Thursday, 17 August 2017

Use The Force, Luke by Mark Young

He slept badly. He had visions, accompanied by horrific noises – Lawrence Welk, polka bands, or perhaps animals being strangled, being stuck, having their throats cut. It was as if he had been kidnapped off the streets, then kept in a cell with walls that expanded & contracted, & wheezed, like being in the lungs of someone with emphysema.

Then he was walking into a hall, being lead towards a large throne. There were rows of accordions on both sides of him, but segregated, keys to the left, buttons to the right. More emphysemic noise as they jeered at him. The rhythm of straps being struck on lederhosened legs.

He stood before the throne. An old concertina sat there, connected to bottles of oxygen & mineral oils. "I am the Capo del tutti accordioni," it wheezed at him through a microphone implanted in one of its pleats. "You have been found guilty of uttering threats & imprecations against La Grande Famiglia. You will be punished." The hall erupted into a cacophony of animal noises.

In the morning he awoke. He felt different, metamorphosed somehow. He tried to get out of bed, succeeded, but only by falling from it. He moved towards the mirror. It was difficult to do, felt as if he was forcing someone else to move, that he was being gripped by some thing that surrounded him with an aura of false joviality. That hovered over him & sang, "Am I blue?"

He reached the mirror. & screamed at his reflection.


Mark Young's most recent books are bricolage, from gradient books of Finland, The Chorus of the Sphinxes, from Moria Books in Chicago, & some more strange meteorites, from Meritage & i.e. Press, California / New York. A limited edition chapbook, A Few Geographies, was recently released by One Sentence Poems as the initial offering in their new range.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Hamlet 2.0 by JD DeHart

Bishop of Battle by bavatuesdays on Flickr

Alas, poor Yorick. Life really sucks right now. Insert melancholy Emoji here.

My daddy issues are piling up, and my uncle is not helping this situation at all. He can be such a drag. I just started a blog called “Mom, How Could You?” and it already has 200 hits. I don’t intentionally spread my unhappiness, but the attention really helps.

Sigh, poor Yorick. Oh, sigh.

To be, or not to be? That is the question. Who cares at this point? I can barely get Broadband in this spot, and this ghost guy keeps texting me. I’m tired of questions, and I have the ACT next week. It’s so unfair.

I am really starting to think about revenge, but it can be such hard work. Would I have to get up for that? I really like sleeping in, and a full-scale revenge plot sounds like it could take A LOT of planning. Even more strategy than my Angry Birds app.

Sigh. What would Rick from The Walking Dead do? He would go for revenge. I just can’t decide. Plus, who knows? It might end badly.

But at least I’m not the only depressed teen around here. This Ophelia girl is the most emo girl in town. It’s simultaneously boring and hot.
Should I suffer the slings and arrows of getting a haircut? Everybody expects me to get a job and do something important, but all I want to do is find myself. What is a sling anyway? Is that a new app?

I think I’ll just curl up in the castle and post something on Instagram.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

The Farmer and Toulouse Lautrec by Donal Mahoney

Portrait de Toulouse-Lautrec au boa.

Technology is wonderful, especially in medicine, Elmo told Opal, the day their son Brett called to tell them the good news. The doctor had told Brett and Debbie their first child would be a boy, according to the machine in the doctor's office.

Elmer never trusted machines other than the machines he used on the farm and Opal didn't either but they were happy to hear about their first grandchild.

"It's wonderful news," Opal told Brett over the phone. "Your father and I will have two cups of cocoa tonight. It's as cold as you probably remember growing up in North Dakota. I know that teaching at the university means you and Debbie must live in Florida but your father and I miss you."

Six months later, Brett called again to say the same machine in the Doctor's office now showed their grandson would be a dwarf. Brett and Debbie had seen the baby on the screen. But this was the first baby they had ever seen on a machine like that so they had to take the doctor's word that the boy would be a dwarf. All they could see was a tiny shape pulsating in the midst of a blur.

"Mom," Brett said, "Debbie and I don't now if we want a dwarf for a son."

Opal was stunned by the news about a dwarf grandchild and began to cry before handing the phone to her husband.

Elmo commiserated with his son as much as he could. But Elmo too was at a loss for words. Finally he mentioned to Brett, a professor with a doctorate in French art, that it was lucky doctors didn't have one of those machines before Toulouse Lautrec had been born.

Lautrec, of course, had been a dwarf and his work and his life had both been influenced greatly by his short stature. Elmo couldn't remember for certain but there may have been some deformity involved as well. That kind of thing can happen with a dwarf.

Brett's doctoral dissertation had been on the work of Lautrec. Elmo remembered seeing prints of Lautrec's work around the house and pictures and drawings of the artist as well. He found both interesting and disturbing.

Nevertheless, Elmo, a farmer in North Dakota for almost 50 years, had come to love the work of Toulouse Lautrec, having seen so much of it in books and slides when Brett was writing his dissertation. His son hadn't married Debbie yet and he had come home to finish the paper for his doctoral degree.

After finishing his conversation with Brett, Elmo hung up the phone and sighed. Then he sat down at the kitchen table and scratched his head while Opal poured two cups of strong coffee. It had been kept warm on the stove since early morning.

Finally Elmo said, "Opal, who knows what kind of boy that grandson of ours would have been. He'd have been a dwarf, yes, but Lautrec was a dwarf, and he did wonderful work. I don't know if anyone ever asked him if he would have been happier not to have lived. I know our grandson wouldn't have been able to ride any of the horses but we could have bought him a pony.”


Donal Mahoney has worked as an editor for The Chicago Sun-Times, Loyola University Press and Washington University in St. Louis. He has had work published in various publications, including The Wisconsin Review, The Kansas Quarterly, The South Carolina Review, The Christian Science Monitor, The Beloit Poetry Journal, Commonweal, The National Catholic Reporter and other magazines. Some of his online work can be found at

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Kool-Aid by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

My blood turned to water
and my body into a glass pitcher

Someone came and sprinkled granules
and the water turned grapey

People came and drank of me
and died in agonizing pain
Their bodies littered the ground

Tanks pushed their mighty weight down the tarmac
North Koreans goose-stepped
Lily pad blooms in ponds kept silent

The Kool-Aid turned back into blood
I had no control of these metamorphoses
The pitcher turned back into flesh and bone

I was the same as I had always been
but now I was leaner, more muscular
a finely conditioned athlete
if a little anemic
I took care of that with iron capsules

I went through the North Korean town punching people
throwing them against brick walls
but that became boring

I became a pacifist
a humanist
a Unitarian-Universalist

I believed that God was One
and loves everybody
and would not punish me for transgressions,
would not torment me
in Hell

I nostalgically remember the days
when my blood was water
then Kool-Aid

and I lived in a glass pitcher
like a turtle inhabiting his shell


Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois has had over twelve-hundred of his poems and fictions appear in literary magazines in the U.S. and abroad, including BEAKFUL. He has been nominated for numerous prizes.  His novel, Two-Headed Dog, based on his work as a clinical psychologist in a state hospital, is available for Kindle and Nook, or as a print edition. To see more of his work, google Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois. He lives in Denver.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Zeus the Action Hero by JD DeHart

Zeus or Poseidon by G Da

They found him on a far-reaching
casting call. There had been a time
when he would pretend to be a swan.
Pretending to be Stallone sounded
cooler. Lights, camera, action,
and it was all thunder and bolts,
fastidiously signing autographs when
the director yelled cut.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

A Very Small Problem by Richard Manly Heiman

(c) Caters News Agency

When the green bug with a lion-girl face perched on the dean’s wine glass, fluttering its diaphanous wings, I stopped listening to chatter about next year’s Physical Sciences budget and the new chemistry fellowship. I could only hear that whirring sound. Then I saw the dean was just about to take a sip of her chardonnay. I stammered incoherently and she just missed swallowing the thing. When it levitated like a dragonfly and bee-lined straight for my face I shooed it away, violently. 

“You all right, Professor?” asked a grad student. Everyone in our cluster stared at me.

“Umm…fine. Did you see that?”

The only response was a bit of throat clearing and raised eyebrows. The dean turned away and struck up a conversation with a post-doc. Apparently not. I mumbled something about being tired and left shortly after.

A week later insect-girl popped from the showerhead, buzzed around squeaking obscenities, then disappeared out the bathroom window. I dropped the soap, slipped and almost cracked my head on the porcelain tub side.

Another day, snoozing by the pool, something wet hit my face. I bolted upright; nothing but mocking laughter trailing into the bushes…and a green slime ball on my cheek. Next came plaintive cries from the kitchen sink. I turned on the garbage disposal, but only faint giggling echoed up—no screams. Another time—well, you get the idea.

Simultaneously, our chair decided against retirement the week before his party. Nobody advanced, no raises, nada. Then peer review savaged my meticulously researched book. Three years of research for nothing. And just when I hoped to get out from under alimony, the ex-wife canceled her nuptials with the surgeon. Coincidence? That these things happen every time that mini-monstrosity appears?

But how to kill what shouldn’t exist in the first place? My brilliant water bucket trap mysteriously collapsed—more derision from it. Filling the birdbath with Karo failed, though I snagged every fly and moth in town. The cherry bomb down the bathtub drain? Bad call, big repair bill. If I could just lure the hellion into the microwave...

Then finally – a brainstorm. Meet Bilbo, my quasi-legal ocelot and Sadie, my peregrine. And if they can’t get the job done, well, I’ve got a recipe for mustard gas.


Richard Manly Heiman lives in the pines on the slope of the Sierra Nevada. He works as a substitute teacher and writes when the kids are at recess. Richard's work has appeared or will in Rattle, Into the Void, Bop Dead City and elsewhere. He is a two time 2016 Pushcart Prize nominee. His URL is

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Shift by Allison Grayhurst

Everywhere I'm looking I meet
the eye of the wall and still I know
I have five fingers to count
and the chance of discovering any colour
other than the ones I'm seeing.
For me, it is tears without compensation
that make me break and smoke the city.
For me, on the subway, in time
hurting and heaving and pulling apart my nest
is the end before the start, before the barrier breaks
and all that remains is the choice of glory
or ultimate slumber.


Allison Grayhurst is a member of the League of Canadian Poets. Three times nominated for Sundress Publications “Best of the Net” 2015, she has over 1000 poems published in over 410 international journals. She has sixteen published books of poetry, seven collections and nine chapbooks. She lives in Toronto with her family. She is a vegan. She also sculpts, working with clay;