The Grim Reaper Has A Night Off

The Grim Reaper sits in a tire swing

hung from the branch

of a huge old maple

set back thirty feet from the sidewalk;

his scythe abandoned casually on the ground

near a rose bush

growing around the trunk of the tree.


Lazily swinging back and forth,

he’s humming softly to himself,

the tips of his deep purple boots

just skimming the bare patch of ground beneath the swing.


“ Nice night,”

I offer, hoping to sound neighborly.


“Indeed it is,” he replies magnanimously.

“It’s my night off,” he adds,

as if he feels an explanation is in order.


“Well, you’ve got a great night for it,”

I answer, doing all that I can to keep

from picking up my pace.


“What’s your name, by the way?” he asks,

seemingly as merely an afterthought.


Pretending not to hear,

I then do pick up the pace a wee bit.

I hear his guttural chuckle,

but don’t let myself turn around.

Instead, I throw up my right hand

In what I hope will be construed as a

“See ya, have a good one” wave.


“I’m Edward,”

I hear him shout after me plaintively,

causing a pang of guilt

to tug at my conscience.

The Grim Reaper likes to swing?

And his first name is…,



by Roy Dorman


Roy Dorman is retired from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Benefits Office and has been a voracious reader for 60 years. At the prompting of an old high school friend, himself a retired English teacher, Roy is now a voracious writer. He has had poetry and flash fiction published recently in Burningword Literary Journal, Drunk Monkeys, The Screech Owl, Crack The Spine, Yellow Mama, Apocrypha and Abstractions, Every Day Fiction, and Lake City Lights, an online literary site at which he is now the submissions editor.


Pylons of hay prop up the sky.


A tower of straw as a model

for structure,              and deep in its shadow

the very hands that made this image of field


reduce the field with a word,              and the stars



It seems we’re forever:

mining the soil for what it means to be flat


while being

flattened by dreams that believe themselves mountains.


In time everything green learns to grow



As we die in our image while the image





No closer to meaning, the light                       angles penitently



enslaved by what it conveys,


aching to be nothing                again.



by John Sibley Williams


John Sibley Williams is the author of eight collections, most recently Controlled Hallucinations (FutureCycle Press, 2013). He is the winner of the HEART Poetry Award and has been nominated for the Pushcart, Rumi, and The Pinch Poetry Prizes. John serves as editor of The Inflectionist Review and Board Member of the Friends of William Stafford. A few previous publishing credits include: American Literary Review, Third Coast, Nimrod International Journal, Rio Grande Review, Inkwell, Cider Press Review, Bryant Literary Review, Cream City Review, RHINO, and various anthologies. He lives in Portland, Oregon.

How to Steal a Storm

In the beginning the air was cold and sweet like a backwards mausoleum. Cameron said this was the kind of sky you could drink, and then the wind picked up soft-armed and rolling. Listen: the rain rhythmic bent and streaming. The rain forming a film. I talked about half-truths and we couldn’t count how many clouds were in the sky anymore. We walked slow and made everything ours, pretended the city block was a house and we could have stopped anywhere we wanted to.

by Emily Zhang

Emily Zhang is a student. Her poetry appears in theNewerYork, The Louisville Review and Word Riot.

Dylan Fisher

Nuwara Eliya

We almost ask each other questions. Is there a curfew? At what time? Do we need to run? Do we want to? How many dogs make up a pack? How many smoking men make up a crowd? Is the pack dangerous? Sinister? Broken? Sad? What about the crowd? Why do the smoking men smell like fish? Why do they wear sarongs even when it’s cold? Why are they awake when everyone is asleep? Why is the cool air so tender upon my neck? When they yell out do we cross the street? Do we still look back over our shoulders and gently wave? Do we say hello? Do we bow? How do we say hello in Sinhala? Ayubowan. What do we say then?


Dinner is braised rabbit with fennel and mustard. The rabbit meat, Dad says, reminds him of Iowa in the winter. He removes his glasses and asks me to help him tell a story about a rabbit in Iowa snow. Is the rabbit pretty? I ask. Is his hair hapless? Stiff? Is there snow caught in his tiny eye? Do we cut off his feet to carry in our pockets? Like he is all ours? The rabbit looks like death, Dad says. The rabbit is just a metaphor, I say. No, Dad says, you’re wrong. The rabbit is just a rabbit.

by Dylan Fisher


His memory

was a mortuary

for the time capsuled

thoughts that

recessed – to erase

the condescension

that presided

over the torment,

that buried beneath

the sulfured


Their sardonic



as they froze

like winters


while their



fiction and


the masquerade

of fabrics built

within his presence.

Their thoughts

were pistols,

but they

shot their trite

under their



they pinched

like needles,

and sedated their

fallacies with


beyond the

steel curtains,

where grinders


his heart.

When he


for help,

they vanished

like spirits,

but when

they called,

he stood

there like a

stubborn weed,

refusing to

be torn from

the graveled soil,

as animosity


their sanctioned


In his presence,

he may not

feel the taint,

even when

it surrounds him,

but when they

depart they

grab their


and cut


their honesty

and saw

their truths

as if authenticity

had dissipated,

and resentment


until he felt the rain

of suspicion

linger like

a lobotomized



project their



and they


like debt,

with deception

smeared on

the lies

they closeted.

They departed

after their shifts,

but their

bodies rifled

stronger signals

than the cell phones

they possessed.


by Christopher Ozog

Christopher Ozog is a 22 year old poet residing in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He Has previously been published in Burningword Literary Journal and The Commonline. To learn more, visit his twitter at “@expressiveozog.”

The Best Charlatan Art In Every Society

Bad reviews and criticism at every turn

But it catches on, and it’s repeated

Because it’s good, and it creates desire.


And we never noticed our congeniality

Answering what we looked up to

Along with any semblance of uniqueness.


Nurturing our urges, inspiring our dreams,

No, it’s not original, should it matter

Now that we have embraced it?


Making us love it, and imitate it

Masking our truest intentions

Milking the creativity we used to have as kids.


Asking us to believe what ever

Average people love and sing and read

Accepting without questioning motives.


Not realizing that we have power though

Nothing allows us to become self-aware

Never understanding that we write the books.


by Saul Blair


Saul Blair is a student that recently graduated (2014) from Lee College in Baytown, Texas, with four A.A.’s in Literature, Humanities, Social Science, and Liberal Arts. He is an aspiring poet who has written academic papers that have been accepted and presented in Utah, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Washington D.C. as well as outside the U.S.A. in Wales, Romania, Spain, Sri Lanka, and China. He will be enrolling at the University of Houston in the fall of 2014.

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