Alan Catlin

The ones with no souls

always come in pairs,
making the night club scene
their own personal floor show,
wearing wraparounds so dark
they need guide dogs to find
a free place at the bar, wear
too much makeup and a scent
that lingers for days after they go.
He wears a too-tight black,
silk shirt that would have looked
ridiculous on someone ten years
younger than he was and his woman
looks like a fashion plate left behind
at a banquet in the 30’s someone
forgot to clean up after, cloaked
in the fur of an endangered species
that slides down her bare shoulders
to reveal designer logo skin art
that does everything but glow in
the dark. It’s a tossup which one’s
nose will begin to bleed first, given
how much abuse their sinus cavities
have been made to endure.
Manage to order something that goes
unheard in the din of the band and
the strangled-by-professionals voice,
imitating songs, she has no business
listening to, much less singing.
Barely notice their bartender’s choice
cocktails in front of them, in fancy
glasses, you could have poured expensive
poison in, and it would have been acceptable
as long as the look was right.
They sip and smile, content in their
self-contained vacuum sucking everything
into the black hole of their lives;
all of us there the same, even me,
behind the bar, maybe even, me worst
of all because I knew better and I still
didn’t care.

J.J. Campbell

a little too easy for me
my therapist worries
that the suicide poems
come a little too easy
for me
that makes me laugh
she should be worried
how hard the love
poems are to come
to me
death is a natural ending
any hack can string
a few words together
on that
love is some fucking
mystery that seems to
slip away from me like
a hardened criminal
i know, it all comes
back to a shitty

Matt Borczon

I called home

At four

o clock

in the



of the

nine hour

time difference

between Afghanistan

and the

United States

it was

winter in

the desert

no snow

but a

cold like

you never

feel off

Lake Erie

I pass

a group

of village

elders sleeping

on the

ground in

light robes

and turbans

In front

of the

hospital their

family members

are staying in

peaceful looks

on their

faces as

they lay

on frozen

rocky ground

When my

wife answers

the phone

she always

asks what

are you


about today

and I

say through


teeth that

I don’t

think anybody

is tough

enough to

take over

this country.

Sayani Mukherjee

As Love Is

My two penned casual curls
Homeland a borderless journal
People’s miscommunication
Haunted blinds
God's own country has fallen asleep
Outside glimmering
Shaping of thoughts
Kites toys pencils crayon days
Love’s beauty has its own bliss
Torrential calmness
As a fish out of water
Gets water
A splashing lyrical rhythm
No boundaries
It floats
Like mothers are mothers
Like children are sweet
Candies soft touched skimmed milk
Love’s beauty
In God’s own country
Only bliss of rain
Amidst out of love
Only Love pours.

Francesca Leader

Treat My Body Like an International House of Pancakes

Pretend the pages of my menu are sticky
and you don’t care why,
don’t give one single fuck
about hygiene
because you know what you came for,
and you’re

Make me feel as good
as on those all-night college nights
imbibing bottomless coffees
and secondhand smoke that smelled
like love,
one plate of hashbrowns split
five ways.

Flip me.
Bite me.
Soak me in syrup.

You, of all people,
should know
what I like.

Nicholas Ravnikar

Early Phantasms

impressed as the sidewalk
by anthills raised among
cracks and old names
and rock-shaped pocks 
the tulips peck the sky 
with tight mouths too sweet 
for the shaded passion
these some trees entail 
a dazzled train of footprints
glows to lake horizon 
past street signs morning 
leaves us too drunk always
to read right, the taste
of eggy sewage treatment 
air hung in everybody’s nose
just you wait until daylight 
jumps over the shoreline trees
to read the petals open
in the privacy dawn assumes

Morley Cacoethes

Three Haikus

Christian charity…

all these cereal boxes

and no milk to drink

At the soup kitchen,

I share my tuna sandwich

with the alley cat.

a white spot after

seagull wings over the lake…

stone Buddha’s third eye

Ben Newell

go the distance

A liquor store

has opened within walking distance

of my apt.

There was a time when this

would have been cause for

major celebration/jubilation.

But no longer—

These days I’m sober

and hoping to stay that way.

Lest walking distance becomes

scuffing, stumbling, tripping, veering

into the path of a speeding dump truck


Chris Butler

The below was the final poem in my published book Artsy Fartsy (Alternating Current Press, 2012) dedicated to the memory of my grandfather, Jim Johnston, and this poem is now dedicated to the memory of his wife and my grandmother, Barbara Johnston, who passed away this morning. 

everything is written in pencil

The eraser
the paper,

blank canvasses
with the graphite
ghosts of my

until my skin
off dead
tree cells

and brushes the
consequences of
thoughtless actions

Randall K. Rogers

The Corn (Has Gone Bananas) continued…

Chapter 3

Jim was a wry character. He knew of the nothingness from which he came. He surmised God. Jim believed wholeheartedly there was only one planet with life. Earth. With all its frailties its strengths far out weighed them. For Earth, the only planet of and for life, intelligent, sentient life, is the home of and protected by God.

Call it whatever. The thing is it is there. Or is it? Jim knew of fickle reality. He knew of dreamtime and his sisters and brothers among the dead. What he did not know were the vagaries of a world built upon and suffused, saturated, with the popcorn molecule. Jim smiled. “This ought to be fun,” his comment, as he stepped for the first time on the butter swirl. The first step on the yellow kernel road to unlimited explosion.

Jim was old. Had a wart once he tried to pass off as a skin tag. Heck, that was thirty years ago. Cut it off, Jim did, with a swift flick of a razorblade. Dang near cut his ear off too in the process. Jim loved blood, medical operations, brain salad surgery. When he stepped off the porch it was all gone. Vanished. Yet the transformation had already begun. Literally, the once brown dirt, was becoming bright yellow. Jim looked up. His rock and roll kicking in he exclaimed: “The sun’s not yellow, it’s a chicken!”

Immediately, however, there was danger. Bright, brutal, danger, laughing, dancing in fluffy, white corn clouds. The first step Jim took, upon this new golden-ing land, kernel snapped back at him. Jim couldn’t believe his old cowboy rerun lovin’ eyes. Yet Hop-a-long hopped right in. That’s Jim, I mean, he found himself in an old time, old fashioned, copper corn popping kettle, on the midway, in Kansas City, Missouri, circa 1950. His kernel, his popcorn molecule/atom life was about to heat up, and get interesting.

No longer eighty, the man had become a kernel of popping corn. A living, breathing life force encapsulated, in a kernel of popcorn. It was a dangerous volatile life. Going off, when ever, whenever, like a spoiled Arab sheikh shrieking hours on end, for booze.

Jim settled in. Once you hit eighty, he surmised, in Shiva’s worldview it’s bango – and you’re a kernel ready to be popped, in an old fashioned corn popper in an old revitalized theater in a small town! “Is it?” Jim asked. “Is it a small town in Iowa? Perhaps?” Jim the popcorn kernel, in Iowa, questioned.

A voice then, seeming came out of no where. “It stands for – ‘Idiot Out Walking Around’.” The voice was firm, didactic. It was the voice of Jim Baker, televangelist, sans wife Tammy Fay.

Jim answered Jim. Farmer to former televangelist. Jim to Jim. Corn kernel to failed God swindler. Husk to humerus. “I know,” said farmer Jim, “and that’s funny. Ha.”

“Tammy Faye, is no longer with us,” said tele-Jim, shedding a tear from a wholesome jaded swindler’s eye. It was odd, disembodied voice, corn kernel human, about to be popped, in conversation, in a small town in Iowa. Iowa meaning ‘Idiot Out Walking Around.’

“You don’t say,” said Jim. Jim started feeling his young kernel roots. Dang near hopped out of the brass corn kettle cooker! And into the fire! Yow the young corn life! The pop corn life!

Now, being a kernel wasn’t easy. Jim knew this almost instantly. Ah the toils of young Werther! Caramel corn, that is, “Werther’s Original: Caramel Corn.” No, Jim was no young Werther. He was however, of extra-large caramel type origin. A large, fluffy popcorn hybrid, perfect plain, buttered, or, excellent for making caramel corn. Caramel corn, the corn of kings. Rumored to have been placed – un-popped – in Pharaoh’s tombs.

Those were famous kernels. Kernels in time. Important corn, of the popping variety. Not since the Mexican jumping bean craze (hoax) has any leaping, vaulting, blasting high flying vegetable been so popular. This title the literal Flying Dutchman of veggies, popcorn, held, indubitably, throughout the post-contact remainder of the world. Redskins had been “dodging the corn” as they put it, for as long as braves had been tee-pee creepin.’ Over ten-thousand years since they boogied across the Bering Strait. From Mongolia.

Indigenous, native Americans is B.S. Who puts out this stuff? Lies equate with untruth. Untruth equals death. Peligroso, danger. Jim knew there and then giving his life for the ‘pop’ – what any kernel worth salt was wont, nay expected, to do in oil or dry heat, was not for him. He was different! he’d lived eighty years as a farming human before…before the corn Shiva change. He loved corn! Nursed it from seedlings, reveled in the golden shucked ears, the full grown, and glorious, kernels of which he was one.

But he was unpopped. He’d had no fluffy child, not yet been married to heat, and orgasm explosion. Then food stach death in wonderful chemical life interchange. Living, the glory of corn, in proud plump popped fashion. Couldn’t get any better for any young kernel. Kernel that will hustle, stay hungry, on the ball – not the pointy end of the husk. If you know what I mean. No, Jim, as anthropo popcorn kernel or formerly eighty year old living, farming man, wasn’t dumb.

Soon kernel life would be over. Jim would pop, and do his duty saving lives – filling some kid’s greasy lipped face at the kiddie matinee, on Saturday afternoon. Worse, the movie? “Bedknobs and Broomsticks” starring Angela and Jody (couldn’t tell back then) Foster whom Jim liked. For at least sixty of his man-life eighty years. Before he became living corn.

Who knows about consciousness, anyway? It is foolish to think only humans and animals think. Nobody knows why or how consciousness exists, only that it does. Communism does not want to address the issue. It exists and must be dealt with, its view. The idea of God being part of an upholding superstructure that continues the economic arrangements of a more controlling base.

For in Communism God is replaced by man. And many ultimate reasons for ‘why’ must go by the wayside. Man is responsible for God, not the other way around. God is powerless in their view, yet the force of belief and religion continues, even in Communist run, so called Godless states. Furthermore, the famous Thomas Theorem in sociology holds if an individual or group believes something to be true, they will act as if it is true – regardless of the consequences.

Therefore people secretly believe, or want to. Consciousness is what it is. It may occur according to certain defining economic conditions creating its character, but it occurs nonetheless. In essence why we are conscious is unknown. Up to the interaction of certain chemicals in the head. Arranged for now by the unknown. God, Shiva, decides.

Here for argument and this story God-Shiva creates new consciousness. For going a step further, is not that what God or religion is, revelation, from beyond, from the known unknown? Or God?

As is said nothing new under the sun, ‘cept revelation.

Jim’s corn kernel head, the bulbous end of the fibrous kernel wall, swam with thought. The heat and oil around him was rising. Soon he would write and orgasm in chemical pure corn goodness fluffy blast. He’d get on his ‘blast face’ and crow in the delight of spastic forceful erection-ejection. He’d be darn near hull less after that, a bulky preening food source looking to be eaten before he went bad. Life, as Jim knew it, would in total glory be over. Nothingness and hope would decimate him as disembodied non-conscious energy. Free-floating – meaning lost, abandoned, and without body consciousness-less energy, would be Jim’s fate. A fate worse than no butter for the hot fresh popped corn on a Saturday night – when “Terms of Endearment” is on!

Jim’s kernel head thought fast. Seconds before bursting in pop orgasm life source he leapt from the copper corn cooker. He missed a large salt-shaker, wielded by a pimply teen in movie house usher uniform. The teen was attempting to salt the freshly popped corn as it fell from the brass corn popper. The aroma from the contraption, the oil salt and snapping popping corn, could make grown men cry, women swoon, children salivate like Pavlov’s dog. And the freshly popped were all very proud – yet life over – former kernels. Jim wasn’t one of these.

Kids, grown-ups, nanny’s and sitters’ lined up. Dollars by the fistful exchanged. Buckets of the buttered fluffy white. To grabbing hands and gobbling mouths. Crushing the sublime satisfaction out of the popped corn, the movie crowd, seated now or still milling in the lobby – could not help but be awash in aroma-therapy. Freshly popped therapy, fresh from the exploded (and flavor packing) hull, the exoskeleton, if you will, of the young organism. Fresh from the ear, or kernel stored, satisfaction guaranteed.

There were a few old maids. Tough kernels that no matter the heat, precedent, coaxing, shaming, nor tradition, refused to pop. Jim viewed them. Prior to what indeed down thru history has come to be known as “Jim’s Leap” from the tumult of the corn popping agitating steam powered brass kettle Jim viewed an ugly reality. This was mostly pre-O.R. and A.P. in corn popping history.

That’s pre-Orville Redenbaker and pre-Air Popper. Back to the dark ages of Jiffy Pop, shaken pans over the burner. A time when old maids ruled the roost. A primitive time in corn’s popping history. An era when the choice of burnt corn smell or unpopped old maids often made popping corn untenable for more than a few non-not white tribes. Even when butter was available. Ha! Go figure.

Let me, your obsequious author, here describe the object of our concern. The old maid. In cornology, popping corn terminology, she is a noxious beast. Hardened to the core. Neither fire, nor heat, Superman herself, could make this noxious bird fly. One kernel, or more, a whole race of them – forged in hell. Early man dealt differently, given just evolve-designed corn. For that is how God willed it. God willed the design to evolve. Everything’s yin yang, ‘cept the one.

The one you’ll see. If you haven’t seen it already. In it’s multitude.

Early man smashed the corn. In truth it was a spark from the smashing of the maize, the corn, that first set popcorn off. In China, leading to gunpowder arms and foreworks. The yellow in corn, you see, in the mature kernel, is a peril, for the popping kernel led to gunpowder but we are not sure how. After all, the color yellow, in terms of its designation as cowardice, is not intrinsically fearful. Nor necessarily explosive. Sulfur, however, as a yellow is. Much like the yellow hue of pressure driven hulled popcorn.

The old maid is a liar. She is the mother (and father) of lies. In the popper itself, Jim observed the behavior of these noxious beasts. In the kettle, as the corn kernels slid down toward the heat source, these old maids – Jim was rattled just remembering – their evil, their fright. The Maids scrunched away from the heat source, out of the most oil. Their blackened desire to live – not to pop – showed them for the cowards they are.

These kernels, the Maids. When they neared the heat source, in hot oil, sliding toward glorious pop and exit of the machine, as new birth, free popcorn. Proud, flying into perhaps a freckle face kid’s mouth. Greasy lipped as it may be. No, these Old Maids, pushing, easing, scrunching their nasty husk bodies, unpopped, away from the heat, away from the hottest oil, the pop and exit from the popping maching were subsequently pushed back. Stronger, more tradition bound, and dare I say it, more moral kernels, strained toward the heat source, glory popping, and flight into an awaiting eager human most often mouth. These greater kernels pushed the Old Maid, the coward kernels, out of the way, going to heat and pop nirvana, leaving the coward kernels, burnt, unpopped, yet alive.

These Old Maids were coward kernels. Like spinster women, unpopped, nasty. These damaged kernels were old. Refusing to pop, indeed quite afraid of the act or orgasm of the tradition-bound pop, these kernels, as the lepers of old, could with their grotesque charring butter-burn oxidizing smell, ruin a whole batch of medium white. Perhaps the most favorable kernel type for the serious corn pop connoisseur. Yet the Old Maids had wisdom. Were well known for it. An evil wisdom, a knowledge of things, secrets, corn – maize – should not know. The Old Maids were vilified for this esoteric grain knowledge. They were experts on the highs, the lows, the foibles and emperors’ secrets of great corn. Historical corn, which meant popcorn. Because in the corn world, exists a strict hierarchy: anything non-popcorn doesn’t count. The pop is everything.

Cows eat regular corn. Corn fed heifers, Seen at any high school Friday night basketball game. In Iowa, or as it is also known Stacey-ville. The trailer park queen, reigns supreme. Three kids and an ex-husband, a felon, current home; the monkey house. Popcorn was always more than this. First Nations people knew this. Indeed, from as far back as the Fertile Crescent, people had worshiped the corn.

It was mystic analysis of the ‘pop’ threw reality mongers off. Jim learned fast in kernel life all knew. Within hours of being husked Jim spoke to – related to – his fellow kernals. Jim thought it must be his earlier sociological training. Or, perhaps, Jim thought, some strange Swedenborgian influence, on his Swedish mother’s side. Jim’s mother was a so-called black swede, meaning Caucasian-Swedish with jet-black straight hair. Jim thought blacks historically had to be friendlier in Sweden. Due to hair racism.

Jim as popcorn was really no different. A friendly husk, among bagged members of similar type. Medium white. The finest white kernel popcorn available. Some, old timers, called it popped gold. It was rumored to make women swoon – a good batch pop-pop-popping away. With the joyous smells. The dancing, tumbling, flying, emoting corn! Praise! Praise the corn!! Jim’s medium white husk cried!

Yet there was more. The ‘pop’ of this wondrous corn, this popcorn, had more than scientific value. Turns out, and Jim knew this, indeed found this out when he and his bagged kernel (medium white, best in the world) compatriots were poured pell-mell, again by a teenager, into the popper. Jim, and the other kernels, in this imminent popping situation, knew that time was short. Nervousness, with naked fear, loosened communication strictures. Kernels babbled in God-given fear for their gymnosperm lives.

Heat, and burning oil will do that.

Jim learned secrets that day. For on the way to popping, hearing the last words of many popping kernels of corn, Jim saw the Maids. Learned immediately why the Maids had the secrets. With the popping kernels babbling, confessing corn secrets, on their way to the pop, eager to pop, feel great, and do their traditional foodstuff popcorn duty; on their way to pop and exit the corn popper the tradition bound eager-to-do-their-duty kernels pushed the lollygagging old maid coward kernels hanging back out of the way. “Satan, get behind me!” they yelled at the blackened beasts.

The good sacrificial kernels pushed the evil coward kernels out of the way. As the good kernels, all wholesome and white, in Jim’s instance, funneled toward the heat source in the copper pot, in the movie theater, sliding in the hot golden oil, to pop, as this happened Jim viewed an ugly aspect of popcorn life. The old maids were pushed to the back of the popper. Where the heat and oil were least.

Jim had seen enough. He flexed the molecules of his husk body. Pure collagen fiber husk flexed, and sprung. Flea-like Jim flung his body, his kernel, as the top of the popper flew back a second. A second or two later in the copper kettle pot he would have popped. As it was his furrowed husk brow and simple kernel face was covered with hot oil.

Jim rested. On the candy counter at the movie house concession stand. He ripped the edge of a napkin off. When he wiped his face, he noticed the Old Maids. Leaping, flexing hull launching, unpopped, teeth-smashing hard and stony, charred oily and gross, into the innocent and fluffy popped corn. Is all Jim could think, as he stood unpopped whole kernel strong on the candy concession stand counter, next to the salt-shaker, was ‘caveat emptor.’ Or “buyer beware, Old Maids within.”


Yet these same Old Maids told a heck of a tale. It was almost as if instead of popping, like eunuchs of old they knew intimately the truths of the kingdom. And they talked.