Travelers Welcome

Travelers Welcome

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.