Ivor Irwin

My Internist Prescribes

Guess it depends on which of your three eyes that you look at it with.

All I see, floating around me, is detritus.

The detritus of denied intimacy.

The detritus of the glib.

Like beautiful Venezia, you float in your gondola

and ignore the surfing turds.

Peripherally, if you take the time to stuff cotton wool up your nose,

there is the renaissance,

gargoyles in repose.

Pretty girls chinning crumbling window sills.

Perry Como crooning.

A strand of DNA showing off, curtsying,

vaguely remembering my ancestors days of slavery in Mitzrayim.

A novella performed in my arteries.

My internist prescribes,

I obey.

The pills are orange and yellow and a gruesome sort of flecked turquoise.

I wash them down with lukewarm water

and the eye at the back of my head winks..




I pray in the morning.

I drink at night.

Somewhere in between there is the dog barking

the genuflecting of authority figures.

The urge for fried food.

A notion of racial purity.

Beethoven with his ear smushed into the piano lid.

The first names of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

The ten plagues always carry I.D.

“Hi! My name is Locusts!”

The facsimile of God that all those meaty boys pray to in football season

Knows that repetition causes cancer..

And in the Garden of Eden it rains and rains.

You think you’re in Manchester.

I’m not a bit religious, except when it comes to taking my pills.



Dear Yahweh

Dear Yahweh, can’t wait to be a burden on my kids.

Long long time, they’ve cumbered me

So, soon they’ll  deliver and carry

Bleach and clean and scrub-a-dub-dub.

And do it happily.


No Sun City for me.  No old folks warehouse, please.

No special strangers tossing me

like some smelly old sack of shit.

Each must take turns putting me up

in a sunny parlor, so’s I don’t have to climb

to the top of the stairs. A nice

glimmering walk-in bath  with handles installed

A minor cost….. Yours, of course.


The purpose of children is insurance

A girded codpiece against the testicle-kicks of mean daddy time

A guarantee. Insurance.

Yeah, that’s what kid s are  all about!

Bring them up in your own image, knowing that they

Owe you and oughtn’t just farm you out


I’ve spent all the money on schooling and clothing.

Attended the ceremonies and soccer practices,

Cheered for you religiously at your games.

Knowing that, once you’re earning, you’ll be gone.

Only recreatable in photographic shrines,

Discount baby-sitting, birthday parties,

Christmas present competition and good Thanksgiving wine!


It’s been a blessing.


Now Lordy Lord Yahweh, dude.

I’m gonna be a burden on my children

Yes. And on my children’s children too.


Ivor Irwin 


IVOR IRWIN is a native of Manchester, England. He is the author of A Peacock or A Crow and has published writing in Sonora Review, The Sun, Playboy, Shankpainter, The Long Story, Actos de Inconsciencia, The Review of Contemporary Fiction and various other journals, including Burning Word. He writes a weekly column on Premier League soccer for Global Football Today. He thinks that a kidnapper who quotes Malthus may auger well for future sociopaths!

Zoe Etkin

The Dialogue


I say, Some parts of me are like this—

and open his hand

Rain water funnels into the pink


Thin channels of water

branching out and then contracting

as if surface tension isn’t a thing at all


He says he doesn’t understand

how I made him this way

so porous


I did it to show you, I say

made us parallel and reflective


He says, I cannot accept this

He means to say my body

but the word has too much shape

doesn’t fit well between his teeth


He searches for answers

but he’s too distracted

by the bright flush of stars

dappling the mid-day sky


How odd today is, he says

dragging his fingertips against

the cotton of my overcoat


I tell him, No—

This isn’t what you are supposed to see

and make with the unbuttoning


Underneath is a stretch of land

white, winter land with a center of melt


He turns to walk away

I am not this too

Yes, I say, you are this too



The Dialogue II


She says, Some parts of me are like this—

She says this as she undresses

exposing herself to him in the dead of winter

in a dead field under a shocked sky


This is the scene of it

the time and place of her opening


She tries to show him through his hands

through mirroring

but even this miracle is too small


He fingers her overcoat

his last attempt at softness

but she is angry


No, she says, No—

and removes every stitch

un-sews herself at the middle


All that warm begins to spread

out from her center and all over

her white skin


And the boy leaves her there—


A girl standing naked in a field

holding her heart


Zoe Etkin


Zoe Etkin is a Los Angeles based poet, student and educator. She is a recipient of the Beutner Award for Excellence in the Arts for her poetry. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Burning Word, Poetry South and Glyph.

Fragments on Catherine Clodius

My grandmother, after her stroke




Here, you are in that nightgown, a girl

again, wandering the downstairs hallway

escaping some dream.  Later I will find you

in the dark kitchen trying to remember

how to read the digits on the microwave.




In our house the bell was unexpected,

the cops even more so.  A call about a gun,


my father’s rigid confusion, my mother’s balance


failing.  I’m watching from the stairs thinking someone

must be dead.  You’re there too, your hands aflame.


Gun!  Your wild eyes.  Gun!




One day you will remember only the glass, child,

not even the goldfinch tree.




Earlier, late Summer,

your glass back door already showing Fall.


Tell me about your girlfriend.  You love

to watch me glower, all of eight.


You run a loose hand over my head and when

you call me so handsome what you mean

is that even now I look like him.


V.  Frederick Clodius


The only photo I recall of us:


I’m holding Big Bird, and he is holding me

up against his chest, his hair long

gone to cancer.


I wonder how he smelled and sounded,


if when he found his brothers with his fists, his face

red with whiskey, there was any other way.




Tell the one about the city in winter, the blacksnow

closing-in, your father’s factory coat, your mother’s

disease, the dusty stairs in that house,

the gathering war, the hooded woman who could hold fire

bare     you would become and never understand.




It is kinder under evergreen, isn’t it,

than in the white of hospital?


You knew this even when the tubes consumed you.


John oh John this place is guns.


It’s me, it’s Mike, it’s me


FM Stringer


FM Stringer is a MFA candidate in Poetry at the University of Maryland. He grew up in New Jersey and studied as an undergraduate with James Hoch at Ramapo College. He currently lives in Baltimore.

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