Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Holly Day- Three Poems

            The Rabbit

The rabbit stands on its hind legs
a black silhouette against the snow
framed perfect in the arch of the trellis outside.
Its paws are so small and perfect
held against its warm, furry chest.

It sees me watching it through the window
stares back, curious, as if wondering
whether I’m just another feature of an unnecessary house
some ghost shade, a movie playing in a frame of artificial light
or another living creature, perhaps trapped
behind glass.


The Places Left Behind

I wear my mother’s winter coat, reflect
on the life she never had—sacrifice
the father that wasn’t ghost hand in mine
sixteen years old and so much in love so

flamboyant, faded photos on the mantle
a smile I never saw, collapsing seduction
fading into the gray woman who held me
and cried. And now I’m her, wearing

her clothes and fighting against natural
reorientation. I remember growing old
growing up in her my house, lawnmower
squealing banging in my head, echoing father’s

private mantra. It’s easy to forgive
terror him of what he did to me
us both this one—thank god
there isn’t a gun in this house.

I’ve Taken to Writing Suicide Notes

I’ve taken to sleeping naked at night
dreaming terrible lies beneath these stained sheets--.
we meant something, we mean something, you were
just passing through.
There are places in me you can never see.

I’m practicing my handwriting, where the trembling comes in
sprawled out on the floor for invisible cameramen
to trace me in chalk, walk away.
I’m losing my mind with you inside me
you can never go,
memories, no.

Short bio: Holly Day has taught writing classes at the Loft Literary Center in Minnesota, since 2000. Her poetry has recently appeared in Oyez Review, SLAB, and Gargoyle, while her recently published books include Music Theory for Dummies (3rd edition), Piano All-in-One for Dummies, The Book Of, and Nordeast Minneapolis: A History.   


Donal Mahoney- A Poem

Country Boy and City Bumpkin

Although I emigrated from Chicago to St. Louis, Missouri, a long time ago, I have never been anywhere near the small town of Ellsinore, Missouri, the birthplace of the late Albert Ray Morlen, barber extraordinaire. Al cut my hair in his St. Louis shop for at least 30 of the 47 years he did business there. He may not have been Andy Griffith but he was close to a clone and no one marketed the glory of his small hometown better than Al. And he did very well promoting belief in Jesus Christ as well.

His family had owned the only grocery store in Ellsinore back in the Forties and Fifties. He came to St. Louis looking for work. Finding none, he went to barber school and never looked back. He was a tonsorial artist unrecognized as such by most of his customers who were blue-collar men wanting little more than a trim or a crewcut plus an update on neighborhood news. Al not only gave them what they wanted but often a more liberal education as well. His specialty was theology. 

Al was a country boy and a Baptist and I was a city bumpkin and a Roman Catholic but we got along famously over all those years. If no one else were in the shop, we would discuss the differences in our two faith traditions. Al never flirted with Catholicism or I with his Baptist faith but when I first went to him he was convinced Mormons and Catholics were nothing more than cults and he didn’t hesitate to say that. After all, souls were at stake. Mine in particular unless I saw the light that he turned on every time I got a haircut. 

But after many years cutting my hair, and many long discussions, he one day told me he had changed his mind. Only the Mormons qualified as a cult. He had been wrong about the Catholics but he was still not too fond of all those statues. And since most of his customers were Catholic, he often had to attend funerals and still could not understand what was up with all that standing and kneeling. He never knew what was coming next. 

I could understand his problem since I had a attended a Baptist wedding once and we sat for the entire service. Big difference in the mechanics as well as the substance of the two faiths and not easy to explain, one to another.

It may have been on the same day that Al told me Catholics were not a cult that he also told me I was “saved,” whether I knew that or not. I knew this was no small thing coming from a Baptist, never mind one as solid as Al in his faith.

I had spent 19 consecutive years in Roman Catholic schools in Chicago without ever being told I was “saved,” a concept not accepted in Catholicism in the Protestant sense.  But then I had never been tempted to be a priest, either. So when Al told me I was “saved” and just too dumb to know it, I took that announcement as a Medal of Honor whether I could wear it or not. 

I demurred vociferously, of course, and said I was always in the process of being “saved” and hoped I would never fall off that path. I had a history of many tumbles in my time. 

I tried to explain the Sacrament of Penance to him and its biblical roots but that did not go over well. Nor did Purgatory and Martin Luther’s throwing the Book of Maccabees out of the Bible in the 16th century because of its allusion to Purgatory. But it was the doctrine of the Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist as discussed in John 6: 41-59 that may have made some impression on him. Nevertheless, he remained steadfast in his appreciation of the grape juice and crackers used at his monthly Baptist communion service. 

I told Al, however, that despite canards to the contrary, Catholics believe that the grace of God alone can save someone and that “works” are not the deciding factor in salvation as some non-Catholics might have you believe. 

I added, of course, a reference to 2 James: 14-18 as the proof text which says “faith without works is dead” and told him Catholics believe that as well. Without works, faith is moribund, for all intents and purposes, but Catholics in no way believe works will get you to heaven. Works of mercy are what you do if you do believe, and you believe as a result of the gift of faith that comes freely from God. You can’t earn faith or heaven from the Catholic perspective but dying in serious or mortal sin can help you go to hell. Al didn’t agree with that. 

Al regularly invoked his belief that faith alone guarantees salvation, that when one accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior he or she went to heaven at death. No pit stop in the car wash of Purgatory. He did not buy into the idea of dying with mortal sin on one’s soul as a means of finding hell as one’s eternal destination. 

As a result, I used to remind him on occasion of a notorious adulterer in his home town shot to death by an angry husband. Al would always tell me that if the dead man had accepted Christ, he went to heaven and he thought legendary Cozy must have done that somewhere along the line. Maybe so, I said, but if he were a Catholic he’d have a lot of explaining to do, and we would leave it at that.

I never accepted Al’s offer to visit Ellsinore simply because I don’t like to “travel.” He told me I’d be welcome down there as a visitor and would love the catfish and barbecue but as a Catholic I might want to get out of town before dark. 

In a sense he was joking, of course, but in another sense maybe not so much. Solid fundamentalists, whether in southern Missouri or elsewhere in the United States, often have a deep-seated suspicion of papists whom they view as souls needing to be saved. In contrast, Catholics I know harbor no great animus toward Fundamentalists with whom we share similar positions on abortion, euthanasia and other issues in our society today. We disagree on many things but on core issues there is great similarity whether either group admits that or not. 

I used to read Al's hometown paper in his shop while waiting for a haircut and I had come to love from afar the people in that area. I would rejoice when I saw the rare obit in which the deceased “was of the Catholic faith.” I would circle that fact and give it to Al as part of my gratuity on the way out if only to prove we papists had infiltrated his part of the woods.

I also admired a senior columnist in the paper who at times not only voiced suspicions of cults (her readers knew who the cults were even if Al had pardoned one of them) but she also had serious questions about other Protestant denominations. She was a member of the Church of Christ. 

I told Al that as a good Baptist he might not pass muster with the columnist or perhaps the Church of Christ. I later learned this denomination had split in two and neither of the two, as I understand it, accepts the theology of the other. Martin Luther’s 16th century earthquake still has tremors today with reputedly more than 23,000 sects or ecclesial communities already established and more being born as disagreements in doctrine occur. 

I was often tempted to send the columnist a letter indicating that as a traditional Catholic who reads her column every week, I felt obliged to tell her we papists are Christian and believe that Christ is our Lord and Savior and anything she may have heard to the contrary is buncombe and balderdash. I never sent that letter. I didn’t think that kind of thing would be helpful in bridging the gap.

Al Morlen was truly one of a kind. Every time I go elsewhere for a haircut now I think of him. I have met a lot of people cut from rare cloth in Chicago and St. Louis but no one like Al Morlen, a Christian first and a barber second. 

The man had to emigrate from his beloved Ellsinore, Missouri, to earn a living and he did that successfully. He reminded me of my parents who had emigrated from Ireland, circa 1920, to earn a living as well. They too succeeded, making it possible for the likes of me to pick up a couple of degrees coming out of a neighborhood where few went on to college. And like Al making the long hike from Ellsinore, my parents brought their faith with them.

Donal Mahoney has worked as an editor for U.S. Catholic Magazine, Loyola University Press, and The Chicago Sun-Times. Retired now, he keeps busy writing poetry, fiction and nonfiction. Some of his work can be found at http://eyeonlifemag.com/the-poetry-locksmith/donal-mahoney-poet.html#sthash.OSYzpgmQ.dpbs=

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Ross Vassilev- A Poem


hot summer night
and the gift
of loneliness

the streetlights
are the eyes
of Gods looking down

the Gods always know

I see the headlights
of the truck
before it rushes by
like a whale

the trucker
has a deadline
a place he's gotta be

there's nowhere
I have to be

just wandering
the night
with the sleeping cars
and light from
scattered windows.

Emily Ramser- A Poem

Under your eyes
If I were the Earth,
I would cradle you to my chest,
between my snow-capped craggy mountains
in my river basins
and my rolling plains
covered in the wildflowers
that bear your name
and if you were the Moon,
I would reflect your face
in my seas and oceans,
my waves lapping
at your cheekbones,
the light of the north star
marking the twinkle
of your blue eyes.

Michael Keshigian- Three Poems


Death will not catch him,
he concluded, the evidence
provided by his body represented
a surreptitious camouflage
of accumulated years
upon which he declared
a perennial battle in youthful years.
The wrinkles missing from his skin
cannot testify to impending worries
he casually buried beneath
the mound of gray hair
masked brown upon his head
induced from a desire to remain relevant,
the trim waistline and inflated biceps
a battle waged
from extended life-long activity,
to help encourage
the wants of the boy
enthralled with the infinite possibilities in life.
His manner of living has changed little.
On warm summer nights
he still attempts to decipher
messages crickets scratch and fireflies blink,
whereas in winter he glides effortlessly
down the snowy mountainside
between the frozen pines.
His passion for discovery remains steadfast,
driven by the innocence and beauty
of every reborn morn.
Though in seclusion, he sometimes
struggles from bed to bath,
he refuses to succumb,
a token acknowledgement
of a promise to which he holds fast.


There is an awakening of my tongue
when it formulates those words
my mind delivers, words that enter
the awakening of the day
once they are spoken,
a day that is awakened
by the nudge of one moment
to the next, lengthening brightness
toward night
and the awakening of artificial light.
There is the wakening of a poem
when it is read aloud
as its concept awakens the air
which stimulates those listening
much like the awakening of a stormy sky
by a rainbow after thunder and rain
awakened the gathering dust
and parched grasses
on summer’s driest day.
The awakening of the sun
has long been known to waken life,
wakefulness beyond its effect
known to confuse and mystify it,
the pale awakening of the moon
depends upon it.
Then there is the awakening I embrace
when her image awakens my eyes,
an awakening that I be fitted
with the warmth of her caress
that enraptures me
with a wakening of sensations
to which I am lost,
from which I chose no awakening.


The oscillation of surf
in attendance with a lick of wind
will indicate to him
his role in the scheme,
burning sand grains between his toes,
scorching sunlight upon his neck,
seagulls and crabs, fleas and seaweed,
will enrapture his senses
to the moment, to a place
and instant he is about to visit
again for the first time.
He walks around,
absorbing the seconds,
aware because the present is light,
its event aglow, emanating
from an illuminated past
now gone dim, forward
toward an unknown future
rising from the immediate darkness
existing light will infiltrate
to fulfill the slow voyage
embarked upon without warning.
He stops to take a breath,
to study the seconds,
only to discover that his concerns
are not painted upon this current page,
his acquaintances, family, and possessions,
floating in the shadowy past
are temporarily inconsequential.
He is here, greeting what will be,
with the yellow laser light that penetrates.

Michael Keshigian’s tenth poetry collection, Beyond was released May, 2015 by Black Poppy. He has been widely published in numerous national and international journals most recently including Poesy,The Chiron Review, California Quarterly, and has appeared as feature writer in over a dozen publications with 5 Pushcart Prize and 2 Best Of The Net nominations. (michaelkeshigian.com)

Paul Tristram- Three Poems

Pain, Pain

Pain, Pain go away,
come again a Drunken Day.

© Paul Tristram 2010

Drug Seller, Fortune Teller

“Oh, you’re back in again, nice to see you
…how much cocaine did they catch you with
this time then?”

“See, It’s a conspiracy, everybody knows
what’s going on and it’s not even hitting
the newspapers until tomorrow afternoon.
Even the Medic in Reception earlier told me
that he’d been praying that God and the Angels
would help me stay off the wicked white powder
when I last got out of prison, I mean Jesus Christ!
He didn’t even take a glance at the clipboard
to see what I was in for this time, he just knew,
everyone just knows, it’s a stitch up, I’m sick of it.
It’s not fair at all, I know my rights and this
bullshit is wrong, all of it, done up like a kipper.
The police are fitting me up left, right and centre,
why don’t they pick on someone else for a change?
I’m sacking my Solicitor and getting another one,
he’s not even worth the Legal Aid paper work,
everyone’s out to get me, I’ve had enough!”

“Wow, you’re only ever out for three months
at a time and you’ve only ever been nicked
for the same thing, over and over again.
Grasses and clairvoyancy just aren’t needed
with you Sunshine, now go and get a couple of
valium off Dai Biscuits and calm the fuck down!”

© Paul Tristram 2015

Oxygen & Air Affair

‘just breathe…in and out…softly’
he whispered inside his own mind.
Wincing sharply as a recollection
of violence flashed through like lightning.
‘calm down…just focus upon the darkness
…float and drift…and recover slowly
…it’ll all be there to deal with later’
An image of blood upon his favourite boots
and a broken, splintered table leg
balancing precariously and swinging gently-
like the scales of justice-half in and half out
of a double glazed front door
made him open his eyes in panic.
He snapped them back closed quickly
‘just shut it all out…think of nothing’
The bedding was up over his face
and he reached out his right hand
gingerly to the side of the bed
and felt the cold perfectness
of the twined circled sawn-off shotgun barrel. 
Ah, at least he was still at home, no police cell,
he relaxed a little until the word ‘Bastard’
started screaming inside his aching head
by several different angry voices
as the damn of the whisky blackout’s
amnesia began to shuffle and break.
Reaching out his jittering hand again
until it came to rest upon the sanctuary
of a bottleneck, lifting it gently
and feeling still liquid content
between nervous thumb
and ‘I’m starting to not
give a fuck anymore’ forefinger.
He decided that now was the perfect time
to brave the day, last night, and properly awake?

© Paul Tristram 2015

Paul Tristram is a Welsh writer who has poems, short stories, sketches and photography published in many publications around the world, he yearns to tattoo porcelain bridesmaids instead of digging empty graves for innocence at midnight, this too may pass, yet.

Buy his book ‘Poetry From The Nearest Barstool’ at http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1326241036
And also read his poems and stories here!


Friday, September 25, 2015

Bradley Williams- A Cartoon

                                            See website at: http://machocomics.com

Jonathan Beale- Two Poems

After Hokusai

Fishing by torchlight

(From fishing by torchlight in Kai Province)

As men & fish find together in the night
Playing a game of chess: against the liquid cosmos
This weaving river cravating.
Fish muse beneath the moonlight
Flicking, twitching, dancing on their own
Fishy reel – music as the delicate
Rivers silk reflects this silk moon
The basest reason our basest beggars are
As they – fishing in the night.
The draw must reveal
When they break the water
In a new waterless world
The act is complete – the lesson
Will be repeated again
Tomorrow, and

St Francis and the Birds by Stanley Spencer

In his basic brown cassock
St Francis Was at one –
Embracing the Sky and earth
And all that’s in-between

The ducks and chickens in their grace
Follow that path: greatness of humanity
Creatures of life.  Creatures most honest
Their chain is unbreakable.

No one can put asunder they live
They walk together along one path
Quite simply the atavistic
The saints steps with the

Fowls remains

Ralph Monday- A Poem

Unequal Equinox

Autumnal equinox and nothing is equal:
cops against citizens, citizens against
cops, the church against moral
transgressions, the political parties
against everything.
A country divided cannot stand. The fall
rot can be smelled driving down the road.
Some witch is needed to cast a spell,
some red-hooded Cassandra to read the
future’s bones.
The pot is bubbling, cooking, boiling
over, seasoned with sworded Spanish
knuckles, drops of the trail of tears,
songs of Christian slaves; this
soup, no one can eat.

Ralph Monday is Associate Professor of English at Roane State Community College in Harriman, TN., and has published hundreds of poems in over 50 journals. A chapbook, All American Girl and Other Poems, was published in July 2014. A book Empty Houses and American Renditions was published May 2015 by Aldrich Press. A Kindle chapbook Narcissus the Sorcerer was published June 2015 by Odin Hill Press.
Website: Ralph Monday

Raymond Keen- A Poem

A Theory of the Origin of Western Civilization

When did we first witness
a shiny metal hook
sink deeply into a human back,
deeply enough to hold
the struggling figure
securely suspended,
like a well-caught fish on a hook?
Sometimes the blood-red,
bone-white spine
was pulled through
the victim’s back
by the weight and writhing
of the human body.
Imagine that!

We have seen the newsreels
of the Jews they called vermin,
hung neatly in a row
on Nazi meat hooks
in respectable German cellars,
hung neatly in a row
like little caps
hung neatly in a row
in a neighborhood kindergarten in winter.
Imagine that!
Oh students
of Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven,
oh singers
of Gregorian Chant,
imagine that!

Together, we enjoy watching
Leatherface on the wide screen
as he skewers the screaming girl
securely on the meat hook,
so he can finish preparing
in his butcher’s kitchen
for the evening meal.

Retailers say,
“Fear is created by the merchandise.”
First the merchandise is presented,
then comes the fear.
And the fear is transforming.
In Kubrick’s stunning overture
to 2001:  A Space Odyssey
(“Dawn of Man”),
the ape-men (Australopithecus)
see the black monolith
for the first time,
circle it cautiously,
jibbering in fear,
then touching
the great object of peril
oh so tentatively
before exploring,
finally caressing
the truth.

First comes the merchandise,
then comes the fear.
And the fear is transforming.
The fear of Australopithecus
transforms the useless thigh bone
into a club of death,
a prehistoric meat hook
with which the primordial ape-man
can now see his way
to kill his same-species rival
at the waterhole.
Homicidal man is born,
master over his enemies
now so clearly evident
with his new tool of destruction.

Together, we enjoy watching
Leatherface on the wide screen
as he skewers the screaming girl
securely on the meat hook,
so he can finish preparing
in his butcher’s kitchen
for the evening meal.

The mind and heart
of the Western World,
the Roman Empire,
perfected the practice
of crucifixion.
They nailed those enemies
who threatened the order of the State
to a cross,
enemies like the Jew Jesus,
who hung on the Roman meat hook
to assuage the common fear
of the good citizens of Rome.

Later, the new order
of Western Civilization
is the Christian Church.
Christianity itself
had become the meat hook.
If a man is afraid,
he will protect himself with something frightening.
The enemies of the Christian State
were treated with ritual torture
that led to confession,
that led to being tied to the stake,
the medieval meat hook,
so the enemy could be burned alive,
affirming the safety
of good Christians everywhere.

Together, we enjoy watching
Leatherface on the wide screen
as he skewers the screaming girl
securely on the meat hook,
so he can finish preparing
in his butcher’s kitchen
for the evening meal.

Everything began with the meat hook.
First came the merchandise,
then came the fear.
And the fear is transforming.
Hence we have the progress
of Western Civilization
hanging on a meat hook.
Or Western Civilization itself
is the meat hook,
and we are the meat.
We have Western Civilization’s
philosophy of the meat hook,
the meat hook as foundation
of the mind-body problem,
the Tree of Knowledge
in the Garden of Eden
as meat hook.
The Devil as meat hook.
So we swallow the meat hook
without being asked
for our own peace of mind.
Then there is silence.

Raymond Keen’s Bio:

Raymond Keen was educated at Case Western Reserve University and the University of Oklahoma.  He spent three years as a Navy clinical psychologist with a year in Vietnam (July 1967 – July 1968).  Since that time he has worked as a school psychologist and licensed mental health counselor in the USA and overseas, until his retirement in 2006.  He is a credentialed school psychologist in the states of California and Washington, and a licensed mental health counselor in the state of Washington. 

Raymond’s first volume of poetry, Love Poems for Cannibals, was published in February 2013.  He is also the author of a drama, The Private and Public Life of King Able, which will be published in 2015.  Raymond’s poetry has been published in 29 literary journals.

Stu Buck- A Poem


Wet concrete
I spit out my tooth
Tea stained enamel
Silver filling
Blood follows
I can hear the siren
Its drawing closer
The blood mingles with the rain
The tooth is washed downstream
The ambulance is here
Its midnight
My chariot beckons

I blink
No one sees

He comes to my bedside
And tells me all things must die
I stare through him
At the teeth chattering on the walls
At the decaying bouquets
In the corner of the room
I took his hand
And he smiled

I am four years old
I slip off my stepping stool
And crack my tooth
I am thirteen years old
I kiss Mary Kitts
I feel her tongue in my mouth
I am fifteen
I fall down the stairs
The cat licks my ear
My knight in shining armour
I am eighteen
I am drunk
I fight with my dad
He swings first
I am twenty-one
She breaks my heart
I am twenty-five
The night is stained with semen and sweat
I am twenty-nine
I never saw the car coming
I never stood a chance

I wake up
I see dim light below
It is the birth of a galaxy
I know this
But I do not know how I know this
I blink
The light changes
Glows fiercely
I blink
The light turns from red to green
Dozens of smaller lights circle around
I blink
The smaller lights have become sentient
I watch them watch me
They dart in and out of my vision
Some approach me
Some keep their distance
I blink
The creatures have become hostile
I blink
The creatures are gone
I see everything
I blink
A planet appears
It is blue
I move towards the surface
The clouds cushion my descent
They are comfortable
Like pillows
I blink

The impact from the vehicle
Travelling at seventy miles an hour
Flips me into the air
My head crashes first into the windshield
Then the concrete
The sounds I hear envelop me
The siren
The beep
The click

I am staring at a blank canvas
I blink
Mountain ranges burst forth from the land
Splitting the world asunder
I blink
Rivers flow
Like tears
I blink
I feel each tree
Each leaf
As it punches through the ground
I blink
I am a bird now
I am everything that ever was
I blink
I see planets
I see galaxies
I see the universe
And I see my wife
Sat by my hospital bed
In tears
Stroking my hair
Begging me
To just wake up

I am seven years old
Chris Rogers is punching me in the stomach
Everyone is cheering
I struggle to my feet
Pick up a rock
And smash it into his face
His teeth fly out
The screams part the crowd
The teacher grabs my throat

I wake up
My wife has gone
Her bag is on the chair next to my bed
She will return to me
As I have returned to her
I blink.

Stu Buck is a chef turned poet living in North Wales. His debut collection is due for release Oct 16. He has a poetry blog @ writeoutloud.net/blogs/stubuck and can now be found embracing the 21st century on twitter @stuartmbuck. He writes a weekly blog for literary magazine Under the Fable which can be found @ www.underthefable.co.uk