top of page

Four Untitled Catastrophe Poems

Darren C. Demaree


each ask a backward way

each gift a confirmation

of our freedom follow

me to unreasonable

giving be lost here right

here lose your name empty-hand

the landscape close your eyes

regardless the light finds you

what return what return


fields my time fire and fire

a smile a devotion 

atoms atoms all blood


i take my brain to remove

the idea of heaven

& i grow more desperate


to save the burial

lands we all share in that way

i’m home with or without


find your chattering ears

pinch then with a raw meat the fox

of this moment looks hard


for unsteady listeners

slow your wrong direction

the blood will fill the canals 


reality sloshes

do not lie down the fox waits

& the crop can be drowned


our bond exists because

not all songs need to be loud

& you are listening


intently you feel good safe

enough to allow my

whispering right now do not


run the mist is not fog

the heaving is real lie down

help me breathe for the lamb

Darren C. Demaree is the Editor in Chief of the Best of the Net Anthology and Managing Editor of Ovenbird Poetry. His poems have appeared, or are scheduled to appear in numerous magazines/journals, including Hotel Amerika, Diode, North American Review, New Letters, Diagram, and the Colorado Review. He is the author of sixteen poetry collections, most recently 'a child walks in the dark' (November 2021, Harbor Editions). He is currently living and writing in Columbus, Ohio with his wife and children.


Laurel S. Peterson

A room, sort of like the arrivals hall at JFK

on a weekday morning at about 7,

when all the transpacific flights arrive at once

and the crowd bunches like last night’s dinner

moving from stomach through intestines

and into colon; where first

one negotiates questions

and documentation

and impenetrable machines and, finally,

someone unsmiling asks

if you’ve done all your paperwork,

paid your parking tickets, taxes and dues,

if you’ve avoided jaywalking and fattening

your children like Hansel and Gretel’s witch,

then maybe you’ll be expelled from this life

into the damp emptiness of eternity.


Or not.

Because there’s always the option

of a small, closed room

and a couple of officers

in uniforms that stink as though

they’ve been working back-to-back

twelve-hour shifts, and a large German shepherd

who sits by your knee panting,

and those grubby hands examining

the underwear you packed last night in Auckland

after the only shower you’d taken

in six days. Disgust etches itself

between his eyebrows in parallel lines

and you know the next step is hell.


Or not.

Because there’s always the possibility

that way back in that place before the line starts

where you fell off the zipline and broke your neck

or ate just one more cream-filled doughnut

or performed one last backflip into the pool,

someone will step in and shock you back to life,

shove you out of line, escort you to the taxi rank,

tell you to behave and get it together and what were you thinking,

and, joy of all joys, let you ride

back into the smelly, living heaven


of whatever is left of your life.

Laurel S. Peterson is a Professor of English at Norwalk Community College in Connecticut. Her work has been published many literary magazines. She has two poetry chapbooks, That’s the Way the Music Sounds (Finishing Line Press), and Talking to the Mirror (Last Automat Press), and two full-length collections, Do You Expect Your Art to Answer? (2017) and Daughter of Sky (2022) both from Futurecycle Press. She also has written two mystery novels, Shadow Notes (2021) and The Fallen (2022), from Woodhall Press. She was the poet laureate for the city of Norwalk, Connecticut, from 2016 – 2019 and serve on the editorial board of Inkwell magazine.



Perhaps I Will Always Be A Child

Trianne Harabedian Flores

Sometimes, I am surprised

by how little time I have been alive,

how few moons I have circled the sun.

Counted spider web shimmer rings.

I cradle information, rectangular in my grasp,

pages and glass and blue light.

How strange to know things

that happened before I existed.

How peculiar to still be unraveling

moments when I was there,

breathing and watching.

How odd to be aware

there are invisible spiders living on my face,

munching on the oil and dirt,

cleansing my skin and falling in love

and having babies and dying.

What can I do about all this knowledge?


Trianne Harabedian Flores holds a BFA in creative writing from Belhaven University, as well as a MA and MFA in creative writing from San Francisco State University. She works in collegiate instructional technology and resides in Fresno, California. 



George Freek

(After Tu Fu)

A fat cloud stumbles

over the last light. The moon

comes into sight. Leaves fall

where shadows sit

like old men,

sipping cold tea.

My garden lies

under winter snows,

but in my mind’s eye

I see daffodils

straining toward the sky,

and bees gathering nectar

before the last flowers die.


George Freek's poetry has appeared in numerous Journals and Reviews. His poem "Written At Blue Lake" was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize. His poem "Enigmatic Variations" is currently nominated for Best of the Net. His poem "Night Thoughts" is also nominated for a Pushcart Prize. His collection "Melancholia" is published by Red Wolf Editions.  His collection "Melancholia" is published By Red Wolf Editions. 


I Dream in Absence

A.J. Huffman

of actual sleep. My semi-conscious

mind forages through drawers full of potential

emotional triggers in search of inspiration,

something tangible to hold

on to, an anchor to keep us securely

under slumber’s fickle waves, or to drag us,

unwillingly, into tomorrow’s sight.

A.J. Huffman is a poet and freelance writer in Daytona Beach, Florida.  She has published 27 collections and chapbooks of poetry.  In addition, she has published her work in numerous national and international literary journals.  She is currently the editor for Kind of a Hurricane Press literary journals ( ).   



Grace Stevens

I jumped into a lake with bricks you tied to my ankles

As I watched the beauty of the evening float to the surface

I ran out of air


And as I lay there so stupid

My life seeping into the sand

You ran off and forgot


Didn’t you love me;

Didn’t you care?

Just tell me why.


You wanted to see the sunset

One of many kinds

For you, for me, for us


I called your name

And my chest filled with water

Escaping through my eyes


But then you looked for me?

Concerned when I didn’t scurry to your call?

Had you forgotten what happened in the dark?

Grace Stevens is 15 years old. Writing has become her passion and her outlet for things that she can't adequately express otherwise. 



Roman Gutierrez

my skin is

suffocating me. 


because the responsibility 

is truly unbearable 


but not because i 

don’t want it


but because i have 

to field questions about it 


my hair, too 

and not considerate ones 


not questions concerned 

with the man standing before them 


questions about people

that i now speak for 


                “where is your dad?” 

                “and mom?” 

                “you sure don’t have a Mexican accent.” 


i never asked 

for the responsibility 

to teach. 


not yet at least. 


but my skin is suffocating 

and creating discomfort 

and division 


my skin is my chore 

that i am trying to love. 

Roman M. Gutierrez is an aspiring writer gifted with talent galore. Those include -- but are not limited to -- breathing, blinking, and overthinking. Roman can often be found with his nose in a book. His most prized possession is a medal bought at a local thrift store he pretends he actually won. Personable, kind, witty, and enjoys long naps on the couch, Roman is one of a kind.

Joan Miro's Catalan Landscape (The Hunter)

John Brantingham

Miro’s hunter can walk his landscape

with enough serenity to smoke his pipe

because his world is abundant with life:

birds, snakes, deer, and fish sufficient to take

and feed whoever is waiting at home.

So this chore is a pleasure too. He’ll bring

back dinner, but now he can take time to think

the long thoughts he has when his mind can roam.

Miro’s hunter has figured it out, of course,

not to live a simple life. No one does.

He understands what is real and what is not.

Food is real. The deer he stalks, his horse,

his wife, his kids, the way the sky changes

color, how right now at dawn it turns butterscotch.


John Brantingham was Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks’ first poet laureate. His work has been featured in hundreds of magazines. He has nineteen books of poetry and fiction including his latest, Life: Orange to Pear (Bamboo Dart Press). He lives in Jamestown, New York.

Joan Miro

speak to others

Cathy Shang

I am not proud of the things I've said

 I wish

To take back a thousand words, and perhaps one more. To swallow the sound that’s passed.

To be deafened in my disgrace.


I wish

to un-hear what I’ve heard, or perhaps indifference will do. To rip bullets out those loaded words.

To soften the rage in my misery.


But it was I, who screamed

“Be proud of what you have to say or do not speak at all.”


I promise I’ll be better.

Cathy Shang is a junior studying in Shanghai. She enjoys creating digital art and animations and is very active in parliamentary debate.

bottom of page