Travelers Welcome

Travelers Welcome

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sarah Relocates Her Dad to Florida, Gets Him Settled and Goes Back to Brooklyn

by Amy Soricelli

The Northern Mockingbird did not sit on her father's deck -
no welcome sign no basket of fruit old ladies with crocheted blankets.
It would have been fitting for its ruffled Southern feathers to sing some bird Rap Song by her open suitcase
(which surprisingly did not carry the grimy ash of regret she intended to pack into her travel bag.)
She snapped answers into quick pieces.. mushrooms broken cap from stem -
forced open every window- 'only a little' he warned...
(lest the sun shines through/drags some hope with it).
She was tired - angry old people with their spotty marks across their hands like medals..
"look how hard I worked for you" they mocked.... like the bird-always mocking.

She took his wheelchair to the space in the park where they all sit and swap what they carry in the folds of their arms, the brim of their hats...
the outlined crayon drawings of what they can see from this morning....
what they care to remember.
(she believes that - she thinks sometimes he chooses to forget her.)
"I don't know you" he says - "who are you with your bird like face?"
She hates him then - hates the black specs of dirt it leaves behind -
hard to carry that.
(It does not travel well.)

The Northern Mockingbird with his 200 songs did not peck away at the supermarket flyers-
the ripe naked fruit in its bowl -no more brown bags gathered tight at its neck forcing its maturity in time for the news.
She sprinkled sage along the window sill -the rim of his flattened beige carpet;
she hung a dream catcher over his bed and whispered "I love you's" into the corners of each room...
she pointed to strangers on the street and followed their steps -
her lips moving in braille... You could be happy here.
Asleep on the sofa - pillows fat with memory -spare New York City dust...
she hums a tune and puts on tea.
He will awaken from the tunes it borrowed from the other trees across the street - the Northern Mockingbird
with his welcome sign banging on the branches/the doors of his head.
"Let me in" he says.
"Let me in".


by Byron Beynon

Captain Scott's Antarctic expedition
enters the polluted mouth of Cardiff bay.

A gift of Welsh coal
form the mine-owners
feeds the bunkers of the Terra Nova.

Excited crowds move and explore
their day through Butetown,
a greeting of flags and sirens
the hooting of salty horns
adds to the din
in a paraphernalia of local sound.

High-geared Edgar Evans of Rhossili
sails south again,
keeps his final appointment
with the Beardmore Glacier.

Titus Oates opens his diary,
calls the mayor and corporation
a mob,
disapproves of the noise,
sees the telephone operator
as the only gentleman
to come aboard.

Fragments that slowly thaw
from the history books,
a ship, a crew,
the inescapable five
disappear from the port,
a polar wind that ruffled
the vessel from its quay.


by Michael Plesset

Lips unkissed, and loneliness
the mirror brings urgent news
long hallways in hospitals
flowers cheer the sick and dying
young people
with breeding on their minds
a happy sense of urgency
but birds and trees plan ahead
building bridges to the stars
the quietness of warmth
comes like money in the mail
there are reasons like tangled branches
for us to stay together
ignoring the wind
risking life itself for
love and duty
when a better wind comes along
we’ll know it
and fly like dry leaves
all together
and say goodbye to

My Dilemma

by Morgen Streur

My dilemma is enigma, I search inside self
For the path and the answers to the cards I was dealt
Suited up in the club with some hearts on my sleeve,
Drinking Ace of Spades, feeling like a king with my queen
All my Jacks got tens, I can show you what I mean
I'm really quite straight because I did it with a team
That's a royal flush too, I don't have to mention diamonds,
See we all decked out 'cuz we all put the time in

Now, what'd you say your name was? and where you came from?
MJ? Morgen John? yeah, I'm the same one
I am the ace of the city by the lake better get to know my face
I took over the game without 'caine, just some knowledge
Ancient of the sort, if you're able for the course
I advise ye be wise as a serpent of the court
Otherwise you may find yourself far too off course
With no hope of return, I just sit back on my sojourn

As I wonder outloud, "When will it be yo' turn?"

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Before Heaven

by Michael Dwayne Smith

animal skins beneath
lightening contusions
were bruised by cloud shadow,
sweet with the dust of red dirt and yellow teeth,
mesh of bones long since gone to sea
with shards of rain,
run down mountains, funneled down mud hills,
crashing against glassy weed of ocean,
and in that marinade of salt, sperm, and egg,
that prescient cold soup
rich with zygotes of dumb government,
thick headed chains of DNA,
planet conquering, self-raping, underfed, overestimated
one way monkeys, stupid with milky eyes,
supposing stars dabbed horrific black sky for reasons
only upright thumbsters could understand,
only heaven’s invention could remand,
water was singing music of our own demise.

Shooting The Breeze

by Larry Jones

Entering the Post Office
I noticed a man and a woman
talking to each other.

I got my mail
walked out
looked around.

There were two people
next to the newspaper stand
having a conversation,

a woman at the curb
speaking through the window
to someone in a car.

I walked down the street
saw a stranger parked
in a pick-up truck
with a dog,

I stopped and asked him
about the dog.
We chatted for five or ten minutes.

Just as I suspected,
people don't require cell phones
in order to communicate.


by Marc Carver

It has taken me
twenty years
to realize that
don't like people
they are just scared about being alone.
But most of them
are never alone
not until
the end.
If you do it while you are alive
the real gut loneliness
you have nothing to fear
from the most welcome of guests.

Short One Orchard

by Donal Mahoney

When Barney Murphy married Blanche O'Brien, he told her almost every day from the wedding on that she was apricots and peaches, an orchard that was his alone to wander, plucking fruit as he saw fit, all of it ripe and juicy, something he would savor for the rest of his life. Blanche, a shy woman, really liked the way Barney could talk. He made nonsense sensible, she told her parents. Blanche was a very happy wife.

From the sixth month on during her first pregnancy, Blanche would ask Barney every day to pat her watermelon. When it finally burst, a boy popped out, and then a girl right after the boy, and then another boy right after the girl. Blanche had given birth to triplets within minutes of each other, lovely infants, all three of them plump and crowned with hair that ran in rivulets of curls. 

Six additional children, born one at a time over the next 12 years, were just as beautiful. Even the neighbors were amazed at the fecundity of the couple. Some ladies on the block thought Barney should take up bowling. 

"I've certainly got my hands full," Blanche would tell her lady friends but she still seemed happy. Barney remained unperturbed. He earned terrific money as a defense attorney, a vocation to which his rhetorical skills had called him. He tried to find a partner to share the workload but no one could talk the way Barney could. The bigger the crime the more the criminal would pay to hire Barney. 

Life was very good for the productive couple. Their nine children studied hard in school and graduated from college. Unlike the trend today, they all married early and settled down. Blanche was even happier once the last child had married and moved out of the house. It would be another honeymoon with just her and Barney home alone. And it seemed that way until the eve of their Golden Wedding Anniversary. That was the night Barney told her, after a nice dinner at a Russian restaurant, that she--his Blanche--was no longer apricots and peaches. More like prunes and raisins. 

"Nine children," Blanche said, "can take a toll on a woman." 

"I know, I know!" Barney said, "I'm not blaming you. But this is life. And I'm short one orchard."

Barney pointed out that he had plans to prospect for another orchard. He wanted fresh fruit again, ripe and succulent. For days Blanche was stricken. She couldn't believe Barney would go looking for another woman--or maybe women. But as her mother told her when they were courting, Barney was never meant to be a priest. Still, she had no reason to believe that in 50 years of marriage Barney had ever been unfaithful. Still, the kids had kept her busy and Barney often worked late into the night--or so he said.  

In her youth, Blanche, in addition to being apricots and peaches in the eyes of Barney, had also been in the Olympics twice. She had won five gold and silver medals as an archer, a feat Barney over the years had proudly mentioned many times to any neighbor who would still listen. Frankly, everyone on the block was tired of hearing about Blanche's medals. But thinking it might help keep Barney as her husband, Blanche went looking for and found her ancient bow and arrow in the attic. That night she told Barney she was going to practice for the Senior Olympics. 

The Senior Olympics was something Barney had long wanted Blanche to compete in. He wanted her to win more medals. The price of gold and silver had skyrocketed and he figured another stack of medals would be another insurance policy for retirement. Barney even decided to help Blanche train for the competition, taking time off from work to do so. He set up targets in their big back yard and brought the arrows back to her after she had shot them. 

With Blanche practicing every day, Barney was kept very busy. He was so busy, in fact, that Blanche didn't think he had time to look for any new orchards. In addition, she had begun to regain her old expertise. In fact, she thought it was unlikely any other woman in the over-70 group would be able to beat her. "Bullseye Blanche," as they used to call her, was back in business. 

A month later, however, something happened. The story in the paper and the reporters on TV said it was an accident, a tragedy, one arrow out of hundreds gone astray, a large, loving family heartbroken. 

And the nine kids, all with big families of their own by now, believed it was an accident. Blanche in tears had told them at the time how the arrow had gone awry, had gone right through Barney's left eye and settled in his brain. 

"He dropped like a tree at logging time," she said. 

There was nothing the first responders could do. Barney was pronounced dead at the hospital. All the neighbors turned out for the funeral and took turns bringing Blanche a hot meal every night for weeks. And then the story seemed to die. Blanche wore black for months and months.

Nevertheless, not everyone was satisfied that things had happened exactly as reported. At closing time in a local pub frequented by friends, every now and then, maybe once a week or so, the same drunken neighbor would declare for all to hear: "The cops can't ask old Barney what happened that day. We've heard what Blanche has to say. But Barney can't say a word."

Maybe Barney's death was an accident. One arrow out of hundreds can go astray. Blanche refused to talk about it anymore and would begin to bawl if anyone mentioned Barney's name. She also refused to compete in the Senior Olympics even though her skills had continued to improve right up until the arrow caught Barney's eye. The kids all agreed Barney would have wanted her to compete. But Blanche said no--that to do so would be like putting an arrow in Barney's other eye and there was no need for that now. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


by Byron Beynon

The framework of names
connected to a pressure of rocks
dating a countryside

with soft and hard looks,
the sequence of layers
with fern imprints,

an identity brooding with age;
the tribal faces
with Ordovician and Silurian families,

their shadows caught
by the links of territory.
Blue stones sifting

through the mind’s burning frost of evening,
a source where the dark earth
threads silently from

intense foundations,
the marked origins deepening
during the passage of fugitive time.


by Pijush Kanti Deb

Ought not to take advantage
     From the sacred simplicity
Or not to cross over the edge
     Of its patience or dignity.

Simplicity is the divine identity
     Of honesty in earthly paradise
A stout in ethical quality
     And blissful with virtues to colonise.

So open and vast is the heart
     That the universe gets into it
The holy soul may construct
     A home for God to inhabit.

The warning is to be remembered,
     Ought not to play with simplicity,
It is to be respectfully spared
     To evade the judgement of divinity.


by Terri Hatch Owens and Tom Hatch

the Peanut Butter & Lettuce Sandwich
Welby Way elementary snickering
lunch time opening the reused
oversized brown paper
lunch sack causing
me to envy my fellow
classmates whose mom's
used brand new ones and
strategically and precisely
folded the top down
with the perfect crease
some even taped or stapled
it shut with their child's name
so perfectly written on the bag
while inside mine would be a favorite
sandwich of peanut butter and lettuce
although my mom always spread
some Oleo on each slice of bread
before loading it up with PB&L
I begged her not to put Oleo on mine
but she never honored this wish
It made me sad but as I grew up
I realized she didn't have time
to kowtow to each and
everyone of my demands
or those of my three older brothers'
since she had to focus on her job
as a key punch operator's long hours
so as an adult I would tease her about
the trauma she put me through
and would laugh about it
knowing I had forgiven her
Especially the over sized
Used brown paper bag."

Now Terri wonders I assume
What trauma has she put her
Girls through not that
Anybody uses Oleo anymore


by Herb Guggenheim

Hamburgers, hotdogs, thick slices
of pie. We stuff them all down
our gullets and wonder what went
wrong as a swarm of yellow jackets
descends on us, stinging us over
and over. We try to shoo them away
but they keep stinging. Blisters break
on our skin and violet blood sprays
out of them. Everything is covered
in violet blood. We can’t remember
who invited us or why we came.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Dancing with Jesus

by Jacki Halton McAvoy

Rest in peace is often said while standing in a funeral line
A flower filled room of well dressed guests
To many, may seem fine

But when I reach those gates and they open the doors
I don't plan to rest at all
"May I have this dance?" is what He'll say
As we glide past golden halls

And I'll be dancing with Jesus
Through a star lit night
We will laugh and talk and sing
There is so much to tell him
So much to say
As I'm dancing with Jesus one day

We'll reminisce all the night and the days beyond too
My wonderful friend and I
There will be no rest
No cares. No complaints.
How time really does fly by

As I'm dancing with Jesus
Through a star lit night
We will laugh and talk and sing
There is so much to tell him
So much to say
As I'm dancing with Jesus one day

And the loved ones we'll see! The places we'll go!
As we walk in Heaven above
But, I won't rest in peace
I'll be busy you see
And filled with infinite love

And I'll be dancing with Jesus
Through a star lit night
We will laugh and talk and sing
There is so much to tell him
So much to say
As I'm dancing with Jesus one day

The 9 ½ %

by Ben Rasnic  

“9 ½ % of Americans suffer from depressive disorders”
—United States Center for Disease Control  

I turn my back
against the pre-
dawn light creeping
thru shrouded drapes,

find solace
solely in deep,
uninterrupted sleep.      

Every day
is a never-ending
monotonous cycle
of non-events.                                              

Take one capsule
daily, wait seven years
for the FDA to acknowledge
adverse effects.

green mold engraves
the vinyl siding        
like a tombstone.

1992 Dodge Shadow

by April Salzano

Gaudy aqua. Base model, an understatement.
No stereo, not even a factory-cut hole.
Stick shift, no AC, no rear defrost, no floor
mats. $7000 for that new car smell
I had never inhaled so deeply.
At $5/hour as a shift manager
at McDonalds, I could swing payments,
commute to a commonwealth campus, still pay
for textbooks and a stereo system.

Two years and one snow belt later,
I transferred to a campus in a city on a hill, reversed
often to gain enough speed, make a run for it, downshifted,
failed. The little engine that could often could not
when confronting lake effect snow. The windows
froze on the inside, and often
sealed shut as if in effort at self-preservation. Cranks
broken: 3 while trying to get a crack open to blow
cigarette smoke out along with my breath,
Alanis riding shotgun, one hand
in the most metaphorical of pockets.
That car eluded any attempt at being named,
other than with various profanities.
I associate it with many near-death experiences,
and the best days of my life
I didn’t even know were happening.

pomegranate stain

by Linda M. Crate

i wasn't aware
that i could only wear
emotions you painted
on my sleeves,
the ones frayed with your
demands too harsh and needy;
you push me away
expecting me to pull closer,
and what exactly am i to you anyway?
fading memories, a broken prayer,
or maybe the other half of the
monster you see in the mirror?
you told me that you loved me,
but your love falls in harsh bitter
pomegranate sunsets whose
melancholy bathes me
in a bitterness too repulsive for me
to stand in; your lust maddens your eyes
you're undressing my body with
bedroom eyes even in the middle of church  —
only desiring my body and my submission
you don't care much when i fight
back or when i'll tease you instead of you
toying with me, and i begin to realize
you are the wolf you warned me of  —
i let you steal away my flowers
preserved in years of my youth thinking
that you would treasure each one
because i presented them to you and you alone,
as your eyes rake over my skirt and my
breasts i can see you only want more than i can give;
thinking little of my love for you but only of
desires that consume you like the animal you are.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Leaning Against A Cyclone Fence/Mid Summer

by Susan Winecki

A Saturday morning stroll.  I stumble upon a pack of teenage girls, shooting baskets on a nearby playground.  Drawn by their shining bodies moving over steaming cement like shooting stars across a breath-stopped night, I lean against the cyclone fence and watch.  Transfixed by tangled, mist-covered limbs, arms, hands bobbing up an down like buoys on a windy sea, I stay.  I stay for the smacking of overheated flesh making contact with its own kind.  I stay for the grace and grit of these holy innocents who still know freedom and fairness.  Those firm bodied teenage girls were love-filled, beauty-filled, wild-filled.  Steam rose, sweat dripped from them into tiny cracks on the cement floor.  The earth claimed these unfolding lionesses as their fast-moving limbs moved in concert with one another – reaching, squatting, falling, landing, twisting, arching, pivoting, soaring.  I stay for that and pray that they will never stop warming the air around them, setting fires on sun parched playgrounds, breathing with a vengeance. 


by Bradford Middleton

Thursday lunchtime and on my way to work
When the madness takes a grip on everyone I see
A man scared of his own shadow
Who veers violently off the curb
At the mere sight of my presence

A poor little rich girl who can’t afford
What’s the latest must-have item
She’d only just read about and was so
In demand she merely sat down and wept
In the middle of the pavement

All around madness takes hold and
I feel it seeping into my own consciousness
But all I think about is getting to work
And getting that done and getting home
Where I’ll progress my own madness to all new levels

A dead white birch tree

by Tom Hatch

A ghost splayed against
The light green of late spring

Stilted, Fallow, Sorrow drawn in
Chalk like on a thin printed page
Against blossoming magnolias
Mellow tones of barking dogwood
Lemon/lime green willow

The art of after rains high grasses
Her lovers fertility ran away
Over the winter
With the willow that
Now weeps over looking
The birches bony skeleton
They played in the wind
The windy willow now
Caressing her lifeless
Peeling dark edged bark in
The fuel smoke filled air and
Sound of my bright yellow
Screaming chainsaw

A cheery warm fire next winter
Smoke as white as her bark

Drawing Noise

by Paul Tristram

There was this guy walking down the street, he was just you
know, whistling to himself (I think it was, ‘Watching What The
Rain Blows In’ by ‘The Tea Party’, but I can’t really be sure?)
When all of a sudden, he noticed that the street was completely
empty of people, I mean there were cars stationary all over the
road, but there were no people.

He rubbed his eyes and looked again, but the scene remained
the same, some of the cars, which were in the middle of the
road, had their doors open, it looked as if the drivers and
passengers of these vehicles had simply stopped and got out
leaving their cars where they were.

He walked into the nearest shop (The doors were wide open!)
and took a look around, all of the shops lights were still on
and there was bad music coming from a cheap tape recorder,
which was sitting up on a shelf behind the counter.

Although to his amazement there were no people to be seen
anywhere? He tried calling “Shop!” a few times, but still no
one appeared.

He reached behind the counter and picked up a bottle of Jim
Beam (Because it was an off-licence!) but upon looking up he
saw the security camera and decided to put it back, besides
all of this ‘No People’ business was really starting to make him
feel paranoid.

He walked out of the off-licence and proceeded on down the
street, checking every shop that he passed by, but still there
was no sign of anybody about? Next he tried the shopping centre,
both floors, but not one single person was to be found, the
escalators were still running and just like the off-licence
and all the other shops that he had tried, all of the lights were
still on and the doors left wide open.

Now he was really getting fucking freaked out, he ran out into
the empty street and started yelling, this went on for several
minutes, then he resorted to screaming,

“Help, Help, Will Someone Please Help Me!”

But to this there was also no response, he then stopped calling
for help, because he realized that he didn’t need any help,
for there was absolutely nothing wrong with him, what he needed
was information.

Ah Ha! he thought to himself, I’ll phone someone in the next
town and tell them my predicament, someone must know what’s
going on?

So he ran to the nearest phone box, lifted up the handset, put
a fifty pence piece into the slot and dialled, it rang for three
minutes without reply. Then he tried another number and then
another number and then another but still no reply.

Then he hung up and tried the operator (By now he was sweating
like a pig, he felt like he was being hunted, all of his senses were
telling him to run, this was all just too wrong!)

When the operator didn’t answer he tried 999, he had never
wanted to hear a policeman’s voice so much in all of his life,
but alas, there was no answer.

He stepped out of the phone box and held his right hand up
above his eyes (So that his thumb and fore finger were against
his eyebrows) and in this common fashion he started searching
the sky all around himself for something. At first he didn’t
quite know what he was looking for? But then it hit him, he was
 looking for a mushroom cloud. My God, but have the stupid
fuckers actually gone and done it? he thought to himself as he
scanned the horizon, but he found no mushroom cloud.

In fact he found nothing up in the sky at all, not a single
aeroplane, helicopter, glider, balloon, bird, butterfly or bumble
bee, there was nothing alive anywhere except for himself.

He sat down on the side of the road and trembled like a
cornered fox, he momentarily thought of suicide, yes suicide
seemed like a very good idea indeed.

Now I know what you are thinking, why would he be thinking
about suicide? he has the town to himself, he can go and do
whatever he wants to (Well, besides copulate!) but he was not
thinking this way, he was frightened, he was used to people
and noise.

That’s when it hit him, there was hardly any noise, this was
all getting to be a little too much, he tried to think how he
could have missed whatever it was that had happened to
everyone, but he could think of nothing.

He had simply walked out of his house and found everything
like this, my God Sheila, he had completely forgotten about
his wife Sheila, he had left her sleeping at home in bed.

He quickly sprang to his feet and ran back down the street
in the direction of home, he could feel his heart pumping
blood to his entire body as he ran like a hero towards his
hopefully unharmed wife.

He finally entered his street, ran into his garden, then BANG!
Something leapt out at him from the bushes which he and Sheila
had lovingly planted together six years before on their first

He grabbed at the thing and knocked it off his back, he turned
and looked down at it, it was ugly, it was human in shape but
it had dead black eyes and purple skin. He flung himself down
upon the ugly motherfucker and started to strangle it, the thing
was strong but he kept thinking of Sheila and that seemed to
give him added strength.

Then he saw the things arm raise into the air, suddenly a sharp
wicked looking metal prong appeared out of its elbow, it was
about a foot long. Then he felt the pain as the thing stabbed
him in the ribcage with the sharp wicked metal looking prong,
he heard himself scream and then everything went black.

He awoke in his bedroom; he looked down and saw the blood
upon the bedclothes, he tried to sit up but felt a sharp pain in
his side. He looked around the bedroom, he could see three
police officers standing around the bed, in between two of
them stood his beloved Sheila; she was holding her throat with
one hand and in the other she held a bloody knitting needle.

“That Bastard tried strangling me in my sleep!” she said

“If I hadn’t have had the knitting needle handy, he would have
killed me!” she added in between coughing.

“What do you want us to do with him, shall we arrest him?”
asked the policeman who was standing upon her left hand side.

“I don’t give a fuck, just get him out of my bed and out of my
house, I never want to see the lunatic again!” she said quietly.

He is now in Cefn Coed Hospital in Swansea, he takes his
medication like a good boy, he spends most of the day trying
to draw noise and he lives solely for Friday afternoons because
on Friday afternoons they serve apple tart and custard with tea.

He no longer understands what clocks are for, the TV merely
confuses him, but he smiles when he sees angry people because
angry people make a lot of noise and boy does he love noise.

The doctors, who watch over him, are of the general opinion
that he will never recover, but they are unconcerned with this
as the patient is totally unaware of his rapidly deteriorating state.
The courts passed all of his personal possessions over to his
former wife Sheila.

He has now only two pairs of pyjamas, one toothbrush, a comb,
soap, toothpaste, face flannel and a calendar of steam engines,
all of which were provided by the hospital, except for the calendar
of steam engines which belonged to the old man in the next bed
to him.

Unfortunately the old man died two weeks previous and one of
the few kind nurses let him take the calendar of steam engines
and hang it on the wall by his own bed.

Sheila has since moved house and has now three healthy children
by her new husband who happens to suffer from insomnia.
And that is the end of this here story, there is nothing left to tell
thee except that her throat tissue was quite badly damaged in
the afore mentioned incident leaving her with a few problems.
They are, she can no longer give head and chicken curries burn
like a Bastard!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


by April Salzano

Who lets a dog freeze to death? My father
was supposed to put straw in the dog houses.
The shepherd survived, though he was never
quite the same animal, but the beagle
solidified, standing still, his mouth a permanent,
petrified howl. We were two hours away
at my great grandmother’s, maybe for a funeral,
maybe for our annual visit. When my father called,
my mother’s voice held its usual resignation.
It was my four-year-old brother
she was worried about telling. Nothing surprised
the rest of us. Life was just like that, one moment
there was sun, the next, a chill to the bone.


by Richard Schnap

Once it was a popular head shop
Where they sold paraphernalia of the mind
A church dispensing the instruments
To find God in the sacraments of dreams

Then it became a video store
With a private room in the back
Where lonely men witnessed the wonders
Of goddesses in the darkness alone

Next it turned into a pizza shop
Where the disabled gathered in the morning
To sip at cheap six-packs while watching
The world they’d forsaken pass by

But no matter what reason it stood for
It still brought the same result
A way to forget for a moment
That life promised more than it gave


by Ed Zahniser

Kant wrote cant you can’t get rote
or so it seems at first. What can we know?
Kant wants to know—and then seeks
help from old Greek thought. Why?
The arc of thought up to Kant’s time
streamed down toward thought’s
own death and since Hume’s day
it was not what we can not know
but that we can not know. And
Kant held too the mind is no blank
slate the world of sense chalks
in for us. Nor are we born with
gifts of fact we need no mind
to know; that is, there live no
knowns known free of mind.
So Kant did write some things
you might get rote
or so it seems at last.

fading photograph

by Linda M. Crate

i'm not pretty as a picture. i'm that crimson lipstick stain on the sun, the stone skipped on the breath of a rosemary sunset breathing orange. the smudge you find on your old photograph, the rotten banana on the counter, the dead lily whose frayed petals are past the point of no return. you'll find me on the subway, in the back of your mind's darkest recesses, in line at subway, breathing cigarette smoke into the atmosphere of lonely bars full of overweight drunk men too tired to care or fight. i bend, break, collide with the moon, burn in the sun, scatter in the wind each day a different order but the same routine. when i look in the mirror, i see the black wolf smirking back at me. i am the monster my father was. I have his claws, the same sharp fangs, the exact shade of silver sword tongue that slashes to pieces any that disagree with me. i am a woman in a man's universe, one that is different from the others. so that means i'm even less than oblivion because women don't matter here. perhaps, they never did. eve was the only woman that people seem to care about or mary. i'm neither the virgin nor the whore, just something in-between. so, of course, that means i'm charred black feathers of fallen angels turning amber in the sun. thanks for reminding me of all my scars and failures, i needed that salt thrown into my wounds yet again. needed to savor the taste of regret.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

When the Clouds Don’t Mean Anything and Are Only Clouds

by Rich Boucher

We stood in our driveway and waited for the rain to come. The sky was a grey, brindled quilt of irritated-looking clouds. There was a pale blue light coming in through the stitches in that quilt. We felt like we had every right to expect rain, as it had not fallen on us in years. We had no plan, formulated no idea as to how long we would stand in our driveway and look up at the sky waiting for it to happen. There was almost no one out there, on the main road by our house. This was a Sunday that Sundayed very hard. That ozone smell of the rain played around our noses like a perfume bringing about a memory neither of us would be able to recall. I don’t know what you looked up and saw, what you wondered up at the sky. We made small talk about how the air felt outside, and how quiet everything was. Even the dogs in the neighborhood were silent, and we could normally hear at least one dog barking. I don’t know what you imagined that you saw in the clouds. I can only tell you what I imagined, even if telling you means risking that you will now know that I am not very deep at all. I wondered if a thousand yellow lightning bolts shaped like exclamation points were going to drop out of the clouds without a sound, and I couldn’t figure out if that would be a celebration of God or if all those glow-in-the-dark exclamation points would be how my small, human mind would interpret the end of the world. It became easy to wonder if that dark, angry sea in the sky came into being from all the steam rising up from the heads of people worrying everywhere. We never got to it, but I was supposed to tell you about the call from my aunt, how she’d called to tell me that my cousin was in the hospital, and also that she won a hundred dollars on a scratch ticket.

What Daisies Know

by John Ottley, Jr.

What is it with this closure they keep talking about?
A guy in a Batman suit stitches 12 fans in a theater
and one in the groin for good measure.
Not lethal.
The bastard needs to whimper and moan to the papers
in that stupid orange hair
for a few weeks before he’s offed for good.

And, what’s with rebirth?
One life ought to be plenty for monsters.
Especially if you have to come back as some kind of animal
and work your way up from there.
A snail should be about right for that nutcase.

No, this whole eternity bit is way overrated.
Heck, if you want eternity, look up at winter stars
or watch a frigging sunrise, man, while you’re still alive.

Dying is like you left on an errand and just kept on going.
Nobody needs to print up a bunch of posters.
Or drag the lake.
Or pay a ransom.
Or go on tv and wail brother we just want you to come home.

It’s over, man.
Done with.

I like the idea of cremation.
At least they can toss what’s left in the Toccoa River
and make some rainbow trout happy.
If you’re hung up on reincarnation
you can even fish for them later
and pretend it’s some kind of rising again.
This is my body sautéed for you, etc.

At the graveside, get out of those velvet-covered chairs
and run.
Jump the cemetery fence.
Throw yourself among daisies.
Roll over and over in them.
Hear them chuckling.
They’re gonna die come fall
and yet they’re laughing about it.

We need to know
what they know.


by Neelam Chandra

My name
Is a glow,
A glimmer
Which shimmers
All around me
Radiating happiness
And love
To all those
Who wish
To accept and hold it…

For others
It is just a useless stone
Lying discarded somewhere…


by Marilyn Braendeholm

Church bells. That round-up horrid sound,
reminding my spellbound soul of tears told
at fireside, and they toll, those bells,
for lamps dying, burnt-out in damp clad
tombs. And we sigh over fresh flowers
and church bells, that immortal stamp.


by John Hatch and Tom Hatch

Apologies for my vagueness.
Sometimes I reply whilst driving
and other times I don’t read
all the way through when replying.
On the houses: A couple of weeks ago
I looked at two houses with him (the old man)
One was probably built in the fifties
and had a two story an add-on
The garage was a one car garage
which they made into a pull through
carport with a two car garage built behind it
The two car garage had a room above it
The 2nd floor of the house was an add-on
and the second floor of the garage
were connected with a deck
It was a cool house
He said it had plenty of room
To display all of his displayables
The 2nd house we looked at was built in 1963
It was a one story, but did have a room
added above the garage
It was a nice home with lots of space
and yard and extras.
My suggestion to him was the
1950’s house if it was sound
He made an offer, had it inspected
The inspection showed more stuff
than he wanted to deal with,
and he realized the stairs were
too much for him too. He backed out.
We looked at the 2nd house again today
I looked closer at everything
The roof over the garage had
a bit of a dip too it, but I walk around
on it and even jumped up and down on it
It seems solid. That was the only issue I could see
I have a good friend who is
a contractor who would come
look at it if the old man wanted him to
He just called and told me
he’s probably going to put an offer on it
about $16,000 less than the asking price.
Anyway he might buy this house
might not
I’m not going to push him
but I will look at more houses with him.
He will be 88 this year if this keeps
Him going I'm good with that.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Destroying the House with You

by Rich Boucher

Let’s start with the kitchen.

A kiss first, and then let’s upend the table
and send the vase slow-motion flying to the floor.
And then another kiss. And another.
Grab the back of this fridge with me
and let’s push it over as hard as we can,
if only for the sound of thunder indoors.
Why don’t you hold my hand, my sweet,
as we bring our boots up, kick out the window
behind the sink together; it will be as if
we’ve never been told how to act.
We will be the kindergarten playground
within us, clamorous, unleashed.

With the kitchen behind us on fire,
let’s please do decimate the living room;
let’s make it feel its own doomsday
with a smashed-in, thrown television
and TV trays snapped in half for IKEA kindling,
the K-Mart family portraits curling black and burning;
run your loving hands all over me
while I spritz some lighter fluid all over the couch
like a blasting of aromatic and demonic pee.

We’ll take out the bathroom with explosives;
I’d like to see the tub go flying through the ceiling
and up into the sky like a confused porcelain rowboat;
I’ll hold you from behind and let my hands get frisky
while the wavering flag of the shower curtain
burns a plasticene rainbow before our eyes.

The bedroom I think we should save for last;
that would be the best place for firemen to find us;
our crumbly remains an ashen Cupid and Psyche embracing
on the overgrown charcoal pit of our marriage bed,
two glasses of wine’s worth of shards on the sheets
glinting in the flashlight beams like diamonds left in a tomb.

Power Plant in Asgard

by Erik Moshe

Night time is refuge for the energy-reclusive
solar powered firewalkers, physiques complemented 
by starlight's Carmichael driven off the edge 
of the wrong road at the wrong hour of the dark
this scene, diminished by the tertiary devices of a new sun
knows that many snooze during important eclipses
A full moon is not a bronze coin
cash it in if you’d like (dunesday discount rates apply)
exchange it for the ecstasy of a desert highway ride
full tank of gasoline planet - knuckles full of river water
passengers seated in black holes
Saturn’s ringworm children, tired from a day of repeated 
jettisoning them from their nurseries, with a labor contract
lunar colony headdresses, hand sewn, 
hang from the jaws of a cave mage, like djinn braids 
dipped in oak wine, as liberated hands and wrists join
merging urban areas in Asgard, 
slowly making thunderclouds harvest-worthy
available for any argonaut farmer with the will to grow
sound the sirens, sign upon the dwindling harps 
hold your saucepans like wieldable anvils (brutes)
in winter scuffles, crush dissension with a refreshing sip
of an empirical tonic fit for a wicked king
its consistency, the same color as greed
that Pluto’s currency has long surpassed hyperinflation
and this sea of repulsive otherworldliness
Is enough to make a newborn Odin flinch 
even here, renewable resources are far flung!
A mothership stranded in uncharted orphan plateau
searching for its origins in an airship-riddled sky

Mars, Venus and the Green Bay Packers

by Ed Werstein

It’s game day and I am walking to Whole Foods
past bars filled with noisy fans gazing at gigantic TV screens
and as I pass the Bradford Beach Club
the crowd inside erupts in cheers.

I quickly surmise that the good guys have scored
but then, five steps further on, another elated (related?) roar
is emitted from the open door
of Hooligan’s Pub directly across the street.

This temporal distortion puzzles me until I theorize
that the Beach Club’s screens are cable fed
while the TVs in Hooligan’s are receiving satellite signals through a dish.

This is just a theory
but suddenly I understand a communication
problem I am having:
me, hard wired for direct input
and her, a concave bowl searching for signals from the stars.

Skipping Stones

by Wayne Scheer

I showed my grandson
how to skip stones today,
three, four, five
hops along the pond.

I explained how he needs
to sidearm a smooth stone,
holding his arm parallel
to the water's surface.

Just two or three skips,
and he shouted, "Yes!"
Four or more and he cheered,
like I was Superman.

He's ten, and easily impressed.
I remember when his father
stood amazed at my prowess,
and I at my father's.

It won't last much longer,
this adulation.
He's already mastered
the two-skip,

Once he skips four
I'll lose my super cape
And he'll nod politely
At my limited skills.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Feds Foil Clever Male Fraud Scheme

by John Ottley, Jr.

Postal workers streamed out of the poison letter intercept facility
like a fire ant hill run over by a peanut harvester.
Alarms shrieked.
Strobe lights flashed.
So many 911 calls almost locked down the system.
Letters with suspicious pellets addressed
to the entire Congress, judiciary, and White House:
biggest terrorist mailing in history.

Authorities wondered why Oscar Benton Ceetie,
of (appropriately) 1842 Odd Fellow Lane
in Crowley, LA,  used personalized return labels.
No self-respecting radical could be that stupid.
High brow FBI profilers said he had a death wish.

In the dark of a Cajun moon
ninja-clad federal agents waited outside Ceetie’s house
for their green radium watch dials to hit 2:30 a.m.
This ought to be easy.
The guy didn’t even have a pit bull watchdog.

Oscar staggered to the door in his plaid nightshirt,
hands shielding his eyes from high-intensity tactical flashlights.
Black tasers at the ready, they demanded,
Are you Oscar Ceetie?
Yes, but wha, what’s this all about?
We think you know, Mr. Cetie. Your ricin-laced letters arrived yesterday.

I believe there’s a mistake, officers.
Those were rice in letters.
That’s what we said. Now hands over your head.

Look, our Chamber of Commerce likes to say
we’re the rice capital of the world.
We’ve hosted the International Rice Festival since 1936.
Our town motto is “Rice is Life”.
What does any of that have to do
with trying to assassinate the entire government?

Well, everything!
Did you actually open my letters?
We don’t do that anymore. Our advanced technology
has saved countless politicians by detecting tell-tale castor beans.
No doubt the threatening message inside would have exposed
the workings of your twisted mind.
No, we have you dead to rights, mister.
Those “beans” were grains of rice, not ricin for pete’s sake.
The accompanying note was rice recipes
from La Bouche Creole, our cooking bible.
I just had this idea that, if we could get folks eating more rice,
it would help our overweight problem.
We could start by getting our leaders on a rice diet.

The bewildered Feds holstered their 9 mm Glocks,
rolled their eyes, raised their hands hopelessly,
and looked to the Crowley Police for support.
The locals stared intensely interested at their shoes.
Someone texted the Hoover Building,
shook his head at the reply.

The red-faced feds piled back into their tinted window SUVs,
threw up gravel as they roared off,
leaving Oscar (nickname O.B.) Ceetie with a copy
of the only charges they could think up:
a bill for insufficient postage.

Alice Blue

by Amy Soricelli

The artist sits at the desk with a cup perhaps, a chipped plate -
and goes about mixing his paint -swirling up the blank walls and spare rug
fluffing up his Robins Egg mind with Aquamarine and Cerulean.
His wife sets the hot tea in a glass by his small settling of
Dodger and Ultramarine and glances quick snappish looks at the spots of Royal
and Persian that are jarred tight by the window.
She thinks -she does, (being the wife of an artist)
that she can offer some Royal or Indigo and then maybe Steel -
sway away the routine he has -the way he dips the ends
in the water - the way he holds his brush.
He's on Cyan now - poking the ends of canvas jabbing almost -
small angry flowers - she can't see from her angle but there
is no Periwinkle or Cornflower- his eyes digesting hard on Navy -
stern and angry.
She would be better listening to the sound of that car with its 'down the street' music
getting smaller and lighter- make some eggs and watch the news
then question his lack of appreciation for Cobalt or Sapphire.

Salem Pilgrimage

by Breda Wall Ryan

The dead shiver and fall,
drift against clapboard houses,
innocent as flames.

In the bars, early revellers
order spirit cocktails
or chug Sam Adams Ale.

There’s a show of hands
for free entertainment:
folk rock or jazz in the park

where hyped-up schoolchildren
disguised as one-night witches
divvy their candy swag.

I have crossed a threshold
where the words of the voiceless
are cut off  by a granite wall,

into a horseshoe
of floating tombstones
to remember hanged

Bridget Bishop
whose given name I share,
hear a witchlet declare

old Giles Corey
pressed to death is ‘way cool!’
I shut my ears against a riot

of Halloween celebration,
seek quiet where the dead
stir among black locust trees

and know we should have come
in a February blizzard,
not on this Samhain eve.


by Ross Vassilev

you live in a small rental apartment
on the ground floor of a 2-story building
and the people upstairs
have a small kid who never stops running around
so it's like you're living under a bowling alley
that's always open
and there's no way to ignore that
even meditation won't work
so you bang on the ceiling with a bat
and they stomp on the floor in return
and you start going crazy
and when you see your upstairs neighbors in the hallway
you can't stand the sight of each other
and the whole thing is so very un-Buddhist
but they're not to blame
and I'm not to blame
and you hope that some day
you'll have the money to buy a house
so there won't be anyone living upstairs anymore
and you can finally live in peace
as you were meant to
but until then you just wait for the day
when Time it will take us all
to a better place.


by Jeffrey Park

He knows how to make an entrance
you really have to give him that –
strides into the room, feet clanking,
thorax gleaming with condensation.

Magnetic fields ripple and shimmer,
pacemakers skitter, dental fillings expand,
crack, fluorescent lights brighten
for an instant before sputtering to
a respectful grey.

With a low-pitched whine he swivels
his slotted visage, takes in the attendees,
weighing, assessing, bathing them
in his steady ultraviolet regard.
A steely smile.

Carbon-Based Life, Pros and Cons.
And the meeting comes to order.

Mind of My Own.

by Radha Debroy Raai

Mind of my own
I am cursed with
A mind of my own

Multiverses collide
At one synaptic cleft
Millions of wormholes
Dig through this glial mesh
Connecting aeons of separation
In one ungodly inquest

Matters; white and grey
But mostly dark
Buzz with anticipation
Of some stark
To unfold
And twist its tendrils
Around this beingness

Mind of my own
I am cursed with
A Mind of My Own

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Of living untouched

by Sarah Marchant

Tie the ribbons in your hair.
Smuggle the smoke; we’re not
going anywhere now. Your
fish will get cancer, its tummy
filled with tobacco and other fish,
and I will take purple ink to
a book I borrowed from the library.

Yes, they all need to know my
favorite parts in my second-favorite
color. Yes, your lofty language and
general snobbery mean nothing to me.

Polish bottles and line them up
on your windowsill. The sunset
got delayed by traffic, somber and
still. Too-tall trees will swallow
all the beauty whole, colors and
bird wings caught in their branches,
and I will sing in the absence
like the continents never broke.

Yes, they all need to hear my
voice like a recurring nightmare,
and no, my heart isn’t interested in
being a clay vessel anymore.

Open the Eyes

by Douglas Polk

close the eyes and listen to the silence,
sample the karma,
the aura of the life around,
soak in the goodness,
and the calm,
quiet the mind,
exhale the evil,
and open the eyes,
death not so terrifying.


by Chris Butler

Laying in
dirty bed,
I plunge
my pointer
and middle
several inches
into the
moist soil,
to plant
the buds
that just
may bloom
into a

Town Dump

by J. K. Durick     

Now it’s a “drop off center,” sanitized, de-people-ized,
ecologically friendly and all. The guy at the gate rings us in,
measures and marks us, sends us on our way to sort
our dropped off leavings – metals here and paper there,
and glass and such somewhere else, and the re-usables
get stacked to one side for pickers to pick, they descend
like crows on road kill and drag it away. All day, every day,
it’s this way, our calculated response to the mess we make.
I remember when we drove to the edge of town to dump
what we had on the pile with everyone else’s, a great
equalizer. We’d mix everything together and then bury it
for archeologists to find someday and sort to try to figure
out who we were, this sloppy careless creature we are.

The Only Place to Go in Tipperary

by Donal Mahoney

Father Kelly has always claimed
the only place to go in Tipperary
once you're dead is Eagan's Mortuary.
Father Kelly says Eagan lays a client out
as if a body were a mackerel from the sea
glistening in the bottom of a boat
once the mad thrashing is over.
Father Kelly has always claimed
a dead mackerel deserves a nap
before the flames of hell take over.

The late Tommy Dugan arrived at Eagan's
a day or so after he'd been shot
and Eagan laid him out perfectly
with both eyes open and a plastic
booger peeking from his nose,
a cosmetic touch Tommy had requested
when he came to Eagan's the week before,
chomping on an unlit panatela.
Tommy came that day to make
final arrangements, as they say.

That same day Tommy asked if he could be
waked in Eagan's finest casket upside down,
his pants pulled down around his knees
and a sign across his arse saying "Kiss this!"
as a final salute to his mother-in-law.
But the law in Tipperary specifies
no sign of any kind in any casket so
Tommy settled for the plastic booger in his nose.
He knew his mother-in-law would curse it
at the family viewing prior to the wake.

At Eagan's you can make arrangements
years before you die and Eagan guarantees
he'll lay you out the way you specify
provided everything's within the law, of course.
But Tommy Dugan's widow swears
Eagan must have been possessed to put
a plastic booger in a dead man's nose.
Rosie Dugan can't believe her sober Tommy
would ever ask for anything like that.
But after Mass on Sunday friends remind her

Father Kelly has always claimed
the only place to go in Tipperary
once you're dead is Eagan's Mortuary.
Father Kelly says Eagan lays a client out
as if a body were a mackerel from the sea
glistening in the bottom of a boat
once the mad thrashing is over.
Father Kelly has always claimed
a dead mackerel deserves a nap
before the flames of hell take over.

For A Grandmother (Our Mamo!)

by Paul Tristram

She was only 4ft and a bit
but when she turned that corner
by The Traveller’s Rest pub
you could feel her presence
all the way to Longford.
She didn’t bob & weave
like all the other old folk
going to Jeffrey’s Stores
or the CO-OP in Skewen.
She walked straight as an arrow
with pride all of the way.
She smelt like Wintertime,
like pine combs & bonfires.
Her glance was sharp as a sword,
No one would dare mess with her.
She was a homing pigeon
inside a family of male falcons
but if crossed you would have wished
that you had met us instead of her.
The Rock of our family, completely
and what a Fucking Family!
Our Mamo walked it and talked it,
I’ve seen her defending her grandchildren
against a street of riot vans
and they backed the fuck down.
They don’t make them like her anymore!
As small as she was in stature
her heart more than made up for.
And I am such a proud man
being able to count myself
as one of her boys.

Friday, June 7, 2013


by Douglas Polk

data the gold of today,
mined by the governments of the world,
the importance in what we think,
what we say,
green energy,
powering the overlords,
and the drive to domination.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Leaving Nanjing

by Lauren Tivey

In the massacre museum, eyes of the departed
stare down from a wall, some 300,000 faces—

these ghosts of 1937. There are jumbled skeletons
in the pit, a bell tolling, elderly Chinese roaming

dark halls, remembering. Rage inflames your guts,
and you know, no matter how justifiable, how

often it ravages you, everything depends on not
fanning it. Later, wrestling this onto the train,

jamming in with other passengers, you think
of Jews in their cattle cars to Auschwitz, that

final ride, of the evil which pounds its fist
into the black, white, brown, and yellow,

every damn day; how futile, ongoing this battle.
Riding along, you keen for the universe,

mourning us all, the killers and their dead,
adding your tears to that old ocean, choking

back terror, reminding yourself, breathe,
as thankfully, the train picks up speed.

Sculpture and a Sable Brush

by Tom Hatch

He laid the rusted machine
and boat parts alongside each other
turning back in and on itself then out
branching off many streams to lakes
of interesting sculptured places of rust
resting and solitude up then down
all red, brown found as a
treasure trove along the shore
of the Kennebec about a
half mile up river from the famous ship building
yard its crane a mega reaching to heaven
high above protects  the little town
a giant it is reaches back into our history
My son the sculptor working feverish
into dusking day a gentle breeze
off the river soothing water swirling
around the wooden pilings
painted purple sky the lights on the
bridge getting sharper as the soft
sable brush is finishing off the day
almost night sitting drinking Coca Cola
on the edge of a concrete dock
talk and laughter in the distance
traveling on the wind
what a perfect end of today
The soft sable brush paints a magician’s cloak
around the sculpture
disappearing into dark night

the heat of a quarter moon

by J.J. Campbell

toss the empties
in the yard

we'll wake up
tomorrow, take
a picture and
call it modern

not sure if it's
the alcohol talking
or the heat of a
quarter moon

but your beauty is
piercing my soul
and rendering me

and it's not that i
refuse to learn
from my mistakes

i'm simply a
romantic that
understands love
is sometimes messy,
confusing and meant
to quietly walk away


in the middle
of the night

after the glow
of ecstasy has
knocked the
dust off all my
old dreams of
what could have

Flash from the Second Annual Midwest Small Press Festival, Milwaukee, WI, May 31-June 2, 2013

by Nancy Rafal

The American dissident cannot exit the strange cage when it’s sunnyoutside.  An imaginary friend, in curbside splendor, did enter the language foundry after the orange alert sounded.  Later the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets (un)furrow(ed) the midwestern gothic rabbit catastrophe in the port yonder.  The stoneboat gladly plowed the plumberries at the epicenter of the poets democracy.  Being horse less Teppichfresser convulsive(ly) drank pity milk with Burdock during a switchback art night.  Later projective industries gave rebirth.  Ink to the nevertext bloof of xexoxial editions in new American  co•im•press.  Nostrovia!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Self and Place

by Emily Lake Hansen

You say our place in the universe
is insignificant – we are just little specs,
a genetically random configuration of molecules,
two dots the size of sugar ants.

I huff, scrunch my face up in front
of the mirror. No, our dots,
I'm sure, are bigger, more brilliant than the rest.

In the meantime, we're concerned with place right here.

For a month we shared
a converted shipping container in Munich,
a single twin bed and a desk, space enough
only to slither around one another, our suitcases
and legs always touching, our selves always
bumping into the other.

We met on the Gulf Coast – just kids.
You said, let's get out of here, because
your family never did. I said, sure, because
mine always had.

So, after college, we headed for Phoenix,
rented half a house downtown, bought
a tiny flowering cactus for our windowsill,
and somehow killed it.

We moved because that's the thing you do
if you are young and dreaming, if you are selves
busy acting like selves in the universe.

But we are both better
at staying put, at settling down, climbing
into bed, lying on our bellies, fingertips
touching in sleep.

I believe, sometimes, that I am more important than the universe,
that I is bigger than place, but I have seen self shrink inside at the sight of desert,
puff up like a peacock when two buildings touch.

In Arizona, you climbed down into a canyon
and stopped breathing. For whole minutes,
you were unsure if you would start again,
if you would survive this new place.

In the Mood

by Donal Mahoney

We're going dancing, my wife and I,
to a Charity Ball high in the sky where
Glenn Miller's band has been playing
since 1944, the year his plane got lost
over the English Channel.
No wreckage was ever found,
not a single body.
Glenn Miller was going to France
to play for American troops
during World War II.
Government records say
he's still "missing in action."

Maybe so, but I hate to go dancing,
even with music by Glenn Miller.
So I told my wife I'll go if she
can find a dress as red
as the one she wore in 1956
when Father Hennessy said,
"This is a prom. Not burlesque."
A slip of a girl back then,
she made things worse
with black seamed nylons.
All the rage back then, the nylons
disturbed the padre.

But if my wife can find a bright red dress
and a pair of black seamed nylons,
I'll wear the old seersucker suit
I bought at Macy's for the prom.
It goes real well with the "duck tie"
I found "on sale" for 50 cents
at the Army Surplus store.
Father Hennessy loved that tie.
Even now I can hear him bellow,
"That tie's so wide the ducks
will fly for 50 years to cross it."
How prescient the padre was.

Pink and green

by Ruma Chakravarti

There, I have said it now!
Pink and green will be the colours
At my funeral, it will be pretty if nothing else.
I stare, open mouthed in horror
After all we were planning a prom dress
And to move this fast, from prom to death
Bypassing all the other fun bits in between?
Weakly I begin, why do you have to say things like that?
But nothing comes out the way it sounds in my head.
So I end up sounding a cross between stern (my mother)
Perhaps you will want a bit of colour in the dress by then!
After all death does make one look washed out.
Think of the zombies in the film last night.
And she looks at me, suddenly all practical and uptight
And she looks me in the eye, and she says,
That was a movie, Mother! This is real life!
And now she sounds stern (like my mother)
And I realize, she is not some kind of disenfranchised Manson fan
She is still our descendant, my mother’s and mine
And of all the mothers who came before
Filled with wise practicality, but essentially
Still a teenager, still capable of segueing between life and death
Without feeling its cold fingers on her neck,
so long as I am here to feel on her behalf.

Suitcase Calm

by John Pursch

Escape clothes fragment into dishrag pelts, solder comely headwaiters to inlet mews, and vilify ascending actuaries, plowing electrons instead. Gaffers quilt achy murals deep inside a turtle’s paraffin warehouse, tucking hat check moguls into proxy wigs. Bouffant goggles untie naked farm arrestors, morphing quaintly into residential laminates, guarded by greasepaint shallows. Lather frosts a cackling plutocrat’s indulgent steamboat craw, sulking inches beneath a chalky moped dial, measured by parsimonious carotid feeders. Upstart catamarans plunge rococo smirks along cinnamon backstraps, cajoling slivers of dollop sewage from perfunctory grouse, stifling an orthopedic mastodon’s wily cloaking pigeon. Gamma capers cower in owl repeater breath, hock up prestidigitation, and dignify myopic turncoats within severed poplars. Tomes sear righteous musical prongs, imitate ballistic cliques, stump collective crawdad unction, and putrefy immobile celery mints. Revelatory virility goes larval in piecemeal evening gowns, draining crown control, formulating herbivorous peat. Official twirls gloss carnauba domes, insensate and peremptorily filial, revered in shattered Pentecostal blotter haze. Foosball watches trickle couched tramlines for seasonal peril, adorning hermetic euphony in cantilevered systemic goo. Seahorses extort mutated cellos from ovulating vulpine terriers, micturate on yeti mockers, and plaster periscope entrails between radiator fins, capsized in spawned vermouth. Glucose seals pejorative gyrations of nimbus quirks, falling through bile duct billows before bellicose brainiacs belittle bottled felt. Jungles erupt in castigated swordfish retinas, squinting past lying deer, haunting suburban manatees with vestibules painted by sidewinders on parole from beard races gone hypnotic. Mingling in dorsal mentation, calliope scones refit incessant glyphs with credulous trappings of choral benevolence. Checkerboard bicycle pumps regulate diurnal waistbands, offered in faded disregard, ignoble after pinnacle treason. Thirsty rebound mechanics adjourn a thinking praline below dovetailed mockeries of justice, lining statistical hammocks with oiled eels. Tufa emission heirs wince at bottled Chapstick gills, authorize semantic inklings, and dash through dilapidated plazas. Traditional minutiae typify dusky remembrance, trained to ritualize a catch, cloaked beyond perspective seizures. Memorized asunder, phases visit apple utterance skew, eased from flattened suitcase calm. 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Du Fu’s Cottage

by Lauren Tivey

Koi mouths pulse open and shut, clamoring
for handfuls of pellets with flexing aggression,
the water boiling with their bodies.  Chengdu,

suffocating under the blanket of summer; even
the lotus pond, in full flower, limp. Visitors shove
and glare, while you frown in the sun, a stoic

in stone, looking thirsty for wine.  The poems
under glass, with their rising moons, misty
mountains, quivering bamboo, are whispering:

join me behind the silk curtain, lower yourself
to me, let me undo your robes, to cultivate
the glistening flower, let us roll together,

slippery as fish in the stream of time, no here,
no there, just two floating in the space of heat,
flesh, language. And I carry you with me, to

the cool relief of a hotel, its shower, its bed;
the sheets twisting under us, our quaking,
our shivering, as the world bakes outside.


by Michael H. Brownstein

From the doorway an angel in red
a fire of love, an entrance to hope.
All who enter here do not burn.

She stands behind the door
peering out, looks past the trees,
winter and her grass remains green.

How can this angel be sad?
I watch her from my window
and do not understand.

Wait a moment with me, please.
I have to tell her something.
I have to tell her she is loved.


by Tom Hatch

At the age of 18 I was working at a wielding shop
in a Texas town the foreman sent me out
to buy 16 sheets of  ¾” CDX plywood
and pick up some welding shunts from
Graybar Electrical Supply off main
down a dusty road the sound of gravel
popping under tires after which
I picked up the ply loaded the sheets
flat in the bed of the company
signature light blue pickup truck
driving back out on to main
stopping at the red signal
turning green gunning it
bumping over the old trolley tracks
all 18 pieces of plywood
shuffled off the truck bed
like a giant mortifying card trick
in the middle of Belknap and Main
a bustling intersection a few honking horns
a man stopped to help me
reload the plywood on the truck
James from Graybar was embroidered
on his shirt above his left breast pocket
he went to his truck for rope and tied down
the load so this would not happen again

The foreman said, “What took you so long”
as I sat down taking a bite of my
peanut butter and lettuce sandwich
“the moist lettuce keeps the peanut butter
from sticking to the roof of my mouth”
I said

Still I love you….

by Nalini Srivastava

It is so hot and sweaty,
Not a cool moment to relax.
For months this heat will last,
No time to have fun out in the sun.
Still I love the sunshine in smile of natives here,
Even strangers flash their pearly whites at you.
The drivers guide you in finding the locales
Shopkeepers treat you with respect.
Best comfort comes with the common folk
Who do not forget the little courtesies.
May be they are uncouth,
But only in worldly appearances,
They are the first ones to extend
Rough, messy but gentle comforting hands.
I love you my home land,
I am a proud connatural Lucknowite.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Found at the First Midwest Small Press Festival
June 1-3, 2012, Milwaukee, WI

by Nancy Rafal

In curbside splendor Agnes Fox cannot
     exist at One Bremen Street
The new American(s) doublecross the orange alert
     while the rabbit catastrophe embraces
          a single cowfeather

Press the rain:  taxi, stoneboat and plumberries
Press the literary underground verse

Wisconsin’s a strange cage for ten pages
     horseless Midwest gothic

Press projective industries that rescue
Press Booth

Journal convulsive editions with your switchback
     books of xexoxiel editions poetry
          for the masses binge

Press poets’ democracy in the port yonder
Press, pressgang teppichfresser sunnyoutside.