The Most Honest Syllable Is Shhh

Certainly I rinsed the vegetables.

A drummer killed himself
but I’m not even sure
he was a drummer.

The caravan abandoned the camel
in the Target parking lot.

Xanax builds the cornerstone of selfishness
on the diversion of punctuality.

A snake finds a railroad tie, hallelujah!

When working on an orgasm, distractions like the dog
scratching the french door, or the child
opening your bedroom door, or the dryer
beeping, or the washer beeping, or the timer
for the raspberries beeping, or the jazz
interrupted by the news, John Kerry broke his leg
while cycling a stretch of the Tour de France.

The ideal exists in the poems the fewest of us read.

Three people see a poem on a postcard and the national average is rattled.

Not everyone on a sofa with a bong and an acoustic guitar is cool.

I was 10 and hadn’t lost my virginity, sort of.

The Marriage Cycle:
anger proceeded by feisty dignity
followed by sacrifice.

The gangplank of adulthood is sacrifice and feisty dignity.

Children ache for actions of their own making,
not smoke machines but actual smoke.

You aren’t supposed to fast forward anyone
from The Last Waltz.


Visit Tim Staley online.


POETRY: Martin Pedersen – TIME TO QUIT

Time to Quit

I do love my chips and beer
But it’s time to quit
I’ve had bushels and barrels
And been content
But my doc agrees
It’s time to quit

A life of work
A handful of pebbles
My garden needs attention
I only wanted to help
Not sure I did my duty
I’m tired now

Can’t go on forever
Time to quit and yet
My dear, I love you lots
I won’t quit you
I will never quit you
I’ll hang on to keep from drowning
Or dying of thirst.


Visit Martin Pedersen online.

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NONFICTION: KATIE GOETZ – Glenn Marx & The Swivel Sweeper Max

Glenn Marx & The Swivel Sweeper Max

“Take your cleaning experience to the max!”

You could almost eat off the floors at 44 Samuels Path.
Maybe that’s what Glenn Marx had in mind when
he muted the TV and ordered the Swivel Sweeper Max
he’s always wanted, but never wanted to pay for.

“…just two easy payments of $19.99!”

All this month, he’s been shining up his home
in Miller Place, NY, near the new Mt. Sinai.
(The old one, you’ll recall, is where ten tidy commandments
like THOU SHALT NOT STEAL were first handed down.)

“It’s so lightweight, even a child can use it — and they will!”

Across God’s miles and dirtpiles, I Discovered I’d been thieved.
I muted the radio and dialed a series of numbers to clean up the mess.
A customer service rep unspooled all the details, as if
combing hair, thread, and floss out of The Great Digital Vacuum.

“The brushes spin at 4,000 RPM!”

At 40 bucks, the Swivel Sweeper Max is a steal:
Its brushes are removable, it runs on a rechargeable battery,
and it collects all your floor junk in a no-touch tray.
Glenn Marx won’t have to handle the mockery of facing an actual dirtbag.

“Other vacuums and sweepers get munged up and bunged up…”

Leave it to a man named Marx to think that what’s yours is his.
I like to imagine him rolling out a perfectly groomed carpet
when I call him at (631) 474-5607 or (631) 374-4675 or (516) 473-8847
to hand-deliver a clock worthy of gazing upon his floors.

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POETRY: Natalie Crick – BONES



I have to go back.

I have to keep searching


For something alive

Among the dead.


I am yet undecided

How to arrange


Her bones.

I want to conjure


The dark red throbbing heart.

Regrow her hair and teeth


The way they used to be.

Her legs are in my hands,


Cool to the touch

Like bottled milk.


Better, perhaps, to leave her alone,

Unfeeling and without question.



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POETRY: LORNA WOOD – II: My parents’ books will be the death of me.

ll: My parents’ books will be the death of me.

ll: My parents’ books will be the death of me.
I have to move out of the one-room walk-up apartment by a certain time, but I know I will never get that shelf of books with the old-fashioned decanter at the end of it packed and ready to go, and I am wondering if I really need the History of the Italian Madrigal in three volumes, but I cannot leave it behind, or any of them, or even the decanter, for that matter, familiarly useless, and if I’m not ready—:ll (repeat)


Visit Lorna Wood’s Author Page or her blog or find her on Twitter @drlewood

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By Mark Jackley (2016)


Last night I read Mark Jackley’s new poetry collection ON THE EDGE OF A VERY SMALL TOWN, and this morning I’m anxious to bolster its popularity. I really appreciate Jackley’s pace, brevity, confidence and unassuming style.

I read the book in one sitting and that’s important. It means I didn’t get bored, but instead got held in a friendly way, in an intimacy of distance where anything can be said. The poems are short, seemingly simple and usually expansive. There’s lots of white space and I was flipping pages like a champ which was fun. Remember flying through a book of poems that’s just deep enough to keep your critical mind engaged, but just light enough to be relaxing and palliative? Reading ON THE EDGE OF A VERY SMALL TOWN was like that for me.

The images are clear and uncluttered; for example, his poem “Happiness” starts here: Sometimes it rises quietly / like water in the basement. I like how he draws our attention to the sound of the water that may soften something / you’ve lugged around for years. Also, what a satisfying defamiliarization of happiness that the first two lines provide. Are you happy when your basement floods? Jackley’s speaker is and that’s refreshing.

John Hartford used to say that style is based on limitations. Jackley is confident enough to cut the pretension from these poems. Isn’t this the type of poetry we need now when elitism is under attack? This kind of verse that invites you in and holds you, and bears witness to a poet on the very edge of a small town?

If you would like your own copy of Mark Jackley’s new poetry collection ON THE EDGE OF A VERY SMALL TOWN, all you have to do is email the author at chineseplums@gmail.com and ask for one.


Review by Jim Thompson



Vin’s Last Game

no rat pack or elvis
just vin scully calling the dodger’s game
and like kofuax’s fastball, down the pike
vin’s delivery is smooth as silk
through your transistor radio
leave the pyrotechnics to the other guys
you’re thinking, he calls it like he sees it
and vin’s voice follows you like an old friend
as crew cuts gave way to long hair down
to your ass and dylan and hendrix
and santana, you listened to vin’s delivery
while doing volunteer work at glide church
in san francisco
vietnam was no place for you
but nobody wanted to go then!
you couldnt always keep your daughter
from the losers in the world
but vin’s voice, calling hank aaron’s 714
or kirk gibson’s world series game winning home run
was like watching picasso create a masterpiece
now, youre winter, but the revolutionary fire still
burns, bernie sanders still convinces you
you can save the world
Vin scully’s voice floats effortlessly like the boats
on the water

For Vin Scully and Paul Kleyman

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POETRY: Chuck Von Nordheim – SELF-PORTRAIT #6

Self-Portrait #6

Escape from Sierra
Elementary poses
impossibilities his
ten-year-old brain can’t solve.
Scotty could beam him up
if the Starship Enterprise
orbited his warp-less Earth,
but Gene Roddenberry
shoved whirring teleporters
beyond this fifth-grader’s
Carter time frame, past supermen
power grabs, past nuke exchanges.
So he endures taunts spewed
about his fake Spock ears,
not to mention upside
down insertions into
reeking trashcans and toilets.

Stained clothes washing, aggie
patterned planets beckon him
5pm each weekday on
KCOP 13.

No phasers would he wield
against thugs if he boldly went.
Easing school strife with pale
bursts of quick molecular
evaporation might solve
detergent supply issues—
fewer bullies at large
equaled fewer dunkings
equaled fewer Maytag loads—
but followers of Surak
let logical awareness
frost hot first intentions.
Self-scrutiny reveals this:
his tormentors split his mind
worse than the two-body
bifurcation of Kirk
in the “Enemy Within.”

He hates them. He loves them.
A real Vulcan could meld two
minds and learn what secret words
tamed middle school monsters.

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Grandpa’s Death Watch

Grandma and Grandpa
inhabited their tenement
like two distant countries.
Grandma cooked and
cleaned in the kitchen,

Grandpa lounged in his smoker’s
chair wedged behind
the dining room table. They
slept in separate bedrooms,
framed pictures of Jesus

leaned back to back on the
wall between them. For
fifty years they kneaded
their secrets into loaves
of tall, crusty bread,

hid them behind white
porcelain shaving mugs.
“Charlie was not my first love,”
Grandma whispered to me
as I drove her to the hospital.



Grief Run

One love
Jah love
Jonestown massacre loving my soul
there is no kool aid but down
and down isn’t real either
underneath my soul
there is a freeway
it is a Los Angeles freeway
heading from Pasadena
down to downtown
and into heaven
where I was born

Heaven is a place in Los Angeles
on fire
with lots of devils
and lots of rock music and pretty girls
where the wave is the universe
blasting your head off like a shotgun
under the roar of fascist music
in my life love and heart
where the grief runs lower than a 60 nanosecond jack
on some car of the future
ripping me into orbit


Visit Robin Wyatt Dun online.