabay

I Am Reminded When Thinking by Andrena Zawinski


I Am Reminded When Thinking
by Andrena Zawinski
“Prague doesn’t let go. This little mother has claws.”  Franz Kafka

I am reminded, almost as if in whispers
by weathered house plaques on backstreets
of Prague, that behind the damp and musty
walls, those of some importance once must have

invented themselves above the rest of us here
who, ordinary, press our pens to pads,
our noses to fogged window panes to watch
and clock the melancholic morning drizzle.

Dustbins and brooms push in along the River
Vltava in a hush where shopkeepers drape doors
in lengths of amber beads jostling marionettes,
where sidewalk vendors fling open stall displays,

where I am reminded how shelves are stocked
in a new abundance with buxom breads, aged
cheese, pickled eggs and Postum. But how still now
the boat dock silenced of ragtime bandstands

and jazzy improvisational cafes, how later dim
saloons will dance with consonant strung syllables,
how under doorways, in corridors, behind walls,
some of us will find each other with fingertips and tongues,

how we will make promises and plans, interpret dreams,
float buoyant and rest on the wake of some small slice
of happiness, or on broken speech fill pillows
in relentless streams of muffled grief beneath

rime-colored skies the ravens cry. I am reminded
other mornings will wash in misty above sills,
a flurry of poppies in the rain-cleared air, halos
of canopies shading the light, reminded we are all

but ordinary mortals here taking on these uphill
cobbled paths where Kafka walked and stopped
above the long stretch of red rooftops to watch
how golden the charm of turrets and domes

held captive by this mother with claws,
how we can regret only that we are not birds.

“I Am Reminded When Thinking” appears in the author’s collection, Something About (Blue Light Press San Francisco).

PHOTO: Charles Bridge, Prague, Czech Republic. Charles Bridge is a historic bridge that crosses the Vltava River in Prague, Czech Republic. Its construction started in 1357 under the auspices of King Charles IV, and finished in the beginning of the 15th century. As the only means of crossing the river Vltava until 1841, Charles Bridge was the most important connection between Prague Castle and the city’s Old Town and adjacent areas. This “solid-land” connection made Prague important as a trade route between Eastern and Western Europe. Photo by Ryan Lum on Unsplash


PHOTO: Head of Franz Kafka, Prague, Czech Republic. The Head of Franz Kafka is an outdoor sculpture by David Černý depicting writer Franz Kafka, installed outside the Quadrio shopping centre in PragueCzech Republic. The kinetic sculpture is about 36 feet tall and made of 42 rotating panels. Each layer is mechanized and rotates individually. Photo by Alejandro Cartagena on Unsplash


NOTE: Franz Kafka (1883–1924) was a novelist and short-story writer, widely regarded as one of the major figures of 20th-century literature. His work fuses elements of realism and the fantastic. His best known works include “Die Verwandlung” (“The Metamorphosis”), Der Process  (The Trial), and Das Schloss (The Castle).  Kafka was born into a middle-class family in Prague, the capital of the Kingdom of Bohemia, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, today the capital of the Czech Republic. He trained as a lawyer and after completing his legal education was employed full-time by an insurance company, forcing him to relegate writing to his spare time. He died in 1924 at the age of 40 from tuberculosis. Few of Kafka’s writings were published during his lifetime. His work has influenced a vast range of writers, critics, artists, and philosophers during the 20th and 21st centuries.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Andrena Zawinski’s latest poetry collection is Landings from Kelsay Books. Others are Something About from Blue Light Press, a PEN Oakland Award and Traveling in Reflected Light from Pig Iron Press, a Kenneth Patchen Prize. She also has several smaller collections. Her poems have received accolades for free verse, form, lyricism, spirituality, and social concern, and have appeared in Aolean Harp, ArtemisBlue Collar Review, Bryant Literary Review, CaesuraPlainsongs, Progressive Magazine, Rattle, and others with work online at Women’s Voices for Change, Writing in a Woman’s Voice, Verse Daily, and elsewhere. Veteran teacher of writing and feminist activist, she founded and runs the San Francisco Bay Area Women’s Poetry Salon and is longstanding Features Editor at Poetry Magazine.

PRAGUE SYMPHONY by Terrence Sykes


by Terrence Sykes


beech forests
poplar meadows
chestnut groves
dusty roads slice fallowed fields
birch embroidering streams
through fog & mist
amongst the stars
almond & apricot lanterns
papier-mâché poppy cosmos
cling upon & amongst
planets & moons

descent & ascent
confined by rail slats
lullabied & cradled
alone along
the Elbe
river valley
dirt to stone to asphalt
steel sparks smoke
window bound
on the overnight
Dresden-Prague train


turmeric & ginger
copper early dusk
along the Vltava

faded rose moon
reluctantly tendrils across
ashened stars

autumn cicada
murmur & chant
cluttered linden grove

ancient medlar
merely staging
poetic lament

amongst branches
longing nightingale
I remember sky


prayed then ushered
out of the church
by that impatient priest
he must have hungered
not for the bread of life
but hearty manna
finding refuge in a small café

to ease my thirst & famish
mystery on every street
shadows beckoned me
lost upon these streets
just another wayward soul
darkness & snow descend
as I cross the Vltava


up in the old hotel
an uncharted country
nightingale sings amongst the garden

Vltava waters flow
in silent repose
night photographer waits

stagnant crepuscular air
drags that indigo sky
through naked branches

upon staved river bank
following shadowed sun
meandering to awaiting sea

PHOTO: Vltava River, Czech Republic, by O’Donnell on Pixabay, used by permission. Prague Castle is visible in the background of the photo.

NOTE: The Vltava is the longest river within the Czech Republic, running southeast along the Bohemian Forest and then north across Bohemia, through Český KrumlovČeské Budějovice and Prague, and finally merging with the Elbe at Mělník. It is commonly referred to as the “Czech national river.” Prague  is the capital and largest city in the Czech Republic, the 13th largest city in the European Union and the historical capital of Bohemia. Situated on the Vltava river, Prague is home to about 1.3 million people, while its metropolitan area is estimated to have a population of 2.7 million. The city has a temperate oceanic climate, with relatively warm summers and chilly winters.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Conception … anticipation of arrival to Prague sparked my imagination as I took the train between Dresden & Prague…Walking the streets and upon the banks of the Vltava is a trance-like pilgrimage.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Although Terrence Sykes is a far better gardener-forager-cook . . . his poetry-photography-flash fiction have been published in Bangladesh, Canada, Ireland, India,  Mauritius, Pakistan, Scotland, Spain, and the USA . . . he was born and raised in the rural coal mining area of Virginia and this  isolation brings the theme of remembrance to his creations — whether real or imagined.

Alone in Barcelona by Ellaraine Lockie


Alone in Barcelona
by Ellaraine Lockie

I was forewarned about Barcelonian bandits
Who specialize in stick-up artistry that rivals
the genius in Picasso’s gallery and Gaudí’s buildings

But I’m pilfered not by pickpockets
But by an Ugly American complex
that steals my security
That incites anxiety of tyrant talk
refusing to recognize any English
Fanning fear that I can’t function

Forfeiture of control catapults
me into the quiet of inner language
A foreign hum honing skills from other senses
Feasts for eyes and ears
in the heat of open-air markets

Cooled by the skin kiss of mist
from Miró’s mosaic fountain
Perfumed potent scents
from La Rambla’s flower stands
And paella taste bud explosions that parallel
fireworks’ color in flamenco dance costumes

Dance steps and guitar
sounds need no translation
All are overpowered perceptions
from a universal language
Instruction in independence
that pack-rats tourist trepidation
Leaving trust in my own company
And gratitude to be victimized
by such cross-cultural crime

A version of this poem appeared in the author’s chapbook about international travel, Stroking David’s Leg from FootHills Publishing, 2009.

PHOTO: Barcelona, Spain, with Templo Expiatorio del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús (Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus) as a focal point. The church, located on the summit of Mount Tibidabo in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain, is the work of the Spanish architect Enric Sagnier and was completed by his son Josep Maria Sagnier i Vidal. The construction of the church lasted from 1902 to 1961. Photo by Ken Cheung on Unsplash. 

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem came about, of course, as a result of a trip to the beautiful and exciting Barcelona—a trip that began with anxiety and ended in such relaxation that I often stayed out alone until midnight to peruse the busy and exciting Mercat de la Boqueria on La Rambla.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ellaraine Lockie’s recent poems have won the 2019 Poetry Super Highway Contest, the Nebraska Writers Guild’s Women of the Fur Trade Poetry Contest, and New Millennium’s Monthly Musepaper Poetry Contest. Her fourteenth chapbook, Sex and Other Slapsticks, has been released from Presa Press. Previous chapbooks have won Poetry Forum’s Chapbook Contest Prize, San Gabriel Valley Poetry Festival Chapbook Competition, Encircle Publications Chapbook Contest, Best Individual Poetry Collection Award from Purple Patch Magazine in England, and the Aurorean’s Chapbook Choice Award. Her poems have found their ways onto broadsides, buses, rented cars, bicycles, cabins, greeting cards, key chains, bookmarks, mugs, coffee sack labels, church bulletins, radio shows and cable TV. Ellaraine serves as Poetry Editor for the lifestyles magazine, LILIPOH.

PHOTO: The author during her travels.

Madrid by Jennifer Lagier


by Jennifer Lagier

Policía wear blue uniforms, twirl submachine guns,
form a mandatory reception line leading to the terminal
where I’m divested of purse and belt, subjected to a full body scan.

In the bullet train coach car, passengers sit, two by two.
An attendant pushes a squeaky cart down the narrow aisle,
dispenses espresso, newspapers, travel advice.

Green fields, leafless vineyards, graffitied concrete flash by.
A gravel-voiced matron shouts “Hola!” conducts impassioned conversations
at high decibel throughout the trip on her oversized phone.

In Madrid, civil guardsman, chunky vans on every corner.
Mimes and street performers command crammed plazas,
banter with tourists, beg for attention, coins and applause.

Crowds surround cathedrals, museums, the Prado where young soldiers swarm.
I migrate from bistro to café, finally an umbrella table beside park kiosk,
sip sparkling wine among pink blossoming trees in a demilitarized zone.

PHOTO: Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain by Don Falcone, used by permission. 

NOTE:  Museo del Prado is located in central Madrid. Founded in 1819 as a museum of paintings and sculpture, the Prado Museum is one of the most visited sites in the world, and considered one of the greatest art museums in the world. The collection currently includes around 8,200 drawings, 7,600 paintings, 4,800 prints, and 1,000 sculptures, in addition to many other works of art and historic documents. Works by Francisco GoyaHieronymus BoschEl GrecoPeter Paul RubensTitian, and Diego Velázquez, are some of the highlights of the collection.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Lagier has published eighteen books. Her work appears in From Everywhere a Little: A Migration Anthology, Fire and Rain: Ecopoetry of California, Missing Persons: Reflections on Dementia, Silent Screams: Poetic Journeys Through Addiction & Recovery. Her newest book is Camille Comes Unglued (Cyberwit). Forthcoming is Meditations on Seascapes and Cypress (Blue Light Press). Visit her at jlagier.net.

PHOTO: The author in Madrid, Spain.