Saturday, October 8, 2016

Tom Darin Liskey

Oral History

Her husband found work
Teaching in a backcountry schoolhouse
After the war.
It wasn’t her first choice, she said,
But in lean times like those,
You took what opportunity presented.
They headed west
In a beat up Ford truck
Given to the couple in dowry.
The birth of their first child followed—
A boy with sandy hair and blue eyes.
She named the child after her husband,
But everyone called him Little Bit.
It was a happy time, she said.
Living in an old farm house
On the edge of an alfalfa field 
Paid for by the school board.
The teacher’s salary was paltry,
But the children’s parents would bring them: 
Potatoes. Onions. Ham. Apples. Butter.
Whatever bounty the season had to offer. 
The weather turned sour early that year
And the baby caught a fever.
People remembered it as the worst winter ever.
Despite the prayers and doctoring,
Sickness took the child one moonless night.
But the man and woman had to wait 
To lay their firstborn to rest
Until some men from church
Built a fire to thaw out
The iron hard ground for burial.
Even in her 80s, when she talked about 
Dressing her son for the funeral—
Her hands moved hesitantly
In their grim remembrance of that day.
And in that instance,
I saw, not an old woman,
But memory’s ghost: A young mother
Standing at the edge of a bed 
Where a child lay bathed in lemon water
And slanted winter light,
Brushing the boy’s hair for the last time.

Tom Darin Liskey spent nearly a decade working as a journalist in Venezuela, Argentina and Brazil. His fiction and non fiction have appeared in the Crime Factory, and Driftwood Press. His photographs have been published in Hobo Camp Review, Roadside Fiction, Blue Hour Magazine, Synesthesia Literary Journal and Midwestern Gothic. 

Friday, September 23, 2016

Michael McInnis

From Up on the Row of Garage Roofs We Threw Broken Shingles Down at the Cops

my mother
heard my description
over the scanner
I told her I had
never seen
Orion brighter,
but Kahoutek looked
like a dirty
smudge in the
rake of blue

Michael McInnis lives in Boston and served in the Navy chasing white whales and Soviet submarines. His poetry and short fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Chiron Review, The Commonline Journal, Cream City Review, Naugatuck Review, Oxford Magazine and Yellow Chair Review to name a few.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Heidi Blakeslee

My Roots of Loneliness

my mother's favorite
thing to do with us when we
were little kids was to
dump us off at someone else's house
or leave us
with a babysitter

in the summers, when
we had off
she would take us to a park
in Conneautville
in sweltering heat
and leave us there all day
with some sort of poorly-run
situation for low-income families

we would eat a bag lunch
consisting of a sandwich, a piece of fruit
and a carton of chocolate milk

it wasn't all bad
i learned to play chess there,
and sometimes I would make
a friend for a day

we would walk the block or so away
to go to the library

but i remember spending
the majority of the days
waiting for my mother
to pick us up
in the minivan

for her to love us
and be with us


Heidi Blakeslee lives and writes in Ambridge, Pa.  She has been published in many chapbooks, zines, and newsletters over the years.  She also has two poetry books, "The Empress of Hours," and "Should the Need Arise," a memoir, "The White Cat: A Paranormal Memoir," and a novel, "Strange Man: The Edgar Allan Foe," available on 

Friday, September 16, 2016

Scott Wozniak

Sweat to Live

I was at work
shoveling dirt,
and carrying
cinder blocks
from here
to there.
During all this
I realized I
will most-likely
never receive
easy money
for my poems.
Then I thought
of the one word,
Yamrus poem,
and how he’d
summed up
my whole

Scott Wozniak is a poet and chaos enthusiast who's work has been widely published both online and in-print. Most recently, he was featured in the Lummox #5 Anthology. Also, look for his work in the Svensk Apache Press anthology, due out this fall. You can follow him on twitter @sewozniak.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

JB Mulligan


The crunch of rotted wood and mold
as the pitchfork bites in, then pulls.

The wobble of unruly wheelbarrows
down the cobblestone path of the park.

Raking the mounds over patches of dirt
in the grass, around trees and bushes,

next to the stone wall.  The body groans
underneath the screaming yellow T-shirt

slashed with the sponsor's name.
A day off from work to work harder.

Those who did and do this every day,
who scratch life from indifferent soil,

don't joke about beer and back rubs,
or watch a perfect ass in taut gray pants

clench, release, clench, release,
behind that skittering rat of a dog.

Life somewhere might be limited to
a woman who has sagged with work and children,

whose face is a soft puddled smile
that used to light like a lover's moon.

But here, I get this T-shirt,
and we stop at noon for free pizza.

JBMulligan has had poems and stories in several hundred magazines over the past 40 years. He has had two chapbooks published: The Stations of the Cross and THIS WAY TO THE EGRESS, and two e-books, The City Of Now And Then, and A Book of Psalms (a loose translation from the Bible). He has appeared in several anthologies, among them, Inside/Out: A Gathering Of Poets; The Irreal Reader (Cafe Irreal); and multiple volumes of Reflections on a Blue Planet. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Frank Reardon

A Letter to My Daughter

I'm not going to glorify it.
There's nothing of note to bring it all in
as something only the strong
and courageous consume.
Truth is, I've never been
able to handle it properly.
Too many times I woke up
without memory,
the earth's heart once pumping,
now shattered
upon the ground; by my own
hand, by my own
fatal wallet and need to be seen
as more than I actually am.
There are years of stories,
some humor's ax,
others: the soaking of marrow
underneath the broken land.
If I could tell you what it's
like to wake up in jail,
break bones, hearts, and say things
that are not in your head,
I'd tell you to stay away.
I'd tell you to stay strange,
soul-rich, and daylight galaxy.
What I fear more than death's knock
is that you will discover your gene
and marry too young. And not
to a man, woman, or a dream,
but to a bottle of whiskey.
The same bottle I married
when I was twelve.
The same bottle I've regretted
the last thirty years.
And there will be months, even
years, you'll be able to keep
away from it. Hide in beer. Hide in love.
Hide in heathen. Hide in weed.
Hide in art. Hide in music.
But it'll come back strong. It always does,
only next time with shovel and lantern,
upside the head for the dim light
you'll be running towards
for the rest of your life.
Daughter, I know you need
to experience life for yourself.
Believe me, I know better
than most how it feels
when the wind chimes of desperation,
releasing their songs of plague inside the stomach. 

Frank Reardon was born in 1974 in Boston, Massachusetts, and currently lives in Minot, North Dakota. Frank has published poetry and short stories in many reviews, journals and online zines. His first poetry collection, Interstate Chokehold, was published by NeoPoiesis Press in 2009 as well as his second poetry collection Nirvana Haymaker in 2012. His third poetry collection Blood Music was published by Punk Hostage Press in 2013. In 2014 Reardon published a chapbook with Dog On A Chain Press titled The Broken Halo Blues. Frank is currently working on more short fiction, and building a novel. 

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Jay Sizemore

                     ~after Bob Hicok

Imagine a horizon stained with blood,
clothes still warm from the dryer
unfolded and heaped in piles,
a holocaust of time traveling selves

happening every minute without smoke.
Your husband’s pale face a knuckle
on the fist of a ghost, working
at words like a wad of chewing gum.

You remember the ferris wheel
at the Barren County fair, those yellow lights
rimming conjoined ladders that spun
a galaxy of wants in your ribcage, his stubble

rubbing your chin raw. His smile
a haunted piano that played you songs,
now a crumbling chimney of teeth
set to grinding aspirin into dust.

Once he plucked a lily from the hillside
and threaded it behind your ear,
months before he turned you into a smurf,
palming packs of Sudafed from the pharmacy.

You’d find the bathroom door closed,
the acrid odor of flame against foil,
cooking something akin to torment,
a fish hook on each eyelid, pulling.

Before he pawned your mother’s rings,
before his skin seeped with ammonia,
he liked to warm his hand between your thighs,
to surprise you with ice on your neck.

There were nights you’d sit and watch
the bats swoop in and out of the lamplight,
and you’d feel like the bat, the moth, the light,
the blanket of pseudophedrine sweat

clinging to his skin like dew. He would promise
to change and you would believe he could,
the way a child believes reindeer can fly,
that stars contain the whispers of wishes.

But there you were, finding your infant boy
asleep on the floor, dried milk vomit
crusted to his chest, his body quivering
with naked cold, indiscernible rock music

blaring from the bedroom, door closed.
The night felt like hammer, heavy on one side,
a train whistle blowing without end,
a coffin you’d been burying with your hands.

Jay Sizemore was born blue, raised by wolves, and learned to write by translating howls. He doesn't regret his wisdom teeth. He thanks you for your concern. His work can be found here or there, mostly there. Find him at, or, if you're a stalker, in Nashville, TN, where he may or may not really exist.