Poetry SUMMER 2012

Zach Fishel


Cutting onions
on a bamboo board
is like making love.
is the key,
remembering certain movements,
or peeling
the clear skin
underwater. Drowning
the stench,
and using a keen edge,
watching where fingers
are placed,
and not minding
being blinded.


Dead batteries
bubbling in a vase

Hangnails cut until

Case of beer followed
by cough syrup just to make sure you sleep.

Overworked heaters stinking the room
blacking electric whirls

Anvil eyes
straw hat pulled down enough to keep

The light


Sidewinding fires of the etymology
linger like wet smoke

Plastic cups microwaved melting
stained with port wine

Tinged tongues of licorice
old spice and straight silver razors

Sunshine on a bath towel
dish liquid lemons

Stacked along the corners
never neatly,
but never out of line.


Zach Fishel is currently the University of Toledo Press Fellow and recent Pushcart Nominee. His work has appeared in many print and online journals. He spends his free time editing between Jumping Blue Gods and Red Fez. His future plans involve owning a few goats and a doctorate in American Literature with an emphasis on William Faulkner and all things wonderful.

Poetry SUMMER 2012

Shannon Elizabeth Hardwick


Francine cleans more often when holes begin to open. Always the brush against
bone because I’m alone. I’m alone, she writes, holes bump beaks until people see my
bruises bloom. Francine cleans the kitchen counter with her tongue. My body opens
and I have to, she writes, be useful. Francine cleans. Everything, mouthful holes.
Francine only cleans the bones that show. This I know, she writes, he stole


I am trying to walk into my own heart.
There are doors. I find my lover there,
Asleep. I try to wake him. The ship’s
Arriving. I make tea, talk to the cat,
Ask the tree outside the window
If it feels like a tree. It is a tree.
I don’t feel like an I. For a moment
I am aware I will die. I want to
Find my lover’s heart. He’s asleep.
The ship’s gone. The cat is hungry.


Well, hwael, whales used to live in me
Until they grew tired of fathers. They grew
Tired of digging wells. Hwael, I’m turning
into my mother, I said, into a tree. I will
Dig a well until I find the root. What links
the sea to a whale. A brain can break
Even in water. I’m turning into my mother.
Hwael, I’m tired of digging. Whales
Grow tired of swimming into trees. Often
Fathers throw their roots, their mothers
Pearls into the sea, throats and letters
Swim into me, hwael, I used to live
On land. Mothers eat their daughters
Sometimes in the sea. Like coral. Hearts dig
Into the root of things. There are mothers
Everywhere on picnics, fucking fathers. Well,
Whale, where were we before mothers,
fathers, digging roots out of the sea.


Shannon Elizabeth Hardwick received her MFA from Sarah Lawrence College in 2010. She recently completed her first full-length manuscript of essays and poetry and has a chapbook in print and one forthcoming with Mouthfeel Press. She is the resident poet for Port Yonder Press’ online magazine Beyondaries and her work has been featured or is upcoming in 3:AM Magazine, Night Train, Versal, Sugar House Review, among others. She writes in the deserts of West Texas.

Poetry SUMMER 2012

Richard Fein


He’s the fifth Ninja Turtle, a flesh and blood five year old
allied with the cartoon four whose fight for truth and justice
and for the complete beating up of bad guys everywhere
is televised every weekday morning.
“Come on daddy,” he sees me sitting in my easy chair.

“Come on, you be the sixth turtle.”
Now he’s in hot pursuit jumping off the couch,
running across the living room
down the hall to the front door and back
And I’m with him, part of his posse
but with my own crusaders of yesteryear,
Roy Rogers, The Lone Ranger, Hopalong Cassidy.
My raised thumb is a cocked hammer, my middle finger a trigger,
and my index finger the barrel for firing silver bullets,
at legions of black Stetson desperadoes and also
for giving them the finger and a royal up yours when junior isn’t looking.
And so father and son will blaze the lawmen’s trail,
we resolute crusaders, a dynamic duo forever hot on evil’s trail
until the kiddy shows run into housewife soap operas
and he retires for his afternoon nap.


Richard Fein was a finalist in The 2004 New York Center for Book Arts Chapbook Competition. A Chapbook of his poems was published by Parallel Press, University of Wisconsin, Madison. He has been published in many web and print journals such as Southern Review, Roanoke Review, Birmingham Poetry Review, Mississippi Review, Whiskey Island Review, Oregon East, Bad Penny Review and many, many others.

February 2012


Letter from the Editor


THREE POEMS by Howie Good
FIRST FIREFLY by Emily Iekel 
TWO POEMS by Jackie Ann Morrill
THREE POEMS by Vance Osterhout 
TWO POEMS by Mike Soto 
LOVE IN THE 21ST CENTURY by Tim Suermondt 


LAYOFF by Alex Miller 


THE SHOT HEARD AROUND DETROIT by Michael Constantine Mcconnell

February 2012 NonFiction

Susan Dunnaway


I can coil a hundred feet of garden hose without kinking it because I went to Boat Smart class, where the instructor taught us how to coil a rope in such a way that it won’t tangle when you throw out a life preserver. I don’t own a boat, but my friend Dora does and since she is blind, she obviously needs someone to drive it. She insists that anyone who operates her fifteen-foot aluminum vessel take a boating safety course, so for six Monday nights Mark and I went to class and at the end, received certificates.

Two or three times between May and September, we put the boat in at Discovery Park or Rattlesnake Bar and enjoy the beauty of deep green rivers edged with yellow clay and granite and oak. From time to time, Dora checks her CB radio for weather alerts and hazards, and asks her dog if he’s okay. I sit out on the bow, watching for submerged boulders and driftwood, enjoying the heron nests and mallard ducklings that Dora will never see.

Dora was born in 1953, six weeks premature. A nurse rushed her to an incubator, where for three weeks, her tiny lungs received life-saving oxygen. The side effect, which opthalmologists wouldn’t acknowledge until 1954, is a condition called retinopathy of prematurity. With each breath of nearly pure oxygen, Dora’s lungs grew stronger, but the delicate arteries of her eyes shriveled and then disintegrated. Blood-starved tissues responded by sending out a rampant growth of abnormal vessels, which leaked blood into Dora’s retinas. She was one of 10,000 preemies who lost their sight before the practice of oxygen therapy was abandoned.

Whenever we go boating, I have to take something for motion sickness. Dora is immune. I once asked her—since she can’t drive her boat or see the water or the trees or the wildlife—what it is about boating that she enjoys so much. “Everything else,” she said. “I like the smells, you know? The air blowing in my face. I like the sound of the water.”

“The sound?”

“Yeah, the water hitting the side of the boat.”

“Oh, right,” I said.

“And I like to hear the engine run, you know? It goes up and down when the boat goes up and down.”

Of course, I thought. As the little craft cuts through the surface, rising and falling over the wakes of other boats, the engine’s deep gargle oscillates. I hadn’t noticed.


Susan Dunnaway writes and edits personal histories. Her recent work includes stories related by veterans of World War II, the Korean War, and the Viet Nam War. She lives in Northern California with her husband, Mark Dunnaway, son Lowell, and two excellent cats.

February 2012 Poetry

Jackie Anne Morrill


Her stroke-impaired tongue
feels for cheek wells in the dark.

Chinese:                                                        He speaks eight languages
Japanese:                                                      but clicks at her foreign
French and

(the tap of old stingers and shelled abdomens).

His ears filled with
the sound of her kneeling.

She is mantis.
Her bone-prayer wrists
raised in bent defense.


Her yellow horse painting

No eyes

says it all.
Rear legs too short,

Raised by father

more like a hyena
on the side lines,

He crossed the lines of

overbite yelping with eager

Her little girl panties, their elastic waistband



Jackie Anne Morrill is a MFA graduate student of Sarah Lawrence College. She devotes her time thesis writing inspired by tales of sexual fetishism, pseudo-psychology and the feeding habits of forest animals. Hailing from Worcester, Massachusetts, Jackie has become a strong and welcomed voice in the Worcester poetry scene over the past few years. Her work can be seen in New Graffiti: Literature on the Streets, The Ballard Street Poetry Journal, and Amethyst Arsenic.

February 2012 Poetry

Vance Osterhout


I had forgotten how it felt
to matter, to know
a grinding gear
in the military machine
with clear missions
the day’s tasks aligned
surmountable with much effort
The feeling had slipped away
until I set foot on deck again
the scents snaking into my nostrils
Sealing wax, jet fuel, non-skid, salt water
the feel of cyanide painted aluminum
the hydraulic bowls were still there
and the BLIN Computer,
recording catastrophe in code
but the gauges had been stripped
this bird wouldn’t fly without engines
I remember what it felt like to be relevant


I work in prayerful labor
and venerate the spirits
engineers are gone to graves
but al-Jazari’s cam still lives
and I reflect in remembrance
focused as a Syracusan Heat Ray
on my stone-faced grandfather
who never smiled until he retired
but applied expert hands
skillfully blending turbine blades
and I hope this benediction
honours the ancestors well
so that my many weighty transgressions
might be lifted
from these weary shoulders


Phase-changer fires
flame hurricane spiraling out
but something has gone wrong
deep inside, welds burst
shaking, an unholy cacophony
vibration rattles tubes and cams
bringing obsolescent mercury switches
to their shattering threshold
internal failure
even boilers have hearts


Vance Osterhout is a boiler mechanic and pseudo-scholar, former Marine and student of History. His works appear in all sorts of places; under rocks, on mountain tops and in caves.

February 2012 Poetry

Tim Suermondt


Skullduggery of rain
Washes another day away.

Amperes of light
Frolic on the couch

Like we shortly will.
Sadness and sorrow locked

In a cardboard box
Too heavy to move—

It can wait. Supper to jazz
On the radio, one white

Tulip one white vase
On the wooden table,

Our mouths welcoming
The casserole and the desire.


Tim Suermondt is the author of TRYING TO HELP THE ELEPHANT MAN DANCE ( The Backwaters Press, 2007) and JUST BEAUTIFUL from NYQ Books, 2010. He has published work in Poetry, The Georgia Review, Southern Humanities Review, Bellevue Literary Review and Prairie Schooner, and he has poems forthcoming in Tygerburning Literary Journal and Stand Magazine (U.K.). He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, the poet Pui Ying Wong.

February 2012 Poetry

Howie Good


The best music is inaudible,
a little boy pedaling his bicycle
after a delivery van.


It’s fashionable
to die young
and be pessimistic.

I myself prefer
a Vicodin
to the present,

until later,
when we’re anointing
the bed,

your breasts
floating above me

like the pink
and green

found only
in Ireland.


A farmer hid you from the Germans. You spent long, empty hours curled up inside a flower, resigned to headaches and insomnia. When you returned to Paris after the war, the people on the street were just shadows. You had finally discovered the color of the atmosphere. It’s dull yellow, almost pumpkin.


Howie Good, a journalism professor at SUNY New Paltz, is the author of the new poetry collection, Dreaming in Red, from Right Hand Pointing. All proceeds from the sale of the book go to a crisis center, which you can read about here.

February 2012 NonFiction

Michael Constantine McConnell


“It’s my turn to deal,” I said, pulling the loose cards on the kitchen table into the space in front of me. I was spending the night at my grandmother’s and Anne Marie’s apartment on Glenwood. I began flipping over the cards that were face-up, which were many, because we were playing super rummy, using two decks of cards.

“Hurry up, Michael,” said Anne Marie, impatiently. “We ain’t got all night.” Always the sense of urgency. Always the putting of me on the spot. Always the exerting of control.

“Alright, I’m going as fast as I can,” I said, nervously fumbling the cards. My grandmother started to help me. We turned all the cards face-down then I squeezed them into a tattered disk, clacked them against the table, and arranging them into a perfect stack. I was excited to debut the shuffling skills that she had been teaching me.

“I’m growing old here,” Anne Marie said. She huffed loudly to show her annoyance, to make me feel uncomfortable. Always the fear. Always the anxiety. Always the bullying. I reverted to drowning her out with my thoughts. I consciously focused on ignoring her. I’d become good at it. After eleven years of dealing with Anne Marie’s anger and watching my grandparents kill themselves with substances and hate, I’d become good at calmly blocking things out.

“Michael, COME ON,” she yelled, twitching her head and shoulders forward, making me flinch. She knew she’d put me into a position where I compromised my own sense of pride. My hands started shaking.

“I can do it,” I said. My voice cracked falsetto at the end of the sentence. I started crying.

“Anne, let him do it,” my grandmother said.

“He should fucking learn how to deal before he comes to the table!” Always the jealousy. Always the drive to defeat, to crush, to humiliate.

This is how things were. I was eleven. Anne Marie was almost fifteen. We’d grown up together. We’d lived our entire lives together. She was more like a sister to me than an aunt, more like a master than a friend. She did what she wanted. She was the baby of the family – her parents’ youngest child – but I was her oldest sister’s first son, her parents’ first grandchild, and the first boy born into the family in twenty years. After she and my grandmother left Gus, my grandfather, and moved into the house on Glenwood, Anne Marie constantly swore and screamed and bossed and nobody could do anything about it. Her mother put up with it. Her mother was usually on enough pills to tolerate anything; plus, she’d lived with Gus long enough to adopt his apathetic fuck-it-all-to-hell attitude.

“Just give me the cards,” Anne Marie said, not asked, and she grabbed them from out of my hands. Always the intimidation. Always the instilling of subordinance into me. Always the continual chipping away of my self-esteem.

“No,” I yelled. I grabbed the cards and pulled them away from her; cards flew in all directions and fell spinning onto the linoleum kitchen floor.

“You don’t talk back to me, god-damnit,” Anne Marie yelled. She stood up with an aggressive jerking motion that sent the chair beneath her screeching into the wall behind her. Her eyes gazed hard into mine, punctuated by that question-mark gesture on her face that asked, “What the fuck you gonna do about it? Huh? Huh?”

I didn’t look away. I looked straight into the black of her eyes, but all I could see was every detail of the rooms and the house around me. In the periphery of my vision, I could see the orange, 1970’s geometric mandalas on every square of linoleum tile covering the floor. I could see the fake mother-of-pearl covered table that my helpless grandmother clung to. I could see the horribly rusted metal legs of that table and next to it in the kitchen’s corner the steel-frame utility cart filled with Tupperware and spatulas and next to that a big yellow-green refrigerator. To my left, I could see the double-range stove facing the refrigerator. Behind me, I could see the wall of greenish cupboards and countertop and sink. Outside of the kitchen, through the closed door, I could see the tunnel of stairs going down to the empty apartment that my mother and new father and I had moved out of. I could see the basement. I could see the roof of the house. I could see the big yellow house where I’d grown up eight blocks away. I could see into its rooms at the crackheads who’d taken it over. I could see the bar where Gus was at, trying to find a place to stay, explaining to anybody who would listen that he’d gone home one night and thugs had moved in and kicked him out, but there was nothing he could do because the police wouldn’t care and he hadn’t paid mortgage in five years anyways. I could see every square inch of every place I’d ever been in my entire life, and I saw nothing that didn’t boast the shame of my cowardice and humiliation time and time and time and time again.

I punched Anne Marie in the face as hard as I could.

She fell against the wall behind her and slid into her chair. Her face registered shock. She moved her hands to her jaw. My knuckles tingled. My whole body tingled. I felt like I was going to throw up. I was still scared, but in a different way. The feeling was no longer terror. I recoiled my arm, ready to throw another punch, ready to protect myself and fully expecting her to charge, but she covered her eyes with her hands and started to wail. She ran into her bedroom and slammed the door.

By the time I could breathe normally again, my grandmother had shuffled the cards and dealt two hands. I don’t remember who won the game. I just remember the sweet silence that my grandmother and I enjoyed while we played. When the game ended, I went to bed.

“Good night, baby boy,” she said to me after she kissed me on the cheek and gave me a big, long hug. Then she got on the telephone until the wee hours of the morning, telling everybody in the family that the day they’d all been waiting for had finally arrived.

The following Easter, I found the naked bust of a chocolate woman in my basket, a gift that my grandmother reserved for the men in the family.


Michael Constantine McConnell‘s poems, palindromes, and short stories have been published or are forthcoming in such magazines and anthologies as
Father Grimm’s Storybook and Electric Velocipede. His personal essay, “Alleys,” from the anthology Solace in So Many Words, has been nominated for a 2011 Pushcart Prize. A retired furniture mover and former Experimental Word Forms Editor for Farrago’s Wainscot, he currently teaches various levels of college writing and sings in raucous Scotch/Irish bands after sundown.