Friday, 30 December 2016

To Peel or Not To Peel by A.J. Huffman

“I am sorry the pears weren’t
pre-ordered,” said the woman
with the plastic shoe box full
of green and yellow, lined
end to stem.  A tiny mass coffin
for wayward fruit.  “They have
to go.”  Unchecked,
she carried them, a sole pallbearer,
to the trash.  No
ceremony, no speech.  Just plunk
and slam.  As the lid
closed on their lives we returned
to the mundane chores of ours.


A.J. Huffman has published thirteen full-length poetry collections, thirteen solo poetry chapbooks and one joint poetry chapbook through various small presses.  Her most recent releases, The Pyre On Which Tomorrow Burns (Scars Publications), Degeneration (Pink Girl Ink), A Bizarre Burning of Bees (Transcendent Zero Press), and Familiar Illusions (Flutter Press) are now available from their respective publishers.  She is a five-time Pushcart Prize nominee, a two-time Best of Net nominee, and has published over 2600 poems in various national and international journals, including Labletter, The James Dickey Review, The Bookends Review, Bone Orchard, Corvus Review, EgoPHobia, and Kritya.

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Body Talk by John Grey

Encyclopædia Britannica
eye embedded in the mossy rock rings
tear evaporates from pebbled paths
tongue, enemy and friend of mankind
back of the neck, purveyor of sunstroke
heart-beat, a fleeting nod to life and death
saliva, a sea stemmed by lips,
brain, epitome of cramped quarters or the
computer company itself
thoughts, a Jewish man engaged in rapid conversation
with a Dominican woman
memory, a sound obsessed with its own history
hands, pincers for the workingman's soul
fingers drumming the tireless tracks
thumb, the baton, palm, the Gypsy storyteller
elbows, part of the outline that holds me in place
shoulders, a fifty year old magpie nest
arms, individual pieces of business
armpits, jungle home of Tarzan, lord of the apes
breast takes its turns beating, feeding
nipple, the shiniest bauble
lungs, in their application, circle the wagons of black wind
chest (see dead man's) yo ho ho and a bottle of...
thorax by Doctor Seuss, navel by an orange
pubis, the God of porn
penis, forever seventeen years old or a fragile jetty .
where the moon docks,
buttocks imitate the swell of two bellies
legs, begging weary ice-shapes
knees, the last resort of unintentional foreplay
toes, the hiding place of lesser molecules -
next stop, the insides -

hands up those who thought they were already there


John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in New Plains Review.

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Jesus, Can We Talk? by Donal Mahoney

Crijn Hendricksz.jpeg
By Crijn Hendricksz. Volmarijn (circa 1601–1645)

Jesus, can we talk? Some folks say you're coming back any day now but many of them have been saying that for years. They say it could happen tomorrow, or maybe next week, and they've already put their affairs in order. They believe they will be swept up and taken into heaven, leaving many others on the ground, just standing there, slack-jawed and staring at all the backsides rising in the air.

I'd like to among those rising but my Baptist barber says he doesn't think papists will be issued passports for this trip. I've been his customer for 30 years so he plans to take a rope along and drop it down to me. If I grab hold and can hang on, he says I'm welcome to come along if Jesus doesn't cut me loose. I may be a papist, he says, but he knows from all our haircut debates over the years that I believe in Jesus and the bible as the inerrant Word of God. He even tells his Baptist and Four Square Gospel customers I'm okay, theologically speaking.

I keep telling him papists believe in Jesus just as strongly as he does. But that's not what he heard about Catholics growing up in the Ozarks as a child. What's more, since I grew up in Chicago, I talk kind of funny, he says. I always tell him I can sound just like him with a mouth full of cornbread.

In the meantime, Jesus, I need a favor on different matter entirely. I'm hoping you'll find time to make a quick visit to the house of a friend of mine around midnight any night of the week. He's been retired for many years and he's enjoying the fruits of his considerable labors. As I often remind him, he's enjoying the fruits of your favors as well. But he doesn't see it that way, necessarily, if you want to know the truth.

As I see it, you've been very good to this man for more than 70 years but now he needs a different kind of help. Like me, he's old enough to find himself any day now next up in the checkout line. But he talks as though the life we both enjoy has no end in sight. If he didn't live in a far-away city, I'd take him for a haircut at my barber's shop and there he would hear the truth with a little cornbread on the side.

Now don't get me wrong. I don't want to see my friend turn Baptist, not that there's anything wrong with Baptists, as Seinfeld might say. I just want him to get back to Mass every Sunday morning before someone has to push him down the aisle in a wheelchair. He has a lot to be thankful for and maybe not a whole lot of time to say thanks.

You see, he was a high school graduate who became a paratrooper during the Korean War. After he was discharged he found a job as a janitor. In no way dumb, he used diligence and brains to become vice-president of the same company in ten years. He got there by being a good salesman of condiments. The man can talk but then a lot of Irish-American papists can talk. Maybe we can't yodel like the Swiss but we can certainly talk.

Not satisfied with being president of that company, he quit and started his own company. He decided to manufacture and sell products that were just catching on when Woodstock was all the rage. You remember Woodstock. That's where all the musicians and Hippies showed up on a water-logged farm in the Catskills in 1969 to celebrate free love and other developments in society at that time.

In any event, my friend figured that supplying health food to vegans and vegetarians would be a gold mine in the future and it turned out he was right. This is a guy who spent his adolescence at White Castle restaurants eating double cheeseburgers by the sack. It must have taken a conversion experience akin to the one Saul of Tarsus had to get him to try health food. I'm not sure he eats that much of it himself but he sure can sell it.

Thirty years later, with his kids reared and on their own, he sold his company for seven million dollars. I haven't asked him yet if he had any outside help in his success or if he did it all by himself.

He still believed in you while the company was growing but I don't know what happened after that. He's a good man, basically. He has the same wife now as when he was a janitor, a big bunch of kids now grown up and doing well and a flock of grandkids who adore him. Excess of any kind has never been a problem with him. He simply lost his faith somewhere along the road to becoming a millionaire. Other millionaires have followed the same path, I imagine, but I have never known any others, personally.

Many decades ago in grammar school, he and I were always in the same grade and we both believed, without any doubt, that Jesus Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead and opened the gates of heaven for the likes of us and maybe for the likes of the worst of us if they shaped up in time. Now my friend is living the good life but says he doesn't know if you exist or if you died on the cross or if you rose from the dead. He says he'd like to believe in you but he needs some evidence. Otherwise, he says he'll remain an agnostic, a word he says means "I don't know."

Well, Jesus, I don't think his problem is a simple one. First he has to come to believe in God again, a belief some philosophers say a man can reach through reason alone. After all, there are the five proofs for the existence of God that many philosophers accept. But then he has to come to believe again in Jesus Christ--that God sent his only begotten Son to die on the cross for the sins of all mankind. That's the hard part. He can't do that through reason alone. That takes faith, the gift you gave to both of us, the gift he lost and I somehow retained despite being no better than he is.

Jesus, this man is 77 years old so perhaps you can sense the urgency of my request. There's not much time for him to believe again unless, of course, you step in.
That's why I'd like you to drop by his mansion some midnight when you have some free time. Just pull him out of bed by the ankles and hold him upside down for awhile before you introduce yourself. Then tell him you are Jesus Christ, a native of Bethlehem with strong ties to Galilee and Nazareth. Remind him about what you did with the loaves and fishes at Cana and ask him if he sees any parallels to that event in his own life. My hope is that before you leave, or shortly thereafter when someone revives him, he will find that he has the gift of faith again.

You see, I don't know how he lost his faith but I can't find it for him. The nuns who schooled us in the life, death and resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ have been dead for many years. There are a couple of them who might have been able to turn him around. They had a way of making you see the truth. It's amazing how quickly you can see the truth clearly when an old-style nun in a big habit takes time to explain everything half an inch from your nose.

In any event, you gave both of us the gift of faith in 1938, the year of our Baptism, and I somehow still have my faith, despite not leading a noble life. I mean I was honest and was never arrested but there might be a lady or more who would take a bumbershoot to my backside if she ran into me, even at my age.

My friend, on the other hand, has done everything according to the book but he no longer reads the book. So, please, drop by his place some midnight before he dies and yank him out of bed by the ankles. Let him know who you are and mention that you look forward to seeing him at Mass on Sunday. Remind him that he can get a spiritually nutritious bite to eat at any Catholic church in the world in case he still likes to travel. Food that will stick to his soul for the long road ahead.

By the way, this man can afford to tithe, big-time. Even though papists don't tithe the way Protestants do, they nevertheless give a ton of money to charities managed by the Church and other not-for-profit organizations. But it's probably best if we don't mention his ability to tithe to my Baptist barber. He might be tempted to get on a plane and go see if my friend needs a trim.


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. One of the most important aspects of “freedom” for him is freedom of religion and the opportunity in the United States to practice it or not practice it. Some of his work can be found at

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Operative by JD DeHart

spy in my own life,
uncertain of what side
I am on, agent/counter-agent.
not sure what the sides
even represent.
both parties sound the same
after so much rhetoric.
there is a beautiful dangerous
woman who turns out to be
nothing but an ordinary seamstress.
she owns lots of kittens.
not real cats, but objects made
in their round little shape.
the nefarious villain with the plan
for domination turns out to
not unlike myself.

Saturday, 3 December 2016

No cows to look at by Robert Ronnow

Argleton, view from Bold Lane

No cows to look at
I hear the truck traffic

Everything changes like clouds
The page this poem is on burns

Coming from the funeral with friends
Talking on the telephone

No trucks to grind their gears
I hear the minute hand moving

Birds and people inhabit the earth
A black bear inhabits the earth, too

A rock in the sun
Calligraphy brush

In a mind there is apocalypse
No one can hear it


Robert Ronnow's most recent poetry collections are New & Selected Poems: 1975-2005 (Barnwood Press, 2007) and Communicating the Bird (Broken Publications, 2012). Visit his web site at

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Reaction to an Editor's Suggested Revisions by Donal Mahoney

Yours is the first email I opened this morning. I was surprised to see your name since I had forgotten about the piece I had submitted a year ago. Time does fly.

I appreciate your suggested revisions and invitation to re-submit the work once I have made the revisions. I can tell that you spent a lot of time analyzing my efforts.

I'm afraid, however, that I can't make the changes you suggest. Nevertheless I feel obligated to compensate you for your time.

It is to that end that I took your name to Rebecca. I showed her your suggestions and she said that your name would be introduced at the next gathering of her coven. She asked if I had any suggestions for revisions to your life. I said I did and that she might want to take notes.

I said I thought it might be best to have your organs rot one organ at a time. I added, however, that while your organs rot slowly in series, your heart should remain strong so you can die at a leisurely pace. We don't want to rush this.

She said that could be arranged although it was an unusual request. In similar cases in dispatching someone who has grievously insulted another, usually the insulted party wants the insulter eliminated immediately. I'm unusual, she said, in that respect.

I told her I didn't want to be heartless and have you die before you have a chance to put your affairs in order. And I reminded her not to inflict cancer on your pancreas too early because medicine has no certain cure for that. In short order, cancer of the pancreas usually means lights out.

I suggested she start with your gall bladder and move on to your kidneys and then your lungs and then your brain. That will keep the doctors busy while you waste away. I suggested she save your pancreas for last.

I also asked her to let me know when your pancreas becomes involved so I can make plane reservations to come and say good-bye.

In the meantime, may your next issue be stillborn. No reason to make it different from the last.


Donal Mahoney lives in St. Louis, Missouri. He has had work published in various countries. Among them are Bluepepper (Australia), Ink Sweat and Tears (England), Beakful (France), The Galway Review (Ireland), The Osprey Journal (Wales), Public Republic (Bulgaria), and The Istanbul Literary Review (Turkey). Some of his work can be found at

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Ballad of Ukrainian Culture by Volodymyr Bilyk

Mr. Panda Half Fizz
Something hard 
falls in the water'
-subtitled "SPLASH"-
(and "Ah-ha!"-afterthought from Flash ensues)

(Cut to)
Silhouette crawling 
in the water
(cut to)
it is- Panda on land
Lies like a woman in a surrealist flick
(cut to)
Panda in mud-camouflage:
with scoobydoo-eyes

-she thinks there's a Predator somewhere
watching, waiting for the right moment.
So she's hiding hard. keeping herself quiet, breathing slowly...
Even if the only one who'd falled was the Panda.

- gotta believe in something...)

(Even if there is a predator 
the only thing he watches is the sky
Because he is inspired by GAFF-C-BC-A-AE
which sounds all over the place for some reason)

(cut to)
all over the sudden - a fit of utter battlecry!
(cut to)
close-up of Pandas mouth -
lips are painted by a chocolate bar
mixed with blood from bitten lips
-subtitled "disgusting!"

(cut to)
Panda runs through the jungle
and then she falls on an empty spot.
(dramatic brass stab)
- that was a part of her plan,
which was - to make a cloud of dust and make her go up
for whatever reason

And so - it goes up
and Panda blows hard 
Her cheeks looks awful and then funny

- and so the cloud goes in a right direction, 
maybe, it's not quite visible...

(cut to)
Panda sees a silhouette on the horizon
And she goes there --
for a very long time -
she's exhausted, near collapsing, 
- she witnesses a sunrise,
she's bored, but still - somewhat excited.

and so - somewhere down her path - 
she finds a turtle 
- sleeping in chuckhole - giving no damn about anything.

And she chuckles in her sleep 
the way it sounds like a thunder.
And it's utterly irritating...

And then a thought strikes Panda
And she suffers from a nosebleed
- she gets it - she needs the turtles shells.

And she says - "i need your shell!"
But her accent is so thick 
it's abracadabra for the turtle 
- Panda says "come on"
(and it still sounds like thunder)
while turtle replies "huh? what?"

and then the Terminator situation ensues - 
with a little bit of close quarter combat
(But there's no John Workman around to Ono' this, 
so we'll leave it to your imagination,
after all - there's a lot of potential)

(cut to)
there's no turtle.
Panda tries on the shell.
And she looks ridiculuously awkward
but somewhat cool - 

imagine that:
panda in a shell... panda in a shell...
Sounds like a magic spell.
(Somebody - draw me a sigil!)

(cut to)
Panda in a shell now thinks 
she's that turtle that bears some whales that bear the rest of the world.
But there are no whales in this era. 
Because it's plot convenient.

So she wreaks havoc upon land 
and rans away - 
angry, anxious...
Rans so fast she breaks the time-space continium
And lands into the time when whales still existed.

And so she tries to put herself under the whales,
but there a problem - they swim away when she's nearing
- after all - it's really scary when panda in a shell tries to go under you.

And so she digs a tunnel to the center of the earth
and puts it into the debug mode - ups the tempeture
and so all the water on the planet boils away.
And then - when nothing will interfere her idea-fix come true
She comes to boiled whale bodies 
And puts them on her back.

And nothing happens - just panda in a shell with boiled whale bodies on her back under the hot sun - slowly decomposing, smelling bad.

Some scavengers fly around
But she scares them with her battle heavy breathing
Up until the point when she falls asleep 
and dreams of a turtle being attacked by the swarm of bees
She hears a sound of stings tearing up the turtle skin
she sees how liquid fills the eyeholes 
and puts the ladder on the cheeks 
and goes down and falls in splashes, splashes, splashes...

(cut to)
Then she awakes and remembers - there are no land on whales!
And so she goes to the mountain 
- and chops it with the edge of her hand
And while the mountain is up in the air
She puts her whales back on her back and waits 'till the mountain will fall on her.

And it falls 
with purposeful shadow
and terrible sound
and then crumbles because of impact

Pan over the debris...looks fascinating...

(cut to)
Panda in a shell
battered, near broken, 
sprinkles parfume on the damaged whale bodies 
And whistles a lovesong.
then puts the whale bodies on her back again and waits for something

(cut to)
Elephants come around, 
run her over,
stomp for some time...
We hear the crackle of the shell
We hear how whales bodies turn into the pulp...

Then the elephants go away - Panda gets up like nothing happened.
Drops off what's left of bodies.
Because while being stomped upon - 
she found out that things must be upside down 

and So she falls on the parfumed pulp of the whale bodies.
While the sun is slowly stakes her.

(cut to)
Panda in a shell floats in space, frozen 
With her mouth opened wide and eyes shut.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Other Warriors by Mary Bone

File:Albert Bierstadt - A Wild Stallion (an original oil sketch for "The Last of the Buffalo").jpg
Albert Bierstadt - A Wild Stallion

As free as the wind
a lone stallion gallops
across the prairie.
He stops to listen, ears alert.
Ancestors from another time,
pounding hoof beats
echo across the canyons of time.
Every pant and heartbeat
hammering against the walls
of his chest.
Somewhere other warriors
thrive and he listens
because the only noise is the
breath of the wind,
rustling the leaves across his path.

This poem was published in the July/August issue of Oklahoma Today Magazine


Mary Bone has had two books of poetry published and she likes to draw and paint in her spare time.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Always Friendly by JD DeHart

"Secret Hallway" (c) Kevin Dooley

In these digital landscapes
we trickle and tickle with words
etched in glowing cursor

Sounds meet and merge
in bound affinity spaces,
one would hope packed
always with friends

Gathered around a literary
cause, assembled by love
of writ and lit, always
submerged in the latest story

Always drafting the next verse.

Previously published in Leaves of Ink


JD DeHart is a writer and teacher.  He has recently been nominated for Best of the Net and his chapbook, The Truth About Snails, is available on Amazon.

Friday, 14 October 2016

plaint by Mark Young

One of the problems with short-term memory loss is that you forget that your short-term memory loss has made you forget that you went up to the local supermarket last Friday & discovered it full of elderly folk, many of whom were doing their obligatory filial duty & taking their even more elderly sole surviving parent—almost always female—for their weekly shopping trip. The aisles full of walking frames & skin complaints & canes & great-grandmas in trolleys, the checkouts clogged by the elderly whose short-term memory loss means they've forgotten how to swipe their cards & what numbers to key in.

& you've forgotten all that, & go up to the supermarket this Friday afternoon, & all the imprecations you'd forgotten you'd uttered last week come flooding back.

&, afterwards, you go & get petrol & have to wait for half an hour because the elderly have forgotten how to queue & park across the space between two bowsers so no one can get by them, & you, being courteous, see a clear space to park & slot into that, only to find that the elderly person two cars ahead of you who's just filled their car has forgotten where they've put their keys, & that the only station you can get on the car radio is one playing non-stop Phil Collins songs for half an hour....

& one of the things that short-term memory doesn't do is let you forget that you don't like Phil Collins. So, in penance for your intolerance, you force yourself to listen to him. & hope you forget who you're listening to.


Mark Young's most recent books are Mineral Terpsichore, from gradient books of Finland, & The Chorus of the Sphinxes, from Moria Books in Chicago.  An e-book, The Holy Sonnets unDonne, came out earlier this year from Red Ceilings Press; another, a few geographies, will be out later this year from One Sentence Poems; & another, For the Witches of Romania, is scheduled for publication by Beard of Bees.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

A Line From Patrick Bateman by Texas Fontanella

Impossible is nothing when Xbox live accounts and password recovery protocols are disabled for income tax purposes. How puberty impacts Western Union exchange rates. Extensive load-disabling cues determine basics card eligibility thru wavelength analysis plus the frequency of visually effeminate articles appearing in conversation as a indirect result of Get Smart. So check Defacebook, move on up and atomize. Solve radical equations with anagrams. Apply now adequately warm linguistic driftwood to the irrelevant literature over long distances indeed. No gravitas was eaten in the making of this erasure.

11:30ish pm 9th September 2016

Friday, 30 September 2016

Agent Orange Is Still Killing Veterans Slowly by Donal Mahoney


This is a true story told to me recently by a friend who wishes to remain anonymous. It explains his experience with the legacy of Monsanto and Dow and the ongoing effects of its product, Agent Orange, the lethal spray used in Vietnam during the war.

My friend’s brother died a slow death from the effects of Agent Orange. And the other day while at the mall he met someone now going through what his brother went through prior to his death.

He said a man stepped out of a store wearing an orange T Shirt.  On its back was, "I was killed in Vietnam I just haven't died yet.”

Roy walked up to him and asked if his shirt pertained to Agent Orange. He said that it did, and he began to tell Roy his story. He was just out of high school when he joined the service and was sent to Vietnam. He said he was in the Highlands with the Big Red One.  Fighting was intense, snipers were everywhere and Operation Ranch Hand sprayed Agent Orange day after day.  He finished his tour, came home and thought he was safe.

But all the symptoms of Agent Orange poisoning except diabetes soon appeared: breathing problems, cancer, genetic problems that he passed on to his children and heart attacks. He has fought the cancers for years. Now the cancer has returned in six locations.

He said when he first reported his health problems, the Veterans Administration denied, denied and continued to deny that they were due to Agent Orange. Finally, they admitted, after analysis proved the danger of dioxin, that he had indeed been poisoned. By this time, he had accumulated debt, had a checkered work record because of all the health episodes and had suffered for years without adequate medical care.

As Roy listened, he found it to be the same refrain other veterans had told him, including his brother. The VA knew about Agent Orange, but they felt if they kept stonewalling, the Vietnam Vets would die or just give up on getting the care they needed and deserved.

Roy said this man at the time didn't question the morality of the war in Vietnam. He went and fought, got a biological injury he did not get a purple heart for and returned to a nation that turned its back on him. No veterans in the history of this country have been so maligned.

As the man Roy met in the mall said, "The only parade my fellow Vietnam veterans got to honor them started with a hearse and ended up at a graveyard.”

Roy didn't get much sleep that night as he thought about the truth of that man's statement and remembered as well the agony of his own brother’s death from Agent Orange.


Donal Mahoney lives in St. Louis, Missouri. He has had work published in various countries. Among them are Bluepepper (Australia), Ink Sweat and Tears (England), Beakful (France), The Galway Review (Ireland), The Osprey Journal (Wales), Public Republic (Bulgaria), and The Istanbul Literary Review (Turkey). Some of his work can be found at

Friday, 2 September 2016

Rose Artist by JD DeHart

On delicate petal, she
wraps the story under revision.
A tome on a stem.
She weaves her narrative
among the thorns and briars
of common life.  
Whether it is bubbling pink,
painful crimson, or the mournful
color of snow, a collection of light
emerges from the bouquet.

JD DeHart is a writer and teacher.  He has recently been nominated for Best of the Net and his chapbook, The Truth About Snails, is available on Amazon.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

An Immodest Proposal by Donal Mahoney

with apologies to Jonathan Swift

The other day I was talking to a neighbor who said he has found a way to help the poor and improve our environment simultaneously. It’s no secret, he said, that we have a dire food shortage among the chronically poor. It’s also no secret, he pointed out, that many of our cities are overrun with feral cats.

Organizations already exist, he said, that trap and neuter feral cats and then let them loose again. These cats, he said, turn up on our porches, tails up, looking for food.

My neighbor is a wild game hunter who has hunted on many continents. The heads of many of his prey are mounted on his walls. He says he should not be the only one hunting feral cats in an urban environment, something he does when he is not overseas hunting bigger animals. He sees feral cats as a viable food source not only for the poor but for anyone who likes wild game.

He’s partial to a dish called “Feral Cat and Dumplings,” a recipe he shared with me after I talked with him in our alley early one morning while taking out the garbage. He had a lumpy canvas bag over his shoulder and said he had had a good night hunting. (He didn’t say anything when I told him I thought I saw one lump wiggling.)

Here is his most popular recipe for feral cat, the seasoning for which, he said, can be adapted to taste:

Feral Cat and Dumplings

Skin and cut up your cat as you would a young rabbit. Season the cat with salt, pepper, garlic, and diced onion and then pressure-cook the pieces until the meat falls off the bone. Remove the meat from the bone and save the broth. 

Dumpling Ingredients:

1 egg (preferably from a free-range hen until she plumps up enough for a future meal)
1/2 cup cooled cat broth
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

Mix ingredients with enough flour to make a firm dough. Turn dough out onto a board and knead in the flour until dough is stiff. Roll the dough out thin and let it stand for an hour. (If cooking outside in warm weather after shooting the cat, stand near the dough to wave away flies and other insects.) Slice the dough into diamond and/or noodle shapes and drop into boiling cat broth. 

Water may be added to the broth if so desired. This is recommended if entertaining guests who have never dined on cat before. Then drop the boned cat meat into the broth and simmer over low heat for at least 10 to 20 minutes before serving. It’s fine to withhold the dough and use the cat meat alone to make Curried Cat or Cat Tacos should cultural tastes make one of those more appealing.

There is a movement under way, my friend told me, to print out this recipe and post it in food pantries and local shelters throughout the world so interested parties can copy it, trap or shoot their own feral cat and then make a nice inexpensive meal at home.

My friend isn’t certain if the recipe is online yet since he’s not into computers but he said getting the recipe out to the public, here and abroad, is what’s important. He sees it as a step in the right direction for feeding the poor and ridding our environment of feral cats.

Eating feral cats, he said, is a lot cheaper than trapping and neutering them or aborting captured females, something proposed by a new organization that he says is called Planned Cathood. He says he’ll give me a brochure on Planned Cathood later on.

I asked him if he thought one might grind up feral cat meat and make quarter-pounders with cheese, tomato and Bermuda onion on a toasted sesame seed bun. Children, I mentioned, often love burgers.

He said he thought one of the cats in his bag was just the right size and probably marbled enough to whip up some thick burgers for his family that night.

My neighbor is proof that there is no end to the inventiveness of man when it comes to helping the poor and at the same time cleaning up our environment.


Nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize, Donal Mahoney has had work published in the United States, Europe, Asia and Africa. Some of his earliest work can be found at 

Thursday, 21 July 2016

This Dark Thing by Natalie Crick

This dark thing that sleeps in me,
It steals from me so I am left with nothing.
I am blameless, Godiva.
The murmurings are alive.
Watching you dully from my bed
I have taken the pill to kill.
I mourn my own death,
Drowning into the night.
My tears could devour
The ocean. I want, I want.
I have lost myself. But that is not enough.


Natalie Crick, from Newcastle in the UK, has found delight in writing all of her life and first began writing when she was a very young girl. Her poetry is influenced by melancholic confessional Women's poetry. Her poetry has been published in a range of journals and magazines including Cannons Mouth, Cyphers, Ariadne's Thread, Carillon and National Poetry Anthology 2013

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Dinner in Little Italy by Mark Young

For soup we had Carpaccio, the bowls so full of Venetian pageantry they threatened to overflow when the doges supplied as a complementary garnish were added.

A choice of Carbonari or Carabineri for entree.

Caravaggio was the fish of the day, its light flesh standing out against the dark plate it was presented on, the accompanying vegetables steamed to retain the piquancy of their natural color. We ordered a bottle of Monteverdi to go with it all but it had soured after laying untouched for so many years. A young Morricone was offered &
accepted as a suitable replacement.

For dessert lemon-flavoured Giotto eaten al fresco on the vine-covered verandah. Palates refreshed, we returned inside to round the meal off with coffee & Giacometti.

We put the bill on Amerigo Vespucci, pausing as we left to admire the Canneloni hanging on the stairwell walls. Those enigmatic mannequins followed us home.


Mark Young's The Holy Sonnets unDonne is now available as a downloadable pdf from The Red Ceilings Press.

Saturday, 2 July 2016

The Murmurings by Natalie Crick

The poison drips steadily into my skull.
Lice are feeding. They are carnivorous.
She is biting away at my life.
I am merely a husk.

She watches me lie awake at night.
She lives in me, breathing,
Locking my heart away in a chamber
Where nothing moves.

Where the air freezes to ice.
I wait for a sound.
There is no end.
I remember the beginning: a death.

For years
We are white with exhaustion at what this thing is.
It is the last night of our lives.
Tomorrow I’ll be gone.

She is alive. Look:
It is beginning to hatch.
But it is dark. So dark.
I can barely see my own reflection in the mirror.

There is just some stranger.
We try to catch the pieces of me
Before they shatter forever.
Misted snow drifts over the remains.


Natalie Crick, from Newcastle in the UK, has found delight in writing all of her life and first began writing when she was a very young girl. Her poetry is influenced by melancholic confessional Women's poetry. Her poetry has been published in a range of journals and magazines including Cannons Mouth, Cyphers, Ariadne's Thread, Carillon and National Poetry Anthology 2013.  

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Meeting Dad Again by Donal Mahoney

(c) Waterford Co. Museum and/or respective owners
My father emigrated from Ireland to the United States in the early 1920s. He had been released from Spike Island by the English who "occupied" Ireland at that time. Spike Island was the "Guantanamo" of that era, located just off the coast of Ireland. It was there the English warehoused prisoners of the Irish Republican Army (IRA).

My father had been imprisoned by the English at age 16 for running guns through the marshes of County Kerry to aid the rebels fighting to free Ireland from the rule of the English. Young Irish lads were recruited for duties like this because they would be less apt to be captured by the English--or so the IRA thought. My father was not coerced into doing this. He volunteered for the duty and would have done it again if the English had not insisted that he and other prisoners leave Ireland as a condition of their  release.

On arrival in America, he found work as a grave digger in Brooklyn, NY. Later he boxed professionally and sang in night clubs that catered to Irish immigrants. After he got married, he moved with my mother to Chicago where he was hired by the Commonwealth Edison Company. There he spent almost four decades as a lineman, often working as a "troubleshooter" who was called out in the middle of the night whenever a storm knocked out the power. He liked this work and was very good at it or so I was told by his peers when I visited him in the hospital. They had gathered in the hall outside his room after he had survived an electrical accident that occurred high on a pole in an alley. He survived 12,000 volts, an incident that got his name in the Chicago Tribune.

In January 2012, decades after my father had died, my wife discovered a photo of him on the Internet. It showed him as a prisoner on Spike Island, circa 1920. He was a farm boy, poor as the chickens he fed as a child, but the English dressed him up nicely for the photo that accompanies this story. Perhaps they didn't want his age to show and to a degree they succeeded in that. You would think they had treated him well but they broke both his legs with rifle butts and let him sit on an earthen cell floor for a long period of time.

In the photo, my father is in the first row, third from the left. He is identified as “J. O’Mahony,” which was the family name until he became a citizen of the United States. On that occasion, the judge suggested he change his name to "Mahoney," which was "more common" in the United States. My father agreed to the change but it was a decision he would rue for the remainder of his life. More than once he told me, "I should never have done it but I was a greenhorn, what did I know?"

My poem, “Meeting Dad Again,” below, was written many years later after my father and I reunited in Chicago briefly after he had been out of my life for awhile. His two years on Spike Island as an adolescent had taken a toll. He suffered from post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) before that ailment had been identified and named. Despite this problem, however, he was a sober Irishman who labored hard in Chicago for decades to save money to put me through college. His goal was to make certain I would never have to "work with my hands." He didn't have to worry. I can operate a hammer but have no manual skills beyond that.

My poem records our reunion when my father, back in town unexpectedly, phoned me at work and, to my surprise, asked that I meet him for lunch. He suggested a cafeteria that was then a Chicago landmark. No fancy restaurants for him, even though in retirement he could afford a touch of the posh. I can't remember for certain but I doubt that he let me pay the check. He knew that I had bills as the father of five stair-step children.

The lunch went well. Conversation was light. I did not ask him where he had been or what he had been doing and he asked only pleasant questions about me and my children. He showed no mood swings to indicate that he had once been a guest of the English, a confinement that affected him far more, I believe, than absorbing 12,000 volts. The voltage crippled his hand and gnarled his arm but the English crippled and gnarled his nervous system. On this day, however, he was in fine fettle, as he liked to say. This time he was more interested in seeing me than my report card.


Meeting Dad Again 

Thirty years later, Dad came back
and we met for Ham and Yams at Toffenetti’s.
Pouring his tea, he told me he had
to restore power once
at a newspaper warehouse
and the storm broke again
and the lightning cracked his ladder.
He spent the whole day, he said,
sitting in that dark warehouse,
waiting for the lightning to stop
and for the truck to bring a new ladder.
He had a great time, he said,
sitting next to a flickering lantern
and reading for hours the Sunday comics
printed and stacked
six weeks in advance.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

The Sources of . . . by Mark Young

Rick Leche 

In most school holidays I would stay with my Great-Aunt at her property in the upper reaches of the Rai Valley. The farmhouse contained a large number of rooms, each one — leaving aside the common living areas — dedicated to, according to my mother, a former lover.

I slept in the Theda Barr room. It was the only room whose name I was allowed to know, the only room I was allowed to enter. My Great-Aunt kept the subject of her own bedroom secret, but glances caught when she entered or left showed the walls were decorated with photographs of Igor Stravinski, some signed; hand-written music scores; a few fading posters from Diaghilev's Ballets Russes.

Persistence & the slyness of youth lead me to where the keys were hidden. So, every Wednesday, when she went off to play bridge with the ladies of the Country Women’s Institute, I would sneak into the rooms.

I identified, from the range of specific ingredients within, a Eugene Ionesco room, a Lenin room, an Isadore Duncan room, a René Magritte room, & an Alice B. Toklas room. The remaining four were a mix of people, some of whom I did not recognize, but none of whom dominated to the extent it could be said that this was their room.

Apart from the memorabilia, every room held at least three wall-comforters, embroidered by different hands. I would copy their messages & any other texts into a notebook. Sixty years later I still have it.

Sometimes I open it at random & make poems out of the lines I find there.


Mark Young's The Holy Sonnets unDonne is now available as a downloadable pdf from The Red Ceilings Press.

Friday, 13 May 2016

Chicken Breast or Rump Roast by Donal Mahoney

Freddie and Fern were an old couple, a very old couple if truth be told, but on the matter of age, the truth seldom surfaced. Their kids were grown and gone and had families of their own. All of them lived in different cities and two of them had even asked their parents to sell the house and buy a smaller place near where they lived. But Freddie and Fern, despite all their aches and pains, were an independent couple and they liked their privacy. Seeing their grandchildren was nice but living close enough to have to babysit them, that was quite another matter.

Most evenings Fern would sit in her rocker and work crossword puzzles and Freddie would sit back in his recliner and watch whatever sport was in season. They were very different people but in 50 years of marriage they had always gotten along well. Each was solicitous of the other’s needs. Always had been. But as age encroaches, certain needs change and others remain the same, life being what it is.

Fern, for example, had arthritis pretty bad. Her back was always acting up on her. From day to day, it was just a matter of how bad it was.

Freddie had arthritis in both legs but he could still get around pretty good for a man with his ailments, too good sometimes as far as Fern was concerned, especially when Freddie would get that look in his eye. Sure enough, he would ask her if the next time she had to go to the bathroom, she’d bring him back a Coke from the fridge. And, of course, she always did.

But Fern always knew it wasn’t just the Coke Freddie wanted. The old goat wanted to watch her walk down the hallway. He told her many times she had more bounce to the ounce now than when she was young.

Hardly, Fern thought. Still, it was nice to hear him say that. But if Freddie looked as though he was going to be pestering her that night, Fern always wanted to go to KFC for dinner first. And if she asked Freddie to go there, he would always oblige, hoping everything would go well later that evening.

On this particular evening, though, when Fern brought Freddie his Coke, he seized the moment and asked her if she wanted to go to KFC. Fern hesitated because her back was bothering her something terrible. She didn’t think when they got home she would be able to give Freddie the dessert he was looking for. But she did like her KFC chicken, two plump chicken breasts with all the trimmings, so she agreed to go. She could just see the pond of gravy in the well of her mashed potatoes. And butter slathered all over her green beans.

At the restaurant, Fern ordered her two pieces of breast meat, as usual, along with mashed potatoes, gravy and green beans. Plus a side of coleslaw because she had promised the doctor on her last visit that she would eat more fiber.

Freddie, who preferred any cut of beef to chicken, asked for his usual order of gizzards and fries. A chewy gizzard was really the only part of the chicken he could tolerate. With ketchup on his fries, he was a reasonably contented diner.

When they had finished eating, Fern knew that her back was so bad she wouldn’t be able to meet Freddie’s needs when they got home. She told him nicely in a code they shared that her back was killing her and that she was afraid there would be no breast meat for Freddie that evening.

Freddie hesitated for a moment and then asked Fern if she thought she would be able to roll over and sleep on her tummy. Fern said probably so because when her back was this bad, that’s what she usually had to do. Couldn’t sleep any other way.

Freddie smiled, sipped the last of his Coke, and said that was good to know. A little rump roast would make a fine late night snack.

Previously published at Poem Hunter

Nominated for Best of the Net and Pushcart prizes, Donal Mahoney has had poetry and fiction published in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa. Some of his work can be found at

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Stork by JD De Hart

Where do babies come from?
the well-meaning child asks;
so the pedagogue responds:
Once your parents loved each
other very much, although
time changes all arrangements,
and they ventured to a garden
together, meeting a stork.
The stork demanded of them
a great trial
(a bank heist or assassination
being the most common
themes at his command),
which they gladly performed.
So, dear children, in order
to get here today,
your parents loved you very
very much…but were also forced
to perform a terrible act.
When the tears have subsided,
the pedagogue tells them
there is a second, messier
way that babies are born,
but the bell rings too soon.

Previously published in Poet community

JD DeHart is a writer and teacher.  He has been nominated for Best of the Net and his chapbook, The Truth About Snails, is available on Amazon.

Friday, 6 May 2016

Toss Up by Ridley Flock

It’s a toss up,
my life in the air
I fly above the swollen earth
looking for a spot to land

I am a restless space
Traveler, uncertain
of true home,
distant stars call my family

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Travel Article by Angelica Fuse

I go my winding
around the globe
I find
my face
in others’ faces
my history
in others’ past
my thoughts
scrawled on
ancient walls
in other lands
some of them
even fictitious.

Friday, 15 April 2016

Trope Hopper by JD DeHart

Blob2 (c) by JD DeHart

There is a wedding dress hanging in my future.  I just know.  Of course, there are worse endings to have.  It all depends on the kind of story you are in.

I could be headed for a dynastic tragedy.  Although, to be honest, none of my uncles seem to be shady characters.  They are just prodding and rhythmic.

On the way to my plot-point job, I notice some kids playing very, very close to the edge of the page.  I warn them to stay away from the gutter, but they just laugh at me.  I pass many characters.  Some are rounded and I know them well, while others are flat and rarely speak to me.

On my lunch hour, there’s a phone call and I know this is just another step in setting up the wedding.  Perhaps I could jump out the window.  As I reach, the window disappears.  Great, now I have a windowless office.  Should have known better.

It would be nice to flip ahead in these pages, but I am chained to this space, anchored to this line, and can only enjoy the sound of other people turning them over.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Four sonnets written on a dark night by Klaus J. Gerken

All bokeh Wednesday! (c) Kevin Dooley


i walked into the jungle of inception
i knew it was the darkest place to hide
i waited for the beast to come and take me
to the lake where no one makes a good demise
but the beast was in the recess of my anger
i could not pray to any other god
i was cold as night approached i shed the burden
and made a bed of thistles in the sod
a woman in a vision came to save me
she said i was a stranger with a cause
i did not understand the implications
to separate the failure from the loss
so she left me where the vision had no meaning
and the beast preferred new meat and i was lost
kjg 26 mar 2016


i awoke where i could never question silence
it surrounded me as if some great divide
no one could foresee my weak surrender
and none would guide me to the other side
i was hoping that the sun would wake the treeline
i looked around and found no path complete
the leaves and moss were deep upon the shadow
and i was in the mourning of defeat
with a start i saw the beast rear up before me
with fear inside my throat i could not scream
his eyes were orbs of light that made me quiver
with nothing but the quiet air between
so i lunged at him and both engaged in struggle
where victory and loss could not be seen
kjg 232am 27 mar 2016


i struggled with my conscience for advisement
with nothing to appease the storm within
it was dangerous with no chance of survival
on the sea of high remorse it let me win
the beast retreated with a heart of vengeance
i let him go as if i was insane
the waltz of contradictory solutions
turned my mind into a rough terrain
nowhere did i see the trees surrender
the darkness to a victors awful grin
i sat down on the moss and my whole body
fell limp with the exhaustion of a sin
so sometimes when we struggle with the terror
the only way to end is to begin
kjg 356am 27 mar 2016


i waited if the sun would build a shadow
upon the threshing floor of concerned hope
i knew there must be somewhere light would manage
to lift the patient from the bed to cope
so moving on i chose the right direction
it did not matter what that might have been
when lost there never is a wrong direction
when walking into someone else's dream
i took a stave and started on my journey
the path i chose was forward with a gleam
you can't be found by being lost forever
whatever danger threatens so we lean
towards the highest hope that is in heaven
or hell or even what is there between
kjg 435am 27 mar 2016

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Les Règles du Jour by Mark Young

It’s one of those days when you’d like to go out & kick a ball around the yard. Only. You don’t have a yard. So.

It’s one of those days when, if you had a yard, you’d like to go out & kick a ball around in it. But.

Since you’ve opened the gate to your imagination, balls & yards become too commonplace to consider. So.

It’s one of those days when you’d like to get in the car & go off driving around the countryside. Only. You’ve seen most of it, & the places you haven’t are along or at the end of roads that are so basic that you wouldn’t drive them anyway, especially when it’s been raining for the past few days & you’d need an all-terrain vehicle to negotiate them. & anyway.

You have this thing about ATVs & SUVs because they’re mainly driven by redneck country boys or men with small dicks – actually the first is merely a qualifier for the second, or vice versa – or by mothers who’d rather run their children over outside the schoolgates instead of taking them home. So.

You think about other forms of transport, planes or balloons. But. This is a small airport, & to get anywhere you really want to go would involve long stopovers at various transit points, which is time that would be better spent kicking a ball around the yard if you had a yard to kick the ball around in. &.

You’ve already been up in a balloon, & the memory of it is so exhilarating that you don’t really want to go up again & perhaps spoil that memory. So.

You stay where you are. &.

Get bored with that. So.

Since you haven’t got a ball to kick around & a yard to kick it around in you go to the chest of drawers & get out a balled pair of socks & go outside to kick it around on the roadway. Where.

You get run over by the postman who, since he hasn’t anything to deliver to you today, is staying on the road instead of driving along the footpath. Or.

You get run over by a small-dicked redneck boy in an ATV who has decided to prove the point that size isn’t everything & that the red neck comes from toiling in the sun which is where it comes from anyway except he’s too stupid to know that. Or.

You get run over by a mother in an SUV who is in a hurry to get to the school in time to run over her children. Or.

All three come along at once, & you score an own goal.


Mark Young's most recent books are Bandicoot habitat & lithic typology, both from gradient books of Finland. An e-book, For the Witches of Romania, is due out from Beard of Bees.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Ducks Can’t Dance by CL Bledsoe and Michael Gushue

63,237 books. That's how many
hours I can't spare. Do you know
that ducks can't see the color
orange? You would if you'd ever
read a book about ducks. Paper
always curls up when it burns
unless it's been printed against
the grain. Did you know that? Certain
rare species of bookworms eat the ink right
off the page, leaving only serial commas,
unless, of course, they're eating newspapers
or my students’ essays. In newspapers
they replace all the facts with equally
plausible facts which means they don’t
replace a goddamn thing. My students
just weep until their essays turn
back into pulp and the ink turns back
into what I was thinking before I was distracted
by having to do my job.  It’s not much,
but at least it’s a living hell only on Tuesdays.
BTW, it's not true about the ducks. You should
know that. It's yellow they can't see. Unless
they're on fire, unless they care.


CL Bledsoe is the author of a dozen books, most recently the poetry collection Riceland and the novel Man of Clay

Michael Gushue runs the nano-press Beothuk Books and is co-founder of Poetry Mutual/Vrzhu Press. His work appears online and in print, most recently in Beltway Poetry Quarterly, the Michigan Quarterly, and Gargoyle. His chapbooks are Gathering Down Women, Conrad, and Pachinko Mouth (from Plan B Press).

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Much Like Living by Robert Ronnow

It was with almost joy
that I watched at my father's
deathbed. His struggle
to let go
of his body and thoughts
was like being at a birth.

But now I'm not so sure.
Now that I'm back
with my life.
Unlike Lear
who will never, never
see his daughter again

I feel the man's presence
in every third thought
as one who went before.
Twice that Spring he said
Rob, I'm dying
but I failed to ask my question

What is it like?
He wouldn't have been able
to say. Not
because he didn't know.
Because it's so
much like living.


Robert Ronnow's most recent poetry collections are New & Selected Poems: 1975-2005 (Barnwood Press, 2007) and Communicating the Bird (Broken Publications, 2012). Visit his web site at

Penguins by Volodymyr Bilyk


detached cry at the tin bowl:
echo - quells,
inane meek flush appears
: gray glow...
wave hand kindly ,

hear some things...

be curious enough to ask
if there is a formula.

shed tears
inside out.

"blank stare, wink-wink"


(is a line).
in the haze,
tongue claps - offensive.

mountains laughing
, sobbing.
listening to
hair rash...


("squirm, wince, flinch, shudder")

shadow falls.
a few touches
here and there...
the roar...:

“Oh, yes. Right.”


craggy fog
squawk wobble.

whatever smells that way...
throes additional sizzle...sigh,

so boring...


boxing flip-flap
fuzzy cough -
hops of wight lame
- knee jerks,
m ore like bobs...

Listen to these lost and
useless notions...


blight,  tight fist,


wisps and skimps
- puff,


curdle curves cuddle.
sour clatter:
neat vexation.


- indecent flight ends with an impact
- broken pieces look like abstract action figures...

what a marvel!

(wind and  breath
get into a fight)

eyes toot.

back matters.
skews a bit
definite  gust
kicks the cheeks
chin  jigs
with a sound of a hiss.

dung aside


Volodymyr Bilyk is a writer, translator.
His book of visual poems was recently published in the series This is Visual Poetry ( and another book of asemic short stories CIMESA was published in White Sky Books, book of poetry Casio's Pay-Off Peyote published by Red Ceilings Press , visual poetry collection SCOBES published by No Press, visual poetry collection THINGS published by Unconventional Press and Laugh Poems ( (Underground books) and Vispo Ay Ai Ay ( published by Blank Space Press.