Bathroom Visitor - Michael Lee Johnson
Shivering - Liz Clift
The Effects of Record Breaking Temperatures - Nick Orf
Legal Tender - Nick Orf
The Empress of Emotional Extortion - Oleh Lysiak
Crooked Painting - Stephanie Sguigna
Thief - Michael Keshigian
Two Step - Michael Keshigian
The least she could have done was split the check!
What kind of chick
lets a guy buy her dinner
so she can toss it up later?
For Christ sakes,
eat and puke,
eat and puke,
eat and puke—
what kind of life is that?
I wish I could feel some sympathy
for the skinny bitch
but she dumped me.
It isn't you, she said, it's me.
I just need time, she said.
Damned skippy, it ain't me!
I keep my food down!
I wrote a poem (for her)
but she laughed and called it crap.
I'll publish it anyway
and send it to her.
Oh! Anorexic rose!
you refused to bloom
Nothing could pry apart
the petals of your heart
to reveal the sweet nectar within.
She's right, it is crap.
But I'm not gonna put my fingers
down my throat and vomit my life away.
No! I'm gonna ask out the fat girl at work
and we're going out for steaks.
Juicy Fat Steaks and cheese fries with ranch dressing and ketchup.
Then I'll rewrite that crappy poem.
D.L. Martinez is an occasional writer, part-time poker player, and full-time engineer living in Denver, Co. His short fiction has previously been published in The Flask Review.
Michael Lee Johnson
travels the world
of my bathroom.
Stops at the kitty litter box
on occasion for refueling.
One thousand round trips
including the bathtub area,
and buzzes past the toilet bowl.
Steady pilot, good mileage.
Frequent flier miles.
I swat his journey to an
Mr. Michael Lee Johnson lives in Chicago, IL after spending 10 years in Edmonton, Alberta Canada during the Viet Nam era. He is a freelance writer and poet. He is heavy influenced by Carl Sandburg, Robert Frost, William Carlos Williams, Irving Layton, and Leonard Cohen, and has had 250 plus poems published. He is a member of Poets & Writers, Inc; Directory of American Poets & Fictions Writers. Recent publications: The Orange Room Review, Bolts of Silk, Chantarelle's Notebook, The Foliate Oak Online Literary Magazine, Poetry Cemetery, Official Site of Laura Hird, The Centrifugal Eye, Adagio Verse Quarterly, Scorched Earth Publishing, and many others. Published in USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Nigeria Africa, India, United Kingdom. Mr. Johnson has a paper book pending publication with iUniverse Publishers.
"No one wants anything to do with a dog that is wet from being out in the rain."
But I wonder what the dog thinks
of the palms turned outwards,
pushing her aside without
so much as a whisper of physical contact
when all she wants is a scratch
behind the ears or pat on the head.
And I'm reminded of my own dog
all white, except for a half black
face. She never barked to come
in when it rained, but instead stood
dripping and huddled under the glass
table on the patio. I'd open
the door, worn golden towel ready to envelope
her musty, wet dog-smell as she scurried
in and slipped on mosaic tile.
Under the towel under my hands I'd feel
her shiver as I rubbed her down. Stepping
back, towel in hand, I'd feel spray
tickle my legs as she shook herself of wet,
cold and smell. And when she looked
up, a dog smile on her lips like we were sharing
a private joke, I could see
she was saying, "Now you smell
like wet dog, too."
She didn't look
at me that way when I took her to the vet
a year ago last June. She shivered just once
in my arms, her white fur warm and dry
this time. And when I walked outside
I looked at the blue-brown city sky, hoping
for rain and wanting wet dog-smell.
Liz Clift lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, has two cats and five turtles, and holds a BA from Elon University.
It's the coldest month of the year
and here I am in my flip flops.
In this oddity of the winter, a fat woman
trails her hyperactive Pomeranian who seems
to be choking himself, taking steps too quickly
for the slack in the leash;
a toddler's pigtails bounce in time
with her choppy steps around the playground
like a sing-along as her mother watches
with a stroller and a cigarette;
two homeless men relax at a picnic table,
appearing stoicemdash;one thumbs through the pages
of a paperback, the other holds a bag of chips,
chewing slowly, staring off into the horizon.
The equivalent in June would be thirty degrees,
and we would all be fussy.
The weather will get frigid again by next week, if not
Now, however, songbirds sing
in the leafless trees and somewhere by a blue
screen stands a smug meteorologist
who, today, everyone thinks is just a great guy!
Today, we have hope. The overweight exercise,
the children breathe fresh air,
and the vagrant bask in the sun like skinny women
laying out on the roof of their sorority house.
i started drawing smiley faces
with thick permanent marker
on all of my bills
before i spend them.
i make sure to think a happy thought
like peter pan before i take off
the cap of the blue sharpie
so as not to be hypocritical.
you are defacing
four different presidents
in at least fifty-seven different locations.
i could be fined or imprisoned
for thinking about you.
i think they're onto me.
i think we should go someplace
(take my hand).
Nick Orf is a smiley face. If you see him, he will smile at you. If you don't smile back at him it won't get him down, he will just feel sorry for you not being as happy as him. His work has appeared or is upcoming in Juked, Death Metal Poetry, and Word Riot. Say hello at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Empress of Emotional Extortion
Soon as the dogs and I drove through the underpass,
home from the beach, I knew she would erupt,
up on the hill, alone, defiant, waiting. I felt her anger
long before frustrated screams hit me,
an 88-year-old's emotional haymakers to the gut,
the heart, the guilt, all body shots. I begged forgiveness
for what I still don't know. She was outraged that I had gone
and didn't tell her. Reminding her that I am over 60 didn't help.
She had to run the show, the empress of emotional extortion.
Her screams got louder. Shut the fuck up, mom, please,
I pleaded. That didn't help. She slammed her door
and kept on screaming. I asked her to calm down, reminding her
of all the times this very same scenario took place
when I was growing up. Maybe she thought I was my father.
She kept on screaming you're not my son.
Next morning I found her dead. She got me one last time,
the undisputed empress of emotional extortion.
Oleh Lysiak arrived in the United States in 1952, a six -year-old Ukrainian DP. He survived childhood in North Philadelphia, graduated from Temple University with a degree in Journalism. After 30 years as a self-styled vagabond, Lysiak managed to set anchor on the Oregon Coast. He and his wife live in a barn with two dogs and two cats. Lysiak has written and self-published three books: Filet & Release, The Chromium Kid in the American Zoo and Barely Inside the Lines.
A tilted landscape,
evidence of her affair
with the household's sullen gardener.
Stephanie Sguigna is a student at Tufts University.
Two days ago
the sun caught me stealing light
to illuminate a poem,
then reported me to Mother Nature
who posted my likeness about the land.
Soon, the ocean, forest, birds, flowers, et. al.
filed suit for substantial abuse
and complacent philandering without permission.
I pleaded guilty;
admitted taking breath from wind
marshmallows from the sky to sweeten song,
and rage from the ocean
to instill a sense of urgency.
Convicted and confined to a windowless room,
no writing, visitation
or glimpses of stolen sights,
I was sentenced to imagine beauty
and the wholesale exploitation of words.
I watched them gig
in the pit
playing funky jazz licks
in modal timbres
made me squirm.
I'll blow this place
when this babe be-bopped from behind
hands in my hair
said we can really groove.
I danced through the night
cut a ray
through her ceramic face
into puzzle fragments.
she started to sing
Michael Keshigian's poetry has appeared in many online and print journals, recently including Mannequin Envy, Ghoti, Ibbetson Street, Ascent Aspirations, and Bellowing Ark. He has five published chapbooks, the most recent (Warm Summer Memories) released in July by Maverick Duck Press. He is a multiple Pushcart nominee with a Best Of the Net nomination. He is a college educator and performing musician in Boston.