NONFICTION: James Valvis – Slam!

  Slam!   1. I sat in the OK Hotel bar fifteen minutes late, but that was all right. Nothing had started yet. I eyed the stage, the microphone, the thin light hitting the dark curtains, melting every color into gray. Poetry at the start of the 21st century had become a smoky art hidden […]

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POETRY: Catfish McDaris – Houdini and Picasso


Houdini and Picasso


The egg yolk moon had a grip
on the obsidian sun horizon
all dissonant focus blurred

Telling her he had a taste for
sushi was Quick’s big mistake,
her lady friends responded
to his innocent intention

They thought of him as a
cannibal of love, their relation-
ship took a tragic detour

At a reading one night he said,
“I’m going to feed my voice to
you with a silver spoon, my jaded
words will fill your mind until
you explode like Mount Vesuvius”

“Ownership is a passing storm cloud,
your possessions own you, all things
are borrowed, rented, or stolen”

“Kiss me goodbye, baby girls, don’t
look for me, I’ll be in the shadows,
I’ll always love you, I just can’t take
you, I’m going Houdini”

That night Quick woke up and his
lady had grabbed and clamped down
on his tongue with vice grips, she sliced
it off with an electric turkey knife, her dog,
Picasso swallowed it like a juicy treat.


Check out more of Catfish’s work in his chapbook Buffalo Nickels (2014), published by Grandma Moses Press.

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POETRY: Jessica Lindsley – Physical Library


Physical Library


The sexual demands of this body have been shelved:
Those desires have been relegated to the basement

Among the etiquettes, the out-of-date cartographies,
long-expired geographies and computer science texts

Filed in the Dewey system as “Ancient History,”
“Museology,” and “Not Assigned or No Longer Used,”

Discarded, dormant, card pulled from the worn oak catalogue
Until I notice this smile, those perfect imperfect teeth.

Then my whole physical library is unshelved, askew, open
All the pages I locked away.


Visit Jessica’s website at, and follow her on Twitter: @LindsleyJess.

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POETRY: Tim Staley – In the Water House


In the Water House


Water boards keep wheat grass nails growing
I keep the walls free of eddies
of water spiders too
A vapor trail rises from the chimney
Down the stairs I glide
a canoe for slippers
a paddle for a cane
Trigger fish in the hallway
koi in the windowsill
As one summer
rotates into another
I roll on parquet waves
in otiose slumber
The telephone’s sunk
Sunsets blanch
Rings rise in colorful bubbles
and die in quiet splashes


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Header image: detail from The Koi Conference by Jo Staley.

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POETRY: Roberta Pantal Rhodes – A Lovely Walk


A Lovely Walk

We stroll along the
Appian Way. The air
fragrant with the scent
of pine. It is peaceful
with no hint of the past,
of bodies hanging
from crosses.  Just this
lovely walk along
The Appian Way.

We continue on
to the Colosseum still
standing after all
these years. We marvel
at the engineering, perfectly
round, built without
computers or engineers,
just the slaves who
put it all together.  And
for what, the slaughter
of Christians.

And lastly, the Roman
Forum.  The Arch of
Titus celebrating the
destruction of Jerusalem
where now only, the Wailing
Wall remains.

They say the Barbarians
destroyed Rome: the Goths,
the Visigoths, Vandals, Angles, Saxons,
Franks, Ostrogoths and Lombards
but I ask, who are the Barbarians?


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FICTION: Chella Courington – McCarthy and Woolf

McCarthy and Woolf


Tom sat at the round kitchen table reading Blood Meridian for the third time. Adele placed slices of orange in front of him.

“Have you finished Mrs. Dalloway?” she asked.

He paused—a pause not there when he was teaching. Finally, he looked up, the novel still open.

“Almost.” And looked down again, turning the page.

How could he say so little, almost, and that was it, that was all. He had lived with her fifteen years, he knew she adored Woolf, especially Clarissa, and all he could say was almost, one word as if it were enough.

Wanting to scream, Adele stood nearly twenty seconds, her hands squeezing the rail of the chair before she sat across from him. He mumbled or she thought he mumbled and his carriage hardened, sensing what was coming.

“What do you think?” she asked.

He breathed in this deliberate manner that bordered on a groan.

“It’s a bit slow. The writing is lovely but Woolf doesn’t pull me in,” he said, his finger holding his place in McCarthy.

Lovely. She wanted to hit him. She wanted to talk about how the novel slips from the present to the past and back again, how everyone has a point of view even the girl selling petticoats, how the miracle of existence culminates in Clarissa at the top of the stairs.

He could see her lips tightening, her presence receding. Closing his novel, he said,

“Sorry. That was a bit glib. The language is pure as one image unfolds into another. But she reads like a performance, a spectacle.” He pushed his chair back so he could cross his legs.

“Spectacle?” she asked. “What the hell do you mean? You read about massacre and bloodshed and then call Woolf spectacle because Woolf’s not killing for her audience’s attention.”

“Woolf killed Septimus,” he said.


He knew enough not to smile.

Adele walked to the fridge and grabbed a bottle of water; maybe she’d throw it at him or shatter the glass and stab him. On the walnut coffee table they bought at a garage sale in Ventura was the most recent Harper’s, which reports that a team of forensic engineers at The University of Leicester measured the amount of force used in bottle stabbings and called it effectively phenomenal. She twisted the cap off the bottle and sat down across from Tom.

“God. I want to hit you,” she said.

Closing the novel again, he looked up at her and scratched his cheek, waiting.

“Ever hit a woman?” she asked.

“Does my sister count?”


She drank some water. The fridge started up and she turned and watched it before looking back at him. Why does he always have to be a smartass? He’s so good at so much. But his silence hurts, leaves me feeling stranded. (Long before they met, her then boyfriend and she started drinking Bloody Marys at Myrtle Beach in the early afternoon. The next morning she woke with a splitting headache, nose swollen and raccoon eyes. X-rays showed no skull fracture. Adele told everyone she fell on the pier. The boyfriend bought her roses.)

Tom pushed the novel away, still staring at her.

“I’ve never slapped a woman,” he said, “though sometimes I’ve wanted to. But I feel guilty enough.”


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POETRY: Jeffrey Field – One Black Soldier

One Black Soldier


Summer, 1966.

I am trying to take
a Polaroid picture
of one black soldier
doing the Ali shuffle
outside the barracks
at Fort Sam Houston
in San Antonio, Texas.

He will not hold still.

“Viet Nam, here I come!”

He is 19 years old,
bobbing and weaving
up and down
the barracks’ steps,
smile as wide as Texas.

Hey! Hold still a minute wouldya?

Okay… Now!

The print slides from the camera.
A minute later he is grinning at me,
fists frozen in air,
the world’s greatest.

“Yeaaahhh! We gonna whip old Charlie’s tail!”

Pop! Pop!! Pop!!!
His fists smack the air as he
ducks and dodges
through the jungles of Viet Nam.

He is 82nd Airborne.

He is my friend.

One year later –
I’m stationed at Valley Forge General Hospital at
Phoenixville, Pennsylvania.
I work nights on orthopedic ward 5.
There are strange, sucking noises
coming from the ward

as I
sterilize the medicine carts.
Broken femurs.
Maggot-eaten men.

I keep my distance.

One morning,
one black soldier
wheels himself along the
polished wooden hallway.
His stumps end
high on boxer’s legs,
six inches above the knee.

Our eyes touch.

I want to disappear.

We shake hands.
Smile still as wide as Texas,
(we both silently understand)
not the same smile.
He tells his story.
As he speaks my mind begins to wander…
those two white-bandaged phantoms are
waving the air,
waving at me?
telling a different story,
speaking the body’s agony of being
while on night patrol in the
jungles of Nam.

the Hawaiian GI
who bunked on the cot
under me
at Fort Sam,
(whom I never liked
one day,
for no apparent reason,
he threatened me,
and then he slammed me,
against the latrine wall)
was ripped into
two pieces,
machine gun fire
raking across his back
from an unseen enemy
embedded in the jungle.

A year never seemed so far away.

My friend
has brought the war
I grudgingly accept it.
I take it to
my barracks’ room
and sleep with it.
I wake up with it
that afternoon.
I strap it to the back
of my motorcycle.
I ride the back roads of the
Amish countryside.
I bury it beneath a
red sun.
Summer’s greens turn gray,
as a Polaroid picture
of one black soldier
burns a hole in my heart.


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POETRY: Jon Huerta

a long poem about finally giving up

thinking about
the torn up quilt
that was way
too old to keep
the sleeping bag
had seen better days
it would have turned
twelve this week
really missing that
sacred navajo rug
that was in
the back seat
and that worn out
Kelty pack i got when
i was seventeen
all located in the
beat up truck that
was found down
the street
the radiator was
leaking anyway
makes that squeaky
sound when she speaks
much too nerve racking
for any thief
shit i should have
given up years ago
finally had enough
and jumped ship
for someone even
less fortunate than me




Vinton, New Mexico/Texas Border

day in day out
watching the sea
of cotton grow
the morning glory
no too far behind
dew so thick
it would cling
to your clothes
like you had
just jumped
into the rio grande
mosquito’s thirsty
for fresh booze
heavy blood
the sun so hot
it turned black hair


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