Issue No. 6, Autumn 2013

"Harvest," Tom Sterner
Harvest
Tom Sterner

Autumn Feature, 2013: Hallowe’en
Sixteen Ninety-Two by Shannon Ralph
Potions by Leonard Kress
The Anatomy of Self-Destruction by Alisha Grace
Folie à Deux by Allie Marini Batts
with art by Barbara Carter
The Witch’s Daughter by Shannon Phillips
Dispirited by Patricia Gomes
with photography by Jennifer A. Powers
Burning Tree Road by James Ulmer
Ghost Story by Crystal Bacon
The Witch by P.J. Devlin
with photography by Georgia Bellas
Rawhead and Bloody Bones by Sandra Giles
Ghosts by Jane Hoppen
Museum by Jessica Barksdale
Old Ghosts by Cezarija Abartis
Trick-or-Treat by Laura Madeline Wiseman
Wilburton Tap by Leah Sewell
Blackbird Noir by John Vanek
At Death’s Door by Kat Rohr
with photography by Brigid Morrell
Sestina at the Maldron Hotel, Ireland by Judith Barrington
A Lakeshore Reflection with a Willow by Clyde Kessler
with photography by Gwendolyn Joyce Mintz

Fiction
The Wolf by Beth Couture

Flash Fiction
Desert Skin by Hailey Hartford
Beetlemania by David Swykert
To Dwell in the Forest by Ken Poyner
with photography by Sandra Giles
The Mushroom Hunter by Lynne Williams
with photography by Sandra Giles

Creative Non-Fiction
What We Found We Didn’t Want to Find by Louis Bourgeois

Poetry
Aliens by Jason McCall
Invasion by Sandi Leibowitz
The Perseids by Judith Barrington
Rimonah of the Flashing Sword by Donna Prinzmetal
with art by Barbara Carter
Red Scales by Julie Brooks Barbour
New Life by Clyde Kessler
Once Upon A… by Adele Kenny
Eleven by Michelle Auerbach
My eyes are a sea and Lotus in a bell jar by Diane Dehler
Refrigerator Poems by Joely Johnson Mork
Lunacy (the Evil Queen’s Song) by Lisa Lepovetsky
The Gingerbread Dress by Lilla Ashley
A Question by Aishwarya
Prey and September Roses by W.F. Lantry
with art by Barbara Carter and photography by Gwendolyn Joyce Mintz
The Master’s Daughter by Ana Garza
with photography by Brigid Morrell
On Forgiveness by Sara Moore
The Queen in Red by Erica Ruppert
Madame de Pompadour Thinks of Little Red Riding Hood by Kristin Stoner
The Color of Magic by Diane Lockward
with art by Barbara Carter
A Long Moment by Peycho Kanev
with photography by Gwendolyn Joyce Mintz

"Red Falls," XXX ZOMBIEBOY XXX
Red Falls
XXX ZOMBIEBOY XXX

About the Contributors

Issue No. 6, Autumn 2013

New Life
Clyde Kessler

The lady has found twelve ridges of summer
in a skeleton. The flesh is rumored to work backwards
from dust, and then grin like an oak leaf among caterpillars.
Or the flesh wakes again, with its new jaws
arched towards starlight, or it tightens into the heart valves
of a dragon. The lady begins there for a child.


Clyde Kessler lives in Radford, VA with his wife Kendall and their son Alan. He’s a founding member of Blue Ridge Discovery Center, an environmental education organization in southwestern Virginia and western North Carolina.

Issue No. 6, Autumn 2013

Gwendolyn Joyce Mintz #2
Untitled #1
Gwendolyn Joyce Mintz

A Lakeshore Reflection with a Willow
Clyde Kessler

The kids laughed at the willow with the moonrise.
It was like an old woman pulling on a ghost, stretching it
into a bowl of snow and sticks. They kicked some slush
onto the knotty roots along the shore. The lake was slushy too
full of old silent storms and town trash. If five children
stood on every one of its strongest branches, they’d be owls
whickering about their cold wings at the start of winter.
If four children circled the tree in the darkest part of a moon sliver,
they’d make four ratty leaves webbed onto a scarecrow’s face
where a mean spidery thing slept and dreamed of three kids
who would plink their own baby teeth as these fell out for dollars
in a shadow’s house, its other dream was feeding there.
If two children, fraternal twins, your daughter and son in your old age,
dragged you close to the willow so you’d laugh with them,
they’d be cobbles somebody dropped in a knothole to scare a mouse.
If one child camped there, strummed a mandolin, then fell asleep,
the willow could stroll away on the lake with its own life
and no one else would feel so haunted along this path.


Clyde Kessler lives in Radford, VA with his wife Kendall and their son Alan. He’s a founding member of Blue Ridge Discovery Center, an environmental education organization in southwestern Virginia and western North Carolina.

Gwendolyn Joyce Mintz writes stories, takes pictures and makes teddy bears by hand.

Issue No. 6, Autumn 2013

Blackbird Noir
John Vanek

Raindrops plump as seedless grapes
spatter the pavement, batter the roof, as I
enter the haven of The Leeward Lounge.
Egan squats on his usual stool, drops a depth-charge
of his friend, Jim Beam, into his beer,
caresses his Marlboro, stares at the deaf-mute
TV, talks politics, dirty tricks.

Outside the alley window, backlit by a streetlamp,
a dark figure flips a coin,
sets it on the sill,
cocks his head, looks straight at me
like some street punk—then taps the pane,
bobs his head, picks up the coin
in his beak, flips it again.

A door slams; I await the arrival
of the late, great Mr. Poe,
but it’s Egan, not Edgar,
back from the john.
He glances at the window, says
In the old country, a bird at the window
means death
, then segues to lawn care.

The other stool-toppers look, but do not see.
As the jukebox flat-lines, the bird
taps out an urgent rhythm.
I half-expect him to spit in the street, light a stogie,
sell me tout sheets or tiny Rolex knockoffs
hidden under feathers, but he
just keeps flipping: heads, tails, heads.

What does he want? I wonder
if he’s warning or threatening,
but like Egan’s chatter, there is no end.
Maybe he’s laying odds on my demise:
if it’s tails, will my neon-red life
drain from my veins, mix with spilled beer
on the peanut-shelled floor until

I fade into the night, as black as he.
Mayhem taps again on the window.
A cackle erupts, yet he’s not smiling.
A drop, too dark for rain,
trickles down the pane.
As Egan rambles on about dental care
through yellowed teeth, I pocket

happy-hour nuts, pay the barkeep.
Outside, I raise my collar,
enter the alley, but he’s gone.
I stare at blood on the window,
the tail-side of a penny on the sill,
trade peanuts for the coin, payment
for advice given, time spent.

Today in church, I long
to fly home, long for Jim Beam
to ease the scratch
of gravel in my throat, yet
tuck the penny under the coffin pillow,
plod the stairs to the podium,
croon my short elegy for Egan, my heart

fluttering
like the beating
of black wings.


John Vanek is a physician and poet with works published in numerous literary journals and showcased on public radio. He has read his poetry at the George Bush Presidential Library, the Akron Art Museum, Eckerd College, and the Cleveland Clinic. His book, “Heart Murmurs: Poems,” is available at Amazon.com.

Issue No. 6, Autumn 2013

Jennifer Powers
The Awakening
Jennifer A. Powers

Dispirited
Patricia Gomes

Zenobia haunts the graveyards
in search of flowers for her table,
the morning’s Communion wafer
still on her tongue.

Faded blossoms these —
zombie roses
and silver dollars
to place upon her sorrowed eyes and dream.
Dream.

Fettered by golden chain,
saddened
by the glads she stalks.
Weeping
willow tears,
tepid and colorless,
she carves her isolation into the headstones …
marbleized, immortalized.

Fallen leaves rise to float
on a breath of mournful current
enticing Zenobia
to dance
with muddied shoes
until Those with Keys come
to lock the iron gate against the sun.
Bonsoir, bonsoir.

Zenobia returns to her room then,
beribboned in floral cast-offs,
bedecked in acceptance.
She sets the table for one,
and dines alone.


Award winning poet/author Patricia Gomes has been published in countless literary journals and anthologies, both in print and electronically. She is the author of four chapbooks and performs her work extensively throughout the New England area. Currently, she is the on-line poetry moderator of iVillage’s (ivillage.com) Poets Workshop, a division of NBC. She is a co-founder of the Writers’ Block workshop in New Bedford, MA, and an active member of the Bartley Scrivener Poetry Group in Dartmouth, MA, and the Massachusetts State Poetry Society.

Jennifer A. Powers was born and raised in Connecticut. She earned a BA in English from the University of Connecticut and is attending Western Connecticut State University for her MFA. She has short stories published or forthcoming in The MacGuffin, Foliate Oak, Wild Violet, Linden Avenue, Prairie Wolf Press Review, Folio, Diverse Voices Quarterly, Grasslimb, and Hawai’i Pacific Review, and photography in Foliate Oak, Josephine Quarterly, Paper Tape, The Meadowland Review, and Subprimal Poetry Art. Please visit jennpowers.com.

Issue No. 6, Autumn 2013

Ghost Story
Crystal Bacon

Padme, whose name means
Lotus of Wisdom, and who comes
from a long line of Temple dogs
from when Tibet existed
as more than a state of mind,
growls attentively, and low
at the ghosts that flutter
in the predawn light
on our neighbor’s window.

In the landing’s shadows,
her small eyes, veiled
in sheaths of hair,
seek meaning in these shapes
both ominous and luminous
that either threaten or beckon.

Who can say what message
they bring from that other world,
the Dollar Store on Ridge Avenue?

As we emerge into the lamp-lit yard,
even our breath becomes vapor,
spirit entering and exiting
the body, sanctuary of flesh.


Crystal Bacon’s first book of poems, Elegy with a Glass of Whiskey, won the 2003 A. Poulin New Poetry America Prize from BOA Editions and was published in 2004. She is a graduate of the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers, and her work has appeared in a variety of publications in the US and abroad. Her poems explore the nature of being, living on the edge between spirit and matter, the finite and the infinite. She is an Assistant Professor of English at the Community College of Philadelphia.

Issue No. 6, Autumn 2013

The Perseids
Judith Barrington

Arrows of light flee from Perseus, each one
scorching the sky with a pencil line and a whiff
of burning—or am I imagining the sulfurous flare
that reaches my nostrils for a second
as if the devil himself had emerged from below
to scrape the unfamiliar heights with his curled fingernail.

Sometimes racing rays cross each other so fast
you’d think they would leave their smoke drifting
among bewildered constellations, but they just go on
as usual, shimmering among the riot,
rotating along their nightly track with a sweet hint
of tea roses, oblivious to the celestial uproar.

Far away below, they can hear faint gasps erupting
from the miniscule life forms that swarm on the face
of the little blue planet, the scent of their great
astonishment, pungent as a Vindalho curry.


Judith Barrington recently won the Gregory O’Donoghue Poetry Prize and gave a reading in Cork (Ireland). She has published three poetry collections, most recently Horses and the Human Soul and two chapbooks: Postcard from the Bottom of the Sea and Lost Lands (winner of the Robin Becker Chapbook Award). Her memoir, Lifesaving, won the Lambda Book Award and was a finalist for the PEN/Martha Albrand Award. She has taught for the University of Alaska’s MFA Program and at workshops across the USA, Britain and Spain.

Issue No. 6, Autumn 2013

Sestina at the Maldron Hotel, Ireland
Judith Barrington

After that happened, I’d a vision of my mother,
A revenant on the bench where I would meet her

—Seamus Heaney “Two Lorries”

Once the North Infirmary Charitable Hospital,
still with a partial cemetery out the back:
in room 3-1-8 we can see it from our window.
3-18 and 19 are the two most haunted
except perhaps for the room between them—
unnumbered door that opens onto a wall.

“Those rooms are deadly,” someone writes on the wall
of a paranormal website, “the fever hospital
took in cholera patients and buried most of them,
but some refuse to leave—keep wandering back.”
The hotel staff swears the place will stay haunted
until some priestly “cleanser” closes the window

between this world and theirs. What does that window
need for the catch to hold and the wall
between to keep us well apart? Aren’t we all haunted,
whether or not we visit that one-time hospital?
My own dear dead ones try so hard to talk back
it seems right cruel to pretend I cannot hear them—

their voices muffled but still reminiscent of them
before they sank through the waves and the window
behind them blew shut. They never came back
but my revenant mother passes through every wall
seeking my room whether hotel or erstwhile hospital
scoffing at fevers and tales of rooms that are haunted.

I know she wouldn’t have wanted me to stay haunted
by memories of fire and of water consuming them.
Sometimes I wonder if they’d ended up in hospital
I would have remembered the view from the window,
the place where I listened to her breath as I leaned on the wall
and silently told her she simply had to come back.

My revenant father just recently made it back
and started to speak after years of silence that haunted
me clearly as words. He blunders through the wall
behind which he lives with the dead although he hates them
and doesn’t believe he belongs. He jumps from the window
of room 3-1-8—our room at the hotel-hospital—

and flies back to dwell with the shades. From the hospital
window I watch him go. Refusing to be haunted
I punch the wall and swear I will never forget them.


Judith Barrington recently won the Gregory O’Donoghue Poetry Prize and gave a reading in Cork (Ireland). She has published three poetry collections, most recently Horses and the Human Soul and two chapbooks: Postcard from the Bottom of the Sea and Lost Lands (winner of the Robin Becker Chapbook Award). Her memoir, Lifesaving, won the Lambda Book Award and was a finalist for the PEN/Martha Albrand Award. She has taught for the University of Alaska’s MFA Program and at workshops across the USA, Britain and Spain.

Issue No. 6, Autumn 2013

Trick-or-Treat
Laura Madeline Wiseman

Not chance or fate—just plot waiting. Strong jaw
rough by night’s end, blue eyes like flames licking—
an invitation upstairs post-bar for a minute.
Painter and punk, this had gone on long enough.
On the mattress, on the floor, hands explore.
I shake, some twisted current conjures
the flesh beneath the clothes and the lips
that do not meet, the final act not done. Why not
allow this want? The head swims in half-light,
the bizarre calls of downtown on Halloween, the skin
that prickles with touch, our greed, our delight.
He leaves empty-handed. Looking back
the punk turns, shoulders broad, easy lope
that makes me want his blue-eyed mornings.


Laura Madeline Wiseman has a doctorate from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she teaches English and creative writing. She is the author of seven collections of poetry, including Sprung (San Francisco Bay Press, 2012) and Unclose the Door (Gold Quoin Press, 2012). She is also the editor of Women Write Resistance: Poets Resist Gender Violence (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2013). Her writings have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Margie, Rose Red Review, Arts & Letters, Poet Lore, and Feminist Studies. She has received awards from the Academy of American Poets and Mari Sandoz/Prairie Schooner, and grants from the Center for the Great Plains Studies and the Wurlitzer Foundation. lauramadelinewiseman.com