Travelers Welcome

Travelers Welcome

Sunday, May 30, 2010


by Glen Binger

When the dusty fifteen inch television grows boring
And the three day old magazines smell of sweaty palms
I tend to doze off into
The most deranged and completely
Insignificant dreamscapes.
No matter where my mind
Goes, there is always this desiring notion to
Repair something that isn’t really broken.
Or ruined.
Or even damaged at all.
Maybe it’s because of this haunting
Dependence I have on medication that isn’t mine.
Recently, however, I’ve been filling my stomach with violet-blue pills before I get to the
Emergency room with a piece of tattered paper stapled to my shirt that
Advertises the stench of day old vomit each time. And
Maybe each time this note says, “Please…
Save me,” but I can’t ever remember what I write; I’m too busy trying to breathe.

Strippers are more fun when you graduated high school with them

by Glen Binger

Up on stage she avoids us because she knows who we are.
She recognized us the second we walked in the door.
We were sure to sit right next to the stage, so she could see us.
But she still won’t come to our corner to shake her ass in our faces because she knows us.
This is amazing. I can’t get over it.
I’m not leaving until she gives me a lapdance.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Evidence

by M.P. Powers

joe's a self-professed homophobe

his jokes are bad,
obvious: "ya hear duh one 'bout
duh tree faggots?"

he rattled off a few of those
at the bar
the other day

and then started telling jim
and a few others
about his latest

someone he met in the bahamas

"my wife ain't givin
it to me no moah," he said, "so what
duh fuck?"

"anyway, i snuck out at foah
in duh moahnin...
told duh
old lady
i had tuh go tuh work early

next i know
i'm drivin into miami beach
i get tuh her house
climb a trellis
i don't wanna wake her kids
ya know

and duh broad's waitin
fer me naked
in duh middle uh duh room

a few minutes latuh
we're goin at it

pair uh legs wrapped around my

and moanin?

ya nevuh heard such moanin...

i'm tinkin 'bout the kids
and duh bedpost

i tink we did it
in every
when we were done
we snuggled
in bed

fine-ass bed
wit a canopy and everyting...

so dare we are

jim interrupted

"when you were spooning," he asked,
"were you in front
or in back?"

"in back, why's it mattah?"

"no, i'm just saying, when you were back there
did you ever think
to reach up between his
and grab onto his

everyone laughed
joe leaped
off his barstool and wrapped
his arm
jim's neck

"ya know i could snap dis ting
if i wanted

"you could
jim said, "but did you ever hear the one about
the really angry

he torqued his arm
let go

he did

he knew that one

Friday, May 28, 2010

Unforeseen Things

by Melanie Browne

Napoleon and
a prostitute
walk along
the Nile,

They stop
walking and
she gives him
a lap dance

His sword lies
across his

His eyes scan
the sky
as it fills
with gilded

The day pop culture died from a lethal injection

by Melanie Browne

Shelly’s calcified heart
& several paintings by
Jean-Michael Basquiet
Were among
The witnesses,
But by the end,
Pop culture
Was a monster,
Plastic surgery
Ruining its
Angular jaw,
& pouty lips,

The truth was
Pop culture
No longer looked
Hot in a bikini
It tagged along
With some
Friends to
Rio de Janeiro

It wore a leather mini,

They arrested it
At the summit
Of Sugar-Loaf
And brought
It in to
Be extradited
On charges
Of vapidness
And failure
To titillate
The masses

It moaned
Slightly as the end
But otherwise
Made not a sound

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


by Shannon Peil

At some point, your kid
(if you ever have one) will ask you:
'What is sex?'
and what will you tell them?
what exactly would your word choice be?
would you describe it as coldly
and clinically as you could,
using proper scientific terms
and explaining exactly what piece goes where,
and what happens next,
and for what purpose?
or will you use ridiculous comparisons
involving cute animals
and purposefully vague language
that does nothing to alleviate their curiosity?
birds and bees are very interesting, yes
but will your kid have the slightest idea
what you're talking about?

why don't you just tell them the truth?
ramble at them;
sex is a blessed and sanctified union
between two people in love,
properly married,
for the purpose of conception.
in the dark.
it is the repeated thrust
of an erect penis into a woman's vagina
for the simple goal of inseminating an egg.
sex is purely and simply,
and oral and cock-rings and soft candies and apologies.
orgies, and threesomes,
and spankings - pillows and candles,
soft whispers, and vibrators
and crying.
it is infidelity,
cruelty, and feeling amazing if only
for a moment. it is addiction and amazement.
sex is rude, and beautiful, and disgusting
it is debased criminal thumps against walls
while everything else ceases to matter.
all the dinners, movies, walks along the pier,
kissing, and courting, and hugging and
sucking and biting and grinding -
they lead up to one thing.
and be sure to remind them that sex is not love,
love is not sex. it is simply;

which is forgetting to breathe,
forgetting who or where you are.
it is rude and unkind and impatient and self-serving.
and it is fun.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Patron Saint of Unaccountable Muses

by Jessica Otto

The lady is an iron vulture, a
drunken shadow teetering

on the edge of the shore line,
voted most likely to trip

over a horseshoe crab.
She was throttled and hung

from a phallic cactus when
the stock market crashed

for the second time.
No one stayed around for her

resurrection, no one
watched her catch a crow in mid

take off, stick two fingers down
its throat and pop her eyeball

out of its broken beak.
She kept the noose for its neo-hippie look

and moved into an alley off of
Capitol Street. Last I saw of her

she was feeding the stray cats
slightly green slices off her right

arm and passing out cigarettes
to the working girls.


by A.J. Kaufmann

A prayer, ironically whispered
while above me the suffering laugh out loud
at Madonna image from beers and cheap carpets
dissolving into water, dashed dreams
of resistance, messiahs carved in laboratory doors
white leather crystalline bedrooms
sin careen, always dead country
whisper of clocks, faces forcing lie, sparkles of life
hobbling through the relics, our corpses
of achievement, frozen-cloud floors
disastrous birds in sunless spaces
evolve in the moonlight, treading the actor’s
path to infinite wrench… either dull
or sorrowful, rooms, women, a hundred sounds
sliver the eyes, tremble the audience
a prayer, ironically whispered
in lowest ink, disguising fall
her theaters his picture, feet of the world
slippery hair of provincial
murder muttering sky


By A.J. Kaufmann

Virtue clouds expand
think, serve symphonies
obliquely well, black yawning
aspiration – world through birth with mountain-billows immortal
iron scraps, white and hot, scarlet in fire and hail
restless boats pass, quiet
through a steely, sudden motionless Night
melting, sour squeamish pretence to fail
retorts, boom city noise
pierced misty rainbows
bleed their leaves all over the station,
drag forces, cleft smoke, haste love
spare dusks bend, crack pavement roses
in putrid sleep, dark tops of greed
against the poet’s distance, folk immune to infection
blur transfers, monotonous books
smell like time, licking the smoke
while somewhere beside the shops, hate-lives healing rain
jokey beggars ooze across the years
with the boatmen of seasons

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Reverend

by Rebecca Gaffron

You ache for someone
to drink you in,
like winter weary skin
soaking up sunbeams.
And I am parched.

Love Song

by Rebecca Gaffron

Bottle blue rolls over dirty walls, now primed and waiting for Pictish patterns. You are the only Scot in me. And you are in me, deep in my bones and blood. We are held together by sparkle and spit, by old songs sung by pixie children. Us, couched in resolve and pain, a single hair’s breadth standing between sweet-perfect union and oblivion. But that is as it ever was. Nothing’s changed except the clarity of our vision.

Bottle blue coats my fingers. I smile at this Scot-like brand, relieved to have found it, to know it blazes even when I’m too blind to feel and too hurt to see. You still warm me like Lagavulin. I squeeze my fist shut, longing for your opposite polarization. I thirst for purrs. Or gray-green tears. Whichever you choose to offer. And know that I have fallen in love again.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Child Custody

by David S. Pointer

She's an over & under derringer of docility
He's a kitchen axe of mother worshiping collegiality
Their judge's decision cuts like a court sword-
who here hasn't carried the heavy mail sacks
of someone else's deep enduring silence as
the children are bailiff led though bruised light

Oak Ridge Area Case Worker

by David S. Pointer

client's wife's neck
tumor protrudes
like a gamehead
growing past you,
and there's not
enough fish bone
bourbon to see
enthusiasm through
fingers reaching a
fat phone book
searching for any
surgeon fantastic
or fair priced near
the Sevierville area

Listening to the Liquid

by David S. Pointer

Her shushing, his silence,
his silence, her shushing-
a finger saw to each
unspoken sentence as
Nashville floodwaters
roared carrying a Christian
Academy away down the
interstate until it crashed
into a couple of semi-trucks
exploding bricks drowning
as the roof swam away
in search of possibly a new
bullet-pocked paradise
beyond oncoming liquid

Saturday, May 22, 2010

just so you know where i'm coming from

by Paul Harrison

when i was a kid growing up
in a Free Presbyterian hell-hole
where only hell fire and hatred were free
and everyone was an evangelical
and Sunday school was compulsory
and the girls could n't wear jeans or make up
and the swimming pool was shut on the Sabbath
and signs hanging from trees enquired
where you might be spending eternity
and the Bible was literal and Catholics knew
their place or if they did n't
it was soon beaten or firebombed into them
where culture revolved around a bi-sexual dwarf from Holland
and fucking the Pope, the Anti-Christ, that hor of Babylon
where religious tracts titillated one way tickets to hell
and the drink was the Devil's brew
where preachers thundered from pulpits
street corners and local government chambers
and where it was perfectly normal
to stone 5 and 6 year old children walking to school
because they were fucking fenians
or stomp to death a teenage boy outside the chippy
because he supported Celtic
and where the Mayor said he was sorry
but did n't attend the funeral
because the kid was a Catholic and going to hell
and where your best friend's brother got bound with electric cable
and battered half to death as the brave freedom fighters
discussed dismembering his body as he lay there bleeding out
until he escaped and left the country
and where the Ulster Taliban dressed in conservative black and drove the latest models
and where i doubt it's getting better...

what is there left to say

by Paul Harrison

nothing under the sun
or the moon
the stars like campfires
(there, i said it, stars)

nothing in
the everyday
quotidian acts
living or dying

nothing in the stolen glance
the double take
her smile remembered now

nothing in the humming wires
the usb s
the headlines and nightmares

nothing in gagaku
the sonnets or novels

nothing in the drink
and the drugs
their chill like a blanket

nothing in the streets
the clouds and the rain
headlights and tail-lights
sweeping a void

nothing in the words
of any other
except contempt
or recognition
and weeping

nothing between
the pages
outside the pages
nothing inside
nothing in meaning

nothing in the solo
world records
the finals and plays

nothing in the mansions
the stores and the bars

(there's nothing to drink
and nothing to eat)

nothing in
the red shirts
or black shirts
they're all the same

nothing in questions
or answers
behind it all

nothing for you
to see

in these
from the vortex


nothing, nothing, nothing

and nothing must be

nothing in
this room
this poem
not even
you or i

what more needs
said ?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

with all the ardor of an actuarial convention

by Justin Hyde

one fluid motion of the wrist
the older redhead
with a face like a dostoevsky novel
standing next to you at the bar
drops your fly - -
twist finger through the trap-door
she gives it a few thoughtful shakes
like she’s inspecting a zucchini.
nothing to write the pope about, she says,
but it’ll do.
chin glued to your chest
staring down at the bald headed tchaikovsky
as if you were seeing him for the first time - -
then twice more
she snaps her fingers:

now the question is
do you know how to use it?

a poet

by Justin Hyde

is not
an actual human being.

he is a grotesque
at the periphery

only existing
to watch and analyze
actual human beings.

he knows this

carries it around inside him
like a graveyard
sitting at PD's pub
seven in the morning
with a handful of women
off third shift
from the firestone plant.

they're laughing like hyenas
telling a story
about the retarded janitor
who got down on one knee
in the break-room
and proposed to the hr manager
with a
hundred dollar ring from wal-mart.

he laughs along with them
but only because he knows
he should be laughing.

his body is amongst them
but his mind stands at a distance
cataloging it all.

their laughter is perfect

like blue velvets
like a bowl of cold cherries
or a symphony.

he envies
their laughter

their lives
in perfect motion
without thought.


after visitation at work release

by Justin Hyde

i had her wings clipped
but while i was down
she got em stretched out
like some
goddammed peacock
it's her coworkers
all in her ear
with that oprah
cotton candy bullshit
but daddy's home now
and i got
my shears.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

some people are stupid

by Jeff Shepard

"aunt mary"
wasn't my real aunt mary
she was someone i was forced to live with
when i was a young boy

aunt mary
was a mean lady
with colorless eyes
she was fat

aunt mary
was always calling me stupid

once she sent me out to the garden
for two heads of lettuce
i came back with two heads of cabbage

i didn't know much about vegetables

wasn't my real dad
he was aunt mary's husband
he was someone i was forced to live with...

was a kind man
with blue eyes
he wasn't stupid

sometimes after work
dad would stop and get ice cream for us kids

and when i did something wrong
aunt mary would tell dad
to use the hair brush on me

but dad would always fake it
he would never hit me hard

aunt mary
was the stupid-ass one

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

the sound of gray

by Steve Calamars

my life is quiet
when you are
not inside of it

heavy with the
silence of
cartoon-purple ponds
in a japanese winter

or soaked in
the cool-orange stillness
of a writer's desk
supporting like a
pedestal a single bronze
shell-casing after a 9mm
has gone off . . .

Sunday, May 16, 2010


By Mike Meraz

there is this woman
talking to me
she has nice
she whispers
with her eyes
she is married
and lonely
her husband
tells her on the
"my girlfriend
is here, I'll
talk to ya later."
she takes it
in stride
she takes

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Black Gold; or the Sea of Tears

By Raphaelle O'Neil

My heart, an open wound once flooded, and since recovered,
Bleeds again, and now is covered in Black Gold.
Not the black and gold that brought us the victory
That signaled our new place in this city’s history,
But the Black Gold whose poison bleeds as the world watches
A new nightmare, slowly, but surely, unfold.

Something wicked this way comes,
Leaving a trail of tar baby birds in its wake,
As it gushes, seeping endlessly into the sea.
Not even our sea of tears can jerk us awake,
Nor help us unmake this mistake.

As the tides bring us closer to this unfurling disaster,
The winds carry with them a toxic scent that whispers,
And begs us to remember,
The shrill promise of “Drill, baby, drill!”

But, no, all is not well.
For even while I can still make believe that it is,
This endless well from hell, spills, and spills.
Black Gold has only begun washing up on our shores,
On our beds, on our schools,
Washing away with it the dreams that used to fill
Our bellies and our hearts,
While what was once our dearly beloved way of life,
Turns, yet again, into strife.

Yes, some of us can still pretend, but till when?
As horror draws near, how are we to defend
That which is most dear? As lies try to reduce our fears,
It becomes clear (unlike our waters),
Things won’t be the same again, at least not for years.

Meanwhile, the men who tried cutting corners,
All in the name of saving time and some dollars,
Are now trying to save their own collars.
The Black Gold is theirs, as well as the shame,
Yet still they try to keep their good name,
By dispersing and hiding the evidence,
And pointing fingers, displacing the blame.

How exactly are we supposed to take comfort
When asked to trust those who unleashed this mess,
To tell the truth, for once, and do what’s best
Letting them lead in the effort to recover?
Time and time again has shown, when left to their own, They only protect their self interest!

So, waiting for this sad story and toll to be fully told,
We hold our breath,
As worthless Black Gold approaches,
And encroaches its tenacious fingers into our harbors,
And engulfs our Gulf, and that of our neighbors.

O, would that our sea of tears be enough to replace this sea of death!

Friday, May 14, 2010


By Daniel Harmon

Your smiling aura
Glows against the neon
From cherry to peach

Your laughter is quick
And frees the heart
As it dances
Across your lips

Then, serious eyes
Give depth to a darkness
That curves
Around the shoulders

And shudders
Down your back
As the polish
On your trembling fingers

Crawls past
Violet passions
And fades
To midnight black.

This Poem Is Taboo, and If You Don’t Know Why (You Forgot about the Dog House Out Back)

By G. Tod Slone

One day on the Internet, I read a brief interview featuring Sam Hamill,
poet and founder of Copper Canyon Press.
(Now, if I were Charles Bukowski, I would have written Jack Camel
and Nickel Creek Press, but evidently I’m not him.)
Wisdom, unsurprisingly, was not to be found in Hamill’s discourse,
only phrases typical of those bathing in the limelight:
“Poetry is a very large house with many rooms, closets, attics,
basements, bedrooms and kitchens.”

The interview had resulted from an invitation by Allison Hedge Coke,
Endowed Chair of Poetry & Writing at the University of Nebraska.
Thus, I contacted her—that’s what I do—and suggested she invite me
to read or speak or whatever because, well, I likely stood
at direct antipodes to Hamill, an established-order fellow,
pumped up with hefty sums of public monies thanks to the NEA.

To my long email, Coke replied briefly without addressing my query:
“How could you possibly be against Sam Hamill, a dear friend?”
The same, of course, could have been argued for any “prominent” one,
witty wordsmithy thriving in comfy buffered cocoon.

So, I was critical of the fellow because he accorded himself the title
of Director of Poets against War, though evidently not against
PC and its smiley-faced literary established order.
For democracy, I argued that he and all luminaries should not
be shielded from valid critique,
teeming about in their hermetic backslapping circles.
Coke, an Iroquois, though of the Women’s Studies variety, replied briefly:
“Maybe white/Western democracy, certainly not indigenous American
democracy, where true democracy was lifted from.”
Could the good woman simply not “hear” what I had to say, that it was
so easy for Hamill and friends to criticize distant wars, while ignoring,
much closer to home, the corrupt academic hands feeding them so royally?
They’d hammered away at Bush’s war, but now it was Obama’s, yet
nary a word about that.

Coke again replied and again oh so briefly: “Some of us have to work
to feed our families versus attacking people who are working…”
Always the excuses abounded for turning a blind eye, I reminded her
and of my invitation query,
but she simply refused to address the latter and wouldn’t acknowledge
that students in higher education ought to be exposed to all points of view,
not just to hers and those of her “prominent” buddies.
Always inspired by the sealed doors of academe, I sketched a cartoon
featuring Hamill, Coke, and Others, and sent it to all those concerned.

There, of course, was no further response… from her or any of them.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Katrina Addresses New Orleans

By Raphaelle O’Neil

Hello, New Orleans! I am Katrina, the force of nature, the act of god, the blasphemous name to your ears.

I know you hate me. Oh, how you abhor my very name. Though some of you are awed by my sheer strength, by my appetite, by my beauty, this “awe” is accompanied by disgust. As you wait eternally in lines that don’t end- lines at the bank, at FEMA, at the store where you make your groceries- each excruciating minute of hell reminds you of what you so wish to forget. ME. Lil’ ole’ me. She who you would wipe from memory in a heartbeat if only you could, but you can’t, as you return to what used to be your homes, before flooding, before death, before the whole world lay witness to your shame, your poverty, your neglect, your total lack of preparedness.

Didn’t you know I was coming? You talked about me for years, you’ve joked about me, reenacted the consequences of my potential visit with your Computer Graphic Imaging, your technology you developed to see me coming, even. Hell- hell and high water, you saw me coming and still you choose to act the victim.

Yes. I know your hearts are heavy with mourning for lost souls and the lives your material possessions represent. And I am full of regret for your loss. But what would you have me do? I am what I am, a natural invention brought closer to your shores thanks to the warmer waters of a disrespected Mother Earth. Your Ole’ Man River has been running a bit of a fever lately, heating up the gulf just a wee bit more than usual, allowing me to inch closer to you than my ancestors have been able to in a while.

Please, do not think me heartless as I do what I am created to do. Despite my very nature, my will yielded to Dantor’s and Prompt Succor’s as Voodoo and Catholic priests alike implored their protectors to shield them from my fury. And they did. Do you not recall, me trekking off to the east a few degrees at the last minute, weakening my strength as best I could considering the sheer force of me?

I’m sure you’ve heard by now that my very name means to “cleanse” or to “purge”. Do not believe your so-called Christian brethren who claim I came to cleanse you of your sins. That is a lie. There is no greater sin than hypocrisy, and your love of life has always been open and honest, but your politics have not been. And that, if anything would have been the purging that should have been, but even I cannot take credit for it. No. Actually, the real meaning of my name comes from the Greeks, and it means “pure”, or “virginal”.

So, go ahead and loathe me then, but be aware of your own projections! The damages you incurred were of your own doing; the failures, yours. Had your integrity been upheld, then so would have your levees. And for that, I cannot, I shall not bear the cross. New Orleans, it is yours to carry into whatever future you so choose.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


By Loretta Franta

When Doe got out of prison I saw her on the street and she said
--What’s up, my little white bitch?
That’s how she talked to me so I didn’t blink.
Five foot three, bright skinned, beautiful till she opened her mouth.
Like they say, drop dead beautiful.
Short for Doretha.
Nobody was supposed to know.
She’d been set up.
Some violation.
Probably about money.
She went to downstate women’s prison when six months pregnant.
It was nothing new—jail or pregnant.
When her time got close, she got transferred out of general population to Cook County Jail Hospital.
She delivered a boy.
Then they called Shorty the father.
Shorty: because whenever he went to buy a bag he was always short.
Nobody cared because he was such a good customer.
He put his driver’s license in his back right pocket, borrowed my car and took two women.
They both worked for him so they didn’t really have a choice.
Shorty parked on California Avenue.
Nita and Millie didn’t come in.
They waited in the car, high as kites.
At the hospital, Doe and Shorty had ten minutes together, tops, without the three-inch glass between them.
It wasn’t much of a conversation.
Shorty signed a Department of Corrections receipt and swore he had someone in the car to hold the baby home.
Then a deputy handed Shorty the baby.
He smiled at the baby until the elevator hit the first floor.
He walked back to the car and handed the baby to Millie in the back seat.
Nita was in the front to keep Shorty awake for the drive back.
42 minutes, start to finish.
That’s what they give you.
On the way home, Shorty burned out the clutch.
--What’s up, my little white bitch?
--Not much. You owe me six hundred bucks.