May 26, 2011

5.4. Denny E. Marshall: 3 drawings

"Three Sides"


"Line Worker"

Denny E. Marshall live in the Midwest and has had art and poetry recently published.

See also: 4 drawings

May 19, 2011

5.3. Gary Glauber: 4 poems

We were the Sun

The musty basement couch was an ugly brown

and the fluorescent lighting poor at best,

but teenage romance adapts to any surroundings.

Tales from Topographic Oceans served as odd choice

for background music, the bells and tinkling percussion

did not suggest love, per se, but hours were spent

listening to repeated plays, kissing until mouths were

sore, groping to explore places that could never

be touched in public. There was passion and innocence,

the two an odd but memorable pairing, even now,

so many decades later. And the irony is that when

the song “Ritual” played its familiar refrain,

“Nous sommes du soleil /we love when we play,”

we were in fact playing at love.

Solo at Midnight

She’s never around

when the lava lamps bubble up

and he’s ready for battle,

plugged in, making vibration

an integral part of the sound.

As that clock counts down to zero,

he plays another ironic solo,

furiously shredding,

a showering crescendo of notes.

The band-a-thon runs long this year,

twelve bands covering a wide realm

of adolescent angst and rage.

Each millisecond’s song

says, “Listen to my heart.”

His says, “Why have you forsaken me?”

Postcard from the Old Man’s Barn

Can’t take another mention

of the phoebes living in the mailbox,

or the errant few in the rafters above.

The table’s full of antique farm implements

from when the white-haired gent policed the premises.

He was an uneasy man who liked to work alone,

a craftsmen of words, seeking perfection and a legacy;

most agree he achieved both. And now we come here

to appreciate the rousing views of the nearby mountains,

seeking his ghost’s inspiration and guidance

in hopeful sighs hence,

that whatever roads taken (or not) today

might still make a difference overall.

Party Animal

On the shoulders of influence,

your doppelganger stands proudly,

shaking hands, bantering with no hesitation,

braying bon mots that regale eager listeners.

Your old reputation for placid timidity

is promptly disposed, and laid to rest quickly

by this didymous functionary’s mastery

of you, the gestures, the implications,

the idiosyncrasies that comprise and define,

the je ne sais quoi of quixotic whimsy

that charms and delights all takers.

Yet you are more shocked than grateful,

seeing yourself from above, a stranger

plied by alcohol’s magic, working the room

like a visiting hypnotist, reciting short

incantations that may never work on the morrow,

leaving expectations bound to disappoint

come the harsh light of dawn and beyond.


Gary Glauber is a poet, fiction writer, teacher, and music journalist. One of his works was nominated for a Pushcart Prize, another was named “A Notable Online Story” by StorySouth’s Million Writers Award panel. He took part in The Frost Place’s conference on teaching poetry. His work has appeared in 42 Opus, Hobart, Word Riot, Pindeldyboz, Smokelong Quarterly, and elsewhere. Some of his poems will be appearing in upcoming issues of The Compass Rose and StepAway Magazine.

May 9, 2011

5.2. Marie Shield: 1 flash/story

Affirmative Action

Her mother had been pushing Alice to the brink of madness for thirty-eight years. For the last twenty, Mom’s determination to drive her crazy had been aided and abetted by Alice’s philandering husband, by a boss who took credit for all her good work and blamed her when anything went wrong, and now her three teenage children - amend that, the three delinquent Goth creatures who inhabited her home - drained her wallet, her energy and what little patience Alice had left.

Mom never asked Alice to do anything. She demanded it. It wasn’t necessary for Mom to mention all that she’d done for her daughter, all of her flaws and mistakes, or what a horrible disappointment Alice was. A look, a tear, a gulp from Mom and Alice dissolved in a puddle of guilt.

Neither of her parents drove. Mom claimed her eyesight was failing and, after his third DUI, Dad permanently lost his driving privileges and was ordered to attend AA meetings. His sponsor drove him everywhere. Alice had no idea where or how Dad and his sponsor spent their days and evenings together. She didn’t ask.

When Alice hesitated about attending an Al-Anon meeting with her mother, the reminder that Mom had stayed with Alice’s drunken father for forty years for the sake of Alice and now for the grandchildren was all it took. She caved in and drove Mom to the All-Christian Methodist Church of Murray, Minnesota. She wondered who went to church besides Christians but knew better than to question her mother.

The church basement was divided, one large room where the alcoholics met every evening at seven o’clock, and smaller rooms for other groups including the long suffering Al-Anon members.

Alice saw her dad on his way into the big room. He winked at her. She winked back. She never wondered why Dad drank. She knew. But she did wonder why he would consider spending whatever was left of his life un-anesthetized.

She took her seat among the morose women and gritted her teeth while they prayed the Serenity Prayer. Alice could hear the laughter and clapping coming from the big room, smelled the cigarette smoke and wished she could join the fun.

The women took turns sharing their stories of how they suffered, each trying to top the last with a more miserable tale. Then one woman who looked less grim than the rest began to speak about her journal and how she started every morning by writing an affirmation in it. She shared some of them: Today I will not kill anyone. Today I will remember it will make me happier to flip someone off than not to do so. Today I will be kind to someone who may be a psychopath, namely myself. A few of the women smiled and Alice laughed out loud.

The meeting ended at nine. Alice drove her mother home and all but pushed her out of the car so she could make it to Borders to buy herself a journal before they closed.

On the way back to her house she stopped and bought a bottle of Stolichnaya and some cocktail onions. Pulling back onto the street, she braked hard and gave the guy who made an illegal left turn in front of her the middle finger salute. As soon as she got home she made herself a martini.

She called her office and left her boss a message. “I won’t be in tomorrow.” She paused. “Or any other day. I quit.”

She called her husband’s latest mistress and told her to keep him. None of her children were at home. She made a sign and taped it to the front door.

To The Children of Alice Purdue:
You are no longer welcome here. Your behavior is unacceptable.
Clean up your act.

She relented, took it back down and signed it: Love, Mom. Then stuck it back on the door.

Alice opened her new journal and wrote: Today I attended my first and last Al-Anon meeting.


Marie retired from her day job in 2003 to become a fiction writer. Her short stories have recently been published in Long Story Short, The MacGuffin, Insolent Rudder, Houston Literary Review, Timber Creek Review, Apollo's Lyre, Stymie Magazine, Linnet's Wings, and others. Excerpts from a novel in revision have been published in the anthologies See You Next Tuesday, Pen-siev and others. She won an Excellence in Writing Award at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference, first place Flash Fiction Winner Abbey Hill Literary Contest, semi-finalist Black Lawrence Chapbook Competition, honorary mention Masks and Mirrors contest, finalist West Side Story Contest and various other awards. She lives in the Los Angeles area with her husband Michael.

May 3, 2011

5.1. Donal Mahoney: 3 poems


In the waiting room, I squeeze
this old rosary a nun gave me
the day I got back from Iraq.

I was still in a daze on a gurney
and I still had sand in my hair.
Some of it remains, no matter

how many showers I take.
Sand from Iraq lingers, I'm told,
until you go bald, and then

you are able to concentrate
on other things.
What might they be, I wonder.

But today, in this waiting room,
I squeeze the rosary tighter
when I hear, louder than

the gunshots crackling in my dreams,
the real screams of that little boy
right over there, the one who's

rapped his elbow off the radiator.
Lord, listen to him scream!
Each week he comes with his mother

for her follow-up appointment.
He sounds like the jet
that takes me back at night

to that little village in Iraq
where the sand puffs up
in mushroom clouds

above the bullets
as the children scream
in their hovels louder

than that little boy
screaming over there.
Maybe everyone

in this waiting room
listening to him scream
can come with me now

to that village in Iraq.
Sitting here, I know
that boy's pain so well

that in my fist
this rosary no longer
knows my prayers.

It's All in the Wrists, Said Ted Bundy

The others, of course, are more rabid than I
but less apt to show it.

Whenever I strike, I never romp off.
I stand with the wrist that I've snatched

from the lady locked in my teeth
as I wait with a smile for the wagon.

As one of the few wrist-snatchers
still on the streets of Chicago,

I make all of my rounds in old tennies.
I dive for the purse hand, give it a whack,

and sever the wrist without slobber,
then stand like a Vatican Guard

with her wrist in my teeth until
I am certain I have no pursuers.

In my dreams every night I can see
all of those women whose wrists

I have had in my teeth.
They stand at their bus stops

like Statues of Liberty,
shrieking and waving their stumps like flares

as I wait for their screams
to bring to a frieze

the patrol cars glowing
in the middle of the street.

Paddy Murphy's Wake

The priest had been here earlier and the rosary was said
and relatives and friends in single file were offering condolences.
"Sorry for your troubles," one by one they said,
bending over Maggie Murphy, silent in her rocker,
a foot or so from Paddy, resplendent in his casket,
the two of them much closer now than they had ever been.
A silent guest of honor, Paddy now had nothing more to say,
waked in aspic, if you will, in front of his gothic fireplace.

But the hour was getting late and still the widow hadn't wept.
Her eyes were swept Saharas and the mourners wanted tears.
They had fields to plow come morning and they needed sleep
but the custom in County Kerry was
no one leaves a wake until the widow weeps.

Fair Maggie could have married any man in Kerry,
according to her mother, who almost every day reminded her of that.
"Maggie," she would say, "you should have married Mickey.
His limp was not that bad," but Maggie wouldn't listen.
Instead, she married Paddy, "that pestilence out walking"
as her mother often called him
even on a Sunday but only after Mass.

Maggie married Paddy the day he scored the only goal
the year that Kerry took the trophy back from Galway.
That goal was no small thing, Paddy would remind us all forever
until one of us would gag and buy him another drink.
That goal, he'd shout, was something historians would one day note,
even if they hadn't yet, and every time he'd mention it,
which was almost daily, Maggie's mother would remind her daughter
that she should have married Mickey and had a better life.
The final time her mother praised poor Mickey,
a screaming match ensued, so loud it woke the rooster
the day before her mother, feverish in bed,
gurgled like a frog and died.

This evening, though, as the wake wore on,
the mourners grew more weary
waiting for the tears the widow hadn't shed.
Restless in his folding chair, Mickey put his bottle down
and rose to give the eulogy it had taken days to memorize.
"Folks," he said, "if all of us would holler down to Paddy now,
he'd holler back, I'm sure, and tell us,
despite the flames and all that smoke, that Kerry
winning over Galway is all that ever mattered, even now.
We'll always have cold Paddy over there to thank for that."

The Widow Murphy hadn't moved all evening,
but after hearing Mickey speak, she began to rock with fury
as she raised a purple fist, shook it to the heavens
and then began to hum her favorite dirge.
The mourners all joined in and hummed along until
midnight pealed on the mantel clock and then,
as if released by God Himself, the mourners one by one
rose from folding chairs and left in single file, let loose
by a hurricane of the Widow Murphy's tears.

Donal Mahoney has had poems published in Matt McGee's Falling Star Magazine and other publications in the United States, Europe, Asia and Africa.