Cynthia Bernard

ménage à trois


I’m in a long-term relationship with Insomnia now,
lucky me - quite intimate.
Sometimes he greets me at bedtime,
bringing his friend, the accordion player,
ready for us to dance a polka.
Other times he waits, creeps in at 3 a.m.,
quieter, juggling worry-balls,
tossing a few my way.

We’ve been monogamous, apparently committed,
though there’s been no discussion;
I hesitate to tell him, but suppose I must:
I’ve been flirting with the Nap-Man,
meeting up most afternoons,
and I find he’s quite irresistible.

Ken Wheatcroft-Pardue

What I Did on My Summer Vacation, 1979

12 states, 2,000 miles. First, I took a driveaway service

car, that broke down near Terre Haute, tattooing a red

puddle of transmission fluid on I-70. Spent that night

in a gas station parking lot, curled up freezing in the

back seat. Then I hitched to Ohio, passed the Indianapolis

500, the Goodyear blimp lapping above the red bricks.

A few days later, stuck in a semi inching through the

Windy City. White CB users spewing racist epithets.

Trucker with a sheepish grin, shrugs his broad shoulders,

“Sounds like Chicago.” That night I spent in the Miller

Brewery in Milwaukee, free beer in the breakroom.

12 states, 2,000 miles. A few days later I was driving all

night with three Austrian college students from Minneapolis,

who for some odd reason were just crazy about popcorn.

Then crossed Missouri with four good ol' boy electricians

from Alabama, Jim Beam drunk as skunks, belting out

“Tuesday's Gone.” Just lucky I didn't end up dead or deaf.

12 states, 2,000 miles.Then when no one would pick me

up in Alamogordo, caught a Greyhound through New Mexico.

Then from Albuquerque, I took a 12-seat Cessna that barely

scraped over the Sandias.The woman next to me, her fingernails

digging into my arm, blurted, as lightning flashed and the

plane rocked back and forth, “Sure as shit, we're all gonna die.”

Daniel S. Irwin


I walk in
During a hold up
At the gas station.
The robber
Sticks his pistol
In my face.
So, I says,
“Go ahead and shoot,
He hesitates.
He figures I’m just
Another crazy guy.
“Fool, I said shoot!”
He pockets his gun
And runs out.
Failed robbery.
Kids won’t eat today.
I’m called brave
By some and stupid
By others.
Actually, it’s neither.
I’ve been so depressed
That I’m ready to
End it all.
I’m just too pussy
To do it myself.


Count Me In

I’m pretty stiff in the mornings.
Sleepin’ on the ground ain’t
As comfortable as it used to be.
Maybe it never was.  Bones ache.
Still, I like that crisp morning air
And that first cup of killer coffee.
I miss my old horse but this here
Youngster will do with some trainin’.
Getting’ too old for this but I always
Wanted just to be a cowboy.  Never
Made my fortune but earned enough

To get by, to get my gear, to party some.
Most of my compadres are planted
Six foot under now.  Guess there’s
Still room for me when the time comes.
Could have found me a woman to keep
But this life makes that hard ‘cause
There’s always one more round up
And you can always count me in.

Ken Kakareka


I have a pain
in my mid-section –
possibly my liver.
Cirrhosis got Kerouac
and the 12-gauge
got Hemingway
before Cirrhosis
The ways out
for writers
are bleak
in most cases.
I should probably
put down
the bottle
the same way
we need to
put down
this narrative
about writers
killing themselves,
It’s a tired,
old narrative
and the people
looking in
from the outside
don’t understand
that it hasn’t
been written
by writers
It’s been perpetuated
by pop-culture vultures
who need something
to feed off of.
Fate can be
a cruel bitch
who always gets
her way
and writers succumb
to her lure
which keeps
the narrative
when it’s
iconic writers
we should’ve kept
alive instead. 

Michael Lee Johnson

I Age

Arthritis and aging make it hard,
I walk gingerly, with a cane, and walk
slow, bent forward, fear threats,
falls, fear denouement─
I turn pages, my family albums
become a task.
But I can still bake and shake,
sugar cookies, sweet potato,
lemon meringue pies.
Alone, most of my time,
but never on Sundays,
friends and communion, 
United Church of Canada. 
I chug a few down,
love my Blonde Canadian Pale Ale,
Copenhagen long cut a pinch of snuff.
I can still dance the Boogie-woogie,
Lindy Hop in my living room,
with my nursing care home partner.
Aging has left me with youthful dimples, 
but few long-term promises.

Rob Plath

upon closer inspection

once in a while
one of my
demons dies
& upon examining it
close up
i notice its claws
more resemble
the hands of my angels
& when i fold them
they’re soft
& warm
& i place a daffodil
in them
like i should’ve
long ago

Alan Catlin

The first time I

See them together
I think maybe
I’m seeing double,
identical twin
brothers under-
dressed for sub-
zero weather,
killing time waiting
for the 5:13 A.M.
bus, drinking a six
of the cheapest
beer sold at corner
24 hour across
the street, trading
hits on massive
roll your own
doobie, then taking
one last piss in bank
parking lot.
I want to ask them
if they’re reporting
to jail but I know
it’s much worse
than that, they’re
going to work.

J. Ryberg

Cigarette Burns in the Sheets


There’s part of me that really likes a good cheap

motel room with a small patch of peeling wallpaper,

a few cracks in the ceiling and one or two cigarette

burns in the sheets and pillow cases, here and there,

maybe a couple of shady characters pimping and

dealing from a room around back. As long as there’s

a liquor store, near-by, cable TV and hot water,

then I’m good.

An Old Courtyard


A clock ticking in

a dead man’s room, a feather

stirred by a cool, damp


breath of wind through the

open French doors that lead to

an old courtyard with


cracked tiles, over-grown

with what, no doubt, must have once

been perfectly cared-


for flowers, shrubs, trees,

hedges, and even an old

water garden pond,


where a few frogs, koi

and an ancient turtle can,



still be found, lurking,

as must a pride of peacocks,

somewhere on the grounds.


Livio Farallo

terminal couple


black as a wine cellar

holds me motionless

all day;


as a doddering sun

with melted ear

and melted eye can still

debride lips

of a kiss and scrape

like a dermatologist.


i am swindled

once more

of your heroin

though i keep the plunger down

like the taproot of a fir tree.


i am grounded like a moa

though the feathers in this head

are my spirit’s imprisoned fingers

squeezing through burlap.


somewhere in this bravery is the iron grip to

weigh against eggshell.

somewhere, the bravery to wipe the silent bottoms

of your shoes.

somewhere are the wild cancers

that will burn us up in one night.


after gallows

in the end

i won’t know

how deep are the graves

in the cemetery

or why

they grin at all –

why winter gives

birth to an ice age

and picks its chipped



there is a value

in warm rain

nourishing a river:

sound lightly dripping;

sound of an axe raised through misty breath;

sound of an exhausted fox;

sound of a snake pit;

sound of that sad scandinavia.


i say, in an english voice,

that little stem on your beret

is a twisted chimney not

letting out the smoke:


i say this as memory

seeps through walls


all over the floor.

i work at tying this sack

of human reasoning

tight as

a moneybag

fills a hole in the ground:

as blood does

a split lip.


in the end,

a retrovirus mutates,



by something smaller.


water is everywhere -

that knuckles sing like braille

on drowning fists

cannot be for lack of breath and,

though a sperm cell always carries

a red rose,

in the end,

an invasive shower

washes it all away. 

Brenton Booth

A Poem for the Old Man Without a Name

I’d get home late
every night
and all the lights
were off in his
building except
I’d look at his 
window as I 
walked up the
fire stairs to get
to my apartment
his building was
next to mine
I was always tired
from work
I’d watch him
sitting on the edge
of his bed with a
whiskey glass in 
his hand watching
looking like he didn’t
have a worry in the 
like every single second 
meant something 
every night I came 
home from work
he’d be there
with the light on
in the exact same
it was as if he were
waiting for me
to restore some hope
to things
after another completely
wasted day
though for the past 
week the blinds have
been closed
and light turned off
today the blinds were
all the furniture
was gone
and tools sat in the 
spot he used to sit
he is gone
no one thinks of
him anymore
no one cares
I care
he was my light:
I miss that light.