Travelers Welcome

Travelers Welcome

Sunday, June 28, 2015

city life

by Ross Vassilev

another cancer Monday
and you’ll see a light in the sky
pulled by an old man
wearing dumpster shoes
and the brick walls
will be innocent
and you’ll open your palm
and find a butterfly
resting there
and you'll forget about
all the slaughter
in the name of free markets
and you’ll say aloud
all wisdom is found
in the heartless gutters of the world
and it’ll mean more
than all the bullshit
you hear on the corporate news.

How can I be an English major?

by Emily Ramser

A senior in a black bra made me a screwdriver
that tasted like furniture polish,
and I doubled over crying
because I'd forgotten that
I don't know how
to spell furniture without autocorrect
and vodka just makes me sad.


by Elizabeth McMunn-Tetangco

During the last storm
the rain

made islands on the windshield: clear
and round

as forming questions.

You sat with me
and we traced out soft new maps

with shaking fingers – here
is how

I’d get to you, losing

in the blank water. But
it hasn’t rained

in months,
and the dust falls

in soft sheets on your old car. There still
are patterns

on the glass
left there like shadows.

When I drive
I see the rain

pressed to the street, your fingers
flattening the drops
like ironed bedclothes, smoothing them

with one vague hand

it doesn't matter/i couldn't care

by Amy Soricelli

if i could wear my name like black cloth across your back i would stamp down hard the misery in each
letter - the solid pull of the earths force on all that shines;
all that dusky misery will do to you.
it is not enough to pound up the stairs in deep sighs - you can't always see the air as it hisses out of your mouth.
nails and splinters winter and bone.
i am the glass shield to no sadness you can name.  if you called me hollow down the street i would come like a dog
stand by the side of the building snickering sideways in tar.
you can't capture the bee stings in a box tight with edges sharp like elbows -
see me in long last glimpses behind you like a train passing.
sweep me under the rug a loose pile of soundless empty i don't care.

Saturday, June 27, 2015


by Tom Montag

Wind-beaten light
in clotted sky.

Some days you turn
back and behind you

find nothing. Some days
you do not turn.

A rare treasure, then,
loveliness lifted,

spun, made something of.
You do not choose

which you get. You must
take them one by one.


by Ali Znaidi

The solar system
hasn’t got any idea
about ‘the wretched
of the earth,’
or the oppressed,

the sun wouldn’t

she needs you

by Linda M. Crate

she claws at you with such desperation i feel sorry for her. i wonder if this is what i must have looked like to everyone when i was chasing after someone who gave me up, too. always seeking your approval and your affection i wonder if you weren't her first. she tries so hard to act like she doesn't care, but she's like me. she cares too much and loves too hard. i never thought either of those things sins but they always seem to push people away. just know she's a delicate flower. those thorns are a lie. a defense mechanism that doesn't work. she needs you. regardless of what you may believe. 

Friday, June 26, 2015

At a gas station in Alabama

by Emily Ramser

I stopped to buy a toothbrush,
so I could kiss my girlfriend,
but the cashier couldn’t stop
contemplating my sex life,
and the man filling up his truck outside was
examining his new shotgun,
so I began thinking about
bending my girlfriend over the glass countertop
and unbuttoning her jeans,
but I needed to buy toothpaste too
unless my girlfriend would just let me pretend to brush my teeth
so that we could leave.

broken bottles

by Ross Vassilev

I remember walking home
from work
streets littered with
the broken bottles
of the past
and there was my fat queer boss
and the Polish girl
who was always wearing
showing her fat white thighs
that I still can't stop
thinking of
and lonely parking lot nights
and this what you get
for $5.50 an hour in this
broken down corner of time
in the universe.

laugh at all the wrong jokes

by J.J. Campbell

slice your own
birthday cake
with a bloody

pretty women
that look like
movie stars
aren't from
around here

dance naked
under a full
moon and
laugh at all
the wrong

teach us the
finer points
of apathy
and brooding

i once wrote
a story about
falling in love
with a girl with
a boy's name

the girl called the
cops and now i'm

Thursday, June 25, 2015

King Arthur

by Jon Bennett

The day bartenders don’t make much
but it’s not like
they could work anywhere else.
“Didn’t you move to Florida?”
I ask Arthur.
He looks loopy without his teeth in
like an aged court jester.
“I did, yeah…”
he says, polishing a glass,
“but it didn’t take.”
It doesn’t seem to bother him.
Has anything ever bothered him?
I imagine him planted in Orlando
floral shirt, Bermuda shorts,
no, it wouldn’t take,
like another knocked out tooth
I tried to push back in.


by Mary C McCarthy

This is all new to me-
a world that follows the rules,
time that piles up evenly,
without blanks and bursts
to trick my memory,
sounds that all come from
somewhere, voices that are
accounted for in sensible
ways. No surprises.
You wouldn't think a world
like that so hard to find,
but I've waited a long time
to be happily bored,
contented with this new geometry
where everything interlocks, orderly
and neat, with no deep closets
for things to jump out of,
no cellars full of dust
and darkness, no threatening
shadows playing tag with me
in broad daylight.
I am glad to be here
in the middle of the ordinary,
just another Regular
trying to fit in.


by Alexis M. Pacheco

What would the boy look
like at twenty-nine,
would his hands look
the same as the hands that hold
mine, would  his eyes
watch a wife

he never met,
watch the moonlight glint
off of her bare back
before he

to sleep.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Summer’s Embers

by Emma Lee

The driver in front did definitely not
want to be startled back into this world
of morning commutes and timetables
as he dawdles and drifts, unsure of junctions.

I don’t want to give way. Still unsure
still wanting someone like you but not you.
You’re not coming back.
But time moves only forwards.

I can’t stick with our routines forever:
they yield the same results, each day
following the pattern of the previous.
Weeks slip into months, into years.

A rare evening out and I barely catch
a whispered wolf-whistle for my ears only.
He doesn’t invade my space, lets his eyes talk.
He’s younger. Someone I’d normally just walk past.

I wish him a good evening and walk on by.
I silently thank him for wakening something,
not quite desire, more a wishful could-be.
Until, Hold your head up, you’ve got a pretty face,

from a beer-bellied smoker. I’m reminded
of the ratio of thorns to roses on a briar.

Old People

by Donal Mahoney

These are old people
retired and driving slowly
from small apartments
in economy cars
getting out on canes
and walkers with
hearing aids you can see
attired in the best
Goodwill has to offer
arriving between 1 and 3
weekday afternoons
at Mid-America Buffet
eating their fill for $5.00 off
piling their plates with
chicken, meat loaf
salads galore, veggies
from childhood
green beans, carrots
eaten in a rush as kids
listening to Fibber McGee
and Molly on the radio
eaten slowly now
by folks who make it
on crackers and snacks
and one meal a day
this one for $5.00 off
at Mid-America Buffet.


by Marchell Dyon

She is a daughter of Eve
She has no need of God

She is rebellious as she is head strong
Even when she was a child she thought this way

As a child she searched her grandmother’s garden
For the perfect peach that would give

Her wisdom beyond her years
After finding it she knew she held the world in her hands

She set her sails on getting university degrees
Instead of cumulating babies

When old age rattled her bones she would not be conquered
She would not bow her head to death’s cold sword

She would become a living flame
Tossed across the night sky

A goddess to look up to
A way for other girls to follow

To find the fruit she circled the globe
Unlike Eve

She would find the golden pear
That would make her immortal

Sunday, June 21, 2015


by Umm-e-Aiman Vejlani

The parrot puts on its green
coat – lime, unspotted, smooth,
even-coloured, featherless,
a neck long and graceful unlike any
other parrot’s, steps out of its keep
with the aplomb of a ballerina,
onto the sill sitting its trough
of nectar;

the heat doesn’t refrain its beak
as it pouts at the albino pigeon
struggling sight against the sun,
watching the trough longingly;

the only difference of distance
between my grilled enclosing
and the parrot’s is the colour
of feet

and the quality of the white-wash –
mine not having withstood

the weight of summer.

Geeky Bitterness

by KJ Hannah Greenberg

It’s enough that I sweat, waft moisture away,
Expect customers to demand monies back,
Bring pet gerbils to family gatherings, also
Head to state parks for much needed vacation;
Any vehicle that takes me places serves if
Given sufficient dollops of new C++ code.

Concerning each time a department member
Wanted my suspenders to keep socks anchored,
Bulimic-looking girlfriends sated, also their
Dogs content with hastily sprung clay pigeons,
My software equivalent of changing tires,
Replacing oil, got recurrently shortchanged.

“Alternate realms” doesn’t mean insalubrious wine,
Sea stories repeatedly used to produce syrinxes,
Other manners of pox, cute diseases, odd rashes
Apropos to pea quiche, lemon drops, tomatoes.
When I strive to produce nuanced interactions,
Hearts break, consoles crash, friendship expire.


by Marc Carver

She could see the look in my eyes
as I tried to pull the tears back in
that hatred
the pity..

Nothing really mattered anymore
but her last act.
She knew I was not a normal person anymore
I didn't care what poeple thought of me.

So she let me go
 told me NEVER  to come back
not to see her like this anymore.

Her last gift to me
the gift of life to the gift of death.
I had never ben there for her
as she had always known
I never would be.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

a new attitude

by larry jones

someone jabs a pregnant sow
with an iron gate rod,
she ain't moving fast enough.

someone kicks a boar in the head,
to prove he's a badass.

someone slams a piglet on the cement floor,
won't make weight, too skinny.

someone can't find the bolt gun,
kills a lame hog
with a ten pound sledgehammer.

fucking boss calls me into his office,
"you need to change your attitude,
need to smile more often."

i got a walmart happy face button,

stuck it on my hat.


by Marc Carver

 On my way to the pub
I looked down on the ground.

There was a packet with some tablets left in it,
so I picked them up
and took a closer look.

The packet told me they were constipation tablets.

I threw the packet on the floor
and wiped my hands quickly
and hoped the tablets had not started to work yet.

The Fake

by Paul Tristram

She was on 24 hour suicide watch,
couldn’t take a bath, piss or shit
without a female nurse present.
They’d caught her with her head
inside a carrier bag two days ago
a minute after the dinner bell rung
and yesterday found broken glass
under her pillow, when she had thrown
a tantrum and knocked it off the bed
onto the sterile linoleum floor herself.
I was in on a 10 day alcohol detox,
pumped full of vitamins and Heminevrin
awaiting sentencing in Crown Court.
I watched from across the room
as they spooned food into her mouth
with plastic cutlery like a toddler.
I knew her, by sight, same school,
she was a year younger and was in
the same class as my ex-girlfriend.
Which we talked about, briefly
that evening when she sauntered
on over with a nurse at each side
while I was playing a game of pool
with an irate paranoid schizophrenic
(I was cheating, obviously!)
She asked about her old classmate
to which I replied in monotone
“Didn’t you hear? She topped herself ,
no fuss, no messing about, just action!”
and as I turn away from her performance
I saw her hanging her head in shame.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

I guess I'll never learn

by Ezhno Martin

My first job taught me
that pretending to be Jewish
isn't a solid long term strategy
and my second job
that adults will abuse children
in any way they can get away with

On my third job
I discovered that
even if you have warrants
the police aren't always showing up to see you
sometimes they just want a sandwich

My fourth job taught me
that calling your coworkers spaghetti faggots –
even if it's an inside joke
and you're a cross-dresser –
is rarely advisable in front of the owners
Mister and Mister Pellerito

My fifth job taught me not to eat acid and come to work
My sixth job to check the schedule
My seventh that I'm a coward
My eighth that just because I've started working
doesn't mean the drug screen came back clean

My ninth job taught me that when you work for the government
the less work you do the better they like you
I pretended to be looking for someone very important they've never heard of
for at least four hours a day
After that I ended up working job ten for eight months
where I learned how to rob the register blind and cover my tracks

Job eleven taught me that masturbating in the supply closet isn't all it's cracked up to be

Jobs twelve and thirteen were pleasant really
and not worth mentioning
Job fourteen taught me
that dreadlocks will make you the fall guy
anytime anyone gets high in a two block radius
Job fifteen that yo no puedo hablar español (es verdad)

Job sixteen taught me that if you drink a fifth of gin
you will sweat juniper poison for days

Job seventeen that meth makes you a better employee
because clean floors and walls and mop-sinks and TRASHCANS
are more important than profits
Job eighteen taught me that
when your boss is fucking half the staff
you better be extra nice to everyone
just in case your arch nemesis
suddenly becomes the latest notch on his bedpost
Job nineteen taught me how to spot a pyramid scheme
Job twenty that I sell cars like old people fuck
and that car salesmen really are the lowest form of life on earth
Jobs twenty-one through twenty-four taught me that working in an asian restaurant
is the closest thing to hell
over privileged white boys can know
Job twenty-five that it wasn't the asians fault
Job twenty-six taught me that lobbyists are professional liars
so I shouldn't have been surprised
when they lied about planning on paying me
Job twenty-seven that kindness to me
is treason to Corporate America
Job twenty-eight taught me that it's actually possible
to get a job at MacDonald when I'm black out drunk
I don't remember filling out the application
or showing up for the interview
I just remember them calling and asking why I wasn't at work
and I remember telling them

Job twenty-nine taught me that dreams do come true
but that they don't last if my big mouth has anything to do with it

All I've actually learned
is that I never learn
and that if you're gonna be dumb
you better be tough

Sunday, June 14, 2015

for Peter Street

by Laura Kaminski

Small, soft-shelled thing
still encased in a pale
leather orb -- the moon

looks just like you do,
mostly round.
The dunes are filled

with hungry monsters
gathered in anticipation
of your hatching.

When you come out onto
the sand, don't dawdle.

Turn immediately
to find the greater egg
of safety, make

a straight-line furrow
toward the moon's
reflection in the sea.

Don't waste time on
fearful dodging of their
vicious claws -- just

scramble, stretch each
flipper to put the beach
behind you,

fix your gaze on that
bright glow
beyond the froth.

When you emerge, you'll
have no time to be

Some stories will
be lost
before the sunrise.

CSX in Tennessee

by Sandy Hiortdahl

Steel wheels
Thunder onward,
Train speeds through the hollow,
A Coal God’s fierce, joyous whistle,

Cathedrals of Ice

by Kelley Jean White

My father and I on our knees beside
the lake, Winnipesaukee, April first
nearly ice out, eighteen inch-deep chunks drive
against shore. We plunge in hands to our wrists.
My father and I stand atop Gunstock
our breath taken by more than December
cold, there is a brilliance, light lit, unlocking
ice from a thousand branches. We tremble,
take flight on our skis. He is an expert.
We crawl on our knees across the frozen
pond. Darkness, spotted by bubbles unburst
for half a dozen months, he has chosen
to teach me this, but I do not learn it.
He will die. I will not hear him. Cold lips.

Thursday, June 11, 2015


by Brian Burmeister

In Garsila, there are brick walls
Scarred black without roofs,
Metal cauldrons
Surrounded by piles of ash.

Good or bad or unforgivable,
The things we make and do
Always outlive us.

In Garsila, there are
No sounds, no use
For any of this.

Just Short of Hearing

by Donald Brandis

trees most stubborn persist
their silence is linked hands
among these campsites

no notice? watch
it run beneath screaming children’s
tiny gap between urge and act

boat unzipping the lake
birdcall sound of plates scraped
of seeds spit against a tin roof

wheeze lift sighing straining
bowel tones of single passing cars
slow around a road all bends and trees

narrow hum of insects too small
too fast to be identified
filed in a closet of known sounds

that intriguing in-gathered almost-sound
of trees like a single long-held note
on in-breath, on out-breath

clever bastards
if I’d had a hundred years
with nothing else to do

an unsound measured by what
it has outlasted, what
it’s shed though strangely

other shorter higher sounds
- this one would be deepest bass -
hang on it like notes on a spindle

This LP Contains Satisfaction

by Scott Silsbe

The other night, up at your place again,
I hope that you didn’t think me too rude
when I, drunk off so many boozy beers,
took over your stereo, thumbing through
your recent acquisitions—beat to shit but
certainly playable—until I found that old
Otis record—the one that we’d spoken of
years ago in some old Pittsburgh dive—
and I put that record on, and turned your
stereo up about 10 or so notches, and your
father-in-law said Otis’s name, and I said,
“Yes” to him, then I looked back over at
the record sleeve, and saw the old sticker
on the front cover and again I said, “Yes.”

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Saponaceous Byways

by KJ Hannah Greenberg

Daughters of physicians, engineers, university teachers, and junior military officers,
Moved to better apartments where drunk inventors of word medleys paraded wisdom,
Devolved hygiene.

As for other mundanes, predators, also sky warriors, boys earned college educations abroad.
Outsiders entirely, they pursued remedies, inconspicuously, for expensive bath salts’ dearth,
Especially as regarded India.

Profligate families, wasteful in ambitions concerning crowd-sourced monies, plus funds
Meant for working class cronies, remained tenacious, became able to proffer glycerin Solutions illegal in some cities.

Thereafter, especially when masks were banned, with the effect that entire treasure houses
Were deaccessed of those artifacts, turgid laws concerning cultural exchange got enacted.
Bribe free fecundity became criminal.

Getting lost in crowds, via facial cloaking, other camouflage, more so popularized guile
Directing social climbers to jump, else become transfixed by the sound of offices emptying,
Phosphates notwithstanding.

The Ivy Trail to Mother’s Grave

by Janet I. Buck

Clouds are gray/green bottoms of an artichoke.
A connoisseur of vegetables
will tell you getting near the stem
is where it’s most delectable.
It’s rooted to the heart itself,
holds all the meat.
Growing old will argue this.
So will digging up the past.
I crave what’s green and tough enough
to handle what is coming next.
Moss that lines an ancient oak
never leaves its burly trunk,
shares its twigs to guard the nests
of finches or a mockingbird, protects the eggs
from wild abortions of a storm.

Along the cemetery wall,
khaki ivy’s dense enough
to cover bricks, pull a curtain over weeds,
keep passengers in passing cars from leering
at the weeping rites of funerals.
To find my mother’s grave again,
I straddle all the winding vines,
slip and slide on mud and rain like Vaseline.
Joints are swollen clothespins now,
their wires weak—I push ahead as if
there’s hope of finding her.
Grass has not been mowed for years;
it blocks a view I never had.
I’m always grabbing for the things I cannot grasp.
Maybe green is not a present after all.
Going here will make the hole wider than it ever was.

Signs in Windows

by Donal Mahoney

In 1920 he came on a boat
from Ireland and found
his way through Ellis Island.

He found a room
in a boarding house
catering to his kind and

went looking for a job
but found instead signs
in windows saying

“No Irish Need Apply.”
A cemetery asked him to
dig graves and lower the dead.

In America today
there are no signs like that.
Black and brown

apply and whites
sometimes hire them.
My father was white.

But in 1920 his brogue
was a long rope that
almost lynched him.

Sunday, June 7, 2015


by Jay Passer

bent back on the edge of the bed
at the Hotel Paradise.

the hum of garbage truck alleyway
vibrates oily
arms itch, lungs wheeze
a rope dangles off a fire escape.

some moon somewhere
curtains fall at twilight
cheap pulp stokes the flames
before the mirror.

hotel deduced by dusty corridors
cop helicopters hound rooftops
naturally scheming,
a tiresome bone fracture
metatarsal ache
across worn carpeting,
to the truth.

bold as a body done believing
in daydreams of the heart,
sump pump of love

the blinking lights behind cityscape
fallen from charred cave wall-
you asked for it.


by Marc Carver

I look into the darkened bent window of the tube
The people have two reflections,
one upside down planted on top of a normal one,
as they move up and down the two figures mix together,
 hair stretches
two faces become one.
These monsters can even lose their faces
lose their whole bodies
then go back to normal.
Just like real people.

dead flowers and abandoned dreams

by J.J. Campbell

dip your fists
in my blood
and create
some new
scars on this

may my death
be as sweet as
the nectar on
your lips

dead flowers
and abandoned

the cold misery
of the midwest

lost souls

searching for
something other
than a needle
at night

laugh at the pain
and take another

soon they'll have
to bury us on the
golf courses

imagine the surprise
when someone hits
one in a bunker

Thursday, June 4, 2015

the accountant

by John Grochalski

arjun was an accountant
in a law firm for thirty years
but he can’t work a copier machine
to print out his resume

he’s been out of work for four years
even though the government tells us
that the economy is growing

arjun doesn’t want to work at wal-mart, he says
i left india thiry-five years ago to avoid that

arjun’s brown skin is pale and weathered
and he’s too thin

he says, i get interviewed for these jobs
that i can do in my sleep

and i still don’t get them!

he says, you must know people like me

too many of them, i say

we wait for the copy machine to start spitting out
thirty years of arjun’s professional life

it all fits on one page
all those years on one page

arjun takes the copies from me
he shakes my hand

he says, you are a great man
because i can push a button

i wish him good luck
and send him on his way

sit back down and check out a newspaper
full of expensive wars and celebrity news

wait for the next arjun
to come walking through the door.  


by Donal Mahoney

Seeing is believing
smart people
often tell me but

no one ever told me
believing is seeing
except this blind lady

I help across the street
who taps her cane
and tells me

you’ll find out
when you leave Earth
and whirl among the planets

and soar behind
the sun and moon
on the way to your place

believing is seeing
someone some say
isn't there.

The Elephant in the Rooming House

by Todd Mercer

The ones who make it through the endurance tests.
And everybody else. The night watch and the sun worshipers.
News sensations and the people absorbing t.v.. The ones
who make it and those who fall trying. Push, pull,
cart or carry in the broken-down one. They’ll knock
a bit off the next payment book. Plan to keep paying.
The various crazies and the rationals. Internecine
cold wars, the social casualties. notable faux pas
with consequences. The mountaintop, the shining city
on a hill. The retired bridge-builders and the ones who fell.
The flawless idea versus how things tend to play out.
The lazy and the near-sainted. The elephant
in the rooming house. Paper-thin walls make for awkward
breakfast table conversation, later. Knows that knows,
but no one says so. Pass the motherfuckin’ syrup,
please. Thanks. Those who finally get with the program,
and those delight in messing up. The shiny people
you wish you were, and the people who want to be you.
There are some, actually. The bliss of partial information.
Greener-grass syndrome, a slow killer. The urge
to stir the pot. Don’t rock the boat, baby. Bring it in.
The national test, the global arrest record. The moment
in the sun and spots from scorched retinas. Floaters.
The long, tough climb. For the poise of an iron-walker.
For self-certainty. For a shining bridge over big water,
prayer for the bones in the concrete caissons.
Watch your luck. Keep your head together.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015


by Jeffrey Park

swift adopted
moons –
Brahma, Vishnu,
Shiva –
as they are
by the translucent
of the dome,
they never betray
is chasing


by Jay Passer

old men clutching transistor radios glued to elephant ears
cream white Schwinn bicycle
photographs bordered and yellowing
body more of an exclamation point or less of an apostrophe
a baseball between the ears
bicarbonate of nowhere near and hardly heard
skipping stones flat over the cold stream
and old men
and radio programs
and tape recorders
the satisfaction of a hit song recorded quite primitively
the air a song of photographic memory
a home made meal out of a can
the first microwave
every man wearing a fedora
every woman with a slip beneath
saccharine for the coffee cup
wars declared
books condemned
and old men
and newsprint loose on the fingertips
and domestic factories teeming with strife
paintings of lovers and angels and fauna
terrifying gods and saturday morning cartoons
a lunch box
being told to quit sulking and go play outside
the sunshine a normalcy of utter crescendo
the first
tobacco rolled with rice paper
a box of matches advertising an auto repair shop
bright candid coloring crayons
Sunday morning delicatessen spread
old men
muttering at formica tables
cigars and coffee in chipped ceramic cups
a pain between the knees
hornets and
rope ladders and swings and firecrackers
the smallest frogs imaginable over bare feet at the creek
the sun again and again
a one-eyed dog
cold beer from a pop top can
low chatter over the radio dial
the first light like the last canvas of a master painter
blades of grass tickling the naked back
endless space

Phantom Limbs

by Ben Banyard

We carry our dead around,
shoulder their heft in empty sleeves,
veins and arteries splayed under
the duvet, a gaping trouser leg.

They are the ghostly remains,
felt keenly, unexpectedly
by senses too slow for absence;
broken links to a failed shortcut.

Conjured by the incidental
they were eased out from us
spidering their names in cards,
ephemera strewn for trip hazards.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

I am the food

by Steven De Frates

I am the food
of stoplights, power brakes, safety
glass, of the airbag, asphalt and concrete,
of momentum and collision.
                                               I am the food
of the law, rules, manners, civilization,
of compassion, kindness, open doors,
of reason, imagination,
                                      food of internet
fantasy, television, movies, computer games,
laptops, cell phones, satellites, drive-time radio
of caution and curiosity.
                                        I am devoured
by chaos, accident, chance and opportunity,
the sudden left turn and the sneaky swift kick
of random genetics,
                                 the food of changing luck,
tender enough to eat with a fork, slippery noodle
of destiny, divinity and deviltry, sacred horniness,
visions, nightmares, dreams
                                              and sleeplessness.
I am marinated with money and poverty,
war and peace and the news, by space
stations, shuttles and moon walks,
                                                        the living food
of tornadoes, lightning, hurricanes, volcanoes,
earthquakes, forest fires and flash floods,
the dessert of planetary evolution.
                                                       Wrinkled by age
and continuous birth, I am the last of my kind
and the first to go, the meat in the middle
of heaven and earth.
                                  I live to be eaten
by bacteria, bears, viruses and mosquitoes,
by cancers, sunspots and sharks, heart attacks,
baseballs and falling stars.
                                           I taste of gravity,
polarity, paradox, wild ambition, salty submission,
fight and fear, heroic roast and cowardly stew,
lion and lamb chop, hand and fist,
having a bad day, lost and found, here then gone,
panicked passenger, damned navigator, drunken driver
and road kill,
                      raw and ready for the next bite of mortality.


by Donal Mahoney

Walking in the forest
as morning comes
I hear piccolos

of wrens and robins
offer hymns to God
some say isn’t there

and isn't anywhere.
The piccolos, some say,
are simply fallout

from the Big Bang.
I tell the wrens and robins
but they play on.


by Marc Carver

"John come and look he is at it again."
"Disgusting love, terrible, you would never catch me doing it."
"No, I would never catch you that is true. Sometimes he does it for hours you know.Why doesn't he close the curtain or get a curtain, he even does it more than once you know."
"Yes dear, you would never catch me doing it."

Thursday, May 28, 2015


by A.V. Koshy

Golden one with eyes to match
it glistens in your skin
like flecks of beaten copper
and shining brass
You kill with your sparkling hues
sublime they call it
yet not I
for I know how they came about
from blows I inflicted on your mind
in self-defense
to get rid of you
Sonakshi, no dream of profile
or painting will ever do justice to
the fact of what we went daily through
or words paint what can never be described
All that all these forms can do
is but lie
The truth is that
you with your golden eyes
captured the one whom no one could
and then you or he died
in each other's clasp
or will, as you should
Deathly grasp
full of pain and yet
when one becomes acclimatised
to such pain there is pleasure in it
and sweetness like the light in gold in the right lights
and in your eyes
that have now gone soft
when once only the devil played in them.

The Vermilion Cliffs

by David Chorlton

Through the residue the wind
left behind after carving
light into shapes that endure,

the double yellow line that leads
to the edge of the world
runs to the point where the sky
opens for it to pass

and continues toward the stars,
leaving in its wake
rock stretched thin

in layers recording time
back to when a sea was here,

feeling for a shore.

Best Song

by Ralph Monday

He said that he sang the best songs being Chicago born, that all would be kosher between us even if what he ate wasn’t food. That was over bad Yugoslavian wine after he came up to me on Burnham Park and told me that I looked like a young Mara Corday, and said yes, I’m inside your head and know that you don’t know who she is, no matter, all things forgotten are eventually remembered, resurrect like geese migrating south over the lake.

That was only one of the stories he told.

He was a history professor specializing in the Holocaust. I was from Appalachia and we didn’t speak the same language even though we knew what the words meant.

Slightly drunk, he laid out narratives like a winding staircase with missing steps. He played the Wise Man like in the Bethlehem story or Obi Wan fingering the Force.

I played Damsel not in Distress, all on a dark barroom stage. Look, I said, I’m not the temple priestess that lay with Enkidu for seven days.

It rained longer than that, he said, in the deluge.

He admired my skimpy red skirt, long black hair that looked like Grace Slick singing “White Rabbit” at Woodstock. Yeah, I said, but mother wouldn’t like the pill you carry. He garbled a Yiddish poem and I told him that growing up too much Patsy Cline had spoiled my head.

But no.  I told him stories of my own: of the missionary beheaded outside Mecca, the actor who hung himself because he was emptied out, a girl without milk singing goat songs, the Depression bum who stole the apple pie and was tarred and feathered, Ophelia who drowned for false love, the real King who died before Slick slicked up her song. There are many ways to lose yourself if you only listen to your screwed up nerve endings.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015


by Susie Sweetland Garay

Bless the moon in her
and cycles
and the insanity that she
brings to us all.

I wonder sometimes
why I want so badly
for there
to be a plan.
A right answer
amidst all the options.

Most choices are so much
less significant then we make them.

But I suppose I prefer to worry.

The other day we got in the car
and drove almost a full hour to
photograph something which
has been photographed at least
a million times before.

I suppose I believe
we each have a unique eye
and I wanted to know what mine would sees.

I do not go on my walks
alone anymore.
Not ever.

It is always us,
exploring together.
Learning to notice.

I think how she will grow
up noticing and
watching me

Our education is two fold
as both are teacher and taught.

Some days
I’m sure
I am invisible.

But not today.

Return of Summer

by Stephen Jarrell Williams

The night smells of mint and dust
Left by a dry wind from the desert

She walks the side yard
Away from the window light

Barefoot on the wilted lawn
Hesitating as she opens the gate

Out front the street waits
Quiet as a snake

She takes the bait
Cloudless sky sprinkled with stars

A boy opens his car door
His face saintly in the dark

She has done this before
A slim, wild-eyed girl, rebellious

As her father sleeps
With the TV on

His wife, her mother long since gone
Paths of the earth repeated mysteries

Whispering cycles with forked tongues
While he worked two jobs for twenty years.


by Chris Milam

Perfumed light is exhaled with every word of guidance she spews. Splashing on my chest like a refracted blade of incandescent erotica, it burns thru cotton and skin with a cultured hiss. I welcome the singe of Christian heat as it penetrates bone and fossilized layers of self-loathing, her welder’s torch of advice a fiery balm. A blossoming idolization feeds on the light, a gorging of violet prisms and alluring beacons; brunch for an aging silhouette. As her mouth continues to move, the radiance intensifies until my pores burst open, tossing strobes of my own light onto her polyester blouse. This depraved beam of drunken obedience slithers from chest to mouth, then slides down her throat like a shot of melancholic bourbon. The clock chimes, ending our hour with the consumption of one another, our minds distorted by the strange light of a mutual craving. 

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Hold That Thought

by Claudine Nash

Let’s hold these thoughts
far from our hearts, the timeworn
ones that make us sink
in doubt or draw us down
when we pull forward. Let’s
roll them between our
fingers and feel their thin
cloth catch on our winter
skin.  We’ll crumple them,
lift them up to the window panes,
watch the cold morning pour
through the rips in their
flimsy fabric.

I want to lose them at the
beach. We can slip them into
the sea as the tide sets out,
drop them into a deep hole
and watch the sand claim
the shifting space where they
sit. I’m done with these
gnawing whispers. Let’s be
old-school gangsters and
make some silence. I’ll get
the concrete forms, you
toss them from the pier when
the fog rushes the night.

Risky Business

by Ed Zahniser

Tonight our topic was risk
—mostly how we do not take it
or them.
There are hazards: You might slip a disk
or spouse or friend; not quite make it
to the last waltz; choke on phlegm

God forbid that we might risk abandonment,
of all drear dreads the boomer’s basic fear.
It screws our loyalty to pathology.
And faced with intimacy we act downright queer
(You can’t abandon me if you can’t get to me).
We make life’s high point our worst punishment.

Damn the torpedoes! Full risk ahead!
Some of us talked out loud.
Others signaled otherwise that they weren’t dead.
When it comes to taking risks, two’s a crowd.
I sat and thought: This is what I need to hear.
I also thought: Let me out of here!


by Marc Carver


The baby in the pushchair looks at me
so I start to pull a face at him.
He watches me
until his head twists around,
not as far as the girl off the exorcist
until he can no more.

And at that moment
I no longer exist to him.
I am dead.
Not part of his world or any other.


I stand by the newsstand reading all the papers in the shop.
A man comes toward me trying to get a paper
I get out of his way.
"Sorry, there you go."
He says nothing.
"No, really I am very sorry."
He starts to move away
and realize he is not dealing with an ordinary kind of guy.
"Hey, come back I am genuinly sorry."
He walks off.


The little girl in the shop
is clutching a bunch of flowers
as she follows her mother around.
I smile at her.
She walks off
clutching those flowers as I believe
much tighter now
and outside the lightning comes down
and everybody is wet
and nobody knows why they left the house
apart from that little girl
with a present for someone
clutched between her small fingers.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

heavy conversations at night in tired marriages with some wine

by Amy Soricelli

You could not show me happy in a paper cup -
sides sticky from the weight of your tight fingers.
They have held her for too long and have left imprints like bird feet in the snow.
The lines on your face like a roadmap where you met her - how it came to be.
There is not enough ashes from flames to leave hot boiling scars down the side
of your street -
road signs tipped - half-born thoughts bunched up into jars.
You have this history crammed deep into your cheeks - dusty odds and ends;
leftover snacks on the seat of a train.
The last drop of milk-signature on the dotted line.
You have this place on the side of the road knee-deep in rows of planted things;
you think you climbed a mountain for her but don't remember.
She loves you furiously in the shadow cobwebs of your laundry room.
she loves you on the phone to her mother - she screams your name down alleys.
you say this new love is fresh off the truck/unripe fruit giving pause to short tempered sentences
whispered on the back of your hand.
you say it defines you now - holds the glass up to the breath.
a number in ink that washes away in the rain.
cement is her name on your lips.
mine is the one on your heart.

Watching Hawks Soar

by J. K. Durick
As a child I lived in a world of pigeons and sparrows
An occasional robin thrown in to mark the spring –
A lot of flock and flutter, of tweet and twitter;
The most ferocious thing, a cat or dog, plump
Domesticated beings chasing, if they did, birds
More out of sense of obligation than anything primal;
They were all background noise, minor players at best;
We’d scatter stale bread crumbs and rarely pause
To watch in the birdwatcher sense, they were
There and little else, part of the time and place;
But now things happen on a much grander scale
These hawks, aloof, untouchable, know the lift
Of wind currents, ride thermals, hover watching
Selecting their prey, a pigeon, a sparrow, a hapless
Mouse or two; their quiet beauty, their potential
Violence command, demand, our attention as part
Of our time and this place.

Blizzard Spring

by Gwen Monohan

The twister was stronger
than any wind tunnel
sustained in a science lab.
Just not as steady.
These were whirling gusts,
howling as they whipped
and twisted netted branches.
Bending oaks and others
to their brown-barked knees.

Wrenching corn plants away
as well as mighty trees.
Sailing spare tires like airborne
lifesavers.  Some catching and
Ringing frantic chickens
with their white feathers
like giant tufts of snow
when it was over.
coating the spring grass.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


by Denny E. Marshall

Am not one grain of sand
In the universe
If the size of the sun
Or a large galaxy
Still would not be there
If mass of hundred galaxies
Still not there
If the sum of a million
Smallest nano-robots
Giants next to me

They killed him.

by Poulome Mitra Shaw

They killed him.
Tonight he will be lying in the morgue
Like so many anonymous men
Who had no history
No relatives
No friends
No men who were kind
I heard they killed him in the evening
He was wandering naked in the streets
Trying to enter shops and begging for alms.
Each of them threw him out
The restaurants across the street where they serve meatballs to the rich
And the restaurant just beside it Where the band comes alive at night
And the traffic police just across the street whose pockets are full of bribes
They eat money these days
They have desolate rooms in their homes
Full of conscience that money can buy.
They murder significance
insignificance and echoes of remembrance,
They offer empathy and syphilis
They have mastered the art to be blind
Rolling in my bed tonight
I promised myself there will be no sleepless nights
The CCTV camera was wide awake
It registers fucks, tenderness,humorous voices and cruelty.
No, we do not rise
No one checks cameras
No one sees homeless madmen with amiable eyes
I heard the shopkeepers beat him black and blue
When he lay whimpering on the road
the city ran by
Spaced with apathy and the human fear of being hassled
But then who killed him?
Everybody has that coward in their bellies
Weeping their weakness and growing shrill mountains in their minds
I didn't kill him
I wanted to hurt the men who hurt him
I had run down when I heard the story
There were closed shops unprecedented emotions,
silent trees and misty darkness.
An upraised situation has been knocked into a morgue
Somewhere in some part of the city
to forgetfulness
There we weep for madmen, long nights,and faithful ghosts
And we are all there lying across the city
Tossing and turning for hours
And we are all so lonesome
Smashed by the palpable, the cruel and the absurd.

A Singular Repast

by Donal Mahoney

We are to each other now
many decades later
what we were the day

we got married, a couple
at the kitchen table on
a summer night—she

a slice of watermelon,
corners touching the ceiling,
covering my face in juice

and I the corn she butters
before she devours it.
We eat as fast as we can.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Training in an afternoon,

by Umm-e-Aiman Vejlani

you poised on a cushion chair
fit for a queen. I sit attractive,
primly balancing my aching back
on the edge of my seat, identical
ivory white, my legs crossed
like a lady of grace, feet tucked
the way it should be, in the plush
dining room of your tasteful villa
narrating to me tales of Neverland –
the adventures of misfit dares –
through coughed up giggles
a toned nasality, not too loud
dying down to soft snorting,
your eyes, all the while, glinting
what cannot be told. I wonder,
the ache in my feet turning sharp,
distracted by the glowing silver
between your strands of white,
and lips perked in impish defiance
to laws for the girls governing
your days of time, of the nights
you gloat were spent illustrious
under starry roofs, keeping a man
bent on one knee, serenading
his heart out, whilst you amused  
the hours away bathing in praise.
I shift a foot to allow it a groan
as your meticulous eye overtly
disapproves the human erring
and I suck a long breath in,
my youth just breaking out,
resuming position. The planets,
I imagine, cause mayhem
like temperamental tempests
and be awed for raw displays,
be exalted for imperfections
bringing storms and solstices
stirring the mind of a man
without powders or perfumes,
gentle movements or coyness;
and here we are, you teaching
my mind and body
to lay still
of essence.

The Collywobbles

by Paul Tristram

Shaking like a virgin out alone in Port Talbot,
she fishes 2 valium from her argumentative purse,
sighs and shudders almost uncontrollably in relief
as she casts them neurotically mouth-wards
and washes those suckers down with a neat gin.
Smudges her lipstick, uncaringly, as she lights up
another Camel cigarette off the smouldering butt
of the old one, after several attempts at coordination.
Tapestries together Tourette’s, sneezing and coughing
for minute, then seems to shift down a gear at last.
Pernod makes her angry usually but today being mad
is far better than being nervous so she orders up
a neat double and wincing sharply she bags it on home.
Half a lager later and she is finally ready to put
those collywobbles ‘out like the Monday night bins’
She rises from the barstool, unsteadily and ungraciously,
then bad-mood’s herself across the struggling road
to the unspectacular Registrar Office were her future
husband and two unknown witnesses are busy a-pacing.

hopefully i put the final nail in the coffin

by J.J. Campbell

i remember when you told the cops i was the one driving
when you had your hit and run accident

looking back, that surely was the final straw

you never bothered to tell your second wife the truth

you only told her that your ex-wife turned us kids
against you and that we hated you like she told us to

you then emphasized year after year that you didn't
want to see us

but for some reason, now that your days on earth are
growing short, we were asked to come see you

my sister apparently needed some closure and went

i declined, stating that i had closure on January 23, 1995
when i slammed the door in your face after you handed
me $50 and told me you were sorry for forgetting my

by the way, i spent that money on drugs and alcohol and
had a much better time than i ever had with you in my life

i suppose people think i should feel sorry for you

that i should be the bigger person and give my father
the respect he never gave me

they don't understand that i'm simply letting you die
in peace

if i showed up, i'm pretty certain i would end it right
then and there

and that would take away my chance to see what i have
waited more than 30 years for

your funeral

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Wisconsin Freight Trains
“Frac sand boom contributes to crowded tracks, Amtrak delays” The Cap Times

by Sylvia Cavanaugh
Early this morning
between four and five
three freight trains
with their load of frac sands
clanked stealthily
through this small town
of red tulips
and decorative windmills
spinning like the answer in the wind

settled years ago by those who found
Holland to be too liberal
Holland with its mastery of wind
water and bicycle
I’ve never been awakened
by this many trains so close together

my heart used to rise
to the sound of night trains
when I entered puberty
their distant whistle
beckoning something untamed
lurching into womanhood

trains were multi-colored back then
like muted strings of children’s toys
personalized with distant
voices etched in exuberant
aerosol script
and outlandish illustration

otherworldly lives riding the rails
carried for a breathless moment
through our village
of well-swept streets

these grey freight trains now
heralding a new day
are now
just business.


by Bhargab Chatterjee

Solid,  liquid
Air and void.
Data                             bank
Of  neuronic    sensations.
Form an incomplete sentence.
                            #Time & Space Co


by Alan Britt

You enter the first pepper flower, mascara
disguised as lavender periwinkle kneading
Florida white kingdom limestone.

You forget to wear clothes——imagine
how I feel.

You decide once & for all to kick off
your shoes, hours, days, weeks, months,
years before your number's called.

You amaze everyone with your courage—
storm the courthouse, frighten summa
cum laudes on a fieldtrip to Vegas &
enjoy Latino thighs rinsed in red, green
& white flags of freedom, below diplomas,
singing only the good die young.

But you enter the cavern responsibly,
trailing an oil lantern guide who dies
by the wick & lives by the wick.

You pause, I notice, for grandmothers,
yours & mine, to cross Kennedy Boulevard,
circa 1972, against oncoming traffic.

Pirates arrive on flatbeds stacked
with papier-mâché ships & mutinies
round the clock upon this rolling ball
with frozen oceans, receding hairline
Wall Street turds shackled in shame
but tunneling a midnight blue artery
headed straight for our collective
medulla oblongatas.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

I found the water in pieces

by Umm-e-Aiman Vejlani

that weren’t ripples, capillaries or waves;
she moved with the agility of a new-born fish,

revealing nothing of her characteristics,
her fins not fully developed to the system

of sharing without telling;
her jaunty curious expeditions,

miles of space in front of her, beneath
the grace in grace, letting it be;

the wisdom only the water she consumed
unknowing if her scales would grow even

and that losing was not the same as shedding,
what broke off couldn’t re-journey

but hybrids like pieces travelling backwards

it didn’t matter how far to go,
the water would chisel to refinement

until nothing remained but a cloud
(in water)

that smelt and tasted different.

A Life Of Miguel Pinero
Nu-Yorican poet, 1944 - 1988

by Ian Mullins

Hey Miguel
I’ve out-lived you
here in the ashes
where fires don’t burn so well

but I heard you did cell-time
and the needle
was the only statue of liberty
you ever wanted to kiss,
you roamed the streets
of the lower east side
like a wild dog on heat
pissing on subway steps,
scratching on paper like you were
tattooing your own hands

getting high was your vice
getting high was your life
and you lived it through
the cells and the court-houses
the bars and bodegas,
all those pretty boys and girls
you snapped like pencils

drank wine like breathing fresh air
and snorted coke like sayin’ a prayer

while I’m down here in the ashes
walking storm-drained streets
with a candle cupped in my hands;

raise your glasses, please,
to the lives of Miguel Pinero.

The Age of Unpleasant Surprises
For Stephanie Joyce (a friend)

by Bobbie Troy

When you reach
The Age of Unpleasant Surprises
you will know it

discussions with your
sixty-something friends
and older
will revolve around
broken bodies
broken minds
and broken hearts

but we forge along
through the gray
every day
and are
with the coming
of another dawn


Sunday, May 10, 2015

Hear the Wires Sing

by Tom Hatch

These towns are from my childhood
Down from the grapevine north into the valley
Bakersfield, Fresno, Buttonwillow of my trips through
those places telephone poles
Telegraph poles, Burma Shave, a sign fresh squeezed Orange Juice
For miles then it was closed no juice the disappointment
Grabbing my young chi so little optimism faded
The floor board became hotter than my memory could remember
Through the cotton and oil fields
The dry air not stopping heat off the
Road of eating whole juicy tomatoes
Sitting in the shady grass past the culvert
Instead of fresh orange juice
Killing me with all its barrenness
It makes me weep now because it’s OK
The tomatoes were good the river of nostalgia
Then later 7-UP bubbles in the back of my throat
The smell of hay the Mexican workers
Deep valleys on their faces
Hard working field hands holding
Sweated straw hats covering their squinted dark eyes
Hoping for the sun to set into a cool night
You could see it in their posture all over again the next day
Even as a boy my respect for them I hang my head in the heat
I laid those thoughts although they probably never knew it
The coldest water ever, ever came out of the drinking fountains
Next to the Coca Cola machines in all the two pump gas stations
In the San Joaquin as a boy in the shade of 100 degrees
That was a summer a gentle breeze
Listening to the high tension wires sing

I Still Want to Kiss You

by Wayne Scheer

You know how in the movies
lovers wake up after a night
we can only imagine,
not a hair out of place,
entangled in each other's arms,
and the first thing they do
is smile at one anther and kiss?

Well, how come his arm isn't sore
from her laying on it all night,
and forget the morning breath kiss
and the perfect hair,
don't they have to pee so bad
they feel they're about to burst open
like a pinata?

No snore escapes her lips,
no drool from his.
I squint to see you in the morning light,
hair disheveled,
mouth scrunched on your pillow,
looking like a cabbage patch doll.

And despite it all,
I want to kiss you.

Of course I don't
because you wouldn't wake with a smile
and my bladder
takes precedence over passion,
my teeth need brushing
and I want coffee so bad
I swear the Keurig is calling my name.

But I still want to kiss you.

Dazzle and Whirr

by Donal Mahoney

Millie remained on the farm
in the valley after Ollie died.
Their children moved on
getting jobs in town.

Nowhere for Millie to go but
that place in town where
they stack old folks to die.
She never let Ollie go there

and she won’t go there either.
Instead she’ll sit in her rocker,
work crossword puzzles,
sip tea on the porch and wait

for the dazzle and whirr
of hummingbirds coming
to the feeders she hung,
announcing spring.

Death’s on hold for Millie.
The hummingbirds will flame
in her garden all summer,
a bright heaven to live for.


by Nancy May

spring cleaning-
smells of apple pie
through the open window

Thursday, May 7, 2015

New Madrid, Missouri, December 1990

by Andy Smart

Infants, toddlers, school-aged children but most importantly
TV and Radio outlets!
On or before if not immediately after
December 3, 1990 there will be a sizable earthquake Here,
On the New Madrid Fault that will destroy
Buildings and infrastructure for miles around possibly as far off
As Buffalo and Baltimore!
Iben Browning, Seismic Statistician and part time
Prophet declares this with a degree of certainty within one standard deviation of Capital T
Or Gospel Truth.

We not only heard but thrilled to the voice
Of the carnival barker; we flocked
To New Madrid in droves and caravans. We flooded the handful
Of restaurants, truck stops, and bars. We camped in RV’s,
We rented out rooms in old women’s houses, we waited
For The Big One to come.

It was a geologic reckoning we’d all been expecting
But none of us could’ve predicted.
The fault once made the Mississippi run backward, back
In the autumn of 1812. Now we all thought
We’d get an earthquake for Christmas. Then we’d be good
For another century or so.

But Santa didn’t bring the subterranean doomsday
Iben Browning had promised. The earth was still beneath our feet
So we finally packed up and left. The next day
An imperceptible shiver came forth
From a Fault gone cold in her loneliness—it read
Less than two on the Richter Scale.

Rock of the Agony

by Catfish McDaris

In the Garden of Gethsemane
eating Spanish onions dipped
in salt, bound for Bethlehem

Under the Jerusalem olive trees
drinking dirty martinis made with
Russian vodka tasting Beluga caviar

No buckets of money or nose candy
cocaine while licking golden honey,
only memories of enchiladas, paella,

Baked Alaska, brimstone eight balls
in a Texas tornado near the Alamo,
and dancing the Cotton-Eyed Joe

I’m headed to the Pawn Shop of Love
baby, because I’d rather be lonesome
than have your damn foot on my neck.

Venus in Cazimi

by Robert Gross

        If a planet is right at the core of the Sun,
        within 0° 17′ then it is utterly consumed

Smitten, she retires
            into the sovereign forge
            the molten coronet

oozed between Scylla and Charybdis
            between love’s labors lost
            and love worn dumb
                        under the smooth workings
                                    of the whorled thumb
                        of the executioner

Each cloven heart
            a burning bush
            a blind spot
                        a retinal detachment
from a passion hearsed and rehearsed
                        Dido in flaming
                                    Carthaginian array
                        through the quick and the dead
                                    of the pyre

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The good of a thing

by Michael Mark

They pull to a stop and contemplate
the long stem.

“An orchid,” she forces from her mouth’s
side. “Was.”

A stroke put her in the wheelchair.
Diabetes took his legs.

“Someone should dump it,” he says. “What
good is the thing without a flower?”

When the speakers announce dinner,
they roll off to their rooms.

Later, the cleaning woman will throw
the plant away or ignore it or

take it home in a plastic bag to nurse
back to health, leaving

the vase dusted clean
enough to see one’s reflection.

Flipping the Bird

by Ryan Quinn Flanagan

Three boys
back from corner convenience
share pop rocks
and soda.

Stopping by the curb
they stand over a dead bird
in the street.

The oldest one kicks at it
a few times.

Flipping the dead bird over
from its stomach onto
its back.

After staring at it for a moment
they move on.

Towards the townhouses along Baily Lane
with cardboard over the

Primary Residence

by Amy Soricelli

I have lived a thousand lives in this small kitchen.
Scarred souls digging around in the carrot-topped garbage looking for mail -
zip codes dangling behind like a stench.
There are no more people that can pass away here.
There is no room left for the rituals of the dying -
the sameness of the mornings/scheduled meds - coaxing little letters into the steam on the windows.
We would have to be done with that.
We have tended the fire in other peoples homes - pressed our noses against their glass -
peeked full hard at the intentions left behind in the steam.
I have sat on the steps of their manicured lawns kicking up my spent days - taken their
hours away like a thief.
I have snuck up behind myself tapping at the shoulder - angry accusations down my neck.
I have spent a million hours at this table - the lonely room shaped around like clay - frustration carved into the wood
sewn like a pattern into the grooves of the carpet/blinking lights across your eyes.
I have lived a thousand lives in this small kitchen.
Blind myself with the shaded sun - its random spots- a regular tick of the clock.
Only time stops here.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Last Night

by Martha Landman

it was 1952 and a man with bleak brown hair
walked in my shoes. His raincoat grabbed
my attention, inspired in me a wild passion.
Feet covered in mud we orbited into a place
littered with broken calendars. I slipped
into finely grounded rock dust and smelled
fear — our dialogue was like gunfire, we took
turns to sleep in the rapeseed field across
from a pedestrian bridge; somewhere
a door slammed. By morning the breeze
wafted pollen into my eyes. We soldiered
on through sun, storms and sand until
we stumbled upon a toothless woman feeding
tuna to the wild dolphins, flies lazed around
fermented food on the rocks. Her words,
covered by a lopsided grin, stung like pepper.

Diorama Leda and the Taxidermy God

by Robert Gross

There are no words for
the way into

the thicket of silence
the mute swan

stuffed and mounted
hovering above
the bathing beauty

a solitary conception
of negative space
and feathered lust

a cold calculus of a hot

number series randomized
behind glass

on a plaster of paris
river bank

painted flat
with real feathers
and consenting illusions


by Larry Jones

My friend Jack is 74.
Me, I'm 72,
we've known each other
since we were teens.

Back when every other word was obscene.

Jack can no longer
use the f-word.

They got to him,
God and the PC Cops.

Washed his brain.
Saved his soul.

I called him up,
asked him how the fuck
he's doing and how's the fucking weather
up there in Alaska.

Fine, he said
and the weather's good.

Jack can't use the f-word.

Now the cocksucker offends me.


by Rita Budrionis

On my knees, I pulled up her socks
        Socks she hated
        Socks she couldn’t grasp
Dirty  beige with rubber tracks like crushed cereal on the sole.
She would have hated that
        if she’d known they were socks.

She complained in phrases without verbs.
Birds spoke her native tongue.
Outside!    To me!
I laughed at the joke that wasn’t
        because she did.
Arm in arm
       we walked in her horror.

She became both more and less of who she had been.

She walks toward me in dreams now
silver stockings, starburst slippers
My mother
Gaily toasting with her wine glass or
        sitting quietly by my side

As I remember her.
But I’m not there yet,
not yet.

The Passage of Time

by Robert Nisbet

His shop in the arcade Ron called
The Passage of Time. As you went in
you saw a hundred timepieces, alarm clocks,
carriage clocks and digitals,
watches in cabinets, time banked high.
Seeing that cog-wheeling certainty
I wondered at the way that Ron,
through every second of each eight-hour day,
would know, click-ticked, brain-deep,
the time, the time, the time.

For a while one summer, I helped him out.
And he’d say, each day, leaving Pearl in charge,
Mid-morning coffee, John? Time for our break?
I started to log the times.
11.25        11.38        11.33
Around eleven-thirty. Mid-morning-ish.
And later in the day, he’d say, Time
to start packing up. I logged these too.
5.18        5.22        5.15
Quarter to twenty past. Roughly.

O Ron, I saw your full achievement then,
such joy in the approximate,
your days’ emancipation,
proof now against the clocks’ harsh trek,
proof too against the scurrying of time.

Booze Death Poem

by Catfish McDaris

Sitting on an Umbrian mountain top
missing my lady, I decided I’d drink
myself to death, I’d been sober for ages

Fresh beverages with grapes and strawberries
absinthe with cayenne salt and chile infused
mezcal, brandy sidecars, tincture of amaro in
a Manhattan, burnt spice julep, artichoke Cynar
king of carrot flowers, coconut oil and Thai
basil laced with gin and vodka, rum and
scotch with ginger, lemon, and egg white

The sky purpled, the wind gathered thunder
the storm sagged toward the ground, funnel
clouds wobbled down vacuuming everything
in their path, relentless unstoppable

Suddenly I’m holding a list, it appears to come
from a doctor or a hospital, laughing I read it:

678 cases of diarrhea;
167, constipation;
26, hemorrhoids;
456, indigestion;
372, foreign bodies in the eyes;
375, severe headaches;
648, episodes of fainting and exhaustion;
71, cases of extreme flatulence;
178, cases of teeth that hurt like hell.

Thursday, April 30, 2015


by Kristofer Collins

They lock up the library early but all the homeless
have their own key and drink wine there
late into the morning, and when I walked into that bar
it was The Moonglows and Allen Toussaint, it was all
top-shelf and after awhile the women were almost apple-cheeked
and smoked endless packs of generic cigarettes. Here we border
West Virginia and Vatican City, the weather is never surprising
in its ceaselessness and the fogged-over mornings. The hospital is hiring
and your high school girlfriend is moving back, divorced and dragging
children with her into her parents' house, lost her virginity
to you right there on the the floor and, after you passed out
from that sad release & too many beers, sat under
the three faint stars glowing out over the mill, her hands
already callused at sixteen.


by Marc Carver

I noticed the youngish attractive - ish woman sat with the ugly old man
I thought they must be hope for us all
then i thought
what the hell is going on here
as they cuddled and whispered into each other's faces
Then i noticed the guide dog and walking stick
and it all made sense
I wish i could say the same for the rest of life.

Syrian belly dancer
to Basher al-Assad

by Amir Darwish

UN. Fountain of blood. Ready.
The stage is set for you.
You appear
Men clap
Hips examined, re-examined again and again.

Belly-dancing costume not too revealing!
They shout.
You take off a layer
Then another and another,
Not yet nude, but you will be soon.

Up you jump, landing in the fountain of blood.
You splash the watching men,
Their tongues slide out, roaming over aces licking blood.
Unreachable spots lickable by others next to them.

They enjoy it.
‘Do it again, again,’ they chant.

Up you jump, landing more firmly.
Blood flies, reaching glasses, faces, food.
Glasses are emptied, food is eaten, faces are licked.
Loud clapping.

Jump, land, splash
Jump, land, splash
Jump, land, splash
There is no more blood left in the fountain.
But they still ask for more.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015


by Nancy Scott McBride

As soon as the blossoms open fully,
the bees come to gather the precious pollen.
They’re all business, the bees,
working the trees from dawn to dusk
until the petals fade and fall.
Time was, when my ears were in better shape,
I could hear the buzzing from the back porch,
fifteen or twenty feet away.
Now I wait for traffic noise to slow on the road,
then walk out, stand under the nearest tree and
let the sound envelope and invade me,
not so much hearing as feeling it.
It comes inside me and takes me over,
the ecstasy of creatures doing the one single
thing they were born to do. And in this way
the yearly ritual becomes a part of me.
I am the singing and the song,
the humming and the honey.

to be selfish

by Linda M. Crate

you say it's selfish
for a woman's
body to be
her own,
but in what way is that
a woman should still be considered
herself even if she falls
and she has more voice
than a corpse
so why should she be silenced simply
because she wants rights to
her own body?
i think you're the selfish one, sir,
demanding that a woman
give her life to a child that may or may
not endanger her life
and you do not know the circumstances
that lay in her path
she is more than a mere vessel for
bringing children into this
so we will not listen to men like you
we will be selfish if we must—
our bodies, our hearts, our dreams, our ambitions
are our own and even if they include
the choice is ours and ours alone.

Dance of Love

by Meetu Nadir

Today we meet
You soak me inside yourself
Love me, worship me
Adore my every curve
Fill me with life

I hold on to you
Intoxicated completely
In the wine of love
You pour into me
Through your tantalizing fingers

Your shivering lips
Move up and down my body
And melt my defenses
With your moist kisses
My skin is set on fire
Burning me inside out
With something like desire

In the pouring droplets of rain
We are drenched together
Our twisted tangled bodies
And our mingled breaths
Silently unify us
And together we both
Enjoy this dance of love!

Dares & Knuckles

by Paul Tristram

I was in the Infant School at morning break time,
drinking free milk from a pyramid cardboard container
through a thin red plastic straw inserted through
a small round hole with silver paper covering it.
When one of the Teachers came rushing up to me
and asked nervously “Is your Father Ok now,
I heard about what happened last night, it’s horrific?”
“There’s nothing wrong with my Father, he’s fine,
what do you mean?” I frowned and demanded back.
Just then, another Teacher appeared and said hurriedly
“It’s not this one, it’s his smaller Cousins, you know,
the ones who live over on Caewathan Council Estate!”
I found out later that one of my Uncles and another
Criminal were playing ‘Dare & Knuckles’ drunk
with an hatchet on the kitchen table the night before
which resulted in my Uncle getting the top half of both
his left fore and middle fingers completely chopped off.
(He could never again make roll-ups and smoked
Benson & Hedges straights, right up until he died!)
One of the women present there had franticly picked
them up whilst hysterically screaming and cast them
into the open fire, hence they could not even attempt
to sew them back on. (It’s weird watching a couple of bits
of yourself burn over there whilst you’re sat over here,
my Uncle often mused, whilst ‘in his cups’ for years after!)
My Father went out for 3 whole days and nights searching
for that ‘Dead Guy’ with an iron bar tucked up in his coat
but he’d strangely and mysteriously disappeared completely.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

We have just arrived at the entrance of Arabia

Amir Darwish

We are at the entrance of Arabia
Where smells of spices walk in our heads
Lose themselves in our brains’ streets
And dissolve into crowd of notions
As we blink to one another in agreement.

The world vanishes into our shimmering eyes
Where reflections show men of steel falling into
Lines of honour
We stare lengthy into each other.

My Habiby
It’s dawn at the gates of our hearts
Let sit
Break the fast
By the bank of our arteries.

We need hairless seedless skins
To empty our sentimental tongues and
Water love to watch it grow
Then see it fade into our souls forever.

Sweet heart
Let’s halt ships of honour
When they depart the flood of tears
Then let them loose into
The pool of your eyes.

Let see how much you can take into your
Carefully crafted shrine
As we both truthfully speak nonsense
Fall out of reality
And into love again and again.

Elwood’s Apartment

by Todd Mercer

Because it was the very cheapest option. That’s why
the year spent holed up in a broom closet
off the stairs’ landing. Because of convenience,
immediate proximity to public transit. Rats learn
to sleep with these monsters barreling through
a couple feet beyond the window. They let the shake
take them, they don’t resist. You could reach out
and touch that southbound Pink Line Express.
Don’t do it though, you’d lose a hand,
the train would keep moving. Because he aged out
of the orphanage only to pull years in prison,
Elwood is suspicious of spacious spaces. Give him
a basic base, that’s good enough. Because the mission
is what matters, not the stock of real estate,
not these thought-erasing interruptions
every few minutes. Because if it’s a hovel,
at least it is his hovel. “How often, really?”
Jake asks, as trains blow by full clatter,
both directions. Elwood’s rippin’ zzzzzzs.

Makes Forever Shorter

by Donal Mahoney

When a bullet goes in
and doesn’t come out
you read about it
in the paper, hear
about it on TV.

A person takes a bullet
near the heart and learns
a surgeon can't remove it.
It's part of him forever.
Happens like a drive-by

shooting when a loved one
makes a comment no
apology can remove.
The loved one doesn't
know there’s a problem,

doesn’t realize lightning
through the cerebellum
is by far a better option.
Doesn't let the victim linger.
Makes forever shorter.

Mannish Boy
for Bob Pajich

by Kristofer Collins

I will never know what Muddy Waters
thought in his green suit and chunky gold
ring as his leg leaps up and crashes down
and his cheeks shake anymore than I
could say on such and such day
Einstein had a hard-on watching
the students pass under his ivied window,
and I might as well admit I used to spy
on our neighbor, a woman known to prepare
meals in the nude, the brown medallions
of her areolas still bring a tiny pain
to my groin, so it should come as no surprise
as we sit on a brick porch in East McKeesport,
or stumble out of some bar on Electric Ave.,
or when Nathan, rolling a cigarette in the booth
at Nico's, leans in to laugh at something
one of us has said and someone in the other room
yells, “Fuck, shit!” at the lottery drawing
that I wish I could say how any one of us
got here but really I do understand it doesn't matter
and there's a green suit out there waiting
for each of us eventually.


by Randall Rogers

are getting old.

We are seeing more people with facial moles and growths now,
John Boy used to wield the largest facial mole in the Game,
didn't protrude enough though

So one may say
Create a respite from the toils of any age aging
of seeing for yourself the years and
what is and has been occurring for some time
and doesn't seem to be going to stop until...
soon the grave and not much else till then
more Turner Classic movies and "Golden Girls" episodes
geez, we age and don't you know?
the world never stopped, but for moments, during your prime
maybe get some weed
now that we can get it, legally,
and being a Grateful Dead fan
now twenty, thirty some
years after Jerry's death
to follow the Dead now being
said to be a respectable, free-thinking
hip thing to do
kinda thought it was irresponsible ''carnival" style
multi-day freaking out of an LSD party at its best,
and long running.
We ignore, however, those that never really
made it all the way back
to be a normal vacuum
job holding, home-owning,
child having member of the
petite bourgeoisie.

Some folk say Garcia alone
was responsible for leading astray
a quarter of the youthful population of the era
Over a thirty year run with the Dead
 (and the side projects all members of the Dead did)
Garcia liberated by the music and lifestyle (his own)
Though many of those freed, it is said, were doomed or enlightened
to live high-travelling, organic and free,
and are now herb toking old age mellow folk
some now captains the ships of their own industry
still experienced and experiencing.

Come now that we might be able to, allow
free currently illegal drugs, especially weed
and as A. Huxley put it;
give me injections of good LSD
when it's close I shall die.
Leary like.

Baby Boom elderly
say it can't be so!
long hair and tripping drugs
groovy media and good eats
resting body if one must but
 mind taking in whirring the kaleidoscope
in the freedom of old age
hear the colors
 of life tasting the sweet
of impending demise,
a bottleneck 'o' hipsters
entering their no-embalm
green funerals,
forever Further.

Bishop in Time
algorithm (def- a set of instructions that leads to a predictable result)

by Bryan Merck

At the 5 points fountain, a common pigeon rests on the owl on top of the Goatman’s crozier who is seated on a pedestal and teaching, from a book, an assembly of animals all under the aegis of water falling like rain. Five toads at the points of a pentagram jet the water from their uplifted mouths and pause; water that would escape something succumbs to gravity’s tether and returns, again and again.

Life is riddled with magic, shot through with it. Spirit impinges even into the realm of sleep, a gentle kingdom of sense, nonsense and nightmare. A syncretistic place. Slumber. (Once, on the Argentine grasslands, I saw a great white heron rise on angel wings big enough to fly a man.)

John Galen Holliday MD is alone, today, really alone. No chorus. Alone. His chorus is 6 grungy old men, 2 semi-hot women and Jeanette, a project-dwelling cynic. They have refused to accompany our John for a day or so. He tried to have them exorcized. Truculent Doc and his obstreperous self.

For the bronze-green Goatman, sheened in water, auraed in sunshine…  surely he does not signify for darkness, an encroaching apocalypse, a sinister thing requiring “rapture,” so bad no one wants to be here for it. Conspiracy. He is only a representation of a Goatman. He is impervious to water, weather, malice, love. Some artist forged him. Did he exist before the melting of the metal, the pouring into the mold?

Across town, at the New Crescent Temple, food is set in front of the various statues. Someone wakes them up each morning and bids them goodnight each evening. “The gods and goddesses are all the same god, nameless and without form.”

At St Pachomius Catholic Church, candles burn in front of statues of Joseph and Mary. Joseph’s staff is in bloom, indicating his fitness to be the foster father of God. Mary wears a crown in May.

In the nearby intersection of the 5 said streets, Doc sees the Knights of Dixie Marching Band. It is 1965 out there, just now. A phalanx of mean white guys burdened with various musical instruments seethes under the traffic lights, trying to form in a past day’s traffic.

(I am a gaucho. I ride the pampas and throw a weird lariat.)

Time shifts. Time’s sleight of hand, a magician’s pass. Doc finds himself meeting Wanda Kowalski for the first time. That time expands all around him. It is for Doc. They are hugging. Soul stuff. Doc has never been so sure of anything down to his marrow and the busy depths of his subconscious.  

Something about life begins, again. At the fountain.


The parade was the next Saturday.  The center is not here. The center cannot form, here. This is the past. Exactly 22 years from this particular past day, around the corner, at the New Women’s Clinic, someone will leave the dumpster door open. A crow will peck at a blue baby eye.

Doc’s chorus is of the classical-Greek-play extraction. They once did an amazingly thorough job of ruining his present moment. Catastrophic. Stuff.

Sherriff Buford Ramspiddler, the real life hero of the Talking Tall movies, told the Knights of Dixie to march, today, in 1965. He is lately doing senescence in a vegetative coma on the edge of a white man’s bardo. And so on.

Doc likes his peaceful mind. He is content with it. He is actually considering his chorus to be a bunch of exorcized demons. His head did not spin. He did not vomit and spew. Strange runes did not form on his stomach. He smokes by the fountain. His weight. He feels light, airy.

Time shifts. Time’s sleight of hand, a magician’s pass. Doc finds himself as a newly minted MD. That time expands all around him. It is for Doc. His father is hugging him. Today, he is a grateful survivor of a most impressive education. Healer. A new life begins, again. At the fountain.


Our Goatman never blinks. He cannot move. He is only a sculptor’s whimsy in a fountain in a city in the South of North America. Goofy white men want to lead off a parade set for another day in a long-gone present moment. They are unfortunate earthbound spirits, all the time. And time carries them. As long as they want it to do so. Freight.

The Goatman informs various animals. What? What is he teaching? Frogs, dogs, sheep, rabbits. Time is unstuck, here. Doc is going back and forth through the decades. And he always does this; and he is always doing it; and he will always be doing it.

Doc is unmoored in time. Doc is alone. His mother died in childbirth when he was 7. It was the day, 9/14/1963. Four girls would die in a Sunday School class the next morning.

The Goatman does what bishops do. (I am become the Lord of Time. I expand. I am boundless.
I am the sum of a lot of peoples’ prayers.)

Time shifts. Time’s sleight of hand, a magician’s pass. Doc finds himself joining the Catholic Church on the Easter Vigil, 2007. That time expands all around him. It is for Doc. “The body of Christ. ‘Amen.’ The blood of Christ. ‘Amen.’”  Father Kevin hugs him. Heaven begins, again.  At the fountain.


In his bones, Doc knows he exists in this lively benediction suffused with love, sense, Spirit. This stuff is easy for him because these predominate. Yes. Really. God pours himself into time in a myriad uncountable ways and floods Doc’s heart which is shaped, always shaped, for that.

Saturday, April 25, 2015


by Catherine Weiss

Your foot on ice

At first

The water
Must be cold

Both feet
The lake settles

In protest

A flake falls
From a white sky

Your shuffling steps

Between reeds
Frozen upright

The water
Must be deep

You push forward
To the center

Do you think
Ice won't break?

Cracks form
From your weight

We all fall through.