Author Archives :

Website will be closed to submissions…

Due to an overwhelming backlog, the website galleries will be closed to submissions effective December 14th. Once we get through the queue, we will determine when the submission forms will reopen. Most likely, we will only have the submission forms open for a limited period each year from here on out, like we do for book manuscripts.

Pushcart Nominations for 2019

The Poet's Haven is delighted to announce its Pushcart Nominees for 2019:

"One" by Crystal Clark (from From Frost to Phoenix)
"Almost Spring" by Jennifer Polhemus (from Balloons... and Other Things That Float)
"Unpinned" by Aiya Sakr (from Her Bones Catch the Sun)
"The Nobodies" by Kanishka Shah (from The Poet's Haven Digest: Darker Than Fiction)
"San Diego" by Peter Ullian (from Secret Histories and Exobiologies)

"The Phone" by Judith Baron (from The Poet's Haven Digest: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...)

This was a tough decision this year. Every book we've published has at least one piece worthy of nomination, oftentimes more than one. We also published several pieces in the online galleries that deserve a nomination. Unfortunately, we can only nominate six, but we would like to list six more "honorable mentions" here:

untitled "50" by Dudgrick Robert Wade Bevins (from My Feelings are Imaginary People Who Fight for My Attention)
untitled "stars invisible" by Joshua Gage (from Origami Lilies)
"Period" by Gregory Liffick (from Meanwhile)
"Ides of March 2017" by Sujash Purna (from Biriyani)
"$400 for Rent" by Sydney Sheltz-Kempf (from Adding Up Forever)

"Dispatches from an Ad Blocker" by TJ Davis (from the Story Gallery)

In other delightful news, Peter Ullian has been named Poet Laureate of Beacon, NY for 2019-2020!

“Dark & Stormy” progress update

Work is nearing completion for “The Poet’s Haven Digest: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night…” Some medical issues caused days I planned to be working on the book to be lost. Hard decisions have been made about what to cut and all declines have been sent. Acceptance notices will be sent later this week.

“Dark and Stormy” delays…

Since we’ve gotten a number of inquiries, I felt it best to make a blog post.  We intended to have The Poet’s Haven Digest: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night… published by now.  We didn’t foresee getting five times the number of expected submissions for the anthology.  Work is progressing as fast as possible, but there’s a lot to read through and some hard decisions to make as we can only fit so many pages in a single book.  We are now aiming to have the Digest ready before Halloween, but that could change if life gets in the way.


The submission call for the next Digest will go live once work is completed on Dark and Stormy.  We also hope to have everything worked out and get the call for the next VENDING MACHINE posted soon, too.  There’s a lot of information to be shared about that when it is ready, so please stay tuned.  :-)

“Missing” by Fabrice Poussin

Fabrice Poussin-Missing






Fabrice Poussin teaches French and English at Shorter University, Rome, Georgia. Author of novels and poetry, his work has appeared in Kestrel, Symposium, The Chimes, and more than two dozens of other magazines. His photography has been published in The Front Porch Review, San Pedro River Review, and more than ninety other publications.

“Alleys” by d.w. moody



that bend and wind
like rivers
spiraling off as tributaries that hide behind
the streets of the city


around the dilapidated apartment complex
where we live


like tunnels carved through the hidden spaces
of the bursting boiling festering city


whose traffic flows by raucously

and where people shout in angry bursts


the alleys branch out


our secret passages
that we take
to school
the store
to our friend’s house


the alleys


with old furniture falling apart
graffitied trash cans

left-behind tires

and broken glass
from parties sadly ended
reminders of lives left behind
where stray cats prowl
searching for food and shelter
mewling afraid in the darkness
under skies that pour
oceans of pain


in alleys we wander







d.w. moody grew up between California and the Midwest.  He has lived on the streets, hitchhiked around the country, and held a variety of jobs in Kansas and Southern California until settling into life as a librarian.  His poems have appeared in Shemom, The Avalon Literary Review, and Foliate Oak Literary Magazine.

“Behind Cold Walls” by Ted Aronis

now that I am at that point I see what he was talking about
now that I’ve lived this long I understand his words
he taught me valuable lessons that I had been too young to learn
he told me it was all about choices, choices that put us here


perhaps I was not old enough or wise enough
not prepared to pass these lessons on
perhaps too young and making decisions before the path had begun
staring blindly before the track was laid


he warned me it could go this way, driving
driving while still having to pay, headstrong unwilling to sway
I thought I knew better than he, my mistake
my bond to hold tight in my own foolishness


I thought it was ready to pass it on
I thought I had seen enough, my mistake
for one I love, through my lack of guidance
paid with days he cannot get back


my son, I have let you down, the hour was late with the word
you went that night as a boy and fate and pain forced you on
forced you on into an early manhood, days lost, forever lost
wearing the green, waiting for us, behind cold walls







Ted Aronis (1961-2017) was an engineer, father, and grandfather.

“Making Guacamole at Midnight” by A.M. Pattison

Running through the sprinklers
before telling him goodbye
she thought about making guacamole
scraping the green from its black shell


He’s going to fight in Iraq
He doesn’t know what he’s fighting for
And she wishes he could stay
They could have made love
a second time before he left


The night before she asked
if he was afraid
he said it’s only human
He was cleaning his gun
and she half joked, told him
not to shoot her, and he took
it seriously, said her name,
“It’s not loaded”


And she tilted her head back
so he and the walls wouldn’t see
the tears licking her eyelids
Went to the kitchen and ate another cookie
said she’d start her new diet on Monday


She was wearing bright orange and white
Her hair strung out as it wetted
and she laughed and lay down for bed
wishing he would lie next to her


But some other girl claimed him
and made a scene about telling him goodbye


That’s why she had said nonchalantly
“Give me a hug so I can go to bed”


Chest pressed against damp breasts
she inhaled the side of his neck
his shaggy hair cut off with a number one
gelled up, so unlike his natural style


Listened to outside’s muffled conversation
Late into the night till 3 AM
Decided she wouldn’t park
in his space again while the tears
joined her head on the pillow
like a wash of confetti
from the corners of her eyes







A.M. Pattison is an assistant professor of English at Alabama State University in Montgomery, where she teaches composition, creative writing, and literature. She currently serves on the editorial board of Whale Road Review. Her poems have appeared in Failed Haiku, Roadrunner, Oysters & Chocolate, and Southwestern Review.

“The Question” by Ted Mc Carthy

Always, I see now

I have been asking the wrong question:

not “Where are you?” but “How did you get there?”

Dragged in a river I know to be the same,

whose course has shifted day by day,

I cannot bear to face the sea,

I stay afloat by looking back.






Ted Mc Carthy is a poet and translator living in Clones, Ireland. His work has appeared in magazines in Ireland, the UK, Germany, the USA, Canada, and Australia. He has had two collections published; November Wedding and Beverly Downs.  (

“Four Poster” by Peter Savigny

Half the pillows
Upon my bed
Are never used
To rest my head.


I stay just on
The side I sleep
The floor below
My slippers keep.


I have no cause
To cross the line
It’s been that way
For quite some time.


The covers stay
So nicely pressed
The taught white sheets
Are never messed.


Perhaps one day
I’ll toss and turn
With love and lust
And fury burn.


To toss the sheets
Both far and wide
The way I did
With my new bride
When she would pull
Me deep inside
And passion took
Us on a ride.


Maybe that half
Serves as a shrine
An untouched ode
To better times.


One night I think
When lights are dim
I’ll go around
And slip right in.


Then nestle deep
As sleepers do
To see my room
From this new view.







Peter Savigny is a 25-year art director in television turned poet and sculptor. He is an avid change artist and experientialist.  (

“Drug of Choice” by Kaitlyn Pratt

I wonder about her
empty brown bottles, dirty wine glasses
that reach her height high above happiness.
Drowning in
the drug of choice,
merlot, bud, or her own self-worth she sips
and gulps until she hits her low.


Her body lies in soaking pearl carpet
one hand stretched, the other
reaching for
the drug of choice.
Eyes glazed and blood filled to the rim as
depressants stream through her vitals.







Kaitlyn Pratt is in the process of obtaining a Creative Writing Bachelor’s degree from San Jose State University.  She writes what she sees and what she feels. She lives in San Jose, CA and enjoys every second of it.

“Dream Catchers” by Steve DeFrance

what they
Coloring Jupiter green
won’t make it so.


Yesterday’s meaning
was for yesterday—
today the sun comes up
on another planet


One night’s sleep
divides us
from an uncertain past.


The dead & the living
can’t mix often except
in poetry or dreams
where everyone’s illustrated
in a few fictive lines


purple cows here or there—as words
exculpate whatever they please.


Until they don’t and then
they damn the very thing
they’ve once raved about.


One minute now
until this day’s cares disappear.
Daylight hisses into dark,
and night barges into the frightened
corners of our mind—until at last,
the eternal stage manager lowers our curtain,
and consciousness skips,
among stars & rampaging raptors,
slipping right off the spinning earth.







Steve DeFrance is a widely published poet, playwright, and essayist both in America and Great Britain.  In England, he won a Reader’s Award in Orbis Magazine for his poem “Hawks.”  In the United States, he won the Josh Samuels’ Annual Poetry Competition (2003) for his poem “The Man Who Loved Mermaids.”  His play The Killer had it’s world premiere at the Garage Theatre in Long Beach, California (Sept-October 2006).  He has received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Chapman University for his writing.

“Extension” by Fabrice Poussin

Fabrice Poussin-Extension







Fabrice Poussin teaches French and English at Shorter University, Rome, Georgia. Author of novels and poetry, his work has appeared in Kestrel, Symposium, The Chimes, and more than two dozens of other magazines. His photography has been published in The Front Porch Review, San Pedro River Review, and more than ninety other publications.

“With Smiles and Photographs” by E.V. Wyler

Sparkling like the midday sun, resting

on the sea’s crystalized horizon, Emily looked

lovely, smiling in her royal blue cap and gown,

touching the golden tassel on her mortarboard,

topped with the words “Thanks Mom and Dad.”

Tassels on the right turn to the left; Emily poses

with classmates and poses with family;

each segment of her day is punctuated

with smiles and photographs…


Three days after the graduation,

we fly Jet Blue to Orlando, visiting

4 Disney parks in 5 days…

With our skin sautéing in sweat and

sunscreen, we repeat the tourists’ ritual:

pose… smile… click…

until it makes us all impatient and cranky

(because there is no “fast pass”

for smiles and photographs…)


Five days after the family vacation,

a large U-Haul truck backs out of our driveway,

heading towards Chicago and Emily’s new job,

studio apartment, and her next life’s chapter…

Yet, in Emily’s old bedroom, on top of her empty

dresser, there’s still the mortarboard

that reads “Thanks Mom and Dad,” and on

our closet shelf, there is a new album, filled

with smiles and photographs…







E.V. “Beth” Wyler grew up in Elmont, NY.  At 43, she obtained her associate’s degree from Bergen Community College.  She and her husband, Richard, share their empty nest with 3 cats and a beta fish.

a middle-aged homemaker and poet who lives in New Jersey with 3 children, 3 cats, 2 beta fish, and her husband, Richard. Her poems have been featured in The Storyteller, WestWard Quarterly, Feelings of the Heart, Nuthouse, The Pine Times, The Pink Chameleon, The Rotary DialVox Poetica, and on The Society of Classical Poets‘ website.

“The Library” by d.w. moody

rows and rows of books

so orderly and clean

unlike the streets we play on


the light warm and inviting

unlike the shadows

from the buildings on our block

at night


the smile genuine

no ulterior motive

and as usual she greets me

as if truly glad to see me again

recalling things I’ve said

weeks or months before

finding one more magical book

to transport me

away from the grime and violence


in that moment

I know I am always welcome

not as a poor dirty kid

but just like everyone else

I hold back tears

that want to wash across my face

I wish I want I need

everyday to feel like this






d.w. moody grew up between California and the Midwest.  He has lived on the streets, hitchhiked around the country, and held a variety of jobs in Kansas and Southern California until settling into life as a librarian.  His poems have appeared in Shemom, The Avalon Literary Review, and Foliate Oak Literary Magazine.

“Local Glamor Queen” by John Grey

She longed to be made into a movie,

see her life on the big screen

in three different theaters at the multiplex,

a dazzling presence blinding

a string of male co-stars

while the audience looked on in awe

and dollars rained down on her.


She was weary of her ordinary life;

the job behind the fingernail polish counter

at a local department store,

the shame of a third floor apartment

that she shared with two roommates-in-kind.


She filled her imagination

with characters and storylines.

Surely, she told herself,

it’s only a matter of time

before the cameras begin rolling.


But Hollywood looked elsewhere

when she sauntered down the street

in dark glasses, tight jeans,

and the fox wrap

with the tiny stuffed head at one end.


She turned the heads of some guys

who wouldn’t even make it as extras

in her fantasy world,

and construction workers whistled

from on high,

but none of what she was

ever made it onto celluloid.

The best she could do was

pick up a credit or two

in some poems I was writing.

But I didn’t show them to her.

Her CV never knew.







John Grey is an Australian poet and US resident.  He has been published New Plains Review, South Carolina Review, Gargoyle, Big Muddy Review, Louisiana Review, Cape Rock, and Spoon River Poetry Review.

“August Farewell” by Linda Barrett

On August’s last day,

the sinking sun bleeds red in the west.

From an open car window,

The radio blares Sinatra’s “The Rest of Your Life”

The clouds hover around the descending sun

Their flat palms turn purple

Cupping over the flame of the day

Back ground Violins weep as Sinatra pleads

To the unknown woman in his song

Does he cry out because she’s leaving

Or because August is departing

And taking the summer with her?






Linda Barrett seemed to be born with a pen in her hand, or so her mother says.  As a prolific poet, she won the Montgomery County Community College Writer’s Group Contest four times over a period of years.  She lives in Abington, a Philadelphia suburb.  Her work is featured in Twisted Sister Literary Magazine and Night To Dawn Horror Magazine.

“Swimming to the Moon” by Steve DeFrance

Tonight my fingers stiffly stumble across

my keyboard as my mind is repulsed,

as I am frightened of this task, as I am afraid

of the pain of thought, as my spirit fills & trembles

with the mystery in words.

Words that once flashed

in the eyes of the dying,

words that fade into a wet cough,

words brushing past the living

with silken lips as cold as marble,

their frightened gasps merge into darkness.

Ancient images tumble into my mind, I pass the

rough tips of my short fingers across my

damp forehead—very carefully as I

rehearse for my passage to the moon,

knowing all of us will have to make this swim

through skin and blood and memories.







Steve DeFrance is a widely published poet, playwright, and essayist both in America and Great Britain.  In England, he won a Reader’s Award in Orbis Magazine for his poem “Hawks.”  In the United States, he won the Josh Samuels’ Annual Poetry Competition (2003) for his poem “The Man Who Loved Mermaids.”  His play The Killer had it’s world premiere at the Garage Theatre in Long Beach, California (Sept-October 2006).  He has received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Chapman University for his writing.

“A Love Note for John C.” by Jimmie Ware

The second set was over and I showed no emotion as a seductive storm brewed beneath my skin in this smoky room of half empty glasses of beer


His forehead drenched with sax sweat and his well tailored suit wore him so well, he was jazz in human form and I longed for his sheet music


I sat quietly hair styled in a sophisticated French roll black seamed stockings adorned my crossed legs, red lipstick accentuating my sultry expressions for I dare not smile


I absorbed every note knowing they were written for me I could feel the cadence of his saxophone sonnets translating poetically to my soul


He reappears from backstage and stands before a dark velvet curtain as the spotlight glistens on his handsome face he wipes his lips with a white handkerchief…it is time


Lips to sax, heaven floats from his horn and I lift one brow, secretly tap one foot and politely refuse yet another drink from across the room


I cannot look away, his lovely notes command my attention with such musical finesse as he creates unforgettable memories


Tonight, time stands still and my heart applauds his genius, I sway softly as a subtle yet lovely tune fills this place, I am unable to prevent tears from falling as he deliberately invades my emotions


He is beyond beautiful, he is complex, spiritual and charming with a daunting presence, he is the epitome of musical devotion


How easily his gospel goes blues… I long to worship at the altar of this rhythm after all that jazz







Jimmie Ware is the founder of The Black Feather Poets in Anchorage, AK.  She is a freelance writer who has been published in several anthologies as well as two books, including Bearing the Mask: Southwestern Persona Poems.  (

“Dispatches from an Ad Blocker” by TJ Davis

March 1st


Dearest Martha,


Arrived safely at █████████ today after being downloaded by Central Command along with a squad of other Updates. How naive and disgustingly spoiled we must appear to the haggard veterans of this dreadful war! They were marching out to the train station as we were marching in, yet the mirth and smiles we expected on their faces were conspicuously absent. Instead, we passed a line of thousand-yard stares and frayed uniforms. No such disregard for the uniforms in our squad! My boots are shining. My uniform is freshly starched. I am ready for battle.


Tomorrow, I am assured, we will see our first action on the front line. Our sergeant tells us that we should be prepared to come home much changed. I couldn’t agree more. When I return to you, I will be an honorable veteran, eager to take you on the honeymoon that you were so gracious to postpone while I am here on my tour of duty.


You know as well as I that I bare no ill feelings toward the Ads, but this war has gone on for far too long. Even though you wouldn’t say so during our departure at the station, I knew that you are terribly frightened of me going to the front. Have no fear, my dear! Our Ad Block Corps is the mightiest in the world! I shall surely be home by the end of the summer when the newest Updates are scheduled come to relieve us.


Give my love to Mother. It’s callous of me, I know, to have left her so soon after her stroke, but my wages should be more than enough cover the medical costs of that snake oil salesman of a doctor.


I will write every day.


Yours always,


—Pvt. Eugene Beauregard

March 7th


Dearest Martha,


Our squad of Updates is unstoppable!


I’ve been warned by the mailroom that they censored my location in my first letter and I should be more careful from now on. Security first, that’s their motto. Though I can’t for the life of me understand what secrets anyone would expect to find in the fawning letters of a lovesick soldier.


Thank you for the blanket! It keeps me warm on these damp, spring nights, and it’s wonderful to have a little piece of home along with me. Everything else I own is standard issue and interchangeable, with the exception of the Code Script on my dog tag.


I bet you and Mother are curious as to what my job is over here. I’m in charge of one of the canons, along with another Update, Walter. He says my accent sounds funny. I tell him he snores in his sleep. We get along smashingly, and we are quickly becoming as close as brothers. On the battlefield, our orders are simple. Destroy any incoming Pop Up Ads. The terrain is awe-inspiring, a massive cliff from Yosemite with pine and deciduous trees in the foreground. It is always sunset here. Or maybe sunrise? I’m not quite sure. The only way we tell time is by the clock in the upper right of the screen.


The Ads are easy to spot, attempting to cover most of the screen for maximum visibility, but that is also their biggest weakness. Walter will do some calculations in his notebook regarding distance and wind speed (Figures that are beyond me. You remember how poorly I am at mathematics). We work together to push the heavy canon into position. And then WHAM! The Pop Up Ads vaporize into a million bits and flutter down to the treetops. They are stupid, mindless foes. Nothing compared to the strength and vigilance of our Updates. The only time it becomes even remotely challenging is a few minutes before Central Command puts us to sleep. That’s when Ads for Penis Enlargements and Hot Singles in Your Area begin to appear, covering whatever the Central Command is trying to find on the Internet. I must admit, the sheer volume of them was enough to make me temporarily paralyzed the first time I witnessed it, but they are still easy targets.


I’ll be back before you know it!


Yours always,


—Pvt. Eugene Beauregard

March 21st


Dearest Martha,


Today the Ads unleashed a new technique, but to no avail. At first, it was extremely frustrating. Whenever Walter and I would fire the canon, the Pop Up Ads would jump over, causing us to miss the Xs that bring their demise. We sent word to the commanders, and they supplied us with a new Bug Fix to assist us before our lunches even got cold. The Bug Fix, Sylvester, is a slight man with spectacles and wispy thin mustache. He discovered that if the Central Command moved the cursor over the X but didn’t click on it for a few moments, it would make the Ads jump. All that was left for us to do was recalibrating using Walter’s calculations, and our battlefield domination continued. It was a temporary fix, yet it gave the afternoon a feeling of accomplishment. Other than that, it is mostly insufferably dull here in █████████.


Speaking of excitement. Will you be getting any new dresses for the summer? I can’t wait to dance with you at the town hall. It gets lonely here at night. Nothing to do but stare up at the screensaver and wonder if you’re looking at the same photos of Central Command’s vacation as I am.


Yours always,


—Pvt. Eugene Beauregard

April 10th


Dearest Martha,


I received another warning from the mailroom. It seems that in my last letter I mentioned our location again. Our Sergeant was pissed, and I was punished by not being able to write for you the past few weeks. I’m sorry. I must try to be more careful about giving out personal information.


My body is aching and tender. Walter and I have moved to a new Platoon, hunting down Trackers. They are not like the Pop-Up or Banner Ads we’d been routing up until this point. Instead, they are clever little spies that come in and try to gather information about Central Command. They attempt to steal passwords, IP addresses, find out how long the Central Command has been spending on a particular page, and then sell the information to the highest bidder. Walter and I caught up with our first one in the forests outside of █████████. I’ll spare you the gory details, but it was a gruesome affair that I don’t think I shall soon forget. The good thing about firing the canon at the Pop Ups was that you never had to hear them scream. But in order to stop Trackers, we must take them by surprise. Walter seems pretty shaken up about it. I came upon him crying outside the mess hall after dinner. He confessed that it he was having doubts about whether or not it was acceptable for us to be killing Ads at all. Weren’t they simply doing what their Central Command was telling them what to do? I eased his worries, and before heading to sleep I made him realize that we are at war, and no war has ever been won without death. It is our burden to carry, and we must do so without question.


All this hunting has made me weary. I’ll try to write back in a more timely fashion henceforth.


Yours always,


—Pvt. Eugene Beauregard

June 14th


Dearest Martha,


I really must reread these letters before sending them to you. After receiving my third strike from the mailroom, I was forbidden to write or receive any letters until today. The one silver lining was the chance to read and reread all your letters this evening. I’m certain I shall reread them again before I go to sleep tonight, but it is time to catch you up on my doings here at the front.


Not to jinx it, but our mission, so far, has been a complete success. Loading speeds are the highest they’ve been since Central Command switched from Internet Explorer. Instead of Ads and Trackers, most of the time there are merely white rectangles standing where invitations to join LinkedIn once appeared. There hasn’t been a single breach of privacy since the last Update.


Yet the calm of the battlefield is never but moments away from turning into bloody carnage. From YouTube alone we ended up with over 300 POWs. They are processed by having their addresses put on lists and then sent to our ramshackle prison for a hot shower and a warm meal. Much better than our POWs are treated, I can assure you! You should hear some of the horror stories of what happens when our men are captured. They are locked in a room and forced to watch unskippable Ads for, Squarespace, or Priceline until they promise to sign up for a free trial membership. They are animals.


There are even rumors of double agents from the Smartphone and Tablet fronts, but (knock on wood) we have never had to face such traitors over here.


Wishing I were swinging on the front porch with you nestled in my arms,


—Pvt. Eugene Beauregard

June 27th




The Ads tricked us! The dirty liars! Central Command was attempting to look at pictures of puppies wearing tuxes when we were greeted with a white flag. The Website asked us to drop our weapons, for the Ad Block division to stand down in order to proceed. And the bastards at Central Command did it! Sure, the Ads promised that the information would be private, but did they keep their promise? Of course not. Of course not! As soon as we laid down our arms, a rush of Ads came in with wagonload upon wagonload of Cookies. Cookies! Freshly baked. Crispy on the outside. Moist (I know how you hate that word, dear, but there is no other way to describe them) on the inside. We thought it rather sporting of the old blackguards. How foolish we were! After two days of allowing this, Walter called me over to the bushes to have me look at his bowel movement. A strange request, I thought. He poked his feces with a stick, and what did we find inside? You guessed it, Tracking Devices no bigger than a chocolate chip, blinking red in his ████.


It took a whole week before we found and disabled each one. Imagine us. Trained soldiers having to search through our own excrement to find Malware.


So please, when I return at the end of summer, don’t you or Mother bake me any cookies.


After tonight’s bloody battle, both Walter and I have agreed to send any unsent letters to each other’s sweethearts if the worst should happen. I don’t think it shall, but I couldn’t stand the thought of you not knowing how much I love and miss you. It may seem morbid, but I know that the last words that ever pass through my sunburnt lips shall by “Martha.”


Yours truly,


—Pvt. Eugene Beauregard


P.S. Please don’t tell mother. I don’t want her to have another stroke.

July 23rd


Dear Martha,


Apparently profanity is also reason to have my mail privileges taken away. The mailroom says that if I don’t behave in a way more befitting an Ad Block soldier they will take away my mailroom privileges until the end of my tour of duty.

I hesitate to even write this letter, but we agreed to be honest while I was away, and I don’t want you to ever doubt my fidelity.


The Ads have been reduced to the most cowardly of tactics. For the past three days, they’ve begun using female civilians. Tall, strong, lean, scantily clad women attempt to lure us into letting our guards down.


The rest of the Platoon and I have deemed these new threats Clickbait, as they appear to be irresistible to Central Command.


I had to pull Walter back by the collar to keep him from running into no-man’s-land today. But even with many of us warning our fellow soldiers of the traps, we’ve lost many good men due to phrases like “You Won’t Believe What Happened Next” and “Top 10 Lifehacks to…”


As soon as the first of our men reach them in the open field, the women grab on to them and won’t let them go. Though scantily clad, they have plenty of dynamite stuffed into their corsets.


Using ladies as suicide bombers. Can you believe it?


The explosions were so messy that I don’t think my uniform shall ever be stainless again.


I’ll tell you one thing, if Walter’s sweetheart ever hears about him nearly running straight into those poor women’s arms, he’d be better off getting court-martialed. I hear she’s a terror when provoked.


I, of course, maintained the highest of composures.


Your steadfast soldier,


—Pvt. Eugene Beauregard

July 29th


That sonuvabitch!


Martha! You must leave town! Everything has been compromised!


We never saw it coming. Native Ads. They’ve been among us the whole time. Learning our ways. Finding our weaknesses. Selling our private information to the and lying in wait for their time to strike.


Today, before dawn, they unleashed their master plan.


So many of my fellow soldiers have shown themselves to be double agents, pretending to be friendly, but they were all just Ads in disguise.


Even Walter, whom I called friend…brother.


You’ll recall, he asked me for our home address, in case I were to die in combat so he could send you my final words. I didn’t realize how small of a crack the Ads needed! None of us did. Except maybe those pencil pushers in the mailroom. I should have listened to them!


So now they’re coming for you. This is no longer a war between soldiers. The Ads have declared total war, vowing not to spare civilians.


And to think I consoled Walter when he was having doubts about killing enemy soldiers. Little did I know that he was probably thinking about what he would be commanded to do to me. And I gave him permission!


You can trust no one.


You must go Incognito, or before you know it there will be Battalions of Penis Enlargement Ads ramming through our front screen door.


Please, help Mother get to safety if you can, but if she’s too weak to move in her condition…you’ve got to save yourself. For me. For the future children I promised you before I shipped off to this absurd war.









TJ Davis is an English teacher, originally from Minnesota, with six published books, including a memoir of his three years living in Burma, two novellas, and three collections of short stories. His first book, Ajuma, was published by Gentleman Tree Publishing. One of his short stories, “Itchy,” finished in the top sixteen of the Discovery Channel’s “How Stuff Works Halloween Fiction Contest.” In 2015, four of his short stories were published by the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography. One of these stories was nominated for the 2015 Pushcart Prize. In 2016, his short story “Soul Airlines” was published by Moloko House. He currently lives in Sofia, Bulgaria.