Travelers Welcome

Travelers Welcome

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

As Fillmore said to Henry:

by Robert Laughlin

As Fillmore said to Henry:
You can have any color you like
As long as it’s black, white or yellow.

Rotation Alley

by John Pursch

Hark, our feelers are coaxed into auction shorts and quaffed donuts, mesmerized by plenitudes, and chuckled at by savage hair nets. Modern man goes loyal at the sight of ankle jobs, sacrificing clay pots, reindeer, coulisse, ear-wax, real teeth, nostrils, snake pits, surface bangs, bludgeoned mice, fields of treats, and buzzing cattle; all for a hook, a menagerie of diamond numbers, a gleaner of the loosened chaste. A bowl of minnows cans peaches in a celluloid basement, swirls to centrifuge a meager rat, and irrigates a bunion, half complete. Cobblers crown a chortling monkey preened for stays of restitution, reinforce a Day-Glo hindrance, and titillate the moribund sexologist. Climbing on a cyborg, armatures finned with ballast, we answer merry lipids, defenestrate a bobbin, and circulate nude lacquer chips.


by Anita McQueen

Slant of darkness
turning me over in my bed

face in my pillow
breasts and belly against the mattress

hard to breathe
afraid of the ceiling caving in
with all my sin

wanting soon
the daylight window
blurring it away with blinding brightness

not crying anymore
little girl gone
a woman now

getting dressed to dance down the stairs
slurping a bowl of cold cereal
aiming for my hot heart

forgetting the night and the night to come
I chat with the neighbors

catching the bus to tease my boss
another paycheck not quite enough

weekend coming with party after party and agonizing guilt.

Tell Me Something I Don’t Know

by Bobbie Troy

tell me something I don’t know

but not about keeping secrets to preserve dignity
about burying truth with illusion
about hiding fear with prejudice
about wanting to belong to the crowd
about being haunted by love
about being hounded by heartache
about seeing logic but not accepting it
about being alive but not feeling

tell me something I don’t know
before I go

(Twin) Moon(s)

by Darryl Price

A late blue electricity, frying up nicely, you and I, 
you and me, then so briefly sure, a candle inside 
wind rains, slipped into always sad afternoons, filling my thoughts,
and that'll be that, your lips, my mouth, I was
amazed, I don't know if it means anything, invisible to
the naked eye, passionate, possessive, the outer grey galaxies, this
exhausted, lonely, marbled countertop, no longer humming as it should; 

later a softened madness in the middle-ages that he seemed
to profess to us both that I hoped for her
sake she found particularly offensive, I admit my words might 
count as cherry trees for markings, a cruel joke, since
you have thin cold fingers studying barbed wire, more likely
the ice forming all at once, rudely, a hole in
the heart, equally perilous and apple red, like unforgiving mediocrity.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

the petting zoo

by Brian Le Lay

don't dare jolt the barbwire fence
so long as the wireless is working

and they keep the brainless beat booming
through the black bows of trees,
a synthesis to stagnate to,
it's scary in the wild

what ever happened to the glory days
of twelve-hour webcam masturbation
on a national holiday?

the neighbor's festive twinkling lights
and lamplit santa claus
hazing through your frosted window,

jim-bob your naked woolen stomach whiter
than mary-ellen snow

and that middle-aged man from colorado
i almost had phone sex with
but chickened out
when i heard his voice
where's he now? typing a series
of facebook statuses which chronicle
the boiling of a pot of water?

wikipedia is the lonely drunk uncle
of encyclopedias who knows a lot
about six cylinder engines
and teaches you to drive stick
while taking pulls
from a silver whiskey flask,
whatever it takes to forget the war,

internet is a library burnt to pyramids
of sawdust ash and pissed on

and pasted back together,

a sad petting zoo where prolifically
anti-intellectual college kids
like zebras with their stripes skinned,
like lobsters with their claws clipped,
like race horses long surpassed their heydays,
receive the superficial kisses
for which they so deeply yearn,

proffer flaccid vacant statements
and whine oh my the immense
academic trick-chutes and tripwires
of the thirteenth grade

settle for state schools, the predictable shadows
of your childhood bedroom,
maintain your social stride and cower,

you've the night-creeks in your old
wooden staircase memorized,
why move on? zimbabwe's where?
no no we know where europe is
we just don't care to go

and it's a slow, slow


Satan Never Knew He Had A Twin

by Cynthia Ruth Lewis

It figures.
I should have known you'd show up again.
I knew the day would come
when you'd eventually resurface,
like the stubborn turd that you are

You're sadly mistaken if you think
I've got nothing better to do
than fall for your bullshit a second time around,
that I still have such a low opinion of myself
I'd allow you to drag me through the mud again,
and re-expose myself to your psychotic mind games
and emotional torment

I was hoping you'd be hanging by your nuts
in Hades by now
but I guess even the devil doesn't want
your sorry ass;
I'm sure you even took him for a ride
at some point in time,
but you were always such an expert at deception,
he probably didn't even recognize his own kin

I'm sure he learned a thing or two from you
before he had sense enough to cut you loose

I learned a great deal, myself;
I'm amazed at all I went through because of you
but, I have to admit that it strengthened me
enough to where I can look back
and laugh at it all,
and if you, yourself,
would have learned the art of that
a long time ago
instead of taking your relentless anger out on others,
you might have even had half a chance
in the human race....

and the devil would still be an only child

A Once-in-a-Lifetime Deal

by Wayne Scheer

So this magic fairy
Says to me
Because I've been good--
My cholesterol is 136
I don't cheat on my wife
And I recycle--
He's been authorized
To make me
A once-in-a-lifetime
You're sixty-five,
He reminds me.
According to 
The Natural order of things
You're going to get older,
Infirm and die.
That's your future.
But if he
Sprinkles me with his
Genuine, state-of-the-art
Fairy dust,
He promises
I'll get younger
And healthier
Until I end up
A teenager again.

I remember myself
At sixteen
Arms dangling
Voice changing
Hormones raging
And in less time
Than it would take me
To choose between
A NY pizza
And a poke in the eye
I tell him
I prefer  
The natural order of things.

Checking In

by Anthony Ward

I’m not sure what exactly happened; what had caused me to lose control. I remember going over the edge, tumbling several times before coming to an abrupt halt, as if the earth itself had stopped. Whether there was a defect or it was down to my drinking I cannot be sure, but I can be sure that the drinking was certainly responsible for my careless behaviour, my destructive nature.

It had been building up for some time, slowly but surely, like the Allegretto from Beethoven’s seventh—getting under my skin and taking me unawares until I could not stop humming it. The thoughts resonated in my mind until I became convinced by their harmony that I belonged to a world where I could no longer find a library that bore the names of the great literary elite; as if they were being removed from obscurity and replaced with the non-literary in terms of endearment to the mutually famed, like all those buildings that had accommodated me through my youth, that had since been removed.

I felt as if our sentimentality was being sterilised and our memories were being isolated; as if some undercurrent was currently presenting itself—the past being erased like the old bus station where I used to smoke that’s now being replaced by a new bus station where I can’t smoke at all.

I would often stand there wondering where it would all lead, imagining myself being able to walk into a store to download the ability to write, contemplating how that would influence literature, by writing, not from experience or how you perceive the world around you, but on what takes your fancy at that particular moment. Wondering also, what is the purpose of life in the idealised sense? Mere animals do nothing but survive; they have no aspirations to predetermine their existence, except to live for the present. What separates us from the primordial instincts is that we as intelligent beings can aspire to the aesthetic. Though what is the aesthetic if it doesn’t belong to the individual? Is the ability to write just ability or something more personally intricate? What would life be if we lived it as if it were a preordained script, with all incidence and circumstance primarily prepared? It’d be like opening a present and already knowing what’s inside because you bought it yourself. It may well contain what you want, but without the element of surprise—without the essence of life.

I mean, would you send yourself a birthday card? That is what you are inherently doing if you contaminate yourself with artificial memories and abilities that you yourself did not live through or accomplish. The urban evolution is manufactured and preconceived by man without the miraculous independency of nature. Nature is free to respond to the rules of the universe while humanity is incarcerated by the rules of society. The city encapsulates our hopes and dreams by providing us with them when we should be searching for them, and upon finding them, realise their true meaning through the journey we fore-took to obtain them. An archaeologist would be suitably biased if he were to look upon what he’d been searching for all his life only to have it presented before him by someone else who found it surreptitiously. Although that happens to be a circumstance of life, he would however lose any personal identification with it. An astronomer would be despondent to observe someone else taking their place to travel to a destination that they themselves discovered through their own painstaking personal journey—and had aspired to go to all along—only to find that someone else that had been chosen by the establishment taking credit for their perseverance.

Imagine a mathematician searching his whole life to resolve a problem only for a computer to provide it for him. This is the true repression of art through representation which thus applies to life itself. Art creates idealism from the circumstances of life.

And so, feeling somewhat asphyxiated by these polluted thoughts, I found I could no longer breathe confidently within such an enclosure and decided to free myself from the urbane environment, and left the city in the hope that I may write again, taking to the road on a journey of self discovery.

Though after I’d placed considerable distance between myself and my heavy burden, I began to feel somewhat light headed—despite finding it difficult to hold my head up as if I were falling asleep—when all of a sudden I saw myself heading towards the barrier, which caused me to throw my body against the wheel.

But it was too late; the next thing I knew I woke up with the worst hangover I ever felt, unsure of where I was or how long I’d been there, with no sense of time or place. I crawled out of the car—a complete wreck—and climbed back up onto the road.

I must have walked miles trying to thumb a lift, but the cars kept on passing me by as if I wasn’t there. I to travel a considerable distance before my eyes rested upon an inert effervescent light up ahead, which I realised to be some sort of sign, so I decided to check it out.

As I got closer I felt its facade staring at me with a sort of ethereal amber glow emanating from its mouth-like entrance, which practically inhaled me as if I was nothing but air.

Once inside I wandered through the atrium that appeared to hold a certain reminiscent accent to the atmosphere, and I felt as if my presence was being monitored by the silhouettes hanging between the arched balconies, looking inquisitive in their perplexed anxiety as if my arrival had plagued them with consideration.

Shrugging them off I headed towards the reception and checked myself in—surprised by the lack of clarification I had to convey. The woman behind the desk merely looked at me and passed me a set of keys with appreciable intrigue as to determine what I’d find after I’d unlocked what was disclosed within.

As she passed them to me I noticed scars running up her arms, as if they were directing me to her eyes that looked beyond me into the distance, as if one of us wasn‘t there. She appeared to me as if she’d been running this establishment for some time, though I sensed a lack of interest in anyone but herself, as if she were holding onto something that had long since gone. I almost looked around to see if there was a cake—though I did notice a long table in the hall set with so much food it would spoil your appetite; but I was certainly in need of a drink.

As I looked around the ballroom it was as if was viewing a movie of antiquity, as if I were watching the whole thing through a pane of glass—almost translucent. I sat admiring the view through the windows that were adorned with timeless landscapes through a spectrum of mediums, with each direction harnessing a season at every angle.

I couldn’t help but notice a large portrait on the wall that resembled the hostess in a more amicable statement than the one I’d received at reception. I could see what it was she did not want to let go of, and from this vantage I could understand why. She certainly was beautiful when accompanied by her youth, when the world had been her stage and she was embezzled in close-up. While now she couldn’t accept that her beauty had been preserved for all eternity and that she should at least live out the rest of her life with dignity, though at the same time I couldn’t help but ascertain the prospect that any other artist could carry on creating despite their age. Though with grace she could have continued acting the parts the movies required. Was it her ego or the studios that caused her cessation from the limelight? Was it the studio that decided she didn’t look the part or was it her that didn’t like the look of the parts that were given to her when age became an issue? Did the movies give her the elbow or did she elbow the movies—ashamed by what light she was presented in?

In fact, in essence she represented the whole atmosphere of the place, all characterised intrinsically as if every being was acoustically accosted by the auditorium, harmoniously orchestrated in incident, while music reiterated from every atom, resounding within the entirety of the space, as if we were all hearing our own individual music yet were listening to it together.

Just as I was becoming immersed in my own harmony, some morose chap with jaundiced skin clapped me on the shoulder and said to me—as if he were reciting his favourite line,

“So you fancy yourself as one of us now ey? Welcome to the end of the line man. You wanna drink?”

I did.

“There’s plen’y more where that came from boy. It never ends here. It’s just like you never left. You’ll always remember the way things were man. Sentimentality is the source of the soul. It incarcerates you forever.”

I looked at him to see if he actually meant what he was saying, before replying, “Well I’m just passing through. I just need to get my thoughts in order that’s all,”—feeling nauseous at the need to explain myself.

“Well I dunno where you headin’, though I do know wherever you’re trying to get to you wont find yourself any place better an’ this. All the cats are here man, no dogs whatsoever. The women here all look like ‘ey practically just walked off a movie set you know what I mean? They’ve been glossed over by all the trendy magazines; they’ve all scaled the heights of fashion man.”

“Well I just want some peace and quite so I can get myself sorted an’ get my head down.”

“There’s no need to work here man, you’ve got everything you could possibly desire here. This place is paradise, there’s nothing you could want that we haven’t got There’s no need to look anymore, you’ll find we have it all here.” He said with his bloated burgundy countenance disappearing and reappearing in the midst of yellow smoke.

“Well I’d rather find something for myself.”

“You know what they say? All work an’ no play. We got all the talent you could ever lay your eyes on here man.”

“Well I’m alright Jack.” I replied raising my glass and downing my drink before excusing myself to the bathroom which almost blinded me with its bright ivory ceramic tiles and sparkling basins.

I could of done with another drink but—feeling reluctant to converse anymore, and desiring solitude—I decided to go up to my room, ascending the stairs that bore chandeliers above the landings, all twinkling with a transcending glow of amber.

I found myself wandering along vast corridors decorated with wallpaper to the effect of a disused yellow. They were aligned with doors that held plaques that bore dates instead of numbers, and as I pulled my keys from out of my pocket I smiled to myself when I saw the number and recognised the authenticity of my predicament.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Queen's Day

by John Pursch

No one would notice, if not for the plant effect; went out of business and onto the rodeo circuit, opening a fish hook with a cat arm left, twenty peat to the fin, who wood off the pith wayfarer; topped it off the teeth, clay journey’s mental work, on the drain for staves, building a fence from scratch. Collect them all, save pollable risers for use on tomorrow’s wallpaper, donuts, and ornamental straws; faded license plates, pennants, scaffolding, dump trucks; vol, full, bezet, not a bed in town… Healthy smokers, a laugh a second, crazed dance crowds, the human churn, just carried off with the flow, bottleneck, the music stops, the eardrum strains in a tunnel beneath the Alps… Pass out over the bill, hire penguins for sandlot game, line up romantic zeppelin for sycophantic sarcophagus, new act with no tread marks. Clear glass pylons, banners of impending urinals, nanoseconds played with such a plumb, the prunes gave up and hinted at momentary windfalls. "Don’t leave!" the small rotisserie shouted.

Teaching (the little bastards to smoke)

by Raymond Keen

Teaching (the little bastards to smoke)
In the rain
Without parachutes.
Don’t look down,
Since there is no afterlife.

What you see,
What we are,
Painted faces in the animal kingdom.
Don’t look down,
Since there is no afterlife.

More and more people
Walk around in jogging suits.
Is this good for our Democracy?
Don’t look down,
Since there is no afterlife.

Your old church,
Which is sitting on shit,
Spreads our money all over the floor.
Don’t look down,
Since there is no afterlife.

You stick it in her,
“The old in-out, in-out,”
And we call that love.
Don’t look down,
Since there is no afterlife.

According to science,
Mind is brain,
Eyes are meat.
Don’t look down,
Since there is no afterlife.

Why did we do it?
We did it for the money.
It was the money.
Don’t look down,
Since there is no afterlife.

We must continue
With professional commitments,
While working toward our doctorates.
Don’t look down,
Since there is no afterlife.

You look better in the sun
While riding your silver bicycle.
We can’t even remember your name.
Don’t look down,
Since there is no afterlife.

Where can we go
To be someone else,
If beauty doesn’t matter?
And beauty doesn’t matter,
Since there is no afterlife.


by Mike Berger

The honky-tonk piano was playing it hot.
The moonshine was raw not the best of
the lot.

Introducing myself to a table of ladies,
I told them, "I'm big Al, no doubt you've
heard of me." A bevy of giggles followed.
They all laughed but the lady in black.
She looked down her nose and her eyes
said, "Oh please."

Sitting at their table, I bought them a
round of drinks. They all seemed pleased
except for the lady in black, who replied,
"Thank you, but I'm good." A pug nosed
blond ran her hand over mine. She batted
her eyes. The lady in black laughed, shook
her head, and looked away

Fascinated, I ask the lady in black to
dance. Taken totally by surprise when
she nodded yes. Her slender body moved
as if it were choreographed. "You're not
like the others," I commented. She
puckered her lips and knitted her forehead
and replied, "I'm not much into juvenile
mating rituals." She paused and stared
into my eyes. "I would appreciate it if
you don't give me your razzmatazz."

All of my favorite pickup lines took to
wing. "I like that," I told her. I stared
deeply into her dark eyes. Her body
and look immediately softened. "You're
the first guy in months I've met that I
don't intimidate." She smiled as she
reply. "Why should I be afraid of a
beautiful woman," I countered.

The music changed, the Ragtime
vanished replaced by soft melodies.
The piano picker must have seen us
and changed from hot to cool. I took her
boldly in my arms and touched my cheek
on hers. Her perfume sent chills down
my spine.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


by Pat St. Pierre

Add ingredients slowly.
Flour is the starter
white, pure and simple.
Salt, is not bland nor virgin
it makes the tongue roll
along the smooth lining
of the mouth.
Milk, the liquid substance,
is the necessary lubricant.
Egg the seed of life
adds moisture to the mixture.
Vanilla the flavor for individuality.
Hands, limbs torso help to
produce the mixing action
necessary for completion.
Two lean hard bodies emit
pleasurable heat.
The newly consummated batter
forms a creation of life.

Autumn at its Ebb

By Sarah E. White

White and brown patches of cotton
Lay scattered along the road
With the bright yellow explosion of wilting Maples
Fiery red and amber leaves
Yanked from their anchor point yet again
Floating now down
Ever falling toward the cold hard ground
Autumn at its ebb
I watch it flow out
As the wave of winter begins to build on the horizon
Waiting to crash upon us
The earth prepares for the break
The sandy bleak colored grass
Sucking the last bit of life from the earth
An earth ready for hibernation
Ready now for rest
Time to shed its colorful layers and stand bare
In the cold of winter wind
Replaced hastily by the man made decorations
Of a season yet to come
The red, gold and green of giving and getting
Eating and drinking
Gouging ourselves on our gluttony
While the earth stands naked and shivers
Alone in the cold dark nights
Its bounty long since ripped from its belly
Laying now harvested
On the tables of the thankless
As that wave keeps crashing

A Small, Yellow Apple: A Sukkot Poem

by KJ Hannah Greenberg

A small, yellow apple fell
From our plastic-covered table, where my
Little, light-haired lads did smell
The juice, the bread, and ably

Blessed the stars above, which blinked
Then shone on their sweet heads,
In our brief cozy of a home,
Built from sky above our beds.

First Shema, next words that graced
Shechinah, whispered softly, shaped
Brachot ‘round our outdoor space,
Buttressing our trust in Him, Most Lofty.


by M. Elaine Moore         
Last minute Thanksgiving details,
     and trip into town.
He stands along the roadside,
     fighting the bitter wind.
Tattered coat, torn gloves,
     boots having seen a thousand miles.
A single plea written on cardboard.
There will be no feast for him,
     no warm bed tonight.
I stop to offer hot cocoa and cash,
     and I say, "God bless you, sir."
A solid nod in return. "He does. Every single day."
The man smiles around a hundred wrinkles,
And I learn the meaning of thankful.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Hide and Seek

by Savannah Stuitje

Love is not to be found in the backseat of a car
A circle of moonlight on a glossy front lawn
A musty basement spangled with cobwebs
In a nook, a cranny, a crawlspace
A library, a movie theatre slick with pop corn grease
Love is not shoved up against a wall
Wrists held down, breasts pushed up
Like a paid actress with goods for sampling
A housewife with a plate of finger sandwiches, pigs in a blanket
It is not stroked down its stomach like a purebred dog
Trembling into submission by a firm hand
Or groped through a flimsy dress
Love cannot be gripped by the thighs, made to ride like a cowgirl
Love does not rake its hands down your back
It is not made to moan and thrash
Or hold you in its hands like a prize fish
Mumble rosaries as it prays to you, its mouth open and regretful
Love does not scramble for its clothes in the dark
Or leave an earring behind; breathe something hot and moist into an ear
Love does not wander fingers down its body looking for souvenirs
Love does not wipe itself down with printed napkins
Or lose its underwear, a necklace, a sandal
Love does not sit in the bathroom and take inventory
Text a friend, call a cab, scrawl goodbyes on credit card receipts
A number, an exclamation, a drooping smiley face
It does not leave with its skirt caught in the car door
Love does not drive to a diner and eat pancakes
One after another, moistened with syrup and butter
Crunchy bacon and flaccid eggs cooked sunny side up
To lose the taste in its mouth
Love does not smoke bummed cigarettes
Or swallow handfuls of water in a gas station bathroom
Walk to a local pharmacy for little pills and take them dry in the parking lot
Bury the packaging in the trash
Love does not picture the darkness of its insides,
Porous white egg shell and minnow quick movements
Love does not curl its body into bed at 9 in the morning
In a little black dress, no underwear, and cold sheets
Love does not dream of babies rolling in lazy somersaults
Their eyes closed, hands folded, waiting patiently
Of bellies rounded with expectations
Seeds that smell the dirt like heaven
That come through cracks in the sidewalk
Their necks held out for execution

Glaring at the Light of a Digital Clock

by Noel J. Hadley

Leisure rasps of breath dampen my neck. I wrestle
with the belligerent light of a digital clock. She sleeps.
Under the sheets I can still feel the warmth of her vagina
moistening my leg. Naked breasts melt into my ribs.

Like scores of forefathers passing before me, as
Adam with Eve – I feel complete. I listen as the world smolders
silently, a rawhide matchbook of bodies scratching upon bed strips.
I imagine that right now pockets of the night are

illuminated – a wearisome pleasure flogged
with such fleeting passion then vanquished that sex is a makeshift
promptness only befitting to ghosts. Flesh is an appetite
that cannot be wholly incarcerated, it seems.

I fear that no amount of matches will ever
suffice for those who confuse enduring union with fleeting love.
Days of isolation seared with occasional escapades
of casual pleasure – then gone – a phantoms delight.

Passion is futile, then, without fidelity and afterthought.
The dampened blanket of her legs – the thawing of breasts in my ribs
and this present knowledge that she will be here in the morning –
no, beyond morning – tomorrow evening and the next –

Seven mornings from now, a month, a year even –
Give me another fifty years and eighteen thousand restless nights
strung in thought, glaring into the light of a digital clock.
I close my eyes. Her breath presses softly to my neck.

Nocturnal Mission

by Charles Watts

The woman was in black, hair and clothing italicized with grey
We met beside the photo of a concrete silo rigid in the sun
At the Art Opening. Both agreed that this was the photog’s
Finest work so far, that the thrust and shadow were pure examples of
The golden mean, a vision from a master. Her eyes were an ancient sea
A burial ground of lost ships, of amphora sealed, still filled with olive oil
And sweet Shirazi wine. Her lips were feather pillows plump and bold
And fluffed up for my comfort. I was as casual as a sighing man can be
As we descended the stairs and made for the Ceramics lab below the gallery.
There, amongst the potters wheels and clay, I fiddled with her bra strap
And she with my button fly and down she slid as I exploded into
Wakefulness, tumescent phallus throbbing in the poster bed
That rowed me lonely through the stormy Adirondack night.

Night: January 15th 2010

by Mike Meraz

the cops pull me over.
the cops ask my name.
the cops take me out of my car.
the cops frisk me up and down.
the cops put me into their squad car.
the cops ask me questions.
they hand cuff me.
they take me to their jail.
they sit me down.
they say I have 3 phone calls.
I call my sister
my aunt
and my lawyer.
I walk out of jail
and into the cold night air.
with no car.
and 100 dollars in my pocket..

I ask a man,
"which way is Heaven?"
he says, "that way."

I head “that way” thinking,
"I have to change."


by Clyde L. Borg

Ere the dawn
An equine neighs,
An awkward bird
Strikes a pane,
A cock crows,
And a leafless tree
Succumbs and falls,
All foretokens of death.

High Floaters’ Hardship

by KJ Hannah Greenberg

Eyrie height, cliffs, trees
Satisfied hunters, except
Those twins sibling-snuffed.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Siren Song of Swan Lake

by Ailill

Inside the magical underwater kingdom
of the lake, night world dimensions
of Hades, where the clouds roll backwards,
dreaming up, trees branch downwards,
reality ripples inward, and everything appears
as if seen through a rearview mirror,

there lives a lonely old crone,
howling out of the pit of despair.

From the surface we see her bone
exposed skin, moss covered hair,
rotten sulfur egg stink, smoked ghosts,
and the musk of crusty old fish guts.

But is it only the shadow
of our own reflections,
seen through the doors
of misperception?

Does the magic of her mystery
contain an elusive beauty?

Shy of this world,
could she really be
a mind-blowing
mermaid girl?

At first I dreamed of visiting
her lair through the versing
of a poem,

but growing scared,
I thought better of this affair,

because if you draw near,
she likes to nibble at your ear,
whisper sweet nothings
no one else can hear,
hold you in her embrace,
never letting go.

Yet, seeking out her secret gold,
didn’t heroes of old dare to defy
her tests?

Taking the plunge into
the deathly chill
of the waters still,
Perseus fell to the depths
of her forbidden well.

Finding her so seductive
he thought she was his wife,
for her he was willing
to sacrifice his own life.

Allured by the forces of the unknown,
maybe king Polydectes enjoyed
being turned into stone.
After all, how else could he stay
within her sight?

Dante thought he had found a key
to the portal of heaven.

northern bard and knight,
of Japanese legend,
sailor of a 1001 nights,

only through the yarn of myths
can I glean clues to her gifts.

But dear sleeper, this queen
of Thanatos finds us at night,
in the coma induced dreams
of Morpheus, her images entice.

On the count of three
the two worlds interweave,
dressed in her evening best
ready for the banquet,
thoughts turn cold,
dream windows
take hold.

Fear turns into acceptance
In silences peaceful.

Her presence
A reminder


Drumbeat rhythms

Sooner or later,
We will all find her.


by Mike Berger

I've been down this ugly road a dozen
times or more. I've done some damage
along the way; leaving a string of broken
hearts. Striking up torrid love affairs, then
leaving without a word.

Always able to find a job and make a
little money. Dollars were made to be
spent and I rarely have cent to my name.
I drink only good scotch and I know how
to romance a woman.

Driving a new Porsche, I'm six months
behind on my payments. I don't fear the
repo boys, I'm gone before the can
track me down. It's a perpetual game
of hide and seek where the repo boys
are always it.

I'm getting old and not as quick as I
once was, but I still have my mojo.
I hold to the principle that good die
young; that way I will live another
thirty years.

Soul Star

by Raymond Keen

Why would I
not sing to you
in tears of
vermillion fire?
Sing the fires of blue flame,
sing the rage of form.
For these words
no location,
in the blood-red
depths of an apple-green
Yes, yes your azure eyes
speak mine.
You breathe Bordeaux.
Your body is a rainbow
in this gunmetal world.
Heather me, feather me
in this gunmetal world.
Your seraphic soul
a star sapphire,
your roots a verdant green.
Awaken me
you do
in this
most pale night.
You cry out in me.

The Incident at Communion Service

by Don Jennings

Coleman Hawkins came back to church today. He hadn't attended in a while. I don't know where he'd been, though I'd wondered about him.  When we passed each other in the doorway of the vestibule, he smiled, held the door for me, and said “Good Morning, Ma'am.” I think I actually smiled back at him as I passed. That was how comfortable I felt. I guess time really does heal all.

The first time I saw him watching me, let me tell you, that was another matter. I was in line to take Communion, listening to the pastor repeat the familiar words about the body and the blood of the Savior to the person in front, when I felt his eyes on me. Coleman's eyes, I mean. They touched me, like a stranger had reached out and wrapped his hand around my hip.

I turned to look, to see who it was, and there he sat in the middle pew, all dark eyes and hair and that intent stare. Taking me in, all at once. Not just gawking at my figure, or forcing eye contact like some guys will do, but absorbing me from head to toe. For a moment it was just me and him. And I was naked.

I mean, other people were still in the church, too, I guess. But I lost awareness of them. And I suppose I still had my clothes on, in the literal sense. But I felt bare.

I don't mean I felt naked like in a dream where everyone else is clothed, but you're not, so you're all embarrassed. I mean I felt “nude”. Like I was a classical statue in a museum, or maybe a model in a swimsuit shot who got caught up in the moment and showed too much skin. Or like I was posing for one of those girlie magazines. Which, of course, is something I would never do. Though I have thought about
it, once or twice. Late at night.

Anyway, there I stood, exposed, alone in the sanctuary with this man whose I name I did not even know at the time, when I heard the pastor's voice. He was summoning me. Not to follow Jesus, I mean I guess that too, but he was telling me the line had moved and it was my turn to take Communion. So I swallowed the wafer, sipped the juice, and hurried back to my place beside Jack in the pew.

Jack is a wonderful husband. He likes to talk about his “wild” days back in the army, but as far as I can tell, the worst thing he ever did was stayed up late playing poker and drinking beer. He's real predictable, and that's a good thing in a husband. We make love twice a week. Usually once on a weekday evening, then again on Saturday.  He likes to see me naked in the afternoon sunshine, with the rays coming through the window above the curtains, bathing my skin in daylight.

I would never do anything to hurt Jack. For weeks after it happened--after the indiscretion with Coleman, I mean--I prayed for forgiveness every night. Well, maybe not every night, but definitely on the nights I made love with Jack, I prayed. I begged God not to let my secret get out and hurt my husband. I asked that Coleman Hawkins be struck mute, or something like that, so that no one could ever know what took place between us. I took my case to The Father, confessed, repented... and then just went on about my business. I bought groceries. Picked up the kids from school. I acted as if nothing had ever happened, and after a while, it almost seemed as if it hadn't.

Now, I rarely ever think about it. Just sometimes late at night, when Jack is snoring gently beside me, and I am alone with my thoughts. Or sometimes, just every once in a long while, when I close my eyes and turn inward, towards my secrets, on our sunlit bed of a Saturday afternoon.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Digital Clock Hotel
South of Hartford, Connecticut

by Noel J. Hadley

I kid you not. Pain and agony – there
is no healthier way to put it.
To say my bones ache, ha! I think my spine
just exploded. All night iron
fists pulsate my back. And then, reaching for
pain killers, a land mine detonates!

That is about the extent of my night –
In bed, cold, swallowed in agony.
I shall never forget the sting of death,
as though all my youth had been bested,
beaten in one final blow to the bone.
That is the full degree of the night.

Except I have failed to cite the length of
the slow drive through a despondent blizzard,
and how, when pulling off the interstate
I spilled charred coffee across my lap.
The only hotel was blistered in heaps.
True, but everyone swore it wasn’t.
The gas station attendant, the Waffle
House hostess – they pointed me in this
direction. Five times – Yes, I say five times
I spun my car down the icy hill,
crossing ghost paths with a charcoaled hotel.
Then, on my sixth try, I kid you not,
I stumbled upon this place, VACANCY
sign aglow – the V and N darkened.

That is about the extent of the night.
Now I am in bed passing the time.
Cold, broken, alone – Death molested me.
Where are you youth? We were together
for a moment, it seems, or perhaps two.
A moment, a day, a week, decades,
what does it matter? Everything before
perdition is a childhood dream. Now
seconds tick as minutes – hours as days.
Please, grant me the breath to kiss the flesh
of youth, if only in a lucid dream.
To grace, let me sleep, fashion a beard.
I fear I shall never leave this place – that
the sun shall never rise – that this
bed should always plague my bones – this hotel,
that it would descend into ashy
embers, plowed by an eternal blizzard,
that I should be a covetous ghost
in winter, always alone, – craving youth.

So, that is the extent of the night.
Still, the part that I will not soon forget
isn’t the blizzard, coffee, hostess,
burnt down hotel in heaps, nor corpse groans.
The greatest torments of hell rest not
in those, but in the damned digital
timepiece taunting me from the in-table.
Yes, taunt! That miserable device,
inching ever so slowly through the night.


by Rebecca Gaffron

I look in the mirror of your eyes and see myself, as I see myself, and wonder what you see. You, who called me beautiful while your calloused thumb rubbed traces of Halloween-costume-freckles from my smooth cheek. You gazed at me under a streetlight all but over-powered by the orange glow of a harvest moon. And it was clear you loved in that moment before your lips met mine. For an instant I wondered how and then the feel of you made me forget to question.

Now all I can think of is the reflection of your smile distorted by glistening water. A line whips and circles in the air.  A lure, so light—freshly  tied and real. The cast is perfect. I am mesmerized by infinitely swaying loops outlined against sky, like some complicated incantation, working and weaving the designs of the universe into our own desires. Willing this fish to strike.

And I can’t tell if I’m the fish or the fisherman. Not sure who is catching who.  Not that it matters. The hook is set and the work begins. We play each other. Reel in the slack and come up close, close enough to look in the mirror of the other’s eyes, where we see ourselves as we see ourselves and wonder what the other sees.

I could be a fish in your grasp. Caught. A gift you’d gaze heavenward and give thanks for. Or you, slick in my hands . A gift I’d tremble with gratitude for. But the run isn’t finished yet. So speckled, iridescent skin slips through hesitant fingers and the line pays out again.

I ache to trust you the way I have never trusted. I ache for you to kill me fast and set my soul free. I want to feel you split me open. Offer my depths to the river and watch as spring-cold currents wash away this mistrust. This doubt. This fear of surrender. I would do the same for you. Rub you down with juniper and salt, protecting more than flesh. Preserving those bits you thought you’d lost.

We could accept the gift of a magic fish. We could look into its eyes and see ourselves as we see ourselves, but also possibilities—a lifetime of harvest moons together and the lingering sound of your guitar, or my words, or the laughter of our children.

But then your lips meet mine and I wonder if this is refraction or reality, before the risk of losing you makes me forget to question.

Gacyville, 1986

by David S. Pointer

Subjected to a criminal justice grad student
wanting me to accompany her ambitions—
interviewing John Wayne Gacy in Illinois
abut his atrocious crime resume convictions
where  this killer clown may use his own
casket lowering rope as birthday party lasso
entertaining Satan’s flock of serial killers

Fleeing The Line

by Jason E. Hodges 

Crossing state lines
First takes crossing the line drawn in your mind
For they are as real as lines drawn in the sand
Crossing over for what you knew was right
For it was time get away
Get away from the lies
Get away so you could have time to think
Get away from all the broken promises of change
From the begging and pleading that came so easily
When a comfortable home and wife was drifting from sight
From the tears that dried up so quickly once you said all was alright
You left all this deception behind
To sit on the blacktop hills covered in clover
To sit on the hills of your childhood home
For sometimes you have to take control of your life
Before losing control of it all
It takes courage to say you’ve had enough
It takes strength to do the unthinkable
To not only stand up for what you believe in
But to stand up and walk out the door
Out with your child in hand
Your little girl you had to protect
For a little girl being raised looks to her mother’s example
She’s learning how to become a woman
And a mother not walked over
Will raise a fine young lady
A lady that will look back on the memory
Of her mother finding enough courage to cross state lines

Hell Hath No Fury

by Cynthia Ruth Lewis

I wasn't born this way.
I didn't come out of a box like this.
My bitterness
has been many years in the making
and, I'd say, par for the fucking course

Just because the majority of my poems
are bitter, twisted and dark
doesn't mean I'm just a surly, pessimistic fuck
with nothing better to do
I used to be nice
I used to be trusting, sweet and vulnerable
until I gave my heart away too many times
to the wrong men,
the kind that ate women like me for dinner
men I used to believe would love and protect me,
assure me of my beauty and worth,
save me, resurrect me
but all I got was defiled and lied to
and taken for rides
until I no longer even recalled
what I'd been searching for in the first place

It didn't take me long
to find all the darkness, greed and ugliness
lurking behind their smiles
beyond their groping hands
and within their vicious thrusts,
corrupting my self-respect
raping my faith
and crushing my soul
until the day I rose out of my own ashes
and called things as I saw fit;
spat it back in their faces
and made them see the real me
made them understood
how far their actions and lies had gone

This is one pot who's not afraid
to call the kettle black,
one who's finally learned to view
their 'good intentions' through the eyes of scorn...

Lord knows I've never been one
to wear my heart on my sleeve,
but hang mine out enough times to dry,
and I'll make you wish I was never born


by Lee Stern

I don’t know if my pony likes it where he is.
Or if he’d rather be back with me.
I spent a lot of time asking myself that question.
When I should have been asking myself other questions.
Like, are they feeding him apples?
And letting him roam freely in the field when he chooses?
Have they given him a quiet place in the barn
where he can be with his mother
when that strikes him as the thing that he wants to do?
Or are they doing other things, perhaps?
Are they letting him roam over to where the bell tower used to be?
And where the man who rang it quietly one day,
rode steadily away on his horse?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Act of Light

by Austin McCarron

Believe me, that’s all I know,
the crime of beards,
through visions
and bowing to the scheme of trains.

Guides appear and the rain is blind.

All night I follow the line, past buildings
and huts,
barns of time,
where giant haystacks of ice blue veins
bleed like types of air.
I beseech the act of light,
on the ground, hiding the birth of voices.

Night out

by Michael Holme

“Easy living” on piano seduces in the soundscape
with the drummer’s brushes pushing.
They beckon abundant filigrees
floating in the air.

People guard whiskey,
and gin chaser collections.
Alongside hedgehog ashtrays
doused in tar.

His thigh feels taps of the bassist crotchets,
at an andante tic-toc speed.

He could kill to hear Piaf in the mix,
regardless of his lack of French.
Any sultry singing would do though,
the cream on this audio mocha.

In the downstairs toilet a message reads,
“Anyone dealing in drugs
will be barred and reported to the police.”
At twenty steps down, heels are sirens.
How it works is anyone’s guess.

The light down here shocks his pupils,
and the purity of the air revitalises.
He’s an easel relieving himself, forearm on wall.
Then he crouches to forcibly throw.
This is what he calls a night out, alone.

Windows of Understanding:
Middle East Tete’ a Tete’

by KJ Hannah Greenberg

Tattered blue and white banners,
Made in Korea,
Exclaim mistaken fidelity.

Moms, lipsticked like pit bulls,
Push expectations past climaxes,
Resolved by vibrating nations.

Interesting, isn’t it, when enemies
Insist children’s value decreases
Where we need bombs.

If I could capture and slay
The desert hyena crying outside my salon
Windows of understanding would prevail.

Armadillo Home
Rush Hour, Chicago

by Donal Mahoney

Early evening traffic's
rather heavy.
Autos armadillo home

along the Outer Drive
as out of mouths of buildings
people enter mouths

of anything that moves
wherever every evening
they are going. Tonight

they interrupt the passion
of another person’s day,
the crone astride the hydrant

who once again this evening
bows and swoops and curses
as she burlaps broken glass

gives the finger to nice people
propped in autos staring
as she lets the traffic pass.

Paths on the Beach - Nonet

by Pat St. Pierre

Footprints on sand while ocean waves crash.
Walking alone in heavy steps
Then shells and seaweed wash in.
The sea washes the sand
As salt smell lingers.
Paths erased from beach.
White sand alters.
Once again
Deep tracks


by Edgar Rider

Former would be King Hamlet now Vamlet ponders his situation. How did he end up becoming a vampire.

Horatio his faithful companion is equally perplexed. Horatio sitting near a tree does not hear the footsteps of impending intruders.

The gravediggers aka the Clowns use their magic dust on Horatio.

He sneaks up on Vamlet. "Horatio is that you?"

Before Vamlet can utter another word Horatio coldcocks him from behind

"I feel funny," Horatio says as a scowl dawns his face. "But in a good devious way."

Horatio knows what he must do.  He rides into town.  Horatio is usually weak but finds unusual strength in his newfound darkness.  Horatio takes over the throne by force.  The gravediggers fight alongside their new cohort.  Horatio slices and dices his way to clear cut victory.

Horatio sits on the throne.  "King Horatio.  I like the sound of that."  He waits for a  second as if hearing applause.  "They never saw this coming." He then pauses as if having a conversation with himself. "Sidekick, my left family jewel."

The transfixed guards lead Vamlet into the room. They force Vamlet to a kneeling position looking up at Horatio.  Vamlet is still stunned by his best friends betrayal.  "What is this?  My best friend.  Why you vermin." He pauses gather his thoughts. "What spell are you under anyway?" 

He notices the gravediggers who have now morphed into clowns. "Ah yes that explains it all.  Do not fear Horatio, I shall bring you back to your former self."

Vamlet is led away in chains. King Horatio smiles and shrugs his shoulders. What was Vamlet talking about .  Oh well for now I am enjoying this.

Better to be king for one day then a peon for a lifetime.

How will Vamlet get out of this one. And will Horatio go back to being his former self. Too soon to tell.........

Editor's Note:  Edgar Rider's idea of Vamlet came from a cheesy Halloween costume, inspring the  combination of e a vampire with Hamlet. Tales of Vamlet have appeared in the Short Humor Site, 69 Flavors of Paranoia, and will be featured in the upcoming November issue of WeirdYear.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Fuck You, Fuck Me

by Cynthia Ruth Lewis

I'm almost glad I gave my heart to you, asshole;
I'm almost glad you took me for a ride—
you really opened my eyes

I already had a bad attitude
when it came to men
but I took a chance on you
because you seemed so damned sincere,
but you ended up being
the worst one of them all

You stole what little faith I had left
and hung it out to dry
but I can't rightly say I hate you—
I hate myself more
for even falling for your shit
for giving you a chance
for stupidly thinking "maybe this time"....
for being hungry enough
to swallow your fucking bait
but it taught me a lesson;
one I won't easily forget

damn you
for stripping away my last shred of hope

damn me
for being foolish enough
to grab onto the frayed end of that fucking rope

Girls are Cats and Guys are Dogs

by Chris Butler

Girls are pets.
Guys are wild.

Girls are pussies.
Guys are bastards.

Girls are named after Egyptian queens and cuddly things.
Guys are called whatever four letter word is hollered.

Girls live in an alley.
Guys reside in the doghouse.

Girls lick themselves clean.
Guys gnaw on their crotch.

Girls purr.
Guys pant.

Girls are fixed from littering kittens.
Guys are neutered to serve their owners.

Girls play with their prey.
Guys chase furry tail.

Girls squat in a box and bury their dirty secrets in the sand.
Guys piss on the perfect tree.

Girls climb atop the perfect tree.
Guys dig up dirty secrets.

Girls hiss.
Guys bark.

Girls are diseased by rabies.
Guys acquire cat scratch fever.

Girls have nine lives.
Guys die seven years at a time.

Girls become the victims of neighborhood sadists.
Guys get hit by a truck.

Revenge of the mutant camels

by Michael Holme

I’ve had dreams like this before;
dead bodies in high-vis vests
caught in plant machinery.
Can you imagine it, semi stiff arms pointing
from dirty JCBs? I’ll STOP right there.
I’m sorry, I don’t write about roses
and springtime, new born lambs and love.
I blame it on television and video games,
ZAP, K-POW. Revenge of the Mutant Camels
was my 8-bit, pixelated, eighties diffuser of angst.
When I was a lad we’d no Duke Nukem 3D
in a million colours. We lived with sixteen.
But I dreamed in rainbows, like I do today,
and that gets me back to dumper yellow,
recurring, waking me in the night with a challenge.
It’s not real. Carnage in the quarry is my wraith.

Landscape of Reason

by Austin McCarron

Behind chrome plated forests
there is a stump
of light and bright
is the flame of its inner machine.

Hot as a roast the meat
of its gleaming fist.  On tours of air
the destination silence cherishes.
Its heart trembles like wood.
Plagued by doubt, its greatness of
spirit is revered and its life is a song
poured out of
concrete furnaces like a cast of wires.

The land is sweet, full of religious
smells.  Out of roots of chaos, springs
of water, wearing caps of snow.
On legs of blood
a journey through gates and passes,
where trees
with animal fur over time begin to thaw.


by Lee Stern

These are the places that I’ve been to.
And that I’m so anxious to tell you about.
I’d like you to give me some of your free time
so I can do that.
And some of the places had different kinds of lumber in it.
And other places didn’t have any lumber at all.
And keeping track of which place was which was the hardest part of all.
I tried to keep notes about it.
Because I thought that was the best way to keep things straight.
But I got tired of the notes.
And decided to commit it to my memory.
And now I can tell you that one place was just like every other place.
There would be fractions on the ground.
And birds of quality stepping onto the wayward brims of their hats.

Steak n Shake, Rainy Sunday Evening

by James Babbs

it’s the middle of February
so it could be snowing but
the Beach Boys keep singing
about the sun and the surf
I’m seated near the window
where I can see the interior
of the restaurant reflected
in the rain-soaked glass
so that there’s a second
restaurant identical to
the first one with another
set of customers just
like the other ones and
my other self gazes back at me
holding his own pen and
writing in his own notebook
while eating the same thing as me
chicken taco salad with a
large plate of cheese fries

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Outpouring of Hearts

by Tammy T. Stone

I’m writing with a borrowed pen on
Brown paper towels from the bathroom.
A zombie or a sound poet? she asks and
Laughs. Her throaty voice from being sick.
I dream of coarser paper from gas
Station toilets. Of the movie Gaz Bar Blues.
Waiting and feeling good is all I need.
In due time means nothing but waiting in full,
Of fullness and with the future inside of it, the
Outpouring of hearts. This is the now that lives.
Major heart troubles, I imagine telling
The old Canadian actor down the street,
The bohemian barefoot one, after I nod hello
And he invites me in to get
High and get at all the meanings.
Better than brain trouble, I suppose.
No more writing myself out Love
I love her, next to me, old, Asian, taking a massive
Last drag of her cigarette. Her lungs
First filled with smoke in another country
Under the sun.

1020 Ocean

by Susan S. Keiser

No one thinks
to dream

Black Mercy
scrapes, churlish
from sense-slick

long ago

I was often there
in promenade,
sick by the clevelander,
pools dissolving
into dead or dying eyes

borne on
tres delinqentes
in its full descent
to plasma-blue

2 bleu,

ce ciel est bien au bleu.

Abart Tarn

by Rachel J. Fenton

Tarn is thi umbilicus; to sever thisen from it is to sever thisen.

Tarn is t' choose no shoes rather than wear ones in thi bag
bought from a sun faded box on t' street for pence, damaged on t' tag.

Tarn is t' coyt tha wears for free until it dun't fit and then for sixty
pence per week for t' next year.

Tarn is t' bead er sweat that pricks thi skin when some bleeder bends
thi ear an asks, who a' thee?

Tarn is t' kid who waits till thar in skooel to seh ah saw thee
in Pahndstretchers and everyone's too busy laughing to whuk art,
if they saw thee, they were theer anall.

Tarn is three hours in t' bargain stooer to choose which presents
tha wants t' buy thi family for Christmas, return em t' shelves
and looercate one tha can affooerd, an all t' while be follered by a guard,
who’d be better occupied wetching his weight not thee on closed circuit tv.

Tarn is to visit thi aunt in London, go t' jewellery stooer and suffer
er umiliation, when t' shutters come darn, explaining thar wi er.

Tarn is a whisper that began as a draught under t' door, condensed
on t' winder an soaked through towel in t' wood er thy frame,
blackening, so that regardless er ar much white paint thy applies, spooers
allas show through; thar dirty face.

Tarn'll blow thi ouse darn and ne matter ar much thy explains,
what choices tha mecks, who thy ignores, what clooes tha wears, ar fast
tha runs in bare feeut, tha cannot outrun thisen; tha pooer inside and art;
thy will be undone.

Tarn is t' look upon my face; “am sorry, ah dun't know thee”.

Rocket Science

by Kyrsten Bean

It’s not rocket science, you say
I may be wrong, but I think
you never really wanted me that way

There’s no point, you explain
we should just call each other
once in a while

Can we ever hang out?
I whisper
my voice eludes me

Yeah, you say
I’ll be in LA
Give me a call if
you’re ever in town

I’m going to let you go
I’m letting it all go, you say
know what I mean, jellybean?

I say, then
did I push you away?

I never really felt I was let in
you lament
your voice is gentle
and reassuring in the distance
before you hang up

Together Irreplaceable

by Sandy Benitez

You thought of me as your Queen Isabella,
as if I had sent you away to discover
new worlds, to discover whatever may exist
beyond what the naked eye could see
and claim it in my name, my honor.

I imagined you chatting with the birds
on The Canary Islands, sipping rum
on the beaches of The Bahamas,
all the while battling the easterlies
with the bravado of a Spanish conquistador.

Months drifted by like the Santa Maria
and still there was no sign of you.
My heart sank, heavy as gold bullion
with hope dying in the gilded birdcage
beside my bed beside the broken window.

Birdseed and feathers matted together
like an old couple lying on a deathbed,
waiting for the clock to strike;
neither one more precious than the other
but together irreplaceable.

The pretense of breathing underwater

by Savannah Stuitje

I was eleven years old, the summer you begin to notice how skinny you are in all the wrong places, when you’re caught in the juniors section of Target and pretend to be lost. We went there everyday, too hot to do anything but laze on rafts. The clumpy pond sand that followed me home every night, the sharp stones I thought were snapping turtles, swirling silt in the water turning my legs a golden tan. That summer still tastes of flat soda and sandy food in my mouth. That summer when I realized I wasn’t the only one alive anymore. They dragged him out of the water; lay him on the ground, two pale hands pushing him roughly. A challenge to sit up, fight for his own breath. The water streamed out of his nose and mouth. I remember I kept waiting for him to sit up and push them off him. The ambulance men, surrounding him like ants on sugar, adults gathering to discuss it in words children didn’t want to understand. I remember hearing later that he was pronounced dead on arrival. I wondered what it was like, to feel your muscles seize up and your body sink to the sandy bottom taking you with it. I wondered if he was still there.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


by Alison L. Peoples

Lo be the child
Nursing his cup of tea;
As a mother can be
From her ceramic breast
Where little eyes gaze
For warmth
Beyond the kilned lip-edge:
Burning, cracking…


by Tammy T. Stone

They were the children of glassy-eyed drunken house lords aging foxes in inner city world loose soiled undershirts hanging on saggy flesh these hidden gods of Ginsberg’s time

Who had sex in the hour of night when they couldn’t count the stars because the smog and drink took away the worst of the paranoia

With beer in their fingers cooling bulging blue sweltering necks cleaning their throats that gurgled and splattered acid words

While their women waddled from kitchens to men bound in spider creations sticky inviting obsessing and making

Mashing potatoes bought from corner stores where spotted young faces smiled and listened to tales of the ailments of aunts

At home the cleaned windows of the misguided insects who never got into the cluttered dens brightened by fading

Their children locked by fatherly spews and mothery tears that whispered coos of I was beautiful once but I’ve done good by you tell me I’ve done good by you give me a kiss

And the boys of Ginsberg’s time gave kisses seeing the madness knowing it crawled to them on their faded bedsheets where dingy lamps dimly lit their papers and pens and roaming hands

Leaving the spoils of their sutra weaving for another generation while they looked back on spirited bottles and shook the pillboxes on their mothers’ bedsides

And left the houses of mothers and fathers to seek their likenesses in other men youthful sexual bodies and benzedrine

Lying still in sunflower beds tiger orange recesses of primal state put into letters to Africa and poems and books that breathed through their beat clawing and saying no

And killing the sex driven love driven fantasies but not before the mad prophesies of the men of Ginsberg’s time came together and spoke again

Eating an Orange

by Jessica Otto

I pick up the orange of the kitchen counter
and cut into it with a haphazard, serrated blade
crusted with peanut butter sleeping in the sink
next to a greasy tilapia spine that found
its final resting place in my coffee mug.

Inside the orange is something like the pulse that
floats beneath your heart murmur.  The juice
stings a paper cut when I try to dig out a seed that
is not the pearl I was expecting from this thing that
is not an oyster.  And eat it anyway.

Bitter orange

by Susan S. Keiser

Half-timbered fodder for mice
and boiling sea
lies ruined in my short-term dreaming,
beyond illusion
thrown from twisted spindle,
drifted counter-spin to darkened Eve,
sound but echoes of what will live
as there are ears
to hear the distant 'mayday'
of ancient light.

I've lit every candle
but it will never be enough
to warm this night,
not when stars have lost their way,
not when the moon is a bitter orange,
sectioned by force I cannot comprehend
or reason with.

Prophecy hammers at the doors of treachery,
at chambers to a sick-sense heart,
where neither dove-cote nor ancient Yew
steadies the present or stands reliably
against the stories I tell myself
on nights like these.

Under the Night Sky

by Sarah E. White

The giant sky of night
Mocks me from its vantage point
With its deep dark depths of eternity
Leaving me wondering so many things
Questions I can’t even form
Questions that I have yet to learn the words too
The evening sky is vast
And it sits patiently waiting
With answers that have been a million years in the making
Waiting for me to sit here
So far below it
Sunken in the rut of humanity
At last somehow I find the words
To form the thought
The question
Giant stars shining brightly upon me
Stars who have long since met their demise
But still possessing all knowledge in the infinite depths of night
I am lucky to gaze on them before their last twinkling
But before they wink out never to shine again
They pass on to me a part of their hidden secrets
Their light then passes to me
I suddenly find that clarity I had been searching for
It is finally in my grasp
Dispelling the darkness in my mind
Casting its glow on me here
All becomes illuminated under the giant sky of night

Aids To Practical Nursing
(For Joyce Parkin, January 24, 1949,
King Edward VII Hospital, Rivelin)

by Rachel J. Fenton

We sit at small tables drinking tea from bone
China cups with biscuits perched on plates; flat,

as hedgehogs, as easy to swallow, and remember
Sister Rose who never lost a baby in all her career.

Curious, I'd stand on the next to bottom stair
and stare at myself in the mirror; the blue pill

I could never get to fit, no matter how I perched it.
Takes more than a hat to make a midwife, she'd say.

I'd tag along on visits anyway: wait in the car, hold
her black book, the diary with the fresh ones in bold,

red ribboned, and pass the bag with miracles and all
the nurse's kit inside, and into this she'd add pink

cards with each new baby's signature stamped in red,
written with heeling. Other times, when not on call,

we'd stay indoors and from the sideboard, an expanse
of teak, she'd take scrap paper, pens, biros mostly,

(not one chewed lid) and pencils brightly coloured
on the outside but everyone drew grey. One memory,

always with the smell of raspberry buns, fresh baked,
hard to get down without a sup o' tea, was a great pink

rubber (not erasers in those days). It was years before
I realised it was shaped as a giant pill, and all the paper
printed on one side with type-faced notes. I must have drawn
a zillion kingdoms, cottages and fairies, horses, flowers,

or scribbled poems; ancient Greeks meant nothing
to me then. Each time I made a mistake I'd take the pill

and erase. And when the buns were cool enough to eat,
we'd sit at the table after raising up a leaf and we'd talk

about my drawings: she'd ask what I wanted to be;
always I looked out the window: azalia forest flame.

Out of habit, I said midwife, what I meant was to be her:
Sister Rose, my grandmother, who never lost a baby

in all her career, who worked herself out of poverty but lost
a limb to cancer in the former workhouse of Fir Vale.

It took a few attempts for me to work out I was meant to
write all along. I write in pen: red; I find mistakes are best

left in. I'm not sure where the rubber went, I've never seen
another like it, they aren't made that way today; Sister Rose

who knew nothing healed better than kindness
with ears, raspberry buns and a nice cup of tea.