Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Submissions for the 2016 Editor's Choice Contest are now open!!

Sunday, February 28, 2016




We Draw a Bath

then erase it, paint stars upon the sky     then watch
as they raze the canvas.

We keep to ourselves
& are consumed by our loneliness,     each step we take

getting us to where we were going    one step too late.
Each song we compose

is impossible to sing.
Each war we wage     spawns a future conflict in its belly.

Each word we choose    reminds us of diction's limits.
We finally secure our freedom

but keep our chains in the closet,
& being certain of our mistakes,     we set to repeat them.

We discard our old friends    assuming we'll make new ones
but slip on our tongues

& fall victim to our sentences.
Burying ourselves in metaphors,    we reveal ourselves further,

how we're mountains     holding little sway over valleys
yet are still connected,

following the direction of our souls
without detecting them.  Each new accomplishment

take us farther from our beginnings.    Each god we invent
soon shows its restrictions,

& each calamity we survive
is a fleeting cause for celebration:     We close our eyes

but only see our eyelids;  & as hard as we swallow,
we hardly taste our pride.

                                  -- Jonathan Greenhause



Proust in the Park

Making my rounds, I saw him today
puffing on his pipe, tie pin
secure and talking to the squirrels
as if he owned the place.

His shoes were brightly polished
and if I looked there I could see
his face, intelligent, aristocratic
his hands delicate, his moustache

neatly brushed, top-buttoned overcoat
stiff collar, wearing a bowler hat.
He seemed to be memorizing
the names of the trees:  Red Oak,

Cypress, Norway Maple, Caucasian
Ash and his favorite, the Paper
Birch.  He stripped off the bark
began to write, noting the sky.

Light askance, he cataloged
every bird:  The purple thrush,
chickadee and lark, what a figure
he cut--so debonair--his patent

leather hair in place--I thought:
this must be his day off away
from the gossip of women and men
with their tiresome self-importance.

Observing the corrugated pond:
Lord and Lady Mallard the Shovellers
turning in tight circles like society
divas and debutantes.

How each Cedar Waxwing passes
along a berry to the next until they're fed,
like a cocktail party where everyone
demurely leaves their olive to the last.

How much to find in nature, what it
says about the man--how he must
return to dip his Madeleine in tea
and watch it melt away like pretense.

He passed the time looking at
his watch as though every minute
counted:  past, present, and future.
All time rolled into one tense.

               -- Michael Magee



Striking the Whale

"Ahab does not imitate the whale, he becomes Moby-
Dick, he enters into the zone of proximity where he
can no longer be distinguished from Moby-Dick, and 
strikes himself in striking the whale."

                        -- Gilles Deleuze, Essays Clinical and Critical

"but if I know not even the tail of this whale, how
understand his head?  much more, how comprehend
his face when face he has none?"

                        -- Herman Melville, Moby Dick

The monster rises and sinks in waves.
Smooth, round, bulbous mound

Ambiguous form rolls,
Protrudes from linen waves.

I stare from the darkness of the doorway.
I over-focus.
I strain.
I see only ambiguous form in the darkness.
I struggle to tear my gaze away from the heaving monster.
I step closer.
I am heaving.

Alien form,
Embedded in the gut of a familiar body.
It struggles to tear away from my mother's
Familiar body.

I stab solid fists into the heaving monster
In ambiguous darkness.

My mother screams.

I am heaving.

The monster thrusts my away,
The corner of the solid nightstand stabs.

I feel fluid movement spread over my face.
I face the alien form lacking a face.
I envision ambiguous movement of blood spread over fabric.

Fluid movement from my mother's
Vaginal opening.

We are heaving,

                      -- Elaina Anna Frulla



[beautiful, beautiful]

You would have put those words together
beautiful beautiful
as though the words were brush strokes.
I see you every time I see the blank white space.
You twist the screw of the easel top.
You step back.
You squint.
You see something that is not there
and you reckon with the canvas
the way a sculptor reckons marble,
leaning in as though you could hear voices
from the ordinary surface
telling your palette knife to pile the paint on.

I have a painting in my living room
with your signature,
a still life, a tablescape really,
that I found by accident
years after you had gone.
It is a mistake, I think,
because it is unfinished
and you slashed it with cerulean paint--
as if you had changed your mind before you were done with it,
crossed it out, turned it over,
painted the scene outside your window instead.

For years I hung the landscape, framed.
Then, one day, as if I heard the voices from the paper
I took the landscape, whose washed out watercolor shades
hesitated to declare themselves against the pale sky, from its frame
and turned it over,
found the bolder vase, the bowl, the drape--
and I whispered beautiful beautiful.

                                -- Kristen Orlando

What's in the Cards

During my shifts at the children's hospital
I wash decks of Uno, Apples to Apples,
Old Maids, Go Fishes--whisking bleach wipes
across the edges, faces, and backs.
Sometimes the ink bleeds onto the towels,
its smears resembling the ghosts of fugitive crayons.

So many colors escape their boxes here.
They roll beneath the floors of plastic buses.
They nestle among the eyes of Potato Heads.
They sneak into the fading trousseaux
of similarly sanitized worse-for-the-wear Barbies.

Sometimes the cards land on my counter
glued to one another.  Things one could blame:
a dribble of juice, a splash of Coke,
even the cleaning solution.  The sullenest striper
who so much wants to be elsewhere
doesn't wait until the jokers are dry
to shove them back into the cartons.

The cards on the cart are sometimes past repair.
Sometimes within a deck
too many cards go missing.
Once I found a Card Against Humanity
marking "Lazy Laurence" inside Little Women
and later a Hello Kitty's Crazy 8
snuggled against a lime-green stub of wax
snoozing behind Potato-Head shades.  Sometimes
before I cast such strays into the trash,
if no one else is in the playroom,
I stand them against the picture window--
disfigured queens, blurred-out numbers,
eyeless fish--and tell them about
the magic tricks I used to attempt:
the scratching, waxing, shaving, pricking,
and putting the cards into special sequences
to yield the happy endings I'd promised to provide.

                             -- Peg Duthie


Jill and the Beanstalk by Peg Duthie
Arranged by Shawn Aveningo
The Search by Jo Simons
Return to Seville from Fields South of Camas by Jeffrey Alfier
Now You See It . . . by Carol Alena Aronoff
What We Take Home from McCormick Hotel Cafe by Jeffrey Alfier
Lover's Year-End Fiscal Report by Jo Simons
Wild Berry by Jude Neale
Zen Diagram VI by Gloria Keeley
Hidden Seasons by Peg Duthie
Softly by Carol Alena Aronoff
The Boy Who Cried Wolf Marries Red Riding Hood by Joseph Dorazio
Fugitive by Jeffrey Alfier
Palm Ocean Sailing by Travis Naught
I Am Not Sharing by Rick Ratliff
The Dead Man's Watch by Mharlyn Merritt

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Submissions Have Re-Opened!!!!

Submissions are now open for the 2015 Editor's Choice Award!

Deadline: December 31, 2015

Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Results Are In!!!!

The Winner is . . . 

Scavenger Hunt by Donna Barkman . . .

Scavenger Hunt

The boy was devising a game for his father
who might soon wake from a nap, his third that day.

He called his son the boy since the surgeon’s
knife had sliced most names from his memory. The boy
called his father Mr. Gus when they were playing pirates.
In his best first-grade printing, he wrote instructions on
small squares of paper for Mr. Gus to find the treasure chest:
“Number 1: Go to the Bathroom.”  He smiled at his joke
and placed a second note on the toilet tank: “Go to the Bedroom.” 
a third: “Living Room.” Yes.  “Go to the Living Room.”

He knew his mother would help Mr. Gus read the clues.  
Number 4: “Kitchen.” 
Number 5: “Tree House Ladder.” 
Number 6: “Ship,” -- the derelict porch at the back of the house,
loaded with all that a seagoing scalawag could hope for. 

In time, Mr. Gus found the boy’s cherished booty: bits of sea glass,
polished stones, foreign coins, and his great-aunt Jane’s
discarded pearls and brooches. 

They’re yours, Mr. Gus.  All for you!

Mr. Gus loved the boy with all his heart and soul.  He knew
where his heart was and could even find his pulse points,
but wondered obsessively about his soul:  Was it there

behind his eyes, floating in the reservoir of tears? 
Perhaps in his throat that clutched when the boy piped
sea chanteys they’d sung together.  Maybe in his gut,
where he would shit it out as a last angry act.  Or his lungs
where it could leave in the death rattle he knew was approaching. 
He tried to picture it hovering somewhere in a never-never-land
until it was joined by the boy’s, decades hence. 

He heard the boy calling and found him standing on the toilet lid,
rummaging through the medicine cabinet above, pulling out
bottles and tubes and vials. 

This is what the doctor will do, the boy shouted. 
She’ll go through all the pills in her closet and way at the back,
she’ll find the ones that will fix your sickness, his voice
bounding from the walls.

Their blue eyes met in a gaze of longing and possibility.  The boy
touched his father’s grizzled face, then he jumped to the floor.
Wanna play swordfight, Mr. Gus? he asked.  I’ll find the cutlass,
and he ran from the room. 

Second Place is . . . 

Visitation Tuesday by Denise Weuve . . .

Visitation Tuesday

Women in tattered sweat pants,
swallowed by thread-bare t-shirts nest
outside the  visitor entrance
waiting  to  see their papis,
         better halves,
The chica beside me tosses her brass blonde 
feathered hair, grabs the spaghetti
strap of my cerulean dress,  This ain’t a ball sister
         Don’t look at our men.
Her doorknocker earrings swing,
a caged bird’s empty

perch.  There are no windows inside. 
No way for them to see airplanes
soar, with vultures and families
escaping this dried up town. 

To the left a mother, her son
no longer legally a child, confined
behind 2 inches of Plexiglas,
cries, picks up the phone, toys
with the cord that links them. 
He is the only detainee
unable to hold his visitor. 
Her hand flutters, grazing the cage
that took 20 years

to build.  In Colorado, guards shoot
crows during target practice
then serve them for dinner to inmates.
Visitors are ruffled, frisked,
then released to an open room of their men—
the well-behaved, in white jumpsuits.
He is in orange
Baby I have missed you so much. 
You drop off some cash at intake?
When I’m sprung, we’re taking off for Cali. 
We got 30 minutes baby, talk.
Black wings rip through my shoulder
blades the color of desire
that cannot be contained in a state
issue plastic chair. 
I glide above the prisoners
beak first against Plexiglas. 
I snap, chirp a misunderstood subsong,
the guards ignore my caws
take aim.

Third Place is . . . 

Mathematics by Christopher Hivner . . . 


The distance traveled
on the plane
had value
for the crew
as far as
fuel consumption,
wear on the aircraft,
and the mood
of the passengers.

            In row E, window seats,
            two fingers to the lips
            meant shh,
            to the captured time,
            absorb the turbulence
            and remember
            it will end some day.

The hotel
was ten miles
from the airport
on a road built
with ruts,
and held together by
dust and stones.

            Midnight crowed
            like a rooster
            insane from the heat,
            row E, window seats,
            shed their skin
            reborn as room 235,
            two fingers to the lips
            meant shh,
            this is all we have.

Time travels
at a fixed speed
and cannot be altered,
you can pray
to the father, son,
or holy variable
of the long lost
time will not

            blue-green water
            carrying bodies
            on dappled waves,
            buoyant layers
            of indirection,
            two fingers to the lips
            meant shh,
            we’re almost done

Air speed is something
you don’t feel
when you’re in the air,
during flight
no one thinks about
flight altitude
or the precise combustion
of the modern
jet engine.

            Real world math
            feels leaden,
            time reversing
            through fluid
            thick with
            sleepless thoughts
            and fissures in
            the new blood,
            two fingers to the lips
            meant shh,
            we have to start over.

The Honorable Mentions . . . 

The Traffic in Old Ladies by Mary Newell . . .

The Traffic in Old Ladies

I’m crossing traffic on 8th and 34th
Looking for the cross-town bus, 
confused by the numerous vectors.

Leaning against a rail
casual, one leg bent,
a bright-eyed cocoa-toned young man
croons solicitous: 
"What's bothering you?
 Hey, cum'ere …" 
 I don't remember what he called me
 but he called, again.
 Suspecting him a player in
 the traffic in old ladies, 
I didn’t answer. But his solicitation
propelled me to the mirror back at home.

Twilight softens the contours,
not the intensity.


Not the woman who twice rebuilt a crumbling life
courageous and persistent
(some would say stubborn)
Nor the adventurer friends tap for vicarious trips
(some would say reckless)
Not the bitterness that sometimes thins my optimist smile,
the worry that tightens my jaw
(some would say tense),
Nor the laugh old friends can recognize
across a teeming room


the shocked look of the curly-locked girl in amber silk
staring confused 
through undulating water 
wondering why
her lover
is holding her

this small rain by Alexis Rhone Fancher . . .

this small rain 

this small rain sambas on San Vicente
wanders through Whittier
mambos past Montebello
and East LA

this small rain moves like a Latina
over-plucks her eyebrows
drinks Tequila shooters
fronts a girl-band

this small rain works two jobs
dawdles in down pours
this small rain seeds clouds

this small rain drives to Vegas in a tormenta
has a friend in Jesus
needs boots and a winter coat

in this drought-wracked city,
this small rain dreams of flash floods, 
depรณsitos, indigo lakes,
cisterns, high water,
Big Gulps, endless refills

in this drought-wracked city,
this small rain settles on the hierba seca
sleeps under freeways
plays the lotto
is unlucky in love

this small rain longs to hose down the highways
this small rain chases storms

this small rain has a tsunami in her heart

this small rain kamikaze's
in the gutter
suicides on summer sidewalks
dreams of a deluge 
that overflows the river banks
washes L.A. clean

in this drought-wracked city,
this small rain scans the heavens,
looking for a monsoon,
searching for su salvador in the
reclaimed desert sky.

yerba seca: dry grass
tormenta: rainstorm
su salvador: her savior
deposito: reservoir

and . . .

Signs of the Apocalypse by Terri Simon . . .  

Signs of the Apocalypse

Last night, everyone on the planet
had a good night’s sleep.
This morning, everyone used their turn signals
and were gleefully allowed to merge.
No one used racial slurs,
sex was not warfare,
and warfare, finally,
was declared illegal.
The ridiculously rich
fed the poor, voluntarily,
and even fast-food chains
decided to pay a living wage.
Zeus and the Pope
sat down to tea.
And I opened up my hands
and let go.

The List of Other Semi-Finalists . . . 

The Total Treatment                                        by William Doreski
Starving                                                           by Barbara Bald
Portrait                                                                        by Terri Simon
Learning Spanish                                            by Denise Weuve
Sentinels                                                          by Sharon Webster
Magic                                                              by Jay Sizemore
Safe Haven                                                     by Barbara Bald
When the Clock Strikes Midnight                  by Barbara Bald
Speed Dating in Plato’s Cave                         by Bobby Steve Baker
I Sit Here                                                        by Sharon Webster
Breaker Bar                                                     by David Hardin
In Shadow                                                      by Barbara Bald
Rain, Steam, and Speed – 
The GreatWestern Railway                                             by David Hardin

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Submissions Have Re-Opened!!!

Submissions are now open for the 2014 Editor's Choice Award!

Deadline: December 31, 2014

Thursday, February 27, 2014


The Winner is . . . 

My Mother's Tongue by Barbara Bald . . .

My Mother's Tongue

She used to stick it out for me, displaying
the deep cleft down its middle, irregular bumpy sides
and tiny cracks like those on misfired porcelain.
She'd extend it, roll it into a long tight tube, then
flatten it to reveal its blotchy red surface.

We'd stand before the bathroom mirror, comparing
the hated old tongue to my young flawless, flat one
and I'd listen to her berate it and whatever else she saw
as her other imperfect features.

It was a tongue that could slice with Samurai precision.
Who the hell do you think you are? pierced phone lines
when my father's fishing buddies woke her at 4:00 am,
asking for Captain Joe.

Would you mind moving over? she'd hiss
at the churchgoer who refused to slide into the wooden pew,
causing me to cower in teenage humiliation.

The tongue had no respect for boundaries.
With words, You didn't let him touch you, did you?
or Where does your boyfriend stay when he visits?
it would pry into private areas where it had no place.

Mostly, her tongue would judge --
the friend who wore too many bracelets,
the spaghetti sauce that never tasted as good as hers.
You don't know how to dance, do you? she would notice aloud.
The tongue always called a spade more than a spade.

I had planned to use my young tongue to spread rose petals,
to help polish those who wanted to see their own shine.
If my tongue flapped in unkindness, I hoped
it would be a butter knife rather than a sword --

Today, with my sixty-year old tongue extended to my dentist,
I learned I have what's called a geographical tongue.
The red splotches and tiny fissures of its surface resemble
Pangaea-like plates that react to spicy meals.

Remembering words, I never asked her to be born.
If you don't like it, go home, cruelties I once hurled
at my mother and others, I cringed when he said it,
It's hereditary, you know.
You have your mother's tongue.

Second Place is . . . 

ROYGBIV by Kim King . . .


The yellow bloomed a week after the biopsy --
blurring into the indigo and violet bruises, a dab
of cadmium paint, like in Matisse's Woman with a Hat,
her solemn, green-tinged face and down-turned mouth
glowered under a garish feather and baubled chapeau.
Her squared collar, like my cotton hospital gown,
over-sized and unadorned, concealed her inner wounds.
Mine were under a lacey bra, protected with steri strips
and bandages, but no artist was at the easel.  Instead,
doctors weighed "high risk lesion" and "rare
in zero point zero four percent" with "prevalence
of early tubular carcinoma," while I balanced
a prism refracting white
light in Mr. Grant's seventh grade class,
reciting the colors of the spectrum, in order.

Third Place is . . . 

Just Outside of Bowler City by Daniel Meltz . . . 

Just Outside of Bowler City

my first teacher was my father
a sarcastic figure in underpants
he taught me how to
idolize and instigate
my mother
ran from him

she brushed her hair till it bounced
she used
the hairbrush as a weapon
she loved
the smell of the future
but she never stepped into it

my sister showed me her workbook
a multiplication table and 
spelling lists
she turned on cartoons
heckle and jeckle
two angry crows

she told me about her teachers at school
the teacher with the swinging can
the teacher with the blubbery neck
the one with the 
swishing stockings
the one with the 
tangerine lipstick

we shared a bedroom with a kidnap window
we stage-whispered at daybreak
biting the cream out of cookies
we broke bobby pins in two
and scratched every inch of a crap credenza

The Honorable Mentions . . . 

Rescue by Patricia L. Goodman . . .


On the wooded steps of a Nature Center
I find a plastic eye -- the flat kind

with the pupil that moves if you shake it.
It lies there staring.  I imagine

the toy it came from, a teddy bear
perhaps, who now sees the world

in monovision.  When my childhood
teddy's eyes wore off, Mom replaced them

with shoe buttons.  He and I saw each other
differently then, grew accustomed.

After my husband died and I began
my climb from despair, I rescued Teddy

from the back of a dark drawer.
We cried.

and . . .

When to Tell Him That You Love Him by Denise R. Weuve . . .  

When to Tell Him That You Love Him

until he is in the kitchen
cleaning lunch dishes and you
are walking away.
Make sure the water runs heavy and loud.

Mouth the words
never daring to let the sound escape
as he leaves the table to pour
another cranberry
to keep you under.

Sign it distinctly
as he hunches over to check
the air in the tires
explaining for the 8th time
how you can do this yourself.

Etch it in the sky
when he is looking downstream
waiting for Salmon to hook on his line
so he can show you the dinner
you make him throw back.

Lock it away
in an old shoebox, fill it
with the paper bag he brought Dansville oranges
to you in.  The one that said
"Don't touch.  Just hers."

The List of Other Semi-Finalists . . . 

E=MC²                                                            by henry 7. reneau, jr.                                                                  
Wood Lake Battlefield Site                               by Dana Yost                           
All Hallows Eve                                                by John J. Brugaletta                                                   
Ice Fisher                                                         by Judith Neale                                                      
Early December                                                by William G. Davies, Jr.                              
An Accident of the Imagination                          by Karla Linn Merrifield      
Two Sides of a Window                                    by D.M. Aderiibigbe
Ars Poetica                                                       by Linnea Harper                                        
Tsunami Zone                                                    by Linnea Harper            
Glamour in the Folds Off-Centre                        by Michael Luke
Midwestern Selkie Girl II                                   by Jennifer Schomburg Kanke
A Mosquito                                                       by Sarah Ghoshal
Don’t Call Her California                                    by Wendy Thornton
How Ian and I Learn                                          by Joan Goodreau
Blessings of Witnessing and Experience               by Judith J. Katz
L’Anse Aux Meadows                                       by Angela Harrison                              
A Winter’s Day                                                  by Michael Magee
Heredity                                                             by Denise R. Weuve