Ryan Smith

women, wearing
combos, working
office blocks, insist
on playing
ms haversham with

–England? My son would never leave Texas

it invites One
to reach
for the nearest
plated letter
opener and
insert it
hilt first, through the

dank and dung-coloured sockets.

She’ll soon find
scrambling about on
all fours]
it’s a might trickier
to pose those
trying to get
good purchase
on the
sharp end
the implement.


Malerie Yolen-Cohen

I had insulted the camel’s feelings, which wouldn’t have happened if the animal were a guy. But Marie had all the emotions of a thirteen year old girl, and when I blurted, “eeewww – that drool is disgusting,” she turned her back and walked to the center of the pasture. Nothing I could do or say would win her back to the fence.

Ron chastised me. “You injured her ego,” he said, not knowing much about camels, but knowing a bit about fragile egos. “Do you think a little clucking and run-of-the-mill grass will sooth it over?”

“Well, it works for you,” I laughed. “And how do you know it’s a her?”

“There’s her name – Marie – singed into the fencepost.”

“How can you be sure that Marie is the camel’s name? Could be her owner, or some lovestruck local.”

“I just know,” Ron said. “She looks like a Marie.”

We were lost on the back roads of rural New York following Ron’s particular passion. In a world of storm and ambulance chasers, Ron was a moose chaser – a man who’d go an extra few hours on bumpy dirt roads to find those ridiculous looking creatures at dusk. We’d been looking for moose, but came across this camel, instead, all penned up and currently full of disdain for me.

If you looked close enough, you could see a sort of moose-camel resemblance, which is why, I guess, Ron felt compelled to stop the car and get out.

“I know why you wanted to make nice to this camel,” I said to Ron. “It looks so much like moose.”

Ron gave Marie, who was now slurping from a trough in the middle of the pen, a lingering look.

“Well, I can see why you might think so. She has the same kind of long, dopey face,” Ron said. “But camels look naked without the antlers.”

Over in the next pen, a few llamas were cavorting around a rise on the property obviously set up for exotic animals. But those doe-eyed sweeties held no fascination for him. He continued to attempt a mind-meld with Marie.

She glanced over, as camels do, with a haughty, bored-rich-kid stare and for a second, I thought I saw a flirtatious flicker, a wink. Ron was transfixed. Marie made her way back over to us, angling her furry rump in my direction while bowing in submission to Ron.

“She’s coming on to you,” I said incredulously. “I think she wants you.”

Marie thrust her massive head into Ron’s outstretched hand for a massage. Ron was happy to comply. He had once ridden a camel in Morocco, but those dromedaries were nasty spitters who’d just as soon bite than transport you. Marie was pleasing in comparison – to men at least. I think after my initial insult, she perceived me as a threat, or most likely a rival.

Females of our species have been picking up on Ron’s amiable vigor ever since we’ve been together. But this was the first time Ron had been seduced by a camel. As far as I knew.

“You’re just leading her on,” I commented. “She thinks she has a chance with you, and she’s spurning me at the same time.”

“That’s preposterous! You’re anthropomorphizing this animal,” Ron laughed. “She’s just responding to my soft voice and gentle caress.”

“Right. As I was saying,” I said.

“I can’t believe you’re jealous of a camel!” Ron grinned. This was one big joke to him. “You just hate the fact that she’s pissed off at you for disrespecting her drool which,” he said straight to Marie just to wind me up even more, “is so very attractive.”

He said “so very attractive” in a cooey, baby voice. Marie’s ears picked up and her eyes widened. Her droopy lower jaw descended as if she were preparing to say something.

“Well, Marie,” Ron finally said. “You’re a nice girl but you’re no moose.”

The camel responded by chewing on a few pieces of hay absentmindedly, fixing her large brown eyeballs on her newest darling. It was if she were willing herself to grow antlers – to be more like the girl Ron wanted her to be.

I recognized the desire – the attempt to alter self so as to be more attractive to your beloved.

“Let’s look for the real deal,” I said to Ron, pulling him away from this imposter. “North – to the bogs!”



Stanley H. Barkan

As inevitable as death,
December comes
with snow and ice
rooftops, eaves,
crowns of trees,
The moon is wafer,
the sky black
with chalk-scrawled stars.
All the lakes frosted—
everyone can
walk on water.
Only the evergreens
retain their fierce grip
on the stuff of earth,
stretching towards Heaven.
White feathers fall—
geese arrow south,
honking, “Tomorrow!



Enaam Alnaggar
do not pass go

       discord is likely the single reason to stay in this metropolis,
over whose buildings and streets smog hangs, concealing, warm, toxic

               never has a place been so welcoming to artifice,
           occupation of many, livelihood of their lost fathers.
             thieves, swindlers unite falsely, beneath the haze.

                         plenty of honest fools reside here
                              and work tirelessly, trying to
                                 save bitter and blackened
                                           souls; we are

                                              given only



the poet Spiel
knots and ribbons

these silky ribbons
round your nipples
where the bruises were
these ohh so pretty bows
from christmas
and some you tie as slipknots
you tie a few in squareknots
these are the few you yank
draw tight
to bring the bruises back
to remind you he was there
that you have nipples
and in spite of his design
they are your own

not like
when he still had a tongue
to titillate their tips
possess them
make you keep them hidden
beneath rough garments
not even fit for an old hag

he intended
no christmas for you
and no thanksgiving too
he planned you’d sleep forever
with the night noise
of his blackened tongue
on your breath
perhaps nested in your careful hair
or as a lump
beneath your pillow
then dragging from your broken purse
like an afterthought
for your own roadkill
its swollen tip stilled
but forever teasing
at your nipples
where you now tie knots
with these pretty silky ribbons
from the christmas
he believed
he could deny you

and you see in giving thanks
it was his tongue
he bit off
not yours
and that knot he tied
fit his wretched neck

but why why why
in that same moment
did he waste the knot
he tied for yours
and if it takes these bruises
just for you to feel again
let it be with ribbons
pretty ribbons
tight knots
of pretty
christmas ribbons



Willie Smith

I stand under the sun in Seahorse Valley. Sweat to remember what I just forgot. Deodorant applied in a pattern reminiscent of the Tarantula inside the Large Magellanic Cloud. Feel it caked on, swamping pit hair like pity a whore.
Hop in the Ford. Shove a Chev aside. Crush a beetle. Step on it.
Hit the highway right through the center of the short of what term did I say my name is? Well… never remember directly. Now I’ve established character, hell – I answer to anything. So we don’t descend any further into this depression.
Swing the glasses onto the Cloud. Gawk at the Tarantula embedded therein. Drag me 180 thou lightyears to the heart of a star factory. Holy Genevieve de Brabant!
Decide to camp for the night in Goose Holler. Scream of a town inhabited by gophers and actual tarantulas fat as the head of God’s cock. You know – the cock that turns God on. Am I sounding cockamamie?
Hm… starts with an M?
The solution to this ice might lie with let go and float on the outer rim of Neptune’s toilet.
Enter the john. Interrogate myself in the damn mirror.
Spot my eyes are closed. That’s a kick – look in a mirror see your eyes shut tight. Don’t try this at home – might mean you are dead. In a story, of course, means you are dreaming. Especially when the lids twitch – see that?
Too bad. Well, I saw both balls twitch. Like mantises kicking out of cocoons. Turn that cock on God never quits! Some claim a black hole occurs when you turn the cock off completely. All the way to the right, or maybe it’s left… can’t seem to put this issue down…
Hey, baby – won’t you put me down. Show me up. Lay me out flat. Pull my plug with your mouth and a mouse click.
Make fun of me. Flip my corpse onto the fire.
Hire two crews. One to giggle, one to shovel. Strew my ashes to the multitude of maggots lying in wait out by the dump.
Rumplestiltskin? Has an M in it…
Wander into the kitchen. Heft a butcher knife. Hey, baby – put me down so I can carve your soul up. To live one must kill. In reality this fantasy won many, but never the last.
Hey, baby – put me down to spin you up, tight as yarn soaked liquor. Spirit our story to the crib. Hey, baby – put up with me, till that frailty when I beg you put me down. But right now, forget the rites: could you just put my name down on this scrap of asswipe?
(Seem to have ambled back into the john… that it, John?)
YES! John Brant! It’s like I goose myself! Here, let me have a gander – that what you put on the asswipe?
No? C’mon – lemme see. Just lemme open my eyes in the mirror let’s say five hundred blinks. What, OK – fifty. OK – five. Five blinks worth.
What did I say my name is? You can just tell me… mouth syllables if THEY might hear. They aren’t even here. It’s just you and, what did you say your name was – mike?
Dick? OK, Deadeye Dick – how the Jesus does a guy find his way out of Seahorse Valley? My wife and I have decided we don’t need to buy here. OK, Mr…. what did you say?
Jest ride one o’ them hippopotamuses square out of the potty? Suppose makes me feel too camp? Could I see a taste of that feel? That another star already – in the pygidium of the Tarantula? Holy Genevieve de Brabant – spare any sex change?
Poor Gen! Wrongly accused of cheating. Her husband, Eration X, some kind of fairy anyway. I’m a Boomer. That means I fuck everything up enthusiastically.
Exiled in the woods, Gen eats minnow roe, spider spatter, butterfly sperm. She made her bed in a nettle patch, anxious to demonstrate innocence. At length, more time than I have here to hang you by the yarn until enlightened, the false accuser exposes himself.
His Excellency castrates the loser. Tortures pervert into eating his own balls. The prince excels at cruelty. Loves vengeance more than Gen herself. Although he finally does get around to drilling the princess schizophrenic, and maybe that’s why my name really is, glimpse in slot machine flash: Millenial.
No last name. No name will.



Dan Mootz
Coming Home to the Berkshires

I’m not interested in Heaven.
When I die, I hope I end up in the Berkshires
With its clean air
and it’s great big trees whispering
“welcome home”
in their motherly way
Where I know I can find peace
in nature’s lonely company
Where I never must say “goodbye”
to friends who I have loved
but have lost along the way
Where I can sit forever
on an old stone bridge
covered in moss
watching the world pass before me
Where I’ll never have to bury my dog
Where I’ll never have to say
“if only there was more time”
Because in the Berkshires, time stands still
and you live the way you were supposed to live
Without any regrets



Dr. Ehud Sela

White egret: an absolute motion
from head to feet
as if a matchstick suddenly lit
a flame in white
mute as her cautious steps
silent as a child not yet born
more a notion
then a presence.
Like a cloud that reached the earth:
she walks
as if not there
her head moving
back and forth,
but then she froze
stillness of a stone
her beak a speeding arrow
her head vanished in the water
like a lightning lost,
soon, she sprung back
her prey was caught
a small fish swallowed whole.
Afterwards she flew away
carried by unseen currents
nature’s breath
a part of it she truly is
a part that we forgot.



Maris Hurt
The Cure to Mourning Sickness

It started with my stomach. The persistent gnawing feeling began in my dreams and would wake me in the early hours of the day. I woke, wanting to purge myself of this wretched feeling, and continued with my daily routine. The problem with mourning sickness was that it doesn’t just seize your guts, but clenches your heart. I felt every beat echo in my chest to my fingertips and temples. Everything I felt was questioned endlessly by my internal dialog. I hated it.

Everyday, every hour, the endless effects of this sickness marked every minute. The sickness – an effect of the all too quick and tragic loss of my lover, never let me feel anything other than the slow death of my self. My stomach gnawed constantly, my chest felt restricted from air, and my hands felt numb. I felt no reprieve of this cursed mourning sickness. Anything with the mocking images of prior living had the opposite affect on me – I wanted to die. Desperately.

One day, when the illness started to mock my thoughts, I came up with a possibly remedy: promiscuity. Each night I seduced another willing participant. At the climax of our evening activities I would escort them out of my flat. They would leave sated and I would feel hollowed. In order to enhance the physical activities with my partners, I introduced recreational drugs. The first substance I tried was cocaine. Although the drug was expensive, it helped increase my blood, my heart, and my mood. As I would exchange parts with my single-serving lover, I felt like I was a grounded bird. My head would soar, but my aching body felt like a sack of potatoes anchored to the ground. This was unacceptable; therefore I stepped up my home pharmacopeia and began dosing myself with “X”, the drug that shoots to your heart.

The “X” made every cell in my body vibrate with curiosity and sensuality. Even the hard, hot breath of my lovers would spin me into a level of ecstasy. During this period of my sexual magic carpet ride; I felt the physical and emotional of my sickness wane as I encountered the numbing sexual ecstasy.

Eventually, just like a cheap State Fair, my sexual substitution came to an end. My budget strained, I cut the night games, but continued the home pharmacopeia. This solution failed me. With carnal and emotional remedies failing me at the dazzlingly rapid rate; I believed that no help would ever arrive. I felt like there were no possible solutions, no cures for my tragedy. With no probable cure available for my pain, my guilt, my sadness, I felt the only choice left available was ‘the final solution’ – to join the cause of my mourning.

It was a Sunday. I took delicate white flowers to my lover’s resting place, and I felt the movement of angels flying away. I lay beside the earthen tomb.

It was at that very moment I drank in my death. The little shadows surrounded my vision, and as my life left my body. I felt the release of my mourning sickness. I joined my love, and left my mourning sickness behind in life.



Steve Meador
Things Gone Wild

ssshnip      ssshnip         ssshnip
snipsnip snipsnipsnipsnip       ssshnip.
Razor-sharp precision singing
a hedge pruner’s song from sunrise
to nearly sunset. Every day,
every spring,
every summer,
every fall.
Lopping delicate, fresh, new growth
that dared to reach for light,
or peek even a leaf’s edge beyond the tangled woodiness
of experienced stems. Horizontal creepers survived.

He trimmed the fifty, maybe sixty feet of hedge
to perfection
from the time he was fifteen,
then twenty,
then thirty,
finally, at thirty-five, when his parents died,
he got the house. There was new growth
in the dead silence. No more snip ssshnipping
bouncing off the peeling paint of houses,
no more time wasted watching him, no more bags
of clippings on the sidewalk for Friday’s pick up.
Twigs made a run for freedom, groping wildly
to scratch the cars that rolled down the alley.
Fuzzy buds belched their finery into the new horizon,
while the new owner watched, smiled
as he polished the inside of the kitchen window,
all day,
every day.

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