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.