Travelers Welcome

Travelers Welcome

Sunday, July 31, 2011

I won’t stay to say goodbye

by Taufiq bin Abdul Khalid

O’ fear, you have long haunted me,
O’ failure, you have long dogged my steps,
O’ hate, you have long coloured by view,
O’ misery, you follow upon your brethren’s way
And often darken my day.

O’ envy, you tried to make me
An enemy of my brother,
O’ lust, you tried to make me
An exploiter of my sister,
O’ ego, you befriended all these bad things
And tried to convince me that
They are all my good friends.

O’ hubris, you have abused
My spiritual inheritance for
Your own corrupt ends!

Well, today I am going.
And I shan’t pause to say goodbye.
My Lord misses me and wants me home,
And there I shall be an apple
In my Beloved’s eye.

Drunken Love

by Morgen Streur

At least you have the sort of spirit that pours me lyrics
& I owe nothing.
That's something worth discovering.
In a world more than some things, I wonder If I am nothing?
Or am I worth your loving?

That's what scares me the most.
I read your blog-posts and I know I've seen a ghost
Self control was always my slight of hand
I can say...
"I'm good, I'm good! I got this man..."

Then 12 hours later I can't recollect half my night,
or slamming those drinks out of fright.
Fright of what you may ask? Being myself inside the past.
That's the ghost I'm letting go, I know I can be sober
I know it's self control, and your love is my cola.

Why It Lies There

by Jordyn Coats

Black flow spreads
across the tenuous cardboard
recycling sparks
of fuzzy, black and white granules;
this is why it lies there.
I will forget the script -
the cinematography of her words.
I will lose the wrinkle on her brow
and the gloss in her eyes
will change colors on me.
You wish to toss it into another pile,
but I refuse to let go,
and so this is why it lies there.

A Woman Who Watches

by Jill Chan

I am not a bad person. I'm like anyone else. In fact, I can be weak and passionate. When I was younger, I was regarded as someone with a penchant for turning things over—upsetting a table or a house. But I am normal. I am not boring though I find strength, the kind that pushes people away, the kind that holds on to weakness like something opposite yet determined—I find it terrifying. I find what I have terrifying.

She was a beautiful woman. I don't argue with that. I welcome it.

The first time I met her, she was laughing at something with a force so intense and relentless, she was dying like I was bemused with her ability to be there, holding my attention like that.

I don't know why but I intently watched her then like someone who had seen something strange yet satisfying.

She was about my age though infinitely wiser, more in touch with the world. My world was closed in like a house. Boring, you could say.

And she enlivened the room like light that fell through the curtains. I hesitated to answer when she asked me, 'Are you laughing, too?'

'No, but I enjoy watching you laugh.'

She cocked her head to her right and said, 'A woman who watches. How interesting.'

Then I kept quiet after that. As everything fell quiet after a thunderstorm. As only she could allow.

I was married by then and pregnant. My husband was away working. In a few months, our first child, Mary, would be born. And made our family all the more decent and satisfied with decency.

The woman who had just made my acquaintance was married to my husband's boss. As I found out later. He was in the media business. My husband was an accountant at one of his businesses. I was a photographer in my father's shop.

After Mary was born, I'd spend all the time at home taking care of her. I had to stop work and my father hired another photographer to fill in.

I didn't see the woman again for awhile. She had remained a figure forever laughing in my mind, a delightful distraction from all the busy work at home. The duties and cares of motherhood.

But one time, I came across her at the park. She was sitting on a bench watching people pass by, seemingly careless but strangely occupied.

She said, 'Hi. I remember you. How are you?'

'I'm fine. I'm just having a minute away from my baby, trying to keep my sanity.'

She smiled and nodded.

I detected something sad in her look. Her hand was absentmindedly touching a button on her coat.

She suddenly said, 'How's your husband?'

'He's good. Working.'

This time she didn't nod but merely smiled.

It seemed to me she spent a lot of her time asking questions which called for trivial answers. But she said then, 'Life is strange, isn't it? You want something, then you have it. Then you want it more and more. And pretty soon...' she stopped and looked away.

I could not see but I thought she must've been moved by something none of us could change. Devastation. Desperation.

When she looked at me again, her eyes were red but she was not crying. Only angry, as far as I could tell.

'I'm sorry. I must be going. Hey, how about you come to my house sometime. Hmmm? Well, I'm not doing anything. And you must want some company sometime, nursing your baby.'

'It's good of you to ask. Sure. Here's my number.'

Luckily, I found a piece of paper in my purse.

When she said goodbye, she laughed that laugh again, seeming now another person, another face.

I never heard from her again after that. My husband said that she split up with her husband and moved to another city.

How the city moved as if dangerous, as if alive in some way yet dead in countless others.

After Mary grew up and started going to school, I went back to my father's shop, taking photographs of people I'd never meet again. I still do this.

How I watch their faces like a lens. And capture something of theirs they'll never have again in quite the same way, at quite the same time.

Some day we'll stay the same in our minds. But now, I am reminded of how the table is sturdy. How it holds a coffee table book. A glass of wine.

I am tempted to turn the table over. In my mind, I do it a hundred times a day. Until the table is sturdier for my moving it. Or my attempt at moving it.

A woman who watches.

I have been known as a good photographer. One who brings out the inner stillness of the subject. One who makes people sit and view themselves as subjects of the room at least. They are gods and goddesses in that second when the camera clicks, when I tell them to smile and be themselves. They seem to be happy. To be there in their own skin. To smile at the stranger in themselves. And hopefully occupy their own happiness.

I see the woman in every one of my subjects. She was the most beautiful by far. Even if I never took her picture.

I would've loved it—taking her photograph. She was a natural. Her smile distant yet endearing.

A woman who watches.

I am incredibly distant now from all my subjects.

I remember the last look on her face. She looked once behind her after she had stood up and walked away. As if suddenly terrified of closeness yet not getting enough of it.

There, I was not myself enough.

I could've said something which meant something else. Instead, I was the dumb one. The meek one behind the camera where no view could be held.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Beast Beneath Your Bed

by Karl Louderback

You can hide from the beast beneath your bed
You can kill the monster in the closet dead
You'll never flee fast enough or far
to escape the monster in your head.

The howling madness of the dark
or the burning shine of a sunlit park
crash the barrier behind you eyes
and feed the monstrous mind shark.

Teeth and jaws and mouth agape
the clawing howling mindless ape
that tears at dreams and waking
and turns all thoughts to bloody hate

You cannot flee the monster mind
you can't escape or hope to bind
a creature that lives alone within
and with your soul remains entwined.


by Clinton Inman

For greatness and glory’s sake,
For all things rich and noble,
In proud ships tall let us make
Again where only men are able.

Tired we’ve grown of glitter and gold,
The Cimmerian curse of a market place,
Let us dream of Delphic days of old
That even Poseidon’s rage could not erase.

Come, arise, my men, arise
For tomorrow we shall sail
Again under blue Aegean skies
There to find newer walls to assail.

Circe’s song had made us weak
For we have slept too long and late.
Now for greater joys let us seek
Knowing we are masters of our fate.

This woeful world is much too remiss,
But only in a world such as this
One without comfort, joy, or bliss
Dare we climb the steps of Olympus.

Come my men, let us venture
Into the depths of the setting sun,
There we’ll find newer worlds to conquer
Long, long after this day is done.


by Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal

The diving birds reach for the breadcrumbs next to my chair. One bird is gray and the other bird is black. They eat up the breadcrumbs and fly away singing. I look up to where they go and soon lose sight of them. Sitting here at my lunch hour I contemplate life’s problems. Back at the office I have case after case of lives destroyed by madness. Do the diving birds have it easier? I know I have troubles of my own. But at least I’m not being held against my will in a psychiatric hospital. I think I’d like to be a bird for a few moments to experience the sensation of flight and improve my singing voice.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Death Sentence

by KJ Hannah Greenberg

Today, I wait death sentence.
Excuses, accounts, even boldness. if embellished, ebbs.
To wit, tomorrow’s fancy remains embroidered,
Endorsed as such a day as when roiling warnings
Will roll against shores yielding no better truth,
No greater stone than pathetic children’s viscera.

We sorrow for want of more lucid imaginings
Before returning to elevate our dregs.
Life’s complications, impediments, crucial continuities
Sit strictly in boxes belonging to generations, maybe leaders,
Certainly to “civilian obligations,” sans glitz or not,
Also, folded as existential minutia of social currency.

Only fairy tales, kiddie pabulum, other nonsense
Hold hoary brutality as accountability-free;
In thinking women’s castles, heads of state
Unabashedly redefine select commonplaces
Confabulating laws again and once more until
The cock crows, dawn or not, with measured righteousness.


By Benjamin Dettmar

Flowing out through the crevices, the chinks in the prison of the mind. Thoughts climax, pupils dilate in the crimson-grey ecstasy of escape. Behind a smoke and sulfur trail, I become my own compost heap.


by Phil Lane

Awake from fever dreams
to woodpecker’s rote
hammering the dawn
into metallic strips of sun
that pulse through neon
wave machines,

the obdurate world
turns like clockwork,
my mind is empty adspace,
a mansion to fill
with everything I don’t need,

the judgmental sun
studies my habits, glints
over these sticks of furniture,
these threads of information
that form a crude bower
in which I carry out
my synthetic purposefulness—

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Ancient Papyrus, Translated

by John S. Fields

Letter to Mark

I lay against the trunk of an olive tree. Its strong branches reach to God, while the arms that once held love now hold a robe with the scent of honey.

The costs of sacrifice…Peter left a family and the life of a fisherman to follow Jesus. And the Master says you will be persecuted by pagans for teaching the word. You may ask what have I sacrificed?

The Master confided to you and trusted you. Do you know the nature and depth of our love? It was the Master who wished I inform Caiaphas. And I have sacrificed a love as sanctified as that of any husband and wife.

I will not be martyred. I will be vilified as the betrayer. Before I play the role cast by our Father, I have a humble request of you…Tell Mary I loved Jesus with a pure heart.


The Last Night at Home

by David Meuel

Alex put his key in the lock, opened the front door, turned on a light, and saw the empty living room of the house on Clara Drive in Palo Alto. Nothing, not even a stranded scrap of paper, remained.

Three months ago, Dad had moved out and into an apartment in Mountain View. That was about the time he and Mom drove to Alex’s dorm room at U.C. Davis to tell him the news. Both were very calm, saying several times that he would always have a home with each of them. Mom had stayed in the house until the sale was final, and Alex had come home to help her move to her new apartment in Menlo Park. Today, they had finished, and at noon tomorrow the house would officially belong to someone else.

Alex walked into the empty kitchen and adjoining family room that, for him, had always been the heart of the house, and he turned on another light. Everywhere he looked, places melted into memories—the spot where he and Dad sat and watched Giants baseball games on TV, the counter where Mom prepared dinners, the floor where he spent hours drawing pictures of superheroes in his notebooks.

Then he walked down the hall to his bedroom, turned on the light, and looked at the empty spaces where, until that morning, his bookcase, computer desk, dresser, and bed had stood. He loved how his bed looked out into the backyard, where Dad would barbeque and the three of them would talk and laugh and eat burgers or chicken or salmon at the patio table on warm summer evenings.

Yesterday, Dad had said that, for him, the house had become a symbol for the marriage—something he and Mom had constantly worked at but never got right—and that he was glad to be rid of it. The comment saddened Alex. But, as he now understood, he had only known part of the story.

He turned off the bedroom light and walked about the house turning off the other lights, each time noting more places and the memories that went with them. Then he closed the front door behind him and walked back to his car.
Both Mom and Dad had said that he could spend the night with one of them. But he didn’t know if he wanted to. Not tonight. He thought for a moment. No, not tonight.

He opened the car trunk and pulled out his sleeping bag, pillow, and sleeping pad. Then he carried them into the house and into his room, and he laid them out where his bed had been—by the window that looked out at the backyard. As he lay down, he smelled chicken on the barbeque and heard three people laughing on a warm summer evening.

Strangers in Peoria

by Donal Mahoney

I met a proper woman in a proper pub on a Monday in Peoria. It was noon, time for lunch, and we were sitting stool to stool over very large burgers at a long mahogany bar. It curved in and out as if wind-swept and featured high stools with padded seats and backrests, all in a rich faux maroon that complemented the authentic mahogany. The waiter had put us at the bar together, on the last two empty stools, thinking we had arrived there as a couple. Apologizing with his head bowed, he said no tables were available.

The place was awash in men who had obviously spent a lot of time in the sun. They were talking agri-business very loud. Plaid shirts and John Deere caps were everywhere. Apparently, the price of pork that day had hit new highs and that event seemed to delight the majority of diners. It was obvious these men knew their pork and probably their corn as well. The odd thing was, not one of them seemed to notice the lady sitting next to me. The price of pork notwithstanding, she deserved a second glance if not a whole lot more. She was certainly no farmer's daughter. Probably never baked an apple pie.

It was easy to see why the waiter thought we were a couple. I was in a Brooks Brothers suit, button-down shirt and a serious rep tie, and the lady was attired in the feminine business equivalent, a conservative suit, albeit in tasteful lavender, and a string of pearls. An hour earlier, we had both landed in Peoria on different planes and found our separate ways to the same restaurant. I was taken by how much she looked like Jackie Kennedy after Dallas but without the pillbox hat.

Eventually she spoke. It turned out she was from New York and I was from Chicago and that we were in Peoria for final interviews for jobs we thought we'd get. But living in Peoria, we thought, might not be a fit. We didn't doubt that Peoria was a nice city, a good place to raise a family even though neither of us was married. But we agreed that adjusting to Peoria might be difficult for urbanites like us, especially at the start, since we wouldn't be taken with the price of pork, whether it went up or down.

The lady was a surgeon recruited by a hospital. It took a little prompting but finally she said: "I repair pelvic floors in women."

Not too worry, I thought. She is still a very nice looking woman.

She paused to see if I'd react to her announcement of her vocation and when I didn't, she continued.

"If a bladder drops, or a rectum tumbles or if a womb is full of fibroids, I'm the surgeon that lady needs to see. These are ailments most men wouldn't understand unless they've had a wife who's had them."

I told her I did not have a wife, nor any candidates lined up in Chicago waiting for my hand.

She took a dainty bite of her burger that was still too big, despite being cut in quarters. She sipped her Coke and then informed me, "When I get done, the lady's free of all protrusions. She can urinate, defecate and have sex again, all without discomfort."

I had met my share of women but I had never met a woman, drunk or sober, who had ever said anything as startling as that even when in the throes of breaking up. I had no idea what to say and so I sat and listened as she continued with my education.

"Actually, my patients have a choice," she said. "They can let me do the surgery or they can buy a pessary, a device few women know anything about until I pull a sample from the cabinet and explain its ins and outs. The pessary makes surgery seem simple. All we have to do then is pick a day for me to tuck the lady’s organs back where they belong."

I said a procedure like that sounded painful, even allowing for an anesthetic. It sounded much worse, I said, than a colonoscopy, a procedure I’d become acquainted with early in life due to family history.

She nodded slightly and continued, "Now, if the lady's womb is full of fibroids, I'll suggest we take the uterus out as well. I’ll tell her we'll remove the crib and leave her playpen intact. Often that's the best solution."

She sipped her Coke again and said, "Somewhere in Peoria, as we speak, a bladder's dropping, a rectum's quivering and a fibroid's growing. Believe me, if the salary is right, I'll take this job because a fibroid in Peoria is no different than a fibroid in New York."

Then she looked me in the eye and said, "Well, that's my story. Now tell me, what do you do for a living?"

I finally had the floor and so I took a breath and said: "I repair sentences in documents written by intelligent people expert in arcane fields. Some of them can't spell or punctuate. Or if they can, they dangle participles, split infinitives or run their sentences together like mountain rams in rutting season."

I knew I could not trump her pessary, but I added, "I put muscle in their verbs, amputate their adjectives, assassinate their adverbs. I give my clients final copy they can claim is theirs. The reader never knows that a ferret like me has crept between their lines, nibbling at this and chomping on that."

At the end, I added a remark I hoped might prompt a get-together later, perhaps for dinner and drinks, another chat, a little laughter, and who knows what else. If our spirits meshed, a coupling was something we could accomplish before we'd have to take different planes back home.

"I believe our professions are similar," I told her, sipping the last of my Coke. "I too put things back where they belong and I cut away anything protruding."

About an hour later, we had paid our tabs, said long good-byes, shaken hands with considerable warmth and headed off in different directions for our interviews.

By day's end, we'd both be flying home to different cities. And although we'd still be strangers, we'd be strangers who had had an interesting conversation.

Not interesting enough, however, for either of us to ask the other for a name or number.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Red Sky Mine

by Devlin De La Chapa

Snakes hang dry
pink petals bloom

Sun kisses dirt
water runs green

Cactus saps
trees loose leaves

Dead and dying
blazing and bursting

Girls is the day
under boys are the night

Red sky mine,

Lost On A Line

by Denny E. Marshall

Oh, please take me
And lead me to that place
That her and I discovered
In the darkness
We found the border
The line between man and women
Is blurred
And gets lost in the moment
We swam on the edge
So far out
Discovering unforgettable


by Stephen A. Rozwenc

ha ha ha
your mind caught in your zipper
like a mask without a flipper without a flipper
like a hip hop stripper
lap prancing on some honky tonk bar Howdy Doody
her oxycodone swabbed medulla oblongata prima stigmata
sea shell oracle
that unmentionable FEMALE identity
slides into his side pocket
to check his ID
to find out what KIND of death
is appropriate for his ravenous life
and how much he’ll PAY to keep it their secret
form of worship

we’re in Key West NOW baby
we’ve got ALL the new labels
Jose Cuerveo humping Jack Daniels
bulb pink Elvis flashing le petit mal in go-go boots
surgically implanted Marilyn Monroe post-op bee-bop
papa hemingway los cojones laundered brains
your tired your poor your huddled dildo stores
hail Mary Natasha Halenka Treblinka
1,000’s of Russian Italian Irish Cuban Israeli
hymen fairy tales
pierced belly buttons selling T-shirts and trinkets by day
squirming on their sex slave backs by night
in some cocaine homo sapiens Greek revival sugar shack
owned by the photo-electric gun runner
full of grace
we’re in Key West NOW baby
where good and evil have dressed up as sex and death
to mate with a street corner
like corn row strings of rain
in her luxury hotel street suite
virgin queen statue lady
of liberty
of an entire culture
and knows just HOW

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Booksmarts are Still Silt at the Redneck Riviera

by Brittany Fonte

Today: the errant shells from ego breaks are tempest tossed and jagged and cutting; I bleed pain for sharks to heal on this “vacation” with children clamped to my unseasoned (or unseasonable) hips. Glass slipper grains, ground to the size of flossed bikini tops on heavy step-sisters, cover decades of: tanning lotion, sunrise sex, bonfire ash and seaweed. I pry those hardened pricks from my alabaster skin, expose grown-up (read: jiggly) thighs, peel this ass to garish pink beneath a mommy’s muumuu, resentful. Diet soda in hand, extra saccharine for sentiment, I swipe some sweat, grit sand in teeth, wonder when he’ll tire. I am no sand architect.

While weighty waves threaten XXX-foliation, and the sea washes the shore slate clean, it cannot curb my tongue. I swear with one syllable words (almost inaudible) as the tide rolls over my crab citadel: twelve, now thirteen, now twenty times as my son counts, childishly chronological. My very smart son shovels over water foreclosure, hums like a lark with flooding insurance. I’ve forgotten to apply sunscreen (and patience and fun) and childhood memories, so scale, instead. I am red with emotion, Scarlet (O’Hara).

I shadow smiles, though, of shallow joy, adjacent to perfect spindly legsthat will never need pilates. I dig dig dig with him: heartache, headaches, regrets and regression. I sift wet from dry to castle this fate, as asked. Each time, we are pooled. I am: mother, teacher, wife and sinner. I am missing every other title staring at the pierced navels walk by on trim tummies, watching balding tattoos move on tailored backs. I sow a moat and say I’m sorry.

Like lessons lost in youth, or diluted, dishonest sweat, heat entombs us. The sun falls and falls and hits (beneath this belt, nude). I wait for the temperance of tide and rebirth, my regeneration, or a starfish, four-footed and needing, like me. I count the seconds to “saved” status, wonder if beer works wonders, as I have wandered for more than forty days in a place where I’ve drowned in clichés: it’s hotter than Hades. I do not own a can cozy, and there is no lifeguard present. I’ve misplaced any attention I might have brought home from the hospital with my breast pump.

My child chides only with chafing calves, but my fingernails bleed in futile fullness. Below this Cinderella surface are years of draping storms that started with an overbearing mother or a belittling world, hiding all that he wants on six legs. Heaven worms in what waits beyond “me” in echoes of creation crashing. I see; a jellyfish stings my foot, not his. So I call to the less evolved, again; I play my role. Finally, I fish for that one that will feed us all, or the words to hail a fairy godmother.

Bird Feeders

by Robert E. Petras

I watched four laborers suck out a pit.
I just stood there twiddling my thumbs
on the air keyboard, drifting,
                drifting into reverie,
back to our front porch,
sitting there, watching flinches flit
around the bird feeders, thinking of you.
Deeper and deeper they nibbled.

Suddenly we were driving
along a country lane
getting to know each other.
                During our few gaps of silence,
we both were daydreaming.

You told me you had been dreaming
of a white house in the country
with white wicker chairs
on the front porch
and bird feeders.

A slurping sound they made
told me they had reached the bottom,
freed the passage,
but the slurping really reminded me
of our straws finishing a soda
at a little Dairy Isle
after our ride in the country.

During twilight we shall sit
upon those white wicker chairs
on our front porch
and watch the birds feasting
upon our dreams,
still getting to know each other
just a little more.

right after my parents were married

by Justin Hyde

they lived in blairstown
with mom's parents.
mom got on
as a second shift rn
in cedar rapids
and dad took up
with a cement crew
out of van horne.

every night around seven
grandpa would get a call
from opie
down at the tavern.

dad was getting surly-drunk

starting fights.

grandpa and grandma
would drive to the square

grandma would drive on home
while grandpa stuffed dad
in the passenger seat
of dad’s camaro
and drove him home.

they'd repeat it
couple hours later.

they started hiding
dad's keys
but dad found
an old sears tandem
with pneumatic tires
out in the garage.

grandpa hauled it
to the landfill.

finally discovered
if they could get dad
into the basement
with a couple bottles
and his eight track player
he'd run course

thirty years later
i'm drinking tequila
in opies. opie
still tends bar.
looks to be
eighty years old.

grandpa is

dad and i
don't speak.

i roll an empty shot glass
back and forth
in my palm
thinking about grandpa
trying to stuff my dad
in the camaro and
my old man
pumping that sears tandem
four miles
over gravel roads.

i'm not sure why

but it makes me
feel proud.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

in need of no title

by Marcia Arrieta

contrast clarity or the alchemist who walks across the branch—
into a tavern of light. "don't be obtuse," he advises.

i am a white heron in summer.
all is obtuse.

arrows point in different directions.
we need more beer. clearly.

adjunct water. the boat to be piloted through the sand. listen; compose
the sky as idea.

indifferent the approach. the stanzas vary in lines. preface the imagination.
everyone feels sadness. there is no contingency.

the attempt to control will shatter. design the spaces.
semi-colon. colon.

triangle. square.
the leucadian shore. the montana wilderness.

hieroglyphic independence. invent immediate.

snowflake. sun. air.

The Sun Doesn’t Look the Same

by James Babbs

without you
the room seems bigger
when I stand near the window
I want to close my eyes
this is the first time and
I don’t know what I’m doing
pushing open the door
before slowly walking outside
without you
the trees have started to rust
I’ve forgotten too many things
this is the next time and
I don’t know where I’m going
standing in the front yard
trying not to move
without you
the sun doesn’t look the same
when the light falls
the shivering begins
I start remembering and
I can’t get warm

Sugar Water

by Laura Eppinger

I don’t think, in my life, I have ever been offered sugar-in-water so much as I have been during these five months in South Africa. Or ever, really. Not once did someone offer to stir those white granules into my tap water during my 24 past years in the United States.

They always tell me the same thing: I’ve heard it’s good for shock.

Just in the last month I’ve had two offers. I accepted the first, though not the second. The first time, I was cornered in a neighbourhood alley and mugged at knifepoint. The neighbours found me frantic and crying on their doorstep and took me in. The second time, I fainted in a DVD rental joint after a day filled with chilly rain and long walks and no spare change for food.

The taste of too-sweet water will from now on bring back an electric twinge of shame. I just don’t have the heart to be needy. Phoning the police will take up too much of your time, don’t bother. I’m so sorry I scared you when I pitched forward, unconscious, into a shelf of New Arrivals. Can’t we all just forget this happened? I’d just like to slink back into my quiet world of stolen cigarettes and forgotten meals, thank you.

Black tea helps, Coke Light, too, to steady a head when it’s spinning. After a night of no rest, when the taxis are dead, after all its
sparks and shocks.

So drink sugar water, when you’re shocked.

Drowning of Dreams

by jan oskar hansen

The lake in this landscape of stones and sky, is dark, forbidding, yet
alluring. Like a hypnotic eye, come nearer and see me. My depth
is endless all you illegal dreams rest in my bed. Come swim in me,
dive and I will show you the sensual shock you have denied so long.
You will see your parents in a sexual embrace floating by, your lust
to join them will be unbearable, out of reach of your ejaculations.
There will no respite, no hiding place for dreams you have refused
to see. Has morning light, has rescued you from trying truths?
As you sink further down the hell of your existence shall drag you
into a flagellation of desire and you’ll see bones of those who gave
into their yearning, forever live in the hell of impossible desire.
The lid of my dark eye shudders turn back now, let me embrace
the forbidden and your secret will go unspoken, like shifting sand
in Sahara where only silence survives.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

What You Were

by Claudia Rey

Sunshine for my mornings
water for my garden
flour for my bread
smile for my mouth
laughter for my joy
peace for my mind
that’s what you were.
And what was I?
Wax for your floor
carpet for your feet
cup for you coffee
blanket for your nights?
Apparently not enough
since now you drink coffee

The Moon Weeps Tonight

by Jerry Fishman

Gold lacquer moonpearls
Drip from the moon
And I
Swallow the drops of gold
Swimming in my tub.

I see
Of a sudden,
Proud, hairy Priapus
All raging
With taut muscles
Riding a chariot of silver
Across my sky.

This ancient eruption
In my so precise century
Slaps my face.

But I see into
The raging eyes of Old Priapus
And I long to soak his energy in my own precise body.

He flashes across the sky.
Poof! He is gone,
And modern me, bereft of awe,
Stuck in a tub
Under the sky.
Moon bathed,
But lacking the dryads, nymphs and
underground spirits of yore.

All modern in my precise tub.

I had but moment vision
Of the Ancient One,
And Gone is he now.
I alone with my gold polished moon bubbles.
Lacking the ancient awe.

My precise IPAD lies there
In the grass with my clothes.
O hideous instrument;
Magic box with
A thousand thousand eye scenes.
But the Shaking Glory of
Ancient gods
And mysteries lies not
In the prim, precise pod of purloined pictures
There on the grass
Amid my clothing.

All the whirling water around me
Spins golden bubbles
Under the Moon.
And forlorn, modern me
Trapped in the carnal emptiness of precise pictures, pictures, pictures.

I would give up my very life

To see

Oh to see
For one brief moment more
That old and raging, naked-loined god of old.

The wild Priapus
Whipping his foam-flecked silver horses, his shining quaint chariot
Across cosmoidal skies.

Idiot Savant

by Chris Butler

I’m with stupid
and all alone,

adding the two of us
together to equal
an odd number
(1 + 1 = 3),

because I can’t afford
to pay attention.

an idiot savant, a belligerent genius, a moronic whiz kid, a lobotomized brainiac, an illiterate poet, a plagiaristic beatnik, an autistic artist, a tone deaf composer, a colorblind painter, a dyslexic architect, a magical mathematician, a classless student, a preaching teacher, a dysfunctional perfectionist, a lackadaisical layman, a hypocritical critic, a carpel tunnel cripple, a handicapped olympian, a self-prescribed scribe, a profitable prophet and out of my mind insane.                                           

But I just wrote
an immortal poem.

On Death

by M. Chandler Rodbro

I started in the basement because it was easy
you told me
clean it up and it would be fine
And it was
until you asked me to move upstairs
with the coffee
to rearrange the furniture
and to stop fucking
And so I am resigned
to the sleeping porch
peering through leaded glass
trying to sort out rooms

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Drinking a Bottle of Wine

by James Babbs

I’m drinking a bottle of wine and writing about heart break I’m thinking about the past because there’s not enough love in the world there’s not enough love in the world and the sun feels warm upon my face I decided to come home and sit outside because it’s another beautiful day for weeks it kept raining and now the days have turned warm and sunny and there’s a great sense of calm permeating the air

The wine I’m drinking is red wine it’s cheap red wine but I like the way it tastes I buy two or three bottles of it at a time whenever I get the chance but this is my last bottle because I’ve drank all the rest and I guess I need to go and buy some more because I know there will be other days like this

I don’t have any wine glasses so I drink from one of those oversized coffee mugs and it only takes a couple of times filling it up before I empty the bottle and I can feel my face growing warm and that slight buzzing at the back of my brain and I feel like talking to somebody and I know in the morning I’ll have a terrible headache because wine more than any other alcohol always gives me one

But what about heart break I said I was writing about heart break and I know it happens to everyone and I know there are lots of reasons for it but mostly I’m thinking about a beautiful woman who decided she didn’t want to be with me anymore and it wasn’t because I did anything wrong and it wasn’t because of something I said or the way I treated her but just because I was something she didn’t really want so she had to let me go

I remember how she tried to tell me when I showed up at her house and her son was there playing video games and she didn’t have much to say and when her son left she didn’t come over and sit next to me but she just stayed on the end of the couch and she said she just wanted us to be friends and she said she wanted me to stay and eat dinner with her but I told her I couldn’t I told her I had to go

But then we got back together sleeping together again and I didn’t think about the friends thing I just thought I could change her mind I thought I could convince her of something but finally it just kind of fizzled out and there wasn’t any huge fight and nobody got angry we just felt this heavy kind of sadness settle in the space between us

I throw the empty bottle in the trash hear it thump against the bottom but I’ve started saving the corks putting them in the bottom drawer of my desk because I want to see how many bottles of wine I’ve been drinking and right now there are seven corks which doesn’t seem like very many but I’ve only been keeping them for the last couple of weeks

The Brilliant Morning Light

by David Meuel

Lynn loved the mornings when she woke up at Roger’s. She loved the warmth of his body close—sometimes very close—to hers. And she loved the long columns of brilliant, direct light that poured in around the sides of Roger’s thick red curtains to announce the new day. After six years of sleeping alone in her room, where the first light of morning was always dim and gray, this was magnificent.

That May morning, Lynn also thought about how important this day was going to be. Her daughter Kimberly was flying in from Boston. She had just completed her junior year at Wellesley and was going to spend the summer with Lynn in San Jose. Finally, Kimberly and Roger were going to meet.

After Lynn’s husband died, Kimberly became the center of her life. And, as time passed, Lynn saw the two of them more as friends than as mother and daughter. Lynn told Kimberly nearly everything, so much more than she and her own mother ever shared. And she appreciated how open Kimberly was about her life, even about the boys she dated.

When Kimberly went away to college, Lynn became painfully lonely and thought about dating again herself. She hadn’t seriously looked at any man besides Kimberly’s father for twenty-five years, and the prospect seemed frightening. But she made the leap and went out with several men who, for one reason or another, just didn’t fit. Then, at a business luncheon four months ago, she was seated next to Roger. They chatted, exchanged cards, met for coffee, and after that everything flowed as easily as the light that streamed into his bedroom in the mornings.

Lynn was both excited and nervous when she introduced Kimberly and Roger at the airport that afternoon. They smiled and shook hands, but Lynn could tell immediately that they weren’t going to like each other.

As the days passed, the tensions grew. Kimberly thought Roger was too self-centered and simply not good enough for Lynn. Roger thought Kimberly was a snob and a “manipulative brat.” Soon, Kimberly objected to Lynn spending nights at Roger’s, and Roger criticized Lynn for being weak and letting Kimberly walk all over her. The more Lynn tried to please them both, the worse things got.

After two months, a sad, frustrated Roger broke up with Lynn. She still had Kimberly, but, after another month, Kimberly was back at Wellesley. Lynn’s house was empty again. And the warmth of Roger’s body and the brilliant light that once shined on them both were just things she remembered each morning, when she woke up alone in the dim, gray light of her room.

Wrong Way Out

by Andrew J. Stone

Creatures hid themselves in the wind, their echoes seeping through the cracks in the wall once occupied by a door. It was a black night. Rain lashed against my sinking roof. I covered myself with blankets, but they ghosted through. I never saw them but I knew they were there. Creatures coffinized my melting heart, their voices possessed my soul and led me to an open door ready to lock me inside.

in the streets

by Marcia Arrieta

of art & ash & books
we roam
amidst the blue
adding a bit of yellow
a bit of red
the words
the paint
the music
the leaves & branches

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Wanton Blue

by Jerry Fishman

When I drifted
Out of mind,
I dwindled down
Through body;
I vortexed down
Into Soul.
Did not linger long.
Moved deeper
And deeper in.
Realized then
I was tasting the forty-two
Flavors of death.
Each flavor
A cold, chaste kiss
On my numbing lips.

I drifted
Ebony staircases:
My bare, wet feet
Walking down
Steps of living spiders
That slithered my feet.

Down, down
Unrelenting, shivery
I drifted into
Each death harbor
Where only giant rats
Sat discussing Kant
On rotten wharves.
Each harbor
Was the wrong one.
And so down I drifted into
  newer, Stygian hang-outs.

Down at last
To the end of the journey
From mind to essence.
At the end
Lay only a pile of blue
Blue wanton leaves.
Each one rubbery,
Chilly to the touch.
Each one giving off
A small music
That moved
From violin to angel wing.
And touching
Each wanton leaf,
The faces
Of ancestors rose
And I became
Not me, at last,
But the last
Unbroken chain
Of Ancestors.
Blessed be
The ancestors
Who birthed me.
And so I became
But one of them.

The newest blue leaf
On the endless
Human tree.
And death
Was my home
On the endless tree.
I leaf now
Among the wanton blue
I too
Am ancestor.


by Ben Rasnic

Trails of smoke streak the cobalt sky,
hang like wreathes
over Superstition Mountain.

Arizona sun buckles unpaved pathways.
Scattered bones of lost souls
offer white line hi-way markings.

Twisted rock formations
and colonies of cacti tower
above multi-colored wildflowers.

RVs & SUVs cling to hairpin
turns & winding switchbacks,
brakes screeching like dry chalk
against a classroom blackboard.

Black vultures huddle
over anonymous roadkill;
pick at the skeletal remains,

dodging slow motion steel bullets
shimmering in the Arizona sun.

John Doe

by Chris Butler

Don’t you know John Doe?
He’s the best friend
I’ve ever had.

Have you ever met his wife Jane?
She’s just the same.

Both have no face,
no pictures,
no government issued identification or social security cards,
no birth or death certificate (yet),
no fingerprints,
no recordable molars,
no tattoos,
no scars,
no birthmarks,
no possessions,
no family,
no children,
no friends,

but they have me
and I know them.

Henry’s walk of need

by Sarah E. White

Walking down the hallway of a thousand doors closed
Henry comes to one that will open
Stepping in with the first slivers of light
Light falling upon his true love for the first time
She’s lying on a bed of tangled sheets and dreams
Waiting for something, for someone
Needing to feel needed, to feel inspired
For it was as much a love afar of the mind as it was of their bodies
Two writers’ worlds intertwined with poetry madness
Bound tight by intertwined hopes and desires
Climbing in with her
His heart races with a thousand years of longing
He now feels the heat of her skin and smells the sweat in her hair
Meeting in a kiss they breathe each other in
His hands firm on her body
Her strong sinuous legs pull him in to her
Henry now feels her warm breath on his neck
Her lips feel hot with desire
Her hands are stronger than he expected
Her touch tingles through him, blood pumping harder through his veins
Henry barely holds onto her as she throws herself backwards
Backwards into a free fall of ecstasy
Immersing herself in all that is him
He finally has her, his June in his arms

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Riding Alone for 3,000 Miles

by Craig Shay

I am riding through seasons of insanity
  with a madman in my soul.

I am riding a subway train
  six-hundred feet below the city.

I am staring out the bus window,
  deflecting the forests jaded glances.

I am riding through the eye of a needle,
  listening to the engine sing me to sleep.

I am riding past people who have gun barrels
  where there used to be eyes.

I am riding a white plastic horse on a carousel of illusion.

I am riding over infinite rivers, because
  I want to know what the water knows.

I want to know that woman I see skinny-dipping by that river.
  I want to know what the grass knows, pressed closely against her skin.

I am stopped outside another industrial town,
  waiting on the library steps.

I am riding out the glow of television sets, which light up the night.

I am riding with my soul, through a sea of laughing hills.

June’s Late Night Desire

by Jason E. Hodges

June wakes in the in the darkness
Alone, alone for some time
She hears foot steps walking down the hallway
She knows he’s finally come
The one she’s waited for all of her life
As he opens the door her breath starts to get shorter
His hands now pull down the night cover as he leans in ever so closely
The silk that touches her skin is now drenched from the sweat of her body
The heat rolling off in waves make her heart beat faster and faster
As their lips touch for the first time
She now feels his hands searching her body
Then press gently on the small of her back
With a gasp she bites ever so softly down on his full bottom lip
Tasting all that is real of the moment
Pulling him in close to her body June knows now how badly she wants him
For she is burning like a thousand lit candles illuminating the pitch black of night
Her gasps become more frequent as their embrace locks into one another
She feels his hands now wrapping around her, squeezing her tightly
His fingers slide through the wet nap of her hair
Pulling it into a soft grab
Then suddenly he pulls her head back
His lips now caressing her neckline and under her ear
Back down to her soft waiting shoulders
June thinks, I can’t take much more
Wrapping her long legs tightly around him
She’s flooded with every emotion
June arches her back and grabs a fist full of bed sheets
Then comes the rush of endorphins
She then slips into his arms for the rest of her life

Juvenile Jackdaws

by Amit Parmessur

A baffling rain of birds blackened
my New Year in a snowy Swedish street.

My knees buried in the soft shroud I gazed
at one bird’s demise. His light blue eyes were
bordered with a young desire to soar,
but the death carousels inside were growling
so ominously. The purple sheen on
his crown reminded me of crazy queens
widowed after just one night.
The tip of his beak in the snow was like
a warrior’s rusty sword sleeping in
a morose sheath. No expressions
on his grayish-silver cheeks,
the bill and legs so black,
the green-blue sheen on his throat
like a pinch of poison, the bird’s stature
was a giant statue of death on cotton.
I remained silent, very silent, and
completely motionless as the breeze spoke
something into my nostrils.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


 by Richard Hartwell

Nestled deep within a green-firred, feathered bed,
Rings of verdant pines once encircled my Coquille,
All the family members now have been logged-off,
One by one from mountain slopes now logged bare.
There is no more a stand of stair-stepped timber there,
Bewitching, blooded; random seeds sown broadcast.

Roxie was the first to go, bone-rotted to the marrow,
Too weak to stand alone; gaunt, bent, and twisted,
Leaned against and layered on a younger generation;
Wire-sized and once-tough sinews boxed up neatly,
This ancient snag was replanted in hallowed ground,
Deeply consecrated, shady, but too sterile to harvest.

Walt went next, but he rolled off, away years before,
A composite beam, whose strength of layered parts
Belied the knotty weaknesses lying deep within.
Unyielding, he finally snapped at pressure points
When time was up, too sapped to stand up to even
One more randy bout of boozed-up, wild tempest.

When both these mighty spires had been felled,
The matriarch of the family grove emerged in Fran.
There was a time, a brief, resurgent, girlhood glow,
As within a meadow culled opened to the sun when
Radical new growth appears and prospers uncontrolled,
When legends expand with retelling and myths are born.

So it was with Fran and for a while her tasseled
Branches sprouted much new growth, attracting
Others to join and renew her spreading freedom.
Since she was young and lost in her own woe,
She could not change the direction of her core,
She perished all alone, strangled by suffocation.

With these three giants gone the grove cleared,
Second-growth timber mixed with underbrush,
Accumulated until applied to many other uses:
Bridging gaps, helping others, bearing weight.
Most logs mouldered that fell near the stump,
Failing to make the skinner’s cull and chute.

Much bent and weakened by that earlier reliance,
It took years to measure his crooked growth before
Royal left, himself rootless too, dangling, dead.
Two more have fallen inwards upon themselves,
Decayed by drugs, stagnated by the mushrooms,
One more mislaid and another in jail still thinking.

Of the five who “got away,” one hangs on alone,
While four traveled afar to escape their heritage.
There is a hierarchy to their occasional conversations,
Each does not whisper to all nor all to any one; only
This one brushes that one, who touches yet another.
By their collective silences, the forest now stands still.

Another family barren, like the hills above Coquille.

A little, too little Monsoon

by Manik Sharma

Sitting seven houses above the ground,
yet, cars moving across the windows
splashing wet grass on my vacant face
my brain squeezed to a feather
that fell off a reposing bird today
at the feet of a girl ravaging
the authority of fear in puddles, outside
Night approaches like the wall to the windows
swallowing a little pride, and a little dance
and the rest


by Claudia Rey

A house full of books
lots of time to read them all
and peace in my heart

my Mozart, good wine,
passions, maybe, but different,
just wisdom at last…

and yet I’m too young
or at least not old enough
to give up loving.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Galloping Horses

by Craig Shay


  no longer
    a comrade.

  no longer

Luminosity rests,
  a sickly grandfather,
drinking down his warehouse
  of history –
taking a nightly stroll
  through half-deserted streets.

The horses have been
    they are kicking up dirt
    in the deadland.

Helen Whispers In My Dreams

by Jason E. Hodges

As I drift to sleep I free fall into this strange new land
A land where you’ve been for what seems like a thousand centuries
A land where the air is clean and dry and Helen still whispers in the soft sea breeze
Where the moon bleeds orange and red with love over the city of Troy
Love of a woman that brought the mighty ships so long ago
Ships filled with men ready to fight
To bring her back
Now all is caught between legends and dreams
At least dreams for me, for somehow I’m here with you
Yes, I know I have to be dreaming for Helen seems to be with us now
Walking the shoreline
As graceful as swans gliding through mirrored lake tops of reflection
A shoreline that’s gently touched by what looks to be the bluest of waves
Making our way through the cobblestone streets and cracked marble of time
Then the dream shifts like a blink in the eye of time
Like a stage scene set perfectly with x-marks waiting to place
And now it’s just you and I
Talking in a café as a yacht drifts in the distance
For the ocean is so close we can taste its thick salt in the air
Suddenly we’re on the shoreline of the great Mediterranean
With its water crystal like clear
Polished rocks line the beach as far as the eye can see
So beautiful and smooth like jewels in our hands they sit
Like pieces of time they litter our walkway as Helen once more ushers us into her world
For we now are her chunks of marble sculpted in her on special way
A way of beauty far beyond most comprehension
So bright, she easily guides our way through the darkest obsidian night
Then finally I wake to the last thoughts I remember
You and the whispers of Helen

The Cactus People

by Amit Parmessur

The wind with a tuna smell blows into their
faces as they look from behind rusty iron sheets.

In some eyes I can see a spark, an unwillingness to buy
a way out of poverty. I’m afraid of speaking to them,
these cactus people, as they never smile. Yet,
these silent, stoic people populate my dreams.

Each time I see them open their wooden gate it
seems I can overhear their bones crack.

The children in decrepit cars would lick
their lips to clean the deposits of the salty wind,
with furtive and inhospitable and indifferent looks.

When they cross the road they go about
like an anxious herd, never hand in hand, only looking
at each other once at the other side. They’re a
rare race. Their heels as shoes, their palms as gloves, their
skin as their clothes, they have a stomach of steel.

I know the secrets and contours of their language,
these cactus people, but they never smile.

Why they still have cacti everywhere around their
small houses? Does cactus have a
divine place in their uncivilization? They co-exist
with all the wealth of poverty,
occupying the harshest lands. Those bearded goats,
naked hens, proud roosters. It’s a shame,

as these cactus people were once my dear people.

It’s also true; no amount of expensive perfume has
removed that tuna smell lingering all over my soft face.
I can’t forget the red soil before and after cock fights.