Monday, December 27, 2010

Winter 2010

Despite how busy I've been, I managed to find the time to finish the last issue of 2010. There will be one more issue next month and then I will suspend publication while I focus on college.

I would like to mention that while I encourage comments, I don't encourage rude or inappropriate remarks. Seeing as how someone as already used an excessive amount of profanity and someone else decided to advertise their product, I've had to monitor the comment posts. So, again, feel free to leave comments on what you read but don't expect them to appear right away as I will have to filter them.

Thanks for your patience and understanding.


American Life In Poetry Column 177

American Life in Poetry: Column 177


Kristen Tracy is a poet from San Francisco who here captures a moment at a zoo. It’s the falling rain, don’t you think, that makes the experience of observing the animals seem so perfectly truthful and vivid?

Rain at the Zoo

A giraffe presented its head to me, tilting it
sideways, reaching out its long gray tongue.
I gave it my wheat cracker while small drops
of rain pounded us both. Lightning cracked open
the sky. Zebras zipped across the field.
It was springtime in Michigan. I watched
the giraffe shuffle itself backwards, toward
the herd, its bone- and rust-colored fur beading
with water. The entire mix of animals stood
away from the trees. A lone emu shook
its round body hard and squawked. It ran
along the fence line, jerking open its wings.
Perhaps it was trying to shake away the burden
of water or indulging an urge to fly. I can’t know.
I have no idea what about their lives these animals
love or abhor. They are captured or born here for us,
and we come. It’s true. This is my favorite field.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Poem copyright © Kristen Tracy, whose most recent teen novel is “Crimes of the Sarahs,” Simon & Schuster, 2008. Poem reprinted from AGNI online, 9/2007, by permission of Kristen Tracy. Introduction copyright © 2008 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.
American Life in Poetry ©2006 The Poetry Foundation
This column does not accept unsolicited poetry.

Seagulls At Sunset

Photo Taken by Amber Rothrock

Denali by Eric Biggs

Denali climbed the sky, clouds snow strewn
caught in wisps on its peak like rose
petals thrown before the cruelty of a conqueror.
Silent, the brazen village waited. Winds that poured
off the slopes came in buckets with icebergs.
Dogs barked. An old woman with a crinkled face
brought frybread. An old man with wrinkles showed me
houses fallen into the sea and crumbled. I asked him who
was the mayor, so I’d know him. I am, he said.

A guide took me to the south-slope glacier. We smoked Camels.
We saw no grizzlies that day, but the thunder
in a clear sky made him look. For early lunch, we ate
sea biscuits with a sardine, and set off
toward the village to not get
caught on the ice after dark.

The medicine man in the fourth house
asked if I wanted to pray.
No, I thought--I came here to help
people, not pursue fairy tales.
He looked at me. Did he want an answer?

This helps the people, he said.
How did he know I thought that?

Yes, I said. Okay. I will.
He made me a kit and told me what
I needed to know to use it.
Thank you, I said.
He looked at me.
The pause stretched past the woodstove
as it rattled with the morning.
I fidgeted.
Think nothing of it, he said.
He smiled.
Thank you, I said.
You already said that, he said, and laughed.

'Round Midnight by Casey Mensing

Faint scent of vanilla
lingers in the darkness.

All those thoughts
I had tried to bury,
come back,
'round midnight.

She left this room hours ago,
but the taste of honey is still on my lips.

She left this room hours ago,
because closure is what she was looking for.

Already, I've draped veils
of sentiment over the memories.

Already, I've made excuses
for why I'll need to be with her again.

Faint scent of vanilla
still lingers in the darkness.

All those thoughts
I had tried to bury,
come back ,
'round midnight.

Skirts Laughing by Roger Singer

A tattooed forearm. Red and blue. Breathing life.
A woman kneeling. A dagger. Thick hair twisted.
Eyes of mercy. A cross of forgiveness. Painted blood to the wrist.

His shirt tightens with lust. White cloth. Uniforms speak the man.
Sweat lines his underarms.
Rolled sleeves. A division of cloth and skin. Child to man.

Pouting lips. His cigarette. A long gray ash falls.
Scuffed boots. Anxious of soul.
Sun glasses blue. The deep of him covered.
Eyes sleepily hide. Arms of intention. Windows of want.

Unflinching he leans. Thumbs in pockets. A gray gaze.
He owns the air. Young skirts pass. Nervous and soft.
Giggling. Fires light his heart. He smiles into dreams.

The Great Abstractions by Andrew H. Oerke

The spider-web-fine mantle the Three Weird Sisters wove
called “The Robe of the Great Abstractions”
was the finery for the Big Shot Emperor to put on, so sheer
the Buddha yelled at him, “Hey Rube, you’re naked!”
Jesus pointed out that Love is the truth
and others weighed in. Wars jumped on the bandwagon
and pranced around on the high stilts of self-righteousness
and danced around those scorching at the stake
and screamed, “What a good boy am I, I the pure,
the good and the beautiful; I deserve to don
the Great Emperor’s mantle now it’s all patched up and
re-stitched,” and everyone cheered and double spoke
to push this new God of Love whose secret name was Division
and they all went to bed hung up on high-mindedness.
“It was hard to think anything would get done,”
murmured Ashbury, and Oerke added, “Orky Porky.”
He was pushing Andy’s orchids, two for the price of one
to get rid of them as fast as possible.

Two Poems by Abigale Louise LeCavalier


The angels
of my nightmares
bring no comfort,
the sounding of trumpets
rests not this soul.

“hope springs eternal”

I only see cracks
where water once rippled,
touched by God,
maybe one time
too many.

And the dream is never ending,
the soundtrack superficial.

There is anger in their faces;
pursed lips and crooked smiles,
a sword gleams with holy flame.

These are the angels
of my nightmares;
lacking empathy
where this rose grows.

and blood pools
in the corner of my eye,
smudging my waterproof mascara.



Harsh words
only hold meaning
when someone is listening.

I listen a lot.

Fostering frustration
and the heat
of anxiety,
when adjectives and verbs impale me.

I consider myself a noun.

Not the appropriate
inappropriate pronoun.

Nor a conjunction,

It’s important to me;
knowing where I stand.

Even if it puts me
in the corner
I expertly
painted myself into.

Autumn Moon

Photo Taken by Amber Rothrock

After Weekend by David E. Howerton

Woke, eyes blur
slept little
moon filled room
walked into door

Two Poems by Michael S. Morris


Where are the Knights –
that’s what I want to know?

When half a dozen young men
are raping a woman and people

are standing and watching,
a mob of giggles, leering.

where was the Knight to ride
into the fray? Where was the

human being who could see
their sister being pillaged?

Where are the Knights of old?
The Knights we need to day

to ride into Holy Cities to make
peace between ancient tribes.

Where are the Knights
riding into the ghettoes?

Who is their Arthur? Who
is the world’s, and the world’s

alone, sworn defender? Is it
not you in the pulsing

of your thoughts, you who would
cry out and wade into the fray?

No matter the odds, no matter
the day, having on bended knee

sworn to defend to the death
those who are defenseless?



There is in a life
a wall of photographs,
those frozen moments in
time that have studied
you growing older, locked
in our smiles, our serious
poses, faces of character
who will have to awaken
that character to survive.
A mother’s unsmiling stare
peers through all the bull
but there is a softness in eyes
that have seen father-beatings,
husband-cheatings, children-
leaving: the whole crux that says better make friends
for we are alone in the end.
In between, gather at Friendly’s
Ice Cream and have family photos
shot of when you were young
and hot and cut and tanned
and smiling and holding hands
with those we soon go to war with.

A Turkish Fairy Tale by Jane Stuart

I found the crystal tree with silver birds
and painted hearts hanging from every bough.
It was inside a forest near a stream
of water cold and dark as indigo.

I found the horse that never leaves the sand.
Its broken saddle was so hard to grasp.
I rode across the wind and counted hours
that fell in sparkles from a distant sky.

I heard the moon rise creaking under clouds –
pushing its way through baths of silver light
I felt a moment of eternal rain
fall on my face and hands; it turned to snow.

There was no reason for this dream to rise
out of a mystery that had no end
or not believe in life that promised love
and beauty full of graciousness that mends
what was not perfect when we can forget;
and dream again, when we can but remember.

Two Poems by Natalie Carpentieri


My California is burning,
and throwing smoke into the air.

It is chasing people from homes
with thick waves of fire
and winds that refuse to relent,
eating away wooden frames
leaving a smoldering, empty foundation.

People in cars speed down highways
behind a wall of black and orange
with no bags packed,
searching for shelter.

My California douses highways and cars
thick forests and beaches
until everything erodes into disarray.

It shakes and thunders,
moves buildings and stadiums,
and everything else that tap dances
dangerously on a volatile fault line.

the heat of the sun in December
and clean, white sand
is nothing like I've ever known.

My California steals pieces of me
cell by cell
breath by breath.
Leaves me hollow and craving.



So many things were sold or given away
for practical reasons, as a move like this
means that you have to let go of everything
that held you tethered to your old life.
You remind yourself that it was only furniture -
a bed, some dressers and assorted things like
lamps and stuffed animals that you don't really need.
It's all dead weight in your car when you're
driving literally across country on the
longest highway in the U.S. and drinking cup after cup
of coffee to make sure that you don't fall asleep.
You want to make it there intact,
even if your heart doesn't.
So when those wheels spin into your Golden State
and the beaches and the bright sun welcome you
with open arms, you feel like it could really be
somewhere you can unpack once and for all.

Contagion by Karl Miller

Lisa Stanley stopped talking for a moment. Puffiness surrounded the teaching assistant’s light brown eyes as she sniffled into a tissue.

A hurricane and a death. This had to be a tough few days for her, Kevin Pierce thought to himself.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “Where were we?”

The insurance investigator gently reminded her of the last question he had asked.

“Oh, right,” she said with a nervous laugh. “Dr. Hebert was spending a lot of time in the new Sociology Department offices after the hurricane. He’d been acting secretive and keeping his door closed a lot. Normally, he was a bit paranoid that he was being watched, you know, after all the press he’d gotten before, but recently it had gotten worse. He complained of headaches and chest pain. I told him he should see a doctor but he wouldn’t. ‘Real men don’t do that,’ he said,” she recalled, a small smile sliding briefly across her face.

Pierce recalled the stories about Dr. Kenneth Hebert, a former wunderkind who had earned a biology degree from Harvard at 19 and a PhD in sociology from Princeton by 23. A fully tenured Stanford professor at 31, Hebert briefly became a minor celebrity in certain political circles when his affiliation with an extremist group resulted in his removal from teaching. The subsequent lawsuit reportedly settled north of $5 million, but led to his exile at Southeast Florida University , a sleepy fourth-tier college in Boca Raton , where his vitriolic lectures still drew scads of adoring fans. Hebert’s death had triggered a nervous University into alerting their insurance companies about potential litigation, which in turn had brought the investigator into the wake of one of the worst storms of the decade.

“And when was the last time you saw him?” Pierce asked.

“Well, I found him,” she said and paused. Her dark brown eyes glistened.

“Before that, I mean.”

“The night before he died. He was working late because we had a generator.”

“OK – I know the police are checking on the possibility the generator caused carbon monoxide poisoning. Who set that up?”

“Maintenance people for the university. It was a few feet outside the door.”

“Is the generator still there?”

“It might be, but we did get power back yesterday – they probably haven’t taken it away yet.”

Pierce asked a few more questions then concluded the interview. As he packed away his recorder, Stanley spoke up.

“Everyone tells me to get an attorney. I guess people assume I was having an affair with Dr. Hebert and that I did something to him because he wouldn’t leave his wife. If anything, she’d be the type to murder him – she was always calling the office, really mean on the phone, like she suspected me.” She sniffled again.

Pierce believed her. You had to believe someone going into a field as manifestly non-lucrative as sociology. Still, he knew some people lied brilliantly.

The investigator walked to his generic rental car, and drove from Stanley ’s apartment in West Boca to the main campus of Southeast Florida University . Debris piles lined the road, waiting for overwhelmed sanitation trucks to visit. Jagged trees, stripped by the storm, dotted the yards he passed. Despite the damage, Boca was a beautiful place, albeit in a superficial way. It was a bit incongruous to him that the mostly tasteful haven of the nouveau riche stood on the former site of a huge military base in World War II and – it was rumored – a secret government Cold War laboratory.

Pierce pulled onto the campus and grabbed a map from a helpful student at the visitor’s center. He headed past soccer fields and newly constructed buildings to a more remote part of the school where the facilities were not so pristine. In looking at the campus guide, it actually noted that Building H-12 was one of three structures on campus left from military days. It had been unoccupied for decades and only minimally used for storage the times when it was utilized, that is, until it became the new home of the Sociology Department.

He parked and took out his phone. Pierce called the college maintenance department and left a message on their answering machine. He followed that with a call to the police department and found the autopsy report would still be several days away. Then he called Hebert’s widow.

Pierce identified himself and gave his condolences.

“How can I help you?” she asked curtly.

“I was checking into your husband’s death and was wondering if I could ask you a few questions?”

Mrs. Hebert cut him off. “Why don’t you ask that little tramp? I put Kenneth through grad school, back when we had nothing. Then he gets some money, and suddenly he wants someone younger. Look, I’ve got nothing to say to you. Talk to my lawyer.” She promptly hung up.

After making some notes, Pierce emerged into stiflingly-hot September air that covered him like a blanket. H-12 actually still looked like an old barracks building. Paint was gone in places, and much of the exposed timber looked rotten. In contrast to the activity in the rest of the campus, he saw no one.

Pierce walked to the door of the building and was surprised that it opened. He moved down an eerily quiet corridor past a wall decorated with posters for studying abroad. Dim florescent lights gave the interior a soft, artificial feel. Water stains marked most of the ceiling tiles. A dingy tan leather sofa sat on one side of the corridor, a college newspaper tossed haphazardly to one side of it.

At the end of the corridor, the investigator reached the Sociology Department. This time the door didn’t open. He looked around cautiously then extracted a credit card from his wallet. Pierce inserted the card by the lock, gave a push, and the door yielded. He flipped on the lights.

The Department clearly wasn’t taking up a huge amount of the university budget. The main office was just as dilapidated as the rest of the building, with heavy metal desks and filing cabinets that looked like they could have been left from the military days. In the far left corner, a slightly open door carried Dr. Hebert’s name. Pierce went through.

Nothing looked out of the ordinary. Outside the office window, a generator sat a few feet from the building, seemingly not close enough to let fumes into Hebert’s office. He noticed, though, torn grass by it, probably from when the machine had been manhandled into position by maintenance personnel.

As he turned away from the window, Pierce noticed a Blackberry, nearly hidden by a trashcan, plugged into an outlet and lying on the floor in back of Hebert’s desk. He picked it up and switched it on.

The last interesting email Hebert received arrived the day before he died. “Thanks for the invitation – I do plan on attending” went to a 305 number. Pierce gently wiped the phone against his shirt and put it back where he found it.

The investigator saw another door that he presumed was a closet. A stack of boxes blocked it. He moved them aside and entered. The door opened onto a short dark hallway that ended in a nearly empty room. Sunlight passed through a small dirty window onto a floor covered with dust fully an inch thick. In the dust, Pierce saw footprints that led to a small black safe in the corner. The lock to the safe was broken, and the door hung bent and ajar. He walked over and pulled it open.

A pile of faded envelopes lay in the safe, a torn one off to the side of the others. When he touched it, a fine white powder fell into small pile. Pierce looked closely at it. A sweet, strong smell rose up. Suddenly, dizziness overtook him. He started to fall and staggered to brace himself against the wall, then lurched through the office, down the hallway and outside into open air. Pierce sat on a concrete bench and put his head between his legs. After a few deep breaths, the symptoms passed. He took out his phone and called the Boca Raton Police Department.

A half-hour later, a blue Chevy Suburban pulled into the parking lot, trailed by a Boca Raton police cruiser. Two men in dark shades and black pinstripe suits stepped out.

“Kevin Pierce?” the taller of them asked.


“I’m Ed Jones,” he said, not even making an effort to conceal that he was giving a false name. “Slowly and carefully, I need you to show me what you found.”

The two men took hazmat kits out of the Suburban and followed Pierce, stopping several feet back from the door in Hebert’s office. Pierce pointed out the phone.

“You didn’t see this?” Jones asked his subordinate, irritation in the tone.

“I, uh . . .” he stammered.

Jones gave an exasperated exhale. “You can wait outside,” he said to Pierce.

The Boca cops stood, arms folded, watching Pierce when he emerged.

Fifteen minutes later, the agents came out, carrying several sealed bags. Jones walked directly to Pierce.

“How long were you in the room?” Jones asked.

“Only a minute. I started to feel dizzy so I left.”

“I need you to stand still for a moment,” he said. He looked closely at Pierce’s pupils then took his pulse. He nodded to himself. “Listen, I’m not going to screw around here. You know this guy’s background?”

“I remember reading the stories in the papers a few years ago.”

“Well, he was mixed up with some pretty scummy people then.” Jones held up the Blackberry. “And maybe now, too, it seems.”

He paused, looked down at the ground for a moment then stared at Pierce forcefully.
“I think you’re smart enough to keep your mouth shut. I want to confirm that you found nothing in this room – correct?” he said.

Pierce looked back at the agent. “OK – I agree. Nothing was in there,” he said finally. “But what will the official report say?”

“Sure as hell looked like suicide to me,” Jones said.

And that would be the official version, the one that counted, Pierce thought, and all the accused and accusers would stand down accordingly. He walked to his car and drove away slowly from the building. As Pierce departed, he noticed that some adoring students had left a small shrine in Hebert’s parking spot. Decaying flowers, rain-blurred notes, a few stuffed animals. In the middle of everything, someone had placed a tall glassed candle but, due to continued light winds, it had apparently been unable to light.

Grandfather Tree

Photo Taken by Amber Rothrock

Two Poems by Lyn Lifshin


some, lets say the first,
you stop eating for,
call at the last moment
If you are 13, you’re sure
you can’t live without
them. Or you work on
science projects fever-
ishly, aching for the
phone. Some join the
Navy, send you cheap
Cuban coins from there
S.W.A.K. on the box.
His uniform makes you
heady. Weeks of kisses
in his navy blues and
then on leave, he shrugs
when asked if you should
wear a stole and never
again is heard from.
Some take you out in
a filed, then upstairs in
the hotel where you let
him peel off spray rhine
stone earrings and the
stretchy wool dress
with net and sparkles.
And when you don’t
let them peel your hymen
from what’s still holding
it, don’t call again. Some
you never cared for but
needed a date for some prom.
Others are so insistent it’s
easy to waste a night or two
with them. The ones that
are too shy to call, you
feel their eyes burning
thru you. Some would be
lovers call from the Vatican
or Notre Dame say they have
their vows but would you send
something that’s been close to you
like your unwashed underwear



ask if you’d marry
them if they asked but
don’t ask. Leave a note
on your door: they
want to catch up
(which means a blow
job). Some think
you can help them
with your poetry.
Some think you are
your poems. Some
that you fantasize and
want the most, can’t
be seduced, not
even in dreams. You
give them what no
one else can in poems
where they will always
be fit and young
and they give you
dark blues

A Poetry Workshop by Jan Gero

What do I care
if she doesn't know
what a Delta breeze
feels like.
With her cocked head
and turned down nose
at everything read
round the table,
she'll never know
that in Sacramento
the rivers
the Delta
hold you
keep you sane.
She'll never lie
in silt and sand
wet with sex
and know the breeze
will come
from the mouth
of the Delta and
carry you

Coffee Talk by James Jones

I do love you,
but there are walls
around me
and the fortress of my heart….

walls that were erected
the moment
I first laid eyes on you….

because I knew
when you happened to glance my way
and smiled at me
in that quaint, little café
that night,
that the battlefield was no longer mine,
and you had begun to win the war.

Auntie Tommy's Tearoom by Louie Crew

Even when seventy he gave himself so warmly that he
taught boys to treasure their manhood. "Send me
your green horns, your unloved husbands, your poor,
your lame, your tired..." she beckoned ladylike for
decades as they came, one by one, from all over
Georgia. Every spring she celebrated with peaches
and cream heaped high for each gentleman caller.
No one would have dared demean her. Each knew his
special place in her heart. Few ever anywhere else
discovered her sensuous resources. Those who heard
the rumors loved him as fully as those who never
guessed or wouldn't have believed. His choir sang
a cappella at his funeral when his organ fingering
was done. Some say that locally first wet dreams
are squeezed forth when his spirit walks at night.
Auntie Tommy is multi-centennial and as American as
the cinnamon in the apple pie.

Long Stay by Jenny M. Lapekas

My father begins in the middle of the lot, close to the hangar. He is thorough as he scans the cars in one general sweep of his oval eyes. The blue sign seems to sigh arrogantly from boredom. LONG STAY CAR PARKING. Scott Henderson’s black Bentley sits dazed, bugs still springing within the vehicle’s frame. Scott is a stockbroker and will never know my father’s hand will have opened his German-made door. My father’s fingertips are soft pads from years of swimming in chlorine and murky springs, orange shorts and shiny whistle wavering above confused mud and clay, in search of lost swimmers who have become aquatic corpses that haunt the dark waves. These are the same hands that look like maps to me, interstates and turnpikes scattered between cornfields and water; a confusing sort of math.

By the time Scott recalls his error, he will resent the ground that passes beneath him. As Scott sits at a press conference in Miami, he has no idea that my father, the man who, as a boy, collected train sets, will have flicked a simple plastic switch and dutifully noted that the car’s headlights die down. In my mind, my father sits in his Chicago home, a small boy, crashing his toys together and waving to me from a bright red caboose. Scott will return to his hotel in a bit and never discover that because of my father, his car will start the first time the jagged key turns; and he will be returned safely to his family.

My father steps out of the car, one shiny loafer at a time, positions his captain’s hat, so brave, so pronounced, straight and tight around his head. The golden wings glisten on his lapel as he intently tosses his heavy coat over his arm and straightens his frame. His tie escapes from his black jacket and flaps sharply in the warm breeze; the one with small globes and smiley faces printed on it. My father moves and searches for more twin lights begging his attention. These are the headlights others so carelessly, so humanly, forgot to turn off.

Silver Beach In Winter

Photo Taken by Amber Rothrock

Poets by Katrina K. Guarascio

We are not songbirds;
we are the wild mustangs,
the feral beasts
who thundered across the open.
We beat out passion
with untamed hooves
and scream our songs
like trumpets.
Leaving behind broken
larkspur and hoof prints
in the mountain mud.
We do not embrace,
but find familiarity
in our propinquity and
the gentle rubbing of noses.

Art Thieves by Gretchen Meixner

They want to tell me that art has died.
No more, they insist,
No more heavy lines, no metaphors,
Or canvases caked with impasto.
The days have arrived when,
Words will be links to statistics
Creation overrun by insta-imagery.
God is dead, but
Thought is existence, and
I think I am God, and
You are God, and our
Churlish little house is,
The cross and keep.
Colors fade, but
History stays vibrant,
A cinema running through
Our fingers. Your mouth
Is Napoleon's,
Tour arms and scars
Belong to Hitler.
How can art be dead, when
You, yourself, watched me
Paint Starry Night, and I
Helped you capture an era
In verse. It was my mouth
That declared war, It was your
Voice that carried them
All the way across the jungle.
Man cannot undo his own creation.
I cannot deny the ungoverned
Passage of time, and heroes.
I cannot shake the guilt
Of a thousand lonely men.
I locked the doors shut,
I herded the Jews into a prison,
I hacked away at the
Last remaining strands of God.
But there is no crying, here,
In this moment,
Because I also invented words.
Drew out the dreams of
Obscure minds and fruitless hands,
And said "now we can speak".
You and I, we pieced together images
And patched up lives and lovers
Into film, into visible divinity.
I stood on stage, while
The cellos played, and
Changed notes as they floated,
Reaching every consciousness,
Every last morsel of human thought.
Forms change.
We have five fingers now, and
A built-in anxiety for the future.
Newborns cry of necrophilia and
The old wish to be even older.
Poems are spoke so quickly, that
We barely hear the words,
But the meanings are the same.
They seek us in our sleep, and
Seep into our skin, causing
Symphonies and novellas
To trickle through our blood cells.
Fingers push a button rather than
Hold a pastel, but the images still
Sway and conquer, and
Cut and paste into love affairs.
I type rapidly rather than
Write slowly with a quill, but
My hands are tired all the same.

Lost Dogs by Larry Jones

I picked up a lost dog on the road today.
she wore a collar, no tags.

I drove her to the dog pound,
where the dog catcher was waiting.

"call me if no one claims her." I said.

then I noticed a familiar looking dog,
alone in a cage.

"that dog belongs to my neighbor." I said.

"he's been here for six days, that's an $80.00 fee,
I'm putting him down in two days." the dog catcher replied.

I drove back home
called my neighbor,

"they have your dog at the shelter
he only has two days to live."

"okay thanks" he said, and hung up the phone.

I could tell by his voice:

just another dead dog.

Just To Piss Her Off by R.A. Riekki

In college, I dated Mindy for three days. The first day she came over to make gumbo and we kissed hovering over black and red pepper, filé powder, okra. The next day we watched a movie, a Sandra Bullock film that bored us both, her sitting without touching me throughout it. I tried to take her in my arms during the final credits, took her wrist, pulled her to me, but she fought me off. It turned into a wrestling match, very rough, my thigh bruised, her laughing the whole time. I got to hold her for a few seconds, but then she started kicking and broke away. That night, she told me she was a virgin, would be ‘til she was married, if she ever got married. She grew up in Helena and Anchorage. She’s proud of her hair, how shiny it is. The next day she said that we probably shouldn’t date, wouldn’t tell me why. We still talk on the phone. It’s two years later. Neither of us has dated anyone in that time. The phone rings, her number showing up. I tell her I just got another rejection for a poem I sent to an online magazine.

“What’s it called?” she says.

“The poem or the magazine?”


We breathe into the line together.

“I forget.”

We breathe some more.

“I’m working on a novel,” I say.

It’s hot outside, in the high nineties, my ceiling fan broken.

She says, “Don’t write about me. Ever.”

“Don’t worry,” I say, “There wouldn’t be anything to write about. We didn’t do enough for a novel. The best I could do would be flash fiction. And nobody publishes that.”

Weko Beach At Sunset

Photo Taken by Amber Rothrock