Cynthia Covert

Elegy For Rufus, My Mentor And Friend

Gentle lord of the flowers, winter red, spring white,
Nurturing crops for market,
Toiling day and night.

Botanical cycles turn, those immortal keepers of time.
Age descends upon the Maestro,
Sounding its final chime.

The baton is passed.  Cycles proceed without end.
Russet hummingbirds circle the fountain.
You are missed my old friend.

Cynthia Covert is a longtime resident of Corona, California.  She is a horticulturist with an active garden design and consulting business.  Cynthia is also a cellist with the Corona Symphony Orchestra and the cello teacher for the string conservatory (Youth Symphony, Corona Symphony Conservatory Inland Empire, CA). Cynthia discovered creative writing in 2001 when she studied memoir writing at the UCR extension center and continues her work with local workshops such as Inlandia.

Cynthia is in Matt Nadelson’s workshop at the Corona Public Library.

Elisha Holt


There is no immediacy.

The blood courses
in the cartilage of your ear.

Listen to the breath
of the prickly pear
the scent of its red
fruit. Listen
with the eyes of your tongue.

Snake scales undulate against sand.
Primrose, essence of serpentine.


Place a pebble within the mark of each fang.
Suck the heat in through your pores.
Stare directly into the sun.

Become a Mountain

of lizard bones
grinding itself into sand
the sockets of your
eyes blacken with ants
a dry wash
an expanse of vultures hopping
a carrion dance
your skull crawls to feathers
your hair rootless winds
into strands of a recluse’s web
braids into the nests of cliff swallows
a framework for mud and bird
saliva bones
each cell of your skin crumbling sprouts
tufts of crucifixion thorn
(a forest of crucifixion thorn)
your meat in the eye-glint of 10,000 coyotes
your sap flows into the blood of mesquite
your nectar moonflowers in the bellies of wasps
the saguaro is peeling back from its bones
the desert is
each crystal nerve of your spine
aware of its place
buffeting in the dust storm

Elisha Holt is a second year poet in Cal State University, San Bernardino’s MFA in Creative Writing program. He is a former farm hand, apiarist, forklift driver, dishwasher, and juvenile delinquent. His work has appeared in Apercus Quarterly, Inlandia: A Literary Journey, Badlands, as well as other places. This is his moment.

Jeff Mays

Mode of Transportation

You could take the car, but then you wouldn’t notice the hawks circling
overhead, nor the current of black ants terminating inside the semi-translucent
grasshopper carcass. You wouldn’t see the sun-blanched, tailless lizards
running for safety ahead of your footfall, the lobules of dog shit trying to hide
in the grass, nor the bee belly-up, scooted by the breeze.


All I could see
as I turned to answer his question,
“Do you stay in Rialto?”
was the rage in his face
the peeled back eyes
the horse’s nostrils
the small spheres of sweat
the templemuscle clench
and that he didn’t care if I
answered yes or if I answered no.

Not daring to look over my shoulder
I frantically ran to her
the woman walking towards her car
with a single key stretching
from the pinch of her fist.
I came closer to her with blood
on my basketball, with crimson drops
that have not stopped, with a numbness
in my ear that I’m afraid to touch.
There is a question on my face,
but I can see she is forcing
thoughts of gunshots away
from her, sweeping these crumbs
off of her blue and white dress,
and in mid-step, I realized
I shouldn’t even bother to slow down.

Waiting at Walmart

for an oil change
where people pay for tires
and new car batteries
with paper money, twenties dealt out
like cards;
the grubby waiting rectanglar prism
hidden between the greycloud-smeared
garage and painted cinderblock
storage room reverberated with loud
tv reports of a gunman
on the loose in the snowy wilds
of the Big Bear Mountain; it pulled
my concentration
away from Thomas Jefferson,
The Art of Power, so I walked
through the air filters
and paint guns,
the index cards and manila
folders, past people without a
purpose shuffling through the discounted DVDs;
surrounded by the slow pushing of carts
and half empty scuffed metal shelves;
I felt a wave from far away
come slow-rolling towards me
lifting my feet from the ground
a momentary crest-rider
floating on the swell
the linoleum far below my feet
and me far away from the plastic handle
in my hands with its colorless blue
in the stale and scentless air

Jeff Mays is a native Inlander who has lived in the Empire for 47 years now.  In addition to poetry and photography, he is also an avid baseball fan and has recently published a book about the miraculous ’62 Angels called The Spectacular Case of the 1962 Los Angeles Angels.

J. Ryan Bermuda


Your mother       is all hips and song, blonde
bob brushing cheek bones     step-
father, sore wrists and elbows calloused     losing
thirty hairs every thirty days     home
smells like Sunflowers except on
Sundays when brimming with popcorn and parched
Blue Note records     cousins
hum       discovering new streets in
familiar cities through each window       Grand-
father speaks in crisp bell chimes, stories of       Grand-
mother burning
bread on the day you were born

J Ryan Bermuda lives in Redlands, California, where people panic if it rains. Bermuda has been published in local journals such as The Sand Canyon Review, PoetrIE’s Tin Cannon, Dead Snakes poetry blogzine, Stone Path Review, The Camel Saloon, and The Wilderness House Literary Review.

Karen Greeenbaum-Maya



Hard times relieve the roses of technique,
unmingle their sources,
call out to pre-graft roots.
New canes wind and sprawl
under the open candelabra
of hybrid branches
pruned by the book.

Throwback canes sprout floribunda bouquets,
medieval canes ridiculously thick with thorns,
a flashback of petals lying flat and single,
no Fibonacci array of petals
surging clockwise, then counter,
ever increasing.

A continuity of roses,
Before Homer, before history.
Petals darker than royal blood,
always the same deep red,
no matter how the plant was remade
Fed up with all that inbreeding,
revealed as Rosewood.
A rose is rosy as a rose.
Before there were words, there were roses.

Karen Greenbaum-Maya, retired clinical psychologist, German Lit major, and Pushcart nominee, no longer lives for Art, but still thinks about it a lot. She has lived in Claremont for 30 years, during which time her camellias’ blooming has moved up six weeks, and squirrels have moved in, reliably eating all the apricots and peaches. Her poem “Real Poem” received Honorable Mention in the 2013 Muriel Craft Bailey Memorial Contest. Kattywompus Press published her chapbooks Burrowing Song and Eggs Satori. Links to on-line poems at and to on-line photos at 

Rowena Silver


That record winter
bitch-punched me
across Manitoba
froze me to totem
spun me downward
in a wake of wails

Now expatriate
no more crocus promises
no birch, fir, hint of evergreen
no promise of fecundity
Here, beside an empty river
bank, all folklore renews
            Time to decipher
graffiti, sweating highways
palms, malls, stone gardens
Lovely, (as the say of the plain)
In her own way
hospitable, impulsive, naked,
flinging orange blossoms
white as snowflakes
Often kind, and
oh, so very warm

“Defrosting” also forthcoming in the Autumn 2015 issue of Chiron Review.


Rowena Silver, a native of Winnipeg, Canada, now living in Riverside, California, is a founding editor of Epicenter Magazine, A literary publication. Her work has been widely published in such journals as: Bridges: A Jewish Feminist Journal, European Judaism, Writer’s Digest, Ariga, Standards: University of Colorado, Pudding House Publications, Guardian Unlimited, Heyday Books, The San Fernando Journal, and Dissident Editions.

David Schwitzgebel

The Inferno by Dante – Epilogue

“…where we came forth, and once more saw the stars” (Dante, 373).

Upon seeing the gleaming points of light,
      My heart was refreshed, the remnants of the
      Wearying journey left in the inferno’s night.

“Those who are blessed with life,” said my master,
      “May see and appreciate the distant suns
      Which permeate the beautiful night air

Of Earth; however, remember well – you will not
      Be on Earth forever. We all will face judgment,
      After we’ve become weak of body and thought.”

I reflected on this, recalling the jealousy
      Of those living their death in that fetid place, who
      Will never again see the stars, or feel the breeze.

“Come,” called the guide, “before I show you the other
      Two sides of the afterlife, there is one
      More task which must be fulfilled; I assure

You, it will not delay us for much time.”
      Curiously, I followed him, for he
      Had drifted, while we were speaking, to align

Next to a nearby copse of trees. Upon reaching
      Him, I spied a faint figure, seemingly outlined
      In small points of light; when it moved, its gleaming

Build shifted in such a way to give the
      Appearance of moonlight off a body of
      Water. It was mournfully kneeling by an

Imposingly gigantic tree which seemed
      To be grasping at death. Its branches, all blackened,
      expelled an aura of blight, and the trunk displayed

A similar state of sickliness, being
      Riddled with an array of chips and holes – though, most
      Decrepit were the roots on which the spectral thing

Was kneeling. Through them, to my amazement,
      Lava and fire seemed to be bleeding;
      The cracks in the charcoal leaked bits of the hell that

I thought I had forever left behind.
      After a moment of silence, I inquire:
      “What, dear mentor, Is that being that shines?

And the tree: it seems to have planted its
      Roots in The Inferno itself.” “These mysteries,”
      My guide responded, “Are secrets, which sit

On the shoulders of those of us who have
      Been imbued with the knowledge of the domain
      After death – but, as your guide, I will give

You all the wisdom which I have the ability
      or right to bestow. Regarding the tree, you made
      a correct assumption. It comes directly

From the seventh circle of hell. So, yes,
      To confirm the cause of shock in your expression,
      This tree is indeed a soul, though his name is less

Important than the deeds which were committed by
      the wretched thing. After being tormented since his
      youth through the cruelty of his brother, to die

Seemed preferable to him – in contrast to living, and
      extending his bitter existence.” And, with
      an ample amount of pity, a strand

Of the experience in the abyss was
      Remembered by me: violence of any sort
      Concludes in hell. On this bitter thought,

The spectral guide continued. “He was sent
      To the layer reserved for those who
      partake in harm to themselves. As the harpies rent

This boy’s body in the form of a plant,
      His brother, for once, felt an intense guilt.
      He saw his dead sibling, and in turn saw the rat

Which he had become. He dedicated his life
      To remorse, every particle of his body
      Focused on compensating for his brother’s strife –

His compunction was so great, the soul separated
      Itself from the body, and became the
      Stellar being you see before you: Not dead,

And not alive.” In my exceptional pity,
      My heart felt as if would burst
      For the tortured souls standing across from me.

Gravely, my master went on: “This spirit
      Continued, in its spectral state, to do penance.
      Even in hell, the young boy could hear it:

His brother’s sorrow, echoing through the
      World of the dead like a fog horn
      Sounding in a misty night. As eras

Passed, the boy found that he had (for the first
      Time in his existence) a direction. He
      Wished to once again see his brother on Earth.

His will to do this was so great that he grew;
      He forced himself upward until he had
      Overtaken even The Lord of Hell; and then drew

Upon every last ounce of his strength, and
      Reaching up with his roots, pulled himself
      Through the ceiling of The Inferno, the third

Soul to ever return to Earth from Hell.
      Upon breaking through, the stars once
      More shone their light on the child who prevailed.”

However, all that the young boy cared for was
      His brother, a glimmering spirit of remorse,
      Who had waited upon his arrival for millennia.”

After hearing this story, I looked upon
      The boy who resembled a dying tree
      And the brother who resembled a fallen star

Reflected upon the world,
And let Virgil lead me onward.

David Schwitzgebel is a student at Riverside Polytechnic High School, in which he conspicuously spurns the book and poetry clubs because they are terribly dull. He spends his free time writing, reading, and sleeping (during which his subconscious mind considers what next to write/read).

Marsha Schuh

Everything I Need to Know about Men I Learned at Band Camp


Sometimes, boys at Arrowbear Music Camp chose a girl they thought was prettiest during the two weeks everyone would be together, and she became the girl of the fortnight.

Sometimes band kids were kind of nerdy, but these eight boys belonged to a club called The Cynics and wore light blue sweatshirts with a capital C, an arrow cutting downward through it.

Sometimes–once–one of them chose me, and he was the best horn player I ever heard, except Dennis Brain, but he was famous; besides, he’d never met me and he was at least 40, ancient.

Sometimes Jack wore dark rimmed glasses like Buddy Holly and when he flipped his long hair out of his eyes, he seemed much older than the 15-year-old boys I knew—maturity, a plus.

Sometimes, he quoted Shakespeare, Kerouac, and Kafka as easily as my father quoted scripture and with a passion for the word I’d never heard from anyone else, including my dad.

Sometimes, he led me to imagine things I’d never thought about—like what it would be like to kiss his lips, and stuff involving tongues.  It was hard to concentrate on notes or counting rests.

Sometimes I forgot the boy back home who had never even tried to kiss me though we spent hours parked in his father’s car, listening to KFWB channel 98, outside my house.

Sometimes, Jack caused me to do things that excited yet frightened me, like sneak out to Happy Gap alone, talking, holding hands, cuddling till midnight.

Once, when we tiptoed back from Happy Gap after curfew, he kissed me in front of the girl’s dorm. I thought it was true love.

Once warm honey ran through my body and my eyes closed, so I didn’t notice the spotlights that came on — caught in front of the whole, entire camp.

Sometimes, I still want to believe like that.

Marsha Schuh earned her MFA in Poetry at California State University, San Bernardino where, until last year, she taught English. Retirement as given her the chance to spend more time with her family and enjoy reading, writing, teaching, traveling, and most recently, long-arm quilting. In spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, she believes that life is good.

Marsha’s work has appeared in Pacific Review, Badlands, Sand Canyon Review, Shuf, Inlandia Journal, Carnival, Found Poetry Journal and other publications. She also co-authored a college textbook, Computer Networking, published by Prentice-Hall and finally figured out how to turn the appendix about converting decimal to binary into poetry. Marsha and her husband Dave live in Ontario, California.

Orlinda Pacheco

Child Play Real World

What is it to be made of this custom:
when rivers braid umbilical cords
between lovers when one is
married and with kids? Child play,
go on eat dirt. It tastes like
dry pecan pie, it’ll scrape out
any voice you ever had. How
do we explain some mothers
run like wolves with a pack
of men behind their tail?
Child don’t worry they won’t
bite you, each wolf will
lick your ear wrap gold around
your wrist in hopes you’ll breathe
acceptance into their ear
after your father has left since
his braided cord is cut and
hummingbird whispers in
the wind are his only way to
say hello and goodbye. Child,
go on play mommy and see
how easy it is to entertain other
golden ringed pollen  bees.

Orlinda Pacheco is an MFA Candidate at Cal State University, San Bernardino whose poetry embraces the tongue, plunges words with her lips into your sex, and meshes the sacred and profane. Her poetic moans grope at the reality of infertility and expand the walls of being female. Her work has appeared in the Pacific Review and Quake Song: New Voices of Southern California and forthcoming in Badlands Literary Journal. She currently resides in Apple Valley.

Lucia Galloway

Conversation at Night

Bordering a walk between two buildings was a low wall where we sat in a ring of light to have the conversation we’d agreed to.  To talk it out.  Low wall beside a walk between two buildings, your shiny bicycle just there. In front of us while we had the conversation we’d agree to.  People walked by, glanced at us in our conversation, dodged the bicycle—its fat tires.  Under the light, we were prize fighters circling each other in the ring?  We were dancing partners wheeling warily, listening for the end of the last reprise?  These are tired metaphors not up to figuring what we felt or said. What anybody saw.  Everybody saw the bicycle—its fat tires.  That frame, those spokes and tires. These alone were witnesses to what went down that night beside the walkway in the ring of light.

Meditation on a Line from Martha Ronk’s “Quotidian”

Scape:     An act of escaping.   A thoughtless transgression.
A representation of a scenic view, as in landscape, seascape,
cityscape, etc. The shaft of a column.

–The New Shorter OED

Under a tangle of dark canopy, a scrappy understory,
in a surge of shrubs and stems and leaves,
the air cools, and my skin grows expectant.  It waits
to join my other senses drinking in the wilderness.

High in the trees a tht,tht,tht,tht,tht … dry and insistent
as the rasping whir of an electric fan slowing to a stop.

Down the path, two birds scissor across at knee-height,
swift and bright, snipping swatches of air.

A sycamore, whiter-of-trunk than the others in its grove—
their patchy, brown and khaki bark still clinging—seems
necessary, like the steeple that focuses a landscape.

And yet, I find that I’ve come over-fed to this
botanic garden wilderness—no hunger rising.
I’ve brought language with me like a lunch, like a camera
with its set of lenses: the tropes, the images and meters

of Wordsworth’s inscape.  The calendar photos,
travel folders, and letters from the Sierra Club.  I am
no Annie Dillard, unburdened pilgrim on her daily trek.

My shadow startles me when I break cover into sunlight
at my back.  My legs have become pillars, grand in the
oblique morning sun.  They support a shortened torso,

totem head.  No expectancy, no more waiting under
verdant cover of old trees for wilderness to speak.
Only this striding forward in a gray and shrinking skin.

Of Petrarch and Cigarettes

My thoughts are fresh today,
missing that sexy idyll
of flip-flops and bare legs
caressed by summer’s sun.

Missing that sexy idyll
of Petrarch’s Laura
caressed by summer’s sun,
I smoked a fag, but still I think

of Petrarch’s Laura.
Too much already.
I smoked a fag, but still I think
Petrarch.  Is that sexy?

Too much already
about books and reading
Petrarch.  Is that sexy?
Let’s talk now of smoking.

About books and reading
generally, not enough is said.
But let’s talk now of smoking
cigarettes, their glowing tips.

Generally, not enough is said
about the gift of cool white
cigarettes, their glowing tips.
(don’t even think of sex!)

About the gift of cool white
sheets, I’m fantasizing now,
not thinking, not! of sex.
My thoughts are fresh today.

Southern California poet Lucia Galloway earned her MFA from Antioch University Los Angeles.  Her published collections are Venus and Other Losses (Plain View, 2010) and a chapbook, Playing Outside (Finishing Line, 2005).  Poems appear widely in journals, including Comstock Review, Midwest Quarterly, Tar River, Centrifugal  Eye, Innisfree, and Inlandia; in the anthologies Thirty Days (Tupelo, 2015) and Wide Awake: The Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond (Beyond Baroque, 2015).  Her poem “Open to the Elements” was a top-prize winner in RhymeZone’s 2014-15 Poetry Contest.  Galloway’s manuscript “The Garlic Peelers” won the QuillsEdge Press 2015 Chapbook Competition and was a Finalist in Tupelo’s 2015 Snowbound Competition. She co-hosts “Fourth Sundays,” a reading series at the Claremont Library.