ISSUE 39: Dedicated to the
spirit of Louise Bourgeois
EDITOR’S SCRATCHING POST: CATATONICALLY SPEAKING
This issue's cover features several artworks by the late great artist Louise Bourgeois.
Those artworks speak to me for obvious reasons, but also, her surname just happens to
echo a theme that Clockwise Cat so vociferously rebels against - the bourgeoisie.
Interestingly enough, over time the word bourgeois has come to signify something rather
different than what it used to indicate. It used to refer to the middle class, but has
inexplicably evolved toward encompassing allusions to affluence.
Clockwise Cat, of course, is a champion not just of the middle class, but of the poor and
indigent. We rail rowdily against the wretched economic oppressors that would stratify
society into a class crass system, leaving some so destitute they must slumber in the
sewage-strewn streets, stewing in their own urine and feces.
The editor may partake in bourgeois activities from time to time - gourmet dining,
anyone? - but we find this modern-day tilt toward luxury everything (from condos to
dental spas - I mean, what in the FUCK is that?) abhorrent in the face of so much misery.
So we dedicate this issue to a wonderful stalwart woman whose art covered the gamut
from sculpture and painting to printmaking, and whose themes emanated a feisty feminist
flavor. But we also dedicate it to those, who, like antifa, fight against the forces of
fascism that, like giant arachnids, terrorize us all, culturally, mentally, and financially
TWO VISUALS BY SHEILA MURPHY
Red Riding Hood by Erica Olson
Artist bio: In addition to creating photo manipulation art, Erica
Olson writes poetry and prose. Her work has been featured in
Failed Haiku: A Journal of English Senryu, haikuniverse, and The
Voices Project (forthcoming). Erica lives in rural Montana.
TWO VISUALS BY DAVID RODRIGUEZ
Artist bio: David writes: “My name is David Rodríguez. I am 39 years
old and I am from Spain. From an early age, I have always been
attracted to the art world, but my love for photography didn´t start until
2013, the year I bought my first reflex camera, and I began to explore
my attraction to art. Shortly afterwards, I began to train myself
through several courses, and also in a self-taught way.”
ART by Alexei Kalinchuk
Artist bio: AK is a personal friend of Pasquino and Marforio,
although he's never been invited to Rome. He is also attracted to the
combustible quality of the scrawled image sitting next to certain
AND TOTEMIC POLEMIX
An Oral History of Game Show
by Alexei Kalinchuk
A new competitive cooking show funded by the government and a
plastic food container manufacturer started after the last crisis.
This crisis, at least, didn’t involve mortgage-based debt instruments.
Nonetheless this one also devastated the economy and the whole culture
went into freefall thereafter. Not just consumer spending, but whole
bodies of ethics and theology suspended operations. Certain taboos
lifted as well.
I’m getting sidetracked already.
The game show. Right. Cannibalism-based cooking shows lacked
glamour when they first started. I thought that was a mistake. If
you’re going to do this kind of show at all, don’t be coy. Can’t play
virgin while punching time clocks in a brothel. Be upfront, upfront
When these shows started, they all had so much do-goodery it
turned the stomach. All this talk of nutrition and technique-
Coloradans’ firm flesh had a velvety flavor full of vitamins while
Minnesotans had to be filleted just so-but all anyone thinks is: get to
it. And the hosts! No makeup up on these women with plain hairstyles,
unthreatening potbellied men.
They all looked like public radio personalities.
All this feel-good jabber, but no one was talking about the real
problem: depopulation. We were running out of defensible and delicious
humans to eat. Prisoners and the mentally ill didn’t top anyone’s list
of edibles, meanwhile, state constitutional amendments against
cannibalism were gathering momentum at the ballot box while pro bono
litigators fought to outlaw the practice. Bless their pointed little
If the government would’ve put me on retainer from the start, we
could’ve rolled back the Pro-People Movement in weeks. Instead, it
took a year. But what a year! First we had to fire those awful public
access style hosts! Then we’d feed the people so much glamour they’d
What times they were...
Right now you’re sitting where that government man did when he
came to hire me. After we discussed the job and negotiated a fee, he
asks, “Well, where do we go from here?”
I remember that I leaned back and allowed myself a smile. Things
were about to change. Rightly or wrongly, an era was about to begin
and I would be in the thick of it. If and when the pendulum swung the
other way, my reputation would suffer. And it did. I accept my fall.
But don’t ever say I didn’t have progressive ideas.
Author bio: Alexei Kalinchuk writes literary novels, has had fiction
published in Amoskeag Journal, The Bitter Oleander, Foliate Oak. He
smells like fennel, sleeps on a mattress stuffed with cilantro, and
eats pomegranates alone.
Charter School Lobby Panics
as NAACP Rejects For-Profit
School by Steven Singer
White America has a history of freaking out at perfectly
reasonable suggestions by the black community.
Hey, maybe black people shouldn’t be slaves.
SOUTHERN STATES SECEDE! THE CIVIL WAR BEGINS!
Hey, maybe black lives should matter as much as white ones.
BLUE LIVES MATTER! MAGA! TRUMP!
Hey, maybe we shouldn’t be making money off of children’s
That’s what seems to be happening at think tanks and school
privatization lobbying firms across the country after a new report by
the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
Some news sources are characterizing the report as “radical” or
However, the report, titled “Quality Education for All: One
School at a Time,” basically says nothing more revolutionary than that
all public schools should be transparent and accountable. That includes
“Public schools must be public,” the report states. “They must
serve all children equitably and well. To the extent that they are part
of our public education system, charter schools must be designed to
serve these ends.”
And why shouldn’t they?
More than 3 million students attend charter schools across the
country. Approximately 837,000 of them are black. Don’t they deserve
the same kinds of democratically controlled schools and fiscal
responsibility as their counterparts in traditional public schools?
Somehow your local public school is able to teach kids while
still keeping a record of how it’s spending its money – your money. And
if you don’t like what’s being done, you can go to a school board
meeting and speak up or even run for a leadership position.
How does getting rid of that help kids learn? How does operating
in secret in the shadows benefit children?
The report also recommends that local communities should have
more control over whether to open charter schools in their districts
and calls for an end to for-profit charter schools, altogether.
Not exactly the musings of anarchist provocateurs.
Charter school cheerleaders like Education Secretary Betsy DeVos
call their movement School Choice. Shouldn’t communities get to choose
whether they want them there in the first place? If the program is
based on the free market, let them make their case to the community
before setting up shop. They shouldn’t get to make a backroom deal with
your congressman and then start peddling their wares wherever they
Moreover, if charter schools are, indeed, public schools, why
should they be allowed to operate at a profit? They are supported by
tax dollars. That money should go to educating children, not lining the
pockets of venture capitalists and hedge fund managers.
The authors were very specific on this point:
“No federal, state, or local taxpayer dollars should be used to
fund for-profit charter schools, nor should public funding be sent from
nonprofit charters to for-profit charter management companies.”
But that’s not all.
The author’s also call out charters infamous enrollment and
hiring practices. Specifically, these kinds of privatized schools are
known to cherry pick the best and brightest students during admissions,
and to kick out those who are difficult to teach or with learning
disabilities before standardized testing season. The report called for
charters to admit all students who apply and to work harder to keep
difficult students – both hallmarks of traditional public schools.
In addition, the report suggests charters no longer try to save
money by hiring uncertified teachers. If charters are going to accept
public money, they should provide the same kind of qualified educators
as their traditional public school counterparts.
However, even if such reforms are made, the report is doubtful
that privatized education could ever be as effective and equitable as
traditional public schools. In perhaps the most damning statement:
“While high-quality, accountable, and accessible charters can
contribute to educational opportunity, by themselves, even the best
charters are not a substitute for more stable, adequate and equitable
investments in public education.”
The report was written by the 12-member NAACP Task Force on
Quality Education after a set of intensive hearings or “listening
sessions” across the country in cities such as New Haven, Memphis,
Orlando, Los Angeles, Detroit, New Orleans and New York. The final
product is the result of the input they received during these meetings.
This is only the latest in a growing movement of skepticism
toward privatized education of all sorts – especially in relation to
its impact on students of color.
Less than a year ago, the NAACP, the oldest civil rights
organization in the country, called for a moratorium on any new charter
schools. This week’s report takes that caution to the next level.
Despite a truly controversial record, over the past decade, the
number of students in charter schools has nearly tripled. In terms of
pure numbers, black students only make up more than a quarter of
charter school enrollment. However, that’s a disproportionately high
number since they make up only 15 percent of total public school
enrollment. To put it another way, one in eight black students in the
United States today attends a charter school.
The NAACP isn’t the only civil rights organization critical of
charter schools. Groups such as the Journey for Justice Alliance, a
coalition of grassroots community, youth, and parent-led organizations,
and the Movement for Black Lives, a conglomeration of the nation’s
youngest national civil rights organizations, have also expressed
concern over the uses and abuses of students of color in charter
However, this week’s report wasn’t focused solely on
privatization. It also addressed the central issue at traditional
public schools – funding disparities.
The report identifies severe inequalities between rich vs. poor
communities as the cause of so-called failing schools. The report
argues that “to solve the quality education problems that are at the
root of many of the issues, school finance reform is essential to
ensure that resources are allocated according to student needs.”
Closing the achievement gap requires specific investment in lowperforming
schools, not punitive measures. There should be more
federal, state, and local policies to attract and retain fully
qualified educators, improve instructional quality, and provide
wraparound services for young people.
The report suggests states model their funding formulas on those
of Massachusetts and California and that the federal government should
fully enforce the funding-equity provisions in the Every Student
Succeeds Act (ESSA).
It would be difficult to find more rational and reasonable
solutions to the education problems in today’s schools.
But pay attention to the response it’s getting.
Corporate reformers are running scared with their hair on fire as
someone finally has the guts to point out that the emperor is walking
around stark naked!
Editor’s Note: This article first appeared at the blog, Gadfly on
the Wall, and is used with the author’s permission. Be sure to check
out Steven Singer’s book, Gadfly on the Wall: A Public School Teacher
Speaks Out on Racism and Reform
How Viral Vids Challenge Reviewers
AN URGENT REMEDY
FOR THE D.T.’s By Fred White
Setting: A doctor’s Office. PATIENT is sitting on the examining table, shaking. DOCTOR,
wearing a surgical mask and cap, enters.
PATIENT: Please help me. I keep getting the D.T’s, and I don’t even drink—okay, maybe a few
measly ounces of gin to get me through the evening news.
DOCTOR: That’s horrible. But first things first: Are you an immigrant?
PATIENT: Aren’t we all?
DOCTOR: Don’t change the subject. Are you il-lee-gal?
PATIENT: I was born out of wedlock; does that count?
DOCTOR: It might; we’ll see.
PATIENT: About my D.T.’s—
DOCTOR: Here, swallow this; it will help you stop worrying. Did you know that NASA is
spending billions to send a probe to Saturn’s moon Triton? That money could pay for a wall!
PATIENT: You’re thinking of Titan. Triton is one of Neptune’s moons.
DOCTOR: Whatever. Don’t believe what you read in almanacs and encyclopedias. Just so you
know, the National Rifle Association is going to clean up this horrible mess, believe me.
PATIENT: What mess?
DOCTOR: Haven’t you been listening to me? The ill-ee-gals!
PATIENT: All I want to know is how to get rid of my DT’s. It’s not like I can switch off the
news, not when a new national crisis unfolds every day.
DOCTOR: You should put more trust in your President. Can’t you see that the fake media wants
to scare the bejeezus out of us?
PATIENT: I’m afraid it’s happening to me right this minute, Doc—pink elephants are circling
around me, trumpeting, dancing. The elephants are dancing!
DOCTOR: Hey, they’re my mascot. You can’t blame them for celebrating our President’s many
PATIENT: I’m not only seeing elephants, doc—I’m also seeing strange things on your wall . . .
DOCTOR: What things?
PATIENT: Gaudy diplomas . . . Are they all yours? What’s that red, white and blue one with a
dollar sign for the S’s in USA! USA! USA!
DOCTOR: Look, why don’t you lie back on the examining table and close your eyes . . .
PATIENT (reluctantly complying): If I may ask, where did you do your residency?
DOCTOR: My what?
PATIENT: The hospital where you—Wait, let me back up: what medical school did you graduate
DOCTOR: From the best!
PATIENT: I’m . . . starting . . . to feel . . . groggy.
DOCTOR: Ah, good. By the way, I’m putting you on notice.
PATIENT (opening his eyes): What does that mean?
DOCTOR: It means that your anxieties and your fake-news triggered D.T.’s soon will soon be
like they never happened, take my word for it.
(He removes his surgical cap, runs a hand through his mane of blond hair.)
PATIENT: Oh no—give me another sedative, quick!
Author bio: Fred White's humorous fiction and satires have appeared in Clockwise Cat
#s 29 and 38; also in Praxis, Every Day Fiction, Satire and More, and Pidgeonholes. He
lives near Sacramento, CA.
GUN OPPONENTS Find
Themselves Up In
Arms By Gilbert Prowler
By Steven Singer
Teaching Is Hard Enough
Without the Imminent Threat of Death
I am so sick of coming to school and having an impromptu meeting to discuss
why my students and I might die today. Really.
Every time thereʼs a major school shooting somewhere in the nation it seems a
copycat makes a threat in my own backyard, and we react. The police tell us itʼs
not a credible threat so school stays open. However, be vigilant. Be aware that
our students know about the threat and will be talking about it. Weʼll bring in
bomb-sniffing dogs…But try to maintain calm and order.
There will be a lock down drill in a few days…But try to make the kids feel safe
and secure. An older student violently attacked a classmate last week after
threatening to go on a spree…But attempt to establish an atmosphere conducive
To which, I say: are you freaking kidding me? I know Maslowʼs Hierarchy of
Needs. There are certain basic necessities anyone must have in order to become
a fully actualized person. After physiological necessities like food and water,
safety is absolutely fundamental.
Without it, you canʼt get people to focus much on anything else.You canʼt get
children to pay attention to nouns and verbs, for instance, if theyʼre afraid theyʼre
going to be shot and killed. You canʼt get them to care about writing a complete
sentence, if they feel like they may have to duck and cover at any moment.
You canʼt get them to bother with abstract reading comprehension if theyʼre afraid
of imminent death! Oh, and by the way, Iʼm not exactly at my best either! My
lesson plans arenʼt going to win any awards when the best solution our
legislators can come up with is giving me a loaded pistol to keep in my desk
Well, Yippee Ki Yay! Iʼm a teacher! Pew! Pew!
My 7 th grade students are literally frightened that going to school on any given
day may lead to the end of their lives. Every couple of weeks on the news itʼs
another school shooting and another body count, while lawmakers do nothing to
ensure it wonʼt happen again tomorrow. Every few days, itʼs a rumor about this or
that troubled kid we all know snapping and throwing a gun in his backpack. Or itʼs
an anonymous threat scrawled on a wall or a social media page.
Today it was teaching classes where half the kids were missing because their
parents held them out of school afraid a vague rumor of imminent violence was
true. And as I tried to assure those who did show up that everything was okay,
law enforcement checked the lockers with K-9 police dogs looking for weapons or
What the heck are we coming to?
I work in a police state and my students are being asked to learn in a
penitentiary. And the teachers should get guns. And the principals should get
guns. And the parents should get guns.And the guns should get little tinier guns
to protect themselves from even more guns!
This is madness.
Weʼre begging for a political solution but our political system is a shambles.
Nothing puts that in starker contrast than the gun debate.The overwhelming
majority of Americans want sensible gun laws – an assault weapons ban, closing
the gun show loophole, mental health screenings, etc.If we lived in an authentic
Democratic Republic, weʼd have them. But we donʼt, because we live in a
plutocracy. One industry has enough power and influence that the only solution
our policymakers can safely suggest is one that increases that same industryʼs
Itʼs like Tony the Tiger suggesting the only cure for obesity is to eat more
Frosted Flakes! Theyʼre Ggggrrrreeeaaaattt!
A teacherʼs job is hard enough without society crumbling all around us. But that
doesnʼt mean the children arenʼt learning.Theyʼre watching the world burn with
wide eyes. Theyʼre taking in every flame, every bullet hole, every cowardly
senator, representative and chief executive.
Theyʼre watching and taking names.At the end of the year, policymakers will wag
their fingers at the nationʼs teachers about failing standardized test scores.
Theyʼll bemoan sinking academic standards, powerful labor unions and a lack of
moral fiber as the cause of a generation of children who lost out on an education
while cowering under bulletproof backpacks. But this generation refuses to be
lost. Despite everything, theyʼve left a trail of breadcrumbs back to sanity.
They are emotionally damaged by a country that no longer functions, but they
know the truth.They know whoʼs responsible. And they know what to do about it.
When they reject our society, weʼll know why. Because the next generation will
be nothing like us.
And on a day like today, thatʼs the most hopeful thought I can offer.
Editorʼs Note: This article first appeared at the blog, Gadfly on the Wall, and is
used with the authorʼs permission. Be sure to check out Steven Singerʼs book,
Gadfly on the Wall: A Public School Teacher Speaks Out on Racism and Reform
By James Mirarchi
the emotion BRAN
thru the dimples
of the squiggly font ambassador
on the flirtatious graveyards
dehydrated from winking
all the lube psychos
the wind of bees
(shaving their heads
with tito jackson’s jagged microphone)
the wind of bees
stings their scalps
turning them into psychology incarnate)
an underground excavation of blips
beeps with electro murder
by jesus’ non-fat vanilla yogurt
sleeps on your chest
ooze a sentient beer
your private hearse
is a shiny romeo
colorizes just for you
raw nerves win awards
obese arteries squeeze into satin
snap a selfie
of God’s heart
OPENING its pit
its juicy roses
surf your hands
over nature’s erection
THE eggy avalanche
earth and sand
under your fingernails
you can never wash THEM away
Author bio: James Mirarchi grew up in Queens, New York. In addition to his poetry
collections, Venison, Dervish, and Shards, he has written and directed short films which
have played festivals. His poems have appeared in several independent literary journals.
OUT ON THE TILES!(+',+-.&'/&".##!
Author bio: Tyler Sherwood Pruett is a writer and artist with a special interest in short
forms of poetry, as well as creative nonfiction. His work has appeared in many
prestigious journals such as Modern Haiku and Frogpond, as well as important
anthologies including Haiku 21 by Modern Haiku Press, and a fear of dancing by Red
Moon Press. He is the author of Blue Wolves Are Howling Grapefruit Orange, a
collection of poems selected from over a decade of published work in poetry journals,
and A Refutation of Exile with Red Moon Press, a themed collection of Threshold Art
poems. Tyler is currently working as a professional writer, and as a graduate student at
Johns Hopkins University.
By Charlotte Ozment
The Paradise Coffin By Aekta
I will put into the paradise coffin,
The relief of the first drag
And the darkness of the velvet night sky.
I will put into the paradise coffin,
The coat of disguise
With the magic coffee potion of afterlife.
I will put into the paradise coffin,
The acceptance of human dominant society
And will not lure in material fantasy.
If not hopes and prayers,
Then maybe genies and angels
Could work along
And bring me closer
To the grim reaper
Where I belong.
Together, though not hand in hand
But side by side
We’ll escape the jailhouse of inferiority
And the school of sarcasm.
Set on a journey to explore Moonland,
With tools of trash and teeth
We’ll reach this land
Where we belong.
I will put into the paradise coffin,
Caws of crows and ravens
And black roses to crown my bed.
I will put into the paradise coffin,
Not just a little
But all of my broken self.
Author bio: The author writes: “This is Aekta Khubchandani here. I eat and breathe art
and consume volumes of caffeine, every day. I wear the colour red over my head but I
work in black and white. I've been in love with the world of words since old school days
and I write poetry, performance poetry, short fiction and life articles. I also illustrate my
words in ink on paper and digitally.”
animals: a h(a)unting!
the boys from the hood careenin out of stasis
scoutin out some holy some more attractive places
triangulate destiny triage your ser-en-dipity
man on the move got to quash his predestidigi-persnickety
vamoose caboose goose on the loose
big city strife get yrself a life yearn for
a spree in the land of the free
flood your sights with headlights afternoon delights
on the corner on the floor more on the stairwell
maximizin groin swell grind squeeze placative
' ' ' ' ' '''''''''''''''''''''A)*!C,*!38!1=4,''83&!G9#536!`355!
8,993=:! 933(3=:! ! 5'2339U5!3=:!
ALT GREEN SWIMMING POOL WATER
AND A LARGE STRUGGLING LAWN
[a party postscript]
by Wilna Panagos
Wait until you find a man with a round head so dark and smooth that it is absolution blue
where the light strikes it. This is the man you want to talk to about the two rivers of
entropy, archipelic thinking and geophagy. We are the ant gods, he says, to them we are
all the same, all one immensity. We bring death or food and pray as they may, it makes
no difference. We are too large for them to see entirely – scale is everything. To them we
are inexplicable. He says: Light operates on all hierarchies of reality and when you sleep
at night, all your sorrows are obliterated. Every time you wake, you have to remember
everything anew. Weep as a warning to others. And he grins at his betel box with his red
teeth and receives five hundred strikes of the slipper to the head. While all this is going
on, Gatsby leans back and closes his eyes and says into the lethargic air, air as moist and
warm as breath, air the colour of Vegas gold and old paper: The question of where is not
answered on a map. Earth eating overturns the whole enchilada and every grain of dust
has a marvelous soul. If you close your eyes you are alone in the world... I'm building a
spite house in Ottoman Cyprus, says Aloysius-Eloise, in a landscape full of desire lines
and a flea in the ear, full of hopscotch hoodoos in the dead dust. Ritualized bathing is
against the law and the objectifying gaze of the colonizer a pestilence, but the trail has
gone cold, it was so very long ago. The heard is hunted. Creolization as a Poetics of
Culture. The ghost pretending to be a crop circle says nothing. Win a sheep! blurts Legba
the translator and: I like Nascar! and he sighs. Kiradmand mutters: Victory, however,
came too late, an actual infinity is impossible, one day the tiger in the woods will carry us
off, and her worn deckchair creaks as she puts her hands behind her neck. I'm living on a
map, thinks the ghost. Ispahan is half the world, it thinks, Ispahan, a city in Persia,
macarons with raspberries in the middle or a strain of pink rose named after the city.
There's a storm coming, it whispers. Gatsby lifts his glass without opening his eyes and
shakes the mostly molten ice cubes and watery whiskey dregs. Can I have another one?
he says to the man rinsing his raw round head in the lukewarm swimming pool.
words they could have used but didn't: torpid bazar khaki ad
hoc tacit bistre inertia
And no one asked them, the ones with their brows wreathed in wilted poplar leaves: How
many teeth have you in your mouth? or: Where are you going? What do you want?
We have a winner! shouted Legba in his sleep. Jam and pepper he mumbles. The prince,
according to custom, disappears.
Author bio: Wilna Panagos' work has appeared in Otoliths, Museum Life, Prick of the
Spindle, The Undertow Review, Ditch Poetry Altpoetics, Hobo Camp Review, and others.
Long ago she wrote and illustrated a few children's books and more recently something
which may be described as a nouvelle vague transmogrification of The Divine Comedy, a
postmodern experimental polyphonic florilegious pastiche, a chaotic and irreverent remix
of Dante’s afterlife with the gravity hidden beneath. It is still unpublished.
Pleasantly Saying Terrible Things
By Alyssa Trivett
I apologize for not picking you up from the airport.
Flying squirrels raided my house,
toilet-papering the trees,
pissing on the garage door.
I apologize for not picking you up from the airport.
My hand was stuck in the Pringles can
unable to dab soap around,
my Mrs. Robocop driving hand.
I am not the Chuck E. Cheese animatronic puppet
chucking tokens in soul-less machines, for lifeless tickets
redeemed for a deflated mini glow-in-the-dark basketball.
At three thousand, it can be yours!
I am the coffee cup.
Quiet enough not to be noticed
misunderstanding pointless math problems;
Springfield train, chugging along
fifty-three miles-per-hour, meeting in Dallas
ten hours later, Star Wars Stormtrooper Snuggies
being delivered. Due to popular demand.
I am the kind friend
rapid-fire texting memes
to make you laugh.
I am the oddly-named subdivision;
Feather Creek, chicken-poxed retention pond.
Mildew Villages. Snug Harbor;
for the win. Not.
I apologize for not picking you up from the airport.
My left shoe and right shoe
were on the wrong foot.
Forgive me anyways.
Pleasantly saying terrible things.
Author bio: Alyssa Trivett is a wandering soul from the Midwest. When not
working two jobs, she listens to music and scrawls lines on the back of gas
station receipts. Her work has appeared in Scapegoat Review, Peeking Cat,
VerseWrights, In Between Hangovers, Tuck Magazine, Communicators League,
and Duane's PoeTree site.
CAT GOT YOUR
By B. Diehl
Well, I moved into the apartment.
The one you picked out for us.
The one I said I hated
because the old man
with dementia across the hall
makes me too sad.
Because the bathroom is straight out
of a Charles Bukowski book ––
rust on the sink, toilet, and tub.
Because of the tiny ants in the kitchen.
Because the Phillipsburg shit plant is so close by ––
and on really hot days, the entire complex
will definitely smell of sewage.
Because the view from the balcony can’t possibly
go well with morning coffee. All you can see
is a junkyard and some abandoned building
that used to be a daycare before it got shut down
on account of the owner being a pedophile.
I’m not sure why I moved into this place.
Maybe I’m living out a fantasy.
I look at the nicotine-stained rug
next to the bed, and I can almost see
your tiny size-5 sneakers
waiting for your feet. I can almost see
your scattered hair ties ––
and your glasses on the nightstand,
next to your Lorrie Moore books.
But delusions are not healthy.
2 days ago, the old man with dementia
pounded on my door and accused me
of having an affair with his 87-year-old wife.
Author bio: !"#$%&'(#%)#*'+,*'-.#-/#*'-&*.1#2-((&2*%-3#4&((&.5)#6((&1#78'%* -.%((+#
About Now By Bruce McRae
Meanwhile, in the airy labyrinth,
in a bathtub full of corn liquor,
in the red barn on a hillside.
While you were squinting intomorrow’s sun.
When the lion purred deeply.
While you were paring your nails
and twiddling with the radio,
incident brushing against incident,
willpower crooking a finger,
intention taking a short vacation,
‘in the meantime’ on your breath,
time an old fire in an older world,
time a sniper, a deer in its crosshairs,
an arrow coursing from one moment to the next.
And meanwhile, by the river’s edge.
Beside a splash of accumulated brilliance.
Behind a page or leaf or pillar.
Where everything is or it isn’t.
Just when the robin came down
from its village of mad branches.
The same moment an ambulance passed.
About the time a voice explained,
“Right about now.”
During the storm of what and when.
During the rise and fall of the executives.
During a long ride into theoutlands,
the race between hour and minute,
a word leading, an action following along behind.
Everything happening all of the time.
When there is no then to go back to,
lost among the smudged lettering
and fudged illustrations,
this now before all other nows.
Here is the beginning, where it ends.
The same sun as before, but a different planet.
By Amy LeBlanc
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Under the Duvet
By Rehan Qayoom'
IT HAS BEGUN by James Kowalczyk
America is already great thank you president Tru…sorry, I just threw up in my mouth…
When I hear “again” I think of a time when chinks build the railroad, niggers build the
Whitehouse, and the queers knew their place, a time when foreigners were wops,
polocks, micks, kikes, spics, and wetbacks that were not quite human and political
cartoons had illustrations to match the terms…
When I hear “again”, I think of a time when women knew their place and children knew
their role- in the kitchen and seen but not heard…. herd mentality, that’s what I think of
when I hear “again”, a time when if you said that right thing or pointed a finger maybe,
just maybe, you’d be invited into the flock…led by Jesus, not some pack of animals led
by a fucking sand-nigger…
When I hear “again” I think of some cops doing whatever the hell they want behind
closed doors…but then again, today they do whatever the hell they want in the streets…
When I hear “again” I think of hominid animals preying on the other, blood dripping
from a castle window where heroes of horror with twisted smirks and jaundiced eyes
chew on the poor…their mouths open with carnage pate riding on galloping tongues
greased with bullshit…
while miss highly manipulative prances to the beat of the goose stepping alternative boys
who under a dark sky spew turds of venom... but all strike out when they face Sandy
Koufax, a Brooklyn Jew, known as the Left Arm of God…and
they all run from Jimmy Cagney and Angels with Dirty Faces who scream in horror as
Liberty levels her torch as a flamethrower aimed at the other…who, to paraphrase
eyes, hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions like us…is not the “other”
subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same
winter and summer as everyone else? If they are cut, do they not bleed? If they are
tickled, do they not laugh?
at the perverse circus of drooling monkeys surfing the minds of misbegotten mental
midgets, who, like wretched worms slither through the stifling stench of slime at the
bottom of the political porta potty
Author bio: James Kowalczyk was born and raised in Brooklyn and now lives in
Northern California with his wife, two daughters, and four cats. He teaches English at
both the high school and college level. His work has been published both online and in
By Thomas Locicero
No angst from Langston Hughes,
Just the blues, just the blues.
Trust the blues like no one has,
incorporate a little jazz,
think highly of your pain,
and trust your dream
like John Coltrane and a love supreme.
Be your gamble and let it ride,
find your reason and then abide
and love to the extreme.
Choose storm or road, but don’t explain,
just don’t stand frozen like a cowardly
Tin Man without a brain.
A poet frigid?
See your world in black and white,
then find your colors and love tonight
and love tonight
and love tonight
Author bio: Thomas Locicero’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming
in Roanoke Review, Boston Literary Magazine, Long Island Quarterly, The Good
Men Project, Adelaide Literary Magazine, Jazz Cigarette, Quail Bell Magazine,
Rat’s Ass Review, Antarctica Journal, Scarlet Leaf Review, Tipton Poetry
Journal, Hobart, Ponder Review, vox poetica, Poetry Pacific, Brushfire Literature
& Arts Journal, Indigo Lit, Saw Palm, Fine Lines, and New Thoreau Quarterly,
among other journals0!He resides in Broken Arrow, OK.
By John Grey
He plays some kind of
on a saxophone
dressed in a greasy gray t-shirt
and baggy pants tied with string.
A battered upturned cap
sits on the sidewalk
begging for coins.
He fills the air
with whatever notes
his breath can blow
and fingers corral
as they clamp down on the buttons.
Few stop to listen
though an occasional passerby
tosses loose change his way.
On a busy shopping street,
he’s the only one making art.
He’s not the whole story.
But he’s the only one telling it.
Author bio: John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in
Homestead Review, Cape Rock and Columbia Review with work upcoming in
Louisiana Review, Poem and Spoon River Poetry Review.
(If I Was in N.Y.C. When I Was Pushing
By John Doyle
Uncles and aunts in hopscotch pants
emerge like sunflowers - from groaning narrow staircases
in New York City apartments - (and I mean apartments, not "condos").
Outside are water hydrants where belly buttoned girls do the dance of the
and other little boys' uncles play mouth organs with dogs who look up in
like they're Saint Francis with all the animals gathered round him on that
in the church with the Irish priest called Fr. O'Malley, (I think), on the block
carry groceries to their ballooning breasts in large paper bags normally
in cop shows late at night. And girls who dance the seven veils politely
to pick-up fallen apples and run after aunts carrying large paper bags.
In a cafe John and Yoko are watching and talk about using this scene for
the cover of the album
they will release as their follow-up to Double Fantasy
Author bio: John Doyle, 42, is based in County Kildare, Ireland (when he's not
travelling the cosmos in a stereotypical Volkswagen camper van), and has
released two poetry collections so far A Stirring at Dusk in 2017 and Songs for
Boys Called Wendell Gomez in 2018. Among his loves are the Irish language, his
girlfriend, Mod culture, and obscure Corsican hideaways in June; among his
hates are people who cannot go 3 seconds without using the phrase "lol", and
men who don't earn their right to have a beard. There's a strong chance he will
be seen tonight near Ursa Minor, chewing on a bagel and talking gibberish.
By Mark Cunningham
Author bio: Mark Cunningham has a new chapbook, Alphabetical Basho, out on the
Beard of Bees site. 71 Leaves, an e-book from BlazeVOX, is free to anyone curious
enough to Google it.
__________.1. a possible inconsistency in the renormalization procedure that appears at
very high energies in quantum electrodynamics and other quantum field theories
in which there is not asymptotic freedom. 2. to be alone while wearing an “I’m
with Stupid” t-shirt.
__________. 1. the second of three wishes. 2. to forget the middle name of a former
boyfriend or girlfriend. 3. a gear-shifting mechanism on a bicycle that shifts the
drive chain from one sprocket wheel to another. 4. Wednesday afternoon after 4
Mr. Moon By Christie-Luke Jones
Mr. Moon spewed codeine over the crowds below
I am God!
He mocked through yellowed teeth.
Come and touch me if you dare
Breathe my breathless air.
And the ozone layer parted
And the rockets took flight.
And the moon waited.
And behind inky craters plotted.
Author bio: Christie-Luke Jones is a UK-based poet and short fiction
writer of French-Italian extraction. His writing swings violently
between exaltation and despair, and has been published on three
Baptism By Fire
By Adam Scharf!
Year is 1892,!
I fantasize burning alive. !
Mostly at gatherings when others talk about business being good,!
and how their children are smarter than others. I've had enough. !
Tonight I slam the table yelling, “I’m a witch!”!
Everyone stares blankly,“We hardly burn witches anymore.”!
I straighten my tie adjusting my posture, “Alright, well I’m a Jew too.”!
Now they’re pleased, “That we burn.”!
Heading home I pack a suitcase because it felt right,!
and throw away old Christmas cards just in case.!
When I hear the knock I open it boasting, “Hello boys, was just lighting a few
They pile me into a wagon tying me up, “I’m filthy boys. I can’t be trusted.”!
Nodding they tighten the ropes.!
Before I know it they’re talking to themselves about sports, and everything their wives
To speed things along I tell them I drink blood, and the horses move faster than ever.!
I’m dragged to the stake. !
A priest says prayers while throwing water at me. !
Once again I hear the crowd discussing plans, opinions, and inside jokes. !
These people are a riot. !
This crowd will always be a crowd. Even after they’ve split becoming individuals, !
crowded wherever they walk discussing appliances, and how they’ve aged as their
mother had. !
I wiggle my lighter from back pocket, !
it drops setting aflame wood gathered at my feet. !
They protest loudly, “We aren’t ready yet!”!
Letting out a sympathetic exhale, they’re all my children.!
“That's alright boys, I’ll take it from here.”!
!"#$%&'()%*!This is Adam’s second publication with Clockwise Cat. Born
in Utica NY, he now lives in Orlando writing short fiction and recently
completed his first novel. His creative partner is a palomino named Karen.
Poem Generating Machine
By Andrew Nye
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By Gale Acuff
I'm ten years old and I'm going to die
one day so I'd better get ready now
because it could happen at any time,
even if I don't die by accident
--run over catching the school bus or shot
by a burglar or pushed out a window
or choked by a hamburger pickle or
struck by lightning or brained by a baseball.
You never know. And then gone, I'll come to,
and look back on my life and what happened
in it to end it, and shake my head
if I still have one, one that's blood and meat
and bone, and think what a shame I lost it,
my life. I'll be a ghost or an angel,
maybe, done with doom for keeps. And then I'll
pick myself up and dust myself off and
get on with it, my life of being dead
forever. Which is what forever is.
Author bio: Gale writes: “I have had poetry published
in Ascent, Ohio Journal, Descant, Poem, Adirondack Review, Coe
Review, Worcester Review, Maryland Poetry Review, Arkansas
Review, Florida Review, South Carolina Review, Carolina Quarterly, South
Dakota Review, Sequential Art Narrative in Education, and many other
journals. I have authored three books of poetry: Buffalo Nickel (BrickHouse
Press, 2004), The Weight of the World (BrickHouse, 2006), and The Story of
My Lives (BrickHouse, 2008). I have taught university English in the
US, China, and the Palestinian West Bank.
By Richard Weaver
there was a time when hour glasses drank pure sunlight like ouzo
before there was a happy hour, and grandfather clocks could remember
how to tie their shoes using both hands, (grandmother, being shorter,
had no need to bend as low, and preferred house shoes anyway),
when pocket watches absorbed the body’s radiant heat and kept pace
as if waltzing with or without Matilda. And water-based escarpments
emptied or filled the seconds each day, each tick one drop, each tock one drip.
Together a drop drip. Now days a strontium lattice clock surpasses
the cesium standard by 50%, give or take a %, a blue laser accurate
for give or take the next 15 billion years (14 billion years after the sun
dances its last fandango) and the earth, a preadolescent
planet, a mere 5.5 ± 0.05 billion years young, dies. So does it matter,
Father Time, that this new timepiece can detect the dead Einstein in action
and Stephen Hawkings’s next sneeze? Reality in action has no relevance
in such time. Blue lasers. Reds lasers. Ultramarine. Set our waves free.
Author bio: Richard Weaver resides in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor where he
volunteers with the Maryland Book Bank, acts as the Archivist-at-large for a
Jesuit college, and is a seasonal snowflake counter (unofficially). Recent poems
have appeared in OxMag, Red Eft Review, Crack the Spine, Juxtaprose, Misfit,
and Conjunctions. Forthcoming work will appear in Clade Song, Dead Mule, &
Making the beast sing to
the birds BY PAUL GRANT
Of girl eyed
A sweet little
End of the world
But its not fondness
That I find her with,
The angels of my better nature
Lay long dead in the corners
The fist from my heart,
Bust the prowling night open
Like a lovers lip
I will let
The blue deepen
Through all its cool shades
Let the smoke
Along the ceiling
Let the bruise
Swell into view
Kisses the colour
Of my distance
It's alright now
I am here
Author bio: Paul writes: “My name is Paul Grant, and I live and work in Milton
Keynes, England. I have a new book out with Writing Knights called A Feast of
By Michelle Nickol
Author bio: By Michelle Nickol is currently self-employed and lovin’ it. Her nonfiction and
poetry has been published in Clockwise Cat, Pilgrimage, Bacon Review, Prairie Schooner,
Black Warrior Review, Alligator Juniper, Lilliput Review, several anthologies, etc. A threeyear-old
feral cat named Hillary has recently muscled in on her hard-earned solitude and
appears to have adopted her.
into lotus root
Our forest lost,
the deb-loon struts and slurs
How hard to say this
Awash doth history hoard
its shitty ways, its
shadowy hit stories
I cannot repeat the true mountain
…the moan unit
…the tin om
…the main omit
That point pierced my heart
Sea-trope echo: cede, oh coed, cede
heart/earth equals greater than heart/break
Lies toyed up
Yelp is out
Every little lake passed
My Urban Knot Breaks Your Pattern
Night makes an illegal left in this
petroleum-based dream. Whose idea
was it to opt for an open-air market?
When did you lose the remote control?
Boston’s the last time you’ll set my hair on fire.
Night flaming Lucifer, my opposite times 7,
your heartless sciences and useless sacrificial
parades leave me nothing but an emptyshelled
Brazil nut. Give me back my credit
cards or I’ll sue you this time—I swear it.
Boston’s the last time you’ll set my hair on fire.
My animal heart hums in its sky cup. The stars
siphon glitter into the cup. Planets fill the cup with
planets. Tambourine shaker on this karmic goaround,
I’ll stalk you crazy until I get my juicer back.
Boston’s the last time you’ll set my hair on fire.
My floating junkie in outer space is now
my former floating junkie from a constellation
I’ll tear into seven irregular pieces. Strange
chamber of memories now, I’ll never dust
that chamber of horrors you call an apartment
Boston’s the last time you’ll set my hair on fire.
Now my days are drunk in the kernel of the twelve
dreams. My night’s a free-falling wand, a basin of
velvet, a kleptomaniac’s dream flavor. The
scar over my left eye is healing nicely, but
you still owe me for the emergency room.
Boston’s the last time you’ll set my hair on fire.
By WILLIAM DORESKI
Battery acid comes in a box. Weak sulfuric solution, bitter on the tongue but
otherwise palatable enough. I titer a quart into the punch. The wedding guests
smile when they taste it. Mixes well with the liquor, lemons, grapefruit, and lime. I
learned to swim in an acidic little pond on the Canadian border. Water so clear it
made air look like porridge. Sizzling as I swam, I lost most of my flesh and
learned to take pride in my bones. Exposed to the air after a mile or two in the
harsh clean atmosphere, I re-fleshed myself as if donning ordinary clothes. That
was the life. Now having slightly poisoned a hundred cheerful guests, I speechify
and confess. Their applause seems more sincere than ever. For anyone who
doubts, first aid remains an option. The bride kisses me in rainbow hues. The
groom also kisses me, his lips as tough as condoms. The ugly smell of acid
hovers, but like a bird of prey disdains to alight. I’ll take the rest of the punch
home and use it to activate a battery left unused in a cupboard for many years.
When it’s charged, I’ll shock myself as frankly as I dare, and that will be adequate
An Opera About Orpheus
The creep and crawl of whispers on the breezeway. Opera on the radio.
Something about “crown and charcoal burner,” but perhaps that’s a bad
translation of the Italian. Or is it German? As I attempt to make out the words,
the propane heater utters gusts of carbon dioxide. Time for my volunteer work at
the hospital. Every evening I wheel patients up to the roof to enjoy the stars.
Soon I have a dozen stargazers chatting about their favorite surgeries. They
know all the medical terms, and relish pronouncing them with edged consonants
and greasy vowels. From here the snow atop neighboring mountains seems
illuminated or even illuminating. When you arrive at the hospital to help with
these astronomically inclined patients you wheel them off the roof to crash in the
parking lot three floors below. The bent and broken wheelchairs glitter in the
lamplight. No one hurt, at least not hurt as much as our local surgical team has
hurt them. Let’s go home and listen to more opera. I hope there’s one about
Orpheus. I feel like a detached head still singing. I don’t miss my body at all.
Author bio: William Doreski lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire, in a small
house in the woods. He taught at Keene State College for many years, but has
now retired to feed the deer and wild turkeys. He has published three critical
studies, including Robert Lowell’s Shifting Colors. His essays, poetry, fiction, and
reviews have appeared in many journals and several small-press books. His
forthcoming book of poetry is The Last Concert (Salmon Press).
Deceased: TTZARA 4 14 1896 12
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By Dr. Mel Waldman
(on reading Henri Cole’s poem-The Paranoid Forest)
anointed with metaphysical mist
shrouded in bestial silence & isolation,
pouring from his brow,
in the vastness the desolation the death that surrounds swallows & engulfs him.
carries the harrowing secret in a crimson bag of sorcery,
it with prestidigitation
staggers into the kaleidoscopic desert of irreality,
into eerie evanescence-otherworldly vanishing
eats the swirling sand a fantastic dessert in Kafka’s opalescent hallucination
vomits a monstrous creation-the Chimera-in the kingdom of the damned
the fire-breathing beast ferocious vision of grotesquerie burns his olive flesh
vanishes in the sprawling prison of The Apocalypse,
in the faraway glitter of preternatural quicksand
Apocalyptic Man holds the haunting secret in a sacred place
drinks the flood of anguish overflowing & shooting out of the sultry sun
bites the obscenity of obliteration
he plummets into the chasm of chaos
with nonbeing where unholy atavism devours him
the beast awakens, rises, & emerges
out of a crimson bag of sorcery
on the seething sand, boiling illusion,
its teeth & screams eerily at Apocalyptic Man.
at its Master & Slave, the Tasmanian devil, demonic alter ego,
the possessed & possessor of a terrible secret of grotesquerie,
a veil of evil swirling in the Shadows-
concealing a glimmer of unbearable light-
a vanishing sphere of celestial beauty-unfathomable divinity
it lunges at the otherworldly stranger,
I Married a Sling Blade
By Felino Soriano
from This is How My Speaking Moves
Of when heat is
the penetrating hybrid of hate and humid
my dispositional qualities lessen into breath-on glare
rearrange focus into deluge or fractioned melodies of developed
moisture, unobstructed need for me to bookmark this moment
return to it
return to scan each paragraph of elated change to the physiological
components of these hours’ mistreated mobilities
Softened this Flute Interprets Me
What comes through the
home in me, seen through
to divide existence with
breathing mutated exhalations
autonomy within freed forays
found amid the eyes
loaded with intent and articulated curiosity--
numerals limit age to agree with time’s fascination
during my needed rest I’ve a
desire to sing and sit into a leaning approval
of architectural clarity--
everything placed in its softened state
all plurals gathering cymbal mimesis! wave ornaments softened
against untouched sand
near what resembles divided
marbles separated theories of
gathering found symbols and undated miracles
Within your Language I Cultivate my Listening
Bridge of where our meeting
met us of how the bodies
bend and skeletons endured
a wind stronger than the bridge
could coordinate outlasting.
Somewhere, or precise
in the here rendition of place and rhythm
we’ve a homemade handmade
family and the sway of unexpected
additions. Amid devoted sound
you’ve heard my healing ache
into plurals of allegorical friction.
the voice you’ve had since
inception my hearing of it
renames each moment
many times in momentum:
how this life continues will resemble an aggregate of seasonal
surprise, a flourish of piano
and soloing into a specific language of deliberate articulation
Author bio: Felino A. Soriano was awarded the 2017 erbacce-prize
for poetry. His writings appear in CHURN, BlazeVOX, 3:AM
Magazine, The National Poetry Review, Small Po[r]tions, and
elsewhere. His books of poetry include A Searching for Full Body
Syllables: fragmented olio (2017), Aging within these
syllables (2017), Acclimated Recollections (2017), and Vocal
Apparitions: New & Selected Poems: 2012 – 2016 (2016). Visit Of the
poetry this jazz portends for more information.
Bob writes, "Cindy and I have been close friends for years.
We are familiar with each other's writing, and have
published each other in our respective publications. It was
Cindy who first suggested that we try our hand at some
collaborations. We decided that each piece would be 14
lines, and that we would alternate first lines, as well as the
subsequent lines in each piece. And that's what we did,
except for a few prose poems in which we instead
alternated sentences. All the pieces were written by e-mail.
We started our first piece in late June 2017, and completed
75 pieces during the next eight months. While our
approaches were a bit different, we ended up working quite
well together. We are currently taking a break from the
collaborations to work on our own creative projects. This
was not my first experience with collaborations, having
previously worked in 2008 with R. Nemo Hill, Jane
Ormerod, and Thomas Fucaloro (and later, several
others) in a series of intense collaborative writing sessions
which used a very different process."
Cindy adds, "The 75 poems I wrote with Bob represent my
first foray into collaboration. The most satisfying and
gratifying part for me was that, as a rather non-prolific poet
who struggles with writer's block, it jump-started me into
poetic mode every day and forced me to take risks in an
attempt to reach a new level of creativity. And I was
delighted with all the little surprises that materialized along
The Jazzman’s Magnanimous
(for Felino A.
By Heath Brougher
Amateur Venn Diagram by Jake Sheff
“Dark and dangerous content wrapped in pink taffeta and topped with a
Susan Cossette’s sparse, wry poetry examines the struggle to preserve
personal identity and integrity under the constraints of suburbia and massproduced
culture. Her work also explores the contemporary political
landscape while striving to give voice to those who have been victimized.
She earned her B.A. and M.A. in English from the University of
Connecticut, where she studied with poets James Scully and Marilyn Nelson
and was a two-time recipient of the Wallace Stevens Poetry Prize. The
author of Peggy Sue Messed Up, her work has appeared in Rust and Moth,
Anti-Heroin Chic, Clockwise Cat, The Scarecrow Journal, and the Adelaide
Literary Magazine (short-listed for Pushcart nomination), among others. A
2017 transplant to the Twin Cities, Susan’s readings include Barnes and
Noble (Stamford, CT), The Hudson Valley Writers’ Center (NY), Curley’s
Poets (Stamford, CT) Writers Resist (Norwalk Community College),
Confluencia (Palace Theater, Danbury CT), and most recently The Day of
the Dead Poets Slam in Rochester, MN. To pay the bills, Susan is Annual
Fund and Communications Manager for Way to Grow in Minneapolis, a
nonprofit organization committed to closing the educational gap among the
Twin Cities’ most isolated families. More of her work may be found at
www.musepalace.wordpress.com. Her video readings may be seen at:
Put the dark goggles on.
If we fail, there is a pill to take.
Six minutes, and you will be gone.
You won’t know anything.
You won’t talk to the enemy.
The sun’s red hull invades the horizon.
It is time to deliver the physicist’s nightmare—
The brightest and hottest thing since creation.
Do not look at the source of fierce light.
Cold math is our new co-pilot.
Then, a lead taste in the mouth,
A crackling of the jaw—
Quantum artifacts embed in my fillings,
Pass through flesh.
They could be seen, felt, tasted.
Micro-clots of seared blood in my veins.
My god, look at that son of a bitch go.
A thousand suns bleaching the sky, the earth white,
The sun coming from the earth to explode.
Our legacy is history, but we never learn from our mistakes.
Do we regret the taking of life, or the change we brought
From that fierce atomic beauty in the warm August sun?
An American Poem
A nuclear pompadour
Buried collective anger.
Integrity and humanity cease.
The world becomes much stranger.
Breach of the fragile peace,
Fear the money changer.
What his billions buy,
Of the clear and present danger.
Dismembered, one stroke of the pen,
One dollar at a time—
The arsonists are in charge of the fire station.
Destruction plumes, forcing fumes
To an indifferent, hazy sky.
Books and art in the sulphur flames
Crackle and snap alongside
Food scraps for the aged and
Melting plastic eyes of children’s puppets—
The radio hisses its last static,
The water leeches its lead,
Flowing down the strip mine scar.
A fiery freight car carries the lost
To the pyre on the River of the Dead.
In this deconstruction of the administrative state,
We’re all going to be deconstructed, destructed and
Tossed into the mass grave of alternative facts.
What did you expect?
THIS WEEK IN HISTORY
I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed on the internet.
Branded crazy, dumb as stumps, goaded, extorted.
Bullied and sullied in an abject abuse of power,
Fruit flies, dissected on a slide.
I heard your lies—
You, insatiate demon,
You will not take my voice,
Your tiny talons may claw my eyes
But I will not sign your parchment.
I heard the river Lethe—
Its black murmur grows to a rush,
Ferrying me on foam rapids
To some crazed misogynistic alternative reality.
The tabloids become real news—
That reveal all,
While the rest is fake.
Narcissistic hypocrisy blackens the sky.
Go on, grab my pussy.
I can take it.
Rant on my bloody facelift,
My menstrual cycle.
The moon, the moon holds my power.
We are more than body parts and functions.
The sea, it will rise into truth—
Churning black, around the water spout,
Sucking words, images, half-truths, hatred
Into a vast explosion of indignation and rebellion.
Which way do the stone-faced blue blazers point us tonight?
Where have you brought us, America?
BRAVE ENOUGH TO BE ANGRY
“Women, you have to treat ’em like shit.”
—Donald Trump, New York magazine, November 9, 1992
I don’t have a tidy soundbite for you.
I wish I did,
But I am not a hero.
I am not a child.
I have learned to regret words spoken in anger.
But we are seething,
Beneath the surface.
How long we’ve been ignored,
Seething for those brave enough to tell the truth—
Seething for those punished for doing so.
Seething for being told we have no right to seethe at all.
Centuries of indifference,
Tacit (and sometimes open) sanctioning of sexual harassment, abuse, assault,
We are suddenly in the midst of a cock conflagration.
Powerful men swallowed in the bonfire,
Banned from the primordial, privileged Garden of Dicks.
In the Garden of Dicks, it’s always about the dick.
You are a man, you have urges.
Oh yeah, you?
Well, me too.
In the Garden of Dicks,
Women come and go, working, serving, servicing—
Trying to earn a living wage,
Searching for a husband, a job,
Looking for venture capital or just a good time,
Seeking an advanced degree, a part in a movie.
Don’t you know who I am?
Often, we have no choice.
We enter a room and instantly know.
Oh, it’s that place.
There’s always something sweaty and unnerving in the air,
Like the men there
Have just laughed at a joke we aren’t supposed to hear.
And, eyes averted, we carry on.
In the Garden of Dicks,
There is one peculiar fear—
Loss of power, castration by other means.
Take my humiliation, please.
In the room, the women come and go,
Talking of sexual harassment.
It took me four decades,
Wandering alone and muted
To finally be brave enough to be angry.
We arise en masse, our words jagged glass.
About Leaving Darien
I was anonymous and ignored in the supermarket—
Socially, economically insignificant,
Until I messed up.
In that perfect town—
Its stiff plasticity,
Among the smiling dowagers
And self-absorbed hedge fund wives.
Oh yes, they have something to talk about now.
Whisper to one, and tell all.
Good God, everyone gnashes on a good scandal,
Something to clench their bleached white teeth on.
I am suddenly choice conversation at the club Sunday brunch,
Chewed up and spit out,
Sinewy flesh on the steak, rejected.
I no longer care.
My good ladies, remember.
It could be you, if you dared.
You didn’t dare,
But you wanted to.
Oh, you want to.
Dancing with my Mutant Genes
and the Voodoo Priestess
This blonde baseball bat,
It crashed a hole in the glass wall—
Smashed the plaster.
I surprised myself.
It is the truth you don’t want—
When I finally crawl
Out through the shatters and splinters,
Onto the steep and thorny path.
I am a curious specimen,
Pinned and stuck, fruit fly on a glass slide.
I have been called crazy, or otherwise.
The guilty chromosome shows itself,
Peeking from the protein threads
A stranger among the ordered helix,
Revealing herself, at last.
I am what makes you yourself.
I wish I could tell you it will be easy.
The weird birthmark I tried to hide—
To wash away with pink soap bubbles,
Cover with cosmetics.
She is my talisman, my voodoo priestess
I hand her yarn, and a candle,
We chant and dance,
Spin wild in ecstasy, then she tells me—
You’ve been asleep too long.
Voodoo princess, curious genome, wide-eyed strange child . . .
Pack the past and curl it in thread,
Tuck it under your pink pillow.
Chant and dance.
LOUISE BOURGEOIS RULZ
WIPING THE FLOOR WITH
MAGAZINE (MUSIC MINI-REVIEWS)
By Alison Ross
Ursula E. Smith:
(Book and Music Review) !
Within one day of each other, two legendarily unorthodox voices met their demise. Neither are household
names, though one probably has more renown than the other, and yet her name - Ursula K. LeGuin - is
more exotic than the rather pedestrian name of Mark E. Smith. Mark E. Smith's demeanor, of course, was
anything but pedestrian, and both artists were known for their approaches that daringly defied convention.
Their subject matter, of course, was different - author LeGuin speculatively explored anarchic alternaverses
(mingling utopian and dystopian elements in seemingly equal measure), inspired by her mystical
surroundings in Oregon, while The Fall's singer Mark E. Smith delved into topics related to working class
But where they intersected was with their voices. While Mark E. Smith's persona inhabited a perfect
paradox of unhinged stoicism, his voice was delectably deadpan. LeGuin narrated her tales in a matter-offact
way, preferring not to draw attention to the flamboyantly fantastical elements of the tales she was
spinning, but rather intending to proffer them as practical alternatives to our mundane mundo. Too, Mark E
Smith presented his sometimes absurd worldview in a way that normalized such an approach, with his
aforementioned deadpan delivery bolstered by the Fall's pristine art punk. Both were ultimately anarchists,
following their own internal dictates, urging us to consider a world far beyond our own conformist cosmos
with its straitjacket ideologies and deadend dogmas.
It may seem out of left field to link these two artists, but the world is more impoverished without their vital
voices. Thankfully, both Ursula K. LeGuin and Mark E. Smith made an indelible impact on our cultures
and in society, so we will always have their words - both sung and written - to cherish.
Linklater Rarely Does Lackluster (Movie
Review) by Alison Ross
Richard Linklater's movies are first and foremost in-depth character studies. Each
of his flicks - from his foray into film, Slacker, through his lesser-known narratives like
Tape or more celebrated film fare like the Before series and Boyhood, to his latter-day
cinematic features like Everybody Wants Some and Last Flag Flying - all flaunt fleshedout
characterization as the driving force. A film with narrowly-drawn characters does not
exist in the Linklater movie-verse. Too, the characters in the Linklater cosmos are usually
fraught with maddening ambiguities in the director's divine quest to achieve as much
verisimilitude as possible. Linklater revels in tracing the soaring highs and plumbing the
dark depths of his film personae as a way, perhaps, to explore his own polarized persona,
and as a way to comment on the ubiquitous dichotomy of human nature.
What sets Last Flag Flying apart, perhaps, is how the characters go on a literal trip
to self-actualization as opposed to the metaphorical ones in most of his other movies.
Sure, there is traveling in the Before series movies, but it exists almost as a backdrop to
the showcased story, whereas in Last Flag Flying, the excursion is the point, the raison
d'etre, of the narrative. The trio of protagonists, just as they were transformed by trauma
in their shared Vietnam experience, are once again metamorphosed during their joint
journey up the east coast to bury one of the men's soldier sons who died in Iraq.
Each character is a study of archetypes whose complexities run deep: Carrell's
character, a shy solemn wallflower with bursts of soulful vigor; Cranston's paragon of
frat-boy bravado whose rebel streak betrays a golden heart, and Laurence's preacher,
a former ne'er do well who over-corrected his wayward past by becoming a holy man.
Add to that endearing mix of men a heavy dose of anti-war sentiment that nonetheless
refuses to disrespect the actual men forced into battle, and you have a concoction of pure
conviction. Linklater rarely does lackluster, after all.
I suppose it's redundant to reiterate how ingenious it was for director Peele to select the
vehicle of a horror/thriller to transport racially existential themes. In hindsight, it's an
obvious, intuitive genre to use. But it turns out that Peele had the foresight to pinpoint the
horrors of white supremacy and elaborate on them in a stylized cinematic way.
Genre gimmicks abound in “Get Out” - zombified characters, caricatured archetypes,
suspenseful plot points, carefully calculated missteps, violent crescendo, trick ending.
There is a Hitchcockian sense of suspense and tension throughout the movie, but also
nods and allusions to B movies, slasher films, 80s teen horror flicks – and yet the movie
never seems cheap or derivative. Rather, it’s an elevated and cerebral psychological
horror on par with Poe. It takes the thriller genre to a new zenith by infusing a plausible
plot and refusing to showcase gratuitous gore. Rather, aggressive actions arise
organically and are legitimized by context. All elements germane to the genre work in
service to propel the plot of “Get Out” in an imaginative, if terrifying way.
For what we are dealing with in "Get Out" is an evocation of modern-day slavery via
hypnosis and a vicious eugenics. Peele is urging us to see how all we are all subtly but
forcefully mesmerized by white supremacy and its myriad connotations and
reverberations. He is laying bare all of our preposterous "post-racial" claims and turning
them inside out to reveal a seedy, sleazy underside.
I have long wrangled with the dilemma of how American society can disentangle itself
from the dastardly web it's spun itself into regarding racial relations. And Jordan Peele's
movie seems to reinforce my fears - that we are so deeply enmeshed in the maze of racial
dysfunctions that we're better off just cutting loose from the labyrinth and starting over
But how do we dismantle white supremacy? By eradicating Caucasians? Obviously that's
not possible or desirable. By further segregating the races? That’s already happening.
We’ve been regressing for quite some time, as neighborhoods and schools self-segregate
along racial lines. It would almost be justifiable if the situation did not always result in
further suffering by people of color.
The situation is urgent. Jordan Peele's movie is a clarion call (a cacophonous clarion call)
to action. His movie suggests that we should be more aware of our own deep-seeded
prejudices and the actions we and others take that might be loaded with sinister intention,
even if superficially we think we are acting from an impetus of self-awareness and
For example, we might think that the justice system will ultimately "rehabilitate" the
staggering number of black men caught up in it, without realizing that it's the system
itself that caters to a white supremacist philosophy that deliberately thwarts black
Lynching is no longer necessary when you have prison cages that will stifle the soul. The
KKK’s fashion apparel is rendered anachronistic because the enforcers of Anglo
authoritarianism now wear plain clothes and operate in the light of day. Burning crosses
in lawns, setting fire to churches, devising nooses, using whips and chains - these tools of
repression have been replaced by laws that perpetuate poverty and injustice. A society
hypnotized by the system that stymies are the unwitting servants of such putrid policies.
American society needs to "get out" of its lethal Euro-centric ideology and fight the
zombies of hateful hegemony.
Editor’s Note: This review first appeared in a previous issue of Clockwise
Cat; we are reprinting it because the movie should have won the Oscar - but
Oscar be DUMB.
By Alison Ross
I first discovered the genius of Sheila Murphy when I was
perusing tomes at an excellent indie bookstore in Austin called
Malvern Books. The title of her book, "Letters to an Unfinished J"
leaped out at me. I read her verse on the plane back to Atlanta, and
became entranced with Murphy's ability to forge a sinuous syntax.
She manipulates language to further stretch its malleability, but
also personalizes it, creating an introverted world whirling with
intricate imagery and intense emotion, that also manages to be
accessible to an audience attuned to literary innovation and yet
wary of the alienating pretension that plagues certain poetry
I first discovered the late and much-bereaved Michelle
Greenblatt when she submitted poetry to Clockwise Cat. However,
unlike with Sheila Murphy, her work did not immediately and
urgently snag my attention. Her impact on me was more slowgrowing;
her words simmered in the subterranean corners of my
mind for a very long time until they exploded to the forefront of
my consciousness upon reading her book, Ashes and Seeds, and I
became beatifically aware that her linguistic gifts were in the
lineage of Rimbaud and Borges. Her poetry jolts the imagination
for its deployment of complex symbols infused with cryptic
So it makes sense that these two titans of talent collaborated
on a tome of verse. Their approaches diverge and converge in
The poems that inaugurate the collection are not ghazals -
they are the "other" referred to in the title. These first few poems,
in a word, are stunning, and a nice way to ease into the intensity of
the ghazals. These poems are their own version of intense,
however, as they create startling sensory and synaesthetic
impressions and the words and images veer toward unexpected
intersections, where there are collisions and clashes that become
glorious idiomatic idiosyncrasies.
The ability to commandeer language for their own linguistic
agendas is where Murphy and Greenblatt excel.
From “A Tone Endures”:
"One washes young trees
as though a blossom would be truer
than root structures, thinking
how not to admire the violent craft
thinking, work is a series of self
interruptions and perverse
tunings, yet here is another new year, earth tipsy with
the pointblank light of the raw sun.”
These lines almost read as aphorisms, through which we can
glimpse a world harbored in the shadows, or one that has been
otated in a way that reflects the authors' distinct perception of
Elsewhere, from “Tracery”:
“The clockwork/train runs/on a circular track, between/nowhere
and nowhere else,” and "Doors with no apparent
connection/between rooms dominate/the homes in the city
perched/on a cliff/overlooking the sea” invite us into a desolate
cosmos where nature can be either a friend or foe - or even an
indifferent force: "rain, no rain, it's all the same"
Now onto the ghazals. Ghazals originated in Arabic poetry, and
can be thought of as akin to sonnets in the sense that the form
dictates a certain structure, and even meter. In the case of the
ghazal, usually the structure consists of couplets, around five or
seven, but sometimes as many as fifteen. A repeated word or
phrase appears and the end of both lines of the first couplet and at
the end of the second line in each subsequent couplet. Rhymes or
near-rhymes are also present.
Michelle and Sheila took a more elastic approach to ghazals,
however - they took a stringent, some would even say stifling,
structure and broke it apart to mold a new form, one that breathes a
bit more but maintains the integrity of the original form.
We will start with Ghazal Four, which was the first one I
earmarked in the book when I initially read it. The poem itself is a
dense thicket of abstract imagery alternating with tangible
impressions, layered with fevered philosophizing akin to a
Nietschze or Hiedegger. In this poem, I get a sense of weariness
and wariness about one's own identity, and accumulating
sensations of self-doubt ("To all my half selves below the deck/Are
mirrors of inadmissible distance."). This is further reflected in the
"pulsating mirror" that "sputtered questions to oneself." That said,
"parity co-exists with butterflies," possibly pointing to identity
feeling assured by doubt, paradoxically.
With Ghazal Sixteen, the identity crisis persists, but with a twist. It
seems now that the poetic persona is almost becoming aggressive
toward the emptiness imposed by existence: "Master of thorns and
inscrutable enigmas/Pounce on psyche's own distorted
cinemascope." After all, the authors insistently intone, "We're
running toward extinction with scissors clenched/In a death grip
leveraging the high points." This is not to say that existence is
entirely meaningless: "The austere stars spread across the
skylight./Majesty can never quite be contained," signaling that
identity is subsumed by something more boundless than ourselves.
Again, though, the looking glass motif features: "My appetite
appears in the hungry mirror/Streaked with pretense, texture,
overthought, and informal grace." Now identity seems to have
veered toward an overconfidence, or self-loathing, even.
In a departure from the identity musings, Ghazal Forty-two is a
tense meditation on nature's sometimes tenuous relationship to
humans and the surroundings constructed by humans:
"As the furniture collapsed, we made bowlfuls of
Summer in a retrofit, just right for pinlight." (lines 5-6)
"Coins wrinkle water when interrupting the smooth face
Of laketop burning at the parting of waters scarce." (lines 15-16)
And yet, as always, nature subverts human ego:
"Caresses occur when souls leave keening to
The crowns of the trees, nestling atop leaves" (lines 23-24)
"Amended sacrifice litters the daylight;
Nighttime stages her name in front of a crowd." (lines 27-28)
And then there is reconciliation, with a humorous bite:
"Transatlantic puffs known as clouds
Hold moisture before letting go to rinse us clean." (lines 31-32)
Greenblatt's and Murphy's processes, as Murphy explains in
her forward, naturally dovetailed. Both have a highly intuitive,
free-flowing approach that filters out only what is most
superfluous. And yet it's their styles that while markedly different
on their own, somehow interlock in an organic way that is not
jarring as one would expect.
I'm familiar enough with both poets' work to be able to
discern who likely
wrote which lines or phrases. Greenblatt infuses fantastical
elements into her work and smashes together aspects of nature to
create a new diction. Murphy, conversely, has a more rigid logical
lexicon that manages to evoke a sense of warmth and wonder. Both
poets impose invigorating innovation in syntax, imagery, and
vocabulary in order to deepen the dimensions of our understanding
of how language shapes our world. With these ghazals, they further
their linguistic mission in dizzying ways, contorting our way of
seeing and being: "Skinfuls of spine spin the vertebrae/Mindward
in the hope of reaching home."
CAST OF CATS
ALI CAT/ALISON ROSS
*PHIL NELSON is a 55 year old amateur cartoonist who began
drawing a comic strip called Coconuts around 50 years ago. It went
nowhere until he made it onto Madhattersreview where he
collaborated with Carol Novack on several cartoon projects and
shared cartoon editor duties with fellow cartoonist and flasher Marja
Hagborg. He currently resides with his wife, daughter, and a feral
kitten named Michonne in Havertown, Pennsylvania.