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Book Review: Nostalgia and Ruin, by Cameron Mount

Nostalgia and Ruin 70 pages ISBN: 1365118002 independently published Publication Date: May 31, 2016 $15/5.38 reviewed by Rusty Barnes

Cameron Mount's Nostalgia and Ruin is a great example of a transitional work. Mount is one half of the duo that runs the pulp magazine Broadswords and Blasters, and I get a sense that this book is very much the work of an excellent writer feeling out interesting ways what will become his permanent subject matter.   
"Spring Break, The Unnamed Key," an example from early in the book, sets up reader expectations and follows through in a satisfying manner.  Simple declarative phrases set off the first half of the poem: "we took;" "we made;"we fished and caught;" we piled;" and so on, followed by simple but rich detail that gives us the feel of what camping on this unnamed key means for the poem's inhabitants, simply going through a day. "It wasn't long/before the drunk/and tobacco high/sent us rolling/throug…
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Tom Darin Liskey

I was ten That winter night When my brain Burned with fever And I lay Dreaming awake That you had come back From the firmament; An unwinged angel Sitting at my bedside Speaking words That sounded like fire In my ears. I don’t know If it was real anymore. Maybe it was just yearning To touch you once more The way the blind read braille; Or maybe it was just The hot syllables of sickness Wailing like sinners At a tent revival Behind my burning eyes. But whatever it was That night, with the snow Beginning to fall Your hand touched my skin And the fever broke.
Tom Darin Liskey spent nearly a decade working as a journalist in Venezuela, Argentina and Brazil. He is a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi. His writing has appeared in HeartWood Literary Magazine, Driftwood Press, and Biostories, among others. His photographs have been published in Hobo Camp Review, Museum of Americana, Blue Hour Magazine, Synesthesia Literary Journal and Midwestern Gothic.

Porous Land by Agnes Vojta: Review

Agnes Vojta Porous Land Spartan Press March 2019 57 pages 978-1-950380-01-5 $15 Reviewed  by Rusty Barnes
Agnes Vojta's Porous Land is nearly textbook minimalism.. Every word seems created specifically for the task she sets it to perform in the poem. I don't mean minimalist to an extreme, but rather that there is no fat on the words. The overall effect is a bracing shiver of recognition at the natural world and our place in it, as well as how that world shapes our thoughts.
I found myself in a sort of dream-state the deeper I got into the collection. in the "Greening Begins from the Ground," Vojta sets up a scene not by telling us what is in the scene but instead what is not, in lovely simple phrases and lines: "Not in the high places/that still belong to winter/not on the barren ridges/where buzzards rest on bare branches,//but in the valleys". In the valleys she describes, with an Eastern feel, where "shy white flowers hide" in the manner of Japanese mas…

Tiff Holland

Positive Identification
Memorize all his parts, not just lips, eyes, the intimate tools, tiny erect nipples tangled in red hair, the spot where you can most easily imagine him as a mere boy. Sure, count the freckles, the moles you worry over, the pounds he frets, but commit to his scent, to the pink scrapes of knuckles where his skin becomes so dry it cracks, and he superglues himself back together. Stroke the quarter-size Achilles-like blond-spot on the back left of his other- wise reddish, receding, head of hair. Freeze in time his aura, above you, the last time you make love remember when he asked what it felt like "going in" him, going in to you the serious voice you could never mistake for anyone else’s, to say what lovers say and sometimes tire of saying, or assume, after time they needn’t say. Never assume anyone is coming back from just going out to get the mail shirtless, in gym shorts and cheapo Walmart tennis shoes covered in blue paint speckles, his arm hairs wound into sweaty rosettes, his …

Todd Mercer

The Dam at Taylorsville, KY
The lake rose over the docks. It kept coming inland and uphill. No one built their homes around it to later drown them, but this day the lake inundates the ground floors without subsiding. It takes upstairs levels an hour later. Come back in a month, in a boat and see if you can make out roof outlines down deep below where town used to be. The lake rose up, but not because of rain.

Todd Mercer was nominated for Best of the Net in 2018. His collection of pre-owned Italian ties purchased for $2 each is probably the most bad-ass pre-owned Italian tie collection outside of Italy. Just sayin’. Recent work appears in: The Lake, The Magnolia Review, Praxis and Softblow.

Mike James

Crossroad Blues
I went to the crossroad, fell down on my knees” Robert Johnson
Some people go down to the crossroad from heart hunger, from being badly loved since that first kiss. Others want advice disguised as directions. Others go because they were born fearless, want to learn what fear is.
It helps if you smell like film noir dreams and worn out coins. If you carry bad luck, in your back pocket, as if it’s a postcard from home.
Most days, the Devil wears a fedora. His smile, forever white. His voice, the accent of an old friend. There’s a joke he loves to make about how his handshake isn’t as warm as people expect. It’s his eyes though everyone notices. No one ever says if they are hazel, brown, or blue. Just that they hold your attention longer than any wish.
Mike Jameshas been widely published in magazines, large and small, throughout the country. His thirteen poetry collections include: Jumping Drawbridges in Technicolor (Blue Horse), First-Hand Accounts from Made-Up Places (S…

Susan Tepper

The Plan
is a dream set in motion by chaos
fallen angels come to shake things up
no discernable reason you can fathom
reliance on whatever say the weather
shot in the back
handcuffed to a truck mirror
opportunity to see for yourself in harshest light percussion noises & street traffic jamming
suffering dogs howl their persistent hunger flesh is flesh
is other beasts huddled around smoking barrels watching
cops everywhere watching don’t lift a hand who dies or what
their coffee & donut on the hour while
prostitutes dimpling for any ready cash smile and jump fast into cars.
From the doorway ice melts down in your hair.
Susan Tepper is the author of seven published books of fiction and poetry. Her forthcoming book titled WHAT DRIVES MEN is a road novel full of zany characters and situations, soon to be published by Wilderness House Press. Tepper has received many honors for her writing which include 18 Pushcart Prize Nominations, 7th place on the Zoetrope Novel Contest shortlist, and a Nomination for a Pul…