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Still Dreams
Dave Davis

He has not much to show
for his years of living.
He is cautious but not wise;
poor, but not hungry.
He has seen things
and lived in hard places,
but his life is not far
removed from those
of his neighbors.
He is there
in a rented room,
strong with the smell of whiskey
and quiet in the early morning
with not much to say
and no place left to go.
His soul,
once a bell,
is now an anvil,
and all his dreams
still dreams.

Now retired, Mr. Davis dabbles in writing, fishing, and cooking. His work has been (or will be) published in Boston Literary Magazine, Eclectic Flash, Journal of Microliterature, and Pot Luck Magazine.




Life with Teenagers
Laura Gail Grohe

Sometimes it feels
like living with angry bees.

Spinning and stinging
panicked and loud,

and no mud
to soothe the bites
upon face and arms.

Laura Gail Grohe spent her formative years living in downtown Boston, playing in the fountain at Christian Science Center. She currently makes her home and writes her poetry in Greenfield Massachusetts.




The Buchanan Waltz
Bob Zappacosta

Jack wants to write about the snow
falling down from heaven, how each flake
is unique, yet the same. (paralyzed,
frozen molecules.) A blanket of white
waiting for spring.

Yet few understand
or even care for such words. So instead
he writes about the woman sitting
next to him on the edge of a bar stool,
whose pussy is as slippery as her lips

which she continually licks after each sip
of her margarita. The salty rim glistens
in the low light of a neon bar sign,
and outside—the snow continues
to fall.

Bob Zappacosta's poems have been published by The Aurorean, Bowersock Gallery, Pasco Arts Council, PEARL, St. Petersburg Times, Tampa Tribune, and Verdad. His poetic short film "Jack Buchanan—rough cut, a work in progress" was recently shown at Progress Energy Art Gallery.




California
Laura Rodley

The night I said good bye
to my daughter a red tailed
hawk flew in the updrafts
over her boyfriend’s house.
It soared above our open
eyes and open mouths
a cup of hope
we both drank in.
It’s showing off
said Emma as it
soared behind the green oak trees
returned hovered without
one flap, a light edge
to its curved soaring. Its white
underneath flashed white
a peace flag our eyes
held hands together
to see, a peace flag draped
over our shoulders then we
dipped our heads to eat
and it was gone


Alma Mater
Laura Rodley

For Jean

She listens with her skin
to the air that floats across her arms
to the rain that splats the roof.
She listens with her skin
to the sighs of the old people
sitting in the nursing home,
with her forearm tests their forehead
with her shoulder rests their bodies
with her feet helps them to stand
with her hands helps them to eat
with her fingers rubs lotion on their skin
listening just as well as hers
to her touch.
In this they are one
not old, not young, just alive.

Laura Rodley's chapbook Rappelling Blue Light was nominated for a Mass Book Award and won honorable mention for the New England Poetry Club's Jean Pedrick Award. Her work has been twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize and also Best of the Net. Her latest chapbook, also published by Finishing Line Press is Your Left Front Wheel is Coming Loose.




Arguments
Steve Meador

You should know that in spring a southern oak hammock
is not unlike the northern forest in fall. Breezes pluck
weakened leaves, which tap and patter against branches
and twigs on a whirlybird flight to decay and enrichment.
Why do I tell you this? Because you know there are two
poles on earth, both frozen, and that hurricanes swirl in
the opposite direction in Australia than they do in Florida.
Because there is a north and south, and an east and west,
regardless of where you stand. Because some days we rise,
go separate directions, but always collide for a nighttime kiss.

Steve Meador's book Throwing Percy from the Cherry Tree, released by D-N Publishing in 2008, was an entrant for a National Book Award and a Pulitzer Prize for poetry. He has been widely published, in print and online, resulting in multiple Pushcart and other nominations. Pudding House released two of his chapbooks in 2007, A Good Sharp Knife, and Pack Your Bags. A real estate broker in Calif, Ohio and Florida for the last 30 years, Steve currently lives in the Tampa area. thedisgruntledwriter.blogspot.com.




Date Nerves
Thommy Melanson

I'd have an easier time terraforming Mars
with a packet of Chia Pet seeds and a spork
then getting you to discuss the possibility there's no god
So let's open this bottle now and your mind later
and nurse our golden anguish
There's reason to your left and superstition to your right
but keep the blindfold in place if it brings you comfort
There's either security or fear in the dark
depending on where you think the light will eventually come from
an overhead bulb or an overhead consciousness
Perhaps it's all as over our heads as seagulls emptying their bowels on us
as we lie on the beach soaking up cancer
and splashing in the waste and remains of a billion trillion lifeforms
Ah, well, finish your drink and let's get rollin'
The night is young
relatively speaking


Secret Cat Knowledge
Thommy Melanson

The Maine Coon always claims whatever spot
I was just in
For the warmth
the chair, the bed, the floor
There is wisdom in his dander, shed whiskers and yes,
even his sick that I get up to clean.
For he knows that I am not as cold as other creatures that share
my bed would claim.

When not typing about himself in the third person, Thommy Melanson writes short stories in comic book/graphic novel anthologies, as well as horror and science fiction tales. Among his proudest achievements was having his time travel comedy "Theoretical Mechanics" published in Layer Zero Vol. 2 by the Edinburgh-based Insomnia Publications UK...because there's a sweeeeet castle there. He also has a disturbing fascination with '80s metal music and '70s kung fu flicks.





Soft mouth open, over notebook bent,
She gripped her pen. Embarrassed and perplexed,
I glanced at her. My classmates craned their necks.
She paused a moment, vexed, then bit her pen,
Tilted head and bent again. Her sketch
Still hidden in the hollow of her arm.
Did she understand or grasp what was meant
By the assignment? Could she know the harm?
An exasperated teacher asked us, could
We draw the privates of the other sex,
Then left to smoke. Remembering how we stood
Around her, marveling at the detailed curls,
Laurels ’round a splendid shaft, erect,
I’m astonished at the minds of little girls.


Survivor
Hollis Robbins

Eating out was always a formal affair:
Papa decided, we’d scamper off to dress
And mama would threaten to keep us home unless
We promised to behave and comb our hair.
Jade Delight had dragons everywhere.
We’d eat with sticks and always make a mess.
When the plates were taken away papa would bless
And pass the fortune cookies with solemn care.
He’d open his up and read “Help!” with real distress.
“I’m a prisoner in the fortune cookie factory!”
"Mama," he’d say, "ve haf a responsibility!
Venever a person’s in prison ve must act!
Never forget." Then he’d drink his tea.
A stain of plum sauce always brings it back

Hollis Robbins teaches literature, poetry, and aesthetics at the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins. This year her poems have appeared in Per Contra and Bridges, a Jewish Feminist Journal. Her most recent scholarly article is a study of census politics in William Wordsworth’s “We are Seven” (1798), published in English Language Notes 48.2.




End of the World
Oleh Lysiak

Sheen black Josh was on for gassing in the
morning at the Kodiak Humane. I needed a
dog would keep unwanted visitors from my
door, bailed him out. Josh jumped in the Land
Rover, skinned back slobbery black lips, pink
gums, flashy white teeth in a wide smile, licked
testicles, erection and smiled again. No mistaking
he was pleased. Hooked to a twenty foot chain,
he patrolled the yard, dragged me through the
park on walks. The Humane lady said he’s a
Labrador Newfoundland cross weighs a hundred
thirty pounds, a runner, won’t stay put. Josh was
an imposing sight fulfilling public relations duties
in front of my trailer. His growl chilled visitors to
immediate retreat. Not one Watchtower hustler
braved Josh’s scrutiny on this island in the Gulf
of Alaska where a sign at the airport declares
“This Isn’t The End Of The World But You Can
See It From Here.” Josh flew home with me,
stayed when I needed him. He eased out one
morning, on his own, free, smiling, not cowering
in a chamber waiting for politically correct lethal
gases to snuff his unique entertaining quirks.


Sanctity
Oleh Lysiak

Myron Polochaylo had an Esso station when
gasoline was seventeen cents a gallon and cars
looked like America. He was a good guy, patient,
understanding, easy going, drove a big green
finned Chrysler, had a hefty nudist magazines
stash tucked away under the clean rag pile in
the toilet. I pumped gas for Myron summers,
studied un-airbrushed female anatomy in the
sanctity of the station’s john. Masturbation mad
I surrendered flogged virginity to a neighborhood
Ukrainian girl who looked to be in her twenties,
juicy, brunette, dark wide-set eyes. I was sixteen.
She was twelve, needed no prodding or convincing.
The divine benevolence of her intercession saved me
from going blind and opened treasures I explored
enthusiastically for decades. Myron, who survived a
world war, nazis, commies, immigration, was murdered
by a black punk American whose dreams of a better
life ended pathetically at Myron’s cashbox.

Oleh Lysiak is writing Displaced, a memoir, while he can still remember what happened. He is also writing Sluts, Scammers and Longshots, a poetry collection. He has written Scars in Progress, The Chromium Kid in the American Zoo, Barely Inside the Lines, and Filet & Release.




You Made Me a Slave to Silver
Mary Pacifico Curtis

Finally
I unpacked the finery
and found demitasses,
glassware, silver
and pieces of china,
the pastel floral ones you sent
years ago
then forging
a long distance bond
of shared sets.

Though you’ve been dead
almost four years after ninety three
this unpacking has returned me
to our early life as mother
and daughter through tarnish
and compulsive friction
applied over the sink with
paste and my characteristic
determination to shine.

Mary's day job is as CEO of a Silicon Valley public relations firm. Her poetry and prose have been published in Lost Magazine, Longstoryshort.us, languageandculture.net, Unheard Magazine, Clutching at Straws, Kaleidoscope (the literary anthology of Los Positas College), and most recently the Crab Orchard Review. She has completed a memoir—as yet unpublished , and is working on a chapbook.




Waking Hour
Shelley Holder

With the precision of the many machines
I am tied, wired, and tubed to
in gear-like regularity
my eyes effortlessly blink awake
at 3 a.m. in the morning
whether I feel asleep at six, or ten
or at 2:37 just minutes before

Perhaps there is something in the IV fluid
a hidden suggestion susceptibility drug
to cause such fortuitous behavior
(policy draws blood at three thirty
but apparently I like to lay awake
in preparation)

I'd joke about brain-washing, but I'm
already on chemo
losing neurons, memory, functionality
drip by insidious
drip

Shelly Holder is an undergraduate at the College of William and Mary. Her poems have appeared in or will be shortly published in Mandala Journal and Everyday Poets among others.




Incurable Romantic
Chris Bullard

For John Kelly (1959-1992)

You loved the intrigue and the dangers
In your flings with handsome strangers,
So planned for this, one last affair,
A visit to a pied-a-terre
With him of the perpetual grin,
Black-clad, imperious, and thin,
That most significant other,
Who would put you back together
By granting you a happy ending.
With him, it’s always “the real thing.”
Now, at Holy Sepulchre Park,
In summary of your short arc,
We praise you in the present tense
As though by speech we might make sense
Of senselessness. And, yet, we’re forced
To admit our own intercourse
With him whose clever seduction
Is not negation, or destruction,
But acceptance. So some desire
To give to darkness all their fire
And lose themselves in that embrace
While others seek there a state of grace.
As for us, we shall conjure up
Some place for you in our gossip
About the dead, imagining
A heaven, for the time being,
In which you shall stay beautiful,
Though part of some other circle.

Chris Bullard is a native of Jacksonville, FL. He lives in Collingswood, NJ, and works for the federal government as an Administrative Law Judge. He attended the University of Pennsylvania and is currently enrolled in the writing program at Wilkes University. His work has appeared in Green Mountains Review, Nimrod, Pleiades, Atlanta Review and other literary magazines. One of his sonnets was featured in the recent Tribute to the Sonnet issue of Rattle. In July of 2009, Plan B Press published his chapbook, You Must Not Know Too Much.




Sex Education
Robert N. Watson

When you have intercourse the teacher said you lose
Your virginity. Then if you have a kid you’re bound to
Lose your certainty, or get brutal in protecting it.
If you don’t have a kid, you get brittle instead.
And if you lose the kid, Dad gets bitter and loses
Faith in God and that gets called “losing his way,”
Though it’s just a man looking closely at what almost
Always happens, and the story is not to be published
Until he stops fighting off loving God again,
Unanguished by the sight of a neighbor child,
You know, chasing a colored ball laughing
Across a lawn. So damn the lies and answers,
Honor the pain and the questions, says the teacher.
Keep your shirt on, is the note the girl takes home.

Robert N. Watson is Distinguished Professor of English at UCLA. His poetry has appeared in The New Yorker, The Antioch Review, Prairie Schooner , Ariel, and other journals. His latest book is Back to Nature: The Green and the Real in the Late Renaissance, which received prizes for the year’s best environmentalist study of literature, and the year’s best book on Renaissance literature.




Lost Language
Ian C. Smith

When I left he gave me a final lift
to the dismal town, end of the line.
I was catching the last train to the city.
I heaved cheap bags from his latest Ford.
He clenched his fists, almost whispering
this man of the garden, of moody silences
of khaki overalls and invisible shield
describing me in bruising terminology
which should not have surprised
except that he had offered the lift
in front of Mum who would be outraged
by his army language, its martial cadence.
I knew the word for a woman’s sex.
I day-dreamed of this much of the time
still do on quiet days of retrospection.

Driving back, did he glance in the mirror
see his face backlit by the night’s lamps
park his empty car at his blinded house
tell Mum everything went OK?
He might have smelled the grave’s rot
wished he was a young soldier again
realized how so many familiar things
fall away without us even knowing.

Ian C Smith’s work has appeared in The Best Australian Poetry, Descant, Island, Magma, The Malahat Review, Southerly,& Westerly. His latest book is Lost Language of the Heart, Ginninderra (Adelaide). He lives in the Gippsland Lakes area of Victoria, Australia.




Okay
Laury Egan

Okay
is C minus
          just getting by
          not failing
hands on the bar
          no pull up

Okay
is dull
          lackluster
          washed out color
barely awake
          dozing

Okay
is fog
          lack of night
          or sunlight
humming
          not singing

Okay
is unscented
          plain air
water not wine
a needle past neutral
          a hair right of center

Okay
is fifty-eight degrees
          too cold
          not quite warm
a Chevrolet
          liverwurst and not pâté

Okay
is feeling blah
          sometimes sighing
an ache that can
          be borne
          just surviving

Laury A. Egan’s first full-length poetry collection, Snow, Shadows, a Stranger, was released from FootHills Publishing in 2009. Her second volume, Beneath the Lion’s Paw, is scheduled for publication in 2011. Her work has received nominations for a Pushcart Prize, Best of the Web, and Best of the Net and has appeared in Atlanta Review, Welter, The Emily Dickinson Awards Anthology, The Ledge, Centrifugal Eye, Willows Wept Review, Ginosko, Sea Stories, Leaf Garden, Diverse Voices Quarterly, Main Channel Voices, Boston Literary Magazine, Lowestoft Chronicle, Caper Literary Journal, Halfway Down the Stairs, Best of Foliate Oak 2010, and anthologies by Static Movement Press and Sephyrus Press. In addition, she writes fiction and is a fine arts photographer. Web site: www.lauryaegan.com




Goodyear
Elizabeth Maurer

We drove through dense fog
to the Austin airport when I was six
to see the blimp in its natural habitat.
Our family
entertainment on a Saturday night.

I straddled the drive shaft
in the back seat of our blue VW bug
inching forward
before safety belt laws,
my infant brother on our mother's lap
in the front seat, oblivious and adored,
his father at the wheel.
My father too, but only recently.

When he was driving,
love and belonging adopted
and warmed us on our way
to that large craft in our tiny one,
our little tin can was safe
because love was so new,
we swam in it,
buoyed through mist, though
doubt crept in
around my sleepy eyes,
where the real
and hoped for take hold.

I didn't yet know the vagaries
of familial drifts, unpredictable
as Texas weather.
Mother's rage against her own
darkness untethered and rising
like a flaming dirigible.

Her image finally appeared,
exposed in our headlights,
foreboding, as we closed in,
despite my vigilance, leaning.

But this Saturday,
turned port side by her whirring trim tab,
the beast looked on our size with pity
as men at her feet struggled to hold her.
She would have her way again,
rising and hovering. Ominous
as silence before a storm.

Elizabeth Maurer is an arts activist, mother of zero, step-grandmother of many. She enjoys working and playing with other people's children in the arts and runs a writer's group for high school students. She holds a masters degree in Existential Phenomenological Clinical Psychology. When Elizabeth isn't thinking about the cultural evolution of our species, she is rounding up the usual suspects to back her in a gig: vocal jazz is one of her passions, and playing percussion with a local community band. She lives with her husband, Steve, also a poet, and their dog Sombra.




I Always Hated
Casey Quinn

i always hated
the smell of nail polish

a toxic stench she would leave
in the living room
i’d plead for her
to paint those nails red
elsewhere,
anywhere,
a place where i wasn’t

and she would leave me to be
my miserable self
and i never knew how to say
stay

randomly i find myself alone
and catch a whiff
of nail polish

the scent
is perfume

Casey Quinn lives in Charlotte, North Carolina with his wife and two dogs. Over 300 of his poems have been published in either print or online venues. His second chapbook, Prepare to Crash, was released in 2009 by Big Table Publishing and was reviewed by The Pedestal Magazine who wrote “Quinn’s voice feels personal, causal, and familiar. He uses common speech to achieve the extraordinary. As such, Quinn’s poems are usable. They’re the type of poems one might transpose onto a small piece of notepaper to send as a missive.”





A long time ago,
I wasn’t so exceedingly rare.
The countryside contained me and
so many of my friends—
little blurry dots as
cars rushed by,
hill crest to hill crest,
past my skin bright, vibrant green, taut.
It’s now faded, chipped. The spring before last,
a chunk of my left leg fell off.

Now fewer stop to fill their tanks,
and more now than ever I sit
watching over the occasional local’s truck
dripping oil in the cracked blacktop parking lot.
Each season I weather:
snow and bow around my neck
then paint peeling hot
when kids, loose and free,
hang on me. My neck cramps
but I remain steady for my colleagues
and the Sinclair Oil Company.

Teenagers come see me too,
usually late and loud. After we close
blissful night is disturbed
and I’m left to defend
against puke, piss, or a young man’s
lewd, suggestive pose.
My footing, loose as it is,
still keeps me from roaring after.

Last winter with cold in my steel rebar bones
and an ache in the cement patching my knee,
a middle-aged man, a professional junker,
offered to cart me off,
after which the station owner said,
“If only he had not tried to low-ball me.”

Casey Francis is a currently pursuing a graduate degree in English at New Mexico Highlands University, but will always be a Nebraskan at heart. He has published work in Quincy University's Riverrun Magazine and blogged for the Center for Rural Affairs on their Blog for Rural America www.cfra.org/blog.




Grocery Day
Rae Rose

She wanted to fly to Ireland,
Greece, Portugal. She wanted to see
The Bronte Parsonage Museum,
study each lace collar and tiny shoe.
She wanted to climb sand dunes
in long strides, her breath quick as the sea.

Today is Saturday. Grocery day.
Her husband will be home tonight,
he will be hungry.

She looks at the map he drew for her,
every aisle a line of blue ink.

Tiny stars marking certain items—
         stars for tomato Campbell Soup,
         stars for ginger-ale.

Her shopping cart's front left wheel squeaks
and sticks, but she pushes on—
following each constellation

as a checker makes an announcement
over the intercom, there is a sale on rye bread.
Bread without a star,
bread not on his list.

Rae Rose's poetry and fiction have appeared in The Pedestal Magazine, Cicada, THEMA, Earth's Daughters, Raleigh Review, Roads Poetry and The San Diego Poetry Annual.




Bankrupt
John Lander

Fluorescence floats in planted rows,
synthesized, provides potted cubes
bulbous blooms in grays and yellows
mute. Limp and strewn birthday balloons
litter soiled floors, rustle gasped breath
at opened doors, awaiting death
by deflation. Lone hangers clank
apologies for stirring rank.

Cornered, an a/c moans discourse,
fiscal hiccups, suits brought against
negligence, wasted strength dispensed
to open windows. Dust outsourced
settles in and pulls up a chair
prepares expansion, share by share,
a low-profile, straw-boss affair
with lump sum yield, buyer beware.

John Lander likes to read and write out of his hammock, where he has become very popular in the Austin, TX mosquito scene. Some of this other work can be found in <>Thieves Jargon, Every Day Poets, and MicroHorror, though he hopes you continue reading the rest of this publication before commencing a search.




Harriet Houdini
Philip Loyd

I used to live with this girl
  years ago when I was young
She was diabetic
  had to take insulin shots every day
I couldn't stand needles
  couldn't stand even watching
It was a good thing
  she had no problem injecting herself

The diabetes made her tired
She took naps a lot
She was moody
  depressed
  and I would have broke it off
  except she was sick
  and I just couldn't do it
  even though I wasn’t in love with her any more

But in the end she was the one who broke up with me
  moved away
  and that was the last I ever heard of her
Until last week
  when her father called
  to tell me she had died

He wanted to know how long she had the habit
  and what I knew about it
I had only spoken to her father once before
  she never talked about him

  The habit
I asked

He told me it was no use playing dumb
  that he knew all about it
Did she pick it up from you
  he said
  and I could tell how angry he was

The heroin
  he said
Was it you who got her hooked on drugs

I never heard from him again

Heroin
I guess it made sense now
  but at the time all I knew was
  she was very sick

Philip Loyd lives in Houston, Texas and is the author of over 200 poems and 44 short stories. His work including essays, articles, poetry, and reviews has appeared in 84 publications in 8 countries with one story even produced for radio in Australia. Included in his many awards is the Hemingway Center Short Story Prize.




Passage to Saturn
Al Ortolani

The rings of Saturn inspired
His imagination. He turned to them often
In his Child’s Glossary of Planets. He would trace
Their colors around the page of the book,
Wishing he could fly through space.
He saved for a telescope
With money hoarded from mowing lawns, all summer
Stuffing dollars in a tube sock.

The raven haired girl in the balcony of the Fox
Had been kissed before. She was wise
To boys, spontaneous and alert.
When he turned his head to kiss
Her cheek, her lips were waiting,
Moist and warm as popcorn butter.
It was the most startling moment
Of his life, and she turned him in circles.

He found that summer that the rings of Saturn
Were not solid, but a band of dust
And light refracting debris, particles held by gravity
And pulled by centrifugal spin. The planet
He saw through his telescope, was not
A place to land a rocket.
It didn’t matter, even if he cut
A lot of lawns or owned the spaceship.

Al Ortolani is a teacher and co-editor of The Little Balkans Review. He lives in the Kansas City area. His poetry has appeared in The Midwest Quarterly, The New York Quarterly, The English Journal and others. His second book of poetry Finding the Edge has been accepted for publication by Woodley Press at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas.




Out of Tune
John Pupo

fingers over keys—
piano out of tune;
still comforts
like from a distant time

a memory
hijacked and skewered
turned upon itself

changed;
made better

fingers trace patterns;
each keystroke
replicating,
stimulating—

I was five;
their voices overpowered
one another
each fighting for dominance

focus on the sound
make it smaller;
compact
until no words
just notes—
a tune

capricious melody
rocking back and forth
in the dark closet
away and free

John Pupo hails from the suburbs of Rochester, NY. He is yearning to break free of his retail shackles. Some of his poetry has been published at Every Day Poets, and in The Shine Journal. Being fairly new to the writing world, he hopes that the madness will take over and consume his every thought.





got it
the copy of Boston Literary Magazine arrived

filled
with poetic words
in pretty formations

flipped
the crisp pages
found
your poem

felt
different on paper
more real
more lovely

I could kiss
your beautiful brain
all night

AJ Smith writes poetry, short stories, and is working on something longer. She likes to hold hands.





She sits by her own table near the barred window,
Sipping laphet tea.
Facebook and Twitter on the PC by the fridge,
Myanmar times by the bed.

Freedom sits by the fireplace,
With two candles, and a box of chocolates,
A 15 year old wine and a western bouquet,
He’s tipsy and sleepy—
Yet won’t leave,
Even when she had told him,
The people outside the window,
Are far more beautiful.

Stephen Ajadi is a graduate of architecture from Nigeria.He is a writer, poet, and installation artist. His art has been featured in a handful of exhibitions with forthcoming solo exhibitions at the African heritage library and the Nigeria Liquified Gas international art forum. He won the grand prize in a teenage poetry competition at the age of sixteen and hasn't stopped writing since. His works have appeared in the Penguin Review (New York) and the Mazwi Journal (Zimbabwe). He has just been given a grant to be a research fellow at the African heritage research library for work on his forthcoming debut collection of poems.He has also published in a number of Nigerian media. He thinks graduate architecture school at MIT is a good idea but he still finds it hard to ignore the experience of an MFA at Columbia university.







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