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M.A. Bond

Ten at night
my cell phone rings.
I'm resting on my heating pad,
warming my low back.

An automated voice speaks:
"This is a collect call
from a prisoner at a California State Penitentiary."
A thin male sound identifies:

"Tor Rogers."

looking at the television,
there's nothing good so I

imagine "Tor" a man with hope
in his mouth,
canned soup in his stomach,

cut of torpid air—
living room full of nothing.

He's probably chosen me
from the yellow pages, the
My Merry Maid advertisement.

Auto: "do you wish to accept the charge?"

"Yes," I say,
"I do accept the charge."

"Hello there - I hope I'm not interrupting anything,"
the man says. His voice sounds intelligent.

"Hello," I say.

"I'll be brief.
I need a ride out. Tonight."

Bill will call soon,
drunk and ready for whatever
I have left.

"Do you know me?" I ask him.

"I honestly don't," the man says.

My back spasm releases,
I lean forward.

"It's late," I say.
"I don't mean to sound rude,
but I'm a bit tired."

Somehow, I don't want him to give up.

Auto:
"You have thirty seconds."
I hear him draw a breath.

"I'm sure I'm imposing.
I have a feeling you are kind."

"Thank you," I say.

He coughs.

"My release number is 982.
Just tell them you know me.
I implore you."

The connection ends.

Washing up,
l smooth my smile lines
in the bathroom mirror,
pull my hair out of it's pony tail,
fix my eye makeup.

I stash my wallet safely under
the kitchen sink, grab
the car keys and go.

M.A.Bond is a performance artist and animal advocate in San Francisco. She lives with her wildly creative family near Ocean Beach. Her poems and stories have appeared in literary journals worldwide.




Hide and Seek
Karen Neuberg

Huddled behind the hedge,
fearful of and yet wanting to be
found. No one remembers
to look. The game goes on —
four calls of "ready or not."
She knows it's time to step out,
be seen, enter her return.
And because she was never missed,
she pretends she was never gone.

Karen Neuberg is happily retired from a 9-5 routine which gives her a chance to focus more on her writing. She lives in Brooklyn, NY and West Hurley, NY with her husband. Her poems have appeared in journals, anthologies, and on-line in such publications as 42Opus, Diagram, Columbia Poetry Review, Right Hand Pointing, and Free Verse. She is a Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee and her most recent collection, Limning the Horizon, is currently looking for a home.




Humanely Unwritten
Steve Meador

Sometimes we get a great idea
and put it to paper.
After further review,
when there is a shortage of silver bullets and garlic,
we simply need to drive a stake through it
and bury the dust.


Unexcuses
Steve Meador

It occurred to me,
after never being published,
that the greatest things
I have ever written
were either eaten by my computer,
or lost when the dog crashed
before being backed up.

Steve Meador's work can be found in many journals, including Boston Literary Magazine, Loch Raven Review, Word Riot, Autumn Sky Poetry, Umbrella, Thick With Conviction, The Writer's Eye and others. More pieces will appear in various pubs in the coming months. His work has been nominated for a 2007 Best of the Net poetry award and his book, Throwing Percy From The Cherry Tree, won the 2007 D-N Publishing National Book Contest. It will be released in 2008.



A Commanding Lead
John Thomas Clark

Lexie, to retrieve my fallen mouthstick
From the floor, learned in half an hour to pick
It up in response to my commands Get,
Hold, Up and Give. And now, when I'm beset
By this problem and I call him, he spies
The floored stick. Without being told, he'll rise
To the occasion. He's picked up still more
On his own. At bedtime, he's learned to floor
His wall-leaned sack without command, or bring
His bowl at mealtime, or, wanting out, cling
To the front door. He's even taken the lead
By creating some behaviors that need
Naming like those new ones before the fetch—
They're Big Yawn, Big Shake and Front and Back Stretch.



Two poems to a medical journal
Were dispatched under a Do-Not-Query-
Before-Six-Months caution. I respected
That time limit. The seventh month's elapse,
Without contact, compelled me to request
A status update. The journal emailed
To say a most vigorous search had failed
To find my submission; it would be best
To resubmit. When I did, a relapse
Occurred. This time, someone neglected
To send their promised receipt. I'm leery
Of their "soonest" reply. Their internal
Works are obviously ailing, so as I grouse,
I ask, is there a doctor in their house?

John Thomas Clark lives in Scarsdale, NY with his wife Ginny, daughter Chris and his black lab, Lex — the best service dog in the world. A retired NYC teacher, his poetry has appeared in or will be published in The Recorder— Journal of the American-Irish Society, Mediphors, Celtic Fringe, Exit 13, The Innisfree Poetry Journal, Lachryma and Hidden Oak. He has written "The Joy of Lex"— an upbeat romp, in sonnet form, which tells the story of life with Lex. "Othering" is his mss of 150 sonnets which recounts the journey of a person who others, who becomes "an other" as he faces a burgeoning physical disability. He has also penned "The Captivity of St Patrick"— a 700 pg novel which provides a window on fifth-century Ireland.



Doug Holder

Mrs. Moot
and her son
jowl to jowl
on the couch
staring at the screen
frozen on a Jeopardy question.

Mrs Moot
breast feeds him
Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Full
he curls into a middle-age fetus.

For over 20 years Doug Holder worked on an inpatient psych ward at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass. For many of those years he ran poetry groups for clients. His work, both poetry and articles have appeared in: Home Planets News, Kalediscope, Caesura, Best Poem, Poetry.About. Com and many others. In 2007 he was nominated for two Pushcart Prizes by the Cervena Barva Press and sunnyoutside. He is the founder of the Ibbetson St. Press of Somerville, Mass.



One Pack of Smokes
Katherine Valasek

yes I remember the days when cigarettes were only
a dollar thirty

now at 34
I get carded

long ago that hour was
when my mother would send me off to the corner store
to buy her salem sweet cigarettes

a simple note
with her crooked English
feeling each word come
alive in my hand
gladly and freely riding my bike
through
the California gravel
pretending to run away

I'd ask for the pack
turn over the note
another complying sir
who never even looked down

home again
I'd give her the cigarettes
waiting and watching
as she'd pour herself another glass
one more afternoon
with my father
gone

Katherine Valasek is a working mother of two children who lives just outside of Chicago. She works for a publishing company, and in her spare time, writes poetry and short fiction. She has a BA in Creative Writing from the University of Illinois at Chicago.




High in the right field stands, chaired with wheels, knowing he will never feel the grass beneath his feet, never feel the chalk lines go like clouds under foot, never face a foreign pitcher, or dare a steal, a boy of bright eyes and sad legs lets go; he tries to measure the speed a fastball has, the gyrations of a knuckleball or a dipsy doodler.
Only when he feels the weight of his father's tears does he smile. The scoreboard never shows it or the box score in the next day's newspaper, but one man remembers, two rows back, three seats over, forever.

Tom Sheehan's Epic Cures, short stories from Press 53, received an IPPY award. A Collection of Friends, memoirs from Pocol Press, was nominated for The Aldren Memoir Award. This Rare Earth & Other Flights, poems, came from Lit Pot Press. He's the recipient of a Silver Rose Award from ART and the Georges Simenon Award from New Works Review for short story excellence. He has nine Pushcart and two Million Writer and one Dzanc Best of the Web nominations. He's published three mystery novels, four books of poetry and co-edited two books on his hometown of Saugus, MA, 3500 sold to date of 4500 printed ($42 each, all proceeds to Saugus High grads via the John Burns Scholarships John, 92, was a teacher for 63 years in Saugus).

(Side note: He meets again soon for a lunch/gab session with pals, the ROMEOs, Retired Old Men Eating Out, 92/79/78, the co-editors. He can hardly wait to see them. His pals will each have one martini, he'll have three beers, and the waitress will shine on them.)




Restless
Fiona C. Y. Wan

An urge to move
But a need to stop moving

My body settles
As my mind continues racing

The guilty feeling of inaction
Yet an inability to stir

The indecision to act
Overwhelms my conscience

A need to escape
But obligation binds me

Fear of tomorrow
Is another today

Fiona C. Y. Wan lives in Chicago, where she is a third-year college student majoring in Criminal Justice and Pre-Law studies.




Patella
Jan English Leary

It slips, pops, grinds,
a bouncing ball of bone
that won't stay in its groove.
I'm terrified it will jump the tracks
and send me once again
to the ground, felled, earth bound, stricken,
a sprawling, screaming problem for
the paramedics, who somehow
have to hoist me, just so, gently,
oh please be careful.
Stretcher, air packs, splints,
nothing works to dull the pain
until Morphine flows,
and I don't care anymore how they probe and push.
I forget my limbs, I fuzz into bodiless bliss
and find that I am in love with my doctor,
in love with the orderly,
in love with the EMT,
who has come to retrieve his blanket
that I thought he left as a love token for me.

Jan English Leary is a short-story writer and has published in such journals as The Minnesota Review, The Literary Review, Carve Magazine, River Oak Review, Karamu and others. She received an MFA from Vermont College in Prose and taught creative writing at both the high school and the college levels. She retired from teaching after many years and lives with her husband in Chicago.




Traditions
Oleh Lysiak

My shriveled father lies diapered,
in hospital bed in the living room.
Who is this man, he asks my mother.
Fifty years of struggle and misunderstanding
the son of a bitch doesn't remember me.
He asks for a beer and a cigarette.
She panics.
Give him his beer.
I light a Marlboro, hand it to him.
We bury him in the traditions of his tribe.
I dress in black. My mother wears a veil.
Post funeral we stop at the state store
for a bottle of Herradura anjeo. Mom,
meet my friend, tequila, get a couple glasses,
sit down. We drink and reminisce in the dark,
silent dining room where she served lifetimes.

Oleh Lysiak sells figured hardwoods to support his writing habit. He makes wood toys for his grandkids and rides an 85 K100RS for theraputic reasons. Lysiak has written three books.