our dreams are structured like a cave?

how many chambers are in this cave?


a salamander muses in a stream

lulling in the limestone of a cave


guano muck and slip of vaporous glisten

stag of a stalactite drools in the cave


I didn’t find the cave, it found me

I crave the water trickle muse of a cave


is anybody there? who’s here?

no, I won’t drown in the collective fear of caves


I stop to face the darkness in me

wolfed by the darkness of the cave


wet mouth of a mountain surrounds me

seducing me with the moonmilk of the cave


mother of mycelium and root of dreaming

will you embrace me in this cave?


in this wet and dripping grotto

extinguish the lamp and become the cave





Michael Spring is the author of three poetry books. His most recent book, Root of Lightning, was awarded an honorable mention for the 2012 Eric Hoffer Book Award. In 2013, his chapbook Blue Wolf, won the Turtle Island Poetry Award. In 2014 he was named Writer-in-residence for the Oregon Caves National Monument. New poems are forthcoming in Absinthe Poetry Review, Chiron Review, Gargoyle, Poetry Pacific, and Turtle Island Quarterly.






















           Ancient censored artists knew how sublimations

            could outmaneuver potent and home office,

            and before Jung, Kristeva, or Garcia Lorca

            played out the underimages of soul.

            The Pennsylvania crimson geometrics

            of Yankee furniture and checkered quilts

            suggested the sensual God of Hopkins,

            the breasts heavy in Sufi calligraphy.

            So when it's dark midday and the air is fat,

            and the mammatus directly overhead

            gives the sky that yellow pallor of old paper,

            and the television beeps in with storm warnings --

            I am only interested then in the smell of sex

            hanging heavy in the air around all things,

            and I've known myself to think of this strange prayer:

            Give us your lust, Lord, even if it kills us.




Matt Prater is a poet and writer from Saltville, VA. His work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Appalachian Heritage, Floyd County Moonshine, The Hollins Critic, James Dickey Review, Motif, Now & Then: The Appalachian Magazine, and Still: The Journal, among other publications. He teaches at Emory & Henry College and Bluefield College, both in Southwest Virginia.























slips from branch to branch, edges

down to the fence, runs the picket,


and disappears behind the toolshed,

tail waving like a flag of truce.


No one steps into the cold today.

Even the light from the front porch


is a joke—an ironic berry

on a frozen limb.


The neighborhood raccoon, burrowed

below the deck, nurses her kits.


The shivering March has sucked

the shine from her coat.


If we could retreat any further

into ourselves, we would surrender


like the hostas, the azaleas,

the wild rose, waiting in the mulch.




Al Ortolani’s poetry and reviews have appeared in journals such as Prairie Schooner, New Letters, Word Riot, and the New York Quarterly. His fifth collection of poems, Waving Mustard in Surrender, was released in 2014 from New York Quarterly Books. Currently, he is teaching English in the Kansas City area and serves on the Board of Directors of the Kansas City Writers Place.