Monday, October 26, 2020

Stephen J. Golds


I sometimes wonder,
how so many writers
can write about crime
when they’ve never
committed a felony
or a simple

I sometimes look at their faces
smiling with perfect teeth,
clear skinned.
Untroubled eyes, having

never punched someone in the face
been punched in the face.

Never shot a rifle at a target even
held a handgun pointed at a friend in jest.

Never walked an empty, reaching night
a worn knuckleduster clutched in jacket pocket
kept a baseball bat with a baseball
in the car just in case the cops asked.

Never bought a pack of cigarettes with counterfeit currency
rolled a drunk just because the desperation was there.

Never wiped another’s blood from their fist
witnessed their blood on the fist of another.

Never known the shame of wearing a black eye
given the shame of wearing one.

I know people
will say
that it’s all in the
imagination and it’s fantasy


how can you write
about love,

when you’ve never even
been in love?

Steve reads "What Do You Know About Love?":

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Steve confesses: "I always look at authors photographs in the backs of gritty crime novels and I’m always surprised how clean-faced so many of them are. So seemingly untroubled but yet able to write about the things they do. Research can only take you so far. I guess it all comes down to the aged debate of do you have to live it to be able to write it well? I don’t know."

was born in London, U.K, but has lived in Japan for most of his adult life. He enjoys spending time with his daughters, reading books, traveling, boxing and listening to old Soul LPs. His novel Say Goodbye When I’m Gone will be released by Red Dog Press in October 2020 and another novel Glamour Girl Gone will be released by Close to The Bone Press January 2021.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Linda Lerner


I drop my mask, prepared to lift it up over my mouth and nose when necessary, caught by someone passing a safe distance from where I was, in no danger of catching anything from me on this nearly deserted street. I catch her disapproval. The same look I once got in a grocery store when telling the sales woman, “plastic if fine.” Of course it isn’t, aware of the harm it’s doing to the environment, our oceans, but that’s not the point. Nor is the point to discourage people from wearing a mask to stem this pandemic. What is, is the silent policing continuously going on among people looking to catch someone at something, to show they are one of the good, law abiding, ones; others trying not to be caught, become overzealous in an attempt to prove it. And, we’re back in 17th century Salem, prepared to hang another witch. Of course, I’m exaggerating. Of course. I’m not.

Linda reads "Policing":

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Linda confesses: "Even in the most liberal circles, I've found that there’s a constant, silent—sometimes not so silent-- monitoring going on. That covers a range of things form politics to something like surprising someone I ran into one day, on my way to see a 20’s or 30’s musical at City Center; it just didn’t fit my bohemian artists’s image; another is being caught reading the NYPost sometimes to get an opposing view. People are often put into categories, and are expected to adhere to certain things. While I’m praying that Trump doesn’t get elected, and not voting for him, I might have, agreed with something he said at one point. This is anathema. It’s that kind of thing."

LINDA LERNER is the author of 17 collections including Takes Guts and Years Sometimes (2011) and Yes, the Ducks Were Real (2015) from NYQ Books; recent chapbooks include, When Death is a Red Balloon (Lummox Press, 2019 and A Dance Around the Cauldron (Lummox Press, 2017), a prose work consisting of nine characters during the Salem witch trials, brought into our own times, nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her poems currently appear in, or are accepted by, Maintenant, CafĂ© Review, Trailer Park Quarterly, Wilderness Literary House Review, Gargoyle, Home Planet News, Cape Rock, Illumination Magazine, Piker Press, Patterson Literary Review, and Chiron Review. In addition to poetry, she’s published essays, short prose and book reviews in magazines throughout the country. In 2015, she read six poems on WBAI radio for Arts Express.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Charles Rammelkamp


Getting ready for bed,
I mentioned to my wife
a newspaper story I’d read that day.
The weirdness of the world around us.

“The cops tossed this 82-year old guy,
a former Boy Scout leader,
into an Annapolis jail cell
for taking pictures
of a nine-year old girl.”

“Explicit nude photos?” she demanded,
as if an accusation.

“Paper didn’t say, but I assume so.
The photo clerk at Wal-Mart
tipped the cops off
when he processed the guy’s film.
The pictures were taken
right there in the Wal-Mart parking lot.”

“How’d they know that?”

“Paper didn’t say.
Maybe you could see the storefront
through the van windows
where he shot the pictures.
The guy swore he didn’t think
he’d done anything wrong.”

“What did the pictures show?”

“Paper didn’t say.”
I watched her eyes harden
as the unwanted images
flitted into her imagination
as if on the wings of vampire bats.
I didn’t ask her what she saw.

Charles reads "Unanswered Unasked Questions":

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Charles confesses: "I’m always weirded out by stories like these in the newspapers, which are always so “discreet” they only get your imagination going about the salient details. “Some of the language may be disturbing,” the public radio announcer warns, introducing some salacious, racist, crude or creepy story. No shit!"

CHARLES RAMMELKAMP is Prose Editor for BrickHouse Books in Baltimore and Reviews Editor for The Adirondack Review. A collection of poems about Rasputin and Russia in the 20th century, Catastroika, was published in May by Apprentice House, and another, Ugler Lee, has just been published by Kelsay Books.

Monday, October 5, 2020

Tom Barlow


Daddy bought Madison a Glock for her
eighteenth birthday, and the handgun quickly loved her
beyond all measure. The two became an item

around the town's discotheques, where even the
gorgeous men with their flick knives learned that
asking Madison to dance was a daring move,
for it was her gun took her home every night.

Out of school, she found she could shed the wounds of
her daily job by buffing the brass of the bullets in the
evening. As she snapped each round back home into
the magazine, the gun offered to speak to her boss
on her behalf, but Maddy said no. She said no every night.

As she settled into middle-age, her lover continued
to assure the world she remained perilous treasure.
But on those few nights when Maddy dared leave
her gun in a drawer as she went out, she arrived home to
reprobation that would only disappear if she held it tenderly
by the trigger and dry-fired it into her mouth.

On the morning of her thirty-ninth birthday, though,
Madison entered the gun shop of her cousin Andy
looking for a new holster just as he was unpacking
assault rifles. She flushed and her eyes grew wide when
he thrust the stock of one into her hands.

Sadly, her handgun caught her sneaking the new rifle
into the house that day through the back door, and before
she could voice an excuse, put two into her traitorous heart.

The gun waited patiently for the cops to arrive,
confident it would soon enough find a new owner to love.

Tom reads "A Love Story":

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Tom confesses: "The passion some people feel for their guns seems to transcend the love a hobbyist has for his tools. Discount it if you might, but there is something tender in their way they handle their weapons, the way they need to feel the steel, the way the two of them find release with a pull of the trigger."

TOM BARLOW is an Ohio writer whose work has appeared in journals including The Stoneboat Literary Journal, Ekphrastic Review, Voicemail Poetry, Hobart, Tenemos, Redivider, Harbinger Asylum, Heron Clan, The Remington Review, Your Daily Poem, and many more. See more at