Travelers Welcome

Travelers Welcome

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


by T.R. Healy

Breathing rapidly, his heart throbbing against his ribs, Marcus pressed the buzzer under the first name listed on the directory outside the front door of the towering apartment building. No one answered so he pressed the buzzer under the next name. Still no answer. Urgently he pressed one buzzer after the other until a voice squawked through the speaker.

"Who is it?"

"I have a delivery from Federal Express," he lied.

A shrill sound followed almost at once as the door was unlocked and he pulled it open and hurried into the small vestibule and strode past the elevator to the stairway. Not surprisingly, no one was there. Anyone who could afford to live in this building would never bother to take the stairs he suspected. They were too steep and narrow, barely wide enough for one person. Anxiously he charged up them two at a time, breathing harder than ever, his flannel shirt sticking to his spine.

"Come on," he urged himself, refusing to take a break. "Come on ... come on ... come on."

At the top of the stairway was a black metal door. It was unlocked. His pulse pounding in his ears, he hesitated for a moment then pushed it open with his left shoulder and stepped out onto the roof. Immediately a stiff breeze caught him square in the face and he spun around and saw the steeple of the Presbyterian church where he attended a wedding last summer with his father. And just behind it was the ivy-covered apartment house he visited nearly a year ago. He smiled, remembering the startled look of the sunbather he found lying face down on two thick beach towels in the middle of the roof.

Overhead droned a bi-plane, its scruffy wings scarcely longer than his eyelashes.

At once, he stretched his arms straight above his head, as if to snatch the tiny plane out of the sky, then began to whirl around the narrow roof, his toes almost bouncing on its spongy tar surface. He saw the steeple of another church. He saw the top of the Ferris wheel on the other side of the river. He saw the observation floor of the tallest building in the city. He saw the thick limbs of the gigantic oak tree he used to swing from when he was little. He saw two more buildings he had visited and two more he had intended to visit last year.

Round and round he spun until he was afraid he might spin over the wall.


The first time Marcus snuck onto a roof was with his friend Hovie when they were seniors in high school. They had gone to a basketball game downtown and were walking back to the bus stop when they happened to approach the Carlyle Hotel. Often they issued challenges to one another, usually at school, and that night Hovie challenged him to go up with him onto the roof of the venerable old hotel. He resisted but Hovie was adamant and suddenly ducked into the revolving door and reluctantly he followed him through the ornate lobby and up the fire stairs.

"You know what I feel like?" Hovie asked as he peered down at the violet lights of the revolving restaurant across the street.

"What's that?"

"Like I'm on top of the world."

Marcus chuckled.

"Like I'm an explorer," he continued, staring now at the shimmering lights of the surrounding buildings. "Like someone who's been somewhere others haven't been."


Marcus only went onto one other roof with his high school friend and that was the night of their graduation when they crashed a wedding reception atop another majestic old hotel downtown, the Regency Arms. And they both agreed it was the best party they could have attended to celebrate their graduation. They were each other's closest friend and they were back on a summit together.

"I bet you never thought you'd do this again," Hovie laughed as he poured his friend another glass of champagne.


"Neither did I, partner."

Marcus lied, though, too embarrassed to tell the truth. For on several occasions since he followed his friend up to the Carlyle roof, he had snuck onto the roofs of other high-rises around town. Sometimes he did it for the sheer thrill of the challenge, as if he really were some kind of an explorer, but more often he went on the roofs to escape the increasing tension between him and his father. Up there he was alone and he was relaxed, not worried about his father badgering him to apply to college. There he could feel a certain satisfaction in knowing that he was clever enough to make it to the top, could look down at the city as if it belonged just to him. Up there he had accomplished something.

For quite a few months after his graduation he continued to go up on roofs around town until late one evening, at the Sterling Silver Insurance Building, he barely escaped being caught by a security guard and decided it was time to stop. His luck couldn't last forever, he realized, however clever he was. And the last thing he wanted to happen was to be arrested because he knew his father would never let him hear the end of it. So he swore to himself he would never sneak onto another roof again.


"Is that you, Marcus?" his father called out when he entered the back door of their modest bungalow.

"Yeah. Who else were you expecting?"

A moment later, his father shambled into the kitchen, his rheumy eyes almost as bright as his scarlet cardigan sweater. "You got some mail today."


He handed him a wrinkled blue envelope. "So I opened it."

He was surprised. "Didn't you see it was sent to me?"

"Yeah, I saw."

"So why did you open it?"

Not looking at his son, he took a deep breath. "It's from your mother."


"You heard me."

He was stunned. His mother died in a car accident almost fourteen years ago when he was still a toddler. "I don't understand."

"Please, sit down," his father said as he pulled out a chair from the breakfast table, "and I'll explain it to you." Thoroughly confused, he plopped down in the chair, the vein in the middle of his forehead pounding so furiously he was afraid it was going to burst.

"What I told you about your mother dying in a car crash was a lie," he admitted. "Actually, she abandoned us. I didn't really know why she left so I didn't know what to tell you."

"You could've told me the truth."

"Yeah, maybe so, but I thought it was easier to pretend she was dead because I was sure she was out of our lives for good. And she was until this letter arrived because, I swear to you, I've never heard one word from her since the day she walked out of here."

"You should have told me, Pop."

"There are a lot of things I should have done and some I did and some I didn't."


Suddenly, as he whirled atop the apartment building, Marcus stumbled and fell against the roof's low concrete wall. He started to get up but he was too tired and slumped back against the wall, breathing like a locomotive. As he gazed down at the cars moving around the building, he could not believe he had snuck up here, he was so sure he would never do such a foolish thing again, but after he read the letter from his mother he felt he had to go some place where he could be alone and think about whether he wanted to meet her as she requested. He just didn't know and took the letter out of the pocket of his denim jacket and looked at it again. It seemed as if what she wanted more than anything was forgiveness, a chance, he believed, to make everything right between them but he was afraid it was too late. She was a stranger to him, just like any of those drivers in the cars circling the apartment building right now, and probably always would be for what she did.

Still breathing hard, he leaned over the wall and let the letter slip between his fingers and watched it float through the heavy night air.

Saturday morning along the Thames

by Claudia Rey
“Catherine, you have to wait your turn”, said the young father. The brat nodded seriously. “I have to wait my turn.” Then, after two seconds: “But dad, I want to go on the boat now!”

“I know, sweetie, but we have to let other people go first.”

“Why, daddy? Why?”

“Because there’s a queue. And they were here before us. We have to wait our turn.”

“We have to wait our turn”, repeated the brat wisely. “But I want to go now!”

The father sighed, patiently. “In a minute we will be there. Just a minute, Catherine.”

We were waiting to board the London Water Bus to Camden Town. The girl – maybe four years, curly brown hair, big brown eyes,  pretty pouting face – pulled her father’s sleeve. “I think it’s our turn now!”

“No, Catherine. You have to wait. Be a good girl and do as I say.”

“Good girl" said the brat dubiously. "I have to wait.  But how long, daddy?”

“Not that long. Let’s look at the ducks instead.” The father pointed at a duck, its beautiful green head almost metallic in the pale sun, gliding majestically on the brownish water. “You see? Nice, isn’t it? So quiet… try to be just as quiet, Catherine.”

“But daddy, the duck doesn’t want to go on the boat! He is already in the water!” That’s why he is so quiet, clearly implied the little girl.

I smiled at the young father. “She has a point” I whispered.

“Oh, she has so many” was the answer.

Catherine looked at me with enormous, jealous eyes. “Daddy? Don’t talk with the lady” she ordered.
“Talk with me!”

“You see?” meant the father’s lopsided smile.

They went along the pier, Catherine pulling her father’s hand and the young man following , then came back after a while. The  queue was still long. I waved at the little girl: she looked at me very seriously and didn’t wave back. “I don’t know the lady” she said in a stage whisper. “So I don’t have to say hello to her, right? Right, daddy?”

“You could be nice and smile at her” suggested her father.

“I don’t want to be nice. I want to go on the boat!”

“Yes, I know. But…”

“But we have to wait our turn!” shouted the girl somewhat triumphantly.

Good for you, Catherine, I thought. Having the last word at your age. You certainly have your point.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Stephen Street

by Jennifer Lobaugh

Remember that summer they
tore down the school house?
When the world had just
ended (it was starting to show).

We were standing unguarded, all
sunburned and barefoot, with our
white cotton dreams on
your unmowed front lawn.

You were dressed as a
traffic light with your kid
brother Alstin, and we couldn’t stop
laughing, but I don’t remember why.

We were stuck there on Stephen Street
with chills and an iPod. Taking
solace from snow cones and
hands intertwined.

Now each time that you
smile, I still hear the same
music. I taste the sweet
sadness of our cobalt collapse.

And I wonder if I could let
go of this madness, this
elliptical magic, and
your hungry blue eyes.

The Fire Of Water

by Jason E. Hodges

Pushed in holes decorated fenders of grandpa’s old rusted out car
Pushed by bullets of hot lead ripping the air
Bullets from the lawmen’s gun in the chase of a lifetime
The holes had a strange feel to the hands of little ones
Small fingers of wide-eyed children gently felt grandpa’s outrun of the Law
Wondering daydreams of what could be so wrong with running shine to survive
The children had seen all the work it took to make
Stones hauled from plowed fields then mortared with Georgian Red Clay
Stacked around the shiny copper pot then fired with timber from the dark woods
Gently grandpa brushed the bottom of the still with a soft flame
Carefully, without bringing the soaked sugar, malt, and corn water to a boil
Oh so carefully so the alcohol would evaporate and float through the cap in a vapor
Then make its way to the thump keg
Then back out to the copper worm submerged in spring water
Where it cooled turning back to liquid
Filling jars with a flow as big as a pencil, too fast a flow meant the liquor was ruined
With a smile, grandpa shook the jars full of his fiery new brew
He was checking the bead
Checking the proof for the ones not in the know
The smaller the bubble the stronger the drink
After hours of working a still, there was no after hours
For the whiskey was clean and drank whenever they wanted
This was a time when self-made men thrived in the mountains of North Georgia
Before pharmaceuticals flooded the hills of the South
Resulting in families flooding emergency rooms
Praying their fathers, sons, or daughters would live through the night
Yes Grandpa and the good old days
When if you drank too much you woke up hung-over, instead of, not waking up at all
Grandpa was the last of his kind, But now he’s lying beside the Flint River
His days of running shine under the cast of moonlight have disappeared in the pages of time

Dark Corridor

by Sarah E. White

The wind was screaming, screaming her name
Nothing was blocking the frigid air from her soft white skin
She was running down a dark corridor of trees
Their black jagged limbs seemed to reach out and grab her
Exhausted she continued to run through the thick dampness that enveloped her body
Cold chills now covered her skin
Her heart was racing with fear, as she ran through the darkness
She breathed heavy as she struggled for breath.
Feeling so alive until a loud hollow sound snatched her away
Away to this painful place
The tiger’s claws now piercing her skin with reality
She’s fully awake as he bites down on her neck
The veracity of that pain shooting through her
Terminal illness
Could nothing be darker?
She longed for sleep to come
She wanted to drift off into the quietness
In her dreams she felt alive, her illness made damn sure of that
She was now going to return to her beautiful world of darkness
Pain would grip her life no more
The small bottle of pills so delicately placed by her bedside
Would do the job without any question
She took twenty, as she planned so long to do
Her dreams had only taken her so far
But soon she would be free
The corridor of trees led to freedom, and she did not want to be interrupted


by Chris Butler

Road hypnosis
maps my quest
which is at best
an educated guess,
between the eclipsed
suns and the
untelevised satellites
hovering over black
skies east and west,
lost in a roundabout
world without GPS.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Thank You God Car

by Deborah L. Reed

Several years ago my husband and I were driving to Wal-Mart in one of our Thank-You-God cars. A Thank-You-God car, for those of you who have never possessed one, is a car that, when you reach your destination, you raise your eyes heavenward and say “Thank you, God.” It is not to be confused with an In-the-Name-of-Jesus car, so called because when you place the key in the ignition you are required say “In the name of Jesus, let this car start.” While alike in many ways, the two are not exactly the same. A Thank-You-God car starts quickly enough, but has a tendency to leave you at the side of the road, while an In-the-Name-of-Jesus car takes forever to start, but once it gets going it purrs along nicely. The two are similar, but each one provides its own special type of aggravation. I’ve owned both types, but this particular day we were driving a Thank-You-God car.

To get from our house to Wal-Mart we had to take the Loop, speed limit sixty. For the first several miles, our Thank-You-God car did just fine, but we had learned the hard way that disaster could strike at any time, so both of us were subconsciously keeping our eyes and ears open for any sign of trouble.

We had driven about five miles, were about half-way to Wal-Mart, when we heard a clunk. Our eyes widened and we looked at each other in horror. What fresh hell is this? Immediately following the clunk was a series of clangs. I turned around and saw something, I couldn’t tell what, bouncing merrily down the road.

“What was that?” my husband said.

“I don’t know.”

“What do you mean, you don’t know? Something fell off the car, you saw it, what did it look like?”

“I don’t know, it was just a something.”

My husband pounded his hands on the steering wheel. “Was it big, little, or what?”

“I don’t know!”

Another pound on the steering wheel. “How can you not know!”

Things went along in this vein for another mile or so until it occurred to us. How bad could it be? We were still moving, which, in a Thank-You-God car, counts as a success. We were silent for a moment as we listened to the engine. Nope, no strange noises…well, only the usual strange noises, for this car always sounded like it was going to die at any moment. We were still going about sixty, but it occurred to us that we might have a problem when we slowed to make the exit. This had happened before--inertia would keep the car going, but when we slowed down, the engine would die. We were still silent, each of us mouthing a fervent prayer, as we approached the exit.

Nothing happened. Nothing bad, I mean. The Thank-You-God car obediently slowed for the merge, then sped up again as we hit the access road. We looked at each other in bewilderment. Something had fallen off, what was it? We approached the parking lot. Perhaps the car would die when we made the sharp right turn. But no, nothing untoward happened. We pulled into a parking space with no difficulty whatsoever and my husband killed the engine.

“See if it will start back up again,” I told him.

A quick turn of the key and the engine puttered to life. We again listened for strange noises and again heard only the “normal” ones. This was turning into quite the mystery. Is it possible for something to fall off a car and it just not matter? The thing that clanged down the road must have some kind of purpose, right? We sat in the car for several moments, pondering this mystery, and then my husband gave a little shrug and opened the car door.

It fell onto the pavement.

Mystery solved. The “something” that fell off the car was the one thing that kept the door attached to it. There was a moment of stunned silence as we just sat there, the car in one place, the door in another. We were beginning to get strange looks as others, those who had exited their vehicles without the driver’s side door falling off, veered around us. We had to do something, but what?

I remained in my seat as my husband got out of the car, no easy task as he had to step over the door on the ground. He stared at it for a moment and then, rather testily, I might say, told me to get out of the car and help him, that the door was too heavy and cumbersome for him to handle alone.

“What are you going to do?” I asked.

“We,” he replied with an air of exaggerated patience, “are going to put the door back on.”


“I…don’t…know,” he replied through clenched teeth.

“But won’t it just off fall off again when you get back in?” I asked innocently. This was one question too many, for it pushed my husband over the edge.

“Get out of the car!” he roared.

By this time we were making quite a spectacle of ourselves, what with our doorless car and my husband ranting and raving at me. People gave us a wide berth as we picked up the car door and made several futile attempts to reattach it. It needs to be said that, although none of this could any way be construed as my fault, I bore the brunt of my husband’s ire throughout the whole ordeal. Finally, an innocent bystander, a male one, took pity on me.

“I can help you, sir,” he said as he approached us. And he did, whether he was a mechanic or a just a

Thank-You-God car owner himself, I don’t know, but he and my husband reattached the door in a matter of few minutes. We still had the problem of the door falling off again, but for the moment, the car looked almost normal.

We silently (by this time we weren’t talking to each other) completed our shopping and returned to the car. I stood to one side as my husband entered through the passenger door and crawled behind the wheel. We drove home.

Then what, you ask? I don’t remember. I have no memory of how we solved the car door problem, or even if it did get solved. We had so many used cars, you see, and they had so many problems, that, in self defense, I have blocked most of them out. I don’t even remember what kind of car it was, other than, of course, it was not an In-the-Name-of-Jesus car, but rather one of our many Thank-You-God cars. So I can’t tell you if we bought a new part, or another car or what. I can’t even give you the general date of when this incident happened.

I can tell you one thing though. Used cars are like foxholes; there are no atheists in them.


by D. S. Jones

I could lose my heartache in a kiss
this kiss against the wall with him looking
through glass eyes from the past when you were both happy
and he is feeling your love
love like a bloody rose in a young man's hand
covered in tape and cheap fixes to hide the

wounds that sting in the heart like those jagged edges of wire
that cut deeper and cleaner than any razor has cut before
because that is the point of love
to let the lover inside
past the wire and the hell with the

and because it is past the fence
it is most precious
because we do not protect worthless things with iron
walls and gates of stone
we protect what is worth protecting
like these hearts
like these roses that bloom beautiful but wilt
at the edge of time

What You May Have Missed

by Chris Butler

The sticky pages
of my favorite book
skipped from
sixty-six to
so you may
have missed
the prettiest
giving reason
for existence.

As it was written

(on pages sixty-
seven and sixty-

so it can never
be told.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Cadburry Crème Eggs from Satan

by Matthew Dexter

You touched me and you know that you did, though you will never admit it I can see it in your eyes. When we were younger, behind the shed, you made me get naked and spread against the wood as if being arrested. You searched me and now I can see it in your left outer sclera where that bloodshot stain remains, broken veins connecting with unchained memories of cold sticky fingers. You still suck those lollypops, right? Those same ones we used to steal from the corner store when your father used to beat you senseless that summer? Do you know it drives me crazy to this day when doctors stick the stethoscope in my ears?

You lie naked on top of me in the boardroom after the Easter party and all I can think about are those chocolate Cadburry crème eggs and that fake grass everywhere. Can you remember the smell of fresh grass stains and those baskets of eggs, burns on my knees from dragging you around that afternoon behind the lawnmower before the hurricane? Your naked flesh erases the past like number two pencil erasers on the granite desk you rub yourself down, chew my fingers in an attempt to silence your latent desires.

Do you remember that fire when the storm passed and your father returned to the house with one hand? The other was severed in the shed. Your mother blames it on Jameson and his bad eye, but you knew it was something more.

“To keep me from touching again,” he said to the wife before he collapsed.

Your mother held the gaping wound with her apron, begging god for salvation. She was naked underneath that white cloak and you watched from behind as she cried over the arm and slapped his face. He fainted, but you knew the ambulance would never get there in time, there was too much blood and you knew he must have waited a while in the shed when you found that half-empty bottle of Budweiser and the half-eaten chicken sandwich with the bloodstains on the bread.

“Hold me tighter,” you say.

The room spins and the hollow coconut bunny breaks into a million pieces against my skull as you lick your fingers and stick them inside me, not my ears but someplace more sacred and then the matrix closes in and the secretary rings, a waitress walks in, disappears into the doorway of the private bathroom, returns with frozen margaritas with salt on the rims of the glasses as the walls close in and our eyelids flicker beneath the fluorescent lighting as we travel back forty years to that summer island mystery when the world would migrate in the direction of dead birds falling from the sky.

Getting Out Of The Booth

by Jason E. Hodges 

Love in a booth is something Tommy had to get use to
But the same could be said for Gina
The two-way mirror she smiled and looked into was a reflection she had grown to hate
As her clothes loosened and fell to the floor, so fell her last glimpse of hope
Hope that one day her life would be normal
Hope that one day she could let go of her childhood flooded with darkness
But Tommy was different
The first time Gina heard his broken voice speak into the phone
Pleading, wait, you don’t understand
I’m looking for love, not looking for lust
For once someone is paying you to keep your clothes on
Your voice is all that I need to carry me through the drudgery of being trapped in this chair
Your voice will sooth the scars I wear on my body from that war in the desert
I use to be handsome before being burned and blown up
Now people cringe when their eyes fall upon me
Turn away with fear from my outward appearance
Stunned from his words and not able to see him, Gina sat down and picked up the phone
Tommy’s voice she heard asking and weeping for friendship
Changed all that was wrong in her life
Gina then spoke softly with words that were submerged in complete vulnerability
I’m here to listen, to talk, and I won’t turn away even if I could see you
For I am as scared on the inside as you on the outside, a mere shadow of what I once was
And so it began, a love affair through the glass with the strongest love of all
Love of the mind and the binding of souls
Her voice was so soothing to Tommy’s half broken body which held his complete broken sprit
With time, Gina stepped out of the booth, never to return to the night
Tommy and Gina would live a lifetime together in a world only understood by each other
A world of deep understanding and heartfelt compassion
Where the eyes of the present and haunts of the past no longer had a hold of their lives

Sunday, May 22, 2011

When Autism Had No Name
In Memory of Billy G.

by Donal Mahoney

Cowlick Billy
always runs

up the alley
down the street

sniffing things
on hamster feet.

No one knows
why Billy runs

up the alley
down the street,

hours on end,
sun or sleet,

and no one cares
even though

when Billy stops
to take a leak

schoolmates ask
shy Billy why

he's always laughing
when he runs

and Billy smiles
and almost says

goodness gracious
don't you know

things are sour
things are sweet

up the alley
down the street.

Memoir of Degenerates

by Matthew Dexter

I’m the only one with the key,
The old don’t understand and the young will never know,
But both tell me to open that door,
Crawl down with the spiders into the fragmented cellar labyrinth
Where the spiral staircase like a ring that descends into darkness
A circus, you've rehearsed this a million times in your head
Psychosis breeze blows embers of egg sacks into your retinas
As air cools and you can smell a flatulence of fairy kings
Polluting the airways they meander through hairy nostrils and beyond
The light of tomorrow there waits a man in invisible cape waiting
To Strike you in the face with a magic wand the generations will never understand

And as the floor shakes he will molest your crumbled body
Oddly cuddling you against the wet earth the voices will chant
The young will be old and crippled; the elderly will be infants,
The distance is merely a mirage of different illusions in the mind,
And you are the leader; they will follow if you take them there.

Making a List

by Beverly Head

I’m making a list,
and I will be naughty.
I’m checking it twice,
and I won’t be nice.
The ugly:
roaches that don’t pay rent,
roaches in the homes of immigrants
being taken advantage of by slum owners
who live in gated communities.
The sad:
people trying to guard their belongings
on the street after being evicted,
the homeless couple at the highway exit
with a sign for food with misspelled words,
the man speeding by them in the BMW.
The happy:
people finding a better place to live,
the homeless couple eating a pizza together,
the man in the BMW getting four flat tires.
The crazy:
me sitting here making this list
and getting crazier and crazier,
thinking naughty thoughts,
checking them twice.
I still can’t be nice.


By Wendy Ashlee Coleman

Don’t stop stopping me because I tell you to.
I need time to heal.
Don’t ever take your eyes off me
Cause you know me, and you know I will.
Violate me with your observation
Even though I tell you I don’t want it.
It hurts me so much,
I desperately wish I didn’t have to have it.
I don’t know why my solutions often come in the form of a blade,
One that’s razor to the touch and ready to tame,
Tame a spirit that boils in rage, shame and pain;
A soul who demands blood and craves the sacrifice of its very own flesh;
One that relishes in agony’s grimacing reflection.

I don’t ask my inner demons questions, I just pay them.
So don’t stop stopping me because you think I’ll stop.
Because there’s a reason it’s August and I’m wearing this
November-long sleeve…the one I just bought.

I’m running out of room, baby, I’m running out of spots;
Spots to hide; hide from you, mom and pop.
So, please…don’t stop stopping me or telling me to stop.

God damn it squeeze my wrists tightly and scream at me
Until your windy breath beats my bangs to a pulp.
Do it with anger; do it with heart; do it with concern like you love me
and you desperately really do want me to stop.

I’m doing this for attention.
I’m guilty as charged.
Because I want you all,
undivided and as pure as you are,
because these scars that decorate my skin,
it is my cry and it’s brutal, it’s bloody and it’s proof that I need you
I need you at your all.
I love you and I wish I could call,
call upon a god that answers me and soothes my all
but he doesn’t answer, . . never, ever at all
so fuck him. I’ll just continue to trash my temple
with perhaps something bubbly, something dry and tall.
something in a bottle that always answers, no matter what time I call.
And I’ll top it off with something sharp, something crazy
and something that hurts me on the outside so bad
that it makes my insides distracted and hazy.

And in my blink of peace I’ll get woozy and forget to call.
You’ll rush home so damn angry and tall,
please don’t yell at me, baby, you’re scaring me,
your so damn big and tall,
and I’m just drunk so lay off tonight, please
I’m really sorry that I didn’t call.
You look at my wound; a fresh one, an even slice,
one that looks as bad as it is but I tell you
it’s ok because this one, it hurt nice.
You gasp and cry and I hold your cheeks and tell you I’m fine.
But you’ll know I’m not
and all night you watch me like a hawk.
The next morning I awake in a bright, sober hell,
bandaged like a pro and you’ll be right there.

I think this is it, this is where you leave me.
I was broken before you came.
It’s not your fault if you want to leave but instead
you look at me with pure love and tell me not to worry
because you’ll never ever give up and you’ll never stop stopping me.

In Time

by Craig Firsdon

The way eyes always stare
at my shell, my body,
at my broken side,
must be meant to be
This circus side show,
geometric abstraction of a form
past it's never existed prime,
warranty expired,
to be stripped for parts.
Most likely
just shipped to the junkyard cemetery
buried alongside the other defectives
or quickly oven-smelted,
if lucky.
We are told over and over again
like fusion flame welding into our minds
that the inevitable will happen,
only rely on it and taxes
to become a reality.
The inevitability is killing me,
"It'll be your time when it is meant to be"
I don't wear a watch, never have,
and the only time piece in my possession
lays in my drawer, broken,
unable to tell me when this "time" is.
A broken time-harnessed body
laying in a coffin not of its making
waiting to be fixed,
knowing it never will,
yet never wanting it to happen.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Bellville Love Song

by Laura Eppinger

Picking through my jewellery box
on a day we’re already running
late by hours, I find
traces of you in every scrap
of metal from antique dealers by the shore.
I could put the gold-painted chains to my ear
and hear your heartbeat, instead of the waves.
Running my hands across the cheap
silver clasps
I realise, I will love you until Bellville Station closes
and we have to walk down Kasselsvlie in the dark.
Until the fish shops switch their lights off and then
on again.
I’ll love you till the speakers on the taxi burst
my eardrums, puncture my lungs
so I’m coughing up Rihanna bass lines.
Until all the glass
in my junk shop jewellery turns
to diamond, until
the tuck shop on the corner
sells its last Styvie for the day.
I will love you
till Bellville washes away
with the rest of the Cape, I will
love you.

A city all alone

by Subhankar Das

These days I do not feel like going out of my house anymore.
I am bored with all those walks.
These days I love to have a cup of coffee all alone.
This is another city where no one knows me.
I also do not know anyone here.

I was so surprised to see my father jerking off in his sleep.
Surprise was still alive at that point of time so long ago when in our
mother’s school
we were trained every day to grow up as a stupid man.

Cognitive dissonance

by Sara Fitzpatrick Comito

telephone sounds like ghost chains dragging
the buzzer to the outside a constant nag of
where else you should be

I’m nothing til you look at me
that Morphine refrain
and there’s no one ringing

and someone you really want
knowing they never will
show  – the competition
speak in platitudes like
over Iceland pixy redheads
must ballet in collusion with
something you could never
have any idea about

and how have you been left so alone?
along with the cooking smells
from your what you felt needed
to be done at that time of the night

whatever keeps you from looking
out the window for someone who
will never come. And it makes you want
them more and it makes you want to
put their picture in a cauldron with
something venomous like a smear

of lipstick that once allured, a dragon
if you had one. What can you put batteries
into to do your bidding and what is it
anyway? You want him here you want
him dead. And you’ve never been more turned on.

Rolling In Magic

by Jason E. Hodges
Shivering and shaking, I cough up yesterday's fresh air
Fresh air I now see floating in the distance
The upside is, I always get to sit alone in the waiting room
No one's going to ask me for a stick of gum
Upon my arrival it suddenly becomes standing room only
Sanding as far away from me they try
But the real entertainment is the woman with the magic rolling bag
At least whatever’s inside has to be magic
For she parts the crowded waiting room like Moses parted the sea
Skipping right to the front of the line seems to be business as usual
I wonder, what could be in that bag
Candy perhaps
For this woman doesn’t look sick at all
Not a cough
Not a sniffle
She's not even depressed
To top it off she's wearing three hundred dollar stilettos
Flawless skin, fitted dress
Nothing off the rack for her
Now I’m convinced this bag must be magic
And the greeting is always the same
The clerk falls all over themselves, Hello, well you’re lookin’ good
Thanks… Is the doctor in
Why yes, just go on back
I’m sure they’ll be happy to see you
Now, I think to myself, I’ve got to get one of those bags
Then I could go to the front of the line without an appointment
Now that’s care I could use


by Robert E. Petras

I never knew my granduncle,
my grandfather’s brother, who
died before I was born
in bed, I am told, praying Slovak.
But I knew his son, my cousin,
knew only his handshake.
After every handshake, my cousin
would say: “Come up and see me some time.”
I did—some thirty years later
when he was ninety
and I was at the edge
of a promise.
His grasp was now one
of a boney three-fingered claw.
From his flannel shirt pocket
he pulled out a pack of Union Workman
and extended a quivering hand
toward me.  “Do you want a chew?”
I had not chewed since I bailed hay
for my grandfather, who had taught
me how to chew tobacco
and how to cuss in Slovak.
I remembered the first time.
I remembered the gut explosion
and the green flush.
This was another first time.
But I took the pouch
and when I reached inside the tin foil
I touched hands with his father.
when the chew hit my mouth
I received his communion.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Bin Divers

by Janis Lull

Hip waders, hand mixers, Zen masters of junk,
scour the Goodwill between Mission and Market,
loaded on hope. The ruins of wealth hide wealth
itself, a perfect ten, in a purse, in a pocket,
or in a color--deep red?--that sings of health
through heaps of the dead and dying. This monk

of metal rescues what he can shine. This nun,
robed in leather, tries to save our skins.
This wife, dragging a crumbling mind,
comes only to recollect, to troll the bins
for photos and old song books that remind
her of home: She is one and all alone

and evermore shall be so. Yet here in twos
and threes are families, friends: Romanian twins,
about thirteen--so skinny--with blond mops
and pale, expert hands. This one spins
straw into gold, while the other one never stops
counting. These are gifts they must use.

A thief slips on pairs of jeans behind
his lover’s outspread coat, and both get caught,
which means they have to leave the pants and go
out into the fog, hand in hand. All sentences ought
to be like this: recycled and modest, no
sharp points, like the treasures we’re trying to find.

Soft Touch

by Richard Hartwell

Outside, the faint light of false dawn
Illumines only silhouettes of trees,
Terrestrial objects cast no shadows.

Stars dim. Moon settles down.
True dawn’s second light is a
Different tone, an ethereal glow.

As such, it creeps into the room,
Stealthily snuggling against
Bedroom objects now backlit.

Objects, including her, outlined
Against the balcony window.
Sitting here, tilting forward on

Two legs in the plastic patio chair,
To reach the hills of her nude hips,
To traverse the hollows of her ribs,

Fewer than mine but so much more,
I use the tips of my fingers to tantalize
Her body, brushing the backs of her legs,

Raising the surface rouge of her flesh.
I can’t see this but I know marks are there.
Thirty-six years, but I also notice the

Quiverings on the surface of her flesh,
Tactile telltales. I don’t need to hear low
Gutteral moans that used to escape her,

Moans I assumed of deep pleasure.
It seems so little to provide, now,
After three-and-a-half decades;

Appreciation shown too late, too little,
But humbly accepted for all that. I continue
Undiminished to caress the heated hills.

Perhaps it’s me; or, perhaps, the
Slanted shafts of morning sun
Breaking through the trees.

Smooth Talking

by Anthony Ward

What is it about drinking?

I like to go about the world in a bit of a haze-
I can go for days.

Some people wear sunglasses
To subdue the glaze,
Some people do both.

I do drinking.

It mellows you down
To the certainty of yourself-

Though I’m no alcoholic
I just like a drink-


It takes the edge outa life.


by Mather Schneider

All the lights turn green at your approach
and there’s a warm breeze
and your haircut grew in good
and your jeans are clean and loose.
Cab driving is like gambling:
it needs abandon to be done well.
Cars swerve out of your way
in the nick of time
and each call from dispatch
is exactly where you are
and you see each fare
before they see you.
You can’t be afraid
to lose.
You barely miss the train
and the cop
and the funeral procession
and you always have exactly the change you need
and when one fare cancels
another calls.
Some call you lucky
and cuss you
when they see you sitting in your cab
in the hot slow afternoon
in the shade
not worrying.
The trick is to trust nothing
but the deepest laws,
and the only way to trust
is to let go.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Truth is in a Pitcher

by Taufiq bin Abdul Khalid

Truth is in a pitcher,
And the pitcher is filled with honey,
It is on a table, in a tidy corner
Of a far-off cosmos,
Around the table, a host of angels
Drink ale and mead,
Beside them a saint plucks the strings of his harp
And set in motion, the ways,
The whys and the whatnots,
For a little mortal called me.
Between his dancing fingers,
Lies my life, in all its folly,
Though I am sober enough to say,
“Hail, Angels, hail!
Do yea not know
That wine is finer
Than mead or ale?"

Sunday, May 15, 2011


by Adina Rosenthal

how clocks tick
eludes me
to the naked eye.
i always wanted to be
a watchmaker
and keep track of the time
even if
i go cuckoo.

On Death

by Wibke Sander

We flee the Church
as though bitten by
the cynical knowledge
that the earth in the graveyard
is cold and black.


by Noah Langlois

What starts your beatless heart?
Emotion is the broken part,
You’re an old drunk man throwing a dart,
And hitting the bar wall,
Hoping it would fall.
You cold small porcelain doll,
Wouldn’t give a damn if I walk or crawl,
Or die in this forgotten hall,
I got a phone but no one to call,
And nothing to say after all.
So I just drink to you,
My slim and tall modern masterpiece,
In your thousand dollar gold silk fleece,
While I shoot up so all the pain will cease,
And you rail lines for the thrill increase.
But don’t worry, I’ll foot the bill,
One more stride ‘til I’m over the hill.
You couldn’t be bothered with who you kill,
So long as you get your daily fill,
And to our diets we add a few new pills,
But mine’s to numb and yours is for fun.
And I dreamed once that I could run,
Into the center of the sun,
And burst into a perfect flame,
And be a dark god no one could tame,
And I’d get all the money and fame,
And the world would never be the same,
But even then you probably wouldn’t notice me.

Just Another Hangover

by James Babbs

when the light turns on
I discover
the body I’ve been holding
is nothing more
than one of the pillows
from my bed
no long dark hair
no soft and
silky skin
and the taste on my lips
nothing more than
the remnants
of last night’s
wine and beer


by Stephenson Muret
I stood beneath the post marked "art"
across three aisles
she browsed
I glanced up to her short orange hair
to that cool wash of her skyscape complexion
she glanced coyly down
in acceptance
I closened
I closened enough that to whisper
and I
said nothing
at the cashier
I could have stirred the pubescence of her nape I stood so near
with my breath I could have
but she slowed away
and I let her
and then exiting
she was there
re-entering the bookstore
     she whispered
     "excuse me"
                like a hoarsened sparrow

through that doorway our chests might have met
I might have lapped at the cool of her perfume
at her milkwhite neck
did not
I made my way home
     dourly home
to draw out this brimful steaming bath
to slip into its singeing overwhelmingness
to drown myself in the cloying sweetness of her near absence
and to cut and to bleed our inky epitaph
              bleed it into velvet blackness 


by Ben Rasnic

once crawled
thru a second story
classroom window
onto the lower
rooftop platform to retrieve
three pennies on a dare
and we being the pricks
that we were
locked him out
until the teacher
came into the room.
it was our way
of embarrassing him
for his miserly
materialistic creed.

a few years later
while we were getting high
everyday and writing poems,
would be out
checking his vending machines
and rental properties.
“same old eddie,” we would laugh,
“worshipping the almighty dollar.
he doesn’t have a clue
about what’s really important.”

now that we are in our fifties,
owns a custom built home
perched on a panoramic mountain ridge
overlooking a watercolor canvas
of dense trees and rolling hills
with a redwood deck
facing the western horizon
& I, I own a modest
yet overpriced home
in a sprawling mid-
atlantic suburb, embroiled
in the daily chaos
that is beltway traffic &
borrowing from my 401K
to pay off credit card debts
but I still have my pride
and poems
in my pockets
and eddie still
doesn’t get it.

I guess some people
just never learn.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Night Time In The South

by Jason E. Hodges

Pennies to make dollars they’ll take
It's not a mistake, I work to pay you
We’ve all heard this before, haven’t we
At least anyone in the working class South
Land of blood sweat and holes your shoes
Holes from walking from one dead-end job to another
Somehow the bills have to be paid
Land of scratched off lottery tickets from the last dollar spent blowing in the wind
And the same fingers that would finish the day by punching a time clock
Would start a night of writing by punching the keys of a typewriter
Typing words out
Bringing characters to life in the thick humidity of Florida so many years ago
Gathering thoughts like a child gathers his toys
Yet constantly distracted by the chaos of living on the edge of what I called life
Sitting, remember how fast it has all gone by
Trains running in the distance with sounds that fall in the night
Into the darkness they fade away like I soon will do
Finally lying down to rest
Falling to sleep lost in the thoughts of what once was and most likely will come
Morning dew settles as I open my eyes
Time to get moving on the next thing to write
To put down what I see and feel of the world around me
For the world's been my teacher
She’s always on time
Her people my study in the Southern School Of Life

The Rocker

by Michael O'Connor

Dark oaken rails and runners
Faded out with wear,
On the bottom of his old
Wooden rocking chair.
Nestled in the corner
basking by the light,
Casting mid winter shadows
On a cold November night.
It’s finish chipped and tattered
where spindles fail to glow,
But it’s in a fade of outer
Beauty that wisdom often shows.
Every scratch and scar displayed
On its aged brittle frame,
While then a painful cut in time
Becomes a memory of the same.
Despite the seven years or more
The rocker morning rife,
I feel that I may know him now
Ever more so than in life.


by Mather Schneider

It’s 5 a.m.
and still dark
when I pull my cab up
to trailer 82.

It’s a medical voucher.
Information: Ted Ols, 46,
destination Kino Medical.

Ted slithers out
of the trailer
slitting his
eyes in my headlights.

Did you see that?
He hisses
as he scurries into the back
of my cab.

What? I say. Where?

Over there, he says,
something in the bushes.

I drive away slowly, crawling over the speed-bumps.

He smells like a Coleman lantern
and is high as a fruit bat
from his morphine scriptfor a pain in his head no one has been able to

This neighborhood’s going
to shit, he says.
The Mexican mob’s takin’ over!
Do you know what
they’re doing now? he says.

What? I say.

They’re smuggling Coatimundis.


From Mexico, he says, ugly
hairy things, big
on the black market.
I found one under my trailer the
other night, he says.
I heard something, he says,
and I got a broom and a flashlight
and I went outside and looked
and these little yellow eyes
looked back at me!
I swear to god I could hear
the mother breathing!

In the dark he drills
holes in the
back of my head

and I just try
to make myself

as small as


by Len Kuntz

Old woman wears a wedding dress,
her hands white wilted carrots.
Watch her eyes.
See how wet they are.
Do they widen at the sound of your entrance?
Is there a way to reclaim that space
before time and years
took her to the back alley
with brass knuckles and baseball bats,
reworking her memory
and trading it for
the price of someone’s smoked cigarettes?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

But Liquor’s Quicker & Doesn’t Cost as Much

by James Babbs

when I saw her she was crying
looking down at the cell phone in her hand
I kept thinking
what an attractive girl she was
the kind of woman that made you ache
just looking at her
but I hadn’t fucked anybody in a long time
so that may have had something to do with it
I went over and asked her
if she needed some help
she said looking up
seeing me for the first time
I don’t know
she said looking me over
I wasn’t anything to write home about
as far as looks went
but I wasn’t the worst looking guy in the world
she said
my car died and I was
trying to call my parents
I told her
she hesitated
like she was weighing something in her mind
but I didn’t know what it was
finally she said
we don’t really get along
my parents I mean
I’ve been trying to move out
I said
oh, I see
I pretended to look at
the watch I wasn’t wearing
I said
I can give you a ride and
if you want to
you can stay at my place
until you get things figured out
she told me her name was Candy
I asked her if she’d like to get a drink first
before we went to get her things
she smiled and said
she could certainly use one
I decided to take her to
this little out-of-the-way place
on the outskirts of town
it was nice and quiet and
they made the drinks strong
I think everybody in there
wanted to fuck Candy
when we walked into the place
including the women
she was definitely a good-looking girl
a hell of a lot better than most of the women
I was usually able to attract
we had one drink
then two drinks and three drinks and
it was almost midnight
when I told Candy
we should go get her things
she kissed me
pushing her tongue into my mouth
she said
okay and
I heard her laugh
we got up and helped each other to the car
Candy kept trying to give me
the directions to her parents’ house
but every time I followed them
she told me this wasn’t it
after about an hour of this
we made it to the right place
I parked on the street and
told her I’d wait in the car
Candy gave me a sloppy kiss
told me she wouldn’t be very long
I looked at the house
saw some lights come on
I heard voices
about twenty minutes later
Candy came out carrying two suitcases
I got out and put them in the trunk
Candy said
I’ll be right back
she disappeared into the house again
this time I didn’t hear any voices
I guess they had said
all they wanted to say
Candy came back to the car
we drove to my place
I carried the suitcases into the house
Candy pulled a wad of bills from her purse
she said
I stole my Mom’s emergency fund
Candy laughed
she keeps it in the freezer
wrapped up in aluminum foil
she doesn’t think anybody knows about it
I put an SOS pad in its place
and put the whole thing back in the freezer
Candy laughed again
won’t she be surprised
I took Candy to my bedroom
showed her where she could put her stuff
I told her it was getting late and
I was really tired
Candy gave me another kiss
a long slow one
I got undressed and climbed into bed
Candy put some of her stuff away
I hear her in the bathroom
I must have fallen asleep
when I woke up the room was dark
I felt Candy breathing next to me
I looked at the clock
I’d been asleep for a couple of hours
I pushed up against Candy
she murmured something and
I went back to sleep
in the morning
Candy gave me a wake-up call
she started by sucking my cock
then she climbed on top of me and
rode me all the way to the end
we showered together
I took my time washing Candy’s tits
I made sure they were nice and clean
I asked her what she wanted for breakfast
she said
nothing special
I made us scrambled eggs and toast
I put on some coffee
but Candy didn’t drink any
I told her we could go see about her car today
I had it towed to the garage
I took my car to
they told me it would be five hundred dollars
something about the distributor
I pulled out my credit card
handed it to the guy behind the counter
for about a month things were good
we went to bed each night and
in the morning Candy gave me her wake-up call
then the shower and breakfast
but once Candy had her car back
she started leaving after we were done eating
telling me she had things to do and
she’d see me later that night
one night when I came home
Candy’s car was already in the driveway
when I came into the house
I heard noises coming from the bedroom
I walked back there and
there was Candy on the bed
up on all fours getting fucked from behind
by some guy with long stringy hair
I didn’t say anything
just grabbed the guy and
pulled him away from Candy
I threw him to the floor
before kicking him in the balls
I heard him yelp and his dick went limp
like the air being let out of a balloon
the guy started gathering up his clothes
I guess he was a lover not a fighter
Candy started apologizing to me
throwing her arms around me and
rubbing her naked body against my own
but I tore her loose and
pushed her back onto the bed
the lover was already gone
I got Candy’s suitcases out
started throwing her stuff into them
she said
let’s talk about this
I kept filling up the suitcases
while she followed me around saying
wait wait
when I was done
I took the suitcases to the front door and
threw them outside
then I went and got Candy
she was pulling the sheet from the bed around her
I picked her up and
carried her to the front door
she was still saying wait
beating on me with her fists
she lost the sheet and
I pushed her outside
locked the front door
I heard her on the other side
screaming and swearing at me
then she was quiet for a long time
a few minutes later
she knocked on the door
in a calm voice she said
I don’t have my keys
I found them in the living room
I opened the door just enough to toss them to her
she had put some clothes on
I heard her car start up
listened to it drive away
I went to the kitchen
pulled some whiskey from
the cupboard above the stove
poured some in a glass
drank it down
poured me some more
there was moonlight coming through the window
a calm permeating the room
I wasn’t thinking about Candy
I wasn’t thinking about her anymore
I was just sitting there
touching the bottle lightly with my fingers
wondering how long it had been
since I’d gotten really drunk

Revenge is sw-wet (A True Story)

Claudia Rey

The lady had to host a party
for the Italian nuncio
and his Iraqi counterpart.
Although reluctantly,
she took care of everything:
tables in the garden, outdoor lights,
well trained waiters, correct food,
non-alcoholic drinks.
The night was perfect.
Sweet-smelling roses
dark sky full of stars
a sliver of moon
reflecting in the swimming pool.
And along the pool
the receiving line.
The ambassador and his wife
his vice and wife
the nuncio
various authorities
the lady’s husband
and herself.
Was she distracted?
Did she forget for a moment
all the golden rules? Who knows…
When the black-clad
white-turbaned group
arrived in front of her
she held out a welcoming hand.
The ayatollah, very briefly,
looked at her with pure revulsion.
Heavens! A woman trying to touch him!
He took a horrified step backwards
and fell in the swimming pool.
A heavy silence ensued
soon broken by the lady’s high
irrepressible laughter.
The followers fished the guy
out of the pool
and away they took him
dripping and furious.
Then the ambassador - God bless him -
smiled at the lady. “ My dear” he said
“you’ve just made my evening!”
The party was a success.

The Garden is Tainted by Hag Women and their Rabid Men

by R.L. Elledge

Walking through the sodden garden,
Soaked in kisses from heavens lips,
Reclining in passions embrace,
Inhaling the sweet breath of her children,
Shivering, cold, bright eyed, joy,
Wondering, whispering, like the rustling leaves,
Of old bleary eyed trees, splash of yellow flowers,
At the foot of the graceful gray oak,
Whose arms shade her impish daughters,
From the suns howling gaze.

Electric spots of fiendish flowers,
In the manicured lawn of wealthy age's dour faces,
Cocaine falls in showers,
From their lonely bowers,
From which their bitter eyes, barely held in place,
Amidst stretched and pinned skin, sickly sick grin,
Stare hotly at youth’s freedom, smooth flesh,
They finger their scalpels and nicotine patches,
And fleetingly desperately consider some madness,
But they’re too old.


by Len Kuntz

She brings me blue,
sticky sweet and gritty.
I take back Kelly green,
those coarse kisses and candied prayers.
We swim in waves of mauve,
shielding secrets
and holding onto our breaths.
There is red glinting in a high corner,
yoke-yellow spaces out of reach.
We come back to white,
our shoes filthy,
tracking in black,
the footprints of another time.

Even as Evening

by Michael Lee Johnson

Even as evening
approaches night-
dandelions shake
dust loose from their yellow-
a robin pulls
the last red worm
from the moist,
but callous
shadows fade
into fresh fall night-
small creatures
with trumpet
sounds dominant
the adjacent
A virtuoso!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

50. Playing Chess with the Ego-Reason

by Taufiq bin Abdul Khalid

Cease thy endless jabbering,
Thy incessant prodding,

All thy surmise and complex opening
Now lie in pitiful ruin.
My King is open, my Rooks are dead,
And now I have lost the Queen,
Oh, reason, vain, damnable reason,
Thou art checkmate!

Woe that I ever paid thee any heed!
For thou claim thou knew,
When in truth, thou never bloody did.

the many implications of a [ ]

by Samantha R. Peloquin

twelve streetlights glimmer,
flames in gaslit golden and orange hues
dancing unsteadily within
lead-frosted panes
each marking a front porch,
a doorway, a chance encounter:
branching reliably from a
slate sidewalk, inscrutable
littered with half-smoked cigarettes
[fallen from the waning apathetic lips
of those who have yet to lose
that yearn to be extinguished

the street was paved with silver discs
that became molten and sticky beneath smoldering
sunlight, mercury and caramel that stuck
to our soles and let us be traced
back to the beginning.
the dust that flies swiftly
across great expanses—prairie,
desert, ocean—consists of
desiccated paper that detailed and
documented ephemeral lives: calm wood,
a crescendo of frantic
significance and attributed value.
centuries, earth, forest follow,
a recovery of silence abundant

Single Aspect

by Felino A. Soriano
Breath and annotated deliverance
vocalized subsequent
            the tongue’s organic
                                                relay upon games’ animate                    retrieval of stilled
realignment, unharmed reactionary
fathoms of opponent’s disciplined                      aggregated                    motions.  

Mabuk Kepayang (Lost Lost)

by Brandon Roy

The drunk old lady next door
collects bottles in shadow
boxes. She has no need for
love, friends or family.
She has the drink.

She accepts the language of
theatrics. She numbs herself,
uninterested and will not
go to bed. She lectures the
air and works on trust.

Sometimes she plays poker,
she reads magazines and
mixes experimental concoctions.
Ignoring the warning labels,

She doesn't try to fool others.
She is a paradox crapped in
messy hair. She used to be so
pretty. She ignores the facts.

She goes outside and sits.
Smokes her cigarette, drinks
her liquor and speaks her
truth. No one goes near her.

Wicked Funeral

by Michael O'Connor

Pale, quiet lines assemble
In muffled morning air,
In collection to celebrate
Woeful loss and despair.
Somber men seek solace
From a solitary fear,
That but from heaven’s grace
Tis they that will lie there.
“Wicked, wicked death, be gone.
You’re not welcome here!”
But it sits like a cool shadow
In a lonely corner chair,
Ignoring the pleas of mourners,
Mourners everywhere.

Carl Sandburg, Idols in the Sand, and Galesburg Shacks

By Michael Lee Johnson

Idols are what idols appear to be.
Idols are men that idols are.
They’re the sleep walkers,
the self-styled hobo's,
saints in small villages
people living alone.
Birthright of saviors, railroad men, famous poets.
Birthright of little places, big hearts,
speakers of cold skillets and dainty bedrooms.
Folk songs fall, black and white,
divided cracks celebrated brick streets.
They form modest communities,
quiet spaces, momentous churches
named my denominations and breed-
rail tracks divide their ideologies, brands
of beer, run down shacks divide their lives.
Property vultures, ex Maytag mongrels’
Maytag treason, traders of trade, traitors to Mexico,
walk simple steps away.
Jobbers walk and jobs move away.
Streets quiet lights, slate deserted
house shacks of many races abandoned, colors
form rows PMS color charts leading to his birth place;
folk songs, Swedish heritage, Remembrance Rock,
savior of a poetic dream born in a slum.
Just a roadside museum,
mile and a half walk from downtown,
summer sweat, drenching summer heat,
Galesburg railroad days June 2010, ending-
beginning humidity, snippets of beer bottles
tossed around, Saturday night drunks
lie in flush untailored grass.
A three room shack, half-pint bedroom,
curtains merge the window with sun rays,
more summer heat.
Idols grow as children, their ambitions-
toss them away.
Idols are what idols appear to be.
Idols are men that idols are.

I’m afraid you may have made some

by Darryl Price

awfully evil decisions lately that still could
come back to haunt you,but I'm
here to report your zooming about hair
isn't really one of them. You have
found the infernal wheel works in all
directions at once. Good. It's no use
pretending you aren't being rolled along with
the rest of us to our very
just graves. You have slightly better clothes

on is all. But your petty misery
at your lot in life is the
same old story. Now that we've gotten
that out of the way may we
proceed to enjoy where we have stopped
on this very glad moment? We have
this panoramic lawn which might as well
be a jutting out to sea greenbean
cliff only big enough for the two
of us, a giant lily pad then ,

so big you can't see the wetness
it so easily slides upon beneath us.
Either way we have this terribly blue
eggs in a nest now playing sky
which is currently curled up in front
of your eyes like a small Persion
cat unable or unwilling to move from
that perfect spot of creature comfort. We
have three or four raggedy curious winds
attached to our flag pole playing their

various musical instruments all around us like
circus performers on their way to market.
And finally we have each other's fingers
braiding an unending warmth between us as
we dream together in this finely tuned
golden afternoon. We'll never match this feeling
again with anyone else. So why must
you prance around the fact as if
you have somewhere else to go? Emotional
turmoil should not be your feckless condition.

Old Pictures

by Len Kuntz

This is the tribe
stationed around the gold sofa
on a Sunday in June.
The sun is an interloper
showing off smears in the picture window behind us,
glaring like a chemist, winking so wise.
My brothers have put down their fists for the time being.
You cannot tell from the photo but it smells like antiseptic.
The refrigerator rattles and chuffs.
Our salt and pepper dog whines a few feet away.
The frames of the house hold us in,
an entire family together
just this once,
some of us destined for gory pursuits,
the rest hatching plans for escape.

Friday, May 6, 2011


by Robert E. Petras

Our first walk together,
My granddaughter and I
patter along a sun-paved sidewalk
through the golden afterglow
of a world turning green upon itself.
As we approach an intersection
I hear “Look both ways before your cross—“
my paternal grandfather’s voice.
I look both ways.
Holding two hands
we cross
and step onto the spiral bridge,
spanning all spans,
linked by hands, by touch,
as we pad along,
a tiny hand a ring around my finger,
the same finger I will point
to the point in the future
back here while I cling to the misty past
at a now, trickling along,
in a forever gone so fast.

Like Trial and Like Error

by Darryl Price

We sat in a muffled
little line up on the
concrete lips of tomorrow's
sleepy chin like all
good children as the parade
limped by slapping itself
against the young day's
excitement like a damaged
tire trying its best
to remain inflated

in spite of the flatness
on every fact around.
Hungry mice were waiting
in darkly camouflaged
papers like frozen cars
with their headlights on fire.
Another poet I
know might use this unique
opportunity to
also point out their nails
were glowing like sticks of

pink butter. Finally
the fly-overs looked like
a swarm of thrown black knives
heading perhaps towards
a magician's beautiful
assistant strapped to
a giant spinning dart
board like a left behind
party favor. When it
was all gone outside was
suddenly cold again.

Wind Pipe

by Len Kuntz

We land in a pipe,
caught in a curl of forced air.
Your mouth is moving.
Your lips are flat, faded stripes
hiking up their hems like a laundry line
whipped by the wind.
You are trying to remind me how we got here.
You hold up a picture of us.
The war had ended and a new one brewed
but we were tanned like varnished wood.
We hadn’t paid taxes.
We were so damn young,
bordering on unborn.
We held our resolve
in each other’s hands,
our loping gait down the church aisle,
unaware of the world shifting,
thinking it owed us something.

Armadas Of Oak Sons

by Andy Slade

Your teeth have become tusks,
a warm, ivory, smile, worn as a token of trust
your hand meets mine unseen, as if through a letterbox
where love-letters passed and love letters past
were rescinded, regretted, suppressed.

You feel the wrapping and curling of fingers,
the pulsing of blood through adjacent wrists
these beats the same reasons for which we exist
these warm-iron chains - the tender links of promise.

In learning your truth with an odd pleasure
when your cruel pleasure mentioned your love
when you come, hunter-like, stalking emotion
deploying rumours and bijou lies for success.

Were I but an albatross and you a dragonfly
making love out of gold dust and warm waves
of second-hand news, we would be everywhere,
never going back again and each upon our own way home.

Teeth, Glass, and Ashtrays

by R.L. Elledge

On some days, I feel drawn and gray,
Like a destitute and dusty dissolute ashtray
Or a darling, plucked too soon
With handbags hanging heavy in her haggard face,
Holding her sin, while the devil does croon
Sibilant and sweet, keeps her in her place.

And on those days,
When I moodily peruse
The dusty shelves of my damaged recollection,
I revisit those nights,
Sleeping under bridges and smoking under street lights,
In the aftermath of the inevitable collision
Between the bastard and the beast
With defiant eyes and rictus grin
Stabbing at his thin lips and red, fat, pig face
I spat on his house,
his god,
His fat fucking face

And so,
he got to swinging
and she came down screaming
and he got to bullshitting
before I realized he’d swung
and I left,
and I waited,
and I left.

Then some days, I feel red
And fists start curling in my head
And further, callousing
Into a cocoon,
And further, coiling,
Into a rope
Which twists
Like a snake,
And hangs,
Like a sentence
And lingers,
Like love

And then its, Happy, Happy Fucking Birthday,
To you,
And a little blue pocketknife,
Too thin to be useful,
Too sharp to be harmless,
Sharp, sharp, so very sharp
Running rivulets and ruddy ribbons,
And it’s Happy, Happy Fucking Birthday,
To you.

And then, on other days, I feel dipped in black ink
And into my sin I’ll contentedly sink
With silver and gold, steel and leather,
Slithering, unfold, light as a feather,
A bastard on the brink, a deal with the Devil
Strolling casually through every Infernal level
And Purgatorial vice, a laugh like clattering dice
Grin dyed black with tar, spitting slivers of ice
And it’s cold, cold but I feel fine
The Devil’s pale blessing comes with the next line
And there’s blood in my boot, but I don’t feel shit
Stab or shoot, I’ve got my personal self-medication kit

With everything you’d ever want to feel
Or never feel again,
And every experience you’d ever wished to steal,
Or absolution from your sin.
Desperately needing selling snatching grabbing willing to lurk
With my teeth in the glass of a broken ashtray
Gums receding nose bleeding fingers ready to work
But it’s okay, cus someday
It won’t all be so fucked,
At least not in this way
So fuck it, see the sarge? Buck it
Theres glass between my teeth and ashes in my eyes
Doesn’t talk much but at least he never cries


by Ross Vassilev

ask anyone who was ever poor:
eggs are the cheapest food.
we used to eat eggs 2 or 3 times
a week and no matter
how many different ways
of cooking them
you might know
you get sick of them pretty fast.
one time in the supermarket
I saw a woman
with her cart filled all the way to
the top with egg cartons
I guess she was fighting
inflation and
that might seem funny
but war on the poor
is standard business
in America
and if you’re not
on foodstamps
then at the very least
you’re cutting coupons
or maybe shoplifting
and so the “lazy and stupid”
as the rich call us
are multiplying like flies
and someday
we’re taking over.


“…and (they shall) have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the
fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”
Genesis 1:28

by Ben Rasnic

Truth is
there are no land titles or property deeds,
no pretentious hierarchy
in the natural world.

The robins will annually nest
their powder blue eggs
in manicured boxwoods
without need of my permission.

The honeybees will instinctively harass
when I venture too close,
their razor point stingers
on yellow alert.

The gray tree squirrels
will prance about in their mischievous ways,
prowling the perimeters, tampering
with the bird feeders & potted plants.

Legions of ants will return every Spring
to sneak through the crevices
and steal food from my cupboards
despite various granules and sprays.

The groundhogs will burrow their fat furry bodies
underneath my stockade fences and procreate
in bunkers beneath the yard shed,
finding humor in my traps and barricades;

And the deer will play chicken
with my Subaru in the pre-dawn commutes
because ultimately
I am no different

than they, just so much road kill
to be scraped into black plastic body bags;
and after all,
isn’t that the way it should be?

Memories Of Dust

by Jason E. Hodges

Crossing this land of broken promises
With its dust storms and rusted out cars
Its caretakers withered from the sun
Withered down to a shell of almost invisible
Far from the eyes of the everyday hustle
I see you my friend from so long ago
In the shadows of memories that drift in the distance
In the sounds of an echo that rings out in the badlands
I remember your story of pockets turned out
Of skin stretched thin over rib bones from hunger
When you stood before me far from your reservation home
Your words still ring in my mind, starving is no way of living
You told me how your family picked up to make a new start
They had grown tired of nothing and hoping for something
Your father loaded you up and family alike
For the blacktop back roads that led to the freeway
That led to the cities so he could join up
Join the Armed forces so you could have more
Forty years has passed since your father lay dying in that war of the jungle
Breathing his last words of, tell my son it was worth it, bringing him a new life
More than I had living on government rations and crushed dreams of dust
Today looking back, it’s hard to forget the story you told me
As I scatter your ashes out on the sands of your homeland
Without a doubt your father made sure your family had better
Paying with the blood of his life
As tears fall to the ground I look to the sky
I know now you're together with him after a lifetime of separation
The spirits of a father and son now blow in the memories of dust
Finally reunited again

Thursday, May 5, 2011


by Mather Schneider

Nick falls asleep at the Cactus Moon. He puts his head down on his chest and passes out sitting up. I call a cabby friend of mine, John, to come pick him up and take him home.

A few minutes later Nick wakes up and stumbles into the bathroom. John walks in while he’s still in the shitter.

“Thanks for coming,” I say to John.

“Which guy is it?” John says. “How fucked up is he?”

“He’s all right,” I say.

“Is he too drunk to remember where he lives?”

Whisperin Ron stands up. Whisperin Ron had an operation, throat cancer, and now talks in a hoarse whisper. He’s a homeless drunk, and looks it. Whisperin Ron and Nick are friends.

“Well, I’ll tell ya,” Whisperin Ron says to John, leaning in real close. “You’re gonna wanna go up Ninth Street here, to Euclid,” he points at the west wall of the bar. “Then, you’re gonna wanna turn right.” He looks at John. “You following me?”

“If you lose me I’ll let you know.”

“Ok,” Whisperin’ Ron says, “then, you’re gonna wanna go down Euclid, one block, and that’s Tenth Street.”

He pauses.

“Right,” John says.

“After that you’re gonna wanna go LEFT on Tenth Street and go two blocks. Two blocks, and that’s it, ok?”

He holds up two fingers in front of John’s face.

“It’s right there on the left,” Whisperin Ron says.

He turns his whole body left and points to the floor.

“The Alamo Apartments.”

“Got it,” John says.

“Number twelve.”

“Right,” John says. “So, you ready to go?”

“Who, me?” Whisperin’ Ron says.

“Not him,” I say, “it’s another guy. He’s in the shitter.”

“That’s a good one,” Ron whisper-laughs, sitting back down at the bar.

Nick stumbles out of the bathroom. After some convincing and a six pack of beer, to-go, Nick agrees to let John give him a ride home. John and I pour him into the cab.

“You owe me,” John points at me before getting in behind the wheel. Then they disappear into the sunlight. Looks like John is burning some oil. I turn back to the bar door, and stand there for a second. It’s already hot at 9 a.m., Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


by Claudia Rey

Fat men have warm feelings
said the philosopher.
Their hearts are surrounded
by so much flesh
they can’t be cold or cruel.
Ah, said the woman
sipping her wine.
Fat men have sharp eyes
the philosopher went on
ogling the woman’s cleavage.
Their eyes are sort of drowned
in plump eyelids
so they can’t look around too much.
This gives them a better focus
to appreciate beauty.
Is that so, said the woman.
She was sitting near the window
her chair was comfortable
she didn’t really feel like moving.
Fat men never cheat on you
declared the philosopher.
They don’t have the time
to sleep around.
Too busy keeping in shape…
He chuckled and scoffed
a big chocolate éclair.
The woman winced.
Really, she said.
Fat men are sweet and kind
insisted the philosopher.
If a lady is kind in return
they can fall in love so easily…
The woman smiled coldly.
Too bad I already am in love,
with a very skinny man.
Ah, said the philosopher.
I’m so sorry for you.

Haltered Top

by Eldon (Craig) Reishus

Behind the garage
beside the Minnesota
I melded a carp's skull,
some mallard feathers,
and the cool clay
of a rusted wormcan's shadow
perfect for my hand.

My first tit.
Unearthly rapture.
My first artistic feel.

Ten thousand miles downstream
meanwhile across the Atlantic.
Small world. Where words,
disentangled from my mother-tongue,
inflect a brave new social life
in terms of German case and number:

Brust, Brüste, Brüsten.
Mops, Möpsen, Möpsen.
Apfel, Apfel, Apfeln,
Klopfse, Klopfse, Klopfsen,
Busen, Busen, Busen.

Yet still my dreams are suckled to it,
my first tit, unweaned from the nipple
I neglected to invent.

The Truth About Snow

by Len Kuntz

The line meanders out into the street.
Some of us smell cinnamon and chicory,
others a wet compress of an impending storm.
The bored lieutenant rattles change
in his pockets,
the chinking reminding me of sleigh bells
and frostbitten hands,
of that one winter when
I learned the truth about snow.
Back then I was bolder.
“Did you know,”
I said,
“that I am old enough now to
fly away
from here forever?”
He held me down
and that was his answer,
the weight of snow
the spikes of blood
the winter white
no longer for this child,
never again.


by Andy Slade

Perfect nails, perfect for playing,
perfect for inscribing shoulder blades,
with marks of possession and ownership, crossed,
instead they instil an evening desire
in the tightly-wound sound of acoustic guitar
a flick of his fingers, a flick of his wrist,
a twelve-string prelude to human chords,
this Toreador, with sound as his sword
taps his thumb, percusses the Spruce
caresses her mood, conjures duress,
picks wires, as he does hair and his moment,
carefully, with dreams of undressing,
with a look of intent, frustrates her with tempo
until she gulps and concedes, worn-out like a Bull,
a last look through the base of an empty glass
the Rioja comes on, disarmed, charmed
affected, won over, Madrid's serenade.


by R.L. Elledge

Icy slivers
Of ruined frozen livers
Out her eyes, with black oozing lies
And she shivers
As they slide
Down her sultry spine
And carve
A little white line
Through rounded flesh
That will shrink and stretch
Around protruding bone, offensive and white
like what the moon could have shown
on that fateful night
when stinking blight
lost it’s way back to Hell
got cold and crawled back into it’s shell
and oozed it’s slime
all over our lives
and now it’s what drives these sick machines
because it never dries up and never dies down
and never fades
or slows
or knows
what it does
and is therefore innocent in it’s sweetest sin
It wears a grin, as it goes about the Devil’s work
that it would never occur to think to shirk
as it enjoys it’s job,
to watch and to lurk,
to kill and to rob,
to corrupt
and putrefy
The ripe bodies lain before him,
a Last Supper for the Devil’s deadly dozen,
lounging in the brightest idle mind
that they could find,
at short notice
because it’s go go go
to get ready for the big show
that Mom and Pops have been planning
all of all our lives.
And the show goes like this;
it starts with a kiss and a sweet goodnight
and then a man comes to town to make something right,
but what is wrong?
What did we miss?
What is sick in our town’s lovely song?
Something’s wrong, something’s gone,
can you smell the rot of what I’ve got?
Can you feel the weight fit to break your back
or send a crooked crack
down your skull
during a lull
in the storm
and when did that get here?
Just a minute ago I was dry and warm
and had never tasted fear.
What is wrong? What is there?
I don’t care.
Burn the song and burn the town! Burn them long and burn them down!

Break the kiss,
Breathe in the lies
No more goodnight,
Eat the lips that soon you’ll miss
And open your eyes
For a bloody sight.

Jazz on a rainy night

by Stephen Barry

Driving across the Hudson
on a rainy Friday night.
Chet Baker on the radio
blowing cool jazz from fifty years ago.
"Alone together" the deejay says,
as the windshield wipers keep time
with the soft brushes on the drums
and fat raindrops on the roof
give a tinny echo to the big notes
the sad man played.
driving home with the bittersweet tune,
played by a man long dead,
for a love long dead,
we prepare to be alone together
to share the music of silence.


by Joan McNerney

You gave me
five brown pods
to grow in
my garden bed.
I put them
in a glass jar
with my locket.
Five brown pods
winding through
heaven. Weaving
night with winter
wishes for wisteria.
In a flower dress
wandering over
perfumed fields
I sleepwalk
searching for
my golden locket
and your embrace.


by Stephen Jarrell Williams

We are
in this modern bombardment of senses

someone preying on us
keeping our minds

the bastards
wiping their asses
with billion-dollar bills

they're getting ready
to flush us
while we watch
a kaleidoscope of false colors

or can we blink
just once
and finally see?

Monday, May 2, 2011


by Aashish Thakur

Summer is here
And sparrow is nowhere
Thousands of dry fingers
And a tree
Inside me
Heart, a lonely mountain
Eyes, a dry fountain
Inward opening windows
And a sky burned by sun,
And a thirsty well
Nothing to tell

Just dry poems
waiting for rain

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Parish Life

by Donal Mahoney

There, for once, the whole of it,
and, Lord, I have no camera.
Bright Saturday in Spring

and there outside the church
a wedding party waits.
A Mass is still in progress.

Before the wedding can begin
ten men, in files of five,
must carry out the corpse.


by Stephen Jarrell Williams

The party is over...

Stumbling around the kitchen,
oven door open,
a limp bra inside.

Stumping my toe
in the living room,
an empty bottle like a bowling pin.

Hopping on one foot
out the back door to the pool.

Wishing the wife would be swimming
naked and smiling.

But she left years ago,
when my sins could still float,
drunkenly hopeful.

Museum Dolores Olmedo Patiño

by Claudia Rey

If Mexico is a multifaceted country, Mexico City is even more so. In the short time of an underground ride you go from the majestic, imposing, pompous centre with its baroque mansions and enormous squares to poor suburbs – and you can count on your fellow travellers to help you in the transition from one world to another. Starting from the underground station, where there’s no benches of any sort and many people sit casually on their heels like their peasant ancestors have been doing for centuries.

On the train you find other examples of imaginative resilience. In Europe, poor people beg: in Mexico they sell. A single piece of chewing-gum, a pencil, ten rubber bands, a notebook with maybe twenty pages. “Diez pesos le cuesta, diez pesos le vale”, is their mantra. Roughly, You give me ten pesos, you get then pesos’ worth. Ten pesos buy a plain tortilla, twenty or thirty a quesadilla or enfrijolada, a tortilla filled with cheese or black beans. Enough for a snack that keeps them going for another while. Sellers jump on the train, stay for a couple of stops, jump down again, eluding the occasional policeman who is supposed to punish this kind of individual enterprise. I have the feeling that people around us root for the sellers. I certainly do.

When resurrecting at La Noria station after a fifteen minutes ride, we are actually plunged into a different world. No elegant mansions or monuments, no gardens, no big shops, but small broken-down houses, spindly trees, stalls lining the streets and selling food, shoes, bolts and nails and hammers – in a word, anything. And dust, and smell, and heat.

But then we arrive at the walls of a building similar to a Texan hacienda. Our destination, the museum hosting nearly all the works ever painted by Frida Kahlo – and many painted by her husband Diego Rivera. There’s a double wooden door, a small brass plate. And behind the doors, heaven. Green lawns, flowerbeds, jacaranda trees – probably the most beautiful tree in the world – heavy with purple flowers. A life-size statue in blond polished wood welcomes the visitors: the landlady, Doña Lola Olmedo, portrayed in her naked beauty. And around the statue, peacocks! The first ones draws a shriek of surprise from me, and I start snapping photos. The guys oblige, spreading their tails. But then another group arrives, and another. Dozens of them. The novelty sort of fades away, because in the meantime we have reached the enclosure reserved for the Xoloitzcuintle hairless dogs. The only native dogs of Mexico, they were adored by Frida Kahlo who always had at least a couple of them: rather ugly creatures, dark grey as stone, with small piercing eyes. Maybe her fascination for them lied in their snouts, somewhat resembling Maya sculptures?

Since Dolores Olmedo's death in 2002 all her house has been open to the public. In her bedroom the walls are covered with huge photos of herself, as well as painted portraits, caricatures, letters written to her by the VIPs of the time. All rooms are filled with furniture and sculptures and works of art Doña Lola collected throughout the years – some extremely beautiful, some extremely kitsch.
But we came here mainly for Frida, so we look for the rooms where her paintings are kept: twenty-seven of them, from the very first to the moving last ones, when she was so sick she could barely hold a brush. The Broken Column, The Henry Ford Hospital, Self-Portrait with Monkey, Just a Few Pricks, and My Nurse and I; and Viva la Vida, one of her last. What kind of incredible human being can still celebrate life when knowing that death is not so far? Just her…

The hundred-something paintings by Diego Rivera are no less good of course. It is a bit difficult to admit that he was an excellent painter and muralist and to forget that he was such a horrible man – not only physically – unfaithful and selfish and conceited... But hey, what an artist.
Almost all of his works are political. In this, at least, he was honest. His commitment was real and deeply felt, and he certainly didn’t hide his opinions and his support to what he thought a good cause. All this faith reflected in his paintings - and in the amazing murales in the Palacio Nacional, among others.

After such an immersion in beauty and arts, it is difficult to go back to the real world – and reality certainly strikes more than ever in the dusty streets outside the museum. I stop at a stall selling talismans, mainly because the seller is an older replica of Emiliano Zapata, with white handlebar moustache but no sombrero. He shows me a small cellophane parcel holding a tiny Madonna, a minuscule horseshoe, some sequins, a red bean (“Esa es la semilla de un arbol sagrado” explains Emiliano) and some black crumbs that are probably copal, the strong smelling incense used in churches and private houses as well. All this on a background of white paper, sporting a cross and four words around it: AMOR, SUERTE, ABUNDANCIA, FELICIDAD. How can I resist? I buy it without even bargaining.

I don’t know if it worked in the years since then, but I still have it: it’s here on my desk while I write.

an alternative to life

by Jim Bennett

if there was an alternative to the life
his parents wanted him to have
he was determined to find it

he tried religions
wandered through all of them
every prophet every good book
every preacher
every person offering a path
to a new life

tried every diet that he could
because it annoyed them
but that was a sidetrack
it didn’t help him -
though when he was a vegetarian
he thought it was nice
to see sheep without feeling guilty

he tried celebrity
the approbation of all
but that sucked
because he was eventually forgotten
and though he could not even
remember his name
his parents were still there

occasionally people asked
if he had once been him

later he tried drugs of all sorts
soon found that doctors
had the best gear
it saved him lots of money
once they gave up trying to cure him

eventually he stopped going
he found there was nothing much better
than alcohol for dulling the senses
and thought it was less sordid
once he got used to cleaning up the vomit
so he decided to try and drink himself
to heaven
succeeded for a while
but still woke in the same room
and was still himself
that was the bit he hated

eventually he found
an alternative to life
but he wasn’t able to say much about it
and getting there was a bugger


by Stephen Barry

We have seen the merry angels of madness
descend upon our home
and dance with fevered frenzy
before collapsing in despair.
Mocking a loving embrace,
they envelope you with feathered arms
that masks a vampiric kiss
which slowly steals your soul.
Leaving us with a hollow shell of memory
and you as the last leaf of autumn
cast aimlessly by the icy winds of winter.