Alan Catlin

The only memento

from their marriage

was a large Plexiglas

bowl half-filled

with packs of matches

taken from restaurants

they’d eaten at,

“…though neither of

them smoked.”

Each pack represented

a memory of happier

times.

The, For Sale-Motivated

to Move, house had no

other signs of him:

No clothes

No pictures

No photo albums

No favorite pillows

No books…





I saw matches

from two places

I had worked at,

roughly ten years

apart. She noticed

me looking and said,

“I’ll throw them all

away when I go-

there’s no reason





to keep them now.”

We didn’t buy the home.

The price was right, but

the vibe was all wrong.

I wondered where

he was living now.

How it was she was

left behind.

Matthew Borczon

Bad beginning

When Tony

put his

father’s massive

butterfly collection

in the

microwave

it should

have been

our first

clue 

then

he laughed

like a mule

as his

mother wiped

the bodies

out of

the oven

looking like

tiny pieces

of onion

skin.





The almost Monk

out on

the state

game lands

a young

guy with

a buddy

and their

girlfriends

are trying

out his

new handgun

on the

shooting range

when he

suddenly turns

and shoots

the friend

and his

girlfriend

multiple times

on the

next range

a 67

year old

man sees

this then

uses his

22 pistol

to shoot

the young

man 3

times killing

him before

he can

kill all

his friends

in that

moment the

old man

is thinking

of 40

years earlier

in Thailand

kneeling in

a Buddhist

Monastery

praying for

clarity as

he decides

he is

not ready

to become

the Monk

he thought

he wanted

to be

he says

those prayers

again today

each time

he pulls

the trigger.

Ross Vassilev

My Father’s Ashes

by Ross Vassilev

The funeral home had a red carpet.

There was a wake in the main hall

for someone else’s loved one.

The funeral home director

gave me a red tote bag.

Inside was a small cardboard box.

Inside of the box was a plastic bag

with my father’s ashes.

The bag was heavy.

I said to my father

You’re so heavy, Tatko

but I didn’t mind.

My father carried me

when I was a child.

Now I was carrying his ashes.

I drove to my dad’s favorite park.

I parked the car and got out

carrying my father’s ashes

and a shovel I had just bought.

I dug a small hole

by the water’s edge

as best I could.

Digging the hole

in the tough, leathery March mud

was surreal.

I took out the plastic bag.

My father’s ashes were

small triangles of bone

with a few bigger pieces

the size of quarters.

I knew I should take them

out of the plastic bag

but I just couldn’t.

I put the bag in the hole in the mud

and covered it up.

I said

Goodbye for now, Tatko.

***

It rained

the next few weeks.

I went back to the spot.

The rain had opened a hole

in the plastic bag.

Water had got inside.

My father’s ashes now looked

like cigarette ash.

I picked up the bag.

The ashes were still just as heavy.

I poured them out

onto the earth.

I don’t remember

what I did with the bag.

I showed him the new cheap handgun

I had just bought.

Then I said

Let’s go to that other park you liked,

Tatko.

***

Snow has fallen now

where I left my father’s ashes.

I visit the spot

every now and then.

I don’t know why

since my father’s spirit

is not there.

My father’s spirit

is where-ever the angels

that he saw

took him that sad, cold day

in early March.

My father always told me

to sell his body

to a medical school

when he died.

It would’ve killed him

knowing that I spent

$600 on his cremation.

My father was sentimental

sometimes

but not when it came

to money.

There’s a lot of snow

everywhere now

and I have the rest of my life now

to remember the good times

and the bad—

to regret all the evil things he did—

everything I did—

to wish I could go back

and fix the past.

Now I’m left here

typing at my dad’s computer

thinking of snow

and remembering

a white hospital room—

cold of spirit—

where my father

always complained

that it was too damn hot

and all I can say is

I’m sorry, Tatko.

Nancy Byrne Iannucci

Watching Wicker Man

gave me the muscle

to ignore you,

delete your text messages,

pull you down

to a reedy ivy

path, bluebells

ringing loudly

in your ear,

the sun smelling

of sea between

your legs,

so sweet & innocent

as the scent of maple

wood smoke & 

prickly heat,

tickling your feet,

before you know

you’re the sacrifice

to the god

of Narcissus.

Howie Good

By One’s Own Hand

for Sundin Richards

We never met. I knew you only through the poems

that erupted from you like lightning from the muzzle

of a gun or that crackled and sizzled like smack when

it’s smoked. Now all that survives of you are disparate

shadows, shimmering echoes. Someone who knew you

better than me should have noticed you walking away,

collar turned up; should have stopped you before you

disappeared down a dark narrow street of dive bars

and drug houses and single room occupancy hotels.

Today would have been your forty-eighth birthday,

and Facebook, unaware  you’re dead, reminded me

to let you know I’m thinking about you. Sundin, I am.

Howie Good

Monster of God





It’s he who tears

holes in the sky,

confers the power

of life and death

on the disturbed

and the incautious,

murmurs approval

when a stray bullet

kills a 13-month-old

sleeping in a stroller,

squashes used souls

between his fingers, 

chalks the message

on walls and sidewalks

that if you don’t like

the fruit of heaven,

don’t shake the tree.

Coming to a Country Near You





My grandmother’s father

was a milkman, like Tevye

in Fiddler on the Roof.

He had a pair of horses

to pull his milk wagon. 

One horse was white,

my grandmother said,

and the other was red.

Russians took the horses

when they raided the village.

“They killed plenty Jews,”

my grandfather interjected

in his imperfect English.

My grandmother responded

the horses were beautiful.

J.T. Whitehead

Ophelia

My father does not understand a thing.

I would put your love inside of my mouth

If it meant silencing these doubts of mine.

You are everything.  Denmark is nothing.

How can you care less for love than for truth?

You God Damned fool.  Where should I draw the line?

Do you have to kill?  Must I go crazy?

We live so close to Germany.  And we

Live so close to the Ocean.  And I want

To be close, for you to crash like the sea

Against me.  I fear war.  And still I can’t

Avoid losing it. 

Why can’t you just . . .  be?

My father understands nothing. 

                        Nothing!

Denmark means nothing. 

                        You were everything.

Daniel S. Irwin

You Don’t Have To Be a Dog





You don’t have to be a dog

To get ‘the dog shit’ beat outta ya.

That’s just a figure of speech.

Like “suck my nuts”.  Well, no.

Now that one depends on

Who’s talkin’ and who they

Talkin’ to.  So ya gotta be sorta

Careful how you use that one.

Might end up in a situation

You hadn’t really planned on.

It all has to do with articulation

And rancor of the vernacular.

A loud mouth and a loose word

Could get ya in a world of trouble.

Now, Jim Bob say he’ll never use

The dreaded ‘N’ word ever again.

He called that one woman a

‘Nympho’ and she, and her wife,

Both pulled foot long blades on him.

Luckily, he escaped with his dearly

Precious jewels.  Lesson learned.

Michael Lee Johnson

Death Certificates

We all wait for our death certificates—

aging bodies, sagging arms, necks with wrinkles.

We drag our bodies around shopping malls

in all shapes, funny forms, walk

around in tennis shoes early mornings.

Don’t stretch out here too far.

Just get our groceries, see our grandchildren,

Lucky Charms, no witchcraft, but Jesus

finds our way home.

Jack Henry

the square 

a gaggle of kids squawk and chirp into the night air, 

smoke weed and wave at cops shyly passing by. 

 

tired and bored i sit down with them. 

a pretty girl, with long legs and spider tattoos, 

sits next to me, puts her hand on my shoulder, 

 

says, wanna get high? 

i say, i’m always high. 

she says, cool man. i’m Tammy. 

i say, wanna get warm 

 

she smiles, nods, says, ya cool 

and lets me take her hand. 

 

we walk across the street and up the stairs to the Hotel Arcata. 

strip naked, crawl into bed, and blissfully fall asleep. 

 

dinner out 

my kid and i sit 

in a beer hall 

wait on a waitress 

to take an order. 

 

kid uses the men’s room 

that’s a new experience 

transitioning 

i have to check it first 

to make sure it’s safe 

cuz shit happens in Arcata 

if you don’t how to act 

or where to go after dark. 

 

i tip the waitress big 

with money i borrowed 

from a dead-end 401k 

and she sneaks us 

into a live streaming 

of a local band. 

 

my kid knows the bass player, 

which makes sense. 

my kid seems to 

know everyone in Arcata. 

 

we get the boot 

after hanging around too long 

and walk outside, 

back into the cold night air 

where our breath lingers 

long into the night 

 

and Tammy walks up 

saying, hey baby it’s awful 

cold. 

 

 

eating a sandwich in a bar at a distance 

i wander into a dimly lit bar 

order a double diet and bourbon 

Ian places a tumbler in front of me 

10 bucks 

 

okay 

want something to eat? 

 

i order a roast beef sandwich 

and a side of tatter-tots 

 

Ian clears a spot 

on the other side of the bar 

sprays it down with 

disinfectant 

says, here you go 

 

Krystal Something 

brings a plate, sets it 

in front of me 

asks where i am from 

i say the Hotel Arcata 

she asks if i’m passing 

through 

 

i don’t know, i say 

i just don’t