Clockwise Rain





PUBLISHER/EDITOR-IN-GRIEF: Alison “Clockwise Cat” Ross



FEATURED FEMME: Varies Each Issue



Clockwise Cat is a division of Klox and

Katz, Ink.



Nelson PRINCE Rogers: A Perfect Sign O’ the Times

This past year has seen a staggering number of artists - writers,

musicians, actors - pass away. On the one hand, it would appear that

something is in the water; on the other, it's clearly the natural order of

things, and we must embrace, however resignedly, the idea that more of

our idols will pass as time goes on. This seems blatantly obvious, and yet

we as a species seem to have trouble acknowledging the deaths of those

close to us or those whom we admire artistically. We are a death-denying

society, content to pretend that immortality reigns - until we are shown,

with a hammer to the heart, a scythe to the psyche - the crushing contrary.

The deaths of otherworldly artists whose influence cosmically reverberates

are especially tricky to process. David Bowie and Prince are not supposed

to die, we tell ourselves. They are supposed to be immune to extinction.

Now, some may be commencing heaving sighs and quaking head-shakes

and epic eye-rolls at that last statement, and that's fine. Not everyone

cared about Bowie or Prince, and not everyone idolizes artists. Sure, idolworship

can be toxic, but in my view, cultivating a healthy admiration for an

artist can be one of life's exuberant joys. We look to artists to inspire our

own imaginations, since, imagination, is, as Einstein said, more important

than knowledge. Indeed, imagination is everything; it is the fertile ground

on which we live our lives more fully - if we use our imaginations in the

right way, that is. So much of our imagination potential is tragically

squandered, consumed by mundane matters, and often hostilely thwarted

in the workplace.

Like Bowie, Prince was a visionary. He melded funk, jazz, rock, and

rhythm and blues and forged his own pop paradigm, and managed to lure

in an audience way wider than many black artists before him. His funk and

glam persona, replete with flamboyant purple costumes and quasi-Jeri Curl

hair, and his infectious tunes - all were infused with erotic mischief. A sultry

sense of things pervaded his early work, and enabled other artists to more

freely indulge their own sexual fantasies through song as well.

I am not very familiar with Prince's later work, but I am fully aware that he

was musically active until the end. Recently, I have seen some of his

performances of his latter-day work and they are a sight and sound to

lovingly behold. He stayed true to his eccentric, exotic colors until his last


I was, like countless others, a huge Prince fan in the 1980s. My fondest

fandom memory is the time when I was traversing Europe with my parents.

I was 17, and the year was 1984. I clutched a clunky, red Walkman -

probably a cheap knock-off, as the casing was plastic, whereas I

remember Walkmen being metal. In any event, as we took endless strolls

to endless ruins (I only became a fan of architectural ruins as I aged; back

then, I nurtured a typical teen apathy toward them), I would program my

Walkman imitation to play "When Doves Cry" over and over and over.

Entranced with the minimalistic, post-punk disco beat, calm croon, and

sensual lyrics, I floated Zenfully into my own world, and could ignore

the exhausting exhortations of my parents to zestfully appreciate the

historical prizes before me. Prince was the here and now, while Pompeii

was so 6th century.

Unlike Bowie, I never saw Prince live. I had the chance to, very recently, in

fact. He played Atlanta on his acclaimed "Piano and a Microphone" tour,

and I was very tempted to get tickets. But, as the show was announced a

mere week before, and the venue was intimate, I felt I had no chance of

scoring a seat. So, I declined, reasoning that I would catch him again when

he came back around to a bigger venue.

But Atlanta, famously, was Prince's last show. One should always make

valiant efforts to see cherished icons.

Lesson learned. Long Reign the Purple Prince, whose titanic talent

transcends time.


By Ian Hecht

I’m no longer surprised by the usual suspects crawling out of the woodwork

in the wake of a mass shooting, wanting to add more guns to the mix instead

of taking away the ones that are causing the problem. I wrote about this back

in 2013 and nothing has really changed since.

Let’s game out the scenario where adding guns fixes the problem: So you

now allow students, faculty and staff at colleges to carry guns. Shooters

recognize this and choose a softer target – the next mass killing is at a

McDonald’s. So now you say McDonald’s employees should be armed.

Great! Shooters know this and choose a softer target – the next shooting is at

a hospital. You say hospital staff should be allowed to carry weapons for

their own protection. Fantastic! Shooters get the memo and go for a softer

target – a daycare center is next. You say daycare workers need to be armed

in order to protect their charges. You no longer have a country – you now

have a series of armed enclaves, joined together by roads. Congratulations,

it’s the Mad Max future dystopia you’ve always wanted!

None of this deals with the problem that even as a responsible gun owner on

a college campus, you have no idea if the armed individual across the quad

is an equally responsible gun owner hoping to “resolve” the situation just

like you, or is in fact the armed aggressor. Getting that wrong could be


Maybe consider that guns aren’t the solution – guns are the problem, and do

something about it.

Only no one will. If Sandy Hook, and the inaction following it, taught us

anything, it was that the US is willing to have the occasional school full of

dead children as long as no one takes away their guns. It’s a price they’re

willing to pay.

Statistically, gun ownership puts you more at risk, not less. Perhaps it’s time

to do something about all the guns.

Editor’s Note: This piece is an authorized reprint, originally appearing at in October, 2015.

Full English

(A blason populaire)

By Chris Stewart

She was crispy fried eggs in pitas for breakfast,

Gulas and offal for tea.

Brash guttural vowels

That sounded like a permanent argument

And the soft pronunciation of my name.

She was my Polski Dot;

My Polka Dot;

My Dorotita,


My kee-voo-too-shek,

Little Flower,

But she was an Amazonian at 5”11

With boxer’s shoulders.

I loved it when she smashed me in the ring.

She wasn’t even Poland.

She wasn’t concrete communist blocks,

Grey skies or even Auschwitz.

She wasn’t a painter and decorator -

She’d never offer to pave your drive.

She was those knife fights in Prague;

Parties with Mafioso types;

That ménage a trios;

An illegal manoeuvre in the street;

She was her own special pair of scissors,

That fringe she cut herself.

Meanwhile, I was

Thinking Norwich isn’t as flat as they claim it is;

Hoorn, in the Netherlands,

Screwing in air conditioning ducts;

Corfu a procrastinating waiter,

The only waiter who didn’t get laid

In a village nicknamed ‘Shaggiopi’.

We were,

A clumsy greeting at an airport terminal;

Tripping off kerbs with nerves;

Toppling pint glasses like we were Banana Republic rebels;

We were confusing

Bus timetables,

But never in bed.

In bed,

We were chlorinated yawning...

And in amongst those pillowy curfews,

The give and take of intelligence exchanged

Behind enemy lines,

She confided in me her childhood

Had been an empty supermarket shelf,

Though, she wasn’t rationed.

She was the whole dictionary,

And two other’s besides.

She said she was ready to be an oven

And I could be the baker,

I had yeast.

Which stands to reason,

As the Poles are known for two things;

Being stupid and killing Jews -

It’s true,

Me and my Polish ex-girlfriend

Yawned at the same time once and she said,

“We’re chlorinated like those synchronised swimmers.”

She said I was Pol-Pot;


Idi Amin;

A fascist regime;

A ban on holding hands;

An honour killing in the making;


A cat-a-holic? She was a dog person -

It was never gonna work.

She made me feel

Like my life was already hummus

Pushed through a letterbox;

Posted hummus:


I was a blank passport

And her lips? Customs officers,

Who made frequent body cavity searches.

She said I use humour,

“As an automated aggression.”

So I corrected her.

She was my Polski Dot;

The polka;

A song I’ll never hear;

That flower I picked,

Did not know the significance of;

An illegal manoeuvre I couldn’t approve.

Crispy fried eggs in pitas;

A special pair of scissors;

She cut herself;

She was that fringe

I daren’t exceed.

She said in me she’d found,

A home.

But home:

It’s where you go when the holiday gets old

And nothing less than the full English will do.

It's only words. What can words do?

Spin crystal spheres around the earth,

Make reasonable men drown women,

Stack tires on people of a higher melanin content

And set them alight.

So, what have I achieved?

Every single lady knows

I'm available.

Author bio: Chris Stewart has a poem forthcoming in the international annual Great

Weather For MEDIA. He plays at the Cheltenham Literary Festival in 2017. He was

long listed for the CYCLOP International Videopoetry Contest 2015. His poems and

stories appear in a variety of magazines including The Wrong Quarterly, The Atticus

Review, Freak Circus and Outdoor Photography. He's anthologised in Break-Out (Ek

Zuban, 2013). Tweet him @SideBurnedPoet. See his award-winning filmpoems here:









a real life prison drama

by Robert Michael Oliver

I can only imagine the

killer’s eyes,

his Hollywood disguise lighting


a marquee with a Technicolor


I can only imagine the

killer’s face,

a preacher-to-be with a

scowling heart,

eyebrows arched, trigger

finger twitching;

a ladies’ man with one gold


a toothpick dangling from his


like a modifier. I can only


four decades past the day

father left

his warden’s chair, heading

to the library:

to "Self Reliance" and a stare.

That killer spliced my dad's


below his second rib, inserted

a confession.

“Oliver, where is he?” “In the


the man groaned, his beating


twisting as the shank. The

killer growled,

and the chair swiveled in the


Father stood at the shelf, his


seeking transcendence. He

had asked:

"What makes a man turn into


with locus-swarms and


an angel whose fluttering


cast shadows over wailing


Dad scrunched, scanned the


for a conch shell, buried ridge

side up—

the kind Emerson left


in the rush of too much


too few words to conjure a


out of spirals of jut and


The doors burst open; eyes like twin

hurricanes roared past the front desk,

leaving a trail of splattered footprints.

My father in meditation: his reverie

on the lily pad and the Nor'easter—

its winds whipping havoc on reason.

The guards rushed in. Father turned

and witnessed the storm and its hunters,

book in hand and squall in mind.

In that moment, like a boy


in a priest’s arms: what must

God be?

In that moment, in a flurry of


without tongue—I call out,


my voice, in tremolo, sounds,

in octaves

too high for dogs to hear.

Does a killer's blood peel like

old paint, or does it flow in


like rivers flooding a town.

The killer smirks; shackled


to hand, he's dragged across

the prison

floor each time a bloodhound howls.

Author bio: Robert Michael Oliver is a poet, playwright, theatre artist, and educator

living in Washington, DC. Co-Director of the Performing Knowledge Project, Michael

performs two solo poetry-in-performance pieces: Embodying Poe and "Song of Myself":

the WHITMAN Project. Although he has written poetry for over 4 decades, he has only

recently sought publication. He has published his work in several online journals. To find

out more about Michael go to


Like Buddha taking wun selfie.

Like hunters eating vegetable soup.

Like eternal peace aftah da bomb explodes.

Like Santa and Satan wit da same letters.

Like ants in wun birdcage.

Like wun priest in wun whorehouse.

Like wun kite on da moon.

Like wun refrigerator in wun igloo.

Like virgins wit experience.

Like feelings to wun robot.

Like wun monk wit wun Mercedes.

Like convictions made of vapors.

Like silver spoons in wun orphanage.

Like wun praying mantis witout claws.

Like dyslexia to wun blind man.

Like light to wun black hole.

Like concentric ripples reversing.

Like mirrors in wun parallel universe.

Like wun elephant’s trunk searching through papers.

Like lots of tings in blinking and tinking.

Author bio: Joe Puna Balaz writes in Hawaiian Islands Pidgin (Hawai'i Creole English)

and in American-English. He edited Ho'omanoa: An Anthology of Contemporary

Hawaiian Literature. Some of his recent Pidgin writing has appeared in Otoliths,

Snorkel, Juked, Hawai'i Pacific Review. Balaz is an avid supporter of Hawaiian Islands

Pidgin writing in the expanding context of World Literature. He presently lives in Ohio.

Two poems

By William Doreski

Author bio: William Doreski lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire, and teaches at

Keene State College. His most recent book of poetry is The Suburbs of Atlantis (2013).

He has published three critical studies, including Robert Lowell’s Shifting Colors. His

essays, poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in many journals.

As Likely to Eat as be Eaten

Someone has painted a railroad track

on the shoulder of the highway.

A pattern, not a depiction,

this string of crosshatching leads

to the city of blue mandolins

where the last cannibals have crept

with their cookpots in search of work.

The finest restaurants scorn them

and their pagan cookery. Hash joints

and clam bars prefer teenagers

who work for minimum wage.

I lived in that city for several years

and don’t need a spray-painted

picket-fence pattern to follow

to find the darkest alleys where

cannibals usually camp. They light

tiny fires and cuddle around them

with their beautiful smiles glinting.

We’re supposed to agree that no one

has ever eaten people except

by mistaking them for mushrooms.

We’re supposed to assume that people

as pale as these cannibals

never cross the railroad track to see

what customs occur beyond.

Whoever painted this pattern

assumed that I would follow it

and perhaps become fodder.

Being as pale as a cannibal

because born with bone-deep hunger

I’m as likely to eat as be

eaten. The city of blue

mandolins cowers ahead.

The sun neither sets nor rises

on it, but shivers overhead,

emitting the strangest vibrations.

Already I can smell the campfires

of the cannibals, and already

I feel their hunger surge in me,

their fear of me quicken, the spray

painted pattern of railroad

actually an endless row of teeth.

Running off to Ischia

So we abandon two houses,

four cars, ten cats, two dogs.

We surrender maybe fifteen

thousand books between us.

We disappoint four old uncles,

six aunts, four siblings, two

sleek lawyers, three physicians,

two dentists. Better not mention

three grown children and six

grade-school grandkids. You laugh

because I omit our spouses

from the list. They’ll gaze tearless

into the dusty holes we leave

in the ether. They’ll sigh and agree

that our absence costs less

than our presence. Meanwhile, lush

and smelting in the Bay of Naples,

those thermal spas will overheat

in anticipation of the lust

our slack old selves will deploy.

Atop the ruined acropolis

German tourists will savor

the sea-mist and blush as they grasp

each other with powerful urges

that like the shock wave of a bomb

will transform dry old attitudes.

When we step off the plane a mob

will shower us with orchids

grown in the local greenhouse,

and officials will greet us in gusts

of Italian we won’t understand.

Later, snug among other tourists,

we’ll slump over cocktails

and relate to each other

so gently the stars reflected

in the Mediterranean will smile

in full prismatic bloom.

The people and pets and estates

we abandoned will forget us

with a few last sighs except

for the books: their pages stirring

while our fingerprints subtly,

over many years, morph into text.

Two Poems

By Sheila Murphy

She Would Rise

Oath points cindered the affair

before reversion to a hold-still altitude.

She relinquished heaven for familiar steeds.

Meantime, he wintered elsewhere.

She would rise and smother

her intent to weave from scratch

some modest reverence.

The would-be sitcom rankled

eminence as gruff.

Kept going askew. The suicide,

mere water after

lifetimes of excessive dew.

Morning lay bare innocence

still rumored to be known.

And sequins rode tolled effort,

of the formed and upturned stones.

That’s Three Doors Down and Up Two Flights

A queasy feeling about boundaries recurred

just as she started fitting in.

A cameo appearance in the studio apartment of indifference

turned neighbors into patty melts.

Her etiquette reverted to an unvoiced brand.

Most delicious moments on their way to being solid

stay occipital in tone.

Author bio: Sheila E. Murphy composes poetry both in tranquility and fever with equal

fervor. She resides in the desert Southwest, where she writes, draws, crafts keynote

addresses about doing business with power and grace for conferences and conventions.

She is a business author and teacher, as well. She blogs at

Her literary and artistic information can be found at

The Price of Things

By Gj Hart

I was stupid, not paying attention and now the house prices are rising and I'm exposed. I

live in a place where tides meet. A nexus of doffed hats and carriages and lies stuffed

with additives and the truth is: they’ll never know. Here, the starving split seats and the

rich pound rubber piped from gun barrels. Where nostalgia is the taste of Mie Goreng,

costing more than rent on the home they left to afford more than Mie Goreng. Where the

poor hang mid-kiss, after money's crush is minted down to an electronic wink, bullet


I pass terraces bristling like weightlifters and townhouses that march toward the station

carrying lamp posts like umbrellas. My ear buds protect me from failed economics, but

not these prices that sweep me up with lucky cats and tambourines for Jesus. A man

passes, still smiling, in a phone kiosk smaller than a restaurant toilet. Others cling to pita

and cement sacks stuffed with Senbei.

In the distance I see them, Sailing slowly up Hill Street, Scented like roses and looking to

trade with sweetness and the glint snapped from budding stones.

They loosen ties and discuss where best to eat.

I was stupid, not paying attention. I point myself toward an unlatched window. The house

prices are rising and I'm exposed.

Author bio: Gj Hart currently lives and works in Brixton, London and is published or

queued in The Legendary, Yellow Mama, Spelk Fiction, Schlock Magazine (UK), Horror

Within Magazine, Three Minute Plastic, Literally Stories, Fiction on the Web, Shirley lit

mag, The HFC journal, Under the Fable, The Unbroken Journal, The Pygmy Giant, Flash

Fiction Magazine, The Drabble, The Squawk Back, 521 Magazine, Visual Verse, Fewer

Than 500 Magazine, Scrutiny Journal and others.

Dearest Justin Keller (Polemic/Letter to Editor)

By Alison Ross

Dearest Justin Keller,

I am so sorry you must stare human misery in the face in your beloved city of a whopping three

years. When you moved to San Francisco, it seems you were shockingly, shamefully unaware of

its legacy as a city that was at the forefront of the hippie and civil rights movement, that

incubated a counter-culture and that embraced the down and out, those victims of a viciously

capitalistic system. Oh, wait, I forgot - you seem to think that a wildly unregulated free market is

a benevolent thing, and that those darkies and other smelly indigents are clearly just willingly

choosing their path of sleeping in their own feces.

It's frat boys like you, of course, that help further divide the haves from the have-nots, by

swooping in with your start-ups, happily paying egregious rents, contributing even more

malevolently to the lack of affordable housing problem that creates so much unsightly "riff raff,"

as you so lovingly termed human beings whose "pain and struggle" is so offensive to you.

I do find it humorous that in your god-awful prose that the one thing you apologized for is calling

the homeless "riff raff," as though the rest of your pathetically misguided tirade is compassionate

and sensitive.

Why don't you take your tech-bro millions and actually contribute it to attempting to help the

homelessness, rather than disparaging them so callously? Oh, wait, you're an educated white male

- why would you help out those who are systematically disenfranchised - mainly, the black and

the poor?

I do not live in San Francisco. I live in Atlanta. I'd invite you to move here to get away from the

reeking riff raff, but we have reeking riff raff of our own, as seen in these pictures I've attached.

You see, Justin, I actually give a shit about the homeless - and I'm privileged AND white AND

educated! For many years I did weekly soup feedings in the park, and communed with some of

the nicest, most interesting people. Yes, Justin, the homeless are actual PEOPLE, with actual

back stories, and actual feelings and personalities!

These days, I continue to interact with the homeless, under bridges, bringing them food, and

engaging them in conversation. And I'm in the midst of writing my city about ways we can help

these hapless human beings - after all, Utah has virtually erased chronic homelessness through its

housing subsidy program, so why can't Atlanta do the same?

Of course, that idea would be abhorrent to you. After all, you're a self-made man with your fancy

start-up and your Socrates quotes. Of course, you can't even use the language correctly (it's "in

fact," NOT "in-fact," - but hey, I'm being petty, because you do look smashing in those

sunglasses), but I digress. As a wealthy person, you "went out, got an education, work [sic] hard,

and earned it," and you shouldn't have to see the "pain, struggle, and despair of homeless people"

- those very people whose condition you helped create with your egregious flaunting of your illgotten


You're a callous misanthrope. One day, the tech bubble will burst. May your fate be unpleasant.


Alison Ross


By Bob Heman

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.

Two Poems

By Marcia Arrieta

Author bio: Marcia Arrieta’s work appears in Fourteen Hills, Of/with, Wicked Alice,

Moss Trill, Eratio, Posit, Catch & Release, Melusine, Web Conjunctions, and Great

Weather for Media, among others. The author of two poetry books: archipelago

counterpoint (BlazeVOX 2015) and triskelion, tiger moth, tangram, thyme (Otoliths

2011), she edits and publishes Indefinite Space, a poetry/art journal.


it was the day she decided to sleep in (9 am ) & crashed into the dictionary instead

where other people’s lives became fractions she needed to assemble into a whole

but the rain came & the boxes almost emptied needed to be broken down while others

still needed to be filled

arc light synchronicity

hat pins & fishing poles a pink star insulate isolate the book has gotten lost dreams

of houses with many rooms shape shift eagles bears we board the train outer hebrides

inner stoic salvage renovation revelation the angel’s wings the bullet holes on main street

we seek shelter

Author bio: Marcia Arrieta work appears in Fourteen Hills, Of/with, Wicked Alice, Moss

Trill, Eratio, Posit, Catch & Release, Melusine, Web Conjunctions, and Great Weather

for Media, among others. The author of two poetry books: archipelago

counterpoint (BlazeVOX 2015) and triskelion, tiger moth, tangram, thyme (Otoliths

2011), she edits and publishes Indefinite Space, a poetry/art journal.

Flaubert’s Guitar Midnight June 13

By Saira Viola

Lucky lips wet, soft, tastes like peach honey

neon pink negligée on sale

Love rock wizard and belly buster

Slide into the dime store

Dance in the elevator

Driving on the interstate low rent

B-movie grins

In a sea of sycophants , backstabbers

and sales junkies

We need cleansing in the Pierian Spring

We fall into the folds of another


And shimmy shimmy shuffle to the


Author bio: Saira Viola is a fiction writer, song lyricist, satirist, gonzo

journo, and creator of sonic scatterscript .Much of her work is infused with

undercurrents of dark humour, social commentary and philosophy. Her work

has been widely published in poetry magazines and arts journals on both

sides of the Atlantic.


By Marie Lecrivain

I got seven days to live my life or seven ways to die. -David Bowie/Hours


The woman regards the tiny sodium cyanide capsule between her left thumb and index

finger and then closes her fist around it, fearful it will slip from her grasp.

The hastily written note is propped up against the vanity mirror which reflects back a

skillfully made up older woman with a stylish hairdo dressed in a blue Dior gown. A

white band of skin on the third finger of her tightly clenched fist winks back at her. She

stares at it; her heart hammers.

A neat glass of scotch stands by the note. She picks up the glass. The sweet smell of

alcohol beckons, her mouth waters.

Today, she treated herself to a final beauty regimen. Pedicure, manicure, shiatsu

massage, hair colored and cut, and finally, a make-over from the Clinique counter girl at


She remembers snapping at the make-up girl. The woman suppresses a pang of guilt;

the girl couldn’t have known that the woman was allergic to the eye shadow sample she’d

dusted across the woman’s lids. A cold compress, and a free $100 gift certificate set

matters to rights.

The phone rings, stops, and then rings again. She knows it’s him. She knows he’s

coming, but she ignores it. She’s left the front door unlocked.

The glass is held at the ready. The capsule is now held in front of her mouth. The

woman in the mirror appears calm. Her mouth opens. Sweat glistens on her neck. The

capsule is placed on the tip of her tongue. Her pupils expiate. Her breath quickens…


Frustrated, the man flicks his cell phone closed.

He turns back to the table. On its formicated surface a small revolver rests along with

a half-filled glass of Merlot. The overhead light projects the arterial color from the wine

over the gun and darkens the pearl handle to a shell pink shine. The reflection of his face,

widened with despair, wavers inside the barrel.

He sighs. She calls… and he answers.

The man doesn’t want to go, but she sounds so calm and sweet, the antithesis of how

she’d behaved during the last six months.

Reflexively, the man rubs his bald head. Her request for him to come over tops off his

already bad day. The phone call momentarily severs his resolve, the resolve he marshaled

to hand in his resignation to the nonplussed young hot shot exec at the office and then to

break off his assignation with the part time cosmetology student.

He remembers the moisture that broke out as his index finger curled around the

trigger, and the metallic tang of fear mingled with the cool taste of the barrel as he placed

the gun in his mouth moments before the phone rang.

He picks up the gun. He wonders, Why is she bothering me now? It’s over. The papers

are signed, the property divided, the goodbyes said.

He sighs one more time, and then puts down the gun. He checks his pocket for his

keys and wallet and then walks out of the kitchen. At the door, he pauses and turns back

to regard the gun and the glass of wine. He smiles. They’ll still be here when he gets



The young executive leans against the lamppost on the corner of 5th and Main.

His vision wavers as the five beers he imbibed at the bistro and two Seconal tablets

he’d stolen from his secretary’s desk work their magic. He loosens his tie.

The young exec waits for the right moment. Timing is everything. He knows that one

must not only take into account all the perspectives of a situation, but one must anticipate

the unexpected.

He failed. Today, his former supervisor handed in his resignation which foiled the

young exec’s plans to fabricate the evidence he needed to set up the man for

embezzlement charges.

It would’ve never worked, he realizes. His former boss was honest and meticulous to a

fault. The partners would never believe the man stole the money, despite his messy

divorce and expensive alimony payments.

He’d kept his cool from the most of the day, through the board meeting, and then

through a conference call. Only his secretary seemed to divine that something was wrong.

He’d caught her staring at him several times through the afternoon.

Timing is everything, he repeats to himself. The young exec counts cars as they pass.

He’s waiting for the right momen for something big and flashy, like a Hummer or a

BMW X5. He might consider a bus; plenty of them whiz by at five minute intervals, but a

bus is so ordinary.

His eyelids grow heavy. The lights from passing cars sprout beams like starfish; their

tendrils brush against his eyes, his cheeks, and his lips. He hears the familiar roar of an

SUV in the distance; the urgent rumble of the engine as the vehicle speeds closer to the


Smiling, the young exec counts; one… he straightens his tie … two… he opens his

eyes wide to welcome the shining beams of light… three… he steps off the curb…


The candles glimmer over the surface of the water as the secretary slides her naked,

slender body into the tub. A rubber ducky floats by, its head comically bobs up and


A tear escapes her right eye and slowly drips down the side of her face where it lands

with a soft “plop” in the water. She giggles at the sound. Plop, flop, stop… the finality of

her situation weighs upon her brow.

The stainless steel blade cuts through the water as her right hand emerges, holding

tightly to the knife’s wooden shaft. The secretary leisurely bends the blade back and forth

in the candlelight, and watches the light prism against the blade where it then bounces off

the water.

Today was supposed to be her day. She was going to tell her boss she loved him…

and while she knew about his embezzlement scheme, she would do anything she could to

help him… because she loved him.

Her opportunity slipped away as soon as her boss’s former boss walked out of the

office. She heard a series of low, guttural moans on the other side of the wall that

signaled the end. She tried to convey her intent with every glance she gave him, but he

patently ignored her.

At the end of the day when she returned from the washroom after freshening up she

found the top drawer of her desk ajar. When she counted her Seconal tablets, two were


The secretary went straight home. She missed dinner with her brother. He called to

find out what had happened to her, and she told him she had a headache, which was

true… at least it’s true now.

Her boss is not coming back. She can handle the whispers, pointed looks, and snickers

that will happen behind her back, but she doesn’t want to go back to work tomorrow,

because he will not be there.

Her left arm emerges from the water. She stares at the blade.

It’s a vertical cut-a quick vertical cut- down the center, she recalls, staring at the pale

scar on the inside of her left forearm. The blade gleams brightly through her tears and as

she lowers it to her left arm…


The wind whistles through the cracks in the basement and whips up goose bumps on

the brother’s thin white arms as he stands perched on the end of a chair while adjusting a


His twin sister sounded strange on the phone. He’d wanted to tell her goodbye, but she

never showed up for dinner at the bistro.

He’d killed time by watching a young businessman quaff beers and spin his cell phone

across the bar counter. There was something familiar about the guy, but he couldn’t place

it. After an hour, he left.

The brother’s T-cell count has dropped to 100. He hasn’t told anyone. The cocktail no

longer works. He’s bone tired but he’s determined to finish the job the virus started on

him 12 years ago.

His last lover, a nurse-practitioner with negative status still drops by, but hasn’t called

or come by to see him in the last three weeks.

Which is just as well, the brother reflects, I don’t want to have see me… like this…

A wave of dizziness sweeps over him, and he drops back onto the chair for support.

He slowly maneuvers himself into a sitting position and places his head between his legs

while he takes deep breaths to clear away the nausea.

His head spins, but the brother hardens his resolve. He straightens up and reaches into

his front pocket. He pulls out a picture; it’s a picture of his twin sister as a baby, laughing

and playing with a rubber ducky in the tub.

The brother stands. Carefully, he steps onto the chair, grabs the noose and then puts it

around his neck. He gives the girl in the photo a gentle kiss and clutches the picture to his

chest. Closing his eyes, he takes a step off the chair…


The nurse practitioner is holed up in his apartment. He sits on his bed with a plastic

baggie and a roll of duct tape. On the nightstand is a half-empty bottle of Benadryl and a

bottle of filtered water.

He’s reached a crossroads. The image of his last lover, whom he has not seen in

almost a month, looms large in his mind. His current lover, a part time cosmetology

student, is supposed to come over tonight.

He has to tell her two things; first, that it was a mistake to get involved with her, and

that he may be sick. Two months ago, the nurse practitioner and the cosmetology student,

long-time friends, got piss drunk and ended up in bed together.

He’d told her he was inexperienced when it came to women. It was the truth. She had

been his first. He didn’t remember much of the experience, except that when he woke up

in her tight, clinging embrace with his head pillowed on her generous chest, he felt – for a

moment – a profound peace descend upon him.

She wasn’t like anyone he’d ever met, literally and figuratively.

The shame from the shabby and cowardly way he parted from his last lover melted

away as he and the cosmetology student spent night after night exploring the novelty of

each other. So intense was their passion at times that he forgot to use protection,

preferring the feel of her tight wetness around him to the vague sensation of moisture

whenever he wore a condom.

The nurse practitioner cringes. This was a repeating pattern.

He’d often done the same thing with his last lover, and with every encounter

rationalized that since he was the one doing the penetration, that he wouldn’t get the

virus. But, he knew better.

Two weeks ago a sudden, brief bout of flu caught him unawares.

Since then, he’s dropped weight and attained a lethargy that hadn’t been there before.

The lymph nodes in his neck and under his armpits are swollen, which he’d patently

ignored until yesterday.

He doesn’t want to be responsible for anyone, for their future, or their downfall. The

fear eats away at his stomach lining. He is afraid to lose her. He knows that if he’s sick,

then there’s a very good chance she will be too. Women can catch the virus a lot easier

than men.

Fear, in the form of bile, rises up the back of his throat. He grabs the bottle of

Benadryl, twists off the cap, shakes out a handful of pills and then pops them into his

mouth. Grabbing the water bottle off the nightstand, he quickly takes several swigs. He

can feel the pills pass down his throat into his esophagus.

For the next half hour, he sits. A blanket of sleepiness descends. It takes a great deal

of effort for the nurse practitioner to put the plastic baggie over his head.

The roll of duct tape is heavy in his hands as he attempts to peel off a couple of feet of

adhesive. With difficulty, he lifts the roll to his neck, places one end of the adhesive over

the bag and starts to wind…


The cosmetology student stands atop a ledge next to an open window of an insurance

building near the university. The stars compete with the university lights nearby.

The cosmetology student is dressed in sweats. She is warm and comfortable, a far cry

from six hours ago when she stood with her aching feet in cheap high heels wearing her

only suit; the uniform of a Clinique counter girl.

She stifles a sniffle. She cried off and on during the afternoon. Her efforts to make

over an obviously unhappy woman were met with derision. She’d no idea that the woman

was allergic to the eye shadow, and the woman herself had picked it out.

The cosmetology student pulls a piece of paper from her sweat pants pocket. Marked

on the paper is an “F’” next to the words “final presentation.”

Her new, older lover called today. He told her that they were through. She wasn’t

surprised. She’d met him at the bistro one night, pissed out of her mind at the thought of

sleeping with a gay man who she knew wasn’t sexually responsible. She was too terrified

voice her fears, instead she preferred to distract herself with mindless, temporary


Her mother’s not going to be pleased. The mother gave her daughter the family

savings to finish the course. She was so close to certification, but she screwed up the

bleaching elements for the volunteer’s hair; the one who’d been assigned to her for the

final presentation.

She watched in horror as the volunteer’s hair came out in handfuls after she washed

out the bleach. More hairs broke off at the crown.

The volunteer, a young woman with shoulder length tresses, cried for half an hour and

then in a sudden courageous move, requested what was left be shaved off.

The cosmetology student stares longingly at the university lights. She applied for

admission, and with her good grades, she got accepted. But her mother said there was no

money for “fancy learning” and that she should learn a trade. Her mother chose

cosmetology school; she figured that for someone as smart as her daughter, it would be a


A breeze, the student thinks, yeah… right. She doesn’t want to go home. She can’t go

to her new ex-lover’s place. She doesn’t want to go to her current lover’s apartment. She

can’t afford the school of her choice and she can’t afford to repeat the cosmetology


Where can I go? She ponders.

Up or down…

Forward or back?

A gentle breeze brushes against her cheek… she rocks back and forth on the ledge…

she opens her eyes and regards the still-open window… taking a deep breath, she takes a


Author bio: Marie Lecrivain is the editor of The Whiteside Review: A Journal of

Speculative/Science Fiction, a Pushcart Prize nominee, and writer-in-residence in her

apartment. She's the author of several works of poetry and fiction, including The Virtual

Tablet of Irma Tre and Grimm Conversations.

ARTWORK By Jacob Russell

Author bio and artist statement: “I’m a working artist, poet, novelist, activist and street

medic. When I was a kid, I loved science and art. I took children’s art classes when I was 6 at the

Chicago Art Institute. I made regular visits to the Field Museum, the Adler Planetarium, the

Aquarium. I devoured books about animals. And I painted. And drew. Was always enrolled in

classes. In college, I majored in biology one semester, changed to art the next. It went on like

that. Anthropology to art. Biology again - back to art. In 1964, I came to Philly on a motor

scooter from Wichita, and in 1970, set up a pottery: built kilns, wheels, and made functional

stoneware until forced to close the shop in 1978. It wasn’t until July of 2012, after more than 40

years, that I again found myself with physical space and time, and was able to shake the demons

that had told me I wasn’t good enough, that I began, at age 71, to do the only thing I had ever

really wanted to do - to make art. At first, I made assemblages from street trash: take the debris of

our failed capitalist Empire of Money and Death, and reimagine them as part of another world. I

began to paint again, acrylics, watercolor, and recently, have been experimenting with silverpoint.

And drawing. I love working with crow quill pens, the finest pen points. Almost like meditation.

Although most of my finished work is non-representational, abstract - drawing for me is the

mother of all visual art. The hours I spend drawing are the source of my vision--a double-vision:

seeing what is there, and translating what I see, into what I see within. My finished work is what

emerges from that second vision. These drawings mark that border, between what I see, and what

I see more truly. I sign my art with my birth name: Willard, to honor my grandfather who I was

named after, and died 2 weeks before my birth—and my uncle, Willard Hardin, an artist and

mentor. You can see more photos of my art on my blog: “

Brief Autobiography of My Mind

By Edwin L. Young

I found myself doing most of the talking, describing, in sketch form, what my career had

been and been like. I wound up telling her about my hermetic life and intellectual

isolation. Again, she was unusually empathetic. The upshot was me confronting, again,

the inevitability and the gloominess of that isolation, which has been dogging me since

childhood. It was nice to experience her empathy but left me no less alone in my

perpetual gloomy state of being. My intelligence and my unique philosophy and vision

of the origin, destiny, and nature of human existence! My blessedness and accursedness

for having this gift! At that point, she could only offer 'sympathy.' Déjà_vu all over


"Was the feeling any less when you were at UT in grad school?" No. Well, maybe a little

with Diane. She had a faint glimpse of what I was getting at sometimes. I appreciated

the fact that Frank appreciated my mind but he was nowhere near understanding my

'worldview or philosophy.'

The breadth that my understanding of the origin, destiny, and nature of existence seems

to be shared by few people around the globe today or in more ancient times; people more

intelligent than I. Ancients, like Galileo, Socrates, Kierkegaard etc. certainly knew my

kind of gloom and despair over the nature and destiny of our species. Some, like the

female Egyptian mathematician, astronomer, etc. (Greek origin) Hypatia1 suffered a far

more horrendous fate - in the end, men intimidated by her extraordinary brilliance,

executed her. So, my gloom is very mild in comparison to theirs.

Well, you might be surprised to learn that Jesus felt the same pessimism and sadness

(even anger and disdain) over the ways and minds of the masses (especially the political

and religious leaders) of humanity. One big difference between me and all those

mentioned above and many more like them is that they lamented humans' way of being in

the world, while I turn that on its head and lament the structures and systems that have

evolved with civilizations and thereby determined the personalities and belief systems of

contemporaries in each age. I don't feel dismay against misguided world leaders or anger

against criminals as I know their foibles and evil deeds have been and are determined by

structures and systems in each period of history within which they live(d).

That is why I turned away from psychology and psychotherapy and embraced,

wholeheartedly, the (my) natural systems philosophy of the exclusive deterministic force

of human societies' structures and systems as the sole and primary causal factor

controlling what humans' mistakenly believe is their 'free will': so well enunciated, so

gloriously, so nearly universally revered by intellectuals, and, yet, so erroneously

proclaimed in that immemorial poem "Invictus."

This egregious error is the horribly fateful flaw of belief in 'free will' that plagues

humanity as though it were its banner, its crest, held high and valiantly leading the way to

humans' unwitting and inevitably self destructive, final, mass march toward extinction of

all life on earth. So heroic it has been and yet such a completely sad and macabre

denouement and finally climax, it's suicidal ending, to an otherwise miraculous reign

over the evolution of our species. Inter-connectedness is so important for humans. Yet,

therein has lain their false sense of security.

Invincibly Remote

By Mario Duarte

Alonzo wondered why such alienation from the triangle of her sex, or why the axe

stroke of fate strikes us down. Was he merely a scarecrow with a straw head and torso in

homespun clothes? In the blue fog of morning, why crawl under crows’ wings?

Death does not live in my books, he thought. No, he lives in me. Even the dagger

of time sinks beneath the waters of loneliness. Does anyone see me? Is life only black

coffee, scratching dogs, sneezing cats, or tropical fish turning weird eyes away.

With its swaying, enormous tail the truth struck him, his life was the longest death

he would ever know. Under the ochre sunset clouds on the horizon, the dazzle of his days

with her were over and mirrors reflected nothing. Was she a dream of a dream?

I close my eyes and her exquisite face hovers in the darkness, Alonzo thought. In

the corners of my pocket, I finger the grit and curse the scarlet insect flying slow solo

circles around my head. How invincibly remote the physical world actually is.

Author bio: Mario Duarte lives in the UNESCO City of Literature, Iowa City, Iowa. He

is an alumnus of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and has published poems in Carnival, the

Madison Review, Slab, and the Steel Toe Review, among others, and short stories in

aaduna, Huizache, the Oddville Press, and Storyscape.


By Dr. Mel Waldman


And I hide


a convex mirror


the season of slanted rain.

And I hide.

A circle of celestial dreams



a cathedral in the turquoise sky








my pitch-black mind



The seasons pass, permeate the diaphanous consciousness






And now I hide


a concave mirror


the season of silky snow.

And I hide.

An opalescent necklace of perception








my oval darkness,


the swirling ebony shell


I hear

a crackling egg



a mirror


And my secret self unveiled



a sea of enigmas



swims naked to an unknown shore never reaching land


free & real & free

in search of the indecipherable & beautiful



Jabberwocky City, I eat peacocks and butterflies


porcelain poems for supper,


my gold eyes taste the Heavens


inhale crimson revelations,


like pretty ballerinas through the French windows


my condo on the 180 th floor


the Tower of Babel, indecipherable messages from above


into my psyche.

High above

the City of Chaos, I swallow the sweet aroma of red wine


from the sun’s glorious sphere, a ball of fire


into oblivion at sunset; and drunk


ecstasy as I witness the last dance, the Fire of Thanatos,


eat a Lewis Carroll poem for dessert

& laugh uproariously

as if

I had swallowed laughing gas


sweet phantasmagoria.


Jabberwocky City, I eat peacocks and butterflies

& porcelain poems for supper,


nestled in my evening meal,


taste the unfathomable mysteries of the universe,

soul food

for the flummoxed and perplexed, incomprehensible


wafting from a red sun at sunset.

Author bio: Dr. Mel Waldman is a psychologist, poet, and writer whose stories have

appeared in numerous magazines including HARDBOILED DETECTIVE,


poems have been widely published in magazines and books including LIQUID






ANTHOLOGY OF POETRY. 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.

Two Poems

By Alan Catlin

Author bio: Alan Catlin may be the world’s worst two finger typist, despite decades of

practice and lots of acceptance in and on, everything from mimeos, to coffee cup holders,

to online magazines. He is a standoffish cat owner or rather play facilitator, for two

rescue cats who sleep, recycle cat food and basically shed on everything. His next full

length of poetry is “Last Man Standing” from Lummox Press.

Girls and boys

down by the river, leaning on metal

railings, smoking shit, talking stoned

crazy jags, faux hawked hair dyed

four different kinds of insane, body

pierced, all the stuff that was exposed

and some that weren’t; a new kind of hurt.

Clothes bought old and cut along the

seams, unwashed for overall older

look; no showering allowed bodies

inside. Boosting stuff all over town,

speech impediments, what is said sounds

like a speed freaking blues, communication

only with those of their kind, new youth

of America: trust funded, bankable,

their future as bright if they live to

inherit, congregate at band shells for art

rock concerts, spray painted with gang signs.

Sound carries

across the lake at night; amplified,

insistent, liturgical, like jazz. Lights

onshore reflecting inward, big zappers

sounds electric and hit, purple flames

winking out like stars. Floating, water

almost calm, latent scents if food

napalmed in barbequed pits. Smothering

smoke of it soiling the air, thickening

with night and fog. Muffled sound

of motor cars and steam engines,

incinerated flakes of formerly living

matter, chocking off serrated trees

in the dark, low rumble of exhausted

heat. Last streetlights implode one by

one, zapped like the bugs.

Two Poems

By Sheila Murphy

She Would Rise

Oath points cindered the affair

before reversion to a hold-still altitude.

She relinquished heaven for familiar steeds.

Meantime, he wintered elsewhere.

She would rise and smother

her intent to weave from scratch

some modest reverence.

The would-be sitcom rankled

eminence as gruff.

Kept going askew. The suicide,

mere water after

lifetimes of excessive dew.

Morning lay bare innocence

still rumored to be known.

And sequins rode tolled effort,

of the formed and upturned stones.

That’s Three Doors Down and Up Two Flights

A queasy feeling about boundaries recurred

just as she started fitting in.

A cameo appearance in the studio apartment of indifference

turned neighbors into patty melts.

Her etiquette reverted to an unvoiced brand.

Most delicious moments on their way to being solid

stay occipital in tone.

Pile on the Pylon (Music Review)

By Alison Ross

When REM was named America's Best Band by Rolling Stone in 1987, REM was quick to retort:

"We're not the best band - Pylon is." Like REM, Pylon hailed from the storied city of Athens,

Georgia. And like REM, Pylon's style of music had some pastoral post-punk elements. Of course,

REM's Americana dimension was more fully fleshed out and commercialized. Pylon's, on the

other hand, was much more nuanced, while their post-punk qualities were rather pronounced.

Indeed, Pylon gave fresh fuel to the post-punk ethos, with singer Vanessa Hay's throaty vocals,

and the band's sparse, asymmetrical sonics. Pylon, indeed, is among the trio of famous Athens

bands - REM/B-52s/Pylon are often mentioned in the same breath when discussing tunes with

music geeks who know their shit - but Pylon is obviously much less known among casual

listeners. The band's influence, however, cannot be overstated. In the documentary, "Inside

Athens, GA," all bands attest to the impact Pylon had on their own sound. Too, musicians such as

Mission of Burma and James Murphy of LCD sing their praises. And in addition to opening for

REM and B-52s in the 80s, Pylon also opened for Gang of Four and a little-known quartet named


The Pylon signature sound, at least on their 1980 debut, "Gyrate," is difficult to pin down. At

times, the songs sound as skeletal as demos - unstructured, and unconcerned with obvious hooks.

And hooks, of course, were one of the defining touchstones of 80s music, so it's a considerable

feat for a band of Pylon's stature avoid them as much as possible. It's not to say that there are not

hooks in their music at all, just that they don't seem to be the main force propelling the songs.

Instead, the songs are concerned with growing organically, and yet remaining rather primitive and

intuitive in nature. There is no pretense toward sophistication, and certainly not toward

commercialization. Sure, many of the songs have a danceable new wave sensibility, with a

bouncy beat and fierce fretwork. But Hay's vocals, tinged with menace as they are, pretty much

undercut what latent radio-friendly elements the songs might otherwise have. Lyrically, too, the

band veers toward the Dada-esque, with humorous demands to refuse to "be a void" and turn off

the TV because "you can learn more without it" ("Read a Book"), or Seussian chants: "I can

walk/I can run/I can see/I can talk/I can drive/I can steer/I can think/I can even hear/I can lift/I

can drop/I can sweep/I can mop/I can think/I can breathe/I can sing/I can even eat" ("The Human

Body"). Such reveling in absurdity combined with their refreshing lackadaisical attitude toward

true commercial success only enhances Pylon's mystifying charm. That Pylon broke up after only

three albums should surprise no one.


(for Prince

by Heller Levinson

a raspberry beret, ... traction,

gestalt, ... ReV!

the dispatch hardly & yet ferocious

bonding an enterprise dowsing timeliness

trajectorize time as sullen offshoot

love is the out-puss of time, the

excretion that temporalizes

down at the farm the flimsy cotton dress succulates the sun

the ways we break


Author bio: Heller Levinson lives in New York where he studies animal behavior. He has

published half a dozen books and his work has appeared in over a hundred journals. His

publication, Smelling Mary, was nominated for both the Pulitzer Prize and the Griffin

Prize. Black Widow Press published his from stone this running in 2012. Hinge Trio

was published by La Alameda Press in 2012. Wrack Lariat is newly released from

Black Widow Press. He is the originator of Hinge Theory.

Admit One, A Private Screening to the Truth

By El

Please turn all cell phones off.

We are the sum of our synapses.

Reality not quite so existent

as we wish to believe in.

Merely brain pattern recognition

Breathing planets like a promise.

Some things all too easy to forget.

I blame my hippocampus,

if you know what I mean.

It means I filed info backwards chronologically

I forgot my beginnings like a failed Grammy winner

Whatever a Grammy stands for, anyway.

So whatever the hell you just told me isn't there anymore.

That was fifteen minutes ago, man, I’m trying to live in the present.

My amygdala ain’t feelin it or fearin’ it or getting ready to gear up in this bitch

and honestly, if my limbic system ain’t in it, that means my metaphorical heart.

That’s how the brain works, in case you were wondering.

The heart pumps blood. A lot of people confuse those.

It's uh. You need to brush up on anatomy without coming on to methe

house lights are dimming, my attention span is thinning,

My buddy over there is the reason the bartender’s grinning

(a well tipping regular without a sob story and a quick comedy act is a blessing, I would


I’ll greet the stage, I’ll spend my six minutes rhyming around the crowd

like I have something to say for once in my life despite never actually shutting up.

It’s been over a decade and I’m still pissed people clap at open mics.

Snap your fucking fingers, for five minutes can we pretend we’re in the movies?

Shit, man. Shit.

Author bio: El is a living fairy tale - an intersex American Indian from Providence

who’s spent too many years on poetry and still refuses to get their drivers license.

They’re contractually obligated to tell you they are vegan. You can find them somewhere

on the internet, probably. Look harder, squint a little.


by Jay Passer

Artist bio: Jay Passer’s poetry and prose has appeared in print and online publications

since 1988. He is the author of 10 chapbooks. This is the first representation of his visual

art online. Passer lives and works in San Francisco, the city of his birth.

Rhetorical Pulp

By James Piatt


Lift up my poems to the world


Sarah Palin screams in happiness as she watches

My opinions drop

To the bottom of a spinning, progressive muddy eddy:

Covered by the brown political sludge of an ugly city’s, sewer main,

My ego is crushed into poetic… iambics, while she

Keeps sitting on her Villanelle butt slurping rhetorical pulp

While promoting the Trump, that odd little grump.


Keep languishing in the mushy manure of wandering

Conservative tongues that lash out at my sanity.

However, never question the veracity of my political poetic pulp

As it plops into the world’s banal opinionated mass of

illogicality, Adding more pieces

Of rhetorical political pulp to cover the stupidity in

the rest of

The, red painted portion of our split nation,

For they contain the angry contents of my liberal


Author bio: Dr. Piatt, a retired professor and octogenarian, has had poems nominated for

Pushcart and Best of Web awards and published in The 100 Best Poems of 2015 & 2014

Anthologies. He has been a featured poet in numerous magazines over the years. He has

published 3 poetry books “The Silent Pond” (2012), “Ancient Rhythms,” (2014), and

“LIGHT” (2016), 3 novels, 35 shorts stories, and over 860 poems in 90 different

magazine, anthologies, and poetry books. His books are available on Amazon, and

Barnes and Noble.



Gael DeRoane

Although the word “fuck” is everywhere these days—in mainstream films, on the

sneering lips of children, even in the pages of that august publication, The New Yorker—

it is still considered too obscene, in our puritanical nation, for the cover of a book, or I

suspect, the contents page of the aforesaid magazine, The New Yorker. Hence, the

bowdlerized title above. But now that we are one paragraph deep into this essay I am

writing—and that you, motherfucker, are reading—allow me to state clearly and

exuberantly its thesis: Fuck You.

I have mentioned The New Yorker twice already (make that three times) because I hope

to sell this piece to (and here comes number four) The New Yorker, which, I am told,

pays a good deal more than the three cents per word shelled out by the scumbag editors

of e-zines devoted to vampires, ghouls, and zombies. For reasons pertaining to mental

health I no longer write for such e-zines, but still occasionally place short stories and

poems in what we in the trade call “litmags.” I hope, therefore, that readers of not only

The New Yorker (five), but of, say Infinite Pudding or Nostril Agony (where this piece

may indeed land) will likewise consider themselves the recipients of a hearty and echoing

Fuck You.

You may wonder why I have chosen to address the reading public in this rude

fashion. The answer is that I believe, as did Jonathon Swift, that human beings are

“odious vermin,” (his words), or, (my words) “miserable fuckwads.” Had I a media

platform, like that miserable fuckwad Glen Beck, I would be able to say Fuck You to the

vast majority of humans who cannot or do not read, but spend their wretched lives

watching shitty television programs. I accept this limitation and happily promulgate my

message of loathing to a select few, while hoping that a television personality with a

greater audience than I will be inspired by my example to spend an entire show reviling

his viewers with torrents of profanity, avowing that everyone who is watching—even the

kindly grandmother in Dubuque who sent him a box of home-made brownies—is a dogfellating,

whore-mongering cunt.

Such unwarranted vituperation begs the question, what is wrong with me? Plenty, I

would say, in all candor. But my flaws, appalling though they are, seem little more than

quaint eccentricities compared to the atrocious habits of everyone else on the

planet. Mencken equated most peoples’ lives to those of bullfrogs or houseflies. I say

his aim was too high. It is my desire, then, that every reader of this brief jeremiad—and

those who are made aware of it by means less arduous than reading—will accept my

declaration that they are no better than squalid microbes writhing in puddles of filth, and

thus deserve to be told, once again, and with great force…FUCK YOU.

Author bio: Gael DeRoane is a tennis coach in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. His work

has appeared in London Journal of Fiction, Page & Spine, Rose Red Review, Opiate,

Punchnel’s, and Fiction on the Web. His novella Arvin the Discontented Spider is

available as an e-book at Amazon.

Two Poems

By Patricia Carragon

if kittens could vote

Donald Trump’s wig would be sold

as kitty litter

blame it on Eve

in God we trust——speak American first

your second language—Monsanto, not Spanish

eat your death——GMOs landed on Coney Island

the GOP plans your parenthood——and will abort subversives

rosaries vs. ovaries——the Bible never lies

if dicks can’t rise——blame it on Eve

your paycheck’s on a diet——unemployment gets fatter

if you fucked up your life——who gives a frack

don’t ever complain——the taser will find you

the color of privilege——hates stained sheets

Global Warming, a liberal lie——blame it on Eve

spring is here, the air is dead——the earth pushes up cancer cells

Big Pharma is watching you——Fox News in denial

Washington war games——Xbox the spot

from school to senate——bullies rejoice, the Internet


synchronize your iPhones——they never promised you a hipster garden

chakras cross borders——exercise your inner Trump

breathe in, breathe out——smell the rat shit

good christians say——the end is queer

blame it on Eve——the Bible never lies

Author bio: Patricia Carragon’s publication credits include BigCityLit, Bear Creek

Haiku, Boog City, Clockwise Cat, Drunk Monkeys, First Literary Review-East, Home

Planet News, Yellow Chair Review, and others. She is the author of Journey to the Center

of My Mind (Rogue Scholars Press, 2005) and Urban Haiku and More (Fierce Grace

Press, 2010). Her new book, Cupcake Chronicles, is forthcoming from Poets Wear Prada.

She hosts the Brooklyn-based Brownstone Poets and is the editor-in-chief of its annual

anthology. She is one of the executive editors for Home Planet News Online. Patricia is a

member of Pen Women’s Literary Workshop, Tamarind, and brevitas.

TWO POEMS By David Thornbrugh

Author bio: Until he was twenty-four, David Thornbrugh thought Emperor Penguins

averaged six foot tall, thus enabling these royal birds to look human intruders in the eye.

The resulting shame and embarrassment he felt at the mockery of his peers drove him

into the arms of poetry, where he has felt only mildly aggrieved ever since. He thinks of

himself as following in the tradition of Archie the Cockroach, whose best work resulted

from throwing himself at the keys of a resistant machine, one bruise at a time.

How Was I to Know?

I didn’t know my father was Orson Welles

until his hand reached out for the TV sound knob.

“Nothing but rotten grapes” in the voice of Macbeth

letting us know the Martians were death-raying

the countryside and headed our way.

I didn’t know my father was Charlton Heston

until he called down the frogs, the flies, and the lice,

turned the water into blood and then looked

the other way when the big voice in the sky

said first born sons had to die.

I didn’t know my father was an alcoholic

until I won my first Oscar for best supporting actor

in a role I didn’t know I was playing.

I didn’t know I was the son of an alcoholic

until I was past thirty and using hangovers

for hand holds to clamber out of the ice of a frozen-over ego.

I didn’t know I didn’t know my father

until it was too late to know the man who raised me,

an actor of the old school, who could bluster but not emote,

who believed Marlon Brando was Emiliano Zapata

under a caterpillar moustache and raised a family in California

without ever eating avocados.

I didn’t know my invisible sister until

she showed up on my father’s radar screen,

somewhere over Korea dodging incoming fire.

I didn’t know my father until the damage

done his brain canceled the shame

he couldn’t share with the family he left behind.

What I didn’t know was how much

what I didn’t know

could hurt me.

Drawing the Wrong Conclusions

The man in the mirror I didn’t sketch yesterday

won’t be there today.

I have these impulses under my fingernails,

like little Oprahs of good intentions,

waiting to open umbrellas inside my brain.

I don’t trust cameras to tell the truth;

everyone knows the danger of being taken

out of context, like the racist in the bathtub

revealing the true color of his skin.

Electricity plays poker with my behavior,

bluffing when I hold an empty hand,

throwing out tells like confetti

when I’m flush. What I can’t win for losing

opinion polls tell me isn’t worth having,

but who wants to know better anyway?

The sketch I won’t make of today’s face

will no more represent me tomorrow

than it didn’t today, which is why

I have nothing to say.

Joyce Mansour and "Nightmare’s Alphabet"

Essential Poems and Writings of Joyce Mansour (Black Widow

Press) (BOOK REVIEW) By Alison Ross

If surrealism is a merging of incongruous elements into some sort of lucid whole, then

Joyce Mansour’s life seems to mirror that ethos. Born in England to parents of Jewish-

Egyptian origins, she lived in Cairo and Paris. After moving permanently to Paris, she

evolved into the most famous female poet of the genus surrealism. She was able to

coalesce her disparate geographical and cultural experiences into the life of an author

who wrote sometimes disturbing erotica. Some critics have even called her work

“violent,” and it does seem that she had a proclivity for aggressive evocations. That said,

what stands out for me in her work is how she seems to luxuriate, Baudelaire-style, in


“There are living corpses in the mouth of infants

Weeping willows

Embryos coated with lying wax

In the aqueduct which flows

Over the plain

Tomorrow which will drink our fathers' blood”

These lines are suffused with dark diction and disorienting imagery; indeed, take note of

the contrasting juxtapositions - corpses (death) with infants/embryos (birth), willows and

plain (nature) with wax and aqueduct (manmade artifice) - and the vampiric allusion to

drinking blood (which could refer to birth or death). These contradictions create a dense

verse that revels in horror, and "prettifies" the pain.

What is most maddening, of course, is how sparsely celebrated Joyce Mansour is, how

eclipsed she is by Rimbaud and later writers of that ilk, those who clearly influenced her

or were her contemporaries, but who, owing to their, ahem, phallic endowments, are far

more well-known. She too, authored idioms of the dark imagination, "nightmare's

alphabet," where language is a vehicle to transport us into the cloistered recesses of the

mind and heart, those "forbidden-zone" subterranean spaces that, when fearlessly tapped

into, give us fuller dimension as complex beings.

Mansour's poetry is provocative, even inflammatory, but also, in a sense, playfully


"The dead breathe

Their gaze perforated

Their mouth stretched by the electric play

Of the immense yawning

Of the final sneezing

By the suction and sobbing

By the hiccup and the last burp"

Sex, mingled with death, is a constant theme:

"The night the sky is an open sex

The fire dozes idle water dies

The body loses its forces well before midnight

Desiring to see itself dead it dies already"

Maybe people just don't think it's "lady-like" to explore dark sensual impulses so

graphically. Maybe they fear a woman who defiantly delved into "taboo" subject matter,

and adorned it with disconcerting imagery:

Sitting on her bed with her legs apart.

A bowl in front of her.

Looking for something to eat but seeing nothing

The woman whose eyelids were eaten by flies


Flies came in through the windows

Left by the door

Hovered over her bowl

Red eyes black flies

Eaten by the woman

Who couldn’t see a thing.

Those of us who have fierce fortitude and a lusty language libido, however, swoon at

Mansour's sensually sordid phrasing. So what if it discombobulates the senses? That's

what the best poetry does.

Dream Horses

By Don Campbell

Gallop through the rivers of my mind

Make me want to break out of skin

To not spend this day walking with the troubled many

Who carry briefcases, lunch bags, spare tires

Once I imagined a fish could break clear of a building

I knew then I only wished to jump off a wall

Leave shoes behind on the precipice

As testament to the gun in my head that imploded

I emerge a limber being, a phantom of my former self

Holding an unlit lantern to a future missing the past

As today’s sky shines around me

And trees frame my unleashed heart

The barbs that surrounded my skull moved me

To run from the hands that held me back

To never again be one of the cattle crossing

The muddy lake of dutified hours

Where I used to wallow

Half-submerged in sidewalks

The cornice of literature

Inside me barely seen

Until I escaped to steal my own life

Finally free to feel the sun rise on my face

Amidst brother arbors

Instead of hanging by facades

Waiting for a trough of money to guide me

I dove like a shark under clouds to muster play

Jagged rocks became parts of my soul

And equines neighed pleased at my process of departure

Author bio: Don Kingfisher Campbell, poetry editor of the Angel City Review, editor of the San

Gabriel Valley Poetry Quarterly and Spectrum, host of Saturday Afternoon Poetry in Pasadena,

Creative Writing instructor in the Occidental College Upward Bound program, earned his MFA

in Creative Writing from Antioch University Los Angeles. For publishing credits, please go to

To Prince

By Franco Esposito

There is purple in your hair

and purple in your eyes

there is purple I can see

and purple in disguise

there is purple on a cloudy day

when all other colors hide

there is purple in my heart

when all of purple cries

there is purple just for a prince

that no one else can wear

there is purple that leads us into song

that everyone can share

For my sister Maura who brought Prince into our household

Author bio: Franco Esposito was born in 1954, in Montreal, and began writing

poetry as a voyage of the heart, circa 2010. He studied psychology at Concordia

University in 1978: then worked as a teacher and Acupuncturist, also for Air Canada,

and presently has a coffee shop. Franco's writing is narrative and personal. His

themes often introspective, are about loss, the sea and the haunted spirit. In 2013 he

began and in 2015 published his first book, an

anthology and collaborative effort, entitled, "Our Day Of Passing". He is currently

working on a second book, a collection of poems and sentiments, under the working

title, "I Never Stopped Writing You".

“To Prince", is first published poem in a magazine.

Three Poems

By Felino Soriano

a selection from Fragmented Olio

from Bas-relief

Hold, hold

because melody is song in silent



as when fingers are the danced

the ears a

parade of cultivated observation—


-ing the body from tribute is a form

of frequent

anonymity, the

permission of

hands to

echo rhythm

to subtract misery

a goal to


-nounce what others’

syllables wrote into

the holding of chaos

music erases with

tonality of

splayed revelation and

history stays

conversing with

the listeners of



—for Paul Bley

1/10/32 – 1/3/16

Youth and the lack of __________

I believed the bottom

of my youth was

a dying configuration

of attempted expel of

continuous constellation

I maintained language

of trust with the tongue

of my mirror’s elongated

philosophy, forgetting what

the classmate stated among

the timeworn tease concerning

stutter and the portrait of my

paused communication

Variants of my name

A maker. A meander. A version

of what the prior miswrote. A

system of slants and mislabeled

mathematics. A concave. A

half-wing blur, slowed. A clarity

of moth in the throat of my voice’s

enunciating torment.

Author bio: Felino A. Soriano is a poet documenting coöccurrences. His poetic language

stems from exterior motivation of jazz 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 sparse anatomies of

single antecedents (gradient books, 2015), Forms, migrating (Fowlpox Press, 2015), Of

isolated limning (Fowlpox Press, 2014, and Mathematics Nostrovia! Poetry, 2014). 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 for more information.

Reading Response: Regeneration


By Beverley Catlett

The Madness of “Shell Shock” in Pat Barker’s Regeneration: Warfare as a Crime

Against Sanity

Rivers knew only too well how often the early stages of change or cure may mimic

deterioration. Cut a chrysalis open, and you will find a rotting caterpillar. What

you will never find is a mythical creature, half caterpillar, half butterfly, a fit

emblem of the human soul, for those whose cast of mind leads them to seek such

emblems. No, the process of transformation consists almost entirely of decay.

(Barker, 184)

Narrated chiefly through the perspective of military psychiatrist Dr. William Rivers, Pat

Barker’s Regeneration is a commentary on warfare that transcends the realities of death

on the battlefield to reveal something far more disturbing and unjust: the resounding

experience of those horrors in the human mind. Rivers’ patients are the peripheral defects

of World War I, the “shell-shocked”: sufferers of post-traumatic stress syndrome,

survivors of an experience so atrocious, so incompatible with what the human mind is

prepared to endure, that sanity buckles under the weight of its remembrance. Within the

yellow-lit walls of Craiglockhart psychiatric institution, we see the victims of the warmyth.

We see those who enlisted as healthy, young adult men reduced to ageless defects.

Their mental illness emanates not from within – not from any chemical imbalance, nor

any organically erroneous component of their psychological composition – but from

without, from what they have seen and cannot un-see, crimes against humanity and

crimes against nature itself. These men have no natural environment, no place in nature –

their growth is stunted, physically as well as psychologically, for the injured and

amputees. Their age is meaningless, as is their progress: their youth is quenched by

disillusion and deformation, their age premature by their reduction to utter dependents

upon a system designed to accommodate their insanity. Their masculinity, independence,

and pride are smothered by flashbacks that turn the safest of environments into

hallucinatory horror shows; they have no natural place in the world, too ill to fight and

too ill to live the comfortable citizens’ life.

This is what Rivers ‘knows only too well’; that these men, though they may appear to

‘heal’ under his care, though they may one day regain their outward appearance of

youthful vigor and physical health. As does Burns, in the observation that precedes Dr.

River’s disillusioned speculation on progress and deterioration, tragically metaphored as

a chrysalis opening to reveal a still-born butterfly. Burns is a shell of a man, both

figuratively and literally: ever since he parachuted into the gut of a decaying German

corpse and received a mouthful of rotting human flesh, Burns has been unable to eat, and

thus his emancipation makes him a physical representation of what the “shell shocked”

soldier is reduced to. Enlisted as a healthy young man, Burns is one of countless victims

to the myth that successfully brought about the death, deformation, and psychological

decay of an entire generation of young men (indeed, the fact that the realities of

Craiglockhart reveal a destroyed “generation” of young men is noteworthy in

consideration of Barker’s title-choice for the novel). These are the products of shell


Through Rivers’s eyes, we see in each patient that the experience of combat produces

effects in the human beings involved that are tragic and unnatural. War, in itself, is

unnatural: nature follows an overarching framework of growth, compensation, and

regeneration – war follows an overarching framework of destruction, death, and

degeneration. Barker’s evidence of this manifests itself in numerous ways throughout the

novel, but the notion of war and nature being at odds with one another is particularly

interesting in the novel’s various references to shells. In nature, a shell is, as defined by

the Oxford English Dictionary, “the hard protective case” of a living vitality, be it the

vital organs of a shelled creature or the shell from which living creatures hatch (Oxford

English Dictionary, “shell” n.1). A shell, in nature, is either a source or preservation of

life. In warfare, a “shell” is, as secondarily listed by the OED, “an explosive artillery

projectile or bomb; a hollow metal or paper case used as a container for [explosives]”

(Oxford English Dictionary, “shell” n.2). A shell, in warfare, is either a source of

destruction - a weapon - or a preventative container that suppresses said weapon from

unleashing its destructive energies until it hits land, thus maximizing the potential of its

destructive range.

Before Barker nudges her readers to consider any of the above, however, she introduces –

through a skeptical dialogue about Sassoon’s potential insanity as it is to be presented to

‘The Board’ – the concept of “shell-shock”: a unique form of psychological distress

brought on by exposure to the atrocities of warfare. Taking into consideration the

aforementioned definitions of the word “shell” as connoted by warfare versus nature, one

could surmise – indeed, Rivers seems to, in his disillusioned speculation on

transformation and decay – that the “shell shocked” individual is a hybrid of the two. The

word “chrysalis” is as pleasing aesthetically, to the ear, as it is contextually, to the mind:

an emblem of emergent beauty, the chrysalis is the shell from which the adolescent

utterfly spreads its wings and emerges into the world as its fully developed self. The

“shell shocked” patient has nowhere to emerge from; the adolescent ‘shell’ that made him

victim to the war myth was obliterated by his proximity to death, his mind now enclosed

in a metallic, man-made shell of trauma, darkness, and an inability to forget. The shellshocked

patient does not emerge and spread his wings; he does not come-to-age

naturally. Rivers’s daily task is to ‘cut’ into him and find a living man rotten as the corpse

into which Burns plummeted face first; the shell-shocked patient stops aging just as

abruptly and indefinitely as any young soldier killed in combat. Moreover, to ‘The

Board,’ a “shell shocked” individual is ‘insane’ in that they are psychologically and

emotionally affected by their exposure to death on a massive scale – ‘sane,’ then, being

the condition of a man perfectly at ease with the gruesome and tragic ends of his fellow


In this, Barker calls into question a major issue with ‘The Board’s’ definition of “sanity,”

a separate thread of inquiry that encompasses numerous aspects of the novel but also can

be considered in light of war as a violation of nature: ‘sane’ being the state of the natural,

healthy human being. It is clear from the novel’s outset that the question of sanity, in

times of warfare, extends far beyond the walls of Craiglockhart. Through Rivers, we

attain glimpses into the experiences of shell-shocked patients that are beyond any

fathomable horror: indeed, to be anything but horrified by their experiences would seem

justifiably insane. That shell shock is the resulting condition of someone who was not

successfully obliterated by a shell, but is in prolonged ‘shock’ because they witnessed its

obliterating effects, suggests that the patients of Craiglockhart are parochial casualties of

war. They are frozen, in effect, suspended in the memories of their horrendous exposures

to death. They are at the crux of the inherent disagreement between nature and warfare,

physically intact (to the extent that they are still alive) yet psychologically desecrated.

Their inability to sustain the natural processes of human life is a testament to their

significance as walking, breathing man-made disasters: Burn’s’ inability to eat, nearly

every patient’s inability to sleep, the way in which Sassoon and other’s’ dreams

(nightmares, naturally) continue to play out after they wake – are testaments to the fact

that warfare is a profound violation of nature, and the myth of ‘war glory’ an outrageous

injustice to the integrity of the human mind.

Cultivating Secrets (BOOK REVIEW)

By Alison Ross

With one of their most recent books, A Secret Garden, Giles Watson and John Lincoln

continue their series of ekphrastic exercises, where Lincoln has created fantastical pen

and ink artwork, and Giles provides the poetic elucidation. In crafting fantasy-scapes of

his own that compellingly narrate his interpretation of the pictures, Giles simultaneously

validates the integrity of Lincoln's art while also spinning an intriguing thread that could

exist outside the context of the exercise - though certainly the symbiotic relationship

between verse and visual is sacred.

Lincoln's pieces at times resemble woodcuts with their bold carving style, but they are

also often as delicate as lace, the way their liquid lines intertwine to form perfect patterns.

His pieces scream symmetry, and yet even that balance is deftly disrupted by subtle

swishes or assertive strokes of the pen that keep the viewer just slightly off-center. Too,

the pieces mimic movement, and can be delightfully dizzying.

The Secret Garden is a slender volume, yet is lush with content. Lincoln's mystical

foliage, where faces are planted in the earth and men grow out of trees, provide a

symbolic space where one's private fears and desires are embedded.

Lincoln's visual voice is strong and stark, and is matched by Watson's stridently

straightforward tone. His narrations grow organically from the soil of Lincoln's pieces,

and at times, his language takes on a supernatural quality, as in "Moonlight in the Secret

Garden," the piece that adorns the cover: "At first, it was thought there was an intruder/in

the garden but he was distilled out of shadows/of trees in moonlight/his hat brimmed out

of bark."

Other times, his voice sounds less haunted, and more intensely inquisitive, as in "Who

Frightened the Birds in the Garden": "Who stirred the beech leaves/ into frenzy, and left

the quite roses quivering?/Who bashed into the glaze, as a stone rips/through the taut

perfections of lake? Who/clicked her fingers, and clashed the dream awake?

At all times, of course, Watson's language strives to evince Lincoln's clear thesis about

the intricate interconnectedness of all facets of nature. In these pieces there are humans,

birds, plants, trees, stones, fish, cats, water, ferns, snakes...but they are all enmeshed,

swirled into one glorious whirling vibration. Watson captures this energy of

interdependence in "Iron Fence in the Secret Garden", where a cat, seemingly sprouting

from a fence, poses against a black lunar disc which is surrounded by surging leaves:

"From the moon-dark slunk a cat/whose eyes were sparks of night/and fence and cat

became as one/silhouette of white/a glaze of foundry-work and fur./The leaves vibrated

with her purr/and pulsed with sweet delight."

Gardens have both explicit and hidden elements in that they serenely showcase nature's

exotic bounty and also implicitly reveal the spiritual yearnings of those who tend the

gardens. The gardener plants seeds and cultivates secrets.

John Lincoln and Giles Watson celebrate those interior and exterior gardens with

luxurious lines from their respective pens.


Kathleen Latham

Author bio: Kathleen Latham is a fifth-generation Southern Californian who has spent

the last twenty-two years in the Boston area cursing how long it takes to defrost a frozen

windshield. She received her undergraduate degree from Occidental College and a

graduate degree from Harvard University. She spent two years researching

hypochondriacs at Massachusetts General Hospital and four years working at the Rape

Treatment Center at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center. After that, she and her

husband returned to the NE where they’ve raised a pack of overly-enthusiastic hockey

lovers who, like her, believe deeply in social justice, comedy, and the power of words. As

a mother of four, her writing has taken place in weird locations during fractured chunks

of time - in her car, at a rink, during someone else’s nap. With her kids getting older, she

is just beginning to harness the luxury of being uninterrupted. Between raising her brood

and sporadically working on a novel that never seems to end, she has been the grand

prize winner of the Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition as well as a finalist for

Shenandoah’s Bevel Summers Prize, a Press 53 Open Award, and the Southeast Review’s

World’s Best Short Short Story Competition. Her work has also appeared in Alehouse

and Lascaux 250. She’d like to think there’d be more to list if she wasn’t so easily

distracted by computer solitaire and her cat. She prefers poetry that is raw and honest but

also accessible. While her work may not always be autobiographical, she hopes it is

always emotionally authentic.


I would fly three thousand miles

just to stand outside the place

where you get your coffee.

I’d drag my luggage to the market

and duck behind the grapefruit.

Linger outside your work and talk

to the bums. Throw a fifty

on the sidewalk and buy everyone


Three thousand miles. Coach.

If only it would show me

that you’ve grown fat and bald

or old and ugly. That you’re mean

to small children or cheat on

your taxes. Anything, anything

to help me get over you.

In the economy of love,

that would be worth the price of the ticket.

The Difference Between Me and The Published

What they don’t have are family members

who call at four o’clock on a Tuesday

to say, Can you drive me to the airport

tomorrow? At rush hour? Can you watch

my kids? Water my plants? Arrange

the holiday gift exchange? They don’t

have a crescendo of voices singing,

It’s not like you work…

And all the while, I’m hemorrhaging

hours. Dying bit by bit, moment by

fucking moment. Too weak to say,

Enough. Too broken to say,

if I’m going to bleed, it will be for

This page, This ink, These words.

So the stanzas dry up, scraps of paper

forgotten. Better poets lift their pens,

while I load luggage and stuff envelopes

and dance with other people’s children,

until resentment becomes just

another excuse.

No one ever reads the martyrs.


My mother calls and asks me how my day is but before I can answer

she puts her dog on the phone or rather she starts talking to him

in that high-pitched voice only he elicits, that inflection of approval

of all things wonderful and pride-inducing like dragging a stuffed rabbit

across her lap or failing to pee on the floor when the neighbor stops by

unannounced. And though I’m trying to tell her something important,

something she really should want to hear, I find myself picturing

that little cow-eyed fluff who walks on two legs like a circus trick and

greets me unabashedly every time I come over as if I’m the greatest thing

he’s ever seen, greater even than his damn stuffed rabbit, and I understand for a moment

the allure of that kind of adoration and it makes me wonder how many times I’ve failed

to listen because I was preoccupied with my own circus-trick distractions

like men with tattoos or the hit of a cigarette or that really good show

I was binge-watching on Netflix. And for one dazzling moment I vow

to be a better daughter, to demonstrate joy and excitement and yip approvingly

and roll over on command, but then it grows old, this waiting to be noticed,

so I passive-aggressively announce some detail about my life while she’s not listening

so that later I can state, truthfully, that I had told her and maybe she’ll feel bad

about missing it. Maybe she’ll feel bad about missing me.

My mother absentmindedly acknowledges this half-telling half-heard

and I picture her standing in her kitchen, phone in one hand, rabbit in the other

held high above her head while the dog jumps for it and jumps for it

and when I hang up I can still hear her talking to him, still hear the tinkling

of his stupid collar and the clicking of his nails on the linoleum in full acrobatic trickery

and I realize, sadly, that one of us is better trained than the other.


You slid past me so swiftly

—plummet embraced, no sign of regret—

all I could do was reach out and grab the rope

You stopped mid-fall and hung there


the weight of your momentum

threatening to topple

us both

Pull yourself up

I called, because I thought

you were a different man

How was I to know you carried

the secret of your surrender in your pocket

like rocks meant to speed your descent?

Guidebooks warn of excuses

heavier than truth, but they say nothing

of the cost of holding on

In the end, it wasn’t anger or pity or principle

that made me cut the rope. The truth is

I got tired of being strong

Your eyes, when I let go,

were the eyes of a stranger

I tell myself you were gone

the moment

you fell

Will Power

The four of us sit around our mother’s table

avoiding the stare of alternatives.

About and between us—

a collection of coffee cups, stained brown,

a tablecloth of documents, none useful,

a hand-wound clock, off by three hours

keeping a threnodial beat.

There is the house to divide—

arrangements to be made of the most

final sort. Still we sit and wait for time

to right itself, for childhood grudges

to loosen their hold on our tongues.

I can almost hear the tread

of her slippered feet, see the path

her life took: stove, chair, sink—

an endless shuffle, until the end.

It is hard to name what keeps us here.

Our grief is too personal, our greed too varied.

Perhaps it is the echo of our mother’s commands—

Sit up straight. Finish your milk.

Don’t leave the table until you’re excused.

I imagine us sitting here forever,

waiting for a pardon that will never come.

On Running Into an Ex- Lover

They shouldn’t call it small talk.

There are no small sentiments here,

rather icebergs to avoid, elephants to ignore,

issues of longing and betrayal to navigate.

I wonder, while we chat, how you keep your smile

so neutral, your inquiries so perfectly canned.

After five minutes, I want

to thrust my tongue down your throat

until your manners are dislodged,

but I am deterred by circumstance

and this morning’s regrettable choice

of sweatpants. I laugh, too loudly,

drunk with the potency of things unsaid—

lips that once touched forced to spew platitudes.

Your eyes skitter to the horizon, forgetting me.

Good-bye, I think, smiling.

When we part, we leave behind a puddle of pretend—

the little words we’ve spoken sink to the bottom,

done in by the weight we’ve asked them to carry.

Editor’s Note: “On Running Into an Ex-Lover” was previously published in Alehouse,


Hell is Empty, and All the Devils are on Earth

(Book Review of Dystopia 38.10, erbacce press) by Alison ROSS

If utopia is the most coveted, yet out of reach, ideal, then what does that make its

antithesis, dystopia? It's certainly not coveted, and certainly not an ideal, but it's not

exactly not out of reach. Indeed, dystopia is very much within our grasp, which makes it

all the more harrowing. And, if we are to believe Matt Duggan, who scripted the

erbacce-prize-winning book, "Dystopia 38.10," utopia's evil fraternal twin is very much

alive and well, beleaguering us all, in the here and now.

The cover of Duggan's book is a dystopic vision which actually puts me in the mind of

Atlanta, the city where I reside. All around me are crumbling structures and struggling

infrastructure. Granted, gentrification is rapidly taking care of the decaying edifices,

transforming dilapidated buildings into slickly shiny, horrifically homogenized havens

for the blandly affluent. The infrastructure, though - you know, roads, the things we need

to drive on to get us to work (Atlanta metro is pitiful) - is less coddled. Potholes abound,

and yet the city turns a blind eye, because, you know, developer dick is presumably

tastier than the Department of Transportation's phallic treats.

So anyway, Duggan's book is divided into different zones, each of which represent the

multifarious iterations of hell on earth as we know it. In fact, there is a poem that touches

on gentrification, entitled "Neighbourhood!" in which Duggan laments, "The richer men

are culturally fracking the poorer neighbourhood." It would appear that gentrification in

Duggan's native England is no different than that here in the Deep Scary South of the

United States. If there is one thing that is universal, it seems, it's the rich screwing the

poor, over and over.

In Duggan's pieces, obvious themes such as apathy toward homelessness and

environmental degradation are touched upon, though not necessarily in obvious ways.

Duggan has a flair for mixing up tones in his poems, to the point that some pieces are

almost tirades, where righteous indignation is palpable, while others treat such themes

comically, though Duggan comes down more on the sarcastic side than the lighthearted

side of humor. Still, the humor employed leavens leaden subjects, provides breathing

room for potentially suffocating material.

Mostly, Duggan's poems are imagistic - in his poetry world, imagery transports import.

The meanings and messages conveyed are evinced and enhanced with unorthodox and

sometimes jarring juxtapositions.

In "No Hiding Place," for example, a commentary on the Orwellian survelliance state,

Duggan writes: "No hiding place for us/every door is an eye behind another window,

each frame of glass a caught moment/that we can upload and analyse/No hiding place for

us/we are the grains of salt glued between the fingers of the state."

Or, how about "Drone," where remote-controlled warfare has cataclysmic consequences:

"Our lungs the scars of Saharan dust/Petrol-dollars/sniffed and charred a killing canvas of

machine/sunlight rust day-scape of chrome/bone orange carcass of car/We see drones

flesh for public confetti/eyes that drink from the skull of licensed morality."

Duggan's acidic wit is on display in rhymed pieces like "The Human Herd," where he

caustically critiques the "sheeple" tendency of humans en masse, especially when urged

on by a maliciously manipulating media:

"Keep taming the bewildered herd

never allowing the herd to think!

So it can rage and destroy the organised class

Keep feeding the human herd heroic lies from an empiric past

with just enough necessary illusion

So the organised class can develop a system of bloodline and exclusion.

Allow the herd to scream their slogans of patriotic euphoria

distract and marginalise dissent through manufactured terror,

play the host of fear an enforcer of medicated hysteria.

The herd remains sedated via a media induced malaria,

keeping the organised class Unabated.

Or, try "Clause 44.453": "Have you ticked and signed your terms and condition?/giving

away your privacy without your permission/did you read the eight thousand word

document?/quickly scroll down and tick your acceptance"

My favorite piece in this collection is one which Clockwise Cat published in a previous

issue. It's called "Ice Cream Utopianism." I won't quote it in full, but it's well worth a

read for its ironic, sardonic tone that slices to the core of what's ailing society:

"We love all the ice cream round here!/overindulging ourselves in the utopianism of

mirrors/Where occasionally we look around the edges of our own reflections/opening our

eyes widely to see that behind each layer is a sugar coated illusion."

Using ice cream as a metaphor for our own willful blindness to how illusory and elusive

our freedoms truly are is a brilliant poetic tactic. Duggan is saying that we are all

children, blithely licking our triple-scooped ice cream cones in anarchic defiance,

oblivious to how controlled we actually are.

The only complaint I have about Dystopia 38.0 is that at times, it seems unfocused. Some

poems scattered throughout appear to be cryptically or tangentially related to the dystopia

theme. But maybe that's due to my inept reading. Or maybe the poems are too abstract or

abstruse to discern the thematic relevance. Or, maybe Duggan wanted to intersperse his

collection with off-topic verse to show variation. In any case, it was distracting for me,

but perhaps I am being nitpicky.

Duggan does best when he's writing in lyrical phrases abounding with sensory imagery

about our collective anguish, exacerbated by rapacious leaders who ravage our lands and

our souls:

"We are the driftwood in an ocean our destination a far-away shore, the land is our

democracy untouched by the hands of working men. We can only dream of an alternative

deranged by the loneliness of our leaders, in sun drenched castles made from veins of sea

we sway left and right rotting from the inside, splinters in the bloodstream of giants

driftwood sailing towards a storm, desecrated like fish heads floating without any gills."

Dystopia never sounded so lovely.

Spring 2012, Paris

By Kent Weigle

I've got memories that writhe in the spicy damp beneath stones

like earwigs and pill bugs

but if it get's too cold they crawl out and squeeze under doors

and up through vents and get caught in dusty cobwebs

like stale dreams in an old dreamcatcher

they stay and remind until they're swept or washed away

with bleach and sharp red wine

out from between rigid gray matter folds

but they'll leave something behind

an antenna or a leg or a desiccated sliver of exoskeleton

something that'll blow around and land in a morning coffee

and have you itching at something right beneath your skin

beneath your shoulder blade

something you don't want to know but can't help

but pick at like an old scab or sun burn

Author bio: Kent Weigle is a young poetic ne'er-do-well and non-practicing nihilist.

Since graduating from the French and Creative Writing programs at the University of

North Carolina Wilmington, he's held several different jobs. He currently splits his time

between working and volunteering at the Carolina Raptor Center, writing, and waiting to

hear back from graduate schools.

Two Poems

By Heath Brougher

Author bio: Heath Brougher lives in York, PA and is the poetry editor of Five 2 One

Magazine. When not writing or editing he helps with the charity Paws Soup Kitchen

which gives out free dog/cat food to low income families with pets. His work has

appeared or is forthcoming in Yellow Chair Review, Of/with, SLAB, The Angry

Manifesto, Crack the Spine, Chiron Review, Diverse Voices Quarterly, Sonic Boom,

eFiction India, and elsewhere.

Piss Towne

The knees of the bloodstained

village turn to tinkle at night

The foul-smelling twinkle runs down a gutter pipeline straight into the mouth of a


receiving her fix

Seventeen cards

are not really seventeen cards

The fluorescent-green spider floats on a bubble that eventually bursts its wintry

guts against the gossamer strings in the backyard of a homeless man

The swollen gums eat the turnpike like mints

Fallacies keep rubbing their way onto the pallid pages of every book

The standard flat tire has ballooned into an oncoming noontime burial as the

wind recklessly undresses the clotheslines.

Firewater Fiend

Priests in The Vatican Bar,

heavy with drink,

broken glass slides down drunken throat

as the snake slithers on,

woeful empty bottle, plenty more,

play yourself, a nightly personal instrument,

head turns to puke,

piles of torn access,

battling God, all along the slippery way

rampant puddles have pourn themselves,

evening turns, a man in a black suit,

cry that empty cry,

preconceived tantrum bites down on soft heads,

ears become bloodspouting relics of the awful sound,

you hide your face behind the flammable brown holy water,

pipes play the intoxicant endlessly forgiven,

all that's meek, those starved puppies

in a rainy street corner box

blurt out their torturesong

while your stomach feels warm

and ripe from that bitter Russian juice,

wolves and spies, saints and snakes

commingle, press thick ears to thin walls,

listening intently,

only to hear you swear to Drunk you're not God.


by Valeri Beers

The purple flower

A tangible souvenir

Wish you could keep it

A Drab Internment

By Christie-Luke Jones

I fear for those most doomed of souls,

Who do not pain for knowledge.

Those who lack a thirst for words and maps and charts and music.

I’m sure that on this transient coil, to which they cling so thoughtlessly; their chrome and

bricks will bring them joy, albeit rather fleeting.

What flat and lifeless hell awaits, these hollow moulds of men? The devil deals in embers

bright; he has no time for matches spent. Nor has He a cloud to spare, for lungs that toil

in unenlightened air.

Then must noble worms and velvet moles bemoan their drab interment. Lifeless

neighbours they’ll remain, when they’re six feet underground.

Atop the flaked and barren soil, how best to sum them up? A polished slab of gleaming

rock, a faded plastic forget-me-not.

Author bio: Christie-Luke Jones is a poet, fiction writer and actor from Oxfordshire,

England. Christie-Luke’s writing is strongly influenced by the Gallic blood that courses

through his veins, as well as his interest in the more macabre aspects of the human

condition. To see more of his work, visit



Lit Fest Press (2016)

Book Review by Cindy Hochman

Oh, for a unique delusion!

Let us pray for a muse of other than fire

—Jonathan Penton, “Notyu Journal II”

For a poet, choosing a book title can be as precious as naming a baby (well, almost!),

and you can be sure that a poet who names his baby Standards of Sadiddy means business.

Merriam-Webster swears there’s no such word as sadiddy, but several online dictionaries

offer definitions ranging from conceited to snooty to cruel (think: sadist), which makes one

wonder: Are there really standards when it comes to cruelty? Jonathan Penton claims to

"write as though cruelty as a context," and a fair reading of the poems indicates that, for him,

sadiddy may very well be synonymous with the muse herself, and, although she is a

necessity, and perhaps a godsend, she wields a double-edged sword—and, sometimes,

enough rage to annihilate.

‘cause every poet’s just a militant

looking for a weapon he won’t have to put down

To say that a simple interpretation of Penton’s poems is a challenge would be an

understatement, but it’s the type of confrontation that the staunch poetry seeker hopes to

come face to face with. Although Penton’s whimsical titles (“The Way Buckeyes and Buds

Taste Just Like the Lone Star” and “The Turk in the Tenderloin,” for instance) belie the

gravity of the poems themselves, there are enough slant rhymes and killer lines (turning your

skin to Pepto-Bismol since your heart will always burn) for you to sink into and be swept up

by. Add a dot of realism, a dash of cynicism, and even a sprinkling of voodoo magic, and

Penton’s muse, for all his ambivalence toward her, lights undeniably beautiful fires. The real

hurdle, though, is keeping at bay her tendency to combust.

Pauline tells me she puts Kahlúa in her morning coffee,

sliding sensually into the day,

pondering the twelve words or so she might write in the afternoon.

There is no lack of tortured artists populating a Penton poem, and a high price to pay

for the gift of imagination. It is therefore no surprise that the poets to whom he alludes are

Bukowski (coffee by day, tequila by night), Kerouac, and Burroughs (it’s just great-uncle

Jack told us to travel like a child / even after Burroughs shot that hole in gramma’s head).

And there is no doubt a direct link from the inevitable alcohol burn to the creative

conflagration that comes with striking a Faustian deal with the muse:

They don’t tell you she sets herself on fire

They don’t tell you she uses ethics for fuel

mixes them with morals

and sets religious writers aflame

monks and mystics hissing in her fat

She lives off poetry, now

she drinks it like tequila

and any poem that can’t stick to her intestines

is one she never reads again

But did I mention that fires can be beautiful? Jonathan Penton declares that I don’t

have a fortress / I just have a paradox, and it is this dilemma that leads him to seize “the

blessed ur-poem,” even if it means navigating (bravely) through the flames to get at it. It is

clear that in the epic battle between “this de-watered reality” and “the fantasy of

immortality,” though skeptical of both, this poet leans toward the latter. When asked whether

you can cut me / to make our photos just pyrite, he is obviously aware that “pyrite” is Fool’s

Gold, and when he invokes the Haitian god Loa, he is acknowledging that the very act of

writing a poem is akin to magic—the poet’s chimera, even if it’s true that midnight is for

tequila and morning is for agony. While cognizant that adulthood finds you “burying the

furies you need most,” Penton puts more weight on what is felt than that which is merely

remembered vis-à-vis the sentimentality and false narrative of nostalgia.

although it is a waste / of time / to chronicle this madness / it is equally foolish / to try to

catalogue / the sane who sit / with / their birthdays / and their / no-truths-outside-of-things /

when there’s a common fire inside my body

In the end, no matter how much tequila is consumed, and no matter how zealously the

devil tries to throw gasoline on his art, Penton chooses to eschew artifice (I would rather be

in that thread where you don’t have to fake it), embrace authenticity, and, if necessary, walk

on the hot coals of inspiration. It is ironic then, that for this poet, validity lies along the “inkstained

asphalt stretched before me”—that is, the pure phantasmagoria of poetry is “more

permanent for the way that it will leave you.” Reading these potent and powerful poems, it is

safe to say that Penton’s standards of sadiddy are high, and, thankfully, way closer to apogee

than to apathy.

ARTWORK by Bill Wolak

Artist bio and statement: Bill Wolak is a poet, photographer, and collage artist. He

has just published his twelfth book of poetry entitled Love Opens the Hands with

Nirala Press. His collages have been published in over a hundred magazines

including: The Annual, Peculiar Mormyrid, Danse Macabre, Dirty Chai, Hermeneutic

Chaos Literary Journal, Lost Coast Review, Mad Swirl, Otis Nebula, and Horror

Sleaze Trash. Recently, he was a featured poet at The Mihai Eminescu International

Poetry Festival in Craiova, Romania. Mr. Wolak teaches Creative Writing at William

Paterson University in New Jersey.

Collage undresses the darkness with a mirror’s secret undertow. It’s a dance done

on burning kites while dreaming at the speed of light. Expectant as nakedness,

collage is a door that surfaces in the shipwreck of your sleep. It’s a caress with the

irresistible softness of a slipknot in a velvet blindfold. At its best, like poetry, collage

is a moan just beyond delirium. I make collages out of all kinds of materials. Most

are made out of paper engravings. Many collages are digitally generated or


The Photo Shoot

With Eyes the Color of Lightning

When Songs Overlap with Screams

How About Those Fucking

R******s? (RANT) By Adam Phillips

So, how 'bout those fucking R******s, huh?

Obviously, the name's going to go pretty soon, but someone needs to tell Dan Snyder

that before his handlers (Lanny Davis (Bill Clinton post-bj, Martha Stewart post-prison,

Penn State post-Sandusky) and Burson-Marellis (Blackwater, Three-Mile Island)) make

him look any worse.

A common P.R. ploy, when you want to keep doing something shitty, is to pretend

that a relatively simple issue is so complicated, so rife with competing and equally valid

viewpoints, that it's basically impossible to form any type of objective opinion. We can

only throw up our hands, agree to disagree, and move on with our lives. Dan Snyder's

version of this, addressing the perception of “R******s” as a racist epithet, goes “Taken

out of context, you can take things out of context all over the place. But in this particular

case, it is what it is. It's very obvious.” Now, he does a good job with the awkward

phrasing and the vagueness, but you don't have to be Jacques Derrida to understand he

probably should have stayed away from invoking context. Since context, in fact, is the

entire irrefutable reason that Snyder needs to eighty-six the nickname.

Native American opponents of the name speak from within a context of violent

hegemony and personal discriminatory degradation. To this, Snyder says “we respect

those opinions. But I hope they respect our opinion. The respect needs to be mutual, and I

hope they do.” First of all, he doesn't. Snyder entirely disregards their opinion. Native

Americans to whom this term is harmfully offensive aren't seeking a lively academic

debate. They want him to get rid of the name. If I'm dehydrated and I ask a guy with a

20-gallon tank of ice water for a glass and he says no, but he respects my thirst...

Here, Snyder is relying on the democratic and extremely stupid cliche that “every

opinion counts.” Which brings us to another common rhetorical strategy, that of

justifying, sometimes even (fucking terrifyingly) making, decisions based on the

uninformed, or in this case entirely irrelevant, public opinion poll. The Washington Post

reports that “a large...majority of Americans say the Washington R******s should not

change their team’s name, according to a poll released Tuesday finding over two-thirds of

the public does not think the name is disrespectful of Native Americans.” So if I'm

disrespected by something, but most people think I'm not disrespected, do I no longer feel

disrespected? How about if I have the flu, but two-thirds of people interviewed on the

street believe that I don't? Does that make me feel better? Which brings us to the hottest

of the hot button issues circling around this controversy. A can of tangled worms

involving first amendment rights, our country's racist history and racially oppressive


After the SAEs of UO were exposed in the joyous rapture of their racist party-bus

chanting, Rush Limbaugh, apparently outraged by this pernicious double-standard that

threatens to deprive whole generations of white frat boys their God-granted right to use

the n-word, said “If this had been a song by [Kanye West]...and they had sung this song

at the Grammy's...It'd be a hit.” (First of all…I don't listen to a ton of rap music, but a

puerile sing-song chant about discriminatory fraternity admission and lynching? Just

doesn't seem that topical, for one thing, and the target audience…Ooohhhh…I get it.

Rush Limbaugh, being both a dipshit and an old rich fat white guy who has never listened

to rap music, thinks that the entire genre consists of nothing more than a black guy

chanting n****r over and over.) Why, Limbaugh wants to know, is it relatively

acceptable for an African-American to use this term, but from the mouth of a white guy,

it's considered racist. Let me reply to Rush Limbaugh’s question with a question of my

own: Are you fucking kidding me? You need that explained to you?

Aaron Harrison muttering “Fuck that n****r” in regard to Frank Kaminsky was a

news story for a day. However, as a commentator on a popular sports site eloquently

complains “If a white kid had said this there would be weeks of hearings and news and

expulsions. If the white kid on a winning team had said this, we would be looking at him

being ejected from the tournament and this would dominate and supersede all other

coverage.” Yep. And if a high school on the rez wants to retain it's R****** mascot,

that's fine. And if a Hebrew school wants to call itself the K***s, or a school in

Chinatown the C****s, or if I want to found a charter school with a pizza-tossing mascot

called the Wop (see, that's the one I don't have to star out) I can.

Because repeating, ad nauseum, that this situation is too complicated to pin down with

any sort of ground rules has proven totally useless, the moral equivalent of continuing to

floor a car that’s been stuck in the mud for two hundred years. So let’s get glib. Here’s

the rule: the potentially offended group at which the slur is directed gets to use it, if they

want, and nobody else.

Is that a double-standard? Yep. Is it fair? Technically, no, but at worst it’s simply

keeping people from saying something they shouldn’t be saying anyhow.

Just like you said, Snyd, it's all about context. And in the context of a society that still

has a long way to go in its race relations, I think we can all agree that any nickname

following the rubric of “(Color)skins” is probably a lousy idea.

In the words of a fan tailgating recently outside of FedExField, "Politics and football

don't mix. There's a lot going on out in the world every day, and so football should be the

place where we don't have to talk politics." Totally.

Which is exactly why it’s time for Dan Snyder to kill this one-sided political

conversation by changing the team’s name.

Author bio: Adam Phillips currently splits time between Boise, where he makes a living

teaching and coaching at-risk junior high students, and Rockaway Beach, Oregon, where

he doesn't. Both venues are shared with his all-around impressive wife and pair of small

strepitous sons. He thanks you profusely for allowing him to participate in your mental

dialogue. You can currently see more of his sports-related work at Blue Monday

Review and Blotterature.

The ‘Cannibalistic’ Person-centered

Worldview of the Human Species

By Edwin L. Young, PhD

As a boy, I raised chickens for my family to eat and to sell a few to neighbors

now and then. I noticed that, when a chick was sickly or wounded, the other chicks

would peck at it until they had killed it. This became a sort of metaphor for what I was

observing in my friends. When a friend was weak, or an was an outsider, deformed,

somewhat mentally retarded, was of a different race, or was just vulnerable and easily

hurt, my male friends would treat them cruelly, would ridicule them, and even totally

exclude them. My friends seemed to lack empathy for whatever kind of weakness or

difference they saw in others. The bigger, stronger, or more influential boys would take

the dominate role in this behavior and their group insiders would follow and do the

same. I noticed that without regard or caring for the hurt they were inflicting they

seemed to enjoy depersonalizing those others and enjoy treating them in cruel and

deprecatory ways. They really seemed to take delight in hurting those ‘others’ with

impunity. Occasionally, if a deformed insider was able to rise to leadership, they

became the most vicious of all.

Later in life, I began to see the behavior of people in capitalist and free enterprise

endeavors from a perspective analogous to what I had seen in my childhood and

adolescence, in others words there were different forms of depersonalization of

competitors and even in a disguised way their customers. The lack of empathy toward

and requirement to exploit the weak, foreign, or almost any outsider that I saw in my

youth was like a metaphor for what capitalism and free enterprise demanded of insiders

if they were to survive.

Then I began to see that the way public schools were structured was also a

formalized way of mimicking, continuing, and perpetuating this kind of capitalist

worldview with its way of shaping personalities and behavior. With respect to

instructing in schools, students striving to make the best grade or good enough to pass,

and to how teachers evaluated students, it all mimicked the essence of capitalism. I saw

athletics as an even worse example of the nature of capitalism at work. There, in sports,

utality was idolized, praised to the point that it almost seemed like a form of worship

of brutality, winning, and gloating over winning against their defeated opponents.

Oddly, even churches seemed, while somewhat formally andmodestly, to exhibit

this same behavior toward those in other churches or of other faiths. If a person

belonged to a different denomination, they might be seen as an infidel and likely going

to hell. Those with no religion were regarded as damned and surely going to hell.

Everywhere I looked in the life around me, I seemed to be seeing various forms

of the same kinds of capitalist exploitative or ostracizing the non-capitalist

worldviews. Everywhere I looked, I saw ruthlessly competitive personalities but they

were disguised as amiable and even benefactors. In social gatherings of friends, I

typically witnessed one-upmanship behavior between each other. Extending this

perspective, I noticed species in the animal world exhibited similar

behaviors. Typically, their victims often suffered even worse fate.

I began to wonder if this way of being, these kinds ill treatment of each other,

was simply written into the genes of humans and animals. Primates almost all seemed to

exhibit the same capacity for ruthlessness toward the outsider or even toward one of

their own who was misbehaving. Perhaps this way of relating to ‘the unfamiliar,

outsider, or weak other’ was a pervasive condition of the whole of human and animal


What I had read about Jesus in the Bible had, from my readings as a youth,

seemed to be in opposition to this point of view or way of being. However, I did see

that Jesus denounced select groups of non believer humans if they were kings, the rich,

the powerful and ruthless, those in the military, or just the run of the mill sinners. These

were all denounced as faithless sinners whom he called to repent of their evil ways and

believe in Him or else they would go to hell. So, in other words, this would be the fate

of those who were, in some ways, nonbeliever, sinning, outsiders. According to Him,

they were supposed to be, at the very least, denounced as unbelievers and outsiders and

they were to be avoided. Especially one must avoid being influenced by those types as

those persons, ’in particular, were to be regarded as intrinsically evil and might cause

you to go to hell as well.

However, in later life, as I began to restructure institutions like prisons, mental

hospitals, and programs for the ghettoized poor, I came to see that it was the structures

and systems of institutions and societies the world over that were generating these

negative behaviors and negative perspectives toward and ill treatment of the different,

the misbehaving other or just to an ‘outsider.’

When I changed the structures of these institutions so as to bring out humane

behaviors in both the staff and patients, both the guards and the incarcerated, and within

the very poor communities, they all did, in fact, change to becoming kind and prosocial

and tended toward behaviors that were interpersonally, mutually enhancing.

When I had studied counseling in graduate school, I found that caring for the

individual disadvantaged, mentally ill, and deviant others was taught and

encouraged. On the other hand, this caring was directed toward ‘individuals’ while their

pathologically engendering structures and systems were never addressed. Later on in

life, I began to deeply feel that this view of and relating to persons was tragically

missing the most essential factors, namely that it was those structures and systems that

had been and were engendering all of these forms of pathology. Otherwise, It had to be

that humans were just irrevocably bound, genetically, to exhibit dog eat dog, insensitive,

depersonalized, socially encouraged and condoned competitive, down-putting, defeating

behaviors toward ‘the others who happened to become their targets.’ I saw that humans

were actually expected to exhibit these kinds of behaviors and if you did not succeed at

doing so yourself, you, your own self, were bound to become the loser, the victim of

such discriminatory attacks. The universal, unspoken but unconsciously accepted,

dictum of societies the world over seemed to be: “adopt this way of being or become a

victim yourself.”

Nevertheless, I continued to believe in, and somewhat futilely tried to promote in

others, the natural systems philosophy that I had accidentally derived form that my

structural reform efforts with institutions. Those reform experiences were what my

natural systems philosophy had evolved from. To me, inevitably, this philosophy has

evolved from those initial and successful restructuring experiences and should be

generalized to other aspects of societies. When I shared and promoted this philosophy

with others, I discovered that it almost universally and inevitably fell on ears. Those

ears had been deafened by the global, dominant worldviews. Only a tiny few of my

fellow humans espoused my philosophy of the way the world worked.

I now see that all human ways of defeating fellow humans, all failures or

ineffectuality of positive human enterprizes, all wars against other nations or between

tribes, are all result of this pervasive defect, not in the human genes, but in the world’s

cultures. The natures of all but a very tiny few of fellow humans will see and

understand this perspective. From the beginnings of our first small civilizations through

the long process of civilizations’ evolution into the present and even unto the

foreseeable future, this horrible human stigma, or stain will remain its same unfortunate

trend. It will continue until we see and understand and radically alter the causes of our

eventual and inevitable extinction of our own and all life on earth.

I cannot see a massive, population uprising that will encompass a saving change

so that a some kind of ‘Natural Systems, Structural’ philosophy becomes the dominant

worldview. Unless such a philosophy and its practical effectuation, with its

accompanying sweeping changes in humans personal, interpersonal, and societal

behaviors comes about, there may be nothing else that can save us from the next mass


Visual Poetry by Tim Lewis

Author bio: Tim Lewis is a Senior at Occidental College in Los Angeles.

Majoring in Critical Theory and Social Justice, Tim is passionate about

finding the organic moments where Continental philosophy can clarify

and/or positively affect the social justice issues of the present. In his time as

the lead student editor/managing editor of CTSJ: Journal of Undergraduate

Research, Tim has published two volumes of CTSJ-- cementing its place as

the national standard bearer in its field. Tim's poetry has been recently

published in the Fall 2015 Volume of Occidental College's The Fang

Magazine and the Spring 2016 Volume of Occidental College's FEAST

Literary Magazine and has been selected by Cherry Castle Publishing for

inclusion in their forthcoming Nelson Mandela anthology, Songs for a

Passbook Torch (Summer 2017).

M Train of Thoughts

By Alison Ross (Book Review)

Trains, by their very nature, have a pointed purpose: Arriving at select destinations

in an timely, efficient manner. Their trajectory may not always be linear, but they

must follow a charted path, or risk jumping tracks. Patti Smith's latest tome of non-­fiction,

M Train, does not really mimic a train's trajectory in the sense that it does

not adhere to a pre-­‐planned path. Instead, it develops naturally as it goes, and takes

many tangled twists and turns along the way.

The title, then, is meant metaphorically: the M Train is what gets Patti to her desired

destination, which is a place of peace. This place does, of course, exist tangibly, and

it conjures a mystical serenity for her. But to say, as some have, that M Train is as

captivating as Just Kids would be an overstatement, in my view. Just Kids was utterly

astounding in its elegant sparseness and intriguing glimpse into coveted 1970s NYC


M Train is beautifully wrought, to be sure, but it's a more sober affair than Just Kids.

Where Just Kids focused on Smith's life with Robert Mapplethorpe at the Chelsea

Hotel, as well as their development as artists and the downtown art scene, M Train

focuses on Smith's later life with her husband, the late Fred Sonic Smith, and their

children. It also focuses on her current reclusive existence. The narrative is loose

and jumps back and forth in time and space.

Patti's train never derails, of course, but always follows its own sense of direction –

much like Patti's career itself. This is a meditation not only on love and loss, but on

finding one's own way, and on relishing solitude as the only true mode of being.


By Scott Wordsman

Author bio: Scott Wordsman is currently an MFA candidate at William Paterson

University. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Thrush, Slipstream, Spry,

Main Street Rag, The Puritan, The Quotable, Mad Swirl, and others. He lives in Jersey

City and edits for Map Literary.

Top 40

No life

is ever quite

artless––says the sport

utility vehicle

dealer, says the sport

utility vehicle

owner, his keys

gleaming, radio

tuned to the

palpable numb

the hive-minded

drum. This kind

of living

might be the bestkept


in plain clothing.

In nice clothing

you drive

your children

around and

around and

without or with

them, you have,

as I have, come

already wedded,

body prepackaged,

mouth a gasp

of ash, pressed

to the ground.

Prayer for the god satellite

I could

fill a piebald


with slanted

ways to say

the same


up late nd

out early

or out

late nd up



clouds &


out the

moon the

planet shifts

and spins

I never

find you



By John Alexander

For quite some time, I’ve been wondering: why are there so many people in China? I

think I have an answer, but let me give you a little background first.

I was reading the other day that the population of China is just over 1.3 billion

people. The U.S. population, in comparison, is slightly more than 323 million- and that’s

a big difference. So big that you have to ask: “How did it happen?” Especially so,

because although China has 1.3 billion people, if it weren’t for the famines, there could

have been even more!

Research shows that between 108 B.C. and 1911, China has had - at least - 1,828

famines. The death tolls of the most devastating famines are staggering. The number of

dead - in millions - of the greatest ones are 60, 45, 20-40, 9.5-13, 5 and 3. Further,

between 1959 and 1961 - depending on the source - between 15 and 45 million additional

people died.

Finally, for good measure, I’ll throw in the Cultural Revolution, which resulted in

over 1.5 million people killed.

So, let’s return to the question of “…why are there so many people in China?”

Well, as strange as it may sound, the answer is right there in front of our eyes - in

person and on television- they’re wearing masks! Yes! There are so many people in

China because so many of them wear masks.

Now, you may be asking, “How does that tie in?”

To answer that, let me ask a question. “What is one way - in today’s day and age,

short of violence and war - that people die besides old age or being in an accident?”

Well, the answer is - they get infected by somebody else? Right?

The tie-in between 1.3 billion people - and counting- and being infected is the

mask. Because so many people wear them, fewer and fewer people are infecting others,

which, in turn, results - over time - in a reduced mortality rate, and, thus, more people!

Simple enough, isn’t it? So, blame it on a little-bitty mask. Imagine that?

And, with that, I’ll say goodbye - until next time - from the bowels of unscientific


Author bio: After spending years in New York City, John Alexander has temporarily

relocated to the hamlet of Getzville, New York. He lives - and writes - there in the

company of his two favorite pets, “Bunny” and “Roma.” Most recently, John Alexander

has appeared in Straightjackets Literary Magazine (for a real-time email exchange, called

“Between Friends”:

starting on the afternoon of 9-11 and continuing for a year) and Hackwriters: The

International Writers Magazine (U.K.). He also co-authored the online novel, entitled, “A

Vow of Silence.” (

Living Alone and Loving It

By Lynn White

I’m living alone and loving it,

that I am.

I had a good ‘un though,

but wouldn’t want to train another.

Takes years to train ‘em.

That couple last night,

what a one she was.

You could see who was boss

in that marriage.

Ain't it funny that

you picked up on it as well!

I don’t like the shows, though.

That magician was terrible.

Worst I've seen.

Mind you, magicians are old hat,

In my opinion.

Still, better than sitting on our own

watching the telly.

I think we only watch it out of boredom,

being on our own.

I wouldn’t want another, though.

Well, I had such a good ‘un,

it would’t be fair.

Couldn’t believe it when she said:

“I told my first that I’d divorce him

if he got a pot belly

and look what I’ve ended up with!”

Must have hurt him!

No equal partnership that!

You could see she was boss.

Fancy you picking up on it as well.

Must have hurt him.

Living alone and loving it, I am.

Wouldn’t be fair to have another.

I’d be making comparisons.

He was so meticulous.

If he was taking something to bits

he’d make a drawing first

so he could put it back together.

No wouldn’t be fair.

Fancy us both picking up

on that woman last night.

Yes, you can see who’s boss

in that marriage.

No, wouldn’t be fair to have another.

Living alone and loving it,

that’s what I am.

Author bio: Lynn White lives in north Wales. Her work is influenced by issues of social

justice and events, places and people she has known or imagined. She is especially

interested in exploring the boundaries of dream, fantasy and reality. Her poem 'A Rose

For Gaza' was shortlisted for the Theatre Cloud 'War Poetry for Today' competition 2014

and has since appeared in several journals and anthologies. Poems have also recently

been published in anthologies including - Harbinger Asylum’s 'To Hold A Moment Still';

Stacey Savage’s ‘We Are Poetry, an Anthology of Love poems’; Community Arts Ink’s

‘Reclaiming Our Voices’; Vagabond Press’, ‘The Border Crossed Us’; ‘Civilised Beasts’

from Weasel Press; ‘Alice In Wonderland’ by Silver Birch Press and a number of rather

excellent online and print journals.

Two poems

Excerpts from h.e/s.he scatology in 315 wor./d sec./tions coauthored

by Daniel Y. Harris and Irene Koronas

gabriele dannunzio and smiley by Daniel Y. Harris

epithets il vate decadence and somersaulted swings towards naturalism and

purity in the wake of the silly nothing of here o mi confession and dead from

the waist down comprises a yellow circle with two black dots employing

a colon and a right parenthesis to form sequences variant spelling smilie is

not as common as the y spelling noe the wak weight of dismiis variant

spelling smilie is not as common as the y spelling distinguished by such

agile graceil libro delle vergini dealing in radiant language with the peasant

life of the author native province intermezzo di rime coffee mugs

tshirts bumper stickers and many other items emblazoned with the symbol

and the phrase have a happy day with your runic symbol your nordic maybe

later gaelic symbolic special trope ertjnasfnlefkwifvskef gluten heavy with

cliche as dough this black sun of renaissance bishops we as among or when

you decide to be the master race even when you cook the new restriction on

schreeded beef smiley is loufrani points to early cave paintings found in

france for her culture of vintage cliches of a rats ass that simply does not

give a shit about the association cemented in the band bomb your apathy will

be judged pathetic you will be sentenced to death so pick the clip intentional

orthographic joke but this interpretation of the punctuation is disputed bun

the dead bodies of ruin burn any chance of return but this too is the f among

a rejected him as a perverter of public morals intentional orthographic joke

such as clothing various separatist groups throughout the balkans smiley had

acquired secondary meaning or that it is otherwise a protectable trademark

for epigrap hyultra nationalist and irredentist views to make alliances with

walmart sued online parodists home decoration perfumery plush stationer

had the same angular letter shapes suited hailed by fascists as duce del


dis like and simi lar by Irene Koronas

he feels distaste for or hostility toward his mistress death distress always dis

likes his death less aversion to life and those care bear blankets

helioseismology doilies his mother crochets madly his pivot tip toes through

garden planets molder in parenthesis another reason to feel cool death wrap

rubbery strands about his bob along between his legs the swing tilts to and

fro dis like eats pear and straight boat buckle aftershock flares pimple

sunspots on his nose his arm wrestle match between dis and flux he ropes

photons then gives boarding pass to neighbors like simi lar considers her

gleam cloud asset devotee daily wit full expressions lift his orbital fox trot

hostility groove performance in eleven ignore paperwork eclipses door mat

ascension rebate coupons she mails numbered slips in cardboard boxes to

old country landmark she wishes to travel blows pink ink letters address

night bus rides her stride right do right stability flowers yellow pray play her

chance morning run through front alley she cannot be his dis like her wage

swerve enjoys similar lemon drops dissolve in his mouth rain and wind

gridlock gate gallop goats dance frogs jump simi lar holds fuchsia polka dot

umbrella her red boots splash his black attire his long cashmere coat and top

hat something else in his flat line devastation marble blocks roll like dice dis

does what he does best he bets all his guts on one figure to preserve a place

for waiting becomes her party pantry ingredients against windsurfing fruit

and nut pie together an illusion about life lily lots touching objects majestic

makers bake them til done til tally tells him to shut up muddy landscapes

fade his obstinacy ignore oblivion blue plaid shirt his dark puddle pup on a

lease similar to feigning pain under eyelashes she looks at the nape of his

neck and she clutches her pocketbook

Editor’s Note: Daniel Y. Harris writes: “h.e/s.he is an experimental manuscript

comprised of 50 (25 by Irene, 25 by me) unpunctuated prose poems engaged with the

concept of male and female relationships at the archetypal, metaphorical and physical

level. We take our characters from the movies, television, philosophy, poetry, music,

psychoanalysis and art.”

Author bio: Daniel Y. Harris is the author of The Rapture of Eddy Daemon

(forthcoming from BlazeVOX 2016), The Underworld of Lesser Degrees

(NYQ Books, 2015), Esophagus Writ (with Rupert M. Loydell, The Knives

Forks and Spoons Press, 2014), Hyperlinks of Anxiety (Červená Barva

Press, 2013), The New Arcana (with John Amen, New York Quarterly

Books, 2012), Paul Celan and the Messiah’s Broken Levered Tongue (with

Adam Shechter, Červená Barva Press, 2010; picked by The Jewish Forward

as one of the 5 most important Jewish poetry books of 2010) and Unio

Mystica (Cross-Cultural Communications, 2009). Some of his poetry,

experimental writing, art, and essays have been published in BlazeVOX,

Denver Quarterly, E·ratio, European Judaism, Exquisite Corpse, The New

York Quarterly, Notre Dame Review, In Posse Review, The Pedestal

Magazine, Poetry Magazine, Poetry Salzburg Review and Stride. He is the

Editor-in-Chief of X-Peri.

Author bio: Irene Koronas is the author of Turtle Grass (Muddy River

Books, 2014), Emily Dickinson (Propaganda Press, 2010), Pentakomo

Cyprus (Červená Press, 2009), Zero Boundaries (Červená Press, 2008) and

Self Portrait Drawn From Many (Ibbetson Street Press, 2007). Some of her

poetry, experimental writing and visual art have been published in Clarion,

Counterexample Poetics, Divine Dirt, E·ratio, Free Verse, Haiku Hut, Index

Poetry, Lynx, Lummox, Pop Art, Posey, Right Hand Pointing, Presa,

Spreadhead, Stride and Unblog. She has exhibited her visual art at the

Tokyo Art Museum Japan, the Henri IV Gallery, the Ponce Art Gallery, the

Gallery at Bentley College and the M & M Gallery. She is the Managing

Editor at X-Peri.

White Duke/Blackstar (CD

Review) by Alison Ross

David Bowie died like he lived: in dynamic fashion. After his quiet start as a troubadourstyle

singer, he then materialized into one of glam-rock's most visible and

audacious pioneers. He was always one to metamorphose modes, both visually and

musically. By the end of his life, David Bowie had accumulated enough personae to

finally just relax into what felt "right" for him. Not that his multifarious personae were

necessarily inauthentic emanations of himself, just that on “Blackstar,” he seems to have

shed any pretense toward persona. Perhaps his looming death vividly articulated for him

the raw, loose style and shape of the songs. Certainly, Bowie does not sound "tortured"

on this album, but, rather, bravely embracing of the inevitable, and even making light of

it on songs such as "Girl Loves Me," where first there is a type of jabberwocky at play

(apparently a portmanteau, actually, of Clockwork Orange-speak and 70s London gay

slang), followed by an insistent inquiry, in an ironic tone, "Where the fuck did Monday

go?" echoing, of course, our frustrating passivity in the face of passing time. It's a wry

reflection on his own mortality. On songs like "Lazarus," his "mortality meditation" is

even more stark: "Look up here/I'm in heaven/I've got scars that can't be seen/I've got

drama, can't be stolen/Everybody knows me now." But then a bit later he seems to

celebrate his "freedom" in death - freedom from existential concerns, for one: You know,

I'll be free/Just like that bluebird/Now ain't that just like me?" His use of the ubiquitous

"bluebird" symbol and his vernacular employment of "ain't" hint at a playful resignation

to death. The video for "Lazarus" is far from playful, however, and is wrenching to

watch, considering how close to death he really was during the production of it. It's as

though we are watching him die, as he writhes around in a kind of dystopian hospital bed,

adorned with dirty rags over his eyes, and inhabiting a gaunt frame. “Blackstar's"

mingling of freeform jazz and asymmetrical structures with more orthodox rock moods

make it a freshly captivating listen from start to finish. It's Bowie's goodbye letter to us,

and while the fact itself is painful, it's a transcendent sonic experience. We are indebted

to Bowie for sharing with us his dynamic life, which we vicariously lived and were

titillated and transformed by. Even his death was a vigorously creative affair.

Stuffed Girl: A Recipe (SATIRE) By Zinn Adeline


“How difficult they make it for us to become women,

when becoming poultry is what that really means!”

- Helene Cixous

YIELD: Serves 1 to Everyone

HANDS ON TIME: 30 seconds to as long as He wants

TOTAL TIME: ___ to Forever

SPECIAL EQUIPMENT: scale, tweezers, plugs, mirror, cheesecloth

WATCH OUT FOR: Some say this dish is leaky. As Leaky a Vessel as was ever made,

they say. But I don’t feel leaky. I feel so full.


• 1 entire grade A Vagina; equal parts virgin/whore; make sure the whore hasn’t

been trimmed off; about 750 grams; easily available at your local grocer

• 2 Tits; organic is tastier and easier to work with but imitation meat will do if

necessary; use tweezers to dehair

• 1 quart She Blood; check your specialty grocer

• 75 grams pink curing salt

• 3 Holes; no wholes. It won’t work if you buy wholes instead.

• Optional: 1 Clitoris; plump or angular; season to taste


• Let ingredients come to room temperature before trying to clean or pluck. Time

varies depending on weight and dualism ratios.

• Scrub. Scour. Shine.

• Working one lobe at a time, using tweezers, plugs and mirror, split meat in two,

separating the virgin and whore lobes, and any other visible dichotomies.

• Remove all hair.

• Combine blood, meat, salt, holes, optional clitoris.

• Stir. Shake. Slap. Sprinkle.

• Slit. Slice. Stain. Scar.

• Simmer. Steam. Scold. Strain.

• Slide. Smear. Spread. Slather.


1. Stuff its holes, stuff and stuff for days, so it can get rich and fat and delicious.

And delicate. A delicacy in some cultures. Despised in others. So many others.

Crowds of others.

2. I am delicate. Then despised. The most delicate you ever put in your______.

3. Stuffed. As a turkey. Unable to leak, give, ooze. Oh, to ooze…

4. Go ahead, take a bite. You’ll see how full I am. Vast. Bite and bite and get

nowhere. I’ll put you right the fuck to sleep. Just one stuffing and it’s done.

5. No, not like a turkey. That is just another false trope. Turkeys don’t actually make

you sleepy.

6. They tell me i have at least three holes. And it took awhile for me to be done.

7. I’m still undercooked, actually.

8. Maybe like foie gras. Goose, perhaps. Yeah, i’m like a fatty goose liver.

9. Silly goose girl.

10. No, the liver of a fattened Mulard duck. Yeah, i’m a domesticated duck hybrid. A

male Muscovey duck artificially inseminated into a female Pekin.

11. Peck.

12. Bred just for stuffing—they have a mouth and an ass and, the artificial

insemination has to go somewhere. So two stuffed holes and one plugged up.

13. A fattened, buttery live liver. Pretty damn close.

14. But, no, not a duck either. i misremembered.

15. Peck.

16. If i were foie gras, i’d be pâté. Pâtés are incredibly inconsistent. The ingredients

always vary. I don’t remember them all. So many ingredients, so many


17. But they all have that familiar texture. Ground and minced. And perfectly


18. A terrine, probably. Because i’d need another layer of unrecognizable fat that i

simmered in, cooked down, then served up still in that layer of fat.

19. Enclosed. Incased. Held together. All of my ingredients, all of the stuffing, held

together by a thin layer of slippery fat.

20. And then they slice into me and spread me on homemade crostini.

21. Mother makes a damn good crunchy fresh crostini.

22. Peck.


• I’m finished with a nice cognac gastrique.

• You know, one more layer. Intricate. So you don’t forget.

• I forgot.

• But they say i’m delicious.

• A portion for you. And you and you. And all the others. And the others.


• A leaky vessel or a sinking ship. Same.

• No. Not the same.

• A vessel is something that holds. Collects. Protects. A vessel functions. If it leaks,

it lets the stuff out. Oozes. Gush. To gush, no. I’m more like

• a sinking ship. My vessel does not function. It has wholes holes and holes and the

stuff is coming in, a flood, through all my wholes holes, so many fucking holes,

they multiply.

• So many holes, and the stuffing, it is sinking me. Stuffed. Sunk.

• To leak would be a luxury. To leak would mean I am not from out, without, but

that I give.

• Liver Liveher.

• Ha… who can clean this shit up.


• listen. Listen. LISTEN.

• Who, me? No, that must have been someone else. Someone who died long ago.

Or someone who never was. A stranger you never met. But not I.

• I iiiiii

• i am not a tidy container. i don’t specialize. You can’t actually consume i.

Author bio: Zinn Adeline writes and loves in Portland Oregon, and is the Creative

Engineer at Corporeal Writing. Her work can be found in Blunderbuss, Cactus Heart and


Have They Run Out of

Political Correctness Yet?


By Alison Ross

Warning: Politically Incorrect tirade in progress. Proceed at your own risk. Mind may

be opened and possibly altered upon perusing this polemic. Viewpoints may be expanded

or obliterated after careful consideration of the contents therein. Alternatively, mind may

explode at the very idea that a self-professed progressive editor does not hew to all

proscribed and orthodox lefty ideologies, especially when said ideologies are toxic and


So. The literary internet nearly imploded in early April. Did you hear about it? Granted,

the literary internet is always quasi-imploding over SOMETHING, usually some

perceived violation of the tyrannical tenets of political correctness. Sometimes, these

implosions are justifiable (and therefore not emanating from politically correct

ideologies). Take, for example, when that white male dude submitted a poem to a literary

magazine under an Asian name to prove a point. I don't think I need to elaborate on why

that was crossing the threshold of what should be deemed acceptable comportment in a

literary context.

This latest combustible controversy also concerns Asian culture, interestingly enough.

More specifically, Chinese food. However, unlike the situation where the Anglo writer

co-opted Asian identity, this latest bruhaha is entirely, egregiously unjustified.

Now, of course, I will be branded a bigot for this tirade - and likely pelted with every

other epithet the PC culture warriors can conjure. So be it. I don't relish the tarnishing of

my character, but I cannot control how people (mis)perceive me.

So, as you have probably figured out by now, I am not Asian. (I am Caucasian, but I

guess the Asian part of that word doesn't count.) But yes, it's true that I have not

experienced the heinous marginalization of being Asian in the US. I have, of course,

experienced other types of heinous oppression, owing to the fact that I have boobs and a

vulva. But this isn't about me.

So anyway. The controversy in question concerns a piece of doggerel written by food

writer and doggerel expert Calvin Trillin for the New Yorker, entitled, "Have They Run

Out of Provinces Yet?" The piece is about the bewildering array of culinary choices from

the various provinces of China. It is written in the voice of a snobby foodie who is always

trying to keep ahead of the culinary curve - trying to maintain pace with ever-evolving

ethnic food trends. The piece could have been written about any type of victuals, but as

Chinese cuisine is in vogue, Trillin adopted that particular food for his ditty.

The problem is - what basically broke the internet - some people missed the parody.

Naturally, one could argue (as some have) that the parody was not developed and

therefore the poem is "shitty." But if some people "got" the parody, does the parody fail?

For them, it does not. For those who didn't get the parody, the poem clearly fails. But this

still doesn't discount the poem's intention as parody.

One could argue - and there are these very arguments splattered about the internets - that

the poem's intention is nullified if it is misconstrued. And I would say if the intention was

more widely misunderstood than understood, then this argument has weight.

But how do we measure whether the poem's intention was more misunderstood than

understood? If we measure it by the number of negative articles written about it on the

internet, then we could say that the poem was more widely misconstrued. But if we

measure it by the quantity of comments negating the content these articles, then it would

seem many more actually grasped the poem's parodic purpose.

Some (non-Asian) commenters have cautioned that non-Asians should defer to offended

Asians in this case. I do see this point very clearly. But I have also read comments by -

and spoken directly to - Asians who were NOT offended by the poem, and even found it

humorous and understood its intentions. So which Asian voices have more authority - the

ones who were offended, or the ones who were not? Indeed, to whom exactly should we

defer? Maybe we should defer to our own conscience? After all, the offended - of

whatever ethnicity - cannot speak for everyone, just as the non-offended - of whatever

ethnicity - cannot speak for everyone.

All of this conscientious contemplation leads me back to my original premise: That

Trillin's poem is NOT bigoted, that its purpose was pure parody, and that it even succeeds

as parody.

Now, that said, if you take the poem at face value, then yes, it could be construed as

flippantly caricaturing Chinese culture. And yes, it's true too that it doesn't matter that

Trillin happens to be an expert about food from many cultures, and intimately

knowledgeable about Chinese cuisine. It doesn't give him free reign to insult other


But, as we have established, he did not insult other cultures. He wrote a poem about food

and foodies in a playful way.

I think that the fact that so many misapprehended the purpose doesn't so much reflect on

the poem's "failure" as parody as it does on our overly paranoid politically correct

culture, which seeks to locate offensive intention in even the most mundane matters.

Political correctness is basically the policing of language from a decidedly leftist

viewpoint, and that ironically results in exactly the same thing as right wing

authoritarianism: Squashing the principles of free expression.

I am sure I have lapsed into political correctness plenty of times, but I do strive to keep

my linguistic interactions authentic. Free of bigotry, of course, but authentic in the sense

that they evolve from an internal ethical imperative, not because I want to "fit in" and

conform to certain progressive ideologies. I am fervently progressive, but progressive in

my own way, and this means veering from orthodox progressive principles when I find

them to be limiting. I find political correctness to be stifling and rigid. It militarizes

linguistic interactions.

Political correctness is not progressive, ultimately. Many progressives adopt politically

correct ideals, and certainly some good things have evolved from politically correct

individuals. Indeed, some might call a group like Black Lives Matter politically correct. I

would not, but I am sure some of the individuals within the movement can be politically

correct. Most progressive movements have politically correct members - and I would say

those members typically are buzzkills to the movement.

Let's be clear: Doggerel is meant to be playful. It is meant, even, to be bad. The fact that

so many are lamenting Trillin's poem's "shittiness" are also missing the point. Doggerel

does not have pretentions to being high art. It's light, it's silly, it's fun. It's the perfect

vehicle to deliver a parody of food culture.

If anything, the poem is damning of bourgeois Anglo foodie-hipsters and their own

hollow bigotry toward other ethnicities, reducing those ethnicities to food-tourism. And if

anything, the poem elevates Chinese cuisine and culture to loftier heights than previously.

I am pretty sure most people who read the poem were not aware of the spectacular and

staggering diversity of Chinese food.

I have listened to all sides of the debate over Trillin's poem. I have (ahem) digested those,

and then re-read the poem from those different perspectives. I have done all of this and

can still only conclude that the poem is a silly satire of foodies. I still only conclude that

just because some people are offended by something doesn't mean that that something

contains offensive content.

What I have found again and again in the cloisters of the chronically politically correct is

that often, they can be the most smugly divisive, stoking more fires than

extinguishing. What I would say to them is, we have to see every issue on its own merits

and not have knee jerk reactionary responses when none are warranted. We must do this

for the sake of communicating clearly so that TRUE bigotry in all its forms can be

eradicated, or at the very least, minimized.

We - as humans of multifarious races and a baffling variety of voices - must be able to

reference the regions of Africa in verse without fear of damnation. We must be able to

poetically dissect the merits (or lack thereof) of haggis in Scotland without being spit

upon by the severely sanctimonious. We must be able to pen platitudes about Native

American spirituality, or script screeds about the funky taste of some Korean food, or

frame frivolous ditties around the multiplicity of religious denominations in the United

States, or scream songs about the delectable dishes of Latin America - all without being

on the receiving end of ill-spent ire among those who want to find offense in the most

innocuous corners.

We must be able to do all of this in a satirical, parodic, or respectfully lighthearted

manner, without regressive retribution. But if we do and get excoriated by the language

police, then we might as well summon the ghost of Joseph McCarthy and have a big

party in his honor.

Gaia’s Blues (Polemic/Satire)

By George Held

I am so tired of Earthers neglecting me, their mother Gaia, by doing the most wasteful,

polluting, and damaging things to foul their nest. I am that nest. And for all the comfort I

have provided in the form of a temperate atmosphere – neither too hot nor too cold except

at the poles or the Equator – the possibility to grow their own food and prosper when well

organized into social units, too many Earthers are abusing the reasonable limits that I

have placed on their ecosystem.

Yes, a few enlightened Earthers live simply, eating locally grown food, shunning

products in packaging that can’t be recycled, and composting their leftovers, which they

reduce to a minimum. These Archearthers, as I call them after “archangels,” belong to or

support conservation organizations, drive cars with good fuel economy, and consciously

behave in ways that limit human despoliation of the ecosystem. Some also practice the

most needed method of reducing the stresses and strains on their planet: birth control.

Despite the efforts of dutiful Archearthers to reproduce at a rate that will only

replace themselves – two children – or reduce population – one child or none – too many

Earthers, through either conscious or unconscious practice, breed at a rate that will grow

their numbers, thereby increasing Earth’s –Gaia’s, my – burden to feed, house, and clothe


And so I have embarked on a campaign of wreaking violent weather on the planet

to try to warn and chasten Earthers: either they rein in their ruinous ways or they will

perish as a result of Earth’s defensive intemperance, that is, Earth’s violent attempts to

save itself. It’s not my fault that Earthers, in pursuing their so-called elevated lifestyle,

have poured greenhouse gases like CO2 into the atmosphere and caused inordinate global

warming. Their very own actions – all that factory smoke and those stifling motor-vehicle

emissions – have triggered my climate mechanisms and created ever more frequent and

violent tornados, hurricanes, and tsunamis, droughts and floods of biblical proportions

(even worse, as I was around back in Old Testament times too and know the difference),

and, yet to come, species-killing summer heat and winters colder than meat lockers.

A good sample of my corrective power was the tropical storm that Earthers,

laughably, called “Sandy,” though it did wreck a lot of sandy beaches in the northeastern

United States. This terrific storm, like “Katrina” in 2005, was a strong hint to Earthers to

move their dwellings back from the shoreline or their rebuilt houses and boardwalks

would be visited with seasonal destruction. But I see that human effort has been

misplaced in rebuilding structures on the coast where they will be vulnerable to my next

punishing storm.

You’d think that at least one of the world’s great religions would have begun

preaching conservation and birth control, but no, they still believe mankind is supposed

to exercise dominion over the Earth; and to call for fewer children, smaller families,

would be anathema to religions that seek to dominate the world. At least, unbelieving

China has tried to keep its huge population under control, with a one-child per family

limit. Meanwhile, Catholics, Hindus, and Muslims breed like rabbits, adding to the

planet’s stress. How unhappy will be the populations at current sea level after the oceans

have risen another few feet with the climbing temperature melting glaciers and land ice

near the poles.

It was of course the great divine and demographer Thomas Robert Malthus, in An

Essay on the Principle of Population, who, two hundred years ago, argued unequivocally

that “the power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to

produce subsistence for man.” He believed that the “misery” caused by famine and

disease would keep the population in balance with Earth’s carrying capacity. That was

before the revolution in agriculture made huge harvests of crops and livestock possible,

reducing Malthus to a figure of ridicule. But now again his views deserve credence, for

soaring temperatures and fields parched by drought or flooded by storms will diminish

mankind’s ability to provide sustenance for the world’s increasing billions of people.

Added to the misery Malthus foresaw is the misery triggered by a population whose

numbers are out of control and out of balance in the wake of Gaia’s punishing efforts to

defend herself. Famine and disease will necessarily be among my weapons.

Meantime, corporate greed and rapacity continue to lead the assault on the Earth.

In the interest of growing their profits, industries continue to exploit the planet’s

resources: they are committing terracide. Their scientists and executives are terrarists. It

was only fifty years ago that the chemical industry rose in fury against a brave scientist

named Rachel Carson, whose book Silent Spring carefully laid out the case against

pesticides. Every time another Carson or Malthus publishes an argument against the

harmful policies of the status quo, corporate and political interests rise to attack them.

The Archearthers, try as they might, lack the power and money of the corporatists and

their advocates, like the infamous Koch brothers, so I can only conclude that their assault

on the world will continue. It’s already too late to prevent the vertiginous future of

drought and flood, fire and ice. People will hate me for my violence, but Archearthers

will know I had no choice, and they will defend me. For they know that human beings

must simplify, not further complicate, their lives, must mend and reuse, not discard and

manufacture, their garments and implements, must reduce their numbers in order to grow

harmoniously with nature. In the end, I will save us through attrition, or we shall perish.

Author bio: George Held, a former Fulbright lecturer in Czechoslovakia and an eighttime

Pushcart Prize nominee, publishes poems, fiction, and book reviews, both online and

in print, and Garrison Keillor read one of Held’s poems on A Writer’s Almanac. His new

book is Bleak Splendor (Muddy River Books, 2016). Phased 2 (Poets Wear Prada, 2017),

more moon poems, is next.

Pimpin’ the Chrysalis (CD

Review) By Alison Ross

How does one write about the one of the most hyped rap albums ever made without

resorting to cheap, obsequious behavior? How does one laud a universally beloved album

without unimaginatively contributing to the mundane monotony of accolades? Well, one

can't. So, my little review of Kendrick Lamar's remarkable album, "To Pimp a Butterfly"

is going to simply persist in the parade of praise, while offering up some terribly shallow

critiques that will be sure to miss the entire point.

I will say with assurance that Kendrick's music and lyrics are disarmingly cerebral -

much moreso than, say, those of intellectual poser Kanye West - and yet they somehow

still retain the commercial viability of some of his peers such as Drake. Granted, on

TPAB, the music is elevated by the likes of George Clinton and jazzmeisters such as

Robert Glasper, but even so, sonically speaking, the songs are not overly pedantic, to

where they alienate the audience with stuffy strains. The jazz on the album is aplenty, but

it's of the accessible kind, and serves as more of a bold backdrop rather than the

centerpiece. Too, the album dabbles in other nostalgic styles, such as funk and soul,

which lend dynamic dimension - a groovy danceability and fierce infectiousness.

This is not to say that the sprawling album is necessarily easy to pin down, either. Its

chaotic eclecticism can be discombobulating. The songs do not so much flow forward as

they hurl into each other with ferocious force. There is an urgency to the album that can

practically saturate the senses.

And we haven't even touched on the lyrics yet.

Lyrically, TPAB hews to an overarching theme - the challenges of being black in

America - which is arguably a tired topic, and yet not treated in an uninspired manner.

On the contrary, the lyrics are unexpectedly introspective and breathtakingly honest.

Kendrick implicates himself, even, in the race problems that plague the US. Take, for

example, "the blacker the berry," where Kendrick indicts himself as being the "biggest

hypocrite of 2015." Here he is exploring the latent tendency in some - maybe too many -

black people to discriminate against other blacks of varying shades, even as they call out

whites for their own skin-pigmentation bigotry. I believe this phenomenon is called

"colorism." Indeed, Kendrick's lyrics are roundly damning of this practice, as it can lead

to violence - as it did when his youthful mischief-making apparently led to the death of

one of his "homies."

In most of the song, of course, Kendrick is venomously condemning white supremacist

culture for wanting to eradicate the black race: "You hate my people, your plan is to

terminate my culture" and ironically employing crass stereotypes to nail home his point:

"My hair is nappy, my dick is big, my nose is round and wide. You hate me, don't you? "

Later in the song, Kendrick says he is as black as the heart of an Aryan, and he continues

to savage imperialist Anglo culture for enforcing self-hatred among blacks: "You

sabotage my community, makin' a killin'. You made me a killer, emancipation of a real

nigga." But by no means does he let himself off the hook: "So why did I weep when

Trayvon Martin was in the street? When gang banging make me kill a nigga blacker than


In other songs, such as the rousing, funk-infused "i," Kendrick implores black people to

love themselves, so that they can in turn live in harmony with others, and forge strong

ties with their communities to combat discrimination. Lack of self-esteem is perilous, and

erodes possibility: "Everybody lack confidence; how many times my potential was

anonymous?" Kendrick himself has witnessed a lot of violence, having been a denizen of

Compton, one of the most poverty-stricken places in the US, and so the song is both a

reminder to himself to push past the pain as well as a warning to others that giving into

self-hatred is corrosive.

In "alright" Kendrick explores a multiplicity of topics, including his ambivalence toward

his own indulgence in vice (drugs, women, money), but also and most importantly, the

imperative of maintaining sanity in the face of so much police brutality, which stokes

destabilizing fear among the black community.

"To Pimp a Butterfly" is a towering artistic achievement brimming with rapid-fire

rapping, free jazzing, and sampling, and interspersed with Beat poetry/spoken word that

polemicize on the plight of African-Americans. On some songs, Kendrick adopts

personae with quasi-comical voices, but the result is never so much funny as it is

tragicomic, given the context.

Perhaps the most intriguing aspects of this epic project lie in two non-musical elements:

First, there are narrative fragments strewn throughout the album of Kendrick's own

particular personal nightmare. The story is never fully fleshed out until near the end,

when you realize that the purpose of "teasing" us with these fragments is so that we

would listen to the whole album, itself a story of introspection and meditation on the ills

of a bigoted society.

The second would be the mock-interview with one of Kendrick's heroes, Tupac, that

culminates the album. Kendrick mines the wisdom of Tupac to show how little has truly

changed since his death.

Right before the interview, Kendrick decodes the title's cryptic meaning. We come to

understand that pimping a butterfly means cutting short a person's potential (not allowing

the chrysalis to break free from its barrier), but then also exploiting a person's potential

(the butterfly) for certain gain.

The black community has been pimped, repeatedly, by a white supremacist society - and

yet, as Kendrick lets us know through his viciously vivid verses, blacks will reign

supreme, and be the beautiful butterflies they were always meant to be.

Benevolent Invasion

(MOVIE REVIEW) By Alison Ross

Michael Moore is the Shakespeare of our times.

Now, if you regard that pronouncement as blasphemous against the Bard, bear with me.

What I mean by such an audacious sentiment is that Moore mixes the sprightliness of

comedy and the heft of tragedy with equal acuity. Just as Shakespeare excelled at shining

glaring light on the human condition through silly as well as serious situations and

scenes, so Michael Moore can weave a savvy tragicomic tale about modern life. And, of

course, both artists are adept at condemning corrupt political systems.

Obviously, the fact that Moore traffics in non-fiction while Shakespeare trafficked in

drama and poetry is where the two diverge. This is not to say that there cannot be poetry

in documentary films, just as clearly there can be plenty of drama.

So, (misguided?) analogies aside, comedy, drama and poetry abound in Michael Moore's

latest film, "Where to Invade Next." However, I would wager that this film is where

Moore takes a more serious turn rather than allowing too much hilarity to "invade" his

scenes. Sure, there's still the searing satire, and Moore's trademark goofy moments add

levity to somber scenes, but the director seems intent on cultivating a more sober tone in

this film, perhaps because he keenly recognizes the gravity of his subject and does not

want to muddle his purpose too much.

In any event, the film's premise rests on how instead of violently violating a country, as

the US government is wont to do, we should instead focus on peacefully "stealing" the

good aspects of other countries' resources - Finland's top-tier educational system,

Iceland's gender-proportional political representation, France's gourmet school nutrition

program, Italy's work-life balance concept, Norway's humane prison system, and so on.

As if to nail home how determined he is to eschew some of his signature comedy to make

a devastatingly potent point, Moore's movie features one of the most harrowing scenes

ever shown in his films: In compassionately calling for prison reform, he cuts between

the more equitable Norweigian prison system and the barbaric American system, where

black men, who disproportionately comprise the inmate population, are routinely abused.

Moore's thesis is that the modern-day American prison system is uncomfortably akin to

the US slavery system of earlier days.

What is most shocking, of course (and perhaps somewhat gratifying, at least if you, like

me, seek to cling to any debris of hope in our shattered system), is that most of the ideas

Moore advocates "stealing," we come to learn, were originally American ones.

So, in other words, the US has veered far from its values, and in the end, if it modeled

itself after other countries, it would essentially be "plundering" its own resources.

What Shakespearean irony, indeed.

Ghostal Highway (Music Review)

By Alison Ross

For the past two albums ("Where the Spirit Meets the Bone"

and the new one, "Ghosts of Hwy 20"), Lucinda Williams has

showcased a remarkably mercurial dimension. Whereas

previously, her albums were more or less symmetrically

aligned between buoyant country rockers and slow burning

ballads, recent years have Williams mercilessly mining her

down-­‐tempo moods to craft songs that simmer with aching

sadness. Her father, for one -­‐ the celebrated poet Miller

Williams -­‐ has recently passed -­‐ and, too, her own mortality

looms, just as it does for all of us as we age. Her voice, always

syrup-­‐thick with Cajun tones, is a lethargic moan as the guitars

build to languorous crescendos. Here, on a 14-­‐track two disc

album, there are mostly explicitly spiritual songs (such as

"Doors of Heaven") and bluntly existential meditations (such

as "Death Came"), and the whole raw affair has the cumulative

effect of being both mundanely depressing and mystically


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