Away from the light,
scutter past spiders
to hide in the shadows
where silvery scales
can wait in the bathtub
for the house to fall silent.
Creeping and crawling
while the world is asleep
the pests of the night
head to the bookshelf
for a feast.
With the dawn
in the morning
we are early to rise,
and head to the office
to wake up our minds…
only to find
that the words
which our eyes
seek to read
have been devoured in full
by our foul enemy…
that has slipped away
without a trace,
torn and shredded pages
in its wake.
Scott Thomas Outlar spends the hours flowing and fluxing with the ever-changing currents of the Tao River while laughing at and/or weeping over life’s existential nature. His chapbook Songs of a Dissident is available from Transcendent Zero Press, and his words have appeared recently in venues such as Words Surfacing, Yellow Chair Review, Dissident Voice, Section 8 Magazine, and Void Magazine. 17numa.wordpress.com
A soft summer rain,
clicking of some insect or
raccoon or squirrel off in
trees, purple-orange sky
haze in the distance, beyond that,
the city, I walk out into scene
swinging trash bag, cutting down
the dumpster looks at me
with dead eyes like the dead
eyes staring out wet
tree branches, like the dead eyes
leering under cars, like the dead eyes
from the million cold bodies
buried in all the cemeteries of the world,
and I toss the bag into the
gaping black mouth weary of stepping
walk out into the street
where I feel somehow I’m safe,
for a moment, before turning
back toward the old brick
with its dark windows
and its own dead eyes
Tom Pescatore grew up outside Philadelphia, dreaming of the endless road ahead, carrying the idea of the fabled West in his heart. He maintains a poetry blog. His work has been published in literary magazines both nationally and internationally, but he’d rather have them carved on the Walt Whitman bridge or on the sidewalks of Philadelphia’s old Skid Row.
“By the way, you don’t mind if I smoke do you? Gee thanks; you’re aces pal.” I slowly take the butane lighter from my pocket and hold it to the Chesterfield I’ve retrieved from the antiquated holder I keep in the back pocket of my jeans. What’s the rush after all? The smoke dances in the sunlight that pours through the stained glass window opposite us in the kitchen and I can’t help but admire the feel of this particular home. It’s almost dreamlike, positively surreal.
The opulent paint scheme and the stucco walls set a very distinctive mood and everything matches from the curtains down to the brass appliances. It’s one hell of a house and it’s safe to say I’m a fan of whoever was responsible for the design. I’m especially fixated on the custom set of kitchen knives on the butcher block. There’s a lot you can tell about a person from the decorations of their home and the condition they keep their cutlery in. “Honestly I don’t think there is any other way to look at my life; I’m just horribly misunderstood. That’s the long and short of it and to my knowledge it’s always has been that way. Seriously, let me just run a few things past you, I’m sure you’ll see it from my point of view.”
I guess it’d be too easy to blame this kind of thing on my mother although she’s most likely the root of my specific peculiarities. Saying my childhood was “abnormal” would be anything but an exaggeration. “Did you know that my mother, outside of being a lawyer and a doctor was also a representative on the city council? At least that’s what she’d tell the newspaper in her bi-monthly rant to the editor of the local newspaper. My doctors may say I’m imbalanced but if they’d of had the chance to meet her then they’d really know what crazy looked like. She’d of made Pagliacci look like a normal balanced individual.” The fact of the matter was I barely saw my mother, save when she’d come by to take me to the local magistrate to renew her child support documentation and whatnot. I was raised by her brother, my uncle, who happened to be a very artistic man. And for as much of an artist as he was he was twice as eccentric. Maybe those traits rubbed off on me more than I’d care to admit, but I’ll leave that discussion for another time, as that’s an entirely different rabbit hole of equal measure and depth.
As I inhale the cherry on the cigarette glows red, then an intense orange before settling back into a cool ash-grey. “Control issues; that was the first thing that got on my nerves when people would attempt to analyze me as a child. What was it they used to say? Oh yes, they said I was “aggressive-aggressive”. Sure I might have been a bit bossy but some children are naturally like that aren’t they? The whole incident with me tying the other kids up? That was just a joke, and apparently one that some parents just couldn’t take. I always thought it was funny seeing what other kids do especially if you leave them alone like that for a while. Besides, I learned an important lesson from that whole debacle; bungee cords are infinitely superior to rope when it comes to restraints. Keep another child tied up in a janitors closet for long enough and they’ll look forward to being locked in their parents car trunk like it was Christmas, rest assured.”
The look on my new friend’s face contorts in discomfort; it’s painfully clear that he’s not following and considering the position he’s in I guess I can understand that. He seems worried. I can tell because his eyes keep darting around the room Maybe I should get more personal. The doctors always said that was something I should try and right now is as good a time as any to give it a shot. “Would you believe after that they sent me for counseling? For the most part I still don’t understand what the fuss was all about; everybody likes a good fire after all. Hell, I’d even say it was art, and who’s got the right to deny me my God given right to make my art a reality?”
Yes, I do believe I’m starting to lose him; he’s drifting and that’s upsetting me quite a bit to say the least. “I guess, in retrospect, I may have had a bit of a violent streak in me but then again at the time it seemed perfectly reasonable. It’s not like I was a looney or something like that; I’d always assumed if I were Big Brother would have had me locked up. And in my defense those kids were bigger than me so they had it coming. Besides, it’s not like they ever found the baseball bat… or the bodies for that matter.” The embers begin to singe the base of my fingers and I take one final drag on the nearly finished cigarette.
I guess it’s true what they say, nothing lasts forever, not my Chesterfields, much to my dismay, and not the surprisingly enjoyable conversation I’ve been having. Sure it’s a bit one sided but when somebody like me finds another person who’s willing to listen it means the world. My hand caresses the forged handles of the knives on the cutting block and rests gently over the smallest of the bunch; the paring knife. I remove it from its place of rest and run my fingernail over the blade to test its keenness. “Ahhh…. just what I like to see, the edge is nice and sharp.” I admire the workmanship of the solid steel knife in my hand; my friend on the couch certainly does have an eye for detail and quality. “Oh, and about your cat; there’s just no way around it, the cat HAD to go.”
I begin to move towards the couch, slowly, but purposefully. I’d like to say that I didn’t do that kind of thing intentionally. I’d also like to say that doing so didn’t make the situation all the more exciting for me but if I said that I’d be lying. Delay the moment for as long as you can, that’s what I always say. Besides, the slow stroll towards my host gives me a minute to admire the rich Corinthian leather of the couch he’s “sitting” on. “You know I just wanted to say, before we get on with it all, I absolutely love what you’ve done with your house; you’ve got style, panache even. It is, by far, the nicest I’ve been in a while and the fact that you were nice enough to spend some time listening to my problems, well, that’s just plain neighborly of you.”
He struggles against the bungee cords that I’ve used to tie him up. If I didn’t know any better I’d think he was trying to bite through the duct tape. “Sorry about that friend. Honestly if I thought you wouldn’t scream I’d take the tape off but considering I know full well we’re about to make a mess I just can’t take ay extra chances.” His eyes widen as I produce the knife and begin to hone it on the leather strap I keep in my pocket. “Now, do me a favour and try to stay still. It’s more for your sake, honestly. Either way, this is really going to hurt.”
“Hmmm…. I’m starting to regret not doing this outside. He certainly was a gusher. But on the bright side, at least there won’t be a whole lot left over for his huckle bearers to carry.” The blood on the curtains beads up and rolls down the magenta fabric like wax on a candle. Ikea; they just have to be from Ikea. Those Norwegian bastards were absolute geniuses when it came to murder-friendly housewares and there isn’t another a group of people on Earth that would make drapes in a gaudy colors like that.
RJ Wasser is an English Major at West Chester University. He previously completed two enlistments in the US Armed Forces; one in the Air Force and the other in the Army. wasserrj.wordpress.com
(Tyvek is an insulation material applied to the interior of buildings before application of the final material such as wood or stone or siding.)
Take this old house by the side of the road.
Walk past its leaf-filled ditch and muddy garden.
Rip out its walls and doorways.
Stay there, don’t move.
Walk among the heaps of plasterboard,
the piles of rubble still unswept.
Let it sear you, rush like water through you,
and bring you no peace.
Don’t come and fetch me,
I’ll stay here among the ruins.
lonesome as a stairwell,
ringing like a bell,
one of a kind,
the house where I live.
Did you mark the days when they
hammered the outer boards
across the falling rot of splintered wood?
Did you see how frisky they were,
those laugh-aloud fun-finding fellows
stationed so effortlessly
on tall hinged ladders?
Three of them I counted, workmen,
bouncing words from roof to roof,
or were they manly jokes,
nails echoing clang clang
as they went in,
thick-soled boots snug on tall rungs.
How we couldn’t help but laugh
the day the letters appeared – TYVEK -
blue, dark as mountains,
- TYVEK -
you’d know those letters anywhere –
take-me-along K pointing off,
off in the distance at some lonesome star.
How we rejoiced and continue to rejoice
at the coming of the words.
Leave it to us to notice from our
one unstained window
the predicament of the motorists
and the ditch-leaping joggers passing by,
each one waiting,
querying among themselves,
when will it be finished?
When will the Tyvek be covered up for good?
Didn’t we fool them?
Didn’t we cause consternation?
We simply couldn’t do it.
We let the Tyvek stay.
Ruth Z. Deming has had her poetry published in literary journals including Metazen, Mad Swirl, River Poets, and Eunoia Review. A psychotherapist and mental health advocate, she runs New Directions Support Group for people and families affected by depression and bipolar disorder. She lives in Willow Grove, PA, a suburb of Philadelphia.
We were both born sick.
Hospital stays and needles
jammed into my skinny thighs
had made me well
by the time she arrived.
But her sick was worse.
Her years were spent in hospitals.
Odor of iodine, rubbing alcohol,
anticipated pain. Lab coats
made her shrink into herself.
Their wearers bearing needles
stabbing and stealing
or sneaking in unwanted gifts.
When she was home and not sick
the Sesame Street song
made us romp around and sing along.
“Sunny day, sweepin’ the clouds away.”
That day she is home
but she is sick.
Her face is tired and mad.
She is lying on the couch
sucking her finger. I know
that finger is fat and red.
It always looks like hurting feels.
Quiet – on my tippy-toes
I peek over the couch.
I drop to my hands. I giggle.
Carpet pushes up
between my fingers.
I sneak on hands and knees
around the couch
past the torn flap.
Tingles are in my tummy.
I peek over the cushion.
I do a silly face.
She looks through me,
above the fireplace
where painted ladies
(that I mustn’t touch)
stand under umbrellas.
Her eyes look through
the painted ladies too.
I quack. I stick my tongue out.
Her cheeks suck in around her finger.
I wobble my head at her.
I poke her. I shake her.
I grab her wrist and pull.
Her fat red finger pops out.
Now she can see me.
Now she is screaming.
I am in trouble. She-Is-Sick.
I only wanted her to play – with me.
If I could go back to that day
I’d wrap her hand with mine
and set them, soft,
upon the raised flower pattern
of that couch like crushed velvet
against our skin.
And silent, I’d memorize – her face.
Mike Nichols was born all in a rush just after midnight, with no assistance from doctor or midwife, under a waning Tennessee moon on a chill October night behind a partition at the back of a tar-paper shack in which his unwed mother had holed-up for a time. Mike won the 2014 Ford Swetnam Poetry Prize. His fiction and poetry may be found at Underground Voices, Bewildering Stories, and Black Rock & Sage.
Radio compelled people
to pay attention
to what they heard
and listen carefully.
Movies isolated people
who sat alone in darkness,
to the silver screen.
TV chained people at home
watching the revealed world,
a paltry substitute
The internet erased
mostly for trivia,
sometimes for science,
too often for evil,
unleashing new dangers
on the unprepared world.
Gary Beck has spent most of his adult life as a theater director, and as an art dealer when he couldn’t make a living in theater. His poetry collections include: Days of Destruction (Skive Press); Expectations (Rogue Scholars Press); Dawn in Cities, Assault on Nature, Songs of a Clerk, Civilized Ways, Displays, Perceptions, Fault Lines and Tremors (Winter Goose Publishing); and Conditioned Response (Nazar Look). His published novels include: Extreme Change (Cogwheel Press), Acts of Defiance (Artema Press), and Flawed Connections (Black Rose Writing), as well as his short story collection, A Glimpse of Youth (Sweatshoppe Publications). His original plays and translations of Moliere, Aristophanes, and Sophocles have been produced off Broadway. His poetry, fiction, and essays have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines. He currently lives in New York City.
in half shadow,
Demons in my
head sing low and
What can such
a sign portend.
Harvest or smooth
sailing, or a harbinger
of the end.
The same moon,
has been glimpsed
as the unenlightened
have a glance.
It only fills my head
with the music,
to which my demons
love to dance.
S. A. Gerber is a native and resident of Los Angeles, CA. His work has appeared in such diverse publications as The Blue Collar Review, Desert Voices Magazine, Subtopian Magazine, Talking Sidewalks, Sediments Literary and Arts Journal, Black Heart Magazine,Mad Swirl, Poetica Magazine, The Los Angeles Review of Los Angeles, and The Linden Avenue Literary Journal. His two volumes of poetry, Under the Radar and Inventory, are available from Barnes & Noble and Amazon as well as Amber Unicorn Books in Las Vegas, Nevada.
We gathered on a true Sabbath,
When the distant sun was high
And our breath misted in the air.
We had carried a sorrowful burden for miles and miles
Ready for the inevitable task of carrying the mournful.
Oh! But your love; your pride
She met us with a smile and open arms
And the strong determination of an oak tree standing in a violent storm.
She then opened the door to her old country home
Where your boots were still lined up like soldiers
And your Stetson still on its hook.
She cocooned us in her love.
All the while, she sang to us a song
Like the song you sang to her so long ago—
A cowboy’s song.
Then, as the sun got closer to its meeting place with the earth
She taught her children’s children
Love for horses
And pink Cowboy boots
Singing to them—
A cowboy’s song.
She held a baby
As he slept a peaceful sleep.
Her unshed tears a clear glass pond;
While rivers rushed down my face.
I clung to her like morning glory vines.
Yet, her unwavering soul peered out into the world
Like the moon dimly lit in the day; refusing to go down without a fight.
And she sang to me—
A cowboy’s song.
Now, she sits by your bed.
You upon your horse
Slowly stepping into the setting red, orange sun.
She sings a soft melody.
Words of strength, love, loss, and acceptance.
For this is her song.
Her song to you.
A cowboy’s lullaby.
Cara Vitadamo is a registered nurse that enjoys poetry. She has been published in Torrid Literature, All Things Girl, and Mused a Bella Online Literary Review Magazine.
Window would see
if eyes weren’t stuck
When I was young
I used to dress myself
and go where I wanted.
with dull wall
and nurse down the hall,
I stretch out my hand
Joe Bisicchia writes of our shared spiritual dynamic. An Honorable Mention recipient for the Fernando Rielo XXXII World Prize for Mystical Poetry, his works have appeared in Sheepshead Review, Balloons Lit Journal, The Inflectionist Review, Black Heart Magazine, Dark Matter Journal, Poets Collectives Anthologies, and others. The current public affairs professional in New Jersey is a former award winning television host who also taught high school English. He also co-invented an award winning family card game. www.widewide.world
She takes off her shoe and rotates her
Foot. “He’s not like you,” she tells this new
Guy. “There wasn’t an ounce of sensitivity in him.”
“He held me back,” she says. “Held me back
And kept me down. He
Didn’t want my guitar playin’ to be good.”
She says, “The idea of his own wife playin’
Kick-ass lead like him was too big a threat.”
Then, a little later, still in the afterglow, she
Tells him: “His ego was scared to death of what I might’ve
Done with that thing.”
She points hard toward the closet, as
Though he could see through the door to the Gibson
Firebird with Steinberg gearless tuners and dual mini
Humbuckers rotting in its dusty hard shell case,
Strings rusting like barbed wire on an old fence.
“Do you still play?” he asks her.
“He killed it!” she says, slapping the
Mattress. “All he did was demean me, tell me I suck. I
Could’ve been good. Maybe not as good as Hendrix, but
Good. But he killed it.”
She doubles her fist and clenches her jaw in
The candlelight. He touches her face to soothe
Her. “So why don’t you start playing again?”
“What for?” she says and moves her face away
From his hand, giving her hair a sudden single downstroke
With her fingers.
“Out of love,” he says. “Isn’t that why Hendrix played? Isn’t
That why anyone plays? Who cares what he thinks?”
She won’t look at him. “Easy for you to say,” she tells
Him. “You never heard his snide insults. ‘Practice or
Forget it,’ he would tell me. ‘Learn the names of the
Chords,’ he would say. He would never give me
Credit for what I was doing good.”
He touches her bare thigh to calm her.
“You don’t need his credit,” he says.
Tears rim her eyes. “I could’ve been good,” she says.
He nods. “Okay. So play,” he says. “Pick it
Back up and start playing again.”
“It’s too late,” she says. “He held me back.”
“If you love it, do it,” he says. “It’s not too late if you
She turns, finally, to face him, her eyes burning brighter than the
Soft candles. “Why are you starting shit with me?” she asks
“What?” He sits up. The sheet falls of his chest.
“You don’t have an ounce of sensitivity in you,” she says.
Bob Lind is a musician whose songs have been covered by more than 200 artists, including: Cher, Aretha Franklin, Eric Clapton, Marianne Faithful, Glen Campbell, Kingston Trio, Dolly Parton, and Nancy Sinatra. His lyrics have been taught in colleges and universities throughout the U.S. and Canada. He won the Florida Screenwriters Competition with his script Refuge. He won the Southern California Motion Picture Council’s Bronze Halo Award for his play The Sculptors. He also has poetry published in Iodine Poetry Journal. www.BobLind.com