Travelers Welcome

Travelers Welcome

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Old Maps, Wise Things

Robert Nisbet

In the nursing home, he’s jollied along by saucy Katies
but he’s dreaming half his time, his smile turning
half-aside,  half-inward,
to maps and days and tropics of his own.

The Council School, before the war,
meant strictures and the stick. Yet he, sometimes,
at eight years old, would wander off. We never quite
knew where, but somebody said they’d seen him
at the station, watching the upline trains go out.
In the end even the harridans let him be.
No caning any more, just, The wanderer’s returned.

Wartime, we were teenage and the bombs were falling
not too far away, that red glow at Pembroke Dock
at night. So he’d be in, but in that family, nine of them,
his sister said he’d sit aside, in all the noise and radio,
and write in a big notebook, drafts and charts and sketches,
a book he called Old Maps and Wise Things.

He got to Cardiff University, got a fair degree, I think.
But the girl Jane from Johnston, in his history class,
said he’d sometimes dream through a lecture, sketching
tropical birds and plants, and maps of reefs and islands.

He was in business nearly forty years, a stationer, a bookbinder.
He was a good craftsman (those books were beautifully bound)
but now and again he’d go. For the day.  Just disappear.
He had a hand-written sign, same one for years,
Re-opening tomorrow.

Archipelagos. Distant worlds.

All Alone

by Subhankar Das

The man who sits all alone in a coffee shop
who says he is sitting all quiet?
He babbles away
with himself
with you
with me
He is the one who never stops to listen.

I try real hard
to sit in silence
but fail every time
start babbling without even knowing
without any reason.

I have to practice
to keep quiet and stop being a blabber.
I will try to draw a void
a circle
without a compass.
it does not mean much.

A Widower Dies

by Bobbie Troy

hopelessness and resignation
hung in the air
the smell of rotting flesh
hit me
before I opened the door
on the final tableau:
a corpse of loneliness
naked on the bed
as withered as
an Auschwitz prisoner
as spent as a deflated balloon

a neglected widower
in a silent, empty room


 by J. K. Durick 

There’s a silence in human sound, despite
Its bravado – there, just beyond its bite, its
Bluster. A silence in highway sounds, all night;
The early throat-clear of trucks and trains; even
The light lapse of lawn the newsboy makes, his step;
The paper properly folded, finally, quiet in the door.

There’s a silence in human sound, a silence
Running down to a stillness I stretch, stammer
To avoid, talk aloud to myself, if I must, run radios
Televisions, anything, hum some, drum some,
But it’s there – call my friend, his dead silence
Frightens me, I can hear it in his voice.


by Marc Carver

I wait to see
if the music will come
come soft
and slow.

People laugh with each other
they really enjoy being together.

I sit here with my beer
not saying anything.
If they didn't see me go up and order another beer
they could think I was a deaf mute.

After a while
the thought becomes more and more appealing
all you would have to do
is point
and look at people
and laugh.
What is wrong with that.


by Bradford Middleton

Doors slam, mice run
It’s always fun and games
Here at the Last Resort
Where the building shakes
As people let doors slam.
The mice get jittery
As I do too with not even
The ubiquitous weed
Managing to ease my nerves.

It feels like I’m the one
The only one who can admit
What is happening and the
Horrible feeling that our
House is collapsing.
It needs major work
But it’s in an area where
That kind of work would
Cost a small fortune.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Story of a Small Southern Valley Town

by Joshua Martin

Here one doesn’t speak of irregularities in the valley
and so the river’s emerging underbelly isn’t addressed.
Its bedrock of bones stays whitewashed and hungry.

Behind the pulpit, there is a man speaking of
a coming and a going, how the unsaved will
soon be dropped liked dead persimmon

from the branches of a holy tree rooted
in homogenous soil, or spit out like
pokeweed, uncooked and pungent.

Enclosed between his upright mountains
is a belief in the throb of the tractor
linking his thighs, the groan of the engine

a crescendo in the serpent hiss music
of this fallen Eden. From the most righteous of their people
a call to prayer to bless this familiar
setting, with the dinner on the table

partially felled by a son’s rifle in a
rite of masculinity, mixing firepower
with absolution. Buried beneath

the floorboards of each home is a catacomb
of different tongues, a hundred years of
learning yoked to the wall, screaming for release

downwards into a hidden crawlspace where
someone’s forgotten son, a knees-to-chest
skeleton, a book still clutched in his

left hand, lays unresolved. Beneath him even deeper,
survived by a pocket of air, someone’s
hidden daughter can still see the minute

differences in the shades of the marigolds, can still
taste the immense sweetness in the fruit that has long since fallen,
who still holds a silent vigil for them all.

But then again, one doesn’t speak of irregularities in this valley.
Even the river knows that.

Czarnina Thieves

by Catfish McDaris

Tony called & said get your
tomahawk & gunny sack, I
asked, what’s up, czarnina

I knew it was duck blood
soup, Tony said goose was
better, he said I’ll be the
look out & you chop one
Of those big sonofabitch’s
heads off, try to save all the
blood, I asked him how in
the hell do I do that

Use your belt & make a
tourniquet, I thought we’re
going to jail for damn sure.

Flimflam Werewolf

by John Pursch

Limpy gimpy Jiffy-slobbering
lugubrious chupacabra impersonators
flex and flog their flimflam werewolf wherewithal
from warehouse warrens deep in hearty laughter’s
nomadic gnome aunt’s laudatory laundry lisp
of pure emphatic emphysema sailor exhalations,
spreading turtledove disease itch mothball
infatuation arches into ash receptacles
of shed potter blondes, sinfully cohabitating,
scrounging chalk for sashay wedding tables,
calling country castaways to ideal pressure
speakers in run-for-millstone milk-toast
hospice dome retraction fits.

Nervously Teutonic infantile psoriasis purveyors
scan the bedside aneurisms for cottage pleas and
clovered spreads of sandbox chunky psilocybin heresies,
propped again in handy cramps of fever issuance delay
to piled authentic couriers on lurching floes of tethered
Mylar tributaries, flung hairless and uncombed to
Grecian mortuary symptoms, orally replanted into
frozen youth display parolee accusation breasts,
despite an achromatic acrobatic undersea divan’s
imploding whistle.

Tinsel flowers desiccate in married furlongs
of Caspian capsize queens on second-hurdle
monkey swoons from Hegypped’em curses
of denial entendre hull the swayback machina
to angler machination bits of snorting amorphous
melodies of odious crank contemptibility,
comestible but surgically scoured for fully
bloated bile illusion specialists, complete with
spatial dicks and crockery tocks of loaded Glocks,
flocking into dockside frocks of plundered ageless
Aegean torpedo haunters, yearning to tease
tyrannically inclined supine duct tape chompers
with entailed regalia serotonin mist and
frail nervosa empathy hyphens.


by Taylor Graham

No place to hide
from an old sliver-moon. It never
ceases from its questions.
Provocative as a lopsided smirk,
a basement creature
scuttling across the sky tonight,
bearing its hunger-tooth.
I imagine it passing over a hiker
benighted in a Sierra canyon, wishing
for home distant as a dream.
“Your own fault,” the moon says.
The human’s exasperated,
admits it’s true; maybe feels a rising
tide of panic, saline tug
of blood that proves he’s no more
special than saltwater.
The moon dangles above his short
horizon, tantalizing; gone
soon enough. How long a summer
night, with or without moon,
for a wanderer in search
of his own domicile.
A bat zigs overhead in its echo-
hunt for bugs, while
evening melts into conjecture
and myth.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


by Ross Vassilev

watching a report on Al-Jazeera
about all the massacres
the NATO militaries have committed
in Afghanistan
wiping out whole families
whole villages
and I realized
there is no justice in this world
no God to protect the weak
and the innocent
there's only power
and bodies strewn across
so many floors.


by Marc Carver

I leave the pub and walk past a house to my car
"It is all a load of bollocks, bollocks bollocks bollocks."
I hear someone say from behind the curtains.
"You are right about that."
I say
but get no reply

8 years old

by Ryan Hardgrove

we were trying
to get this old lighter to work
so we could light
another one of those
tank-shaped fire crackers

his dad was inside
smoking a cigarette on the couch
lounging in the
ceiling-fanned summer gloom

he heard our struggle
with the old lighter
and called us in

he grabbed his son
and said
     don’t you be puffin’ on this
then to me
     you neither, I’ll tell your old man

he took a long drag
on his Winston
and held it out to his son
he took it
and back out we went to the porch

he bent down with the cigarette
it looked awkward and big in his fingers
the fuse caught

a bright spark
flew out of the barrel and bounced off
a half-used paint can

his father lit a cigarette
somewhere inside

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

by Donal Mahoney

Nothing is anywhere anymore,
Dad shouts over the phone.
His reveille again at 4 a.m.
Will I come over and find it?

What's missing, Dad, I ask.
It's midnight and I'm in bed.
It'll take awhile to get there.

Your mother went to make
pineapple upside down cake
hours ago and still no cake.
She's nowhere to be found.
I called the neighbors.
They won't come over.
It's just me and the dog
and he's asleep.
Son, I need your help.

Mom died 10 years ago, Dad.
You and I went to the funeral.
We buried her at St. Anthony's.
Remember all the rain?
And then the rainbow shining?

Son, you're right again
Sorry I woke you but where's
the pineapple upside down cake?
I've been waiting for hours.
A little snack and I'll turn in.

Sunday, August 24, 2014


by Taylor Graham

Almost blind now,
he walks out under the night sky
that used to guide him through the dark
fields. The moon – closer
than it will ever be again in his lifetime;
bigger, brighter than he remembers;
a super-moon – is arcing into August,
peering down at him through oaks.
Above the house, a ghost-gold arrow.
Comet? It doesn’t move, but holds
its place as comets appear
to do, until like eyesight they’re gone.
And now the forward point extends
farther to the east, lengthening
its flight. What can this be?
He calls his wife, who gazes up to see
the TV antenna, vestigial skeleton,
almost prehistoric. Who has
a TV antenna on the roof anymore?
The old man has forgotten.
Moving above the oaks, finding gaps
to shine through, the moon
stretches that pale arrow farther
dimming as it grows, each instant,


 by Dario Jimenez

Joe did not know
he was going to die that very same Sunday.
In the morning
bought a blue Chevy, sedan.
For lunch
had a double cheese sandwich with beer
as he always did for his birthday
and sat in the porch
to watch the day go by.

the promised revolution

by J.J. Campbell

another morning
spent waiting
for the promised

these are the days
i wish i had joined
a gang or had long
enough arms to
properly use a

one day the blood
will flow in the
streets like money

generation after
generation finally
ready to stop

in the meantime

i'll simply sit
back and keep
adding names
to the list

Highball Innuendo

by John Pursch

Cerebellar misadventures of the windshield shot
graze lead-lined pillbox hatteries of chilly ragged coat lines,
dangling in the breezy contender’s waistcoat pocket,
foiled by rubber ink extravagance and
mutually eschatological neckline plunges,
drenching mossy torpedo bellies in
floozy underwear rewetting blots
of cobweb dancer pinafores glazed patiently
with greenery and grainy droppings
from a salutatory duckling’s pejorative
incantation of runaway tarmac blues.

No one could stand, let alone sit still for,
handy moral outrigger netting of the kind
so biliously cobbled from worn mosquito handiwork,
so expertly spurted by schlong-lust mustard seeds
in scenery disputes with top-dog hopscotch periphery’s
nunnery exposition welts, promised dryly in vague
retreat cordons to plumage spurners nationwide
in cackling car door commissary kumquat squatter rites,
deep within Groin Zorro’s missing tantrum of jacked
ten-wheeler recompense and tartan misconception’s
ill-defined crowned taro punch line, flicking August
into rigged mulatto terminals of situated empties.

Time danced round apostrophes
in pearly canned sedation, flirting mirthlessly
with two-armed shifty-bottomed botulism vendors,
hoping for a Frisbee tourniquet detachment tray,
traipsing with intestines dangling over catwalk silence impresarios,
meowing under waterfall suffusion’s highball innuendo.

I’m Trying To Find A Stepladder To Get Out Of This!

by Paul Tristram

He kept repeating frantically
to the other confused patients
in the afternoon common room.
Until the sectioned bag-lady
screamed and attacked him
with the bottom of a fruit bowl.
The teenage boy and girl
on suicide watch in the corner
both felt guilty immediately.
The blind retired magistrate
scared to death of loud noises
began crying and pissed his pants.
The school dinner lady with OCD
started to fix and rearrange
the curtains whilst naming all
of the Disciples backwards.
Dancing Edna began discreetly
flashing her lemon panties
and Billy ‘False Teeth’ started
turning into a werewolf again.
Whilst mean old Tilly 2 Canes
stood by the side of the TV
watching John The Baptist
with anger management issues
who had been for 5 days solid
tenaciously playing ‘Donkey Kong’
finally make it to the last level.
And as he stuttered and bounced
excitedly towards the finishing line
she pulled the plug from the wall
and drown him with her screaming.

Country Dancing

by Brian Wake

There is nothing to be frightened of, she said,
but come along and lie here on the bed.
She spoke of country dancing and of how so very sad
it was for one to dance alone; to move in time with no-one’s steps
and music but their own.

There is nothing to be frightened of, she said,
but come, my dear, and lie down on the bed.

For country dancing was the only time I ever moved.
A solitary shuffler, shadow-partnered, I improved.
I danced the days away from wall to wall
and, although I often stumbled, she had taught me how to fall.

There is nothing to be frightened of, she said,
but come along and lie down on the bed.

   And when the dancing ended I could always hear
her voice that told me there was nothing there at all to fear.
There is absolutely nothing to be frightened of my dear.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Doll Maker

by Shuly Cawood

Limbs and heads of a hundred dolls
crammed your mother’s store, and you
showed me the shelves of wigged
heads and half-painted eyes
one night after hours. Legs, strewn
everywhere, lay waiting to dry.

You said you loved me
there in her shop, when the shades
drooped over windows, and the dolls
stood, sat, tilted over, so wide-eyed,

You leaned me up against the register,
and the keys pressed cold and small
in my back, like fingers touching,
searching for a heart.

Give and Take

by Miranda Stone

In sleep, the fight has left you.
Face slack, lips parted, you gasp
as if taken aback in your dream.
With sprawling limbs you encroach
upon my side of the bed. A wrist bone
prods my shoulder. A toe grazes my shin.

I press my palms against your ribs
and push. You roll across the dividing line,
the sheet gliding over your bare skin.
I marvel at the distance between us.
You have relinquished half a foot of space.
In sleep, you are the picture of compromise.
Awake, you refuse to concede a single inch.

Family Reunion

by Ben Rasnic

The men find shelter
under the tin roof pavilion,
slice of watermelon
on a discount paper plate.

Sweet smoke
from the pig barbeque
tickles wind chimes.
The women gather
around picnic tables,
arranging covered dishes,
exchanging recipes.

A distant cousin on my father’s side
holds a captive audience,
tells the familiar fish tale
of the 20-pound catfish
& the trolling boat
with fifteen cases of Budweiser
that sprung a leak.

The self-appointed emcee
delivers the benediction,
reads aloud the list of names
of those who are no longer
with us.
spitting out seeds
we take notice.


by James Babbs

full moon bright
in the early morning sky
and I’m out in the driveway
pissing into the wind
when I’m finished
I zip up and
stagger back inside
nine empty bottles
on the kitchen table
all in a row
like tired soldiers
standing at attention
waiting to be dismissed
I walk over to the fridge
and pull out number ten
bouncing the cap
neatly into the garbage can
I lean back
take a long slow drink

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


by Kindra McDonald    
Black list, black board, black
tie, panthers, black sheep, magic black
and blue blood, blue streak, blue in

the face, blue laws, blue
collar, hair, blue plate special, agent
orange, blood orange winter

green, belt, green with envy,  green-eyed
monster tickled
pink movies, caught red

handed, seeing red, red cheeked,
alert, blood-red silver
screen, silver-tongue, silver

spoon, lining, silver fox,
quick brown nose, brown
sugar, derby, how now brown cow

yellow bellied coward, mellow
yellow man, white as a ghost, a sheet,
white supremacist, lie, white on rice

white noise, white


by Bette Hileman

None of us thought
we would die.
We knew we would.
But we didn’t feel it.
Our friends were alive.
They were in good health.
They were planning for
the golden years.

Now, across the border,
the golden years are a battlefield.
So many dead around us.
And the rest?
Most are seriously injured.
Those who walk,
tread with guilt.
We wonder why we move without pain.


by Anuradha Bhattacharyya

A crow sits
On the branch of a champa tree
That extends towards the south window
Where Dadu often stands sipping tea,
That freshens with its sweet fragrance
Dadu’s stale study
And it shits.

Dadu flustered
Vows to chop off the Champa tree
That has grown over years
To reach the first-floor window
And burst into moon blossoms
Colliding with the opaque wall
Inviting curious kids.

There stands the champa tree
Astute in loveliness
Charming passers by
Enhancing homeliness
Where but occasionally
The crow
Leaves its droppings.

i don't want to set this world on fire

by Leeroy Berlin

the world bursts at the seams
with hookers and blow:
it sings
like brunhilde in a whalebone corset
leading us to dash our minds on rocky shores
chasing the second hand banality
of our borrowed thoughts and rented lives.

we walk through streets turning grey with dawn
losing every shade that haunts our past
and gaining nothing in the deal.

desperate men fuck desperate women
because it's all they can get from each other
with the mountains leveled and the villains assassinated
there's nothing left for sigfried
except to feed himself to tigers twice a night and
three times on saturdays.

the ivory tower is built of innocents.
their bones form buttresses and their ignorance
of the mud and the blood and the beer
holds the whole thing up.

because those of us who have assaulted the memories of our fathers
and given them their due
paid them back three-fold for the names they left us with:
have found the truth far from your platonic realm
your clean smelling ideals have no home and no meaning in this dungeon
of blood and piss and sweat and jizz.

i am drooling with your lyssaphobia.
the poison that fills my blood colors me insensate
and its fever cooks my soul
until it's ready to serve, medium-well.

i don't want to set this world on fire, besides
it's too late for the little matches i keep in my hat
to mean anything to anyone.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Sunday Drive

by Miranda Stone

The leaden sky, pregnant with rain
makes our heads throb, as though we have
barometers inside our skulls.
The car’s lowered windows offer no relief
from air thick as a pot of lukewarm soup.

We are lost. We have driven past
the same clapboard house three times.
The German Shepherd in the yard
barrels toward us, tail wagging
as it chases our car down the dirt road.

Cruel words are barbs resting on our tongues.
The brutal heat forces them from our mouths.
You’re selfish.
You make me sick.
I can’t stand the sight of you.
I don’t love you anymore.

We make another circle. The German Shepherd
no longer gives chase, for we’re old friends now.
Above us, the sky splits open. Fat drops strike
the windshield like small stones.
We leave the windows down, preferring the storm
to the silence between us, weighted heavy
with words as yet unsaid.

brook once was moonrise

 by Michelle Villanueva

gears trip the slightest shine fans say
chopping this air bold with difference
when will too strained colors prevail
sleet spreads its tattered sheen around you

chipping visions from my windshield
reminds me you played when these last stars
sang through the masses relevant hymns
and the firmament whispered your eyes
ever love this rain streaked monument

piles of aluminum cans reveal
capillaries bright with polishing
the office staff busily tells them
management may never know my plans
fields white with care beckon just beyond

overtime leaves me thirsty with schemes
seeing your kitchen light thrills me
you bring me outside the water you know
excitedly we chase sky petals

afterward settled beer awaits us
together we could scale these girders
as though whirlwinds were not our home

The Dodo’s Gone To Sleep

by Amit Parmessur

Each step up the staircase and each heartbeat brings
me closer to you, like a black magnet.
The only good I can do in this city’s emptiness
is to anticipate your squawk;
remember, when the sun sets, we’ll borrow wings
and fly into the night full of fast clouds.
Strumming my sitar I’ll watch over
your yellow feet, green beak and curly feathers,
with you preening in Wonderland.

Reaching the rooftop I meet only a ghost
as your name means fool. With each memory
of you I shed a cold tear. I go down.
The nuts in my hand, the seeds in my pockets
I wish to see you in my room and
fool the whole world, cracking jokes with you,
rolling on the ecstatic floor.
But the butterfly clock on the wall
whispers to me that you’ve gone to sleep
early today with the dogs and monkeys.

A Memory

by Douglas Polk

fedoras sweaty,
black and gray,
hereford sold in the ring below,
farmer cattle,
more pet than livestock,
auctioned off,
while the wife and kids in the general store downtown,
trying on school clothes for the upcoming year

In the Open

by James Babbs

I ordered the chicken fingers
with a side of onion rings
because I like them
better than the fries
early on a Wednesday
on my way back home and
I see the madman’s reflection
there in the window
before I go and sit down
the disheveled madman
who keeps following me around
and no matter where I am
I always find him
out there in the open
moving around in the light
reminding me the whole time
of somebody else and
some days
he looks old and tired
some days
he looks as if
he has nowhere left to go
the disheveled madman
like he’s waiting for something
I hear him laughing
every time I turn my head

A Grand Buffet

by Donal Mahoney

Maury's wife frets
about growing old
withering up

and sagging so
it's up to Maury
to let her know

every day she's
a grand buffet
that he can't wait

to see and sample.
Her appetizers are
enticing, entrees

perfectly prepared.
At his age though,
Maury has to pause.

He knows now
this will mean
a long nap later.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Maybe It Would Have Been A Homer

by g emil reutter

The continuous spasms run the circuit board of my
nervous system, and I have no one to
blame but myself. Yet in this room, a prison for three
days I hear life all around me. The horns of the commuter
trains on the hour and the mighty blasts from the freight
diesels switching racks at Newtown Junction pulling
hundreds of cars three time a day.

And there is young mother yelling on the sidewalk under
my window, I wish she would lose her voice. The old ladies
talk on the stoop, their murmuring puts me to sleep as the
sounds of passerby’s and cars fill the air.

As dusk falls, just a few days past solstice, I think of all those
summers past and baseball. Now in my 56th year I know I can
never go back and never again feel that great joy of when a
ball pops off a bat, lands where you wanted it to. Maybe it
would have been a homer.

See Me Love You/You Know Who You Are

by Amy Soricelli

Blue is still blue when it is buried deep in the colored shells on the shore;
the midnight sky peeks its colored stone stars across your sandy toes.
I would take you to the beach in a cloud.
Blue is still blue when the lucky loopy sounds of your stringy guitar plays hard against
the backdoor slips of your last kiss me you said....
I could raise your head to the end of the sky you would see me peeking up from down.
I could not carry the colored weight of the world in my single hand.
There are too many colors of love.
But blue is still the blue of your eyes.

Evening Refrain

by Kindra McDonald

The crunch of a beer can,
change jingling as he paws his pockets,
paces off the rooms
wearing holes through his cape-cod
cage, singing George Thorogood
with a thick tongue,
dragging his foot, limp
and bloody where
he tried to chew himself free.

nihil humanum a me alienum puto

by John Grochalski

this is a disney bar now
or it looks like one out of a disney movie

there are more televisions in the joint
then there are people

the people look like cartoons at last
blonde and tanned and without an ounce of fat

i don’t recognize the beers on tap
and the ones that i do are too rich for my blood

i can’t believe that i used to drink here
back when they broke the windows and the toilet never worked
and fights broke out as a matter of course on friday night

now there are fake fireplaces in the wall
and a beer garden out back

there is soccer playing on each and every television
and a digital jukebox playing pop on low

one of the blondes asks me what team i’m rooting for
and i respond, whatever teams ends this game the quickest

that ends the conversation

the chinese still come in here
hocking their bootleg dvds of the worst america
has to offer the world of cinematic art

back then the old guys used to pause from their drinks
to scan the movies and make conversation with the bootleggers

now no one says a thing to them
they watch soccer and have the bartender
pour them another expensive beer while they check their cell phones

more blonde and tan people shout from outside
because the beer garden has a television too

when the chinese bootlegger leaves
the three blondes drinking three red drinks with citrus fruit
all look at each other like they smelled a fart
the one says to the other two
oh my god, that’s like the third time
they’ve been in here today

like, get a life, one of the other ones says

they go back to watching the soccer match
almost two hours of dutch and costa rican men
running up and down the pitch and there’s still no score

they all look the same anyway, one of the blondes says

but who? i wonder are they talking about

the chinese
the sweating soccer players
or the rest of us.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


by Robert Nisbet

The bomb went off in the barracks
just after noon. She was desperate, hunting news,
ringing, ringing, holding on. Set off for home
(it was nearer the barracks anyway)
and at Cardiff Gate the evening papers
told of the bomb, people at the tables talked of it,
but the bomb was lost between a bent politician
and a singer’s pretty boobs, and she rang
and rang again, to the last coin, drove on,
fifty miles again, to a nearly-empty Pont Abraham
where the waitress was suddenly kind
and she poured it all out, just as suddenly,
My son is there, and the girl cried with her
(what sort of emotional girl was that?) and said
You can ring from here, out the back, they won’t know,

and her son was safe and she could only sob,
helplessly, in a caretaker’s room,
with the brushes and the buckets and the bleach,
because her son was safe and there was somebody too
who had helped her, with her arm round her,
to pull out of a racing current,
fetch up on a safe, dry bank.


by Burgess Needle

At dawn, no matter his mood, one cure only
for his fractured soul, Bach’s violin Concerto No. 1
        with A Minor chords lapping wall to wall
        against religious law.
He wrapped the black leather strap
       around his middle finger and left arm
       ah, his tefillin received upon bar mitzvah.
Placed the phylactery two fist-width from the tip of his nose
       murmuring inside all the while
       blessed art thou who sanctified us with
      His commandments and has commanded us
                   to lay tefillin
He’d kept his own brittle shellac recording
         of Menuhin and Enesco with tracks laid
        down by Aufgenommen in the ‘30s.
Resonating as he considered  the black box on his head
        symbolized his mind and thoughts
        just as the arm straps represented
                 his actions and deeds.
Exhale in joy before the Orchestre Symphonique de Paris
       prepare for the world of numbers, he thought
       prepare for the world of goyim in my disguise
Acknowledge light peering through the blinds
      he thought of his son-to-be and what he would show him
      as the Concerto’s Andante wended its own quiet way
      within an elegant framework that sheltered
               and threatened its existence
As his own life felt dread every new day
               the sun’s blessing and the night’s threat
               time for work time for life
                           time to kiss his wife goodbye.

Tales Of The Mysterious Warrant Dodger

by Paul Tristram

The banging upon the front door started again
for the third time on this otherwise peaceful day.
Then they traipsed heavily up the creaking stairs
with big boots and started knocking and shouting
at the door of Room 5, situated right next to mine.
“Anthony David Michaels we have an outstanding
warrant that we need to speak to you about.
Open up the door or we will have to break it down!”
stated someone with a voice of aggressive authority.
“Aye, if that warrant permitted you to do so
that door would already be down, so seeing as it ain’t,
if either the door, frame or lock is accidently damaged
due to your persistent enthusiasm for your job
it will be you paying for it mate, so bare that in mind,
you ain’t even proper Old Bill your just ‘PCSO’s!”
explained-via shouting-someone clued up on law
from the attic room which I always thought was empty?
I leapt off my rented bed and ran to my rented window
which was slightly open and saw him from next door
dangle and swing from the windowsill across-that way,
let go and fall 3ft down onto the garden dividing wall.
Sprint along it nearly to the lane at the far end
but upon hearing footsteps…backtrack halfway
with the balance of a gymnast and jump into the next
garden with a soft thud, then proceed to scale
and monkey every boundary wall and fence
of every garden right up to the end of the street
where he then disappeared as quickly as teenage
virginity at a Resolven council estate house party.
With the excitement now at an end, I lay back down
thinking to myself  ‘screw that for a game of soldiers,
I would rather just pay the fine and have done with it.’

It’s my time to sit with old men

by Michael Mark

I have a violent urge to piss on the young.

I need a session with the wrinkled.
That stalwart crowd dozing
on scarred benches and lawn chairs.

Bald and taking on all cancers.

Youth’s neon vitality and untrained
hopefulness is so frustrating.
Too sweet, ech!
Nothing like the hard-earned optimism
from the decayed breath of a busted up geezer.
“It will work out, one way or the other” is rooted in God’s truth!
As opposed to the antiseptic helium, “It’s all good, man.”

These young people’s lack of perspective -
of what is in the dirt, what makes them -
sucks the past right out of me.

I hate them not for their sun-shining muscles
or their liquid grace.
It’s the way they don’t see -
the blind guy who walks all over
the neighborhood, singing, has better vision.

I want to listen to the creaks and gasps
of worn down bones
and study stubborn bruises that have taken over
entire legs and backs and spread under
skin so thin you can see through
to the honesty.

What’s left to say? Nothing.
The old ones heard it all.
But if you want to talk, they’ll try.
And if they can’t pick up your mumbles
they say “speak up” or “talk slower,”
or make up what you said
which is smarter than what
you said.

What’s with these kids walking around with
those headsets in their ears –
missing every piece of the lyrical poetry
in the litany of ailments and utter failure of
too expensive medications, and near lethal

Youth stinks because it has no stink.
It’s odorless as 3 dollar bottled water.
Smells are important – look how dogs know each other.
We are animals and the old farts on the benches
who never have known floss
live their dying animal nature every day.

If they need me to peel back their bandages
to report on post-surgery progress,
I will be their witness.
I will see them the way they are,
the shape they are in -
to Hell with weepy nostalgia.
I’ll tell ‘em, “This is how it is kiddo.”
And they’ll put their skeleton hands on my face
and tell me I’m a good boy, not the best,
because their Harold, their Alex, their Shlomo is the best.

These young people are not even people.
A person has to go through more anguish
than a driver’s test to matter.
In my opinion, they should not be counted in a census -
not as a full human being,
a tad-person, ok.

They may, if they work very hard,
very, very hard and get up after being knocked down
a couple million times,
they may get their turn at being old.
But age is not a given.
It is struggled for.
With will, cunning, flexibility and drunk luck.

They say motherhood is the hardest job –
it may be the most important.
But hardest belongs to the old ones.
Bending over holds incalculable consequences,
rising and falling with each vertebra compressed
by every decade, every year and every fall, real or imagined.

And there’s no way around it -
you got to bend.
Are you not going to pick up that nickel
on the sidewalk?
You have no choice.
And when pain, falling, being forgotten,
steps up in front of an old man
he must summon his guts and take down a breath,
much as he can get in his leaky lungs,
and fight, damn it, fight his own failing body and gravity,
and the knowledge that this could be it, over, final.

But it’s five cents.
And it wasn’t that long ago
that would buy dinner for his family.

That’s why I’m going to where “I remember” outnumbers “I will.”
Where poorly healing scars tell more vivid truths than tattoos
and hearts are more tender and bigger –
due to disease and loving more.

These are people who respect a stop sign.
And they speak at a pace where you can wander
around in their stories,
while they take regular pauses to relocate their train of thought.

These are not victims – they’re warriors
who time could not beat.
Dazed from living.
Determined to get more of whatever
there is to get.
After a nice nap.

Ok, I’m done now.
Zipped up.
Hands washed with soap.
Just like my old man taught me.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

One Night in Spain
Inspired by "You Hated Spain" by Ted Hughes from “Birthday Letters”

by Marilyn Braendeholm

I was caught by the darkness of Spain
where deep shadows of breeze frightened
us from entering too far. You
thought it was tapas and wine but my Spain
was cool alleys and curtain confessionals where
my northern acclimate prowled like hunger. I
can’t recall despising heat so much. I felt
at war with it. To think I wear thick socks at home.
We ate late to avoid the heat. Everyone did. The
flies circled our heads, hyaenas blood-raw
and biting at our legs. You insisted on light
to see the food on your plate, and the waiter, he
lit a match to a snubbed candle that floated oiled
in cloudy liquid. That fluid, whatever it was, anchovy
oil perhaps, drew the flies so close we saw their faces.
Their sooty eyes begging us to feast, the
wave of our hands to no effect, as rhythms north african
further developed the swelter of heat. A ladder of black
oiled smoke funnelled from the candle, its edges
tempting us into a kiss across the table. Where to,
we asked, where next when everything
about this place frightened
me and you.

plastic transcendence

by John Grochalski

walking suicides stumble down
new utrecht avenue
with summer school backpacks
smacking off of the back of their knees
these drug slouch kids
doing the visine twist
with their open, slobbering mouths
before nine o’clock in the morning
while every other teen is still in bed
having glorious sex balls of the mind
there is usually a pack of boys
and their one token girlfriend
who’s too loud for the time of day
they extoll the virtues of the weed
as they pass it around standing menacingly
in front of the homes of the foreign or old
these marijuana zombies laughing at the wind
getting stoned before the opening salvo
of remedial math or english
trying to duck the cops who roam these streets
in circles, like rabid dogs chasing after their own tails
sweet aromatic dullards of brooklyn
caught in the shade of their forever high school
who have yet to connect their failures with behavior
too young
too young to understand the ramifications
the ones who will be here all summer and the next
toke after toke after toke
before taking their show of shows into the autumn
up all the way through graduation
in a hail of magic
of plastic transcendence
making a lovely haze
of the fragile and coming future


by Marc Carver

I push the accelerator down in the car
but there is something wedged underneath
it is one of last night's beer cans.
Eventually I manage to kick it out of the way.
There are also empty beer bottles in the back.
The only time I enjoy driving is when I am drinking.
I thought about tidying up the car a bit
but then wrote it off
after all
it is not my car
and it is nearly out of gas

Floating a Reunion Plan

by Todd Mercer

Dusty Springfield singing Son of a Preacher Man
inside the clock radio, between queens
in a two-queen special at the Ramada.
The day began with idol-smashing, smoothed
to ritual, to sacraments. It sweetened.
She said Let’s come back
after ten years. Future talk
is healthy for you. Clean up
whatever you’re predisposed to
muck-up repeatedly. Stop
serial stupidity. Don’t rip
head-boards from their moorings
out of enthusiasm. The desk clerk,
that jaded atheist, will smirk
and add sixty-nine bucks and tax
to the MasterCard. Before they split
he over-tips the maid. It’s justice
for the muss left. Dusty wraps the song,
the one that makes this woman
in the future wonder
what became of a pastor’s son, the one
who reached her, here.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Listening to CNN, August 8, 2014

by Patricia Williams
Look from the mountain top,
gaze east
at the blush in the sky
glowing brilliant,
color unmatched.
Look closely.
Tongues of red
reaching into the blue 
― rawness, inflammation ―
no gloried, climbing sun
on the horizon.
The East is burning,
burning, burning ―
gnashing terrible teeth,
rolling terrible eyes;
When November passes
and everything fades,
there’s always
hope in afterlife.

Thursday, August 7, 2014


by Joe Brennand

one wave
on one wave
rolls on the shore


by Robert E. Petras

Fuck it—I won’t do it
I said to my little pop tart
Responding to her request
To go inside the Amish Quilt Hall of Fame,
Nor will I go shopping at Tiffany’s with you
Nor watch Oprah live—ever.

You have your bucket list;
I have my fuck-it list.

I will never hold your purse
While you go to the restroom.
I will never go to the Piggsy-Wiggsy
For you to buy Tampons.
I will never ask for directions
Even if lost inside the world’s largest shopping mall.
I will never get a manicure,
Pedicure, Peter Pan cure.
And I will never say I’m sorry,
Unless, of course, it leads to make-up sex.
Then I’m sorry, sorry, oh so sorry.

i can't go back

by Linda M. Crate

ingrid michaelson
on the radio
while i pace the apartment
like a wild animal
i am caged
yearning for freedom
and yet
it is inappropriate for me to
go outside
only in my underwear
i would be arrested for indecent exposure,
but somehow
it's okay for the grossly obese man
with his five hundred pound
hairy pot belly
to sit out in his underwear
on a hot summer's
i don't understand how that's not the same
his boobs are probably
bigger than mine—
life isn't fair, they say, but somehow
that excuse never worked
for me;
i'm sick of all the hypocrisy of
just want to be a child again
when dandelions
danced their visions over me and trees
laughed in the breeze
so sweetly,
and i dreamed without
fear of falling—
where i wasn't caged in all this want
and desire
with conundrums on my tongue
simply ran outside
played in the weeds, spoke to faeries
and waved to mermaids
in their blue green lagoons
how we all wish to grow older as a child,
but we don't realize how good
we had it
until it's gone.


by Donal Mahoney

No one has to teach a field
of sunflowers how to worship.
Before dawn in high summer

their necks are bent
in silent prayer like monks.
But as the sun comes up

sunflowers rise as well.
At noon they adore the sun
the way monks in pews

adore the Host at elevation.
Listen and you may hear
sunflowers sing Alleluia!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Tonight my wife fucks Bruce Springsteen

by Michael Mark

I hope there's a soft summer rain falling
when the Boss gets on top of her.

And earlier, when he picks her up outside our house,
I hope he’s got his sleek machine.

I hope they pull over to some roadside bar and
have a few beers and

Bruce recites some Jersey to her.

He takes out his worn, torn leather book
that's formed to his rock hard ass and
coughs a boyish, proud laugh,
as he leans over the carved up
table to whisper lyrics he hasn't shared
with any E-Street Band member. Not Landau
or Patti.

He dances her by the pool table
and presses her into the shadows and
finds a tender spot and
sighs how every night he prays to Clarence.

She bites his lip, sucks on it, kisses his neck
and tells him she knows Clarence hears him.

Then they ride slow along the river
to the edge of town,
and take a stab at romance.

She deserves it.
She's been a good companion
for over 34 years,
from Queens to Boston to California
2 kids, 4 jobs, surgeries.

Behind the locked door,
I hope she feels comfortable
enough to keep the lights on,
to study him taking off his shirt, the bones of his back,
then his boots and his jeans.

I hope there's refusal and then surrender.
Then thunder.

She will walk back into our house
in morning’s light, down the hallway,
to dress for work.

She will know what’s flesh
and what’s fantasy.


by John Grey

The river overflows.
Streets are hopeless.
Town planners leave for higher grounds.
Families resume life in their attics.

I prefer to be the one man wading
from the park gazebo
to the bench outside the hardware store.

My father was always well prepared for floods.
He said, even when it’s dry,
the ground we stand on is nothing
but floating cars and carcasses.
Keep your head above water
and don’t touch anything electric,
and you’ll get by.

I’ve always heeded his advice.
Up until now,
all that’s been missing
are the circumstances.


by Marc Carver

It is all here
here in nowhere
where nobody truly lives
just a day
then another
just a beer
then another
sweetness of whisky
a chance of a lay
some food on a table
anybody's table
the freer the better
yes it is all here
here in nowhere

The Great GreenTree Mortgage Oscillation

by Todd Mercer

Nikki from GreenTree
called again and again called to say
the same as yesterday, the same
as she’ll say tomorrow.
It means nothing, it’s a tidal
oscillation for telephones,
back and back and gone and gone
a daily metronome
the calls that say
we’ll take your home
and pay your mortgage,
the note that you’ve
always paid.

Nikki from GreenTree
speaks but her ears don’t receive.
She offers a way out, a settlement
that shape-shifts if you
dare to touch it,
it rolls out leaving you
in a hold loop
on mud flats,
it evaporates.

Nikki from GreenTree
rings in around Elevenses,
always has and always will,
impervious to facts or satire,
to your answers,
to your perfect record
of sustained and timely payments.

You just missed her
but she’ll be back
every morning every morning,
machine with a human voice
with a deal that’s not a deal,
with a reason that defies Reason.
She says, pay your note.

Monday, August 4, 2014


To Suzanne Nossel, PEN America Executive Director:

Well, I doubt you’ll respond.  After all, what could you possibly write in your defense… of apathy and bourgeois elitism?  Hopefully, you’ve not become so high and mighty that you won’t even be able to focus on anything this lowly plebe has to write here… hopefully.  Thus, I simply continue this dialogue de sourds.   

Currently, I’m sketching the next front cover of The American Dissident, #28, which will feature Frank Bidart, you, and other literary elitists (Quinn et al) involved in your Literary Awards (the images of you on Google portray a NY West Side elitist cocktail-party socialite… how odd for the jefa of PEN America!)

Regarding the awards, you state:   “The PEN Literary Awards bring together writers, editors, and members of the literary community to celebrate the ultimate fruit of free expression: great literature.”  But what about those writers and editors NOT of the “literary community,” as you term the closed community of mostly established-order academics and their poet/writer acolytes.  How to become a member of that community? Well, the response is obvious:  play the game of see-no-evil, hear-no-evil PC-expression-only. The “ultimate fruit of free expression,” as you term it, is certainly not academically-approved, promoted, and designated “great literature.”  The “ultimate fruit” is rather literature scorned by the elites because it dares criticize the elites.   Far more often than not, “great literature” as you term it, is a subjective—not an objective—term.  Far more often than not, that so-called “great literature” is innocuous, hardly at all threatening to the power structure, which designates it “great.”  You seem quite confused pairing “free expression” with so-called “great literature.” 

Have you read The Oak and the Calf?  If you haven’t, do so!  But one would certainly expect that you have read it, considering your position.  In any case, if you recall, Solzhenitsyn’s book depicts the literary scene under the Stalinist dictatorship.  Sadly, that scene is a mirror of today’s literary scene in America.  Of course, Americans are rarely arrested for writing (three cops showed up to escort me out of the library one week after my published writing, but I was not arrested).  Instead, they are ostracized into oblivion, that is, if the established order feels offended by the writing. 

Why does PEN America not focus on that?  Why does it not support the few American writers who dare criticize the academics and writers who control the literary scene in America, including the pompous chancellors of the Academy of American Poets (Bidart et al) and the one-percenters of the Poetry Foundation?  The answer of course is that PEN has become an integral part of that scene.  In essence, the scorners of free expression (academics and literati) have infiltrated and taken control of PEN America… unless, of course, it was always thus.  In essence, if that were not true, why would your publication, PEN America Journal, not even respond to, let alone publish, the highly caustic article I wrote on PEN and submitted to it (See The following is a pertinent quote from The Oak and the Calf to back the above contention: 

“The shrill, vainglorious literature of the establishment—with its dozen fat magazines, its two literary newspapers, its innumerable anthologies, its novels between hard covers, its collected works, its annual prizes, its adaptations for radio of impossibly tedious originals—I had once and for all recognized as unreal, and I did not waste my time or exasperate myself by trying to keep up with it.  I knew without looking that there could be nothing of merit in all this.  Not because no talent could emerge there—no doubt it sometimes did, but there it perished too.  For it was a barren field, that which they sowed.  I knew that in such a field nothing could grow to maturity.  When they first came to literature they had, all of them—the social novelists, the bombastic playwrights, the civic poets, and needless to say the journalists and critics—joined in an undertaking never, whatever the subject, whatever the issue, to mention the essential truth, the truth that leaps to the eye within no help from literature.  This solemn pledge to abstain from truth was called socialist realism.  Even writers of love poems, even those lyric poets who had sought sanctuary in nature or in elegant romanticism, were all fatally flawed because they dared not touch the important truths.” 

Finally, unlike your journal, The American Dissident will publish the harshest criticism received because it really does believe in free expression… and vigorous debate, democracy‘s cornerstones. 

G. Tod Slone, PhD (Universite de Nantes, FR) aka P. Maudit,
Founding Editor (1998)
The American Dissident, a 501c3 Nonprofit Journal of Literature, Democracy, and Dissidence

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Weavers of Ansari

by Melissa Dickson

Already there’s a breeze and something colder
in it. The boys wild as these woods, too young
to think of the long decay. On the air, voices
remote as the sun, our solar powered radio:
election fraud, poverty, threats, car bombs
at the weaver's polls. We’re miles from the road,
a half-mile from water and an enchantment
of river cane thick with insects. The rustle
of gear, a fireside night—thin steaks turned
once, asparagus, honeyed tea, one block each
of pocket-softened Hersheys, all shuttled
over granite, through scissoring switchbacks,
under emerald bursts of saplings. We listen
past dusk as the radio fails taking with it
the weavers and their silk rugs—
unimagined, colorless as thinning smoke—
taut on silent looms.


by Quinn Collard

Gathering daisies and violets when you wrapped your arms around me,
A fissure in the earth swallowing us both.
You gave me six pomegranate seeds,
And, desperate for sustenance, I took them.
Now until the stars plummet to their deaths
I must always come back to you,
The souls of the lost swirling around me,
The sun a forgotten dream.


by Amy Soricelli

The plastic in the tree has survived two winters - maybe three.
Swaying deep into the Bronx breeze flapping its synthetic wings like a flag.
I stare it down like a rare flower - point its edges
towards the sun.
From my high Bronx window I see it dancing back and forth; its claws
bent hard into the knobby branches; angry crusty leafless trees shadow
straight against the glass.
The hardest pressed face couldn't get passed it.
The plastic in the trees has made it through the summer fire crackers.
Each burst of light landing on its bleak side sliding its elbows up for comfort -
resting long black eyes against the random flashing smoke of celebration.
It dances that swallowed holey movement that comes with
the broken, the defeated; the things that land in trees.

Prawn Tide

by Mercedes Webb-Pullman

As the sun came up, frost
dusted dunes and tussocks
then disappeared. Behind the breakers
white vapour floated, veiling
the hills haunch-hunkered
by the water, some bush-clad,
some naked.

The moon set pink
last night; now red prawns flow
and writhe in lines along the tide mark
in a plague of plenty. Birds
wallow in the shallows, too glutted to fly
but for one seagull Narcissus-skimming
above his wet sand reflection,
mirrored wingtips touching
for eternity.

Bones of driftwood litter the beach,
jade waves pummel the shore,
tweak its fabric flat along the flanks,
twitch at wrinkles, finger ripples
like the witch at Gretel’s ribs.

The men set to mending nets -
no bait will catch a sated fish today

Undocumented Zombies

by Donal Mahoney

The nice thing about being dead
is you no longer care if the doctor
mucked up your diagnosis and the

pharmacist gave you the wrong pills.
You're cozy now in a comfy casket
six feet below all the carnage

in the world, without a worry, when
a mastodon tsunami rolls over your
peaceful cemetery and uproots

thousands of caskets, tossing them
high in the sky and forcing you
and all the other zombies to float.

You discover no port will take
undocumented zombies.
You have no papers, after all;

you can't prove who you were or are
so you and the other zombies float
for God knows how long since

God may not believe in zombies.
This is a rupture not a rapture.
And while you float, your lawyer

meets with your relatives who
no longer weep about your passing.
They smile as he reads your will.

They plan on taking a family cruise
with the proceeds from your estate.
They'll dine on lobster and steak,

lay waste continuous buffets while
you and the other zombies float
further out, unable to find a port

where citizens will bury the likes of you.
Property values will drop, they shout.
They can't drop their signs and let you in.

Not An Oyster

by Bill Jansen

Passive oyster who art has put into a shell,
sanctified be thy dream, thy bread sticks come,
thy flesh be light, thy bed of lettuce clean
and fresh upon thy plate, in this still life
by some anonymous realist, possibly French.
Thy meaning remain stubbornly obscure
to us on earth as we are to those in heaven.
May the tides of light that enter this room
(somewhere a toilet drains) be always blue.
Black fingernails of night not open you.
Weary maids keep you straightened on wall.
No vandal ignore thy do not disturb aura.
And lead us not into cheap hotel temptations,
as we contemplate thy calculus of illusion.
O let us taste thy template of reality,
thy cracking paint and immortality.
Or maybe not, because on looking closer
I see that you are a cabbage, not an oyster,
bruised by thy fall from the earthy Paris sky.