Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Bald-Headed Wrestler by Michael Chin

Used to have flowing golden locks, if you can believe that.

Used to have a six pack. Now he drinks one a day.

Used to evoke high pitched squeals from the girls in the crowd, and used to lure ring rats back to his hotel room. He's resigned himself to jerking off on his futon now.

Used to move merchandise effortlessly because everyone wanted a piece of the man. He hardly gets a line at the conventions now. Yet sometimes, when the spotlight hits his chrome dome right, it glistens, it shines, it blinds it's so bright. Those times, he's not the only one who remembers he was once a star.

Michael Chin was born and raised in Utica, New York and his hybrid chapbook, The Leo Burke Finish, is available now from Gimmick Press. He has previously published with journals including The Normal School and Hobart. Find him online at and follow him on Twitter @miketchin. 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Wing Dam by Paul Ilechko

Upstream from the wing dam
all is calm, all is placid.
Ducks and geese abound, perched on the rocks
that dot the shallows, bobbing for fish
in the deeper waters.

Downstream, though, is a seething torrent,
vastly alive, where the river
rips through the narrow straits
between the dam itself
and surrounding rocky outcrops.

Downstream, too, the land
climbs sharply. Fall colors already glowing
on the flanks, a brilliant backdrop
to the ghastly, ghostly monochrome
of the river.

The dam curves south, widening
at its tip, and here is where the fishermen
work the stream, moving side to side,
searching for the perfect spot
where tides and eddies coalesce. 

As shadows stretch out
under the fading evening light,
teenagers appear, clustering
beneath the dead white skeletons of washed up trees
to smoke, relaxing into their freedom.

And now, the sun begins to set
behind the hills of the western shore.
The clouds begin their pilgrimage from white to pink;
the river darkens and thickens,
turning itself from water into wine.

Paul Ilechko has always lived by a river, although he sometimes dreams of forests and mountains. He currently lives in Lambertville, NJ with his girlfriend and a cat. Paul has had poetry accepted / published recently by Oberon Magazine, Dash Literary Journal, Stickman Review, MockingHeart Review and Saint Katherine Review, among others.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Bury Me in a Redwood Forest by Joe Cottonwood

May redwood roots tickle my bones.
May my blood rise as tinted sap.
May my arms lift as limbs to sunlight,
          may I embrace the rain.
May these muscles bear massive growth,
          may they bend and flex
          through squall and storm.
May the over-abundant hair of my body
          become filaments of shaggy bark.
May fingers and toes become needles of green,
          may the chickadee clutch with tiny feet.
May my dreams flow to cones, become seed.
May my words whistle with the wind
          spreading stories, tall tales.
May my unworthy spirit surge
          with the glory of sequoia.
May the hawk build a nest at my crown,
          may the fox hover at my hollow.
May I resist the rot, repel the insect,
          and when at last I fall

May I be sectioned, milled, notched and nailed,
May I become the soul of a house
          peopled with children,
          crafted with love.

Joe Cottonwood has worked as a carpenter and general handyman since 1976. Nights, he writes. He lives with his high school sweetheart in La Honda, California, where they built a house and raised a family under (and at mercy of) giant redwood trees. More at

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Therapy by David Hanlon

I unrolled
          my tightly closed
                    life map
                              & began
                                                  my way
                                                            through the ruins.

David Hanlon is from Cardiff, Wales, and currently living in Bristol, England. He has a BA in Film Studies and is training part-time as a counsellor/therapist. You can find his work online at Ink, Sweat & Tears, Fourth & Sycamore, Eunoia Review, Amaryllis, Scarlet Leaf Review and One Sentence Poems.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Going-In Bell by Robert Demaree

Still tacked to the closet door
At the cottage that my parents built
On Rust Pond in ’56:
The daily schedule of the tutoring camp
Where my father taught,
Dittoed purple letters faintly legible.

Rising bell 6:45 a.m.
He would walk along the shore
For breakfast and then his class,
Joined with kind, unbookish lads,
Now, too, long departed,
In their struggle with the preterite.

He returned from Puerto Rico in 1926
A teacher of Spanish,
And so he remained the rest of his days,
Never seeking to do anything else,
Not department head or dean—
Well, I don’t know that,
Ambitions, disappointments
Not evident to a child.

A Republican from Indiana,
Of a kind no longer extant,
He once made a small donation
To the campaign of Gerald Ford,
But in the ’30s had passed out leaflets
For the Lincoln Brigade,
Which has made us admirers of
Aaron Copland.

Going-in bell 7:15 a.m.
My parents came back from Mexico
In 1936 with postcards by
Diego Rivera.
Years later, Dad explained to me
The moral roots of the
Inheritance tax.
He would enjoy a glass or two of sherry
And talk about Miguel de Unamuno
And the Generation of ’98.
He was sent by the Chicago Tribune
To cover a gangland hit in
Cicero, Illinois,
And played the horses in Paris in the ’20s.
So in the years of my growing up
In boarding school dormitories
Those days of excitement seemed
Behind him.
We did not toss a baseball
Back and forth.
We did go to Shibe Park
To watch the A’s,
Those sad second-division heroes,
The occasional double play—
Joost to Suder to Fain,
Their pictures taped to my window.

Sitting-down bell 7:20 a.m.
The apartment at The Hill School
Was our home, part of my father’s pay.
So the cottage in New Hampshire
Was the first real estate
They’d ever owned.
I cleared the land
The summer he had a hernia.
The pine paneling has darkened
As if from the pigment of memory.
Our grandchildren are fixing lunch.
Beth sits by the window
Where my dad used to sit,
Drinking coffee,
Smoking his cigarette.

Lights out, 10:00 p.m.
These are not good days in boarding schools,
Learning little, it seems, from the church.
I remember some of Dad’s colleagues
As a bit odd but surely not predators,
Though that could be the naiveté of the time
Or of a son.
Girls finally came to the school and to the camp,
His last classes were co-ed,
Changes coming, in which he would not take part.

He continued to fish
(Small-mouth bass, which my mother
With some reluctance fried in deep fat);
Played the piano by ear,
In the manner of Jelly Roll Morton;
And smiled sweetly at my mother’s kin.
I remember the morning when
He could no longer balance his checkbook.
For several years
We tried to hold at arm’s length
That most outrageous of diseases.
In the hospital, he held on
For his granddaughter to return
From Europe. Oh, goody, he said,
And the wavy amber line went flat.

I recall being miffed
When the school history did not make more
Of his service. I have come to see
His great achievement was in doing
Small things quietly and well,
And with the great kindness
Of which Nemerov spoke.
The limousine approached
The small graveside service,
My mother frail,
Clutching my arm.

Robert Demaree is the author of four book-length collections of poems, including Other Ladders, published in June 2017 by Beech River Books. His poems received first place in competitions sponsored by the Poetry Society of New Hampshire and the Burlington Writers Club, and have appeared in over 150 periodicals. A retired educator, he resides in Wolfeboro, N.H. and Burlington, N.C.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

USS Wasp (CV-18) by Susan L. Leary

It’s December and easier than you thought
to watch yourself die.
Your hands rest beside you on the bed.
You’ve forgotten how to lean forward.
Out front the sun exits the yard in neatly-timed
Trees are clean-shaven: soldiers
lining the street.
You are spared precision,
spared the grace of birds that smell of cedar,
find heat in the fluff of their self-generating bodies.
Pointing to the vanity:
Let’s play a game, God says, where you try to un-see
thawing into the sheets: struggling
to eat soup: eclipsed by the backs of heads expecting
one thing of you.
Except your granddaughter is five and you call
her Miss America.
She doesn’t know there’s something called
a pancreas,
isn’t listening for planes.
There was a time you would’ve bayoneted
‘em in the stomach—not thought
twice about it, but you’re bloated now …
and it’s snowing:
the ash of bodies torpedoed in the Pacific
blanketing your undershirt.
Everything tastes
of gunpowder.
Your wife, you think, has never held more perfectly
a spoon.
In a few afternoons, no one wins—
though God will bear down His teeth on every fired
bullet the Heavens knew to save for you.
Coming home,
how many men upon seeing the harbor
beg to turn back to sea?

Susan L. Leary is a Lecturer in English Composition at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, FL. Her poetry has been published in many print and online journals, including most recently Gyroscope Review, The Christian Century, Crack the Spine, Malevolent Soap, and Dime Show Review.