Adrian Slonaker – Online Open Mic

Encounter in Whitehorse

Under clodlike clouds too thick
for the aurora borealis to penetrate, the
Yukon River crackled a greeting beneath its
icy shell while log-cabin skyscrapers and
silvery evergreens slept or possibly
played possum.
The coyote, whose furry
ears rose at the terminus of a frosty road,
filled the night with its answer:
Not a baleful howl or a gritty
growl, just the
nip-nip-nip of playfulness and pep,
the tiny grin in its voice mirrored
by the one on my face.

God, I Hate Cleaning the Bathroom

My head heavy from the Scrubbing Bubbles that
promise to save me precious labor as
I say goodbye to the grime and grout
on the unintentionally toffee-colored tiles, I
sigh and sit on the hot pink toilet seat cover
that looks envious of its big sibling, the fuzzy rug draped
over the bathtub.
Both were bequeathed by Nana, who’d
expired in September after Aunt Nancy’d
urged the nurse to pump up the morphine
to mollify the pain once
the cancer had colonized the bones.
A draft of fifty-one-degrees-Fahrenheit/eleven-degrees-Centigrade
traces my face as I watch ants hobnob around an errant splash of
Kool-Aid on the gravel outside the open window that offers a view onto half a
faded ‘Free Puppies’ sign flapping against a leafless oak tree.
It must have been forgotten since the malamutes and their
masters had decamped in a moving van on the morning of
that election day when everyone was so angry.
Teasing me from under the closed closet door is the
border of the bathroom scale I banished after devouring the
entire rhubarb crisp Cheryl had smilingly foisted on me
despite my best efforts to
follow Beyoncé’s Master Cleanse because boys worry
about willpower and weight too.


On Friday afternoon he’d lunched solo, as usual, on the Cracker Barrel
fish fry special during which he’d daydreamed he
was Dina, the eldest daughter of a doting
Neapolitan-American Catholic couple in 1959
instead of a twenty-first-century-middle-aged Methodist
of English and Scottish and Swedish descent
– according to a hundred-dollar DNA test –
flung aside as a flake by his family
and whose nagging gender dysphoria drove him
to shame his balding pate with mail-order berets.
Popping into the gift shop, he strained to make
his two-hundred-seventy-two-pound frame in a paisley t-shirt
as petit as possible as if to apologize for
his plump presence and not bump into the crush of impulse buyers
and salespeople or destroy displays of candles and candies and cards
and owls and samplers that screamed “Relax and Accept the Crazy”
as he bitch-slapped his panic and fed his basket before it puked
Dubble Bubble and diet orange ‘n cream soda at the cashier,
a cinnamon-scented sixtiesh lady with a Nancy Reagan hairdo who
didn’t question the tiny tube of champagne lip shimmer before
fondling the fractured tutti-frutti candy stick and cooing,
“Oh it’s broken. Are you sure you don’t want a different one?”
Insulted by the suggestion to refuse such a flamboyantly sweet,
yet shattered specimen, he expelled a plaintive “No!”
like Betty from Father Knows Best before
inhaling the yellow and red and green and white shards
while waiting for the bus.


Adrian Slonaker crisscrosses North America as a language boffin and is fond of opals, owls, fire noodles and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. Adrian’s work, which has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and the Best of the Net, has been published in WINK: Writers in the Know, Ez.P.Zine, The Pangolin Review and others. 

Ivan Peledov – Online Open Mic


It is easy to wear a mask made of the vomit of the sun 

walking the streets of a timid town in search of

the perfect background for every sacred word 

cumbersome in the eye of a bird or a beast.

Canine laughter might be served as a breakfast 

for nauseous music you are too afraid to hear.

Slumber Bigger Than Life

36 days ago I couldn’t 

touch the claws of the clouds

and the scratches made by flowers

on somnolent walls. Consider the reptiles:

Under the snow they smell, smile, simulate

happiness of the eyeless sky.

Imaginary Crumbs

Shadows and mice invade the parks

and the mirrors of the towns cursed by the roar 

of butterflies between the seasons.

Hibernating leaves are ashamed of revealing the future.

A story of blabbering flowerless vases

has been buried in oblivious ice.

I am serious as a vacuum cleaner:

Words are the duds of mute angels

that loathe doing the laundry.


Ivan Peledov lives in Colorado. He loves to travel and to forget the places he has visited. He has been recently published in Goat’s Milk Magazine, The Collidescope, iō Literary Journal, and Wend Poetry.

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Daniel Pravda – Online Open Mic

Car In Dunes
False Cape Dunes
Barbed Cross
Dune Pool


Daniel Pravda takes photographs of beautiful decay.  He lives in Virginia and drives to the farmlands of eastern Virginia and North Carolina.  He finds countless abandoned farmhouses, barns, trucks, tractors, churches, etc., and many broadcast beauty to the open-eyed.  More personally, seeing lovely decay might helps him deal with our own decay. 

Elaine T. Nguyen – Online Open Mic

Let’s Fall In Love

let’s fall in love after all we need is someone to forget about
do you ever miss me? picking xmas trees
talking shit kissin my lips
what do you want to cook for dinner tonight?
textin me who’s room yours or mine?

shall we go back in time
2019 I’ve got shelves now and a little less trust to g
flash fwd 5 years from now meet me
don’t know how before midnight starts or ends
but it seems like I’ll regret this long after I have

meet me at The Convent
I’ll be coming from the desert it’ll be spring
weather we’ll start here or over
let’s just skip hearts breaking under still water
bet we’ll still look good standing next to each other
you’ll wear less black and I’ll wear less blue
meet me on the roof
where I fell in love with you

Don’t Miss It
Let Me Tell U
Hyena Lover


Elaine T. Nguyen is a multi-disciplinary artist living in the SF Bay Area. She is a curator, activist and community builder, currently working on creating a POC figure drawing session while also working with Asian Creatives Network to further the arts within Asian communities. Her work displays an intimate perspective on relationships, mental illness, and identity.


CONFESS is a body of work that touches on an intimate re-evaluation of loving through bipolar depression, addressing both the mania and the aftermath. Fragmented and written while manic, these poems were scribbled in chaos as my hand tried to make sense of my mind.

A collection based around vulnerability and forced exposure, these text-based works are raw thoughts turned visual, the medium I understand the most. By allowing these poems to choose their medium, the pieces appear as performances, paintings, videos, and sculptures. They exist as abstracted works waiting for the patient or intentional viewer to consume. 

These works speak to the tragic pleasure I have found in falling apart and the confusion that comes with trying to piece reality back together. A journey full of love, regret, shame, and guilt, I am lost in my own mind, I am consumed by emotional falsities and I am filled with a lack of desire to confront reality. In the end, I must confess, I don’t know if it ever meant so much or if it just meant so much to me.

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Cindy Kennedy – Online Open Mic

About the Art & Artist:

Cindy Kennedy:

The piece with the deer is my interpretation of my hometown Collingwood on. This is where I was born and raised and where all the magic of my art first happened. In the distance you can see the iconic grain elevator and Blue Mountain. I started my journey in my basement with an easel my late father had bought me. I quickly realized I wasn’t a fan of the way the brush looked on the canvas….so the experiments began…I put a sock on my hand to create a piece and realized I got more control but still….there were lines I wasn’t fond of…eventually I just began to paint with my hands to create the desired texture and control I desired. I moved my art  to my garage and then would spend 12-18 hours everyday painting, experimenting,  repainting,  until every piece I created was visually appealing to me. To date, I have created over 350 pieces. I have competed in 3 live events, participated in mentorship programs for children, build and designed theatre sets…completed 4 murals and counting. I make it my mission to do something with my art everyday. Each of these pieces were painted with my fingers.

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John Sheirer – Online Open Mic

Risk Management

The first time Bob saw the bear cub at the office was when he opened the bottom drawer of the file cabinet. The bear cub was lying on its back among the folds of a quilted blanket like an infant in a crib, looking up at him with cheerful brown eyes. The bear cub wiggled its meaty little paws at him.

“Whoa,” Bob said, quickly shutting the drawer.

Bob immediately forgot why he had opened the file cabinet. Was he getting something out or putting something in? He had no idea. By the time he walked back to his desk and sat down, he was beginning to talk himself out of the idea that a bear cub was occupying a bottom file drawer in the document storage room at his nondescript place of employment, which happened to be an insurance company specializing in fire and flood policies.

“Whatcha doin’ there, Bob?” Cindy asked from her desk next to Bob’s. She wrote the policies. Bob kept track of them. They’d been a work team for nearly a decade.

“I think I need to get a file,” Bob said.

“Okey-dokey, if you think so,” Cindy replied, her skilled fingers blurring over the computer keys.

Bob walked slowly back to document storage and stood before the file cabinet again. He studied the bottom drawer, which seemed to be moving in and out a fraction of an inch every few seconds, almost as if it were breathing. The drawer was labeled, “L – R.” Bob couldn’t think of a word for “bear cub” that started with L, M, N, O, P, Q, or R. Bob had always believed that things belonged in their appropriate places.

Bob sighed. “What the hell,” he whispered as he opened the drawer. Sure enough, the bear cub was still there, still wiggling its big bear cub toes and looking at him with what he could only interpret as affection. The bear cub was cute, no doubt, but Bob wasn’t ready to return its affection just yet. Bob knew that even cute things could be dangerous. Bob had seen many situations where being cute could be used as an excellent disguise.

Bob looked around the document storage room. He was alone with the bear cub. His twelve coworkers were in the main office only ten steps through the doorway. He couldn’t very well call out, “Hey, who left the bear cub in the file cabinet?” This wasn’t a moldy sandwich in the office mini-fridge.

Bob wasn’t angry about the bear cub. He wasn’t even quite afraid of the bear cub. The best word to describe the feelings the bear cub brought up in Bob was suspicion. He was suspicious of this bear cub. He questioned its bear cub purpose and its bear cub motives and even its bear cub existence. What right did this bear cub have to interrupt his workday? It was almost lunch, and he didn’t want to waste his lunch half-hour dealing with some random bear cub.

Bob got down on one knee suspiciously. Cautiously would also be an accurate term. This was a wild animal, after all. What if its mother happened to be in another drawer somewhere close by? Mama bears were most dangerous when someone got between them and their bear cub. Bob had read that on the internet.

The bear cub watched Bob’s kneeling approach. It seemed pleased to have company after being alone in the drawer for … for how long? Bob didn’t remember the last time he had opened this particular drawer, and he was the one who did most of the filing.

The bear cub gurgled deep in its little bear cub throat, almost as if it were trying to imitate a grown bear’s roar but didn’t know how yet. Bob had to admit that the attempted roar was the cutest thing the bear cub had done so far, but he still wasn’t ready to give the bear cub the benefit of the doubt.

“Hey, Cindy?” Bob called out, just loud enough for Cindy but not the rest of the office drones to hear. “You got a second? Something to show you back here.”

The small but insistent sound of Cindy’s fingers striking the keys stopped. “Coming,” she called out. Cindy’s heels clicked on the tile floor, and the alert little bear cub craned its neck a bit to look around Bob for the source of the sound.

Bob could see Cindy’s shadow move across the floor and touch the bear cub. She put a hand on Bob’s shoulder.

“Oh,” she said. “You found Little Honey!”

“Little Honey?” Bob asked.

“Yeah,” Cindy said. “That’s what I call him.”

Bob craned his neck to look up at Cindy. The overhead light haloed her face. Her husband was some kind of a teacher who often stopped in just to give her a random rose and a quick kiss. She was pretty, Bob knew, in a grown-up girl-next-door-at-the-next-desk kind of way. But at that moment, backlit by humming fluorescents, she looked like a literal angel right out of an art book that featured nothing but angels. Or maybe a television show about angels Bob had once seen as a child. The point is, she was glowing.

“Seriously?” Bob asked. “Little Honey Bear?”

“It’s a good name for him, don’t you think?” Cindy said, her words floating down to Bob as if from heaven.

Bob looked back at the bear cub. Little after-images from Cindy’s angel light danced around the bear cub in Bob’s field of vision. He had to admit that Little Honey Bear was a good name for the furry creature in the file drawer.

Bob started to stand, not the easiest maneuver considering his bad knee. Cindy grasped his arm and helped him up. Her grip was stronger than he would have expected. Once he was upright, Cindy kept her hand wrapped around his arm. Bob found her grip reassuring.

“How long has he been here?” Bob asked.

“Not long,” Cindy replied. “A few years.”

“A few years?” Bob marveled. “I file things here ten times a day. How have I missed seeing him?”

“Well,” Cindy explained, “he moves from drawer to drawer now and then. And not everyone can see Little Honey right away. Sometimes it takes a few tries.”

The two of them looked down at Little Honey like parents watching their first-born child.

“Who else knows about him?” Bob asked.

“Janice in HR. Phil the janitor. And LaDonna in marketing,” Cindy said. “You now Arthur from the bank? Comes for planning sessions every few months? It took him a few tries, just like you. He can be really serious sometimes, but Little Honey got him to open up a bit, relax, be himself.”

“Really?” Bob asked. “Arthur from the bank can see a bear cub in our file drawer? He seems so … sensible.”

“Yep. Last month, he stopped in just to see Little Honey with his wife and daughter,” Cindy said. “They could all see him. A family thing.”

“Arthur from the bank …” Bob repeated, mystified.

Cindy continued: “And, of course, my husband Ted can see him. Saw him the very first time I showed him. Bob even calls me his ‘little honey bear’ sometimes.”

Cindy blushed slightly. Bob stared at her.

“Here’s one that will tickle you,” Cindy mused. “My sister has a little cute little dog named Ruby. A Border Terrier. Great breed. She visited with Ruby one day last month, and that little dog went right for the file cabinet and scratched until we opened the drawer. She and Little Honey took to each other like they’d been family forever. Ruby sniffed and nuzzled and practically jumped into the drawer with that bear cub. Then she looked at us as proud as can be, like she was showing off her own big, hairy puppy. Damnedest thing I ever saw.”

“I just don’t know what to think of all of this,” Bob said.

“That’s how I felt at first, too. But now you can see Little Honey,” Cindy said. “which makes me happy.”

“Some people can’t see him?” Bob asked.

“Funny thing,” Cindy replied. “The smokers can’t see him. Dennis in IT. Eric the UPS guy. Rhonda from billing saw him the day after she quit and put on that big nicotine patch. Hasn’t taken a puff since she saw Little Honey that day.”

Bob found the information about smokers as baffling as the basic fact that Little Honey was there. But he was secretly pleased to know that the bear cub hid himself that way. Bob’s parents had died from smoking, and his last serious relationship before meeting his wife ended in large part because the woman had smoked and hid it from her children. If Bob really stopped to consider it, he might even say that his dislike of smoking was part of the reason he got into the insurance business—although he’d probably have a hard time explaining how.

“Why is Little Honey here?” Bob asked, now that he was coming to grips with the fact that Little Honey was really there and not the product of more imagination than he thought he possessed.

“No one really knows for sure, but I have a theory,” Cindy said. “I think he’s here to make us feel better about the world. It’s tough sometimes, what with work and getting old and dying and crazy people running the country. But Little Honey can take us away from that for a few moments each day. That’s his gift to us.”

Bob shook his head. He was just as amazed by what Cindy was saying as he was by the idea that there was a bear cub named Little Honey in the bottom file drawer.

The two coworkers watched the bear cub for a while, and then Cindy said, “Wait here a second.” She released her friendly grip on his arm and went to a cupboard on the far wall. From her tiptoes, she reached into the back corner of an upper shelf. She found a zip-lock bag and extracted something that looked like a doggie biscuit. As she put the biscuit in Bob’s hand and closed his fingers around it, Little Honey watched the exchange with intense interest.

“If Little Honey lets you give him a treat, he’ll be your friend,” Cindy said to Bob. Then her voice lowered to a whisper. “But if he bites you, you’ll never see him again and forget you ever knew about him in the first place.”

“Does he bite many people?” Bob asked.

“Remember that guy, Dave? He came with Arthur from the bank that one time?” Cindy asked.

“Vaguely,” Bob replied. “Kind of a jerk.”

“Now you know why he never came back,” Cindy said.

“Oh,” Bob said.

The bear cub’s eyes moved from Bob’s treat-holding hand to his face and back again. Bob drew in a deep breath and held it as he let the treat slip from his palm to a loose grip between his thumb and fingertip. Little Honey’s deep, dark eyes widened. Did he want to eat the treat? Or did he want to eat Bob’s arm? Bob had no way to know for sure.

Bob, (Robert James Mann, Jr.)—age fifty-one, married for twenty years, two teenaged kids, homeowner, the beginning of a bald spot, mows his own lawn, drives a six-year-old Honda Civic, B.S. in Business with a minor in Accounting and twelve credits toward an MBA he’ll never finish—had never been a man prone to fantasy. He filed documents by day and spent quiet evenings with his family. He slept soundly and usually didn’t remember his dreams. On weekends, he enjoyed quiet drives with his wife or going to the kids’ sports events where he cheered earnestly at half volume.

Bob wasn’t the kind of guy who took risks. But he slowly lowered the treat toward Little Honey, bending slightly at the waist, smiling, and cooing, “niiiiice bear, gooood bear,” ready for whatever might happen next.


Bio: John Sheirer (pronounced “shy-er”) lives in Northampton, Massachusetts, with his wonderful wife Betsy and happy dog Libby. He has taught writing and communications for 27 years at Asnuntuck Community College in Enfield, Connecticut, where he also serves as editor and faculty advisor for Freshwater Literary Journal (submissions welcome). He writes a monthly column on current events for his hometown newspaper, the Daily Hampshire Gazette, and his books include memoir, fiction, poetry, essays, political satire, and photography. His most recent books are a flash fiction collection, Too Wild, and a novella thriller, Uncorrected

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Sonia Ben Achoura – Online Open Mic

The Future of Life

Acrylic on Canvas with painted sides
W 86.5 x H101.5 x D3.7

About This Painting:

Technology and biology collide in this painting. A robotic conceptualisation of mankind, at the intersection between life and technology, this painting reconciles two worlds.

At a time of climate emergency, it is a tribute to mysterious world of plants. Silent, vivid manifestations of life, they are embodiments of creativity, symbols of love.

Deceptively fragile in appearance, the rarest orchids can only be found at high altitude, in the most remote, inaccessible islands. Could they be hiding from the hand of man?

This painting is an image of dignified beauty; a sign of hope towards the atonement of human life towards the natural world.

It also is a celebration of what is wild and free.

This painting may portray a man-made tunnel leading to oblivion, as much as a way towards a more harmonious way of life.

Sliding plates give a sense of perspective and rapid motion, as if traveling at high speed through time.

As the race to safeguard life accelerates, new efforts are required to protect these delicate creatures.

Among concrete and metal, rare flowers and wild orchids cling on to life.


French artist and psychologist, Sonia Ben Achoura translates her academic explorations of mind and science into a powerful visual language. Using art as a catalyst, she conveys psychological concepts and phenomena through her paintings. Theories and cutting-edge research findings are conceptualised in her creations. Stylistically, her artwork manifests in iconic geometric patterns with a futuristic edge. With a previous career in dance, she also transfers insights from movement into fine art. She is based in London, UK, and regularly shows her work at art galleries across Europe. She is currently writing a book on art and psychology.

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Richard Grahn-Abstract Music & Artwork – Online Open Mic

Listen to the abstract music of Bipolar Dimensions:

Bipolar Dimensions – Avante Disregard


Linoleum Peeled From Pollock’s Studio


Richard Grahn from Evanston, Illinois:  
The Universe is a medium. I draw inspiration from the void and from the all. Now is my timezone. I am blessed to be able to practice my passions, photography, sculpture, painting, music, and writing, full time. I have worked with aluminum, bronze, stone, wood, Styrofoam, glass, plaster, grass, and a variety of sculpture and mold making products. Some projects took over 18 years to complete, others were finished in an afternoon. Except for the photography (and sometimes with photography), my work is abstract, drawing from both the natural and the man-made world. I believe that one facet of art is its ability to take the viewer on a trip through their own imagination. Without the viewer, we would be out of work, or is it play?

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Richard Grahn-Poetry – Online Open Mic


Once again, 3:00 AM. This computer’s clock has ticked away another two hours of irreplaceable sleep time. My bladder woke me and my treacherous brain denied me a return to slumber. After checking my empty inbox a dozen times and browsing through an idle Facebook feed until ennui set in, I find myself herding words.

morning routine
I sweep cobwebs
from the ceiling

The doctor tells me sleep is essential for my mental and physical health. Convey that message to my neurons, please. A thousand sheep and still counting. I have enough wool for a wardrobe of sweaters and mittens. So I write about sweaters and mittens.

I have this nagging thought of my cat and my ex who has the cat. I hope they’re happy together but I’d sacrifice a lamb to be reunited with them now. He’s a long-haired kitty and she has curls. My hair is falling out so I shave my head regularly. Oh, what I’d give to run my fingers through hair again. 4:47 AM.

5:32 AM. The A key keeps sticking…aaaaaaaa. Must be trying to tell me something, some great revelation yet to emerge on the page. Perhaps there’s even a shilling in it for me. Then I can buy a decent pillow.

6: 15 AM. Now, it’s come to me. I’m thinking of starting a rebellion. The world is due for a great upheaval. Not one where governments fall or industry is brought to its knees. Sheep keep me awake. I’m thinking we should deport them all to the steppes of Spain or the pastures in the south of France. Let the shepherds count them. They have dogs to help keep track. Yes, a revolution is in order. This is a cause that will put you to sleep. All that baaing has cats and girlfriends swirling through my brain.

If your head is a stockyard like mine, join me in this revolt to silence the lambs. Take a break from your insomnia. Become asleep. Don’t give in to the faces from the past. Armies march on their stomachs. We can march on mutton.

I readjust
my dreamcatcher


The knowledge of good and evil is no help where losing you is concerned. We said our vows and then split like overripe fruit. I remember our conversations, the first one and the last. Words brought us together, but they also tore us apart.

fallen leaves

on the garden path—

a puff of wind

I have dreams where I get lost in familiar places. The landscape turns apocalyptic and all I want is to find my way back to you. I wake up with a knot in my stomach and a scream choked in my throat. I tell myself it’s just a dream but it still takes a few minutes to flush it from my imagination.

no splash today a frozen pond

Can’t Take it Home

The trail from my favorite meadow meanders through the wood. I’m carrying a basket with a surprise in it for Grandma.
A gray-haired hiker approaches from the other direction, stopping in front of me, “Hi there. What’s in the basket?”

“Wildflowers for my grandmother.”

He steps closer, “Can I see?”

“Sure.” I open the basket and tip it towards him.

He leans in. “That’s a lot of flowers.” His dark-brown eyes widen as he reaches into the basket and pulls out a violet. “You must be her favorite grandson.”

“I don’t know. Maybe.”

For a moment our eyes lock, and I watch as his face mutates into a grimace, gnarled teeth clenched. With the quickness of a cat, he drops the flower and seizes my arm. The basket falls as we wrestle to the ground; his mustached mouth against my lips oozes spit. He licks my face with his long, slimy tongue as he rips at my pants. The man-turned-monster grinds me into the earth, then rolls me over, and enters. My mind goes silent.

“Thank you for such a pleasant gift,” she says. “What have you been up to? Your clothes are a fright.”

“Just playing in the meadow, picking flowers.”

“Well, those flowers must have fought back. Come, let me straighten you up and we’ll have some cookies.”

I force a smile and nod halfheartedly. “Okay.”

boy in a mask—
not enough space
for a scream


Richard Grahn from Evanston, Illinois:  
The Universe is a medium. I draw inspiration from the void and from the all. Now is my timezone. I am blessed to be able to practice my passions, photography, sculpture, painting, music, and writing, full time. I have worked with aluminum, bronze, stone, wood, Styrofoam, glass, plaster, grass, and a variety of sculpture and mold making products. Some projects took over 18 years to complete, others were finished in an afternoon. Except for the photography (and sometimes with photography), my work is abstract, drawing from both the natural and the man-made world. I believe that one facet of art is its ability to take the viewer on a trip through their own imagination. Without the viewer, we would be out of work, or is it play?

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