Please Address My Speeding Tickets to Jon Bon Jovi – by Melissa St. Pierre

Online Open Mic – 2021

You don’t want to miss this epic poem by Melissa St. Pierre! Full of nostalgic contemplations, her poem rocks on with the music.

My favorite line: “The driving makes me remember and imagine. There’s a flip flop between reality and imagination and add in a dose of guilt, and I could cry. I could cry- drive and I don’t know where I’m going.” 

Please Address My Speeding Tickets to Jon Bon Jovi

Melissa St. Pierre

If I ever say the words “pixie cut” ever again, I need to be desperately smacked.

I let my hair grow out and it touches my shoulders for the first time in years. So I put it in a loose braid today.

I drove.

It’s 78 degrees in Michigan in November. And I drove with the windows down and the music up a little too loud. My hair flew out of the braid, all burgundy whipping. But it was all okay, because it was summer. In November. In Michigan. Period.

When I listened to Gavin Rossdale tell me love remains the same, it pushed me, and it made me want to close my eyes. But I couldn’t because: I was driving. And when I opened my metaphorical eyes, I saw your face. But it wasn’t the face I know, it was the face I remember. 

I couldn’t listen to the book I’m devouring because the chapter on marriage was a little too introspective and self reflective for now. For this current time. 

Leave it to a wildfire pandemic to make me think about kissing. When physical distance is not only “suggested” but required. I can self preservation today and reflection on another day. 

I continue to listen and Gavin fades into Amy Winehouse, The Allman Brothers Band, Michelle Branch, Gaga, and Lizzo. My taste in music ranges far and wide and the classics are admittedly a favorite. Bruce Springsteen is on and I am singing “baby, we were born to run!!!!” Am I? Who are we, “baby”?  

But what I’d like to know: where am I running Bruce? Where? 

My husband told me I was stuck in his web. Like an insect. 

Like. A. Fly.

I married him anyway.

Before him there was the older man.

He died in May. I sat at my dining room table and thought, there’s no way that’s him. He’s too young. 

No one told me because we do not have mutual friends anymore. I found out the usual way: social media.

I cried because he died and I still thought of the word “asshole” whenever his name was spoken or I happened to think of him.

“Why men great, til they gotta be great?”

I don’t know Lizzo, I really don’t. 

I skip the song halfway through because although I’m sure she didn’t mean for it to happen, it connects too greatly to the book I can’t listen to right now. It is summer after all. In November. In Michigan.

Instead, leave it to me to imagine kissing in a wildfire pandemic.

I kind of chuckle because I don’t know if I remember how.

The driving makes me remember and imagine. There’s a flip flop between reality and imagination and add in a dose of guilt, and I could cry. I could cry- drive and I don’t know where I’m going. 

My car fills with warmth that I don’t generate but in my mind I tilt my face up to the sky. 

I can still see the road and hear “Let It Be” and I begin to think that maybe I can. 

“And as for me, I wish that I was anywhere with anyone

Making out.”

If kissing is my religion, I’m a lost parishioner.

Take me to church. 

The last time I touched you was on the side of a hill. Our friends were all there, and you kept my silly ass from rolling down to a service drive. My skinny jeans and pencil heels were years ahead of the times. I was damn cute. And when my heel got stuck in the early May ground, you reached for me. We held hands and talked while my boyfriend looked on from the ground. I would never care what he thought about that moment, and I’ve never shared it. It was all mine.

Tonight, I’m standing in my kitchen, waiting for my hot glue gun to warm. Ed Sheeran is on by some cruel algorithm. I love him, but I don’t love the way “Thinking Out Loud” makes me feel right now. 

“Kiss me under the light of a thousand stars.”

Jesus, Ed. 

My November summer ended and it has snowed since then. 


Yesterday was Thanksgiving.

It didn’t snow, thank God. 

Thank You. 

I’ve returned to my book and turned the music down to a socially acceptable volume.

I have my hair up as well.

Summer isn’t far off after all.


In the meantime, please address my speeding tickets to Jon Bon Jovi.


Melissa St. Pierre teaches writing and rhetoric at Oakland University in Michigan. Her work has appeared in The Blue Nib, Ponder Savant, Panoply, 45 Women’s Literary Journal, Valiant Scribe, and Elizabeth River Press Literary Anthology. St.Pierre has also performed her work in Listen to Your Mother, a literary nonfiction storytelling showcase.

Universal Discretion & Other Poetry by Scott Thomas Outlar

Online Open Mic -2021

Scott Thomas Outlar takes a look in the direction of the existential with his enjoyable word play. Check out his work below!

My favorite line, “Love is a blank check/an IOU theory, centered in zeroes, bundled in pairs, soon cashed, when cards, start crumbling.”

Universal Discretion

grappling with ghosts

      elusive shadows

                 phosphorescent fingers

           grasp at halos

                         rings of smoke

                   and sacrifice

         keep signaling back

                  to the starting gun

                      began with a bang

                             now begging for whispers

               whimper into the void

           and sigh

groveling with gusto

         ecstatic eyes

                    holy at the center

              caramel and crimson

                           feast of queens

                       and folly

               fools over time

                      become wise or winos

                             end with a flourish

                                     bone dry and thirsty

Scattered Ages

Snapshots of mood & emotion

The mouth of death
and its inevitable yawn

Plagues throughout time
our emergent rise from the muck & mud

My ancestors didn’t starve in the cold
before passing on their swagger

and neither should I
succumb to a sin not my own

nor suffer the karma
that’s been cleansed from my soul

I caught 18 falling leaves this autumn
each one blessed with a wish still to make

Every yesterday failed to dig my grave
tomorrow remains a promise of the wind

Of Crystal Castles and Crashing Waves

Into the breach!
(even if an abyss)
march, hut, two
x 4 x 6 [+] 64

God is an equation/a flux in the field
scattered about
slung throughout
yet unified
somewhere safe
behind the scenes

Whether your answers
or not

Whether your prayers
find promise
or go up in smoke
as signals dispersed
by the sands of…

Time out!
(space shift)
calm, breathe, sigh
x siren x stargaze [-] confusion

Love is a blank check/an IOU theory
centered in zeroes
bundled in pairs
soon cashed
when cards
start crumbling


Scott Thomas Outlar lives and writes in the suburbs outside of Atlanta, Georgia. His work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. He guest-edited the 2019 and 2020 Western Voices editions of Setu Mag. Selections of his poetry have been translated into Afrikaans, Albanian, Bengali, Dutch, French, Italian, Kurdish, Malayalam, Persian, Serbian, and Spanish. His sixth book, Of Sand and Sugar, was released in 2019. His podcast, Songs of Selah, airs weekly on 17Numa Radio and features interviews with contemporary poets, artists, musicians, and health advocates.

Follow: More about Outlar’s work can be found at   

The Friend & Other Poetry by Kapardeli Eftichia

Online Open Mic – 2021

Welcome to a new week! I encourage you to take some time today to reflect on the serene poetry of Kapardeli Eftichia. Provided in both a Greek and English translation, her poems swell with the romanticism of life. My favorite line in these poems,”Hidden storms were born in their breasts and sowed holy generations carved into the stones with their breaths…. peaceful souls.”


Όλες οι αισθήσεις ,σε τροχιές αρμονίας
το εικονοστάσι της μικρής εκκλησίας
στων αγγέλων την ουράνια μελωδία
με ευλάβεια προσκυνώ

Δάκρυα κυλούν για τον φίλο που
μοιραίος καιρός τον απογυμνώνει
σε ένα βαρύ χειμώνα
κορμί τρυφερό ,μίσχος δίχως ανθό
Αχ! τα φθαρμένα όμορφα μάτια του συμπονώ

Αναστενάζω για όσα χάθηκαν για αυτόν
θανάσιμες οδύνες και άπειρες συμφορές
στον πόνο και την θλίψη του
δίχως φως και ελπίδα
τον Θεό παρακαλώ


All the senses, in orbits of harmony
the iconostasis of the small church
to the heavenly melody of the angels
with reverence, I bow

Tears flow for the friend who
fatal weather strips him
in a heavy winter
body tender, stem without flower
Ah! his worn beautiful eyes I sympathize

I sigh for what was lost for him
deadly pains and infinite calamities
in his pain and sorrow
without light and hope
God please

Θεός, φως
«μοίρα αθώων» βοηθός
στην μοιρασιά , ο κλήρος
έγινε χρησμός

Θύελλες κρυφές γεννήθηκαν
στα στήθη τους
και έσπειραν ιερές γενιές
που στις πέτρες χάραξαν
με τις πνοές τους…. γαλήνιες ψυχές

Γλυκά αποκοιμήθηκαν
στην ηχώ της αγάπης
Στην βασιλεία των ψυχών
έλαβαν από τον ουρανό
την σπορά των αιώνιων ρόδων

Peaceful souls
God, light
“Fate of the innocent” assistant
in the division, the lot
an amulet was made

Hidden storms were born
in their breasts
and sowed holy generations
carved into the stones
with their breaths…. peaceful souls

Sweets fell asleep
in the echo of love
In the realm of souls
they received from heaven
the sowing of eternal roses

“Καθάριες ψυχές “

Κάποιοι χρησιμοποιούν για χρώμα για να ζωγραφίσουν πίνακες, τοπία της δικής τους ζωής ακόμα και το λιγοστό αίμα από τις φλέβες τους όταν τα όνειρα τους μοιάζουν χαμένα
Στους πίνακες κάποιων άλλων ,το Ασπρόμαυρο κυριαρχεί και χάνεται από τα μάτια, όταν ξεθωριάσουν οι ώρες και οι στιγμές των χρόνων τους στα βαθιά γεράματα
Και για κάποιους τούτοι οι πίνακες μοιάζουν να φαίνονται Μοναδικά τοπία ,με τέλειες αναλογίες ,βαμμένοι με όλα τα γιορτινά χρώματα της ίριδας με τα χρώματα της δικής τους γιορτινής αιώνιας ζωής

Η δική μου ζωή βαμμένη με νερό και αίμα σχεδιασμένη με τα ίδια πινέλα και τις ίδιες πινελιές της συμπόνιας και της αγάπης που έφτιαξε ο Πλάστης για όλες τις καρδιές του κόσμου, σχεδιασμένη πάνω σε χαμένες ανθρώπινες διαδρομές με χιλιάδες Αθώες ψυχές που σε έναν πίνακα δεν χωρούν σαν ζωγραφιές , ψυχές ‘Αχρονες που μετουσιώθηκαν σε πολύχρωμες πεταλούδες και γυρνούν πρόθυμες στην ομορφιά των λουλουδιών “καθάριες ψυχές “

“Pure souls”

Some people use paint to paint paintings, landscapes of their own lives and even the little blood from their veins when their dreams seem lost.
In the paintings of others, Black and white dominates and disappears from sight, when the hours and moments of their time in old age fade
And for some these paintings seem to look Unique landscapes, in perfect proportions, painted with all the festive colors of the iris with the colors of their own festive eternal life
My own life painted with water and blood designed with the same brushes and the same touches of compassion and love that the Maker made for all the hearts of the world, designed on lost human paths with thousands of Innocent souls that do not fit in a painting like paintings, souls’ Timeless transformed into colorful butterflies and eager to return to the beauty of flowers “pure souls”


Ασάλευτος ο χρόνος σωπαίνει και λησμονεί

τα αταίριαστα χρώματα.

Παλιοί σύντροφοι στον μακρύ δρόμο

το ένδυμα από ζεστό κόκκινο αίμα φορούν

Στα παλιά ξύλινα παράθυρα των σπιτιών μας

οι φωνές των νέων ταξιδεύουν

 και αθόρυβα ανοίγουν  με τον καινούργιο αέρα


Time is useless

he is silent and forgets

the mismatched colors

Old mates on the long road

the garment of warm red blood they wear

In the old wooden windows of our houses

the voices of young people travel

and quietly open with fresh air

Ημερώνω στα δικά σου μάτια
και όταν το όνειρο ψηλώνει
τα αγιασμένα φυλακισμένα σου δάκρυα με λευτερώνουν
Ψηλαφίζω και σμιλεύω τα μισάνοιχτα χείλη
Η αγάπη με τρέφει με το δικό σου φιλί και το χάδι
Σπονδές μύρων
στην ηδονή του πνεύματος και της ψυχής
σπέρνουν λέξεις θυσίας ελπίδας και αγάπης

Become serene to your own eyes
and when the dream grows taller
your sanctified prisoned tears they release me
I grope and sculpt the half-open lips
Love it nourishes me with your own caress and kiss
Libations of myrrh
in the pleasure of spirit and soul
they sow words of hope ,love and sacrifice


तुम्हारी आँखों में तारीख और सपने लम्बे हो जाते है

आपके पवित्र कैदियों के आँसू मुझे आज़ाद करते हैं

मैं महसूस करता हूं और आधे खुले होंठों को

तुम मुझे अपने चुंबन और दुलार से खुशी दो

By Ashok kumar 


Kapardeli Eftichia has a Doctorate from ARTS AND CULTURE WORLD ACADEMY live in Patras She writes poetry, stories, short stories, hai-ku , essays  She studied journalism AKEM  Ηas many awards in national competitions Her work there is to many national and international anthologies  Has a section at the University of Cyprus in Greek culture is a member of the world poets society. website is http://world-poets.blogspot. com / is a member of the IWA (international writers and artists Association) chaired by Teresinka Pereira, had from IWA Certify 2017 as the best translation and  member of the POETAS DEL MUNDO .

Follow: –

Missing You Alone by Shiela Denise Scott

Online Open Mic – 2021

This poem by Shiela Denise Scott is from her book Emotionally Broken. Take a look at the book review for this as well: Pages to Ponder: Emotionally Broken

Missing You Alone

Couple of old memories,
Remain in my mind,
Reminiscent feeling,
Lost forever in time

Some broken hearts bleed out teardrops,
That eyes refuse to cry,
Love dangling its aftermath,
Blurred by tomorrow sighs

Enlighten the past with presence,
Futures must journey home,
Death of photos, ashes to burn,
While missing you alone


Shiela Denise Scott, poet published in multiple anthologies, journals, and magazines has published her first book, “Emotionally Broken.” Poems like missing you alone, and unite forever delves into the heart of the lonely. She searching for a genre, found a passion that described and defined her. 


Connect with her on social media:

Girl with Clenched Hands – Oil Painting by Katarzyna Pitek

Online Open Mic – 2021

Feast your eyes on the excellent artwork by Katarzyna Pitek! You can see a story is unfolding in front of you with the flow of her brush strokes along with the deep coloring. It reminds me of passing by a stranger, not being able to know the full scope of their lives yet you know there is a beauty in the simple act of observing them. It is a a gift of a moment you get to share with them, feel connected and present minute before it quickly slips away.

Girl with clenched hands – (145×110) oil on canvas


Katarzyna Pitek


A Corner for the Fool by Chitra Gopalakrishnan

Online Open Mic – 2021

With the season of Valentines Day in the air, Chitra Goplakrishnan’s work of fiction from India is the perfect bit of romance to sink into. She immediately takes you with the character, feeling both the tension and the excitement. It is a fantastic love story with colorful layers.

A corner for the fool

By Chitra Gopalakrishnan

“I will jump from the platform onto the approaching train and all that will be left of me will be a sludge of substances,” I threatened. 

My voice billowed like my flowing clothes. It rose from a creak, like the protest of hinges on a rusty iron gate, to a bleating, to a bellowing, and then to actual shrieking, like a cascade of wounded hailstones, swelling from a fizz to a roar to a fanatical clamor.

I first met Akash one March morning when I threatened to reduce myself, thus, into slush, under the wheels of a train. 

No, not on account of him. 

My intent was to chase away a persistent beau who faffed on forever about, “You are my true love, I swear”. One who was beginning to repel me, his untruths setting my teeth on edge. I do admit he was keen on me but understood very soon that he was more upbeat about my ancestral family fortunes.

He had followed me all the way to the New Delhi railway station, snapping at my heels, when I was bound for a brief, day-long, official trip to the outskirts of the city. Mostly, I think to stutter his lines all over. But he missed hearing my threat, drowned as it was by the shrill cacophony of hawkers, the bedlam of coolies, and the base hum of the railway station noises that are peculiar to India. 

But a man on the opposite platform seemed unnerved by the ridiculousness of my proposed action. It was he who was affected by my high-pitched theatrics, and by my intended blood-sport. Did he hear me all the way from there or was he reacting to my gestures, my extreme non-verbal melodrama? 

He was separated from me by six, gleaming parallel lines of rail tracks, that looked like beams of flowing sunshine. I had a glimpse of his torso growing rigid, and his neck bracing against his swift and sharp head movements as his eyes craned to see whether I would totter headlong, heels and all, into the abyss beneath the platform. Whether his concern was on account of the frightening conjectures of my impending fate or because of the danger of the line being blocked, and a possible subsequent delays to other trains in the area, it was hard to say. 

A train whooshed past onto the middle rails with the speed of summer lightning, instantly clouding his line of vision and mine. My train came in within a hair’s breadth of this, and I was swallowed into its rail rhythms, its jolting and rattling, in a matter of seconds. As its scheduled stop was only for two minutes, I could not wait to see the effects of my sonic boom in the stranger’s life.

He and I met again, a week later, this time at a sedate, noiseless, and classically elegant location. A church in the center of our city at my friend’s wedding.  Or should I say ours? The groom was his friend, the bride mine. Separated this time by an aisle, six bodies, and twelve pairs of eyes, we vaulted past the preliminaries of names, work profiles, and phone numbers relying on lip movements, hand and finger gestures, and exaggerated facial expressions. 

Interpretive communication was seemingly becoming our signature interpersonal transmission mode. And all our gesturing happened even as, in extreme earnestness, the couple exchanged vows. And over and above the buzzkill of our respective benches’ six guests, who glowered their disapproval at our lack of social restraint and decorum. Even the fragrant bouquets of white lilies fastened to each bench, often referred to as sympathy flowers, could not quieten their indignation.

Once outside, his first words spoken with equanimity, were, “Tara, the dangerously unbalanced woman warrior I encountered at the station, and one who has been stalking my dreams ever since.” 

How was I to know whether he was intrigued by my levity, my perversity, my enacting of fiction? Or know whether he saw me as an impelling yet perilous attraction, like a provocative woman on a collision course with everyone, quite like a character that he would have conjured for an animation game, something he did for a living? Or know whether he saw my jesting as a ploy to make way for instinctual behavior, a funny way to be serious? 

He wouldn’t tell. I wouldn’t ask. His inscrutability was part of his charm for me.

We discovered compatibility almost instantly. For a start, Akash, his name, means the sky and mine Tara, a star. We shared a common distaste for conforming to expectations of others, for marriage, and both had fears of handling children’s messes, vomit, and loose shit, in particular. 

Even our travel plans were alike. As the creator of a gaming series that was attracting international interest, he was being pursued by many companies in the US, and had zeroed in on one. “I am set to go the US in six months to release the series I am working on,” he said. As a budding architect, I confided to him that, “I have set my sights on studying further in London, the most celebrated and design-focused countries in the world, and have also given myself six months’ time to get my application, papers, course preferences, and thought-processes in order.”

In the next six months, we covered the distance in our lives, full-throttle, wasting no time in moving in together, yet we were careful to give each other space. The contours of our relationship took peculiarly unconventional forms and may be best understood as being alive. We both let ourselves be, meaning we allowed each other the freedom to be completely certain of who we are. We both refused to let our impulses get stuck between selves. “We won’t allow our love lives to be counterbalanced with our individual paths,” we told ourselves and each other. And we both kept up with our curiosity about the world.”

I had molded myself and my decisions to my personality that over the years had taken a determinate shape and I was not about to give up that. My childhood joys were anchored solely by my grandmother; my parents were so caught up in animosities that they failed to scatter joy even once in a while. My father was black and bleak in the extreme, his melancholy stretching to foul moods, a bad temper, and a diminished career as a stodgy banker. My mother was emotionally evasive, self-sufficient, independent of outside forces or influences, including me, I guess, arguing her blithe unilateralism was the only way to put food on our table. Ironically, she is a family and matrimonial lawyer. 

“When my grandmother passed on, I separated my sense of myself from my parents’ expectations of me, and their frictions. I sought out my own purpose and values and the only thing I consciously held on to was my grandmother’s sense of fun, making nonsense of sense and sense out of nonsense, and her belief that I was destined for great things, that is if I gained aptitude,” I explained to Akash.

Akash learned to journey on his own, too. “I was deprived of a gentler, slower childhood by parents who were focussed on marks and grades, and a career in engineering for me, the three priorities that I was mostly uninvolved with. I always escaped falling into their ambushes, their urgings, and their hopings, their setting of limits to my expansion, by posing to be a flight risk for them. Can you see now that I am not dissimilar to you? I broke away after college to pursue my own welfare, and today my parents have made peace with my choices. I suspect it is on account of the successes that have fallen into my kitty,” he said.

The stories we tell about our lives are inadequate to their real complexity. Yet I could picture him and make sense of what he was saying. A simple, smiling boy with a high forehead. Playing with a dog in a muddy playground. And building castles in the air.

To keep the chutzpah in our lives alive, we pranked each other with delight. You could call our sense of fun different. I called him over once to a hospital emphasizing that it was urgent. I dragged him to the gynaecological department, and when he worriedly asked why, I would not tell. “We have been ultra-careful, haven’t we?” he asked fretfully. I would not answer. When, finally, he figured that all this was just to collect my routine check-up report, I could not decide which was funnier, his exasperation, or his relief. 

His skylarking, that took a while in coming, took the guise of several small fake spiders tied to a thin string. A killer job! He taped the string just above our bathroom door jam and then shut the door. When I opened the door, the spiders fell on me one after another, even as I kicked, screamed, and wailed in an unsophisticated fluster, turning sick with anxiety.

The aftermath of our romance, when our six-month bracket began to close in upon us, elicited a lot of emotion. He had to begin thinking of the US, I of London. Our life of comfort that we had built together was coming to an end and our moment of crisis was upon us. 

Should we demur to our farsighted choices, our earlier decisions to go to the US and London, decisions that did require of us long periods of deliberation? Or should we depend on our intuition? Make place for our attachment? 

In this moment of reckoning, as in my other at-a-crossroads-juncture in my life, my grandmother’s words came to my rescue. I remembered how I used to brace myself as a child on her left shoulder when my father reprimanded me and her right shoulder when my mother threw vile words at me, while she soothed me with comforting words. The wily, wizened, grand old lady had during such moments said to me, “When you are faced with a difficult turn in your life, when you can neither look back or forward, you need to excavate things that are important to you, things that bring zest and gaiety of an inexhaustible joie de vivre.  Always remember, the brain of the sage must have a corner for the fool, an optimistic, utopian space.”

These words have given me comfort in tough times. But more than that it has given me perspective. It was no different this time around. I now knew what I wanted. I did not want to wake up to realize I had lost the one person in life who could understand the subtle difference between independent and interdependent and could help me combine both with joy. And I knew unquestioningly that I should hold on to the one person who knew about ambiguities within relationships.

And that’s where I was. Aching in my heart with a set of contrasting, mushed up needs. I was aware that my current beliefs flew in the face of everything that I worked for so far. Settling down always seemed to me like giving in to living life on an expected loop. A virtuous, staid life, complete with harness and bells. It was like catching a bad habit. Yet in the very same breath, the very same idea, the idea of conjoining futures, now seemed to be exciting. In a startling strangeness, it appeared rash and reckless, one where future possibilities bloomed in a deliriously wonderful manner.  

Confusing? Yes, I was most certainly muddled.

But did he know as well? If he did, he did not say. His lack of candor was scary. It disturbed me immensely this time around. I fretted as I could not temper down my fears of his decision being the opposite of mine. I became increasingly tearful, and waves of despair washed over me. Why isn’t he separating shadow from substance? If I was clear on “London, be damned” why is he drawing out his decision, the telling of it to me? Will he find a way to be in my life? Or will he retreat?

I suspected that a stealthy solicitousness on his part was his way of putting a distance between us. I told myself for some days that his non-directness was understandable, and not ignoble. But soon I began to chafe against his silence, the indecisiveness of our situation. Finally, I did what I scared to do. I stirred the pot. I asked him for his decision.

“Wait,” he ordered. “I have made my decision while sober. I am going to get drunk now.  I have always made big decisions in my life by thinking them twice over: once while drunk, once while sober.” 

I stared in disbelief. This was a new level of levity even for me. One that threw up alarming new uncertainties.

“Silly girl, of course, US be damned!” he exclaimed. 

“But I have thought through another option. Marry me and then head off to London for two years as I go off to the United States. I will be back home sooner and two years will pass by in a twinkling of the eye for you. Maybe, I could even hop across to London once I am done with my work in the States. That is if you will allow me. To liven up your studies that will drag on horribly long without me. What say?”

I could now exhale. 

His plan sounded like prudential algebra. Future planning with a twist of fun. Exuberance even. 

And, now as a married woman, I wait for our lives to unfold before us.


Chitra Gopalakrishnan uses her ardor for writing, wing to wing, to break firewalls between nonfiction and fiction, narratology and psychoanalysis, marginalia and manuscript and tree-ism and capitalism.


Covid Anxiety by Lois Perch Villemaire

Online Open Mic- 2021

Lois Perch Villemaire captures the collective feeling we have in the world right now as we struggle through this pandemic. It is so important to express these things, keep ourselves sane through the insanity. Through these expressions we remind each other that we are all going through this together, and together is how we will come out the other side.

Covid Anxiety
By Lois Perch Villemaire

Feeling anxious,
something is crawling beneath your skin,
Not knowing what to expect
as today ends and tomorrow begins.

Confusion and uncertainty
are unwelcome companions,
Stretching, growing, filling
spaces, wide and deep as canyons.

Sensations of falling through time,
Nothing holds fast,
Life passages are celebrated on Zoom,
craving freedoms of the past.

Trying not to be hypnotized
by the monotony of each passing day,
Becoming sadly undone,
Shadows lurking, to your dismay.

You recognize it,
the weakness in your shoulders,
the fluttering in your chest,
the dryness in your mouth.

Closing your eyes and taking a deep breath,
Trying to quell sensations.
Digging fingers into your forehead,
The pressure feels good.

Vaccines begin to emerge,
hopefully the beginning of the end
Of this time of required isolation,
Setting you free, changing you forever.

Lois Perch Villemaire lives in Annapolis, MD. Her poetry, flash fiction, and memoir pieces have appeared in Potato Soup Journal, Ponder Savant, FewerThan500, The Drabble, Pen-in-Hand, Flora Fiction, North of Oxford, and Flash Frontier. Her work has been published in several anthologies published by Truth Serum Press.

Follow: She blogs for and

A Pure Work of Art – Photographic Series by Rifa Tasfia

Online Open Mic Series

This next artist takes us on a journey of her self exploration through the heaviness of labels and expectations. Rifa Tasfia inspires confidence, and a warm acceptance of oneself through these powerfully detailed images. Let her artistry start your week with a resolved sense of self worth and strength.

Artist Statement

Series Title: A Pure work of Art

 “A pure work of art” is a Photographic series about self -love and all the criticisms to build by people to label someone as a particular object who doesn’t always fit in the box. This series is deeply personal, beauty is subjective and to be labelled as beautiful one must have perfect slim figure with perfect hair and skin.  The rarest thing in Bangladeshi culture is to accept someone for who they are and to remember that we are more than just a body.

We are all dependent to art, these films, photographs and music we encounter every day is all different forms of art. “A pure work of art” reflects on personal growth, love and passion. These series contains both myself as the Art and the Artist. As a Fine Artist belonging in a Bangladeshi culture, I have experienced many hate comments towards my dreams and career not only that I have also experienced body shaming and discouraging words toward my body.  It’s like I’m not the ideal girl to fit in. Self-doubt and low self-esteem don’t come in a day, many people my age still grew up with doubting themselves, based on how they look and have very low body confidence. The harassment of bullying lets a young mind change the perspective about themselves into pure hatred, hatred towards their own skin. The vicious cycle of low self-worth and social approval is like a blood sucking parasite, that sticks to you for a very long period of time. This sort of cycle doesn’t bother me anymore, as I did few years back. Because I know my worth, my worth doesn’t have to be defined by my size. Nobody is ever ready to talk about the constant obsession of looking perfect. I have always considered myself as the Sunflower, that doesn’t fit perfectly in any garden, on a vase neither on a bouquet. Its like we have our own garden, rarely seen or touched. Anyone would rather pick a rose than a sunflower, because people like the idea of different or change but wouldn’t risk their lives for it. In reality it’s the same thing, very few people appreciate artists, They like the idea of it but wouldn’t stick around with one.

As an artist I have developed a way escaping reality by just simply painting. This sweet escape means solace and inner peace. In this series I have used my body as the canvas and my talent as paint. So, here’s a series of self-portraits and photographs of myself, a mixture of my flesh and my artistic style. A small journey to self-discovery and growth since Self-love is hard, it takes great deal of patience and time. Both art and loving oneself requires effort, dedication and unconditional love, its kind of like the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly. The transformation to enjoy oneself, to live at our fullest makes us glow and grow differently. 

 Below begins the  Abstract Photographic Series of growth, love and passion, each photograph is titled.

First Glance


Disappearance of my past self


I am Enough

Tears to Thunder

Slowly Blooming

Beautifully Crafted




Happy Flower


Rifa Tasfia 


Instagram handle: @tazflea

The Road Home & Other Poetry by Kelli J. Gavin

Online Open Mic – 2021

Kelli J. Gavin poetry, my favorite line in this set: “I catch fire more often than I care to admit.”

Now let her poetry set you ablaze.

The Road Home
By: Kelli J Gavin

I have walked one too many roads

A few stray paths have distracted me

Not always sure where I was going

Or why I was called away

Home should be where the heart is

But sometimes my heart would fail

A faulty human with a messy soul

At least I thought I should search

Maybe there was something more

Someplace where my mind could rest

Where I wouldn’t feel such constant flux

A place where sleep would come easily

But those roads lead to nothing I wanted

Everything I thought was for me- wasn’t

Joy couldn’t be found down any worn road

Happiness couldn’t be detected on a new path

Rest was absent from any trail my feet tread

Boldness was needed to turn back around

To return to where I had come from

I wasn’t going to accept how I had failed

I learned that acceptance was defeat

Finding the strength to make changes

Discovering new ways of loving life daily

The road home seemed to be a needed journey

I realized that I needed to be elsewhere

Only to find that road home

I needed to create a new life

This time I will stay the course and rediscover

That everything I need is already within reach

The road home is the only road for me

Fire Away
By: Kelli J Gavin

Those words
Hurt and scarred
Left me damaged
Unable to function
I found my armor
Where it had been stored
For a time such as this
Knowing it would be needed
Knowing it was needed with you
Those words
You fire away
Each time
My armor protects
It guards
It deflects
Enables me to move on
To walk away
To increase my speed
From you
From words
That assail
And hit
Striking hot
I won’t return
Never again
Not this time
Fire away
Your words are not needed
Never were
Best wishes
You no longer have a target
Fire away

By: Kelli J Gavin

Do you really see me?
The real me?
The one that loves.
The one who aches.
Who burns.
Who feels defeated.
Even depleted.
Do you?
Really see me?
The one that wants you.
The one who desires you.
Who smolders.
Who desires nothing other than you.
I think not.
If you did, that love would be returned.
It never has been reciprocated.
What if you were the one that loved?
That ached and burned.
I would see you.
I would really see you.
If you felt defeated and depleted.
I would help rebuild you.
I would love you so deeply.
You would always know you were wanted.
Absolutely know you were desired.
Please see me the way I would see you.

By: Kelli J Gavin

I catch fire more often than I care to admit
I catch feelings that fan the flame
I wonder if others burn the way I do
I wonder if they have pulled all the alarms
You can only fuel the fire for so long
You can’t watch from afar

I burn up rather quickly
My throat tightens
My hands wring
My eyes wince from the smoke
I wipe the soot from my skin
My feet tread carefully

Not sure where to turn
Not sure if the floor will hold
The beams crash around me
The flames shoot up each wall
Five alarm fire I am afraid
No one cares to respond

The flame is extinguished
Usually by me creating distance
The ruins are all I have left
The embers continue to smolder
Nothing will ever be the same
I don’t have anything to cling to

It must be obvious
I sweep up the remnants
Nothing left to piece back together
At least the walls have been scrubbed
New rugs have been laid
All prepared for the next time I burn


Kelli J Gavin of Carver, Minnesota is a Writer, Editor, Blogger and Professional Organizer. Her work can be found with Clarendon House Publishing, Sweetycat Press, The Ugly Writers, Sweatpants & Coffee, Zombie Pirates Publishing, Setu, Cut 19, Passionate Chic, Otherwise Engaged, Flora Fiction, Love What Matters, Printed Words and Southwest Media among others. Kelli’s first two books were released in 2019 (“I Regret Nothing- A Collection of Poetry and Prose” and “My Name is Zach- A Teenage Perspective on Autism”). She has also co-authored 17 anthology books.                                    


Her blog can be found at

A House of Cards by MJ L’Espérance

Online Open Mic – 2021

MJ L’Espérance tender words encompass sweetness and sorrows. My favorite line, “Empty rooms filled to the brim of made-up memories that we pick up from the floor like children’s toys.”

Take in this captivating poem below.

A House of Cards

There is one little dirty word
that makes the house of cards I built
within myself
in a whirlwind
of red and black,
of hearts and spades.

The wedding ceremony
where I would have worn a pretty velvet dress
and arrived at the chapel on a sleigh
dragged by two horses wearing bells, ringing
in the cold air of a December afternoon.
The father-daughter dance,
probably a cha-cha so you could lead confidently
and because it makes you laugh
to count it out loud
while I step on your toes.
(Do you remember that it goes ‘one-two-three,

The house I would have bought in the suburbs
with a wrap-around porch
and an apple tree in the backyard.
A homey house, smelling of chicken soup
and banana bread and a fireplace.
A real dining room and a table large enough for twelve.
The perfect house to have the family
over every year for Christmas.
And your anniversary.
And our birthdays.
(December, February, June, November)

The sounds of your grandchildren
running around, screaming and laughing
as they tugged on the dog’s tail.
Embarrassing traces of tears
you would have wiped with the back of your hand
after you would have kissed them goodbye.
(Do you remember how you used to cover your face during sad movies?)
All those times you would have whispered
their names under your breath,
a melody so full of promises,
the sound of sunshine after such a long storm.

I do not live there anymore,
and neither do you.
The whole building threatens to fall apart.
But in the confines of my heart,
the place where I keep you
warm within me,
you are still there
waiting by the door for me.
We are long gone, but in my mind’s eye
all of this is still possible because I made you
the guardian of that would-be life.
I entrusted that disappearing future within you.

Empty rooms filled to the brim of made-up memories
that we pick up from the floor like children’s toys,

like you build a home
from a house.


MJ L’Espérance is a bilingual writer and educator who lives in Montreal, QC. She writes about mental health, disabilities, loss and lust. In her spare time, she likes to run after cats in back alleys and walk barefoot on the grass.