Questions and Answers

Question mark meanders

like a curl of smoke ascending heavenward,

a supple supplicant, innocent yet insistent,

only to cool, drift sideways,

bend back under itself–

expectant and intrusive

its round, ripe belly

belies the truth

of what it holds–

then descending,

   a dagger







It was a simple question.

Is this your son’s coat?

But I answered an unasked question–

twisted, stained, bloody and ripped raw–

unmasking my horror and grief.


Years later, they stated it simply,

Joseph is still alive.

Standing among his gifts of wagons

and donkeys and food and riches

I added two words–My son–

forming a question that punctuated their tacit deceit–

a jagged gash

puncturing the tender trust between us.


by Alan Toltzis

Alan Toltzis is a strategic marketing consultant living in the Philadelphia area. One of his poems was published in Focus Midwest. He is writing a long series of poems that uses the Torah as a starting place.

The ghost looks like me

The flame on the candle wick sways

The ghost has entered the room

and he looks exactly

like me when I was a child


by Ashlie Allen

Ashlie Allen writes fiction and poetry. Her work has been published in The Jet Fuel, The Screech Owl, The Crab Fat Literary Magazine, The East Coast Literary Review, The Squawk Back, Conclave: A Journal of Character and others. Besides writing, she has plans to become photographer.

S. Babin

My Detox Distilled


Life radicalized,

into roots.


But fear loomed like

a stitched whale song.


Laying in the fetal position

wrapped in the arms of solitude,

worse than trapped, no bird songs—


under the cover of a static quilt,

with imprisoned hushed mind voices

beneath and their spun spiraling eyes,


whispers that cycle like lightning

along the trails, bolting down

around Remorse Passage, surging across Regret Line,

plowing straight into Resentment Way,


silent electronic surges boom,

amplified by the hollowed inner walls.


A steel wheelbarrow dumps pile after

pile of hot steamy hopelessness

into the echoing abyss, packing it tight

like a trunk, until it overflows.


Then light cuts down the stock,

and carries the whole heap—

back to the radical,

a mere pretext

without context


in extremes.


Wayward Abolition


Dark spread across the land

in strange westward blows,

from the mouth of a Titan.


Black blanketed the forest,

the gray squirrels hid in trees,

the rabbits to their burrows.


An egg was left by a mother

in the middle of the forest’s

floor. Silent guilt oozed from

the egg toward its neglector,

suffocating her to death.


Night set in for the long hall,

weighing down the trees,

and the bushes longed to see

the sun dancing around the earth

with free food like Jesus.


The once pleased owl

grew tired of the perpetual

blackness, became depressed

as he stared out at the sky,

missing the absence of difference.

And the moon no longer shone,

it slinked back into the abyss.

The owl stopped hooting

and started to lose its feathers.


by S. Babin

S. Babin holds a BA in English Literature from the Ohio State University, and a JD from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. He lives with his family, and works in Columbus, Ohio. His work will be forthcoming in The Wayfarer; Spark: A Creative Anthology; Bop Dead City; Cactus Heart; Star 82 Review; and many more.


After I dropped out of university I spent some time working on my uncle’s farm. My uncle was called Frank and wasn’t much to look at, the whiskey had done that to him, whiskey and heartache. He was getting on now so I chopped wood for the fire and made dinner as best as I could. In the evenings I lost myself in Tolstoy.

My uncle got me into butchery. The first thirteen pigs I killed I named. The last thirteen I resorted to using numbers. Perhaps I was feeling more human.

The one person I killed, in an accident, her name I have long since forgotten.

I remember the date it happened though, that’s something.

When the summer was over I started back for the city and found myself in a diner with a woman I did not know. I told her that I loved her right there and then and knew from the moment I set eyes upon her that we were to be married. She was called Mercy and she thought what I said and did was very strange but that she would leave it go this time because I had a tired face and when men are tired they do foolish things.

Frank died a little while after that and the pigs cannibalised each other before the last one finally starved to death. I don’t know if she had a name or a number.

I married Mercy but she left me after a few years and married another pig farmer because he was heartbroken and she felt pity for him. I told her as she was leaving that she had too much faith in the word and she said she knew this to be true.


by Roy Endean

Roy Endean lives in the south of Ireland. His work has appeared in Brand Magazine, The Steel Toe Review and Corium, and has been performed by The Accidental Theatre Company. He is the recent recipient of the Burbage New Writing Prize.

Old Dog

The Old Dog finds its legs in the corner. He wants to take me for a walk, but I’m too weak. He knows that better than anyone. He’s been waiting.

We found each other the day I sank into my cups and carved up a drifter for sport. Together we buried the corpse underneath a wooden shed. I remember thinking how deftly his charcoal legs beat back mounds of frozen earth. Back then the Old Dog was only a pup with thoughtless marble eyes and fangs like sewing pins. He’s walked in my shadow ever since, placing paw after paw in my wayward steps. He’s seen me lie and cheat to cover up my crime. He’s watched me kill again and again. With each transgression the Old Dog took on weight and edges and heat. Now his claws glow like coals in a forge and his old bones land like anvils, cracking my ribs as he mounts my chest. His jaws close around my throat and I can taste his canine breath. The scent of eggs fills every cavity in my skull.

My Old Dog wants to take me for a long walk.

by Zach Lisabeth

Zach Lisabeth is a Los Angeles-based speculative fiction author. His work has appeared in the anthology RealLies (The Zharmae Publishing Press and he is a graduate of the 2014 Clarion Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers Workshop.

New Brunswick, By Way of Oakland City Center Bart

27 February 2013.

She said:

Gentlemen, excuse me, gentlemen. Gentlemen. You’re such nice looking gentlemen. Gentlemen. I don’t mean to bother. All I have to give you [rustle of a plastic bag] is this flashlight. Gentlemen. I’m a pastor. I’m Pastor Patricia Smith. This is a high crime area. I was just beat down the other day. I’m the victim of sexual abuse. I broke these two teeth. I need: to get them fixed. Gentlemen I’m not a bum, I’m a pastor. Pastor Patricia Smith here. There was a murder up on Broadway. I’m the only witness. My mother. My mother: I’m just trying to get back to where my mother is. To New Brunswick, New Jersey, where my mother lives. I’m trying to get to New Brunswick, New Jersey, gentlemen. Gentlemen. Thank you, gentlemen. You can have this flashlight. Oh, you’re such nice gentlemen.

by Adam Morris

Adam Morris is a writer and translator in San Francisco.

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