The Endangered Mussels of Eastern North America Rise Up

Green blossoms blanket the streambed and white
and purple cat’s paws tread among them.

All are welcome to the rebellion of filtration.

Mussels, if they had eyes,
Would see only through the shifting light
Of flowing water so they don’t discriminate for looks.
Wartybacks and threeridges,
Pimplebacks and tubercled blossoms,
Monkeyfaces and sheepsnoses
Are all there.

A purple bankclimber scouts the way

And a pale Lilliput and littlewing pearly
Shall lead them.

Even those that sound like fighters—
Snuffboxes, cracking pearlymussels,
Pink muckets and scaleshells—

Theirs is a bottom rebellion.
Filtering runoff,
Rebounding after dams come down.

For years they have
And for years they will
Flail their unprotected flesh
Outside the spectacle cases of their shells
And lure a fish to bear their offspring upstream.

Some future generation will do so without
The names of industry or exploitation.

Andrew Blok is a freelance environmental journalist and writer living in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He is slowly but steadily learning all he can about Michigan’s native plants and animals. Despite growing up on the west coast, he has come to love the Great Lakes.


If you thought
the moon was missing
one piece this morning,
like a bone-white china cup
carelessly dropped
by someone

please remember:
the moon is always whole—

It’s just sometimes
she will show you
her whole shape,
her roundness, her grace
when she is reflecting
hot light from the sun.

Other times

she won’t.

Colleen Alles is a writer living in West Michigan. Her first full-length poetry collection, After the 8-Ball, is forthcoming in March of 2022 from Cornerstone Press (The University of Wisconsin). When she isn’t reading or writing, she enjoys distance running and spending time with her family. You can find her online at, on Instagram at ColleenAlles_author, and on Twitter at @ColleenAlles.

Fear is Not a Factor

by Hailee Cederquist

Fear is not a factor
At least, it shouldn’t be

Fear is a temporary fence
Our doubts will rust it
Our voices will tear holes

And that’s why fear won’t work
We the People were born demolitionists
We tore off our shackles
We opened the gates
We will not let fear control us

Not for long, anyways
Because rust turns to blood
And the voices to battle cries
Hoarse with Revolution!

So why is it
That November 9th
A good friend of mine
Came to me in pieces

She said ‘My mom wants to leave the country’
So I shut my mouth with the politics
And I thought about the people

People who have struggled
So spectacularly
Whose trials I couldn’t even begin to fathom
They are drowning in the debates
And all the politicians can talk about is
What they think is right and wrong
But it’s really more or less
Majority and minority

They don’t talk about a mother
An immigrant
Who is so terrified of America the discriminatory
That she wants to leave
Life in its ashes
She is a citizen.

Don’t tell me that the president
Has less power than I think

He has the power to tear down our carefully constructed cases
To change the meaning of We the People
To We the Majority
To strike doubt into our dreams
Our dreams
To a truly equal America

Where a family can speak Spanish in the grocery store
And not be looked at
Like America’s blackheads
And anyone can get married
Without us having to argue over it

This is especially sickening to the ordinary people
Maybe not me and maybe not you
But those without a voice
Because they’re too different to have one in your court room

There is a way
We can keep fighting
We can keep our heads high
But most of all,
We have to hope that this earthquake
Doesn’t turn into a landslide

“Airplankton” by Eric Zillmer

Yeah, you know it: You step out the door
on a warm summer evening,
and you notice that the very air is alive
with flittering, flying insects of all sorts,
backlit by the setting sun
and dancing aimlessly around
like so many unmelting snowflakes
refusing to fall to the ground.

It’s a wonder how one can safely breathe in such a soup.

I imagine the air is a vast blue sea,
and at any moment a huge blue whale
might sweep silently past the garage door,
mouth agape,
vacuuming in tons of these krill
as it glides on to who knows where.

And I stand there, amazed…
in my scuba gear.


Eric Zillmer is a husband, father, and grand-father living in West Michigan, occasionally being inspired to write something creative.  One of his pieces caught the eye of a producer with BBC Sports, and went on to be used as the focus of a public service ad that was run during their coverage of the 2010 Track Cycling World Championships, hosted in Copenhagen, Denmark, thereby establishing Mr. Zillmer perhaps the most unheralded, internationally-published, professional poet of all time.  And he’s just fine with that.


Read more from Eric Zillmer here.

short poems

Beautiful and Broken

by J. A. Anderson 

The most

Beautiful art

Comes from the

Most broken



Stories Never Die

by J. A. Anderson

The smell of

Pages aged by


The binding

Broken by

A hundred hands

The title

Almost unreadable now

So faded,

But not gone

And yet the

Stories never


Dad’s Shoes

by J. A. Anderson

when i was little

i used to wear

dad’s shoes

and stomp around all day

but Now

I only stare at his

Military boots

And cry over the

Only thing

Left of him



More Poetry at “always anxious, sometimes brave.” and “A Handful of Roses.”



by J. A. Anderson

They are watching me

Even if you say they aren’t, they are

I feel their stares

Can hear their comments about me

Whispered harshly under their breath

The eyes of them stalk me

Even if i am alone

I can’t breathe unless I tell myself to

My stomach always acts as if I’m about to lose everything in it

Where are the exits?
Where is the bathroom?

Where, where, where?
This room is too small

Too dark

My mind is too small

Too dark

My thoughts don’t stop

They just

Go. Go. Go.

I’m drowning inside

Though I’m dry

I’m dying when I am most alive

I can see everything in color

But why does it seem so black and white?

Nightmares haunt my waking days

Where are the exits?

Why are they staring?

When can my thoughts




Boys Will Be Boys

Boys Will Be Boys

by J. A. Anderson


i’m in third grade

a boy pushed my to the ground

and sat on top of me

he didn’t move until i made him

no one tried to help

Boys Will Be Boys


i’m in fourth grade

a boy threatened me with

chunks of concrete from the black top

no one stopped him from

throwing them at me

i had to defend myself

Boys Will Be Boys


i’m in the fifth grade

a gang of boys chased me

grabbed me

pulled on my hair

held onto my arms tightly

they didn’t let go until i got free

no one yelled at them

Boys Will Be Boys


i’m in sixth grade

and i sit with my legs open

it’s comfortable and

a boy sits the same way

i’m told to sit like a lady, with my legs closed

no one told him to sit with his legs closed

Boys Will Be Boys


i’m in the seventh grade

a boy made a sexual joke

about me

no one told him to stop

i didn’t make him stop

Boys Will Be Boys


i’m in the eighth grade

a boy called me a bitch

no told him to shut his mouth

he didn’t apologize

and i didn’t make him

Boys Will Be Boys


i’m in the ninth grade

a boy smacked me across the face

i hit him back

no one told him not to hit

he still thinks it was okay

Boys Will Be Boys

Held Responsible For Their Actions.

Just. Like. Girls.

Changed Me.

A short story by J. A. Anderson


That’s all it was. A window. With two sun-bleached drapes hanging limply on the sides, a small crack in the corner, chipped paint covering the wood around it.

And yet, it shaped my life.

My sister jumped out of the window a few years ago. Maybe it changed me for the better. Maybe for the worse. All I know is that it changed me.

I have stared out of this window at the city streets below, watching cars slosh on by during thunderstorms while rain splattered the glass. I watched the sun dip below the buildings and then watched as a few orange slivers disappeared beneath the horizon. Maybe that changed me, too.

One day, I saw him outside the window. He looked up while I looked down and he smiled a small, crooked smile. I scratched my number on a paper airplane. I wish I could say we met and fell in love, but that was a fantasy.

The airplane fell into the puddle he had been standing in. He had walked away and never looked back. The crooked smile was misread, the squint in his eyes not disbelieving my beauty. I was not as radiant as the sun or as mysterious as the moon.

And maybe that changed me, too.

I guess I’ll never know. Life throws little things at us. And big things. All that change us, for better, for worse. For whatever reason. And I guess I’m happy that something changed me.

If you are changed, you cannot go back to the same person you were.

Maybe that’s better.

Maybe that’s worse.


I hoped you enjoyed this little short story. It is completely made up. Want to read more? My Wattpad account is linked here!

Thanks for reading!

Nature Is My First Love

Nature is my first love

The sun has a golden touch

But the moon

Can whisper the sweetest love letters

The tallest trees

Have the most beautiful voices

But the grass whispers

The secret of life to the wind 

Snowflakes kiss

My eyelashes

And fill me with hope

But the rain

Caresses my skin and

Washes away my fears

The stars

Wink at me

From across the skies

But the smooth rocks

Along tide-washed shores

Beg to be held

And while I can never

Truly be with the moon

Or the rain

Or the smoothest of stones

I can still dream of them

Because nature is my first love

-by Jamie Anderson

***Do not forget about the Wattpad Contest, ending tomorrow! Click here!!!