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Stephan Delbos

With two Moroccan men disguised as guides,
I walked past stalls of boiled snails and spices
To a café where Mick Jagger smoked hashish
In headier days, the late sixties, when the city hosted
Rock stars, writers and pedophiles.
Peppery smoke
Choked the air while men with callused foreheads
Crowded every corner, puffing long
Wooden pipes with tiny bowls.

At the New Art Institute of Tangier,
I'd touched the desk where Paul Bowles wrote,
And climbed at dusk the narrow terrace staircase
As prayer calls like slow sirens wailed
From every mosque across the city,
Harmonizing one by one
By words prescribed in ancient texts
To seed the minds of devotees
With thoughts of righteousness and Mecca.
Chalk houses pocking clay cliffs softened
Pink as sunset streaked across Gibraltar.

The men did not call me brother
When they pushed me hard against a sandstone wall
Outside the train station where I would catch
The southern overnight to Fez.
I couldn't believe their sudden fists and angry faces!
Bare teeth cleaved hot breath, demanding money.
They took seven hundred dirham, eighty dollars,
Left me broke.

But I cannot fail to mention my older 'guide'
Brewing tea while we sat in his concrete hole
Apartment waiting for his son to bring
A cache of couscous and lamb.
A flickering finger of propane flame
From the dying burner tickled the teapot filled
With fresh mint leaves, Lipton, brown sugar.
He poured the first glass quickly back to brew,
Lifted the silver pot above his sun-dark head,
Said Insha'Allah, God willing, and poured again
The fragrant steaming stream, a ribbon
Brimming our glasses with frothy infusion,
Luminous bubbles bursting at my lips.

Stephan Delbos is a New England-born poet currently living in Prague, CZ. His poetry, essays and translations have been published internationally, most recently in Prague Tales, BorderCrossing Berlin and Alehouse Journal. "An Eighty Dollar Poem About Tangier" is one poem in a cycle entitled "Toward Mecca," which draws on his experiences travelling in Morocco. He is currently compiling his first manuscript and working as poetry editor for The Prague Revue.

Basic Currency
Christine Vovakes

Kisses are the only currency
that counts.
They multiply
like gold accumulating.
Lips, reddened,
open wide
to catch spare change
that slips
from your tongue
to mine.

Christine Vovakes lives in northern California. Her articles and photos have appeared in several publications, including The Sacramento Bee, The Washington Post, The Christian Science Monitor, and the San Francisco Chronicle. Vovakes won a Patricia Painton Scholarship at the 2005 Paris Writers Workshop for a piece of short fiction. Her poetry has been published in small journals, most recently in the Spring 2007 issue of Apple Valley Review.

Ghost
Sida Li

I am.
In the jade courtyard where the dust grows,
and through the bitter, deserted room.

I am.
Breathing down his back with my cold fury,
Biting his ears with my icy whispers.

A leaf resting on the barred door
Falls to the floor.
Betrays my silence.

I hear the man gasp.
Scream.
"Who's there?"

I am.

Sida will be attending college in the fall of 2007, where he's planning to minor in creative writing. But until then, he plans on working, hanging out, and doing a whole lot of nothing. Sida's work has also appeared in Antithesis Common.


Haircut
J.W.Hocter

So short, shorter than it's been
Since my little brother,
Drenched in adolescent nonsense
And high-school irreverence
Challenged me to grow…

My wife cut it in the living room,
A bisected trash bag taped to carpet
Catching the falling pieces
Of my normalized comfort
The way I used to look, Me…

A swarm of compliments
Follows me through the first day
Old women and childlike men
Say I look better/great/cute
How hideous I must have been yesterday…

Strangers smile when they pass
As though they know me
Now that I look like one of them
Prim and neatly trimmed
As a properly shorn sheep…

I lay my head down at two
Running my hand under my head
To brush away the lush excess
Which used to be there, now gone
Lost memories of tiny detail…

My wife rolls over as she always does
Draping her arm over my shoulder
Gently running her ticklers over my skin
She nuzzles my neck, whispering sweetly,
"It'll grow back."

J.W. Hocter is a writer living in Ohio.


Highway Prisoners
Victoria Clayton Munn

Small hands rest on tempered glass
sweaty, rimmed with fog silhouettes
faces between the pairs look out
on a world of moving steel monsters.

They don't wave, or smile, or blink
glazed by the hours of road travel,
eyes see all and nothing at once
their hearing dampened
by miles of arguments and '80s rock.

The silent screams from the front seat
issue commands - as wisps of smoke
fill the car with nicotine haze.
Flyaway hair in a halo, as a tired hand
clutches the wheel, steady.

Heeding the voice of impatience
the little captives turn around -
front and center as the car wardens
call them to attention once more.

Victoria Clayton Munn is a freelance writer and poet whose closest friends are pen and paper. Her poetry has previously been published in Poor Mojo's Almanac(k), here in the Boston Literary Magazine, Foliate Oak, and edifice WRECKED. Victoria lives in upstate New York with her husband and daughter.


How it Looks
Joan Mazza

It must seem I've always had
a privileged life, had property, didn't
have to work. New friends didn't know me

when I worked three jobs at minimum wage
(a dollar and a quarter an hour)
took the bus to a city college, saved every penny

I could to buy my first house.
They didn't know me the years
I worked full time in the smelly lab,

went to grad school three nights a week,
paid cash for my therapy four days a week.
They don't know the woman I was

when I pretended to be what men wanted,
sold my Self and my soul
for money, security, a promise.

Joan Mazza has worked as a psychotherapist, certified sex therapist, writing coach, and seminar leader. Author of six books, including Dreaming Your Real Self (Perigee/Penguin), her work has appeared in Potomac Review, Mobius, Permafrost, Writer's Digest Magazine, Playgirl, The Writer and Writer's Journal. She's now a poet in rural Virginia.


Imagine
Blaise Allen, Ph.D.

Late afternoon
we sit on the boardwalk
lean into one another
people pass on the beach
distant laughter
seagulls
take the bait
feel the undercurrent
waves ahead of us
hotel at our backs
we gaze into each others lives

Disregard omens and stars
you take my hand
we sit silently
weigh pros and cons
decide we could
if we weren't caught
up in language
afraid to cut our lines
dig our heels in cooling sand
watch the water darken

do you know that pelicans
dive with their eyes open?
after a few years of fishing
they go blind

Blaise Allen, Ph.D. is the Director of Community Outreach for the Palm Beach Poetry Festival. Her poetry publications include: University of Kansas School of Medicine, Touch, Mothering Magazine, The Walt Whitman Review, The Long Island Quarterly, Flashquake 2006, EWG Presents, This Hard Wind, Ruby Quill, Writers Quill, The Blue Fifth Review, Rock Press Anthology:Irrepressible Appetites. Her work is featured in six juried anthologies published by Poetworks Press.

Injustice
Rebecca Leo

He doesn't call.
I call him twice.
Twice he is sick with migraine.
Third time he says an old girlfriend
Has come back into his life.
They're going to the Newport folk festival.
"Well," I say, "have a nice weekend.
Hope you have a safe trip.
And... I wish you all the best."
"You, too," he says.
I hang up quickly.
Feel queasy,
That sinking sensation of failing again.
Why hadn't I said, "I'm disappointed.
You seem like a nice person,
And I hoped we'd get to know each other better"?
Why hadn't I asked, "Why don't you want to know me?"
Again the injustice
Of not respecting myself,
Not speaking my truth.

Rebecca Leo taught English and writing for many years at high school, college and university levels while writing and publishing poetry and non-fiction. For ten years she led writing groups in the Boston area and provided editing services for writers of various genres. Rebecca edited and contributed two chapters to The Revision Process. Now living in California, she is working on two autobiographical novels. Recently Boston University awarded her a grant to support a screenplay project.


You only think you had a good childhood
while, in fact, all the seesaws were broken
and the swings clanged with loose
chains and splintered wooden seats dangled down.

Just because you laid in the grass
and counted lady bugs, and blew milkweed
into a hundred tiny seeds splayed on a breeze,
and sat in the sun next to your mother
while she read Thumbelina,
doesn't mean you were happy.

Pick the past apart long enough
and you'll remember how sad you were.
Then write your memoir
and tell it all to Oprah.

Christine Vovakes lives in northern California. Her articles and photos have appeared in several publications, including The Sacramento Bee, The Washington Post, The Christian Science Monitor, and the San Francisco Chronicle. Vovakes won a Patricia Painton Scholarship at the 2005 Paris Writers Workshop for a piece of short fiction. Her poetry has been published in small journals, most recently in the Spring 2007 issue of Apple Valley Review.

Scars in Progress
Oleh Lysiak

Vicodin and coffee take the edge off
scars in progress. Post crash recall
tumbles to the border of no return again.
Cute chubby ambulance technician slips
a back road IV in my arm, siren on.
Emergency room doctor rode his Norton
until a $500 speeding ticket upped the ante.
He crams a stint into my lung
to keep it from collapsing any more,
stitches my elbow, congratulates me
for wearing good protective gear.
Where do I find gear that protects me
from myself? The Demerol kicks in.
No more philosophy. I'm in the zone.

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 Zooand Barely Inside the Lines.

Seeing Red
John Thomas Clark

For Brian Brady, M.D.

Doctor Brady, Bronx born fan of the dread
Sox, looked askance at what was on my head —
Not my Yankee cap — on my annual
Check-up. This was straight out of Faneuil
Hall where Samuel Adams and Otis
Hatched plots against the Redcoats. No notice
Would I take of anything sinister
As he said colleagues should administer
A closer look. I was none the wiser,
As this other Red Sox sympathizer
Neared. Along with her wide grin, she wielded
The largest needle on Earth. I yielded
To its contents. When I awoke, "Rule, Red Sox"
Was tattooed across the top of my brain box.

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.