She wore no wig to cover her bald head
When first we met -- she seemed to feel no shame;
"It's fine…my mom had cancer too," I said.
I saw the words sink in and wished instead
I hadn't said a thing, and not laid blame
On some obtrusive illness -- should have read
Her face and seen that coping with such dread
Depends on never calling it by name.

by E. Shaun Russell

E. Shaun Russell is a musician and formalist poet whose work has appeared in over twenty journals over the past year and a half. Some of his favorite credits include ThInk Journal, Writer's Journal, The Homestead Review, Shit Creek Review as well as the last issue of The Barefoot Muse. He currently makes his home in a suburb of Vancouver but will be relocating to Washington D.C. by year's end.


I thought I was dying but it was nothing.
It seems to be happening more and more often.
It's the kind of nothing that's something

the way a coat hanger swinging
in an empty room you keep coming back to
because you think something is in there, is nothing--

the way a current of air,
or a rise in the wind, or an almost imperceptible
drop in the temperature, is something.

Some things are more themselves than others.
Some are lymphomas, and some are lipomas,
and sometimes all the worrying's for nothing--

the fasting, the testing, the blood-work and x-rays,
the invasive, exploratory, tortuous, torturous
procedures turn up nothing. Something

poetic about a lifetime of saying
you're dying. Something hyperbolic.
Something metaphoric. Nothing
like a good metaphor for saying what something's like.

by Paul Hostovsky

Paul Hostovsky's poems appear widely online and in print. He has won a Pushcart Prize, the Muriel Craft Bailey Award from The Comstock Review, and chapbook contests from Grayson Books, Riverstone Press, and the Frank Cat Press. His work has been featured on Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, The Writer's Almanac, and The Best of the Net. His first full-length collection, Bending the Notes, is available from Main Street Rag. Visit his website: www.paulhostovsky.com.

Table of Contents    Next Poem(s)   Guidelines