Editor’s Scratching Post: Catatonically Speaking
This Issue Dedicated to the Memory of Michelle Greenblatt
Death is never an easy topic to discuss, in monologue such as this, and especially in a
dialogue. It brings out all of the awkward silences and painful platitudes that we swear
we would repress in conversation – until death becomes a reality. And then the platitudes
and mournful silences become the only way we can really make clumsy sense of loss.
A few weeks ago, a dear person named Michelle Greenblatt passed away. I did not know
her well – our friendship, not even a year young by the time she started slipping deeper
into illness, was just beginning to blossom. But it had all the makings of a fruitful
friendship, and I was looking forward to one day meeting her. As it was, we lived in
neighboring states and corresponded online.
We knew each other through our literary connections. She was poetry editor of Unlikely
Stories, and she had solicited my verse to appear in the magazine. I was shocked that she
considered my work worthy of a magazine that published such high caliber writers. And
knowing what I did of her work, I was humbled and honored that she liked mine.
The fact is, Michelle’s verse was STUNNING. Over the summer, I wrote a review of her
book, Ashes and Seeds, because I felt that it merited at least two reviews in Clockwise
Cat (the first being by Sheila Murphy, which appeared in Femmewise Cat). I had
published Michelle in Femmewise Cat, and so I had known, of course, what a capable
talent she was. But somehow, I became so involved in that epic issue and its myriad
pieces that I failed to register just how devastatingly brilliant she was. When I was able to
settle down while on vacation at my boyfriend’s family’s house in France, and immerse
myself in Ashes and Seeds, I was astounded at what I was reading. Each line sizzled with
ferocious imagination and emotion. My review appears at the end of this issue. We have
also published a couple of poems she collaborated on with Kimberly Rae Lorenz-
Copeland toward the end of the issue. We are aiming to bookend the issue with attention
to Michelle’s talent.
When I returned from France, I was so looking forward to embarrassing Michelle with
what she would be sure to find hyperbolic praise. But Michelle had fallen cripplingly ill.
A sufferer of severe fibromyalgia, Michelle had battled the demons of pain, fatigue and
depression on a daily basis. So, I never got the chance to properly thank her for the
gorgeous gift of her words, except through a card I had sent to her about a week before
her death. I am still not sure whether she had gotten to read it. I sincerely hope she did.
I won’t selfishly insist that Michelle’s presence in my life had the same significance as it
did in the lives of those closest to her. She was loved profoundly by her husband and
family, and I grieve for them.
Nonetheless, I have been rattled by her death; our exchanges online made a large psychic
impact on me. Michelle was imbued with a depth of kindness and compassion that is
rarely witnessed. I am so thankful to have known her, however fleetingly. And I am so
sorry her precious life was so cruelly cut short, and that she had to endure such pain.
I am going to pay tribute to Michelle in the best way I can - by allowing her poetry to
flow through me and to magnify my own verse.
Michelle, you were uncommonly kind and uncommonly talented. May you now find the
peace you so richly deserved in your brief, brief life.
“I stroll amid the blended sounds while I search for syllables to describe the moon
arranged in awkward slices. Early spring and the north wind have me shivering. I set fire
to my memory; I funnel color after color, shape after shape into the flames. Afterwards
heat evaporates the night and the ashy wind seethes farewells into the darkness, walling
themselves into and around better sound.”
(Michelle Greenblatt, “Into and Around Better Sound”)
Editor’s note: The poems in this issue are adorned with images from female
Dadaists and Surrealists (such as Toyen and Hannah Hoch), among other artists.
From Mars or Someplace Way Out There in Nigh
Empty Black Space
By Edwin L. Young, PhD
I meet these everyday people enmeshed in the “dailyness” of everyday American life, playing,
watching flashy, childish, idiotic entertainment or cheering at some brutal sport, buying,
grooming, flirting, working in mindless, trivial, jobs, a few attending myopic religious services to
keep themselves safe from who knows what, or some few in status professions garnering cash
from gullible clients, and none of them ever giving a moments thought to the nature of human
existence or the origin and destiny or our minuscule planet wobbling around in a remote solar
system in one of billions of galaxies.
A bright, full moon slowly descended outside my window and down below the western mountain
ridges to be followed two hours later with sun rays kissing the tops of their glistening white heads
capping billion year old geologic formations just beneath them while crows, descendants, many
millions ago, from ferocious dinosaurs, begin encircling the fresh new rivers lined with fancy
outfitted parks, parking lots filing with shiny new cars and discarded cheap, health-degrading,
fast-foods, while many of their backyards’ garbage bins are overflowing with leftovers from
scrumptious, privileged American, expensive, bountiful, multi-course meals.
Postmen will deliver useless ads and bills for useless gadgets and pick up checks that
unnecessarily shrivel family bank accounts.
Adults all, after posthaste running on their treadmills, retire to imbibe awareness numbing
intoxicants, while the males tout their masochism or status and women display their taste in
fashion or their seductive voluptuousness, all playing their tired empty selves out until dear Lethe
drowns them all, with their weary-hope-filled, frustrated, consciousnesses, into oblivion.
Upon daybreak, un-self aware humans within their vast, unsustainable, surrounding lifesupporting,
but rapidly being depleted and polluted, nature, all will be denying their own, and
earth’s, eventual grave destinations, as they all awaken to pay no heed, no serious heed, to it all.
Of such is a fleeting glimpse into the denouement of our common human existence.
Two poems by Kris Hall
Do Svidaniya Saturday Night
Arnold Schwarzenegger compares
weight lifting to ejaculation
and I don't know at which point
I am most disturbed,
being in range of my friend's
impression or my total
After several months of not speaking to him
I find it appropriate to provide him
the skinny on my doldrums
They are puffy embroidered stars
that begin an ugly shade of measles
I am compelled to share them
with the universe but taking selfies
at my age feels ridiculous
If he spends the entire winter
building the Yurt only to leave it
for the Fox-tailed Grizzly,
at what level has he beaten me?
As I picture his epic fade
into the woods I recall the boy
who hanged himself high in the thicket
because of how free the inchworm looked
dangling from its skein
Your insufferable joy has gone straight
to my hips
Sleepless, fixated on the benefit
of resting pods
Desquamation from a brisk sojourn in
The whole department thinks I've cut
myself shaving / gills
This smile peels--& I have only thought about the seconds
clinking piano keys briefly
What else can be enchanted that does not
incur another insufferable joy? You expand
the text in my whisper balloon,
it’s shaped in bold black:
Petrichor and then the storm
Author bio: Kris Hall is a writer and event coordinator for Da'daedal from Seattle, WA. Author
of the chapbooks; Dillinger on the Beach (Horse Less Press) and Notes for Xenos Vesparum
(Shotgun Wedding). He has been featured in The Monarch Review, Pismire, and The EEEL.
TWO DRAWINGS BY DENNY E. MARSHALL
Artist bio: Denny E. Marshall has had art, poetry, & fiction published, some recently. One
recent credit would be Camel Saloon. See more at www.dennymarshall.com
The Fire Inside
Stone Carved Idol
By Michael Lee Johnson
Green Willow Tree
Green willow tree
late is the fall day
September 25 th
early calendar fall day,
I seek the virtue of changes.
I turned 63 years old to 64 years-
I’m a pattern of the seasons,
a flip of a calendar page.
76 degree day outside
Indian summer is in heat,
pounds the pavements
everyone still outwants
to fall in love
before the 1 st frost comes.
Love is a magnet of change.
Gray clouds hover urinating
Pissing, pissing, traditional verse.
Green grass last spurts of growth
belly up waiting for that last cut
of the landscapers blades.
Every love generates its own memory.
Lover’s reach out, prop,
gaze into each other's eyes,
fingertips together bowed out,
stretched out to slingeyes
dreamers of lemon and wine,
motorcycles, black big hummers,
taking the last spin, dusting off,
the last swim before the first snowflake falls.
Each day the calendar changes
seasons change new drifters,
turn to frost.
Green willow tree
late is the fall day
September 25 th.
Scholar In Exile, Wild Alberta Rose
I isolate myself
behind 4 wooden walls
I suck it all dry, swallow of
sore throat, Alberta sands, and mishaps.
Everything is a whore.
I 'm a nipple on the left side.
Learn about mishaps
and waitresses late,
My eyes are 2
glass block windows,
I keep the blinds pulled
Winter is a male bear,
quarters size spaces
fill the windows
popsicles no flavor
icicles in the Edmonton
Inside my cranium
mind fever generates
the light by which
this scholar reads.
My life is piled up,
in the dim of a kerosene lamp.
Divorce is always a scholars redundancy,
I retired 3 before I left.
My eyes are the size of reduced
quarters looking outside
past my eyelids.
Edmonton winters, everything
is a frozen bitch without heat.
At times I beg for company,
come inside my bungalow
or solicit my imaginary friends.
Scholars like strangers are usually alone.
The night stamps my envelope into darkness.
Outside my window spring will soon jump: wild roses.
Inside scholar in exile, wild Alberta rose.
Author bio: Michael Lee Johnson lived ten years in Canada during the Vietnam
era: now known as the Illinois poet, from Itasca, IL. Today he is a poet, freelance writer,
photographer who experiments with poetography (blending poetry with photography),
and small business owner in Itasca, Illinois, who has been published in more than 875
small press magazines in 27 countries, he edits 9 poetry sites. Michael is the author of
The Lost American: "From Exile to Freedom", several chapbooks of poetry, including
"From Which Place the Morning Rises" and "Challenge of Night and Day", and "Chicago
Poems". He also has over 72 poetry videos on YouTube.
Burn Baby Burn: The Shaming of the Confederate Bigot Flag
By Alison Ross
There are those insufferably PC individuals who want to poop on every sliver of progress
in the guise of claiming, "It's not enough." Well DUH. Of course it's not enough. It never
is. We should obliterate society and start all over again. But in the absence of razing
ourselves in order to save ourselves, we should always applaud even the most seemingly
"insignificant" bits of progress, because it means that enlightened conscience has
managed to thrash through the toxic murk of benighted ignorance, if only briefly, and if
only minimally. Besides, small humane actions accrue into larger gestures of humanity,
which can transmute into legal justice.
There are those "progressives" who couldn't grasp the outsized significance of the
Confederate Battle Flag coming down at the Statehouse in Columbia, South Carolina, in
the wake of the nine black people being shot down at an AME church by a Confederate
sympathizer. They protested, "but it won't eradicate racism." Well double fucking DUH.
Of course it won't eradicate racism. Naturally, in their smug sanctimoniousness, they
allowed themselves to miss the very salient fact that it was SOUTHERN
REPUBLICANS, vile souls that they are, leading the cause to get the flag taken down. So
what if they did it out of political expediency, to save themselves and their state a PR
nightmare? South Carolina has always been embroiled in some sort of PR nightmare
scenario. Embedded in that political expediency, anyway, is a bit of consciousness that
yes, symbols do hold sway after all. I feel certain that at least some of those Southern
Republicans have indeed clung to the flag as a emblem of heritage - dimly dismissing, of
course, the blinding fact that bigoted hatred has been an inextricable part of that heritage -
and were finally shamed into acknowledging that some people do use such symbols for
more sinister means.
Now that the flag is down, eventually, over time, it will hold less sway because it's not
being officially sanctioned, and while that will not evaporate bigotry and its manifold
manifestations, it will help to push it further to the fringes. For when symbols such as the
Confederate Battle Flag and the Swastika and so on are officially sanctioned - that is,
flown prominently on State property as the Confederate Flag is in many southern states,
emblazoned on license plates as in Georgia, and so on - then certain viciously ignorant
elements of society are going to internalize that as validating their own bigotry. Taking
the flag down from state property - as has been done in Alabama (hurriedly and without
fanfare) and in South Carolina (after an absurd debate which allowed regressive morons
to further expose their idiocy) - delegitimizes this hateful, oppressive symbol. To
minimize this issue is to not grasp history.
For, as the historical record shows, the Confederate Battle Flag was raised in response to
civil rights. The Confederate Battle Flag was not even flying at the South Carolina
Statehouse until civil rights movement began to gain traction. Originally, when it was
installed at the Statehouse, the battle flag was flying over the Statehouse, but it was
removed to another place on Statehouse property amid controversy. My mother, a
University of South Carolina professor and American Literature scholar, was one in a
chorus of voices that officially protested the flag being on state property at all. Indeed,
the NAACP boycotted South Carolina in protest over the fact that it refused to fully
remove the flag.
Of course, it took a tragedy of immense proportions to just spur the debate of whether the
flag should be removed. Nine hapless souls were heartlessly gunned down when a selfavowed
white supremacist joined a prayer group at an AME church in Charleston.
Pictures of Columbia resident Dylann Roof posing with Confederate Battle Flags and
other Confederate memorabilia humiliated state officials into calling for the flag's
removal. Their cherished emblem had been co-opted by extremists, they said - blithely
brushing aside the damning reality that the emblem itself was an extremist statement.
In the wake of the Charleston tragedy, the biggest flag maker announced it would stop
manufacturing Confederate Battle Flags, and Wal-Mart and Amazon announced they
would stop selling the flag as well as t-shirts of the flag. Naturally, Mall Wart should also
go ahead and ban the sales of weapons, too, and go ahead, really, and just ban itself, since
it's en evil entity that destroys communities and enslaves its workers. But the point is,
Mal Wart took a positive step. Does Mal Wart deserve applause? Perhaps not, but it
deserves recognition for doing something right, because the more we publicize the Right
Thing Being Done, the more the right thing will be done.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, over 500 extremist groups use the
Confederate Battle Flag as one of their symbols. Bigoted symbols legitimize people's
bigotry ... they give it a concrete visual. If you shame that symbol, then you shame the
bigotry. Over time, once the bigotry is shamed, fewer people feel safe expressing that
bigotry openly. Over time, the open expressions of bigotry fade, and hearts begin to
change. It will not happen overnight, and we will always struggle with bigotry. But the
flag coming down will have a significant cumulative impact, just as the civil rights
movement had a significant impact in changing people's perspective about race.
Progress, however meek, should always be celebrated. To deny celebration of progress is
to deny progress at all. I would have preferred for Bree Newsome's brave act in taking
down the Confederate Flag to have been the final word. Actually, I would have preferred
for the Confederate Flag to have been burned - and all symbols of hate to be burned,
including, yes, even the American flag, since it symbolizes oppression of its own people
and those abroad (drones, anyone?). Flags are dumb. But since this is the system and
society we have, I say, celebrate the hell out of that flag coming down, by whatever
Cirque des Cercles
By Richard King Perkins II
Like a vein of gold, you left me
in the center of forgotten, still to miss
the rise of trivia. Alleys blotted
with dusk’s red trifles. Yet it wasn’t the
swaths of cinnabar collapsing in the fireplace
that stilled us. Bright prisons followed us
everywhere— except when we needed
The cirque des cercles on the
stitched rug are openings to an underworld.
The longest darkness. Creatures forming
from the demon’s molten feet in the eons
after Damascus appeared above the earth.
An age of whale chant rising like slabs
on the strand. But the day’s first child
cries out the simplest man’s name into the sky.
Such a mind; a gateway to the clouds.
Perpetual reiver, break me into timelessness,
for the will perseveres in its completeness
rather than its fragmentation. Then the moon
leaves off and the rug swallows down remnants
of gold and bone. The deepening of essentials.
Promenades swathed in dawn’s great monument.
Left alone in unending expanses of pitch white
freedom— even when we needed it least.
Because I was always your slave.
And you were always mine.
Author bio: Richard King Perkins II is a state-sponsored advocate for residents in long-term care
facilities. He lives in Crystal Lake, IL with his wife and daughter. He is a three-time Pushcart and
a Best of the Net nominee whose work has appeared in more than a thousand publications.
These are the animals and these are the personalities of the animals
By Jon Bennett
I was watching a crow play with a dog
the dog would mouth it and let go
the crow would fly a couple feet
roll on its back, wait for the dog,
then fly off again.
They were friends,
made me think about
the penned pigs
the blood and death, of course,
and of the people
than a pig eating someone’s baby
like in Grapes of Wrath
because of the cruelty
or not, I don’t know,
all I know is
there were the animals
and there were the personalities
of the animals
and the more I knew it
the sadder it was.
Author bio: Jon Bennett is a Pushcart Award nominated poet who writes and plays
music in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood. His novel, “The Unfat,” speculative
science fiction involving autism, as well as his cd “Submarine,” are available through his
website,www.jonbennett.info. You can also find him on Pandora.com and Amazon.com.
By Brad Nolen
Goliath was a little boy who did as he damn well pleased.
Goliath was a strapping boy who saw his day and seized.
Goliath, he caught lightning bugs, and
Goliath sometimes squeezed.
Goliath always chose his friends and made his enemies.
Goliath, he did smile so wide, and
Goliath stood so tall.
Goliath was a real big boy who said he’d get it all.
Goliath meant to be so rough and make the others fall.
Goliath was an only-child, who went home with his ball.
Goliath, he played all the games, as good as anyone.
Goliath played them hard.
Goliath had his fun.
Goliath, he, the golden boy, always played and won.
Goliath liked to make up rules as he went along. But
Goliath, he was just a boy, and like a boy he grew;
Goliath soon became a man, virile through and through.
Goliath soon kissed all the girls.
Goliath soon got laid.
Goliath was always cool as hell when he took them by the braids.
Goliath always took them out.
Goliath always paid.
Goliath took the scenic route and never left a maid.
Goliath fucked, and told his friends, while he thumped ‘em in their nads.
Goliath fucked his buddies’ moms.
Goliath fucked their dads.
Goliath left them bleeding.
Goliath gave them crabs.
Goliath fucked his buddies and then sent them home in cabs.
Goliath of the donkey punch,
Goliath slapped that ass,
Goliath, he took pictures, and he leaked them to the press.
Goliath shared the footage of his lovers saying “yes!”
Goliath covered all of them with cum and blood and cess.
Goliath, he, the ravisher,
Goliath, he, the jock,
Goliath always had his way with fingers, teeth and tongue, and cock.
Goliath ate so well on stolen squash and corn and beans.
Goliath, he grew fat as hell on sugarcane and greens.
Goliath ate the holy host.
Goliath ate sardines.
Goliath, he ate very well, for he was a man of means.
Goliath wolfed down innocence, battered-well and fried;
Goliath had it served up hot with catchup on the side.
Goliath ate the icebox plums, and unlike William, lied.
Goliath left the sharing-bowls never-even-tried.
Goliath stabbed with silver forks and cut with steely knives.
Goliath scooped with razor-spoons the honey from the hives.
Goliath dined in restaurants.
Goliath fed in dives.
Goliath chewed up citizens with sour cream and chives.
Goliath drank the blood-red wines,
Goliath, the whites.
Goliath ate the grapes and vines in giant heaping bites.
Goliath, he went straight to work putting little folks to work.
Goliath went about in his three-piece suit and smirk.
Goliath treated people like a callous fucking jerk.
And when the working folks revolted,
Goliath went berserk.
Working folks made unions; but
Goliath broke them up.
Working folks filled pensions; but
Goliath spilled their cups.
Folks here used to make things; but
Goliath shipped their jobs.
Folks soon came to understand that
Goliath woos then robs.
When folks begged for security;
Goliath sent their sons to war.
And when they cried for amity,
Goliath spat and swore.
Folks woke up in poverty, but
Goliath loosed a snore.
Folks began to call for love, but
Goliath shouted, “Whores!”
Folks here used to dream a dream that hard work would suffice, but
Goliath used the splendid dream to peddle lust and vice.
Goliath became a fighter.
Goliath, he got mean.
Goliath built an Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines.
Goliath built the biggest god-damned war-making machine.
Goliath held the greatest force the Earth had ever seen.
Goliath, the aggressor,
Goliath, the evil scheme,
Goliath, the lone wolf and pre-emptive violence meme,
Goliath, the peacekeeper,
Goliath, The Scream,
Goliath, the empire,
Goliath, the theme,
Goliath of the A-bomb, the H-bomb and the nuke,
Goliath, the mad, MAD momentary fluke,
Goliath of the sucker-punch,
Goliath, the old one-two,
Goliath with the uppercut,
Goliath landed many blows before the bell’s appeal,
Goliath of the crystal jaw and the naked, tender heel.
Goliath built a theme park and his darkest heart’s display.
Goliath built his swan song down on Old Man Castro’s bay.
Goliath took his big stick out and waved it toward the fray.
Goliath shouted “Fuck you!” from Strawberry Fields 1 of play.
Goliath sent his soldiers and his doctors of despair.
Goliath sent his minions in to run the brutal fair.
Goliath sent them patrons too, to do with as they dared.
Goliath grinned and injured men, as Old Man Castro stared.
Goliath built drowning booths, forced-feeding stands and zoos
of snarling German shepherds and their snarling handlers too.
Goliath sent in madhouse owls to peck&peck&peck until they knew
how many licks it takes to get to the center of the truth.
Goliath built TortureLand where the dying man could hear
the screams of all the patrons as they answered for his fear.
Author bio: Brad Nolen is a writer and founding member of the Lizella Independent
Poets Society, the finest bunch of dilettantes and semi-professional osculators this side of
Hopewell Church Road. Baptized in the muddy trickle known as Echeconnee Creek and
bestowed with the flour-sack tongue of a down-home eschatologist, Brad writes with a
whimsical defiance, supplanting convention with a novelty so familiar that he seems to be
writing your very own thoughts as you think ‘em, and all you can think is ”The end is
Nehi!” He can usually be found sitting cross-legged atop a red, clay mound with a dusty
copy of The Threepenny Opera or shoulder-deep in the Ocmulgee River balancing a
guilty grin and a libation.
By Felino Soriano
from Oscillating Echoes
rise of gregarious
wandering syllable-sounding round
movements, inward recollections a
brand of sound sounding such
as the mother’s suspecting praise and
woven hybrid of embrace/talk serenade
long and enwrapping into raise and
distance is windows
structured dilemmas of
what engages atop splayed purpose
and intuitive plurals of persons’
and what is near is blurs of turquoise
installing softened paths to
with motivated tributes
curtailing past with a long-edge
Author bio: Felino A. Soriano is a poet documenting coöccurrences. His poetic
language stems from exterior motivation of jazz music and the belief in language’s
unconstrained devotion to broaden understanding. His work has been nominated for the
Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net anthologies. Recent poetry collections include Forms,
migrating, Of isolated limning, Mathematics, Espials, watching what invents perception,
and Of these voices. He edits the online journal, Of/with: journal of immanent renditions.
He lives in California with his wife and family and is a director of supported living and
independent living programs providing supports to adults with developmental
disabilities. Visit felinoasoriano.info for more information.
I Want Our Movement Back
By Diana May Waldman
I want our movement back. It almost seems lost and I want it back. I want us to move out
of the fear and away from the political jargon, the talking heads. I want them to stop
telling lies about women. I want them to get off Planned Parenthood’s back. Stay out of
our vaginas and keep their hands out of our shirts.
My mother, a staunch Catholic, defied her church and took birth control pills. She didn't
want any more kids. She already had four mouths to feed and piles of laundry.
I watched her evolve from a homemaker with four kids, to a woman who listened to what
she was hearing outside of her door. She wanted what the feminists of the 60s and 70s
were talking about.
Yet, she quickly learned that the once unified groups of women began to divide when
there was talk about "Right to Life" and "Pro-Choice."
It was Roe v. Wade. And most didn’t realize that Roe v. Wade had little to do with
owning our bodies, and our right to do this or that, but was a ruling that had more to do
with the time when a fetus could be considered a human life.
People just drew a line in the sand. Failed to talk about what it really was.
Because then, nobody wanted to talk about it. It became easier, less of hassle not to give
your opinion, but instead sneak those pills or risk a coat hanger abortion.
It's the same kind of thinking toward Planned Parenthood. Just mention the word,
'abortion" and some people go batshit crazy. They don't see anything beyond that point or
don't even want to hear the truth.
The women of the 60s and 70s often found their sexual liberation unfulfilling. They had
to deal with the increased risk of pregnancy. They had to deal with no economic equality
or security. Women ended up bearing the costs associated with pregnancy, motherhood,
and abortion, and often were forced to turn to welfare to support their families.
Planned Parenthood offers choices. Gee, what a concept--that women have choices.
The movements of the 1960s and 70s all did something, made changes, but I am not sure
they did enough. It's not enough because women keep getting knocked down--over and
over. We keep getting labeled and pushed to the back of the room. We're whores, sluts,
loud-mouthed bitches. We're men-hating feminists.
Bullshit. It's all bullshit.
My idea of feminism is doing away with all the stereotypes. I am an intelligent human
being first. I don't have a grudge against men. I don't want to be a man. I love being a
Feminism means educating both men and women about the proper treatment and respect
of one another. Why do we even have to continue to fight for the right to control our
OWN bodies? Think about that.
One of my greatest journeys in life has been overcoming an insecurity that never really
belonged to me in the first place and learning to truly not give a shit about all things that
Nothing really matters until we ratify the Equal Rights Amendment in all states. That is
when change will come and they will stop using us as pawns. When we finally have the
ERA in place this shit will finally stop.
I want our movement back. A movement that is huge. Something powerful, hard to stop.
I want a movement into love. I want a movement in which we can all inhabit this planet
together as brothers and sisters, in peace. A movement in which you learn to love
yourself first and realize that WOMEN are world’s most untapped living resource and we
can no longer live on the side of fear.
We can no longer listen to the lies.
Author bio: Diana May-Waldman is an award-winning journalist whose articles and
poetry have appeared in numerous journals. She was also co-editor with her husband,
Mitchell Waldman (author of PETTY OFFENSES AND CRIMES OF THE HEART) of
the anthologies HIP POETRY 2012 (Wind Publications, 2012)), and WOUNDS OF
WAR: POETS FOR PEACE, and is Poetry Editor for Blue Lake Review. She is a strong
women's and children's advocate.
By John Doyle
Being a Bee in Someone's Bonnet
Life begins at 40?
Life begins at 39, as you
pour yourself non-tactfully
in Jacuzzis of rugby club, private school pretty boys
arfing and yoffing and guffawing in that unique dialect
where future-father in-laws are unaware of destruction
their daughters will face,
bugling glory holes, minority communities tap dancing under gunshots at feet.
Life begins as you pour your scorn and 4 days without shaving
Steve McQueen/Walter Matthau face
in their faces, silencing their chat
like air kabooms from stabbed balloons
Mise-en-scène - "protein shake Adonis
drags his chlorine dripping calf muscles away, quiet on set, ACTION!"...
In single-file please boys
that tramp who invades
an umbrella glint from pond water
tempted by breeze
speckling their superior kind
all is green
this Kennedy-esque 1942 lounging
some are bastard goldfish
Koi cannot speak so prick via gossiping fin
Author bio: John Doyle, 39, is from County Kildare, Ireland, As well as being a huge
fan of European Sawkerball (and proud h8r of the English Premiership) he sometimes
finds time to write poems in between his passive aggressive mood swings. He is also
known to write in Irish (Gaelic as it's known to morbidly obese tourists called Beauregard
and Mabel from Buttcrack, Iowa) and wishes the entire universe was made from the
Beach Boys' Sunflower album.
Two Texto-Visual Poems
By Vernon Frazer
Author bio: Vernon Frazer’s most recent books of poetry include Selected
IMPROVISATIONS, T(exto)-V(isual) Poetry and Unsettled Music. Enigmatic Ink has
published Frazer’s new novel, Field Reporting. Frazer’s web site is
http://www.vernonfrazer.net. Bellicose Warbling, the blog that updates his web page, can
be read at http://bellicosewarbling.blogspot.com/, His work, including the longpoem
IMPROVISATIONS,may also be viewed at Scribd.com. In addition to writing poetry and
fiction, Frazer also performs his poetry, incorporating text and recitation with animation
and musical accompaniment on YouTube. Frazer is married.
By Peycho Kanev
Author bio: Peycho Kanev is the author of 4 poetry collections and two chapbooks,
published in USA and Bulgaria. He has won several European awards for his poetry
and he’s nominated for the Pushcart Award and Best of the Net. His poems have
appeared in many literary magazines, such as: Poetry Quarterly, Evergreen Review,
Hawaii Review, Cordite Poetry Review, Sheepshead Review, Off the Coast, The
Adirondack Review, Two Thirds North, Sierra Nevada Review, The Cleveland Review
and many others.
My job is my life. Hell no!
Only if my life was insignificant.
I like to stretch in the bed until
the late afternoon and to drink pots
and pots of coffee. Remember Balzac?
And to smoke cigarettes. Hell yes!
Nicotine is my heroin, and to drink
wine and vodka and whiskey and
the sadness of the written word.
I believe in the refusal to work and
the fundamental wrongness of it all.
The moment when I’m done, it will be
the beginning of something new – after all
afterlife has to start somewhere.
The man’s life, like a racing car,
quickly turns into brittle bones, spittle
and grey old age.
That is why I say faith can grasp
the meaning of our life and turn it
That is why I say you have to be ready
Three Perplexed Notes
Is there any irrefutable evidence that we really die, save for
the termination of all biological functions that sustain the living
organisms? What if death, having failed to knock, just bursts in
and demands to take you away? I look at the yellow and blue
bird on the windowsill awash in light. Who knows for sure.
The dodo bird peers at us from the paintings as a warning for
something that inevitably will happen. Today’s birds twitter
sadder songs. O, sing to me, Whitman…
The child’s tears, like shiny Koh-‐i-‐Noors, fall right through
the ground as if it were nothing.
Where Have All the Consumers Gone? Oh.
They Got Shot: A Logical Appeal to
Politicians Concerning Gun Policy Reform
By Jessica Wiseman Lawrence
A young man feels hopeless. His classmates call him a loser and the girl he likes laughed
at him when he finally got up the nerve to ask her out. He looks in the mirror and doesn't
like what he sees. As awkward as any of us are in those cruel pre-teen to young adult
years, he feels like he doesn't fit in. He blames "alpha" males and other "normals." He's
not supposed to tell anyone how he feels. His mother doesn’t have enough money to pay
thousands of dollars for counseling not covered by her insurance, and he doesn't want to
be called a “pussy.” He goes online where no one can see him, and finds a message board
where other young men, just like him, can express their outrage.
Their logo? A cartoon frog wearing some stupid shit on its face. They call themselves
"Robots." They plan school shootings in terrifying detail. They call themselves the Beta
Uprising, and they have fallen in love with our unique American phenomenon: The
School Shooting. Members of the 4Chan message boards give him ideas of what gun to
purchase, how to maximize his kills, and the correct way to "spray" bullets. He is advised
to walk into a school where no metal detector present could alarm anyone to his motives,
go into each classroom, force entire classes of students to gather in a corner, brandish his
weapon, and open fire.
This is not an action movie. A hero does not appear. A tough teacher does not grab a gun
out of her desk and shoot back. No music plays in the background and no one is on their
couch watching it and eating fucking popcorn. This is real. This is about real people, not
actors. This is about mothers, fathers, husbands, and wives. This is about someone's
children, killed by someone else's child. The latest mass shooting in Oregon washed over
America like waves on a beach- something we all have grown all too used to see coming,
washing away, then coming back for us again.
America's schools have become playgrounds for people such as this young man, a
representation of a group of young men who are bullied, tormented, and vengeful. Lax
gun laws, a culture averse to conflict resolution, political apathy toward the safety of
schools, and pitiful mental health services contribute to their deadliness. Teachers are
taught how to best hide their preschool students and how to try to keep them quiet so as
not to attract attention. You know, so they don’t die. Because that’s what school in the
good ol’ USA is all about.
Launa Hall's 2014 Washington Post article titled "Rehearsing for Death" tells the story all
too well, as she writes that in her teacher handbook she is informed that there is a chance
that one day, she may need to fight for her survival. How many of us have employee
handouts that simply state that we have a good likelihood of dying at our job? More
recently, Melissa Duclos wrote an open letter to Congress, asking for lawmakers to stand
up for their citizens and make it more difficult for firearms to fall into the wrong hands.
The comments section under this online article rang out with cries of “arm the teachers!”
and “Don’t take our guns, Libtard!” America's schools are becoming a battleground, and
ultra-conservative "Wild-West" fantasies only feed the fire.
It is easy to obtain a firearm in America. It's easier than getting a driver's license, or a car
to drive once you have that license. It's easier to purchase, paperwork-wise, a gun than a
home. It’s easier to access a gun than a higher education. It's easier than exercising your
right to vote. When I bought my car, I had to sort through a mess of paperwork a file
folder thick. I signed my name so many times I imagined it must be how signing
autographs must feel. Buying my house took four months. Obtaining prescription
medication for my daughter's asthma is a process that takes a week, with the necessary
medical appointment, insurance approval, and showing my ID at the pharmacy. Voting
requires presenting my registration card, and soon, I will need to also present a special
government ID as well. Anyone who would like a checking account doesn't think twice
about the approval and verification process.
But let me inform you as to how a few cowards obtained their weapons. I will not use
their names. They deserve to be forgotten.
In the July 2015 Lafayette movie theater shooting, two people were killed and nine others
were injured when a man denied a concealed weapons permit, who had a history of
violence and mental illness, legally bought a .40-caliber semiautomatic pistol at a
pawnshop. A young man convicted of drug possession was able to purchase a .45 Glock
when a Federal employee completing the background check failed to note his police
record. A man with a domestic violence protection order against him bought a gun when
another check "fell through the cracks." His gun, proudly displayed in the home, soon
found a purpose: his son later took that gun to school, texted some of his schoolmates to
join him in the cafeteria, and shot them. In 2012, a man in Aurora, CO who was seeing a
psychiatrist for severe mental illness legally purchased a weapon, then killed twelve
people in a movie theater. One of the victims was a six-year-old girl. She had just learned
how to swim. Her parents wanted to make sure she wanted to know how to swim to
protect her from drowning. There was nothing to protect her from bullets.
But back to these shooters and their easily-gotten guns. Six people were killed in Tucson,
Arizona by a young man who was forced to withdraw from community college because
of the danger he posed to his fellow students. Have you had enough yet? Here's a
surprise: Federal law states that if a background check is not completed within three days,
a gun must be sold to the applicant, regardless of whether or not the background check
has been completed. That's what happened when two handguns were purchased to kill
thirteen people at the American Civic Association in Binghamton, NY. The shooter
would not have been able to purchase the weapons if the check had been completed and
his history had been uncovered. People applying for credit cards don't simply receive
them after three days no matter what. Creditworthiness must be established first.
This is insanity. Some politicians would shrug and say "stuff happens." I say it's time for
a change. And let's get one thing straight: I'm no gun-hater; I like to shoot for recreation.
That's right. I understand and support the right to own a reasonable firearm (I’m not sure
why I or a regular citizen would need an automatic weapon). We can't ignore that our
country was once protected by, and defended by, militia. We can't pretend that we've
always been able to just get meat from the store and there was never a real need to
survive by hunting. We can’t honestly believe that everyone who owns a firearm would
gleefully give it up and that no one would have a gun if they were banned.
But we also can't pretend that some of the recent mass shootings in our country, in which
900 people have been killed, and only in our country, couldn't have been prevented if the
young men mentioned above had been required, by law, to pass background checks,
register their firearm, obtain a license to use it, renew those registrations and licenses
yearly, pay insurance, pass safety courses, and follow strict gun laws.
If we can do this for our cars, we can do it for our guns. A woman I greatly respect
brought up an incredibly valid point the other day: cars kill people, too. I agree. That’s
why car ownership and a driver’s license are treated as responsibilities, not rights. I saw
an ad in an online yard sale the other day. It was for a handgun. Seventy dollars. For
seventy dollars, you can buy a gun from an individual and have no need to register it. The
same yard sale featured a Honda Civic for sale. The details included that the seller would
help pay the DMV fee to turn over the title.
When a person chooses to own a firearm for protection, hunting, or recreation, they have
decided to own something designed for wars, designed to rip apart internal organs and
end life in a terrifyingly efficient way. They must accept that they will be expected to
lock them up. They must accept that they can't sell them to just anyone, and also accept
that they may need to wait a day or two to get the gun. And if they have a history of
violence and disobeying the law, they need to be damn ready to accept that they do NOT
deserve the right to own a firearm.
Of course, regulation alone would not end all gun violence. People will steal them. I
repeat: people will lie and cheat, and people will steal them. People will shoot people.
Americans appear to enjoy having the right to kill each other with guns if they see fit. In
our current climate, I would argue that politicians need us to have that right, so they can
shrug and say "stuff happens”* while we can continue our distraction with daily living
and forget the real threat, as we're too busy killing each other.
Let’s talk about the children running this country. Oh. Let me be clear. When I say
"children," I am not referring to the children of Sandy Hook who never opened their
Christmas presents, or the child yesterday, who grabbed a gun out of his father's bedroom
and shot the little girl next door for not letting him pet her new puppy. No. Not those
children. I am talking about the powerful children in Washington, who treat election wins
like hitting the lottery instead of the service and responsibility that that those wins are
supposed to entail.
Blaming. Our President insinuated that the Republican party is to blame for lax gun laws.
Republicans in turn blamed the President for focusing more on healthcare than gun
reform. Oh, how precious. Look at the children on the playground saying, "It's his fault!
No! it's his." OK. Thank you, Washington. Are you done now? Because I'm a mother and
I am scared to death that my child appears to have a damn good chance of observing gun
violence in her lifetime. I observed it two weeks ago, as gunshots rang out near the
parking lot of my workplace. Two people having an argument and you know, shooting
each other, as American arguments are beginning to end with terrifying frequency. I have
heard or read of elected officials, people who are supposed to be our leaders, our brilliant
minds, our protectors, saying things such as "Well, you can kill someone with anything.
Let's ban all knives!" or "People won't obey the laws, anyway."
Guess what? Guns kill more efficiently than knives, and if we abolished every law that
had ever been broken by an individual? Well, that’s just ridiculous, right? No need for
laws if a minority of folks won’t obey them. There's the Wild West that many of our
Congressmen idolize- their childhood hero, John Wayne, saving the day. A pistol in each
hand, shooting from the hip.
Except there is no John Wayne. There is only the smear of blood left on the ground as yet
another schoolchild is dragged from the scene of yet another massacre. I honestly doubt
that I'm smarter than the men and women voted into office in this country. They must
know this as well. They have to know their arguments are, for the lack of a better word,
So why the resistance to gun reform? Can we say it all together? Money. Oh, yes. Let's
talk about money, then put an argument together that even the greediest politician may
stop and think about, for a second, before that round of golf.
In 2015 so far, a portion of the NRA's lobbying expenditures have reached
over $1,795,000. These are the public figures, not the sly under-the-table deals. I took a
paperclip from work yesterday. Imagine what goodies politicians take. I know it would
be hard to say no to that kind of money. It's easy to cry foul, start throwing around the
word greedy, and be disgusted. But think: if you were offered a fraction of that money to
take care of your family, wouldn't you be tempted to take it? Yes, our politicians are
supposed to be above those temptations, but they are not. I’d say many politicians need a
monetary reason to take a dump, much less lose money to protect people they don’t even
know. In the past few days, I've seen so many open letters to lawmakers, pleading,
"Think of our children." To these well-meaning and heartfelt writers, I have to say – I can
promise you that Congress does not care about your children. If you want them to hear
you, you can’t go around talking in “lower middle-class” when they speak “politician.”
Tell them instead what they’ve lost without gun reforms in place.
From this past slaughter, politicians lost ten votes. Capitalism lost ten workers. The US lost
hundreds of thousands of tax dollars that would have been taken from their paychecks during their
lifetimes. Their children will never be born. All those potential tax dollars never came to be. Wal-
Mart lost generations of customers. Monsanto lost those same generations. Consumers died, and
capitalism WILL die without enough consumers. Politicians may say, “stuff happens” now, and
chuckle about letting us kill each other off so they don’t have to hear our whining. But without
enough of us buying shit, well, let’s just say “Bye-bye, Super PAC.” The more people politicians
'allow' to live, the more money they stand to make in the long run. Appealing to their emotions will
not work. They did not get where they are now with emotions. They do not think of the rest of us as
humans. They think of us as resources. It's not fun to know I'm a peasant to an elite group, but I'll
take it if some reforms can come out of this. Because I do care about children, and I know you do
too, reader (unless the reader is a politician, in which case, read only the paragraph above. The rest
is nothing you would understand; you’d need a heart to get it).
We know all of this is up to Washington. You might ask yourself what it is going to take for change
to take place. One only needs to learn a bit about the Creigh Deeds tragedy in Virginia. Sentator
Deeds' son, a sufferer of mental illness, could not be legally detained for treatment, even though he
was a proven danger to himself and others. According to past state law, because a mental
health placement could not be found for him, he was turned away and "streeted," a term describing a
patient's release. The Senator was stabbed by his own son, then lost his son to suicide that day. He
has since focused his energy and power to mental health reform and a positive remembrance of his
son's life. Deeds is now truly a hero for the mentally ill, and I believe his efforts will effect
incredible change in Virginia. As a politician, he has not yet appeared to realize that insurance costs
for mental health must be lowered, and education about mental health must be widespread, but I
think he’ll get there. He may be the exception to the heartless politician rule, but just think about
what it took to get him there.
And this is what it will take for Washington to change its mind about gun reform. I may be crass
here, and the Southern Girl in me cannot believe what I am about to say, but the moment one of
those powerful men or women's children hit the ground, dead and a victim of gun violence, that is
when we will likely see change. They are not immune. I’m sure there are wealthy “beta” boys in
exclusive schools, walking the halls with politicians’ sons and daughters, feeling like a shooting is
their only way to be remembered. I’m sure there are wealthy boys online right now, learning about
this Beta Uprising and their merry band of sickos. Tragedy can happen to politicians just as easily as
it happens to us. One day, one of those boys is going to kill a senator’s beautiful daughter who had a
bright future and the world at her feet.
What change will this grieving politician make? I hope the change involves an enforced waiting
period before buying a gun, complete background checks, limits on the kinds of guns that can be
sold,where they can be sold, licensing, and education. I hope they finally realize that guns are not a
simple possession, like a lamp or a digital photo frame.
I hope this parent, whose money and influence could not protect them from the problem they so
staunchly support, creates strict laws holding the parents of underage shooters responsible. I hope
they change one of the maximum sentences for attempted murder from a $50,000 fine into a real
punishment. I hope they will begin to listen. Maybe it's a dream. I've always been a daydreamer. But
hey, while I'm dreaming, how about they make those changes right now before they ever know the
loss that thousands of American parents have experienced since the Columbine massacre? Why is it
going to take their initiation into that terrible club for a difference to be made?
Look at me. I’m no different. When gun violence was plaguing poor neighborhoods, the same poor
neighborhoods where I grew up years earlier, I wrote no essays. I didn’t cry at night over them. I
didn’t realize it until our obsession with accessible firearms and hot-headed violence bled over into
the neighborhoods where I fought to live now. I’m so ashamed of that ignorance and blindness. I
plead for politicians to never have to feel this way. I say to them - look at the numbers. Think of
And for fuck’s sake, if you can, try to think of our children so you don’t have to mourn your own.
A Note on Teotihuacan
By Mark Young
In order to abide
by the precepts
of The Loneliness of
the Long Distance
Runner which is / their
holy book, some moths
retire from politics
but still continue to
produce distinctive fibers
based on the use of
quartz & similar polymorphs.
rounded up so they
do not become a
when their final digit
is rounded down. The
rest, once sufficient
radiation has been
absorbed, are left
to complete the
frescoes on the walls
of the Pyramids of
the Moon & the Sun.
As members of the
company of the faithful
this is part of their
duty. In this way
a one-party state.
Author bio: Mark Young is the editor of Otoliths, lives in a small town in North
Queensland in Australia, and has been publishing poetry for more than fifty-five years.
His work has been widely anthologized, and his essays and poetry translated into a
number of languages. He is the author of over twenty-five books, primarily poetry but
also including speculative fiction & art history. A new collection of poems, Bandicoot
habitat, was recently published by gradient books of Finland.
By Diana May Waldman
I want a penis
I want to give birth to it
so I can teach it to be nice,
Teach it to be gentle,
teach it how to love.
I want it to ejaculate itself on the floor
spread it into the wood
and teach it how to be perfect history
without war and bloody hands.
I want to wash it, dry it
hang it out on a sunny day.
I want to set it on the window seal
have it look out at the flowers,
look to the sky and listen to the sound
of a child's laughter.
I want to introduce it to my friends,
have them pet it nicely, never being afraid.
I want my penis to feel the tears of women
and understand the cruelty of its nature.
I want my penis to be death, never listening
to the voices that define what it means to be a man.
If I were rich, I would pay people to stop being assholes.
We're traveling in different circles
traveling fast and nowhere
I don't want the glitz,
the glamor the accolades,
pats on the a back
don't want the fame
don't want the money
no shiny cars
big rock diamonds
clicking of cameras
No, I don't want to be a best seller
or pretend I am Bukowski making a living off the word "fuck"
I just want a garden to feed the world
want peace and love
and more love
never enough love
I want buckets of love
to spread around
want to pistol whip love on baby killers,
rapist, wife beaters, kidnappers
No, I don't want the money
don't want to be rich
just want the power,
power to stop you.
Author bio: Diana May-Waldman is an award-winning journalist whose articles and
poetry have appeared in numerous journals. She was also co-editor with her husband,
Mitchell Waldman (author of PETTY OFFENSES AND CRIMES OF THE HEART) of
the anthologies HIP POETRY 2012 (Wind Publications, 2012)), and WOUNDS OF
WAR: POETS FOR PEACE, and is Poetry Editor for Blue Lake Review. She is a strong
women's and children's advocate.
Paper . . .
By Holly Holt
If the question formed,
as they all do, from that
part of the brain where puzzles
of crossword intellect checker
in a quest to solve king’s riddle,
I would answer it to you,
Paper, skinned from trees
stolen from bluebird Junes,
and butchered by Jane.
Love, you say, you ask, you know,
you demand, you pose, you wager.
Love is a narrowed view of living,
an idea that time has deadened.
The queen must guard the kingdom,
and has no time to waste energy
pursuing what eludes the elusive.
Paper, worry not -- I won’t abuse you
as so many writers have before;
declaring love of “him” who thrives
on absenting himself on a whim.
Know I am like your bluebirds,
free to fly wherever I choose,
without the threat of decimation,
so rain will not mar you
to smudge what is aptly stated
once, here -- and never again.
There is no growth in limitation --
and Darcy broods like a teenage girl.
Author bio: H. Holt has been writing poetry, short stories, and novel-length work since
she was eleven. In 2013, she began attempting to get her work published, and has attained
moderate success. Further, she is a member of The Southern Collective Experience,
which is a movement geared towards Southern art. She lives in the mountains of North
Georgia with her books, her dreams, and an assortment of BiC pens.
By Kris Hall
Do Svidaniya Saturday Night
Arnold Schwarzenegger compares weight lifting to ejaculation and I don't know at
which point I am most disturbed, being in range of my friend's impression or my total
understanding After several months of not speaking to him I find it appropriate to
provide him the skinny on my doldrums They are puffy embroidered stars that begin an
ugly shade of measles and meadow I am compelled to share them with the universe but
taking selfies at my age feels ridiculous If he spends the entire winter building the Yurt
only to leave it for the Fox-tailed Grizzly, at what level has he beaten me? As I picture
his epic fade into the woods I recall the boy who hanged himself high in the thicket
because of how free the inchworm looked dangling from its skein
Your insufferable joy has gone straight to my hips Sleepless, fixated on the
benefit of resting pods Desquamation from a brisk sojourn in rapid stasis The
whole department thinks I've cut myself shaving / gills This smile peels--& I have
only thought about the seconds clinking piano keys briefly What else can
be enchanted that does not incur another insufferable joy? You expand the text in
my whisper balloon, its shaped in bold black: Petrichor and then the storm
Author bio: Kris Hall is a writer and event coordinator for Da'daedal from Seattle, WA.
Author of the chapbooks; Dillinger on the Beach (Horse Less Press) and Notes for Xenos
Vesparum (Shotgun Wedding). He has been featured in The Monarch Review, Pismire,
and The EEEL.
Deities Slapping Their Knees: A Playlet (Satire)
by Bob McNeil
Place: A room composed of actual stars and planets. Within the room, there are certain
deities. There is a short fat man (Buddha). Beside him, wearing a red loincloth, is a tall Black
man named Shango. A few feet away, one can see the throne-shaped headdress, cow horns and
sun disk of the brown-hued Isis. At present, she is sitting on a couch, talking to Aphrodite. To
the right, upon a bathtub-sized seashell, the nude and quite alabaster Greek Goddess has a dove in
her left hand. Elsewhere, unseen by anyone, is the formless being known as Allah.
Buddha: How are your Thunderstones?
Shango: They’re hanging like a Zulu’s spears.
Buddha: Show off.
Shiva, a blue-colored being with four arms, enters. During this moment, each appendage is
holding white paper bags.
Shiva: I got the food.
Buddha (rummages through bags): I said seven cheeseburgers and seven orders of fries with a
diet pop. You got six regular burgers and four orders of fries for me.
Shiva: Hey, provided you’re still hungry after you eat, I’ll go back.
Buddha: Nah, this will hold me until dinner.
Allah (voiceover): Shiva, give me my meal. I get so hungry after Ramadan.
Buddha: Ladies, don’t you want anything to eat?
Isis (walks over towards Shiva and the bags): I could out eat a crocodile. No jokes from you
two. I’ll get an asp for your asses.
Buddha (snickers with Shiva): What about you, Aphrodite?
Aphrodite: Ah, nothing for me, Boo. I just ate a whole mess of beets earlier today.
Shango (peers through a hole and sees a burning bush): Oh, no, it’s the Judeo-Christian God.
Shiva: Who invited him?
(The deities shrug.)
Allah (voiceover): He is sooo moody.
Buddha: Ok, let him in, but if he starts acting like the God of the Old Testament, politely ask him
to take his fire-and-brimstone butt out of here.
Shiva (turns to a star-shaped TV): Hey, guys, the Earth’s Apocalypse is about to begin. I don’t
want to miss the blast.
The Judeo-Christian God: Mankind is a sitcom that should have been cancelled a long time ago.
Global warming, dirty energy, landfill waste, impure water, biofuels, desertification, erosion,
deforestation, endangered species and frigging cell phones brought humanity’s ratings down.
Buddha: Well, there goes my party buzz.
Author bio: When asked to define human existence, Bob McNeil said, “Life is a Dadaist
poem. It was never composed to be understood.”
The Plight of Male, Left-Brained Dominated
By Edwin L. Young, PhD
It is hard for right-brained, sensitive, feelings-oriented women who related to the totality
of their environment, especially social environment, to be harnessed to myopic, feelingsignoring,
goal-oriented males. As with all jocks, warriors, most academicians, engineers,
scientists, male administrators, and especially CEOs, accountants, etc., they all live lives
that exclude feelings, especially their own. Most tend to laugh at feminine sensitivity and
emotionality, yet greedily soak up the feeling sensitivity of their women companions.
My father was definitely left-brained and my mother very right-brained and
consequently, and not just because of my intelligence, they both thought I was strange.
Not all left brainers are aggressive and prone to brutality but the engineering and
scientific types blindly go along with their horrendously brutal, exploitative political,
business, and military leaders.
Almost no one understands this nature of human existence, as the masculine side of
humanity pushes on in their insensitive, goal-oriented manner toward success and
victory, leaving poverty and devastation in their wake. However, that monomaniacal,
insensitive, goal-orientation is driving all existence, all forms of life, over the irreversible
cliff of extinction.
I feel both compassion and profound sadness for this irredeemable characteristic of our
By Bob Heman
Artist Statement: My collages have always been physical “cut and paste” constructions.
I’ve had no interest in making digital collages. I use scissors, or an x-acto knife, to cut out
the images, and a UHU glue stick to paste them down. Sometimes, after finding
promising images, and playing with them for a while, I’ll start by pasting a few of them
together into clusters, to see what might grow. At other times, I might start building a
piece in a sketchbook, or perhaps on an index card, letting it evolve over time. It’s not
unusual for me to work on a number of collages at the same time, completing each one
gradually as the pieces “fall into place.” A lot of my time is spent on the prep work of
gathering, organizing, and preparing images, cutting them out so they’ll be ready to use,
and sorting them into envelopes by category to create an archive I can draw upon as I
build collages, or search for ideas.
Artist bio: Bob Heman’s collages have been published by Otoliths, Mad Hatters’
Review, Big Bridge, Skidrow Penthouse, Fell Swoop, Key Satch(el), and others, and are
upcoming in Caliban online and Right Hand Pointing. They have appeared on the cover
of the most recent Brevitas event book, and on books by David Mills, Cindy Hochman,
Karen Neuberg, and Evie Ivy. His other art includes “cut-outs” [participatory cut-out
multiples on paper], as well as drawings and drawing poems. In the late 1970s he was an
artist-in residence at The Brooklyn Museum.
The Irrepressible Spirit of Anarchic Art:
Nathaniel S. Rounds and Fowlpox Press
By Alison Ross
Fowlpox Press is obsessed with Nathaniel S. Rounds, and with good reason.
Fowlpox is the venerable publisher whose sense of wild whimsy and subversive
surrealism is unmatched in the small press world, as far as I can see. Just a
glance at the website will reveal eruptions of crazy color and kitschy enigmatic
imagery and sounds, all buzzing and popping and zazzling and zinging,
threatening sensory saturation. It's as though an overly precocious, severely
ADHD-afflicted toddler is in charge of the proceedings. And it's a glorious thing,
this brazen childlike anarchism.
Likewise, Rounds' poetry is playfully untamed and sassily surrealistic. His
chapbooks at Fowlpox feature such cosmically comical titles as "Literally Ethical
Porkbelly Mixtape," "Accordian Music for Hungry Eyes," "Deep Space Dubstep,"
"Fraudulent Twinkies." Inexplicably - maybe I was hankering for Asian food - I
was drawn to the title, "Megamouth Shark Eats Dongpo Pork with a Spoon," and
decided to give it a whirl. To my elation, the poetry within sizzles and sings just as
vivaciously as Fowlpox's imagery-intense website.
Round's verse is lucidly hysterical; the poems are pristine universes unto
themselves, with jolting juxtapositions and otherworldly characters populating
the lines with caffeinated vigor.
Take, for example, the poem inaugurating the collection, "Moralize Mad
"I gave the tone-deaf octopus
A missionary haircut
And using kitchen shears
And punch bowl)
We stood in the rain..."
The poem goes on to relate how the follicled-octopus once played on a baseball
team, then ends with some mystical musing:
“I asked if he ever missed the ocean
The octopus looked at me quizzically
Then laughed gently
"Nah,” he said while making a face
“The sun is best seen above water.”
So we can see that Rounds is skilled at intertwining hilariously absurd premises
with amusing but pointed cosmic contemplation.
Elsewhere, hallucinatory stream-of-consciousness narratives and surrealistic
scenes reign supreme, with Pepto-Bismol taking center stage in the masterful
"Love," and Elvis mimickers regenerating their fruit-limbs in the taut but fun
"Michaux-Perreaux Steam Velocipede."
But these Dada-esque details do not eclipse slightly saner sociopolitical moments,
such as in "NASDAQ (After Hours)," "Spokoynoy, Nochi, Irene," and, most
eloquently, in "Arm Chair/Maine":
"...she paints confrontational portraits
Of the working class, the unskilled
The stubborn dancers in alleyways
The people so callused to romance
That they prove romantic"
There are also odes to romantic love and familial longing in "House of Myrrh"
and "Four Year Old Boy," though the subtle subtext tends to somewhat
undermine the messages here, at least how I am interpreting it.
But even such sober verse cannot erase the overall impression of savvy silliness
("Meet me on the other side/Of your personal data" from "Who Moves Who")
and impenetrable curiosity ("Bag my heart/if Appropriate," from "Throbbing
Spam for Heart").
Fowlpox publisher Virgil Kay has an enviable affinity for curating incongruous
yet oddly compelling imagery. And the site's relentless showcasing of Nathaniel
Round's poetry cultivates a dynamic symbiosis, wherein verse and imagery
interact with vicious vehemence against all sanity and reason.
Editor’s note: Nathaniel Rounds’ books, plus many more exciting tomes, can be found
By Frank Grigonis
Author bio: Frank Grigonis writes poetry and fiction. He recently completed a novel for
which he is seeking an agent or publisher. He can be contacted at
I Met Her At the Breast of a Giant Bubblegum Bear
She was dancing and when she danced
daydreams fell out of her hair, which
was black like the first summer night
and this made for a spiffy film co-starring
her star-colored skin. She took me there
and I tipped her the precise sum of twenty
salt-free sponges and forty-two cinnamon
Thanks. Now I can buy a new celly and
one for you too she gushed, to which I
uttered If I can’t call myself twenty years
ago, I’d just as soon steer clear of roaming
At this she began to get salty and I thought
she might assault me. It was quite a popular
nursery rhyme in that world, so we sang it
together as I chased her nature bunny ‘round
Time’s elderberry bush. And in this manner
we laughed and cried in each other’s arms
until the long night came and strangled the
morning out of us.
Needless to say, most critics failed to proclaim
it the feel good hit of the summer.
OVER 545 MILLION SERVED
Giving in to a wave of self-splurgeosity, I motored to a drive-thru and ordered
everything on the dollar menu; but imagine my chagrin when I opened the second
superstuffed bag and discovered that the McMoron had forgotten to put a pack of jelly in.
Obeying the call of my patriotic blood, I ambled right up to the counter and calmly
asked the lovely vampire for a pack of jelly, grape or raspberry; but she disbelieved my
story about having just gone through the drive-thru. And instead of grabbing some jam,
she lifted a golden phone receiver from the blood-stained wall.
“Is this the Jelly Po-Po? I’d like to report an attempted robbery,” she stated,
laconically, alike it had happened before.
So now I am writing to you from an ice-cold cell on toilet paper and with a pen I had to
kill a man for, and it’s a shame indeed. Why, I remember when this country had enough
jelly for everybody—back when we called it The Great Land of Jam and Jelly.
EDGE OF DOOM
By Kurt Cline
Helicopter bugs swarming in the rain storm
White sheets of sunlight striating in the day
The cawing of crows mixed with terrified screams
In the aftershock yesterday afternoon the boatswains hands
Flew to the folds of a pocket handkerchief in the morning
While the ministers met in a chandeliered room
Walls crawl bombs fall the room
Trembles in the caterwauling storm
Clouds trailing across morning
Petrified light of day
Even his hands have hands
Amid the mighty mind-screams
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” screams
The pallid princess coming into the room
With her fingers of light hands
Reaching out of the storm
Day after day
Calling forth into morning
A man drowned on an Acapulco beach that morning
& silence now screams
Into the light of day
At the bottom of the room
Where the feathers of the storm
Are handed out by hands
Who only know more hands
On the great ship of morning
Of the storm-clouds a-storming
Where the noontide screams
But at least can make a little room
For the next day
& so it goes day after day after day
Until someone finally hands
You your obituary in a side-room
The helicopter bugs in the mind-storm
Great day of the morning!
A hundred hands a hundred-thousand screams
Where the room trembles in the pullulating storm.
Author bio: Kurt Cline is Associate Professor of English and World Comparative
Literature, National Taipei University of Technology. Poems and stories have appeared,
most recently, in BlazeVOX, Danse Macabre, Shotglass Review, Wilderness House
Literary Review, HuesoLoco, Apocrypha and Abstractions, Black Scat, and Clockwise
Cat. Scholarly articles have appeared in Anthropology of Consciousness; Concentric,
Beatdom Literary Journal; and Comparative Civilizations and Cultures: Journal of the
Jean Gebser Society.
By Andrew Dugan
That is the tune but there are no words.
The words are only speculation
(from the Latin speculum, mirror):
they seek and cannot find the meaning of the music.
-John Ashbery, “Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror”
It depends on perspective,
like icicles that cascade
down the eaves
of our houses in winter
day after day.
If we lived a thousand years
it would seem a waterfall,
a spillage of glass.
Don’t trust the eye’s
curve or the warp of
searching for the edge
of a cylinder.
the reflection in rippling
Is it the water
changing or our faces?
A pane of glass?
It's a speculating solid
if we lived
a million years, we
would say deluge, not
drip drip drip.
Author bio: Andrew is going into his second year at Emerson College as a MFA candidate in
Creative Writing. His poetry can be seen in Clarion, Lonely Island, and Words Apart. He taught
high school English in southeastern Mass. for nine years prior to entering graduate school full
time last year.
By Paul Reilly
Sometimes it isn’t just spirals tightening around the granite body until it chalks away
entirely, or a black fire bandaging the air until the ground festers into an ashy stew. My
goose down burrito is the curling anaconda scaling around its lover and burrowing into
the sea. Hold my breath. Time enough at last to read books, finger my belly hairs,
remember what I used to look like back when mirrors were a thing, wonder if ending the
story before the apocalypse counts as a random act of kindness.
Author bio: Paul has lived in Chicago for the past 1.5 years learning how to make zines,
and then making them. Shortly beforehand, he attended Tufts University. Other pieces of
his can be found in Opaque, The Rusty Nail, and on his blogs Tandem Fushigi and Your
Horrible Family. He is, allegedly, a disgustingly fast eater.
Last Rite. Paulist Center
By James Hannon
The faithful enter from the winter snow
to a warm den of conversation.
White, black and brown, old and young,
they mingle in the nave, touch and embrace.
Women prepare the altar,
bread and wine, book and bells.
The scent of candle smoke mingles
with the damp air of a catacomb.
Five minutes into a dazzling sermon,
a tapestry of metaphor and wit,
cosmic theme and local reference,
my teeth are clenched.
I start to squirm and mutter.
Then this groan from the back of the church—
“Speak from the heart, father!
Speak from the heart!”
My hungover heart races and I’m afraid
to turn around. Now I hear him weeping
“Forgive me, father!”
as he is pulled from his pew by fast-moving ushers,
men of the world prepared for trouble,
for drunken old men who can’t keep their peace
and wreck the scene like an ancient Quaker.
he sobs, wiping his nose with his hand
as they sweep him gently, firmly out the door.
No raging Quaker here. A drunken publican
prone to breakdowns, he knows he has sinned.
At the pulpit, a young priest,
a guest, a stranger here.
“I forgive you,”
he sighs, palms up at his shoulders,
confused and embarrassed,
but not speechless.
The sermon concludes
with a brilliant repudiation
of the Gnostic gospels
Author bio: James writes: “I am a psychotherapist in Massachusetts where I accompany
adolescents and adults who have been stunned by lives with too little meaning in the
heart of an empire in decline. Many have found alcohol or opioids to be a temporary,
teasing promise of relief from an unbearable awareness that won't stay buried. Recent
poems have appeared in The Fear of Monkeys, Blue Lake Review, Assisi, and Gathered:
Contemporary Quaker Poets. His first collection, The Year I Learned the Backstroke,
was published last year by Aldrich Press.”
SARAH FRANCES MORAN
Editor’s note: When we read Sarah Frances Moran’s submission that
contained “Bill Cosby Responds,” we knew we had hit gold with this unique versifier.
The poem, which should be viral verse by now, mingles humor recalling Cosby’s former
status as a fabled children’s icon with hard-hitting sarcasm about his malevolent
misogynistic misdeeds that have recently come to light. We decided that yes, she
WOULD be this issue’s Featured Femme - oh yes, she would. We also asked her to share
some of her photography, as she loves her some nature and some animals! So without
further ado, we present the verse and visuals of Sarah Frances Moran.
Author bio: Sarah Frances Moran is a writer, editor, animal lover, videogamer, queer
Latina. She thinks Chihuahuas should rule the world and prefers their company to people
90% of the time. She was born and raised in Houston, Texas. Writing for her came out of
a desire to help others and has evolved into full blown insistence on changing the
world. Her aim is to poetically fight for love and harness the type of tender violence
needed to push love forward. She strongly believes that words have immeasurable
power. She is the founder/editor of Yellow Chair Review whose inaugural issue is out in
June 2015. Her work has most recently been published or is upcoming in FreezeRay
Poetry, Thank You For Swallowing, Drunk Monkeys, Rust+Moth, Maudlin House,
Blackheart Magazine, Red Fez and The Bitchin’ Kitsch.Her work is equal parts
frustration, hope, anger, advocacy and love. At the heart of it, she's a stick-a-love-poemin-your-back-pocket
kind of poet. She’s a huge advocate for animal welfare and works
daily to combat pet overpopulation. Spay and neuter your pets people. She resides in
Waco, Texas with her partner and their small menagerie of small 4-legged critters.
Bill Cosby Responds
Jibber jabber wocky jocky,
Zippity bloopity bop,
This is not reality.
No one will say nothing.
The world is flat and we are here
to appreciate my gift.
Hey hey hey,
I didn’t mean that gift.
At the end of the day,
think of the children.
She’ll say shoobity floobity
Zip zop zoobity bop bang
you see this road?
Remember the caution signs
and how I gave them every out?
I mean, don’t ostracize the messenger.
It’s not my fault.
No one made them drink that drunk drank.
All this loosey goosey frazzle snazzle
when actuality is the answer.
See my mouth sewn shut
like raggedy andy?
I can’t really speak,
but I’m going to school you,
all about love.
She said hell no and I thought she said Jello.
Millie Montag Manifested
Commercialized money laundering.
Fear mongering the populace into stupefied,
televised, profit perversion.
that their fingers
won’t be the first to molest the buttons
of that $200, 50 inch flatscreen.
That they’ll miss
the latest episode
of The Walking Dead, in high definition.
Capitalistic Zombie killers.
Fully armed survivalists of the 21 st century’s
Already dead, decaying
inside a broken existence.
The Fahrenheit 451; the Millie Montags
of present-day California.
With their parlor walls
and disdain for Dover Beach.
Seashell ear-thimbles in play.
Sensation substitution for thinking -
to simply brag of snagging
the boob tube jewel of Freya’s darkest day.
We pray for myopia’s death.
Hold vigil for all the poems
lost on the ears
of the indifferent.
We tell Millie,
she’s better than this.
How You Know You’re Dealing With A Facebook
Friday and Saturday night you get all their cootch shots.
Booties hanging out their britches and Budlight in tow.
Hanging on each other’s arms and singing whatever tune
is bumping from the DJ. Making out with each other (it isn’t lesbianism if you’re drunk
and if your husband likes it)
Sunday morning they’re quiet (probably sleeping) because the Facebook Christian’s
holy days are Monday-Thursday.
Friday and Saturday are the unholy days (like a free-for-all, lesbianism included)
and Sunday is for recuperation.
BUT MONDAY THROUGH THURSDAY WATCH OUT!
Monday we get the barrage of Jesus Memes.
Jesus loves you.
Jesus loves me.
Jesus loves everyone (unless you’re Muslim or your name is Barack Obama)
Share this if you accept Jesus
Ignore this if you’re a heathen sinner
Share this if prayer saves your life.
Share this if Jesus is #1!
Ignore this if you’re going to hell.
Around Tuesday the frustration rolls in.
We get the Fox News Memes
The right wing news Memes
The Black Muslim Anti-christ Obama is ruining our country memes
and the WE NEED CHRISTIANITY BACK MEMES (where did it go?)
You’ll also get the we need our country back in general memes (still not sure who we
need it back from)
These may or may not include pro-gun right memes and anti-gay memes (depends on the
variety of Facebook Christian. We can discuss that in another poem)
Wednesday we get the mixture meme (you see Friday and Saturday are trying to break
into the holy days)
So you get,
The hump day memes
The is the work week over yet memes
and then you start getting the prayer memes.
Like this post if you care about this random person who is dying of a random disease.
Ignore if you’re a hateful satan lover.
How many likes can this get?! If it gets enough Jesus will heal this person. (Jesus has a
Thursday we get the money memes. These help with Friday and Saturday’s possibilities.
Share this meme if you know God will bless you with billions!
Like this meme if you know God will give you monetary blessings
Share this picture of Jesus and this wad of cash for blessings!
Then we get back to Friday and Saturday and Sunday.
Which basically equates either utter debauchery or silence.
If your Facebook Christian happens to stray from the typical timeline, don’t worry.
If they occasionally like your posts about gay rights, race issues, religious equality (or
anything else Fox News would balk at) don’t fret.
Rest assured they’ll be back to their bullshit soon.
That first date was torture.
Frida Kahlo on the big screen
and the awkwardness floating between us.
We departed without so much as a kiss
or a concern for what each other desired.
You texted two weeks later.
Asked if I wanted to come over and watch a movie.
Our loneliness was our connection.
It laid down the from and to and lead me to your doorstep,
where you stood, embarrassed by the carcasses that adorned
your parent’s walls
wearing only a robe and the smile of someone who’d spent
all evening with a fantasy.
You placed your small soft hand over my eyes
Told me not to look around as you led me up the stairs.
I was coming from work.
Needed a shower and so to the bathroom we went.
We never watched a movie.
We never even kissed.
We entangled in that way that two disconnected people do
with all hands and tongues and sweat
but no passion.
We entangled in that way for six months,
my tongue in all the places you desired
my mind in every place… but you.
What it must feel like to succumb to yourself
To garble and gargle and stop.
To just, stop. Being.
I found myself once, at a Ramada Inn just inside the Louisiana border of Texas. Found
myself running from myself and looking around a dank and grimy hotel room for
anything that might aide me in my flight.
I was 19 and had no knowledge of Virginia Wolfe.
I guess I’m glad I didn’t know all I had to do was drown myself in the pool. Add rocks to
my pockets and sink.
I guess I’m glad I’ve learned that I cannot outrun myself.
I think even in death, we are always with ourselves. The lack of pounding and exhale is
simply a facade. These bodies, just bodies.
I’ll be with myself always.
I think, someday I’ll be okay with that.
Butch Girl Fantasies
I want you to have me in
the ways I want you.
Up against the wall with my hands
running up your dress.
Taken in a form I’m uncomfortable with.
Pinned down and your hands in all
of the places that hold tragedy.
I want you, crave you
like a shaded flower craves the sun,
bending my body in all unnatural and twisted ways in order to get to you.
The way you dig your nails
into my back when I’ve reached you perfectly
I want to reciprocate.
And what if I turned our office fantasy around
and it was you having me
on your desk?
I love the feeling of your jolt
of your surrender
I want you to swim
in the ocean of mine
young and unadorned
by Wanda Morrow Clevenger
I was hired by one of
pancake face wearing
jangly jewelry women
when I was still very
young and unadorned
I wore a wool pant suit
and a borrowed big ring
she complimented the ring
calculated my breast cup –
unsatisfied I’d barely fill her
it was discrimination
before discrimination had teeth –
hiring and firing
for the exact same reason
she should have gone with
one of her own sort
saved my first lifelong
loathing for someone
Author bio: Wanda Morrow Clevenger is a Carlinville, Illinois, native. She has
published over 334 pieces of work in 126 print and electronic publications. Her
debut book This Same Small Town in Each of Us released in 2011.
By Mel Waldman
A Character in a Film Noir
After a long, serpentine sleep, I wake up
in a clockless place;
dazzling glittering lights,
dangling glass triangles swallow me-
perpendicular to the elongated rectangular room below;
suddenly, the magical glow
the hot, haunting lights
the room darkens
my gold eyes barely penetrate the thick veil of fog
that permeates the vastness;
a burning Pall Mall dangles from my parched lips,
releasing a glimmer of light;
a man who identifies himself as,
Touch of Evil)
“When I say go,
scurry to the exit like a scared rat running from a big fat cat
“Because you’re a character in a film noir,” he bellows. “My subhuman creation and my
character, my character, my character,” he chants.
“I don’t understand.”
“I named you Dante,” he roars.
When he brandishes a .45 Magnum and shrieks, “Go,”
rush across a swath of light, a tiny runway in the film noir,
and almost reach the exit,
almost reach the exit,
almost reach the exit
of a character in a film noir.
Saturday Night on Forbidden Island
without a date
nothing to do,
nowhere to go
a slow-moving sultry August night
Charlie Sharon, the ferryman,
glide across a fire-eating ferry
a lonely lady of fortune,
smiles wickedly at me
catch a ride
the preternatural countryside
the invisible center
this forbidden place
gaze into the hub
this harrowing wasteland,
the unfathomable omphalos
into the abyss
the deep earth
the morgue wagon driver
the pine boxes
the Island of the Dead,
the Inferno of Oblivion
this forbidden place,
a pine box
I gaze at my still flesh
within the everlasting womb
Author bio: Dr. Mel Waldman is a psychologist, poet, and writer whose stories have appeared in
numerous magazines including HARDBOILED DETECTIVE, HARDBOILED, DETECTIVE
STORY MAGAZINE, ESPIONAGE, THE SAINT, DOWN IN THE DIRT, CC&D, PULP
METAL MAGAZINE, INNER SINS, YELLOW MAMA, and AUDIENCE. His poems have
been widely published in magazines and books including LIQUID IMAGINATION, A NEW
ULSTER, THE BROOKLYN LITERARY REVIEW, THE BROOKLYN VOICE,
BRICKPLIGHT, THE BITCHIN’ KITSCH, CLOCKWISE CAT, CRAB FAT MAGAZINE,
DEAD SNAKES, SKIVE MAGAZINE. A past winner of the literary GRADIVA AWARD in
Psychoanalysis, he was nominated for a PUSHCART PRIZE in literature and is the author of 11
books. Having completed an experimental mystery novel inspired by one of Freud’s case studies,
he is looking for an agent. He has been inspired for decades by his patients and their heroic
stories of trauma and survival.
"Texas Dashcam Vid": Corrupt Cops
and Black Heroines
by Alison Ross
"The [Sandra Bland] video is a one-shot masterpiece of found
cinema." (Ty Burr, Boston Globe)
"Texas Dashcam Vid," starring Sandra Bland and Brian Encinia, is the hottest thing in the
burgeoning genre of found cinema this year. If you want visceral action that sparks a fire
in your gut, you've got it. If you want witty unscripted dialogue between a feisty assured
femme and a redneck authority figure whose self-esteem is likely proportional to the girth
of his manhood, you've got it. We also have timely sociopolitical themes percolating
through the video, as we witness a swaggering Caucasian cop become increasingly
incensed as a Black woman - how DARE she! - refuses to submit demurely to the creepy
cop's irrational demands.
And moral dilemmas abound: What, really, was Sandra Bland being pulled over for?
Driving While Under the Influence of Being a Strong Black Woman, or Failing to Signal
to a Caucasian Cop Who Was Entrapping Her By Making Her Think He Was Trying to
Pass, When In Reality He Needed to Fulfill His Weekly Quota of "Tickets For Petty
Shit"? And what about that cigarette? Should Sandra be allowed to smoke in her car?
What if poor ego-bruised Brian Encinia got lung cancer from the second-hand smoke
exhaled vaguely in his direction during what could have been a brief interaction that he
intentionally prolonged because his macho maleness was under threat by someone cooler
and sharper, who also happened to have ovaries and a deep skin tone? Would he be able
to sue the Bland family for cancer treatment money? Is the cigarette the real culprit here?
Should Encinia have arrested the tobacco company instead?
When Brian Encinia invents and then escalates a conflict over Sandra's smoking stick,
that's when the real action heats up. Until this point, the video relies on banter mixed
with generic officer-offender conversation to propel the plot. But when Officer Encinia
intones in a manner calculated to stoke tensions that Sandra seems irritated, and she
bluntly responds that yes, she is irritated, because she was simply trying let him pass, he
ecomes annoyed (as though, "The nerve of this colored bitch to not cower in my Anglo-
authoritarian presence. Doesn't she know this is WALLER COUNTY, where we have
separate burial places for negroes, defiant or otherwise?").
And so his white privilege already punctured, Encinia, phallic weapon ensconced in hiphugging
holster but ever at the ready, decides to take things a step further. After
all, Sandra not only dared to be woman, she dared to be a black woman - and then she
dared to smoke while being a black woman! That's at least three felonies right there.
So Encinia asks Sandra to put out her cigarette - but fails to give her a legitimate
reason. Sandra asserts herself in casual retort, "Why do I have to put out my cigarette in
MY car?" and that's when our antagonist begins to inhabit a truly villainous role.
Encinia drawls a demand for her to step out of her car. She refuses, on the grounds that
she has done nothing wrong. She tries to start recording the incident on her phone.
Encinia's ire at this woman who will simply not comply with an unreasonable, illegal
order reaches its peak, and he threatens to "light" her up with a taser. At this point, the
audience is riveted - and repulsed. Finally, after Encinia asserts his manly manhood and
manhandles Sandra, she emerges from the car, proclaiming via colorfully sardonic and
profane language her indignation at the situation which has spun bizarrely out of control,
through no fault of her own.
Then, in a nod to experimental cinema, the action moves off camera. The video only
affords us an auditory experience at this point. But we can vividly envision the action
as Sandra becomes our narrator, and gives a play-by-play, in incredulous and outraged
tone, of exactly what is happening to her at the hands of Officer Encinia - her violent
handcuffing, her head being slammed into the ground, the corrupt cop's knee in her back.
Our precious protagonist maintains her dignity throughout the ordeal. She asserts the vile
wrongness of the situation but retains a sassy sense of humor. She emerges a victor over
this terrorist in uniform, this meager man whose bluster and bravado are all too
pervasively witnessed in the flourishing genre of found cinema - these tragic cell phone
and dashboard video dramas pitting cop against citizen, fascist force against hapless
"Texas Dashcam Vid" can be seen at a laptop theatre near you.
One of the Family
By John D. Robinson
A few weeks previous
I had seen him, staggering,
falling and crashing
head-first into a parked
car and then laying upon
the cold concrete and
cursing and shouting and
then laughing as he
gathered himself upright,
blood trickled from his
head and he lurched
forward; all the while
muttering and whispering
I crossed the road to
avoid any contact and I
hurt myself to do so;
a university educated guy,
we had many literary
discussions and he always
told me ‘Read Faulkner,’
which I never did;
he worked hard and had
married in the university
town, raised children and
bought homes and cars and
then it all went wrong; I never
did find out what but he
returned to his home-town
and committed himself
to alcohol; he married a
simple woman and fathered
3 children and very
occasionally I would visit
the family hovel and
drink with him;
he’d sit and sleep in an
armchair in the lounge;
beside the chair was a fridge;
he never slept for more than
2 or 3 hours at a time,
he’d awake and open the
fridge door and pull out
a can; the tv was always
on silent; flickering;
something to stare at
in the early hours; the
house was sparse, naked
of comfort or
friendliness or attraction
but home for 3
young lives; following the
breakdown of this marriage
he lived alone in rented
rooms and was evicted
again and again until
no landlord would
accept him and he ended
up on the streets;
he was in his early
was found frozen to
February morning in
a seaside alleyway;
I never made his funeral
and I know for shit-sure
that he won’t make mine.
Author bio: John D Robinson was born summer, 1963 on the south coast of the UK. He
began writing poetry at age 16, and published his first poem a year later. He began
working at age 15 and continues to do so. He has published nine small chapbooks of
poetry, two small collections of short stories and a novel. He is married with one
daughter, two grandchildren, four cats and one dog. He enjoys wine and other pursuits
that are not considered healthy. He has published about 100 poems in small press
magazines, newspapers, journals and online publications; recent poems have appeared in
Bareback Lit, Red Fez, Dead Snakes, Pulsar, Spokes, Underground Books.
By Alan Britt
Author bio: In August 2015, Alan Britt was invited by the Ecuadorian House of Culture
Benjamín Carrión in Quito, Ecuador for the first cultural exchange of poets between
Ecuador and the United States. During his visit he did TV, radio and newspaper
interviews, gave presentations and read poetry in Quito, Otavalo, Ambatto, Guayaquil
and Guaranda, plus the international literary conference sponsored by La hermandad de
las palabras 2015 in Babahoyo. His interview at The Library of Congress for The Poet
and the Poem aired on Pacifica Radio, January 2013. His latest books include Lost
Among the Hours: 2015, Parabola Dreams (with Silvia Scheibli): 2013 and Alone with
the Terrible Universe: 2011. He teaches English/Creative Writing at Towson University.
A journal called Scorpion Lunch,
or Jeff Beck jazzing,
glass tubing his Fender —
rusty-headed mermaid stumbles
into expectations, yet
.OooooooooO.one senses the end
could be right around any given
corner at any proverbial moment,
so, why not trace his “Coy Mistress”
to “Approximate Man,” to “Foam,”
as though a groaning cello gave this
young nymph permission to step
from a coconut rolled beneath a West
Palm curb, I don’t know, say, 1956
aquamarine gecko, lava-colored
shoulders inflamed by someone else’s
imagination, thus, disturbing a string
quintet spawned by an anarchist with
special affection for British blues,
database undressing behind
stained-glass window, & quartz
tears falling from heaven
morphed into famous red-veined
sprouts from Amsterdam.
In the end, it comes down to lips
kissing black plums, lips stained by
enthusiasm, organic or otherwise,
lips that think a perfect strawberry
is the meaning of life.
The leisure class that enabled Mallarmé, Breton, Bonnefoy,
in pretty much said order but ushered in or gushered
through clogged arteries feeding the brain's garden———
imagination. The leisure class got away with plenty before
they faded, well, at least some leisures bruised & battered
took Blake seriously, shivered before Goya & gasped at
Francis Bacon's savagery! Some even fell overboard, bodies
missing to this day but otherwise MIA. A bone here, a bone
there but not much else.
.Now a new
breed of leisures roams the halls: ones with gills, amphibians
traveling backwards through the slime, primordial religions
guzzling guilt, fanning the fire, yet surviving on faith much
like our ancient ancestors but this time evolving with a
peculiar twist in DNA thus allowing for a new species of
genocides to survive the blinking barbed tips of neon fishing
hooks trolling the midnight waters for bigger game—a prize
just about the size of you & me.
Flooding jackrabbits, hares, briar patches on a Saturday Philco Jack Benny right after the
incident, shortly before yet right after, the revolt was nasty, aliens crucified upside down
so they got the message, so their next of kin plus ancestors' ancestors didn't feel lucky, a
la Jack & Bobby, a la Buddy, Bopper & Ritchie, a la Stevie & Jimi, a la Vincent &
Francisco Goya, a la skating rink dancehall nipples chilled like cactus spines, a la Felix
the nihilistic Cat, a la crocodile inside grandfather clock about to shatter the tar pits
known as La Brea, a la myths like pancakes, some with molten straw- berries & some
with blackberry mansions trickling mudslidesooooooooooooooooooojust about when she
whispered something off the menu into my left ear & from that day forward I've been one
of the many leaving for the coastooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo
By Zach Trebin0
stick stick stick it's sticking it has stuck a buck a barrel a well a wheel barrow a muted mute mute
is the root of the boot apple waves oceanic in tidals wait an hour so soon here it's sheer shearing
i'm here i am i want to inch forward but it's holding me in
back back is back back back forward around and overturn apple turn-overs and sad little pastries
of marrow and bones and decay
down and wait black and soft dust and weight
and cells and skin
it's clear to adhere adhere to adhere to adhere to adhere to die i'm restrained i'm stuck hot hot heat
heat too much my mind is mush i want to scoot on in but i can't move i can't i am stuck in a tuck
i'm stuck flex and vex cannot perplex i'm stuck i'm worn young and old there's hair there to tear
user beware rubber cement and clearing
the throat oh what a billy goat
tippity type wait to end
let's bend over
my back is tight
i'm too far away
to turn right
i can barely reach i do not beseech
oh well oh well
what a bend
culture's today and tomorrow's anthropology
i'm urbane rural and romaine
tape and took
stuck and soot
wheels wheeling in a single Place
RPMs don't keep pace
keys key Keys open doors Doors lead to rooms and Rooms eat
i'm a machination an abomination i heat and sweat and fear and run and pump and cuddle mounds
of sounds my arms are sore i want to rest them down
here is there anywhere really but i need to move closer closer to move
yearning and seething and sizzling to soothe a baby in a bath yellow rubber buoy in a bath bathe
in water dry on clouds pounds and pounds and pounds of flesh amorphous malleable yet Stuck
i can't Forget i can't not be i can't not be i can't not be
i cannot can't be Being.
swallows and hollows and lungs and veins and skin
fortified and ephemerally present
transience is a science and science an alliance but
my back is sore and
my shoulders are open and graven and shaken
sharpen the shoe and sour the pitch
the bitch is a bitch is a bitch is a bitch
stuck ever rhyming
pining and dining and swerving to curve through windfalls and water stones
less be less be more than this
this is that is that is this though this be having been sprung on top that is a waft of innumerable
being that has had been won one won though through having had though through those thyroid
and riboflavin livers and loot and lions munching a hyena or zebra is a lack and more has wore is
a whore is bound
there is Steel softly warming my wrists and strings that sever me from here
am I I am
Softly Trying To Forget
Author bio: Zach Trebino is a performance artist, theatre-maker and writer based in Baltimore.
He was born during the fall of the Berlin wall and strives to become an antithesis to the deadly
socio-political complacency induced by the constant, futile clawing toward the illusory fantasy of
the American middle-class that plagued his upbringing. For more samples of his work visit:
By Jennifer E. Hudgens
Author bio: Jennifer E. Hudgens, originally from Oklahoma City, has been published in
some stuff and is currently pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing at the
University of Central Oklahoma. She thinks life is poetry if you’re paying attention.
Jennifer watches the sky the way most people watch television. She is terrified of clowns,
horses, and animatronic toys. She genuinely hopes you enjoy her poems.
Sometimes, I Miss His Teeth
I think of the afterlife, after
loving him, his thick
skull, thin veins, the way
he sledge-hammered pot
holes into his sidewalks,
punched prison into forearms.
Sometimes, I miss his chipped
fingernails, his rough and ruddy skin,
the red behind his iris', I found
home in them, warmth
boiled me like too hot bath
He drank me down, bent
my knuckles until I begged for
mercy, he's still waiting
for my crumble and rust,
I don't sound how he'd hoped,
he still prays for the gristle
of my moan, moan and
If the trigger gets too wet,
the hands cripple around the chamber,
if the girl gets too wet, she
backslides, she shatters on
he never saw me shatter into
I was a curse he slept under,
his questioning smile, wavering
trust, pegged me villain before
I could prove him wrong, he
expected a volcano, a punch
in the jaw, shattered dishes.
When someone expects you to
crack, it is inevitable.
Sometimes, I miss his teeth, lies
he buried inside of me, how
he always needed me to prove him
The hunters stopped searching the
frozen wood for remains.
Having built a home from the limbs of her
The foundation solidnot
mortar, not brick, but tusks.
Walls built of femur,
tibia, and fibula.
Peppered with ventricles, and arteries.
A roof, stretched thickpermanent,
by the styloid process.
Her mouth, full of pennies,
teeth a fortune in railroad spikes.
Tongue ulcer’d, saliva-acidic.
Her tentacles wave and writhe,
massaging her esophagus when
the boys come, when the sour
adamantly wishes to slip into
her sweet belly.
When the skin breaks, the teeth
are sharpened-jagged on the rusted
steel of shipwrecks.
Slow-floating in quietly dangerous
She feeds on the disingenuous,
the bitter, and the soft struggle of hearts who choose
to keep beating.
The hunger subsides in daylight,
then the noise is at its highest point,
it idles, she grows emaciated at the lack of silence.
All she remembers is the heat of her blood
The way words gurgled at the back of her throat.
if she sleeps, if this thing that she keeps buried-sleeps,
she will not break any more vertebrae
with the sound of her skin shedding.
If she sleeps, she can swallow anything.
She can hibernate inside the flesh of
inside the jaws of a restlessly violent plaything.
a bowl of oranges
by Jenean Gilstrap
oh so you want
my sweet nothin’s
whispered in your ear
in the midnight hours
of your desire
‘n you want them
whisperin’s served up
like a bowl
of ripe juicy oranges
like you want
my legs laid out
on the stained blanket
of your imagination
‘n you want
my sweet words
floatin’ ‘round you
like lightnin’ bugs’
glowin’ glimmers of hope
on a hot summer night
as we dance
take my sweet
my soft whisperin’s
‘n my waiting legs
like all them
by your dirty feet
sticky wet fingers
pen a love letter
whisper just one
more sweet nothin’
into your wanton ear
go fuck yourself
Editor’s Note: “A Bowl of Oranges” was previously published September 21, 2014 in Yareah
Author bio: Ms. Gilstrap is a featured poet/writer/artist at YAREAH MAGAZINE and also at
PLUM TREE BOOKS. She is the author of two published books of poetry, GYPSY WOMAN
WORDS  and WORDS UNSPOKEN , both available at Amazon. Her third book of
poetry, WILLFUL WORDS, illustrated with her own artwork, will be released in 2015. She is
currently working on another book in collaboration with the internationally-acclaimed artist, Ken
O'Neill, which will feature her poetry, along with his art. In 2014 and 2015, she was invited to
read her poetry at the prestigious Fermoy International Poetry Festival in Ireland. Her poetry has
been published in numerous literary journals, including First Literary Review-East, RedFez,
Painted Bride Quarterly and Coldnoon: A Quarterly of Travel Poetics. She resides in Shreveport,
Louisiana, but divides her time between there and the East coast.
by Heath Brougher
Author bio: Heath Brougher lives in York, PA and attended Temple University. He
currently lives like a hermit and is the Boo Radley of his apartment complex. His work
has appeared or is forthcoming in Yellow Chair Review, Of/With, Möbius, Gloom
Cupboard, *Star 82 Review, Zoomoozophone Review, BlazeVOX, Eunoia Review, Main
Street Rag, Epigraph, Van Gogh's Ear, Otoliths, Maudlin House, Unbroken
Journal, Inscape, elsewhere.
A Culture Alost
[walk like a man?]
walk like a scapegoat
how will the goat
in the post-post apocalyptic phantasm
sunny bone bone and honey bloop bloop
wave shingles into the brains
of the televisionally hypnotized
from those frogstrings
attached at the lip
but more importantly [and definitely impotently]
a Western Culture Brain bleeding itself to death
living in a world of illusion
simultaneously destroying everything Real [electric eels]
[it’s been twisted and twirled and tussled and turned awreck
Dusting the Earth
The tribe of pixie-dust worshipers eat the silly
string of the videotape. The Karma market is not a physical place.
The drummer flips the static into the air.
are the only appropriate noises.
Stoic noise and guitar feedback
A half-cloned guessing-spider thinks about the lottery.
The reminiscer feeds velvet bones to a man mad of rain.
The prepackaged born-into agreement rings loudly from the bell tower.
The nobility dims as the fracture ekes into the heads and herds.
The volume of the treble is a maniac of a maze of leafless tree branches.
The man made of mud slips on the grass yet still clutches his manifesto on how he is the
By ALISON ROSS
Courtney Barnett: Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit
Any write-up about Courtney Barnett obligatorily focuses on two key components: Her
lyrical ingenuity and her vocal style's striking similarity to that of The Fall's Mark Smith.
The Aussie-born singer has been hailed for her lyrical acrobatics. It's true that her gift as
a lyricist encompasses a literary sensibility that flips and twists mundane activities and
observations into words of import and intrigue. Witness this stanza from her song
"Pedestrian at Best," a simple song about the aggravating ambivalence in relationships
that she craftily bends into metaphysical musings:
“My internal monologue
is saturated analogue,
It’s scratched and drifting,
I’ve become attached to the idea
it’s all a shifting dream bitter sweet philosophy,
I’ve got no idea how I even got here.
I’m having an existential time crisis,
what bliss, daylight savings won’t fix this mess.
Underworked and oversexed
I must express my disinterest,
the rats are back inside my head
what would Freud have said?”
Under the auspices of a less captivating character, such lyrics might come across as
painfully pretentious. Transported in Barnett's resigned, deadpan delivery, however, and
the lyrics take on a self-deprecating tone tinged with lighthearted - but never lightheaded
- humor. They invoke reflection on their significance as well as on how style and
substance can achieve a supple meshing.
Best Coast: California Nights
The first time I saw Best Coast, I was at Metallica's Orion Fest in New Jersey. The
incongruous juxtaposition of a band playing uptempo, surfy tunes with other bands
spewing sludgy mud-metal was thrilling to behold, at least for me. The audience, for the
most part, was not amused. It's true that Orion fest was rather diverse in its offerings -
garage-band pioneers The 13th Floor Elevators, country crooner Eric Church, and indie
darlings Arctic Monkeys were among some of the other bands playing - but Best Coast
added a refreshing injection of sunny California sprightliness to the roster. Again, though,
not everyone got it, and most hardcore Metallica fans were actually hostile toward the
band's presence. I bask in wild genre dissimilarity, however, and cherished the freaky
pairing of nihilistic rock and roll and breezy, buoyant surf-punk. And it's a testament to
Metallica that they were willing to risk pesky fan displeasure to transgress the metalfestival
ethos of playing it safe.
The second time I saw Best Coast was in more mundane circumstances: It was at a
festival that, like me, basked in wildly dissimilar genres. I also enjoyed her set less than I
did at the Metallica fest, because, let's face it: "California Nights" is no "Crazy For You."
"Crazy for You" featured a more lo-fi, less self-conscious, less fleshed-out approach. It
sounded like a stoner's bedroom-production affair with, yes, some spit-polish, but not
saturated with overproduction. "California Nights," though easily digestible, and
relentlessly catchy, is too rote, too obvious. It models itself on 80s and 90s post-punk and
indie paradigms, and has a melancholy mood swimming through its sun-drenched tunes.
But it doesn't really draw you in the way "Crazy for You" did with its California-slacker's
idiosyncratic musings. Which is ironic, really, given its title. "California Nights" has no
lynchpin songs like "I Wish You Were My Boyfriend" to induce juvenile giggles and
adolescent nostalgia, but instead is a complacent collection of solid indie-tunes that
invoke little reflection, if any.
By David Thompson
Artist bio: David J. Thompson is a former prep school teacher and coach who has been
traveling since October 2013. His interests include jazz, postcards, and minor league
baseball. His most recent poetry/photography chapbook, And Thou Upon Earth, is
available from Nerve Cowboy in Austin, Texas.
Fisher Plant, Detroit
Eastern Market, Detroit
Blow Dry, Amsterdam
Blue Eyes, Detroit
RIDING WITH BOOM BOOM, by George Wallace
(NightBallet Press, 2014)
Reviewer: Cindy Hochman
Let’s start by noting that the legal drinking age in New York is 21, and there are 21 poems in
George Wallace’s chapbook, Riding with Boom Boom. Coincidence? I wouldn’t bet on it.
Whenever you step into a book of Wallace’s poems, you get a whiff of the barroom and the roar
of the crowd, and in this collection, he once again proves that he’s willing to go down to the
bottom of the barrel and get his hands wet, as long as he can come back up with an intoxicating
brew. Although many of these poems contain sad stories of sad lives, falling meteors, and “you’re
just waiting for the damn thing to blow up in your face,” Wallace assures us that there’s a raucous
party just around the corner, with cool jazz humming in the background - and that we’re all in this
together. The opening poem, “Second Fiddle,” makes it crystal clear whom the poet is addressing.
Whether you’re soused, sober, souped-up, or just plain beat, like a tall glass of cold Budweiser,
this one’s for you.
this goes out to
the ordinary guys
the windshield johnnys
the assembly line janes
the commuters on
the commuter trains
the dead beat warriors
the snow shovel joes
the guy with his fist in
the bottom of a sink
the ones who play
games called ‘make
George Wallace writes with a full glass, a full tank, and a full heart. Jack Daniel’s aside, the lifeblood
coursing through this poet’s veins is spiked with socially conscious eloquence and
empathy, laced with the spirit of the happy hipster (keeping in mind, of course, that “happy” is a
relative term, and often comes with heavy-duty provisos). His pitch-perfect rhythmic street-talk
takes us back to the madman drummers bummers and Indians in the summer frenetic phrasing of
early Springsteen, which itself is rooted in Bob Dylan’s freewheeling prosody, and which comes
to rest in Whitman’s vast vision of Americana. Wallace too is drawn to the underdog, the outcast,
the artist, and just about anyone who shares his sentiment of “Heave ho the routine.” Wallace too
rides out into the heart of the American landscape, as our designated pit-stop poet, to uncover
both the joy - and the seething.
Outlaw angels, asleep at the wheel, not the
heaven kind, stone angels rebellious & alone
with ecstasy, seated together in the park with
wings folded around each other, like starlight
hugging starlight, pigeon-feeding translucent
perfect angels, fountains of jug wine spouting
from foreheads & voices like baby robins in
perennial spring, cherrytipped angels huddled
around candles in Brooklyn bars, sharing secret
cigarettes & revolutionary magazines …
There is an abundance of angels, in various guises, drifting through the poems (barrel-chested
parking lot / angels with sunglasses and impossible grins / contemplating the void, pouring the
void / down their angel throats). But these are not your everyday angels—it is significant that
Wallace is quick to point out that his angels are “not the heaven kind.” They don’t sing in choirs
and they don’t wear halos, and they’re not very fond of the 9-5 ethos, although they’re
constrained to be part of it. Rather, they are the hordes of humanity who permeate “Second
Fiddle”; who drink and swear and “sweat like whores in church.” But even renegade angels need
camaraderie and validation, for they are the noble souls who elevate the creative impulse to a
(sacrilegious) kind of holiness. Wallace, for his part, provides plenty of bonhomie, while
conceding that a man is one part angel & one part horse’s ass. That is, the world is full of wellmeaning,
What’s in a title - and, you may be wondering, who is Boom Boom? Given the tendencies and
tenor of these poems, you might be tempted to hypothesize that Boom Boom is a voluptuous
stripper (perhaps you can even visualize her straddling the pole). But you would be wrong. The
title poem is not just a tragic narrative about a down-and-out musician; it is a thoughtful
exploration of conventional mores versus, well, rebel angels.
The facts are simple
they speak for themselves
but facts don’t always
tell the whole story—
he was a bluesman
he played the blues
he was sixty years old
the cops say they were just
protecting the public when
they came to his house
to haul him in, said
someone phoned &
told them he was
Irrational to be
the person they don’t
want you to be.
His name was Ports. Larry Ports.
That’s a good name.
It’s a simple name.
It speaks for itself.
But names are just facts.
Last week the cops said
someone named Lawrence
Ports died. That ain’t Boom Boom.
I don’t know where you’ll
be or what you’ll be doing
tonight. But as for me? I’ll be
riding with Boom Boom.
Riding with Boom Boom is a barnstorming disguised as a chapbook, and true to karmic form,
Wallace drops us back at the bar—not just any bar; you have your choice of “a punk bar on the
Lower East Side with an indifferent jukebox,” or if you’re in an existential mood, “Max’s
Momentary Bar and Grill”; and if you really want to ride with the angels, you can go to the “Fuck
You Café.” If you ask George Wallace why that’s the best place to end up, he’ll tell you “I drink
to go blind, blind as a newborn pup nosing its way through the underbelly of time—through slime
and fog and fur and dull existence.” Tough stuff. But do not fear. “Warhol’s Soup” offers a quick
comic fix (Hey waiter waiter what’s this jellyfish doing in my Warhol soup / why I’ll tell you
mister it’s doing the Watusi it’s doing the backstroke it’s doing the Merengue & the Fly). And the
poems, for all their hiss and heartbreak, end - yes, poetically - with an outstretched hand and a
Reviewer bio: Cindy Hochman is the president of “100 Proof” Copyediting Services and the
editor-in-chief of the online journal First Literary Review-East. She is on the book review staff of
Pedestal Magazine, and writes reviews for Home Planet News, great weather for MEDIA, other
publications. Recent poems are published (or forthcoming) in the New York Quarterly, CLWN
WR, Arsenic Lobster, Lips, Pirene’s Fountain, Monkey Bicycle, Muddy River Review, Levure
litérraire, Glimpse (Canada), Unlikely Stories, San Pedro River Review, and Kiyi (Turkey). Her
2011 chapbook, The Carcinogenic Bride, has been recommended on Winning Writers. Her latest
chapbook is Habeas Corpus, from Glass Lyre Press.
By Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozabal
Author bio: Luis was born in Mexico and lives and works in Los Angeles
County. Pygmy Forest Press published his first book of Raw Materials. He was a new
chapbook scheduled to published in 2016 by Kendra Steiner Editions.
The house became so small
I could no longer live there.
It was a home for ants. It
became so small the ants
could no longer live there.
I used to be so much smaller
than my house. My parents,
my brothers and sisters
also lived in the house. But
they could no longer live there.
The house became so small
it became invisible. I don’t know
what made the house so tiny
that no one could live there.
I keep scratching my head.
I Don’t Know Much
Who knows everything?
Who is afraid to say?
Who wants to make that statement?
It only takes a few words.
Who wants to say with certainty or
perhaps with a hint of doubt,
that ashes came after the fire,
that madmen rule the world?
Some people know too much.
They can predict forever.
No one should know so much.
I don’t know much.
I know I’m alive and will die.
Lovers will leave.
They walk away.
Apart from that I’m clueless.
I hope to live in peace.
I do not have other wishes.
The road to nowhere is long.
Manifestations of Heat
By Scott Thomas Outlar
Whitewashed maggot magazines on sellout spinner
racks full of skeleton demeanor rags topple off the display case.
You couldn’t trash talk your way out of a paper
bag even if the supply was running too low to count.
How much longer until the trash
completely corrupting ten thousand layers of
Hesitation, huh? Breathe,
but only for a moment;
if you must
against the gross injustices of power and greed.
Smash if you will at the hammer,
bringing about an Idol Twilight
Cataclysm, striking hard against frostbitten snowflakes in Autumn.
No leaves remaining to catch a stormy drop;
dew north, due heaven, do nothing
except backtrack all over your sacred vowels;
they don’t matter much to me in this sordid state.
Spin around and bend broken brain matter
until it resembles smeared jelly on the canvass of salvation.
Solutions formed with salt in the city ocean chase after
crying ravens as they swoop, screech and scatter the pigeon laced forest.
Bleak rays of silent light try to make the day come,
but it’s just so hard when they’ve been working for such a long time
with no returns on the investment.
The saving grace of finally getting it up again ignites a fire.
The sky could explode in riptide orgasms
as red neon flashing velvet pillow talk commences in the aftermath.
Purple crayon intuition art show
pulls apart all the illusory material possessions.
What’s needed now is the Natural Order of Creation.
Author bio: Scott Thomas Outlar survived the chaos of both the fire and the
flood...barely. Now he spends the hours flowing and fluxing with the ever- changing tide
of the Tao River while laughing at and/or weeping over life's existential nature. His
words have appeared recently in venues such as Dissident Voice, Yellow Chair Review,
Burningword Literary Journal, and A New Ulster. Links to his published work can be
found at 17numa.wordpress.com.
By Brandon Antonio Smith
Author bio: Brandon Antonio Smith is a 22 year old homebody from Tampa, Florida. He
struggles to embrace himself on a daily basis. He graduated from Hillsborough
Community College with an Associate's Degree in Liberal Arts, and is considering
attending a university to study English Literature. His indentured servitude is to his fear
of the world. He is uncertain whether or not his creative aspirations will come to fruition.
Writing is the closest he will ever come towards freedom.
Sex Is Vile
Sex is a vile act.
It demands guilt
As a response.
You do without it.
Make a solemn vow
To not think of it or
Involve yourself in it.
To fantasize about sex
Is to think dirty thoughts.
Be chaste instead.
The convent will be pleased,
The monastery will be pleased,
If you preserve your purity.
A cavity chuckles
Behind my cheek,
My teeth are
A hangnail lies flat on
My left middle finger,
And a centipede is
Embedded on my right wrist.
Before my eyes,
Heavy bags lie
I have claws
Of voracious instinct,
Yet my horn
Tends to be dull.
I am a selfish sloth,
A slave to a master,
and my own lab rat.
By Duane Locke
ECO ECHOES 139
The farm was a doctor,
prescription: the Little Green Heron atop a pine.
It cured the pain from the tightness of the halo
Put as a hat on the head.
Everyone had been wounded by weapons of mass destruction, human words,
And with drops of blood drew hats for halos ,
Wore dark glasses to protect from the blindness
Of the dazzle of the constituted brightness.
Much of the time blindfolds were worn
So as not to see the lost and longed for boulevards,
Or to change the plowed furrows into a mystic river
With water nymphs and a bearded old man playing a zither.
But no one understood the collision or colliding in Connecticut barns.
There was confused talks about nightgowns of snow,
And soldiers playing the drums left intact in bombed dance halls.
Some had memories of city visits with Ferris wheels
And merry-go-round white enameled metal horses
Whose bridled were gold painted. But others,
The droughts in April. The disorders in April
Were adjectives without nouns and no predication.
But the farm was my doctor,
The Little Green Heron atop a tall pine,
Wind ruffled head feathers that gave it a crown.
ECO ECHOES 143
We hope, as we listen
To a tape of splashes little fish made
Towards the aquariums’ glass wall,
That it will not go on as it been going in the present,
And going on for centuries.
Most of the first principles we were taught are false.
The deductions that followed had more to do
With the will to power of the power structure
That with the original premise. Our contemplators
Quickly become puppets of a ventriloquist
Who does not exists and wear their tophats backwards
That looks the same as if worn in front.
We hide from memories of ovens in Germany,
Slave markets in New Orleans, and cattle auctions
And their electric rods outside of Lakeland to lick a cone
Of strawberry ice cream while watching in zoos
Ourang-utans wearing baseball mitts
And playing catch with oranges.
Our oracles are stand-up comedians and
Readers of scripts on new reports. Sometimes,
A sequined, white-rayon dancer who sings oratio obliqua
Rewrites the ten commandments of the Marquis de Sade
That are the ethics of so many of the population
And their soccer-playing children.
To exploit the meek they are told they have
Within seeds of a world-soul.
But they are not told these seeds are buried to decay under
The concrete of their highways.
Author bio: Duane Locke, PH. D, lives hermetically in Tampa, Florida near anhinga,
gallinules, raccoons, alligators. Has had published 7,000 different poems, none selfpublished
or paid to be published. This includes 33 books of poems. He is a
photographer of Surphotos and Nature. Has had 558 photos published, some as book
covers. A book of 40 of his Surphotos has been published by Blaze Vox, Poetic Imprints:
Responses to the Art of Duane Locke, by Connie Stadler and Felino Soriano. His
paintings have been published by University of Florida Press, and are in many private
collections and museums. He is a student of philosophy. His favorites are Martin
Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Jacques Lacan, Jacques Derrida, Gilles Deleuze..
By Abigale Louise LeCavalier
Hearing her name
for the first time,
taking in wine
by the fistful,
she waits to walk in the sun.
in someone else's poem,
skipping line and stanza
barking like an angry dog.
She takes steps sideways
so the wind doesn't fuss
with her thinking,
she used to love lilacs
in old water;
she said they smelled
And remembering love
is something she thinks beautiful,
if it were not lost in a hole
she dug for herself.
So she places bits of words
in her hands,
holding tight to only
And the thought of a lonely death.
Author bio: Abigale writes: “My poems have been published in several print and online
publications, including Jersyworks, Black-listed Magazine, Illogical Muse, The Sheltered
Poet, Blaze Vox, The second Hump, Long Story Short,Vox Poetica, Abandoned Towers
Magazine, Leaf Garden, The stray Branch, The Camel Saloon, Polu Texni,Filling Station,
Record Magazine, Black Cat Press, The Off Beat, and many other online and
Ode to a “father”
By Yi Wu
Oh you upstanding man, wrinkles carved the American way
washed and dusted like David’s frame, rags full of riches,
liberally given by day, from concerned hands untainted
by depth of empathy, unscathed by filthy mud-play
you deplore so dearly, an unforgiving voice, studio-like, sharpened
by rims of your cowboy hat, questioning choices
of kids these days
“Where are their fathers?” you asked,
taking prodigal sons to their task
and paternal virtues of yours radiated splendor, aided
by a line of pow(d)ered aphrodisiac in Kissinger’s flask,
while quite relishing
that unplanned pregnancy at last century’s twilight
patriarchal sperms of law-abiding citizens conceived
and moaning birth pains on a fecund night
waiting for your fork-tongued snow-brainchild
who turned summer passions into stone-cold hearts,
who told those who couldn’t breathe
to work hard
so they could afford iron lungs
Your medals and badges outshine jewelry,
taking pride they do not pierce thin skins
of vulnerable sissies who know nothing but loving
boys for who they are - this father-like love begins
at conception of barren opinions, shoving
to the periphery
so just hard knocks remains
Your groveling speeches warn about dangers of a gun
and you are not afraid to use one to stop the fun
A father, you wish you were one not of me not of him
but only of all and me him her can be cut off, gunned down, to save
your purity of all, and to this end
you also - imprisoned our fathers!
Author bio: Yi Wu was born in a southern metropolis in China, spent a good portion of his
school years in New England and now writes poetry in Brooklyn.
Fear of a Slack Planet (CD REVIEW)
By Alison Ross
Public Enemy have always been the copy-and-paste sonic collage champs; their feisty
rap-rants are perennially couched within a carefully constructed chaos of samples from
musical icons like James Brown, the Temptations, The Isley Brothers, Stevie Wonder
(and, more recently, samples of their own past hits), plus bits from the media, speeches
from the likes of Malcolm X and Jesse Jackson, and various competing sounds, all
colliding like shooting stars to make up a beautiful cacophony that can be at once
ebullient and menacing.
Of course, these days Public Enemy features less menace than they did when they first
erupted onto the scene - and in fact it's funny to think how innocuous their older records
sound when extricated from context. For, bands like Public Enemy and NWA opened the
gates to more menace in rap, and yet, really, PE was never as menacing as NWA. NWA
simply took PE's slightly menacing tone to its logical absolute. That said, there are songs
in the PE catalogue - check out those on "Fear of a Black Planet," especially - that could
be construed as menacing, especially for that time period.
On "Man Plans, God Laughs," PE is back in full force, though the album is much more
concise than its predecessor - not one, actually, but dual and dueling albums ("Most of
My Heroes Still Don't Appear on No Stamp" and The Evil Empire of Everything") that
were sprawling in nature. "Man Plans, God Laughs" reins in the sprawl but continues
with the feverish tirades against injustice. For PE, even in this dark, shallow era of
misogynistic, materialistic hip hop, persists in devising music and lyrics that cut to the
core of what it means to be human. They are socially conscious rappers; they care deeply
about humanity and do not traffic in misanthropy like so many rappers today. They do
not glorify violence; rather, they abhor and rage against the conditions that create it.
That said, at times on the new album, some of PE's social consciousness comes across as
hollow like so many hippie protest songs ("Give Peace a Damn"), or simply too tame.
"Earthizen" is the soulful center of the album, with its groove-infused beat, horn section,
and gospel-esque chorus harkening back to classic funk, and its urban Sesame Street
alphabet-list lyrics. And yet, the spoken refrain - "Earth without art is just [Eh]" - is rather
domesticated for a band that once fiercely urged the incineration of the racial stereotypehyping
film industry in "Burn Hollywood Burn."
But then, PE has never been about one tone or style - some songs exhibit ferocious
indignation, others an almost whimsical rage, but most have at their core a surging
concern for the betterment of humanity - taking governments, the media and corporations
to task for tyrannizing the populace.
If "Earthizen" is the soul of "Man Plans, God Laughs," then the title tune is its fist-shaped
heart. Not only does the song boast the fattest baseline in the history of fat baselines, but
the song is as punk as PE has ever been - indeed, it's befittingly AFROpunk, since PE is
one of the featured guests at the Atlanta AfroPunk Fest. The song is a clear call for black
people to follow their hearts rather than mimic what the media dictates, and also a lament
for the parody that humans have allowed themselves to become - that's the "god laughs"
part. The song also showcases a rousing refrain - "Do it For the Culture, Do it For the
Youth" - by Cassandra Half Pint Jackson.
Similarly funk-punk is the Front 242-mimicking song, "No Sympathy From the Devil."
The song channels the industrial pioneers very well, at least to my keenly attuned ears,
and is yet another searing indictment of humanity gone astray.
Elsewhere, you have the sonically streamlined (via an one-dimensional organ flourish)
"Mine Again" which favors an African-centric milieu, the atonal "Lost in Space" which
seems to mourn the state of the modern music industry, and "Corplantationopoly," which
naturally is a caustic critique of how corporations have essentially purchased our souls.
The main failures of the album, besides the aforementioned timid tone, lie in the
bewildering under-utilization of notorious hype-man Flava Flav, and in the completely
skippable "Honky Tonk Rules," which is not quite a cover song, but not quite a rewrite
either - and either way, it smacks of Rolling Stones idol-worship. Chuck D has called PE
"The Rolling Stones of rap," and he may be correct, but this co-opting of the song is just
futile and cheap. Too, the extreme slow-motion sample of the classic line, "hear the
drummer get wicked" on "Thos Who Know, Know Who" is irritatingly pointless.
Still, the album as is smashingly solid as any PE album. The album closes with "Praise
the Loud," whose infectious funkification serves to erase any foibles that threaten to mar
the album, and remind us all that PE is really the only hip hop band that matters anymore,
and likely ever did.
By Lucas Burkett
I’m calling today
to raise awareness
about sad billionaires.
Did you know
a billionaire dies
every 82 years?
Start the conversation!
a private museum
full of lobster
They’re saving it
for a special occasion!
Stay Hungry! Stay Foolish!
Stay inside your urinal.
Bow your head
the Lord’s blessing.
Author bio: Lucas Burkett is a poet and a political rebel-rouser who lives in Northern
Summer Engagement Calendar (Satire)
By Fred D. White
Last year Prince George, aka Baby George (not to be confused with Boy George) had an
excessively busy time leading up to his first birthday celebration on July 22; but thanks to the
forward thinking of his parents (the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge) in hiring a press
secretary and engagement scheduler for the Prince, the royal toddler will be ensured of ample
time for meals, naps, and advanced potty training. You may recall that last year in New
Zealand, thanks to the efforts of the Royal Plunket Society, which offers support to mothers
and their infants, the fidgety Prince exchanged spit with babes as rascally as he, indirectly
acquiring such skills as demarcation of territory and the sharing (or not) of polyethylene zoo
animals and palace guards.
In the coming months, I suspect that activities will become considerably more frequent, more
structured, and hence more in need of the sort of selective advance scheduling required of
pre-K royal tots. The following preliminary draft, scribbled out by the harried Royal
Scheduler and absent-mindedly tossed onto the footpath in Hyde Park, I had scooped up
before any of the other seekers of royal rubbish:
21 June: Solstice party: Baby George to usher in summer
25 June: Sitting for the bi-monthly royal portrait
27 June: Meet with the Western Alliance of Heads-of-State Toddlers to initiate the first
29 June: Afternoon frolic among the royal chickens; Prince George to pardon a bantam of
30 June: Photo op with dukes’ and duchesses’ tots (East Lawn, Windsor Castle)
1-2 July: Mud-pie Madness; parental supervision suspended. Parents urged to wear masks
3 July: Photo op with royal cousins
5-7 July: Durham Castle: Marshmallow roast under the stars, followed by balloon-popping
8 July: “Tots afloat”: Weir River barge excursion, accompanied by the Academy of St.
Martin’s in the Fields (on a separate barge) performing Handel’s “Water Music”; Andrew
10 July: Photo op featuring red and blue crepe-paper streamers
15 July: Get-the-Prince-to-Giggle competition
21 July: Dance (restricted to those between the ages of 1 and 2, cleared by the Royal Family)
22 July: Second Birthday Celebration of His Royal Highness, Prince George
Guest of Honor: Lady Gaga, who will sing all-time preschool favorites, "London Bridge";
"Rock-a- Bye-Baby"; "Frere Jacques"; "Cry"; "There Goes My Baby"; "Whole Lotta Shakin’
23 July: Prince to select mock bride for toddler wedding day; all UK media alerted
25 July: Hop-a-thon, Regency Park
26 July: Gummy-bear chewing competition
27 July: London Philharmonic Orchestra world premiere performance of “The Prince George
Festival March”; Guest Conductor: Gustavo Dudamel
28-31 July: Extended visit with Great-Granny and Great-Grandpa, Buckingham Palace.
1 August: Nanny buggy race through St. James’s Park
2 August: Private performance of Camille Saint-Saens, Carnival of the Animals; Prince
George urged to coo along
5-8 August: Workshop for preschool admission tests; private tutorial for the Prince follows
9 August: A gala celebration of Georges: Homage to the King Georges of the world,
beginning with the six King Georges of Great Britain, but also including the twelve King
Georges of Georgia, especially the first (“Georgi”), who was only 16 when he inherited the
throne from his father in 1788); festivities to begin with an authentic West African tribute to
the eighteenth century King George, nee Doo a Makongo*, of the Duala people of
Cameroon, followed by a Czech-style tribute to King George of Bavaria (aka Podebrad), and
the three King Georges of Tonga (Toupou I, II, and V)
10 August: Prince George’s First Seminar: Introduction to Humanity, Part I: Life outside the
15 August: Prince George to receive sibling rivalry training as Princess Baby Charlotte
seizes the world’s attention.
*Renamed George by British traders
Author bio: Fred writes: “My last satire appeared in Issue #29 of Clockwise Cat. Other
recent fiction and satire of mine has appeared, most recently, in Pidgeon Holes (Australia),
Atticus Review, The Brooklyner, Mad Hat Lit, and Rathalla Review. I live near Sacramento,
In Defiant Defense of Gay Marriage;
Or, How I Learned to Tell Kim Davis To Fuck Herself (Rant)
By Alison Ross
Marriage is for fools, as far as I am concerned. Conceived as a scheme to entrap women,
subjugate them to male will and whims, it has evolved over time to a slightly more
equitable merging of minds and souls. However, most married women still take on their
husband's last name (why not combine the names?), and most women are still "given
away" at their weddings by their fathers to their husbands-to-be.
These two gestures could be construed as harmlessly symbolic, empty of real meaning,
but I say: symbols can be deadly. Just witness how the Confederate flag has been the
banner under which untold atrocities have been carried out - most recently, the shooting
in a Charleston, South Carolina AME church. The gestures of surname adoption and
father-husband passage of the daughter/wife-to-be symbolize ownership, and this can
have injurious implications in the marriage itself, even in ones where the men proclaim to
be progressive. I mean, damn: t's 2015 - are women still chattel, or do we have
Given the staggering number of adulteries committed by both sexes, and unhappy marital
situations in general, it's clear that marriage is the number one cause of divorce. Why
does one need a legal document to cement one's fidelity to his or her beloved? Clearly, it
doesn't work anyway, and in fact puts more pressure on couples to conform to norms they
themselves don't even fully apprehend. If a couple is committed, they are committed,
legal recognition be damned. They may or may not last as a couple until death do them
part, but that's reality: Most couples do not. Marriage will not rectify the nature of
unpredictability; only death will do that.
There is only one good reason for marriage: For the acquisition of legal benefits. It's a
travesty that we must resort to immersing ourselves in a slave-like institution in order to
realize those benefits. What better way to suck dry the beatific mysteries of romance than
y requiring couples to sign papers that spell out in excruciatingly unpoetic language the
"terms" of their union? Sure, any kids generated out of this union deserve legal
protection, but as we well know, marriage does not guarantee eternal familial bliss - or
any bliss at all. Why not grant the children of couples automatic legal rights, regardless of
their marital status? (Or, better yet, why not ban the production of children altogether?
Oh, wait, we can't do that; that would be totalitarian of us. I do digress.)
Despite my protestations against marriage, I euphorically embrace the legalization of gay
marriage. But why would I embrace gay marriage if I lament the very existence of the
institution? I think the answer is obvious: As long as access to marriage exists for straight
couples, it should exist for gay couples. We are well past the time that we can, in good
conscience, legally discriminate against people based on ethnicity, creed, sexual
orientation. Interracial marriage was once illegal, but we overturned that ridiculous shit.
Gay marriage was illegal, but we said fuck that backward-ass crap, and sanctioned it, to
the horror of some who try to hide their homophobic bigotry within the amorphous
confines of "religious freedom." (Kim Davis, anyone?)
But no religion, at its core, should be so intolerant. But then, religious practitioners are
often just that, casting a dark shadow on the nature of religion itself. Of course, that's
another tirade for another time.
But there is another, more tacit reason for exuberantly celebrating the legalization of gay
marital unions: It changes the core nature of marriage. So, the homophobic dissidents are,
in a sense, correct: Gay marriage does change the idea of marriage itself.
Of course, the creepy homophobes fear that in allowing gay marriage, it will open the
floodgates for bestiality and pedophilia. Well, I am pretty sure that rural farmhands
cornered the market on bestiality long ago - I KID, I KID - and that the Catholic Church
has cornered the market on pedophilia (I wish I WERE kidding about that). The facts are,
of course, that true perversion exists outside of the purview of whether or not gays can
get married. To imply that homosexual marriage is tantamount to such perversions as
child molestation and fucking bovines is beyond absurd.
No, the type of laudable change that the legalization of gay marriage could instigate
would be the one where marriage can no longer be seen as one person acquiring property,
as in many hetero marriages - or, in today's terms, as an imbalance of power, however
slight (not all hetero marriages are that inequitable, I realize) - but rather as a true
merging of equals.
For, in the case of gay marriage, there is no clashing of the sexes. A gay marriage is void
of the historical burden of gender repression. And even though they share experience in
dealing with misogyny from some men, lesbians do not have to confront each other with
In 50 years, the institution of marriage will likely be imbued with a new sensibility - not
one encumbered with the sagging weight of history, wherein women are submissive to
men - but one that vaunts equality between partners.
In the end, I think we should fight for the abolishment of marriage; it's anachronistic, and
tainted with sexist intentions. But the potential positive reverberations of the legalization
of gay marriage are too tantalizing to dismiss.
Plus, legalizing it is just the fucking right thing to do, and overdue, at that.
Cruel Cop by Bob McNeil
By Ally Malinenko
Author bio: Ally Malinenko is the author of The Wanting Bone (Six Gallery Press) and
the YA novel This Is Sarah (Bookfish Books). She has two poetry books forthcoming
entitled How To Be An American (Six Gallery Press) and Better Luck Next Year (Low
Ghost). She lives in the part of Brooklyn that the tour buses don't come to.
He wears all white,
white sweats, white t-shirt
and even white fucking socks
He sits down in the waiting room,
It is just me and the seniors again.
Some are quiet
and don’t mind when I ask if we can turn off the TV
which is incredibly loud and only
set to talk shows,
those women don’t bother me.
The Angel starts in, every day
with the same thing.
You know, he says
and I close my eyes.
We need to stop meeting like this.
He looks around for a smile.
A few of the women give him a cursory laugh.
His white outfit is in the plastic bag next to him,
now he only wears his gown
and another draped over his shoulders
to keep himself covered.
You know, he starts again
I mean this with no disrespect but I’ll be glad to never see you folks again.
He laughs and they laugh along.
No disrespect, he says.
Then he talks about god’s will
to anyone who will listen,
how we have no choice in the matter.
How it’s god’s choice and we need to put our
lives in his hands.
When one of the women leaves to see the doctor
he tells everyone that she has a brain tumor
that she has lost her sense of taste.
No matter what we’re going through, he says
nothing is as bad as that.
Imagine, tasting nothing.
Nothing at all.
He’s the preacher
and the old Hispanic woman
next to him agrees
So does the Italian.
The Russian says nothing
he is on the phone
yelling in Russian
and I doubt it’s about cancer or god or any of us.
When they call my name I’m thankful to get out.
But later, after I change, he comes down the hall,
still in his gown
tells me to have a good day
that we’ll see each other tomorrow
and his robe flutters behind him
not unlike wings.
And I’m sorry now
that everything is done for the day
that I didn’t
laugh at his dumb joke.
There is something to be said
black and blue
flopping like a dead fish
spots of blood
on the sheets
can’t lay this way
or that way
don’t touch me
sort of sex.
But I’ll just say
we’re still trying.
Strength to Be Human by Mark Antony Rossi
Loyal First Books, 2015 Kindle EBook Editions
Review by Sy Albright
Tackling the existential existence of humanity on a global scale would be a topic too
large for even a War and Peace length volume, but Rossi’s Strength to Be Human
manages to boil down his poignant distillations in less than fifty pages. Quite a feat when
considering he neither dances around political opinions nor runs away from criticizing
Science and Religion as potential negative elements that hold back humanity from its
In “What We Learned” Rossi states: “We waste our time building the better machine
rather than raising the better child. The sum of our species is naught if we simply carry
our fear and hostility to the Cosmos?”
This is the first time I have ever read a book that successfully pushes back on religious
thought and science philosophy without calling for extreme measures or proposing to
exchange one idiotic ideology for another. He plainly points out that religion and science
are most dangerous to peaceful coexistence when allowed to lament on humanity’s lack
of superhuman or supernatural powers. Powers he clearly shows are unwanted and
There is a certain poetry in these writings that ease the deeper thoughts into your mind as
with the closing lines of “Prime Mover:” “But the ultimate beauty of the human creation
is the indomitable desire to rise above the sum of our shortcomings. In this journey the
happiness of humanity stands the strongest chance of building a better world and finally
finding a love capable of pushing back the primal instinct.”
These essays read like meditations for the well-being of four billion people. It’s a heady
goal but likely a beneficial mission suited for the world-at-large. If Poverty and War have
a permanent cure the medicine will arrive by natural means. No test tube or holy
touchstone can bring people closer to peace until they settle the war raging in their own
hearts. The mechanical and the metaphysical have a place in our dreams if humanity
takes care to ensure our deepest decisions are made from personal experience and
Author bio: Sy Albright is a book reviewer, former editor of Bioethics Review and
current webmaster of Loyal First Books http://loyalfirstbooks.wix.com/books-seller
By Randi Ward
A blood bay,
in its grey
Pacing and whining,
the dogs lick their quivering
flews at the clank
of the shovel
the stall floor.
Author bio: Randi Ward is a writer, translator, lyricist, and photographer from West
Virginia. She earned her MA in Cultural Studies from the University of the Faroe Islands
and is a recipient of the American-Scandinavian Foundation's Nadia Christensen Prize.
Ward is a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee whose work has appeared in the
Anthology of Appalachian Writers, Asymptote, Beloit Poetry Journal, Cimarron Review,
The Cortland Review, Thrush Poetry Journal, Vencil: Anthology of Contemporary
Faroese Literature, World Literature Today, and other publications. For more
information, visit: www.randiward.com/about
Feminist Film Fest: “Next Year”/
“Diary of a Teenaged Girl” (Movie Reviews)
by Alison Ross
I have established in the past (right here in this very wacky zine thing you are perusing)
my disdain for "ghettoizing" genders and calling films that have a "girlish" bent a "chick
flick." What that basically is saying is that flicks mainly focusing on men - let's call them
"dick flicks" - are the norm, the standard. That men are representative of both genders,
and that anything that focuses more on female concerns is an aberration from the
patriarchal paradigm and should be branded as such, by tagging them with the demeaning
"chick flick" label.
Okay, fine, call them "chick flicks," but then, as I said, call the male flicks "dick flicks."
Both genders should be represented equally in film, as in all other artistic media, and in
the work and political spheres as well. I think my labeling is equitable, if a bit crude,
especially for the male films. And, let's face it: A lot of films focusing on males are pretty
dick flicky, as they emphasize crass phallic pursuits such as getting laid constantly, or
racing cars, or blowing up shit. BORING. It's chauvinistic and certainly doesn't do
anything to help males along the evolutionary path. Men are not primitive by nature, but
a portion of the male population either obstinately refuses to acknowledge their "feminine
mystique," or are trapped within a primitive prism owing to pop culture's and the political
realm's repulsive insistence on keeping men entrenched in a regressive state, thinking
that's what makes men "men." Bullshit. What makes a man a man is his enthusiastic
embrace of both female and male qualities. We are all androgynous, ultimately.
But it is true, I'm sorry to say, that there are not more chick flicks, in the most positive
sense of the term. Sure, feminist filmmaking has picked up in recent years, and I am
woefully undereducated when it comes to just how many women are making films, and
just how many truly feminist films there are out there making an impact in some
grandiose or nuanced way. As much as I love film, I am very far from being a true
connoisseur. So feminist filmmaking may even be more pervasive than I am aware. Still,
though, it's obvious that among mainstream and indie film fare, feminist films are not
exactly shaking up the universe. They are there, but they are not multitudinous enough.
Two recent films have attempted to fill the void left by the dearth of feminist films: "Next
Year," helmed by Belgian filmmaker Vania Leturcq and "Diary of a Teenaged
Girl, directed by Marielle Heller. Both tackle feminist themes in unique, and even
controversial ways. Both tackle female sexuality in a refreshingly brash manner, not
shying from the subject but addressing it head-on, without filters and without apology.
For some portions of the patriarchal establishment are still crassly nostalgic for the time
when women could be roundly condemned within the virgin/whore dichotomy: derided
for being pristinely chaste and not concessive enough to male demands for libido
satiation, or hypocritically denigrated for being loose if the sexual impulse flows freely.
"Next Year" doesn't give a flip about this disgusting dichotomy, but actually explores
female sexuality and female friendships from an authentic perspective, double-standard
social mores be damned.
In "Next Year," the main thematic thrust seems to be female solidarity in the face of male
antagonism. The film takes place in Paris, mostly, and has a definite whiff of French
sensibility about it, but what's most remarkable is its unabashed universality. The film is
not content to simply capture what it's like to be youthful femmes in France; it goes
beyond to make a connection across geographic, gender, and epochal boundaries. First
and foremost, it's a film about growing up and growing apart. Its feminist bent emerges
when the film considers how the women are treated by the men in their lives, how the
women handle such treatment, and how they handle each other in light of that treatment.
Of course, men should be interested in this angle as well - it's a humanistic angle, after
all. What the film does transcendently well is in mirroring the modern zeitgiest of
growing up, going to college, grappling with the foibles of self-esteem and the agonizing
aspects of best friend love and loss, and, of course, partying 'til you puke...all are crucial
components to coming of age stories, and finally, we have a film that narrates the female
experience. Too many films focus on the male side of things, which is beyond overdone
and beyond uninspired.
In "Diary of a Teenaged Girl," female sexuality is even more blatantly presented, as here
we have a 15-year old who is screwing her mother's 30-something boyfriend. On the one
hand, it's supremely uncomfortable watching this adolescent (played searingly by twentysomething
actress, but she looks 15, trust me) euphorically indulge her lustful moods
with a much older man. It's also ethically discombobulating to behold this older man so
zealously partake in these sexual escapades with a minor. It was, after all, the 1970s, and
even though an adult having sex with a 15-year old was illegal, the laws (both actual and
moral) certainly weren't enforced much, since so many people seemed to be doing it.
The film withholds all judgment on these scandalous liaisons until near the end - and
even then, the film is ambiguous about whether the main adult characters seem to grasp
the harrowing nature of the transgression. Kristen Wiig is superb as the dysfunctional
mother whose boyfriend is sexing her daughter, and the male lead is creepily convincing
as the clueless dolt who can't keep his pants zipped. He's not so much a creep, really, as a
dumbass. He doesn't prey on the daughter, really ... she is the one who seduces him,
ultimately. But of course, the creep factor comes in when he accepts the bait, and
continues to screw her even after he discerns it's wrong and he will get caught.
The feminism of this film is very clear: the girl wanted sex with an older man, and she
got it, repeatedly. From the perspective of the young girl, it's all very understandable.
What young female has NOT had a crush on a seemingly worldly older man, whether he
is an abstract, unattainable celebrity or a flesh-and-blood creature who lives next door? I
can certainly relate.
But that doesn't make it right, of course, that an older man should play into the crush, and
allow himself to succumb to the ovarian demands of a much younger girl, who's still
groping her way around the sexual cosmos. An adult, by nature, should be more in
command of his or her impulses.
So, from that angle, the fact that the movie does not "moralize" about the cretin who
fucked his girlfriend's underage daughter, but simply tells the story as it is, without so
much as a hint toward scruple-awareness, is disturbing, to say the least.
But from the angle of a young girl's unbridled sexuality coming to life and flourishing,
even, it’s refreshing. Women are so often - even today - seen as merely the vessels that
satisfy male lust, rather than as sexual beings in and of themselves, with voracious sexual
hunger that rivals men's legendary appetites. One of the reasons that women's sexuality
historically has been repressed is because men fear its feral potential: Fact.
And that's the oxymoronic appeal of "The Diary of a Teenaged Girl" - a film that
controversially refuses to judge a sexual transgression on the part of the male, so that the
female side of things can be told in an unfettered way.
By Paul Grant
Until the adjacent aches
What ever else
You will be remembered
Than 4am rain
But in these
You can hold up
A single finger
Coming through the far end
As cats rage
At each other outside
In that light
The days are propped up
It is all more beautiful
And then stirred,
The romance of this hour,
That old sadness
Seeks the page,
I have loved before
I could love again
In the cool air.
By Catherine Fletcher
the dancing ducks welcome sign
the bad to the bone biker gnome
the ultrasonic barking dog detector
the cat food theft preventer
the 4-in-1 toilet roll retainer
the Virgin Island room divider
sparkling water with a twist of lime, please
the fake TV flicker light
the senseless beauty eradicator
the sound sleep replacer
the left brain enhancer
the deaf rabbit ears
the faceless watch
grilled chicken, thanks, not vermicelli pasta
the walk-on-water adjustable sandals
the all-in-one ego deflator
the morality generator
the third eye illuminator
the intelligent universe designer
the automatic life timer
in flight payment with gift card or credit karma
Author bio: Catherine Fletcher is a poet and an editor for Rattapallax magazine. She
recently served as the Director of Poetry Programs at the New York organization, City
Lore. She is a Queens Council on the Arts 2015 Artist Peer Circle fellow and has been
awarded an artist residency by the Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild. Fletcher’s work has
appeared in Poetry Wales, The Raconteur, Mizna, She lives in Jackson Heights, NY.
VOLTAIRE IN ENGLAND by Fred Russell
In May 1726 Voltaire sailed up the Thames, London-bound. He was thirty-two at
the time, a scrawny Frenchman with a big mouth. Everyone was after his ass. Back in
France he'd had a run-in with someone called the Chevalier de Rohan-Chabot, got
himself arrested, and was graciously allowed to leave the country in lieu of becoming a
full-time resident of the Bastille. It was a fine day and it made him fall in love with
England. The King was out on his barge, a thousand little boats were in his wake, and
some music was being played. Was it Haendel's "Water Music"? Let's say it was so that
you can understand what Voltaire felt that day. Later he saw some fat merchants in town
and thought he was in paradise.
London at the time was in actual fact the cesspool of the Western World, a great
Broth of Slops and Excrement to which the majority of its unfortunate Citizens had been
consigned by the titled Nonentities who callously ruled their lives. Few civilized nations
have displayed such cruelty toward their own kind as the British. But that's another story.
Voltaire retired to Wandsworth for a few months to brush up on his English so that he
could chat with Pope, who usually talked in couplets. He also met Congreve, who he
thought was the second coming of Molière. George II sent him some cash and he
dedicated the Henriade to the Queen.
At Wandsworth he walked around with a big hard-on most of the time, coming
down to the kitchen every morning to feast his eyes on the merry wenches dishing out the
gooseberry tarts. Fawkener, his host, liked to pinch their lovely behinds. The English
were still a robust people. Samuel Johnson had not yet begun to destroy their language so
most of them still sounded like Shakespeare, or at least like Samuel Pepys. Voltaire
sounded like Voltaire. He tended to philosophize about everything. Were he alive today
he would be hosting a talk show like Reich-Ranicki or Bernard Pivot. But then he
wouldn't have written the ten thousand letters and all those books.
Once he got the hang of it, Voltaire started writing letters in English too. Whether
the French recipients could understand them is another matter. To Thierriot he wrote:
"Write me some lines in English to show your improvement in your learning." To the
Queen of England he signed off: "Most humble, most dutiful, most obliged servant," but
left out the "etc." Voltaire was a lover of non-French royalty. That would get him into a
lot of trouble in later life when he became enamored of the crazy Germans. But that's
another story too.
One morning, at Wandsworth, sitting in the garden and trying to render Ovid's Ars
Amatoria into English hexameters with little success, he saw one of the wenches walking
toward the stables. "Hey there, marry wench," he called out in the manner of Fawkener,
"where beest zou off to?" The wench turned around and said, "Come along then, little
man, and I'll show you a thing or two."
"What ho!" Voltaire exclaimed, not believing his good fortune. He got up so fast
that he tipped over his inkpot and got a nasty stain on his britches. "Merde," he said and
trotted after her.
She was waiting just inside the stable. He embraced her passionately, whispering
words like "ma petite" and "ma jolie," but getting his bony fingers entangled in her many
skirts when he tried to slip them between her legs. "Merde!" he said again.
"Come on then," the wench said impatiently. "I haven't got all day."
"I shall tup zee presently," Voltaire replied. Finally he mounted her and it was
over in the twinkling of an eye, for the little man screwed the way he wrote, at breakneck
"That's no way to diddle a lady," the wench complained.
"Zou aint no lady," Voltaire rejoined, and got a smart slap for his trouble.
Afterwards he went back to the house for a snack. Country life was making him
soft and lazy. It was definitely time to move on, so a few days later he bid farewell to
Fawkener and took the coach to London, dragging along a trunk filled with manuscripts
and dirty underwear. As luck would have it, he found himself seated beside another
comely wench, though this one too was far from being a lady. He had been reading Moll
Flanders and thought immediately of the adventures they might have.
"I say, buxom miss, art zou traveling alone?" the little gentleman inquired.
"Anyone can see that," the wench replied. "Would you care to join me then?"
The vicar sitting opposite the pair eyed them disapprovingly though he had a
hard-on too. Voltaire winked at him and squeezed the wench's thigh.
"That'll cost you a pretty penny," she said with a mirthless laugh.
"We'll see about zat," Voltaire said.
Upon arriving, the little man escorted the wench to her lodgings in Swinetown
and then found lodgings of his own, promising to visit her soon. The historic meeting
between Voltaire and Pope took place a few evenings later, in a brothel of all places.
Pope came to watch. He had a peephole with his name above it and paid for it by the
month. Voltaire stood beside him and tried to strike up a conversation but the renowned
poet waved him away, saying only: "Get a load o' them boobs, my boy/That's the biggest
pair this side of Pomeroy."
"May I have a peep zen?" Voltaire said.
"Peep away," Pope replied.
"Sacré Dieu!" Voltaire exclaimed.
"You took the words right out of my mouth," Pope rejoined.
Afterwards they had something to drink at the busy coffee house on Cockspur
Street. Pope was grotesquely deformed and wore a powdered wig. From time to time he
picked his nose and stared at the result. Sometimes he belched and occasionally he farted.
Voltaire, who was no great prize himself, had never in his life encountered such a
disgusting creature. They made some small talk. Voltaire asked him about the
Marchioness of Fressing. Pope said, "I banged her once or twice/but got infested with her
lice," to which Voltaire replied: "Si Dieu n'existait pas, il faudrait l'inventer."
After he was through with Pope and feeling good and horny he looked up the
wench in Swinetown, who gave him a discount the second time around. "Come again,"
she said. "I'm afraid I can't," Voltaire replied, misunderstanding her intent.
Voltaire waded through the slops and reached his quarters at two in the morning.
The stench in the streets was horrendous. The sounds of the night intruded on his
philosophical thoughts as he twisted and turned in his lumpy bed: screams and shouts and
awful retching sounds as the patrons of the taverns and alehouses emptied their stomachs
of the foul liquids and gasses and tainted meats that had lain there all evening. Then came
the clop-clop-clop of a coach carrying another of the Nonentities to his palatial home and
mad laughter from the loony bin down the road. The noise was enough to drive anyone
But Voltaire was actually having the time of his life. He got used to the puddings
and pies and the shit in the streets. He discovered Shakespeare and Sir Isaac Newton. He
met Swift and Walpole and befriended Bolingbroke and Chesterfield as well as the
Duchess of Marlborough, whom the Duke had liked to ball with his boots on after
galloping home from the battlefield. She was still a looker and still a ball of fire, giving
Voltaire a good dressing down when he dared to criticize her memoirs. Voltaire took
everything in stride. He was used to being hated and periodically blew off steam with the
Swinetown wenches. One of them used a whip on him, but that's also another story.
Toward the end of 1728 Voltaire returned to France and made a killing in the state
lottery. After that, it was all smooth sailing for the little man, give or take a couple of runins
with the law. He was on his way to immortality.
Author bio: Fred Russell is the pen name of an American-born writer living in Israel.
His novels Rafi's World (Fomite Press), dealing with Israel's emerging criminal class, and
The Links in the Chain (CCLaP), a thriller set in New York against an Arab-Israel
background, were both published in 2014. His stories and essays have appeared in Third
Coast, Polluto, Fiction on the Web, Wilderness House Literary Review, Ontologica,
Unlikely Stories: Episode 4, The Satirist, CounterPunch, Gadfly, Cultural Weekly,
Suddenly In November
by Marja Hagborg
The police officer gave her his broken glasses muttering something unintelligible,
something that sounded like an apology or a prayer. She held the glasses in her hand
noticing that only one lens was broken.
“He doesn’t need these anymore” she said and was thinking how odd it was that he
decided to hang himself wearing his glasses. Why would he have wanted to see the
bathroom for the last time? She couldn’t understand why anyone would want to see a
freaking ugly bathroom just before the moment one can’t see anything ever again.
“We are so sorry” she heard the officers say several times while awkwardly moving
towards the door, walking in slow motion like carefully backing away from a potentially
rabid dog, faces frozen, eyes colorless like water or ice, hands too big and clumsy to
carry anything but their own weight, heavy chins pressing against blue, starched collars.
“We are sorry for your loss,” they said one more time before closing the door and were
gone, leaving her alone with an unbearable silent scream inside her head.
Later that day, when the short November day was ending, when the frugal wintry
daylight started to turn purple and grey and finally opaque darkness, she walked to the
sea shore because she couldn’t think of any other place to go to. The cold wind from the
sea was hurting her face, but she didn’t care because the pain inside her soul was so much
worse, any distraction was a blessing.
Author bio: Marja Hagborg is a Scandinavian-born writer/artist who received her
MFA from University of Gothenburg, Sweden. She studied creative writing at
Northwestern University and screenwriting at Chicago Dramatists in Chicago. She
lives with a Viking husband and twin cats in Chicago and writes mostly very dark
short fiction and occasionally stories meant to be funny.
The Adventures of Non Sequitur Man (Satire)
By Jon Wesick
Using his amazing powers to stun the mind, Non Sequitur Man protects Jupiter City from
criminals and terrorists alike. When we last saw our hero, the evil Kohlrabi had rendered
him unconscious with knockout gas. Our story resumes in Kohlrabi’s hideout.
“It’s no use struggling, Non Sequitur Man.” Kohlrabi twisted the tips of his green
mustache. “Your shackles are unbreakable and once my henchman Dwayne lowers you
into that pit, one hundred thousand hungry earthworms will turn you into compost. Ha!
Ha! Ha! Ha!”
Dwayne waved and then turned to Kohlrabi. “Hey boss, shouldn’t you explain your evil
“Why should I explain my evil plan to him? He’s about to pass through the alimentary
canals of one hundred thousand hungry earthworms.”
“Because it’s traditional.”
“Very well.” Kohlrabi struggled with Windows 8 to bring up a computer graphic.
“Where’s the damn start button? Oh never mind. I’ll just use this icon here…” Kohlrabi
paged through a Power Point presentation to the figure he wanted. “Once you’re out of
the way, I’ll send weekly boxes of organic produce to every man, woman, and child in
Jupiter City. They’ll be so busy trying to figure out how to cook the stuff that Dwayne
and I will waltz right in and take over. There!” Ignoring Dwayne’s desperate gestures
Kohlrabi then asked, “Do you have any last words before you die?”
Non Sequitur Man looked into the gaping maws of one hundred thousand hungry
earthworms and said, “No parking between 9 AM and 3 PM Tuesdays due to street
sweeping. Violators will be towed.”
“Ah! Ah!” Kohlrabi grabbed his head with stalk-like arms. “That makes no sense! I gave
you a perfect, dramatic scene and you reply with that. Unless…” He began pacing. “You
mean that my plan will be foiled by some unforeseen parking violation.”
“But boss, he is called Non Sequitur Man, after all.”
“No, you fool! A non sequitur is a term in logic that describes a conclusion that does not
follow from the premises.” Kohlrabi waved his stalks. “You know, like all men are
mortal. Socrates is a man. Therefore Socrates hates Swiss cheese.”
“I was referring to a non sequitur used as a literary device.” Dwayne pulled up a
Wikipedia page describing Theater of the Absurd on Kohlrabi’s laptop.
“Give me that!” Kohlrabi snatched the laptop from Dwayne’s hands but try as he might,
he couldn’t get Windows 8 to do what he wanted. “Damn piece of …” While attempting
to throw his laptop against the wall, Kohlrabi tripped and fell into the pit. “Ahhh!”
Later while police packed Kohlrabi’s remains into yard bags, Detective Kobo Dashiki
expressed the thanks of a grateful city.
“Well Non Sequitur Man, looks like Mayor Kardashian owes you another one.”
“Thanks, Kobo.” Non Sequitur Man pointed at the detective’s colorful outfit. “Damn,
that’s one hell of a shirt!”
“You like it?” Dashiki beamed. “I got it in West Africa on my way back from Mount
“Bake at three hundred fifty degrees for thirty minutes or until browned.”
“What the…?” When Dashiki realized the joke, he punched Non Sequitur Man in the
shoulder. “You idiot!”
Author bio: Host of the Gelato Poetry Series, instigator of the San Diego Poetry Un-
Slam, and an editor of the San Diego Poetry Annual, Jon Wesick has published more
almost a hundred short stories in journals such as Clockwise Cat, The Berkeley Fiction
Review, Space and Time, Zahir, Tales of the Talisman, Blazing Adventures, and Metal
Scratches. He has also published over three hundred poems. Jon has a Ph.D. in physics
and is a longtime student of Buddhism and the martial arts. One of his poems won second
place in the 2007 African American Writers and Artists contest.
Abortions, Adoptions, Abominations
and the Right To Fucking Choose (Rant)
By Alison Ross
It's more humane to abort a fetus than to carry a pregnancy to term and adopt the baby
Of course, that's fiery language for some people. That's because some people cannot wrap
their befuddled brains around the stupidly obvious fact that a fetus and a baby are not the
A fetus by definition is an unformed human - it is in limbo between being embryo and
human. But some people are dumb as dirt, and equate a mass of cells and tissue with a
fully formed baby. That's like saying the seeds planted to grow a tree are tantamount to
being an actual mature tree. Or some aggravating analogy like that.
The point is, a fetus is incapable of functioning on its own, outside of the mother's womb,
which is why it deserves a different treatment that what we would extend to an actual
baby. A fetus may have organs, but they are still in their nascent development and not
necessarily situated correctly yet. And a fetus has no self-awareness, while a baby does.
A fetus, in short, is not a sentient being. There is some debate over this, and that's all fine
and well, but a fetus most patently does not have transcendent nature like a baby does. It
inhabits a womb and cannot subsist external to that womb. It is an inextricable part of the
mother, which is why it's paramount that women have the right to terminate their
pregnancies - i.e., to halt the growth of a part of themselves so that it doesn't reach
viability beyond the womb.
I realize for some, hopefully many, I am preaching to a vociferously vocal choir on this.
But some, clearly, need further education on the matter. And why does it always seem to
be men who need the most education on this very fundamental feminist issue? Hmmmm,
could it be that men have lost significant sway over telling women what to do?
So yeah. Abortion is a more humane way to deal with an unwanted pregnancy than
carrying it to term and adopting the baby out. It should be blindingly, blaringly obvious
as to why, but just to ensure we are all on the same page of practical thinking:
The termination of a pregnancy aborts potential for life, and stymies the production of
what could later become a sentient being. Therefore, the fetus feels no existential pain in
being disallowed to progress, as it were.
But a baby, and a child, will indeed endure existential anguish when it lacks a loving
parent to nurture its growth. There is no guarantee the baby will be adopted out - there are
millions of children living in orphanages and foster homes - and whether it is adopted or
not, the child lugs around a lifelong awareness of having been given up by its original
Does this sound coldly clinical toward abortion, and presumptuous toward children who
do manage to become adopted?
I suppose it does. But I am less concerned about the coldly clinical aspect of abortion
than I am about a possible presumptuous attitude toward adopted children. For I am
aware that there are people who do grow up in loving, adoptive families. Those were the
lucky ones, in my view.
I am also aware that there are those who grow up healthy and happy in orphanages, or
various foster homes. I do believe those are few in number.
My point is: Aborting an unwanted pregnancy thwarts ALL possibility of these tragic
scenarios: a child being given up for adoption only to face the prospect of living out its
days parentless; a child being adopted by an abusive couple; a child being bounced from
foster home to foster home with no substantial stability to anchor him or her.
Clearly the optimistic obverse can happen - a child is taken in by model parents - but that
is not as likely as the other scenarios, statistically speaking.
The other anguishing aspect of giving a child up for adoption, of course, is that the
mother - and father, if he is emotionally involved in the child he helped conceive - is
usually encumbered with a sense that her child is floating around somewhere, possibly
happy but possibly miserable. Whatever the child's emotional state, the mother must
wrestle with the emotional turmoil of having given up her baby.
There is nothing to be ashamed of with abortion. Our society likes to fetishize the fetus,
as it were, but a fetus is not a baby. Even those women who have abortions do so
reluctantly, and with the crushing awareness of the stigma attached by those benighted
brutes who couldn't give two shits about babies once they are born.
Editor’s note: Initially, I was going to write a rant in support of Planned Parenthood,
given the repulsive backlash against the group for using fetal tissue for research purposes.
But then I decided I wanted to focus on abortion itself.
That said, I wholeheartedly support EVERYTHING that Planned Parenthood does. From
Planned Parenthood provides sexual and reproductive health care, education, information,
and outreach to more than five million women, men, and adolescents worldwide each
2.7 million women and men in the United States annually visit Planned Parenthood
affiliate health centers for trusted health care services and information.
Eighty-four percent of Planned Parenthood health care clients are age 20 and older.
Planned Parenthood health centers focus on prevention: 80 percent of our clients
receive services to prevent unintended pregnancy.
Planned Parenthood services help prevent approximately 516,000 unintended
pregnancies each year.
Planned Parenthood provides nearly 400,000 Pap tests and nearly 500,000 breast
exams each year, critical services in detecting cancer.
Planned Parenthood affiliates provide educational programs and outreach to 1.5 million
young people and adults each year.
My Armageddon Summer
By Alexei Kalinchuk
That summer that I didn’t find a job or have a girlfriend or travel, that’s when it
happened. I say ‘happened’, but really, no one forced me to start a doomsday sect. Pure
motives of divine revelation did not drive this decision. Boredom did. But since other
people’s boredom isn’t interesting, I’ll just tell you about my doomsday sect.
We had chants and rituals and a growing mythology I threw together from plots of
half-remembered science fiction movies. If my followers remembered these old films,
they gave no sign. They were so earnest. So painfully earnest that I felt guilty about
prophesizing in such a half-hearted way. It might’ve started as a joke, but then all these
people started pledging their lives and the lives of their children to me. Most were victims
devastated by financial crisis and living in vans, basements or squatting in houses the
banks threatened to take.
I started to feel a responsibility. Then one of them gifted me a ranch. Never mind
how that would confuse my tax return, by this time I knew everyone was into my sect
way more than I was. Then I realized the women offering to sleep with me didn’t do it
because they thought I was interesting or kind, but because they thought I would protect
them in the coming cataclysm. Which, I guess, explains why they all called me ‘savior’
and it wasn’t because they were carried away by my performance in bed like I originally
I should never have put up that doomsday website. Never, never, never. So I’ve
left my sect, but I’ve been marked for death as an apostate by my successor, who I never
trusted anyway. So the moral is, if summer’s coming and you don’t have a job or anyone
to date, whatever you do, don’t start a doomsday sect. Which I guess is something I wish
my parents had warned me about.
Author bio: Alexei Kalinchuk writes literary novels, has had fiction published in
Amoskeag Journal, The Bitter Oleander, Foliate Oak and is Pushcart Prizenominated.
He smells like fennel and likes eating pomegranates alone.
By K.R. Copeland and Michelle Greenblatt
Three years after the accident,
she drives through the memory–infested intersection;
East Las Olas and Southeast Eighth Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, Florida,
3 A.M., exactly.
She brakes abruptly
under the silver slipper moon.
Handfuls of cold rain throw themselves like rhinestones at the
at the glass; she can hardly remember his face before the red spill
of ambulance lights drowned the entire Town
car. Why him, and not me? she asks herself,
the rhinestone rain now furious.
Old wound traffic signals blur to green. She listens
to the trees stream upward toward the China black sky
as the past continues harpooning by.
All she wants is for the pulling
It’s only love, he’d say, laughing.
She forces the same silver slipper she wore that morning
to the floor and steers her car toward sea.
Like nostalgia, pain has a way of
creeping up on us
I remember the days before the pain, before the rain
encrippled my existence. Before my life sentence
of immobility. Before the weeping, long before the grimace. But my brain
does not let up, does not yield
to this bed-affixed lump my body has become, instead,
it spreads its wings and soars and dips and dives and lifts
itself above the highest sky-lodged starline.
Editor’s note: These two poems originally appeared in Word For/Word. “3
A.M.” was published under the title, "Post-Mortem.”
Author bios: K.R. Copeland is a Chicagoland poet slash Milk
Dud aficionado. You can find her poeming all around the Web.
Two-time Pushcart Prize nominee Michelle Greenblatt was the poetry editor
of Unlikely Stories, and a widely published and admired writer, who
collaborated with many high-caliber authors. She died in October, 2015.
This issue of Clockwise Cat is dedicated to her memory. She is greatly
The Seeds of Redemption
By Alison Ross (Book Review)
Editor’s Note: I wrote this review during the summer of 2015; Michelle Greenblatt died
in October of 2015. In the spirit of preserving the sense of fevered enthusiasm I felt after
reading the book, I have decided to maintain the original text, instead of altering it to
omit any coincidental references to death. Given the content of the poems, it would be
nearly impossible to do that, anyway.
It's official: Michelle Greenblatt, though widely embraced in certain literary circles, is
still one of the most underrated poets on the small press scene. She needs to be a
household name among verse-lovers, and the fact that she is not is a damn shame. Or
maybe she is and I am the benighted one. Either way, her latest book, Ashes and Seeds
should be soaring to the top of every "best of poetry" list on every continent. Of course, it
would need to be translated first...but I digress.
This humble review cannot hope to supplant the incisively sharp review of the same book
by master-poet Sheila Murphy in Femmewise Cat. But I felt compelled to contribute my
dos centavos upon reading Michelle's awe-inducing tome anyway. I had originally read it
for leisure, assured that Sheila had already nailed it in her review. There was no need for
another review, I told myself. But then I realized about halfway through that there would
need to be at least two reviews of Ashes and Seeds in Clockwise Cat, if not many more.
All hyperbolically positive, of course, because I am that rigidly biased about it.
In the preface of her book, editor Jonathan Penton elaborates on why Michelle should be
construed as a modern-day confessional poet, in the vein of Plath, Sexton, et al. Her
experiences, indeed, are laid unabashedly bare for all to witness - in verse-form, of
course, which means that metaphor and imagery take center stage, which in lesser hands
might serve to obfuscate the experiences, or at the very least blunt their impact. But in
Michelle's capable grasp, these poems are shaped into crystalline gems that blind for their
scintillating imagery and dazzling, daring juxtapositions, and attempt to deafen for the
anguishing terrors that lurk within. For we really don't want to know the poet's dark and
soul-stifling past - we'd rather shutter our ears and not listen, pretending that the world
turns in giddy glee. But these poems won't let us off that easily - indeed, they won't let us
off at all. We are forced to reckon with relationships gone deadly wrong, all wrought with
devastating poetic charisma. We can't simply ignore the content of the poems just
because they sound good. The succulent sounds are what bring the content to more
vibrant, if agonized, life.
I have dog-eared practically every poem in this book and could not possibly quote every
line I admire, but the poem, "No Alembic," reprinted in whole, represents the heart the
collection, I feel, both because of its magical locution as well as the crafty conveyance of
absolute dread and emptiness. It's an apocalyptic piece, wherein the poet, soul-deadened,
is subsumed as if by a contracting, self-destroying universe.
Every morning, I trek deep into deserts, where time’s illimitable
epochs permit visions of jeweled flowerpetals to fall, uninhibited,
over the searing, variegated shades of sunlight on sand. I dream of
ice-wings and scorchings, but waking provides no alembic; it
permits no distillation of clarity. The stinging winds intensify,
blurring the words of the pivotal question: when I was there,
within reach – when I was thrashing on your palace steps, burnt
by the blue flames of our dying star – where were you? I always
find myself/caught at the bottoms of things, snared by the spaces
in between, where every abyss asserts itself so that it might
invade and rearrange the steady presence of the deep,
uninterrupted light. I can hear the midnight screams of
plummeting stars. The liquid-morphing shapes flickering on the
ceiling descend to brand me with their seething colors.
Dispersal of breath, disposal of self, the moment that divides itself
into countless/thousands of voids.
Michelle Greenblatt has risen up from the ashes of her harrowing youthful experiences
and planted the seeds in her maturity for a fruitful adulthood, one that is founded in her
past, but not defined by it. Writing poetry is the way that she copes with and makes sense
of the experiences - she freezes them in verse-prisms, and then allows their light to refract
on her fresher experiences. In a few years, we will probably be blessed with another
collection of similarly startling verse, that astounds for its imagery-intense "confessions"
of a life of struggles, that nevertheless nestle the roots of redemption. I for one
impatiently await its arrival.
Watch Michelle read poems from Ashes and Seeds: https://youtu.be/wrjFj7jURow
Art Director/Felinus Feistus :
Copyeditor/Purring Expurrt: SOLEIL
Editor and Publisher/Feline Freak: ALISON ROSS