Saturday, May 30, 2015

Gene McCormick- A Poem & Painting

An Edward Hopper Summer House, Gloucester

It has a bit of give to it, the second step leading to the front porch, but wood in the ocean-air climate often—sooner than later—will acquire a bend and render a creak while still allowing access (be careful not to trip over the coil of heavy rope laying about the porch for whatever reason but which offers a nice color complement: tawny rope against the green-painted flooring) to the wrap-around front porch veranda gritty with wind-blown beach sand all about including the swing hung by two chains from heavy-duty hooks screwed into the porch ceiling on which you could sit and watch heavy nor’easter weather rolling in and not get wet though it was usually prudent to move around the veranda to face southwest, the swing creaking as beams grunted an oomph of several generations chronology, and at night when the swing was in use and only the  diffused yellow light of the globe from the porch light illumed, the rope coil was barely visible and the sand, seen or not, was tolerable but everything came into a sharper focus when the front door opened and light from the foyer spread across the welcome mat and extended to the top of the steps, so quietly that there was no creak.

Gene McCormick is a writer who paints without preference for either discipline.  His art is in private and commercial collections and he has illustrated a number of books.  He is the illustrator for

Rich Boucher- Three Poems

Father’s Whistler

They say that if you lose a tooth in your dream,
it means that someone you love will die very soon. 
I never believed in that little bit of folk wisdom,
mostly because I was scared that dreams could really mean things
but also because I never cared for the hippie types
who helped to promulgate such bunk into the culture.
They say that if you lose a tooth in your dream
it means that sometime in the next week 
one of your light bulbs is going to go out.
I dreamed that I lost a tooth only a few months
before we lost my father to the ravages of getting older;
I keep that tooth in a jar in the bottom of my dresser
to remember what it means to cage something important.
About two weeks after the funeral, I noticed that 
I was starting to grow a new tooth in the hole 
left behind by one of my wisdom tooth extractions;
I thought it was strange but I didn’t dwell on it. 
Another new tooth started growing right behind 
that new wisdom tooth about a month later. 
This kept happening and hasn’t stopped happening;
I keep growing new teeth at least once a month. 
It’s got to the point where it’s physically difficult 
to spit out the phrase new teeth at least once a month 
with all of these new teeth getting in the way. 
I went to one of my dentists to discuss this freakish growth
and he told me that the new teeth were coming from my father;
my dentist told me that each time my deceased father
dreamed of me, from beyond the grave, in whatever bed
he may have been lying in out there in the next world, 
a brand new tooth would appear in my mouth. 
The truth of this hit me quickly and instinctually,
thickening in the air like so much pungent incense.
As of the time of this writing, I can’t sing anymore,
because I now have over one hundred and sixty teeth in my mouth
and the number keeps growing each month and week. 
Truthfully, these new teeth prove that death has a beautiful smile,
though I would give anything to be able to whistle again 
without sending sparks flying everywhere. 
The thought of salt water taffy terrifies me. 
If I could get the words out without screaming a song 
about nails on a chalkboard, I’d tell you I miss my father.


The strong winds and the piercing rains 
knocked out the servers at the newspaper last night.
The news, as a consequence, got to the outside world
a little too late for it to still be considered the news.
The outside world already knew that the Japanese
had almost been earthquaked off the map
before the last of the newspaper bundles
had been dropped off on the sidewalks in the dark,
like latecomers arriving to a house party 
when almost everyone’s gone and the dip bowl is empty.
The strong winds and the piercing rains
took down a whole slew of telephone poles last night,
and the telephone poles spat out a little bit of lightning
as they crashed onto the roofs of cars under last night’s 
bright and loud and dark and frightening evening sky.
The strong, powerful winds and the piercing, shrieking rains
flooded the homes of a million ants in town last night. 
A million ants evacuated, tried desperately to gather up
everything they owned before the flood came last night.
The strong, howlful winds and the piercing, banshee rains
made it very hard to see what all was going on 
outside our windows, on our lawns last night.
Anything could have been happening out there
outside our windows, on our lawns last night
but the blue, piercing winds and strong, jet-black rains
just would not let us see what was happening.
Anything could have been happening out there
in the driving, strong winds and freezing, piercing rains.
What if a man was stuck out there in all of that
and no one gave him shelter because no one could see him?
What if a man was stuck out there in all of that
and no one gave him shelter even though he could be seen?
Would we all be accomplices to whatever happened to him?
Why didn’t someone, anyone, anyone of us human beings
go out there in the deathly, freezing winds and the dark, driving rains
to grab him by the arm and pull him into the house where it was warm?
Why didn’t we hurry, hurry him to the front porch 
where the light bulb swung over the rocking chair 
like a hanged man under a tree in a storm?
What in the hell is wrong with us?

Bundle of Joy

Everyone, mostly the women but a few men, too, flocked around the new mother when she came back to visit the office on Friday. It was a touching and beautiful and touching scene that touched everyone involved in a beautifully touching way. There was a lot of touching, and the smell of baby lotion mixed with the smell of office and copier toner clouded the room and then a bunch of cherubs overhead vibrated with glee so hard their heads blasted apart. There was so much emotion about the new baby that everyone was touching each other. So much oohing and cooing commotioning right there in the middle of the Accounting Department.  Jackie wanted to show her baby off at least once before heading back home to enjoy what little remained of her maternity leave. She pulled the downy pink blanket to the side to show off her baby gun. Infant weapon. Just a few weeks old. It was adorable and everyone energetically agreed upon that until they came. Lovable. Jet-black. Blued steel. Hot cold. Nine-millimeter. The baby gun made a weak little sleeping sound as Jackie handed it off to Pauline, who was so anxious to hold it her nipples leaped forward through her blouse and made loud munching noises. The little baby gun appeared almost to be smiling in its slumber.  So precious.

Rich Boucher resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Rich served two terms as a member of the Albuquerque Poet Laureate Program’s Selection Committee, and also as a member of the 2014 Albuquerque City Slam Team. Currently a freelance staff writer for the ABQ Free Press, his poems have appeared in Gargoyle, The Nervous Breakdown, Yellow Chair Review, The Mas Tequila Review, Menacing Hedge, New Bourgeois, Cultural Weekly and MultiVerse, among others, and he has work forthcoming in Damfino Press and penwheel lit. 


Travis Patton- Three Poems

American Dream
Get up every morning
ready to defend the American Dream
eat a hot apple pie
play a game of Baseball
polish my shotgun collection
hop on my sweet ride
fly Liberty the giant bald eagle to work
arrive fifteen minutes late
Starbucks smoldering in one hand
McDonald's scorching the other
recite the pledge of allegiance
sing the national anthem
lunch time
lettuce in my lunch bag
nose is like a bloodhound's
Ivan's got cabbage
report him to Obama
no room in this country
for communist filth

 Move on
Clinging to the past
Only limits your horizons.
Many fail to realize that
Moving on is the key to
Unlocking your potential.
Nobody has succeeded by
Ingesting cabbage while drowning in
Make sure you look toward the future.
It is better to lose a toxic person than
Subject yourself to the pain that person causes.
Realistically, it will hurt,
Emptiness will sting you.
At first, 
Letting go will make you feel
Like your lettuce has been stolen.
You will recover. You need to move on.
But some things are
Addictive by nature.
Don’t forget to read the first letter of each line.

Carson Castillo the crimson clad cabbage crunching communist
commonly called C2 can't quit causing chaos,
constantly creating Commie CompoundsTM,
carelessly corrupting curious kids,
cultivating cabbage crops,
cruelly committing communistic crimes
and claiming capitalism causes cancers,
car crashes, cannibalism, and cancelled cable.
Carson crazily claims convenient qualities of cabbage,
Cabbage causes calmness, cures cramps, 
Carson cries conspicuously,
Cabbage constructs creativity, creates competence,
helps Communism crush crappy capitalist countries!
C2 chuckles charmingly, causing countless commies
to cry contently at Carson's coolness. 

Bradley Williams- Cartoon

                                         See more comics at

Douglas Polk- Two Poems

The Jungle

bars on windows and doors,
house after house,
street after street,
outposts and fortresses,
in this jungle,
of cement and concrete,
where wild creatures prowl,
a city of prisoners,
trapped and shackled,
house after house,
street after street.


rainfall floods city streets,
America being washed away,
global warming,
or maybe,
the teardrops of the victims,
the innocent ones,
week after week,
day after day,
while we as a nation,
do next to nothing,
and try to look away.

Bradford Middleton- A Poem


Time is moving on fast
Faster than I can recollect so far
It’s now five years in this job
But what can I do?
I’m sick of being broke
Having nothing but insanity in my life
And it’s only my writing that keeps me sane
So what should I do?
Stop going to the pub
Or seeing my friends
As I’ve got no money for things like that
So what should I do?
This life is for living but
Right now I just exist
It’s time to change but only for the better

Now I’ve got to write everyday
Get better and attempt a novel
Cos for a poet like me riches aren’t abundant
As I reject writing groups and networking
For me it’s all about reality
And finding the weirdest way to understand it
Every day things thrill me
Due to their ordinariness
Cos the life is no way ordinary
It’s insane and mad and it’s only
The writing that keeps me sane
So on I must plough
Churning out pages of everyday weirdness
For those who want to see life
Through the eyes of a mad man

Kelsey Hoover- Three Poems

The Tune

The piano sheds crystal tears,
Mined for its treasure with each
Step of the fingers that
Are brought down
Like rain that pelts
Black coats and white umbrellas.

A wailing voice scratches
The walls
Soaks into velvet seats,
Climbs mountains
And explores the ocean’s depths

The sun flickers
And the pianist charges
Across dark spaces and bright enamel
Of the teeth
With tools of flesh at his disposal
Daring to fill
The hearts of those
Who stop and listen

Step Up

I sit,
Staring at the false wooden grain of the table.
The guy next to me groans as the teacher’s pet
Gives a verbose answer
For something that could be much simpler.
This is the third time
That my neighbor expresses
His displeasure under his breath.
I shrug—at least someone gave a response
That fractured this heavy silence.
Another question is put onto the table.
A few give blank stares.
Crinkling disturbs the quiet as a person pulls out
Something edible smelling of vanilla.
Girls gossip in the corner in hushed tones
Sharing no concern for the lesson
While the few students who actually study refrain from giving an answer,
Afraid that it’s wrong.
I sigh
And sacrifice myself
Like Katniss, where volunteering
Does not guarantee my safety.
In no rush
I raise my hand.
Ehhhh, that’s not exactly it. Anyone else?
A spear pierces me
But I keep my cool,
Shrugging it off
Because getting an answer wrong is not the end of the world.

Threadbare King

Charlie the stuffed bear sits on a
Wooden chair in the corner of Lucy’s room.
Lucy claims that it’s his throne, and that he’s the
King of lollipop trees and candy corn.

Sitting at her table that’s missing a leg
She insists on having tea with the fair king of
rainbow taffy

The bear’s head lolls to the side,
Denying her company
But, she says
As she clutches her mom’s hand
He ends up taking a sip!
And is soon overcome by
A fit of giggles and a
Lopsided grin

Before Lucy goes to bed
She kisses Charlie goodnight
On his head
Then squeezes him with all her might

The bear watches her
A vigilant guardian
Whose eyes are affixed
To the sight
Of the body that goes still
And silent  
Some way
Through the night

Friday, May 29, 2015

Stefanie Bennett- A Poem

I do not chant of the usual baptismal offerings
That the sliding door
Of a nail-strewn heaven opens.
My esteem-hood is lodged in the fluttering
Red grass, gently calling. The misplaced
Braid of a bygone sister’s hair.
A Nation’s trivia thundered the Longhouse.
Only one transfixed hawk-claw
                                         - No crucifix,
Survives the trans-formationing   
... Red to white. Tribal paring means
Just that: Blindfolded octagons
Upon the kiss of daylight –.
It came, the triad dancing stone, guised 
                                      As the dream-walk.
A mask matching of years –.
A talisman returned as the star child.
Now, with thong flung about his spirit bed
My earth father stacks lunar hoops
Against the weathered standing-pole...
He sings the circle round – each quarter.
He sings the blue connecting flame.
He sings the ambered here-on-after.
I craft an armlet out of hawk-claw –.
A breastplate of whistling cloud –.
Already, the red grass is answering
And Chippewa shamans cross
Lightly over...
Stefanie Bennett has published several volumes of poetry and had poems appear with
Mad Swirl, Ink, Sweat and Tears, Message in A Bottle, Bijou Journal, Illya’s Honey, Shot
Glass Journal, Jellyfish Whispers, Twice Upon A Time and others. She has acted as a
publishing editor and worked with Arts Action for Peace. Of mixed ancestry [Italian/
Irish/Paugussett-Shawnee] she was born in Queensland, Australia in 1945.

Richard Schnap- Two Poems


She wandered the aisles
Of the supermarket looking
For a product not made anymore

Wearing a dress
She bought at a thrift store
Out of fashion for over a decade

And when she left
She headed for a flower shop
That had closed its doors long ago

Next door to a theatre
Where she used to watch films
That was now just a vacant lot

And when she got home
She thought of calling
A friend from the distant past

But reached someone
With the same name and voice
That didn’t remember her at all


I hear it in the ring
Of the phone at 3 am
That answers to silence

I hear it in the smash
Of a glass bottle breaking
While a hard voice swears

I hear it in the cry
Of a cold hungry child
As its mother begs for change

I hear it in the howl
Of a dog that’s lost
In the heart of a storm

I hear it in the wail
Of a police car’s siren
That keeps getting closer

The laments of the world
From a documentary that has
No beginning or end

Janne Karlsson- Cartoon

"Janne Karlsson is a handsome man from Sweden. His latest book, The Art of Vomit is available at Amazon."

Sarah Page- Three Poems

Team Bonding

We run the streets,
Feet hitting the pavement,

House after house,
Brick after brick,
Our giggles chop through the air,
Our differences lost on the road,

Lit by buzzing street lamps and stars,
Socks pulled up to our knees,
Black streaks under our eyes,
What we wear is our armor,

Kitchen utensils are our weapons of choice,
Forks snap in the freshly cut grass,
Like a knife gliding through thick yellow butter,
In the heat of the moment we never notice,

The red and blue lights in the back of our minds,
It’s a simple prank,
Thought up by clever kids wanting revenge,
The pounding in our hearts fade,

The next day when we wake up sore,
Heavy eyes and a cloud of vanilla fills the room,
We eat the sticky crunch of french toast,
And plan next year’s attack.

An Ode to Eli’s Hair

His hair flows like a pegacorn flies through the air,
Shininess created by three full jars of hair gel,
He spends four hours creating a perfectly shaped crown,
The gentle plastic of his hair gives me peace.

No hair dye can compare
Eli’s hair creates a hope for the future,
A future where everyone has good looking hair
A future where Eli rules the world.

Eli is the only one who knows how to style hair,
He is the guy who knows his gels from his sprays,
Eli can make any hair look like his beautiful locks
Just by looking at it and snapping his magic fingers.

To be as loved as Eli,
And to have so many girls chasing after me 
I would love to have hair such as perfect as him,
Because his hair is the most beautiful piece of art ever to exist.

Prince Eric and His Princess

He was named after a prince,
Who fell in love with a mermaid,
Eric hasn’t quite found his princess,
Mostly because he looks for her on land.

Eric searches the halls for a woman,
With his charcoal hair and flawless bone structure,
And his bushy eyebrows keep his secrets,
Forever he is looking for a siren, who sings his song,

Eric would fall upon this woman in his fridge,
He has found his true love in the cold darkness of his own home
This woman is covered in a thick batter,
And dipped gently into hot oil,

Eric’s true love was put to sleep,
And she covers his fingers in delicious thick grease,
Eric wouldn’t be the same without his love,
Because he would be hungry for someone else,

Eric’s true love has been sitting in my fridge,
Waiting for him to come and sweep her off her feet,
But he cannot have her sweet tender meat,
Because his true love is my old fried chicken,
And she has gone bad.

Scott Thomas Outlar- Three Poems

Flows Freely
There is truth and there is
Absolute Truth
but damn if I know
the difference
I’m just saying

There is heaven and there is
or so I’ve heard
a time or two
by three or thirty

There is health and there is
and so I’ve seen
both these fires rage
in such completely different directions

There is God and there is
and the two are one
where the source flows
freely outward into creation

There is
There was
and there shall
always be
and this explains
and nothing
all at once
and never

Absolute Void
Loneliness is an open wound
the dagger enters so deep

The sun is blistering my apathy
a puss filled cup runneth over

Chaos serves its own revenge
cold and raw

Love has never been enough
temporary salvation at best

She came to me in the night
left before the dawn arrived

Emptiness is entropy is absolute
nothing more, nothing less, not a care

Chaos enters the spaces of stagnation,
not to obliterate,
but to break down what is not working
so the inherent pattern of order
can emerge in a new light,
and the holy path of inward peace
can once again be seen clearly.

The choice to destroy
is not necessarily negative
but sometimes absolutely necessary
as a way to tear away
at a dilapidated structure
so a more solid foundation
can be established
upon which to build
a temple of health, happiness, and love.

Life is not always easy,
but the trials and tribulations
are inherent in the process of progression
as a way to push evolution forward,
and the challenges that naturally arise
are a Godsend of grace
presented to teach the lesson
that we are creatures of adaptation and survival.

Scott Thomas Outlar dances in the waves of chaos, waiting on the high tide of order to rise and return him safely to the shore. More of his writing can be found at

Dr. Mel Waldman- Three Poems

mystical serpent or dragon, are you the keeper of cosmic secrets?

Circular symbol of infinity & more, you swallow your metaphysical tail,

Ouroboros, while I gaze quizzically at your sacred mystery-
the conundrum of the universe,

& now, on this barren night, alone, bereft of the divine, in the deep silence of my mind

I ask you, Ouroboros,
Who are you & what & why?

But soon, I drift off, slither into a dream and my gold eyes enter your eternity

& listen to the incessant hissing of the snake,
Ouroboros, and your susurrations, wicked whispers of death & rebirth,

& suddenly, you swallow me, envelop and devour me, serpent of light & darkness,

transcending duality, and I die, without knowing who you are & what & why,
Ouroboros only that my death gives birth to something newborn and glorious




On the road forever
familiar & unfathomable & ferociously rolling around the bend

on this tortuous road forever
flanked by the forest of spirits & the flowers of Eros & Thanatos

in search of something I never find

& you, whoever you are

always looking seeking longing & tasting the shattered glass of sin mixed with gravel
& gazing at the Judas trees with deep pink flowers to my left

while I travel forever on this winding road surrounded by scattered shards of ylem

invisible & everywhere
harrowing ylem primordial matter of the unreal universe

hidden & nowhere
swirling in the primitive sphere of non-existence on this eerie empty phantom road

in search of something I never find

& you, whoever you are, my secret self



I wait,
to come alive,
after dark,
in the country of vastness,
almost fully conscious,
in the temple of silence,
I wait;

if I exist,
or if I am,
willing my resurrection
inside the belly
the bestial landscape,
after dark,
where I meet the Sphinx

a terrible conundrum
the maw of the monster,

while swirling in nothingness,
my mute self rises out of the wild void,
reborn in the raw abyss,
spewing metaphysical and existential
questions without answers, without voice,
my holy fire,
my holy water,

becoming alive,
fully conscious in the skin of resurrection,

becoming alive,
with only holy fire, holy water,
the sacred questions of the spirit and the shroud of faith,

becoming alive,
in the country of vastness, and the temple of silence,
after dark, inside the Ultimate Nothingness that feeds me
cosmic breath, and gives birth to me again and again


Jennifer Lagier- A Photo

                                                      Begging Squirrel

David Subacchi- Three Poems


Where the Great Plains
Meet the Rocky Mountains
Wyoming has always
Intrigued me, it resounds
From Gannett Peak
To the Belle Fourche
River Valley, it echoes
From the Big Horn
To the Black Hills
Wyoming of the Snowy
And Sierra Madre ranges
Its vast expanses
Almost half owned
By the US Government

And Wyoming
Where political history
Is not easily

Beautiful, mysterious Wyoming
Of Parks and lakes
With thirty two islands

That was the first state
To give women
The right to vote
As far back
As 1869.


Had I words
Needle sharp
To pierce
Each layer of skin

I’d press them
Into your flesh
Not to harm
Just to tease

Had I kisses
Sweet as dessert wine
To moisten
Those crimson lips

I’d pour them
Into your mouth
Not to drown
But to please

And to let you taste
Each drop of passion
In my soul.


When night falls
Faster than the guillotine blade
Or stones hitting water
Then injustice gnaws
Cheated of dusk
Robbed of sunset

When night falls
Slower than the kettle’s boil
Or waiting for buses
Then frustration tortures
The moon and stars
Are delayed

When night falls
In accordance with the season
Or quite predictably
Then boredom overcomes
And inspiration
Fades away.


David Subacchi studied at the University of Liverpool.  He was born in Wales of Italian roots and writes in English, Welsh and Italian.  Cestrian Press has published two collections of his poems. ‘First Cut’ (2012) and ‘Hiding in Shadows’ (2014).

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Ayaz Daryl Nielsen- Three Poems

I’m not an aging person
my buddy Super Bruce states
I’m an aging drunk

gleaming hands
the finished scars
like rainbows

Yes sir and yes madam,
I’m telling you true, I
won't sell myself short
because, of course, you
know of my, umm, my
difficult to come by,
hard to explain, ummm,
same as a drawer full of
clean socks and underwear.

ayaz daryl nielsen, x-roughneck (as on oil rigs)/hospice nurse, editor of bear creek haiku (25+ years/125+ issues), homes for poems include Lilliput Review, SCIFAIKUEST, Dead Snakes, Shamrock, Kind of a Hurricane, and! online at: bear creek haiku poetry, poems and info.

Steven Hendrix- Three Poems

the lean, mad days

I'm not hungry now
but I was once
those Long Beach days
those lonely, mad student days
competing with the cockroaches
foraging for food in the cupboards
anything I might have missed
every other time I looked
"let me know if you find anything"
I yelled out in the direction of the
scurrying, pattering legs on wood and linoleum
and when I heard the sound fade into the walls
I knew they hadn't found anything either

after the arguments

it had been one of our worst
I remember smashing
your plastic container
against my forehead
running downstairs
and banging my head
against the door
hoping to knock
myself out
in a search for sympathy
but as always
never hitting my head
hard enough
out of fear
of what might happen
I walked to the end
of the block
and back twice
before coming in
you pointed to the door
where the blood was
I remember thinking
I couldn't have slammed
my head that hard
I would have felt something
then you showed me
the plastic container
cracked with sharp
jagged edges
and the yelling started again
it was suddenly
your favorite container
and you demanded
I replace it
and neither of us
what the original argument
was about

the unborn

it was a beautiful spring day
the sound of birds
the smell of flowers
coming in through the open window
as I walked toward it to look out
it began to slide shut
slowly at first
but when I put my hand upon it
to stop it
it slid faster and gained force
and momentum
I brought both hands to it
and braced myself
pushed with all my strength
to keep it open
but couldn't 
when I looked out
the now closed window
winter had already set in
there were no leaves on the trees
a layer of snow covered the ground
and the sky was dark
and ominous

Steven Hendrix received his BA in Comparative Literature and his MA in English Literature from California State University, Long Beach.  His work has appeared in or is forthcoming from Chiron Review, Pearl, Re)verb, Silver Birch Press, Drunk Monkeys, Creepy Gnome, and Cadence Collective, among others.  He co-hosts the reading series at Read On Till Morning in San Pedro, CA and currently resides in Southern California.