The Straw Girl

No one comes.  House lights burn

in the empty street, white oaks

shudder in all these silent yards.

She stands in October moonlight,

leaves swirling at her feet, opens

her eyes to another gravity’s

magic pull. How strange to feel

that pale yellow bath on her cheeks

and painted smile.  She drinks

the darkness as an owl floats

by, its alien face round as another

moon dotted with black

stars, rush of wings and from

somewhere breath and a beating heart. 


Maybe you’ll meet her some night

on the moonbeam road, when

careless dreams push you toward

the margins of a tired life.  Feel

your own swimming  arms pull

a body through surging sky. 

Don’t fail to greet her with your

eyes at least, or if your tongue

unfreezes, speak to her in the unlocked

language of your weightless blood.

She might take your hand

then, lead you home to secret

pools where wolves lap

at secrets with their scarlet tongues.


by Steve Klepetar  


Steve Klepetar teaches literature and writing at Saint Cloud State University in Minnesota. His work has received several Pushcart nominations and his chapbook, Thirty-six Crows, was recently published by erbacce press.

Only in Silence

Even now, as my fingers

Turn incised in time,

As my eyes fall upon

The dusting of artificial

Sweetener some careless

Hand forgot, I wonder

On the involute silence

Of empty space.


     A never

Silent silence. Bespotted

Always with the stigmata

Of an omnipresent hum.


This hum is not unlike

The hum of industry

But for its source— its source

Lies hidden deep in the earth,

Or perhaps it originates

In my very skull.


This hum, this ceaseless

Murmuring, I think at times

To be existence itself

Sighing without end.


From here I can almost see

The opening doors and feet

And hands descending like

Locusts. Foreknowledge needs

Not prophesy. And I hear,

Now as then, the lingering hum

Deafening always and louder

Only in silence.


by Dan Pizappi


Thomas Michael McDade

So Long


When Chet’s going cold

turkey, can’t work

long solos, his trio must

rescue the slack 

as Chet stalls and paces

and instead of resting

places his horn

on the barstool.

Spinning the seat

he watches soft light

ricochets off the brass

and a dim glow

of accusation play

roulette on his face,

Arm twitching

for the trumpet, he drags

long on a cigarette

before hoisting his horn

He closes his eyes,

brailles the brass,

as wandering lyrics

perch restlessly

on his tongue.

 “Every time we say goodbye,

I die a little…” 

Pistons like syringe plungers

shake him.  Death jerking

horn to mouth, he blows and blows,

blows clear of wives, lovers

and children: clear of himself.

Lost in applause Chet wonders

how long art based on Taps

can last; he traces his lucky

vein, dwells on the spitty air

streams tricked into music,

tastes the words:

“Every time we say goodbye,

I wonder why a little.”


by Thomas Michael McDade  





The man who did twelve

years says he has two

Honorables covering eight

and a Medical Discharge

for the rest that does not

state a reason but he’ll tattle

after a minute or so gabbing

that booze graced most

of his sailor days—

take that, jump ship,

use some imagination.

A mongrel in the corner stares

at him head tilted quizzically.

Civilian-wise, he’s been

DUI convicted five times

and he’ll proudly name

states, cities, fines

and incarcerations.

All that aside, he’s been doing

pretty well, dry a couple of months

but a reunion revealed

that tipsy on memories is likely

to diminish per shipmate arrival.

No Taps or Reveille,

morning delivered him

animated and unwinding

amid strong urging to enjoy

the three-egg cheese omelet

dwarfing his plate.

Managing a bite, he halts and cuts

to his first liberty in the Philippines.

Holding up three fingers he says

Count them!  All mine for a week!

My harem fought over rights

to little ole me,

butterfly knives settled

each day’s first possession!

Dangerous shit, he adds,

glancing at a pistol hanging

off a the host’s rifle rack

like a stepchild

and no one disagrees.

Many attempts to top that

account fail but a couple

of guys are too busy to compete

fashioning joints and tobacco

smokes using nifty rolling devices.

The Mongrel is named Jesse

and she barks her two-cents worth

and more as if all these sea and terra

firma tales pale against what

she could gush concerning

her existence before

adoption discharged her

honorably from a shelter.

A hunk of omelet overboard

passes for gourmet

among this howling dog

pound of a crew.  


by Thomas Michael McDade 



McDade is a former computer programmer living in Monroe, CT with his wife, no kids, no pets. He did two hitches in the U.S. Navy. He’s been most recently pulished in New Maps.


The human voice,

a peculiar instrument

badly played by most

can produce beauty,

making us wonder

why so many

assault fragile ears.


by Gary Beck

Summer Whispered to March

You need not fear the cold much longer;

the seasons of the world are changing,

they are structures collapsing

and will be gone by midnight

as if by tidal wave.

You see, the walls keeping things apart,

they won’t hold much longer. 

Soon the sun will come to warm our bodies

ceaselessly year-round,

thus causing  oceans of missed pleasure

to announce their presence

greeting us

tasting of winter

and smelling of soap.

They’ll begin by kissing our necks and nipples

and lap and lap against the shore,

returning ever steadily–

and yet, between sun and burning sand

there is space unlimited to grow.  


by Jessica Lieberman   



Jessica is currently studying poetry at Kenyon College. She has studied under Daniel Mark Epstein, Thomas Hawks, and Jennifer Clarvoe. She works as an intern for the Kenyon Review.

Mark J. Mitchell

The Missing Poet’s Lounge

In memoriam Weldon Kees and Lew Welch


In the missing poets’ lounge, a sad man

Tickles the piano, key by cold key,

Thinking, all the time, of his escape plan.


He spreads his long fingers into a fan,

Drops a chord, exhales smoke. He wants to see

What he’s missing. Poet’s lounge, young sad men


Looking too cool. One watched since he began

Playing. He snapped his fingers far too quickly,

Thinking in double time. He had his own plan


For getting out, he knew. The second hand

Ticks loud. He strikes a note. Could all these be

Missing poets? The lounge seemed sad. Each man


Speaking only to themselves as they scanned

The room. Alone, each one was sure that he,

Alone, was thinking up some escape plan.


He trills a slow riff. He stops and stands.

He bows. The faces tell him he is free

Of the missing poet’s lounge. This sad man’s

Thinking all the time. His escape is planned.


by Mark J. Mitchell 



A Literary Myth

A dry pen
rolls down the table.

It teeters, momently,
on the edge

then falls
turning gymnastically

and lands point
down in the carpet

exactly like
a sword in a stone.


by Mark J. Mitchell   


Mark J. Mitchell studied writing at UC Santa Cruz under Raymond Carver, George Hitchcock and Barbara Hull. His work has appeared in various periodicals over the last thirty five years, as well as the anthologies Good Poems, American Places,Hunger Enough, and Line Drives. His chapbook, Three Visitors will be published by Negative Capability Press later this year and his novels, The Magic War and Knight Prisoner will be published in the coming months. He lives in San Francisco with his wife, the documentarian and filmmaker Joan Juster. Currently he’s seeking gainful employment since poets are born and not paid.

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