Travelers Welcome

Travelers Welcome

Friday, December 31, 2010

Littered Sky

by Mathew Richard Carter

tarnished blue skies
rest behind the softest
gray as the clouds to
the east resemble
torn shreds of paper,
the tiger’s claw
trademarks the
moment. A clump of
passing fowl coasting
on a westward wind,
were merely floating
pebbles strewn against
the littered sky.

Tufts of thick, gray dust
persist from factory silos,
tugging itself beneath
the cirrus fog–
to blend and spread
like frosting, assuming it has
sweetened the day. Even the sun can
play along, boasting its
ultraviolet breath to pollute our
unguarded hair, our naked skin

and still we manage to
inherently engulf ourselves
in the limitless
wonder of an
infinite ceiling.


by Anita McQueen

Falling from
night sky


my head back

eyes open

water from the gods.

Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche

by Rebecca L. Brown

Real men don’t eat quiche,
                 Here he goes again,
He said,
                 She thought,
Real men eat potted snacks
                 Potted plants would be more nutritious
Instant gratification, just add water.
                 And nothing instant is ever worth the wait.
Real men eat rare steak, raw steak
                 This man faints at the sight of fake blood,
Straight from the cow
                 Complains when there’s blood on his plate,
Screw the knives and forks.
                 Complains, to be fair, most of the time.
Real men…
                 Shut up and eat your quiche
                 She said.


by Stephen Barry

Kindergarten commandos in the year of ‘65
we played out father’s youth
when they, as heroes,
strode the earth
and vanquished dragons.
With plastic Thompsons and pine cone hand grenades
we played our games
striving to be the men they were.
In Spring we walked the Avenue behind them
and scrambled for the casings
that fell beneath the wreath they lay
before the rifle guard salute.
All Summer at the beach
We gazed upon the living memories-
Mr. Ryan’s metal hand, a Salerno souvenir,
Uncle Lenny’s missing toes, left somewhere in the Chosin,
the scar on Aaron’s leg a memory of Midway.
When we could not play outside
like Medieval monks fingering relics
we crept into attics and garages
to seek the objects of our devotion –
the faded ribbons and bits of silver and bronze,
tokens of great deeds,
the flier’s cap with fifteen mission flap,
the Japanese flag in Sully’s garage,
the old tin pot of Charlie’s dad
dented by the seawall at Inchon.
As we played that Fall
Danny’s brother laughed
as he smoked and dreamt of cars
while listening to “Eve of Destruction”.
Little thinking of three years hence
and a place called Quang Tri,
and the day the telegram arrived
after which we never played the games again.


by Peter LaBerge

The dips and dams
his body

at the waist and
to form two legs
water runs down

The wind-tagged rain

He opens
his gaping mouth
the sweet droplets whole

A smile
creates a crooked path
for the water
as it passes
through Apsu Canal
and to the sea.

Verse Serve

by Chris Butler

The eyes,
they see
a vein,
The hero’s villain
have heroin still,
ill king
and medication
coin it a damned.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Pirate Night at The Space Pub

by Nicole Taylor

Friends call him
Awesome Austin,
and his Hair poem
and about his brain as a toy prize
and it was an awesome tale.

Tip or Die reads the jar on the bar.
Brutal Brutus stickers on the
cannon ball Moe is turning.

Bondage in my Brain reads
another poet, another freeing soul,
not a stealer of words, stories.

You can say fuck you, and it may not mean anything.
Angst not anger to a person.
Why do we get so offended by these words
or the middle finger?

Ashley reads a great tale, poem,
Wanting, and I am.

Instigate the ones I hate,
reads young Nick.

Candace reads, Dead men tell no tales.
in her pale dress reminding me
of the illustrated man, the heavily tattooed man.

Her guy Moe reads, sings
Fertile Floozy, Sea Hag Wench.

Row, row your boat, matey,
reads Rich
with his pirate arr style.

Time to leave soon but the stickers near me read
Never Sleep. Almost Friday. (But it's Monday.)
Breaking Death. Gladiators Eat Fire. (No
Gladiators or Fireeaters Here.) Dumb Free
Liberty For All and No Moral Chords.


by Daniel Romo

There’s a gunfight at the O.K. Corral. I’m a spectator stuck in the stocks. It started in the saloon (a spat over spades), but spilled into the street.  The sheriff tries to regain control: shoots the sky with his shotty. Two vultures drop like leaden bloody clouds. The bartender says This is bad for business, and hides behind the whores. I feel safe because I’m nestled behind a family of cacti. But the Can-Can dancer is high-kicking my way with a smile too big to signify a simple hi. My hands instinctively wave, but I’m not glad to see her. My head was under the influence when I proposed. And when I cheated. She takes off her garter and blindfolds me.  I recall late night lovin’ and moonshine. I say, Darlin’, please let me out. After all, you were gonna’ be my wife. She reminds me I like to be teased and replies, In a minute. After your tongue tastes Jim Bowie’s knife.

Lefties Have Rights Too!

by Chris Butler

Lefties don’t have the right
to write from the right side
of their mind,

but die from number two
lead poisoning of the pinkie
finger smearing across
suicide notes,

so they bind their
ambidextrous appendages
behind broken backs to
break bad habits.

In Place

by Tannen Dell

When life is one big moral debate between what you want and what you must not have…when a contract socially pins down your freedom of desire, a fire starts, the worst part of all is how cold this flame tongue is, how every breath is oxygen to build it. This is the point that drives all to cryptic hope, anger, depression and linguistic suicide. I freeze in the core furnace, I bleed these thick blue flames, I inhale carbon, I die until my heart starts beating.

Hymn to Apollo

by Sean Butner

And as the morning light splashes off the lapping waves
Four figures creep slowly through the dappled lake-side shade.
A parade of blanched pantalones, painted
With dark lines indicating they are
Not now who they often are,
Processed with an elderly weightiness
That recalls the quiet gravity of all
That they will not pass down.

The line comes to an uneasy halt,
Face to foot, proud snouts stepped on evenly
Like repeating patterns adorning a spittoon,
Chamberpot, or other vulgar piece of houseware.
Still moving, an image forever repeating.
And then, as the dewy grass folds to the wind
One by one, with a dignified slop,
They bow their strained necks from sun
To shore, and plop into the mucky bay
Swimming off as they often were again.

Her Death

by Brandon Roy

Since she is dead
she is now good
silence is her will
to speak no more
the living will not
bother you

A fair sky at
dusk,and the
headstones all
in a row
day wedding night

The closing flowers
The faint lights

The growing hours

Have no claim
On her stiff corpse

A cry,a stare
flickering candles
whispered prayers
for souls that
were lost

Make them hear
the falling eyes
dying to see them

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Winter Chill

by Michael Frissore

One black skullcap
on the median of the highway

a head still inside


by Jordyn Coats

The sobriquet of him:
Left in the end
after all is done.
Immortalized by day,
scorching in the sun,
and fabricated in dreams.
The altered state is caused by beams
shining too bright.
I know!
What I need is candlelight.
Not too dim, you see...
it's just right.
In the interim
of the moment's fading,
I'll be evading
even the surrounding glow
of the shadow cast
by the one who can't see the flame
as it burns soft skin.
We were both too close to him.


by Malo Basich

old drunk sitting
at the end of the bar

slumping over
melting down

like the ice
in his Kessler’s

soon just a dirty
puddle anyone

can simply
step around

Sunday, December 26, 2010


by Sean Butner

Under the wash of harvest moon light
Shining from a not yet dark blue sky
The bell towers of Green Bay stood out
Overexposed, daylight transposed by trick
Photography, otherworldly against full moon
Dusk. Sts. John, Willebrord, Francis Xavier,
And even the civic courthouse loom
Like relics, monsters wading in a sea
Of art deco and glass and steel.
Unreal reminders encasing the mundane
Realities of litigation, parking ramps, and
The homeless huddled on frosted steps
Beneath steaming lamps illuminating the skyline.

Against the now black sky, pillars of light fade out of focus.


by Nicole Taylor

limbs of rivers

folding Rubik’s Snakes of
metal lots,
parking lots

quiet farming or
residential lots

passing, passing
mighty, mighty Lake Michigan

towers of
metal triumph

First Time

by Tannen Dell

First Time
Brings thunder
through my veins

I cant push a beach
through an hourglass
And you cant
Tell me to slow down.


by Kate Rahimzadeh

Emerald depths
Brainless beauties
Flowery tentacles
Kelp curtains
Crystal drifters
Bizarre creations
on submarine winds
sea stars
living wall
congregation of purple
a new firmament
Exuberance for life

Friday, December 24, 2010


by Jenny Picciotto

Father is in hospice and my Mother asks me to write my remembrances of him, the happy memories. I won’t write lies and cotton candy fantasies about this man with whom I shared a fiery past. Nor will I take the liberty of reviewing the things I wished or hoped or dreamed might have been.

This is a time of letting go, of reflection and strength, a time to find peace with what is, and all that has come before. The road that led to this moment cannot be retraced and all we can take with us forward from this moment is what we carry in our hearts. I pray we travel lightly, with joy, and with wonder at the mystery of life.

This man, my Father, like all of us, is a man with many facets, a man who felt the challenges and victories of life, the arrows and the honey-flavored moments that fill a life-time bit by bit, leaving traces of sweet tenderness and deep sorrow in their wake. These are the things I know of him, that he felt deeply, loved fiercely, and shared his world most completely with his adoring wife, with whom he battled many storms and to whom he gave his heart and soul. Their bond runs deep and true and remains a deeply private and sustaining shelter, for they knew each other as no one else has known the other and they shared the path from youthful vigor to the end of life walking step in step, one leaning on the other as need may be, one now leading and the other following, taking care to keep together on the way.

I cannot see into his heart or know his journey. But as he passes from this world into the next I can remember the things he shared with me, and the parts of him that I carry forward in my own spirit, which are of him.

This man loved dogs, and cats, and things done well. He loved the out of doors and freedom. He loved knowledge and truth and clocks. He stood ready to give a hand to a stranger, to tell a tale and wasn’t afraid to try his hand at fixing something. He had a temper which raged and a tender side which he shared with few but his sweetheart, and he loved a good book.

When I was small he would carry me on his shoulders at the auctions he and Mother loved to attend, so I could see the auctioneer calling out, and he gave me quarter to go see what I could barter on my own. I bought 2 boxes of kitchen ware, which I played with for many years in my pretend house, out in the screen porch off the big old brick house in Trumbauersville where the peach and grapes and cherry trees grew, where I would play in the chicken house and out under the pussy willow tree and out back in the old farm house field where he gave each of us a small piece of land as our own garden plot to tend to.

He used to keep a workshop in the barn and it was a place filled with all the bits and pieces which might come in handy one day. He used to go there, probably to be alone, but he would let me in and I would sort screws and nuts and bolts into the cardboard tubes of washed out juice cans, so he could find them when the time was right.

There was a big old hill just down the street, and in the winter he would take us sledding down that long slope. He liked to sled too, but with his sled he went so far along and down around the bend that he would be out of sight and it would take a long time before I would see him trudging back along the road to where he left me sledding with my friends.

As I write this, on the morning of Christmas Eve, 2010, my Father faces his death with my Mother at his side. I expect she sang him a song or read a book to him to keep him company, and I hope he is strong of heart. I hope he looks back fondly on his life with forgiveness for those who have harmed him in the course of time, and with love for those who have shared his journey. And I wish him peace.

Christmas Eve

The Trees of Winter’s Grace

by Michael H. Brownstein


The Sacred Trees—oak, willow, ash, date palm, wild plum
The Trees of Prosperity—holly, box, ivy, bay, laurel, conifers, oak
The Druid and Christian Tree—evergreen, oak


Snow is always cause for courage,
and love,
a need to pray, forgiveness,


It was then the small boy came knocking,
the wind a blizzard of disease and frostbite,
and the old couple opened their home to him,
offered him from the little they had,
hot apple cider, a stew of potato, warmed flour.
They gave him the warmest place in the house
and covered him with extra blankets they themselves used.
In the morning, he was gone and they had slept through
the snow drifting in piles covering their door.
He left no tracks, he took nothing with him,
but when the sun came out and the day’s frost began to ease,
they saw the beginnings of a grand tree,
its leaves pointing to heaven, its branches laden with fruit.


Years later the child now a man found himself
in the Germanic forests near a town buried in snow.
He saw the people kneeling before a great oak
and he knew it offered support for the spirit,
but little for the belly or the pregnant.
He chopped it down when the people slept
and when he began to cut it into firewood,
they woke frightened and enraged.
He stood his ground, raised one hand
to where the tree had been, pointed with the other
to show them what was to become
and the people watched as the ground moved
and a fir came from the seeds of snow and earth,
its branches laden with gifts of greenery,
food, fruit, nuts, and roasting meats.

He married a year later, a princess of Viking strength,
a woman who held a staff larger than a tall man
and liked to color the long nights with stars and rainbows,
fruits and fresh bread, venison and anything green.
Together they wandered the Northlands
bringing song and trees that remained ever green
even during the dark of the winter
when the sun slid beyond the ice for its long sleep.


The Arabians chronicled his adventures later in life
after the Qur'an, after the solistice of the Druids,
after the closing of the Germanic book on Winter’s Magik,
after the last celebration of the Roman festival Kalends.
It was told by many who claim they saw it with their own eyes
how one winter when famine had struck the land
and water had dried up, great snows came from the north
burying everything and the people were not prepared.
Then a man with a beautiful wife walked among them.
They stopped in the center of the village,
blew into the night, and the wind stopped,
the snow cleared and suddenly trees were everywhere,
great laurels and firs, bay and ivy, their leaves strong,
their scent the perfume of warming and good health.
They say winter was hard that year, the hardest in history,
but that morning the people found clothing for the weather,
supplies of dead dry wood at each tree’s trunk
and enough food to last until the coming of summer..
Snow never fell again in that region, but when that snow melted
great wells formed across the land. The trees
shriveled in the heat, petrified into sand and stone,
formed shapes to hold clear water,
and the shadows of the two people are still there
imprinted in the shadow of sand dunes,
carved into rocks holding clean water,
etched into the bark of the sacred date trees.

Poet's notes:

This poem couild never have been composed without the help of THE CHRISTMAS TREE by Barbara Segall which gave me insights and knowledge into how The Tree of the 12 Days of Christmas came to be.

Additional info can be found in the Mystery Play, the chronicles of George Jakob and the tale of Wynfrith of Crediton.

Thursday, December 23, 2010


by Garret P. Quinn

when I see my mother now,
golden gray hair and wrinkled skin
brittle bones and weak worn heart
I only see her back then...

straightening her obsidian wig,
pouting her rose red lips
in the cracked mirror,
the heels of those
blueblack stilettos stabbing
the beige carpet
as she stumbles
across the room,
thin pocket book pinched
between naked arm and
pushed-up right breast

and me,
so small on that
stabbed carpet,
in that carpet.
looking up that short jean skirt
not understanding
the places she’d go
or the things she’d do

her tousling my hair
saying goodnight sweetheart
saying she’d be back
saying she’d be back soon

but all I see is the
broken crumpled
pack of cigarettes
on the kitchen counter
as the only thing
she’d forgotten.


by Mike Foldes

(these greetings are a bit like candy hearts
We used to get as kids and trade like some
Kids traded trading cards, baseball, football, basketball,
And in those days that was about it, there were
No hockey, NASCAR, dead presidents, ugly critters,
Except maybe characters from MAD Magazine
That escaped from their hallowed pages
And made it to the big time. GREAT, WOW,
The first dose of LSD I ever took had been
Dropped onto one of those candy hearts,
But I can't remember now what it said,
Something like, "Get ready because once
You go up you'll never come down," or,
"Get out the Kleenex because this is going
To make you laugh so hard you'll cry, and
The tears are just not going to stop there."
So now when I drop those notes of ablution
On readers of e-mail, and even hand-written
Notes noting the time of day, the day of the year,
The year of the Lord, etc., I am reminded
That time itself is not much more than memory
Stored in a safe place until it's wiped clean
by the torrential downpour that comes
late in the afternoon of a very, very fine day.)

Blinking Like Ferrets

by Donal Mahoney

I've been too busy
the last two years to chat
with anyone in the office.
Today, however, I pause
at the pencil sharpener
while my co-workers
calculate and jot.
It makes no difference, you see,
if I remain silent until retirement
or if suddenly I start talking again.

All we must remember is
that we decay together,
that this charade
we give ourselves to
doesn't require that we speak,
that all we must do, really,
is calculate and jot.

If we calculate well,
if we jot well, the charade
will carry us through.
In the end, we'll see what is true
when blinking like ferrets
we emerge in sunlight,
gaping and gasping,
free of this maze created
by the family of man.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Symphony In a Garden Apartment

by Paul Vincent Andrews

her ghost white clavicles
hover over unused thighs

it’s grown quiet now
and you can hear
the neighbors above

screaming, vehement, unbridled

you’re now mad at the first floor screamers
who an hour ago you drowned out
with your own mad midnight music

if an elf lived between
floors, for a transitory enchanted moment
would an angelic harmony
exist in the vacuum between storms

you quickly realize
this is bullshit
and the tenors upstairs
and sopranos down
may at best
create a raga
of cacophony

now you’re mad
at them

how dare they
intrude on this quiet

you consider
telling her the story

the shrill mousetrap
sounds may shut
them up

you stop thinking
look up

at the praying mantis
in front of you

her green eyes
praying, she chokes
softly on her breath

you look up

you can’t tell the story again
and head upstairs

someone needs
to say something
to the neighbors

Writing This Poem

by James Babbs

I’m writing this poem
while we’re making love to
keep myself from
coming too soon
the words gathering
in my head and
I think about death
but only for a moment
pinpoint of light
somewhere in the distance
writing this poem
full of darkness
the sky at night
with no sign of stars
and I wish
I could have counted them
trying to write this poem
not wanting to
think about baseball
because it no longer
appeals to me
watching your face
the shifting of it
like sands on the beach
the wind whipping us
and I’m struggling to
write this poem
trying to think of
something more to say
the words slipping
and floating away
like balloons
about to burst
trying to write this poem
but now it’s too late

Sunday, December 19, 2010


by Carmen Eichman

Grey lid dusk shuts. Train whistle blows
in quintessential quiet
coagulating thickly upon their flight
from a fevered Gestapo guard. It was a cracked egg
existence when chancellors challenged logic
while gorilla gulping champagne.
Run like you’ve never run
she hisses at her daughter,
horrific fear heralding within
their hated hearts. They segue , ferret,
hungering hope, through crooked hallowed halls,
their lungs list along dark walls. Into a black room
they hide. A silent hack racks
their ribs; he follows, fallow, soul as dry
as his tongue, spies the silent sisters,
grabs one, rakes, hooks
Hauptmann nails into saintly skin until
she grips his neck, bends him, breaks him
in two, a miracle, he mashes in her hands,
mangled, sociopathic, ideological shrine…

until the next run.


by Nicole Taylor

This place,
this space
is fighting against
noise ordinances
and a $301 fine,
every fine night.
This place opened near
Oregon's birthday two years ago
with bands and comedians
travelling near and far.
This night a local band,
Outback Purge, opened
open-mic night.
We heard Working Class Hero
for these working class,
and some looking for work.
David reads a poem to
be noticed
Look me over, said the stone.
Nick reads Buddy Wakefield poems
of work and life
from young Nick's great memory.
Austin sings Fresh Water Pirates.
Moe breaks from bartending to his bass
and his songs of angst
Avert your gaze,
yells an officer's voice in
I've got the greatest grades.
He sings An Ode to Horace
of one possible early
young Jesus story
of his rites, ordinances,
for the once mellow crowd
as these are not mellow songs.
Hannah and others watch
a cop car in waiting.
Then Hannah and others
return inside and read
texts and seem so insular.
Wes seems annoyed at
our bartender and wanders
out and in and out.
Soon Moe closes bar
a little early
I bike and chat
with Dave
arriving home
later than usual.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


by James Babbs

I saw you
she said
buying booze
he laughed
so what
I can drink
if I want to
I’m not hurting
except yourself
she said
she was a widow
and he was
her only son
I’m almost 40
he said
you can’t tell me
what to do
she turned
away from him
but he could
hear her crying
it was
the same thing
every night
he went to
his room
opened one of
the bottles
took a long
slow drink

Unspoken Beauty

by Carmen Taggart

The secret so painfully true that even as she uttered it to herself
She could feel her foundations quake
Uttered, shouted, spoken, and owned the world crumbles
Yet her heart raced with giddy excitement
The boundaries undone the world still turned

Mosaic tiles caught her eye
Her heart as delighted as a school girl with a new set of paints
Crafting and placing each piece
Finding the unbound, unspoken beauty in a world turned all akimbo
The secret finds a new home

BC Woman

by Paul Vincent Andrews

When she first arrived upon the scene

before the loquaciousness of the crowd
before raspy metal machine music
before the bone yards of fallen empires
before Gods
before I

her feet must have felt strange
planted in the hot arid sand

her eyes compelled to focus
on distant green lights of ancient
phosphorescent plankton
dancing on the rim
of a purple sea

did those green lights spell hope

Or, did she look upon this stage
as the worm devours it’s love the rose

the scrubland behind her
harboring megafauna
with bored opaque eyes

looking down with machinations
of the potential of the rock
next to her

as she skipped
the smaller disc shaped
stones in the sea

the first numbers

I imagine she turned
and looked back

hard eyes squinted
hungry, and fixated
upon the small furtive
creatures dancing
beside still pools

Friday, December 17, 2010


by Jennifer Thomas

Battles give us scars
Which give us character
And eventually
Really hot dates

Thursday, December 16, 2010

mi mi cry

by jkdavies

no, no, thank you for asking,
though you didn't.
yeah I am fine.
makes a change, huh?
no, I mean... you know what I mean.
oh for fucks sake
do I have to explain everything?
well, since you ask,
it would make a change
if you did ask.
I might not just say yeah,
I am fine. We could
even talk. But I know
your focus will slip back
to you in no time
and I don't want to waste
the time, if I focus on you
too, then both of us are
okay. If you looked at me,
you would be confused
and I would be even more
apologetic, and I would want
to hide again. Look at
the pretty mirror
I hold up to you instead.


by Amit Parmessur

like a ladder that cannot bear your lanky weight
an expensive crown that does not emit any spark
a paint brush
resembling a dusty broom that bruises paper

my body is a secular sun
my mind a sharp religious light

my skull is a bottomless vase
my brains an assortment of scintillating flowers

my ambitions a climbable Mount Kailash
my past a cool and collected Kilauea Volcano
I have a heart that needs coffers of energy,
lungs like coffins that hate oxygen

I have a stomach growling all day long,
a palate allergic to the fragrance of food

A white person filled with
black gall broke my teeth,
giving me Royal food to taste every second.
Sisyphus-like life seems different every day
with different degrees of doom and gloom

I have a lively cadaver that’s dark,
a shadow that exhibits the colors of my clothes
There’s a fierce fire burning in my wet eyes
Hope, of a third set of teeth

For now, each night comes
like an ox falling on my brave stomach,
parading along it till sinister morning

In The Gutter

by April A.

You say you are braver, superior, smarter,
Your pride, ever swollen, has poisoned the air.
In fact, you are already deep in the gutter,
You've merged with the shades of the earthly despair.

Your crave for respect, much more cash, a career,
But luck's velvet fingers won't grant you a touch,
Your purpose is being in front of the rear,
You cannot believe that it costs one too much.

The same elevator, the buttons in rows
From Monday till Friday. The same boring week.
You press button ten: you are taken below -
Regarding your dwelling, emotion-sick.

You crave for respect and life-long recognition,
But rich-colored life is behind your bent back,
You don't realize it's a bitter position,
You've never considered the change of this track.

You say you are braver, superior, smarter,
But you are deprived of the pleasure of thought.
In fact, you are already deep in the gutter,
The look of a shadow is all that you've got.


by Chris Butler

I grant you permission
to be the whore of my heart,
bullshitting circles over my
chest as you play the dart,
a carnivore feasting on
organs crystallized hard,
seated in a fancy restaurant
wrapped with fine art,
expressing our satisfaction
with cigarette sparks
and lukewarm farts,
before the waitress
snaps the plastic credit
of low score cards,
then I must begin again
from the start.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Santa had it coming

by Jeffrey Miller

Saturday started out bad for Mike Grabowski and got worse—first, he lost his job and then, he took it out on Santa Claus.

First, it was the ass-chewing he got from his immediate supervisor Todd Harris, who accused him of drinking on the job and botching the new entrance on the Kaskaskia Hotel renovation. Mike told Todd to go and fuck himself and then, slipped into the Dew Drop Inn across the street for an early lunch.

“That’s the second time this month Mike, I’m really sorry about this,” Walt Smith, the owner said later that afternoon, when he learned what Grabowski had done. “You can pick up your last paycheck next week.”

Mike drove around for a few hours wondering how he was going to tell his wife that he lost his job two weeks before Christmas. Before he got around to that, he had a score to settle. He waited in the parking lot of the Elks Club with a fifth of Jack before he got up the nerve to walk in, but once inside, slipped into the bar for a few more shots of courage.

He forgot all about his wife and son waiting inside the ballroom with other parents and children when he caught Santa Claus coming out of the men’s room.

“Thanks a lot for ratting me out, Harris,” Mike said, pinning Harris against the wall. “You cost me my job.”

“You’re drunk Grabowski,” Harris said, adjusting the white beard around his chin and pillow inside his costume. “Go home and sleep it off.”

“Why did you have to tell Smith?”

“You should have thought about that before you came to work drunk.” He pushed Mike aside and headed toward the ballroom where the Elks’ annual Christmas party was to get underway as soon as he made his grand entrance.

Harris didn’t see it coming. As soon as he hoisted the red bag of toys on his back, Mike spun him around and landed one well-placed punch to the face. The bag dropped to the floor, toys scattered everywhere.

“You broke my fucking nose!” Harris staggered back and clutched his nose with one hand, blood already seeping through his clenched fingers.

A couple fathers had to pull the two men apart. The bartender handed Harris a towel who wiped the blood from his nose and screamed he was going to call the cops. A few people had their cell phones out videotaping everything; three children cried when they saw the bloodied Santa.

Mike was forcibly escorted to the lobby where his shocked wife and son waited for him. When he saw the shock and horror on his son’s tear-streaked face, he didn’t know what was going to be worse when he sobered up—telling his wife he lost his job or trying to explain to his son why he broke Santa’s nose.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Don Quixote’s Blues

by James Babbs

where are the lights
from the windmills tonight
why can’t I see them
when I look toward the west
they were there last night
and the night before that
but now
when I look out my window
I can only see
the scattered lights
from a couple of houses and
the darkness stretching for miles
I want to know what happened to
those blinking red lights
the lights that showed me
where the windmills are
now they’re gone and
I don’t know
what the hell I can count on
I’m just too drunk and
can no longer see them
but I’ve convinced myself
they must, still, be out there
asleep in the darkness and
looming against the sky
waiting for my vision to return


by Harry Calhoun

It kept my father awake
for many of his last nights —

the amazement
that it could happen to him.

And tonight restless
I try to hold my wife

and help her rest
and finally I turn sleepless

to myself and clasp
my helpless hands

across my chest

A Man

by Chris Butler

A man who sleeps on concrete beds with no cotton sheets or pillows
never rests his head.

A man who awakens to a fading overcast sunset of shaded gray
never shoots his star.

A man who endures hour icicle showers during winter mornings
never sheds his skin.

A man who stomachs the slaughter of a vegan’s hunting season
never fills his gut.

A man who sells common sense for cents and exchanged for happiness
never owns his soul.

A man who pays to play with fingertips pinned to skinless gadgets
never lives his life.

A man who allows gravitational pressure to induce scoliosis posture
never cracks his back.

A man who musters abrasive pulses of a bull’s dosage of testosterone
never binds his balls.

A man who instigates internal warfare for the welfare of the world
never breaks his peace.

A man who surrenders to the fake phonetic contents of white pages
never writes his ending.

Character Flaws

by Mathew Richard Carter

There is something
Too unstable,
too unreliable
about you-

I can’t quite
point a finger
at it.

All I know is
I love spontaneity
I love unpredictability
Hell, I love challenges

a fucking


by Steven Gulvezan

When does the clock stop?
The angry mob storms the palace
Screaming, “Bread!”
The soldiers level their guns and fire
And much blood is spilled…
I see my true love’s fingernail polish
Red upon her nails—
Her delicate white hand reaching up to me…
She wishes me to save her
But I cannot…
Though she is far removed from famine
She is dying
Of another kind of hunger
Alone, though I sit by her side
Aching with desire
To purchase
A loaf of her bread

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Imperfect Guitar

by Amit Parmessur

Sitting on the wild rocks I marvel at the periwinkle,
fully forlorn in the nearby receding tide pool.

The whistling of the dry coconut leaves in the wind
has been accompanying my pregnant thoughts of you,
with the large and strenuous pelicans surveying the sky,
right above my bewildered head.

I have never ever thought you would leave the
land of our bond and ships would become my enemies.
How dare that elderly ship steal you from me,
making my eyes scarlet in the indifferent crowd.

Sitting on the rocks with my wild guitar I
sing sweet songs of your improbable return, sometimes
dreaming of you dancing, dancing lithely in a ring
of violets, with frisking lambs, piping shepherds.

This evening I have broken a string
as my fingers are a bit too drenched in anger. I close

my eyes and imagine of you sleeping
on a bed of daisies in our favorite valley over there.

I secretly cut a hair from your peaceful head,
fixing it in my excessively grieving guitar.

I start playing again but the other remaining strings
cannot be as melodious as your versatile holy hair,
rendering my guitar uselessly imperfect.

When I open my briny and heavy eyes,
the tranquil sea surface has turned orange,
the sand is a stretch of yellow lawn
and the periwinkle is gone,
leaving the tide pool as good as a forlorn desert. I go
home like a brave camel ready for an endless journey.

Invisible Scars

by April A.

The poison of spring has dissolved in my veins;
A second is worth both my future and past.
The more I denied my becoming insane,
The sooner insanity touched me at last.
The silence we hear is the laugh of my fate,
The soundless laugh at the one I forgot -
The yesterday's me - and the force to create
The life I portrayed. But it's less than I've got.
I love the invisible scars of my skin -
The blades of your hands are so tempting, indeed.
These words I give birth to just come from within,
Revealing the truth till the scars start to bleed.
These words cost two hours less than a night -
Mixed feelings are harder to rhyme than small talk.
Two hours more, and the things will go right
As long as I fail my deceiving the clock.

What's On Television?

by Julie Kovacs

Grunting and braying
two donkeys fought over
who was in control of the remote
for the plasma screen.

both wanted to watch one or the other
sitting inside the spacious
living room
next to the Nile.

Eyes glazed over from
reading the Rosetta Stone
mistaking it for a television schedule
they finally decided to
give up and use the remote
to change the weather
clicking buttons
and more buttons
until they saw rain on television.

Saturday, December 11, 2010


by Rob Dyer

in search of
the traveling soul wanders
from concrete war zones
past relevant fields
to a country corner

a seeker never finds
it all at once
clever revelations unfold
fueling desire to carry on
to envelop purpose and devour
the curious beast within

somewhere in a precocious moment,
beauty decides it's place
beside horror, across from morose awareness
beneath the blatant realities

and a heart bursts
as Life explodes
in glorious colors of our world
reminding the traveler, we are
always in bloom

Somehow the gemstone

by Harry Calhoun

There’s a topaz that struggles
to be a sapphire.

Its eminence glows yellow

as saffron in its tiny vial.

The struggle of that
and that which can never be

defines us. Somehow the gemstone

must eventually or never can

become the spice.


by Mathew Richard Carter

The night was fast-
a stark white flash
of mesmeric headlights,
tugging us in and out
of stolen cars. The best
part of the night
was when I said:
“Oh shit! You mean
this isn’t your car?”

We pulled on destiny’s
pant leg, laughed at the sky
through moon roof
breather holes, we
held our breath as
we crept around
corners crawling
with surveillance.

We combed the streets
for easy money,
put our livelihood
before our safety,
blinked our eyes
while we scurried
over rooftops,
hopping buildings
for a hasty

One time we held
hands as we fell
two stories
ricochet off
fire escapes,
arms entangled
as we laugh.

We tumble onto
solid rock concrete
breaking limbs before
scampering into

still laughing.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

my gods!
and other theories on the origins of man

by Mike Foldes

just add water

a very large man in a white coat
and glasses, a very large man who
somehow resembles einstein, or
your favorite 8th grade science teacher type,
attaches a patch of solid material
to a plastic orb and sets it spinning
like a tiny top. only up close
it looks much larger. up close
it doesn’t look like it’s moving
at all. and in fact the large man
in the white coat who set it spinning
can slow it down and even stop it,
and at one point he does this
to check out how the patch
of solid material on the plastic surface
held up under the centrifugal force
of the spin and finds that several pieces
have split off and formed related
shaped masses here and there
upon the plastic. and with a very
long and finely pointed pair of shining
titanium tweezers he carefully places
fourteen items of genetic code
on different facets of the developing
project, and with a warm breath
of humid air that quickly condenses
onto the plastic surface of the orb,
sets it spinning again so fast
it no longer appears round, but
kind of flattened at the poles.
and that’s about the time things
really begin to change.

Anonymous Poem

by Chris Butler

Anonymous wrote this poem.
Anonymous will bask in the acclaim.
Anonymous will take all the blame.
Anonymous is my name.

Anonymous is a stranger.
Anonymous leaves a transparent silhouette.
Anonymous wears a mannequin’s face.
Anonymous is an unidentified Doe.
Anonymous exists in the non-existent.

Anonymous is known in the unknown.
Anonymous is an infamous myth.
Anonymous is a famous artist.
Anonymous is christened as It.
Anonymous discloses Itself in public.

Anonymous wrote this poem.
Anonymous is my name.
Anonymous is us all.


by Steven Gulvezan

Susan paused upon the portico
To gaze upon the draper's assistant
Hanging curtains in her chamber
His face so waxen white
She wondered if he had dipped
Into the alabaster cream
Hidden in the top drawer
Of her dressing table
But when he turned his head
And their visions locked
His blazing coal-black eyes
Instantly transfixed her
And, flushed and slightly panting,
She inquired huskily of this lad
If he might desire to step down
From his ladder and join her
In her boudoir to eat his fill
Of her sweet morning muffin


by Mark James Andrews

not only did junkyard dogs guard
the once noble chariots on the oil
soaked grounds but a chained
baby chimp offered in barter
for the automatic transmission
from a rare 1948 Buick Roadmaster
was displayed outside the cash
register shack for customer novelty
and the comic fear factor of a bite
from his remaining milk teeth until
later in his animal year’s quicktime
his hairy juvenile biceps and fingers
would be forced to pry off wheel covers,
light assemblies, bumpers, mirrors
and all body chrome of value and
then the ownership taught him
to use a butane torch to burn off
the outer casing of copper wiring
until he turned it on a tow truck
driver who motioned for him to light
his cigarette which compelled me
to kidnap the chimp after closing
on a rainy Friday night and set him
up on a blind date but first he demanded
through his acquired sign language
to indulge his new dependencies
to hit up Ed the Paperman stationed
curbside outside Polka Party Store
for a fifth of sloe gin and a gram
of red hash before we picked up
the sophomore girls from St. Cyril
for a double-date at the Belle Air
Drive-In to see Gimme Shelter where
I forgave most of his antics in the back
THE RAG TOP on my '62 Rambler
convertible because his girl wouldn’t put
out in the manner he was accustomed.

Monday, December 6, 2010


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Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Sexiest Woman Alive

by John Pursch

She wore her dressing sack everywhere:
pitcher's mound, diving bell, houseboy's yacht.
When the milkman's turn finally came,
he was caught selling Tupperware
to undercover brake mechanics,
greasy hands slapping on the cuffs.
Voyeurs tailed her soup spoon
to its seven-course hideout,
only to find a declawed cat
that looks and tastes a lot
like canned olives.

Dreary skies tatooed
her pairs of antipodes
on every addled worker,
swapping the war on rugs
for a few more flying carpets.
Transfixed by her charms,
the world economy now teeters
on the edge of vertiginous prolapse;
averages have shifted in transit
and sloshed divisors
have spent their last iota,
searching for a camel's child.

oddly perfect

by Rob Dyer

there are no red tail hawks
nor soaring eagles in sight
only a lone spoon billed roseate
obtuse and odd, scorned by the others
those more lovely to stare at

what with that platypus bill
and pepto hue, no wonder
face planted in weeds and rooting
for bugs and such

but have you seen one on the wing?
soaring as God's gift would have it
oddly perfect in solitary flight

oddly perfect in my sight

In the thumb of the Michigan mitten

by Mark James Andrews

the afternoon sun kept breaking
through the maples teasingly opaque
but luminous like a Degas canvas
if only racehorses would parade
down Cottageland Road
high stepping in their nervous coats of silk
for a wager as I crack the Remy Martin
seal for a splash as we’re still on coffee.

We recline in a languid balance
on this canopy 3 seat swing
plotting to continue our secret nightly pruning
of the neighbor’s low hanging branches
which trespass on our view of Huronia blue
300 feet down the track
when they come skidding up their drive
in a dusty red Hemi Ram Quad Cab

killing our field of ten fillies and mares
at post time while blotting our canvas
of Degas with late model Dodge pick-up
in a mad scramble of unloading tool boxes
PVC pipe and CLANK dropping a sump pump
screaming for God to damn it all to hell and
flashing a monster ring of keys under our sun
to finally disappear into their summer home.


by Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal

In the gloom of evening
where the lilacs bloom
the dash of a snail is no
blur in slow motion.

A bitter leaf is his meal.
His eyes are cloudy in darkness.
The sonorous sounds of
birds must seem frightening.

The snail must not worry.
It must not weep. It must
go on and live and sleep
in a grassy or dirty bed.

The strong, the swift, and
the evil will always be there.

Lily And Bob

by Doug Draime

Bob was back
in the corner
by the juke box, his
shotgun propped
up against the
machine. No one
had noticed him
coming in the back-
door. Lily was serving
some rowdies at the
front table. I’d been
watching the Reds kick
the shit outta the
Cubs on the black
& white at the
end of the bar.
And if I hadn’t
turned when Jerry
asked for another beer,
I wouldn’t have
noticed Bob sitting
there either.
I walked over
and drew Jerry
a draft. Bob was
craning his neck around
trying to get a good
look at Lily. I sat the draft
in front of Jerry
and reached under
the counter for the
.357, and stuck it
under my shirt, and
started walking back
to the table.
Bob spotted me coming
and moved his
shotgun, laying
it across the
table, with 2 fingers
resting on the trigger.
He yelled at me,
“This is done of
your concern, Doug.
I just came to
get Lily. Go back
behind the bar
and tend to business.”
Lily was
right behind me by
then and I knew
she could see the
bulge of the gun.
“Bob, you need
to take your
fingers off the trigger
and sit the fucking
shotgun back against
the juke box.
And I need you
to do that, now, OK?”
Bob just stared
at me, trying to
stare me down.
The place grew
as still as a rock.
“I don’t want
any trouble with
you, Doug. I
came to get Lily,
like I said.”
I could hear
Lily starting to
cry behind me.
“You come in here
with a shotgun
and you don’t want
any trouble? I
think you’re
a little confused,
man. You need to call it a
night, go home and
sleep if off.”
He was just tapping his
fingers on the stock of
the shotgun
near the trigger
and staring at me.
I could feel
Lily moving, as she
touched my
shoulder and stepped
out in front
of me.
She took a couple
steps toward
the table,
haltingly, gently
reaching out
her hand.
“Bob, honey, I’ll
leave with you
but you have
to stop this
before someone
gets killed. We
can work
this out, baby.
You don’t
want anybody
to get hurt, Bob.
I know
you don’t.”
Locked on mine,
Bob’s eyes moved
slowly away
to Lily’s,
his whole
body softening.
He took his hand
off the
shotgun and stood up,
his eyes
filling with tears.
Not another word
was spoken,
as Bob
began to sob.
Lily had his hand and was
leading him
out the back door.
When I heard
his old pickup start,
I walked over
and picked-up the
shotgun, broke it open,
and took
the shells out,
put them in my pocket.
Walking back
up to the bar
with the unloaded
weapon, some wise ass played
Lovesick Blues, by
Hank Williams,
and there was an
uproar of laughter.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Butcher Rings the Bell

by Brian Tucker

I cut up hogs for a living. Well, I used to anyways. Worked at the butcher shop in Seton, Kentucky. Population 581. Or, so the sign reads when you drive into town. My specialty was chops. I could cut a big sow’s bones into real fine slivers. People liked the way I did the butterfly chops. I’d stack them in the tray nice like with a heart shape in the middle. Always forgot to put those blood absorber pads in the bottom of the Styrofoam tray when I was finished, but I cut them like a pro. My boss, Mr. Elway, called me that—a pro. Imagine being a pro at anything! It wasn’t like me to brag, but I did get a fancy sense of accomplishment when I stacked a heavy tray of assorted chops together with no room to spare. Customers licked their lips when the tray was placed out front. We smiled behind the swinging meat department door, when they stared at the rows of pink and red marble.

Saul was our meat wrapper. He did an alright job I guess. Always getting into trouble with the older butchers for not coming in on time. Had a real struggle with the time clock. Saul said the clock didn’t like him. I didn’t give a shit what he or the others said. I just came in to cut up meat and go home.

For all of Saul’s problems, he wasn’t nearly as bad as the kook Mr. Elway hired to work the bone saw. Jerry Sarkins was a son-of-a-bitch if I ever did meet one. The bastard would walk right up behind one of us while we was cutting on a hog or beef cow and goose us real good. The laser sharp knife would slip in our hands and we’d almost slice the meat, our arms, or Jerry’s lips all the way into. I always threatened him that I was going to accidentally slice him from ear to hear and watch the meat fall to the ground leaving him with only a bloody skeleton. He laughed it up. My hand would grip the butcher’s knife like I was behind in the count in the bottom of the ninth inning. I was always pretty good at baseball.

Jerry Sarkins would work that bone saw like a freak. Best bone saw cutter I ever saw. But, he liked to give us a real scare by pretending to cut off a finger or hand. There was an Asian family that always wanted beef short ribs cut in a quarter of an inch, and Jerry was the only one that could do that just right. He’d harass us about getting the quarter inch short ribs out to Connie Chung, and he’d laugh like a hyena. Jerry was a real piece of work. His yellow teeth would be bared, reminding me of a clown at the circus tying balloons around spoiled kids’ hands. Even had a big rosy nose like a clown would. Then, after heckling Saul, me, and the others, he’d take the beef ribs that had already been trayed up, remove the shrink wrap from them, and begin cutting them even more finely. He’d cut a few strips and then howl like a monkey. Then, he’d cut some more.

We jumped often from the high-pitched sounds Jerry made the first few months. Gullible newbies like Saul jumped even more than the rest of us. But soon enough, we all caught on to his ways. Knew he was a prick. Jerry Sarkins had cried wolf too many times. We stopped listening, and boy if he didn’t really cut a finger off one day. No lie. Saul was clocking in late, and Mr. Elway was lecturing him yet again on punctuality, when Jerry, that deuchebag, cut off his thumb. He howled and this time none of us turned around.

“Cut that thing plumb off!” he yelled. “Youchhhh!”

He jumped up and down. Finally he passed out and collapsed in his own pool of blood. Trouble was none of us could tell his red blood from the puddles of sow, heifer, and hen entrails. Jerry lay there on the floor for a while. I was out turning the rotisserie birds in the large ovens and giving people samples when it all happened. Saul had just put on his apron and hard hat when he saw Jerry supinely sprawled on the cold floor. He kicked Jerry with his steel toed boot.

“Mr. Elway. I don’t think Jerry is fooling around this time,” Saul said.

“He gets you every time, son,” came Elway’s voice from the manager’s office.

“No. I think he’s really hurt himself. He’s not moving in here.”

And that SOB wasn’t. Jerry lay still like a fish that had wore itself out from flopping on the bank. His color had gone out of his face, and he was holding his wound. His lips were puckered like that singing bass I got last year for Christmas. I thought about where I had put that thing. Christmas was just around the corner again. Jerry was staring at the ceiling.

“Well, look who’s whining now,” I offered him.

“Paulie. Not now!” Mr. Elway barked.

“He had it coming. Serves him right,” I added, holding back a laugh.

“Get me some ice and a wash cloth, son,” Mr. Elway said to Saul.

Saul disappeared. I stood placidly looming over Jerry’s frame. I still had my butcher knife in my hand. In a matter of milliseconds, I went from standing like Michael Myers to hurling the Asian family’s unfinished beef ribs at Jerry. He didn’t try to deflect the ribs; he didn’t laugh that hyena laugh. Mr. Elway cussed at me. I threw filet mignon and rib-eye steaks when I ran out of ribs. Then, I found Atlantic salmon filets and threw them at Jerry. They looked like slimy orange rugs flying through the air. For the life of me, I don’t know what made me do it. Next, I un-skewered the rotisserie birds ready for the ovens and hit him in the head with those. Saul dropped the first aid supplies he had retrieved from Mr. Elway’s office, and he tried to slow me down, grabbing the birds as they flew through the air. But, I wouldn’t have it. I threw lobster tails at the stunned old butchers that had been watching me from inside the deli room this whole time. Their jaws dropped open, and I broke them all with meat trays.

The ambulance had a tough time pilfering through the blood and chops to try and find Jerry’s sawed off finger. Looked for about two hours before finally giving up. I was long gone by that time. Took off my apron and stormed out of that hell hole. Told Mr. Elway that butchering hogs was no living at all. Of course, I didn’t leave the meat department before ringing that bell and letting the Asian family know with a wink that their beef ribs were on the house.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


by Carmen Eichman

Surveillance, steady censors,
safeties snapped, despite my perseverance
in slipping past command posts
after a glass of wine or two or three.
The tower and spot light of conscience
require obscurity, safety reasons cited.
Often I stand before the tall fence, my eyes traveling
slowly, slyly, up the tall length of its
streaming rolls of concertina wire
as tangled as my legs; they belie my limpish
attempts at escape. Oh, it’s happened,
when I busted through the gates,
slipped seamlessly to the other side, breathed the air
of self
the lights of guilt
splashing through my window of joy,
illuminate my ribs,
heat my bones, the warden of shame,
its burning reflection defeats my defiant glare,
locks my heart in its dark compartment
of solitary confinement. I now have
plenty of time to think
before busting out again….

You and Me

by Aashish Thakur

And you said “window is not a window, it’s a door”
And I opened my heart,
Then you said “sky is an empty bowl, lets fill it with our love”
And we have done our prayers on bed
Then you said “some years don’t give birth to spring”
And like a fallen leaf, silently I sang the autumn
Then you said “the spirit of seed lies in its longing and pain”
And you walked away;
And then I said “what is falling on your palms, are my tears not the rain”

Romantics, My Ass!

by Doug Draime

Byron drilled him as he was
coming in the door
of Mary’s Bar,
with his colt 44.

The bullet hit Shelly
just under the collarbone,
and went through
his silk blouse,
coming out his right
shoulder blade

Then it hit Keats’
cell phone, as he was calling
the cops on his
crazy-drunk friends, and he
started thinking - as parts
of his phone flew all over
the bar - that maybe
these fuckers might just be
revolutionaries, after all.

Mercuric Offender

by Mathew Richard Carter
my receptive palette 
resumes the taste 
back onto the tongue 
after consuming you 
through eight unfiltered 
years, though 
your scent still   
travels to 
the curtains and 
pillow cases you 
have abandoned 
in haste. I will 
soon burn them 
in your blazing trail. 
The cost of our time 
spent in concert adds 
up to millions! 
I have eagerly awaited 
to confiscate your dear 
grandeur, like razor 
ninja to sharpened 
sensei, gleaming 
from your eyes staring 
back into mine. Much like 
a mirror, I invade your image 
to mimic your wisdom, your  
insight, your charm, 
there is no truth 
left to search for– 
in all your optical 
expressions, in all 
the books you keep. 
Back to our old apartment 
     and it’s always the history that 
     confounds us. These windswept 
     walks that kick up dust to gather 
     on your shoulder, just a brush 
     away from fully polished. 

Friday, November 26, 2010


by Ricky Garni


According to what I saw on the Mutuscope in O-Naught, a bonk on the head and then scram. A policeman runs up to see where the fire is, looks around, sees the coast is clear, steals the dough off the limp body. The whole movie lasts exactly 25 seconds, a masterpiece and one cardboard set. Yet with all the suffering in this world, I cannot bear to see it again.

In the sequel, the policeman buys a pistachio ice cream cone. He admits he is a homosexual in court joins the foreign legion and in order to avoid legal prosecution for his crimes against nature and because he likes the Frank Sinatra song but unfortunately gets trampled by elephants in Nepal. Back home in Brooklyn, the chief of police calls up to the apartment to tell the family the news. His mother leans out the window and says SERVES HIM RIGHT but she really is his son. And he gives birth again, and his mother says I DO. My brother is my uncle is my sister is my mother hijinks ensue. This is one funky family. The chief of police doesn’t bother with it because it isn’t his beat. One year til retirement. There is no honeymoon and no funeral and it rains blood.

HEY. It’s my sequel and I can do whatever I want.


According to what I saw on the Mutuscope in Naught-Naught, a bonk on the head and then scram. A constable runs up to see where the fire is, looks around, sees the coast is clear, steals the dough off the limp body. The whole movie lasts exactly 25 seconds, a masterpiece of the era and one cardboard set. Yet with all the suffering in this world, I cannot bear to see it again.

So I make a sequel.

In the sequel, the constable waits on the curb for the man to regain consciousness. The constable presses a cool hanky to his forehead. “What th--?” the man asks. “Everything will be OK,” he replies “you were robbed, but you will be fine. Rest here for a moment. Then you must come to my house. I insist. It’s almost time for dinner now and my wife makes a terrific beef stew.”

We don’t know all this because it is a silent film.

And since I hate subtitles there are none of those either.

Some people will be reassured by the hanky and the smiling but if you are deaf than this is the movie for you. The constable has beautiful, supple lips, and he speaks slowly. The man enunciates clearly and deliberately, perhaps due to the injury. There is more smiling in the end than there is in the beginning. And there seems to be happiness there.

But when the movie ends and the lights come up, some of the audience is confused, and some look a little bored, but there are some people, a very few people, who are walking out into the night with their mouths watering and smacking their lips. They turn to each other to discuss the movie. Their fingers are moving like crazy. They loved it! They feel wild! This movie is really just about them.

But what happened to the money? Did the wife really make a terrific beef stew?

Sorry: there will be no sequel.


According to what I saw on the Mutuscope in OH NO-Naught, a bonk on the head and then scram.

It just keeps happening.

And then, as usual, a constable runs up to see where the fire is, looks around a little but not much, the coast is clear but what else is new, steals the dough off the limp body that just wants it all to be over with.

Enough already. The whole movie lasts exactly 25 seconds, but it seems a lot longer,

I mean, it takes forever, and I guess it is a masterpiece of the era but I don’t care anymore.

But I should care. I want to care. I need to care. So I make a sequel.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Azurite Climber

by Julie Kovacs

Camel of Bactria
making a living climbing a steep mountain
the home of azurite
ancient gemstone
found in graves along with gold
Golden camel
your name is Zarathushtra
after the ancient Persian prophet
who spoke of
good thoughts
good words
good deeds
to the ancient world
long before the advent of the Persian Empire.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


by Stephen Jarrell Williams

They say it will be the end of the world

Cities blazing with blue flame

You're swallowing hard sitting in bed
Staring across the room at the mirror

I'm massaging your bare back
Window fan blowing in cool
Outside blur of what will come

You whisper
There's no way out of this

Our house between dying
Memories and desperate hope

Only some will survive
In the new garden of ashes

You sigh
Turning to me smiling

Swishing your breasts side to side

Let's burn the bed down.

Jimmy The Toad

by Doug Draime

They said I was
babbling incoherently
and swinging at
who got within
5 feet of me.
No one in the bar
at the time,
could handle
the situation.
And Maxine ran
next door to
Ray’s Market
and got my friend
Jimmy the Toad.
All I know
is when I woke up
in the hospital
with a broken nose
and 2 cracked ribs,
Jimmy was leaning
over me
and apologizing
for using a little
too much force,
offering me
a bowl of
orange sherbet

When an Abortion Doesn’t Take

by Chris Butler

I never asked to be born.

So Pa,
you should have
shot me into
the sheets,

and Ma,
you never should
have received
the seed

of me,

was just a mess.

It's All in the Wrists, Said Ted Bundy

by Donal Mahoney

The others, of course, are more rabid than I
but less apt to show it.

Whenever I strike, I never romp off.
I stand with the wrist that I've snatched

from the lady locked in my teeth
as I wait with a smile for the wagon.

As one of the few wrist-snatchers
still on the streets of Chicago,

I make all of my rounds in old tennies.
I dive for the purse hand, give it a whack,

and sever the wrist without slobber,
then stand like a Vatican Guard

with her wrist in my teeth until
I am certain I have no pursuers.

In my dreams every night I can see
all of those women whose wrists

I have had in my teeth.
They stand at their bus stops

like Statues of Liberty,
shrieking and waving their stumps like flares

as I wait for their screams
to bring to a frieze

the patrol cars glowing
in the middle of the street.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


by Ben Rasnic

Egg yolk moon over Nevada
quivers in the smoky mist
of a bloodshot sky.

Neon bleeds like candle wax.
Gold dust radiates from statues,
glass and sand.

Steady drone
from spinning wheels and show tunes
swells my brain like a cantaloupe.

Hung over, my head is chiseled
full of holes from shots
of Jack Daniels, chinks

of martini glasses, loose
change and the bone rattle
of snake eyes in the pit.

Stars hang in the waning desert sky
like sequin jackets,
moth-eaten and obsolete.

the lake grows

by David Mclean

the lake grows its untiring expectation,
though the expectation is projected
and the lake just is, like birds singing,

and the fell rain fell, like years fall
into a missing god's empty pocket,
consciousness stops because of bodies

and the way they always die forever,
but the lake is growing its autumn
and the rain is feeding the contented trees

so they grow another years obligation
though soon there is no memory left
and no live body for me to be

the rain sets history free


by Aashish Thakur

If axe is your priority
Then forget the tree,
If you love honey
Then kills the bee
A lavish bed at home
Shared with many bodies
Can’t guarantee you happiness
Shadow is never a true companion
Yes, sun and moon exist
And flower and river too
And bullets and bombs too
And divorce and drugs too
But when somebody else pays for your shopping
You splurge like devil
(Plastic money is dangerous than nuclear bomb)
You know- “this mathematics of relationships”
And now you want to drink, wine divine
And what you are served
Is a cup full of blood,


by Robert Vaughan

I write minstrel music

about clouds while you

lay barely

respirator clogged

the oboe solo wavers

off stuck in winter

drifts then buried

horribly all plans

waylaid the swan

who stayed

Thursday, November 18, 2010

My Black Pearl

by Carmen Eichman

I can breathe at the bottom
where bubbles burst from boiling surfaces
blacker, deeper places where I have not reached.
Sun light moves, sways me, above me,
people walk, sometimes hurried, sometimes languid
from this angle, but I hear nothing
as I watch from underneath, holding
my breath, waiting, waiting, waiting
for the dream, the black pearl, I swallowed
long ago, won’t digest, safe keeping in
the oyster of my guts, without it I die, again
and again, and again. Down here I gulp hope,
settle into a mechanical movement along
sandy bottoms, my blink a salute to the dry stars,
slip among the ordinary pearls
that just won’t do.

Internal Organ

by Chris Butler

My heart is hardened, like a diamond,
hovering over my dark charcoal soul,
yet it cannot be tenderized again
deep in my motherland’s bottomless holes.

My heart is high strung as an ornament,
or a fragile eggshell cracking on a tree,
devalued by its cheap sentiment
and sifted into shards of confetti.

My heart is melted and poured into molds,
forming a goddess’s perfect image,
yet temperate to temperatures cold
it’s disfigured in a macabre visage.

My heart cannot stop the irregular
rhythms of iambic pentameter.

avenue A

by Lynne Hayes

sitting on this gray step
worn old from life,
i see the world at its finest.

dog on a chain hating
his sports coat wearing owner
who calls his wife honey,
keeps a blonde on call
because her child must eat,
and the thrill is
most definitely not gone.

boy across the way
walks likes he’s ninety
calling his baby's momma
a whore,
and i see him hustling
on a gang controlled corner,
shot stone cold dead
within ten.

rising up,
i have seen enough
to wonder why
the old time singers lied.

things always remain
the same.

the art of words

by Rob Dyer

the art of words
is culled and torn
from a soul in crisis
as naked as porn
it cuts and slices
to tell what must be told
in tones both weak and bold
tearing through rages
to cover the pages
sending tomorrow to the ages
turning young hearts into sages
with blood from all our trials
smiles and aggravations
from the obscure to the obscene
on golden ponds in life serene
where chance can stand and scream
and horror can kill a dream
once held in infants hands
poetry has no true demands
it needs no structured plans
an open path to walk through
to relive what once did kill you
but can never be cured
until the nothing seeks the word

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Several Provocations Later

by Mathew Richard Carter

Her lips are buried
at the bottom
of her purse.
Wrapped firmly
around a lighter
shaped like a gun.

She pulls out a joint,
squeezes the trigger
and sparks a revival
of her smoky past.

The Misguided Itch

by Shawn Misener

Searching for fingernail clippers
and chewing gum
the lost poet weaves across this
empty sidewalk in the dawn's piss
thinking aloud to the streetlamps
and the weeds pushing through
the cracks, “writing is no good,
it's like I'm scratching my arm
when in fact it's my ass that itches”

He makes his way up a cement hill
scouring his pockets for change
and realizing he has enough for coffee,
which most definitely will do for now

Doomsday Prophet of Miami (or, God is Whoever You Say He Is)

by M.P. Powers

Standing in the shade of a palm tree
off Biscayne Blvd., feet planted in the grass,
head perched atop a sandwich

board proclaiming: THE WICKED

GOD. He mops the sweat off his brow,
his John Bull
roachwhiskers titter

vaguely, his expression perfectly
miserable. "That's right," he shouts,
his eyes finding

a defenseless elderly lady

hunkered in her car, halfway under the steering
wheel. "I'm talkin
to YOU!"

A Mid-Winter Revolt

by Melanie Browne

Finding crows in a
church yard is bad

luck, one -thousand
surrounding us
in a theater
of gravestones

is a nightmare,
I run at them,
waving my arms
wildly about,

they fly nowhere,
I yell that I have
no bread,
nothing to satisfy,

I watch as they
break the beauty
of a mid-winters silence
with their ghastly 'caws,'
pulling the repulsive


along for the ride

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Down the Dead River

by Jessica Otto

Her feet had been stolen,
her head separated
from at the neck and
her teeth fell out long ago.

He was someone no one
bothered to read about
but he got on
the boat
shoulders bare
in sunlight.

The stone ferrymen speak
unpronounceable words
to hoist their cargo along
the shadowed Nile.

She sits on a wooden bench
drinking red tea, amethyst
scarabs clotting at her neck;
they equal fertility
and ageless transformation.
She views her afterlife
with shriveled eyes.

He dangles his feet,
like a child,
over the edge looking
for crocodiles.
Grey water swells
and reaches up,
sputtering for the last
imaginings of life,
the last tug
at an ankle.

I Can’t Get the Smell of You Out of My Skin

by Len Kuntz

It’s been there since Tuesday,
sinking deeper every day,
now into my blood system,
circulating like poisonous gas,
this scent
which had once been so very

still warm summer sencha

by Jamie Gersh

And in this sun, all our talk of suicide
seems like nothing.

You will be leaving for London soon,
and with you: your bones so close
to surface of skin. I thread
your fingers with the bird
bones within them through my own

and try to nest
in the imprint.


by Michael H. Brownstein

I lie about eating.
My wife says,
Don’t eat that,
that’s not good for you,
you’ve had enough.
She asks,
What are you eating now?
Didn’t I ask you to stop?
and my mouth is full
or I just then took a large swallow
or grand food stains are on my face
and I tell her—
sometimes still chewing—
I’m not eating,
I haven’t touched a thing,
I’m just smelling
or something like that
because the only time I lie
is when I’m lying about food.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Feeling of Mountains or Your Body

by A.K. Jackson

Beauty makes me feel trembling and small.
This morning I lay like an infant, clinging
to the safety of breasts but was a woman
again by the time I fully rose.
I held your soft fistfuls and felt a closeness,
as if blood was running from one girl
to the next. You are the beautiful things
in the world. Your heart beats all
the plants and animals into my brain.

And now I am leaving you, driving
through mountains that fill me with fear.
Life is such a fragile moment, pressure
in my ears and a long way down.
But I see your shape in the landscape,
mountains peaking like a girl on her back
and danger is suddenly as safe as comfort.
There are new birches growing, saplings
springing from cracks in the rocks.
They start out soft, and pale green
some to bend and some to snap.

Evil Twin

by Mathew Richard Carter

The day was darkened with
the presence of a demon.
It felt like I was being
followed by Hell itself.
Tortured in jest
behind my ignorant back,
by some kind of child
who mirrors my image
but not my intentions
and lurks within heavy
crowds. His evil eyes
are darkened with purple rings
of pain. His clothes are chameleon
with the wood mulch park where we play.
I stay close to mother, asking myself:
do I need to be so clingy?

Soon, I venture from the safety
of her grasp. I haven’t seen him
in awhile, thinking
he has disappeared from the vague
and general scenery of playground
jungle gyms and vibrant parkas.
Buried among the sea of children
where he blends and
hides and waits
to devour
my soul.

Raspberry Hives

by Donal Mahoney

The ancient man with raspberry hives
on his cheeks since childhood
will live alone no longer.
He will marry, he says,
the first woman who’ll have him.

Till now he has wanted to die
as he’s lived, alone in his room
with the radio playing,
with the water in the bathtub

The drone of hours, however,
has become the drone of years
and the ancient man with raspberry hives
on his cheeks since childhood
fears death will convert
his hives into pocks,
take his body but reject his soul.

Now he believes if he weds
the first woman who’ll have him
death will have reason,
for the first time,
to do the job right.


by Lynne Hayes

if I had have moved softer
arranged the flowers with finesse

wore the cobalt blue you liked
tilted my head to the east
and licked my bottom lip

you may have
stayed for a cigarette and brandy.

Monday, November 8, 2010

In Honor (Hopefully Remembrance, Soon) of the Appalachian Rollergirls' "HARMORY" Floor

by Jordyn Coats

Not quite like a marble,
nor a mud slung tire,
or a failed caught Frisbee on dirt.
Resonances of silence
want to make themselves known,
but they know it's like
trying to keep static away
from inside a modern day living room.
No matter.
They keep on
and on,
leaving traces of echoes
on the slippery corners we all fall
while rounding, low and slow.
here and there,
dancing all around...
dispersing, causing chaos,
looking for solid ground to roll on-
to work on-
to stand on.
Eventually, time forces change
and we must move on.
The skids and echoes left
are only testimonies of what will be-
what will become of us and of me.


by Rafael Hernán Gamboa

We stood together under doorways,
under moonlit autumn skies
and pregnant winter clouds

We waited in mediocre restaurants,
in long, rickety trains
and car rides we both remember
for reasons we’ll never really understand.

We waited mere feet apart
in magnetic lock
and all those places looked the same,
painted for the blind by the echoes
of reluctant goodbyes
we each hoped would get the point across.

What were we thinking, I wonder.

We, standing there,
and waiting.

Consciousness Dilates

by A.J. Huffman

Don’t look down.
The sky is falling.
And the floor is gone.
And a shadow is all you have left.
Too bad it’s not yours.
Too bad it’s not mine.
Too bad it’s not safe
to say its name to the wind.
It would save you.
But only for a shelf.
Its sin needs a shell.
that isn’t afraid
to force a nail
into and through
a crack
your eyes didn’t even realize was there.

Small Bombs

by Jamie Gersh

Kitchen floor, eyes
wide with terror of drawer's closing.

Curled up, set off; can't
stop you running out
the back door. You can't
help but bring it with you, that weight
that you carry, that I carry now too.
If only I could reach you:
lover in child, child in lover.

But between us there's a minefield
exploding in hurtful bursts
with each misstep. Get out of my house,
bitch! and I'm leaving, wish I'd never been

here! and wanting love, we destroy
each other on the sharp, metal seeds like bb gun
pellets planted by hands not our own.

Destroyed, you and me:
all the un-set, healed-over bones heal up

right this time. Clear the stage of wreckage,
make a path for us to walk without pain.
This growth is ours even if we never
asked for it.

Let's teach it to be

Sunday, November 7, 2010


by M.P. Powers

A beggar with dreads and bloodshot eyes

except for a fang
raps on the window of my truck. "Goz any
change?" I look in the console, shake my head

no... He trudges

off. The light changes. Miami is a different
for everyone, at any given time, but today,
on NW 27th

Avenue, the beast seems only evil.

I see it in the three
grimacing faces at the bus stop,

dark faces

like "rainbeaten
stone," and the heavy stormclouds.

There's an old
mural pealing, and a place where nothing
grows: the one-story motel
the railway, a soulless
agglomeration of no-frills
overlooking a glorious
empty parking lot.

As I pull near, I imagine
some of the dark secrets
those rooms

know. Make up a few scenerios of my own.

And then a door opens. A skinny white
creeps out, barefooted, hair a mess, purse slung
over her shoulder. She limps
up the sidewalk,
bony jaw
working, eyes, wild. A man howls
at her
from up on the trestle.

A train shears by. 11 a.m.

on a Monday, and the naked
light jiggles.

Birds of agony,

Earth moves
softly in its soiled wingless

The Words

by Shawn Misener

When there are words going constantly
they start to feel worn we are
bludgeoned with them on the TV
and radio by the crowd comment
streams in our heads

So when we start to write
it feels like scaling dead trout
or grabbing at clouds or making love
to dirt or emitting one long continuous
groan that never ends but scales back
into infinity where it bounces off
the eternal cervix and comes back
as reckless garbling and surreal
poetic nonsense

Oh bless me Calliope
and excuse me for your belch
that I take credit for and one day
hope to feed my children with


by Jessica Otto

She has black dirt on her face.
The ruins of a garden plucked
for winter stain her hands.
She has scratched that greenery free
and bathed in the empty
soil, praying for next year’s harvest
with touches
of bare arms and thighs.

She rubs the flesh of the earth,
places stones in her mouth
careful of her teeth
though she knows
this is ritual.
Her tongue rolls in the grit,
Hips turn the ground like a spade.
She says, “I will starve myself for the gods
so I can grow poison in the spring.”

The sea in Tangier

by Tyler Bigney

Tangier coastline bathed in sun.
I soak it in.
The bloods the same
in all of us.

Maybe somewhere
over there
is a place
to call home.

Oh Nature

by Rob Dyer

oh nature, what storied tones I see in you
much sought in pen, the eye catches all

your shaded sepia textures, often clouded
by days broken light
caught between a cold hell and death's warmth
revelation, is for those in pause

oh nature, where should I force my limits on you?
a fleeting touch to cherish on stained walls
or my hands clutching your throat in fear
perhaps a hammer blow, with my cotton lens

oh nature, never are we far from meeting
I shall pass in your time, unknown
as you touch the soils of heaven
perfected by timeless hands

oh nature, can you see I am watching you?