Laura Madeline Wiseman

Old Cottonwood on the Forest Path

I wore my artist’s smock and camera bag.
I parked the Vibe and started walking towards you.
You were the accidental roundabout.
You were posing, his helper, bare branches, empty sky.
I gave you my silhouette, my head thrown back.
You were breaking apart and hollow.
I pulled my hands from my pockets.
I traced your blackened, furrowed heart.
I said you were here when she was here.
You said she got pregnant.
You said she married a man.
You might as well have said she overdosed.
I said asphalt and tar would kill you.
I said this culture kills and kills.
You said I’ve been standing nearly a century.
I said let me feel your broken limbs.
You scratched at my neck where her lips had been.
You pressed my fingers into your jagged edge.

Laura Madeline Wiseman has a doctorate from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she teaches English and creative writing. She is the author of seven collections of poetry, including Sprung (San Francisco Bay Press, 2012) and Unclose the Door (Gold Quoin Press, 2012). She is also the editor of Women Write Resistance: Poets Resist Gender Violence (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2013). Her writings have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Margie, Arts & Letters, Poet Lore, and Feminist Studies. She has received awards from the Academy of American Poets and Mari Sandoz/Prairie Schooner, and grants from the Center for the Great Plains Studies and the Wurlitzer Foundation.

Martin Willitts, Jr.

Lifting Out of Ourselves


We all have a fervent wish 
to lift out of our bones into a sublime sky
shedding skin 

deepness is impenetrable

within the split of milliseconds, 
within sunken silence,
emptying the bowl of itself. 


There is a lifeline map in our palms,
disturbance of belief beyond singular breath, 
in which everything snaps into place, 
opens its segments to reveal 
a shining, intangible formula 
of augmented light.

Nature is impartial. There is no judgment, 
no finger-pointing, no forbidding, 
no condensation of breath into tropical birds, 
no revision of light. Only the return — the giving 
endlessly of love — branches 
of elevated love in absolved light.


This rugged land, rubbed smooth 
by a carpenter’s plane, sandpaper fine —
solitudes of cold streams 
find memory: 
lopsided furrows of plowed ages, 
daybreak-ecstasy of dew. 

To some, this is more than enough 
to break a heart into twigs. 


Changeable weather
just beyond awakening, untangling. 
Gravity has lost its hold. 


the nimblest, smallest thing,
a careful, invisible hand, 
feathers of rain — stillness passing, 
leaving things behind.

Martin Willitts Jr.’s forthcoming poetry books include Waiting For The Day To Open Its Wings (UNBOUND Content), Art Is the Impression of an Artist (Edgar and Lenore’s Publishing House), City Of Tents (Crisis Chronicles Press), Swimming In the Ladle of Stars (Kattywompus Press), and he is the winner of the inaugural Wild Earth Poetry Contest for his full length collection Searching For What Is Not There (Hiraeth Press, 2013).

Marion Cohen


Yesterday I decided to Google 721 Sheridan Avenue, Roselle NJ. I wanted to know 
whether those bushes were still there, whether the next-door driveway was still there, 
whether indeed 721 Sheridan was still there. It was, the bushes too and the next door 
driveway. But not our driveway, the one we used to scamper around on while Mommy 
sprinkled the water hose on us most summer days. Yesterday our driveway was grass.

I moved the cursor a house or two both left and right but I didn’t recognize those houses. 
So I moved it back to 721, tried to follow it into the windows, especially the top ones. 
Was our old bedroom still one big room, do two children still sleep there and jump from 
bed to bed?

The cursor wouldn’t go in there so I decided to Google 13 Whittier Avenue, Franklin 
Township, NJ. That was before 721 Sheridan. But I kept getting 16 Whittier or 14 or 12. 
Nothing was the light green house with the dark red roof. 

Then I tried to move the cursor to that mailbox down the street, just before those woods. 
I see mailboxes like that in thrift stores every once in a while. They’re metal and kind 
of big and if there’s mail that day, a red flag perks up. My father used to take me along 
when he got the mail, sometimes we’d continue walking through those woods. There was 
a little brook and a tree. Once I left my Sparkle Plenty doll under that tree. She had long 
golden curly hair. When I remembered her we walked back but she wasn’t there. 

Next time I’m going to Google “upstairs bedroom, two wooden beds, 721 Sheridan Ave” 
and “mailbox with little red flag, left end of Whittier Ave”. Maybe I’ll even Google 
Sparkle Plenty.

Marion Deutsche Cohen is expecting her 20th book any minute — Parables for a Rainy Day, Green Fuse Press, CO. Other recent titles include the memore Dirty Details: The Days and Nights of a Well Spouse (Temple University Press, PA) and Crossing the Equal Sign (Plain View Press, TX), poetry about the experience of mathematics. She teaches math at Arcadia University in Glenside PA, where she developed the course Mathematics in Literature. Other interests are classical piano, singing, Scrabble, thrift-shopping, four grown children, and three grand.

Christina Lovin


I am high on nitrous oxide. 
Or did the assistant just say 
that? Am I? I am? Is my 
iPod plugged into my ear
or is that an angel? Emmy Lou 
Harris is singing The Boxer and I lose
my equilibrium in the whirling
of my brain. It should be someone 
else whose name I can't remember 
just now. Simone? Nina Simone? 
No. Garfinkel? Garfunkel? 
Simon and Garfunkel. Yes.

Emmy Lou sings on: Li-la-li, 
li-la-li li, li,li, li. I'm lying 
in this chair, afloat in her voice. 
Drifting on her raw, urgent voice
with no paddle up my canoe.
Is that right? No, Christina. 
The assistant says something.
I was just waiting for someone 
like you, Emmy sings. I open my mouth

and nod as if knowing what was asked. 
The good patient. But I am not 
in this chair, I am rising above 
the student center at my old college, 
where the steps are littered with leaves—
gold, red, brown. Good times 
and lovers... In the mist, the old main 
building remains, standing stately 
on the corner across the quad
in gray stone and dim hallways
where it was torn down 
in '68, and we live down the block
and I am young again. All of us

are still alive. I've grown used to losing 
what I'm fondest of. I think of boys 
I knew there—never more than friendly 
strangers, but returning to me 
now in this numb fog of pleasure 
and pain. Three brothers, dead 
for years now. My mother, father, 
friends. That girl down the hall

who was killed my freshman year.
Her room as empty as her parents’ faces
when they came to gather her belongings.
I don’t want to remember what I am 
in this state: I've gone inside 
the student center, down the stairs, 
or is it up from the basement? 
I don't know now--the sun is glinting
in from the snow outside the tall,
tall windows in sharp shards of light. 
Does that building even exist? Do I? 

Are you all right? Someone whispers 
and pats my shoulder. The work
is finished. She's said this; 
not me. I nod and open my eyes 
as if I understood the words. 
As if I can grasp what they mean.
As if, drowning as I am in the past, 
afloat with no bridge in sight, I care.

Christina Lovin is the author of A Stirring in the Dark, What We Burned for Warmth and Little Fires. A two-time Pushcart nominee and multi-award winner, her writing has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. Southern Women Writers named Lovin 2007 Emerging Poet. Having served as Writer-in-Residence at Devil’s Tower National Monument and the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest in Central Oregon, she served as inaugural Writer-in-Residence at Connemara, the NC home of the late poet Carl Sandburg. Lovin has been a resident fellow at Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Vermont Studio Center, Prairie Center of the Arts, Orcas Island Artsmith Residency at Kangaroo House, and Footpaths House to Creativity in the Azores. Her work has been supported with grants from Elizabeth George Foundation, Kentucky Foundation for Women, and Kentucky Arts Council. She resides with four dogs in a rural central Kentucky, where she is currently a lecturer at Eastern Kentucky University.

Jed Myers

Face in the Glass

You’re at the mirror over the sink.
A practical detail—the familiar
wisp of hair on the brow, say—
calls to be tamed, and you slip

into a way of seeing the furrows,
bony ridges, cartilaginous lobes
of flesh, as a remote waste,
a wilderness in time’s drift,

strange. You’re a scientist
tracing a sphinx’s physiognomy
against the fluorescent-tinged expanse—
never seen anything like this…

till the phone rings, or your companion 
(with whom you’ve slept since before
you first felt old) calls though the door,
the spell breaks, and it’s your own

face in the glass another morning,
this is your place, and as much
as you sense (a ripple through your flesh)
what’s left in that cold reflective land

as the light softens, you feel blessed
to remember your name, the comb in your hand.

Jed Myers is a Philadelphian living in Seattle. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Prairie Schooner, Nimrod International Journal, Golden Handcuffs Review, Atlanta Review, The Quotable, Jabberwock Review, Crab Creek Review, the Journal of the American Medical Association, the Rose Alley Press anthology Many Trails to the Summit, and elsewhere. He’s received several recent awards, among them the 2012 Mary C. Mohr Editors’ Award from Southern Indiana Review, and Honorable Mention for the Norton Girault Literary Prize from Barely South Review.

Christina Montana


When we try to pick something up by itself,
we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.
                                                             ~John Muir

Everyone remains
forever hitched on spools
of past occurrences:
uninsured car crash worth 
two bumbling lawyers and
a life’s worth of saving,
but the crash stopped traffic
and each expanding bit
of universe, layers
all whip-stitched, spiral-bound 
until the thread is tugged
and unraveled, spinning
into frayed gossame
leads one to another.
I am a single rung
on a cluttered ladder
stitched beneath atoms and
stubbed toes; angry people
wanting to buy the new
toy on a tech store shelf,
a little girl dropping 
ice cream on the concrete,
I am the cop whose task
was to salvage three charred
bodies from a dead home 
of three (dog included).
Unraveled cop car crash:
the family man heads home,
now poor, his daughter’s dreams
poured into a lawyer
who failed to win the case,  
and sets fire to slumber.
The cop, whose lawyer won,
arrives at the scene and 
absorbs the shorn ravels
of interwoven fates.

Christina Montana  is currently a fourth year student at the University of Florida. She is studying English with a focus in creative writing, as well as obtaining a minor in anthropology. Predominantly a novelist and short fiction writer, this is her first poetry publication.

John Muth

Mannequin Girl

My girlfriend is a nihilist
recently released
lithe and wooden
pale like influenza,
a doomsday mannequin 
with vacant eyes.

She likes strange
displays of affection
serves me almond-scented 
strawberry tarts for breakfast
wants to teach me
how to clean a loaded gun.

Her social worker 
calls me every week
suggests I move away
and change my name
but it’s hard to find a woman
at my age
plus, she doesn’t talk that much
and never has a problem being naked.

John Muth was born and raised in central New Jersey. He is an academic advisor at Rutgers University. His inspiration comes from many areas, but the frustrations and absurdities that result from the relationships between people and between people and machines are among his favorite topics. Some of his poems have appeared in The Stray Branch, Asinine Poetry, and Drown In My Own Fears.

Jessica McCaughey

Sleep in the Week that Follows

Sunday Night
Michael is dying. In my dream, he has gone blind, but seems to know it's me creeping up to his bed, where he lies 
in dirty jeans, eyes shut, and without the thick blue frames I so intricately paired to his face at the eye doctor’s 
office. Smaller now, his eyes are swollen and red. I walk around the room slowly and his attention follows me. 
He tells me that soon his hearing will go as well. And then the rest. I sit on the edge of the unfamiliar 
antique-style bed. I nod and touch his arm. I am cold and he is warm. We both flinch as our skin sparks. All I can 
think of is how much I'd like to leave.

I wake crying over my ambivalence. It is cool and black with a bluish tint in my bedroom, but the dream had been 
orange, candlelit, and I feel my eyes change, as if struggling to adjust.

Monday Night
At 2:00 I am jarred awake by my own voice in the cold. It's monotone; an exhausted call for help, as if some 
caretaker will answer at the slightest call, sit down and pat my fingers or my hair. As if they might bring a warm 
washcloth to my forehead, heal me, warm me in combat of the broken heater. My shoulder sore from lying at an 
odd angle, I wiggle my body, working out the ache and the mental reverberation.

Tuesday Night
Woody Allen is in the kitchen of my grandfather's house, and has talked me into making a bomb with him.

"It's not like we're going to use it. What're you, crazy?" he asks me. "We're just going to make it."

I am easily convinced. The bomb requires coffee, and lots of it. With the two-cup brewer, it takes a while. 
I pour small pot after small pot into a steel vat, but eventually I get careless. Grinds overspill. Weak batches 
are mixed in. Woody is not happy. My father walks in with familiar donuts, those that powder-coated my 
childhood weekends. He reprimands me for my bomb-making attempt.

"If you want to help Woody make a bomb, that's your business. But first you need to go clean up your laundry."

The downstairs is littered with my dirty underwear and t-shirts. I'm embarrassed and can't clean them up fast 

Wednesday Night
Sitting on the ground and holding a glass of water between my knees, I struggle to balance and escape an 
inward-collapsing gravel hole. Like quicksand, it slides and sinks while I struggle on all fours, backwards like a crab, 
panicked. I look over, and Michael is on firm ground in a beach chair. He sees me, but turns away. I waddle faster 
as the hole picks up speed, expanding. I abandon my water, hear it ping, then shatter on its way down, and focus 
on the business of scooting awkwardly toward safety.

Thursday Night
Only solid, pinot noir-soaked sleep.

Friday Night
Years ago it was reoccurring: I have found an old love. We are rapt, yet each time we kiss, our mouths fill with sand. 
Only the location of the dream changed. A museum. A basement. A cave.

Now snow is falling quickly, and Michael and I watch silently from his oversized, dusty window. I want to stay, though
at first he seems reluctant to have me. Then he kisses me. 

There is no sand, but it feels like the kiss of an uncle or a cousin. I push forward into him anyway. Downstairs we 
watch people dance on television. His roommate is a rail-thin model, and mocks the costumes in her raspy voice. 
The doorbell rings, but all we find are strands of long, dark hair in a trail of snow.

Saturday Night
I dream of us lying on an orange-blanketed bed in the middle of the day. The fabric is worn and soft, faded and 
puckered from the wash. The sun warms us through the window. Our limbs stretch out toward all four corners. 
My head is propped on Michael's stomach, and we let out contented murmurs, hands grazing shoulders, eyes closed.
When I remember I'm not supposed to be there, I sit up and look toward the window and squint, stalling. Eventually
I go, pulling one hand from his leg, one from the blanket. Stepping off the blanket is sadder than the earliest, coldest 
mornings in winter, broken heater and all.

Jessica McCaughey earned her MA in English and MFA in Creative Writing from George Mason University in Virginia. Her work has appeared in The Colorado Review, Silk Road Review, Best American Travel Essays 2011, and Phoebe, among other publications. She teaches first-year and professional writing at The George Washington University in Washington, DC.

Joanne Lozar Glenn

A Tailor’s Daughter Explores Loving-Kindness Meditation

In the seven points of mind training, one must become accustomed to ripping the selvage 
edges of even beautifully brocaded material. It is important to train in the preliminaries, 
so first the tailor’s daughter scraps the vestiges of old patterns. Then she mends the 
tears ever so gently, basting the garment parts to each other as carefully as the stone 
frog balances on the edge of the red lacquered chest, joining in meditation whatever 
she meets unexpectedly: a snag in the silk noil, skipped stitches where the presser foot 
hiccupped. She knows to thread a sturdier needle with new yarns cut from string art in 
random arrangements brought to light under the soft glow of the Chinese porcelain lamp 
resting in the alcove. In advanced practice, she will learn to pink the seams so there is 
no unraveling. She must not allow things to come to a painful point. Inserting a freshly 
wound bobbin allows the new garment to be fused from both sides, so that sending and 
taking can be practiced alternately. It is an operation as delicate and as precise as the 
Tiffany lamp fitting its light over the filigreed brass bookstand that holds the tracing 
paper, yet she abandons any hope of fruition. “Gold leaf over all,” the tailor insists, 
and so she turns the wheel, correcting all missteps with this one intention: regarding 
all dharmas as dreams. The grow lights in the Tiffany lamp are doing their work. Soon 
she will have a slice of lacquered redwood to show for all her efforts, being grateful to 
everyone and vowing from this day forward to be a child of illusion.

Joanne Lozar Glenn writes and edits content for clients in healthcare, education, and business, and leads writing retreats at the beach and in the mountains. Her essays and poems have been published in Amaranth Review, Peregrine, Under the Gum Tree, and other literary journals.

October Edition: When You’re Strange

Social Anxiety Disorder, by Heather Doherty
Social Anxiety Disorder, by Heather Doherty

Welcome to Ayris magazine’s second online themed issue! This month we will feature poems that in someway express our theme of When You’re Strange. In our call for submissions we asked for creative pieces that explore the strangeness observed in the world. Each Tuesday and Thursday of this month, we’ll share the best of the best from the submissions we received.