Because Renfield

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Contributor: A.J. Huffman

- -
was right, blood is the life
and always will be, eventuality must assume
the guise of knife. Letting
is the only appropriate pathway to be followed.
Though too often we trickle, lingering
too long, coagulating into an impervious stasis
of irrelevancy.

- - -
A.J. Huffman’s poetry, fiction, haiku, and photography have appeared in hundreds of national and international journals. She is also the founding editor of Kind of a Hurricane Press.


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Contributor: J.K. Durick

- -
They’ve been coming up this street for years
Those clean-cut, earnest young people
Dark books in hand, cheerfully chatting
Ready to discuss my soul and the way or
The path, or whatever they’re calling it
This time, salvation, the final reward
They know they have, have pamphlets
Colorful brochures filled with scriptural
Warnings and promises, sales pitches
With bite, the punishments and rewards
Awaiting the consumer and sinner in us;
They arrive, my doorbell rings, I can feel
Their impatience reaching through the door
The dog’s barking plays well in response
Cerberus playing his role, keeping me in
Them out, if I wait quietly enough, long
Enough, they go away, go after others
While my soul, poor fellow, lingers here
In this semi-dark world of his own making
Hiding, too easily embarrassed by it all
Their bright cheerful answers, their simple
Solution to the questions he keeps asking
But is never comfortable with the answers.

- - -
J. K. Durick is a writing teacher at the Community College of Vermont and an online writing tutor. His recent poems have appeared in Boston Literary Magazine, Black Mirror, Deep Water Literary Journal, Poetry Super Highway, and Rainbow Journal.


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Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
Sleet on the turnpike
in the middle of the night
but I keep driving,
both hands on the wheel,
nowhere to pull off,
and a yellow bus
comes over the line
and kisses my truck.
That's all I remember.
Now I'm in bed,
wired to things,
unable to move,
listening to a doctor
telling my wife,
"It's been two weeks,
no improvement."
He asks her nicely
if we should let him go,
the dimwit bastard.
If I could, I'd scream
but I can't even
wiggle my toes.

- - -
Donal Mahoney lives in St. Louis, Missouri.


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Contributor: JD DeHart

- -
He says azure,
and she says lavender,
so he says asure,
and she offers doubt.
He's Sunday and she
is decidedly Monday.
He's naps and she's
rock music concerts.
Between them, there is
a stretch so wide, elastic
all the differences bounce
away at last.

- - -
JD DeHart is a writer and teacher. His first chapbook, The Truth About Snails, is due Fall 2014.

Walk a Straight Line

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Contributor: Gary Thomas Hubbard

- -
Walking down the path we choose
Life's riddles plague us just to confuse
Stains on my memory's favorite photograph
Still when I look at it I have to laugh


Each of our lives is full of twists and turns
You grab hot coals when you know it burns
Things we think we need will rot away
Beauty and youth are not here to stay


Take what you need and leave the rest
You won't be graded, it's not a test
Smile when you can, sadness is on the way
This life can end even if you want to stay


So choose your path wisely, walk a straight line
Don't worry if you don't solve every riddle, you still will be fine
Remember life's memories, the good and the bad
They say who you are so smile and be glad!

- - -
I am The Father of two and a Paw Paw. I was born and raised in Ohio and now I live in Florida. I had one of my poems published in "Stormcloud Poets Second Anthology".

Acid(ic) Hearts

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Contributor: Lena Ziegler

- -
the acid tongue
tracing, forming,
my misused words
draws, gentle
from the mouth
of my blackberry-stained lips

these words
they cross
and air streams
and lullabies
forbidden terms

with my soul
right next to me
my soul
within in me
my soul
lingering in the hollow
my resistance
what is this pain
but persistence

vanishing in time
and space
and love
and indifference
paving waves of grace
for my penalty

my repentance

you are love
we are love

I know this, my love

words melt beneath
of blackberry-stained kisses
piercing hearts
of resistance
what is pain
if not persistence
is it love
or is it

- - -


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Contributor: Maureen Kingston

- -
A whole new ball game. He was all balled up
about it--shaking over home plate. What if
he dropped the ball? Made a fielding error?
Lost focus? He must keep his eye on the ball.

He’d been trying to retrain his body for months,
to unlearn the lifelong habit of sleeping
on his stomach, a routine established in the crib.
So far his efforts had been a bust,
the objects of his failure in full view--
an assortment of odd balls on his bedside table.

The ping-pong ball in his pajama pocket
was an early casualty, his first cratered skull.
The slippery golf ball next, rolling silently
out of his pocket in the middle of the night,
breaking right in the rough under the bed.

The tennis ball appeared to be the perfect size--
big enough to irritate, to coax movement,
but not so big he couldn’t sleep through it.
No matter. Size didn’t affect the result.
He awoke, as before, on his belly,
the tennis ball drenched in sweat, suffocated
by the weight of his chest.

He envied his wife, already modified, sleeping
on her side. She’d retrained her body
with a basketball. Nine months pregnant,
she’d been lying on her side for weeks.
She no longer shared his nightmare of crushing
the baby in his sleep. The shot clock was running
down. He’d have to step up his game.

- - -
Maureen Kingston lives in Nebraska.

Dark Clouds of Spirits Rise

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Contributor: John Evans

- -
Darkness clouds the vastness of sky
Of cactus and vine in a south Texas air,
And from its thorny depths of brambles rise
Within its midst the old wooden cross of
San Juan Capistrano…asks “why?”
A white-washed mission of centuries ago
With three arched bell towers
Ring as thunder hugs the sky.
A house of faith where the desert traveler dwells…
And days since past the contemplative’s hell,
Where the dark nights of many souls
Gather to confess in all their sins,
Seeking absolution from life’s bitter regrets
And so many men.
The journey of one, though, lie in this hand –
Of days and decades old, as old as this man…
With wrinkled brow and shoulders of hair
In the demons eyes squarely he stares,
But the ages of dust bring memories of
A deep rooted old,
Where men of virtue, against all the odds, as
Strong may be bold.
And one thing stands clear in life’s challenges so high
Are the dark clouds of despair
Upon the spirits which rise.

- - -
A former US Marine and Rifle Range Coach, John has much to share of his days as a US Marine. Poetry being the genre of choice, John enjoys sharing his military life having proudly serving his beautiful country and the freedom of democracy!

Just Saying The Words

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Contributor: John Ogden

Should I have been cruel
to soothe your ego?
Should I have been as a wall
pure and stony
while she blundered through your bludgeonings
the cudgels tossed
from Texas
to here?
Should I have left her
left her standing alone
cold, shaking, afraid?
Should I have left her
to lift her
own boxes
own luggage
and only then
when the ashes had cleared
when the years had opened
all the barred doors
you were locked behind
give you all those chances to beat her with words
to bend her
to twist her
until at last she relents
and you can go on living
in your angry rut
but not really loving
saying the words
while never touching
saying the words
just saying the words.

- - -
John Ogden was conceived of a government form and a passing mailbox. He lives somewhere out in the woods of a rural land more akin to the fantasy realms of literature than real life, and his favorite dirt bikes will always be the broken ones.

I Believe in Faeries

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Contributor: JD DeHart

- -
Anyone can see from the decor
on the binder and locker,
she's a true believer,
right down to the spelling choice,
"Faerie," next to the lipstick message
about her boyfriend and the bubblegum
pop music lyrics she's scrawled down.

- - -
JD DeHart is a writer and teacher. His first chapbook, The Truth About Snails, is due Fall 2014.

The Merits of Tea

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Contributor: Ben Riddle

- -
I brought her tea one night
when she had told me
that the trees were whispering
secrets about her;

that they knew the name
of her jaded lovers
their kinks
and the colour of their eyes.

I boiled the water at home;
taking it in a flask
along with two tea cups
and waited
after knocking three times
so she could clean her room
twice more.

When she let me in
I poured two cups of tea
put them on the table
and then hugged her
held her

for a very long time;
until the tea was cold
the wind was quiet
and she didn’t need me anymore.

- - -
A nineteen year old aspiring poet and athlete from Perth, Western Australia, Ben Riddle studies Political Science and English and Cultural Studies at the University of Western Australia. You can find more of his work at

America’s Ghost Signs 2

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Contributor: Maureen Kingston

- -
Today I’m overseeing
wall dogs as they restore
T.J. Eckleburg’s eyes.
My Gatsby will live
to plunder East Egg,
pluck Daisy from her
petal-strewn mansion,
spirit her to a magic
kingdom in the glades.
Amazing how quickly
Fitzgerald sold
his rights to me,
even offered to throw in
“The Crack-Up”
as a bonus, seemed hurt
when I declined--
not a big market
for confession
in the amusement game.


A rookie starts to muff
the doctor’s left lid.
I step in, guide
the hobo marker.
Soon the entire
billboard’s filled,
top to bottom,
with spray-painted eyes--
a wall of hot-coaled
possum eyes.
the smart-mouthed
rookie says,
flicking his cigar ash
into my cap.
You fear blank spaces.
The cops come,
make a fuss.
Court-ordered therapy
my punishment
for vandalizing
a literary icon,
for daring to dodge
erasure, for saying
I am here
with an aerosol can.

- - -
Maureen Kingston lives in Nebraska.

America’s Ghost Signs 1

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Contributor: Maureen Kingston

- -
An ecstatic woman
on downtown brick
holds a white jar
to her cheek. It cools
her blush.
What’s in the
mysterious jar?
I won’t know
for months,
until the restorers
raise the tagline
from crumbling stone.
All the rage--
saving faded script
from swaybacked signs,
maimed words
from country barns
centuries on their knees.
Why the sudden passion
to preserve?
More American
to tear down or paint over.
Our digital age perhaps,
our sense of touch
so deprived
we’ll reach for
cold-creamed faces
on concrete walls.

- - -
Maureen Kingston lives in Nebraska.

Remission of a Drug Fiend

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Contributor: Timothee B.

- -
At first I was fed
With mild meds
Then I grew up,

I drank a cup,
I smoked some pot,
Did both a lot
And some Aces
Later I faced
Popper ecstasy speed
And amphetamines
And psilocybin

Then I took Opium
And Valium
At the asylum,
Then I grew up again
I took cocaine
For I thought this world was vain
And thus, took it with no refrain.

I had a few lines
Of heroin
While on Haldol
Natural or not Phenols
And Alkaloids
Amongst other -ids
-ols and -ins
Then I decided life was worth living

I was a bit bewildered
And discouraged,
I tried wild mushroom:
Happy bloom,
Not even charged.

Then I quit.

But also by then I had found a lover.
A young, fresh and beautiful flower
In my bed, as if we were together.

Release! Far better!
Joy and wonder! 24 hours!
Love, dreams of a dreamer!

And now I prosper
I’m a webmaster

And I’m clean!


How have you been?

- - -
I am a 30 years old french poet and artist, interested in different myths, crafts and traditions.
This poem sums up my journey through drugs. Blessed be!

Belief in a Sky

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Contributor: Jude Conlee

- -
It is midnight exactly, and
you point to a patch
of nothing and say,
“Do you believe in the moon?”
and I nod,
very absently,
the word “vacancy” printed
upon my face;

I have trouble enough as it is
believing there’s a sky.

- - -
Jude Conlee puts words together and finds certain things interesting, including human minds, the universe, and other irregular, unexplainable things. The combination of these facts often results in the creation of poems and fiction.


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Contributor: Richard Schnap

- -
I remember the days of terminated dreams,
Of alcoholic neighborhoods, of suicidal rivers,
When home was a bar serving bottles of amnesia,
Cans of oblivion, shots of forgetfulness,
While down by the shores sat bitter factories,
Confused wastelands, desperate scrap yards,
Haunted by a century of hoodwinked phantoms,
Mislead spirits, deluded ghosts.

Now it’s a realm of anonymous restaurants,
Faceless chain stores, identical cafes,
Where a new generation who’s forgotten the past
Consults their cell phones, examines their laptops,
And sometimes at night you can hear the voice
Of a forsaken forebear, an abandoned ancestor,
But if you listen closer to the mournful cry
It’s only the wind, it’s only the wind.

- - -
Richard Schnap is a poet, songwriter and collagist living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His poems have most recently appeared locally, nationally and overseas in a variety of print and online publications.


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Contributor: Susan Sweetland Garay

- -
The last time I was in this place
it was dry and desolate, but now
the hills are cool and damp
with new growth springing
up everywhere.

I sit here with pen and paper
surrounded by books,
trying to force words to fill
the page. But I know the
effort will be wasted.

My life force is elsewhere.

The part of me that creates –
is otherwise occupied,
and I wouldn’t try to
change its focus.

And anyway I suppose
prediction doesn’t come
easily to anyone so how
could I have known how
my selfish heart would
react with so much love
suddenly thrown at it?

Some burdens
cannot be shared.
But what is a burden really,
pain just makes the pleasure
more palpable.

My mess spills into everything
but so does my magic.

- - -
Born and raised in Portland Oregon, Susan Sweetland Garay currently lives in the Willamette Valley with her husband and daughter where she works in the vineyard industry. She has had poetry and photography published in a variety of journals, on line and in print, and her first full length poetry collection was published in 2013.

The Music of Torquaret

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Contributor: Juan J. Gutiérrez

- -
Angel of autumn, whose music is like amber flame, pluck thy lyre.
Adorn this vale with the golden decay of November pyre.
Those who await his solemn song, become his evening choir,
Be still, sing and permit thou hearts to fill with gold desire.

Hearken! O' fixed stars
Hearken! O' audient stars

Through the season Heaven shall not shed a solemn tear,
So long as Torquaret's lyre-strings slay the dark and drear.
Death shall wave his moon-sharp scythe above the season's sphere,
And bring it down at the music's close, and laugh, and grin and leer.

Behold! O' stirring spheres
Behold! O' silent spheres

Torquaret ceased his song, on one soundless, autumn hour.
When the Heavens blessed the earth with a rare ephemeral power
He espied November's childe, born with the beauty of a flower
Of splendor rang his song, from beyond his cosmic tower.

Torquaret and his choir, and Tarquam and Gaubarel
And the fixed stars and the stirring spheres, they listened and they saw
The childe of November born, whom never shall they mourn,
Immortalized in song by the music of Torquaret

- - -
Juan J. Gutiérrez was raised in Sunland Park, New Mexico and now lives in Desert Hot Springs, California with his wife and daughters.

Satin and Grace

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Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
Here in Chicago I sit
in the sun of an Indian Summer
high on the Water Tower waiting,
chapped hands in a visor
over my eyes, hoping I see
you in that gown,
all satin and grace,
float like a feather
back to Chicago.

I don't care if you stop
by Confederate streams
to pick phallic rocks
on the way from Savannah
so long as you rise,
release all your hair,
take to the air
and float like a feather
on to Chicago

because this is the last time I'll sit
on the Water Tower waiting.
I'd rather go blind than see
you in that gown,
all satin and grace,
laugh like a loon,
turn in the air,
then float like a feather
back to Savannah.

- - -
Donal Mahoney lives in St. Louis, Missouri.

A Soul Speaks!

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Contributor: John Evans

- -
“Just write!” the soul speaks.
Memories to be read –
Prayers to be heard…where nearby demons
Emerge as blood-thirsty fears hunger
Upon sacred blood that flows silently through guiltless veins.
My fears linger, though courage musters its way
Through the frozen tundra of my being…
Life as a Marine is not easy.
We drill, day after day, month after month, until
We move as one.
Get in step Marine as “Gunny” speaks out.
Where to today?
We are never told.
Orders speak and we just move…as one,
A mechanized machine of “freedom fighters,”
We carry on.
Will it be a field class, exercise, or “hand to hand?”
Our purpose is one – solidified as we
March again head on into the depths of history.
Our mission began long ago –
As farmers and peasants we volunteered
Against the tyranny of injustice
In a world of social domination and “All for the King!”
We are one!
In a land of beauty worth defending…
We march on, once again…into the depths of history –
Until we meet the other side of what some call hell,
Our beauty lies in our purpose:
“To preserve and to protect.”
Freedom is never free…and yet, we shall always be free!
For life as a Marine is not easy, but, by God –
We shall always be free!

- - -
A former US Marine and Rifle Range Coach, John has much to share of his days as a US Marine. Poetry being the genre of choice, John enjoys sharing his military life having proudly serving his beautiful country and the freedom of democracy!

Personal Epiphany

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Contributor: J.C. Carcereny

- -
Hands held, legs in a tangle, and messy hair,
The best outfit for the perfect date,
Not a word spoken, only the peaceful
Symphony in her chest, whispers
Into my ears, causing my own to
Dance to the beat, azure blue basins
Follow, skipping to the harmonic
Melody, flaxen hair streaming into
A gentle waterfall splashing over her
Delicate bone structure, fashioned
To perfection, white pearls, slowly caressing
Her plumped lips as she nipped down
Waiting for a personal awaking

- - -
When J.C. is not writing or on the wrestling mat he tends to catch himself enjoying the careless and free-spirited youth that has been presented to him. From hiking in the valleys to catching waves at the beach, J.C. allows his feelings to trail through his veins and into his fingertips to guide the pen mapping out his true emotions not only to the world, but ultimately to himself.

My Messiah

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Contributor: John Ogden

Pick up your crown of thorns
Show me your wounds
Show me how the world
Has wronged you
Has cut you
Has left you bleeding.

Let that blood run
Let the drops fall
All over my face

I know how much I'd scream
I know how much I'd wail
I know how bloody
I'd beat myself
If ever
I was fool enough
to lose her.

- - -
John Ogden was conceived of a government form and a passing mailbox. He lives somewhere out in the woods of a rural land more akin to the fantasy realms of literature than real life, and his favorite dirt bikes will always be the broken ones.

Trading Up

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Contributor: Eddie Gordon Walsh

She traded up
traded him
for me.

She traded up
turned in that old, broken car
for something sleeker
something sexier

She traded up
for someone stronger
someone saner
someone closer
to the ideal
to the prince
to the dream

She traded up
and now, facing the past
I wonder
how long
before a newer model comes along
before someone sleeker
someone sexier
catches her eye
someone she can buy
with the slickness
between her thighs.

- - -

Knowing Nothing, Knowing Everything

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Contributor: Birta C. Long

- -
I feel like I'm drowning.
I know I'm right.
I know I'm right.
I know the pain is how he fights
I know the doubt is how he wins
I know the cruel words
Are the tools
He cuts with.

They aren't true
They were never true
And yet
And yet
Who can say
I wouldn't act the same way
If I were in his shoes?
That I wouldn't wield the same blades
Cut with the same quickness
To flay
My own pain
From another's bones?

Better to trudge on.
Better for both of us
Just to trudge on.

- - -

Object of Desire

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Contributor: Lyla Sommersby

- -
In his mind, she is property.
In his mind, she is a thing to be owned
A thing without self
A thing
To be stolen
To be possessed.

In his mind, he has been replaced.
His dog has a new master
A younger, sleeker master
A master to be hated
A master to be despised
Scum of the earth
Not worthy
To possess his prize.

He'll never admit
All involved are only people
He'll never admit
She made the move on her own
He'll never admit
That what is over
Was over
Long before anything new

- - -
I am a student in Miami, Florida. Painting is my other love. My first book, Sketches of Someone, is available through Thunderune Publishing.

Warmth Charging Away

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Contributor: Michael Prihoda

- -
like a melting barcode,
on the
passing a
one thousand
as warmth
charges away,
the Light Brigade
on Ecstasy
for frozen eyes
fearing the unrepeatability
of breaking a gaze.

- - -
Michael Prihoda was born in Wisconsin and now attends university. He loves nature and animal crackers.


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Contributor: Antoinette McCormick

- -
The only way back is through the basement.
A rushed descent measured in echoes
Voices, footsteps, metallic clangs,
Exhaust, cologne. We sit and wait
Sit with the wait, until the train lurches
Through the station’s steel and cement catacombs
Partitions stuffed with wadded blankets, tattered clothes
Splintered boards and scattered bricks.
Whose were these; whose were those?
Graffiti blossoms on concrete; the sky emerges
A glaucous watercolor, edges smeared
Another stain to spread into the night
Every moment before it frozen
Every moment after it forever marked
Watch your step; mind your baggage:
Leaving takes forever, going does not.

- - -
Frazzled graduate student. Textual alchemist. Former handmaiden of Western medicine.

Silver Love Arises

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Contributor: John Evans

- -
Mid - morning arises
Not even a cricket’s song may be heard,
The darkness of night could hear the gentle pounding
As thirsty clouds release their deluge of freshly needed rain,
And Silver Love rises from her depths
Of knowing.
Love and salted flesh as one.
The stillness of the morning
Before the sun will rise
Give birth to twin hearts…
And in the next room
As I write our gift of memories
I will, once more, see the sun rise
To the splendor of a new day.

- - -
John has been writing poetry since 1998. His deepest passions are writing, poetry, and photography. With over 60 years of life's experiences he senses life is truly worth writing about. There is much to discover (and learn), through the pen of the poet.

Broken Promises

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Contributor: Richard Schnap

- -
He wondered what birds dreamed of
Since they already had the gift of flight

As he thought about the divorced mother
Who gave birth to an autistic son

And the man who fell madly in love
With a woman addicted to heroin

While the TV showed how terrorists
Forced children to watch beheadings

And as he watched through his window
A spider build an intricate web

He decided they dreamed of nothing
They dreamed of nothing at all

- - -
Richard Schnap is a poet, songwriter and collagist living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His poems have most recently appeared locally, nationally and overseas in a variety of print and online publications.

Grisly Disorder

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Contributor: Kevin Sampsel

- -
Stubborn mutilation rises up—
Cracking every cell—
And drips, drips such an oozy,
Sludgy mess. I have a disease.

Oh, black wine… I lap you up.
I no longer remember when
You showed your vile sickness.
Please leave… this pale canvas.

Pain—sensations people say
They do not want. They listen,
Listen to a creeping, seeping,
Morbid takeover of the skin.

Mine thunders and twirls deep
Inside each atom. Psychotic—
Prods and nods inflaming thought.
The release is agonizing, sensual.

Tormenting affliction… rising—
You turn my mind demented.
I vent your gruesome grudge—
Your black, lovely death sludge.

- - -
Kevin Sampsel grew up writing poetry and fiction in East Tennessee. He currently makes his home in Norfolk, Virginia. His first book of poetry, Vibration and Swaying, was published in 2012.

Returning to Work

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Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
After the others had welcomed him back,
had shaken his hand and returned to their desks,
another as ancient pulled over his chair
to inquire of him who six months before
had been taken away
on a pallet of interlocked arms
and parallel faces:
“What happened that day?
No one would say.”

Both men talked softly,
held cigarette rites:
the delights of the tapping,
the lighting, the stubbing,
the one man explaining,
the other one listening,
both of them knowing
a matter of months.

- - -
Donal Mahoney lives in St. Louis, Missouri.


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