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Mike James

Mike James makes his home outside Nashville, Tennessee. He has published in numerous magazines throughout the country in such places as Plainsongs, Laurel Poetry Review, Birmingham Poetry Review, and Chiron Review. His poetry collections include: Parades (Alien Buddha), Jumping Drawbridges in Technicolor (Blue Horse), First-Hand Accounts from Made-Up Places (Stubborn Mule), Crows in the Jukebox (Bottom Dog), My Favorite Houseguest (FutureCycle), and Peddler’s Blues (Main Street Rag.) He served as an associate editor of The Kentucky Review, as well as the publisher of the now defunct Yellow Pepper Press. In the spring of 2020 Luchador Press will publish his 15th collection, Journeyman’s Suitcase.
Recent posts

Kevin Ridgeway

BRAIN MATTER
chow time came before the sun went down on L.A. County Jail, where people try to trade shots of instant coffee for fruit in order to make pruno. I had just been taken off suicide watch and had been stuffed into a yellow mental health smock for dings like us or whatever else the deputies laughingly called us. Everyone’s favorite meal was called brain matter, our tray canvasses decorated in gray hamburger and a decadent brown mystery sauce over curly noodles. We slurped from other inmates’ scraps of a kind of meat we couldn’t beat after lights out and we all passed out fat, happy and behind bars. I started to almost miss the god forsaken place in the cab headed away from downtown LA en route to the suburb where my uncle reluctantly said I could sleep on his couch. That night I had to start proving that my brain mattered more than the way I treated it with the disintegration of what I was really made of: the armor I inherited with a straight poker face and everything my father taught me in his old prison stories of bad foo…

Agnes Vojta

I Need a Wrist Strap for my Ice Axe
Wearing a short dress and sandals, I step into the outfitter, ice axe in hand, and ask for a wrist strap.
The questions begin immediately: What do I want with an ice axe? Don’t I know that is a dangerous mountain? A real climb? Wouldn’t I rather be interested in a nice walk?
My bearded friends on the other side of the store watch for a while, amused, before they amble over to me.
Suddenly, the wrist strap is no problem at all.

Agnes Vojta grew up in Germany and now lives in Rolla, Missouri where she teaches physics at Missouri S&T. She is the author of Porous Land (Spartan Press, 2019). Her poems recently appeared in Red River Review, Minute Magazine, Nixes Mate Review, The Blue Nib, As It Ought To Be Magazine, Former People, Thimble Literary Magazine, and elsewhere. 

Gabriella Garofalo

Listening to comets, aren’t you?
Yet you are deaf, deaf to the voice of riotous angels,
Deaf to the green solitude that heaves at you
While my sad place gathers
A blue ambivalence, or missing lives
Who dreamt of choosing between raw and hard light:
These are sidereal places,
Where fire can’t decrypt your hunger,
Where you can’t give light a nice welcome,
That’s why you need only
A womb insensitive to breathing light,
Here, among your furniture,
And crumpled souls at night who hiss
You won’t come back to the fields,
Nor will you reach the water,
Only exiled limbs hassling with the slant of demise,
The blue light you silence as undeserving
Of your hunger: is it a matter of voices, limbs,
And pewter skies?
Great, so please shape your light in mixed shades,
That will do, and bring me not flowers, nor toys,
As I saw too many at the children’s bedside-
Please bring me seedy cafes where men
Stare at an empty half-light,
Where women all clad in blue go unnoticed
‘Cause blue was the left hand …

Max Heinegg

Lake House Guns

Is it ever only a toy?
Robert Bly in my ears
talking campfire men
who cry handling a sword.

I get pissed at my nephews,
firing Nerf guns, water guns, any
gun—cocking pathologically
until my daughters join the effort,

pinning a hapless cousin
in a bedroom corner. The squad
rains doom, & I think it’s good
for them—girls are better off

not taking shit from anyone.
Let them get hit & hit back,
learn to handle them.
So, I quit bitching about

guns, firing equitably—
no one’s watching them
decide what’s fair play, protest
the other child a coward.

Max Heinegg's poems have appeared locally in Nixes Mate, Pangyrus, and Ibbetson Street Review. He lives in Medford, MA, where he teaches high school English and is the co-founder of Medford Brewing Company.

Simon Perchik

You stir this can before it opens as the promise a frog makes when asking for a kiss :the paint
warmer and warmer will become an afternoon with room for mountains and breezes close to your shoulder
though that’s not how magic works –there’s the wave, the hand to hand spreading out between the silence
and your fingers dressed with gloves as if it was a burden and the brush raising your arm the way this wall
needs a color that will dry by itself leave a trace :a shadow not yet lovesick no longer its blanket and cure.
Simon Perchik is an attorney whose poems have appeared in Partisan Review, Forge,Poetry, Osiris, The New Yorker and elsewhere. His most recent collection is The Gibson Poems published by Cholla Needles Arts & Literary Library, 2019. For more information including free e-books and his essay “Magic, Illusion and Other Realities” please visit his website at www.simonperchik.com. 

Catfish McDaris

Drunken West Milwaukee Blues

Drinking mezcal chewing up the worm
listening to Santana’s Blues For Salvador
the police car shined a spotlight in my van

This Barney Fife looking motherfucker
swaggered up and asks me if I’ve been
drinking, I nod my head and take a swig

“Keep your hands where I can see them
and get out of your car,” I finish the bottle
I get out slowly, he has his pistol pointed

At me, “That’s not nice,” “What did you
say?” I did my magic on him and reached
out and took his gun away, I pointed it

At his chest and said, “How does it feel?”
I gave him some gunslinger tricks, threw
it up in the air, caught it behind my back

I ejected the magazine and unchambered
the round in the barrel, faster than sight, I
put it in his holster and raised my hands.

Catfish McDaris won the Thelonius Monk Award in 2015. He’s been active in the small press world for 25 years. He’s recently been translated into Spanish, Italian, French, Polish, Swedish, Arabic, Bengali, Mandarin, Yoruba, Tagalog…