Archives for February 2016


Tad Richards

Soon, all my stories
will be told backwards.
My ingénue will
find love in the first act.
Deflowered in the second,
by the third, she is writing
entries in her journal:
boys she identifies
with cryptic nicknames.

And I’ll learn too late
lie and deceive,
yet use this knowledge
for purposeful blackmail:
I’ve slept with their wives,
serially or in pairs,
winning their trust
with pears and figs.


Zach Walchuk

I saw the first punch coming and was able to duck. Sheila had just come out of the blue house, the one that always smelled like smoke, and she was holding something in her hand. 

“Come look at this,” she said. 

“What is it?” 

“Come closer, take a look.” 

Five minutes earlier Sheila had been crying as she ran inside. Her knee sprouted a raspberry where she had hit the driveway, and for some reason it was my fault. Michael was there too, the fat one who lived in the purple house. I lived in the red house, although it wasn’t entirely red. We had both been chasing her when she tripped. 

“Get over here, you’ll like it.” She held her right hand in a tight fist. 

I walked to her even though I knew what she was doing. When the punch came it was easy to avoid. 

When the second punch came I stood there. It wasn’t any faster, I don’t know why I didn’t move. 

Maybe I had pushed her a little.

With a Little Help from My Friends

Steve Tomasko

“I am large, I contain multitudes.” —Walt Whitman

How, exactly, do I address you, Mixotricha paradoxa? The pronouns get caught in my throat. There’s the core of you—a paramecium sorta guy—but hairy. Those hairs, though, all quarter million of ‘em, are each tiny curlicue bacteria, other beings, rowing in synchrony, pushing you around that sludge inside the termite’s gut you call home. Who’s the coxswain? More little beasts live on your surface, others churn out energy inside, and all schlep together to help that termite digest wood. Are you four separate critters just hanging out inside another? Have you melded into one? Are you an I or a we? Are you contrived from genius, or spit out by random Darwinian thrusts of genes? And why in the world do you have your own Facebook page? How many people want to be your friend?

Sonnet, with home

Steve Tomasko

1. My wife once said I should write more love poems. 2. So I wrote a poem about sloth moths. 3. There really was love in it—to a certain moth, a sloth is home. 4. Home is another word for love. 5. I hope that doesn’t sound trite. 6. Actually, I don’t care if it does. 7. Today I thought I should write another love poem. So, here I am thinking about Sherman Alexie 8. and his #’d sonnets (the form of which I am copying now). I don’t know whether to apologize to my wife or Sherman. 9. Once, while pretending to be bird geeks, my wife and I saw a Caspian tern. It was huge—it hung in the air like the Hindenburg (before it caught fire [the Hindenburg, not the tern]). It looked dangerous (the tern). I thought terns were supposed to be small and delicate. 10. I lied. We weren’t pretending. 11. A sonnet is supposed to have a tern in it. 12. That was just one of our many wanderings (the drive where we saw the Hindentern). 13. There’s nothing easier than driving or walking with, camping or sitting on the couch with, being a bird geek or reading Alexie with my wife. 14. With is another word for home.

Peltier Road

Charles Leggett

—After Stéphane Mallarmé’s “Apparition”

All the bells are ringing or have rung.
I heard them ringing in your mother’s voice
But the clapper alone is punctual.

I thought I sensed the boyhood superhero
Who, cordial and so unaffected, helped
In dreams to banish fear under a close

Brass-hued fog he’s rolling through the years
Along these lanes, the moon-sung valley cows
Regardful, still, between their shudderings.


Trace Ramsey

I was ten years old the first time I butchered an animal. It was early winter, the sun low and cold. I huffed from running after the beagles as they chased a rabbit. The dogs howled as they ran, spreading away from me, galloping feet tracing lines in the snow. I fired once at the rabbit as it crossed to my side. The ear ringing mark of the shotgun echoed among the maples and oaks, long clear of leaves. I ejected the shell, took in the metallic whisper of it. I stood sniffling from the cold, looking at the lump of gray fur that no longer moved. My stepfather came behind me as I stepped silently towards the rabbit.

I wedged the rabbit’s head into the crotch of a tree branch as my stepfather growled instructions. He was a cruel man, always ready to raise his voice and hands. This is the man who kicked my brother in the stomach for forgetting to flush the toilet, who threw me down a set of concrete steps for raking leaves incorrectly, who left bruises the size of oranges just below my mother’s elbows from where he grabbed her and forced her to answer to a slight. Out there among the brambles in the squat forest, he smacked the back of my head and pointed to where I should make the first cut.

I didn’t say prayers at the butchering, didn’t offer thanks. I didn’t think I needed to. My stepfather said it was only a rabbit. Earlier that morning, as I walked the forest on my own, I shot a white-throated sparrow for no reason. I took aim and blasted the small bird into fluff as it perched in a thicket. I had imagined, briefly, that the bird was my stepfather’s eye.

Hospital (2)

Matthew Johnstone

There’s picture I take of some
of me
catching bone       from city floor.


houses       to numb eyes. Sent from
the objects.       Fires seen
shooting from heads.       Death flower
sifted ash       as if it were many.
Floors       that cough. It cannot

be moved loyal away.       Some
mannequin       from its
primal building

apertures. Inside the houses I
lived under.

Hospital (1)

Matthew Johnstone

There is a wall I lean
at       when
the ice breaks apart the house.


knives of wood rum
and milk.       I bite hands.
Clean in planes       intimate
with hooks       pounded
falling air. Sun went badly hail
slapped up       asps. There just

are no straight lines left.       It
loved the earth but could not say.

could not type. Or axe
shut from peeling bark.


Bobbi Lurie

The arms of the trees open wide
We are here for such a short time

Do not imagine this dream is yours

The Codroy Cobblestones

Richard LeBlond

Near the wharf in the southwestern Newfoundland outport of Codroy is a small beach where the ocean stores cobblestones. They look like huge gray potatoes, their surfaces, angles, and corners smoothed and rounded by the constant rolling. One can hear a thousand disunited voices saying “cobble” as each wave rolls them twice, once coming in and again going out. One can also hear a thousand wooden shoes walking in a tunnel walled with stone, or a ruptured storage bin in a bowling-ball factory, or a thousand skulls rolling down a bedrock slope in a catacomb.

Initially I thought the cobble sound obeyed two pulses, the faster pulse with the waves, and a slower one with the tides. On a return visit I was greeted with silence at the cobblestone beach, and assumed I would have to wait for high tide to hear the knock-about rocks again. So I interrupted three fishermen working with gear on the Codroy wharf to find out when the next high tide would be.

“Looks high now,” one of them said, his tone indicating the conversation had run its course.

But I was not deterred. “When I was here last year, the tide was rolling the cobblestones on the beach below the road going up the hill over there.” As I pointed towards the road, I realized I was on the verge of profound silliness, but could not stop myself. “It was a wonderful sound, and I was hoping to hear it again. I thought it happened at high tide.”

“Those was probably storm waves rolling the rocks,” said another fisherman, the look on his face suggesting he was working hard at sounding normal for someone who wasn’t.