Monday, June 17, 2019

Dan A. Cardoza


Somewhere a chrome barrel is cooling, a tall
bridge is aching it’s a jump. It is there, despair
is haunted by appeasements grace.

In jar of chalky pills tattooed in skull & bone,
and a Yelena Shvart’s FDA warning label––in
extended prose. Somewhere there is a wrist
without pulse, or maybe dressed to the nines
in bloody gills. A crystal ship that won’t float.

There in the lovely woods a leaf, a branch, a
limb- a-rope. There is a hospital, a band on a
delicate newborn, that says ‘this is me.’ A tag
on a toe, of who you know or were.

there is a motel room spattered in neon red.
Eternities 2:00 A.M. digital clock pulsing:
‘I am sorry, I am sorry’, over, and over again.

Somewhere in a dark window, is a fresh
crescent moon, all dressed up, with nowhere
to go, a shovel stacked full with dirt awaiting its throw.

Gerald So reads "Nothing New Under the Sun":

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Dan confesses: "This piece was written to highlight how uneventful, we, in our digital culture, treat untimely death. How we love life, yet groom cemeteries. How we can’t wait to have our children be born, and enter this crazy paradoxical place."

DAN A. CARDOZA has a B.A. in Psychology and an M.S. in Counseling from the University of California, Sacramento. For more, visit his website.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Wayne F. Burke


I thought it was some Indian guy
saying prayers
the way they do
kind of a murmur
louder and louder
until I woke
thinking wtf?
And got up
out of bed
and went to the window
and down below
about fifty yards or so
an orange truck,
and some guy running a chain-saw—
what the Christ!
I stuck my head out the window
and screamed
and they looked up
one jerk waved
and they kept at it
tossing branches into the bed of the truck
and I shouted HEY!
but they did not even look,
ignored me
like I was not there
like I did not exist
like maybe I was a piece of shit,
and I tell you
I was pissed—
had not slept more than two hours
all night
and what gave them the right
I ask you
to wake people
at 6 AM
and break the city ordinance besides?
How rude and obnoxious
I stuck the barrel of my rifle,
a 30.06,
out the window
just to scare them
fired a shot over their heads
I missed
and shot the guy in the head
and he dropped
and I thought, hell
no use stopping now
and I shot the guy who
went to the first guy's side
and then I shot the girl
standing by the truck's gate (another head shot)
and the other guy
who had dropped the chain-saw
and hid behind the truck
I could not get a bead on him
and put a few rounds into the engine block
to try and flush him
but he stayed put
as I reloaded
he made a run for it
in the old days
I would have got him
but I was rusty, see
and led the fucker a cunt-hair too much
the lucky prick
and, yeah
you could say that
I over-reacted a little
and maybe even that
I was wrong
but who are you to say anything
to me?
You wake me
at 6 AM
on a morning after I have not slept
and before I have had my coffee
and see what you get
you son-of-a-bitch.

Gerald So reads "Rusty":

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Wayne confesses: "I wrote this poem after being woke one morning by some workers tearing a tree down outside my apartment. So pissed at being woke so early—I'd had a bad insomniac night—I went outside to confront them, thought better of it, and returned inside and wrote the poem. Art as catharsis."

WAYNE F. BURKE has published six full-length collections of poetry. Five with Bareback Press and one with Alien Buddha Press. Most recently, from Bareback, Diflucan (2019). He lives in Vermont.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Alex Jennings


Some words mean the opposite of their definitions
An echo is not sound, but the sound of sound.
Its memory.

These words fold, backwards, from the air.
Fashioned like aluminum petals by brittle voices
Sipped like drugged drink
They damage the brain,
Derange the senses.

What is my vocabulary?
Am I not what I am?
Am I my best guess?
The limit of my imperfect senses?
The backward speech of a four-color sorceress
I am not
I am not
I am

Once, I stood beside a wooded path
And watched the dead boys rise from hidden graves
Falling in reverse, their shattered skulls knitting
Their kissed-on wounds closing lips.

Unmurdered by stones
Unmourned by healed parents
The past has not passed
The bodies unrest
A secret is not a secret if it remains untold

What is the nonsense incantation
That rolls the stone away?
What word replaces the Thylocenes in their burrows?
If I knew that silent language
I’d unmake my memories of you.
unwound you, unmortify spirit-flesh
And you would never have saved me.

Listen, listen.
Alived boys whistle
Walking backwards among the trees

Marching with their backs turned home.

Alex reads "Mxyzptlk":

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Alex confesses: "Mxyzptlk is an extradimensional Superman villain only banished if tricked into saying his name backwards. Too many people have disappeared in the forests of the Pacific Northwest. This poem imagines what led to those crimes and wishes they could be undone."

ALEX JENNINGS's writing has appeared in Ellipsis, New Suns: Speculative Fiction by People of Color, and Luminescent Threads: Connections to Octavia Butler. He is also the recipient of the 2010 Ryan Chighizola Poetry Prize. He lives and works in New Orleans.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Rena J. Worley


Skip the rope
No knife
Ditch the gun
I said
Skip the rope

The feel of flesh
Soft or wrinkled
Smooth or stubbled
Jugular jumping under my palm

Hands tear at my latex gloved clinch
Eyes bulge
Full body
Convulsive twitch

Bruised purple necklace
Surprised expression
Dead weight drop

Meander away
Smiling to myself
I said
Skip the rope

RJ reads "Strangle Hold":

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RJ confesses: "Movies and TV strangle on-screen. Theaters strangle onstage and books strangle on the page. Samuel Little strangled numerous people in real life. Curiosity asked, what was it like? Not for the wronged victim but, for the deliberate killer. Imagination flipped the view from terrified prey to cruel hunter seeking to answer the question."

RENA J. WORLEY is a Word Artist residing in rural Michigan.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Howard Ho


The man with the hat
who couldn’t feel the wind
in his hair because he was wearing
a hat, picks up a paper to read
but the wind keeps folding the pages
so he goes inside a bar near the light
to read when his face lights up
from the light and he can see himself
in the mirror and leans in to inspect
his unshaven chin when he knocks
over a drink which spills all over
the mirror and the paper and he
no longer sees himself and the bartender
asks, “What can I get for you?” and the man says, “A
towel to wipe the mirror,” and the bartender
says, “No, to drink,” and the man says, “Something
dry” and the bartender pours a bourbon which
the man uses to wipe the mirror and his throat
which he now sees has grown bearded ever since
he stopped shaving to avoid buying razors
making him look like a cat with shaven eyes
and he can’t afford this drink of towel-replacing whiskey
but slinks crawling stealthily to the door
when the bartender mentions the tab and sees
the tabby man halfway out the bar
before he can say it’s on the house
and the man’s beard is getting clogged with refuse
from the floor because he’s ducking down
and sneezes from pollen as he exits the bar
back onto the street, pollinating a nearby
bud, and he wipes off his beard where he
finds a ten-cent piece and, excited, looks
for more and, huddled in an alley,
scavenges his fur for change and comes up
with enough to buy a razor except
he likes the beard now what with its
stealth and wealth potentials,
and he folds the coins into his right hand,
making a tight fist that from a bearded man
seems belligerent, enough so that passersby
are frightened and the cops are called and arrive
and the man does the don’t-shoot hands
in the air, dropping his precious metals,
which the cops hear clinking and think for a second
could be a gun, a bomb, an atomic weapon,
an Islamic threat to our Christian ways,
and they draw their weapons,
until the man says, “I’ll pay for the
bourbon,” and the cops are taken aback,
and see that the man is referring to some
legal tender, with the words in God we trust,
and know this man means no harm but
the man sees the guns and runs anyway
not wanting to look back lest he lose
his stride, his muscles aching on only a shot
of bourbon in his veins, an emaciated lion
defiantly pollinating stray flora, thinking
about that article in the paper he just
was trying to read in the light about
shoot-first trigger happy coppers.

It was only then when he noticed his hat was no longer on his head.

Howard reads "Ballad of a Tabby Man":

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Howard confesses: "The escalating threats to underprivileged people (police shootings, Muslim ban) were on my mind when I wrote 'Ballad of a Tabby Man'. However, I wasn’t looking to be political, but rather to follow one such person facing a mundane situation that nonetheless escalates into a challenging one for him."

HOWARD HO is a playwright and composer. His play Various Emporia was a 2017 O'Neill National Playwrights Finalist. His musical Pretendo was featured in the Center Theatre Group (CTG) Library Reading Series. He was a 2016 CTG Literary Fellow and a 2013 NY State Summer Writers Institute Scholarship recipient. His short plays and musicals have been produced at Theatre Now New York, Company of Angels and New Musicals, Inc and presented at Playground-LA. His articles have been published at HowlRound and the Los Angeles Times. He studied Musicology and Communications at UCLA and Master of Professional Writing at the University of Southern California, where he was stage and screen editor of the Southern California Review. His popular Youtube videos analyzing the music of Hamilton ( have been recognized by Lin-Manuel Miranda and have garnered over a million views collectively.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Juleigh Howard-Hobson


She made special cakes. I remember those.
Not just their sweetness, or the way that you
Could smell them from across the house—the dark
Aroma of frosting, the scent that rose
From the baked flour--but something else too.
The thrill of them: the way I almost marked
How sweet they’d be, how good they’d taste by how
Nice they looked on their plate. That joy I’d had
As I held my fork, just before I ate
That first bite... There’s nothing joyous here now.
I feel no joy anymore. Only bad.
All I do is remember things. First hate.
Then cakes. Then panic. Then laughter. And then,
Nothing at all. Again. Again. Again.

Juleigh reads "Cornelia Gale":

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Juleigh confesses: "Over 150 years ago, Chloe Woodruff boiled oleander leaves, then poured the poisonous liquid into a bowl of batter which she baked into cakes and served to the daughters of her master, Mr. Gale. They died. The ghost of one of these girls still haunts Myrtles Plantation, Louisiana."

An English ex-pat, JULEIGH HOWARD-HOBSON's poetry has appeared in Third Wednesday, Valparaiso Poetry Review, The Lyric, Able Muse, Poem, Revised (Marion Street Press), and many other places. Nominations include “Best of the Net”, The Pushcart Prize and The Rhysling Award. Her most recent book is Our Otherworld (Red Salon).

Monday, May 6, 2019

Sanjeev Sethi


Casualness of your craft negates
many other notions. There are
no awkward moments, churlish
lapses in comprehension. The lilt
of integrity rings in, its riff more
luminous than all the light there
is. But I have to believe in your
qualities as gemologist to accept
your son is a gem.

Gerald So reads "Mother":

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Sanjeev confesses: "More often than not, the mother of a criminal believes in the virtues of her boy. I find this 'conflict of interest' engaging. It explains the birth of the poem."

SANJEEV SETHI is the author of three books of poetry. His most recent collection is This Summer and That Summer (Bloomsbury, 2015). A Best of the Net nominee (2017, 2018), his poems are in venues around the world: Poydras Review, The Rye Whiskey Review, Miller’s Pond, Litbreak, Red Savina Review, Persian Sugar in English Tea Vol. 111, The Best of Mad Swirl: v2017!, Ink Pantry, Amethyst Review, and elsewhere. He lives in Mumbai, India.