Travelers Welcome

Travelers Welcome

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.

Thursday, April 23, 2015


by Umm-e-Aiman Vejlani

A new day begins sounding out the bugle
of change that was to rise in the usual rut;
converting methods for altering thoughts
blown like a bubble through a game loop
plastic in aesthetic yet to be bent or tried
there were eager witnesses that watched,
waiting by the sun to rise or set in gamble,
of a beguiling truth over energized fallacies
by posturing sanity in guise of a faith green.
The day revealed a mettle raging loud
to suppress entitlements of a mind free
of ideals, uniting a voice in absent choices
of change: can be a thing true or just fancy
vocabulary accrued by tongues used to
impede or compel the birth of
yet another rebellion.


by Gracie Georgina

It already started: the trickling.   It’s been weeks since I’ve had a chance to change the course of time and pop one in the oven.  Without warning, in the midst of choosing whether I should buy the Drumstick cones or the mint and chip quarter-tub, it came; like a geyser seeking refuge from a hidden mountain on a stuffy summer’s day.  The fountain of youth, constantly reminding me that hot flashes are THAT far away; fifty couldn’t come any quicker. I need a drink.      

Swim With Me

by Monica M. Reed

Our love is the broken sink,
with that dripping water.

When you sing to me,
my body tingles
from the sound
of the droplets against my back
as every word touches it.
You are the only voice that my ears
want to know, they play you
in the background whenever I dream.

I am submerged by how
you climb into my mouth
to tie my tongue in you,
as you roll all about inside.
You seep through my cheeks,
until they turn that shade of cherry red
that whispers words of its own.

When our eyes meet,
I fall back, become the water
the keeps dripping from the sink.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


by Todd Mercer

The kite was carried away
by updrafts into May afternoon. The string
snaps or slips on every kid, once, at least,
and sails the square of color to where
you can’t spot it. But your brother
who has clearer vision says he sees a speck
that’s smaller than a bird. It’s just below the sun,
lurching leeward into the next township,
bound to flutter-fall, a mess of snapped sticks
and nylon shredding, as the Spring comes on.

Ground Hog Diary

by Al Ortolani                                                                           

Dear Diary…As a rodent,
I am not interested
in sunlight. It bleaches mystery                                                        
from the fencerow, washes out my hope
for surprise. Snow is predicted
tonight, a gray storm crawling
in from the west. Two weeks, six weeks,
what’s the difference?
I will be here with my shadow,
crouched below the roots—
waiting with the wild onion,
the garlic, the tulip
to corkscrew up
from the secret bulb.

Shakespearean Baseball Sonnet #16

by Michael Ceraolo

But Where fore do you not a shiftier way
Make war upon this bloody tyrant Time?
And fortify your body from decay
With bones more cursed than a rose's crime?
Now stand you on top of the record books,
Though still with several records yet unset.
The virtuous give you dirty looks,
And recoil from your bulked-up counterfeit.
Between the lines you did more than your share
And garnered the praise from keystroke and pen,
By the uses of juices greatly unfair;
No longer esteemed in the eyes of men.
You gave away your self to keep it still;
You should have lived with just your own sweet skill.

Sunday, April 19, 2015


by Bill Jansen

A crocus this morning heard my confession.
The same bird looked at me,
its back to the wind.

Kyrie, eleison

There  was a smudge of ashes on my forehead.
The sky wore gray lingerie,
but who was tempted?

Christe, eleison

Processions waited to start on some hawthorns:
processions of cold blossoms,
ashamed of their beauty.

Kyrie, eleison

Beasts and flowers about to take communion.
I get into line.
But only I am moving.

Christe, eleison

Sheltered from God

by Collin Sullivan

Run my child from the demons inside
They follow the weak
Run as fast
Fast as you can
Powerful child
Diminish the ones inside
From this mahogany heaven
From these silent child
From this stone cathedral
Meet him halfway
Into the world you run
From such demons
Such a safe haven
Masked you from life
From pain
Became a shelter
No more
You have the power


by Marc Carver

I look out of the pub
at the underpass
half of it is in the light
the other is dark.
I look at the darkness
I feel more at home there.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Thorn of Neptune

by Christina Murphy

A surfeit of cold waves marks the twilight
with strains of silence and endurance;
random particles beset by harm
move closer to the gritty space between
heaven and the imagination;
the shadows of air conclude with praise—
broken music, pure and wild, and obscure beginnings
near the despair of a ragged moon
The changeling appears as long bones laid out in winter,
the thorn of Neptune rising as an eagle, longing for the shore,
cryptic runes as pure as lilies in the serpent’s embrace;
rivers blossoming on a stem, and far, far away,
the edge of northern skies inexpertly drawn,
the broken images of stars in the dark time,
returning home with mystical emptiness;
here in the moon-shadows by the roadway
nothing from something is revealed—
the constant fool in purgatory wishing the fields
were butterflies in moonlight, not the sad panorama
of dark woods alive with soft mocking


by Marc Carver

A woman came up to me
and sat in the chair opposite.
She smiled at me
and she offered me
half her sandwich.
I think she thought
I must have been some kind of hobo.
Who is to say she is wrong.

The Chosen Span of Lifetimes

by John Pursch

Parquet lore in paranoia screeds
scour fully cyclic swimming ghouls
for sluiced pendulums and
checkerboard turnstile terriers
on pummeled hopscotch rodeo release,
served hypothetically to over-eager
ceiling supper speakers on sabbatical
from supple sheathings of
Pleistocene facemask runes.

Nodding to potential cubbyholes,
shoals of kindly carded plunder age
in stubbly floral primping disarray,
scaring up slumped turpentine
in smoldering seedbeds of
yeast deflection corrugation
seizure’s momentary fog.

From cheese to shining postcard tramps
on flavored idiosyncratic creature compounds
of searing molecules in tidal slats
pawned niftily in daylight trading’s
posture outhouse silence,
high school crushes wax in mudline faults
to geriatric gelatin companionship,
held softly in the chosen span of lifetimes.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

error of your ways

by Linda M. Crate

your eyes
sharp as diamonds
cutting through
you sought to destroy her,
but i stood before you
with the fury of a thousand flames
to burn through your
every winter;
the look of surprise on your face
amused me—
you are the night time fear and the dark morning,
but i am the dawn of aurora
you were the violent of blue but i was the gold
light burning through your dark heart;
and you ran from me in an attempt to preserve
because that's what cowards do
they run from the truth—
you're a man of a thousand faces
transforming like the
most vile villains in anime;
well, come here, little wolf, i am the hero and the
light always chases out the darkness in
the end
let me show you the error of your ways.

Love Is Only What It Is

by Amy Soricelli

It is the spots on the inside of a dark room that resembles love most closely.
Blinking eyelashes full of sleep - you think the proper rub will set you free.
It will not.
You winnow through the stained glass pushed-in chairs and clear your head
from the sand.
Sun escapes its wicked thin line through the bottom shade - and love
is the last form of dancing dust -
mouths hanging open 'in wait'.
Sometimes you cry from the stinging rays of dirt that love dresses in - its wide hat
dipped down covering you from nothing.
Love has eyes on the back of its head.
Its the snowball aimed at your heart unrequited sidewalk meetings with closed hands
its the fear of goodbye dragging its hollow feet across your throat...
tightens up with your name.
Love is the sound before the doorbell - its rush of energy balanced on the fringe - the last sweet
drop of moisture.
Love is the splash of unexpected color in a large film of gray.
Wild galloping horses that stop in your tracks and set the way for you.
The wind in your hair is love.


by Bradford Middleton

My mind is gone; the last toke has been smoked
It’s built a gorge between me and normality
As now I begin to realise that all these years
Have taken their toll on my beautiful mind
Maybe this time because it’s been so long since last time
But this time was the worst yet as I became aware

Aware that the way things were going nothing would last
That eventually I’d pass the point of too much
The point where I could stop and still nothing would change
So can I continue doing this or is this really the end?
I don’t think I’ll ever be able to properly quit and
Now upon examining my tin I realise what’s going to be

Long days of feeling down and long nights of struggling to sleep
Moments in public where it’ll stop making sense
Those times at home, hopefully alone, where nothing will comprehend
All of these could see me stoned or not and that is the problem
When the two become indistinct and even I struggle to understand
Just what is going to happen in whatever time or place.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

The R.I.P.

by Kelley Jean White

The kid rolls up
his sleeves to show track marks, cigarette
burns, keloids, self-tattoos:
  Lefty 1/27/78-9/15/99 RIP
  Big Tom : 7/12/81-8/11/98 RIP
  Crow 12/5/75-11/11/94. RIP
  Rondel  9/15/80-/ / 99. RIP That’s me.
I never thought I’d make it this far.
Thought I’d let them fill in the blanks.


by Laurie Kolp

I once owned a corvette
candy apple red
and just as sweet a bite, the ride
like an orgasm

the letting go too soon
losing momentum

breakneck, the lengths
it drove me to
cruise all over the place
in and out of bad neighborhoods

just because I loved
the thrill
of zipping
through traffic

a high, my mind on speed
when I wanted a drink.

The Beginning

by Douglas Polk

the cosmos seen through the telescope,
light seen from stars long dead,
a race backwards,
a video tape,
rewinding to the beginning,
watch as it rewinds,
sound not needed,
it only gets in the way.

Beneath a Circus Winter

by John Pursch

Resting heads respire
in carload bluster,
flouting nearly grousing
dignity for shapely scolded
cockatoos who creep about
in forty horded ammunition
belts of diamantine rust.

Ambulatory ermine question
fiefdom trial-and-carrion,
forging lemonade from
fettered ductile monocles,
harmonic ash imperatives,
and curb-lung onset underlings.

Servomotor boatswains
welter into mooing capes
of ipso klaxon godsend
serpentine pantechnicons
till gnashing newsstand pith
forks into bareback porkpie
haddock reefs.

Scene removal remonstrates
for hoary retroactive danger,
shown to cowering stammerers
in flick approval ferry splits
of panning shame regression cogs
spun silently in murky frowsy
bowl-cut bruise assignment boots
beneath a circus winter.

To Ajo and Back

by David Chorlton

I   Highway 85

A migratory flock in V formation flies
across the Gila River, where
the trees along its banks
are pastel smoke in March

when lupines, broom and mallow
line the road all the way
past yet another desert lonely prison
where the only movement visible

is that of swallows looping
high above the sparkling razor wire.

II   The Depot at Ajo

When wind combs back
the grasses sprouting
from the platform's cracks
it's telling how the mine closed
and left a wall of tailings
along the edge of town

but the Cactus wrens stayed on
to call from palo verdes
rooted in between the tracks.

III   Desert Arch

The ocotillo fan their many arms
to receive the wind
that blows volcanic shadows
over rocks dripping from the light
in rhyolite layers moulded
to the shape of the Earth

and high above them
an arch has formed
through which the stars
flow when they follow
bats into the night.

IV   Folklorico Dance on the Plaza

In stately descent
from a clear sky
the turkey vultures glide
over the open pit mine,
down close to the old school
and the white cupola
on the  Catholic church,
eighty wings wide above the plaza
as festivities begin

and they are silence over music
when they reach the eucalyptus
growing next to the mortuary
they have chosen for a roost.

V   Border Patrol on the Reservation

Into grass at the asphalt’s edge
a roadrunner darts for cover,
neck stretched forward and back
as straight as the road from Why
to Quitohoa. He’s gone
so fast not even the agent can see

from the truck parked behind
the old billboard whose lettering
has flaked beyond explanation
of why it is there.

VI   Reservation Spring

In a land whose rivers are dry
wildflowers flow
from shrine to shrine
and spring to spring;
from needles filled with light
on the cholla to a mine
cut from a mountainside.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Disintegrated Thing

by David Mister

Here I go, disintegrated thing,
cut-up of a glossy rumour mag,
a chewed cassette-tape, bankrupt entity;
a mangled game of hopscotch, leaping wildly
this to mediocre that; hunger’s purpose,
lust’s inept contrivance; trivia’s dancer,
prima donna of a teabag ballerina.

Wandering, amalgam of disparities,
senses choc-a-bloc with evanescence,
the change of things immediate and utile,
the wholly wanting what’s in front
that isn’t what was wanted just before:
a beefburger because it’s there,
a book because the price seems low,
a girl because she speaks into a phone
softly, and smiles as if she always smiles.
Wandering, as if, as if, as if.

A sparrow on a wall might slow me,
or brambles twining through a rusted bike wheel,
or a man with a cart spiking up wrappers,
if only I remembered when I saw them;
a glazed cobweb, a hunkered ginger spider,
swans on a river guarding a canoeist,
squirrels playing up and round a tree,
all these might slow me, if I could remember.

But more often, here I go,
a jittery, scratched recording, full of hiss,
a tyre the air is seeping from,
a pebble travelling via one hundred boots;
one question, with one thousand must-get answers.
All is now, and now must not get slow.

An oozing chrysalis - I cannot stop -
hello, it’s good to meet you - have to go -
a strange shell on a shore - I’ll hear you later -
plain, sad guitar strums - I need food.
The radio switched on at every wavelength,
the TV too, chaotic separation
determining importance at a whim.
With voices variously modulated
emoting without cease on love or anger,
though not forgetting advert-stabs of now,
those spicing frivolities.

When Carbon Paper Was King

by Donal Mahoney

All the rest are dead
except for Joe and Ed,
both ill and long retired.

They linger miles apart,
keep in touch by email,
a tool colleagues didn’t have

when they and Joe and Ed
used telephones and typewriters
to get a magazine out on time,

their hands always in a dither
with carbon paper, paste pots,
pica sticks and galleys.

Every month the magazine
came out on time, glistening.
Now many years retired,

Joe and Ed wonder by email,
Gosh and Golly Gee, how
did they do it without computers.

Colleagues have no answer.
Except for Joe and Ed
all the rest are dead.

“When Nobody Else Can Understand Me…When Everything I Do Is Wrong!”

by Paul Tristram

It’s the only two lines of the song that he knew
or could be bothered to sing, and he only did that drunk.
It took me years to figure out that it actually belonged
to a famous tune by Elvis Presley (of all people!)
Up until then, I had just assumed that it was a bit of drunken
mumbling that had got stuck in his pissed-up head.
It’s funny but it always reminded me of someone saying
‘I’m Innocent’ or ‘Not Guilty’ when it was obvious
to everyone, including themselves, that it was an open
and shut case and that they were the opposite of ‘Victim.’
But anyway, I digress, I now have the song in question,
I never paid for it, I stole it just like he would have wanted.
I played it last night on repeat, whilst drinking a bag of beer
to him (The daffodils are out, which means it’s his birthday!)
but it wasn’t the same hearing someone else singing it
…I needed to hear that familiar, Welsh, drunken drawl.
I decided to get one of my own and settled on Blitz’s
‘Never Surrender, Never Give In…Never Let The Enemy Win!’
but I just ended up frightening the poor dog and falling
backwards over a coffee table whilst pogoing on one foot.
“Happy Birthday you Old Bastard, this twelfth pint’s for you,
they don’t make ‘em like YOU anymore and thank God for that,
there ain’t enough police and Britain’s running out of prison space!”

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Nightsong of the Last Train

by Nick Power

kiss me
kiss me
before the nightshift begins
before you put your face on
before you shut out the world
before the shunt of a three-car train
carries you across the river
and back into the labyrinth
before the bluelight of this
humid room
fizzes and pops
under the weight of its own quiet
before hotel moonshiners
dream themselves

When the sun fails
and the hum of the eventide
is reticent-
I'm hanging from the silver screen
by my nails
clawing after the actress

That woman

by Sowmya Aaryanmenon

I saw a woman once
barefoot, very brown,
red ribbons in her hair.
Her back bent.
Hiding a handful of silver spoons
under her half-torn clothes.
A woman like that has no shame
she must have stolen it
from the house she worked.
Some days she clutches fresh roses
under her arms
red, red roses.
Sometimes, paper napkins
stuffed inside her blouse
drenched by the sweat flowing
between her heaving breasts.

And I wish I could be that woman.
If only I could carry love like that

Two Deaths

by J. K. Durick

My brother always said he be dead
Before he was twenty-one, said he’d
Die and he did, in the middle of a
Summer night coming home from a
Bar, drunk behind the wheel, dead,
And just nineteen years old, dead in
The middle of the road, road-kill
I never saw but have imagined all
These years, the images haunt me
Dead before he was twenty-one.
Even his dog outlived him; years
Later I took her to the vets the final
Time, she was old and sick, had lost
Control of everything; I held her
When the vet shot her with whatever
They shot into dogs back then,
At first she wiggled, strained a bit,
Then one last groan and she was gone
Gone off perhaps to finally catch up
With him, my brother; like me,
She had waited nights, waited for
His return for years, and then she
Would have to wait no more.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Easter Rabbits

by Al Ortolani  

The dog didn’t return that night,
but I knew she would eventually,
the rabbits too fat and easy to resist.
I opened the bedroom window,
watching until the gray dawn bled
across the sky. My daughters slept.
I reinforced the hutch wire
and nailed another 2 x 4 across
the door. Each time I fed them, I had
to use the claw and pry off the scab
two-by. Their turds no longer escaped
to the pile on the ground. Some
stuck between the layers of mesh
and rubbed off on their feet.
They sat in their crock bowls
and spilled their water. They grew
fat and lazy. One developed a goiter
the size of a dog’s nose. Both
sniffed the air, twitched
while they waited
for something coming.

Someone from Home

by Donal Mahoney

When I was a child we always went to church but only once a year as a family.

My father would rise every Sunday and attend the 6:30 Mass, then come home and read his Sunday paper, every word of it, section by section, saving the obituaries for last.

My mother would stuff my sister and me into our Sunday best and send us off to the Children’s Mass at 10. It was a short walk to the church and times were different back then. We were children but safe in our little neighborhood of brick bungalows where neighbors kept an eye out for strangers or anyone or anything that looked odd. The south side of Chicago in the Forties and Fifties was blue collar, little villages teeming with immigrants and very peaceful, except for the occasional fight that might break out in a neighborhood bar. 

After sending my sister and me off to church, my mother would put the roast in the oven, ask my father to keep an eye on it, and she would go to the 11:15.

This was our family pattern, even on Christmas and Easter. I recall not one variation.

But there was that one day a year when the four of us as a family went off to church together. And that was on Good Friday when we walked to the church, my sister and I in front, my father and mother right behind us, to attend the Stations of the Cross at 3 p.m. Not a word was said as we walked those few blocks. But I was impressed by this family event because if it was important enough to get us to go to church together, I figured Good Friday must be a pretty important day.

The only other time we went anywhere as a family was an Irish wake. Chicago back then was not only home to the Stockyards filled with cattle, swine and sheep. It was also home to large groups of immigrants. And my father would always want the family to dress up and go to an Irish wake, hoping, as he so often said, to meet “someone from home.”

Thursday, April 2, 2015


by A.V. Koshy

I am unlocking you
till you learn to pay to me too tribute
and tithe worthy of the king I am
one fifth of your fragrance
one fifth of the softness of your skin
one fifth of the sparkle in your eyes
and the taste of your lips
one fifth of the movement of your hips
one fifth of your name and emotion
one fifth of your beauty, to stay
one fifth of your essence
in return for my one seventh
petal by petal of you, rambling rose, squeezed out and squashed into
drops of rose water and drunk
by me, to fulfill
the tale of love from your side too
Then and only then will the story be
and forever, like a nectarine pickled
& sealed
Love is not love till
one teaches by example
and the other learns
like a rose to ramble
on the fence the beloved teacher is
to give back one fifth for the bigger one seventh got
and then it is
or Shangri La
Yes, let the lost horizon remain lost
and yes, let no one find us hidden there, the last pair
There I teach you the meaning of love
till you also learn as much or more to give
as you can from your granary's hold
as my reincarnated Shakunthala or Damayanthi bold


by Marc Carver

I sat on the bench cracked open a beer
a small red robin
landed on the bench.
He looked at me
as his head bobbed around
I expected him to fly off
but he stayed for a while
at last
a true friend.


by Donald Brandis

at half-light early spring birds are in full song
voicing a delicious freedom fresh as seasonal produce
in market stalls from distant fields
a vocal gesture to imagination, freedom’s forecourt
several voices high up left and right
small strident sounds perhaps to each other:
found some juicy bugs over here!
perhaps just venting:
those crow squawkers kept me up all night!
the day incoming brighter now but still unformed
eludes the mind scurrying to box it up
like lines of old days shelved in a garage
their cartons slowly fading and wrinkling
even these are evasions; no time accepts our keeping
each and all walk away from us shedding our dream songs
our morning’s take means nothing to the day
shouldering in big as Texas on steroids
the birds have it right
here is the day unmade!
the boxing mind relents to watch and listen
as a vanishingly singular day rising in mist and light
slides over and around our notice
hearty powerful and enigmatic
as a breeze from yesterday morning’s lake came
scented with cedar and pine