May 2016                                            November 2015


May 2016

Jesse Back  | Yuan Changming |  Arianna Hill  |  Alex Marchesi   |  Larry Schug   |  Arae Widgeon





November 2015

Joe Arechavala | Gary C. Beck | William Buege | Molly Cappiello | Christine Degenaars  | 

Darren C. Demaree | Robert Garner McBrearty | Joan McNerney | Michael Mira | Meggie Royer |

Adreyo Sen | Corey Smith | Howard Winn 




Jesse Back

Puttanesca Whore's Food

I had just flown in.

I had her on her new mattress,

in her new town,

new state,

North Carolina.


It had been two months

but she said

that the guy renting her the room

wanted to take us out to eat.


He was tall and skinny,

a sad sort.

His daughter was with her mother

far away in some other state.

He was dyslexic

but a math genius,

and like any genius in any field

he was miserable.

Which is some kind of joke

you don’t laugh at.


He kept saying he wanted Puttanesca

Whore’s food

and he would give a desperate little laugh.


He wasn’t bad,

he just oozed melancholy.


‘Puttanesca means “spaghetti of the whore”’

He explained at this little Italian place.

‘In between johns they would

throw it together for a quick dinner.’


He had a tiny, expensive little car

he said he could make it home in twenty minutes

‘Do it’ I told him ‘even if it kills us all.’

Later, she and I broke in that new mattress

While he missed his daughter below us.


Eventually, we all got lonely. 


Yuan Changming

I Think; Therefore, I Am

But of course being what I am

Does not always require thinking


Being what I am is actually sufficient


Or requires nothing but eating, drinking

Fucking, farting, pissing, pooing and sleeping


Often, being what I am doesn’t even require

Feeling, besides making money by selling


All that I have and/or I am. Indeed


Being what I am requires neither thinking

Nor feeling, now except perhaps writing


I write; therefore, I am

Though I am not what I think



Let us take all the long time we need

To wake up from our overdue dreams

Get out of the bed, and stretch our

Limbs as far as possible for a new morning


Let us take all the long time we need

To listen to the first song of the birds

Watch the rise of this summer sun, feel

The breeze combing each tree with tenderness


Let us take all the long time we need

To enjoy being together with our beloved

Exchange a smile so that they can stay with

Us just a few seconds or even minutes longer


Yes, let’s take all the long time we need

To drink this tea, to chat about this weather

To look back at the road we have travelled along

To think, to cry, and to die in lingering twilight



You’re neither the mystic


Nor the common

Fortune teller

As you are believed to be

In the east or the west


Rather, you are the soul of a fellow

Human, perching on the treetop

Speechless, as if meditating over

Life, as if recalling your prayers


Arianna Hill

Precioso (Precious)

Those bottles, I threw them

Caught in

My drunken


Shattered them

All over your skin

Even when it was me that

The wounds were within

Precioso, I knew

You wouldn’t let me go

When I screamed

And hollered in your face

You’d never leave me

You gave me

Your hand

And pulled me close

Wrapped me up

And when I told you no

To leave me alone

I wanted to take it back

Because either way

You’d never do that

So I just sat

There crying

Over my knees

And you never left me.



Alex Marchesi

I’ve Got A Sweet Tooth For Sweethearts Like You

Joke me something awful like,

“Don’t make me want to fall for you.”

Between hopeless and hopeful I know

none of these words will hit their mark.

I’m a terrible shot but in the dark

in my bed and under your sheets

I can impress with one-liners of grace,

can turn sucker with hands on your waist.

Get hooked on your addictive taste.

Smother the thought that we’re a bad idea.

Tattoo your back in pressed kisses.

Each wet imprint a glowing star.

I’ll slide the Milky Way across your collarbone.

Map your skin in constellations.

End with a whisper against your throat,

“I’ll take your name to my grave.”

Ask for a midnight dance under velvet skies

with a moon that lights your face just right.

A night fixated on twisting hips and a farewell kiss

where the spark is small and cloaked.

Lips snap off with a static ting.

We breathe in the smoke

of a flickering flame.


Force A Half-Dead Smile

Everything I dreamed as perfect

led me down the path to another dead end.

Kids like me are in a deadlock

between officially saved and still crashing.

I’ve been trading my best confessions

only she has ever had ears for

for hard earned sympathy

no one would dare make up.


I got mayhem in my throat

and bottled stress in my mind.

A drink or two and I’ll swear I’m fine.

I’m a catastrophe gifted in concocting

the most believable of lies.

Let’s bond over shared fiascos

and sink the conversation to another night where sleep

is a fantasy

forged by cruel memory.


Someone grab the phone and call the doctor.

I’m dueling with my own mortality again

with a desperation

to live without prescriptions.

Yes. Doctor, doctor.

I’m a perfectionist with my disappointments

and all these empty bottles are my trophies

from all these days I’m so ambitious

to be forgotten.


An Introduction To Envy

Eventually I’ll be fine.

Like when he and I were freshman fodder.

Legends of shenanigans.

When your existence was his fantasy.


Best friends, we were a pair of drama queens preaching

the detonation of all our fears over shots singing,

“I just want to sell out my funeral.”

Sipping on the irony

of pulling all-nighters to sleep all day,

we laughed like fools with obnoxious tongues.

Now I’m recycling mistakes

and he’s pampering your pure humble love.

I’m testing the sourness of my heart

while you two configure your future.

I’m waddling through bullshit

with a reputation that’s half him half me

while he whispers, “I want to be your last first kiss

that you’ll ever have.”

Eventually I’ll be fine.


Larry Schug


Where does the haggard mother

of six children, all fathered by rape,

bloated with starvation

in a dusty refugee camp

send her spirit for solace

when she’s never known solace?


Can she even know sorrow

when she’s known nothing but sorrow?


What does she feel when the red sun sets

in a cerulean sky,

when stars twinkle in an inky sea?


What would she think of poetry?

What does she think of me?


Is it only because my stomach is full,

my skin is white,

no one is shooting at me.

that I can write of beauty

the flight of a hummingbird

a bumble bee

black-eyed susans




I cried entering this world,

called by the light,

but grew so accustomed to it

that I now fear the darkness

at the end of life,

though I’ve heard it said

that darkness calls you with light

to what may be another womb.


Arae Widgeon

My Grandson

Dreft from Mickey Mouse onesies and burp rags

Had permanently accented the bed sheets

Perfectly matched socks and undershirts

Folded on pillow cushions

Spilling over pale Landry baskets

The ultrasound gave me fragments of his beauty

I imagined warm eyes like brown marbles

Butterfly lashes

And copper skin

All she saw was

The extra pounds looking back at her

In the mirror

A body with too many heart beats

The griddle hugged her hips

Pushing him against her rib cage

She mirrored the glow I had

twenty five years ago

Hers hid behind foundation and blush

Though she couldn’t leave my house

Her old room.

Her feet swelled as he grew

Cradled in her uterus

With fingerless palms he

Pushed against her slim hips

Stretching petite coconut skin

Into dark scarred flesh

She never left the bed

hid bottles of wine under her mattress

To numb the pain of losing

Name brand outfits I had never seen

Her wear before.




November 2015


Joe Arechavala

Snow Falls

The snow falls

Obscuring grass, ground, cars

Rounding sharp corners

Into softer curves

Awaiting some metaphor to

Soften sharp reality

But silently, silently

On tiptoe so as not to

Upend the universe

Requiem for a Flower


The flower looked at me and saw only sadness

“Poor poet,” she intoned. “You have

no words to speak to me.”

“Alas, my blossom,” I answered. “I

cannot speak. My heart has been

numbed by this cold earth.”

Petals shook with her dissent.

“Nay, the earth is warm. Place your

hand on her heart and feel

her warm tenderness.”


So I bent and placed my hand;

yet felt only distance and apathy.

“I would speak to the universe your

loveliness, my flower, if only the ground

would warm these hands, these lips,

this soul to speak them.”

“But you have the warmth of my

life, given for you,” she answered.

“Take me to your bosom and feel

this affection I offer you.”

I plucked her and placed her

against skin hardened by life’s

harshnesses. She lay upon my soul

and as life left her, I felt my heart

begin to beat, and wept for her



Gary C. Beck 

Vital Signs

Before history kept a record

everyone believed in omens.

If they were favorable,

good hunting and gathering

fed the tribe,

evaded predators,

survived crises.

Unfavorable omens explained

everything bad that happened,

hunger, illness, disease, death,

because there had to be a reason

why disasters occurred,

otherwise the tribe

would be forced to accept

the unfairness of life.


Another gray morning

drains a tad of energy

on the way to hated job

kept by necessity

to pay rent, buy food, clothes.

The only alternative

life on the harsh streets,

that also require

unpleasant chores

if we hope to survive.

Turning Point

When I was a boy

I knew nothing,

and except for my secret life,

escape into comforting books,

I didn't seem to be much different

then many troubled boys.

As a young man

I swaggered, lied, bragged,

became a know-it-all

concealing doubt.

As I matured,

gained confidence,

still a know-it-all,

but less offensive to some,

more capable

dealing with others.

Then old age

snuck up on me

donating ailments,

dissolving glibness

with doses of forgetting,

so each day I discover

I know less and less.



William Buege

Pretty Grandma

Grandma was a prostitute back then,

when we were not, before Mom,

Aunt Pam, when the sailors came


ashore, visited the San Diego

brothels, paid for things most of us

do for free. Grandma never said


a word about her trade, her craft,

but I found evidence inside her

hope chest, a beautiful oiled cedar


box we stored up in the attic. I envy

her and the way the sailors knew

they’d likely die within the year.



Pink and white flesh rolled in sticky rice

wrapped in seaweed, glistens on my plate.

Oh, tuna, salmon, octopus, you belong


deep in the salty sea, not in me. Why

did you swim into that net? I loved books,

fresh air, wandering, found myself a family,


an office job, a cube. All too common

our fortunes, baked in cookies, dessert

for diners gorged on Asian cuisine.


Molly Cappiello


I’ve stopped taking showers.


I used to take them with you,

clumsy suds and slippery limbs,

saving water because it’s

a good excuse


to indulge in coarse kisses between the lather with

your hand between my legs as you washed

the parts of me that I couldn’t see.


Quietly, so your roommates wouldn’t wake,

though we knew they heard the bedframe whisper

to the wall,


we watched our conversations on the shower window

disappear from the glass as the cold air

hit them and stole the things

you’d never say out loud.


I take baths now.


Christine Degenaars

Jacob Green

That first girls and guys party, my mother

dropped me off saying I was too old to be walked

to the door. The hot Tennessee air, humidity, digging

into my hair, sweat flattening out my curls and pasting

them to my head. Then the doorbell, my stomach hurting,


and her mother—her mother looking very unlike mine,

soft-spoken face. Stephanie’s laughter all night long,

playing on repeat along with that song by Steve Winwood

that no one ever really liked. Her back yard in the summer

with everyone sitting around with a water bottle,


too worried about our lips and our sisters’ lip gloss

to spin it towards them. Dull pain. The boys—

Frank, steel blue eyes and high out of his mind,

and Joey and Matt and Jacob Green. I liked Jake. And there

we all were, sitting, quiet. With me, halfway through


fourteen, cross legged and thin lipped, trying

to remember the things my mother told me to say

to those boys to make them laugh. The things

I had forgotten. Then we each getting seven minutes

and I walking to the shed in the corner of her yard


and waiting. Smelling the dirt, the rawness of it.

Then that itch, behind my thigh and the wetness, coating

my hand like mud. Warm and crimson, running down

and me praying he’d miss it, not notice it was there. More

darkness, a conversation about the garden that could be


near the shed, that could fit in nicely if we

told Stephanie’s Mom. The drive home and, later,

my own mother with a wet cloth, wringing out red

into our sink. Soft clothes still smelling like detergent,

my bed, me. Me, imagining marrying the dark.

And that dull ache. The color, red.



Darren C. Demaree 

Emily As Now, No One Knows

The raft that breaks up still finds

the shore


& since we are always

telling people that we are two planks


tied together, that we are not one

ship that scratch, scratch,


scratches over the sea,

always on the same level, I think


they’ve all forgotten how many times

we almost drowned


before we ever realized

that our bodies wanted to float


together.  It was as simple as the tide.

It was as difficult as the tide.


The Wide #45

I gave only

the echo of honey,

but that was


enough.  Each

sweet atom collided

to collide


again, forever

& that gravitas

became my children


that knew, they

know, which gold

carried them.


Robert Garner McBrearty

Pine Tavern

What if I were to rise above the bar

ten feet tall, looming over you all

as you looked up startled from your gin,

proclaiming, “This is who I am;

this is what I have become.”


Would you all loathe me then?

Or would you ask me to perform certain feats,

reach bottles hidden on high, dusty shelves

rare vintages untouched these many years,

and how you would cheer me then

down here at Pine Tavern

at summer’s end. 


He's Back

I sometimes wonder

who they see

from behind the counter

when they look at me,

the cashiers, the baristas,

the tellers at the bank.


Some smile

and say hello,

while others look

as if a chill wind

has crossed their shoulders,

and I wonder if later

they say “he’s back,”

 to one another.


I grow old

or young

with each encounter. 


Ranters and Ravers

Eventually the self-proclaimed geniuses fall short

and blame those of us

who plod along more workmanlike through life

and curse us as betrayers

while they covet our spouses and our cars

and the little we’ve put aside

for the kids’ colleges.


Oh ranters and ravers,

you’ve grown tiresome

with your whiskey and your pills

and your demons which

grow more numerous than your angels.


It’s all come to nothing,

nothing much, and along the way

you’ve broken our good china

and our hearts. 


Our Friendship 

Our friendship seems

to be about

you telling me


your plans,

your little schemes,

and me listening

and nodding with

the enthusiasm you seek,

and then you interrupt me

if I attempt a word

or two about myself,

but I guess

that’s payback

because I’ve had


where I was the one

who stole the show,

with my plans,

my little schemes,

and even I must


my plans and schemes

have beome


as yours will soon. 


Joan McNerney

This Morning

Between deep night

and soft dawn the

mist covers fields

spreading over daisies

climbing bunchberries

wetting seeds, leaves.


Milky smoke roams

back and forth

wandering voiceless

through mountains

of morning.


Whistling in fog

past sycamores

warblers seesaw

up cloudy layers

up up circling

toward heaven.


Michael Mira

Uncharted Territory

There are some things

that cannot be said,

assorted compartments

in a heart we can

never unlock,

yet there are boundaries

waiting to be perforated.


The horizon is flat

for a reason.

It is a line that

we must cross

in order to be renewed;

a point of convergence

where dust meets light.


Ancient explorers tamed

acres of wilderness,

reducing them to precise maps

–political and defined.


But there are uncharted territories

with murky waters and dark forests

where danger lurks behind the



There are some destinations

that a compass cannot point to.

How can you claim a land

that does not belong to you?


Beyond the sharp, snow-capped

mountain ranges where prayer flags

flutter, waving goodbye to the departed,

there is a haven for the restless;

coordinates that cannot be thumbtacked

on topographical charts.

But you can only find what you seek

by letting go of the familiar.


Make peace with crossroads

and walk towards any direction.

Earth has no edges. 


Meggie Royer

Three Sisters

One came back as a willow and swallowed the rain

like the tongues of bells.

One came back as a harpoon

singing in the throat of a whale.

The last sister came back as her grandmother,

so she could feel her grandfather’s mouth

upon her own again

but have it be right this time.


Adreyo Sen

A Fairy Tale

When I was young I was in love

with the Fancy in my mind,

I spun it into castles

for my stories to live in.


Older, I learnt to fear my Fancy,

it pushed out everything else,

no more had my stories happy endings,

they perished at Fancy's edge.

I was unhappy myself.


I tried to read, but darkness lurked

on every second page.

The protagonists stalked by Fancy's eyes

terrified me with their rage.


I took to walking,

but dreams followed me and so,

I never saw the trees,

nor the plaintive beauty

in a solitary autumn leaf.


In my sleep, I was pursued

and then sleep gave up on me.


I was a slave in my mind's castles,

the captive Fancy could not corrupt,

Fancy sought me for its bride

and plundered me when I demurred.


Imprisoned thus for ever so long,

I became a silent shell

and thus no one knew me.


I sought amnesty with the sun,

it was cold upon my thoughts,

even the rain could not reach me.


And so one day in forlorn walk,

I came by a water pump.

In its frenzied jets,

children danced.


Pretty they were, but it wasn't them

who took my saddened eye,

it was the young man by the pump

whose steady hands

made it a thing of joy.


He smiled at me and so I thought,

perhaps he was my Prince Charming,

my rescuer so fair.


But he wasn't Prince Charming,

or a magician in disguise,

he was, better still,

a gardener who knew to look in weeds,

for the slenderness of a fern.


With a look I gave him me,

and he held all I was,

and under his steady gaze,

against his warm, loving pulse,

I felt my Fancy fall in place,

a beast tamed and shorn

of its wild curls.


He placed my castles in the sun,

its strange goblins fled,

and its beautiful secrets emerged

and began to dance.


And while the world marveled at their beauty,

I was no more than a plain girl

with nothing left to give

but the strange silence in my heart.


He took my arm and by his side,

I walked, and finally,

I felt the sun.


Corey Smith

Quantum Immortality

 You will survive me

You will hide my memory

In yours, scenery and family

Vacations. On a sad, lonesome,

Whiskey night, you will, in hushed

Tones, whisper my insecurities

To friends whose warm arms will

Calm you. This and your horizontal

Pillow ebb seclusion until the day,


My Baby Pie, when you join the collective

Cosmos and we meander eternity

I’ll receive you and once the last person we knew

Speaks our names for the last time, we’ll

Vaporize along with our era


As we coma together. They’ll never know

Of the winter walk we took tonight in the garden

As snow fell among the silent trees


Howard Winn

Class Warfare

The very very rich

are pissing off

the merely rich

on Long Island

as flocks of choppers

fill the summer sky

like Canada geese at

your favorite golf course,

disturbing the peace-

ful sun bathing of

the North Fork folk

on beach and backyards.

Scads of money

should be enough

toensure quiet

for afternoon naps

on Shelter Island

but these flying

machines ferrying

the super elite from

Manhattan and disturbing

the fake bucolic serenity

of the simply well-heeled

in lobster red pants or

teeny-weeny bikinis

emphasize the fact that

oodles of money is

sadly not always enough.


I look at the mean young faces

in the high fashion advertisements

for expensive handbags

or the hot new fragrance

displayed in the Style Section

of the New York Times and

think you poor juvenile beings

fated for Botox and fillers

and snipping and cutting

and that frozen dermatologist

beloved by aging actors and

news anchors who cannot

take the bright lights of production.

No wonder the zombie love

fills the films and the sitcoms

and the blonde babe in the news anchor chair

where aging is the final sin

with no chance of redemption.