Grievances for Descamisados

A poem by David Lohrey


I, too, am a passéiste. a passéiste am I, a believer in a Golden time.
There’s been no birth but I am suffering from post-partum depression.
Something’s been taken away. I do not have my eye on the next best thing.

I’m proud but not of myself. I’m not even proud to be an American.
So much has been done, although, nothing by me.
We’ll abolish all private property except our house.

I am a sampler of the exquisite, a witness, perhaps some would say an intruder.
I remain grateful. The tea is fine. I don’t care for much of the company.
My fantasy is to live in a Faulkner novel.

I have found a nice quiet table here at the club. If I am left alone, I will thrive.
I want to get me an emotional support peacock and move into Flannery
O’Connor’s old house. One does still hear dreadful stories.

Perhaps it can be said, I regret everything, but that doesn’t keep me from feeling nostalgic.
Yes, it was all a mistake. Every humiliation and those very few triumphs. The greatest
birthday present I ever got was a potted tomato plant. It cost $.79.

I treasure every smile; there have been few. Look where we are. We’ve become brawlers,
like skinny guys at ball games, those nasty, boney thugs with tattoos, the kind who
like to start fights. Who takes advice from a poet?

This is finally who we are, in steel-tipped boots, drunks with shriveled dicks. People who save
up to go to Rome and end up in the local jail for pissing on the statues. I saw my first film
by Truffaut in the Mission; got my first piece of ass on Craig’s list.

We have become a disgrace. The story begins with our lovely heroes waving and passing out
Hershey bars to children. Next thing you know, we are urinating on corpses.
This is why we can’t have nice things. Who’s afraid of red, white, and blue?

We’ve become boxers who bite our opponents. We’ve become women who want to be raped.
We’ve become men who piss themselves. Heavens to Murgatroyd, that’s about it. This
is our common tale of woe. Some thrive in the present, others not.

We’ve become the kind of people children aren’t allowed to play with. We’re degenerates. Yes,
I know a good thing when I see it. I live in the past. I do not look ahead.
Tomorrow might prove an improvement, sure, why not? It’s today I can’t stand.


David Lohrey’s plays have been produced in Switzerland, Croatia, and Lithuania. His poetry can be found in Otoliths (AUS), The Drunken Llama (US), Tuck Magazine (UK), Expanded Field Journal (Netherlands), and Dodging the Rain (Ireland). His fiction can be read online at Terror House, Storgy Magazine, and Literally Stories. David’s collection of poetry, MACHIAVELLI’S BACKYARD, was published by Sudden Denouement Publishers (Houston, 2017). He lives in Tokyo.

A Ghost Bids Farewell to His Last Lodging

A poem by Fred Pollack


Kubin has me cradling my head
(with a gnarled European grin)
in my arms. It must be heavy:
the torso, in prison togs, looks off-center.
Had I met a Wilhelmine headsman, tailed and tophatted?
Or that efficient chute they favored later?
I must say he captures the expression,
but my clothes are the comfy beige of aged
Americans, and my head where it belongs.
The room is already bare, not yet rented;
what used to be there suffices for goodbyes.
Towards the end, on what has since become
the Other Side, some idiot
said I had a “God-shaped hole”
in my life and offered cheaply to fill it
with his hole-shaped God.

Around that time there were other noises:
shrieks, sobs, a rhythmic thwacking
fleshier than sex. If you imagine next-life audio
as a Seventies-style “Wall of Sound,” you’ll
be disappointed: cries as sparse
as sirens in a rich white neighborhood,
though carefully selected
according to an aesthetic
about which I can’t even speculate.

Now I’m off. I might enjoy Kubin’s Munich,
towns bombed or not yet bombed, even
my own several slums. Except
it isn’t the job of the deceased
to enjoy anything; only to resemble
in random streets someone who can’t be there,
causing a little thrill of pain.
To haunt is to pass through, not to remain.


Fred Pollack is the author of two book-length narrative poems, The Adventure (Story Line Press, 1986) and Happiness (Story Line Press, 1998), and two collections, A Poverty of Words (Prolific Press, 2015) and Landscape with Mutant (Smokestack Books, 2018). In print, Pollack’s work has appeared in Hudson Review, Southern Review, Salmagundi, Poetry Salzburg Review, Manhattan Review, Skidrow Penthouse, Main Street Rag, Miramar, Chicago Quarterly Review, The Fish Anthology (Ireland), Poetry Quarterly Review, Magma (UK), Neon (UK), Orbis (UK), and elsewhere. Online, his poems have appeared in Big Bridge, Diagram, BlazeVox, Mudlark, Occupoetry, Faircloth Review, Triggerfish, Big Pond Rumours (Canada), The Drunken Llama (2017), Misfit, and elsewhere.

The Dog That Howled All Night

A poem by Geoffrey Heptonstall


“What does not change is the will to change.”

– Charles Olson


Of a possible election:
then in the sight of darkness
a lantern light
moving to close of day
above all the armadillos
from the vantage tower
in celestial time chiming…

Of the harvest angel
scattering our marvels
at the sight of disaster
naming where the stones
keep silence on vacant ground
when fate may seem indifferent
though this life is familiar…

Of a lyrical persuasion:
invisible in the ruins
too late to save the spirit
that blessed the city opening
to the world’s worst
and in there hearing
the dog that howled all night…

Woodland Pond

A poem by Richard King Perkins II


Through the stray ebb of night,
swirls of black water form her

in a meager grove
of orange-leafed trees.

She studies the bracken and reeds,
looks past the embankment

to figures standing in the distance;
the man in the straw hat

leaning on a grey fence
talking to his daughter.

In a few desperate sentences
he speaks of things to deny or embrace

the endless sky
the empty earth

ghosts of the north country
conspiring with fire.

The girl listens momentarily,
begins to drift away

floating through leaves
and tresses of moss

alighting on a small shoreline—
folding in, turning back.


Richard King Perkins II is a state-sponsored advocate for residents in long-term care facilities. He lives in Crystal Lake, Illinois with his wife, Vickie, and daughter, Sage. He is a three-time Pushcart, Best of the Net and Best of the Web nominee whose work has appeared in more than a thousand publications.

An Astounding Perimeter

A poem by Richard King Perkins II


It’s not a dream
but a slightly bygone world
covered in frozen mist.

Sparrows alight on the small shoreline
of an astounding perimeter—
a sanctum whispering in white.

I study the icebound bracken and reeds,
gazing past the embankment
to this vacancy of snow where your car once slept.

In the old meeting place, I still look for you—
where our conversations spilled upon gentle light;
simple confessions of twigs and soul.

But we’re left with only a few desperate sentences;
having spoken of things to deny or embrace,
the evergreen ghosts of our endless north country.

Now you’re stranded on a bridge in St. Louis
with no money and no credit cards
and your passenger side window broken out.

I’m in the bristling pines laced ivory
where someone once wrote a song about you;
how your eyes extinguished sensibility,
how your eyes painted light into every corner of darkness.

Can you recall how desperately we believed
that the return of robins and sharp shadows
could change everything;
that crocuses would ignite life in themselves?


Richard King Perkins II is a state-sponsored advocate for residents in long-term care facilities. He lives in Crystal Lake, Illinois with his wife, Vickie, and daughter, Sage. He is a three-time Pushcart, Best of the Net and Best of the Web nominee whose work has appeared in more than a thousand publications.

Nurserymen and Psychedelia

A poem by Jake Sheff


Encyclopedic hands reach
to reassess squat and woody
cycads. Branchless plants

embrace fingers in recesses
questing for meaning and
other pests. Struck by ugly

pleasure’s naked structure,
collectors pay high prices
for loves like leaves sprouting

from no trees. (Cycads generate
heat for male cones to repel
insects toward a more temperate,

fervent sex. Harvest trickles
relative to nature’s truckloads
of relaxed approaches.) New

York City nurses doctors
stalking neurotoxic and self-
similar geometries at home;

garment-shredding spikes are
brushed like hair, loosening
deep time’s translucent hour.


Jake Sheff is a major and pediatrician in the U.S. Air Force. He is married and has a daughter and three pets. His current home is the Mojave Desert. Jake’s poems have been published in Marathon Literary Review, Jet Fuel Review, The Cossack Review, and elsewhere. He has published a chapbook: Looting Versailles, available from Alabaster Leaves Publishing. He considers life an impossible sit-up, but plausible.

Time Is a Long Island

A poem by Jake Sheff


The Author’s Arrangement: Adrienne and Corri are friends at a wine tasting with live music. The speaker of the poem is Corri’s husband, changing their daughter Maddie’s diaper in the restroom of the winery. The speaker’s brother is Nathan, on his way to visit aboard the ferry from Connecticut. It’s Adrienne’s last day visiting, and the wine tasting is just before her flight home.


For A.N.


As Adrienne and Corri tasted wine
I changed a diaper to the tunes of
Hurricane Irene and Buddy Holly.

As Nathan rode the ferry to Orient
Point, a period with two points rode
Like wild fire on the Hampton Jitney

Past Walt Whitman’s wrong perfection
Near Ronkonkoma. Soft indifference
Shook the day, cracking Washington’s

Monument to – no offense! – a broken
Bagpipe. Wild fire crackled to the quiet
Thud of death as Montauk lit the sea

With magpie intelligence. As Nathan’s
Ferry hit the sea, like adages, to bits
And pieces, new advantages were

Speeding down the LIE, past Nassau
County’s Art Museum, Tiffany lamps
And shortages of pricelessness. Pure

As rope, the wine was more celestial
Than cellists as Adrienne’s plane
Landed in Islip. Jetsetters removed

Their carry-ons from overhead bins
Like jesters overselling peacetime
Exercises in the rain. Sag Harbor was

The province of trapdoors around
The time I finished wiping Maddie’s
Fanny*. A calzone was beside a cannoli

And itself in Patchogue’s Zagat Rated
Dumpster. Fatigue was dressed up
In fatigues by artists down the LIE

From honesty and letters to editors.
And Nathan’s ferry honed its boldness
Down to honey in the homestretch,

But with no agenda in the company
Of gods, it was dogged by goodness
Like a leafy tree. Abbreviated, one-

Sided theories brewed like wild fire
In the South Fork as Adrienne’s
Flight was getting used to acronyms

And practice de-icing. Highfalutin
Housekeeping – always the hallmark
Of chastity – festooned the ferry

Like all Poughkeepsie or the Flatiron
Building was on board, but Nathan
Humbly puffed on thoughts of wild

Nights on Fire Island, dazed on chains
Of possibilities like days. The LIE
Poured traffic into Riverhead like casks

Of enthusiasm or wine downhill, done
Gone swirled and sniffed. Wild
Strawberries at Strawberry Fest saw

Wild fire with jet-black forgiveness,
As the Target I browse at for Target
Brand baby powder and wipes went up

Like eyebrows of swallowtail butterflies.
Dogwoods on Stony Brook’s campus –
Being of sound minds and street legal

Religions – loaned their agenda to
The ferry and Nathan’s career, both
Above the rules and flounders that vary

Very much each season. Butterfish
And porgy knew more than we
Claimed to as Adrienne’s taxi

Commenced the saddest story,
Sad because I told it wrong and ate
Its crab cakes, crumbly as calendars.

Mail-order emollients were shipped
From Amagansett to Shelter Island
With toxic affability to prove to wild

Fire only people do important things,
Unlike the Polish Town cemetery,
Ocelot or human occiput without a gut

To tug its soul from aphorists and
Aphrodisiacs; right illnesses and,
And crazy sanity abound on islands

Where the minds and selves of men
Are all like drowning lakes. Planets
Fidgeted on their paths like oaths

As Adrienne stepped into her cab for
MacArthur airport. Iced tea disparaged
Asparagus and lobster bisque behind

The bar on Nathan’s ferry; Polish
Town’s cemetery said, “Put nothing
Off,” and Maddie’s diaper said,

“You’re putting me on.” The same old
Novelties seemed far too medium
Up and down the North Fork as the wild

Fire died, Adrienne’s plane took off
And a ferry arrived behind tailor-made
Kindness’s everlasting budding holly.


* Consider nates.


Jake Sheff is a major and pediatrician in the U.S. Air Force. He is married and has a daughter and three pets. His current home is the Mojave Desert. Jake’s poems have been published in Marathon Literary Review, Jet Fuel Review, The Cossack Review, and elsewhere. He has published a chapbook: Looting Versailles, available from Alabaster Leaves Publishing. He considers life an impossible sit-up, but plausible.

No Lemon, No Melon: A Conversational Poem in Palindromes

A poem by Yuan Changming


Lon Nol, don’t nod!
________Did I?

Was it a cat I saw?
________I did.

Sit on a potato pan, Otis!
________Madam?

Eva, can I see bees in a cave?
________I am Adam.

Red rum, Sir, I murder!
________Wow!

Step on no pets!
________I did?


Yuan Changming edits the online poetry blog and publication Poetry Pacific with Allen Qing Yuan. He has been nominated for a number of Pushcart Prizes.

Antigone: Of Revenge

A poem by Geoffrey Heptonstall


In all her urgency she ventured.
The world beyond the world she knew
was there for the curious kind.
And promises, so loosely bound,
dared to defy expectations
of the cautious claims
that had no right to her mind.
Considering every verity,
she heard what was to be
no more than evasion.

Hers was a truth transforming.
She spoke of restoration,
of changes to be made
in cartographies of the antique.
Moving by implication
into an audacious child,
so unusual in her need
to be undefined.
an available reality, she prayed
in the silence between storms.

Her zest was tempestuous fortune,
and so persuasive the means,
her qualifying mercy
of behaving badly
all for the good of all.


Geoffrey Heptonstall’s novel, Heaven’s Invention, is available in hardback and paperback from Black Wolf. He has recently had his writing published in Scarlet Leaf Review, The London Magazine, and The Global Dispatches.

Diffusion / NBA Finals, 2016

A poem by James Croal Jackson


Pacing around the bar crowd, watching
the Cavaliers transfer heat to one another through
bullet passes around invisible perimeters, Kurt

and I keep drinking the strangers toward us.
“Gaseous diffusion,” he offers. “Alcohol
is only molecules bumping into each other.”

Our bodies generate more heat with every swig,
the atmosphere tense but warm through
our gullets. We chug chaos in the blur,

invite a thousand basketballs to bounce up
and down halfcourt. The players don’t notice
our dribbled words in soundwaves processed

a million different ways in the space between
earlobe and brain. Endlessly the spectators
chant go to sleep because no one we want

to talk to wants to talk to us, our zigzagged steps
combining with the sound of a team on the verge
of climbing a challenging mountain though

the peak is steep so we try nothing more
but the drinks that keep us moving. To stop
would be to hear the room’s haunting cheer.


James Croal Jackson is the author of The Frayed Edge of Memory. (Writing Knights Press, 2017.) His poetry has appeared in Hobart, FLAPPERHOUSE, Yes Poetry, and elsewhere. He edits The Mantle, a poetry journal. Find him in Columbus, Ohio, or contact him via his website.