Travelers Welcome

Travelers Welcome

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tea in Pontefract

by Ashley Fisher

We meet on a Pontefract street corner,
clothes damp from autumnal drizzle.
It takes me a moment to recognise you:

there is no red hair to escape from your beret,
your translucent face grips your skull like cellophane,
and your eyes seem somehow dimmer.

We greet with a hug, my middle-age flab
making me too conscious of the chemical warfare
being waged inside your frame.

You offer me a smile and licorice from
your pipe-cleaner hands: "It has been too long"
we both agree before heading to the

cafe and drink sweet tea below the pictures
of the factory your father once worked in.
Yes, my journey was pleasant.

you have three more weeks of therapy to go;
you are sure all will be well but do not like
the idea of a chemo perm. I think the beret

suits you but say nothing of it. In the silence
you toy with the loose redundant wedding ring
I never had the courage to offer.

Mowing Memories

by Richard Hartwell

Right-handed spirals continual enclose round-cornered rectangles,
Mowing borrowed hay on a nearby neighbor’s high pasture meadow,
As the reciprocating mower blade hangs off to the right of the tractor.

The first sweep around this inconvenient field must circle to the left,
Clearing a perimeter path next to the fence, an avenue for the tractor,
Close to the berry vines and wild thistle without cutting them down too.

I tie the knot of my track in front of the open gate to the pasture,
Reversing my direction, where I will continually spiral clockwise,
Circling right, always towards the center, slicing off a six-foot swath.

Like dragging your hand in the water from the side of a canoe,
The tractor spins continually to the right, devouring stalks of hay,
Churning up a golden wave, disrupting little lives in the field.

I leave small snakes, fuzzy quail, and gray dots of mice in my wake,
Their mixed blood tempers the mower’s edge, as tendrils of smoke
Rise from the blade, threatening to start the August field on fire.

Twice around and I stop to grease the cutter-bar before it overheats,
Breaks the new weld, and throws the blade from its protective sleeve;
I’d burn my hands retrieving it, with only one extra blade this trip out.

The scavengers behind me are busy burying the dead in their bellies,
Impatiently waiting for me to start circling again, chasing the hay,
Celebrating their feast day with diminished hiding places at the center.

Still, this familiar baptism of blood on the blade saddens me,
Its visual litany reminding me of other seeping rites of spring:

I recall the tinge of blood I found on the antlers scuffed off last year,
Against the low limbs of a big pine up above on Wilson’s ridge.
I recall the bloated and blood-swollen rumps of young cows,
First freshened by the smell of the field bull one farm over, and
His dangling frenzy as he broke through the barbwire to reach them.
I recall the red-speckled dampness on the warm eggs in the geraniums,
Seized just before it gels and sets into an indifference of its purpose.
I recall the afternoon appointment made with the recruiter in town,
Mount the tractor, wipe my sweat, and release the clutch again.

I can’t disappoint the scavengers as I wind up mowing for a while,
Encircling the high meadow with one more memory I’ll need later.


by John Grey

Disturbing my narrative,
the cat named Suzanne,
the sign broadcasting
sleepy motel rooms
to the speeders on the highway,
the boring conference,
the glittering disco ball.

I cannot move forward
if one-year-olds cry,
email pops up in my computer,
a slim body with firm breasts
shares the same elevator,
bees buzz,
a tattoo rises up from human flesh
in the shape of the devil.

Distractions are everywhere.
Is this what my life really is?
The sum of everything
that takes it away from itself?
I was hoping I could plot a straight line
but then a blistering hot wind intervened,
a sickness gate-crashed my blood,
it rained, it snowed, a crow landed on my windowsill.

The crush of people,
intersecting incidents:
the way ahead is leaving me behind.

Growing up

by Subhankar Das

I hate to dream these days. I take those dreams out of my eyes and keep them beside my pillow and let them play with my pillow cover.

I close my eyes and I count those various blacks and try to hide in their darkness.

As I was walking in them I saw hand in hand coming out of them are my pillow cover and those dreams.

You will soon grow up love – I sighed.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Wednesday's Soliloquy

by Emma Eden Ramos

Closing Wednesday's soliloquy in a pine box,
August's heat afflicts only the living for whom Demeter's willowy hands hold parched pupils.
Wednesday's lyrics have gone underground with black martian dresses and a sterling silver pentacle.
Above, Sunday's Arian daughter is tap dancing on grandpa's hedge stone.
Now words are pretentious and black is a flavor.
Funeral dresses taste like expired breast milk while an ancient tree lends her branches to horny pigeons.
A Catholic service.
The dead excrete only evaporated flesh and calcified bone.
Wednesday's words can't remember their meaning; they've simply become anorexic.
The trees are rapists and the wind has SARS.
A beggar's banquet, this here graveyard.
Wednesday swallows the cemetery pollution like a heavy sob.
The alphabet has now rearranged itself and there is a strong odor of mango shaving cream.
Words are useless because people are hollow.

I Hide the Core Heap Under the Bed

by Jessica Poli

Balsa hands and
red sugar on hot fingers;
you used to have a hold on me.

We loved caffeine and
made love under black lights.
Teeth glowing as they crashed together.

Lint behind the washer
tends to settle on my lips. Remember,
you used to brush it away. Used to call me things.

I’ve been a lot of things -
sea monsters and bridesmaids.
You said them all while you traced my thighs.

Let me melt, I always said.
You fed me apples in the morning;
you told me not to cry and fed me apples.


by M. Elaine Moore
She sees his face
    in the cracks of a crystal ball.
Distorted, broken dreams,
    the jagged edges of a false reality.
Painful truths, lessons learned….
Never trust, never believe, never love.
Somehow, she survived him intact.
She breathed with her heart ripped out,
    and stood defiantly on the other side,
         facing the world with jaded cynicism.
She fears for those who stand before him.
She pities those left in his wake,
    destroyed by his deception,
         eviscerated by his charm.
Yet despite him, because of him,
    She has found strength. 


by walter conley

dropping out of yucca
off the lip of the bowl
that holds
the high end
of the low desert

(a desiccated landscape
that shimmers
tricks the eye
luring with the the promise
of shelter
which is never there
when you arrive)

you sail through
the pale prickly ruin
of desert hot springs
where they have
no alleys
so they make their own
from hollow cars
piles of cracked shingles

where cops drag women
off red-hot benches
while their men thank god
they’ve lost
the will to fight

you only want to leave
your eyes on the road
the distant freeway
your goal
fuck this place


just when you think
you’ve left it
you spot the billboard's
cry for help

there a soldier smiles
down at you
and bold above
his clean-cut head
not the word GOODBYE
or even COME AGAIN
but the low desert
high crime

Ode to Charlie Rangle

by Mike Perkins

charlie rangle
stepped on his dangle
disgracing mom
and apple pie

over thirty years in office
he learned to play the game
but he got a little reckless
and defamed his name

at his senate trial
not a dry eye in the house
"poor me" he pled
as his censure verdict was said

he really doesn't get it
he doesn't understand
cause he really does believe
he is the deserving man

but really he is just like
you and I
with a villa on the beach
a regular guy

he just got old and careless
a lesson to be learned
you should become a lobbyist
before too many terms


by John Grey

You're the reason
this is a poem
and not an essay.

It could have been
a short story also
but love prose
just doesn't
work for me.

It's not intended
to be a passionate poem.

For something in that line,
double click here
and you'll be
taken to my
earlier work.

And it's not one of
those longing, yearning,
epics either.

I've filed them
under adolescence.

This is just to say
love is
and requires no further

And you are,
as it turns out.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sacrificial Lambs

by Mike Perkins

not all die
but many do
they come back
sometimes whole in body
but wounded in the mind
or maybe in pieces
missing one ancillary appendage or another
such as an arm
or a leg
or some creative combination
or perhaps all four
it is all
subject to
the vagaries of war
all based on a spinning moment
a probability
of timed confusion
the moment
which becomes the epicenter
the fall from grace
youth gushing from the man made spring
of traumatic fluids
framed by odd angles
with boundary markers of unnatural holes
from which something emerges
as if from a cocoon
in swaddling bandages
something new
yet old and unchanged
a vague resemblance of something before
but nothing stays the same anyway
during the recovery
which is never complete
just scabbed over
rubbed raw by prosthetics
chemical as well as mechanical
how do you salute without hands?
march without feet?
there is no parade rest for the deboned weary
then a medal
some recognition
awkward silences
inane comments
a jolly brave laugh attempt at humor
the bystanders feel wounded
and are comforted
by the victims themselves
in a
punch and cookie reception
then a check
then perhaps a pension of sorts
before the big forgotten


By Robert E. Petras
When seeking the right words
always remember
they are inside the crock-pot 
of the subconscious,
Just add a pinch of soul vapor,
a dash of dashes.
Spice with the senses.
Mix with a bucket of abstract
Stir with primordial order.
Cover with Zen foil.
Shower, take a walk,
smell a flower
Taste the taste of aha soup.

Speaking to Herbie

by George Anderson

winding up the blue metal
road. the chilli bin full as
they dance to techno
pickled feijoas a duet
of whitebait trawler to
the beat of whale island
roast lamb on the spit
his legs like skinned
tamarillos without a skit
a lone star in the sky
dreaming of a poet's
head in his handbag
in the night he wakes
a spasm shakes him
he speaks to herbie
out in the bushes
no longer living the lie.

A True Buddhist

by Suchoon Mo

as a true Buddhist vacuum cleaner has no attachment
a true Buddhist has no appendix

as Shiva with 14 arms dances on the stage
an armless monk holds an empty begging bowl

the bell ringer at Wal Mart has no bell
ding dong ding dong Merry Christmas

Never Let it Be

by Gabriel Landis

Never let it be
That I not tell you
What I see
What I see is that you life is
More wonderful to me
That others may ever see

Never let it be
That my love is not shown
That all I will never
Keep it alone

Never let it be that
My love would ever fade
Because of you I now know
What one thing would never go away

Never let it be
That my heart is not yours
For I give it to you
And its yours for evermore
Never let it be
That day that seems so true
That you would not stand beside me
No matter what we go though

Never let this love fade
Never let us walk away
Always let us look today
for blessings we have together always

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


by John Grey

I've forgotten their names.
Was there a Carl? A Joey?
I remember one had a mother
who always packed lunch for all of us.
Why can I remember peanut butter and jelly
but not even the faces
of the ones who cast their lines
like guitar strings,
one good strum of air from mine.
I can even repeat the jokes they told
though I couldn't repeat them here
What a strange fog of a past.
The taste, the filth, comes through
but not the people.

And nothing is more vivid than
the pride when we actually caught something.
Undersized river trout were
of trophy caliber to us.
I can see those sorry fish held up by their tails
as if it's only yesterday that
they bit into those conniving hooks.
But the fingers are a mystery.
The smug grins are ghosts.
The past is as welcoming as ever.
But now there's no one there but me.

Encounters with Shadows

by John L. Thompson

The shadows were silent
but the twigs exploded.
We fell silent in the dark,
listening, sweating, cursing.

We were told:
“I have seen the shadows move along the rocks,
under the full moon and it comes this way!”
But we ignored the warnings.

We took flashlights,
poked holes in the dark,
and with handguns drawn,
we searched for the shadows that moved.

I saw the eyes,
crisp green glittering emeralds,
cutting the darkness before they retreated into the shadows.
Fear made us stay in a truck cold, tired and hungry.

The morning came and the shadows retreated,
We looked around at a tent fallen in on itself.
We found the cat paw prints in the soft dirt all around.
We never saw the shadows move in the dark.

The Complexity of Love

by Wayne Scheer

I had been in a deep sleep when I opened my eyes and saw Emily standing over me, smiling.

"Surprise," she said, dropping her clothes to the floor and scrambling under the covers.

"What are you doing here?" I asked, trying not to sound ungrateful.

"I couldn't sleep. Then I remembered I still had your key."

"I'm glad you're here." I kissed her and felt her mouth open to meet mine.

She pushed me away. "That smell. You've been with--"

I didn't deny it.

She sat up. The sheet slid down, exposing two perfect breasts. "I shouldn't have come here, Todd. I thought you were over her."

"I am. It's just that--" I wasn't sure how to finish the sentence or if I wanted to. She finished it for me.

"It's just that you needed to see her one more time. Just like the time before. And the time before that." She tried sounding strong, but her voice cracked.

"You left me. Remember? You said it was over between us." I tried taking her in my arms but she pulled away, covering herself with the sheet.

"Do you still love her?"

"I don't know."

"What do you mean you don't know?" She shouted and cried at the same time.

"Abby and I have so much history together. I mean we were married."

"And you were divorced."


"When was she here?"

"She left a few hours ago."

"And did you have sex?"


There was a long pause.

"I feel like such a fool."

"Listen to me," I said. "You're the one I care about now, but I can't ignore what Abby and I had. She called me around eight and asked if she could come over. She had a bad day at work and needed to talk. She was lonely." I took Emily's hand. "I was lonely, too."

She pulled her hand away. "Don't you think I miss you? But I don't share."

"I wouldn't expect you to."

"When will you be over her? When will she be over you?"

"I don't know."

We both lay very still.

"I love you," I finally said.

"I love you, too." She rolled out of bed. I watched her put on her clothes as quickly as she had taken them off.


by Claudia Rey

She still sleeps
on his side of the bed
under cold alien sheets.
His shape on the pillow
and his smell
have long faded
but not the bitter
lasting pain
of his absence.


by Stephen Jarrell Williams

Our lives quivering
like spider webs
in the morning breeze
with giants on the earth
throwing stones
through our hearts.

Nicely Right

by Richard Hartwell

My clichéd stitchintimesavesnine grandmother
            wasn’t really nice,
But in deifying her grandness I often wondered
            nine what?

Certainly not stitches, at least I didn’t think so.
            It took sixty-three of them
To close her up from checking cancer, which did nicely in her lungs,
            and send her home.

So, home she nicely went and in between the blood-flecked fits of coughing
            she Pall-Malled,
                                    knitted one,
                                                pearled two,
                                                            and nicely died.

Her children ohmywasn’tsheaniceladyed their way through the funeral
            and after all the
            I just knew

So, donning my denim jacket and putting my crocheted cap back on my head,
            I pot-smoked,
                                                and fee-paid
                                                            my way to a vasectomy,

Which greatly upsets my grandchildlessmother,

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Fire Water

by Subhankar Das

I am too sleepy my treasure. It is not that this fragile desire of the body is too tired. Just feeling sleepy in this tiresome living. You also must be sleeping now. You do not get up this early. When did you last get up to see the dawn breaking? I only learned it from you that if I want dawn I must stay awake the whole night. You know I also stayed up the whole night and at day break rushed out in the city. I always loved the cold morning air. Just like hunting the crows on the roof top days, when I was a kid. The wooden gun never made any sound or no bullets can be fired from it. So I tried making sounds like gun firing and aimed but not a single crow would die. ‘Why they are not dying father’? I asked. And my father gave that infallible reply – ‘They will go home and die’.

The Drifter Of Rails

by Jason E. Hodges

Hopping freights is a way of life few will ever know
Endless skies and endless rides all for the tramp to see

Lost in every emotion of the moment
Lost in a landscape canvas painted by drops from the sky

By rays from the sun

By wind from a blackened rain storm
Traveling through the back country

Traveling on twisting rail lines of steel

Alongside straw colored wheat fields

Waving slowly in the plains’ gentle breeze

Through tunnels carved out of mountain sides

By sweat, steel, and callused hands

Echoes call out softly

Echoes from workers of a time gone by

Making his way up the Pacific coast

A wide-eyed tramp looks into the darkest of nights

An eclipse of the moon drifts slowly in the starless sky

A red dusty glow surrounds its edge

Like an ember

Its dark center shadow is surrounded by a fiery red glow

Falling asleep to the gentle rock of the train

Watching the shadowed red dusty moon disappear from sight
Waking to see a sea of green blowing in the Oregon wind
A forest of ferns and towering trees

A back drop of natures design
The crisp morning air, damp and cool blows against his face

The train lets out a mighty roar

Then lumbers into the yard

Time to find a new train to ride

The Tramp, the Hobo, The Drifter Of Rails

The Lie

by Douglas Polk

The self distorted in the mirror,
yet the lines sharp, the image clear,
The self imprecise,
callous and uncaring,
Eyes cold,
The stare unceasing,
This can not be me,
Anyone who knows me,
Knows this is not me,
Only a distortion for the world to see.


by Tatiana Ambrose


Drawn in a red sharpie-
encased with a plastic coat,
peeling from heart break
this happened months ago.

Bed Fellow

He looked like a rich brown beard,
as yawns snuck through his torn gap-
weaving off the bedroom boards,
until I slumbered off to sleep


by Randall Rogers


Century House

by John L Thompson

The house sits forever in the middle of no where.
On overgrown fields and by rolling hills of tangled pinon trees,
surviving from one century to the next.
The wood weathered to gray and it splinters easily.
The roof sags inwards, the earthen floors covered in time.

If one is quiet and listens to the winds,
one can hear the laughter of children playing,
fathers cursing and toiling the earth,
mothers beating old ragged rugs and cooking.
The house gave shelter to families for past generations.

The fields are overrun in ruin.
Youth has passed away to dust,
and the children did not take up the trades of the earth.
The house sits lonely and old,
and now only gives partial shelter to the infrequent passing of strangers.

Friday, March 18, 2011


by Richard Hartwell

He kept pushing a rosewood coffin, velvet lined, brass fittings, turned handles.
This for a man who spent his life on a dairy farm and in a GP plywood mill
Surrounded by mountains of Douglas fir. After several times confirming Frannie
Couldn’t, shouldn’t afford such ostentation, even if she knew what it was, even for Roxie.
Like a morning-after gorge, choking his business persona kept rising, eager
For the silver of death’s entrails. Asking Fran to take a break, grab a cigarette
Outside in the Monday fog, I puffed myself up to confront this funeral director
Responsible for burying her husband -- father of eleven, my friend -- for pay.
From this distance of decades, there’s no recall what was a just, reasonable, proper,
Charge to bury a man, dollars due. Knowing what Fran had, or didn’t have.
I do recall writing a check, passing it over, cautioning that my help bridging her need,
Was to go unremarked. So when Fran returned, costs had been recomputed,
Benevolence for the death of a Veteran. Frannie handed over dribbles and drabs,
Ones and fives, a few tens, crumpled: egg or baking or tax money. Who knew?
Don’t believe she ever found out my part, guessed perhaps, but without confirmation.
Must have been other warnings from this that I didn’t heed or read in the contract.
Funeral was subject to more suspicion, the god’s were screwing with Roxie’s last day
Above ground, below heaven, depending on your jaundiced point of view.
As a military funeral conducted with grace, pomp, and ceremony, it left open
Possibilities for vast improvement. From the Coast Guard Station in Coos Bay
A burial detail. Class As soggy in a typical Oregon shower, they didn’t present
What television or Hollywood sees. I acknowledge that they tried, but collective
Strides were individualized, un-syncopated, beaten out by the disparate firings,
Multiplied echoes of a rifled salute. If what they sought was to arrange a
Rhythmic flourish, they failed. If what we sought was offering our personal prayers,
Perhaps we succeeded, some of us, for Roxie.


by Stephen Jarrell Williams

Long cold shore
dappled sea
waiting for war

gypsy in the middle
young men partying

they will be next
to march away
for some foreign stink hole

slipping foam over wet sand
bare feet

distant clouds creeping in
he kisses her wrapped in a blanket
she has whispered in most of their ears

from the same neighborhood they sharpened their knives
she taught them how to dance from one girlfriend to another
she is the sister to them
first crush
dream girl
through the years she has pressed her breasts into most

they all love her
she will cry when they leave in their uniforms

what has the world done to keep repeating itself?

he squeezes her
the last king of their class

her black curls
down across her shoulders

she will outlive the whole troop
waving her hand across an empty sea

standing naked in her boots.


by Claudia Rey

Not having you is not just pain and sorrow
A pain that burns my soul all day and night
Not having you, not having a tomorrow
Deprives me of my breath and will and might.

It’s been a year but could be ten or twenty
My love for you would always be the same
My feelings always strong and deep and plenty
And my desire still burning as a flame.

And yet my pain and misery I’m hiding
How much I suffer I can’t let you know
Because I don’t imagine you abiding

Any of this. Silly and boring. So
In an attempt to find a way to cope
I go on loving you, and I still hope.

In Pursuit

by Kathy Boles-Turner

Of sprawling breadth and indeterminable length,
the road is vast, open, colorless -
scarred by false starts and faithless retreats.
Checkpoints blur against a blank horizon,
facing north, south, east and west -
those places frighten me.
I must provide proof of my intent;
all qualifications must be presented
for validation.

Haunted By Jack Kerouac's Ghost

by Wayne Scheer

Harlan hungered for the night, starved for the flashing of evening stars popping like paparazzi bulbs spotlighting the path to holy Vegas where glamour and greed blaze a trail to the American Dream.

Harlan hankered for the night, after the streetlights zapped on and the safe suburban homes dim to only the ashen flicker of TVs and the sad gray gloom of computer screens, where guilt-ridden souls hide in work stations by day and play stations by night dreaming of dancing like Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire on the tables and walls of America.

Harlan howled into the night, searching for a pretty girl who'd sing sweet songs of love to a stranger, dance to the hip hop of her heart and Velcro green florescent strips to her bare ass and roller blade nude down the Great American Road into the starry evening sky.


by Sue Ellis

Joey was strong-armed from the kitchen to the employee parking lot at Brockmeir's Pub. They hadn't even let him take his apron off. His ears drummed with each accelerated beat of his heart. The bouncer, Mike, turned and walked wordlessly back inside. Joey stood rooted in place, unable to disconnect from the halibut steaks he'd just put on the grill. They'd be ruined.

The boss wouldn't listen when Joey had tried to defend himself. He'd lost his temper and fired him because the orders were backed up. The problem was, the day cook kept messing up the walk-in cooler. He left salad dressing dripping down the sides of the gallon jars and didn't put stuff back where Joey had organized it. Not only that, he left dirty towels lying around. Joey'd had to spend more and more time disinfecting, and before he knew it, he was obsessing so bad about it, he was anxious all the time. It was all he could do to keep the orders straight in between washing his hands and every surface the food touched.

Despairing, he finally walked to the bus stop. At home, he carefully stepped across the resin-like accumulation of seed pods on his front porch. They hadn't fallen from the maple tree in October as they usually did, but had clung to the branches petrified and brittle until the morning's March wind sent them clattering across the porch like guitar picks.

The framed photo of Alice glowed beneath a small lamp in the entryway. He stopped and dusted the glass with a tissue from his pocket, a ritual he never missed, then hung his jacket on the peg.

The phone's message light blinked in the living room. Joey pressed the button and listened to the familiar voice, "Hey, Joey. Haven't heard from you in several days. I know you're busy, but give me a call. Maybe we can make time for a Starbucks."

Joey carried the phone to his favorite chair, wincing as he sat down. His right shoulder hurt like hell. He didn't feel like talking to his old man, but what if something was wrong?

"Hey, Joey. Didn't expect you to call tonight." It sounded like his dad had been half asleep in his recliner.

"Yeah, well, I got off early."

"On Saturday night?”

Joey's throat ached too much to answer.

"You there, Joey?"

"Yeah." It wasn't much more than a croak. Joey slid his pincered fingers along the military crease on the leg of his jeans, struggling for control.

"How about I come over?"

My God. His old man was seventy-eight. Joey felt guilty that he was more burden than help at this stage in his life. "Naw, I'll be alright. It's just they got fed up because I was organizing too much."

"Been taking your pills?"


"You have a lot to be proud of, Joey."

Joey didn't respond.

"Three years without booze is a long damn time."

"I know."

"You got enough money to tide you over until you find another job?"

"I think so." He didn't want to worry the old man by telling him he had enough for a year if he needed it. He'd been as obsessed about saving as he was about everything else.

"If you run short, let me know."

"I will."

Joey went to the kitchen and got the broom. The seed pods on the porch skittered away with each sweep, but he worked doggedly under the 40 watt lightbulb until they were completely gone.

He thought about Alice as he worked. She'd been a waitress at a restaurant where he did salad prep. They'd dated off and on for months. He thought she might have married him if he'd asked, but the truth was, he wasn't comfortable with anyone living in his house. He couldn't bring himself to tell her how bad it was, his compulsions and exhausting routines, so he'd broken up with her. No woman in her right mind would want a man who had to count the backsplash tiles before he could turn off the kitchen lights.

He put the garbage bag into the yard-waste recycle bin next to the garden shed. His hands were freezing. It was too dark to rake the yard--probably a good thing. The last time he'd worked outside at night, the neighbors had called the cops. He'd have to get up at daylight if he was going to get it perfectly cleaned up before he went to church.

He noticed it more and more, now that he was past fifty, that the ritual of his days had begun to take a bigger toll. Back in the house, he went after the Anafranil bottle in the medicine cabinet. It had been empty for a while. The medicine helped with the OCD, but it made the exhaustion worse. He guessed he was going to have to buck up and refill the prescription if it meant getting another job.

He almost had the yard raked the next morning when his Dad pulled up at the curb. He dangled a sack out the car's window at Joey.

"What's this?"

"It's enough pills to get you by until your prescription's refilled. I had an old bottle from when you house-sat for me last year.”

"Thanks, Dad. I really appreciate it." He didn't want to bawl like he was ten-years-old. His Dad had that effect on him, though. Saw right through him and made him feel vulnerable.

"How about some company at church?"

"Sure." Joey thumbed moisture from the corners of his eyes. "Maybe we can get something to eat after."

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Once a Boy

by Taufiq bin Abdul Khalid

Once a boy
I was once a boy,
And I came upon the shore of a mighty sea,
I tarried by her awhile,

But soon I grew scales and gills,
And swam in her depth, as a fish,

Then I sprouted wings,
Flying high across the sea,
Skimming over her waves,
As a seagull,

Later I turned into a fisherman,
Finding rich bounty in
Her deep blue mercy
To feed my family.

Finally I returned to the boy that I was,
And into the water I peered,
To see a reflection of myself
Looking back at me, and asking
“Who are you?”


by Randall Ragers

I. There's Times

There’s times to dream
And time to get down to work
Thank God they are
Both combined being
A poet.

II. Without Drugs

The lie of life is
That without
A positive
Gene outlook
Outlook on
Don’t work
And most all of all
Of the thing is a bummer.
Illegal drugs, that is.
Smile therapy
You grinning fool
Is more effective!
And a whole lot
More cheaper than
The fucking drug companies
And the fucking psychiatrists.

Flags of the Beast

by John L. Thompson

It started out something like this
In the end we were just walking blood drops.
We allowed ourselves to be lulled and bought into the false dreams.
We allowed ourselves to be controlled.

Its the days that count,
The days have no end and blur into one another
The end had come, the end of days
and we had failed miserably.

The dirt had burned
and turned everything an evil black.
The skies were dark ,
with a hint of burning orange on the horizon.

I walked over to a valley edge.
The valley below was filled with all of humanity.
The Beast gorged itself on the walking blood drops,
dipping its beak to the valley below to pluck the fruit there.

The vengeful wraith flew up in a cloud of dead dust,
scattering the people and I fell back,
and I saw the flags of all nations
lying limp in the dead winds.


by Sarah Anne Stinnet

You’re dead now.
Your life spent
celebrating with cake, cookies, candies, Pi.
Math counted when you saw the numbers
under your feet,
under your legs,
under your hips curving up to the tip
top of your head,
now calculate your sum,
you’re dead.
As bees in honey drown
you take too much, you
take too much, you take
too much.
The persistent hum of your heart
You are a tire I slashed
a penny I placed on train tracks
the paint I spilled
on a canvas of your face
so I will always know
you’re dead now.
On your tombstone, iron cast,
It reads, “Thin At Last.”


by Ben Rasnic

In a smoky blue kerosene haze
illuminating the winding gray
tunnel vision of memory,

I recall only the tender whispers,
sweet comfort of companionship,
ardent frenzy of wild animal sex.

Strange how I forget
the excruciating thrust of flashing stiletto
you used to bludgeon

my better angels
just before they fell to Earth;
the hysterical laughter

you carried with you
into the dark shadows
that always seem to vanish
just before the dawn.

We All We Got

by Damion Hamilton
The poor people, those barely making it
We all we got. My car hits a median
I can’t get out--forwards or backwards
Snow and ice is all around.
And I’m freezing my balls and ass off
Another car has been stopped near me, as the dude
Struggles to get his a car off the road, away from the main road,
I go over and give him a hand, pushing hard, we get the car out
The way
He’s somewhat grateful, but isn’t concerned about
car problem
I call triple A. they are so damned busy, on the
Coldest day of the year.
I wait an hour, and an angel approaches me,
And he doesn’t look like the angel of your mind,
Just like a middle aged man, waiting for a bus
He looks at my car and then at me
Ridiculous sitting in that stranded car, and told me I would
Need to jack it up, to get it off the median,
He tells me how to turn the wheel and get
It in reverse and back out
The shit helps with a little bit of effort.
I’m off the median, he walks away
And I call him back
I give him a ten dollar bill, and say thanks
He really saved my ass
And he didn’t have do that

Sunday, March 13, 2011


by Robert E. Petras

Life is like a vending machine
the woman with the secret wrote,
you spin the shelves around
and choose what you want
just by pushing the buttons
of visualization and self-talk
and positive thinking.
The law of quantum physics is

At an ATM machine I visualized
a return of 40 dollars
for my 40 dollars in
and a $2.25 service fee
and received enough vending power for a week.
“I am in the process of spinning
the world around,”
I told myself.
“I am Atlas twirling a circle
of quarks upon my fingertips.”
I rubbed my hands together,
I licked my lips
and stepped into line.
When my turn came
to give the machine a spin
only baloney sandwiches remained.

The Drunk

by Damion Hamilton

Man I was high on vodka and orange juice, when
I roamed the streets,
But while roaming, there was this
Dude who stood out to me
He was short, skinny, light skinned
And black.
He had this game that he said and did
Instead of begging for money, “he would
Say shoot me a dolla.”
He demanded that shit, and said he was some kind
Of sergeant in the army.
“Shoot me a dolla, “ he would say real hard and firm.
I’ll say I didn’t have one,
But I can be a sucka for a panhandler, I always feel
You must be really desperate do that shit.
This street kid, let me know that he would asked people
For money, so that he could go down to the liquor store
And get Country Club Vodka, which is the worst kind of
Vodka I have ever tasted!
He hit me up all the time, and I would try to let him down
Easy, by telling him, that I worked in a warehouse and didn’t
Have money to give to somebody for nothing.
He told me, “give me the money, or quit cryin u bitch
Ass nigga. If u don’ got it, just say so!”
He was just a little guy, and I could have easily beat him
Or killed him possibly. But that insult only made
Me laugh.
Then I realized that there are people in this world
Who do not care if they lived or died
And he was one of those people
A little desperate man, who was not afraid
To take a beating or meet his death, for cheap
Bottle of the worst tasting vodka, you could
Think of

Time Wears Away The Stone

by Patrick Walsh

net of fishes shores of plenty
cast of blind hooks for foolishness
words from farside going crazy
you mustn't look I mustn't see

so once you gave though I doubted
the song of truth if that's what was
others couldn't grasp your lightness
yet raged to live in fire's doublet

now the bells toll these old church stones
for message dulled need not be lost
years are fossils as hearts stonecold
no dreams indulged on hard life's coast

Tami Miami

by Robert Vaughan

Tami Miami I’m not over Sammy but neither are you
You know you entrance me and yet don’t romance me
it’s making me puke, Kohler 892
Tami Miami I’m hitting my zenith of tears for the year
I’m smitten, my kitten, so throw down the mittens. You’ve vanished I fear-
it makes me suck beer
I know you’re a shut-in, but please let me come in. Tami, that’s just a ruse
Do not toy, ploy or trick with my heart, way too easy to bruise
Tami Miami I’m no Marco Beltrami I don’t know the score
Have I disturbed you, or is there a boy who
well, he’s just a whore
we made out before
But I want you more


by Michael D. Goscinski

if it's the only thing
it hurts
if it's nothing
it burns
if it's forced
it isn't
if it's not shared
it's dead
but if it just is
it's beautiful


by Claudia Rey

I lived in Baghdad decades ago
when the monster was still there
and apart from killing Kurds
and torturing dissidents
hid safely in a protected place
while sending fourteen-years old kids
to fight his dirty war.

I was always ashamed in Baghdad
because my status gave me access
to parties and cocktails and dinners
but didn’t enable me to learn
how normal people survived
the hunger, the fear,
the lack of freedom and hope.

I only knew that the lady chemist
had been told not to accept
my invitation for a cup of coffee,
that the gardener could not drink
my Coke when he was thirsty,
that the Egyptian greengrocer
was afraid to speak English with me.

I could learn bits of truth
from the cleaning lady or the Swiss baker.
I was often shocked or outraged,
but I was an attaché’s wife:
diplomatic etiquette silenced me
and didn’t allow me to express my feelings.
Even my husband didn’t want to listen.

So now, when I see young people
from Tunisia, Egypt, Libya
who fight for their future,
defy helicopters and bombs and guns
and ride tanks wearing jackets and ties
I worry, I admire their courage,
and in a way I feel redeemed.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Anarchy Of Dusk

by Bobbi Sinha-Morey

In the anarchy of
dusk, despair returns
each minute like a
drop of moonshine
and, with less salva-
tion, the voices of
birds quiver in each
song, shattering the
stillness that swallow
a man's spirit. The
heart's rainy darkness
is no solace for my
soul, only a map of
brightness, but I've
nowhere to go. The
distance that divides
us leaves me feeling
so isolated. My anger's
been buried and stolen
back from the soil.
Trust and love is white
dust on dark furniture;
layers of the past you've
shared with me without
any sign of you in the
future. If I wait, time is
nothing but an endless
bridge. Yet your memory
remains. You leave traces
of yourself wherever you

From Grace

Ramesh Dohan

I see Zeus
waiting in the checkout
queue. Fallen
on hard times, yet
still magnificent
His striking, aquiline
profile, that white mane
a staircase to heaven
Stuffing sausage-rolls
in his pockets
His eyes fixed, shiftily
on the shelves
of Greek yoghurt

Little Cartons, Little Sacks

by Donal Mahoney

The mug of tea
I drank at dawn,
the tea that drove

me to the train
needs a refill.
At my desk,

I don’t do much
but wait for lunch
when every day

I eat so much
the waitress gawks.
She doesn’t

realize the years
till supper
when I’ll dine

alone again,
bolt everything
that I bring home

in little cartons,
little sacks.
She’s not there

when the couch
becomes my slab
till ten

when bed
my mausoleum.

My Mother's Land

by Rachel J. Fenton

My father tilled the land
bought by my grandmother
in early March, I heard
from my bedroom the familiar

cut of loy and turn, then the fork
breaking up clods, tossing
them into the air like a great
moldewarp over his donkey

jacketed shoulder teasing
roots doing their best to look
alive: all clinging to the grim
end. And perching like a rook

on the sill, the smell of mould
and wood like an old woollen
glove up my nose, I'd see thrown
onto a heap last year's stems:

nettles the lot of them. Later,
he used a rotavator more
audibly to demonstrate slaughter
of earth; flicking a startled mole

as if to outer space; expanse
as its interior simultaneously collapsed.
Six hours it clung to trembling existence
with its billhook hands; it mattered

little that we only found five
worms to counter the knowledge that
it needed, in order to survive,
soil spaghetti in excess of its own weight.

We left it in the galvanised tin crate,
the nearest to a fortress we could make,
hoping to pick over the bones
in a month or so, but these too had gone

on the heap with all the other stalks
and critters that settled in the wrong
place. Come June, the lump-locked
drills were fine tilled and looking

up the shirts of brassicas, wind blowing
through carrot hair and in between, row
upon row of nettles: only growing
on fertile land. With the whorl

of motivated chickens a soundtrack,
I'd watch as my father plucked
the nettles from their plot
and dragged them out with bare hands.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Salt of the earth

by Claudia Rey

We are not made of delicate china
nor fragile, transparent glass.
We give birth and witness death
we love – sometimes for no reason -
and we cry - often alone.
But we go on living,
hands hardened by work,
souls toughened against pain,
hearts bleeding nonetheless.
Invisible and forgotten,
beaten, abused, killed
but resisting:
still strong, still there.
We, the salt of the earth
we, the women of the world.

On Faith

by Lisa Zaran

There's a man in my yard raking leaves.
I act out strange scenarios behind closed curtains,
dance like a maniac then stifle a laugh
because the window is cracked and he might hear.

There's a radio playing in the neighbors yard,
a dog formulating a fence jumping plot,
which I encourage by placing treats on the sill.
The song is nothing specific. The dog's name is Happy.

There's a dark appointed hour in which a husband
will return from work and a wife, decorated like
a flower, will renounce herself, dead as any terminal diagnosis.
All this I see from my viewpoint, as if I were appointed sister.

There's a child buried in my heart. I tell it not
to be afraid of the sound of rushing blood or darkness
for in both one can find consolation, an illumination
between the shadows. Why the eyes fill with tears,

the mouth with laughter, the mind with little opinions,
God only knows. After I have given up my life
for a better word, perhaps the whole world will read it
and nod their heads. She was right, they'll conjecture

and agree, the body is a violet plight of entanglements.
The heart is a little pointless mind of recollections.
The soul is a fish without wings, trapped in one shoulder
of the body. And there really is a man outside the window

raking leaves, clearing a path for us to dart across
and leave all our excesses behind. Why wonder?
One has to believe in something.

Change In My Pocket

by Jason E. Hodges

Like soap in a dish cold and clammy, her pale skin glistened in the morning light. The moon had completely fallen from the sky, and the sun now crested in the eastern part of the city. Its rays peeked through buildings to sparkle on hanging ice from rooftop gutters. While long dark shadows stretched across the ground from the barren trees lining each side of the parking lot.

As the woman stepped in a little closer and the abscess on the lower part of her neck became more visible, I recalled who she was. Last time I saw her was a few weeks ago sleeping on a park bench near 42nd and Wilson. She’s a regular here at the plasma bank.

Doctor Benny, my boss, is always complaining about “her kind,” as he puts it. “These people come in here with their over punctured arms expecting me to work a miracle, so they can get money for their next fix.”

Then without fail, he would wave his magic syringe and draw blood without collapsing the vein. I saw his point in a way, but I also saw him continue to take their drug rich blood, to make his money.

I did have to wonder, though, how this woman made it to this point in her life. Was it a failed marriage? A lost child? Or was it the excuses that you never hear come out of a junky’s mouth. “I like the way it makes me feel.”

Yep, I’m sure I haven’t heard that one at the center before. Honest answers are hard enough to come by in this so called Honest World. But hell, who am I to judge? I’m just the clerk behind the counter waiting for the place to open so I can do my eight hours; make my minimum wage paycheck; then go back to my minimum wage apartment, to live my minimum wage life.

The woman finally spoke, “Hey man, you got a smoke?”

I nodded with a half smile, then fished around in my coat pocket. I handed her a cigarette, then flamed its end. She drew hard on its filter making the little cherry glow bright on that cold morning.

“You know the plasma bank doesn’t open for another fifteen minutes,” I said trying my best to break the eerie silence that hung between us.

She took another hard drag, then folded her arms. “I know,” she said sharply. “I’ve been up all night waiting for it to open.” Her face now was pulled tight with stress. “Look man, I didn’t mean to snap at you. I just need to get this over with.”

“Yeah, I wish it was open, too. I’m tired of standing out here. So, you got a name?”

“Yeah, Janet. What’s yours?”

“Allen,” I said, glancing behind her, hoping Benny would hurry up and come to work.

“Allen, I always liked that name.” She pulled her coat in a little tighter. “You don’t have any change, do you?” Janet attempted a smile, but it was obvious she was self-conscious about her rotten teeth.

I knew this was probably a bad idea but I thought, maybe she could use a cup of coffee or something.

“How much you need?” I said, pushing my hand down in my pocket.

“Ten will do,” she said, still trying to smile.

“Ten what, dollars?” The words jumped quickly from my lips.

Her stranded smile fell as fast as it appeared.

“Yes, ten dollars! What the hell can I possibly get with ten cents?” She said, almost shouting.

“Sorry, I’m broke. Remember, I work here and they pay almost nothing.”

About the time I finished my sentence, I saw Doctor Benny’s silver SUV pull into the parking lot. I turned and took a few steps toward it.

“Well, the Doc’s here. Now you’ll be able to get some cash,” I said, with a little relief to my voice. I turned back around to find Janet standing now face to face with me. She plunged a knife into my side. Instantly it was hard to breathe, and I had a strange salty taste filling my mouth. I realized this taste was blood. She plunged the knife again, this time in my stomach. Then she leaned in so close, I could feel the warmth of her retched breath. She reached inside my pocket and grabbed my wallet.

“You should’ve given up the money, man.”

She ran down the sidewalk as Doctor Benny made his way to me. He called for help on his phone and then tried to stop the bleeding. It was no use. I was as cold as the snow that surrounded me. I suddenly found myself outside of my body. I was amazed at the strange shade of pink my blood had turned the snow. I was equally amazed I was on the other side. Then I saw my sister, who had been dead for years. She was standing with a smile.

“Allen, go back, it’s not time for you. Step back in your body,” she said in a whisper.

The paramedics pumped away at my chest. Lying back down in my body, I suddenly felt all of the pain at once. I knew then if I felt this much agony, I had to be alive.

“So, that was the day I died and came back to life,” I told my therapist.

“Quite a story there, Allen. Do, you mind pulling up your shirt.”

“Not at all.”

I stood and lifted it up. I couldn’t believe it. The scars were gone. A look crossed my therapist’s face I had never seen before.

“Allen, I’m going to write you a prescription. It will take a few weeks to kick in, but I promise you, you’ll start feeling better in no time.”

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Kite Strings

by Sadie Harris

Having moved easily away
beyond the vitreous drink
past perpetual reefs
where choppy, lapping waves
laugh at old tales,

Cutting through effervescence
into an aubergine vast,
there, no delineation
or compulsions
define boundaries
or deprive the existence of
one's precarious balances.

Unfixed, sentient,
the shoreline
has receded from view.
Distance, but a blur.
Silence altering,
rippling this present capacity .
But a hand flying
with the wings of paradise.


by Alan Britt

Give blood.

That’s right.

Donate blood: O negative,
B positive, A whichever way
the windmill blows,
but give blood to future governors
and presidents in incubators,
blood enough to clot glaciers,
razor-blue glaciers crumbling
daily into Eagle Lake.

Sure, you could legislate
the gradual demise of blueblade glaciers
crumbling into the Pacific,
raising sea level by a mere
twelve to eighteen inches,
(that’s one and a half feet, to you and me),
but blood, my friends,
my terrestrial brothers and sisters;
there’s simply no substitute
for good ‘ol red and white corpuscles,
generations in hindsight, of course, that end
with a fist and a sickle spilling blood like oil
through the plaster walls and Venetian blinds
and wooden frames of Afghan, Iraqi
and Palestinian apartments.

You think oil and blood
are the same thing?

Regular citizens crucified
for another 2,000 years?

Well, friend, and I say this
with critical sincerity,
our sand, like all sand,
struggles tooth and nail
through the hourglass hips
of a black hole,
or an outdated religion,
or whatever else you
might call it.

But the point is,
this newest bullshit version
of a monarchy, planetary domination
via your tax dollars and mine,
well, I just have to say
that plain speech is sometimes underrated.

Plain speech can alert us
to a whole host of priorities
(sometimes known as periodic corrections
to the moral market);
plain speech can deliver us
from the depths of wretchedness
not unlike Rapunzel,
Hansel and Gretel, the Emperor in designer nudity,
or those train tracks revealed one afternoon,
tracks buried in the front yard
of a dingy white clapboard house
just off Southern Boulevard.


by Susan S. Keiser

Wings sweep over sun-splashed golden grids, against
a glowing cage that stretches east from Venice to Knidos.
These are early days
and if they oscillate in harmony, energy quanta
conformed to the edges of a single thought,
that thought is marked for infinite illumination;
we may find ourselves sinking/we've always been sinking
into its hidden contours, casting nets of silvered photons
in mockery of lesser light.

If no objections arise
when the pale moon weds Helios on such mornings,
or if improbable planes of
simultaneous reflection defy customary astronomies,
I don't think we will be at all surprised.

You know
it has always been that way,
and from any unsafe distance
we may choose to graze the Alps with curious fingers,
graze peaked edges grown solid,
our fingers tracing/racing,
tracing maps of tools and time on stones that stand
in now and former temples that have weathered well.

Of these, it was said, we would mark out truth,
ore wrested from subterranean forays into
strip-mined culture, its subtext forged from
illusion and the burnished metal of ancient myth,
its finite edges brittle and suffused with saffron
and irony.

Knowing this, we stand at precipice,
we stand at a high, stony lookout, over seas of
ancient treachery and faulty memory,
wing-fanned air, gentle against cheek and lash,
swaying in a silence made of wind, wave and breath;
and we look into the glittered distance, straining to know,
toward a vanishing point we seek when weary, for rest,
or perspective, for assurance.

In that sun-splashed morning,
nets of silvered photons cast outside our idea of it,
we look into the distance,
unblinded by simultaneous reflection,
we look to discover

no horizon,
no horizon,
there is no horizon
at all.

Blank Page

by Aashish Thakur

Its empty gaze has depth of Pacific Ocean
And its vastness, reminds sky of its limit
It can embrace the Himalaya, The earth, all the oceans, galaxies, milky ways
Cosmos, cosmoses, universe, universes,
It can contain- the vacuum of loneliness, gravitation of love, forces of attraction,
Volcano of hatred, wind of hope, depth of soul, weight of marriage, bitterness of separation
lightness of freedom, smoothness of love, bewilderment of lust,
all our dark colored sins, white sins, and death, our hell, our heaven and our nirvana.
You can paint any color on it, except white
White on white doesn’t make any sense
But worst part is-
It stares you like a prostitute
The more you eat it, more you become hungry
And if you don’t;
You doubt on your own existence!

Saturday, March 5, 2011


by Claudia Rey

From June to November, once a moth, for a couple of nights, Golfina turtles come back to Playa Escobilla, the beach where they were born, to lay their eggs. They come at dusk, in dozens, then hundreds: slowly trudging in the sand, huffing and puffing, determined to go to a certain spot and nowhere else.

It’s mid November and the sun sets early. We started later than we planned and when we arrive the light is quickly fading. Camera flashes might distress the mothers and are not allowed, so we can take very few and darkish photos. Then Luis, our guide and photographer, sets up his infra-red camera and starts snapping.

The turtles go about their business, digging holes with their forelegs and showering with sand everything and everyone around. They are as big as a satellite dish but their holes are a much smaller size, deep and funnel-shaped. From time to time we are hit by hard objects, but in the growing dark it’s a while before we realize what they are. If a turtle finds some eggs in the spot she has chosen as her delivery room, explains Luis, she simply gets rid of them. They have certainly been laid the previous night by another mother – but sisterhood among turtles apparently doesn’t exist.

All this digging has woken a million of sand fleas which start feasting on our ankles and legs. We are asked not to use insect repellent because its smell could annoy the turtles and interrupt their delicate work in progress – so we sigh and endure. And finally the turtles settle: each one sits over her hole and starts producing perfectly round white eggs, the size of a ping-pong ball. Around fifty each, says our guide. The younger ones lay less than that, but this is the average amount.

To my dismay, Luis puts a torch in one of the holes, keeping it in place with some wet sand, and inserts a small video camera to film the actual “birth”. I feel that that we are intruding in a very private moment but I refrain from telling him. With typical Mexican realism he would answer that the turtle couldn’t care less, which is probably true; and I also know that he plans to sell films and photos to tourists, earning some money for his family.

When everything is finished, the exhausted mothers cover their holes again, tucking the future babies in a sand blanket, then collapse on the small mound and fall asleep. They will spend the night sitting on their eggs, and at dawn they will go back to sea. Left on their own, the eggs rest under the warm sand for a month and a half, the babies growing inside them. Until the day comes when the eggs hatch and the tiny turtles run to the sea. They run for their dear life, actually, because vultures and stray dogs lurk around and often succeed in breakfasting on them. But a good percentage of the newborns makes it to the waves. In this particular beach, patrolled by Navy soldiers with guns, a reassuring 80 percent.

Before leaving the Golfinas, Luis encourages some of us to caress their shells. We comply, lightly scratching them, and when cleaned from seaweeds and sand they shine with amazing streaks of luminous plankton. My turtle snorts, and Luis pretends that she is thanking me. “En serio, esta es una tortuga feliz” he smiles.

Oh, I am happy too. And moved, and grateful. A week later I will buy from Luis five of his photos – autographed.

Friday, March 4, 2011

(on the Christchurch earthquake)

by Rachel Fenton

The building
was grey, was the only thing making sense.

A spire
that had stood one hundred and forty years

fell in
a single second of the blackest day.

God's house,
wore its own mourning to drop to its knees;

doesn't point
a finger. Belief: second to nature

and children
go on swinging metal bats at empty

air whilst
balls, neon bright, go flaring by sucking

nothing in
their jet stream and behind, a row of cars,

open windowed,
play out the headlines on their radios.


by Chris Butler

I’ve plucked v flocks of ducks
and bathed my skin in superglue,
just so I may fly to you.

Burnt by the Sun

by Mathew Richard Carter

A man on a tour of the Mojave Desert is intrigued by snakes.

“When do you expect the antidote to kick in?” gasps the impeded tourist.

“Any minute now. I’ve only tried this procedure one other time,” explains the park official.

“Oh yea? How’d that guy make out?”

“Not good at all, I’m afraid, not good at all.”

The ranger stands to watch the sun drench the wound that will soon evaporate all of his professional hope.

Those Rainy Days

by Amit Parmessur

The groggy growl of our old outdoor dog
made me peek through the neglected window
only to notice the leaves swirling down,
swirling and swirling down the young yew tree
in the once glorious and green garden.

The leaves swirled down just like the dates
drying up and falling off
the greasy kitchen calendar.

Drinking a serene coffee with a false face
to our innocent children each morning
and looking at your photo each night
could not stop the fall of leaves or dates.
Smoking cigarette after cigarette
Couldn’t burn down my passion for your blue eyes,
for your sweet whispers or red anger.
I still want those rainy days by the lake with you,

drenched by the open umbrella
discarded on the muddy grass,
looking like an inverted mushroom, capturing the rainwater.

How we would each place a fresh flower
in the cherry umbrella and swear
by the drenched kissing petals
a blissful life in each other’s eyes.

Every rainy moment I still turn the umbrella
into a mushroom to capture your memories and smiles,

but now there are no flowers by the cherished lake.