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3rd World Events from My 1st World Cubicle - Matthew Taylor Potter
Left Side - Brian Cunningham
1369 Coffeehouse - Valerie Lawson
Skating - Leah Browning
Cicatrix - Sharon Hadrian
Photograph before Prison - Rodger LeGrand
A Simple Question - Matthew Taylor Potter
His Wife - David LaBounty
Little Dreamers - Steve Meador
Los Angeles Coyotes - Annabelle Winters
End of the Season - Kurt Hackbarth
Superior Suffering - Tara Grover
In Brief - Jozef de Vries
Ten With the News Media Gives You Twenty - Tara Guillot
Mother's Ruin - Chris Major
Falling - Dana Pearson
Ruthless Gravity - R.M. Englehardt
My Father's War - M. Lynette DiPalma

Matthew Taylor Potter

There was a report on the BBC,
not tragic enough to make the State's stations,
800,000 rats that invaded the city of Chihuahua,
"The city was swarming with them!"
people had said on hurried sentences.
There was nothing to be done.
But there was hope.

There were plans in progress
to ship 400 cats every 3 hours.
Not lazy cats,
resting comfortably on the windowsill,
waiting for the mailman or their owner
to come and offer a needed distraction.
But hungry cats that were ready to fight
and die for Mexico and the quaint town of Chihuahua

Many of the cats had never heard of Chihuahua.
I suppose some had seen
the picaresque dogs that originated from the city.
Shivering under the slightest breeze
not aggressive enough for war
Just plodding along in their doggy life
never expecting to encounter a rat,
nevertheless, an army of them.

The reporter recapped the story -with a chuckle.
A brief release of tension .
where the laughs melded together;
the BBC reporter and the
correspondent in Chihuahua.
realizing the absurdity of it all.
An anecdote at best. .

Their comments were cut short when
the tune that lets you know there is another
more important story on the way.
Nothing more was said about the rats
or what the town people will do once they are gone.
And all the cats are left without a purpose.

Matthew Taylor Potter was born in 1976 in Fort Knox, Kentucky where he lived for 4 years before seeing the best of the Midwest and Texas thanks to his father, a lifetime military man, and a mother with more understanding and compassion than most saints. His family finally settled in Newport News, VA. and he graduated from James Madison University with a B.A. in English Literature. He currently resides in San Diego, CA, and is working on a novel in addition to writing poetry.

Left Side
Brian Cunningham

You seem political, sitting at that angle,
showing your strong side.
You move your hand and shake your head when you talk;
waving away propositions to go outside,
vetoing the motion
to eat dinner at the nursing home.

I don't think you realize
your left hand is always a fist.
Maybe you're still protesting an election
angry that nobody heard you, even before
you started having trouble speaking.

You remember to walking to Dunkin Donuts
to chuckle over debates and take your coffee black,
proud to be above frills. You remember when
it was the rest of the world that was shaky.

Brian Cunningham is a twenty-two year old writer and guitarist whose grandmother is from Everett, Massachusetts. He studied creative writing and philosophy at the University of New Hampshire, where he met his chief poetic influence, Amy Willenbrock. They live together in Dover, NH.



1369 Coffeehouse
Valerie Lawson

You wore that brown sweater and a plaid shirt.
Throat clearing sounds of coffee machines.
The counter man was funny, said,
"Get dessert, he's buying."
Food unnecessary,
we sit at the tiny table in front,
ignore cups of tea.
You face the back,
I the street.
Above our heads hangs a map of Cambridge.
You show your first poem of the new year,
images in my mind an Escher print.
I give you a turkey feather,
it gleams as you twirl it,
as you smooth the barbs.

A young couple at the window huddles
inside a wall of whispers and shy glances.
Blond locks braided thick as dock lines,
another girl studies. Backpacks
and bookbags take extra chairs and floor space.
Engineering homework spreads elbow to elbow.
The equations make no sense, but the diagrams do-
bells and bowditch curves, something you can touch.

You wrap enormous hands
around my small ones. We empty
cups of flower petals, take turns
placing them on a green stem
that branches in filaments across the table,
spills a living carpet onto the floor,
words of a new language forming in our mouths.

Valerie Lawson's poetry has been published in literary journals, anthologies, and websites. Her chapbook, Ribbon Anvil, was a finalist for Best Poetry Publication at the 2002 Cambridge Poetry Awards. Lawson was the winner of Female Spoken Word, Best Narrative Poem, and shared the award for Best Poetry Troupe with Doctor Brown's Traveling Poetry Show at the Cambridge Poetry Awards in 2004. Lawson has traveled to Sweden, Ireland, Scotland, and Germany to perform poetry. She is a participant in Optimal Avenues, a mixed media cultural exchange between Massachusetts and Ireland, celebrating the United Nation's International Decade for the Culture of Peace. She is a contributor to the Culture of Peace and Next of Kin, exhibits of art and poems currently touring New England. Lawson will be releasing a new book of poems, Dog Watch, in the winter of 2006.



Skating
Leah Browning

We are driving away from our house when we see them,
next to us on the sidewalk. The boy is on roller skates,
and the girl is walking a Golden Retriever on a red leash.

This is in the summer, in Tucson, where heat rises
off the pavement like snakes from a basket, winding
its way around my legs, pressing heavily on my head.

The children are young-ten, perhaps-and they seem
not to mind; I am twenty years older and return
from a short walk to the mailbox feeling hot and sleepy.

"It's his first time," you say, making me think of sweaty,
uncomfortable sex, but you are only talking about the boy,
on his skates, wobbling awkwardly from side to side, not knowing

how to take long, natural-looking strides. It's been years since
I've been on roller skates, since I've even seen someone
on roller skates; blades are more fashionable now. I can't think

where he would have gotten this pair, why he is wearing them,
and in Tucson, in the summer, of all places. When I turned ten
I had my party in a church basement, where the wood floor

was slick and a high school girl stood behind a counter and pulled
roller skates from high shelves. My size was gone, and I had to stuff
the toes of my skates with paper. I had invited the boy that I loved,

and he arrived with his mother, a little after everyone else; he skated in
smooth circles, following me around the room, or so I imagined.
We were all following each other, really. When we were tired

we sat on benches and unlaced our skates, but the feeling
went on, as though with every step that I took I were still skating
in my threadbare white socks. After the cake, and the presents,

I walked out to the car in my sneakers, still gliding, knowing even then
that the lift came from my head and not my feet. Outside, the boy starts to fall,
flailing his arms, and the girl catches his hand, righting him.

As we drive past, I see his face, pinched in concentration, staring down
at the sidewalk, afraid of falling. Next to the girl, the dog trots,
panting in the heat. She walks between them, her expression as calm

and amiable as the dog's. We sail past them in our air-conditioned
bubble, and I turn to look back. The boy is unsteady, but the girl
continues to hold his hand, anchoring him. I turn back to the road,

wondering whether they are brother and sister, or friends, or more;
whether, after chasing each other around a roller rink, they will walk
toward the bathrooms in their stocking feet and he will kiss her,
lightly, near the Coke machine,

and they will someday end up married, living in the desert
with their two children, earthbound. One of our children asks
a question then, and I forget about the kids on the sidewalk,

and the dog and the skates, until we are getting ready for bed
that night, and I see your back as you remove your shirt. You
are still thin, the small bones of your spine curving in symphony

as you bend to unbuckle your belt. "Do you remember how it felt,
after you took off your skates?" I ask, and you look up, blankly,
and my heart sinks; I feel it tighten under my skin. Then your eyes

focus on mine, where I am standing on the other side of the room,
and you cross the bed toward me on your knees and say, "The floating,
you mean?" and I take your hand, pulling you up, and you kiss me,

lightly, at first, as though we are ten again, standing in a church
basement in our bare socks.

Leah Browning's poetry, fiction, essays, and articles have appeared in a variety of publications including The Saint Ann's Review, Literary Mama, Arable: A Literary Journal, Mothering Magazine, and Proposing on the Brooklyn Bridge: Poems About Marriage, an anthology edited by Ginny Lowe Connors. She recently completed two nonfiction children's books for Capstone Press and her first novel. In addition to writing, she serves as editor of the Apple Valley Review, an online literary journal located at www.applevalleyreview.com.



Cicatrix
Sharon Hadrian

The stories pile up to form one big scar
across Feminism
Bulbous and hardened to the touch
Like the skin I file defiantly from my heels
every week

She is in there
but only a single voice seeps through her pores and out
Restitched, lifted, lasered, and tucked
the timbre rises
We have a name for everything

Cicatrix
Between us the connection severs
and grows hard anew

To you, I would not sell my soul
Someone else's?
10 cents per word

Sharon Hadrian was born and raised in a tiny, homogenous town outside of Baltimore, Maryland. Experienced at writing everything from rock operas to movie reviews, these days she can be found crafting more serious works, particularly those related to diversity and minority visibility. Sharon is also the founder and senior editor of Antithesis Common,, a literary magazine. She currently resides in England.



Photograph before Prison
Rodger LeGrand

The last time I saw you
was in a picture from five years ago.
So I imagine your hair still looks the same,
that you're wearing the same clothes:
every day in blue jeans
and a maroon button down shirt.
Sometimes, like in the picture,
you're sleeves are folded
around your forearms.
Sometimes I see the cuffs
buttoned at your wrists. There are moments
when five years is a long time, when it can feel
like sixteen or seventy. That's when I picture you aging,
your hair gray, turning gray in an instant. Then my mind leaps
to you in a coffin, your sleeves buttoned, sometimes
rolled, hands folded across your chest.
I stop myself and come back
to that picture-fence high
around the backyard, leaves changing
from green to yellow. It's the one
with your arm around me.
I can still feel it there, its weight,
a branch fallen and crushing my back.

Rodger LeGrand earned writing degrees from The State University of New York at Oswego and Sarah Lawrence College. His poems have appeared in The Cortland Review, The Atlanta Review, From the Fishouse, and are forthcoming in Paper Street. In addition, Finishing Line Press published his first collection of poems, Various Ways of Thinking about the Universe, in 2005. He has instructed writing courses at Temple University and the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Currently he teaches writing at North Carolina State University and lives in Greensboro, North Carolina.




A Simple Question
Matthew Taylor Potter

We watched the exploding flames
tear through the night sky.
After the show was over and the last flashes
drowned in darkness and the booms silenced,
my neighbor's cousin, eight or nine at the most,
asked me if I believed in God.
Out of instinct I responded
with an unemotional yes
not seeing the importance then.

Later as I walked back to my apartment,
I remembered a time when I did.
An autumn afternoon in Ohio,
when the breeze carried the chill of winter in it
and the leaves tried in vain to hold onto their green.
Huddled in my grandmother's backyard were four boys
older than I--surrounding a dying rabbit.

It was chestnut brown.
Blood had dried and caked
where the cat's claws had raked its back.
We could all hear the wheezing.
His eyes, a deep black, did not look afraid of us,
but terrified that it was going to die.
And as the boys asked my dad what could be done,
I knelt and prayed--God was going to save it.
My dad touched my shoulder
more gently then he ever had,
and told me to come in for dinner.

Matthew Taylor Potter was born in 1976 in Fort Knox, Kentucky where he lived for 4 years before seeing the best of the Midwest and Texas thanks to a father that is a lifetime military man and a mother that has far more understanding and compassion then most saints. His family finally settled in Newport News, VA. and he graduated from James Madison University with a B.A. in English Literature. He currently resides in San Diego, CA and is working on a novel as well as writing poetry.


His Wife
David LaBounty

Radiation,
Radiation and nausea,
Has left his wife looking like,
A wig on a stick,
A wig on a stick
With a bony ass
But he looks,
Still he looks,
At that bony, bony ass.

David LaBounty lives in Royal Oak, Michigan with his wife and two young sons. He has had over thirty speculative fiction stories published under his pen name, Oscar Deadwood, as well as a novel, The Perfect Revolution, which is available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and from the publisher at www.silverthought.com. He served in the Navy, and has worked as a mechanic, a salesman, a member of the blast team at a gold mine in Nevada, and as a reporter.



Little Dreamers
Steve Meador

Pre-Batteries Not Included.
Pre-Each Figure Sold Separately.
Before every word, action and thought
was scrutinized with litigious intent,
there was the Sears Catalog.
Fort Apache being attacked,
in full-page, four-color fashion,
by (whisper with me) Indians.
In thirty minutes three boys,
their bellies scuffing the living room floor,
could win the battle, save the fort
and protect the entire West.
All this before a single letter
was scribbled on a Christmas list.
All this before the page was flipped
to G.I. Joe.

Steve Meador's work has appeared in Wind, and The Yearbook of Modern Poetry. A real estate broker in California, Ohio and Florida for the past 25 years, he now resides in the Tampa area with his family.



Los Angeles Coyotes
Annabelle Winters

Three things terrified me when I moved into
The backyard shed
On the urban canyon ridge:

The bright moon and no shades to draw,
The coyotes howling at night,
And what my brother would think of me;
Nowhere left to go except his tool shed.
The coyotes were not always talkative.
Most nights passed quietly.
But
They wailed back at every fire-truck,
Police siren, or ambulance.

After three months
Of light and edgy sleep
I called my mother
To tell her about the the coyotes
And the sirens.
She said it was song.
When the coyotes heard the sirens,
It was not threat or dialogue.
Just a song.

Like a happy old man, she said,
Whistling his way home from the bus stop.

Nothing scared me for three nights.
Then I bolted upright and awake at 2am.
When a tall broad shape broke in,
I howled at him, a distant coyote howled back
And he fled over the fence and down the hill.

An engine revved, tires squealed
And a chorus from the canyon
Sang and sang as the neighborhood
Asked questions.

While I slept in the main house for a week
My brother bought stronger locks,
Put up motion lights
And stopped calling it a shed.
It was my little house.

The night I went home,
The motion lights
Clicked on as a coyote took
The neighbors cat.

Annabelle Winters recently re-located to Chicago after receiving The Poetry Center of Chicago's 2006 summer residency award. She recently had work published in "The Other Side of Sorrow; Poets Speak Out About Conflict, War and Peace" an anthology from The New Hampshire Poetry Society. She is currently working on her first book. Her website is StarlessMedia.



End of the Season
Kurt Hackbarth

October.
Beginning of sixth grade.
Slanting sun,
chilly shade,
end of the baseball season.
Our old radio,
perched on the picnic table
with the aid of an extension cord,
there to broadcast the final plays
of a team that, once again,
had not made the playoffs.

The last out made,
post-game discussion followed.
The commentators said their goodbyes,
wished us a happy winter,
then, their comfortable voices gone,
I was left with only the ads heard
five hundred times since spring training.

Unwillingly, I unplugged the radio,
slowly recoiled the extension cord.
All this irritated my mother.
"There's no reason to get so upset over a sport."
I put the radio back in the den,
climbed the stairs to my room
and stuffed my head into a pillow,
wondering how I was to survive
the onset of the cold.

Kurt Hackbarth's first book of poems and short prose, entitled Man With Luggage, was published in 2005 by Big Table Publishing, Newton, MA and is available via the publisher and at Amazon.com. He is currently fighting electoral fraud in Mexico.


Superior Suffering
Tara Grover

Exquisite hurting.
Mouth-watering agony.
The hurt is a wall-be very still-
fighting, writhing unsettles its precarious balance
to press so close you can scarcely grasp breath.

Blood and pain are nature's order of things
but I've been diminished, denied a natural suffering;
man-made chemicals mimic hormones in my body
and I am agonized by my menses.
My new normal is using the toilet without help.

Inhale: the pain can be no worse;
I sink into nothing but spirit.
I breathe the pain inside out,
the colors subside into gray.

Exhale: the pain will be worse still-there's no scale
of one to ten or one million-
I separate into all body,
let modern science tear my womb apart around my baby
as the gray flashes orange then red again.
I cannot quiet this brightness of disease
yet I fear nothing.


Tara Grover is a 30 year old native Texan living in Paradise, California. She has a Master of Arts in English/Creative Writing and is currently working on completing a novel and a collection of poetry.



In Brief
Jozef de Vries

That night on the curb, that first night
She told me of her youthful promiscuities, I told her of mine
I bought her beer, she smoked my cigarettes
She told me about my type, I told her she was my type
She told me there's no coffee to be had
I told her who needs coffee, I only want more time.

We always talked well sitting on the sidewalk
We talked long that first night
We sat long on that curb knowing each other for the first time
I kissed her goodbye that night, she pushed me away, gently, and smiled.

Two days later I picked her up at the airport
We started with departure
We started with reunion
All came properly in pairs.

That future passed. Now I sit, not at all where I was then, and not quite where I was before then.
I sit among myself-I sit among mirrors.
With a little of the loneliness in me
With a little of the well-adjusted in me
mirrors.
All day.

Time to forge forward into feather beds of smiling eyes and mornings of light dreaming
With wind blown hair streaming out open windows through canyon highways
With blue eyes reflected in her eyes
With not waking until we sleep again.
And into living dreams we must proceed.

At the bistro on 18th and 3rd I ordered her wine and she picked at my bread
I wasn't supposed to be there, nor was I expected
She told me of her attempts to forget, I told her of mine
She talked of conditions, I said conditions implies immutability
I said I should get my suitcase from the car, she said ok.
I had time this time.

Originally from California, Jozef de Vries bounced back and forth between both coasts a few times while picking up a couple degrees along the way. He currently resides in Boston where, by night his passion for writing and literature, and by day his presence in the corporate world provide him a comfortable balance between the imaginary and the realistic. "In Brief" covers not so brief a period that has definitely blurred the divide between this “balance” he so highly regards.


Ten with the News Media Gives You Twenty
Tara Guillot

global warmth amid the decadence
ethanol fighting dollar bills
flag waving fencing and
posturing plaudits
you think i think of trucks and balls
boomerang employment
based on benefit power
racism cruising the streets
pledge allegiance or pray in silence
or is it soccer math and girls
the children take power with guns
levees, housing, friendly fire
divorce rates up or down
snipers, predators, my daddy at the bar
maybe video games, fast food, rap music: i wish
my world was silent so i could think
the way you think i think.

Tara Guillot lives in New Orleans, LA with her dog and two cats and works as a Learning Consultant. She writes short stories and poetry, and is working on her first novel. She dreams of someday writing full time in a renovated plantation deep in the heart of the land of Evangeline.



Mother's Ruin
Chris Major

Mother Nature,
I don't know why
you're held in such esteem,
i'd rather have the city:
concrete, granite, neon,
smoke and smog
over hayfever any day.
And anyway,
you've been a bitch;
tsunamis,
earthquakes,
you get a bit of wind
and it costs millions,
flood or flamin' drought
what's that all about?
What's happened to you?

Once we were
safe in your hands,
but lately you're unpredictable;
so wild shadows
cast by clouds
are now from
a bending figure,
and coke lines lie
like vapour trails......

Chris Major lives in Staffordshire England. His poetry has appeared in many UK print magazines, and online recently in Turk, Stirring, Underground Voices, Zygote, TMP, High Horse, Remark, Poetry Kit and Snakeskin. His Poetry Chapbook is now available from Whiteleaf Press.



Falling
Dana Pearson

as summer leaves
and autumn falls
into place
there comes a time
when leaves must fall
before fall leaves
only memories
of autumns time

Dana Pearson is a writer and photographer living in Somerville Massachusetts. He recently completed his first novel. The first public showing of his travel photographs took place during Somerville Open Studios in May 2006.



Ruthless Gravity
R.M. Englehardt

Tonight on television
there is an actor
talking about his battle with
drug addiction, sex addiction and life.

You would think that by the way
the host is interviewing him
that he is wise & worldly, an
ancient sage from his
battle with the curse

of "celebrity"

And there are a billion lights
in the great big city, a million lives
that get up everyday and go to work like
everybody else. And their addiction is food,
their addiction is rent and how to somehow
get thru the next day and make sure that
their children are dressed, educated & well-fed.

So the question is is that when you
look at the world do you see a gift? Or do you see an
enemy? Do you have faith or do you pretend that
all of these famous people are like you or your friends?

The constant partying,
the good life, broads & booze,
high fashion, money and
Paris Hilton bending over your
patio bench just waiting for
a piece of what you've got to give.

But there are those of us who
happen to live in the real world,
those who believe in more than just
the shallow trash that all the others
seem to admire.

And they call us the survivors who don't
need the shit or the television to fulfill our
needs. The survivors who don't need the
drama or the fake religions of the moment,
the meth or the cocaine, a little dog or
a brand new $400. dollar purse.

Poet & writer R.M. Engelhardt has been published in such journals & online zines as Retort, Other, Poetry Magazine, Outsider Ink.com, Sure! The Charles Bukowski Newsletter, The Georgetown Review, Thunder Sandwich, and many others. He is also the founder of AlbanyPoets and the Albany Poetry Syndicate.



My Father's War
M. Lynette DiPalma

I.
My father has a grand collection
of scar tissue. One for the smallpox
vaccination, two for the garage door
that sliced three tendons on the back
of his hand and left blood stains on
the cement floor, a few others
with less glorious stories. Only one had no
story at all though I would see this scar
every summer when it got too hot for him
to mow the lawn with his shirt on. A jagged
circle of pale puckered flesh sat like
a tiny island in the flushed, pink sea
of his back. What I didn't see was the scar
that made a perfect O on his stomach
but was hidden under the thick mass
of reddish-black hair.

II.
We lived in the shade
of a great belching mountain then,
its smoking tips a daily threat
to our blue villa. In the summers
I would stand barefoot on the milky marble floors
and watch my mother blotting the baseboards
where the mildew would force the plaster
to bubble up. The rings she wore
would click together with each press of the sponge
and the aluminum bowl would ring a sharp F
when they clanged against its rim.
That same sound would come from behind
the closed door of the bedroom
as she would dress the wound on my father's back
and she would use that same tender pressing motion
to soak up the blood.

III.
I would have a persistent dream where my father
jumped from a helicopter through a broken
window, hugging a gun to his chest. He screamed
into the dust and smoke, making it curl up
in eddies around him, hoping someone
would be left to rescue. All he found,
night after night, was a dark-haired
woman, face down on a desk. Just
before I woke up he would find
the woman had been cut in half by bullets,
her bottom half impossibly far
from the top. Waking up sweating in
my pristine pajamas to the slow click, click, click
of the watch dog's nails on the tile
walkway that circled our house
was far more comforting than the pale face
of my father when I told him, years
later, about that dream and he realized
what can happen when innocent ears
hear things they don't understand.

IV.
A single mustard seed suspended in glass
graced the end of the black satin bookmark
in my father's Bible. In church he would rub
that smooth ribbon between his callused finger
and thumb to make the seed twirl around and
around. It would hit the edge of the pew
with a soft plink and swing back and forth
before his thick fingers would guide it
in the opposite direction. At 18 my mother
wooed him away from the priesthood. Curled
up in an uneven and permanent spiral,
that ribbon still clings to its mustard seed bobble
but it hasn't hit a pew in years and I still don't
know how to pray.

V.
Pressed in a one-page letter
from my father, a tiny lavender flower
for my sister's sixteenth birthday.
While we all ate cake
and played pass-the-lifesaver
with toothpicks gripped in our teeth,
He slept in the mud
with the frigid metal of his gun
pressed to his cheek.
He closed his eyes against the rain,
and thought of my mother
who at that moment was forgetting
to put the lid on a pot of popcorn
while she was kissing a man in the kitchen.
Later, her salty, smeared letters went out
to my father in bundles tied with red string.

VI.
Steering backwards, perched on my father's
penny-less penny-loafers, legs wrapped tight
around his denim draped ankle, viewing the world
in grand swooping arches. Three-year-old Zen.
My tiny spider-monkey fingers clinging to the trunk
of his massive leg, gleeful non-words spilling out,
knowing I was shielded from trouble in the shadow
of his belly. The same one that served as both naptime
bed and pillow, his soft chuckles echoing
through the warm fleshy beach ball as I slowly floated
up and down, up and down with his breathing. My
doll-like red shoes falling, one on each side of him,
revealing perfect gray-black foot prints on the bottom
of my otherwise white socks.

M. Lynette DiPalma ran away from graduate school to become the stereotypical bohemian writer holed up in a tiny apartment two blocks from where Tennessee Williams wrote A Streetcar Named Desire in the New Orleans French Quarter. A little over a year later, however, Mother Nature chased her out of the Vieux Carre and all the way up to Cleveland, Ohio where she stayed just long enough to give birth to her gorgeous and brilliant daughter, and then headed back down south to Pensacola, Florida where she now attempts to maintain her bohemian lifestyle as a single mom in the middle of the suburbs. Her particular bohemian creed involves spending as much time in pajamas as possible, and she succeeds at this by working as a freelance writer, editor and fine artist. On the rare occasion that she dons clothes suitable for going outside, she teaches poetry at the local community college and takes frequent road trips back to New Orleans.