Tim Hatch

Across The Room

A boy gasps and cries

in Spanish

for his mother.


Metal slides on metal

as the key

lime curtain

parts for the doctor.

He gives me lavender


paste and tells me to drink.

My face freezes

in disgust

and then softens as the pain

washes away, like chalk


off a sidewalk.  I sink

back, muscles relaxing.

I feel        fragile.        Uncertain


if I’m still here by God’s grace

or dumb luck and I wonder


if maybe you felt this way.

Was it the promise

of death or your unreliable body

that left you wide eyed and afraid

to go

to sleep?


Three weeks gone

and I haven’t given you a tear.


I curl into a sideways prayer

on the gurney.  Across the room

the boy wails for his mother.

Dad Survives His Third Open-Heart Surgery

Don’t worry, Dad, you’ll be

talking again soon.  I’ve watched you

breathe through tubes so many

times, but I can’t stop looking

at you like someone I don’t quite

recognize.  When did you get


so goddamn old?  Your hair stands

wild, sparse, like a balding troll

doll in its seventies.  I want to laugh

but there are so many tubes growing

out of you.  I try counting them

but I get to your face, wonder who

you are, and lose count.  The two

largest spill out of your bed

ending in clear containers, slow


drip collections of blood and piss.

If you’d died under the knife, things

would be so easy.  You’d be

the father who could never live

down his mistakes.  I’d be the son

who didn’t learn how to forgive

in time, and everyone would understand

the burden of my guilt.  I could

be brave in the face of grief.  Live

my life.  It would be an easy


easy lie.  I used to punch

the brick wall in the alley until

I couldn’t hold a pencil.  What kind of son hates

his father like that?  What kind of man

sits next to his father’s hospital bed, sees

a lifetime of Christmas guilt and Father’s

Day backhands instead of a sick

old man on life support?  Dad, why

can’t I hold your hand and tell you

not to worry?  That this won’t last?


Greg walks in, presses his cheek

to yours, holds his phone like a mirror

says, “Don’t worry Dad, you won’t

remember this,” then leaves, nodding.  I envy

his approach to shitty memories.


Somewhere inside me there’s a slow

leak.  I know there were never enough

years to begin with, and I remember

when I threw away a prayer for you

to suffer like this every day.  I’ve wasted

so much prayer, the shame smothers

me, like a desperate hug.  No one


deserves this.  Your new scar, dried

blood and surgical thread, laced

through welts of old scars, looks like

a black worm eating its way

up your chest.  I drag my fingertips

across my own stratified scars

each one a permanent reminder

that you and I will always be

you and I, and I hope—


It’ll be alright, Dad.

Try to sleep a while.

Six-String Rising

Rouge on pale cheeks, blush

coins that somehow miss

your hollow eyes, face


emaciated, face white

like porcelain, like a doll

so white I want to draw on it, paint


your real face, not this

sunken still-life of starvation

and shame, this isn’t


you, this    empty    thing

in front of me, an abandoned

Cadillac, left to rust


in a long-forgotten wheat field I

want to see your face

again, see the smile that says


yeah, this is happening as you

play slide guitar with a burning

candle in a room of screaming


women, the smell of possibility


I want to watch you raise the dead


again, with a pick and six

strings, make them dance, John

feral things, make them


sing a three-part harmony with God, sing

a rage of life

sing a story into being, sing of life


life, goddammit

who will sing

for you?


Tim Hatch writes poetry that explores themes of abuse, fragility, and our human obligation to one another.  He earned his MFA at Cal State San Bernardino, and his poetry has appeared in East Jasmine Review, The Vehicle, Touch: The Journal of Healing, and Apeiron Review.  He teaches English at Mt. San Jacinto College, and his collection of poetry, Wild Embrace, is forthcoming from Pelekinesis Publishing Group in early 2018.

Natalie Crick

Night Fires

It is night.

Smoke curls around me,

Enveloping in it’s touch, sustaining

A soft drifting of thought,

Languid spell of memory.

I wish it were always like this,

Moonlight reaching into every corner,

Burning it raw.

My withered eyes are like

Cherry stones lamenting

Their lost sweetness,

Singing like a shadow.


Plums at Night

The night is plum-dark.

Horses hang in the depths of sleep,

Haunches gleaming blue-black as

Dripping dusky fruit,

Skin enticing touch,

Misted by the press of my thumb.

I want to bite right down

To the hard grooved core,

Flesh dense as

Blood in lungs,

Pulse of the heart

Throbbing to be licked,

Thirst and murmur and desire

Rolling the tongue as the

Horse’s eyes

Turn to their whites in


Wide and open as a cage

In the belly of the night,

Asking: ‘Do I dare?’


Natalie Crick, from the UK, has poetry published or forthcoming in a range of magazines including Interpreters House, The Penwood  Review, Ink in Thirds, Rust and Moth and The Chiron Review. This year her poem, ‘Sunday School’ was nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

Cynthia Anderson

Scenes from a Marriage

I wed the one

most like myself—

my mirror image,

washed and trimmed.

No one could fault

the rightness of it—

how he grinned,


how I matched him,

beard and heart.

Each day I clipped

the captured shell—

sometimes to win it,

sometimes to give

it back. He was hard

to know beyond


what you saw was

what you got,

a dandy dressed

in lacy white.

I indulged his whims—

it pleased us both.

Until it didn’t.

You know the rest—

the long haul, the rocks,

the wreck.

A voyage better

not begun, but one

that made me.

I learned what

I was and wasn’t—

and kept my own

counsel at the end.


Two ravens fly in tandem,

so close they almost collide.

They swoop and glide against

the vault of heaven, full

of backlit, biblical clouds,

plying the wind as the sky

darkens. There’s a storm

aloft, clouds bruised blue,

swollen to the north—

while here the sun plays

with shadows, like ravens

play with air, teasing it

and each other in this dance

where neither quite touch.

You watch. Your heart

wants to open, you know

this much. Before

your world snaps shut,

you would call out,

hover, let the gale

sail you away.

Cynthia Anderson lives in the Mojave Desert near Joshua Tree National Park. Her poetry collections include In the Mojave, Desert Dweller, Shared Visions I and II, Mythic Rockscapes: Barker Dam Trail, and Mythic Rockscapes: Hidden Valley. She frequently collaborates with her husband, photographer Bill Dahl. Cynthia co-edited the anthology A Bird Black As the Sun: California Poets on Crows & Ravenswww.cynthiaandersonpoet.com

Andrew Aulino


You left me a lucky street to work in,

this historic district with pro forma

moss between shifted brick.

Movement without looking:

where memory folds

into the architecture both of

cinder-block and hours.

Each in ten years of day is

a transparent pane tinted

with your filament..


I pass through the neighborhood park

often under the footbridge

with its reliefs, its mice, its mass of birds.

moving on two places,

foot on brick and years.


You are every bird

under the bridge,

their hauntings of noise,

and the flock when it moves.


If I could pluck one out in midflight,

grasp it biting and slapping me

I might stop replacing vision

with memory for a moment,

see the street as feral and elusive

as the beginning, distracted with

scrapings in the dormer.


I lingered once for

hours past midnight;

when crickets retook

their human voices

to talk among themselves





The Datura opens here.


It’s easy to love

all those names;

dhatur, dhattura,

white thorn-apple,

moonflower, locoweed in Los Angeles,

kanak and unmatt,

toloache, datura-

blanca, burundanga and

borrachero, and to

say each one

as long as it will stay in the mouth.


I’ve been a little drunk myself


even before I swallowed

(jimson-weed and Jamestown weed, as well)

the sharp seeds;

just spoke them slowly, like chewing.



On the lawn, a

shoot’s slow roar of growth

has become a tree,

spread uncurling

branches hung with flowers.

They tangled every jogger through Sunset Junction.


Long blossoms,

bell shapes of

oblique white,

their day-color.


It’s a “tree”, it’s a “flower,”

one when it’s not the other, a

bell when not a flower,

a plant and

also (I read) medicine, and poison, and more.

There’s a name for all of it.


At night it isn’t a tree or flower..

Stalk and verdure vanish in the dark.

The flowers lose their bodies

in a mass of white fire,


alight midair



And now day.

I set datura here,

as if it were a shoot

and this paper a lawn,

set by the gate for emphasis.

The flowering of the page.


It can’t keep still.


On heavy roots, it manages


slips from its plot to

bud and flourish,

burn, wilt, always



I have it right

beside the front gate;

all mine,

offering nothing.

A flower flowers;

here is beauty, take some.


I have been a little maddened–


sat under it for a night and then another

to put my arms around fire, for.

some wider kind of having.


That’s no way of having anything:


This grasping was a failure.

I repeated it every time I spoke the name

hoping I could shape  flora

with sound in the hollow of my throat.


It came to be better taken in


to chew the leaves,

swallow hard-edged seeds.

My spine in an upward twist

blood like fire down a hall,

glowing with it.

An assignation:

the datura has me by the flesh,

It does what it wants with me.


Andrew Aulino began spending time in with San Bernadino, Riverside, and Irvine during his early years in the Southwestern United States. He became familiar Inland Empire during many trips spent crossing California with family.  He expanded this familiarity living in Los Angeles, where he retains personal ties. He currently lives in Sacramento.

Jared Pearce

I Walk Along

To get to Benito Juarez Elementary, I walked over

South Hill, often with Jason and Eric and Tracy and Lauren

and once Jennifer who tattled on me for hitching a ride

On my sister’s banana-seater.  Drivers must have


Seen my sister struggling up the hill with my added weight,

And how the kids cheered us as we roared down to the light

On Sunkist, and all those adults let us go.  In class

We had been learning bicycle safety so that one day


I could ride my silver Roddy—upon which I’d dashed

The river, leapt the dust trails, skidded up and down Virginia

Avenue—but Jennifer and Mrs. Ruble were not impressed,


And two hundred fifty times I had to write, I will not ride

On the back of my sister’s bicycle, the pencil slower to push

Than uphill pedals, the limp of my cursive taking its dull toll.


Golden Poppies

The nova in your middle holds your flares

Stark against the deadest Iowan greens.

As a child I feared imprisonment for

Plucking you, one more star in Hollywood

Beyond my boyish grasp.

And now you’re here,

Ascending in the new place I call home,

Rooting my spinning galaxy in used

Ruts, the very lanes my dreams would orbit

And unfurl, shining through the dark matter

Of wishing, of wasting, of failing those

California Summers and Wisconsin

Winters, of losing my way as I lost

The scent of oranges, the ocean’s rush,

And how I had been divinely ignored.


Golden Poppies (4)

In this summer’s drench

you were lost:

the dawn of your brain

never outreaching the water-grass


Horizon, and there are no stars,

then, to trace

back to California,

the constellation of my memory


Unfurling a golden age

blazing as the stroke

of your hot petals,

a golden hole burnt


In Iowa’s green sea, calmly

folding me in its constant wave.


Curiosity Kitten

Lauren and Spring

were the queens we’d show

off for on our bikes;

the season for guessing


Women was ripe.  Jason

kissed Tracy before

the whole class,

and Bart groped Kathy


In the back, and Eric sniggered

over a poem where the speaker

put his wintered hand

on a comforting pussy—


We were at love’s mouse-hole,

hoping for that mystery

to peek its nose

so we could claw


It and make it a feast:

we couldn’t name

what made Misty’s body

or Jeanie’s smile so


Delicious, but if we stilled

that ball of string,

it might be mastered,

like a sparrow spiked—


That flying thing,

what’s it like to peal those feathers,

to touch those scaled feet,

to taste that weird beak?

Walking up a Hill

Jason, Tracy, Lauren, and I gathered pebbles

From the steep side to toss over the wire mesh

Atop South Hill and onto the north-bound Five

Traffic.  We didn’t know a penny-weight could,

Like love, smash a shield, or a pea-sized stone

Wreck a life, like a lack of understanding.

We wanted some sound, some gravity.

We must have looked like we were celebrating

As we lunged at the sky to lob our stones over the grill,

Until a driver came around, cracked his window,

Get home, before I call the cops, and

Jason and Lauren took off like shots,

While Tracy and I walked, wondering

How long we’d be in prison.


Some of Jared Pearce’s poems have recently been or will soon be shared in Nixes Mate, DIAGRAM, Infinity Ink, Otoliths, MUSE, and J Journal.  He grew up in Anaheim, California, now lives in Iowa, and misses the ocean and the mountains.

My Mother’s Robe by L.I. Henley

I wear my mother’s terrycloth

four in the morning     back in her home


renting for cheap while it waits to be sold & I wait

for a signal


wait for the coffee machine to finish


for ancient crumbs

in the knife grooves of the cutting board

to tell me a story


how to solve the equation of winter

plus no propane

plus no wood


The answer is always

So what

I like it that way…


Hello old home!     Hello hard pain!


*           *           *


Maybe I am building     sure

hammering something into shape

something that can be hammered

stone or leather



There is air moving through

a conch that I have never seen but often hear

louder & louder

it is carried to whatever desert I fling myself

it arrives in the early morning

& I must get up     get up & do what?

Dance around a bit     drink coffee fast

go to work


I am my own little shadow

& someday my body will give the gift

of availability the easiest way it can

which is to say    it will stop


*           *           *


Here we do not recognize walls as walls

& so the weather lives with us always


Last night I dreamed again about the meth-head

neighbor who drove right through

our chain-link gate


Today you & I will burn the stumps

lining my mother’s driveway

After that     we’ll take apart the redwood fence

that I used to seal & re-seal for summer cash


Today I heard a voice rushing through a conch

& got up to find the mouth      Today

my mother’s robe

is wearing me around


Keeping Our Own Names

We have one photo of the courthouse wedding

us in our shorts with two of my grandparents

in attendance     champagne & cold cuts came after


My grandfather     the retired naval officer

was only a year from death & so

drank the most     blessed us with his dancing


For the honeymoon we moved

to a cabin in Joshua Tree where


scorpions ran around the porch

like Arabian horses     Tarantulas

with monkey faces moved in like carnivals

that broke down & never left


We made a movie about escaped convicts

living on the lamb

poured brandy on our collection of stab wounds

gleamed from the local bars


& ha     remember how worried they got

when we decided to stay ourselves?

L.I. Henley was born and raised in the Mojave Desert village of Joshua Tree, California. Her chapbooks include Desert with a Cabin View and The Finding, both from Orange Monkey Press. Her full-length, THESE FRIENDS THESE ROOMS, will be published by Big Yes Press in June, 2016. She is the recipient of the Academy of American Poets University Award, the Duckabush Poetry Prize, and the Orange Monkey Publishing Prize. Her work has appeared in Hayden’s Ferry Review, RHINO Magazine, Main Street Rag, Askew, and other places. She co-owns and edits the online (and soon to be print) journal Apercus Quarterly with her husband, poet Jonathan Maule. Despite having multiple auto-immune conditions, she is an amateur bodybuilder and is studying to become a personal trainer.


Michael J. Orlich

San Bernardino Streets


I come from the west.

You have to start somewhere.

I can see straight

down this road

for miles, but not today.

The arroyo is big, empty.

A woman picks.

Walls of comfort have gaps.

Across the tracks, the Meridian.

Arroyo Valley hawks circle

the stadium.


Tacos Mexican (what other kind?),

Rico Taco, Taco Grinch, Taco Central, Tacos L, Taco Bender.

Across the great river

of north and southbound lanes,

the smog corner, the fun corner.

Quick pawn. Fame liquor.

Dollar king, dollar tree, dollar general,

all Smart and Final.

Crossing Waterman.  I don’t know, Jack-

Is there a way out-of-the-Box?

The road is rising.


Milk dairy. Crazy Frank’s.

Auto spa, center, zone.

Universal Tires and Unified Baptists—

let them introduce you to the way.

Gina’s thrift, Charlie’s cars, Dale’s TV, Sam’s something.

Pain’s corner. Wayne’s RV storage. The House of Plywood.

Pepper tree restaurant.

Sam’s bargains. Gina’s thrift store again.

Maybe it moved already.

Sam and Gina seem to get around. (Or was it Gino?)


Welcome to High-land.

Sterling Street—still waiting for gold.

D&D furniture. The next sign explains.

Debt and Depression.

Three towers point the way—

open spaces, climbing.

Mobile homes—still.


Eternal fire is burning.

The police stand watching.

The churches sit on Church Avenue:

First United Methodist (must have beat the Baptists).

Saint Adelaide’s.  A graceful spire.

A proud tower.  A gilded arch

against the mountain peak—

San Bernardino looms large.

Straight ahead. Above the orange blossoms.

A marker laid down.

A city laid out.

A street laid straight.  Again?

You have to start somewhere.



E Street

The SBX (its name

almost exciting

for a bus) says

“out of service”—

seeming sadly wise

despite its shiny

red paint and CNG

and dedicated lanes

and high capacity

(for emptiness) in this

broad valley of open

urban spaces.


The sign

red and square

arched and gold

says 15¢ hamburgers

and a many-zeroed number sold,

but none for sale

here and now—

for what prophet

remembers his home

when profit calls?


But burgers endure

at burger-market and -mania

the little Gus

the In-’N-Out-backed

Harley man, he too riding

shiny red, without

the empty seats.


Other tarnished temples

remain and retain

or try to recall

an uncertain sanctity

of short school days

sleek, long cars

fresh, sweet citrus

and sixty-six—

remembered now by

the family service center

the Asian seafood market

NAPA’s omnipresent parts

trucks and taquerias

the Indian-band ballpark

Christ, the scientist

and other vacancies,

a shrined (or coffined) carousel.


Above it all

in sparkling steel and glass

a block or two off Easy Street—

the Center of Justice.



I travel south, the way of waters

fleeing down from the mountains,

the old Arrowhead pointing the way,

where water brought healing and hype,

where drought is bottled

and shipped for sale;


to the center of town,

the hallowed and the hollow,

with its Wienerschnitzels and wigs,

that center of dismantling

where it’s legal to pick-a-part,

with bail bonds and bótanicas

for those who suffer.


The left promises to deliver

as trucks back up to

endless bays without water,

which is pumped from the ground

toward the sea it will not reach,

ions exchanged for its TCE.


Roofing tiles sit stacked, silent.

Golf greens fly flags and flowers

in mourning.

Drab green fencing

seeks to hide the horror

so fresh, foreign, familiar.


The road goes on

watered by tears,

and ends in a Little Hill

in the place of remembering.

Michael Orlich began writing poetry in 2011.  Since then, he has hosted a small monthly poetry group in his home in Reche Canyon, in Colton. He has lived in the IE since 2008 and works at Loma Linda University as a preventive medicine physician and researcher in nutritional epidemiology.

Cynthia Anderson

A Tale of the Pleiades

On the longest night

they glow in the east,


a glittering diamond clasp—

sisters who flee their father


who decide to die together,

who escape to the heavens


to find a new home,

who shine from there


on Coyote. Found out,

they let him prevail,


let him ride to the stars

on the back of the youngest


who throws him off

when he cannot keep


his hands or his penis

to himself—


And though he falls

to earth and dies,


that does not stop him.

Bird songs tell


how the sisters rise

in their diadem of safety


while Coyote howls,



and immortal.

Cynthia Anderson lives in the Mojave Desert near Joshua Tree National Park. Her award-winning poems have appeared in journals such as Askew, Dark Matter, Apercus Quarterly, Whale Road, Knot Magazine, and Origami Poems Project. She is the author of five collections—”In the Mojave,” “Desert Dweller,” “Mythic Rockscapes,” and “Shared Visions I” and “Shared Visions II.” She frequently collaborates with her husband, photographer Bill Dahl. Cynthia co-edited the anthology A Bird Black As the Sun: California Poets on Crows & Ravens.

Ryan Mattern

The Wind in Stanzas

He came to town and stomped the dust from his boots in our entryways and blushed when our daughters knelt to clean them. He urged us all medicine from vials. Trees matured from a twisted cap. Their roots took home in the crooks of sifted rabbit holes. He shaped the wheel from plowing squares and wore a halo of blurring mosquitoes. He measured the wind in stanzas and sang out in light from the fields. When it was time, he packed our secrets in a suitcase and walked to the edge of the village. His distance came at a price of haze, a man at odds with the sun.

Ryan Mattern holds a B.A. in Creative Writing from California State University, San Bernardino and M.A. in English from the University of California, Davis. He is the recipient of the Felix Valdez Award for Short Fiction. His work has been published in Ghost Town, THE2NDHAND, Poetry Quarterly, and The Red Wheelbarrow, among others. He currently serves in the United States Army.

Yuan Changming


Between two high notes

The song gives a crack

Long enough

To allow me to enter

Like a fish jumping back

Into the night water


Both the fish and I leave no

Trace behind us, and the world

Remains undisturbed as we swim

Deeper and deeper in blue silence


Upon my return, I find the music

Still going on, while the fish has

Disappeared into the unknown



Just Another Leaf

Shaking off all the dust

Accumulated long over the season


Flapping your wings against twilight

At the border of night


Like a butterfly coming down to

Kiss the land

As if to listen to

The heartbeat of the earth

Only once in a lifetime


Yuan Changming, 9-time Pushcart nominee and author of seven chapbooks, published monographs on translation before moving our of China. With a PhD in English, Yuan currently edits Poetry Pacific with Allen Yuan in Vancouver, and has poetry appearing in Best Canadian Poetry, BestNewPoemsOnline, Threepenny Review and 1149 others across 38 countries.