America’s Pastime

A poem by Thomas Zimmerman


I drank a half-gallon of beer
at the Cubs game today. Home
team won with three in the ninth.
Ninety degrees, great seats,
high and in the shade, along
the third-base line. Booty-
song on the radio there: I’m all
about that bass. Fair enough.
Is the anima erupting, as my friend
William insists? Is global warming
our fault? Is suffering ever
earned? Imponderables. Don’t get
too damned wise. The beer was strong,
the shade was cool, and I had three
people I love sitting with me.
I watched my niece’s purse and diet
coke while she looked for the women’s room.


Thomas Zimmerman teaches English, directs the Writing Center, and edits two literary magazines at Washtenaw Community College, in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

His chapbook In Stereo: Thirteen Sonnets and Some Fire Music appeared from The Camel Saloon Books on Blog in 2012.

Visit his website!

Girtywocky

A poem by Rodney Richards

‘A parody of namesake L. Carroll’s “Jabberwocky”.’


Twas thrilling and the slimy toads
Did fly and flutter twixt reddened moons
All flimsy t’were the borey troves
As house rats drank swirling hot frappes

“Compare Its slithery mocks my girl!
The teeth that tear, the nails that scratch!
Compare the hard-shelled snake, and run,
The furious Candy Catcher’s rump!”

Took young Hobbit’s Sting in hand;
Aforetime’s awesome Smaug he fought
Cloaked in gold doubloons and jewels
Under molderin’ domes of castle rocks

And deep in scoffish laughs it schemes
Comes ill-famed Girt with hearts of stone
Crawls sniffing in the ash-filled groves
And chortles fearness as it grows.

Not once, but thrice our hero douses Its fires
As flames of apathy surround her Shire
And girl of cockiness thrusts and parries
Til monstrous face of love’s hurts tires

Sting of titanium “Zings!” and “Zangs!”
Through Girt’s thickset spiteful grooves
Til died of daughter’s poems desirous
And withered unto death, not bemoaned

Her father asks of kilk and kin
“Didst thou see my girl of elfish skin?
Enter my home and breaths now thin
O fab’jous Moons and Suns at highest!

“For Unnamed hurts and killers dead
Slain by love’s kind darts of lead
Thrust thrice ensconced throughout
Its gruesome dual-pronged head”


Rodney Richards lives with his wife in a rancher in the “very center of the Great State of New Jersey”.

He loves writing, and is the author of the memoir Episodes (ABLiA Media), available from Amazon.

Strawberry Daiquiris and a Hot Summer Night

A short story by Ed Higgins


A hot summer night walks into a bar and orders a drink. A frozen strawberry daiquiri with lots of crushed ice, she says. She brings with her the slightly fragrant scent of roses from outside, and a dusky, green hint of the ripening cornfield across the highway. A large, neglected rosebush outside in a half-whiskey barrel sits to the left of the green, padded vinyl door. Its leaves brittle, desiccated petals falling from wilted blooms, stark thorns you could make a halo for Jesus with. Sitting at the bar with her strawberry daiquiri, the hot summer night’s hair is limp and disheveled from the evening’s muggy air. The bartender knows her kind. She’s hot but likely poor material for a pick-up. She may be good for a couple of drinks. Another strawberry daiquiri? he asks, picking up the twenty she has left on the bar. His interest is piqued and the place isn’t particularly busy since the air conditioning broke down a couple of days ago. He’s played hell trying to get a service technician out here to fix the damn thing with all the heat-wave breakdowns apparently going around. The hot summer night is plain vanilla but not unattractive. She has a slight bead of sweat along her upper lip and the dark hair at her temples is clearly damp. Warm night out there, he says, trying a subtle approach. Sorry about the air conditioning, been out for a couple of days now. But she doesn’t care about the lost air conditioning. The hot summer night knows that even in the midst of a long, stultifying summer, rain earlier in the day leaving its mugginess, the corn harvest beginning soon—we are all nonetheless ineluctably approaching death’s long winter. She smiles, letting the bartender continue hitting on her. The hot summer night is serious enough without ever yielding to it. She orders a second strawberry daiquiri.


Edward Higgins’ poems and short fiction have appeared in various print and online journals including Monkeybicycle, Tattoo Highway, Triggerfish Critical Review, and Blue Print Review, among others. Higgins and his wife live on a small farm in Yamhill, Oregon, raising a menagerie of animals including an alpaca named Machu-Picchu.

Higgins is the assistant fiction editor for Brilliant Flash Fiction, an Ireland-based flash journal.

Funny Bone

A poem by Kenneth P. Gurney


Everything has a funny bone.
Sorry my last joke missed yours.

You should laugh at my tie,
or, better, laugh at my lack of a tie.

I give you permission to laugh at me when I am employed.
And to laugh all the harder when I am employed and wearing a tie.

I will laugh at you when you wear your turquoise jewelry
and black shirt, with its black buttons and high collar.

Not because turquoise or your black shirt is funny,
but because you never wear your turquoise with any other color.

We should laugh at the forbidden together.
Even if you think the word ta-Boo should elicit a scream.

I remember laughing as a white cop punched Ed in the face.
My laugh jerked the cop’s head toward me,

so he drop Ed to the ground and walk over to my face
and splatter shouted, “You find something funny in this?”

Which I did not, but the cop left Ed alone and the scene
shortly after I wiped my face dry on my shirt tails.

Unintentionally, I banged my funny bone on a Hurricane Ridge rock
which must have been its exposed funny bone

because I felt the low rumble through the mountain,
so similar, but deeper, than my elbow-rubbing, laughing moan.


Kenneth P. Gurney lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico with his beloved Dianne. In his spare time he practices being an elk on the flanks of the Sandia Mountains. In Dianne’s spare time, he does whatever chores she places on the chores list for him to accomplish. His latest collection of poems is Stump Speech. (CreateSpace IPP, 2015.) Peruse his website.

Any Chill Wind

A poem by Kenneth P. Gurney


You could say we were unsure
of the ground beneath our feet.

An unfamiliar god snores
six feet under the green surface.

In the frozen reaches of a sorrow trail
snow angels are invisible under the midday sun.

The old world scrapes at the icy ground
to awaken the sleeping god

to ask it politely to crush our foreign ideas
and to scrap our wood and stone buildings.

The old world wraps itself in a pale blanket
and trudges the survival path

to locate a warm place where their mysteries
are as plain as dandelions among short green grasses.

We envelop all doubts with strings of sand
rubbed from our waking eyes.

We discover a lake with a reputation for renewal
of those spirits whose feet touch the bottom

which is the place where the buried god’s navel
rises and lowers with each subterranean breath.

It is not a deep lake—it collects all the water
that breaks from mothers just before giving birth.

The old world dances and speaks in tongues
and the coyote howls at our moon brightened skin.

We check among our repossessions
and find histories withheld from conquered peoples

and the old world wraps itself in them
as if they were a new, brightly colored blanket

that invalidates any chill wind.


Kenneth P. Gurney lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico with his beloved Dianne. In his spare time he practices being an elk on the flanks of the Sandia Mountains. In Dianne’s spare time, he does whatever chores she places on the chores list for him to accomplish. His latest collection of poems is Stump Speech. (CreateSpace IPP, 2015.) Peruse his website.

Public and Private Moments

A poem by William Doreski


Am I allowed to taste the rain?
On Commonwealth the English elms
heave up last year’s birds’ nests
and drop twigs on snooping dogs.
My first architectural walk
in years leads past the statue
of Sam Morison, who greets me
with his placid sailor’s hello,
enunciated in clear blue tones
that evoke the sea horizon
complete with a distant squall.

As I trundle past he waves one
heavy bronze arm and gestures
at the Public Garden where squirrels
frisk among tourists for snacks.
Despite the light rain a mob
surrounds the equestrian
George Washington riding
toward the edge of eternity
where his dental work will flourish
in the finest shades of ivory.

Am I allowed to taste the rain
that you planned on keeping
for yourself? I got out early,
drove seventy miles before dawn,
leaving you to tend the garden
by yourself. Mr. Morison
knew I was coming. Tea with him
years ago on Brimmer Street lingers
with a smell of old brown leather.

Traffic snores down Arlington.
I walk to the corner and cross,
and passing through the iron gate
and circling Washington’s pedestal
and rambling along the duck pond
I sneak a couple of tastes of rain
and let it nourish and inspire me
with evolutionary notions
of which only you would approve.


William Doreski’s work has appeared in various online and print journals and in several collections, most recently The Suburbs of Atlantis. (AA Press, 2013.)

An Agitation of Silence

A poem by Richard King Perkins II


It hasn’t rained for weeks.
The color arcs have faded

and the factories have gone quiet.

Wednesday night,
black rag shadows drag the ground

moth-eaten, licentious.

The chartreuse blades of day have dulled
into yellow needles and frostweed.

The void of eastern Texas.

No sound carries off the misplaced cobblestone.
A young woman stares out the window

of a mint-green home.

I’m walking across a yard
of fallen sheaves and inflorescence.

An agitation of silence is all she’ll ever know.


Richard King Perkins II is a state-sponsored advocate for residents in long-term care facilities. He lives in Crystal Lake, Illinois, United States with his wife, Vickie, and daughter, Sage.

Fishing in the Charles

A poem by William Doreski


Claw-footing stone to stone
in shallows, indifferent
to runners, dog-walkers, us,
a great blue heron rummages
for fish for a midday snack.

As we watch, it spears and scissors
a perch, hoists and swallows it
in a long undulant gesture
of unfolded neck. Hardly
a ripple marks the site. The staid

geometry of MIT
across the river looks aghast,
but it always does. Behind us,
the Prudential Center towers
prop themselves against the clouds.

Such an urban frame to feature
such a primal event. We nod
to acknowledge the heron’s skill,
its adaptive style, the S-bend
of neck, prehensile stick-legs

that hardly seem to part water,
the wings folded like tissue.
This heron grace punctuates
with diacritical urgency,
but almost no one has noticed

the uncommon sighting,
and only we have paused to note
how easily that fish went down,
and consider how bottomless
the place it now inhabits.


William Doreski’s work has appeared in various online and print journals and in several collections, most recently The Suburbs of Atlantis. (AA Press, 2013.)

Land Line

A poem by William Doreski


All day you tie up the phone,
the land line that anchors us
to the English-speaking world.

Meanwhile the latest hurricane
twirls and spits and fizzles
in the shallows off Nantucket.

We could have used its rain
to cheer the ghost of our garden,
could have basked in downpours

the summer has wholly withheld.
The wind would have toppled us,
but also leaved us with the ghosts

of colonialism, dredged from
the mud of the Caribbean,
where treasure ships lie sulking

in a litter of wormy timbers.
You tie up the phone because
your imaginary lovers deploy

actual voices in the ether
that sometimes come to earth
to roost and crow in colors

perceptible to innocent eyes.
I don’t mind the lovers but object
to the wear and tear on the thread

of wire that leashes us to worlds
larger than this one. In these hills,
cell phones often fail to connect,

and non-European languages
sometimes intrude with phonemes
thick peasant tongues can’t replicate.

At least the land line’s secure
from that overlap of history
shy people like me avoid.

But you’re on the phone all day,
talking so briskly a stranger
would mistake this for a two-way

conversation, unaware
that no one ever answers your calls.
Instead, old-fashioned slow-dial phones

ring in demolished houses
where only the wind and rain
of failed hurricanes might answer.


William Doreski’s work has appeared in various online and print journals and in several collections, most recently The Suburbs of Atlantis. (AA Press, 2013.)

Magnitude

A poem by Richard King Perkins II


It ended when I could become no larger

and began when I was less than a speck.

I am unrecognizable by machines

of analysis and magnification.

Tomorrow, I will be a galaxy

but at this moment I’m a remote scintillation.

Tomorrow, I will be the sound of worlds colliding

but I’m just a rubbing of grass blades at this time.

Between now and then there will be

books unread and compliments never given.

Stories I forgot to share.

Between now and then there will be

one side of the bed gone cold,

an ancestor’s name mentioned for the last time.

Intimacies that never happened.

These are what I try hardest to remember.

Growth is not an adding to—

growth is a taking away.


Richard King Perkins II is a state-sponsored advocate for residents in long-term care facilities. He lives in Crystal Lake, Illinois, United States with his wife, Vickie, and daughter, Sage.