Monday, January 30, 2012

How it Always Was

by Kat White

We laughed our way down Rue Decatur: storefronts cascaded with ferns, drunken sweaty tourists navigated cobblestone, and horse-drawn carriages provided percussion for trumpeting street musicians. I was between Beth and Laura, how it always was—like a study in contrasts. Headed to The French Market for groceries, the sole routine of my deliberately vagabond life was making Sunday dinner for my friends. Beth, petite and tan in plaid Capri’s, dark sprouts of chin-length waves with a rogue, and natural, blonde curl at her right temple. She was married and had two kids, a husband, and a retirement plan.
My waist-length, magenta curly hair was piled into a bun to counter New Orleans’ August humidity. I wore a sundress, like I always did in the French Quarter days. Tattoos spilled secrets down my arms, which were linked into my two friends’ sweaty limbs. Strangers had been known to stop us, ask Beth and I how we knew each other, sure it must be some story because we looked unlikely to ever cross paths. Beth and I always met eyes—her blue to my hazel, and said with grins tugging at the corners of our mouths, Oh, from way, way back. She was my oldest friend in the world.

Saturday, January 28, 2012


by Kat White

I found a snapshot the other day.
You in a strawberry red Polo shirt,
your right arm slung like a habit around my shoulders.
Me in a sundress,
grinning into your freckled neck.
Melting grape snoball, crushed ice and sugary syrup, in your left hand,
your hip in my right.
My red hair billowed about my shoulders like a threatening storm, one curlicue
lodged inside the collar of your shirt
Mouth wide, laughing into the camera with a purply tongue,
Overbearing sunglasses shield freckle cheek splatters,
(I tried to count them once while you slept: seven constellations worth).
A proper New Orleans mint julep green house with a balcony of ferns behind us,
Toulouse Street, it looks like.
We were happy.

This must have been taken before you told your brothers at Thanksgiving that I would never be gay enough but I sure knew how to eat pussy (I was in the bathroom and your words came through the air vent) before you called me a worthless drunken whore in our kitchen and heaved a ceramic mug at my head (you never did fix that dent in the wall) before I called you a possessive cuntrag and doused you in balsamic vinaigrette (homemade) before I fucked your hot brother drunk on Abitas (and my own restlessness) before your delicate girl hand thumped my face against the wooden fireplace mantle shutting and purpling my left eye after I came home smelling of sperm (your brother still sends Christmas cards) before I set your 1956 peacock blue Chevy Bel Air Convertible on fire (I only needed one good eye to find the gas can and my lighter) before I laughed through the smoke and explosion

because that’s when we weren’t assholes.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


 by Liz Minette

Somewhere now,
between the light
and the dark,
it seems we stand.
We may wonder
what to do,
where to go, and
what we will carry
for the next part
of our journeys.

Venus guides a path.

In her early season, she brings
a basket of light,
necessity for hope,
that increases as she rises
brighter and higher -
the dove seeking sweet grass -
days long and full
of potential that sustains.

Later she returns,

leading evening's cloth
which is woven some of
leaf mulch and wood smoke.
Each dwelling now
gives forth window glow,
a reflection
of the Goddess's eye
showing the way home.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Therapy Session Part 3

by R. Welch

[Read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.]

A reporter with a camera crew was in the hall and wanted to talk to me. I was taken out through a different exit and into a room they must have for people in these - these situations. No windows. No clocks. It didn't matter. I had fallen out of time.

The room filled with people. David arrived. With old Mr. Meyers and Shelly. And my buddy, Jack, the one whose invitation I accepted a few weeks ago. Jack was there. He was a rock for me. That night, and many others. He brought a bottle of Scotch and later, on our way back from a funeral home we'd found in the yellow pages, where I'd picked out three coffins - some joints. And I swear my sister arrived later that night, but she maintains she didn't get to New York until the following day. And Nina's parents. That was horrendous. Her father started having chest pains and her mother became hysterical. I wish I didn't have to remember those screams. She fell on the floor in the middle of the hospital hallway, screaming no. Or maybe that was at the morgue. You know, I'm not sure where we were, or what was taking so long. We were all there until very late, drinking and pacing and bumping into one another. I've no idea what was going on. I was no longer living sequentially. One moment did not necessarily follow another.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Some Days

by Liz Minette

Janice from work
is two stairwells away
from a cigarette.
Shoulders in a black
pea coat already
hunched against her
ten below break,
she stops me on
the way up says
"Computers are down
again - everyone's
dusting their desks."

This is what we do -
when the system is down,
when we can't take phone orders,
when we can't. . .  -
all of us quietly
dust our desks.

Standing on swivel chairs,
precariously wiping the edges
of our cubicles; and then
the computers and phones reignite,
the static and pop so loud
and thick I can feel
it on my tongue.

The company has come
to life again.  The phones
start ringing like we've
had too good a weekend.

Janice is back with Deanna
who's worked here since
high school, twelve years.
Amid the buzz, Deanna complains
loudly that she has told off
yet another rolling drunk
from across the street
at the Shish Ka Bar.
Says she can't take
another smoke break
and be asked again for
a light, a match, cigarette,
does she have a quarter or why
is she so mean when she says no?

I am hearing, I am
typing in phone orders
for people who can afford
to call and buy office supplies.

My right ear is tender
from the phone headset;
my left hand feels limp
and useless as I always
key punch with my right,
fingers moving faster
over the numeric pad.

To distract, I envision
little silver parachutists
repelling from my fingertips,
landing and clicking each
number with precision.
They guide themselves with
red and blue threads,
like the kind woven
into paper money.

In reality, our reward
for another year with
this place is a nickel raise;
a dime if we answer more
phone calls than last year.

One morning I answered
my apartment phone
by the company's name.

One morning I dreamed
I didn't have to go into work,
that I could do whatever I wanted.
Sun shining down
two stairwells, I turned
to go outside - I turned
to name something.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Digital Poet

by P.B.

Words dancing like ballerinas on toe.

Body parts mingling in graceful movements.

This is our own private show.

Letters twist into sweet nothings.

Painting pictures with the stroke of a keyboard.

Questions turn to answers turn to marvelous somethings.

Through a vast pit of data I've found you.

Your words courted and wooed me.

A hidden face with a soul to look to.

So now I wait for your return.

From my dreams to appear before my eyes.

All the while, my curiosities churn.

Appear before me sweet modern poet.

Grace me with your elegant language.

My body craves it and my eyes show it.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Therapy Session Part 2

by R. Welch

[Read part 1 here.]

We got along, decorating that first place. I got hired by a good firm and Nina got pregnant. Which was some sort of miracle, because we hardly ever had sex anymore. I think we both had too much to drink one night and were so out of it when we got in bed, we were doing it before either of us had time to think it over. She was always waiting for me to make a move. Because somehow, to Nina, making love meant we were what we had been. She was the romantic to the end.

I was a total ass about Nina's pregnancy. There's just no other way to describe it. I thought it was a terrible mistake from the moment I found out, but she wouldn't even consider an abortion and I knew I had no right to insist, so it just became her thing, as far as I was concerned. I felt I'd made my contribution - the rest was up to her. It meant we had to move, and I wasn't happy about that, but our apartment was too small for the two of us and twins. Yeah, twins! Boys. My sons...

She wanted to move out of the city, "somewhere green" was the way she put it. But I wasn't about to leave Meyers & Stone - leave New York? For something like the "good of the kids"? Phrases like that were not in my vocabulary back then. I pointed out that millions of children had grown up in New York and turned out just fine, and so would ours. She didn't like the decision, but she liked the pronoun - "ours". It meant I was part of the deal, which up until then must have seemed uncertain. So she agreed, and we found a place on Central Park West with a view of the park. "Green enough for you?" I asked.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

I've Tried

by Richard Jay Shelton

Ah, you say,
A better life?
A fancy home?
Social rank?
You can have it.
I’ve tried God knows
I go
Another bottle

Put me down:
A park bench,
Green grass,
An empty street.

I will sink…
Drowning in the deep of my bottle.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Roses in January

by Liz Minette

Yes, they are real,
strategically placed
in a refrigerated,
mirrored flower case,
point of sale at the
supermarket checkstand.

I select a red dozen

from the pale plastic
container overstuffed
with many-colored bouquets,
and which holds less
than an inch of water.

These roses probably

journeyed many miles -
heavily packaged,
bumped and jostled
against each other -
yet my desire for roses
in January outweighs all
this as their dozen heads
nod like satin buddhas
in my arms on the way
to the checkout.

I take them home

and divide them
between two vases.

Six stems each for the

tall blue glass vase,
originally delivered
with a gaudy bouquet
of sunset-tipped
carnations and fake
autumn leaves.
We kept the vase
because its color
is like water moving
under ice.

The other six roses

fill a clay jar,
the one my mother said
always leaks.

Days later, the roses

have unfurled some
of their petals,
dropping them to the
foot of the jar where
they lay like wet silk.

They drop their petals,

some curled, blackened now
around the edges like
an effigy set afire,
placed in the river, sent
downstream in memory.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


by R. Welch

At a certain point each Spring,
after the confidence of crocuses has been confirmed
and the daffodils have come, and gone
the Cherry trees turn the streets where I live
into ribbed pink throats
and to drive them is to be swallowed,
like a lozenge on a tongue.

In a week, maybe less,
Atlantic breezes will raise swirling pink clouds,
or, if the winds should fail, leave
cars and sidewalks blanketed by a blushing snow.

Death should come like that.
I'd like to be lifted through pink veils,
into light.
Or, lacking light
lie down beneath a rain of petals
and quietly disappear.

Monday, January 9, 2012


 by P.B.

To your voice.
Your smile.
You’re my choice.
My addiction.
With your words.
Your touch.
The laugh I heard.
You’re my obsession.
By your kiss.
Your lips.
The moan, that hiss.
You’re my poison.
And my anecdote.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Disease

by Jarrett Fontaine

When you’re a teenager, summer is your life.
I had turned sixteen that June. The temperature never seemed to leave eighty perfect degrees. The sun would ignite the city on fire by day, with only the cold starry blackness to douse the flames hours later. My friends and I had become wild creatures of those endless nights. Lurking under street lights, loitering inside the 24 hour convenience mart, cruising until our cars begged us to stop. My parents thought I was working extra hours at the drive-in. I’d challenge my friends to childish shopping cart races through
Wal-Mart, spreading out our arms and seeing how many things we could knock off the shelves and into our carts.
The thrill of getting kicked out.
I remember the bitter rush of my first sip of alcohol. And then my second. I always drank just enough to get slightly buzzed. Parties are better when you remember them the next morning. In July, fireworks-induced smog swelled up over us. We’d breathe the smoke in like oxygen. Sidewalks played host to our firecracker wars. I liked to shoot bottle rockets directly at the city hall building, smiling as they popped and bounced off the brick walls. Little black burn marks dotted the side. There were lots of walls in my town, most of which I couldn’t see. It was a small town, the kind of place that if you were friends with a cop, the city was yours.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Therapy Session Part 1

by R. Welch

[To be published in three parts.]

Hello Doctor. My name is Adam. Adam Nilson? We spoke on the phone yesterday? I really appreciate you finding a way to see me so soon. I know you must have a busy schedule.

I've never done this before, so I'm not sure how it works. Do I just start talking? Do you want to ask me some questions first? Really? That surprises me. Well, I'm not sure, I guess I imagined you asking me questions and then...writing down the answers I gave. No, not dictation! Just the...highlights. I even came up with some clever sayings that would be...suitable for print! But just as well - they don't seem quite so clever anymore. So I just dive right in huh? Welcome to the deep end of the pool...
I'm kind of nervous. Can you tell?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Smelling the Flowers

by Salvatore Buttaci

How long had she been lying there? Looking up, she saw a tall tree poking at the August sky. Bright sunlight filling the spaces between branches and leaves nearly blinded her. One thing was certain: she was not dreaming.
She heard the cries of a far away bird. What brought her to this? She flexed the fingers of her left hand. Then she tried the right but she could not will her fingers to even wiggle slightly. If only she could turn her head from side to side. Tears pinched free from the corners of her eyes. Her lips beat mutely; inside her head a litany of prayers raged: Help me, God! Help me! I don't remember! With her good hand she touched her temple and came away with blood.
Stop it! We will not panic, she told herself. There's got to be an explanation. I was walking in the park on my lunch hour. I tripped. I banged my head against the stone walk. No. More like I was running down the street. Someone had a gun. I ran here to hide. Did he find me?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Janey's Turn

by Judith Mercado

I came up the companionway, soggy towel in hand. Why I thought hanging the towel on a lifeline would dry it out, I don’t know. Nothing dried in the muggy air of this stagnant Dominican Republic harbor.
My wife Janey stood in the cockpit, staring at a sailboat just coming into the harbor. I clipped my towel to the lifeline and held onto the forestay as I watched Janey.
She unhooked the VHF radio mouthpiece and spoke into it. “Stargazer, Stargazer, No Moss Here calling Stargazer. Over.”
Even with perspiration glistening on her forehead, Janey looked as if she had just felt the breeze of an air-conditioner. I, on the other hand, felt like someone who hadn’t taken a bath in six months, which wasn’t far from the truth. I hadn’t stepped into a real bathtub since leaving the Chesapeake to pursue Janey’s dream of living on a boat. It was a dream I first found out about upon my retirement as an international hydroelectric engineer.
I let my arm drop and headed for the cockpit. Face it, I loathed being in this tropical cesspool. I still couldn’t figure out how I’d let Janey talk me into this. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Sole Survivor

by R. Welch

You remember the moment with a clarity
it would take a new and better language to describe,
though not much after.
Just the long falling.
10 or 15 seconds of heat and light
and then, this void,
whose edges you've yet to discover.

Witnesses report you left a
trail of blackened feathers as you fell.
The long plume of smoke hung in the sky for days
as if the arc of your descent demanded a stillness
even the desert dared not disobey.

No one found the place where you lay,
in an arroyo, just beyond the charred reeds.
You ate insects.
Chewed lichen off bits of bark
and drank from a pool of brackish water
until those who came to rescue you
packed their vans and drove away.
It was on the banks of the vanished river,
beneath a cobalt dome of falling stars
you came to understand you were alone.


in the basement of some city whose name you can't recall
the detritus of your former self
rises from the floor in shapes that resemble
teaspoons and lampshades.
Tricycles and Tupperware.
But this is an illusion.
They are the cast of shells of a family of cicadas.
They are the bones of all that might have been.

thousands of miles away,
you have groped your way from day to night
and back to day.
The healed fractures have left a limp
And the burns have scarred your skin to a fine leather,
dark as coffee.
And you like the color!
You think it suits you.
You have fashioned tools from sticks and stones -
future fossils for the next age to ponder.
In fact, you picture all you see as a site
swarming with scientists, gathering their evidence.
You leave what clues you can.

Here is the crater where his body must have hit the ground.
There is the burrow where he slept
on this pile of petrified rags.
They will wonder how it is you came to this place.
What made you stay.
They will wonder how it is these things happen to people's lives.
How they soar. 
How they shatter when they fall.

Monday, January 2, 2012

It all goes on

 by P.B.

Take two steps back and look
Tell me what you see
This didn’t play out just like a book
There’s no happy ending
It all goes on

One foot out and you scream
It’s your way or no way
Are you mad or blowing steam
It’s not just you
It all goes on

You’re right and he’s wrong
That’s all you see
But he’s the one still standing strong
He knows the truth
It all goes on

He’s been here before
He’s got years
He never really knows for sure
But he knows in the end
It all goes on

He’s lost so much
But what’s he gained
Has he lost his touch
Or finally found it
It all goes on

When it all boils down
We’ll find our side
Look around
Loyalty runs deep
It all goes on

Take two steps back and look
Tell me what you see
Do you want what you took
When the small voice asks
Do you tell him
It all goes on