Kenneth Pobo, Antonia Clark, Naomi Buck Palagi, Carlos Hiraldo

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Kenneth Pobo has a new book of poems out from Word Press called Glass Garden.  His online chapbook, Crazy Cakes, can be accessed at  He teaches Creative Writing and English at Widener University in Pennsylvania.



 Jeff and Jerry exchange gifts.  The fire doesn’t roar, sounds like paper being wadded up.  Usually they prefer martinis, but tonight it’s Harvey’s Bristol Cream.  Jimmy Stewart pops in.  So does Bette Davis—on Li Po’s arm.  Oh, it’s so very, very merry.  African violets, usually grumpy, deck the windows with crimson blossoms.  Hardly a silent night.  It could be a holy night but for foreclosures, war, and situation comedies.  Jeff and Jerry kiss to appease angry mistletoe.  Bette asks when do we eat.  Jimmy gooses Bette.  Li Po sighs and looks out the window, probably missing Tu Fu.  The Christmas goose flies out of the oven, pursued by icicle carving knives.



Christmas Eve and I’m late.  Nowhere to go.  My family is dead and the few distant cousins treasure distance.  I’d be dried eggnog on a shelf anyway if I drove to see them.  Wherever they may be.  John Phillips sings “Holland Tunnel” on my car’s CD player, a song about going and hoping to arrive.  He’s dead—where did he arrive after flesh fell off?  Are he and Mama Cass and Papa Denny singing three-part harmony in some hippy paradise?  Are they advertising for a new Mama Michelle?  Turn around.  The driveway.  The garage.  A cold walk to the front door.  Keys.  I’m always fumbling, dropping them.  The wreathe coughs.  Plastic red berries bounce off my skull.   Christmas is like the Holland Tunnel.  I get stuck, cause a traffic jam.  There’s no getting free without help.




Antonia Clark works for a medical software company in Burlington, Vermont. She is currently co-administrator of an online poetry forum, The Waters. Recent work can be found in The 2River View, The Innisfree Poetry Journal, The Loch Raven Review, The Orange Room Review, Mannequin Envy, MiPOesias, Stirring, and elsewhere. She loves French travel, food, and wine, and plays French café music on a sparkly purple accordion.



Christmas, with Event Horizon


My mother is singing Wśród Nocnej Ciszy, 

though I have forgotten the words. 

And there is a pot of barszcz, and uszka,

though no recorded recipes remain.

Aunt Agnieszka, her shiny black dress 

stretched across bosom and bottom, 

has come and taken over the kitchen,

all wide hips and doughy arms, shooing

me out of her way. She raises a finger

to her lips while tipping a thimble 

of "medicine" into her tea. Mrs. Brzezinska 

has brought the raisin pie. My sister and I

take our turns rubbing our cheeks

on her fur coat, bristling cold from outside.

She hands out candy canes, bought

at a bargain price last year. She holds

them over our heads and we jump up

and down, grabbing and laughing. Later,

we'll stash them in a paper bag, with the last 

of the Halloween candy, the hard stuff

no one wants. The mistletoe hangs 

in the archway, Mom and Dad avoiding

it when they pass. The tree in its usual

corner, a tiny crèche almost hidden

beneath it, the wise men and sheep

kneeling outside. My sister and I 

have walked them through miles of pine

needle forests and fields of artificial snow

to arrive exhausted at the manger, squabbling 

over who should stand closest to the baby. 

And all of us now take our ritual places 

after Mass as if with purpose, as if for posterity—

my father with his harmonica and red hat, 

mother ensconced in her tapestry rocker

with a steaming mug, a plate of pork pie.

My sister arranging the presents to make

a perfect picture, the way I'll always see it.

My own slender fingers, that would now look 

like a stranger's, smoothing the ribbon

of a shining bow before I pull it loose.




Naomi Buck Palagi has made her way to Northwest Indiana via many stops, including a "homesteader" childhood in rural Kentucky, complete with goats and lots of bare feet, some years in the Mississippi Delta as, among other things, a furniture maker and ballet teacher, and several years in Chicago doing the small theater rounds as an actor and director. She enjoys shaping tangible things—wood, fabric, sound, words.


christmas trip


snow hurtles through the black

    against the car we are


          eating tuna noodle

    out of the bread pan we pass

    from front to back

    between rounds of jordan river

    and white coral bells, alleluuuu-jah

all four voices from


last year and next mixing

          harmonies with

                this moment

        is all I need





Carlos Hiraldo is a Professor of English at LaGuardia Community College in Queens, New York. While receiving his Ph.D. in English Literature from Stony Brook University, he was co-editor for four years of the school literary magazine, Snark: A Journal of Poetry & Translations.

Santa 364 Days

Doomed to eternity
to the daily bang and clatter
of a machineless workshop,
condemned to socializing
with elves and smelly reindeers,
Santa doesn't want to be
permanently depressed.

At nights, he ingests.
His greasy palms clutch
undercooked cow corpses,
flayed chicken bones,
and horses missed
at glue factories.
He bites his solace
with machine gun accuracy and haste,
every other sauceful morsel trapped
in the crusty pink spots
of his disheveled grey beard,
on the darker blotches
of his faded red suit.
He drowns his hungry fury
in the burning water of distilled spirits.

And once every year, on the year,
he surrenders to his humiliating urge.
He washes, washes his suit,
and combs his bleached beard.
Letting himself out from his personal tundra
he steals into the night
to barter children's toys and clothes
for their ever fleeting affections.


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