Monday, December 19, 2016

Paul Brookes

She is Forgetting Him

Steve says his wife often
comes into their bedroom
and says "Where's Steve?"

And he says to her.
"I'm here love. We've
been married forty years."
And she says,
"Of course you are. We have."
And she laughs.
"How did we first
get together?"

At the end of the next day,
when they've been out
to the shops and visiting
old friends she'll say,
"What have we done today,
Steve?" And she remembers
none of it.

At mealtimes she picks
up her knife and fork
and holds them very close
to her glazed eyes.

Holds them
like javelins to eat
her meal.

(II)

You've stolen them.
Haven't you?"
"Stolen what, love?"
"You know what.
Look?"

She shows him her
fingers, and he sees
they are no longer fat
but thin to the bone.

"Come on,love.
They must have dropped off.
I'll help you look for them."
He offers.
"In the place you've hid
them. I bet. I know
your game, Steve.
I'm wise to you."

Paul Brookes was poetry performer with "Rats for Love" and his work included in "Rats for Love: The Book", Bristol Broadsides, 1990. His first chapbook was "The Fabulous Invention Of Barnsley", Dearne Community Arts, 1993. He has read his work on BBC Radio Bristol and had a creative writing workshop for sixth formers broadcast on BBC Radio Five Live.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Gordon Taulbee

Sulfur Water

The sulfur water stains
the children’s clothes when their
parents try to wash them.
The water man said it’s
actually iron --
elemental problem --
but people think sulfur
because that is what they
have been told for ages.
That doesn’t cause the smell.
He says the filter will
fix the problem and make
the water softer too.
It will be better for
cooking and cleaning soon
and that smell will work its
way out of the homestead.
The well will need venting
The hydrogen sulfide
Is the cause of the smell
But does not cause the stains.
This will fix the problems.
It sounds like a great plan
for now, or at least till
they run city water.
Then water man’s widow
can soon be forgotten.

Ernest Gordon Taulbee grew up in Salyersville, KY – a rural town in Eastern Kentucky. He holds a BA and an MA in English from Eastern Kentucky University. He lives in Louisville, KY with his wife and daughters. His novel A Sibling in Always can be purchased on Amazon. 

Monday, December 12, 2016

Bree

No Mote

black swans i almost didnt see
but for their glowy beaks
red as sumac- they didnt match
the dark tones of lake, stuck out
like your lust for me while i read to
the children all cloistered- who could
hear me even from the colonnade,
all hickory and hops-vine, where
i saw you watch me from inside
a white willow tree.

mergansers with their heads trailing
swam among dead stakes of lotus.
that belted kingfisher bode us a
good day, and returned the
children to their cages below bald
cypress knees so naked i had
to look away.

you willowed no longer, i took leaf
to mean wing, and feather to mean
ivy. i took a shaded path back
to the armory. it got hot and thick
and i could breathe more heavily,
rapt on high, no mote of hope.




Bree is a poet and visual artist living in Pleasureville, KY. Her Green Panda Press has put out hand-made chapbooks, anthologies and sundry of the very small art and poetry press since 2001. In 2015 she began Least Bittern Books out of Henry County, KY with a focus on poetry paperbacks by strong, singular voices. In 2016 she received an Artist Enrichment Grant from the Kentucky Foundation of Women for visual art. Her new book 'and i am also invasive' will be available from Birds and Bones Press December 2016. A calendar featuring some of her collages for 2017 is available at greenpandapress@gmail.com, and her art can be viewed at theartistbree.com

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Mary Carroll-Hackett


Ghost Says It's Loud At The Border

all manner of caterwauling and hollering and carrying on, eyes rollercoaster closed and lips drawn back in fear, in ecstasy. The rare ones smile, smile like they're saying See?, the ones who knew it was coming all along and that it didn't mean an end, just a layover, a connection, a staying a bit, then a going. They smile out the windows of the gravity bus, equally at peace on this side or the other, ready to begin again. Maybe if y'all could think about it as an exodus, Ghost says, like coming out of Egypt, or starting an extended vacation, or really winning what's behind door number four, or being filled rather than emptied, being opened and filled and filled and filled to the point that you simply cannot, will not, do not want to, stay there anymore. 


Mary Carroll-Hackett is the author of six collections of poetry, The Real Politics of Lipstick, Animal Soul, If We Could Know Our Bones, The Night I Heard Everything, Trailer Park Oracle, and most recently, A Little Blood, A Little Rain,from FutureCycle Press. Mary founded and teaches in the Creative Writing programs at Longwood University and with the low-residency MFA faculty at West Virginia Wesleyan. Mary is currently at work on a memoir.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Ian Randall Wilson

Unsleeping

A cloud passes overhead
bringing 30 seconds
of exceptional rain.
Not enough to raise
the failing reservoirs
more than an eighth of an inch.

The cat prowls
the hallway's outer borders
looking for some
kind of prey.

The floorboards are creaking.
The room shrinks.
Sconce light begins to show its bias,
its unnatural nature
and inability to do more
than make less dim
its tiny corner of the globe.

A river could not meander
less directly.
Enter spirit of the night.
At last the world turns
imperative.  Now a dog howls
the way a dog
has howled for these
many million years.
Lights come up.
Words are shouted,
but the tone is very French.

Another cloud burst explodes
with the beat
of at least twenty drummers on the roof.
I'm awake anyway
watching the dark.
I have no exceptional worries
unless the dark begins watching me.

Ian Randall Wilson has published two chapbooks, Theme of the Parabola and The Wilson Poems, both from Hollyridge Press.  His fiction and poetry have appeared The Gettysburg Review and Alaska Quarterly Review.  He has an MFA in Fiction and in Poetry from Warren Wilson College. By day, he is an executive at Sony Pictures Entertainment.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Matt Borczon

In Afghanistan

when the
fighting got
really heavy
I would
be pulled
out of
the ward
and put
right up
front to
receive the
wounded from
the helicopter
there was
little I
could do
there except
clear away
blood hold
severed limbs
hand equipment
to nurses
and try
not to
get rattled
as soldiers
screamed
on those
days even
the sky
had teeth.



5 am

I am
heading
for the
gym I
have weights
to lift
a day
to start
words
to write
when our
youngest
daughter
who still
sleeps
with us
wraps her
arms around
me in
bed and
I realize
this morning
now belongs
to her.

Matt Borczon is a writer and nurse from Erie, Pa. He publishes widely in the small press. His book A Clock of Human Bones won the Yellow Chair Review chap book contest in 2015. His second book Battle Lines is available through Epic Rites Press and his third book Ghost Train will come out in 2017 from Weasel Press. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Rob Plath

my father prided himself on being
a thug, a leg breaker, a thief
whose every third word was cunt or motherfucker
& usually aimed at his own family
but he wouldn't allow his 12-year-old son
to have a miniature swiss army knife
i remember he grabbed it from my hands 
& kept it himself in the drawer
w/ other larger knives & a pistol
i loved the knife back then 
the way it snapped in & out of its thin bed 
but when i grew older & disinterested
in knives & bb guns 
i found i possessed another kind of edge 
passed down to me thru the centuries 
a beautiful blade sheathed in the skull
which grows sharper & sharper 
& never is in need of the grindstone

Rob Plath is a 46-year-old poet from New York. He has over a dozen books out. He is most known for his collection A BELLYFUL OF ANARCHY (epic rites press). He lives alone with his cat and stays out of trouble. See more of his work at http://www.robplath.com.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Carlos A. DeJuana

Day of the Dead

They walk among us,
snickering at our costumes
but secretly wishing
they could dress in our flesh.
While we lay marigolds
at their graves,
they sneak into our homes
through drafty windows
to catch up on Games of Thrones,
fast forwarding through commercials
so they can get back
before St. Peter locks the door.
Before they leave,
they rummage
through family albums
and flip through the photos on our phones
while we sleep,
desperately trying to remember
who they once were.

Carlos A. DeJuana spent nine years working as a journalist across Latin America before settling in Washington, DC, where he now works for the federal government.  His poetry has appeared in riverSedge, a literary journal published by the University of Texas-Pan American, and most recently in the online journal Synesthesia. He is married and has two daughters.  When he is not working, taking care of his girls, or writing, he greatly enjoys naps.

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
light.

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

however
briefly


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 amazon.com. 


Friday, September 16, 2016

Scott Wozniak

Sweat to Live

Today
I was at work
shoveling dirt,
moving
wheelbarrows
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,
“Endure,”
 
and how he’d
summed up
my whole
life.

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

mulching

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

Methamphetamine
                     ~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 jaysizemore.com, or, if you're a stalker, in Nashville, TN, where he may or may not really exist. 

Monday, August 8, 2016

Tom Darin Liskey

Stormbringers 

Those rough tongued river folk
South of the Missouri
Would confound me
With their open vowels
And sloppy consonants—
Pronouncing the word “hail” like “hell.”
I still blame them 
For my childhood fear of summer storms
When clouds blotted out the horizon,
And daylight turned black.
I would run and hide in the cellar
As storms rolled into the valley—
The farm reporter on the radio announcing:  
“Hell” was falling to earth.
But instead of brimstone, 
Destruction came  
In cold, hard clumps of ice—
Sometimes the size of my hand.
Hail that pinged off the rooftop 
Breaking windows and banging up cars. 
When I was a child 
I believed summer was the devil’s season.

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. 

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Dennis Mahagin

How To Make It w/ a ‘62 Reissue Japanese Fretless Jazz Bass

Plug her in
easy, easy, yet
with deliberate
reverence, there’s a click halfway
between shove
and pluck, just above a patch
of hum, and the stick… to love  
her you must play
some natural now lick the tip
of your paisley diamond
hard McCartney
plectrum,
then whip it
away.

Keep the EQ
flat, but push volume
between nine or
ten; don’t think about
the Mongoloid prodigy
banjo boy from
Deliverance,
his ghoulish sockets,
hootenanny
whites under iris, shameful
dungarees cum
doom,
and neither go near
the line
from Don Henley’s
Sunset Grille, your talent
isn’t there, and maybe
never, yet still
possessed
of enough heart
for foreplay, vibrato
and the effort
that kills…
hammer on, tremolo,
trill… pull off
a thing between the tongue
and teeth, the ninth
and thirteenth
phantom frets, so little
time left, as your wind
moans the lip
of a bottle, oh Yanni,
get you some, only the first 
sweet good note in years,
a couple more measures

and she’s begging for it,
under a firm growl
and meanness, the keening
between howls…
don’t think about poor Jaco
Pastorius, mad virtuoso
beaten down bloodied unto
death in a south Florida
alley,
but all the keys
you want to play in
still… and maybe
a touch
out of reach, but you will
go up
the neck as she makes
the sound to break hearts
of unreasonable men, art hangs
via balance, you tell the self
Kamasutra legato funk
in the moment
that never was
you, splitting
into two, the billionth harmonic
of every killing effort, multiple
upon multiple upon  
multiple, turn her
down some
son, -- trap
breath within
the slippery damping
and the mute, light years
now, the stunned
meteors will mouth
your prowess, echoes
sustain through
the coming
tears.


Dennis Mahagin is a poet and musician from the Pacific Northwest. He is the author, most recently, of the poetry collection, "Longshot & Ghazal" from Mojave River Press-- which will be available on Kindle, Nook, et al., by summer's end. Dennis is also poetry editor for the online magazine, FRiGG.