Travelers Welcome

Travelers Welcome

Sunday, April 29, 2012


by Michael Dwayne Smith

My father leaned on bars like
            Nureyev tipped on floors.
                        It was a certain grace: a red
            rag body
slipped and poured into
fixed or laughing, pissed or dancing,
            the little shit could flick a jab with his left
            quicker’n you could think.
It was goddam
ballet: spin around the stools and
            work the crowd,
jokes and hands and pinch an ass
            and here the drinks’d come. Flatter
the fat woman, flirt with
            the fag in the overdone eyes,
                        Dad was
King For A Day, scotch and blowjobs for life,
            bobbing and weaving,
                        flipping the pages
of his encyclopedic brain, where he’d recorded
            every racist joke
                        he’d ever heard.
But trading one drink for three
            was his specialty. “Always buy
he’d tell me, “serve with bullshit buddy-speak
            and machismo drool.”
                        And just to keep the
            timing right, he’d kick
the occasional fight. “Keeps gas in the tank,
            n’ smoke in the eye,” he’d say.

The burning day I
            busted his face, reeling around
            from behind the rust-red pump
                        at a Vegas filling station,
he dropped to the pavement and smiled like
I'd arrived.  He lept to his feet,
paid cash for the fuel,
and in the viscous heat,
for the first time in years, he called me
Son.  The toothless
attendant laughed
in the swirling sand, waved the ragged bills
as we sped away.
And in the red of the blood of my father's eye,
I saw the sad choreography of it all:
one movement
making necessary the next,
the hard logic
of ignorant pain,
the strained chorus of loss, the tragic
gravity of
cuts and glass and falling down drunk
and stinking sex—

we drove for hours without a word.

We met again in Barstow, several months later,
in a gritty lounge from a noir film,
his face a relief in shadow and stone.
He had the cancer then, but didn’t know.
            traveled with him,
drinking gin, alone, again—
a trembling rabbit, in a black corner booth.
She watched, shitfaced, seated in yet another
smoke and dim theater,
a stage where nightly he’d performed, forever.
                        The old man
was artful. Knew his audience well. He’d learned
            to lean his bones in a
carcinogen wind
                        and dance,
and dance, until he fell.


by Marc Carver

If my life is a piece of string
I wonder where i am
 now on that piece of string.

 Am i close to the end
surely not closer to the beginning
but i guess you never know
until you see the string
and where you are on it.

I heard two people yesterday
say that they would prefer to be
 at the very end of the string.

One, is a woman and she is still alive
The man
died two weeks later.
Be careful what you say
the string may hear you
and decide to
 cut you off.

Diffusion Kids

by John Pursch
Crackles fill the airborne remnant’s button-pushing sketch, reeling in bottled otters, tending elevated gables till doorstops make the highwayman’s moody grade. Depths of gristle plump our wizened flecks of gray, chopping whirled designers for faux fashionista pleasure carts, impeding floral gargoyles. Scratching ahead, glancing off a sigh, possible heroines immerse themselves in ancient print, grazing for contextual hothouse treats. Closed search quandaries, visible from heifer heights, cull a furry thermometer’s diet, worming their whipping screams into a quietus of snaps, resultant and detuned. Rattling cables signal the departure of elevation suites, preened and gated, timing their wallets to encoded insect bells. Sheet putters clear a dog-eared legging’s socket fence, shanking huddled munitions, crossing pentagrams with allusions to pureed weeds. Detention rolls paternal chambers past guardians of floral fate, itching for superluminal onsets, saddling sloped trials with substituted triune hues. Humps defer to coupled diffusion kids, singing of blasted rectories, enraptured and aloof. All the lapped lung’s wholly wheeled particles of silent screech, expressive and entrancing, piece apart a mountain’s truthful sketch, oblique in its entirety, marching to a watched enclosure’s pliant sample.

No felines allowed
for Russell Streur

by Bobbie Troy

the sign read:
No Felines Allowed
the barkeep explained:
this joint ain’t for cats
who hide their selves
behind mangy hair
and lick it all day
trying to uncover the truth
then hide in corners in the dark
with their eyes aglow
like they know something you don’t
no felines allowed
to disturb the fragile peace

Editor's note:  The author was inspired to write this poem after reading the barkeep's interview in SIx Questions For (, which concluded with the keeper declining to discuss the reason or reasons why cats are not allowed at The Saloon.  Be it known by all that the opinions expressed in this poem are solely those of the author, and are not necessarily those of tavern management.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

1. Our Hearts do not deceive

by Taufiq bin Abdul Khalid

The morning did not awake,
Neither the sun nor the birds
Are up from their tired slumber,
Here, in bed, pressed
Against her skin,
The   night has not ended, and
The day is yet to begin,

It is not dawn that is
Setting alight the world,
But the light of her
Sightless breath,
Drawn from the glow of a
Lamp raised higher than
The seven heavens,
Brighter than our eyes can perceive,
Solace for those who seek and yearn,
Oh my love, my friend,

You Could Dunk

by Jordyn Coats

I was small. Minute. Tiny.
Could barely grasp a basketball,
much less your great idea of success.

The world was ever so vast.
You could dunk like there was no tomorrow,
but I felt like a washed up mess.

What was I thinking
all those years ago?
You could dunk. So what?

I used to think highly of you,
but I grew,
and now that door is wide shut.

Dejection Falls Apart

by Ali Znaidi

like dirt under nails
like rust staining nails
like when the moon ails
this feeling was encumbering me
till a spark sparks
flowers blossom in the parks
and the sun’s lights climb on top
of the arches


by Clinton Van Inman

You don’t have to ride in boxcars
To be a complete unknown
For someone sits beside you
Wherever the wind has blown.

You once promised love forever
Before you left me in the dark.
You don’t have to be lost or homeless
To sleep alone in a public park.

You don’t have to walk in battlefields
There among the dead,
Bound low, long and weary
Soon you’ll hang your head.

Don’t look down that lost highway
For one last thought of me,
Soon wild dogs will find me
And forensics will set me free.

Now that you are just a number
To reap what you have sown
Ninety nine years I will sit beside you
Wherever the wind has blown.

Ninety nine years I will sit beside you
Ninety nine years and a day
Just to sit here beside you
And watch you rot away.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Civilization’s “Little Words”

by KJ Hannah Greenberg

Little words, birds of meaning flying above anathema foes,
Pulling high from fiends wishing to quench, to bite, to consume,
Hope, celerity, burnished essence. Such representatives, as enjoy world
Rights, make poor snacks for nefarious beasts; usually, glitter
Gets stuck in maws, makes throats constrict around joyful song.

Singular sorrows cost many apples whereas entire lots of ebullient acts are cheaper.
Scapegoats, mountain sheep, other bovine, stupidly substitute for human hubris.
Few soldiers, minus their jousting sticks, sharp pointy things, guns, willingly
Inculcate bravery; rather, their most eleemosynary work involves prisoners.
Sans elevated imprimatur, battlefield cowboys live no better than common sparrows.

Ignorant of mindful thought, largely, folk tilt at effluvium, wave hands before lightening,
Run crying when hail, snow or raindrops hurl earthward. Justice’s back pocket protects
No fools, only opens admission to civilian’s fulminations, then quickly, seamlessly closes.
Armed forces are no longer successful in perjuring enemies. The enlisteds’ untruths make
Governmental tomfoolery unnecessary. Budget cuts apply, affront lawyers, not keg partiers.

Coffee in the Fall

by Wesley Scott McMasters

For I have known them all already, known them all:
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
from "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" by T. S. Eliot

Sometimes, when I will make coffee late at night or very early in the morning during the month of September, I will step outside to take a breath of summer air, and when I will take that breath of summer air, my airways will clear out slowly; the stale air will be replaced by new, fresh, damp night air, and I will return inside to smell the coffee, which will remind me of the way my grandmother's house used to smell when I was a small child and I would visit her, before I knew what the difference between Catholicism and Protestantism was, before I knew what dementia was (and before the dementia began to eat away her memories), before she forgot my name (and before she forgot that her husband had passed away from skin cancer some thirty-five years before), but during the time when my mother and her brothers would come with rakes to pull together the leaves into a pile in the woods while lunch waited on the picnic table, coffee steam rising into the chill fall air, the dark clouds covering the sun for just a moment, before I smoked cigarettes in my car on the way past her house, wanting to stop but not having time, before the girl I married walked down the back porch steps to see the picnic table we would be sitting at in a few months, and before we stood together, wondering why it had to end the painful way that it did.

Sometimes, when I will make coffee late at night, I will be reminded of my grandmother. I will drink it slowly and smile.

Naked on Maple Street

by Christopher Hivner

Fresh morning sky,
a slice all to myself
so I shower in it.
I wrap a cloud
around my still wet hair
walking down the street
naked. My neighbors
are shocked at first
until they see the sky
this morning
and claim a piece
for themselves.


by Marc Carver

My dad
What a guy
he had hands like shovels
Could carry boulders around on his back
Just for fun.
He could stop it raining just like that
And stop wars too with a word
or sometimes he needed a glance.
Nobody ever spoke to him
less questioned him.
He was never asked one question in his whole life.
His eyes burned like jewels
Cutting through air.
My dad nobody messed with him
He could beat up everybody else’s dad
If he wanted to
And all of them together.
My dad well of course he was the greatest
And now just like then he lives on
In everything.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Be Yourself

by Ian Mullins

Being mad doesn’t bother me;
I’ve lived with it so long
it’s as comfortable as a cold
duvet. As soon as I feel that chill
I know I’m almost home,

and to tell the truth I’m usually glad
to be there; it’s the only place
in my head where I truly feel
alone. The parts of my skull
I share with the sane world
are where I feel colonised
and abused: the mere fact
that I know how to do my job
is a source of great distress
to me. I resent the knowledge
my brain has to hoard
when it needs all the space it can earn
for dreaming and poetry,
all the imaginary lives
I secretly believe are more real
than a day-to-day life so hateful
and absurd it can only be
a symptom of a mental illness
all the world is heir to;

perhaps a virus, some shameful relic
of a dead planet that crash
-landed into this one
when the earth was hot soup
slowly cooled by celestial
breaths: imaginary lives
whose realness is guaranteed
by the fact that we dream them,
that they cannot be polluted
by the virus we spread
whenever we open our mouths.

Oh come and be mad, my friends!
Come and be mad.


by Ian C. Smith

Enlightening the garden’s shadows
its dark-green canopy
its backcloth of blue mountains
merging into one larger form
is a pathway of farewelled sunlight
beneath a ghost of a moon
like a heavenly message
or a torch beam for diurnal creatures
between softly rustling boughs
in this garden, my Eden, here, now. 


by Byron Beynon

A memory within music,
a ripening
with vineyards overgrown,
and your mind's ear in tune;
alert with days
you look through a small window
at strangers,
the relentless wave-pulse,
uncorked knowledge
on a journey
through a territory
where time gathers
shards of meaning.
A frustration of the heart's
burning sound,
your quiet breath of power
blurring with the grey rain.

the virgin mary cuts my hair

by Dan Flore

I never looked in the mirror to see what her name was
but the way she leaned over me made it seem like she was hovering
she should have been dressed in a shroud of gold
not her gap sweater
though it smelled an apple orchard
her long streak of brown hair
hung in my face and as I looked into the easy current of her eyes
she talked of how everyone wants to see her and her boyfriend at
Christmas time
and I came in from the street
dirty and ragged
it was still daytime but my eyes were somewhere in the night sky
as I rested my head in her sink
her little fingers slowly rubbing in the shampoo
the pop music on the radio melted into a hymn
and all I could do was stare up at the fluorescent light above her
like a man looking at the sun for the first time

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Number Zero

by Douglas Polk

Zero the place holder,
Like a coat laid on a seat in the theater,
 to keep others from sitting there,
Or a step dad, or older brother trying to replace a dad,
The place more important than the number,
just as the job of the coat more important than what kind of coat,
or step dad, or older brother.

Bony Fists of Mane

by John Pursch

How soothing a drop of fractal rain can be, given the aging of a secondhand mouth, licked wearily into weathered fields of sensed and mirrored deeds. Selling active discretion to radial dialers for tangible feasts, a water bug’s nifty proconsul presents an authorized topographic melange of newly christened leaders, yearning for a flowering tree. Lost luminal trestles arch above a dockyard drain, leasing our lonely coastal murmurings to starlit semblances of a nocturne’s embrace. Temporal ceilings crank an impending role’s terminal haze into underwhelming moot salvage, heaping heard denizens upon a rusty plate. Morphing out of torn blossoms, arrivals spurn the Jetway, creasing tarmac and gantry alike with burnt sagacious hues. A creaking of slanted liners means lost landmass for the curried and ferocious few, quenching a dirgelike planner’s erosion. Torsion fairies spin a nimbly spoken treaty from lexicons of barbered hires and smoking bets, hatching cropped vertices in cities of insightful bliss. Calculated days retreat in exponential fluff, passing over a cyclic wafer’s cruising wall of chipped marble soup. Handing a bagatelle to riffled accordion layers, a mink steward grovels for endless ink, scratching out a blackened hearth. Newly found color impends, imbued with meshed labels of sorted ethane freighters, fueling tracked emotions with therapeutic ease. Butter transits the sun, deputizing a tertiary veteran for registered pleas, chapping the intrepid caboose with warm regards and tartar, spooled along a barge. A hint of variance glows, trapped in the webbing of our mental dawn, pressing the vacuum against a flickering pinwheel’s subconscious intent. Unscrewing the clouds, capped skylines conceal the source of midnight’s clarity in lost profusion, heedless and direct. Constellations obtain in slumber’s groan, raising an eyebrow, slipping coyotes beneath a low electric hum. Pitchfork unison melts into quadrants of stellar haze, focusing menageries of softened sound, rendering a pixelated cerebrum’s duly routed musical whim. Closure lingers in notified granules, hypnotic and serenely choral, edging through an inky face, granting motive to madness in barrels of rolling thought. Pointers masquerade as hearty tokens, curling into smokescreen gazettes and warm bagels, plastered in late show senses and slowly wafting hints. An unheard footfall, extravagant and immobile, veils an error’s propitious squirm, aggressive in its play of loose arousal. Grammar coughs the grays from a bakery’s failing sign, catching on usage hooks in fluted plumes. Aptly potted swarms emerge from all-night shooting slots, farm for spent empathic gist, and brown an oven’s lucid parasol, glimpsing elevated troughs. Clock-watchers march through spatial girth, topple an hourly mute, and hassle an actual hoodlum for unwashed coroner sheets, monogrammed with bony fists of mane.


by Will Monigold

There is no grave deep enough
To bury a memory.
The first time I saw New York
I thought I’d found heaven.
God -- God must surely
Live there.

In a world full of mistakes
One word can turn the wind.
I bet on a queen
And lost to a pair of sevens.
I could have sworn
I had a winning hand.

In a house full of hurt
It’s hard to find a quiet corner.
Any moment she may
Walk through the door
Then I can tell her
I didn’t mean it.


by Marc Carver

I went to give blood
mainly to see if they would accept it.
I don't know what test they do at the start
but i guess it is for aids or something.
And my girlfriend told me to do it
so i would not have to use protection the next time i saw her.
I told the lady who tested me
how wonderful her eyes were
a shade i had never seen before
and she gave me a bronze award.
The lady who took my blood
changed her accent
and i told her
just to take the bad blood out.
I got chatting to an old woman while having our biscuits
"You know they pay for this in America i can't imagine what some of the guys would look like around here probably white as sheets."
She did not really want to talk to me
but i dragged some words from her
before she left.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


by an Unknown Author, 1744

The Ball once struck off,
Away flies the Boy
To the next destin'd Post,
And then Home with Joy.


by Joanna M. Weston

that fastball
brings in a circus catch
by the utility player
out the hot corner

the closer is in
and all sides roar
as we’re looking
at a moon-shot
on this rubber game
and I’m cheering
right out the batter’s box

Puppy Love

by Alan S. Kleiman

Oh baby,  Puppy love,
It’s like spring time
For rednecks
Spring time
In the midst of the monsoon
Spring time when all cicadas are screaming their legs off
At full bore
And there’s a lightning storm
And thunder
And Alex Rodriguez just hit a GRAND SLAM HOME RUN
In the bottom of the 9th 2 outs 2 strikes
And the Yankees win the WORLD SERIES 5 to 2
That’s like the way it is
Oh yea, and there’s some passion
and mooning and spooning and holding hands
and that kind of mushy stuff too
But that’s mostly for girls cause
For guys they’re thinking home run derby firecrackers
and red hot tamales.

playing pepper w/ the demons

by Dennis Mahagin

Playing pepper
with the demons
in my nippy

Easter season,
I choke up

on that bat,
wave it
like the sign
of the cross

and now they're hawking
hot phlegm: one of them

says, "just a friendly game
of toss..."

then he whips it at
my face.

Ears burn
prickly rash about half
buckling from a scent

of Pabst foam,

spent cigarette

at thirty paces,
loose leaf


by breezes.

"just hold it right
up there," says another

behind his Jason mask
of glove,
his tough love

a voice
box full of crows.
Oh, they want me

to open up
my stance, they wish
to play with both balls
at once, try
to make me cry
or duck,

chuck my lunch
like Copenhagen...

"Hum now, come babe,"
says the worst prick
of all, with a brow
like a dull

I suck
it up, shake
it off, smack
a weak yet

clean one
right back up

the gut ... it don't
mean much but
now we're getting

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Nessun Dorma (No One Sleeps)

by Townsend Walker

Not tonight. 
Not any night. 
Not as long as she haunts the streets of our dreams.  She.  The one who should not leave us. 
She is part of us.  The part we won’t say hello to.  The part we won’t acknowledge lives in us.  The dark spirit that wants to kill, will kill, if set free.
Some call her devil.
 Some call her saint.
Depends, doesn’t it?
How often she knocks at our door, pleading, begging, taunting, teasing, if only to be set free, just a minute, just a second, that’s all. 
What’s the harm in that she asks? 
Wouldn’t you like to see me? 
See what form I can take? 
What merriment I can make? 
One to please you; of that I am sure.
And certain of us succumb to this fantasy, to loosing earthly bonds. 
Life, after all, can be dull at times.

Sunday morning

by Will Monigold

I tried to end
The world last night.
I think I’ve run far enough.
The thing about rain
Is that it makes
Everything look clean.
I suppose it’s the way she
Holds her mouth
When she kisses me.
I was born to be a fool
I had to have been
Otherwise my tools
Would fit
I could fix things.
I can still smell her
Still feel her.
I wish I was still
Pressed against
Her breasts.


by Marc Carver

I told her
that nothing could hurt me.
I had drunk enough
to kill most men
been in lots of tight scrapes.
My luck had run out a few times
but in the end
it had all worked out okay.
Sometimes you really can feel immortal
and on other days
you sail            just that little           too close to the sun.

Puzzle Pieces

by Douglas Polk

 puzzle pieces illuminating the mind,
brains fill with all the different possibilities,
papers written in defense of the puzzles seen in the mind’s eye,
described by dreamers and believers,
adamant in the defense of the puzzle,
now seen only in pieces among the strata of rock and dirt.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Refusing Free Will

by A.J. Huffman

I am the rose
inside your empty bottle.
I will not grow.
I cannot die.
I have not air enough
to be anything
but plastic.
You toss me a dollar.
And place your wish.
As blood beads --
red --
on my thorns.
It hurts less
than I thought it should.
Which leads me
to believe.
It is yours.


by Ross Vassilev

well, sometimes
the muse
comes with her tits
hanging out
and sometimes
she doesn’t cum at all
my muse is an old whore
who’s no longer pretty
she gets around
on a pair of worn-out
angel wings
she’s grown
and disillusioned
with the world
and so have I
we make a nice couple
in our common despair
and may the Gods
have pity on us both.


by Marc Carver

God, those birds
are desperate to have me out of bed today.
He is out there banging it out
as if he, is the best trumpet player in the world.

Why does this day have to start so early?
What is going to be so special about today.
Another day that will start
with a push then a pull
Then a road will open up before me
and well
all i have to do
is be brave enough to walk down it.

I can still hear him out there
Dizzy bloody Gillespie.
Doesn't he know his job is done
he has me up
and ready for the muses.

Yes i know i have poetry to write and the novel to start.
I know but my mind is still on yesterday
the unfinished day.
It still lives on,
lives on in my mind,
Something just was not right about it.

Days slip by
but some leave that feeling in your stomach.
That feeling that however much the world smiles
It is not quite true.

A Morning’s Conclusion

by Ali Znaidi

It’s been roughly hours since
the mosquitoes left the dunghills.
Waves after waves, they encircled the street lantern;
dimming its eye filled with wind dust.
I was smoking a cigarette near the window.
The sound got more and more sharpening.
My skin began to itch.
The weak mosquitoes,
unable to reach
the lantern, just reached my skin, trying to
dim my eyes filled with sleep dust.
The rain began to fall,
saving my eyes from the luciferous mosquitoes,
but kept me awake till the first morning light.
I just relished in
the collapse of the capitalist mosquitoes
under the rain’s flails.
The wet cigarette in my mouth
left me in ecstasy.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

(Chase County, 1998)

 by Robert Cory                     

Hereabouts, talk of weather and its ingredients is the most common currency.
Spontaneously exchanged by visitor and resident alike.
E.g.- this afternoon: mostly cloudy.
Showers? A chance for more.
Prescient as a spectator’s olés salvos of lightning not so distant.
Prophecy: Thunder.
Faces gaze southwesterly.
Charted isobars of gust close ranks awaiting orders to press eastward along a line TBD.
Keep one eye on the top of the tallest neighborhood tree.
Bodies of water parade surface ripples, the muted glissando of an off and on light breeze.
Idle bass boats bob at play.
The a capella chants of the native cricket population reverberate beneath a ceiling of heavenly overcast and roil.
Barometer: falling.
Temperature:g oose bumps likely.
Lemon-blush jonquil blooms wobble atop their stalks.
Radar screens display.
Windows shut, latch and roll.
Static snaps across AM radio.
Cattails curtsey & sway.
Robin, wren and mourning dove hunker.
Invisible forces infest the still.
The heads are talking.
They say the storm will pass.

love is the lowering of expectations to a level that actually allows you to love

by Luke Weldon

today i woke up to some sort of ringing

yesterday still braided in me

i found a shirt
i found a coat
& walked outside down the gravel driveway
to a field heavy with morning &
i felt heavy with it

the heart is a terrible master
the head is violent and cruel when
it takes a person & says 'you are mine'
not like a love but like a pet

hell is the body a soul refuses to stay inside
i found this out when my body
felt too big walking across a room
and i am not symmetrical
nor is my torso shaped like a v

today i woke up to some sort of ringing
my gown tangled

a woman took me to the bathroom and help me shit

my parents came
my friends came and left
my parents left
my parents came with my clothes &
drove me home & i went to bed

here is a bone i have cut into--
but how i do want to be the bone
set into place or the flint
in the hoof
or a spool of some wound
thing; to take in
& be taken in.

the field is heavy with morning &
i feel heavy with it

i was sick for seven and a half years
but i think i'm beginning to feel
a little better

My Great Anglo Accent

by KJ Hannah Greenberg

My great Anglo accent
Dithering here and there, as she
Rubbed her palm,
Over leaves used to neutralize
Poisonous creatures’ puncture wounds.

I remained inclined,
That no tincture of stars,
Carambola, or otherwise,
Presented juiced,
Could relieve such pain.

By living the rudiments,
Through grapefruit’s enzymes,
I’ve inhibited not only isoforms,
But managed, as well,
To broadcast nothing delicate.

Today needs no false
Through which mistaken behaviors
Can be hung
By their heels;
Tomorrow’s time enough.

fooled me once

by Linda M. Crate

Rancid wings of poison
drift into my shores by
way of your words; you
tell me all is well, but
there is a darkness that
shrouds these lies, a shade
of shadow hanging on
these utterances; fortune
seemed to sing in my favor
until the teeth of your stars
plunged their candles into
the tapestry of my life –
I used to believe that this
may just have been some
front and that you truly loved
me like you had once promised,
but I learned the truth quickly
enough you were false like
fools gold you would have
eluded and fooled me if I
would have drank your poison.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

A Crescent of Hope

by John Pursch

Hip-deep in sand, witches sweep the skies for radiation, emblematic of a few carloads of coal gas. Kleptomaniacs eat swollen ears of candied armatures, handing out trampoline instructions to the past. Unclear yearnings lend a handsome nightingale to bold neutron traders, asking for Doric stopwatches in return. All your menial traps hoot at futile beanings, plastering frenetic pennants on crowded anonymity. The inns and oblong overlooks of tethered towns please urbane pollsters, relieving ivy warriors of their rounded boots. Edged in dotted twine, dates drop off their skillet lines without corking, heaving locked odors into camshaft flues, regardless of the banal backstrap’s burning aisles. Whooping it up, relaxed witnesses split kazoo tarps with measured capstone crops, shedding butane sawfish for a crescent of hope. Racked iguanas crane their wizened necks to pine for crepe horizons, bringing in the popping of neoprene kids. Footfalls and belches attract tent-folding beauties, who ease a scrape of soul food through embodied grooms. Lost machines graze idly into the noonday clouds, pumping mineral water down piped organics. Framed deities slink and topple in ordered heaps, splashing faucet news into distant rugs, echoed through the greening trees. Yogurt regrets overexplaining tearful commercials, surprising even the postal Kleenex, ushering in an avalanche of wax paper. Starry-eyed mobiles sway imperceptibly, gazing at a flowering midday swoon, balking in the entire fishing team.

the sway of those hips

by J.J. Campbell

underwater kisses
in late november
unusually warm
for this time of
but the embrace
of tongues doesn't
last as long as it
did in the dreams
something felt
forced, unwanted
left scrambling to
find the passion or
even what the fuck
we were ever
passionate about
the past never felt
like it was worth
so i never gave
two shits about
remembering it
as i watch her
walk away
the sway of
those hips
that could have
been a mistake
though you have
to believe in them
to admit to one

Grinds and Resins

by Paul Handley

I related my admiration of the ascetics
of the stainless steel French press resting
on our table covered by a blue diamond cloth,
but expressed my preference for clear glass,
so one can judge the precise level
of coffee remaining.  Knowing
there is about one and a third cups left,
that’s a 2:3 ratio with my remaining blueberry pancakes.  
Contemplate its color, appreciating
the dark caramels.  Regard the grounds
bunching at the bottom, crushed by the filter screen.
My breakfast partner nods knowingly.

My mind takes a few steps away
from the table, wondering if as a teenager
sitting on a drab brown, hide-a-bed in couch mode,
in a basement with exposed pipes,
wrapped in asbestos, packing a four foot bong,
made of PVC plumbing pipe,
a can of Stroh’s beer nuzzling my knee.

Could I have foreseen anything like this?
I don’t like either shot as representative,
but of course they are.

Holding the Bag of Nails

by A.J. Huffman

Women who pay their own rent
don’t have to be nice.
Or tidy.
Or neat.
Their bows are their own.
To pull as they please.
And release
is a gift.
They scrape
from unnamable skin.
Is that a sin?
Too bad.
You cannot add it.
To their tab.

Thursday, April 5, 2012


by Linda M. Crate

Stubborn hairs of years past
cling to me in my weakest
moments, sometimes I like to
think that you think of me –
yet I would be surprised to hear
if you did; I’d like to shave
you away from me like my legs –
yet like those persistent blights
you’d grow back into some other
strand of me; I wish that you
would set me free, it’s the only
fair thing to do in situations such
as these, and yet I know I’ll
always be prisoner to these horrors
that wash over me in soft waves
of paralyzing and noxious poison.

Walking Away

by Stephen Jarrell Williams

Your fists hammering on my back,

I’m walking away, deeper into the dark forest,
your imagination, jealousy, depravity
reeking from the hollow of your throat
yelling, demanding that I stop,

and I do stop, wanting to tell you off,
turning around, facing you, standing there
in your thick coat, jeans, boots,
steaming breath,
piercing eyes,

there was a time I craved you, everything about you,
but this dream I’m waking from, will turn you
into more of an animal,

you realize you’re down to the last fold of night,
smiling, unzipping your coat, dropping it on a scatter of pine cones,
unbuttoning your blouse slowly, letting it flutter down behind you,
your white bra snug against your breasts,
you hold your arms out for me to finish you,

and I do finish you,

leaving you in the woods, your legs squeezing trees,
humping boulders,
caressing yourself into fits,
defying the sanctity of the land,
mud between your toes,

finding dried fakes of earth in my bed,
my bathtub always with a smear of you,
footprints on my carpet,
morning beer cans lining the kitchen counter,
your smooth voice inside the refrigerator.

Knock. Knock.

by Peter Franklin

To you I might be
nothing – discarded, outcast refuse
washed up on your pristine beach.
I am mysterious, unknown, and am unable
to communicate how terribly hungry –
hay hambre – yo lo tengo - I am,
or how fearful I am – hay miedo – that I
have nowhere to go, and no idea
whether my family made it out or not.
“Next,” you sneer.  “Cockroach.”
Cucaracha? I don’t think so…in my country
I was a successful businessman –
a lawyer – abogado – but like everyone you
see here, stretched out before you,
I chose to leave…was forced to leave…chase a
dream to live without fear. Without persecution.
Either that or die, over and over again.
We are now all the same, but I am no cockroach.
If you just let me in – I am healthy, you see –
strong teeth, clear eyes…my beautiful hazel eyes…
I will make you proud, and will give
you no problems – you won’t even know I am here.
Invisible –
a shadow – la sombra.
Perhaps you could look at my form one more time,
and maybe while you are looking over there
At that colicky baby – el nino - crying and carrying on
(does the echo in this hall bother you, too?)
perhaps I could slip through this…how do you say…
torno de entrada – and find my way out.
I have this uncle, you see, and surely
I can find him and he will take me in. 
I am more than you think I am.

Sunday Ducks

by Al Ortolani

Three ducks walk the parking lot
at Braum’s Ice Cream. They round
the corner of the exit drive, hugging
the curb to forage asphalt. The drake
scans traffic on Broadway, unconcerned
about his distance from Lakeside.
He is drawn by syrup, sugar cone,
vanilla wafer. He stops, pulls his
yellow feet below his wings
and sits in the traffic lane. The hens
follow, assured by his confidence,
his webbed poise amid blaring
horns and waffle crumbs, strawberry
yogurt spreading like snowmelt.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Nyquil Shots

by John Pursch

Empirical swap meets haunt the trivial lessons of chest retraction nests, flopping farcical ottomans in turn for roped river wranglers, losing ursine pelts to leveraged grout. Renal factors ply cooing doorstops for swinging urges, melodically aspiring to grated pleats of honeycombed newts, carefully crashing into couch purees. How her hair attained the handful stage of logjam carp is anyone’s residential, feudal guest, given the hazy herbal opera cues that pass for theatrics today. Arched ontology carts the heavens to parts before unfolding queues, following liters of bare pleasure, leaving stubbed uterine glazes where hobnail roots once tamed an iron cat. Pool ball impacts reverberate between her ears, ringing in the midterm clues, flashing primitive collars and stick figure seasoning. Workmen class a bobcat’s spiel among the hoisted sensory peals of rich aquatic laughter, replicating sheer ellipses of a mute, indignant pearl. Cop cars excel at u-turn penance, skipping torn tutelage, wrapping loose igneous gender behind change machines. Rocks snore above tarped clocks, bringing off secondhand gunnels for crusty neutered masons, rousing interior flint. Irksome roll-on pews fulminate and whine, pressing for Nyquil shots, settling for hypnotic palms. Showering metric theaters girdle the urban manicurist’s coddled, inky viewports, amplifying her cheery milieu, greeting olive-skinned orbiters with flutes encased in seated scents.

Two ways

by Amanda Armstrong

A question
simple, yet
worth a life.
No turning back.

Split down the middle;
two ways,
'Do not enter'
'Enter only'.

You decide
The eyes are all on you,
all you.
Pick one.

Heartbreak and
No point,
 a waste.

Strength and
 A time,
Beautiful like a chime.

A path,
 less traveled,
or more traveled.

You choose.
Life wasting,
life while.
Heaven or Hell.

A mess.

dreams come true.


for SJ Tucker

by Jessica Otto

the words travel across the page in a folk song your voice bleeds sunset following the line down a drop of ink on your tongue a body stumbles against the rumble strip a casualty of wandering and diesel fumes skinned haunches and shattered nose point towards the ragweed the beginning of the line dresses itself in a drop of ink a hemorrhage here is the horizon bleeding down generations of sunrises and sunsets light comes up light goes down when you lick the paper the road allocates the flesh of the coyote absorbs blood bone and skin stretched to a fine film between the rumble strip and the verge the road stretches out sniffs with a dead thing’s nose gulps rainwater through broken teeth

The Trick of the Hotel Elevator

by Paul Handley

The elevator in my building
is a magician’s chest.
As the cape doors block me
off from the audience,
I face forward and don’t
make eye contact, so focused am I
on returning the same person upon exit,
which hasn’t happened yet.  I am little
threat to the sorcerer’s powers of transformation.

I feel the camera scoping me,
waiting for a weakness to wink at
the security guard, balefully regarding my
intentions to injure his building,
such as punching a floor button with enough
precision and force to chip out a chunk,
creating a mutant souvenir of this
monument to the hotel occupying the bottom 10 floors.
Its logo glimmers across the city.

Work mode lassos me as I leave
the elevator.  I shed frivolity,
clipping the back of my left ankle as it drops,
and the stench of originality drips
from an elbow as I open the door, to a cubicle maze.
I see the wand waved with a flourish
of ta-da and mockery, then yanked
with theatrical speed back into the elevator.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Dimly Lit Room

by Rebecca Miller

Darkness fell -so did my slip, dress and heels.
He switches off the lights, I turn them on.
Absinthe scorches my lips, his thighs.
We tango hip to hip, my feet never touch the floor.
He trademarks my neck with his teeth.
Green nymphs parade across his shoulders as we dance.
Fast, slow, matching, pacing.
His smirk, a result of my rowdy lament.
Multiplication is my specialty.
Bound, by his coarse hands and palatable cologne.
I am useless.
He divulges my fabrications like a theatre production.
Ribbon working like chains, and it's his turn to bat.
I tease, he begs, I relish.
Edging too close, I bring him down.
Finishing line crossed,
He leaves me wanting.
A migraine replaces ecstasy's face.

Out of Moonlight

by A.J. Huffman

Teddy bear eyes.
Teddy bear smile.
So soft.
So innocent.
So kind.
Though not mine.
They do not see me.
Be glad.
I can crack
the softest shell
Fur and all.
Sending it flying.
Back through time.
Before the light.
When meeting was still a touch.
Beyond stuffed.
And triggered.
To explode.
At Hello.

The Tarantula in Traffic

by Al Ortolani

crawls out of the rocks,
a fist of hair and legs.
He scuttles across the highway
and traffic slows. A woman
holds her hand over her mouth
and steers around him. He
stops on the No Passing line,
a black splotch on yellow.
A truck behind the woman
centers itself over the line and
follows her. The tarantula,
startled by the truck’s shadow,
flinches, pulls its bulbous abdomen
closer to the asphalt. Two
chili cooks emerge from an RV
with a spatula and a skillet.
He rears his front legs.
They pose for photographs
as if ready to flip him
into the skillet. 

chuck taylors

by Steve Calamars

propped up on the
coffee table and a
chuck norris flick
flashing on the
television set

mike meraz poems
and dc comicbooks
erase the afternoon

evening passes with
pushups and patsy cline
pouring from the radio
like pinballs

as insomnia and reckless
ambition keep me pounding
words into these pages

beneath halogen stars
and a chalkboard-green