Monday, August 2, 2021

Bruce Robinson


Tonight the same old story,
that lapse of water that's

always there, the waves that offhand
feel you up, you're an upland

intruder, it's a half-cocked sea,
there are words we have to fight for,

or do without.
They rub each other out,

or tell their separate story,
the leaden slowness

of the words' arrival,
dead letters, watermarks,

dark growths, palimpsests.
They come from difficult places,

they're babbles of shades on a screen.
A cheek, her cheek, twitches beneath

the skin in the room
without a bath. They have

skin in the room. A page
turns. Bones frame a chin.

Bruce reads "The Uninvited":

Subscribe and turn on Notifications for Channel 52.

Bruce confesses: "This poem began with having watched some Bogart film, years ago, something about "Fleming," and, more recently, winnowing through old papers, trying to shred whatever I could, came upon something that was almost a poem and felt as though it could be turned into one. Sort of a cold case. It's not always clear whodunnit."

Recent work by BRUCE ROBINSON appears or is forthcoming in Pangyrus, Maintenant, Rattle, Spoon River Poetry Review, Main Street Rag, Evening Street Review, and Seventh Quarry. He last appeared in The Five-Two at the tail end of 2019.

Monday, July 26, 2021

Tom Barlow


As a child the teeter-totter taught me
that people are not to be trusted / and I
still count my change / I still lock my car /
I double-check the meter reading

when my electric bill arrives / and
the mileage on my wife's odometer /
there was a day on a riverboat in the
Amazon basin when I'm pretty sure a

Dutchman at the poker table slid one of
my chips away while I turned my head
to sneeze and it ruined our vacation /
the contractor we hired to build our house

used some mismatched brick but convinced
the duplicitous court the result was beautiful /
and my wife swears she never told the guy who
organizes our golf league about my problem

in the bedroom but he's taken to looking at me
with a faint smile / God knows I never planned
to set him right but there are some things a man
should not be expected to tolerate / so it's not

really my fault he allowed himself to be lifted
into the air on the big kid's teeter-totter when I
decided to slip off / and let that be a lesson to him /
if he survives.

Tom reads "Teeter-totter":

Subscribe and turn on Notifications for Channel 52.

Tom confesses: "The Tetter-totter has been in the back of my mind since I was a young boy on a playground that was grade-school hell. I've never forgiven my classmates for the torments that were meted out on the monkey bars, the swing sets and, most wickedly, the see-saw, where innocents like me could be abandoned in mid-air. This here is payback, you bastards."

TOM BARLOW is an Ohio writer. Other works of his may be found in anthologies including Best American Mystery Stories 2013 and periodicals including Pulp Modern, Heater, Plots With Guns, Mystery Weekly, Needle, Thuglit, Mystery Tribune, Switchblade, and Tough. His noir crime short story collection Odds of Survival is available on Amazon.

Monday, July 19, 2021

Tony Dawson


A man-eating stegosaurus?
“Pull the other leg,” I hear you say,
“There were no men on Earth
in the Late Jurassic. What's more,
the stegosaurus was a herbivore
so, it’s fake news.”

Not so! It’s a 21st century classic.
And who said anything
about the Late Jurassic?
It’s funny too that you
should mention legs.

In May this year, a middle-aged man
was found dead inside the hind leg
of a statue of a stegosaurus
in Santa Coloma de Gramenet,
a satellite town of Barcelona.
A mafia killing? A creative variation
on cementing the victim
into the foundations of a building?

But no – it seems the man
was photographing the inside
of the dinosaur’s mouth
when his phone slipped
down the statue’s throat,
and then down the back leg.

Attempting to retrieve the phone,
he climbed into the beast
through a small door in its belly.
Trapped headfirst down the leg,
he couldn’t wriggle out,
and unable to punch a hole
in the metal, he suffocated.

He’d been missing for two days
before his family decided
to call the police.

Tony reads "Stegosaurus Swallows Man!":

Subscribe and turn on Notifications for Channel 52.

Tony confesses: "The report of this incident in the Spanish press struck me as epitomizing the kind of tragicomic deaths that occur from people’s obsession with using their cell phones to photograph anything and everything, particularly themselves. This has led to an increasing number of so-called “selficides”."

TONY DAWSON has lived in Seville since 1989 having had a career in higher education both in the UK and Spain. Some published poems in English include "Lithuanian Cat’s Cradle" in Critical Survey, "Embers" by Shoestring Press, "Chance Encounter" online at the, several poems online in the Syndic Literary Journal. "Bitte Experience" is due out in summer 2021 in Chiron Review and "Sex Drive" and "An App for Ancient Swingers" in the November edition of Home Planet News. He has also published a number of poems online in Spanish.

Monday, July 12, 2021

Charles Rammelkamp


I always liked the Joe Mantegna character in Levinson’s Liberty Heights.
That’s exactly how my dad was, a family man.
Only, he didn’t go quietly to federal prison, like in the movie,
but jumped the $80,000 bail, fled to Montreal,
then lived his life out in Tel Aviv.

For years the FBI never had a clue
what became of “The Lord,” as my dad was called,
a slick dresser in his tailor-made suits:
Julius Salsbury cut a real aristocratic figure.
Dad even insisted I wear dresses to school, a little lady.
He ran his gambling operation out of the Oasis Cabaret
on The Block, Baltimore’s red-light district,
even though we lived near the Pimlico racetrack.
Daddy loved the horse races!

The FBI was always locking him up.
I remember visiting him at the Jessup prison
when I was just a child.
But fifteen years behind bars? No way.
He left Baltimore hidden in a horse van,
that August night in 1970,
buried under a pile of hay!
The feds never knew where he went,
figured he might have fled to Cuba.

I visited him every year in Israel,
always looking over my shoulder,
until he died from bone cancer in 1994.
Mom died a only couple of days later,
both our hearts broken.

Clarinda Harriss reads "A Daughter Remembers Her Father":

Subscribe and turn on Notifications for Channel 52.

Charles confesses: "Recently, fifty years after her father absconded to Israel in 1970, facing fifteen years in a federal penitentiary, his daughter, Rochelle, now just a year or two shy of 70, broke her silence about her father’s flight from the feds and told all to the Baltimore Sun. I hadn’t known Julius Salsbury was the prototype for Nate Kurtzman in Barry Levinson’s Liberty Heights when I had an opportunity to be an extra in a Yom Kippur synagogue scene in 1998."

CHARLES RAMMELKAMP is Prose Editor for BrickHouse Books in Baltimore. Two full-length collections were published in 2020, Catastroika, from Apprentice House, and Ugler Lee from Kelsay Books. A poetry chapbook, Mortal Coil, has just been published by Clare Songbirds Publishing.