“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 Audible.com, 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

 

Martha,

 

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.

 

—Eugene

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

“Barely” by Safiyyah Motaib

asleep in a tornado

eye of the storm,

not so calm anymore;

houses in the distance,

stamped from a board game

barely getting rained on

between skies painted with winds

crying to be free;

how strange

 

 

 

 

 

 

Safiyyah Motaib is working on her first collection of poetry, but in the meantime, she writes.  (allpoetry.com/shapeshifter)

“The Magic Kingdom” by d.w. moody

the first time

entering those gates

bedecked with the smiles of that giant mouse

my older brother and sister were beaming

their joy

their excitement

bubbling off of them infecting everyone

so that my dad’s eyes for once shown with such delight

having forgotten for a moment

the struggles to keep his kids

to provide for them a home all their own

having forgotten the daily worries to keep afloat

while I bounced and bounded along

looking up to each

 

we eagerly waited in that too-long line to ride

the rushing speeding coaster sailing through the dark

with screams echoing through the void

 

that I took for yells of terror

and as we came out of the dark

my brother boiled

my father

frustrated

 

I did not ride that day

nor did my brother

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

“That Teenager” by Kaitlyn Pratt

Puberty takes over

With lust in mind

She lets him in–now.

Following what she learned from

Her mother

To drink, leave, disregard.

Footsteps she follows

Carelessly

Through catastrophe; love

Ruined once again.

 

Does she love me

Does he love me

Do I love me

Let’s drink either way.

Reckless souls twisted from

Her memory

Still not there, she hides from me

Lies, betrayal, childhood

Scratched on wood by

Bloody nails.

 

Bare souls linked

Together

She holds the chain,

Never restores or states the truth

She doesn’t care for me.

I can’t escape, her wrath;

She has this hold on me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

“Sending Messages by Text” by David Hernandez

A plane from El Paso, TX
finally arrives in Sarasota, Florida.

 

A planned vacation for the writer
has him passing several food courts,
waiting in the baggage claim.

 

Free from a simple town,
the writer plans to see
the aquariums, art museums, zoos,
beaches, and other attractions
throughout Florida.

 

A mailbox waits to send his letter, encased in an envelope,
yet the writer refuses to endure another unanswered response.

 

Why should I write to them?
A shadow without a body,
whose friendships were never honored,
was seen without a purpose.
With fish as my companions
and the presence of a shadow,
I could finally live as a writer
without the mood to visit anyone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

David Hernandez is from El Paso, TX. He has also been published by Down in the Dirt Magazine, CC&D Magazine, Feelings of the Heart, Home Planet News Online, Oxford Magazine, Eye on Life Magazine, and Zylophone Poetry Journal.

“Easy Fit” by John Grey

An epiphany

or maybe a flashback to

her younger years –

she bypasses her usual safe mall clothing store

for the innest of the in boutiques.

 

The music blares songs she’s never

heard before, wispy female vocals

over jackhammer beats.

 

And the other customers are half her age,

barely out of their teens most of them

and, in the dressing room,

she overhears conversations

about parties on the East Side

and something called “ecstasy.”

 

She struggles to fit into a pair of jeans

but her belly’s uncooperative

and the zipper fights in vain

to turn back the years.

 

Thankfully, one of the help,

a girl dressed all in black,

leads her, like a mother with her child,

toward a small stack of a style called “easy fit.”

She makes a purchase without even trying it on.

 

Later, she sits at the coffee shop,

sipping a latte,

while her latest acquisition

rests on the chair beside her,

with the logo showing proudly.

 

Awkward, out of place,

a great risk to her self-esteem,

and yet, as that shopping bag proclaims,

she did it.

 

If anyone were to ask,

she’d tell them, really,

it was an easy fit.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

“Piano” by Linda Fuchs

I watched in horror as my dad chopped up our piano.
Getting ready to move he said
“I’m not moving that damn thing again.”

 

8 years old, I desperately wanted to play.
I dreamed of the day I could have lessons.
As one of twelve, I had to wait my turn.

 

Wood splintered and piano wires snapped
springing and sproinging.
He heaved chunks into the fireplace.

 

Mother with red eyes, silently turned away
walked into her bedroom and closed the door.

 

 

 

 

 

Linda Fuchs was born the fourth child of twelve in northern Ohio.  She states that she is one of the lucky ones that are ambidextrous and believes having a brain that works that way helps her to be both technical and creative.  Linda has had three books published; The Midnight Ramblings of an Insane Woman, Life’s Complexities, and Healing Times.  She has also had more than 150 poems published in various literary journals.

“The Piper Talent” by Elizabeth Shelnutt

I am a pied piper’s daughter,
curly bangs and gaunt alike,
but I lack the same snuff the sire was made of.

 

Many I led through the streets,
many I was wont to leave in peace.

 

But, I am a pied piper’s daughter,
and his will be done.

 

I chatter, I charm,
I spin miles of yarn.
All the same year round for a long time.

 

Women, men, the young were best,
I did it all at his behest.

 

I am the pied piper’s daughter,
and his will be undone.

 

My pipe has long since rusted,
my voice box soon to be busted.
My charm’s all but dried up.

 

I’ll never be the same snuff,
so I’ll stop being, thinking, and existing.
That I am, and will forever be known, a pied piper’s son.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elizabeth Shelnutt is a college student in the South who has been writing poetry as an emotional outlet since middle school.  Their style has become more abstract as they’ve been adapting to the stresses of college life.  (twitter.com/toasttotheroast)

Congratulations to our Award Nominees!

2018StarLineAd

 

As you can see from the above graphic (which will be the ad we run in an upcoming issue of Star*Line magazine), SIX poems published in The Poet’s Haven Digest have been nominated for Rhysling Awards!  😀

 

(from The Poet’s Haven Digest: Strange Land)

2018 Rhysling Award for Short Poems:
Vince Gotera – “Astro-Archaeologist’s Log”
Mary A. Turzillo – “When the Aliens Come to Tea”
2018 Rhysling Award for Long Poems:
Deborah L. Davitt – “Shards of a Fractured Soul”

 

(from The Poet’s Haven Digest: The Distance Between Insanity and Genius)
2018 Rhysling Award for Short Poems:
Azriel Johnson – “Villain L”
2018 Rhysling Award for Long Poems:
Jen Giacalone – “She Dreams of Tigers, or Remembers”
Jesse Parent – “Sons of Fire and Clay”

 

Herb Kauderer‘s Flying Solo: The Lana Invasion has also been nominated for the Elgin Award!

Announcing ENVELIT – Envelopes of Literature!

The Poet’s Haven is pleased to announce the launch of a long-awaited, long-in-the-works program:

 

Envelit is a subscription service that brings our readers an envelope stuffed with books of poetry and short fiction every other month.  Think of it like a “Loot Crate” full of books from the best small-press publishers around.

 

The first shipment will arrive in mailboxes this April.  There will never be more than one book from a single author in a shipment, and we won’t repeat authors for at least one year.  Each book in a shipment will be from a different press.  (Also, not every shipment will have a Poet’s Haven title in it.)  Books included in our shipments will be stand-alone titles: you won’t get stuck with a book that is number 7 in a 12 part series and have to track down all the earlier books before you can read the title we sent.  Plans are in the works for shipments selected by guest curators, and we are planning to have books make their debut in Envelit shipments before being available to the general public.  Perhaps the biggest thing we’re going to do different than other subscription box services is that we will announce what is in the upcoming shipment and give you time to request a substitution if you already own one of the titles.  As exciting as it is discovering what is inside a blind shipment, it is very disappointing to open a subscription box and pull out something you already have.  If we’ve selected a title you already own, let us know and we’ll get it switched out with something else from our inventory.

 

To subscribe, head over to envelit.com!

“To: C-Jay” by Emily Anderson

my love is not a new love it has evolved over millennia;

i cannot say anything new about the feeling in my gut i have no revolutionary thoughts about

the afterlife i cannot tell you how to fix a pulled thread-

 

my love is not a new love it has fermented in the rotting grapes

it has fermented in the rotting grapes.

i have fermented in the rotting grapes.

it has germinated in the redwoods and i have died and been reborn.

 

i have endured frostbite and sunburns and stretched skin and scars from hot water

i have cracked but never crumbled

so i must be stronger than mountains.

 

you must be stronger than mountains.

 

my life has waxed and waned

i have watched the dirt rain down and shield me from the horror

i have been bathed in light cast from fluorescent bulbs and kerosene lamps and i have been baptized in

the sun-

i have watched black clouds collide and carve into the earth

like children with sticks in sand.

 

we have held seashells to our ears and listened closely.

we heard war

or were those waves crashing?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emily Anderson is a creative writing major who moved from bustling Miami, Florida to the small village of Bidwell in the Ohio River Valley. She is a student at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia, and is currently working on her first novel.

“Pygmalion’s Dream” by Zachary Flint

Her lips cool as granite
Curves frozen in relentless beauty
My warmest desires forever rebuffed
She does not know me, though I have known her.

 

But in my dreams her lips respond
Sealing our love as the breeze touches her hair
Our hearts beat together with the eternal flame
I do not wish to wake.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zachary Flint is a college student studying Mathematics in Boston, MA. His influences include but are not limited to: John Donne, Kurt Vonnegut, and his friend Mario. When he isn’t studying in Boston, he lives in Vermont with his parents because he has no money.

“Creatures of the Water” by David Hernandez

When I look at the El Paso Zoo’s alligator
resting in its pond, its eyes look back to me.

 

I try to imagine what it thinks:
“The gray clouds will engulf the light.
The rain will fall for a week
and send ripples throughout the pond.
The water will connect with the ground.
Light might pass through holes in the gray clouds
and send heat to warm my back.”

 

Then I try to imagine what it thinks of me:
“He probably needs a break from the heat.”

 

I walk to view the wolves by its side
and still its eyes stare back at me.

 

“When will he want to view the blue sky?
The heat makes you feel more alive
than the rain, which makes you sick
then puts you asleep.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

David Hernandez is from El Paso, TX. He has also been published by Down in the Dirt Magazine, CC&D Magazine, Feelings of the Heart, Home Planet News Online, Oxford Magazine, Eye on Life Magazine, and Zylophone Poetry Journal.

“Militant Globetrotters” by Joseph Robert

We don’t believe in a cause
We believe in anything
That removes Society’s muzzle
& lets us gorge freely
On the blood of the brave
& lets us gnaw merrily
On the bones of the weak

 

Our dream is to become morality police
Empowered to behead the scum
Who used to live here
At the drop of a blade

 

Two war crimes make a right
To descend into sanctimonious savagery

 

Murder is the birthright
Of those made obstinate
Those born to the wrong clan
Them who won’t convert

 

We’ll get them gone
Gotta love our hate
Flexible problem solvers
We’ll go far

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joseph Robert was longlisted for the Melita Hume Poetry Prize 2015. His poetry has appeared in Decanto, Unlikely Stories, Dead Snakes, The Journal, Mistress Quickly’s Bed, Pyrokinection, The Commonline Journal, Mudjob, Spinozablue, Black Mirror, Message in a Bottle, Bluepepper, Eunoia Review, Inclement, Leaves of Ink, The Open End, The Open Mouse, and the Insert Coin Here anthology. His joint poetry chapbook with his poet wife, Leilanie Stewart, has been reviewed in Sabotage Magazine.

“59 O’clock” by Drew Marshall

The first day of Spring
When the thoughts
Of a late middle aged man
Turn to folly

 

A young lady walks
Several feet in front of me
With jeans
Painted on to her bulging butt

 

I’m on my way to the dentist
Tomorrow, a relative’s funeral
It’s not the first time
I witness a mother burying her son

 

Later that night, I am told
My neighbor’s daughter is dead
She died in a car accident
While upstate on vacation

 

My fears are irrelevant

 

It’s been years, if not decades
Since I have been this focused

 

The ass had faded

 

Only death is forever

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drew Marshall works as a Program Assistant in the mental health field. He has also worked as a Benefit Analyst and litigation paralegal. He enjoys practicing guitar and snorting vanilla scented candles.

“Risky Business” by Scott Thomas Outlar

Daredevil squirrels
up on the tightrope of life
leap on high
from one tree to the next.

 

The branches bend precariously,
sagging beneath the new weight,
and every time I watch
I just pray
that I never have to witness
a snap followed by a splatter.

 

After all, I’ve certainly seen
enough bloodshed in the streets
so far this season
as speeding mammals
with heavy feet
simply cannot swerve in time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 Magazine17numa.wordpress.com

“Rainy Day in Baseballland” by Joe DeMarco

It was a rainy day in Baseballland
The players were home in bed
One rookie rolled over his eyelids a flutter
With dreams of a stand-up triple running through his head

 

The cleats and spikes were all on hooks
Along with mitts, bats, and caps
And even Cal Ripken Jr. had settled down
For a long summer’s nap

 

Outside the rain was pouring down
While puddles drenched the field
But little Eric Hopkins came to play
And his imagination refused to yield

 

His mitt lay soggy in a puddle
And his sleeves were drenched with rain
As his hands clenched a cold bat with a hope
“That springs eternal in the human brain.”

 

Little Eric threw the ball up swung and missed,
And the umpire bawked, “Strike one!”
He tapped his cleats, picked up the ball, and reminded the ghost crowd,
“This rain won’t ruin our fun.”

 

For little Eric loved the game
And he loved the feel of stitched leather in his hands
As he waved to his mom, who sat with his fabricated wife
And his invented kids up there in the fantasy stands

 

And now the imaginary pitcher holds the ball
And now he lets it go
But little Eric swung and missed again
Which made two strikes in a row

 

He metaphorically dusted himself off
And picked up the ball once more
For often he wished that instead of three strikes
The batter could get four

 

But today he realized, it was his day
His wishes were his commands
So as he squeezed the water from his jersey
He raised his finger toward the left-field stands

 

He was Babe Ruth, Mark McGwire, Ken Griffey Jr.,
and Barry Bonds all together
And anything you said about lightning or thunder
Wouldn’t be getting him out of this weather

 

For in his head the sun was shining
And the grass was green and dry
And he sent that low and away 0-2 pitch
Like a rocket into the sky

 

And he arrogantly trotted around the bases
Stepped on third and headed toward home plate
While his mother yelled from down the street,
“Dinner’s cold and you are late!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joseph DeMarco was born in New York City; he lived most of his life in Buffalo, NY. He now teaches seventh grade on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. He is the author of the novels Plague of the Invigilare, The 4 Hundred and 20 Assassins of Emir Abdullah-Harazins, At Play in the Killing Fields, and Blind Savior, False Prophet. He is currently working on several new projects.  (authorsden.com/josephdemarco)

“Recovery” by Colleen Redman

I wake cold turkey like clockwork
to the sound of your car in the driveway
Solitude is the fix I want to be alone with
but I fear the confinement
and my tolerance for abandonment is low

 

I try not to think
about the clutter in the basement
or the rain washing foundations away
I recreate my life like puzzle
Is everyone safe in their place?

 

I count the hours I’ve slept
like an addict counts pills
and then loses track

 

Sometimes I fall back to sleep
and imagine I’ll never wake up
or I stare out the window
at the tree losing leaves
and wait for an urge to take shape

 

The unexpected poem
like a dream just recalled
is an escape route
that gets my attention

 

It’s the secret life I depend on
and the recovery I faithfully follow
It’s the mystery I was made
to be hooked on

 

 

 

 

 

Colleen Redman writes and provides photography for The Floyd Press newspaper in Virginia. Her poems have appeared in Mothering Magazine, We’moon Journal, Floyd County Moonshine, and Artemis Journal. Online publications that have featured her poetry include Della Donna, Poetry24, and Clutching at Straws. She blogs daily at looseleafnotes.com. “Dear Abby, How can I get rid of freckles?” was her first published piece at the age of 11.

“Proximity” by Rowena Ilagan

You circle your arms around me,
Bring my body close to yours.
Your lips claim mine in a hurry
Lighting a thousand little flames
Under my skin.
I hear you groan…
A deep sweet rumbling
from your chest.
My body is singing,
humming–
Dancing in time with yours.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rowena Ilagan is a freelance writer living in beautiful Redondo Beach, CA. When not writing, she is pursuing one of her many jobs and interests, including martial arts, counseling, and metaphysical studies. (facebook.com/rowena.ilagan.16)

“The Art of War” by Al Rocheleau

When all trees fall
instead of one
do they make noise
if, when it’s done
it’s deafened as it stunned
the village
and villagers
in dell before it?

 

And what of the usual
raff, the pillagers
(elected of hell),
the Visigoth, Eulan, Arab,
and American,
one in rushes by a Mekong
flat, replete with lorries
and rat-a-tat, the little, late plumes
or, predictable
as Dakota dawns

 

the counting cold, then heat
of the very
long?

 

No answers. The
questions are wrong.

 

One figures, figures
then forgets philosophy
for the simple sings
of good war-songs, the sex of hate
as all the meatmen, we, in silkslings, pulled
and always hither milled
by one good clapping hand,

 

arbiter and profligate,
the us and it, so
ever stupid still
lies still

 

and strong.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Al Rocheleau‘s work has appeared in publications in the US and abroad, including Confrontation, Evansville Review, Illuminations, Studio One, Van Gogh’s Ear, Iodine Poetry Journal, and Poetry Salzburg Review. He is the recipient of the Thomas Burnett Swann Poetry Prize, and author of the manual On Writing Poetry. His Twelve Chairs Poetry Course, accredited by the Florida State Poets Association, includes scholarships for high school students.