Travelers Welcome

Travelers Welcome

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Story of a Small Southern Valley Town

by Joshua Martin

Here one doesn’t speak of irregularities in the valley
and so the river’s emerging underbelly isn’t addressed.
Its bedrock of bones stays whitewashed and hungry.

Behind the pulpit, there is a man speaking of
a coming and a going, how the unsaved will
soon be dropped liked dead persimmon

from the branches of a holy tree rooted
in homogenous soil, or spit out like
pokeweed, uncooked and pungent.

Enclosed between his upright mountains
is a belief in the throb of the tractor
linking his thighs, the groan of the engine

a crescendo in the serpent hiss music
of this fallen Eden. From the most righteous of their people
a call to prayer to bless this familiar
setting, with the dinner on the table

partially felled by a son’s rifle in a
rite of masculinity, mixing firepower
with absolution. Buried beneath

the floorboards of each home is a catacomb
of different tongues, a hundred years of
learning yoked to the wall, screaming for release

downwards into a hidden crawlspace where
someone’s forgotten son, a knees-to-chest
skeleton, a book still clutched in his

left hand, lays unresolved. Beneath him even deeper,
survived by a pocket of air, someone’s
hidden daughter can still see the minute

differences in the shades of the marigolds, can still
taste the immense sweetness in the fruit that has long since fallen,
who still holds a silent vigil for them all.

But then again, one doesn’t speak of irregularities in this valley.
Even the river knows that.

Czarnina Thieves

by Catfish McDaris

Tony called & said get your
tomahawk & gunny sack, I
asked, what’s up, czarnina

I knew it was duck blood
soup, Tony said goose was
better, he said I’ll be the
look out & you chop one
Of those big sonofabitch’s
heads off, try to save all the
blood, I asked him how in
the hell do I do that

Use your belt & make a
tourniquet, I thought we’re
going to jail for damn sure.

Flimflam Werewolf

by John Pursch

Limpy gimpy Jiffy-slobbering
lugubrious chupacabra impersonators
flex and flog their flimflam werewolf wherewithal
from warehouse warrens deep in hearty laughter’s
nomadic gnome aunt’s laudatory laundry lisp
of pure emphatic emphysema sailor exhalations,
spreading turtledove disease itch mothball
infatuation arches into ash receptacles
of shed potter blondes, sinfully cohabitating,
scrounging chalk for sashay wedding tables,
calling country castaways to ideal pressure
speakers in run-for-millstone milk-toast
hospice dome retraction fits.

Nervously Teutonic infantile psoriasis purveyors
scan the bedside aneurisms for cottage pleas and
clovered spreads of sandbox chunky psilocybin heresies,
propped again in handy cramps of fever issuance delay
to piled authentic couriers on lurching floes of tethered
Mylar tributaries, flung hairless and uncombed to
Grecian mortuary symptoms, orally replanted into
frozen youth display parolee accusation breasts,
despite an achromatic acrobatic undersea divan’s
imploding whistle.

Tinsel flowers desiccate in married furlongs
of Caspian capsize queens on second-hurdle
monkey swoons from Hegypped’em curses
of denial entendre hull the swayback machina
to angler machination bits of snorting amorphous
melodies of odious crank contemptibility,
comestible but surgically scoured for fully
bloated bile illusion specialists, complete with
spatial dicks and crockery tocks of loaded Glocks,
flocking into dockside frocks of plundered ageless
Aegean torpedo haunters, yearning to tease
tyrannically inclined supine duct tape chompers
with entailed regalia serotonin mist and
frail nervosa empathy hyphens.


by Taylor Graham

No place to hide
from an old sliver-moon. It never
ceases from its questions.
Provocative as a lopsided smirk,
a basement creature
scuttling across the sky tonight,
bearing its hunger-tooth.
I imagine it passing over a hiker
benighted in a Sierra canyon, wishing
for home distant as a dream.
“Your own fault,” the moon says.
The human’s exasperated,
admits it’s true; maybe feels a rising
tide of panic, saline tug
of blood that proves he’s no more
special than saltwater.
The moon dangles above his short
horizon, tantalizing; gone
soon enough. How long a summer
night, with or without moon,
for a wanderer in search
of his own domicile.
A bat zigs overhead in its echo-
hunt for bugs, while
evening melts into conjecture
and myth.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


by Ross Vassilev

watching a report on Al-Jazeera
about all the massacres
the NATO militaries have committed
in Afghanistan
wiping out whole families
whole villages
and I realized
there is no justice in this world
no God to protect the weak
and the innocent
there's only power
and bodies strewn across
so many floors.


by Marc Carver

I leave the pub and walk past a house to my car
"It is all a load of bollocks, bollocks bollocks bollocks."
I hear someone say from behind the curtains.
"You are right about that."
I say
but get no reply

8 years old

by Ryan Hardgrove

we were trying
to get this old lighter to work
so we could light
another one of those
tank-shaped fire crackers

his dad was inside
smoking a cigarette on the couch
lounging in the
ceiling-fanned summer gloom

he heard our struggle
with the old lighter
and called us in

he grabbed his son
and said
     don’t you be puffin’ on this
then to me
     you neither, I’ll tell your old man

he took a long drag
on his Winston
and held it out to his son
he took it
and back out we went to the porch

he bent down with the cigarette
it looked awkward and big in his fingers
the fuse caught

a bright spark
flew out of the barrel and bounced off
a half-used paint can

his father lit a cigarette
somewhere inside

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

by Donal Mahoney

Nothing is anywhere anymore,
Dad shouts over the phone.
His reveille again at 4 a.m.
Will I come over and find it?

What's missing, Dad, I ask.
It's midnight and I'm in bed.
It'll take awhile to get there.

Your mother went to make
pineapple upside down cake
hours ago and still no cake.
She's nowhere to be found.
I called the neighbors.
They won't come over.
It's just me and the dog
and he's asleep.
Son, I need your help.

Mom died 10 years ago, Dad.
You and I went to the funeral.
We buried her at St. Anthony's.
Remember all the rain?
And then the rainbow shining?

Son, you're right again
Sorry I woke you but where's
the pineapple upside down cake?
I've been waiting for hours.
A little snack and I'll turn in.

Sunday, August 24, 2014


by Taylor Graham

Almost blind now,
he walks out under the night sky
that used to guide him through the dark
fields. The moon – closer
than it will ever be again in his lifetime;
bigger, brighter than he remembers;
a super-moon – is arcing into August,
peering down at him through oaks.
Above the house, a ghost-gold arrow.
Comet? It doesn’t move, but holds
its place as comets appear
to do, until like eyesight they’re gone.
And now the forward point extends
farther to the east, lengthening
its flight. What can this be?
He calls his wife, who gazes up to see
the TV antenna, vestigial skeleton,
almost prehistoric. Who has
a TV antenna on the roof anymore?
The old man has forgotten.
Moving above the oaks, finding gaps
to shine through, the moon
stretches that pale arrow farther
dimming as it grows, each instant,


 by Dario Jimenez

Joe did not know
he was going to die that very same Sunday.
In the morning
bought a blue Chevy, sedan.
For lunch
had a double cheese sandwich with beer
as he always did for his birthday
and sat in the porch
to watch the day go by.

the promised revolution

by J.J. Campbell

another morning
spent waiting
for the promised

these are the days
i wish i had joined
a gang or had long
enough arms to
properly use a

one day the blood
will flow in the
streets like money

generation after
generation finally
ready to stop

in the meantime

i'll simply sit
back and keep
adding names
to the list

Highball Innuendo

by John Pursch

Cerebellar misadventures of the windshield shot
graze lead-lined pillbox hatteries of chilly ragged coat lines,
dangling in the breezy contender’s waistcoat pocket,
foiled by rubber ink extravagance and
mutually eschatological neckline plunges,
drenching mossy torpedo bellies in
floozy underwear rewetting blots
of cobweb dancer pinafores glazed patiently
with greenery and grainy droppings
from a salutatory duckling’s pejorative
incantation of runaway tarmac blues.

No one could stand, let alone sit still for,
handy moral outrigger netting of the kind
so biliously cobbled from worn mosquito handiwork,
so expertly spurted by schlong-lust mustard seeds
in scenery disputes with top-dog hopscotch periphery’s
nunnery exposition welts, promised dryly in vague
retreat cordons to plumage spurners nationwide
in cackling car door commissary kumquat squatter rites,
deep within Groin Zorro’s missing tantrum of jacked
ten-wheeler recompense and tartan misconception’s
ill-defined crowned taro punch line, flicking August
into rigged mulatto terminals of situated empties.

Time danced round apostrophes
in pearly canned sedation, flirting mirthlessly
with two-armed shifty-bottomed botulism vendors,
hoping for a Frisbee tourniquet detachment tray,
traipsing with intestines dangling over catwalk silence impresarios,
meowing under waterfall suffusion’s highball innuendo.

I’m Trying To Find A Stepladder To Get Out Of This!

by Paul Tristram

He kept repeating frantically
to the other confused patients
in the afternoon common room.
Until the sectioned bag-lady
screamed and attacked him
with the bottom of a fruit bowl.
The teenage boy and girl
on suicide watch in the corner
both felt guilty immediately.
The blind retired magistrate
scared to death of loud noises
began crying and pissed his pants.
The school dinner lady with OCD
started to fix and rearrange
the curtains whilst naming all
of the Disciples backwards.
Dancing Edna began discreetly
flashing her lemon panties
and Billy ‘False Teeth’ started
turning into a werewolf again.
Whilst mean old Tilly 2 Canes
stood by the side of the TV
watching John The Baptist
with anger management issues
who had been for 5 days solid
tenaciously playing ‘Donkey Kong’
finally make it to the last level.
And as he stuttered and bounced
excitedly towards the finishing line
she pulled the plug from the wall
and drown him with her screaming.

Country Dancing

by Brian Wake

There is nothing to be frightened of, she said,
but come along and lie here on the bed.
She spoke of country dancing and of how so very sad
it was for one to dance alone; to move in time with no-one’s steps
and music but their own.

There is nothing to be frightened of, she said,
but come, my dear, and lie down on the bed.

For country dancing was the only time I ever moved.
A solitary shuffler, shadow-partnered, I improved.
I danced the days away from wall to wall
and, although I often stumbled, she had taught me how to fall.

There is nothing to be frightened of, she said,
but come along and lie down on the bed.

   And when the dancing ended I could always hear
her voice that told me there was nothing there at all to fear.
There is absolutely nothing to be frightened of my dear.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Doll Maker

by Shuly Cawood

Limbs and heads of a hundred dolls
crammed your mother’s store, and you
showed me the shelves of wigged
heads and half-painted eyes
one night after hours. Legs, strewn
everywhere, lay waiting to dry.

You said you loved me
there in her shop, when the shades
drooped over windows, and the dolls
stood, sat, tilted over, so wide-eyed,

You leaned me up against the register,
and the keys pressed cold and small
in my back, like fingers touching,
searching for a heart.

Give and Take

by Miranda Stone

In sleep, the fight has left you.
Face slack, lips parted, you gasp
as if taken aback in your dream.
With sprawling limbs you encroach
upon my side of the bed. A wrist bone
prods my shoulder. A toe grazes my shin.

I press my palms against your ribs
and push. You roll across the dividing line,
the sheet gliding over your bare skin.
I marvel at the distance between us.
You have relinquished half a foot of space.
In sleep, you are the picture of compromise.
Awake, you refuse to concede a single inch.

Family Reunion

by Ben Rasnic

The men find shelter
under the tin roof pavilion,
slice of watermelon
on a discount paper plate.

Sweet smoke
from the pig barbeque
tickles wind chimes.
The women gather
around picnic tables,
arranging covered dishes,
exchanging recipes.

A distant cousin on my father’s side
holds a captive audience,
tells the familiar fish tale
of the 20-pound catfish
& the trolling boat
with fifteen cases of Budweiser
that sprung a leak.

The self-appointed emcee
delivers the benediction,
reads aloud the list of names
of those who are no longer
with us.
spitting out seeds
we take notice.


by James Babbs

full moon bright
in the early morning sky
and I’m out in the driveway
pissing into the wind
when I’m finished
I zip up and
stagger back inside
nine empty bottles
on the kitchen table
all in a row
like tired soldiers
standing at attention
waiting to be dismissed
I walk over to the fridge
and pull out number ten
bouncing the cap
neatly into the garbage can
I lean back
take a long slow drink

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


by Kindra McDonald    
Black list, black board, black
tie, panthers, black sheep, magic black
and blue blood, blue streak, blue in

the face, blue laws, blue
collar, hair, blue plate special, agent
orange, blood orange winter

green, belt, green with envy,  green-eyed
monster tickled
pink movies, caught red

handed, seeing red, red cheeked,
alert, blood-red silver
screen, silver-tongue, silver

spoon, lining, silver fox,
quick brown nose, brown
sugar, derby, how now brown cow

yellow bellied coward, mellow
yellow man, white as a ghost, a sheet,
white supremacist, lie, white on rice

white noise, white


by Bette Hileman

None of us thought
we would die.
We knew we would.
But we didn’t feel it.
Our friends were alive.
They were in good health.
They were planning for
the golden years.

Now, across the border,
the golden years are a battlefield.
So many dead around us.
And the rest?
Most are seriously injured.
Those who walk,
tread with guilt.
We wonder why we move without pain.


by Anuradha Bhattacharyya

A crow sits
On the branch of a champa tree
That extends towards the south window
Where Dadu often stands sipping tea,
That freshens with its sweet fragrance
Dadu’s stale study
And it shits.

Dadu flustered
Vows to chop off the Champa tree
That has grown over years
To reach the first-floor window
And burst into moon blossoms
Colliding with the opaque wall
Inviting curious kids.

There stands the champa tree
Astute in loveliness
Charming passers by
Enhancing homeliness
Where but occasionally
The crow
Leaves its droppings.

i don't want to set this world on fire

by Leeroy Berlin

the world bursts at the seams
with hookers and blow:
it sings
like brunhilde in a whalebone corset
leading us to dash our minds on rocky shores
chasing the second hand banality
of our borrowed thoughts and rented lives.

we walk through streets turning grey with dawn
losing every shade that haunts our past
and gaining nothing in the deal.

desperate men fuck desperate women
because it's all they can get from each other
with the mountains leveled and the villains assassinated
there's nothing left for sigfried
except to feed himself to tigers twice a night and
three times on saturdays.

the ivory tower is built of innocents.
their bones form buttresses and their ignorance
of the mud and the blood and the beer
holds the whole thing up.

because those of us who have assaulted the memories of our fathers
and given them their due
paid them back three-fold for the names they left us with:
have found the truth far from your platonic realm
your clean smelling ideals have no home and no meaning in this dungeon
of blood and piss and sweat and jizz.

i am drooling with your lyssaphobia.
the poison that fills my blood colors me insensate
and its fever cooks my soul
until it's ready to serve, medium-well.

i don't want to set this world on fire, besides
it's too late for the little matches i keep in my hat
to mean anything to anyone.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Sunday Drive

by Miranda Stone

The leaden sky, pregnant with rain
makes our heads throb, as though we have
barometers inside our skulls.
The car’s lowered windows offer no relief
from air thick as a pot of lukewarm soup.

We are lost. We have driven past
the same clapboard house three times.
The German Shepherd in the yard
barrels toward us, tail wagging
as it chases our car down the dirt road.

Cruel words are barbs resting on our tongues.
The brutal heat forces them from our mouths.
You’re selfish.
You make me sick.
I can’t stand the sight of you.
I don’t love you anymore.

We make another circle. The German Shepherd
no longer gives chase, for we’re old friends now.
Above us, the sky splits open. Fat drops strike
the windshield like small stones.
We leave the windows down, preferring the storm
to the silence between us, weighted heavy
with words as yet unsaid.

brook once was moonrise

 by Michelle Villanueva

gears trip the slightest shine fans say
chopping this air bold with difference
when will too strained colors prevail
sleet spreads its tattered sheen around you

chipping visions from my windshield
reminds me you played when these last stars
sang through the masses relevant hymns
and the firmament whispered your eyes
ever love this rain streaked monument

piles of aluminum cans reveal
capillaries bright with polishing
the office staff busily tells them
management may never know my plans
fields white with care beckon just beyond

overtime leaves me thirsty with schemes
seeing your kitchen light thrills me
you bring me outside the water you know
excitedly we chase sky petals

afterward settled beer awaits us
together we could scale these girders
as though whirlwinds were not our home

The Dodo’s Gone To Sleep

by Amit Parmessur

Each step up the staircase and each heartbeat brings
me closer to you, like a black magnet.
The only good I can do in this city’s emptiness
is to anticipate your squawk;
remember, when the sun sets, we’ll borrow wings
and fly into the night full of fast clouds.
Strumming my sitar I’ll watch over
your yellow feet, green beak and curly feathers,
with you preening in Wonderland.

Reaching the rooftop I meet only a ghost
as your name means fool. With each memory
of you I shed a cold tear. I go down.
The nuts in my hand, the seeds in my pockets
I wish to see you in my room and
fool the whole world, cracking jokes with you,
rolling on the ecstatic floor.
But the butterfly clock on the wall
whispers to me that you’ve gone to sleep
early today with the dogs and monkeys.

A Memory

by Douglas Polk

fedoras sweaty,
black and gray,
hereford sold in the ring below,
farmer cattle,
more pet than livestock,
auctioned off,
while the wife and kids in the general store downtown,
trying on school clothes for the upcoming year

In the Open

by James Babbs

I ordered the chicken fingers
with a side of onion rings
because I like them
better than the fries
early on a Wednesday
on my way back home and
I see the madman’s reflection
there in the window
before I go and sit down
the disheveled madman
who keeps following me around
and no matter where I am
I always find him
out there in the open
moving around in the light
reminding me the whole time
of somebody else and
some days
he looks old and tired
some days
he looks as if
he has nowhere left to go
the disheveled madman
like he’s waiting for something
I hear him laughing
every time I turn my head

A Grand Buffet

by Donal Mahoney

Maury's wife frets
about growing old
withering up

and sagging so
it's up to Maury
to let her know

every day she's
a grand buffet
that he can't wait

to see and sample.
Her appetizers are
enticing, entrees

perfectly prepared.
At his age though,
Maury has to pause.

He knows now
this will mean
a long nap later.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Maybe It Would Have Been A Homer

by g emil reutter

The continuous spasms run the circuit board of my
nervous system, and I have no one to
blame but myself. Yet in this room, a prison for three
days I hear life all around me. The horns of the commuter
trains on the hour and the mighty blasts from the freight
diesels switching racks at Newtown Junction pulling
hundreds of cars three time a day.

And there is young mother yelling on the sidewalk under
my window, I wish she would lose her voice. The old ladies
talk on the stoop, their murmuring puts me to sleep as the
sounds of passerby’s and cars fill the air.

As dusk falls, just a few days past solstice, I think of all those
summers past and baseball. Now in my 56th year I know I can
never go back and never again feel that great joy of when a
ball pops off a bat, lands where you wanted it to. Maybe it
would have been a homer.

See Me Love You/You Know Who You Are

by Amy Soricelli

Blue is still blue when it is buried deep in the colored shells on the shore;
the midnight sky peeks its colored stone stars across your sandy toes.
I would take you to the beach in a cloud.
Blue is still blue when the lucky loopy sounds of your stringy guitar plays hard against
the backdoor slips of your last kiss me you said....
I could raise your head to the end of the sky you would see me peeking up from down.
I could not carry the colored weight of the world in my single hand.
There are too many colors of love.
But blue is still the blue of your eyes.

Evening Refrain

by Kindra McDonald

The crunch of a beer can,
change jingling as he paws his pockets,
paces off the rooms
wearing holes through his cape-cod
cage, singing George Thorogood
with a thick tongue,
dragging his foot, limp
and bloody where
he tried to chew himself free.

nihil humanum a me alienum puto

by John Grochalski

this is a disney bar now
or it looks like one out of a disney movie

there are more televisions in the joint
then there are people

the people look like cartoons at last
blonde and tanned and without an ounce of fat

i don’t recognize the beers on tap
and the ones that i do are too rich for my blood

i can’t believe that i used to drink here
back when they broke the windows and the toilet never worked
and fights broke out as a matter of course on friday night

now there are fake fireplaces in the wall
and a beer garden out back

there is soccer playing on each and every television
and a digital jukebox playing pop on low

one of the blondes asks me what team i’m rooting for
and i respond, whatever teams ends this game the quickest

that ends the conversation

the chinese still come in here
hocking their bootleg dvds of the worst america
has to offer the world of cinematic art

back then the old guys used to pause from their drinks
to scan the movies and make conversation with the bootleggers

now no one says a thing to them
they watch soccer and have the bartender
pour them another expensive beer while they check their cell phones

more blonde and tan people shout from outside
because the beer garden has a television too

when the chinese bootlegger leaves
the three blondes drinking three red drinks with citrus fruit
all look at each other like they smelled a fart
the one says to the other two
oh my god, that’s like the third time
they’ve been in here today

like, get a life, one of the other ones says

they go back to watching the soccer match
almost two hours of dutch and costa rican men
running up and down the pitch and there’s still no score

they all look the same anyway, one of the blondes says

but who? i wonder are they talking about

the chinese
the sweating soccer players
or the rest of us.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


by Robert Nisbet

The bomb went off in the barracks
just after noon. She was desperate, hunting news,
ringing, ringing, holding on. Set off for home
(it was nearer the barracks anyway)
and at Cardiff Gate the evening papers
told of the bomb, people at the tables talked of it,
but the bomb was lost between a bent politician
and a singer’s pretty boobs, and she rang
and rang again, to the last coin, drove on,
fifty miles again, to a nearly-empty Pont Abraham
where the waitress was suddenly kind
and she poured it all out, just as suddenly,
My son is there, and the girl cried with her
(what sort of emotional girl was that?) and said
You can ring from here, out the back, they won’t know,

and her son was safe and she could only sob,
helplessly, in a caretaker’s room,
with the brushes and the buckets and the bleach,
because her son was safe and there was somebody too
who had helped her, with her arm round her,
to pull out of a racing current,
fetch up on a safe, dry bank.


by Burgess Needle

At dawn, no matter his mood, one cure only
for his fractured soul, Bach’s violin Concerto No. 1
        with A Minor chords lapping wall to wall
        against religious law.
He wrapped the black leather strap
       around his middle finger and left arm
       ah, his tefillin received upon bar mitzvah.
Placed the phylactery two fist-width from the tip of his nose
       murmuring inside all the while
       blessed art thou who sanctified us with
      His commandments and has commanded us
                   to lay tefillin
He’d kept his own brittle shellac recording
         of Menuhin and Enesco with tracks laid
        down by Aufgenommen in the ‘30s.
Resonating as he considered  the black box on his head
        symbolized his mind and thoughts
        just as the arm straps represented
                 his actions and deeds.
Exhale in joy before the Orchestre Symphonique de Paris
       prepare for the world of numbers, he thought
       prepare for the world of goyim in my disguise
Acknowledge light peering through the blinds
      he thought of his son-to-be and what he would show him
      as the Concerto’s Adagio wended its own quiet way
      within an elegant framework that sheltered
               and threatened its existence
As his own life felt dread every new day
               the sun’s blessing and the night’s threat
               time for work time for life
                           time to kiss his wife goodbye.

Tales Of The Mysterious Warrant Dodger

by Paul Tristram

The banging upon the front door started again
for the third time on this otherwise peaceful day.
Then they traipsed heavily up the creaking stairs
with big boots and started knocking and shouting
at the door of Room 5, situated right next to mine.
“Anthony David Michaels we have an outstanding
warrant that we need to speak to you about.
Open up the door or we will have to break it down!”
stated someone with a voice of aggressive authority.
“Aye, if that warrant permitted you to do so
that door would already be down, so seeing as it ain’t,
if either the door, frame or lock is accidently damaged
due to your persistent enthusiasm for your job
it will be you paying for it mate, so bare that in mind,
you ain’t even proper Old Bill your just ‘PCSO’s!”
explained-via shouting-someone clued up on law
from the attic room which I always thought was empty?
I leapt off my rented bed and ran to my rented window
which was slightly open and saw him from next door
dangle and swing from the windowsill across-that way,
let go and fall 3ft down onto the garden dividing wall.
Sprint along it nearly to the lane at the far end
but upon hearing footsteps…backtrack halfway
with the balance of a gymnast and jump into the next
garden with a soft thud, then proceed to scale
and monkey every boundary wall and fence
of every garden right up to the end of the street
where he then disappeared as quickly as teenage
virginity at a Resolven council estate house party.
With the excitement now at an end, I lay back down
thinking to myself  ‘screw that for a game of soldiers,
I would rather just pay the fine and have done with it.’