Monday, May 31, 2010

The Great Escape

by Isabel Kestner

There is no prison bar
so strong as what your
father taught you,
told you, ingrained
in your mind. There is no
fortress less escapable
than what your mother
misled you to believe
and beat into your heart.
The land is an evil barren
prison you can only work,
work and work in for nothing.
There is no crime, no punished
with such suffering as this.
But somewhere, hidden in
the deepest untouchable
safe hold of the soul
there is a key that unlocks
this latitude of lies and
lets you escape to the
wide open wondrous
world outside. And that
world is waiting for your
arrival with open arms,
arms wider than your
wildest imagination
all waiting to embrace you
once you make your escape.
Go and find your key.
The world is waiting for you.

*Isabel Kestner's poems have appeared in numerous publications since the age of seventeen. Her first collection of poetry, Strange Things She Heard, was released in December 2009.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Bible Study

by Rachel Kalyna

Your cock is
the Tower of Babel.
And, thank God,
my native tongue
will never be
too tired
for a blowjob.

Outskirtal Child

by A.J. Kaufmann

life called devils
the morning
sorrow and longing
fingers of native sun
thought only of themselves
blessed in exiled
colors of thunder
the ”who”, the “so”
of a stormy sunrise
strange vivifying
warmth and power
in dead town eyes
filled with pain
where wait of strength
suicide streets
and years of frost
were islands
of I, who
was poor
and had age
to die like a dog
on another

Friday, May 28, 2010

Black Seed by Black Seed

by Donal Mahoney

Every day the same people
at the same table
at the rear of the cafeteria.
The maiden, 35 at least,

is gray at the temples,
sour at the mouth.
The widow, 55, waves
a cigarette like a wand.

Girdled and dyed,
she needs no one now;
She ministers to a dog
and has a new apartment.

The accountant, 65, wants to retire,
his years of intemperance
tempered by a stroke,
his anger at everything

suddenly gone. The janitor, 60,
explains over and over
how over the weekend
he snipped from his garden

husks of dead sunflowers
and drove them out of the city
and into the forest
and there in a clearing

spread the black cakes
for chipmunks to strip,
black seed by black seed.
I, a young editor,

“with your whole life
in front of you,” they insist,
sit through it all,
Monday through Friday,

spooning broth, buttering slices
of rye, and praying that after
pudding again for dessert,
the phone on my desk

will explode too late
with a call I’ll take anyway,
and that after that call, I’ll rise
and take from my sport coat

a speech I wrote years ago,
a speech I’ll discard for two lines
off the cuff: “Here’s two weeks’ notice.
I have found a new job.”

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


by Lyn Lifshin

it wasn’t the language,‭ ‬she spoke perfect
English but the way of life,‭ ‬being secret,
too careful,‭ ‬watching what she said so
wildly.‭ ‬She didn’t say what mattered,‭ ‬he

never knew.‭ ‬It was the culture he said,‭
the secrets,‭ ‬the knock on a metal door in
the night.‭ ‬It didn’t work,‭ ‬he hadn’t tried
as he could have but the communication,‭

it was missing.‭ ‬I miss him,‭ ‬but of course
I don’t say it.‭ ‬Miss,‭ ‬something we didn’t
have,‭ ‬missed like any connection,‭ ‬2‭ ‬people
passing each other in a town,‭ ‬hot to see

each other but not having a clue.‭ ‬Could it‭
be because my father came from Russia‭?
My father who hardly said a word,‭ ‬moved‭
thru the house as if a ghost,‭ ‬a stranger in

darkness.‭ ‬So many secrets.‭ ‬What I wanted
to say,‭ ‬I didn’t.‭ ‬I wasn’t direct but taking
my leather coat must have been an SOS,
an alert.‭ ‬I wanted but I didn’t say it.‭ ‬My

given name,‭ ‬Russian,‭ ‬the music I love in a
minor key.‭ ‬Sad Russian music,‭ ‬sadder than
the blues.‭ ‬Something,‭ ‬the way he pushed‭
his mother’s fingers from his skin after

the cycle accident,‭ ‬drugged on the floor
hours before she leaped Niagara Falls
saying nothing must be,‭ ‬like the phone calls,
all hang ups,‭ ‬what I don’t know,‭ ‬secret,

vague,‭ ‬stripped of all caller ID

*Lyn's website:

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


by Ben Smith

The first one opens
Like a stolen child.
Pop, pop, pop.

I say if
I get too drunk to fuck
Can you ring me
with the phone near
your split.

She laughs.

Rubs the side
of my face.

Calls me crazy.

girl is a fucking
Social worker.

“believe me”

by Ben Smith

You don’t know
What it's like
To be drunk
At night

Alone and twisting
Your body
Into the

Face all pressed
Up and weird

Bent wristed
Like a dinosaur.

Three ringed
Six pack
On the floor.

The blues
In the
Back ground

my mum
And dad
Worrying about me
In the bed
With the sleepless

I feel bad
But id feel
Worse knowing
I never
Had a

Monday, May 24, 2010


and he didn’t get a‭
bang for his buck.‭
It wasn’t the open‭
cove,‭ ‬the welcome.
It was a chance and
risk and I guess he
felt taken and not‭
on a joy ride.‭ ‬I guess
I was supposed to‭
be his rolling hills,
exotic flowers never
found in his part of
the word,‭ ‬rare and‭
there just for him.
He expected feasts,
exotic meals.‭ ‬He had
taken off without
pay.‭ ‬He wanted to
plunge into me,
wanted to shipwreck
in my thighs.‭ ‬He‭
wanted to do things
he wouldn’t do at
home,‭ ‬wanted his
money’s worth‭
or a refund

by Lyn Lifshin

*Lyn's website:

Saturday, May 22, 2010


by Lyn Lifshin

the look on his face,
startled‭? ‬A grin‭?
Nauseous‭? ‬A huge
laugh‭? ‬Let’s say‭
he was on Candid
Camera‭– ‬the lens
moves on,‭ ‬focuses
on his fingers.‭ ‬Do
they pause‭? ‬Could
they delete without
opening‭? ‬Could I
be so unlike the‭
woman he made‭
up I suppose‭ ‬2‭ ‬years
ago and could only
long for when I was
the whole country
away‭? ‬Once he
wrote me he might
leave,‭ ‬go to Europe,
just fuck.‭ ‬Maybe‭
he saw me as all
those cities,‭ ‬my jacket
and books hostage
in his room and‭
when I picked them
up without anything
happening,‭ ‬I became
cock tease‭ ‬#‭ ‬722
as the camera moves
in to see him hit,‭ ‬since
he can’t touch me,
the delete button

*Lyn's website:

6 Ravens

by Melanie Browne

6 ravens feel glum after
drinking espressos,

they feel
and cut themselves
with shiny sharp things,

while 6 sailors
smoke beneath
6 crimson trees

Friday, May 21, 2010

Fat Tuesday Polka

by David Brannan

We didn’t have a white Christmas
we had a white Fat Tuesday

The cypress outside my window
reminds me of a cemetery
and this is no time to be talking
to the dead

OK it’s not even a cypress
but an arborvitae

I am fat regardless of season
or day of the week

Fat Tuesday is a moveable feast

Let’s pretend we’re not married
I wanna polka in the snow with you I
who can’t tell the difference between
a mogul and a moraine
a cypress and a sigh

Thursday, May 20, 2010

"night terrors"

by Shannon Peil

I can hold a conversation
without moving my upper lip.
I can smile with my eyes
and I can look away
to laugh. I can read
psych papers
about why
people have nightmares
their teeth fall out.
I can have my own nightmares
where I accidentally
smile in public.
I can nod
when pretty girls say hi.
I can feel
my rot eating me
from the inside out.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

All I want to do

by Laura Whelton

I sit and tear pages from mis- spelt longings.
I have always loved,
Yet not known what I loved.
Like licking a desert,
Or blow drying the rain.

And the tight lipped questions
Spoken in rhyme,
Have a habit of knowing
Just how I have sinned,
While the silver- tongued
Answers have gone with the wind.

And winning alone
Is the same as losing, in time.
And for the most part
I swim in sublime
Mis-truths and half lies
Whispered at dawn

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Wilson and Broadway at 4 a.m.


Sunday evening. Drunk
and strolling home.

On the way an hour now,
block after block,

bar to bar.
Weekend’s gone,

Monday’s turning.
Along the way

his swollen fingers find
parking meter posts

are an endless xylophone.
Plunked, they play

the anthem
of a life misspent.

by Donal Mahoney

Sunday, May 16, 2010

History of a Leather Jacket

by Jessica Otto

Before the
three car accidents
suicidal mother
moon viewing by the river
father died of cancer
credit card debt
was the thrift store sale rack.


by Catfish McDaris

Everyone lies:
the president
your spouse
your kids
warning labels
your doctor
white trash
yo mama
your padre
the pope
even the wise old owl
hooting in the sycamore tree.

Tough Guys Don't Need Gats

by Catfish McDaris

On leave in Amsterdam
staying at a hostel I
met two cuties from Ft Worth

We toured the canals
in a tulip gondola
saw Anne Frank's house
Van Gogh paintings
& dazzling flower markets

They wanted hashish but
wouldn't go to a marijuana cafe
I went to Dope Park where
mostly Africans

Sold Afghan & Paki black
tripping green & choking
red Lebanese

They showed the good
stuff then switched it for
camel dung

Knowing Three Card Monte
these cats were amateurs
after several attempts at
the rip off I shoved my 38
up this mother's nostril

The jig was up I got
the smoke & squirted
them with water as I ran
like Jim Thorpe.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Only The Damned Make Love

by Justin Wade Thompson

she sat on the edge of the bed
eating red velvet cake
in her panties
and a tiny tight undershirt

black nipples that i've sucked
for long hours
like wishing and wondering under stars

she cleans the fork
with her tongue

when she's finished
she wraps her brown legs around my head
with her cunt
in my face, on my lips
and i bury my nose
into the breach of her

she pushes tattooed arms
and sweat
along the hairless white of my chest
along the heart, along the ribs

collapsing on top of me
deeper than a fire or storm or the wrath of an awakened god

she asks me
if i'd like a glass
of water

i catch my breath and answer

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Bless Me, Father

Two minutes more, Father Paul,
and you will hear another of my strange confessions.
Right now, I'm outside
watching the rain on my glasses
running in rills.
When I make it to the church,
I'll confess the usual stuff with a few variations,
the same plot, the same ploys,
the same frenetic tale I have always to tell.

Next week, however, things will be different.
Next week, I won't make a list
in the diner across from St. Peter's.
The waitress there knows me too well.
Last week she asked, "Am I on your list?"
"Not a chance," I said.
"What time do you get off from work?"
"5 o'clock," she said.
"I'll be back," I said,
"and we can go to St. Peter's and make
the Stations of the Cross."

Father Paul,
you can see that I'm trying
to bring women to the Lord.
So next week, no list.
I'll sit in the diner and swig
on a milkshake instead.
When I come into your box,
I'll fall on the kneeler
and whisper through the grille,
"Bless me, Father, for I have sinned.
I did the same stuff this week
that I did last week
but this week I did it more often."

Father Paul, if I quit making lists,
this whole process
will be easier on both of us.
Who wants to hear a grown man
recite forever what Yogi Berra called
deja vu all over again?

by Donal Mahoney

Monday, May 10, 2010

Finding Jesus Using Only a Prostitute and a Compass

is no small feat
when you're only paid up
for the hour.

Add to that,
the sobering terror of nothing
to drink,
a sorry lack of spermicide,
and a twenty-something brunette
who refuses to come out
of the bathroom.

Finding Jesus using only a prostitute
and a compass
is not the ideal way
to spend a Friday night,
but than again,
I never thought I'd be laying here

playing at Brando
with the ladies
or Cagney with the Tommys.

Raised on road hockey
and dungeons and dragons,
I'm forever that small town kid
who jerks off to the glossy promises
of magazine women
he will never meet
and waits to merge into oncoming
when old enough
to drive.

That said,
you should feel honoured
to have been with me
all those years

I don't just shower and deodorize
for anyone.

by Ryan Quinn Flanagan

Thursday, May 6, 2010

19 & bleeding in New Orleans

by Shannon Peil

the men all screamed
'show me yr tits!'
& the women laughed
they yelled down at me
from the patios
'show me yr dick!'
& i was fuzzy
& agreeable
i dropped my pants
to the knee
presented myself
smiling wide as they hooted
threw beads down
then yelled
'look out!'
watched the cop
throw me face down
grinning into the concrete

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Country Fair Consuming

by Nicole Taylor

tent and food, hamburger and granola and more,
a rust colored Beatnik corduroy hat
a pair of blue sodalite earrings.
gifts of
a colorful decorated handshaker
a hemp necklace with a few decorations.
food and drinks from fair
Tamale and Turkish coffee and Baklava while
watching the storm and poles constructed before the play.
Thai noodles and tea, iced
bagel and coffee in Eugene morning.
breakfast wrap and coffees on ride home with
a quiet nice artist vendor lady.


Sunday, May 2, 2010

A Gift for One

by Sandy Benitez

Strangers laugh and point at me.
Fingers carelesslly lighting

fires as if magic bred beneath
their shirt sleeves. I used to

burn badly. Now I stroll with
the pain. Bring me more, please.

It is beautiful, no? Suffering.
So I'm the sour girl, woman-child.

The oddity. The shrinking violet
in a field of drunk wild flowers.

And if you search long enough
you may see me. My short petals,

the purple glint in my eyes.
But I blend in well. I've learned

to adapt to changing seasons.
Smiles in Summer, frowns in Winter.

So when you arrive at my garden,
don't expect to pick a bouquet.

I travel solo. A gift for one.

The Dragon

by Sandy Benitez

When you first told me about
the dragon tattoo, I didn't
believe you were preppy 101,
clean cut in your wool sweater
and dockers. I wasn't sure
I wanted to see your legs,
lean and pale; a runner's body
fed from lentil soup and fish

The dragon was a distraction for
the horror that lay underneath.
Creeping and winding itself
through layers of arrogance that
you breathed from your nostrils.
Setting fire to gentle hands
whose only intent was to touch
your heart.

I always thought dragons wore
beauty in unconventionality.
Loners, drifting in solitude, their
wings unclipped. But when I tasted
your fire, it burned my tongue.
So I spit you out, let you disappear
behind pages of myth.