Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Issue #4

Three Poems by David Whitehouse

Ode to the Tabloids

A serious newspaper will tell you why the next teenage misfit
will dress his teachers in yellow jump suits
before decapitating them with an ornate samurai sword;
but not where or when.
So give me a pinky perky red-top tabloid.
Of a winter's morning I warm my hands on tales of minor celebrity shoplifters,
their speeding trolleys crammed with tracksuits, dog food and flip flops,
and enter competitions to try to win free shopping
to the total value of the theft.

Preservation Society: Blackheath, London

Starbucks will never open in Blackheath
because of the ancient Egyptian kings
who, knowing the evil of iced coffee and muffins,
embalm the place by injunction
they sniffed the evil on the phone
and to their tombs will take dewy chunks of heath,
church brick dust and piano recital sheets
to roam forever across the skies
their servants buried with them,
dead or alive, according to the season
in the British Museum they'll ponder the ancient script
before pausing for cinnamon scones and cappuccino

The Graveyard Shift

Once a woman beat me there.
In the empty newsroom's pre-dawn hour,
her fingers punched the keyboard.
The copy moved, not waiting for me.
Her mother-in-law had come to stay.
There was lots of slack time on the graveyard shift, she said,
enough for her to finish her Pol Pot history book.
I relaxed. Now I had time to watch Gary Glitter,
kiddie-fiddler deported from Asia, touch down live on TV.
The pilot didn't flinch, the plane didn't quiver, as it slid along the wet black tarmac.

Biography Note:

David Whitehouse, who is British, works as a journalist in Paris, where he has lived for 14 years. Previously he lived in Japan. He's married with three children and edits the The Lesser Flamingo ezine, which accepts poetry, flash fiction and short stories. You can find The Lesser Flamingo here.

Three poems by Charles C Brooks III

Gas Station Purgatory

People drone into tiny phones.
Their mouths are ragged metal
that clang
while I'm standing in line.
I'm deaf to everything else
but that clanging
clamoring in.

Their ruckus is a jumble of nonsense
from some relative, friend, TV show.
Sartre’s right
about other people.

This gas station is necessary.
I am stuck,
strangled by lottery tickets.
Beef jerky looks lethal.
There’s a rack of legal
speed for construction workers.
That clanging
is a test.


The waitress is too chipper,
She knows my wife somehow.
Soccer rushes by one television,
another shows stock cars.

The hedges are cut
in rectangles.
The parking lot is clogged
with hybrid cars
that look like Easter eggs.

Dream Casting

On the backs of pine beetles
burrowed beneath dense
tree bark
this journey is hidden.

The bedroom window’s hairline cracks
turn streetlights into muted prisms.
In the parking lot below,
talk of pancakes and bar fights.
I’m somewhere between it
and sleep, finally drifting off.

Next morning hands
cupped around coffee, I sit
a fresh persona.
Bare feet feel alive
on this hardwood floor.
Dust sparkles,
sifts, and settles.

Biography Note:

Charles Clifford Brooks III is a poet and freelance writer living in Georgia, USA. He was inducted into the National Creative Society as a Master Member his senior year at Shorter College. There he also obtained a BS in History\Political Science with a minor in English Literature. Along with his creative endeavors, he also contributes articles to three magazines and a newspaper. Charles Clifford has been published in over 40 magazines, 3 anthologies, and printed in five foreign countries. He is currently Poetry Editor for Literary Magic Magazine. Ghost Shadow Press picked up his first book of poetry “Whirling Metaphysics”.

Three poems by Hal Sirowitz

Bad at Friendships

Mother said I’d be better off if I

let her pick who to become friends with.

I don’t have much luck at it.

Friendships are supposed

to last a lifetime. Mine last a week.

That doesn’t bode well for marriage.

My wife is supposed to be my friend.

But if I’m incapable of making friends

with men, how am I going to make

them with women? It’s the same concept,

just a different sex. But I shouldn’t worry.

She’ll be my wife’s friend. And a friend

of hers is automatically a friend of mine.

The End of Blame

Father made a yearly pilgrimage

to his parents’ graves. He said if

his family got along better, they’d

all be buried close together and he

wouldn’t feel guilty about not visiting

his dead relatives. All he knows

is they’re buried somewhere nearby.

He figured he could pray for them, too,

since they’re in the vicinity. But it’s

hard to put fervor in a prayer when

you’re not sure what the people

you’re praying for look like. He

remembers how his Aunts and Uncles

looked when they were young.

Then his father got sick, his Uncles

ran the factory, and his father’s

coat business flopped. Everyone

blamed everyone else. They were

too busy blaming the other to visit.

They did it on the phone.

The Effects of Bagels

Mother didn’t keep a kosher home.

She wanted us to be free to use any fork

we desired. Out of respect for her father,

she would use plastic silverware when

he came over for brunch. She’d send

me to the bakery to get challhah

We weren’t very religious, but we

lived in a town where you could buy bagels.

And that gave grandfather hope. He’d pray

that eating Jewish food would eventually

accomplish what he couldn’t, make us more Jewish.

Biography Note:

Hal Sirowitz is the former Poet Laureate of Queens, New York. His last collection of poetry is called 'Father Said' (Soft Skull Press).

April Fool’s Day in Boston
Francis Raven

The pale that came after the impale of winter.
A slight greening on the edges of distance.
Yet, ice in the pockmarks.
The scouring that Spring cleaning is supposed to
Take advantage of
And simultaneously
Erase the traces of.
In keeping with civilization

There is a doubt that things
Left to their own leaves
Will ever amount to anything
But the next season.
And yet, the knife is removed
On slender feet, evaporating
In quick crystals’
Neighborhood expansion plan.

Biography Note:

Francis Raven is a graduate student in philosophy at Temple University. His books include 5-Haifun: Of Being Divisible (Blue Lion Books, 2008), Shifting the Question More Complicated (Otoliths, 2007), Taste: Gastronomic Poems (Blazevox 2005) and the novel, Inverted Curvatures (Spuyten Duyvil, 2005). Francis lives in Washington DC; you can check out more of his work at his website here:

Isaiah Vianese

The smell of bacon, fried eggs,
and brewed coffee.

Hunters and old men have gathered
at the greasy spoon to warm their stomachs

before spending hours in the cold,
some to shovel last night’s snow fall,

knock icicles from the gutters,
and others to sit high in the trees

with a rifle, essence of deer piss
spread on the trunk below.

The waitress keeps their cups warm
between buttering toast, working the register,

yelling orders to the cook
through the little window.

By eight, they will be gone to their work
their play, and she can have a cigarette,

but for now they keep her running,
raising their mugs for more.

Biography Note:

Isaiah Vianese is author of the chapbook, Stopping on the Old Highway (recycled karma press, 2009). He grew up in upstate New York, and currently lives in Missouri.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Issue #3

Three poems by Christian Ward


The sea has started to encroach
on the city; creeping steadily
through the night, weaving past
freeways and zig-zagging train lines;
pressing its belly against windows
to claim territory. We wake to find
its marks on cars, bus shelters
and building walls. Thinking it done
by animals, we wash it off, letting
it dribble onto pavements, lawns;
splash against trees. How lucky
we must be to not feel the pain
produced when it strangles.
We experience this at birth, tasting
the air swelling our lungs.
We came from a sea once and long
to return, listening to the outside
world become reduced to background
noise as everything slowly turns to ice.

Lessons from My Father

On the weekends we spent
with him, my sisters and I
would climb into the car
and wear an icy look prepared

for us. He taught us to fold
napkins into battleships
at roadside cafes, ready
to assault everything Mother

held dear: her Mediterranean
heritage; Spanish and Italian,
her native tongues. We always
ran behind him on walks, feeling

the earth scraping underneath
our feet as he pulled us forward
with the wires attached
when we were born.

Walking by the River Thames, 6 am

The river is a chessboard
waiting to be set. Chairs
hung upside down on tables

by the waterfront resemble
hourglasses. Swans and geese
are opposing pieces. I walk

past unopened pubs and cafes,
looking for a glint of life;
their reflections motionless

in the water, as if waiting
for the outcome of the game
to decide their fate.

Biography Note:

Christian Ward is a 28 year old London-based poet. His work has appeared in Diagram, Welter and The Kenyon Review and is forthcoming in Anon, Envoi and Mimesis. A chapbook, Slippage, was released from Liverpool-based Erbacce Press last year. He hopes to start an MA in Creative Writing in the coming months.

Two Poems by Donal Mahoney

Tornadoes in the Parlor

Tornadoes in the parlor,
in the kitchen, in the bathroom, too,
churned every hour Dad was home.

But Sis could tell you more.
She helped Mom board up the house
when I walked out the door

and rode my bike around the block.
If you find Sis today, she’ll tell you
funnels tore the basement, too.

So what, you say? Well, Dad’s been dead
for seven years and Sis is somewhere.
She knows good weather here is still a squall.

An Earthquake in the Chest

The demise of Mr. Wise came as no surprise
to the clerks in his department,
those weathered women who for years
had borne his scorn so well.

The story goes that Mr. Wise that day,
balancing his tray at lunch,
stepped lightly past
the puddings, pies and cakes

and pitched across his broth.
Two feet from the register, he dropped,
a humpback suddenly ashore.
Behind him in the line was Mrs. Burke

who saw her boss's water break.
She knew right then
there was nothing she could do.
After all, as everyone could see,

an earthquake in the chest
had taken Mr. Wise.
And that is why she raised
both arms and cried,

"Forget the CPR! Someone
call a priest!" No other sound
was heard that afternoon.
Not one boo-hoo.

Biography Note:

Donal Mahoney lives in St. Louis, MO. He has worked as an editor for The Chicago Sun-Times, Loyola University Press and Washington University in St. Louis. He has had poems published in or accepted by The Wisconsin Review, The Kansas Quarterly, The South Carolina Review, Commonweal, Revival (Ireland), U.S. Catholic, The Christian Science Monitor, The Istanbul Literary Review (Turkey), Touch: A Journal of Healing, Public Republic (Bulgaria) and other publications

Two Poems by George Anderson


He always sat at the bar at Ryan’s
near the pool table.
He was always there after he knocked off work
until 11 pm closing time. He lived upstairs.

He drank schooners of Toohey’s Draught
one after another. He never once
had to raise a finger to the barman.
The beer would appear before him like magic.
He was able to drink glass after glass

I never once saw him talk to anyone.
He seemed simply to exist in the moment.
Particularly, in moments when the golden amber
rolled sweetly down his gullet into his stomach.

One day, I stumbled into the men’s toilet
& it changed my view of him forever.

He was at the urinal singing
in a low pitched moan &
as I pissed beside him
his voice became that of an angel
& I imagined momentarily I was in church
not in a stinking public lavatory.

Pommy reckoned he worked
as a signalman for the Road & Traffic Authority.

Months later I saw him down at Gibson Park
holding a young girl’s hand,
a bright orange balloon in the other.
He had a huge sloppy grin on his face.
I felt genuinely happy for him.

Yesterday I caught up with Pommy at the Ryan’s
and noticed the empty seat near the pool table.

I order a couple of black ales
and asked the barman, ’Where’s Spinifex?’


‘The guy who always sits at the end of the bar’.

‘Don’t have a clue, mate’.


The third or fourth internet date
was a tall, mostly coherent blond
who spoke with a German accent.

She was affectionate, genuinely funny &
a brilliant dancer. Yet she seemed to be holding
something back during our first brief encounter.

I’m not one to quiz anyone about past
relationships or to ever hold them to account
but I could sense something was seriously wrong
& I started to ask her some awkward questions:

‘Where did you get that deep scar on your face?’
‘How long have you felt you were being followed?’
‘When did you start packing the mace?’

In tears, she finally explains how her ex-husband is a control freak.
How he usually follows her in rental cars.
How he’s probably watching us right now in the restaurant.
How he will most certainly have a weapon.

She explains how one day she threw scraps of ham to her dog.
How he chased her with a boning knife into the back yard.
How he strangled her, screaming with an unusually high pitched voice,
accusing her of wasting good meat, of sending the family to ruin.

She explains how the police had arrested him six weeks ago
& had placed him in remand at Parramatta Prison. And in a low-keyed
remark, so quiet I don’t think she really wanted me to hear,
she admits that her ex had escaped yesterday by squeezing through
a narrow window & scaling razor wire & was still at large.

‘Excuse me, I need to use the toilet’, I say, as I launch myself
through the back door into the laneway, smartly skipping desert

Biography Note:

George Anderson grew up in Montreal and now lives and teaches near Wollongong, Australia. He has published over 400 poems since 2002. His chapbook ‘Dancing on Thin Ice’ is available though erbacce-press. He blogs at:

Two Poems by Kenneth P. Gurney


You dream the long race over
and the lake of clear water
a few steps past the finish line
and your hot, beating heart
pushes sweat from your body.

Then you roll over, sleep,
dream again of the flight
of crows and how you join them,
wing downbeats thrust storms
toward Kansas until you land
on a tree branch extending
over the lake of clear water.

On your back you lie, snore softly,
until your eye movements quicken
and off you walk across the lava fields,
feet burning in the red-orange glow
of earth’s first-history as time speeds
through your steps and rain water gathers
in your footprints: clear, deep.

You return, again and again, to the water,
this lake upon the mountain. No matter your form,
the distances traveled, nor the method—
you return.

You return to the clear lake because
you always find me there, waiting,
like the day we first met
on the trail under the tall pines,
examining the light-bent depths
far below the granite lip of the bluff.

Woman at the Poetry Bar

Normally walks stoop shouldered, carries an anchor
around her neck most of the day, but locates her Hyde
upon the stage: claws emerge from chewed nails,
fangs readily rip dangling modifiers to shreds,
aggressively, under the spotlight, she grows
like the Venus fly trap’s jaws around the hungry fly.

Biography Note:

Kenneth P. Gurney lives in Albuquerque, NM. His latest collection of poems, Writers' Block, is available through Amazon. To learn more about Kenneth, visit

Ironing and After Thoughts
Stephanie Valente

Our tongues have become wrinkled
my hands steam over your blue shirt;
an invisible stain

petulantly, your fingertips
arch up the middle of my back
and I, smudge out each

silk crease
looking for secret whispers
the story told of twenty minutes past

where your fingers
were on the nape of my neck.

Biography Note:

Stephanie Valente lives and writes in New York. Her work has various journals and magazines. She is currently working on a collection of short stories and as always, poetry. She enjoys candlelit smiles and diamond cut laughter. One day, she would like to be a silent film star. She can be found at:

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Featured Poet #2

Five Poems From Harry Calhoun

Rescued from nightmares
My dog, my wife, salvation

big black dog
curled onto his white fleecy bed
like a black nautilus
virginal as a pale rose and
tightly wound but not a care

but to sleep
the black devil outside
his magic circle wanders
sometimes through my dreams
but he is always there

beside me to protect me
with tooth and claw loyalty
and my wife with her gentle hand
on my arm, arm
dipped in nightmare

but pulled back
just in time to
the magic circle,
where I am protected, safe and
I join my dog

in his contented sleep
gentle dozing breaths

for a while

Relationship noir, A/C

I drive out for Chinese as dark
turns the day into the burnt caramel
crust of a flan. Ten minutes, phone say.

Headlights just barely necessary
but she has the porch lights torched
in case I’m late. The ten minutes

it takes Chinese to cook and electricity
are two mysteries I choose
not to delve into too deeply;

I like to think my meat and chicken
are born at the market and wrapped
into a package and electricity is a god

that you feed light bulbs. The Chinese
have their ancient secrets
instead of moldy leftover warmed-over scraps

thrown into a wok. I surge home
through the dawning of darkness
feeling like a magical egg roll wrapped in happiness

dancing home to you tonight, as if
egg rolls can dance, and it’s all about
you and me and somebody else cooking

and most of all as the porch lights
shine on my old red car filled with Chinese
and a happy me, our


A new use for beer goggles

when I was young we used to call it beer goggles
the phenomenon that women viewed through the filter
of enough alcohol and in a dark enough bar
became increasingly attractive

I wrote a poem embarrassingly recently
that was so incomprehensible
that I titled it “What the fuck is this?”
but yesterday I had a beer and a snifter of brandy

and read it again in my dimly lit bedroom
and I’ll be damned if the horrible thing
didn’t make perfect sense to me
so besides functioning in dark bars

beer goggles come in handy
making sense of bad poetry and
(I realize this is why I drink)

making sense of life

Who the fuck is Dave Church?

30 years in the small-press scene
with Bukowski and Locklin and Richmond and Androla
and so many others blipping onto my radar

like flying saucer tombstones
the names, the poems the power
to appear on the screen and stick

in the mind and suddenly, apparently
Dave Church has died and poems and essays
and whole chapbooks appear in his honor

and I am embarrassed because this old man
with a knick-knack paddy-whack let old Dave
fly under the radar … I think a few times

we shared space in a few forgettable mags,
but I didn’t remember him until I heard he died.
Unlike Lorri Jackson, whom I rubbed elbows with

a few times back in 1989 before her suicide,
or D.A. Levy or Cynthia Cahn — had to bring her up
because she is a non-breather too, and you may not have heard.

But anyway, sorry, Dave, I know Tony Klein the Key West
taxi-driving poet but I never knew you
until too late. I read you now and salute you

and maybe someday in an act of divine retribution
somebody will write a poem called
“Who the fuck is Harry Calhoun?”

I hope so. Good luck,
unknown soldier,
wherever you are.

Rejoice, the new life, the reliever

like Dennis Eckersley, a career starting pitcher,
become the perfect reliever
oh-sixty-one E.R.A. in 1990 at age 35

let’s close this down right: here I come
with the high hard one, the occasional knuckle ball
and the curve flirting with the fringes

of the strike zone, here I come
like a whore sweet-talking an easy trick
and sure, occasionally I get roughed up,

rejected, sent to the showers
but always with my head held high
like the bare-knuckled boxer

with blood on his hands
try and stop me, age, rejection, failure
try and stop me now that I am back

in the game
and approaching

the top of my form

Biography Note:

Harry Calhoun’s articles, literary essays, book reviews and poems have been published in magazines including Writer’s Digest and The National Enquirer. Recently, his online chapbook Dogwalking Poems went live at The Dead Mule. His trade paperback, I knew Bukowski like you knew a rare leaf, is now available from Trace Publications. He has had recent publications in Chiron Review, Still Crazy, SNReview, Abandoned Towers, Dante’s Heart, Yippee!, Neonbeam, LiteraryMary, Word Catalyst and many others, with more upcoming.

Q @ A with Harry Calhoun

CH: How long have you been writing and why did you start in the first place?

HC: I’ve been writing ever since I learned to write. I remember back in third and fourth grade I would write plays for my classmates and me to perform. I also wrote some poetry, mostly lousy poetry, back in high school and college. But it took me a while to get to writing as a career and vocation. I was a history major in college and initially my intention was to go to law school. When that didn't work out, I was left thinking, “What can I do with a history degree?”

I fancied myself the great American novelist and short fiction writer. Unfortunately, I have the attention span of a fruit fly on crack and usually can’t sustain a plot to save my soul. But I did find that I could write and sell articles and book reviews, so for a number of years I freelanced. I wrote resumes and cover letters. I edited a magazine for the housing industry. And in one of the biggest breaks of my career, I discovered that I could write marketing copy for ad agencies. That has been the rock of my income ever since.

As far as the poetry goes? I picked that up again in my mid-20s, inspired by a certain young lady and the fact that I wasn’t half-bad at it. I started getting poems and literary essays published in small-press magazines starting in 1980 or so. I had a long lull from the late ‘90s until 2007 when I wrote few poems and shared those few with a few select magazines. I stuck mostly to writing marketing copy, my core job.

Then, in 2007, my mother died. My wife and I bought a beautiful black Labrador named Alex. And I started listening to my wife’s exhortations to write more poetry. So in early 2008, I began using poetry as therapy to work through my mom’s death. I started composing whole poems in my head while on long walks with Alex. And I had my wife’s encouragement, so I was off to the races. You can check out my Web site … I just did a quick count and my work has appeared in at least 35 different magazines from January 2008 until June 2009. And I have appeared in multiple issues of some of those magazines, such as Chiron Review, Abbey, Shoots and Vines and Word Catalyst.

There’s a great interview with me, conducted by fellow writer Trina Allen, who also happens to be my wife! If you Google it, you’ll find that it has been published all over the Internet, even translated (usually badly). Here is its original appearance in Thunder Sandwich:

CH: Who or what were your inspirations?

HC: The interview talks about them. Harlan Ellison, the fantasy writer; Charles Bukowski, the poet and fiction writer; and M.S. Merwin, who has written some of the most beautiful, mystical, powerful poetry around. Oh, and Henry Miller and Ray Bradbury. There's a Georgia poet named Christopher Cunningham that I've been reading a lot lately.

I do read a great deal of poetry in general — Bukowski, Leo Connellan and Jim Daniels are some of my favorites. But I have an unfair advantage over most people out there. I review books for Chiron Review, mostly poetry and editor Michael Hathaway is very generous. Just last week, he sent me a big box with a dozen or more books and a note that said, “Review what you want and just keep the rest.” I’ve been reading poetry every day since, some of it very good, some not. But reading it inspires me to write and plus I sometimes find something that I can steal and make my own. :-) (Yes, writers, this is not only permissible but desirable. Remember the words of T.S. Eliot: “Mediocre writers borrow; great writers steal.”)

CH: What would you say is the hardest thing about writing?

HC: Putting your butt on the seat of the chair. After that, it gets easier. Sometimes it’s difficult to determine the best way to say something or to convey your message, but that usually works out over time.

CH: What advice would you give to a new writer who is struggling to find his or her identity?

HC: In the immortal words of Charles Bukowski (written on his tombstone): “Don’t think”. Now, I don’t mean not to think about what you’re trying to say or how to say it. But don’t think your concept to death or try to force it … that has resulted in far more mental paralysis and uncertainty than good poetry. Just get it down on paper and don’t judge it. If it’s good or if it’s bad, you can rewrite as extensively as you want. But I write whole poems that I totally scrap. No big deal. Just don’t think about it and move on. You’ll write some good ones and bad ones. We all do.

And don’t spend time worrying about rejection. You know what it means when I submit 12 poems to a magazine and they all get rejected? It means that I’ve been given back 12 poems that I can submit to other magazines! What a gift — I don’t even have to spend time writing new ones. I just look for places that I think would like the 12 rejects and resubmit them.

One of my other “trick s” is going through poems that don’t work and finding parts of them that do work. Just recently, I tooked at one of my poems that I thought dragged a little but had a great ending. I took the last six lines or so, tweaked them a bit, and submitted it to a magazine that takes short poems.

So, don’t think, and just keep plugging away. Read poetry. When you find someone whose style you like, read a lot of that poet. Some of that style will inevitably rub off on you. And the more you write, the better you become. (Of course, if you have no talent, all bets are off, but I’m assuming that you do have talent.)

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Issue #2

Three Poems by Peycho Kanev

Ready to go at dawn

I will die before my time
between the ashes of my past
and the pain of tomorrow,
dreaming nightmares about
scarecrows and ravens
I will grope about for some words
to whisper to my wife,
I will search for the truth
down there,
among the fires and the souls
and if there is nothing,
if there is nothing
you may join me for the rest
of the eternity,
of all that was true and

Nightmares at midnight

Nightmares at midnight circling in my head,
they are durable; their power - is my heart,
like they somehow know about my inner child

am I afraid to rise at dawn with the ravens and
the scarecrows from my dreams – no! I say, not
now, let me be, again, the sun is my enemy for
ever and ever-the moon is improbable tediously
and my child likes to lay and play among the stars

there are no nightmares like my lurid dreams,
showing me their ugly faces drowning within,
keep the pace, the beat of the heart is tranquil

some of them will come tomorrow again and
will try to hunt my thoughts from the abyss-
yes! I say, let them have me, grasp me –
in their gentle arms, they have nothing on me,
neither my blood nor tears like their own,

like their own, drowning in the deep dark
where the crosses don’t know the difference
between me and myself.

Farewell, fools

Old bench,
on which I’ve carved my heart!
so long ago –

I say goodbye autumn leaves,
I say goodbye to the rocks and the stones,

bending in the dirt,
picking up the rose
and toss it back into the empty grave
where it belongs

thank you for all the pain
thank you for the missed moments,
come fly with me, my friend –
let’s fly away below the ground
and believe me –
nobody will miss us

empty time
I don’t want anything from you
just let me be,
like I do-
all my life.

Biography Note:

Peycho Kanev is 28 years old from Chicago. He loves to listen to sad music while slowly drinking his beer. His work has been published in Welter, Gloom Cupboard, Poetry Cemetery, Nerve Cowboy, The Chiron Review, The Guild of Outsider Writers, Mad Swirl, Side of Grits, Southern Ocean Review and many others. Peycho would rather write for days then talk on a cell phone. He has also been nominated for Pushcart Award.

Urban Clearway
Andrew Taylor

Road narrows, lines of stone houses rack towards the foot
of the hill. Flashing shop signs advertise wares.

Low cloud, creeps in from the valley, carrying the scent of
history and the hills. Fly in formation

to land in the grounds of West Bretton. Feather coating lawns,
singly inspected. The house watches on.

Motorway hums, one mile from Exit 38. Neon hanging among
the trees. Sculpture scattered hidden from view.

Lodge respite. A place to renew with newspapers, sanity and
scalding coffee.

Biography Note:

Andrew Taylor is a Liverpool poet and co-editor of erbacce and erbacce-press. His latest collection comes from Sunnyoutside Press. He has a PhD in Poetry and Poetics.

Two Flashes by Doug Mathewson

Missing Person Not Reported

In our family everybody was a comedian, even when we prayed we told God a joke and hoped he liked it enough to listen to the rest.
A few times I asked my Mother where my Grandfather was. Why have I never met him? Poised atop my Grandmother’s piano was an old black and white photo of him. There stood a young man with a crazy grin holding his upturned Panama hat full to the brim with fire-crackers. But when I asked my mother about him the questions made her angry. Angry and sad.
She snapped back, “he’s a ventriloquist on the radio, his work keeps him away”, she hit me when I asked what time and station.
Years later when I was in college some Great Aunt I never heard of contacted us with sad news; my Grandfather had died of cancer in Phoenix.
He’d been living out there she said since this release from prison some years earlier having served out his full sentence on Federal mail-fraud charges.
Too bad, I thought as the pieces now fell into place, wish I could have heard him tell the story of what happened, probably would have been pretty funny.

Tupelo Regressions

So in this dream me and Elvis Presley are about eight or nine years old, drinking big glasses of cold milk at his Mom’s kitchen table.
We’re telling each other about our past lives, all of them we can remember anyway going way back.
Every single life of mine had me as one kind or another of dirt farmer, just digging Polish potatoes, picking Alabama cotton, pulling weeds under the Mexican melons, and I don’t even know the name of what I was growing when I was Chinese!
Elvis had this funny look on his face, eyes half closed and mouth half smiling, but was all serious business when he told how he remembered every single one of his amazing lives.
He told me about driving a golden chariot pulled by six jet-black horses, he told me about fighting with a sword in The Crusades, he told me about being a merman with a long beard and tail, he even told me some darn fool story about being the first man to walk on the moon.
All I could do was sit there in my ‘Leave it To Beaver’ striped shirt, swinging my legs back and forth drinking my milk while I thought: “Elvis surely is the King, king of the bullshitters that is!

Biography Note:

Doug Mathewson writes, edits, time travels, and dreams from his home in eastern Connecticut. His ongoing relationship with reality has become increasingly strained in recent years. Most recently his work has appeared in The Boston Literary Magazine, Battered Suitcase, Cezzane’s Carrot, Door Knobs & Body Paint, e-Muse, Full of Crow, Poor Mojo’s Almanac (k), riverbabble, Six Sentences, and Tuesday Shorts. He invites readers to visit his current project “True stories from imaginary lives” located at

Sick As a Dog
Howie Good

When we woke up in the morning,
the dog was there as usual,

but it couldn’t stand.
Every time it tried,

its back legs gave out.
“Gravity isn’t your friend,” my heart said.

I lifted the dog from the floor.
She went to call the vet.

Later that day, I was reading Kant
at the kitchen table.

She kept talking about the dog
and breaking my concentration.

I noticed the creases in her neck,
folds of skin that didn’t used to be there,

knife marks, rope burns.

Biography Note:

Howie Good, a journalism professor at the State University of New York at New Paltz, is the author of eight poetry chapbooks, including Police and Questions from Right Hand Pointing (2008), Tomorrowland (2008) from Achilles Chapbooks, The Torturer’s Horse (2009) from Recycled Karma Press, and Love Is a UFO (2009) from Pudding House. He has been nominated three times for a Pushcart Prize and twice for the Best of the Net anthology.

A Painter's Muse
Zubyre Parvez

Overlooking nothing
Looking over everything
I would appreciate you with a painter's eye
A stroke, hairbrush, and an embrace
I guess you were my muse
Filling canvases of my youth
The subject matter of songs
In touch with the facts of life we were aloof
The sun encircled by the prayer beads
The system of planets we see
Through a telescope
Together we peer
My test tubes combust and explode
In my lab I compose
Our chemistry no one
Quite knows, a mystery unfolds.

Biography Note:

Zubyre Parvez is a poet hailing from Newham, London. He is interested in British-Asian culture, citing Benjamin Zephaniah, and hip hop lyricism as his inspiration. He is a practitioner of Falun Gong qigong arts, and dedicated to the human rights in China, working to stop the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China by the Chinese Communist Party.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Featured Poet #1

Five Poems from David McLean

at the edge of heaven

at the edge of heaven we jump
to land firm-footed in hell
among the happy devils
looking for love and destruction

or deaths inevitable end,
we jump when we stop dreaming
and just listen to the blood
boiling in us so we are living

a little. at the edge of heaven
they erected a wall to stop us
being children, to stop children
living, so we jump over it

like wise idiots: it's better to live a little
than be a prisoner in heaven

everything they took

everything they took was the land, the history,
the blood of the people that was stripped
from their skin by whips, pounds of flesh

and shillings and pence, everything they took,
except that it was taken by us, guilt lives
on our shoulders, it feels like home

we crawl

we crawl like babies in a world composed of memory
and nightmare, absolution is garbage scattered
under stars that are absolutely absent
never gods or mothers, just gas far off
in an empty sky, like life

life is a tomb, but concrete not marble,
it is the marbled flesh torn away from babies
by god's insistently non-existent beak.
blubber love and heaven's not above us,
but murders coming in angels' faces,

murderers appearing, so we crawl
like babies on a mattress of words,
and they are wrong, usually, they guess
what is there, they are blind,
but madmen do not care

a blind world is words to share and listens better,
a repetitive heaven

insouciant sun

the subtle insouciance of the sun
burns smoke from an arrogant ashtray
where lives are stubbed like cold summer
cigarettes every afternoon, men

like dead devils. though blood boils in us
and calls itself love or righteous
rage, calls itself a sexy cigarette, smells
sweet on the breath, it tastes like

pain, it tastes like ages and ancient
days, tastes like broken children,
like bones under us, a lying
lifetime, withered away, a stubbed butt,

but the subtle sun will not stay

they sacrifice

they sacrifice roses and telephones to the gods
when skin lives their unsubtle insurrection,
like dead geese in a field looking up
at a sun who never pretended to love them

or mean everything, though they read
everything there. roses and telephones
and skin, though they are dead men, for
we are all death itself, and this is not heaven,

not for geese or men or anyone

Biography Note:

David McLean is Welsh, but has lived in Sweden since 1987. He lives there in a cottage on a hill with a woman, five selfish cats and a stupid puppy. Details of his three available full length poetry books, various chapbooks, and over 850 poems in or forthcoming at over 360 places online or in print over the last couple of years, are at his blog at He never submits by snail mail, since he has little money and loves or at least doesn't have anything against trees. Among things forthcoming is a chapbook called Nobody Wants to Go to Heaven, but Everybody Wants to Die from Poptritus Press it will be out sometime in the summer of 09. Also, a novella Henrietta Forgets from Isms Press will be avaliable1st January 2010. He has a large 250 poem anthology called Laughing at Funerals which will be appearing with Epic Rites Publications. Last but not least, David has a 50 poem chapbook from Epic Rites called Hellbound which will be appearing in July 2009. He also edits the Epic Rites chapbook series and the e-zines Lines Written with a Razor and The Thin Edge of Staring, as well as selecting work for the radio network. David also writes reviews for Heavy Bear and Clockwise Cat.

Q@A with David McLean

CH: How long have you been writing and why did you start in the first place?

DM: Well, I first wrote in 1994 for a few months, submitted to a few print magazines and received a total of four acceptances. I had no internet then and stamps were expensive. When I started studying philosophy at a university, the writing sort of died off. Later on, I wasted sometime on trying to write in Swedish, and registering on little "communities" for amateurish hobby writers. I started submitting again seriously in December 2006 and things have gone well since then. It's the 21st century so; I like to submit by email. I have submitted by snail mail maybe a total of five times, but not recently and won't do so any more. Post is even more expensive than in the nineties.

CH: Who or what were your inspirations?

DM: Originally I liked Plath, Larkin, Auden, Eliot, and Anne Sexton. Now my inspiration, if any, is more from Baudelaire, Verlaine, Rimbaud, Trakl and some from philosophy. I like Bukowski, but don't think he's an influence. I draw a lot from popular culture, reggae lyrics, punk, rock, and industrial music, Brian Eno, PIL, Nine Inch Nails and Kurt Cobain. Film too, especially horror. I think it's important that you draw from what you are inspired by. I have a chapbook coming soon about Pinhead called Hellbound. Some of my best stuff (according to me) is about South Park, especially Butters Stotch. I love Butters, though some poets have asked me "Who is that?" - Seriously, those people and I live in different worlds. The Simpsons too, Homer is a good Everyman figure.

CH: What would you say is the hardest thing about writing?

DM: Honesty is hardest and low self esteem. Plus it's hard to judge your own work.

CH: What advice would you give to a new writer who is struggling to find his or her identity?

DM: I would advise young people starting to write poetry to ignore old geezers like me. I don't know, not to stare themselves blind on the classics, even if that means Bukowski and Kerouac, to be yourself. As an editor myself, I would say - SPELL CHECK!! And do NOT use words that you aren't at home with. I do things for Epic Rites Press. Our ideal is that the poetry be accessible. In general, write as much as you can, I write fast and revise little, usually five poems a day, often up to ten or more, but do what you want, write what you feel comfortable with. Editors are just editors, not infallible aesthetic arbiters of correct taste (Not even me).

CH: Any last Comments?

DM: I mentioned Sylvia Plath, now I read Rob Plath more, we probably deal with similar subjects, but I can't see any influence either way. Generally, don't be influenced by your contemporaries, but absolutely don't try to imitate the dead, be influenced by you, and be influenced by whatever you see as the fundamental problems. By whatever it is words address. One more thing, I don't enjoy Rilke, but he was right about one thing - love poems are hard to do and are done too often. Oh, and for the Bukowski wannabes, you have to have done it or at least seen it being done for it to be convincing.