Sunday, November 30, 2014

3 poems by 3 poets

illustrations by palomine studios


by horace p sternwall

what could be finer
than at 4 a m in a diner
to put ketchup on your fries
and know you are truly wise?

and see the face of your maker
in the empty sugar shaker
and drink your coffee black
as the universe spins off track?

but something goes wrong
with the smoothest song
just as you drift off to bliss
you're wakened by the icy kiss

of the vampires and ghouls
with their messages and rules
and their reminders to move on
into the unforgiving dawn

you know what's really tough?
when your fellow humans have enough
of your scintillating presence
they can make it most unpleasant

and so you trudge away
into the long and looping day
beneath a sky that never ends
with the clouds your only friends


by corinne delmonico

my dad was an asshole
my mom was a slut
my brother was a bully
my sister was a nut

we all lived together
in a trailer in the park
things were bad in daylight
and got worse when it got dark

we had one couch between us
and only one tv
think about that -
for the whole family!

as i got older
i grew bored
i packed one night
while the others snored

i stole everything
everything they had
if they didn’t like it
too bad

i stuck my thumb out
for a ride
and quickly found out
that the world’s not wide

you can cry hot tears
you can shake your fists
but the open road
no longer exists

before i was out on the road
for an hour
the man came along
and had me in his power

i had freedom for a minute
not even as much as
the man came along
and had me in his clutches

i know who i am
i know who you are
the world is the back seat
of a rolling police car

you can sit in a penthouse
you can sit in a cell
you can call it heaven
or call it hell

you can sob and moan
and get your undies in a bunch
or watch the view and ellen
until it’s time for lunch


by regina osgood stapledon

spread your wings, my soul
immortality be my goal
and passion my shining star
to carry me so far

above the dreamless herd
i only need one word -
love -
to soar above

higher - ever higher
to deathless desire

yes, go ahead and smile
so will i -
after a while

and so will he
with the cruelty
from which passion is born

and you
with worldly scorn

but i
in happy memory

the trade, i feel
is fair
for what else is there?

Saturday, November 22, 2014

the scream

by emily de villaincourt

illustrated by eddie el greco

annabelle had had just about enough.

sometimes she wanted to scream.

and then one day she did.

she was walking down the street on her lunch hour.

and she did.


for about seven seconds. which does not sound like much, but is pretty long for a scream.

a number of people were passing by.

they were all civilized people who were averse to fuss and confusion, so they pretended not to hear her.

most did not even glance at her.

a policeman who was directing traffic nearby heard the scream and approached annabelle.

by the time he reached her, the seven seconds were over and she had stopped screaming.

"are you all right, miss?" the policeman asked.

"yes, i am, thank you."

"are you sure?"

"yes. i just - i just had to vent a little bit."

"that's quite all right. we all do sometimes." the policeman smiled at annabelle.

"thank you. but i am all right now."

the policeman nodded and went back to his traffic and annabelle went back to the office.


day off

by emily de villaincourt

illustrated by konrad kraus

veranilda marthorpe had trouble finding good help.

so although jenny wilks, her maid of all work, was not the sharpest pin in the cushion, veranilda kept her on because she was at least respectful and never complained, about her wages or anything else.

veranilda was surprised one morning when jenny asked for a day off.

"a day off? whatever for?" veranilda had a sudden vague idea that jenny - who never spoke of herself and was of course never encouraged to do so - might have a sick or dying relative somewhere.

"i would just like to have one, ma'am."

veranilda laughed, somewhat relieved. "but what are you going to do on this so-called ' day off' ?"

"i don't know, ma'am, but i would like one."

veranilda laughed again. she looked at the grandfather clock in the shadows of the drawing room. it showed eleven o'clock.

"i will tell you what. you may have a half day off - for whatever good it may do you. you may leave at noon. but be back in time to help cook prepare tea." veranilda looked at jenny with her best "humorous" expression. "do you think that will suit you ?" she almost added, sarcastically, "miss", but thought better of it.

jenny hesitated. "yes, ma'm. thank you, ma'am."

much as veranilda had suspected, jenny did not have a clear idea of what she wanted to do with her time off.

she walked to a little park about ten minutes walk from the marthorpe house and took a seat on a bench facing the street.

a few people walked by, but not many, for it was a cold day.

none of the people who passed by spoke to jenny, or she to them.

after a while she judged it must be time to return to help mrs jennings prepare tea.

a military looking older man with thick glasses and a handlebar mustache was walking by, and jenny politely enquired of him what time it was.

he looked at her curiously, took a watch out of his vest pocket and told her it was getting on to quarter past three.

jenny thanked him, and after allowing him time to move along so that he might not imagine she was following him, got up and returned to the house.

she never asked mrs marthorpe for time off again.

that night she had the most peaceful sleep she had had for years, untroubled by strange dreams.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

4 more poems by 4 poets

illustrations by palomine studios

by myself: a fragment

by regina osgood stapledon

under a tree, all by myself
i wrote a poem about an elf
a wizard, and a unicorn
and a princess who wished she had never been born

ergath the elf was very short
he was a cruel and violent sort
filled with grievance against his fellows
and disinclined to be kind and mellow

wando the wizard was short and round
and dispensed his magic by the pound
set himself up by the side of the road
and offered to lighten travelers' loads

roger was a unicorn
of all his illusions he had been shorn
he had been a philosopher for a while
and had forgotten how to smile

the princess was a prisoner
of all who had betrayed her
she was the meekest of the meek
and tears rolled down her shadowed cheek

the lost road

by jack dale moody

long ago and far away
we had songs to sing and things to say
we had worn out soles and crooked dentures
but every day was a new adventure

long ago and far away
we met girls named trixie every day
we didn't vacation in the south of france
but life was one long song and dance

now the roads are long and the days are short
there are no more girls in any port
and though we wander many a mile
those who pass us never smile

where are the windowsills with apple pies?
where are the laughing clouds in azure skies?
where are the scarecrows with their floppy hats?
the friendly barking dogs and sleepy cats?

the empty fields now watch us as we pass
who knows what hides within the tangled grass?


by wiggly jones, "the little hippie boy"

see the trees
see the sky
i was born
but i don't know why

waiting waiting
for a ride
night is falling
nowhere to hide

folks are nasty
folks are nice
folks are quick
to give advice

best advice
i ever had
don't get too happy
or too sad

got a blister
on my feet
sure could use
a bite to eat

waiting waiting
for a ride
night is falling
nowhere to hide


by samantha monday sternwall

a tender yeared cynic
can give a clinic
to the worldly wise and old
on being cold

the rosy cheeks of youth
blush with truth
and the false smiles of elders
are reduced to embers

with unclouded eyes
beneath blue and empty skies
they describe what they see
without hypocrisy

as it was in the day
it is just nature's way
what is colder than morning air?
falling night can not compare

Saturday, November 15, 2014

champion of the world

by f flynn

illustrated by roy dismas

the alien ship landed in pakistan, in a valley a few hundred miles south of islamabad.

the aliens took their time about emerging from the ship after landing.

but before a decision on whether to attack the ship, and with what, could be reached by such authorities as there were in the world to decide such things, an alien finally came forth and read a statement, simultaneously in the one hundred and twenty-three most widely used languages in the world.

the "alien" looked human, which later gave rise to speculation, which could never be proven or disproven, that they had spent their time in the ship adjusting the messenger's outward appearance to earthling's expectations.

the alien took the form of a human female about thirty years old, with copper colored skin, long blonde hair, and wearing what looked like a salvation army uniform from the 1970's.

the first question asked the alien, by ms nelly chan of the world news bureau, was whether they had come in peace.

the alien responded that they had come in neither peace nor war, but in a spirit of honest sportsmanship.

the alien then explained their agenda.

they would make a list of all the humans on earth.

in response from a question from ms irina dalton of the economist, the alien said that they could do this on their own, and did not need any help, thank you very much.

once the list had been compiled, one name would be chosen randomly and that person would be the earth’s champion.

a battle, or contest, would take place between the earth champion and a champion from the alien ship. it would, of course, be televised world wide.

if the alien won, the human race would be loaded on to the ship - in response to a question from al jaspers of wolf news, the alien laughingly assured the reporters that they had their ways and that space on the ship presented no problem - and the humans would then be taken away as slaves to a distant universe.

but if the human won, the aliens would simply get back in the ship and never return.

and if the humans refused this scenario, earth would, of course, be blown to bits.

although there was some dissatisfaction expressed, especially by wolf news and other patriotic united states media, the alien offer was accepted on behalf of the human race by the secretary general of the united nations.

the humans were counted by the aliens in a matter of minutes.

the lottery was scheduled for noon the next day, tokyo time, and the fight at noon the day after that, to give humans time to make arrangements to be in front of their televisions for the climactic event.

the “winner” of the lottery was dmitri merezhkovski, a young man of mixed russian and lithuanian ancestry living in minsk, and working as a janitor in the headquarters of a financial consulting firm.

dmitri was nineteen years old and had led an uneventful life.

dmitri had secret dreams of living in “the old days” where he would live on a little farm of his own with a faithful “little girl to call his own” and six or seven children who would look after him in his old age.

he never confessed these fantasies to anyone, and lived the life of a young man of his time and place and class, with sufficient quantities of beer, pizza, porno and video games to get through the days and nights.

dmitri expected to be chosen in the lottery and was not surprised when he was. later, a survey would be taken that professed to show that approximately 73% of the human race expected to be the chosen one.

before his status as champion was announced, the aliens came and notified dmitri that he had been selected and escorted him to easter island, where the contest was to take place.

the aliens politely declined to answer any of dmitri’s questions as to the exact nature of the contest, but they did treat him to an excellent meal of macaroni and cheese and coors light beer, with a big piece of chocolate cake for dessert.

the contest took place in a standard size boxing ring. dmitri asked what he should wear and was told he could wear anything he wanted so he wore his usual attire of jeans, a dallas cowboys t-shirt, and nikes.

he was not given boxing gloves or any kind of weapon, but was told to stand in one corner of the ring.

a single television camera overlooked the boxing ring.

suddenly the alien champion appeared in the center of the ring. it did not take human form. it looked like a small blue pumpkin.

dmitri was told to engage with it. he walked to the center of the ring, and after a slight hesitation, stepped on the pumpkin-like object.

it squished.

that was it. the fight was over. dmitri had won.

he was asked if he would like to be taken to hong kong or to san francisco and he chose san francisco.

a helicopter took him to alcatraz and a few minutes later, the alien ship, as promised, went back to wherever it had come from.

dmitri was hailed in the world media as a hero. he had received no payment for his effort from either the aliens or the united nations or any other official human agency, but for several weeks he was housed and well fed by the various media entities interviewing him.

he signed a book deal (which later fell through).

he was approached by women, though not nearly as many, or as wealthy and beautiful, as he had thought he might.

interest in dmitri quickly faded. it was apparent that he did not have star power, or any aptitude for banter or sound bites.

he was kind of boring. one helpful young woman from wolf news also explained to him that he did not have a “cool name”, one that was euphonious or easily remembered, and that this was a serious obstacle to enduring fame.

but worse was to come. after the initial excitement of the match with the alien, a growing skepticism about the whole affair became widespread, especially among young people and the most avid consumers of media products.

later, an industry of books and movies debunking and questioning the fight developed. the "official" account of the fight was at least as widely disbelieved as those of the moon landing or the collapse of the twin towers, though not as much as that of the assassination of jfk.

the whole thing was obviously staged. although how, and by whom, or for what purpose, was never agreed on by the skeptics, these considerations only added to the passion and acrimony of the discussions.

among other things, was it not a coincidence that a fairly strong young man, and a white man at that, not an infant or an octogenarian person in a nursing home, was selected?

the “sheeple” who believed the media account responded that almost anyone, even a child or senile person, could have stepped on the blue pumpkin.

this only underlined another problem - that dmitri’s victory was, after the initial euphoria, perceived as too easy. also, he had no back story of heroic preparation or overcoming of long odds.

with all those things working against him, dmitri’s day in the sun quickly faded.

other more interesting events, particularly the deliberate or accidental appearances of female media personalities in stages of undress, took precedence in the news.

with the money he had left over from the book deal, dmitri took a bus to las vegas.

he lost the rest of his money almost immediately, but found vegas in some ways a friendlier place than most of the united states . it was filled with “regular folks” on vacation , and even when his fame had almost completely faded, many of them were happy to treat him to drinks and cheeseburgers to hear his oft-told tale.

dmitri grew homesick and a bit despondent.

after a small piece about him appeared in a local vegas newspaper, a kindly billionaire bought him a plane ticket back to minsk.

he had been replaced at his old job, but found work as a delivery person at a pizzeria where he had worked part time when still in school.


Saturday, November 8, 2014

pressure point

by f flynn

illustrated by roy dismas

johnny woke up.

he got dressed and went downstairs.

mom was looking out the kitchen window .

grandpa was sitting at the kitchen table looking pleased with himself, the way he usually did.

mary jane was at the table too, in her wheelchair, looking sad.

everything looked normal.

they all looked up when johnny walked in.

johnny was the man of the house, ever since dad ran off with the pole dancer.

mom turned and said, "good morning, johhny."

johnny just grunted. he sat down at the table, where a bowl of cocoa flavored rice krispies waited for him.

"did you hear the news?" mom asked him.

"no, why would i hear the news? where's my orange juice?"

"you have a radio in your room," mom answered apologetically, "i thought maybe you were listening to it."

"well, i wasn't. where's my goddamned orange juice?"

"oh, i'm sorry. i must have forgotten - what with the news and all. hold on, i'll get it."

"christ," johnny muttered. "what was this news that was so exciting you forgot all about me?"

grandpa laughed. "just like his old man, isn't he? the apple doesn't fall far from the tree."

mom took a pitcher of freshly squeezed orange juice out of the refrigerator and carefully poured a glass of it.

"well, according to the news on the tv, the world is coming to an end today - sometime between ten and eleven o'clock this morning."

mary jane started to cry quietly. mom put the glass of orange juice in front of johnny.

"between ten and eleven," johnny repeated. "that doesn't give us much time. did they say just why it's coming to an end?'

"something about some gas in the center of the earth that's been building up for a billion years or something. and it's finally reached the pressure point so the world is going to explode around ten thirty this morning.”

“that’s what they say, “ grandpa added. “ and the useless assholes in washington say they can’t do a damn thing about it.”

“would you like some coffee?” mom asked johnny.

“sure, why not?” johnny took a sip of his orange juice and mom went over to the cupboard and took out a jar of instant coffee.

“i think - i think - “ mary jane stammered.

“what is it that you think, honey? “ mom prompted her, as she spooned the instant coffee into a cup.

“i think we should spend these last hours praying together - as a family. it will be our last chance to pray together. and then maybe we could sit together and remember the good times we had together -“

“fuck that shit,” johnny interrupted her. “i know what i’m going to do.”

“and what’s that, kiddo?” grandpa asked.

“i’m going to go fuck mrs beverly.”

grandpa whooped with laughter. “that’s the spirit, boy! ha, ha! but you know, you might have a little competition there. a lot of young fellows - and maybe some not so young - might have the same bright idea.”

“i’ll take my chances.” johnny looked down at the steaming cup of coffee mom was placing in front of him.

“i don’t think,” mom said carefully, “that the good lord might look too kindly on your spending your last moments on earth in such a manner.”

“i don’t care,” johnny answered. “her big tits and big ass have been haunting my dreams for a long time now.” he picked up the cup of coffee. “a long time.”

“let the boy do what he wants,” grandpa declared firmly. “he’s only young once.”

no more words were spoken by any of them. after guzzling down the coffee, the orange juice, and the cocoa flavored rice krispies, johnny found himself out in front of the house.

he could hear mary jane crying and mom saying something to her, he couldn’t make out what.

he started down the road to mrs beverly’s big white house.

it was a bright sunny morning. there were no cars on the road, or anybody else in the streets.

he passed a couple of houses where he could hear the television or maybe a radio turned up loud.

the road was longer than he expected. he had never walked it before, just gone down it being driven in mom’s s u v or on the school bus.

he passed an empty lot he had hardly noticed before, then some more houses.

would he ever get there?

but before he even came in sight of mrs beverly’s house, the pressure point was reached a little ahead of the estimated time, and the world blew up.