Monday, September 18, 2017

Nancy Scott


The big, lumpy seventeen-year-old wasn't on the rental subsidy
meant for his grandmother and four young grandkids.

Helping out, he said, hanging his head, but I guessed he had no
place else to live. After I inspected the house, I asked him,

Why is there broken glass upstairs? Your gran keeps those rooms
locked because she can’t make the stairs.

He shrugged, then offered, They were playing there today
and broke the mirror squares on the wall.

Get a broom and clean up the mess now, I said, voice shrill,
as he shuffled off toward the kitchen.

Is he really helping you? I asked the old woman, bent with age,
ankles swollen.

Please let him stay, Miss Nancy. He helps the best he can.
Otherwise they’ll take my babies…no one else to care for them.

I watched him lumber up the stairs with broom and dustpan,
hoped at least for today, the kids would be safe.

No luck for a twelve-year-old across town. In June, he climbed
through her open bedroom window, raped, and strangled her.

Nancy reads "The Helper":

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Nancy confesses: "As a caseworker for the State of New Jersey, I never knew what I'd find on a home inspection. What I saw seemed unfortunate, yet benign, so imagine my surprise when he was arrested. We could never be sure what was behind a door or what any person was capable of doing."

NANCY SCOTT has been managing editor of U.S.1 Worksheets for more than a decade and is the author of nine books of poetry. Her most recent, Ah Men (Aldrich Press, 2016) is a retrospective on the men who have influenced her life. She had a long career as a social worker for the State of New Jersey. which inspired many of her poems. Orginally from the Chicago area, she has resided in New Jersey for many years, but considers herself a Midwesterner.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Peter Magliocco


Over the Las Vegas Strip in summer
stretching above macadam autos
caught in traffic's torturous vise
metallic glints emblazon fully
the spectacle's frenzied movement
nearby the Fashion Show Mall turrets
a sudden figure is twisting between
airy currents of his shimmering
leap from the flying saucer roof
to crunch down sidewalk pavement
terra firma tourists file slowly by
remnants of deformed humanity
split into shiny crimson diffractions
cell phone pictures then capture
in myriad lenses a fleeting mirage
of a gambler's now eternal freedom
from their enslavement's neon trance.

Peter reads "Under the Bridge of Sighs":

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Peter confesses: "My poem is based on an actual event in Vegas when a man dropped to his suicidal death from the Fashion Show Mall recently. That area is tourist-packed during the day; I was struck by the image of their reaction when a man's plummeting body crashed between them."

PETER MAGLIOCCO writes from Las Vegas, Nevada, where he occasionally edits the lit-zine Art:Mag. He has forthcoming poetry in Harbinger Asylum, Midnight Lane Boutique, Poetry Pacific, Elsiesy and elsewhere. His speculative sci-fi novel The Burgher of Virtual Eden is now an ebook available at all the usual places.

Monday, September 4, 2017

John Kaprielian


They sit in cells
alone but for a
steel cot to lie with
and slack-jawed toilet
frozen in mid-mock

They sit and pray
for exoneration
before it is too late
For witnesses to recant their lies
For DNA to open eyes
of prosecutors blinded
by fear and hate

They sit and wonder
how they got there
threats and cries
over and over
until it was all
too much
and they said what they
wanted to hear
just so it would stop

the empty hours
time bent and jangled
night and day
mix to concrete gray
solitary cell
solitary hell

They sit and wait
for death
just perhaps
without warning
or apology
the sweet caress
of freedom

John reads "Just Us":

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John confesses: "Crime is not often a theme for my poems. This poem was inspired by the story of Anthony Ray Hinton, who spent 30 years on Death Row before being exonerated in 2015. His case was in the news recently because Alabama has refused to compensate him for his wrongful imprisonment."

JOHN KAPRIELIAN, a Russian linguist by training and employed as a photo editor for three decades, has been writing poetry for over thirty-five years; in 2012 he challenged myself to write a poem a day and in 2013 he self-published the 366 poems in a single volume, 366 Poems: My Year in Verse.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Resa Mestel


I do consider the Great Auk, mesmerized by Aurora Borealis,
how she conjures for me as I ride underground to The American
Museum of Natural History to witness her chubby taxidermy, flightless,

penguin-like bird, contemplate her demise. Our fashionable carelessness
begs feathers for hats and blankets, oil for our light and warmth, her tasty
meat salted and cured in ships barrels.

We risk transformation in her presence. She was thought to plague sailors
with ill wind and malevolence—primordial sea witch. I am under a spell,
smell a potion of her black and white defenseless beauty, follow

her valiant waddles on an island breeding ground. She is the pilot of an egg unique
to a parent’s gaze whose cracked shell and yolk crunch and ooze across a shoreline
playground and soil the sole of a man’s boot. She is fearless of the humanity who

strangled her and her mate on a rocky Icelandic ledge. I wanted to know the color
of the hatchling's eyes in the black and white pool of blood. All I heard were gurgles
and hoarse screams in the echo of the museum hall.

Resa reads "The Last Pair 1844":

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Resa confesses: "I was inspired by the history of the crimes against the auk which led to the discovery of Ogden Nash's "A Caution to Everybody." I wrongly assumed the museum would have a stuffed mount and a prominent display detailing its extinction, but the specimen is in a warehouse."

RESA MESTEL is a poet, weaver, community-based volunteer and Family Nurse Practitioner living in Ossining, NY. She has studied poetry at Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, Poets House, The Hudson Valley Writers' Center and Cornell University. Her poems have appeared in or been accepted by New Verse News, The Yellow Chair Review, The Westchester Review, and Poetica Magazine's Mizmor L'David Anthology.

Monday, August 21, 2017

David Spicer


Let me amuse myself and devour
your attention, since I’m under arrest
and you’ve found Clarissa,
my lichen-laced .357 Magnum
lost on Pacific Road. Care if I smoke?
I won’t slobber. You want me to sing,
I’ll sing like a chimp, though I’m not
your straw man. Reject what I say,
I don’t care. My first victim—don’t
know her name—died in a coma in Vietnam.
I tossed the next one, Eddie Merton,
into a gully after wrapping him in a hopsack
shroud, lips glued, brains splattered.
Then the hipster rat Hindu—not a Hindu,
but an acidhead. I stole his shadow,
watching him disappear into thick air.
Voyeur that I am, I loved that! Drifting
to Nebraska, land of sallow ice
and baseball snowflakes, I met
a Detroit anarchist in a meat market.
Hog-tied her with rusty chains.
Sure, I’ll have coffee. Black. My next girl,
an Omaha librarian, fought me. It took two
minutes in a wheat field to pull Clarissa's
trigger. I sniffed every inch of Omaha’s body.
Don’t believe any of this? Join the club, pigs.

Gerald So reads "False Confession"

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David confesses: "I read about Henry Lee Lucas in Vanity Fair years ago, and recently Vanity Fair Confidential aired an episode on him; I found myself writing this persona poem about a wily, evil, deceptive character who loved to yank the chains of cops whom he deemed less intelligent than he was."

DAVID SPICER has had poems in Chiron Review, Reed Magazine, North Dakota Quarterly, Prime Number, The American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, Gargoyle, Rat's Ass Review, Slim Volume, The New Verse News, Easy Street, Bad Acid Laboratories, Inc., among others, and in A Galaxy of Starfish: An Anthology of Modern Surrealism (Salo Press, 2016). He has been nominated for a Pushcart, two Best of the Nets, is the author of one full-length collection of poems and four chapbooks, and is the former editor of Raccoon, Outlaw, and Ion Books. He lives in Memphis, Tennessee.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Sara Tantlinger


26 Shabolovka Street
patrons arrive, waiting
not knowing my changed name
and the Red Army I left behind
but I carry rubies in my head
red, red, always red

customer wants to buy a horse,
wants to get to know me
lonely eyes easy to find
in these days of newly approved
private enterprise

the vodka is rarely refused
but always ready and offered freely
except for the price of rubies in my head,
my hammer raining down
their throats slit
red, red, always red

the swollen beetle-black
bags of corpses float down the river
and I am called the Wolf of Moscow
but Sophia doesn’t mind the howling—
my dear wife, my little helping sheep
does not have lonely eyes
but she is still easy to find
handing me the hammer
understanding crimson needs

understanding that murder
is an awfully easy job,
but the pattern bleeds out
and the wolf leaves prints
in the dirt for two years
no more private enterprise

and the last of lonely eyes
is the last time this wolf sees Moscow
sees Sophia next to me
the firing squad all lined up
waiting to complete
an awfully easy job
red, red, always red

Gerald So reads "The Wolf of Moscow":

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Sara confesses: "I was reading so-called last phrases by serial killers (for research purposes, of course), and Vasili Komaroff’s was that he described murder as 'an awfully easy job.' That, along with him being known as “The Wolf of Moscow,” inspired the poem. I couldn’t resist borrowing those bloody details!"

SARA TANTLINGER resides outside of Pittsburgh on a hill in the woods. She is the author of Love For Slaughter and has published pieces with Page & Spine, The Literary Hatchet, and the HWA Poetry Showcase Volume II. Find her on Twitter @SaraJane524.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Michael A. Arnzen


Crimes blur together till I am the crime, till I am the blur—
Standing behind the evidence room, breathing heavy.
I am the sin collector hefting my black duffel bag full of guilt.

Scraping and dusting and plucking hairs—
It is a fetish, this investigation of clues.
Containers and bags and boxes lick sealed with my spit.

I can no longer separate you from my workplace torment.
Case after case, I am quivering above alternative chalk outlines,
Shooting your death pics.

Mike reads "C.S.I.: My Psyche":

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Mike confesses: "I was just musing over the way the CSI TV series uses locations in their titles when the title for this one occurred to me (I think it sounds like "Miami" anyway). The series spin offs do this thing with location that is relatively uncreative (in my opinion) just to bank on the formula, and so I'd hoped that by shifting the setting to psychological ground and playing around with the letters C S I (the letters lead off every line, in case you missed that) I might discover something else going on behind it all. The piece ended up becoming a character study to reveal the dark side that we all have, even those who obsessively fetishize objective reality and try to shine light on it all. I think that's usually my approach to crime poetry: to turn rocks over to see what is lurking unseen behind the surface... particularly those rocks we've become so accustomed to—like TV show formulas and the motives of an investigator who relies more on laboratory work than an investigation into the human mind."

MICHAEL A. ARNZEN ( recently appeared in The Year's Best Hardcore Horror (Comet Press, 2017) with his catalog of morbid fantasies, "55 Ways I'd Prefer Not to Die." A recording of "Vampire Stories: Live from Transylvania" has also been published to Arnzen holds four Bram Stoker Awards for his dark fiction and poetry. He teaches full-time in the MFA in Writing Popular Fiction program at Seton Hill University, near Pittsburgh, PA.