Wednesday, December 30, 2009


isn’t much like
you’d imagine
they’re joking
paraplegics putting
on rock n roll real
loud to bug some dudes
who just like Aida,
We were glad to be
coming out of the jungle,
not in body bags.
First day out with my
new leg and I think I’m
hot stuff, don’t know it’s
got this spring-loaded
thing and I twist on
a bar stool and my
leg spits and flings
itself out, yanks a
briefcase off this
man’s arm and throws it
across the floor. He
gave me a funny look.
Then once one foot
turned around so
I looked to be
walking backward and
forward at the same
time and a kid
pointed it out
and said look at that
as his mama was
hushing. You’d be
surprised what I can
do with it. But,
Honey, there are
some things it’s more
comfortable to
take it off for

by Lyn Lifshin

*Lyn's website:

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Waits is growling 'bout the one that got away

by Tom Blessing

and i remember
all those poems
i thought of
while driving
from detroit to
the keweenaw
those poems
that were lost
in my memory
along dark
beneath a
full moon
reflecting off
frozen waves
along the shores
of Lake Superior
while tea
cooled in
the cup holder
and Tom growled
from the speakers
and morning
seemed no
more than
a despicable
where everything
seems distant
and false

-What do you think?-

by Shannon Peil

the doctor was nice and all
bit of a tight ass
but you know the collegiate
especially from med school
he tells me 'you know
you really shouldn't drink
while you're taking percocet'
and I wince and look up
resting my broken arm on my knee
put the AA brochure
into my pocket and tell him
'yeah, yeah
I understand doc. but
what do you think about
maybe renewing my script?'

Monday, December 28, 2009


by Lyn Lifshin

how she longed for
Sally Smith’s long
long legs, thighs
that weren’t always
kissing each other
but let light thru. The
mad girl hated her
fat thighs on benches
for basketball games.
Even at six she scowled
in the mirror seeing
her soft fat thighs
in a bathing suit,
belly she didn’t
believe would always
betray her. She
remembers being
weighed in front of the
class and how Mr.
Dewey belted out
the numbers, how she
weighed more than
most of the boys in the
class. “Chubbette”
an uncle with a clothes
store nagged, “the
regular pre teen skirts
won’t fit you.” But the
mad girl refused. She
would, even pared down,
lying on her bed to zip
jeans at least one
size too small, refusing
to wear anything over
size 0. But it’s the early
days when kids yelled
fat out the window,
worse to her than kike
or two eyes or kinky hair
or book worm. Now she
wishes she could dance
depression out of her,
write this one man
into so many poems in
real life she’ll be too
numb to have feelings
about him, paint him as
dull. Her legs no longer
smack each other as if
applauding or kissing
but hold the little that
is left of her, so light,
almost air, if she danced
with the one she’d
chose, he’d hold her up
and she could easily
follow where ever
he wants her to go

*Lyn's website:

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Lines for a Female Psychiatrist

Perhaps when I’m better I’ll discover
you aren’t married, after all,
and I should be better by Spring.

On that day I’ll walk
down Michigan Avenue
and up again along the Lake,
my back to the wind, facing you,
my black raincoat buttoned to the neck,
my collar a castle wall
around my crew cut growing in.

Do you remember the first hour?
I sat there unshaven,
a Martian drummed from his planet,
ordered never to return.

With your legs crossed,
you smoked the longest cigarette
and blinked like a child when I said,
“I’m distracted by your knee.”

The first six months you smoked
four cigarettes a session
as I prayed out my litany of escapades,
each detail etched perfectly in place.

The day we finally changed chairs
and I became the patient
and you the doctor,
you knew that I didn’t know
where I had been,
where I was then,
and even though my hair
had begun to grow in
how far I'd have to go
before I could begin.

by Donal Mahoney

Village Idiot

You can download a free copy of my new pdf e-chap Village Idiot at Full of Crow Press. Open and read it with Foxit PDF Reader.

--Ross Vassilev


by Michael A. Flanagan

it was a flea bag hotel somewhere on 43rd st.
i was high and a little drunk. i told her she
had to strip down first, then i'd pay. she
demanded the money up front. when i
refused for the 3rd time, she stormed out
of the room. a few minutes later, she was
back. she stood by the door and stared
at me. when i gave her the money, she
folded the bills and put them in a small,
dirty white purse. i laughed when she
told me she was on her period, told her,
a deal's a deal. finally, we stripped down,
got on the bed, started in. at some point i
got carried away, i began to think about
love, i kissed her cheek. she wiped the
cheek with the back of her hand, made
a face like a baby that's just been
fed something distasteful. finishing,
i rolled off. there was blood on the
condom, i was surprised, she'd been
telling the truth after all. when she
left, i sat in a ratty looking chair by
the room's only window. between hits
off a fat bottle of gallo wine, i stared at
the streets below. i got very drunk and
wept, not understanding the world at all

Saturday, December 26, 2009


by Lyn Lifshin

maples, rain soaked
would blur car lights
if there were any
somewhere, the
sound of a train.
Then I was a long-
legged beauty. Then
my hair was fire.
The rain erased
the space between
our bodies. Later
you write I was
stunning. Too late,
too long after I
didn’t imagine that

*Lyn's website:


by Lyn Lifshin

flat, all the way
to Canada. 65 and the
hideous tropic rain
air gone. Some
thing over. A back
to school fall sky.
I’m sleeping in the
car to escape as if
there’d be nights with
a finger nail moon
and you again, with
that grin, my black
dress on the floor

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


by Lyn Lifshin

suddenly there on the train
to Oslo. And me, there,
figuring it’s ok, imagining
what, an affair? A hook
up? Is it too late for that?
So he was a student of mine
in another life, not one
who made my face burn,
made me shiver like Sal
Falova but a skinny good old
boy who loved poetry so
much he salted away one of
the only two copies of
one of my books in
his military trench coat. Those
days with writing work shops
at my house, at St Rose
where I read poems too
scandalous for some
but the nuns adored them.
Summer of divorce
and George was there, often, as
if ready to step in tho it was
not for me. I got my book
back, never gave him what he
wanted. Sometimes a poem
of his in a magazine. Same
formal, almost academic
piece about a Kentucky field
or the last thoughts of a
Confederate general. So many
years in other cities, never a
thought of his stillness,
forgetting maybe he took me
home after I drank too
much to get thru a reading—
old enough to have a son the
age he was. Just a few words
at a reading back in town,
no electricity, 5 minutes talk
maybe and then I slid back
to Virginia. So how am
I hip to hip, my head on his
shoulder heading past
snow peaks? Oslo, already
with its warming quilts,
mugs of mulled wine and
this feeling a feeling, a
freshness I haven’t felt
for too long

*Lyn's website:

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Beautiful And Beaten

by Doug Draime

She was hardly
recognizable sitting on
my steps
for me to come home.
It was 5 a.m. on a
Tuesday morning.
I was drinking at a bar on
Hollywood Boulevard
near Normandy, till closing time.
And then walked down
the street to Norm’s
restaurant for some steak
and eggs, sitting there downing
four black coffees, taking it slow
till I sobered up a little.
As I walked up my walk I could see
her sitting there
with her arms cradling her knees.
Her left eye was beaten shut;
blood caked on all over
her beautiful face,
and her upper lip
busted and swollen.
She was smiling under
my porch light. I got close
into her face.
“Jesus Christ, Dee, what
the fuck do you have
to smile about? What happened?” She started to cry.
“That’s two questions and I can’t
answer either one right now.” Tears
falling down her cheeks.
I stepped around her,
unlocked my door and pushed it open.
Then I bent down and gently
pulled her up by the shoulders, turned her
around and walked her
into my court apartment.

I turned on the light,
and still holding her shoulders,
guided her to the bathroom
and sat her down on the edge of the bath tub.
I dampened a wash cloth
with warm water
and gingerly cleaned her face
as best I could. She was trembling
and sobbing, with halting intakes
of breath, her whole body shaking.
Dee had been on the
streets hustling for about six months.
I met her about a year before,
when she was go-go dancer
at a place on lower Melrose.
She lost her job after slapping some
asshole for reaching up
and pinching her tit.
Not being able to find a job dancing,
or anything else, for
that matter, and desperate for money, she
decided to sell her body ...
on the streets of downtown L.A.
She stayed with me for awhile, and she
started to mean a lot to me.
I attempted to talk
her out of it many times, but to no avail.
Finding a half-way decent pimp
was the toughest part; she interviewed
them, a couple a week for a month,
like she was hiring a
trustworthy baby sitter, or a Japanese
gardener. She found one named Omar,
who set her up at the Roselyn Hotel
on 5th street. In a few months she had
enough money for
a nice little bungalow in Silverlake for her off
hours and
was saving money
for her dream of movie stardom; taking
acting lessons on the side.
She stopped by only two or three times
after that, seemingly content
with her life on the streets,
and with Omar.

I was on my knees holding her,
as she sat on the tub crying,
the tears soaking my shirt
clear through to my skin.
After a while I got her up
and walked her into my bedroom,
undressed her down to her panties
and bra.
She had stopped crying and
was thanking me over and over again
for “being here”. She quietly, slowly began
to tell me what had happened.
Omar had brought up a trick
to her room at the Roselyn.
The trick was drunk and couldn’t keep
a hard on. He suddenly got
violent and slapped her, then pulled a
knife, pressing it to her
throat, screaming foulness into her face,
as he still held the knife
at her throat, beating her with his fist.
She managed to knee him
in the balls and get away, running
down two flights of stairs
and out of the hotel. Her first thought
was to find Omar, who always
hung out at Googies restaurant
down the street.
When she couldn’t find him,
it was then she realized she left her
purse in the hotel room,
with all her money and the keys
to her bungalow. She hitched a ride into
East Hollywood, and had been waiting for
me since 11 p.m.
She said she was afraid to go
back to the hotel room without someone
with her.
I told her to lay down and try to get some
sleep, and that I would
go with her later that day.
I pulled the covers back and she got
under them like
a small child being tucked in,
still shaking a bit. She asked me to lay down
with her and hold her like I used to.
And I held her till we both fell
asleep. We got up around noon, showered;
I fixed some scrambled eggs, coffee and toast.
Her face looked worse,
especially her eye, which had swollen even
more, and was as black as coal.
I made her an ice pack
and told her to hold it on
the eye until her face was
numb; gave her some codeine
for the pain; and we set
out for downtown.

After parking in a lot off of 5th & Broadway
we walked to
the hotel. The door to her room was
wide open, but amazingly
nothing appeared to be missing;
she found her purse and
everything was there. She started
crying again out of
nowhere; I thought that that
was all over, but apparently not.
She sat down on the bed and cried harder
than the night before, nearly
hysterical. I started to move over to console
her, when I heard a noise behind me
and turned to face
a little black guy in a rumpled shark skin suit.
I knew immediately it was
Omar, from Dee’s description.
“Who the fuck are you?” he asked, trying to sound
as menacing as possible.
I started smiling, because he was such a weird
looking little guy. He had a lazy eye,
which appeared to be slightly spinning,
a huge nose, and a chin
disappearing into a chicken neck.
Before I could say anything, Dee jumped up
from the bed and ran over to him.
“This is my friend, Doug, that I told you
so much about. Doug, this is Omar.”
She was smiling like she was introducing me
to her father at a family picnic.
Omar looked me up and down like I was a bug,
and then smiled a real smile, sticking out
a small thin hand. My smile hadn’t left my face, and I
said. “Nice to meet ‘ya,” shaking his limp hand.
Dee began to unfold the story
of the night before. Omar listening attentively,
sat down on the bed to roll a joint.
I closed the door and went into the bathroom
to piss. When I came back out, Dee was crying
again and Omar was holding her
and smoking. He offered me the joint, but I declined.
He didn’t seem to like that much,
but when I explained
I was driving back
to East Hollywood and smoking
messed up my depth perception, he smiled,
and said he’d roll me one for later..
He rolled up a huge bomber and handed
it to me.. Dee was either smiling or crying
through it all, thanking me as she
held on tightly
to her pimp. Omar shook my hand again,
I gave Dee a hug and left.
On my way home I thought of several things
I should’ve done or said, like talk
her out of whoring, slap Omar senseless
and throw his ass out the window, things like that.
But she seemed happy, like I said; and
she could’ve done a lot
worse than Omar. And who was I
to come between a whore
and her pimp?

*first published in Zygote in My Coffee

Friday, December 18, 2009


by Lyn Linshin

I don’t think how the
m and m’s that soothe
only made my fat legs
worse. I’m not thinking
how my mother will
die, of fires that could
gulp a mother up, leave
me like Bambi. I’m not
going over the baby sitter’s
stories of what they did to
young girls in tunnels, of
the ovens and gas or have
nightmares I’ll wake up
screaming for one whole
year wanting someone to
lie near me, hold me as if
from then on no one can get
close enough. I don’t hear
my mother and father yelling,
my mother howling that if
he loved us he’d want to buy
a house, not stay in the apart-
ment he doesn’t even pay
her father rent for but get
a place we wouldn’t be
ashamed to bring friends.
What I can drift and dream
in is more real. I don’t want
to leave the world of golden
apples and silver geese. To
make sure, I close my eyes,
make a wish on the first hay
load of summer then wait
until it disappears

*Lyn's website:

Love Is Another Thing

Sitting at the table
spinning the creamer
running her fingers through sugar
the kids spilled at supper, Sue

suddenly says, “Don,
love is another thing.”
Since love is another thing
I have to go rent a room,

leave behind eight years,
five kids, the echoes of me
raging at noon on the phone,
raging at night, the mist

of whose fallout ate her skin,
ate her bones, left her a kitten
crying high in an oak
let me free, let me free

by Donal Mahoney

Thursday, December 17, 2009


by Lyn Lifshin

Yours, honey, were so perfect,
a little rosebud mouth, not
those puffed up blubbery
things, my mother says when
I pointed out the models’
collagen petals. “Roses,” my
mother always says, “that’s
what yours were, a nice
tiny nose. That’s from your
father. One good thing. Not
a big ugly one like I’ve got.”
I think of my mother’s lips,
moving close to my hair, how
her breath was always sweet.
“Too thin lips, like your father’s,
show stinginess.” She was
right. A man who couldn’t give
presents or love, a good word
or money. I only remember
three things he told me and
all began with Don’t tho my
mother said stories came from
those lips, that he brought me a
big dog. I only remember the
thinness of his lips, how his
death meant I wouldn’t have to
leave school to testify for the
divorce. Lips. When I came home
from camp I found Love Without
Fear in the bathroom and read
“if a girl lets a man put his tongue
on her lips down there, she’ll let
him do anything,” and then some
thing about deflowering. A
strange word I thought trying to
imagine flowers down there, rosebuds
not only on my mouth, a petal
opening, but a whole bush of petals,
a raft of roses someone kneeling
would take me away on, a sea of
roses, flowers and my lips the
island we’d escape to

*Lyn's website:

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


by Lyn Lifshin

An engagement present from my husband’s parents.
Shoved in a drawer like small eggs waiting to hatch,
forgotten. They seemed like something in a high school
photograph. I’d have preferred a large wrought iron pendant,
beads that caught the sun. Pearls were for them

and I was always only a visitor, tho he said he wished
I’d call him Dad. Sam was all I could get out.
It was hard to throw my arms around him, to bubble
and kiss. And not just because they thought
me a hippie, a witch, thought I took

their son’s car and stamps and coin collections.
Pearls wouldn’t go with my corduroy smocks, long black
ironed hair. They didn’t blend with my hoops of onyx
and abalone that made holes in my ears but caught the light.
Pearls might have gone with the suits I threw away,
no longer a graduate student trying to please.
They weren’t suitable for days with a poet hidden in trees
or for throwing up wine in toilet bowls after poetry readings
where I shook and swore not to let anyone see. My spider medallion
is in at least eight poems. Pearls remind me of the way I thought

I was: studious but not wild, not interesting. But I put those pearls
on last night tho I hadn’t planned to wear them. They didn’t seem ugly
or apt to choke, seemed gentle and mild as so little is in my life
these days. I slept in nothing but those pearls, they seemed part of me

*Lyn's website:


where my car slid off the road,
where amethyst barrettes
were flung from bloody hair,
forehead scalped

I’d be late for the film
whined in siren light

And who would tell the
friend I was meeting.
stay with us a man with
blue eyes said over

and over. The night
grass, September dew.

My mustang left like
litter. I suppose my
heart took a deep breath,
If there were sparrows

I didn’t hear them

by Lyn Lifshin

Monday, December 14, 2009

sisyphus in the not for profit sector

by paul harrison

this poem is for
all the broke down
hurting people
i meet at work
trying to help with words
and the irony of it all does not escape me
it's partly why i drink alone in crowds
of young, dumb successful types
who couldn't give a shit
while the State and speakers boom
of course i was a gutter drunk
long before i stumbled into this
that's why i'm here
all burnt out
and relatively speaking
you'd think exposure
to all that pain and suffering
would help me
count my blessings
but it don't
and in this poem
you won't be hearing any of that
'empowering', small l, liberal PC bullshit
born of a Stockholm syndrome
validating a vicious system
cause and effect of it all
and in case you didn't know
it's never going away, none of it
not today
not tomorrow
not in my life-time
or yours either
so enjoy your blindness
your raucous silence
your comfort
while another child
gets thrown to the wolves


by RC Miller

This lovely wooden door
Protects me from the domination of dust.
A mechanical bull in a country and western bar
Invokes the prosperity of the wicked.
This lovely wooden whore
Keeps her shirt on.
I want to feel her splinters
Spray my insides.
By flashlight this unchanged mountaintop
Is a place where demons quietly replay
Recaps of my favorite original videos.
The wild beast has faith in riders
That will never return.
It's so lovely to be ignorant of coming or going.


Sunday, December 13, 2009

3 poems by Hugh Fox


Bringing them all back, the right Andean
chemicals, prayers to the Underground
spirits, Great-Great-Great-Grandmother
Adeline Fox coming out of the Red Cedar
River, Great-Great-Great Grandfather
Sean walking over the mountains toward
our stone cabin with a pitchfork in his
hands praising Jesus, “Not long now and
He’ll be back,” The Inquisition hovering
around in the clouds as the Great-Great-
Great-Greaters make their way north into
Celticism, the latest womb-escaper, Beatrice,
coming into my workroom, “I want colored
paper, violet, I’m making violets,” as the
Weather Devil drolls on “Tomorrow, tomorrow,
tomorrow you’ll see, see, see.....,” feeling
existentially ONE as the rest of the antiquities
slither through the cracks in the windows and
drop down the chimney into the flames that
can’t/won’t touch them.


Difficult to imagine how, as art-lit-theater-film-
centric as I always was, with Hugh and Connie
in the same body, an only child unused to having
anyone around but Mom, Dad and ancient Prague
grandma, getting totally involved with doctorates
and jobs in Hollywood, Caracas, Florian├│polis
Brazil, ever managed to get married three times
and father six children who produced six grandchildren
all ending up in the same town with my three wives
so that holidays/everydays become as holy as the Thou’s that
wave their wings around us in reproductive-speculative
joy as they see the universe , if only at times like these,
fulfill the expectations of creation.


If you look at the rest of her it’s all
Spring legs, arms, belly-button, only
the face that’s late Fall, but Beethovening
into the Kreutzer Violin Sonata there’s
a certain agelessness that surfaces, like
all the students walking around campus
tonight, Bernadete lamenting “I wish I
could start all over again..the upswing
optimum instead of...,” two sisters dead
within the last six months.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Welcome to Bedford Falls

by Melanie Browne

You can probably get drunk here.
Maybe find a woman to do the reverse cowgirl with.
You might find an Angel named Clarence here,
but then again, you probably won’t.
It’s a nice place,
but watch out for the bank examiner.

I Can Feel Teri Smiling

by G David Schwartz

I can’t see up to heaven
And I can’t even see to Cleveland
But I can see my sister
Sitting at the gate
Smiling down on us
Making love in the day
Where everywhere else outside
There is war, as always
And deaths as before
And I feel her shy laughter
At the wooden door
Oh Teri, the sweetest of us all
I just stand here awaiting
For and upon your call

*G David Schwartz's new book, Midrash and Working Out Of The Book, is now in stores or can be ordered here.

Friday, December 11, 2009


by Chris Butler

I drank so much
that my brain cells
one by one,
each screaming,
around the rounded
tub of the bottle’s
broken bottom,
in the whirlpool
of backwashed
beer and flicked
until I finish
the final
and drive
myself under
the influence
to the store
for some


by Stephen Jarrell Williams

Biting your nails watching the sun slide
behind the smog grime of evening,
city surrounding your tight rags
hanging on you like limp fingers, white cotton
over your tanned breasts and hips,
legs smooth in the gleam of the long alleyway
you travel nightly, hiding from the man monsters
always peeking,

moon soothing,
getting off on its light against your skin,
walking through the night's breath,
the animal coming
out of you,
backs of buildings with staring windows,

you slowly begin
tearing tugs of rags,
dropping pieces of fur on the pavement,
until you're salaciously raw and smiling
on another of many
night walks.


by Stephen Jarrell Williams

Such a fine tummy,
you must do your sit-ups daily,
and your long legs muscled,
you must swim laps,

but I'm stronger in my sins than you,
you're just a beginner, an amateur
in my bed under the glow of a false moon,

your curves craving,
rubbing them as you moan for more,
licking you into a ready pose,

then standing over you,
leaking magical drops over your skin
gasping for me...

I settle in,
a torpedo
ramming you into the underworld.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


by Hugh Fox

Listen to what the sub-, not terranean but
consciousness voices say, how to trill the
hands across the keyboard or slosh out into
the winter backforest, light the fire and
mind-draw the faces that will turn into
smoke-bones, Ellaraine now far away fifty
Pacific Palisades cliffs years old, and the
lipsticked lips still oatmeal and cranberry,
and bedtime it, if it’s to be as it’s never
been, BE it to the power of infinity,
the ancient Notre Dames and Nefertiti-
tunnel mummies, Machu-Tiawanaku
sacredness in the Name of The Now,
The Now and The Now.

Sitting Shiva in a Hotel Lobby

For a year this image has haunted me.
Over and over I hear on the gramophone
Cohen put in my ear
“Feature this:
On a crowded elevator
a strange woman in a baseball cap
unbuttons your fly.”
That image is on the ceiling every night
as I sit shiva in the lobby
of this small hotel,
a hookah, like a tired cobra,
coiled at my feet,
a shamrock in my buttonhole
dead from the last parade.
Night after night,
I think about this strange woman
as each hour I watch
the doors of the elevator
part and give birth.
I observe each new guest carefully,
hoping the woman in the baseball cap
will tire of the rain and ride up
in the elevator and register.
I want her to sit in the lobby
and talk with us.
We who are guests here forever
have eons to hear
what she has to say.
We have paid our rent in advance.
We can afford to sit here and see.

by Donal Mahoney

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


by Lyn Lifshin

My mother’s and mine were
velvety chocolate, a doe’s
eye in candle light, enormous
over a table. But we couldn’t
see, what was ahead was a
blur. What was behind was
haunted. I hated glasses,
pink plastic frames I had
by six, sliding off my nose
and making my too round
face rounder. In photographs
I’m plump, my dark eyes,
even under glasses, like
my mother’s while the new
sister’s were blue, pale
and her hair blond, her legs
skinny. “Adopted,” I often
thought. She was fearless then,
danced in those blue eyes
for strangers while I curled
close to my mother on the
couch, our dark eyes, our soft
bellies. Or I worked quietly,
alone in a room the water
fall hid, painting, or doing
science projects. Even with a
film over her eyes, she scanned
the length of my skirt, how
I “ruined” my hair, dying and
straightening, saw things
I didn’t want her to see. “Your
father’s nose,” everyone said
but in photographs now I
see my mother looking back
at me, not her presence,
like everyone said I’d feel
being so close but that dark
glistening polished bark, a
reflection of who I’ll be

*Lyn's website:


by Lyn Lifshin

Otter Creek lulling, spitting damp air
where lilac curtains were taken down. My
mother, older than my grandmother was
when I dreamt and shook in this room,
sits on my old bed, the dusty jewelry
boxes spread open. “You lost so many
of my earrings, honey, but like the
Lindberg doll you ruined, I let you.”

Rhinestones tangle with pins of horses
in the box where a ballet dancer used
to twirl to “Dance Ballerina Dance.”
My mother pulls a silver dollar to her,
tries to read the date with the one
eye she can. Remember the leaves in the
whirlpool? I held you in this bed when
you moaned with chicken pox she says

years after the Nazis I still dreamt they’d
sneak into the house. Rhinestones cloud over
like an eye, the bracelet of Cuban coins from
David before he said “suit your self” when I
asked if I should wear the yellow evening
gown strapless, then didn’t say a thing.
Hearts of rhinestones, silver ballet dancers
for ears, lavender hoops, lavender flowers.

Fraternity pins from loves whose names I
don’t remember, rhinestone spray Ron
Agasipour tried to peal from me, like the black
dress of transparent lace in the Middlebury Inn
over where the Junior Women’s Club dance
droned on. My mother untwists silver chains
pimply boys thought would make me want
them, says her fingers don’t work. “Take them

back now or throw them out,” she says of these
fake jewels in their worn cocoons of silk and
velvet as if they were dead babies I could bury
under the floor of my house to wait for their spirit
to bring back what’s gone

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Weeping Tree

by John Swain

Vanish your name
with oceans breaking
on the rock shore
in semblance of praise.
The room quiets you,
arms twist to conceal
the baring of legs
and breasts and hair
like the knotted vines
on a weeping tree.
I won't pretend for you,
instead I open my ribs
to your teeth, then
we curl like a beast in the sun.

motivating joshua

by Derek Richards

joshua nails the door shut with a rolling pin
scratches the bruises beneath his eyes
steadies himself with a quick hit on the joint
slides his head against the door
and listens

we can't continue to support you like this, josh
you haven't worked in months
you always smell like beer and dope
we've told you a thousand times
that linda is not allowed in our home
so that's it, okay, you've got two weeks

They turn off the living room lights at ten
the master bedroom lights at ten-thirty
wash the mercedes on sunday afternoons
and cut the lawn once a week
the morgage is paid and there's enough in the account
to pay the bills for two or three years

what happened to you, josh, we're concerned
you have no motivation, no passion
you don’t change your clothes
take a shower or talk for days
when linda blows you off you sulk
when she decides she needs a warm place to drink
we simply become obstacles

this is exactly what linda wants
a house of her own to raise the kids
as soon as judge davis gives her a break
she and josh will share the morning newspaper
sip coffee and plan their day
between her disability check
and the pot growing out back
they'll even have enough
to vacation up at the lake house
she'll finally fall madly in love
all it took was a rolling pin, ten nails
and a little motivation

old salem style

by Derek Richards

in old salem we hang witches
then sell t-shirts,

the harbor drifts alone,
isolated from telephone
poles and promises.

everytime you smile, my dear,
i see bullets and misled angels;
handguns and hallucigens
teach one manners.

the really pretty girls wait
for someone to make them ugly,
worthy and homesick, carefree
and degraded. like a daddy
wasn't poison enough.

wishing i was still young enough
to fake the blues, desperate to peruse
expectations. when did i get fat
on smooth leather and blonde hair?

there is always a plan, I’m a cannibalistic
poet, an intellectual eating his young.
you are comfortable, busy reading,
hidden behind a force field of alarm codes,
watching "gangland" on the history channel,
sucking down maple-walnut, complaining
about weight-loss commercials. dying bland.

and so here we are again, in old salem,
remembering witches and dollar draft nights.
tonight, it's all about me.
i am mad and drunk on kerouac,
vodka and hollow points.
you, my sweetheart, my aching love,
you must forget everything
and shut your mouth.

Monday, December 7, 2009

In Break Formation

The indications used to come
like movie fighter planes in break
formation, one by one, the perfect
plummet, down and out. This time they’re

slower. But after supper, when I hear
her in the kitchen hum again, hum
higher, higher, till my ears are

numb, I remember how it was
the last time: how she hummed
to Aramaic peaks, flung
supper plates across the kitchen
till I brought her by the shoulders

humming to the chair.
I remember how the final days
her eyelids, operating on their own,
rose and fell, how she strolled
among the children, winding tractors,
hugging dolls, how finally

I phoned and had them come again,
how I walked behind them
as they took her by the shoulders,
house dress in the breeze, slowly

down the walk and to the curbing,
watched them bend her in the back
seat of the squad again,

how I watched them pull away
and heard again the parliament
of neighbors talking.

by Donal Mahoney

Sunday, December 6, 2009


by Lyn Lifshin

lying awake all night.
If there was a full
moon I wouldn’t
know it. Rain all
night. Later maybe
the girls in their
summer dresses.
From midnight
to 4 AM going over
the places you touched
me. A hell of a way
to exorcise this
ghost when what’s
unreal seems
sometimes all there

*Lyn's website:

Saturday, December 5, 2009


the real one, hardly
bothered with,
being a girl and then
five days later, the
one we grew up
believing, like other
lies, wasn’t true.
The first year I wrote
post cards to her
in my head. She
filled poems with
her absence. When
I was in a strange city,
I still waited for her
call. Tapes I made
of her huddle on my
desk, I still can’t
play them. I never
thought anyone
I saw on the street
was her tho winter-
green and Joy
perfume haunt. Tho
I’ve heard the
dying have a smell,
but her breath her
skin was always
sweet. When I
open her pocket
book still in the
closet for years,
the scent of that
sweetness is
still, my mother

by Lyn Lifshin

*Lyn's website:


“In moments of great joy we’re confronted by the knowledge that tragedy lurks around the corner:”

“I will miss you especially,”
that last hug before Japan.
This clear Sunday light
early on the metro to
ballet, always trying to
keep what I can’t,
stumbling thru paper,
clothes, the longing.
The lost birds and horses
with their nests in my
heart and my mother’s
last words, a cove
of the lost, a tangle
of what’s discarded,
camouflaged maybe,
waiting for some
thing to grow there

by Lyn Lifshin

Thursday, December 3, 2009


by Lyn Lifshin

the week’s a
river of lost days
with little
taking me out
of myself
except what’s
not real. Still,
I can’t stop
trying to make
the word
flesh. And baby,
tho this is
the last page in
the notebook, I
think I’ll still
need a few
poems before I
can let you go

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

he's fifty

and we're not too different
but he's been cut by management
cost of living rises
and the pay keeps going down
yesterday he was complaining about not making enough
today he's being walked out by a fat lady
with a little box full of his shit
and tomorrow he'll be complaining about not making anything

and that's just the way of the world
isn't it
the weak and old who don't get paid enough
get fired in an instant so the young can pick up the slack
while he's
twenty grand in the hole for medical bills
but they didn't fix him, never will
they just gave him pills
to keep him alive long enough to buy more

but enough about him
I'm twenty-four now and I should be making more money.

by Shannon Peil

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


and why shouldn’t she be,
so sheltered and on a very
short leash until the ex con
poet saw her picture and
wrote he wanted to take
her down the Mississippi
hollering poems and blowing
weed. Suddenly everything
inside her started melting.
For months, little gifts. Ok,
so maybe he stole them.
But it was seduction
on paper with wine and
gorgeous letters better than
his poems. But that’s another
story. One friend of hers is
shocked, an ex con poet
behind your house
living in the weeds, how
could she be so bold, do
something so crazy? The
mad girl bristles, this
wasn’t hooking up which
to her seems more like
being a hooker but not
getting paid. Even tho he
had no money, he taught her
more than anyone had. It
helped she was a virgin,
that she feared she might
never not stay one. Hook ups
don’t want to spend much
time with their prey. The
mad girl and her ex con
lover talked and read poetry
from dawn till about five
when the husband was
due home. A little detail
she forgot but since
they’d lived from the start
like brother and sister,
it felt right, slow afternoons
behind filmy white drapes
in the white bed seeming
nothing like a hook up, not a
one night stand but as if
she was a new bride

by Lyn Lifshin

*Lyn's website:


by John Swain

I choked on your silver,
metal necklaces drown me,
the rust taste hermetic
sealed over our faces
like blood on the blade on my tongue.
I rifle through delicate silks
hid in wooden drawers
for vials of whatever fleeting comfort.
The sky slept on the ground,
throngs of my weak arms salute the day,
waking with my back bruised
beside the green wall.
I fell against pyramids of myrrh,
the smoke castles calm nothing
so I numb the portents desiring
a common portion of assurance.
But you are tired
and I am so tired,
my heart fell out of your locket.
Then in the heat of day
I rub ointments
after the bath of fire,
maiden please close the shutters.