Happy Birthday

by Thomas D.J. Maynard

 

Behind these wet cardboard walls

We are safe for just a moment,

But cardboard and bullets don’t

Get along so well most times.

 

My brother’s face is tired

And drawn beyond his thirteen years.

Burns stain his once smooth cheeks,

But I am not much better.

 

“How many are there?” he pants.

My sweaty hands fumble now

On the scope’s slick dial.

Soldiers caress their guns and grin,

 

Their macabre guffaws like sick jokes

where our blood is the punchline.

Like taunts in a child’s war game,

daring us to come and play.

 

The question weighs in the air

How many before the gate?

My eyes water, choked by soot.

They haven’t glimpsed us, not yet.

 

But I see them clearly now.

The scope clatters to the dirt,

and I clutch my brother close.

“Make a wish,” I whisper.

 

Thirteen, and one for good luck.

 


Thomas D.J. Maynard has a hearty love for coffee, beer, poutine, and a good science fiction story. By day, he repairs and installs computers in Northern CT school systems, and by night, he repairs and installs computers at his home in Mansfield, Connecticut.

 

Roundhouse the Night

by Jim Zola

 

As the lady in the pink knit cap

weaves down the opposite side

of the street, she shouts to no one

I can see, short staccato bursts,

almost lyrical, an angry song.

She holds something precious against

her chest. I see her several times

 

a week and know her enough not

to be surprised by her baldness

if she were ever to take off

her hat. The facts are easy

to forget. I watch her stutter step

away to become part of night’s

diorama, this hymn of streetlight.

 


Jim Zola has worked in a warehouse, as a security guard, in a bookstore, as a teacher for deaf children, as a toy designer for Fisher Price, and currently as a children’s librarian. Published in many journals through the years, his publications include a chapbook, The One Hundred Bones of Weather (Blue Pitcher Press), and a full-length poetry collection, What   Glorious Possibilities (Aldrich Press). He currently lives in Greensboro, NC.

 

If My Neck Were as Long as a Giraffe

by Jack Stallard

Jack was simply walking,

to a place that we all know.

but he slipped and fell,

down a hole,

without even losing a shoe.

 

He heard the people yelling,

and then the police too!

but an exploration then began,

to what was out of view.

 

We all saw it coming,

we all hoped Jack already knew,

but he died down there,

and nobody knew,

what happened to his dad’s old shoes.

 


Jack Stallard: born in Fairfax, Virginia, delivering pizzas to your local area!

The Fisherman’s Dog

by Paul Ilechko

 

There are two ways to traverse the landscape,

two ways to travel the length of the gorge. The high

trail is the way of splendor, taking you up and over

 

the great fissure, crossing via the old railway bridge

that soars above the terrain, providing an endless

parade of dazzling perspectives. But the low trail, that

 

is something else completely. The low trail takes you

down into the pulsing heart of nature, takes you along

the winding riverbank, immersed in all the landscape

 

has to offer. Surrounded by the silver of birch bark,

the reds and yellows of autumn leaves, you saturate

yourself in all that is wild, in the pure silence of this

 

mythic ecosystem. And there, in the river, you come

upon a fisherman, standing stock still like a hunting

bird, one leg bent, the fulcrum that balances his

 

effortless stance as he casts, and casts again, the

brilliant color of his hand-tied lure that flashes briefly

before sinking. His dog beside him, quietly alert.

 


Paul Ilechko was born in England but has lived much of his life in the USA. He         currently lives in Lambertville, NJ with his girlfriend and a cat. Paul has had poetry     published recently by Dash Literary Journal, Gravel Magazine, Gloom Cupboard,     MockingHeart Review and Corvus Review, among others.

 

Scalp

by Amy Kotthaus

 

My fingers attend

each dip and dent.

No favorite children here.

The deep ones,

born of fire and spirits,

the shallow that came

as portents of seething

storms and visits

to healers prying shards

of glass from the truth.

They know.

A few chafe where

my consideration prods

grit healed over with skin.

They say you forget

the birthing pains,

but I will them back,

hold each push and tear

and letting of blood,

swaddled in the opaque film

of memory, to recall when

I’m not free to caress

them in the open.

I won’t let my thick hair grow

and obscure his kiss.

I need to be able to touch

each part of that black boot

print when I’m alone

to remember that I killed

both of us to stand here.

 


Amy Kotthaus is a writer, translator, and photographer. Her poetry has been published in Ink in Thirds, Yellow Chair Review, Haiku Journal, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Gnarled Oak, and Section 8. Her photography has been published in Storm Cellar, Ground Fresh Thursday, Crab Fat Magazine, Quantum Fairy Tales, Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, and Digging Through the Fat.

 

Bold Ruler

by Linda Wojtowick

 

On the mountain, fingers bled. That’s where you went,

if your downtown city water ran clean. He was there.

On most weekend days. In a boat on the lake.

His shoulders pulled forward so far forward they almost touched.

This despite his attempts at elongation, at grace.

He tried to map the postal road, to sing and die like kings.

But only in the late wined hours, when he was to himself the most kind,

did he think of his straining elbows as wings on his chest.

Eventually he went back. At the end of meals.

To the gray buildings of his home. By the trash nests.

The chopsticks and white grass.

 

 


Linda Wojtowick is a Pushcart Prize bridesmaid. She lives in an increasingly more crowded and expensive Portland, Oregon, where she can easily indulge her cinematic obsessions without restraint. Upcoming projects are: rest, and searching for things. Oh, so many things.

 

Livingston’s Yellow Oxheart

by Linda Wojtowick

 

His mother had wild lion’s hair, ran on stones

with sandal feet. Bones and nails exposed.

Drums rattling like her piano nerves.

God, she was horse. Her films of dancing

bodies against a penny sky. Mirrors gone to stars.

After Haiti the money got thinnest, but her vitamin

shots got thick. Nobody believes me: the artist’s party,

afternoon a steady, lowboiled sun. The windows bent in.

She took the refrigerator up in her tiny arms.

Something in her eyes went fused. By the black

 

mugs once yellow and pink as dreams of northern ladies

and cakes. Later, picking through, I could see that day

her son put her howl away in his spine. He could only get to it

when wrecked, or called by the filthy city

moon.

 


Linda Wojtowick is a Pushcart Prize bridesmaid. She lives in an increasingly more crowded and expensive Portland, Oregon, where she can easily indulge her cinematic obsessions without restraint. Upcoming projects are: rest, and searching for things. Oh, so many things.