US Census

Two censuses back

Our home held three:

An infant was added

To you and me.


A census ago

We counted more:

Persons in household

Numbered four.


This latest census

Our data was new:

Three residents remained,

But where were you?


by Barth Landor


Barth Landor has had poems in Clapboard Journal, Spectrum, Inscape and Grey Sparrow Journal (named the Best New Literary Journal of 2011-2012). His poem ‘Tree’ was a finalist for the Montreal International Poetry Prize in 2011, and the online journal Lowestoft Chronicle published two poems in 2012, including ‘Grotte de Niaux’, nominated by them for a Pushcart Prize.

Chris Middleman

Weird Scenes Beside the Chevron


The two next to

the blue dumpster

cradling drums

of Steel Reserve,

greasy with worry

– you’ll find them anywhere



When we slow down for gas and caffeine

It’s the defiant palms I’m looking at

a second time, in towns

with names I’ll never know, settled

around redundant strip malls

blistering along the Pacific Coast Highway



These wild-haired beasts tower, they loom

We admire them on TV from afar

but, slashed through with their shadows,

we’re reminded of sands

slipping quickly through an hourglass

of some Endless Summer’s possibility



This holdover Boomer hokum persists, somehow

even while actual people live, here,

walk to work here, buy milk, here,

guzzle malt liquor next to dumpsters, here,

give up on whatever dream we could name, here

I turn my eyes straight ahead- the road, turning the key



by Chris Middleman




Arc of Dreams


Each time I sold Donald Passman’s

All You Need to Know About the Music Business

I saw the copy as a perfect-bound totem;

Here was another set of bloodletting parents



financing their gauge-eared Meredith’s

vague Vans-sponsored notion

of graduating to a stage where action

burns brightly; a stage shared by heroes

where she could act out her love



The love, of course,

never turned out to be creating, or

even helping finance good art;

nor was it a taste for dismantling a system

stacked so stupidly against vision



One way or another, at rainbow’s end

was typing mass PR emails,

answering phones for deceiving dinosaurs

wearing t-shirts instead of suits,

sitting in on “rap sessions” discussing the

optimization of monetization of YouTube clicks



While never having listened to Television

Never having heard Cybotron

Never getting played on freeform FM

Never getting crowned a hero by some kid

after a show, in a parking lot, at the bar



And one day, she’ll have to bow out

of the all the excitement of free merch,

festival passes and promos

for the birth of her little Emma, whom

one day, shall be enrolled in the School of Rock



by Chris Middleman




And in NPR, We Are Redeemed


A sheep rancher whispers into a

microphone held out in some dappled pasture

that the United States lost its taste for mutton



after so many canned rations were slavishly

gobbled during World War II; we dress ourselves

in December with a mess of shredded Sprite bottles



Though the market seems to have

bottomed out for this man whom the mind’s

director casts as an epileptic caterpillar of a

moustache wriggling beneath a brown-brimmed hat,



the hope is that immigrants and parents

in poorer neighborhoods that can’t afford

the food they prepare at work could be enticed

to make mutton a staple of their diets



With parting clouds, the dollar value of

this potential market is recognized

and we finally understand them as human



by Chris Middleman


The brightest star in the constellation Cancer is beta Cancri, or as it is commonly referred to, Al Tarf. 

The biggest bruise was just above my collar bone on the left side. 

         The second brightest star is Arkushanangarushashutu, the longest name of all stars in the galaxy.  It means, “the southeast star in the crab.”  It is sometimes referred to as Asellus Australis. 

         I couldn’t see his face. My eyes had begun to swell from the brick wall I was slammed into. I don’t remember that hurting. 

         The constellation is often referred to as the dark sign as its stars are so pale.

          For months I was silent.  My therapist told my mother I was in a walking coma. 

         The fourth sign of the zodiac is Cancer.  It represents the home. 

         My boyfriend didn’t believe that I was raped.  He told everyone I was a slut.   

         Cancers are ruled by the Moon.  The Moon, astrologers say, dictates the mood as well as impulsivity.  

         I ran away.  The bruises on my skin were gone but my insides were still swollen.  I went to the Sea of Cortez.

         The element associated with Cancer is water. 

         I lived on a beach called Los Cerritos outside of Todos Santos.  I slept in a tent.  I ate plums for breakfast, fish for lunch and rice with Italian dressing for dinner.  I read Henry Miller.  I married a Colombian man

         Cancers are not compatible with Capricorns.

         I left my husband in the middle of the night. I needed to go home.

         Karkinos, the giant crab who helped the serpent Hydra in the battle against Hercules, was crushed beneath Hercules foot.  However, as a reward for the strength, and willingness to fight, Karkinos was given a place amongst the stars.


 by Jacqueline Kirkpatrick


Jacqueline Kirkpatrick is currently an MFA in Creative Writing student at the College of Saint Rose in upstate New York.

What I Left at the Circus Café

We’re sitting at an outdoor table

on the Broadway sidewalk watching

the rhythmic pause-and-go of traffic

through the Saratoga streets,

the hum and squeals of engines and brakes,

the hydraulic groan of the 473 bus as it unloads

its cargo of townsfolk and tourists,

their chatter filling the summer air

in the absence of birds.  A boy sits

at the bus stop with a silent guitar in hand,

ignored by those coming and going.


We watch people board the bus

as you sip your Bloody Mary,

savoring the olives in your mouth,

turning them over like words

you’d rather hear than speak.


The waitress brings our food

and sets it down like the silence

between us.  The small pink creatures

of your shrimp cocktail remind me

of the things I’ll fail to say––

laid out before us, untouched

and wholly intact yet

so obviously dead.


The boy still sits at the bus stop.

His guitar is still silent, its case

open at his feet like an empty wallet.

Passing pedestrians pay him no mind.

No one is giving me any money

he complains to no one in particular,

but he isn’t playing anything.


 by Ariel Francisco


Ariel Francisco was born in the Bronx, New York, though he’s lived in Florida for most of his life. He graduated from Florida International University in Miami with a B.A. in English Lit. He’s also studied creative writing at the New York State Summer Writers Institute at Skidmore College and film at Charles University in Prague. He currently resides in Miami, Florida.


My fingernail, your pancreas,

your palm, starving tribes in the Sudan.

My esophagus, Joan of Arc’s enflamed hair.


Your mother’s lungs, La Brea.

Your neck, a lighthouse’s spiral staircase,


my eyes, a beacon over turbulent waters.

Your conscience, below the surface;

my fingers, holding it there.


My heart valves, the locks along the Erie Canal,

reining things in, keeping things from getting out of hand.

My lungs, an orchard ripe for plucking,

my genitals, coals from the bottom of the fire,

my uterus, invasive, like mint, getting its fingers everywhere.


My disappointment: the iceberg, a lightning strike, a barbed hook. A super nova.

Yours: the Titanic, the Gulf oil spill,

a family of beached whales. No—a black hole.


by Emily Hockaday



Emily Hockaday’s first chapbook, Starting A Life, was published in June 2012 with Finishing Line Press. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The North American Review, Newtown Literary, Pear Noir!, The West Wind Review, Plainspoke, and others. She received her MFA in poetry from NYU and has served as a judge for NEA’s poetry out loud program.

Marlene Nails the 7-10 Split

Marlene glared down the alley at the two pins in their corners, her eyes narrowed over the ball like a snake’s before it strikes. She stood tall and still and substantial, in her black pants and the white shirt with pinstripes and Marlene stitched in red over the left breast.

Then she moved, power under grace, just the barest hitch to her step, and this being only the sixth day out of the hospital. Today there would be no fat-ass comment to upset her four-step sequence. Today was about the clarity of the pins.

Between steps two and three she began to lean and lower, torso approaching horizontal, right arm back with the ball, left forward for balance, and if she felt the bruised ribs you couldn’t tell to look at her.

On step four her right arm swung forward and she didn’t so much roll the ball as release it—opening her hand as you’d free a bird. Marlene slid to a stop just short of the line and hung there, balanced on her left leg, her right raised behind her and folded in a delicate ‘L.’ The ball rolled straight until the english she’d applied took hold and curved it left, a pin-seeking missile. She liked to call it that: english. Most just said spin.

The ball kissed the inside of the seven pin and sent it caroming into the left wall and bouncing back and across in an arc, where it took out the ten and both pins dropped from sight into the back-alley abyss.

The sound it made was sharp and satisfying: de-ba-cle.

“Nice shot, hon,” Candace said.

Marlene blew cool air on her fingertips, then turned back toward where Harold used to score her and said, “Take that, motherfucker.”


by Richard Bader


Richard Bader’s work has been published by National Public Radio and by the rkvry Quarterly literary journal.

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