Travelers Welcome

Travelers Welcome

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

St. Francis in Perugia

by Al Ortolani

The Burlington Northern
drums through the intersection
in old town—running

night by night,
hour by hour, hefting
freight, hauling coal.

The engineer trombones
the diesel’s passing, calling
to each whistle post

the rhythm of the throttle,
measure by measure,
crossing by crossing—

a horn in the faraway, a
blizzard in the wheels.
Lying feverish in his cell

miles from town, he
recalls the sparrow
in St. Bede’s hall,

darting from storm to
warmth of the fire,
the long tables filled

with food and drink,
music, dance, then
flying out again

through winter’s
door. What lies before
and what lies after

is darkness, a swooping
bird in the storm―

You Are

by Charles Bane Jr.

You are
messiah, you, reddest
flower and mount of flags; you
galaxy, weather- strewn. This
is the reality I knew
when you were born
and you who abide
in me, bright-pointed
and riveted to underwater
sand or hurrying as
platelet to cause of injury
will find in the fate
of universe and crush
of mass and wave,
a voice and lyre. Sing
of me, who loved
and tethered faith to
your first cry.

Fall Rain
after Kenneth Rexroth (but in Oregon)

by Vincent Noto

A good rain knows its season.
                        —Tu Fu

At the trailhead the rain slows
And droplets float a little
On the wind.  They fall among
Evergreen and deciduous
Trees with leaves of asparagus
Green, gold, yellow, red.
Further up the trail a mist
Gathers along the treetops.
Now and then rain starts up again
Or great wet drops plummet.  We
Raise our hoods and continue,
Upward.  Soon peering down on
The ravine, we survey the tops
Of pines—winding Eagle Creek
Peeking out between timbers
plastered in emerald moss
And lacy lichen.
Through the mist across the gulch
We make out geological
Striations cut in verdant
Cliffs and hillsides plush—once
Banks with bathtub rings of dark
Horizontal grooves or caves.
In places, deciduous trees,
In lemon yellow attire,
Grow up together with pine
Or fir intertwining like our
Hands as we trod on along the
Muddied path to the falls.  That night
In a less-than Spartan hotel
Room, I read, in translation, Tu
Fu’s poems while Melissa slept.
The next day we drove toward the base
Of cloaked Mount Hood, along Cold
Spring Creek.  The mountain hid, as
In the old Zen proverb. It’s a
Monday and here we hike alone
On a less-traveled path .  A
Switchback finally veers from
The highway and we scuttle
Along a creek-side trail crossing
At a well-built log bridge.  The
Air is crisp with cold.  A pika
Spies us, then darts for rocky shadows.
Only a sprinkle of rain now
And again but mist hovers just
Above us and the creek. We
Reach a little patch of green mossy
Stones and miniature trees like
A Japanese garden and I
Stop to photograph a toadstool.
Then the path leads upward steeply
And we find ourselves in boulders
At the base of a craggy cliff.
We’ve climbed high to turn
like a season, to gaze—
Together—back along the
Path we’ve taken.   No longer
In mist and cold but brilliantly
Above illuminated evergreens
Against a burgeoning sky
Of acetylene blue.

Sipping Coffee With Lova

by Bhargab Chatterjee


When you brew coffee
on the gas-oven
I sense a neo-realism  
breathing on my canvas.
Eating sun-toast in the morning
is fabulous.
Crunching like the evening raga Purabi
on my friend's sitar
or slicing a newspaper
with a sharp knife
I linger
until you turn with two mugs.

The sipping coffee
takes us to the Star of David
sketched on the flat, barren space
between you and me.
Morning translates your emotions
in a different way than the night.
The bright sun makes me feel
the shadow of The Potato Eaters,
that still hangs before me.

Am I wrong
when I say "we are the hollow men",  
only walk drooping our heads
towards Mars?
Being completely famished for the sun
how much you can do for me?
Can you create a new planet
in another galaxy?
Though I love the sound
of your every sip,
because it opens the whole gamut
of mystery of the universe.


In your work-place
there's a knocking
on the ever silent door.
You think,
some of your unfamiliar shadows
have come
to make you more famished
in a circumstantial moment.
But every thing doesn't happen
the way it is expected.

Somewhere there is another door
waits for a similar knock.                

Sunday, December 29, 2013


by Nancy May

winter storm
crossing the road
a tree

Gusts 6

by Michael Cluff

Mina rode the wild winds
into an oasis
mottled by cheeky breezes
and fern-ringed kangaroo paws
dipped in leaves a sculptor
would envy.

Roscoe waited
for her at the entrance
to the pottery shop
next to the hot dog stand
in the third rate outdoor mall
on a clipped back street
near the faltering freeways.

He grew just for her
and she just caroms and drifts
from one tienda
to the other.

Tall thin women

by Michael Plesset

Tall thin women bending in the wind
waves of water anxiously
push the boundaries of good
taste, like people in black
and white movies, flat but
brilliant, smarter than people
now. See the blazing fireplace
in the living room warm and
comfortable and romantic all
of which are gone now people
were better then. Seize the
opportunity to go back whenever
you can before it’s too late,
without the movies and books
and a few people with the memories
we wouldn’t know about
those times.
Some people think the earth is
getting warmer but it’s not
people are getting colder so it
seems that way.

The Next Golden Gate

Perry L. Powell

This is finally an ending:
resolutions and forgettings on the tv
in your favorite drama.

Thunderclouds arrive like triemes
along the shores of the developed world
while cargoes of overpriced merchandise
sit idly by and junkmen pray for rain.
Who will carry this burden into your future?
Surely not these cubicle philosophers...
Time passes.  The stories only
repeat what we have always envisioned.

See these regrets at dinner.
Pass the salt and shaker of complaints.
I am waiting for a soft landing
on the other side of the mountain.
If you put on your best dress— quickly now—
maybe we can both make the party.


by Marc Carver

A strange thought occurred to me
as i wallowed in my depression.
I could describe my penis
as a second hand car for sale


Suddenly I felt better
Just a bit

That Was The Year That Was: 1877

by Michael Ceraolo

The divine right of kings was so seventeenth century;
the nineteenth century needed new nomenclature
for the new power brokers:
the divine right of robber barons

Cornelius Vanderbilt:  "What do I care about the law?
                                  Ha'nt I got the power?"

Jay Gould:  "I can hire half the working class
                   to guard the other half."

John D. Rockefeller:  "God gave me my money."

And hundreds of other similar statements
now disappeared into the myth-mists of history

The chief culprits in the seemingly compulsory corruption,
the most conspicuous conspirators against the commonweal,
were the rulers of the railroads
(see above
                  Ad Nauseam)

Their skills were breathtaking:
brilliance at bribery
(whether giving or receiving),
the consistent conflation of their private gain with the public good
And thus it was no surprise
that the railroad workers would be the first to rise up

The centennial of America had recently been celebrated
with considerable pomp and circumstance
(and self-congratulation),
the continuing economic depression,
the worst to date in the country's history

(definition of economic depression

-when people who have made money without working for it
are now making less than they were,
are even in danger of having to go to work)

"The laborer is the author of all greatness and wealth
Without labor there would be no Government,
or no leading class,
                             or nothing to preserve"
So said the recently-retired President Grant
the people still in power didn't feel the same way
We didn't make no stinking mistakes
And even if we did,
you don't expect us to pay for them, do you?)
Wage cuts piled on wage cuts:
"I don't live
I am literally starving
We get meat once a week,
the rest of the week we have
dry bread and black coffee"

"organization or extermination"
                                                The workers chose

In city after city workers went on strike
for a living wage,
occupying train stations and train yards
                                                             State governors,
owners of railroad stock and in no danger of starving,
called out their militias
                                    And then,
the militias sympathized with the strikers,
they asked for federal troops
                                            And the troops,
recently redeemed from having to enforce equality,
were now free to protect privilege

this they did with a vengeance:
more than a hundred people,
strikers seeking a decent living,
yet another American revolution
met the same fate as all but the first one had

Thursday, December 26, 2013


by Andrew Harrell

The great hunt
ended in agony
for the man.

He held his own hand,
and wept, only a little,
for his son,

who was elsewhere.

Spaceships, Ponies, and Nuggets

by Kambria Vance

When I was a kid I went into outer space searching for the Starship Enterprise
at least three times a week.
or when I wasn’t there I went to the Wild West shootin’ up trouble makers.
I went to a Jungle
and dropped chicken nuggets on my enemies
because that’s obviously how little girls kick ass.

And the magical portal to these imagination destinations?
The trampoline in my back yard.
And all there was
was me,
my intergalactic friends,
my diamond studded pistols,
and my chicken nuggets.

On that trampoline
I bounced higher than an alcoholic father whose
matriarch cried to and in her sleep.
I could shade myself with the black mesh fortress
protecting me from drug addict cousins and a suicidal grandmother

Now I have to find more practical means of coping with my inner monologue.
adulthood turned my spaceship into insomnia solitaire.
It turned my fire breathing steed into daily packs of smokes.
It turned swinging from vines into meaningless sex with people
who might not even like chicken nuggets.

Imagination games become expedient in hide and go seek
after the clock reaches the voting age.

Led by naivety I have become an expert in seeking.

I still have interspecies relationships,
I still ride a fire breathing pony,
And I still drop chicken nuggets on my enemies.

Fourty or forty

by Martha Landman

 The only way out of this hole is to go deeper into it.
 -- Julie Beveridge

No matter if you are fourty or forty
I will love you forever and four less
Don’t ask me why I procrastinate for
four times ten I read your promise

I cling to the bannister and drink porty
wine on the bathroom floor unable
to distract myself for forty four days
and almost forget that you love me

fortyfold — not randomly.  And you
want to spend the rest of your life on
one fourth of a quarter section of land
to plant and manure a handful of beans

From four to fourteen to forty I wish you
more than just a physical body to replicate
angelic beings important in themselves
The seed and the tree grow in four decades

We must remember yesterday the fourth
day of the fourth month of the forth year
without deviation (you get the drift). What
if I don’t get worthy images in photoshop?

Will you still love me when I’m size forty
on your fortieth or will I be the paralysed
number forty chapter forty verse forty in
the Quran between thirty nine and forty one

So whether you are fourty or forty the dogs
will fly on either side of the Atlantic under
a false name in sporty Anglo-Saxon colours
Heroing forth in fourty four poignant hours.


by Richard Schnap

There’s a wind in the night
Coming down from the sky
Blowing cold, blowing hard,
Through the snow-covered streets
Past the church with the light
In its high steeple’s window
That flickers till dawn
Like a candle in the dark

I look at it now
Shining way up above
And think of you sleeping
Somewhere safe, somewhere warm,
And how you once told me
Everyone is a universe
As I listen to the wind
On this cold winter night


by Marc Carver

As i walked around the shop
I started to laugh
It was just the insanity that life  is
that made me do it
Either that or that half
bottle of vodka I drunk last night
I felt good in the morning
but perhaps it was beginning to wear off.

angry knowledge

by Linda M. Crate

blue lagoons dance with fish. epiphanies of tomorrow dance on their unwritten tongues. i wish i could write the future as the stars do. pull them out of the sky and scar the fish with promise of today. yet the universe is known for giving me exactly what i don't want or need. i broke my ribs and poured my red blood into the sky to dance with the vampire clouds. but they didn't discern me any wisdom, and my heart was carried away by the wolves. this is a true story, but i let them go. i don't need a heart beating in my chest, but around the world. let me fly with the birds, let the petals of me dance in the wind, kiss some knowledge into my body. let my lips kiss provocation of the angriest knowledge, whose infinite depths change the world.

Esoteric Analogy

by Narendra Kumar Arya

In my signature
There is a woman
And a baby on her back.

I have never felt
The being of a woman
My back lacks the strength
Any bone the capacity
To bear, to hold
A women’s existence.

In my signature
There is just a black enigma
A lie too bare
That has been chosen by the illiterate letters,
I have long back
Swallowed the ignorance of children
As far as
I dare touch
I don’t fail to identify
 My childhood’s corpse.

In me and my outer shell
In every quark of mine
Have so many sturdy layers of skins
Found perseverance
It makes me think
As if a I  have
Turned into a blend of
An ugly and a shrewd rhino
Whose every thing
Like his signature
Is more scribbled
But still more
 Is arcane.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013


by Michael Cluff

I am only this way
because I have a bladder problem
and flying in the cold
Arctic air
even once a year
does not help it
at all

Excuse me
but I must go


by Daniel Conlan

So reach out and
touch something with
your fingers and feel it
on your brain. If
it's the hot stove more
your spine. More sense
than feel; tissue-damage
which is less conceptual.
Don't misunderstand:
A Southbound exists as well
and concept can bite
draw blood, teeth marks
all of it. Maybe most obvi-
ously, dread will move south
and it coils, but each is an
animal seeking to breed or
glut then rest and even
in sleep a piece of your
body's between its jaws.

Christmas Eve at Rosen's Deli

by Donal Mahoney

It's Christmas Eve and Paddy Kelly is on his way home from work at the Post Office. He stops at Rosen's Deli and orders a brisket of beef sandwich on pumpernickel rye with a smear of horseradish and a "new" kosher pickle on the side. 

Ever since he came from Ireland to Chicago years ago, Paddy has preferred the "new" kosher pickle to the standard kosher pickle because it's crunchier, he says. It's more like a cucumber, he told his wife, because it isn't cured as long as the standard kosher pickle. He loves the sound as he bites into one, a sound he magnifies whenever he brings his wife to Rosen's. Maggie Kelly likes the new pickle but doesn't like the sound of Paddy chomping on it in public.

"I'll take a potato latke, too, Sol," Paddy says to Mr. Rosen, the proprietor of the deli and eldest son of a rabbi killed at the Treblinka Concentration Camp by the Nazis during World War II. Sol was the only survivor in his family. His parents and four siblings were gassed at Treblinka. At 76 Sol has now almost come to grips with the murders except on Jewish holidays when everything about the Treblinka camp dashes back into his mind. If it weren't for the American soldiers getting there on time, he would have gone to the gas chamber as well.

"You want coffee now Paddy?" Sol says, stationed in his white apron at the big silver urn, cup in hand. The apron is a patchwork of all the condiments Sol has dispensed during his long day. Mustard stains are particularly hard to get out, according to Mrs. Rosen, a tiny woman, who reminds Sol of that whenever she's behind the counter helping out. 

"Coffee later, Sol, with a piece of cheesecake. No dinner tonight. Maggie's not feeling well. I'll eat here and take noodle soup to go. I hope she'll feel better in the morning. She'd never forgive herself if she's too sick to go to Mass on Christmas Day."

It's always quiet on Christmas Eve at Rosen's Deli but this time it's quieter than usual. Two regulars, Ruben Cohen and Ruben Goldberg, are the only other customers They are sitting on their usual thrones at the counter, with an empty throne between them, facing each other in almost matching fedoras and arguing as always about the definition of certain Yiddish words.

Cohen and Goldberg have been arguing about the fine points--and not so fine points--of the Yiddish language for years with no sign of detente. Right now, the argument is over whether "kunilemel" and "shmendreck" are Yiddish synonyms--or not. Ruben Cohen says it's worse to be called a shmendreck than a kunilemel and Ruben Goldberg maintains that is not accurate. 

"They're both the same, Cohen!" Goldberg proclaims, prior to a slurp of coffee.

"Are you telling me you'd just as soon be called a shmendreck as a kunilemel," Cohen yells at Goldberg. 

If a selection had to be made, Goldberg would probably be judged the scholar of the two in that he usually completes the crossword puzzle in the Chicago Sun-Times in half an hour. Cohen, on the other hand, is currently a cab driver with a degree in accounting. He's between jobs, which is usually the case for Ruben Cohen, and he hasn't got time for crossword puzzles. But he'll do your taxes accurately for a lot less than H&R Block.

"Time is money," Cohen says to Goldberg as he heads for the door. "I got no time for crossword puzzles on Christmas Eve. I'll be getting quite a few fares for Midnight Mass. It's tough for the old-timers to walk a few blocks. Ask Kelly over there. He'll tell you that's the truth.

Paddy Kelly, in the meantime, is lost in thought as he finishes his cheesecake and coffee and walks up to pay his tab at the front of the store. Once again Sol is there wrestling with his ancient register. Some days it works and some days it doesn't. Sol shakes it at least three times before putting in a call to the repairman. On Christmas Eve, the charge would be higher and it's high enough, Sol says, on regular days.

"How's Mrs. Rosen, Sol?," Paddy asks. "Haven't seen her in weeks."

"Cancer, Paddy," Sol says. "They operate next week. Things don't look good. The docs say everything depends on what they find. Up until now she's had good health for a woman her age."

Paddy has no idea what to say. He knows Minerva Rosen better than Sol. Years ago it was Minerva Rosen who handed him his first new pickle. And then she gave him his first knish. Two days after that, she brought over his first steaming bowl of sweet and sour cabbage soup. 

Paddy had eaten a lot of cabbage in Ireland but nothing as delicious as Mrs. Rosen's sweet and sour cabbage soup. He always comes in for a bowl on St. Patrick's Day before heading to the party at the Knights of Columbus Hall. 

The Rosens cater that event every year. For weeks afterward arguments continue among the guests, most of them immigrants from Ireland, as to which corned beef is better--Rosen's kosher corned beef or the version they ate on holidays back in Ireland, provided their families could afford it. Otherwise they ate boiled cabbage and potatoes with a piece of pork tossed in for flavoring.

Paddy has always preferred Rosen's corned beef but he would never risk his life by saying so in front of the other Knights.  

"Sol, at church tomorrow, Maggie and I will pray hard for Mrs. Rosen. I hope to God the surgery works. Sometimes praying is all that anyone can do."

"I know," Sol says as the register finally springs open. "You have a good Christmas, Paddy, and we'll see what the doctors say next week. The best to you and Maggie."  

Sunday, December 22, 2013


by Nancy May

winter dawn
raindrops roll down
feathers ruffle

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Bronx/1963

by Amy Soricelli

The Bronx is cement.  
Loud, lost art-deco lobby/ hidden staircase;
overhead planes flying too low down the back of your neck.
The Bronx is a window painted shut.
Stained streets littered- up, bags on the side of the road.
The Bronx is an air-raid drill in the middle of class.
You stand single- file up against the wall so the bomb,
when it comes,
could roll its way down beside you while you stand clear like a shadow.
The Bronx is curled under your desk covering your head from
The Bronx is a music teacher in  a dark suit who hands out pennies at Christmas.
 He doesn't  date your mother but  he should.
The President died in my Bronx classroom filling up the afternoon to pledge of allegiance.
Early dismissal flowing down the rest of the year like a black cloud.
The Bronx is a long block with tree names/bicycles filled with dead air.
German shepherd dogs - watch their chains rolled tight against bad boy fists.
It is crossed streets- johnny pumps high against passing cars in the deep drip of summer.
The Bronx is needles in apples on Halloween.
Sulky neighbors with sharp fang teeth ;dead pigeons in rainbow-oil puddles
around and around lost, like in a drain.
It is gum stuck to the end of your shoes.
The Bronx is the end of your shoes.

the sunflowers are feeling pretty damn low

by Ross Vassilev

there's the little white pills
the big white pills
the oblong pills
and the square green pills
all these pills are making me dizzy
sometimes I stagger and fall
once I banged my head off the fridge door
another time I banged it off a wall
but I can't get any dumber
so no worry
there's young women walking by my window
with their pink toenails and summer thighs
there's hungry stray dogs
I've spent 10 years in this small room
prisoner of my family's insanity
and my own
while the American Empire tore up the world
like a vengeful whore
and I can say that all I regret
is that I never met Jack Micheline
or Bukowski
and that I was ever born into this idiot asshole universe
in the first place.


by Michael Cluff                 

"You will lose your eyesight, Neal"
and never see the moon again,"
the opthalmologist tells me,"

I smile and say
"It does not hurt me
to know, acknowledge that ,
I can feel it on my skin
and also,"

I paused long,

"it will see me."


by Linda M. Crate

God says to love everyone, so why is it that i go to peoples unloved and see them ignored? i want to heal all the darkness, to burn away all the scars. want true love to ignite it's flame, burn away all the parasitic poisons of politicians, and orphans to find homes. i want the world to smile with a sigh that the sun has danced in my locks. God says not to kill, yet this job is stabbing passion out of my soul. i would like nothing more than to quit, but i need the money to pay my bills. so i sit here sifting sand, looking for the gold. God says to love one another. is it possible when you don't love yourself? wish i could remember my beauty, the fragrance of my smile now scattered in the dying autumn leaves beneath the snow. i've hurt so long and so hard, i just want God to heal me, and i want to heal the world. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Be Some Sugar ! Baby

by Narendra Kumar Arya

Hey ! You want me turn up sugar
Killing my core bitterly
When air is as thick as mucous
And water as live as venom
And the aftertaste on cortical neurons—suicidal
Still bleeding and hot.

Please lend me your ears for a while
And listen into my auditory tunnels
Exploding with echoes of insanity manufactured
And you say hey chap! It’s time to forget
It’s virtually irrelevant, just clumsy
Chill ! Those shrieky sounds and thuds belong to history
Don’t pester with cries of ancient past, any more
Be some sugar! Baby
It really goes well with time.

Deluged often with advices to be mellow
Going past creatures of haunting mind
How  can I elude oozing pain
Drilled by your stabbing smokes
On the streets, inside the clouds, over the cities
The vessels inside my chemo-treated spirit
Carry no oxygen, no traces of life
Clogged with mindless consumerisms’
 Already poisonous vanities.

You insist onto my bitter brain
Telling, sugars eradicate mental extremisms
Sure to cure your intellectual inflatulence
Helps treat depression easy
Hey dumb! Why relish your nerves
With utmost negativity
When you have whole damn planet
At your disposal, to fuck around
Come on! Be some sugar! babe
Show some Maturity.

My Sister's Text

by Tom Hatch

She was diagnosed with cancer
A couple of years ago
Given different names that meant
They were not bad, "bad" could be
Dealt with, with given treatment
Names that were not bad, "bad"

On her email, texts and Facebook
Keeping us all abreast of
Her treatment and condition
Good, ok good, wow in remission
Lately her written font was getting bigger with every
Message sent
A little new spot
Was plucked from her vulnerable body once young
More treatment keeping
Praying fingers crossed
She has the faith that is inspiring
Somewhere up there with
Job that we always said we
Would read together
Then one day, that was yesterday
(it will always be yesterday)
She sent me a text "call me
I cannot write about my
Prognosis anymore it is getting
Complicated" the font
Got so big
It could not be seen on a page
Only negative space between the
Letters of e and a as in death

It was like a beautiful spring
Day the blue sky darkened
Running for cover in a foreign city
Where I had never been
To an awning sheltering
Myself from that call
Waiting for the rain to stop
It did but not to a sunny sky again.

I made the knowing call
Her liver is going
It is like a bag of cement
That sat out in the rain
Her death we cried
She did not cry for herself she said,
"But for dad he is overwhelmed
With grieve". But maybe that was
Her way of crying for herself I worded
With my mouth no sound

To sis this is the open door
To Christ and God and heavenly sights
that is her faith
I will hold that faith for her
I cannot say that about myself.
I have no heaven and only death


by Marc Carver

A man came up to me as i was looking at the bottles of vodka in tesco
"13 pounds here, 10 in sainsbury's you don't know where one is do you?"
"No I don't."
"It is bloody good stuff though
"I know I have just drunk a bottle, not this morning though."
"Same for me, leaves you with no headache at all." He said

I bumped into him again at the checkout
we had the same bottle of whisky.
"We have the same preferences in our liquor." I said
"Sure does look like it and we probably have the same taste in women too. That is why we are drinking."
"You got that right my friend."

Crucial Scene

by Ian C. Smith

He watches an actor playing a gipsy with a lamplit young beauty in the intimacy of a caravan, a double feature, D.H. Lawrence on celluloid.  When the message flashes onscreen a nerve stabs as he realises everybody is reading his name.  Speaker banging against the window, he heads in the direction of dreadful news, then looks back.  Something’s about to happen any moment in the red silk glow of that gipsy caravan.  His footsteps crack gravel under a black sheet of night studded by stars as he passes people who have pushed aside the shadowy curtains of a gipsy caravan.  He hears the muffled soundtrack, kissing and groaning, but understands he must resist the urge to turn back again.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Marsh Mayhem

by Colin Beardshall

The reeds rustle audibly in the wind
Like the flutter of birds on the wing.
Sedge warblers sing territorial songs
While out of sight a Bittern booms.

I still have half my packed lunch of soggy sandwiches.
Should I eat or feed the mallards that view me with intent?
The Mallards win and squabble over my discarded meal.

I pack away my lunch box and drain the flask of tea,
What was that, seen from the corner of my right eye?
Putting the binoculars to eye level I scour the reed beds.

There, I see it, Marsh Harrier on its evening patrol
Seeking the unwary among the restless birds.
One of the sedge warblers has just delivered its swan song.


by Stephen Barry

At low tide
when the mud flats are exposed
when the pilings stand naked to the sun
when seaweed lays in lifeless clumps
when the sea birds feast on stranded shell fish
a stench arises

a stench of decay
a stench of despair
a stench of death

That same stench arises
during the low tide of the soul
when love is lost
when hope is lost
when dreams are lost
when lives are lost.

At low tide the lonely walk
leaving deep distinct footprints
sinking ever deeper into the muck
with each step they take,
as if being pulled tighter
to the loving bosom
of mother earth.
Until at last they are fully embraced
in the seductive  mire
until at last washed clean
by the incoming forgiving waves.


by Jeremiah Walton

Rifles blessed by a priest
aim at the weak and hungry
and fire.

Rifles loaded through art of forgetting
the sweeping of shame under the rug
They fire.

Contemporary politics are disgusting
Its rifles are hideous.

The 8th wonder of the world is your body
Your blood is the only flag you should shoulder,
the only flesh to be patriotic of.

You owe no loyalty to your birthplace

You owe no loyalty to repression.

A Car Full Of Characters

by Paul Tristram

It was a Friday night
back in 1984.
There were 5 of us,
barely teenagers
listening to Punk bands
like Blitz,
Peter & The Test Tube Babies
and The Exploited
on a large 2 speaker,
twin cassette, 6 battery, arm aching
sound system (Class!)
Walking around the backstreets
and lanes of Longford
and Penshannel in Skewen
looking for mods to fight
and girls for kicks.
We were having absolutely no luck
with either!
so we decided to walk
down to Neath Abbey,
along the canal
and back into Neath Town Centre.
When a car came screeching
around the corner
and slammed to a halt opposite us,
the driver leapt out,
leaving the door flapping open
and ran up the lawn of a garden
and started banging
on the house door loudly,
yelling emotionally
“Moira, open the door,
I love you,
she meant nothing to me,
I was drunk, I swear!”
She opened and screamed back from
an upstairs window, immediately
“I’m calling the Heddlu,
if you don’t clear away from my house,
you cheating, lying swine!”
We burst out laughing
and ran across the road.
I opened the passenger door
and dove right on in there
to the sound of the backdoors
opening and closing behind me.
Then I noticed that the drivers seat
next to me was empty
with the door still open?
I turned to the backseat
and my 4 man ‘Wrecking Crew’
all sitting there smiling
with a quizzical look
upon my ‘Angelic Upstart’ features.
To which one of them replied
“We can’t drive mush, we’re 13 like!”
“Quite so, me also!” I stated smirking
as we all burst out of the stolen
yet unmoved parked car.
The man was now halfway down
the garden and started shouting
“Get away from my car,
Jesus Christ, my Treacle’s dumped me
and my car’s almost nicked
by a gang of Fagin’s street urchins,
my life’s turned in a Dickens’ novel!”
We ran away laughing merrily
halfway through a back lane
where we stopped to have a swig
each of the Strongbow cider flagon.
Then we carried on our journey
back into Neath Town Centre
pressing play upon the tape recorder
whilst one and all jumping
and punching the air
as the song T.D.A. by the Punk band
T.D.A. came alive through the speakers.

Friday, December 13, 2013

New Driver on an Old Route

by Donal Mahoney

According to the anchor on the News at Six, Olaf Parker was shot dead at dawn this morning delivering newspapers in his van. His body was found on the front seat, a cigarette burning near his feet, when police responded to a call from a resident who heard his van crash into a utility pole. 

Mr. Parker wasn't robbed. There were a few newspapers on the seat next to his body. These were the last papers he had to deliver on the final block of his route before going home to tend to his dying wife, according to his supervisor. Funeral arrangements are pending.

Mr. Parker had started delivering the route just three weeks ago. Most of his customers had never seen him or the man who had delivered the route before him, Ygor Kazinsky. 

Mr. Kazinsky had delivered the route for 30 years before retiring. Many customers in this quiet neighborhood had been getting the paper for all of those 30 years. Most of them were retirees. 

The neighborhood, like its residents, was old and stable. People seldom moved. They aged--and finally died--in their little bungalows behind perfect lawns. Any weed that sprouted was treated like a terrorist and quickly eliminated. 

One customer explained later to a television reporter that prior to Mr. Parker taking over the route, residents knew, almost to the minute, when their paper would arrive on their lawn, barring bad weather. Snow or sleet could mean the paper would be late by an hour or so, something every customer would understand. What they had trouble understanding, however, is why Mr. Parker did things differently than Mr. Kazinsky. Since Mr. Parker took over, every delivery had been complete chaos from the customers' point of view. 

Mr. Parker had indeed made a very significant change to the way he delivered the route. Much to the distress of many customers, Mr. Parker had started his delivery of the route where Mr. Kazinsky had ended it. He did this because he would finish closer to home and he liked the shorter drive. But this meant folks who used to get the paper at four in the morning now got it at six and those who used to get it at six received it at four.

"Ass backwards," as one irate customer used to scream from his front porch when Mr. Parker would finally throw his paper on the lawn at 6 a.m. 

"Take it back, you doofus," Mr. Carmody would add. "By now, it's yesterday's news." 

The outspoken Mr. Carmody was one of the customers who for years had received his paper at 4 a.m. He wanted to read it then and get on with his day. Retired for years, he liked to hunt and fish. Unlike most in the neighborhood, Mr. Carmody had enough money to take trips abroad. He loved to join an annual safari in Africa in pursuit of wild game. 

"I like shooting leopards in the morning mist," he once told a neighbor. 

It was the early risers like Mr. Carmody, who used to get the paper early, who had trouble adjusting to Mr. Parker's change in delivery. Most of them acquiesced after the first week or so, but a few of them pressed on, calling the delivery service and threatening to cancel the paper if the new driver didn't deliver it by 4 a.m. 

Those who called to complain were mainly people with few obligations in their day. What little they had to do, however, had become important to them. Their daily routines kept their minds off the aches and pains age had brought and helped them ignore the specter of death which hovered over all of them. They resented the way their lives had been altered by some newcomer.

Some watched the news on television but that wasn't the same as reading the newspaper. Only murders, rapes and other major crimes were reported on television and not, for example, the passing of normal folks like their friends and acquaintances. 

That's one reason why the newspaper was so important to Mr. Parker's customers. Almost to a person, they read the obituaries first. 

Mr. Flynn, almost 80, called the obituaries the Irishman's Racing Form. He said that in front of Mr. Schneider at a neighborhood block party once and that was the only time anyone had ever seen Mr. Schneider smile. 

"That's a good one, Flynn," Mr. Scheider said. Flynn, of course, knew his remark had been used by others many times before him.

The obituaries were important for practical reasons as well. They enabled readers to prepare for wakes and church services and reminded them to send condolence cards. That's why many in the neighborhood still wanted their newspaper at four in the morning. They wanted to be prepared for the inevitable. 

Another reason was the sports scores. Some folks were big fans of their hometown teams, even if they despised the editorials in the middle of the paper that consistently called for changes to the mores of life they had always revered.

"Why all the changes," Mr. Flynn once asked of no one in particular. "Life is tough enough as it is."  

As reported on the News at Six, Mr. Parker was shot and killed on the last block of his route around 6 a.m. The news anchor did not mention that for 30 years this block had been the first block on the route to receive papers before Mr. Parker had succeeded Mr. Kazinsky. 

Nor did the anchor mention that customers on that block had grown to expect their papers delivered no later than 4 a.m. 

Apparently no one had interviewed Mr. Carmody, who would have been happy to bellow about the inconvenience the deceased Mr. Parker had brought into the lives of Carmody and his neighbors. 

According to the news report, however, there was no cause for alarm. The killing of Mr. Parker, the police said, appeared to be a random act. As Mr. Flynn would say later, that might indeed be the case. 

"Maybe so, but I don't know," is the poetic way Mr. Flynn put it to the ever silent Mr. Schneider. "I wonder what Mr. Carmody thinks. It would be good to get his opinion. He's not shy." 

The police investigating the case were a much younger group than the people in that neighborhood. They seldom read a newspaper and had little use for obituaries. They caught their news on television or from the wife when they got home. 

It took almost two months for everything in the neighborhood to settle down. An interim driver took over the route for several weeks. More chaos ensued and more people threatened to cancel delivery of the paper. 

Then Mr. Yazinski's oldest son lost his job as a swimming pool salesman and offered to take over the route. In a matter of days he was hired. His father accompanied him the first day on the route and told him everything he needed to know. He showed his son precisely when and where the route should begin and where it should end. 

"These are the keys to your success," his father said.

In short order, people who once received their papers at four in the morning found them on the lawn at that time once again. Except for Mr. Carmody who was in Africa that week seeking leopards in the mist. 

"Mr. Carmody will be pleased to learn things are back to normal," Mr. Flynn said, "once he gets back." 

For the second time Mr. Schneider smiled at a remark made by Mr. Flynn.

Thursday, December 12, 2013


by Mary Annie A.V.

my sweat is scented different
it teases you say
you nestle  into my  armpits.

Nothing sweet scented,
loaded  with the wildest
longings I carry within me.

I have gathered
the pressures  of the day
into my sweat
the toil of it
in my body, its aches.

You meditate upon
 pamper it with
your exquisitely crafted
maleness, the harshness
that gratifies and sustains.

I do not push you away.

Stephanie Jane Norwood

by Michael Cluff

Conserative to a failpoint
where she wishes
she was born male
to oppress herself
more than she does now

When she met
Griffin Ayers
nearly the same
as her
except he let her
do it to him
much more
than her dreams
would allow
and him
to revere
and desire
she was happy
for a little bit
no longer than that.

winter flames

by Linda M. Crate

i've had several epiphanies hit me in the rain. like i've cried enough tears over you, that you never truly loved me, that i'm stronger than this. why is it when it all falls apart, i feel myself rearranging and being put together? i guess it just means that i will always move on, i will always go on, even if i'm sick of waiting for that moment when it all comes to me shining shimmering golden glittering beams of sunshine yellow. i am so tired of living in this darkness, viewing light at the end of the tunnel. i thought you were the one that put the petals back to my flowers, you were just the one that scorched them in the winter flames. 


by Ed Werstein

Once upon a time
phones were large,
sat on cherry wood desks
or hung on the wall
next to the ice box.

Before that there were no phones.
Once upon a time
timepieces were large,
sat on marble mantels
or hung on the wall over the phone.

Before that timepieces were huge
faces in towers on the town square.

Before that there were sundials.
And before that only the sun.
It still does a pretty good job
of announcing daybreak.

Eventually timepieces got smaller,
travelled with us
built into DeSoto dashboards,
carried in tweed vest pockets,
or lizard-leather-banded onto our wrists.

And then phones grew legs,
walked with us wherever we went
leashed to our belts
carrying tiny timepieces in their vest pockets.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


Adopted by the United Nations General Assembly 10 December 1948 at Palais de Chaillot, Paris


Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,

Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,

Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,

Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,

Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,

Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,

Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge,

Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.

Article 1

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Article 2

Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

Article 3

Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Article 4

No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

Article 5

No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 6

Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.

Article 7

All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

Article 8

Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.

Article 9

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

Article 10

Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

Article 11

(1) Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence. (2) No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.

Article 12

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

Article 13

(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state. (2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

Article 14

(1) Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution. (2) This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Article 15

(1) Everyone has the right to a nationality. (2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.

Article 16

(1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution. (2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses. (3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

Article 17

(1) Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others. (2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.

Article 18

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

Article 19

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Article 20

(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association. (2) No one may be compelled to belong to an association.

Article 21

(1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives. (2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country. (3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

Article 22

Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.

Article 23

(1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment. (2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work. (3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection. (4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

Article 24

Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.

Article 25

(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control. (2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

Article 26

(1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit. (2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace. (3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

Article 27

(1) Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits. (2) Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.

Article 28

Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.

Article 29

(1) Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible. (2) In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society. (3) These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Article 30

Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.

Sunday, December 8, 2013


by Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal

In the dead water
I walked
and not even
a ripple.

Filled with grief
I called her name.

I tousled with
the silver shark
of my  imagination.

I called for her
and the water hardened
like a marble floor.

I was up to my waist
immersed in
the dead water.

I was not walking anymore.

Sound Bytes

by Amy Soricelli

I would leave bits of you like bird footprints in the snow -
I would leave you on the side of the road of me -
on the end of the couch, dangling on the folds from the constant weight.

I would follow your eyes like those weird spook-house paintings
and you would pop up behind doors - claws out.
You frightened the light out of the sunshine/the white off the snow.

You stick to me like paper on my shoe; I shake and shake
but it flies back like sand.
You're the hair whipped into my eyes -the last bug on the windshield.

You said to me - you said...
"listen to these songs of love. they are heartbreak songs".
The words disappeared like black smoke.

I waved them away with my hand


by Marc Carver

I look for something to happen
but it won't
so on and on I go.
I walk around
even talk to some people
and deep down
I know it must change

You have to do what you have to do
you can't sit and wait forever
because time does not forget about you.
It is the one that waits
and he knows he has eternity

Lola Redux

by John Pursch

The sky hears wild animals cackling, screams of ripped duress in moonless lantern woe, torn distended disregard for sudden snap of boneyard detritus, of wizened forfeiture in prudently rescinded tree line wanderings, felt from carbonized bearings to graven theatrics, spilling over waistline gun rack testaments. Built to iron cauldron dream wave specs, heated beyond toiling defenestration’s syncopated hyphen, its parapets congeal in frozen amulets of dogged aridity, flexing coiled musculature with acerbic beautician girth’s smoldering hieratic wit, fending for shellfish spinster potpourri, regardless of dilated trilogies in taut duplicitous sidearm winds.

Sweating heavenly insights, Lola surfaces from centuries of owl vacation hostage broth, fondly waxes her dosimeter’s crystalline gauge, and shimmies coyly down an eyeless tube stop missile board, surfing decadal imminence for withering motorcycle hands. Engines wind in Doppler fade from noon to midnight curtain contamination, purple perspicacity bubbling by enhancement’s civil laundry puppetry cascade, gone to statutory primes of livid unrest. Steamy sockets wring her swollen lids to blinking codices of terminal keypad blues, flickering typographic turnstiles beneath empaneled neural drone of retraced stumps and penciled hernias, acted out in tessellated sighs.

It has been so long for lovely Lola, too very lung long languorous and listless, seasonal vortices notwithstanding, submerged in solid rock of fluid timescape jangle, swapping hidden variants of faceless corridors and asymptotic footfall sleep with dazzling daisies, counterparts in ashcan bliss conveyance bilge, altered therefores, hithertos, howsomevers, and waddling whoop-de-dumpty wetness have-yous, habilitation knots, short-shrift script erasures, pondered pendulums impending gaseous prayer protection, fusillades of fuselage insertion floss, and ipso factotum vesicles of stolid symptomatic accusation whims, scuttled with prancing ingenuity’s folly…

She tips her glass bottom to sealed stripling augury, flooding her neckline, warmly serene in clairvoyant speckles of frosty futurity, pasting hoarse runes in throaty savage cries of foxtrot embolisms, mirrored between greener cartoons.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Child's Play

by Donal Mahoney

Jimmy and Billy, two young men in kindergarten, went home from school every day just before noon. They lived in a small town in Nebraska, in the middle of farm country. It was the 1950s--an era in America when there was no crime to speak of and little reason for parents to worry about young sons walking two short blocks home alone. The boys talked and laughed as they walked under big oak trees and tried to decide what they would do in the afternoon till their mothers called them for supper. 

Jimmy was a serious child and Billy a not-so-serious child. In fact Jimmy looked like an angel clone, his hair always combed and his clothes free of smudges. Despite an active childhood, he always stayed clean. Billy, on the other hand, was a bit of a scamp and he looked the part with seven cowlicks, freckles all over his face and a crooked smile. The two boys meshed as friends despite their different personalities. They sat near each other in kindergarten and had a great time playing together after school.

For such a young boy Jimmy, despite his angelic appearance, knew a lot about football. This was because his father was a fan. They would watch games together on their small black and white Muntz television set on Saturday afternoons. 

Television was still new in the 1950s and not everyone in town had a set but Jimmy's family did. It was important to his father to watch Notre Dame football. Jimmy had a tiny football of his own, a gift from his father, and he and Johnny would sometimes play catch after school. Billy liked to play catch but he didn't understand anything about football so he was always asking Jimmy questions about the game. 

Jimmy grew tired of explaining football to Billy, what little he knew about the game, so he decided to use a story he had heard his father tell his older brother Frank. His father said it would help Frank understand why the game of football is a lot like the game of life. The story likely came about as a result of his father being a preacher, a serious preacher, who just happened to like Notre Dame football. Many in his congregation could not understand his admiration for that team. Most of them cheered for the Nebraska Cornhuskers, another football powerhouse.

"On television, Billy, it might be Notre Dame against Michigan," Jimmy said, "but in real life, my father says, it's every man against Satan. You play the same game for your whole life and it's always against Satan. And in the end, it's winner take all." 

"You mean the devil plays football?" said Billy, who was not a preacher's kid.

"Well, in a way," said Jimmy. "You see, as we get older, we'll line up against Satan every day in the middle of a field and that field is life. One end zone is Heaven and the other is Hell. Satan will try to push us into Hell and we'll try to run around him into Heaven. He's got plenty of other devils on his team so everyone has his own devil to play against. 

"Sounds fair but that's not what my father told my brother because Satan can see us but we can't see him.

"And the game always ends with the same score--one to nothing. No one except God and Satan knows who the winner is until everyone on Earth has played the game and all the winners are in Heaven and all the losers are in Hell."

"What about girls," Billy asked. "Do they play against Satan?"

"Absolutely, Billy, but I bet it's volleyball and not football," Jimmy said. 

"Everybody plays against Satan, but my father says some folks don't even know they're playing the game. They don't think Satan exists. They've never seen him. That's bad because Satan plays for keeps, not like you and me just havin' fun. Anyway, that's why life's a lot like football." 

Billy got very serious for a moment, fiddling with his cowlicks and looking up in the air at nothing. He was not a boy to get all that serious about much except breakfast, lunch and dinner--and, of course, Christmas. This year he wanted a new bike--a two-wheeler with training wheels. Finally he spoke up. 

"Okay, Jimmy, let's play football. You line up across from me and take the ball. You can be Satan and I'll push you back into Hell. Then I'll dance in Heaven with the angels. Watch and see! Satan ain't gonna beat me."

Thursday, December 5, 2013


by Sy Roth

Tittup of white feathers,
Neve snowfall of them
When they enter the dovecote unwelcomed.
The tenders blink in the whiteout of their squawking.
A soft down rests like a dandruff blanket
On their shoulders and in their hair.

Doves separated in their frenzy seek reconnection,
Finally a calm settles in like the eye of a storm
And the tenders go about their collection duties.

Their rakes muck at the ground.
Doves have left a thick paste of their brew.
Tenders’ faces covered in masks
To dam their malodorous stench.
The coop a stifling prison
The airless aerie where
Life teeter-totters on their expectation.

They all know—
The trees
Wait stoically.
And the tenders know
They fill their baskets with the white droppings.
The doves know for they coo.
When they sing prayerful benedictions to the air,
And when they fill the ground with their gift,
They are one.

The tree blesses them
With a snowy shuddering of its branches
And its dangling fruit.


by Jonathan Butcher

During the slow passing autumns,
we progressed from foraging
apples to mushrooms, our heads
seeking the deeper thrills promised
by our elder leaders.

There in the loft, where we took salvage,
with cider and cans welded to our
untrained hands like extended limbs,
The T.V crackles and sparks, leaving
no room for interference.

Then the next day, the powers that be
sift through our hand forged letters,
our excuses as weak as our attempts
at a hand written ruse; three weeks
of re- writing our sins fifty times over.

Through the windows after each class
the glass seemed that little wider,
and the trees seemed to age with
each session, their branches like
fingers brushing me past,

their leaves falling at a steady pace,
but still without chance of flight,
and despite those promises made by
our elders, our minds still remained
as stable as ever.


by Ed Werstein

There used to be more sides in the world.
Grandpa’s barn had four good sides
before it went down in a storm in ’87.
Grandpa, too, had a good side and a bad side.
They both went down in ’63.

When Uncle Jim took a steer to market,
there were two sides of beef,
a side in his freezer, a side in ours.

There used to be shorter fences
in back yards
and neighbors on each side
talking to each other.
And if they ever mentioned sides,
it certainly wasn’t to say, “you’re on the wrong side.”

There was your side and my side, but we talked.

And politics? Jesus,
there were all kinds of sides
and lots of middle ground
in the town square.

Now sides are taken, not shared.

Newsmen boast about reporting both sides of the story,
as if there were always only two.

There used to be a sunny side of the street,
a few dead ends,
but every street with a sunny side,
not just Park Avenue.

Can you remember?
Can you even imagine it now?
Every street with a sunny side
and all you had to do was cross over.

New Initials

by Michael Cluff

F is peeved
N would name the pet
in such a way.
J listens and wonders why Y
and B or no longer his or her BFFs
of course
upsets the F found
at the start of this piece
who is not in the quotient at all,
he or she still can't understand
why Y, L and M
did not invite F
to S's surprise bash
at an AT&T outlet
which C saw as a spy spot
for the old USSR.
I will go to
V's house to see
how A and P are
getting along now
with U in the long run
when they exchanged
their X factored pet
for N"s
and renamed
is that
thought LMNOP
in both soul
and spirit
if not in body.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Aunt Lucy's Estate (or)
What Should We Do With Her Apron?

by Amy Soricelli

It is not the sunlight that has faded me worn-down to the seams -
the sagging leftover hum of the summer; the light before dark
as it slips through palm trees reminding of tea bags, soap operas.
It is the furious rubbing of her hands as she rushed to some ringing phone, the boiling pot -
the news snickering  from inside the family room.
It is the sixty years of  birthday dinners,
the 'caught it before it burned' inside jokes iced across the night like a cake.
It is the collection of hot cold smooth spicy fingerprints across the face of me.
Whatever is left smoldering in the ashes of their history gets shouted across a room-
whispered through the screen door landing like embroidery sweet-edged in design.
I have been pulled hard in anger, tied deep in fear;
in happy celebration -small rose-colored buds along the waist -
I have been smoothed down/pleated straight.
I have carried treats in the very edges of my pocket/teasing love from hidden places;
small hands burrowing deep into corners,
closing hopeful fingers around the tightest spots.
I hang, now, behind the swinging door- not packed up in death boxes with salt and pepper shakers,
care-worn pages from high school classics;
the Still Life with Dog that held its place above the sofa.
I have sat down to endless meals with the souls of the same people -
let their words mingle like steam across the water glasses.
I have curled up inside myself and balled into the corner waiting for the next gathering
and my silent, steady place in it.

A Winter Content Remembered

by Douglas Polk

Saturday morning the adventure begins,
awake and dressed before the morning sun,
in the predawn light,
guns checked one last time,
anticipation dancing in every eye,
out to the windbreak on Grange corner,
the stalk begins,
the weeds and brush crunch and crackle underfoot,
only the wealthy can afford the dogs,
brothers and sisters too young to hunt,
sniff through the trees in place of the dogs,
while the guns walk with brothers both north and south,
alert for pheasants attempting to escape,
gun blasts fill the early morn,
the young become retrievers,
running birds down and breaking their necks,
then on to the next windbreak north of town,
happiness reigns,
we will not go hungry this winter,
the freezer at home,
stuffed with game,
enough to feed a family of twelve,
country and Catholic,
in this land of grain.


by Marc Carver

I was feeling fairly bad
then i noticed an old boy
walking up the street.
He had a suit on and an old brown jumper
but he did not fool me.
As i passed him i saw him
start to talk to himself
and jump up and down.
I felt better

Fifths of Krazy Glue

by John Pursch

Breathing counterclockwise, rainy trachea elapse in tone-deaf parimutuel flagons, sipping trance leaves from strafing merit gazes, hopped by well-wishing neutrality clunkers. Quail kit stimuli crawl by in sanguine prosody, axing stevedores to reason between stone Raisinets, shopping jobbed slobberers for parietal notaries. Moons might imagine caressed incendiary prelates, dressed to nightly vestibules, oft recalled in reliquary wharf debris, but phonic tantrums never munch on new romantic rheumatoid insecticide, gearing off for hardy artisans of a wayward swordfish debutante’s beveled hairdo. Polenta maneuvers to atonal squadron gel, bingeing on harried ghost decrees, swallowing poltroon keys when octagons illuminate symmetric cocoa feet from barfly towel ingredients. Degradation leers at ogling herds of ghoulish curls, flipping loaves in shark tomato crests, posing as drawn dirigible deflection dolts. The wheel of eaten elves emerges unscathed, whether wisps wallow well within waddling wainscoting, willy-nilly or unauthorized by folly’s floozy emblems. She pickled dandy twirler bills, whittling teeth to golden sandstone tufa mutes, splashed in coldly catalyzed empties of onset exposure claws. Hats flew at stiff mustard flagpole locket box melt, passing for steadily secreting monuments of lonely movie starlet juice, pleading fifths of Krazy Glue in lockjaw’s variance before the bellbottom’s woozy boss, filched to igloo heat by antediluvian luge scenes. Pocked intangibles demote commodity praise to well-worn indemnity’s unsurpassed cough, echoed throughout Estonia’s ill-timed crony broth refusal, despite a strip club’s ringing pheromone retrieval spigot.

Sunday, December 1, 2013


by Richard Schnap

I remember the house
With the shattered window
The leaking roof
The cold furnace

It still stands today
Overgrown with weeds
Covered with graffiti
Littered with excrement

But laying on its lawn
Is a broken doll
A bent swing set
A rusted tricycle

Relics of a time
When it cradled laughter
When it nurtured hope
When it was someone’s home

dreaming without you

by Linda M. Crate

the snow fell last night
nate drove me home
found myself
thinking of you and me
as he drove me home
drawing words
out of me
like me he can't take the
has to fill the void,
and it's so refreshing being
the quiet one for once,
i didn't mind his voice
because while his
is coarser than yours it
was soothing
more so than the memories
of us
etching their wings into the
blowing your fragrance over me;
remember when the
snow fell
you used to walk me home we'd
freeze just to talk
to one another?
yeah, as much as it hurts
to think of you, i
miss those moments
of dreaming with you.

higher on the priority list

by J.J. Campbell

look at the funny
man on television

hoping no one
figures out how
hard he beats his
children when he
gets off the road

the broken woman
playing his wife

she's really just in
it for the health care

imagine her surprise
when she finds out
booze and hookers
were just a little
higher on the priority

she'd love to escape
but thinks better of it

figures the abuse is
better than her and
the kids living under
a bridge

especially with the
winter chill looming
in the air

holiday dysfunction
right around the corner

Sorting Socks by the light of a Flat Screen

by  Melissa Dickson

All the socks were black but patterned, subtle
intricate filigrees, braids, herringbones,

tone on tone variations, minute shifts
in feathered thread, pewter dots, silver stripes,

the occasional grid with a sole platinum
seam. That’s how I spent my day, suspending

my husband’s socks inches from my face, reading
each like a Gnostic text, mating them into pairs,

and heaving them through our bedroom’s
faltering light toward the open drawer.