Travelers Welcome

Travelers Welcome

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Under The Gun, Into The Muck

by Dennis Mahagin

Riding up front, so as not to feel 
so alone, you couldn't help but take 
the brunt of that Pakistani cabbie's 
citrus cologne; when he turned 
right from Spencer onto 
Tropicana, due west 
for the Strip, you reached 
for his adorable Elvis 
bobble head doll 
on the dashboard, 
with its sewing thimble 
braced on Lilliputian hip 
like a bucket 
for catching slots jackpots, 
and tiny topaz rosaries 'round the 
neck as bling; you had a sudden 
selfish thought that the thing 
might bring some luck, 
were you to brush it, 
like a lover 

with finger tips. 
THE BACK SEAT, BUDDY?" the pissed 
off Pakistani hackman said. Mere minutes 
later, in the MGM Grand getting killed 
at blackjack right off the bat, a ringing 
ensued in your cochlea; echolalia 
for the rail-thin 
blonde shill, ever 
abreast, and saying: "Whaddya 
mean I can't double down on a soft 
seventeen?... Whaddya mean, sir? 
Whaddya mean?" ... And your belt, 
forever a notch too tight, too tight, too 
tight, you walked out 
into the August night 
sticky and hot as you 
were not. 
Heading north 
for the Aladdin, 
pseudo pimps pressed 
their skin trade placards 
at the intractable mass 
your clenched fists made ... 
A particularly 
tubercular one said: "Nobody's holding 
a Nine Mil to your head, friend ...You got to 
relax if you wanna win. Take one. You will..." 
Six hours later, at Caesar's, you blew 
your last two hundred on video poker, 
the screen became 
a register 
for entropy -- 
flash frames 
that gave and then 
took away, gave and took 
away, with teaser hole cards 
built right into the matrix, chimerical 
as sine wave emanations from crossed 
knuckles, the tongue slot
humming when it sucked off 
twenties. You winced 
at the rail bird cries, erupting 
now and again from nearby craps 
tables when dice got hot, you thought 
of the high signs of escorts at taxi stands, 
frantic waves as though leaving town, going 
down on a riptide... Or the fellow 
you read about in Biloxi, Mississippi 
who let his life savings ride three times 
on riverboat roulette ( black ... black ... 
BLACK ) who would have earned a ton 
of friends, too -- if only 
he'd stopped at two 
spins, and there 
stood the buzz cut 
rent a cop, glaring 
with unreasonable hate 
as you backed away 
dead broke 
from the machines, daring you 
to slam your fist into a glass 
screen, to make a serviceable 
scene. You made it 
outside, to the parapet that bridged 
the Bellagio: you stood at the rail, spitting 
for an hour at the fountains that came on 
like a decade of dawns cascading 
in time lapse. 
In order to feel 
more alone, instead 
of walking home, you grabbed 
a city bus at Flamingo, and rode it 
to the hacienda framed by fourteen 
intransigent palms, dew-kissed 
in the dawn light. You wanted 
to tell those fronds 
how getting 
cleaned out 
is the purest facsimile 
of fugue, an inverse 
of all knee jerk terrors, 
and personal 
histories. Worse 
was how the tallest tree 
seemed to lean 
away, imperceptibly 
otherwise engaged, 
as if she'd only ever 
played percentages 
in the desert, 
thru a thousand 
rounds of black 
holes burning 
bright red 
clay right 
out of the day. 

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Magic Plastic Glitter and Chocolate

by Shawn Misener

I want you to take a shiny
platinum credit card from your wallet

hold it between your thumb
and your pointer finger

then make it disappear


It's not so hard
since when you turn the plastic gem
on it's side it becomes so thin
as to virtually not be there at all

there may be ten thousand dollars
floating mystically inside the injection molding
but it doesn't really exist


So look at the thin side of the card:
the angle where in the right beam of sunshine
the platinum vanishes

now blow at that empty space between your fingers
like extinguishing a birthday cake


first out is the glitter,
the kind you find at party supply stores
a silver cloud whirling to your lawn

then come the rusty pennies
the fruit flavored thongs
the white pickets
the weed killer
the vitamin water
and the chocolate communion wafers

and finally your spouse emerges
holding a thin sheet of paper
indicating interest payments you can't make

If you're scared
just turn your hand and watch the card
magically become something like real again.

"Recovering Sadness”

by Parker Tettleton

this is alcoholism
at its best
i can’t wait to check
the mail
my stomach lumps
are real and
i wonder about colors
on the inside
if I could explain it
to you I would
guess that meant some
thing was between
us like gophers and greens
living down a hole
and looking back where we
sometimes thought
was nice but not always and
dreaming wanted to see

a persona

by David McLean

a persona grown from folded
paper, plastic trappings, wrappings
round nothing,

unsubtle insubstantiality tracing the effect of void
inside, though no word lies emptier
than “void.”

a person known as a folded face, an absence
last century, whole worlds
out of place,

personae immutable as change


by Mather Schneider

Some guy threatens to kill me
on the internet, so I shut
it down for a while.
When you criticize one person
you’ve soon got a mob
on your ass
zombies pawing you
like cowards to the pile on.
I say to my girlfriend:
Let’s go to the mountains, let’s get
away from this shit.
We drive up and park the car
and hike up a trail.
These big blue birds follow us
for a while and there are a lot
of squirrels and it is chilly
but not too chilly.
Way up on the mountain we find a place
out of the wind
and we sit down and look
out at all the layers of
mountains covered with pine and cedar and
blue spruce and just a bit of yellow
from the sumac leaves
along the creek beds
and I feel better than
I have for a long time.
I wish I could stay there forever
but even if I could
I would not.
As we stand to leave
I see where has someone carved
the name of a local street gang
on the trunk of a
yellow pine
and put a jagged heart
around it.

Friday, June 25, 2010


by jkdavies

Still I wish for you;
The sap rising in the trees
I will not blossom.
Yes, it is calmer
without you close, rain clouds scud
across the grey sky.
Ripe for seeding, sun
falls on open eyes, legs, heart;
you push into me.
You pull out of me,
drive from the hotel; litter swirls
windblown vortices.
Your seed trickles out
a wet patch; summer is due,
sunshine flew away.
Your words trickle in
Why do I let you? Cut, not
clutch at memories...

Thursday, June 24, 2010


by Sara Fitzpatrick Comito

I want you
by the damp
in the yard

weeping silently
as my music
seeps out
the window
with the sweat
of my onions.

I want you
to pound
with an
impotent fist
as my glass
goes clink,
so cute
it's impossible.

I want
your tears
as verses
as semen
on grass.

she blues (blue for a boy)

by P.A. Levy

ladyboy assassin
drop dead gorgeous
drinks salty hormone cocktails
to die for
keeps a warm gun
between his thighs

his life
an argentine tango dance
gyrated for an hourly rate
until he had enough bucks
cash up front
for 36B breast implants

she struts her sassy stuff
high heels size twelve
paris fragrance by coco chanel
topless dance-by
amassing numbers and collecting bling

happiness is a spent gun
kept in a jar
on the mantelpiece

A Drunken Conversation With My Shadow In The Graveyard

By Danny Johnson

“Do you believe in the hereafter?” I sat in front of my mother’s grave, whiskey bottle in hand.

“I don’t know, do you?” My shadow only spoke when no one was around.

“Sometimes I do and other times I don’t.”

“What makes the difference?”

“I think things like, ‘this can’t be all of it’, then I have this dark fear that this just might be all of it.” I rolled over to prop up on my elbows, getting the long view of my dark twin.

“Are you afraid of going to Hell?” For a shadow he asked hard questions.

“No, that’s the fear, that neither Heaven or Hell exist.”

“I see.”

“I’m glad you do, because I don’t. What makes us believe in something we have no proof is there?” I took another swig.


“Whose faith? The Jews, the Catholics, the Christians, the Islamist, the Buddhist?”

“Any of them.”

“You mean they’re all right?” Even drunk I wasn’t buying that.

“What I mean is, it only matters what you believe.”

“What if I die and I was wrong?”

“Who will know?”

“I will.” I drained the last drops from the bottle.

“I guess you will have to deal with it then.” He could be a smartass.

“But it’ll be too late.”

“For what?”

“To have chosen the right way.” I was getting exasperated.

“What is the right way?”

“I don’t know.”

“There you go.”


by Kaye Linden

Ma just paid off her house and the café in back. She now earns more than enough with her shamanic cures for tourists, and can provide free biscuits and beer for homeless clients and dogs. Customers gather seven days a week at Ma's Place, drink warm ale, Turkish coffee and Bushell’s tea, served by Ma's brother, Midget, and sister, Possum. The middle aged, the elderly and the lonely, sit together and socialize, as was once their custom in outback towns.

Ma’s Place: Offering illumination through body art, alternative clothing, vision quests and ritual scarring.

So say the ads in the Morning Herald, so say the flyers pinned to the Ma’s Place bulletin board, and to telephone poles around the city's western suburbs. At one fork of the Shepherd's Highway, where the peak hour traffic halts, one massive billboard pictures Ma’s puffy, pale face, plastered with yellow paint and framed with a buzz of white hair.

Ma’s house and the cafe sit fifty feet from the highway where people toss garbage from cars. Ma combs through the front yard every day and collects discarded treasures such as hamburger wrappers, tarnished rings with fake rubies, used white handkerchiefs and half-burnt cigarettes that she smokes later.

At ninety-nine years old, Ma stays upright with the aid of a mixture she invented, one from rainwater and white cement powder gathered from the abandoned building site at the end of the street. Once a week she applies the goop with a painter's brush, and hangs herself out to dry on a clothes line on the roof. The potion takes twenty years off the way she looks and feels as it straightens the scoliosis she inherited from childhood hunger. Ma smokes her cigarette stubs in the gap between her two front teeth, even while performing daily meditation at five a.m. In truth, she has shaved off her remaining wisps of white hair. Ma prefers to choose from her collection of kangaroo fur wigs, so she might appear attractive in photographs.

In Ma's Place, neighborhood hanger-outers drink beer or black tea with cream and sugar. While customers eat homemade lamingtons smothered with wild honeysuckle jam, Ma passes around her menu of shamanic offerings that include non-clothing and clothing options. Three or four of her customers return each full moon to regain the sense of liberation and excitement they feel when naked at Ma's Place. Most clients choose to wear at least one body decoration such as the alternative choice of two white cockatoo feathers sewn onto each scapula like angel wings.

One regular hanger outer, a ninety year old gentleman, sits at the same corner table every day. He adorns his naked body with skeletal white stripes.

“We must remember what lies under our skin,” he says to Ma as she serves goanna stew.

“Well, I know what lies under your skin!” Ma teases.

The old man winks. “You’re a cheeky one, Ma,” he says and she hands him a free beer.

Tourists come to the café dressed in city clothes such as six inch stiletto heels and designer trousers. After a few hours, Ma transforms them.

"If you want to live, you must die to your old ways," she says. "Clothes hide your true nature, that of flesh and blood, of death to come. Wake up to who you really are!"

Ma sings to the courageous few who undergo the clothes stripping ritual. With a smile, they donate their clothes to her charity box. The gratefully awakened leave Ma's Place wearing only body art and tiny scars that will remind them of her words. Ma rips up the donated suits for use as bandages, offers the prettiest dresses to her neighbors, and gives the stiletto heels to homeless dogs who have no bones to chew.

When interviewed by The Shamanic, one British tourist said: “I couldn’t believe how much better I felt once my clothes were gone! I’ve ordered five jars of red body ochre.”

“I’m bringing my husband here,” a tourist from Perth added. “He works eighty hours a week in the used car business. I’m hoping Ma can help him remember me.”

The police in Australia voice concern over tourists who file into Ma’s house and file out wearing only body piercings and stripes. One officer voiced his complaint on the front page of The Rattle Nest: “They could catch their death of cold," he said. Later, the officer visited Ma to see for himself, and left dressed in feathers and red paint. A reporter wrote that he saw Ma wearing a man's police uniform the next day.

Sometimes, Ma decorates the neighborhood dogs just for fun. She dresses the naked mutts in white cockatoo feather skirts, feathered beards and shell necklaces. The dogs sit in her tiny kitchen and whine until she clothes them like uppity city dogs from the north shore. In return, they bring trinkets from the streets.

To maintain a steady stream of clients, Ma places another advertisement in the newspaper:

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming city shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I offer transformation inside my shaman's door!

Deepwater Horizon (for BP)

by Daniel Harmon

You’ve got
Too many cars
In the parking lot
So you stick a needle
A mile deep
Into Mother Nature’s vein
And open up a slot
To feed all the cars
With gasoline
And while the cash is counted
Everything gets mean
Accidents happen
And so does shit
You could have had a plan
But expenses wouldn’t cover it
So you go for the fountain of oil
And rupture Mother Nature’s teat
While the bleeding
Won’t stop
Because you bit too deep.

Bird Lady

by Michael Lee Johnson

They call her old maid Misty, as in fog, she misses the sun.
She runs a small pet store, more for the injured and lame,
alone and half the light bulbs have burnt out.
In the backroom everything smells of dust and feathers.
The cockatoo is cuddly and named Brenda, but has bad toiletry manners.
The macaw is well hidden, and fetches a high price on the open market, called Ginger.
Misty is surrounded by wired bird cages,
jungle noises in unfamiliar places,
and sleeps on a portable cot.
When parrots or parakeets shout shrills in the night,
her eyes squint and flash out in the dark but no one sees it.
Squinting is a lonely habit.
Misty works alone and is getting old.
On a wall, near her cot, hangs a picture-
but is it Jesus, or St. Jude Thaddaeus
carrying the image of Jesus in his hand or close to his chest,
difficult to tell darkness dimmed at night.
Misty sometimes sleepwalks at night from small room to the other-
she bumps, sometimes trips and falls, her warfarin guarantees bruises.
Misty tosses conjectures: “I’m I odd, old school, or just crazy?”
Her world is eye droppers, bird feeders, poop in cages, porcelain knickknacks.
Love left Misty’s life years ago, when World War II ended and so did her marriage.
As she ages everything is measure in milliliters, everything seems short and small-
medications in small dosages day by day.
Today is dim, raining outside, and old maid Misty still misses the sun.

Clear the Air

by Janet Yung

Genevieve pictured Marjorie on the other end of the line, slack jawed, wondering what had brought on the tirade. She’d probably attribute Genevieve’s behavior to some hormonal imbalance. Marjorie, addicted to self help books and the daytime shows touting them, was always trying to figure out people, especially Genevieve and offering endless suggestions on how to improve her less than perfect life.

“You should’ve heard your sister on the phone today,” Marjorie would tell Horace.

Horace may or may not listen to Marjorie’s analysis of what transpired during the conversation having spent a lifetime tuning out unpleasantries until direct communication with him regarding any issue had ceased.

It was cathartic as the pent up venom spewed from Genevieve’s lips, a weight lifted from her chest. Weighed down all these years trying to be congenial in Marjorie’s company. Placating everybody else, observing her mother’s warnings not to rock the boat and be considerate of other people’s feelings. But Marjorie’s most recent fiasco was the final straw.

Claiming the last word, Genevieve slammed down the phone, her voice shaky and hoarse. Her ringing ears embraced the silence, and only momentarily did she debate the wisdom of full disclosure in family matters.

Night Of The Slow Drummer

In Memory of Mike Eagle Claw

by Doug Draime

He banged his drum steady,
slower than most
In the moonlight haze,
in the falling mist of 3 A.M.
When all the other
drummers were asleep in dreamland
He banged his drum steady,
slowly till the white doves of dawn
began to coo gently in bright sunbeams,
in change shifting waves of morning light
He banged his drum steady,
slowly till all the living earth awoke
from the prolonged dark night of its dream

Dudes My Age

by G. Tod Slone

Out there in the motel lot,
I see them scrubbing away
on their shiny Corvettes—
reds, blues, greens, banana.
About 10 of them are parked
in a perfect line,
their proud owners scrubbing
and polishing over and again,
all morning long.
One of the guys scowls at me,
a big coot with shiny bald head
and CORVETTE written
in big letters across his tee-shirt
—must have been a marine
or maybe even a state copper.
Seniors in bliss or almost,
they are the successful ones
of my generation,
the retired fellows dressed
in khaki shorts.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


by Juliet Wilson

Every Saturday night, she palely sits
in a dark corner, her kohl eyes
watch the dancers, a mysterious
smile on her lips.

Every Saturday night, a different outfit,
always elegant and black,
always glamour gloved, elbow length
velvet or satin, lace trimmed,
sheer with flowers up the arms
rooted to her fingers with heavy rings.

Every Saturday night, she goes home
alone, undresses slowly, carefully
unpeels the gloves
from her scars.

get on the horn, asshole

by M.P. Powers

in all his savagery, this rabid pyramid
schemer of fiftyfivehundred
"maggot mile," boca raton, who is particularly babbitt
appropriates in his subterranean boiler
room two dozen or so ill-spoken telemarketers
dressed in rebuttal sheets and lousy
self-worth, whose moral
fiber his excellency ineloquently assassinates
between pump-and-dump... when sales are slow,
or perhaps it's the way his delectable
eminence minuets
on nimble-toed crocodile
loafers, the mattress of his plus-sized womanly
arse smuggling
deathly gall, for god and country... or because
you too have witnessed our host's
nosehairs have grown
a mustache, remembering the time
his dimpled fist choked a fountain-pen
salesman's festive necktie while showering blue
invective over his sorry balding pate...

i have also boondoggled a pettifogging snit

which is neither here nor there
when night runs away with her dreams
and you
find yourself dead broke out-of-commission
and married to a bullhorn;

i know the feeling

Satie's Piano (from “Trois Gymnopedies”)

(from “Trois Gymnopedies”)
by Steve Prusky

These stark measures
hypnotic ease
obscure I age
eight minutes
more from start
to end,
growing older
slower then.

Let's Leave A Mark

by Mike Meraz

let's leave a mark so shallow
it will only take a few years to erase.
a mark void of risk, without emotion,
hidden behind suburban walls and plastic faces;
never showing a damn clue we were alive
or human, or in need of something more
than the daily grind.

let's live in fear of being found out
our thoughts run deeper than sex, food
and bank accounts; that we are in need,
in need, in dire need of meaning and love,
true love, unfound in dirt, walls,
dollar bills and shopping malls.


by Mather Schneider

A black beetle
staggers in circles
in the dirt
while a mother cat and her four kittens
crouch around it
not knowing or caring
how long the beetle slept
dreaming grub dreams
before emerging from the earth
a little miracle in armor.
One part we all share
is this brutal
and scared
and beyond morality.
The cats know
small movement,
they know
soft guts and hunger.
The beetle’s reward:
to be alive for less
than an hour
and to never
give in.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

From 8 Equations

7. Platonic Tragedies & Top Ten I'm Sorrys
In a "Brief History of Glass"
In the Advent of a Water Landing
this Poem May be Used as a Floatation Device

by J. R. Pearson

Let's go way back. Back past mathematics’
knuckle-fucked abacus & Euclidian misnomers.
Back to Plato's top two
ways to succeed in tragedy:
one: kill the victim & everyone he knows
two: kill the victim several times until
he forgets he's dead
Implied lines of evidence for rational behavior in complex social settings?
Act like men grow handcuffs in the earth's womb.
Pretend tempers are buried in dynamite.
Furrowed brows made from nitroglycerin, finely molded
& set firmly between two lit corneas.
Freeze! Act natural. Move slow
like nothing matters except what fills
your empty hand at said moment:
Gun folded into the flick of a finger:
Daggers spent with the lick of the lips.
13 codas with a blade playing backup.
Sphinx-mouthed & waiting. It's always the waiting--
Spartans knew the External Principal
of Practical Ahimsa: the only real victim is yourself!
All this & who knew a Geiger counter blitzes
a finger at thoughts of plutonium tangled in amino acids.
It's 2000 ways not to build a lightbulb &
a killingwave unwound in a wind of RNA
that rises like a bleach tomb hung
up by its hind heel in sky stripped to the bone.
There's no geometric formula for the point
where two bodies touch.
But let's count anyway: all things equal
touch lips just in case:
run fingers over skin ponds cut cleanly at the damp edge:
scratch the march of long whistles
in the stained-black dream warped & turning on a gramophone: lifts
like madness shed by a twist in the heat:
opens the drawer of earth
beneath your grave:
I'm sorry. I mistook you for the moon
I'm sorry. Your proteins don't fold properly
I'm sorry. I wrote you a message on the galactic
arm; Alpha Centari is the period.
I'm sorry. You were born in a nebula; fell to earth in a flame.
I'm sorry. I thought I heard your wings whistle in a drawn-back sky.
I'm sorry. Your tongue keeps hammering me.
I'm sorry. I read your heart thru
an open wound.
I'm sorry. Sacred incantatory sweat glands must be spoken
I'm sorry. I only see some steel
Egrets singing with sky
I'm sorry. There’s a man torn in two
by the door
Don't worry we can fix him.
Humans manufacturing humans.
He says:
I know I'm dead if I dream in perfect pitch.
I know I'm asleep if I taste blood on your lips
where a word tore into song. I know I'm alive if the flame
in one eye whips mad like moonlight & the other's hard set
on "shudders loose in the brief history of glass".
Three cheers for an "unswept place in-between lives!"
Three cheers for raw linen over the sky's black mouth!
Three cheers for breath on a broken pane gone smoke-white
into a glass-sweep of sky you know doesn't exist.


by Kenneth Pobo

Groovy. I want to be groovy the way a waterfall is groovy just as it slides
over the edge, groovy as in a dictionary that gets a new word
and doesn’t mind if it’s sexy, or groovy like a mall
when every car has left and a blathery old moon plops on
an anchor-store roof.

Hip. My grandmother said “hep” but she meant hip. She didn’t like it.
It meant you were into drugs, sex, and… I never could be hip.
My hips aren’t hep. I might aim for novice hip
and work my way up. Or down. Or maybe I can be hip-notized,
a hippo Hippolytus, a hiphop hoppetyhophop hip.

Outtasite. Once upon a tyme, I was almost outtasite. Crows
skidded over my wheatfield blond hair. I had a body
to dye for. When you’re close but not quite outtasite,
you know how a mountain feels when
the prettiest leaf blows off you onto a rinkydink hill.

The Three of Us

by Sergio A. Ortiz

She is a paralytic relapse,
a succession of fixed images
completes her figure.
I am surprised I can’t remember
how quickly she walked with her crutches
among the magnolias, showing off
the doll smile polite children
carefully rehearse to use on special occasions.
My memory of her is set like a picture
from my photo album, flat; my aunt
wearing furs and white gloves
on Hollywood Beach in Chicago.

I remember her sitting by the lifeguard
weeping, or pretending to weep
so he would approach. She’d give him
miniature cacti in bloom
from the garden of the evils of Venus.
She never asked what he was reading,
but when she’d look into his eyes
I could see her going through the pages.
She’d soak in every one of the images, poked
the ones that were sad

and laughed wanting to give them a new
perspective. Then she’d lick the steel
legs of the park bench and hide under it
imitating poodles and canaries.
Didn’t mean anything to me.

I also remember her alone
on Ariel, Uranus’s moon.
My eyes alternating between the book
and her long-shiny-black-hair.

She-he-I was always different,
it depended on the lifeguard.

Brighton Avenue in June

by George Anderson

An odd item in the paper about
the upsurge of Lego animation

suddenly from the street
a spectacular BANG
the wrench of metal on metal
the apartment shaking.

A Falcon has misjudged the bend
smashed thru the neighbour’s brick fence
& is resting partly in his porch
the rear wheels turning slowly.

I reach in & turn off the ignition
the driver’s head is gashed. His
legs are contorted, the grill smoking.
‘Can you get me some water? he asks.

I bang on Eddie’s door.
I yell out, ‘I NEED SOME WATER!

He doesn’t open up. I can see shadows of three
people inside thru the glass panel of the door.
The guy is begging, ‘Can I have some water?’
It is almost a whisper. He is losing consciousness,
lapsing into shock. ‘COME ON EDDIE, OPEN UP!’

More people arrive at the scene. Gawk at the
wreckage. Someone rings the cops. I talk to the guy,
try to keep him awake. I hear a siren in the distance.
The sharp yelp of a dog. The dull drone of vuvuzelas.

L’année (after Roberto Matta Echaurren, oil on canvas, 1944)

by Neil Ellman

Shapes turn into clouds
Then decompose
To shapeless ironies.

Breadthless lines appear
Then disappear
At countless, sudden points.

Something inevitable
Inexplicably occurs
Before it shifts to red.


He said he knew the source
Where squares are born
Where circles spread
And multiply as if
A stone were dropped
Into a lake of stars
Where life is formed
From dying flames.


The wind becomes a face
With ancient eyes
That cannot see the light.

Metaphors dissolve
Becoming stone
Before they turn to dust.

Nothing is what it seems
And every thought
Is just a guess.


He said he knew
How everything would end—
And then it did.

Head over heels

by Harry Calhoun

Tell me you’re not leaving.
Take away the God I prayed to
in my sky-blue boyhood bedroom
and asked to take my soul

if I died in my sleep. Take away
my Santa Claus and Christmas
but don’t take my heart-
felt childhood dream — you

and me with love between us.
Don’t take the four-leaf clover
I sought so long to pick

and keep pressed in my heart
like ZuZu’s petals
stored lovingly in daddy’s pocket

Monday, June 21, 2010


by Deborah L. Reed


I'm thinking of killing Hoelsher. With a gun. Shooting him right in the head. I don't even care if I get caught--it would be worth it to get that loopy grin off his face.

Hoelsher lives next door and a more obnoxious neighbor can scarce be found. For one thing, he makes a lot of noise, although nobody but me seems to mind. A good five days out of seven I find myself once again begging him to please, please, please stop the racket. I've called the cops several times, but they always take Hoelsher's side—he's got that sappy, “I love everyone and everyone loves me” kind of personality that allows him to get away with just about anything. So the noise continues and apparently I can't do a thing about it. I can't even find peace in my own house. You can see, Dear Diary, how a thing like that would eventually build up? How it would make a man start thinking about the gun in his closet?


Hoelsher took not one, but two, walks today. These walks are particularly annoying to me because he parades up and down my section of the sidewalk. He does this on purpose because he knows the very sight of him makes my blood boil. Often he pauses in front of my house to visit with one of our other neighbors. “Look how popular I am” is the implication here. Well, those people would like me too if I weren't constantly having to cope with him.

So I'm sure you can understand, Dear Diary, how upsetting it was to see him take, not only a morning walk, but an afternoon one as well. Is this going to be a daily thing? For Hoelsher's sake I hope not. That gun is looking better and better.


Well, today I came close. I almost did it. Shoot Hoelsher, I mean. I discovered that he's the one who has been stealing my newspaper; although why I didn't realize it sooner I don't know. I saw him with it this very evening when I went to the backyard to ask him once again to keep the noise down. After seeing the newspaper-my newspaper-beside him and seeing how he had so carelessly mistreated it, I went into the house with the full intention of getting my gun. But reason prevailed—it was only a fifty cent newspaper--and I made a call to cancel my subscription. I'll have to buy one on my way to work every morning, but at least Hoelsher won't be getting a free paper. Do the other neighbors, the ones who think Hoelsher is so great, realize he is a thief? I'd like to inform them of this fact, but it would probably just alienate me further.


Well, Dear Diary, I did it. I got my gun out. This time when I called the cops they said it was too early to enforce the noise ordinance and refused to even come talk to me. That was the final straw. I went to the closet, retrieved the gun and went to the back yard. Hoelsher came up to the fence, acting all congenial, although he must know I detest the sight of him. He didn't even look scared when I aimed the gun at him, that's how stupid he is. My hands were shaking so hard I could barely hold the gun and it took me a while to get the safety off. Hoelsher didn't even wince at the click it made. He just looked me with those soft puppy eyes of his and gave me a little grin. The idiot looked happy to see me, even though I was pointing a gun at him. He wagged his tail and gave a little woof and that's when I realized I just couldn't do it. I engaged the safety and walked back into the house. Dear Diary, I hate to tell you this, but shooting Hoelsher is no longer an option.

history and sterile vegetables

by David McLean

history washes over them,
sterile vegetables asserting empathy
and inventing ethics,

making extravagant assertions
about mental states,
though i never noticed

they were wearing them like flags
on their hats, they seemed to be bodies,
numb and more or less ugly -

and that was that

Night Fishing

by Ailill

June bug, itching skin.
Moon eye lights up the sky.
Casting out our lines,
reeling them in.

Remember when?
Left unsaid.
Listening to the rippling
lake instead.

Minds hypnotized,
Lost to the passage of time.
Trying to catch those past dreams
in the silence between.

Then, it seemed
we had destiny on our side.

An 8 second joy ride,
youth's pride.

how do we find our way back
up that dark path?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

"It is incomprehensible that people think life is comprehensible.“ Norris Benjamin

by Felino A. Soriano

affirm constipated meaning. Lack
of resulted metaphoric muscular strain,
portends infantile insults
of the following’s proclamation:

staged sophists, camera-ready
pilgrims, desolate land-conquer
absolute, posit dialect misunderstandings.

Found on
walls of absent-body residence,
beautified cracks
shaping museum-angled
wonder, misunderstood.

Upon arrival, a single
singular-concept category of man
attempts to spackle
the open bodies of beautiful cracks.

Saying “blemishes ruin home of merriment”. The
throws boomeranged insults of the reflectional self,

for not finding fortune in the home of self,
one allows antiquated feelings to be covered, softly,
and the hands of the coverer
go unpunished, continued attachments
to the mind’s uninformed

Rain Drops

by Mike Meraz

rain drops
like a thousand nights before.
nothing has changed.
"nothing ever changes,"
he said to me two days ago.
his vacant words
hit dimly on my soul,
like a lie, or a half truth
that wants to be made whole.
"it changes," I thought,
and moves
and breaks
and turns
and even feels pain.
but you refuse to accept it,
to feel it.
it is easier to say,
"nothing ever changes."
to let it ride,
to give in,
to allow it to take hold,
while you ponder your mistakes,
the ones you have made
over and over again.
it is easier to swallow booze,
to take drugs,
to drag on the cigarette,
to turn on the TV
and forget
how it all has gone wrong.
it is easier
to stand by the butcher block
and turn to the young man
half your age,
full of hope and dreams,
and say to him,
with your jaded wisdom,
"nothing ever changes."

hell it does!

as this angry pen
hits this flinching paper,

hell it does!


by Mather Schneider

She bends her knees like a paper deer
into the tiger-stripe shadows
on the forest floor,
slides down pink
petal-thin panties
and drops tiny champagne piano keys
onto the earth.
I pull her to me
before the froth can settle, shake wild
salt onto her tongue
and shove my stiffened taste into
the coveted nerve between
the two perfect halves
of spring.
She reaches out to the old rough skin
of an oak tree and tries
to shove it over and ride it
down the sheer face
while from my
cramped toes I shoot
ropes of snow
into the hot syrup of
our blood.
Sometimes it feels
so good to
get away from
the city
and into
the mountains.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Morning After

by Chris Butler

The morning after
forget last night.

The morning after
awake covered
under her blood;
reaching for the
silver .44 beneath
my unleaded head,
with each chamber
full of malicious
intent, as my thinning
eyelids close but still
envision red, despite
the sun rising upon
my nightmares.

The morning after
skin pinches
itself to induce

The morning after
have a hangover.

The morning after
awake together.

The morning after
dreams never come

The morning after
forget to remember
her name,
referring to her
only as babe.

The morning after
swallows the pill
with a puddle
of palm water,
as I counteract
with a cup of
dust encrusted

The morning after
neglect to remember
urination after ejaculation
to prevent
urinary tract infections.

The morning after
showers and I
consider joining
her, yet deciding
to stay asleep
until she leaves.

The morning after
exits, pecking my
turning cheek.

The morning after
embrace a frigid
pillow case.

When I awake she
has long ago arrived
for her nine to five
in the same ensemble
she wore the
day before, as
I circumcise
my latex

The morning after
fear she’s periodically
despite our prior date.

The morning after
she doesn’t call.

The morning after,
I sext her pictures.

the morning after
next I forget her number.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Pillow Talk

by Gordon Mason

I turn to read your note
left on Tuesday’s pillow.

The words have pale skins
of ghosts in satin.

Tears from buds
behind the confessional grill

of my eyelids.
You are only visible in your words,

your scent, your absence.
I hold this knotted jewellery

of emotions in my hands.
I press my nose into your perfume

and read until the last sentence
takes my breath away.

The Car

by Avery Oslo

It’s old, ugly and earwax-colored.

“She’s dependable. I put the new engine in myself.”

It probably can’t even go faster than 40.

“I know it’s not what you wanted, but it’ll get you to school and back.”

I don’t know what he expects me to tie to those hunter’s rails.

“It can withstand anything.”

Except the laughter of the kids at St. Mary’s.

“I hope you love it as much as I did when I was your age.”

He’s giving me his car?

“Take good care of her. She’s seen a lot.”

Because he loves me.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


by Len Kuntz

The sky is such a beautiful bruise of brutal blue-metal-pink. It reminds me how there can be loveliness in pain, that even art is a kind of contained torture. Uncertain, I look to the horizon while pangs of hope spike my heels the way my feet will tingle when they fall asleep, go numb.

In the morning you visit early before the family comes. Your kisses are light like moths upon my bandaged wrists, your breath syrupy in my ear. You say, “We can make it.” You tell me, “Nothing’s so bad,” and I close my eyes, hearing the unblemished beauty of your promise new for the first time, taking your fingers in mine, holding on, believing.


by Robert Vaughan

We're having beer
at Von Trier when
Vinny calls me
Felix, a far cry from Frank.
What did you say?
I ask. A pit

grows in my stomach
excited but morbidly aghast.
Focus on the
far wall.
Fake paneling.
Cuckoo clock.

Adjust my package.
Chalk it up to
Trappist beer. He is
quiet, hums, so I try a
direct angle:
Who the fuck is Felix?

The lines on his forehead
bulge. He stares like
I am Houdini. None
of your business, he fumes,
what the hell is
this, an investigation.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Mad World

by Sandy Benitez

It's Halloween
and I'm attending
a masquerade ball
dressed as a Geisha.

Zombies saunter by,
leaving trails of toilet
paper and irritating moans.
Vampires offer me glasses

of bloodwine
but I politely refuse.
Ask if they have Saki
instead. One hisses at me

and I check his bottom
for a tail. The clock
strikes midnight
and suddenly the room

is spinning, no disco lights
to be found. A skeleton
approaches me, smelling of
sulfur. Says he'll show me

Hades for a copper penny.
With a wicked grin
I tell him we're already there
and all the madness

is completely free of charge.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


by Howie Good

Take a fur-lined cup,
crack one blue eye like an egg into it,
the wet snores of philosophy,

until a brown haze envelops everything
you see (by you, I mean me),

closets of children’s clothes,
an old-fashioned summer garden,

then just when the panic picks up speed,
the air convulsing for your pleasure,

reverse the words inscribed on the heart
of the sailor crucified in the rigging,

and there’ll be shadows like daggers,
birds eaten by the sky,
big flames in lieu of flowers.

Bridge Builder

by Gordon Mason

A snell wind chips
its words into my head
like a stonemason.
If I build a bridge

to the warm scarf
of your arms,
the sky can blow out
and we shall stand

on the edge of space.
Mountains on the moon
will segment in orange
and in their thousand folds

our truths will lie.
We will gaze on a future
sketched in turquoise seas.
Like a prodigal boat

we will moor in a cove
known only to us
and I can die
quiet in your wrap.

Modus Operandi Part I

by Morgen Streur

Yeah I'm not just sayin' it I'm livin' a vivid dream
-I'm not just playin' I created a crazy team
A mixtape's last on my list to do
I run 2 companies work for 2 more,
I'm only 24 but yes a true boss
Never used brute force yet I will if I must as a last resort
wordsmith movin' far ahead of my thoughts,
if your lady likes me take away the if quick
you're bein' double crossed,
Hot sauce,
I'm a double O agent
- Cue the Molotov cocktails,
"Mazel Tov!"
leave em shakin', not stirred
- My word is Bond, James
Don't forget my name is John Wayne,
Dont let my music confuse you,
It's a grown man game, who is you?

Scattering of Migrations

by John Swain

Scattering of migrations,
blue movements flood
as every bird becomes the sky
and every fish becomes the wave.
We rain
into the unceasing horizon
where sunset halves the world
in silhouette of man and woman.

Sexual Congress and the Post-consumer

by Melanie Browne

swallow all of
your post-

I became one
with all
of your

We lie

two post
the stars
mingle in
the post-consumer

Sunday, June 13, 2010


by Steve Prusky

He places the
day’s possibles
in the top dresser drawer;
pens, keys, change,
money clip, wallet,
barely readable
notes scratched out
on wadded napkins,
in the order they’ll be
robotically retrieved
the next morning
when there is no
time to search.

Slumped on the
edge of the bed,
shoes, pants, shirt
are shed in trade
for sweats, slippers,
a stained t-shirt
he’s worn all week.
Then, the sigh,
the deep breath
swelling from within
his reminiscences of
the day’s events
that later claw raw
his restless sleep.

Last night’s verbal
battle with his wife,
how the mortgage
should be paid,
his son’s plea for
money toward the rent,
the flat tire that made
him late for work,
which conflicts won
out-weigh those lost,
Will he be vested
before lay-offs?
What drawer do
all those go in

After the Flood

by Jessica Otto


Perhaps this will be the storm that kills me.
Froth and flux
of river’s riptide
rise from your rocky banks
and flood this whole damn town.
The darkening sky
makes the trees smell much greener
before the glutting of the tide
and the tumble down.


While Noah’s sighs
polluted the ruddy beach littered with the bones
of heretics, their livestock
and other land predators the women did what had to be done.
While he thanked god
for the early warning, the strong timber and that he wasn’t
part of the slaughtered multitude
the women did what was expected. They walked around him
like he was just another
corpse, bobbed like spring flowers in a sunny afternoon,
rooted around piles
of driftwood and soggy cloth, picked out the useful things
and made camp.


I closed my eyes and
remembered an image of nature:
the rushing creek bloated

with a river’s flood water;
the one my car floated down
transfixed in a moment of joy

at the thought of becoming a boat.
I opened my eyes and the deluge,
in bouleversement, convulsed

over Tennessee like a vengeful
spirit, holding no redemption or promise
of a beatific purge.

The Dumbest Things I Ever Heard

by Melanie Browne

When I
Was a kid

Authority figures
Always gave advice

Mr. Rogers gave advice on
“Friendly" and
“Helpful” people in my

Smokey the Bear
On fire safety
“Only you can
Prevent forest fires"

The five food groups
What to say to the new kid
In school

And other
Useless crap
Along the years.

So much inane
Soaking into
My ears as
I slept

Making its
Way into
My brain.

Yet Smokey the Bear
And Mr. Rogers
Have never made
An appearance
In my dreams

Only the celebrities
Get that far.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Malawian Cafe

by Juliet Wilson

It's a mud-built cafe
on the dusty corner
of a village alley.

Dark inside and cool
despite the day's hot sun,
lively with laughter
and warm conversation.

The menu is simple:
bean stew and nsima;
chicken with rice;
Coca Cola, Fanta
and Carlsberg greens.

The walls are covered
with postcards
of its namesake
The Ritz.

Thursday Night on the Metro

by M.P. Powers

When the train stops at Blanche, an old man sidles
aboard. He's wearing a dark motheaten fleececoat and
has an accordion slung over his shoulders.
He peers around, the brim of a battered fedora
shading his heavylidded French eyes. The eyes of an artist.
The door closes; we lurch forward and he begins
with an old Parisian song. His fingers frolicking
about the keys; fingernails broad and shining like tiny
clamshells. He sways about the hips, beats softly
time with his foot, and when he finishes his two
minutes of wondrous music, he draws a small leather cup
out of a case. He gives it to the lady beside him; she looks at it
with disdain and passes it on.
It goes to the front of the train and comes back
around, still empty... He returns it to
its case and sits down, resting the accordion on his knee.
He slumps over a little bit. Meanwhile, the train jostles along,
moving us all
through the night; the tired, the spiritless. All of us,
huddled together,
without music, barely alive.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Beggar

by Felino A. Soriano

The beggar
brought to the home of his doormat hands
nothing tangible of the edible
though hope of the anti hankering:

cease, research, theories
of literature
-based realities
prosodic enhance
teaching to function the legs of lying-down-daily

to corrupt this sanitized stillness

among the flying variables

landing worms and mouth-constructed
our sacred
rebuild in materialization.


by Parker Tettleton

"I love you.”


Back at the screen door she answers “What?” I stand under her nose and say “Box is out of juice.” Inside she sits me on the black and white polka-dotted sofa we make love around here and there. “Sheets,” she wants to know. “Only in winter,” I say, “but not tonight.” The hall door closes. I take the two round burgundy pillows and stack them under my neck. Snow and sweat dry at my mustache. At two o’clock I trace my hands over pieces of furniture until I reach the kitchen sink. ’92’s running. She’s in the middle of the front seat. Faucet’s dripping. She could be asleep she’s so still. The handle lands halfway down the garbage disposal. One headlight blinks back at me. Classic.


by Mather Schneider

This river is dying
it is just a dry
gash in the desert.
There is not even any mud under
the low rocks
for the javelinas to wallow in.
But when the monsoon rains
come in the hot belly-dancing dream
of summer
like laughter from the
dangerous laughter
loud and wet and spraying your face
is transformed.
It swells and calls
itself a river again,
not a wash or a gash or
a memory, it jumps
from symbol to something
infectious and messy, sand flows
wolf the banks
like cake, the savage
joy of it
with that pulse of
rapid change that passes
for meaning to a
dried up human

They Really Work

by Catfish McDaris

The hunter was intent
staring down the barrel
of his rifle at the biggest
trophy buck he'd seen

Taking a deep breath
he took up the slack
on the trigger

Aiming for the heart
he squeezed gently
only to hear
click click click

The deer bounded
into the forest

Unloading his gun
the frustrated hunter
discovered he'd loaded
a roll of lifesavers.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Journey

by Pat St. Pierre

You took me on a journey -
I was scared – but tingling.
Longing to experience you,
also frightened at your touch.
I was awkward,
you were patient
with me. Slowly leading me.
Soon urgency took hold;
unsure of myself
I tried to imitate you.
Your body became still;
girl-child no more.


by Devin Streur

Organic chemistry tells of
Molecules bound in time
& combustible... unstable.

Attracted & repulsed
alternatively --
We push and pull

Comets in the aether, or
Orbiting spheres of

The music: a map of
sheets, tossed. We're
Jealous & angry, unwillingly

Following paths laid out
beyond our comprehensions
Frequencies changing

The terrain shifting
beneath us.


by Daniel Harmon

Her mouth says no
Cause her momma told her so
Yet her body
Still says yes
With precise restraint

Her dress and her moves
Fit all the right grooves
But the lipstick says
It won't get smeared tonight

Then she hits the sloe gin
And so completely caves in
That her lips will part
As gently on her face
As they do between her legs.

Saturday, June 5, 2010


by Robert Vaughan

There is more than
water that concerns
me. The trill of slow
rocking, lilting,
rolling. Aurora
Borealis flashes in
the fire-worked sky,
a candlelight lamp
drips wax onto
your body. The memory
of the carcass weighs
heavily on the nape
of my neck. Wooden,
chained with responsibility.
Is it better to
forgive than to forget.

Lazy Eye & Tumbleweeds

By Melanie Browne

Once while buying chocolate milk in a convenience store in Raton,
I met a man with Lazy Eye.
Maybe it was Evil Eye (it’s all a little fuzzy now) .

He was wearing a faded camo jacket.
He held a hand in front of his eyes to shade the sun.
He said “hello.”
I told him “I’m from Texas.”
I tried not to stare.

He told me to watch out for the tumbleweeds,
He said
If the wind was strong enough and the sun hot enough,
They would literally catch on fire, little balls of flame bouncing across the highway.
He showed me the scars to prove it.

“There,” he said, pointing at his eye.
“Here too,” he lifted up his shirt,
Pointing at the mutilated skin on his stomach.

I drank my chocolate milk and pondered quietly for a minute what the man had said.
I decided it was probably bullshit,
But I thanked him for the advice.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Advice for a World Losing Tongues

by Devin Streur

Quit your job
Get a new one
Lay up off
Get out of my grill
Pronounce my name right
Stay out of trouble
But piss people off
Don't compete when you know
You can't win
Fight for survival
Get bloody messy
Angry hungry
Ditch the bedframe
Sleep on the ground
You were built for

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Existential Hitchhiking

by Chloe Caldwell

“I always get my period when we hitchhike,” I told my brother.

“That’s nice,” he said.

“No. It’s shitty.”

“Oh. Okay.” He wanted to be done with this conversation.

“I think it means something though,” I told him, feeling bored and feeling bold. I was trying to get a rise out of him.

It worked. He looked at me from over his shoulder:

“Why does hitchhiking always have to be so existential---“

“I know!”

“----With you? No Clo, only with you.”


“This isn’t what hitchhiking is like with other people.”


It was six in the morning and we were tired. It was August and it was humid. My brother was beyond irritated with me, and for good reason. He was hitchhiking with me to Paris from Berlin because I didn’t know how to do it alone. He didn’t feel like doing it. Neither did I. We hadn’t even spoken for months. Instead of living with him and making art and music, I’d decided to erase myself and stare stoned out of a window.

Luckily though, we only had to hitchhike to a small town in Germany, where a friend of a friend Pablo was going to meet us with his car and drive us all the way to Paris. We couldn’t wait to sleep for hours.

Then Trevor got a text from Pablo. He’d decided he needed to get on the road early. He left without us, even though he’d told us to meet him at nine am.

Buying a flight out of Paris to New York because it was cheap seemed exotic when I purchased it in June. In June, we’d been excited about the quest. Now we just wanted to go back to bed. Now we were on the side of the road unprepared to hitchhike for two days. We had half of a baguette that Trev had baked and thirty-five cent Brie that was melting in the sun. Ooh la la.

My brother didn’t let it go. I hated him when he acted this uptight.

“No, really though, Clo. I’m curious. Why do you think when we’re standing on the side of the road trying to get a ride, why do you think that’s the best time to analyze your life?”

“I don’t know. Cause’ it feels weird to be standing on the side of the road. Like we’re outside the world.”

“You should be putting your energy into getting a ride.”


“It’s okay, but you do it every time.”


“And take your Ipod off.”

“It makes me dance and look friendly.”

“It makes you look rude.”

“We always get a ride when I put it on and dance. Remember? And they can’t even see it from the car.”

“It’s rude. Put my guitar in front of you; it’ll make you look pretty. People like girls that play guitar.”

“I don’t know what to do with my life.”

“Ahhhhh shut up.”

“But I don’t!”

“Hey, didn’t you have to clean yesterday? If you wanted to, you could use the euros you made and just buy a bus ticket to Paris. They’re about 65 euro.”

“I didn’t go clean yesterday. I don’t have any extra money.”

“Why didn’t you go?”

“I was tripping on acid.”

“Jesus Christ, Clo.”

“What’d you say?”

“Take your damn Ipod off!”

“It makes me look friendly!”

“It makes you look rude.”

“It makes you look rude.”

“Don’t do that.”

“Don’t do that.”

“Stop copying me.”

“Stop copying me.”

“ I’m serious Clo.”

“I’m serious Clo.”

“What are we five years old?”

“What are we five years old?  I’m not stopping.”

“You just did.”

for some certain poets who write often of the void as if it were a lover

by Paul Harrison

no matter how well
you craft the lines
or the line breaks
a page
no matter how well
you dance with Death
and her handmaidens
despair and ennui
no matter how often
you elicit
from people
who live
who have rarely been intimate with Death
or seen the mess it leaves behind
who respond
to your unquiet horror
with words like
'yea, baby'
'emotive, surreal',
'real nice'
'i dig it, man...'
no matter how often
that fawning gallery
swoons all over
your nihilism
your one trick pony poetic shtick
no matter how often
you dissemble
or dissemble to others
no matter how
many times
you glimpse
or approach
or rework
the abyss
that which is all
our birthrights
no matter
the nothinginess
the void
you crave so much
more than
more than
more than
more than
is something very ugly
no matter that
often i wish
you'd just shut up
or put up
and take
the trip
the jump
the cut
the handful of pills
the swing
the plunge
a shot to your gut
no matter what
i'll be sure, to be cheering you on...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


by Len Kuntz

My brothers were sunk, they took me with because they were babysitting. Still, the girls there had wavy, wheat-blonde hair and dance-floor lips that shimmered back question marks. “He’s so cute, isn’t he?” one asked. “He doesn’t look like either of you,” another said.

When they paired off and retreated to rooms, I turned on “The Mod Squad.” Julie looked like one of the girls, only thinner. I could hear both girls hyperventilating, as if they were a pair of kittens being smothered. But the air was sheer, pulsing and hot everywhere, so I got up to open the kitchen window, only the stove was there, as was a roll of paper towels and cook books nearby, a butcher block made of wood, mail and newspaper… so much kindling.

So, yes, okay, I did it. I started the fire, but I didn’t end it. I left before then.