Five Poems

Kyle Heger

Why I Will Not Be Using Positive Reinforcement on You

I’m all for positive reinforcement,
and I’d be happy to reward you
except for two problems. First,
I don’t approve of any of your
behaviors. Second, I can’t think
of anything that you would consider
a reward that I don’t find objectionable:
cheap praise, trite advice, specious
sympathy, mindless music and
food that is high in salt and high
in fat and highly processed. The
best I can offer is that I’ll try
to avoid punishing you.


An Inoculation

As the toddler’s parents
look on, clucking warmly
and nodding their heads,
the vile old soul stoops
over their child and croons,
in response to his frightened
comment, “Don’t worry,
I’m a good people, and I
hope you’re a good people
too,” doing her part, in
one comment, to inoculate
the next generation against
both good grammar and
critical thinking.



As people throng
the bluffs, coaxed
away from the hotel’s
amenities– gourmet
meals, feather pillows,
silk sheets, hot tubs,
Olympic sized pool,
wide-screen TVs, gift
shop, full bar–I hurry
toward them, believing
that some North Coast
spectacle has drawn
them out to brave the
fog and wind: a golden
sunset, a passing pod
of whales. Only as I
get nearer do I see that
what I believed were
binoculars or cameras
that they hold so close
to their faces are really
cell phones on which
they hope to read what
Facebook friends think
about their latest Tweets
or to see photographs
of what their sisters ate
for dinner, and that they
have been driven to
land’s end by the rumor
that some geophysical
freak will allow them to
be able to get better
wireless reception there.


It Does Not Take Two

If life, as those who account
themselves as wise are wont
to say, is a dance, then it turns
out that I’m the only one who
knows the steps, who moves
his feet, who hasn’t gone
completely limp, who isn’t deaf
or paralyzed or semiconscious.
My arms are tired from carrying
a weight so much worse than dead.
Conventional wit notwithstanding,
it most emphatically does not take
two to tango. Nor to do the waltz,
the jitterbug or freak dancing or to
trip the light fantastic in any of
the other forms that I have been
trying with such determination.
All it takes is endurance.


Floor Show

The teenage boy who was
caught stealing tips lies
whimpering on the floor
in a fetal position, almost
sucking his thumb. Silver-
haired, a restaurant owner
towers over him, after kicking
him repeatedly in the kidneys
with shiny shoes that look
as if they were sharpened
for just this purpose, having
had more fun than he’s had
since the last time he deveined
a shrimp, grinning at his customers,
encouraging them to share his
amusement. Now for a little
applause, he’d be more than
willing to do an encore.


Kyle Heger, former managing editor of “Communication World” magazine, lives in Albany, CA. His writing has won a number of awards and has been accepted by 64 publications, including “Birmingham Arts Journal,” “London Journal of Fiction” and “U.S. 1 Worksheets.

Feature: Poetry

Tom Montag

“The Woman in an Imaginary Painting”

Let me teach you
about silence,
says the woman

in the painting.
Sit with me here
in the dark

of this museum.
Listen to the world
slanting towards

evening. You hear
traffic. Do you
hear the cricket?

Do you hear
the stars? Sit
with me, she says.

Let me teach you
of stillness beyond
the empty heart:

Death is not
as perfect
as this is.

“The Woman in an Imaginary Painting”

Her hands know nothing,
which shows in the way

she holds them. The pose
is her own. No one

told her to sit like
this, not the artist,

not her mother who
taught her other

modesties. Her hands
are not like birds at

evening gathering in
the branches, not like

flags in the morning
sun. Her fingers don’t

show a secret code.
They haven’t found

meaning beyond one,
and five, and ten.

They cannot touch
the greater darkness.

“The Woman in an Imaginary Painting”

Art is,
in a way,

a sacrament.
It might

be communion,
it might

be priesthood,
it might

be extreme

its blessing
oily and

O, she says,

the woman
in the painting,

I am married
to color,

to canvas,
to the shape

that is this.
Is that what


“The Woman in an Imaginary Painting”

She thinks of those hills
she loved as a child,
of the grasses who

were her friends, of
Old Grandmother Pine.
As reminder now

she has only this
worn wooden table,
the straw mat on it.

And her memories.
Her memories still
hold endearing warmth.

Even in the cold
museum, she knows
she is not alone.

“The Woman in an Imaginary Painting”

long enough

standing here
before her

you may lose
your place

and find there’s
no way back.


Tom Montag’s books of poetry include: Making Hay & Other Poems; Middle Ground; The Big Book of Ben Zen; In This Place: Selected Poems 1982-2013; This Wrecked World; The Miles No One Wants; Imagination’s Place; Love Poems; and Seventy at Seventy. His poem ‘Lecturing My Daughter in Her First Fall Rain’ has been permanently incorporated into the design of the Milwaukee Convention Center. He blogs at The Middlewesterner. With David Graham he recently co-edited Local News: Poetry About Small Towns.

Review: The Snow Dead

Marc Zegans

The Snow Dead is an unconventional, title-less book of poems that work in tandem to weave together love and loss as it is depicted through the metaphor of snow. Lines like “They leave their offerings” throws you in the heat of the moment, knowing not agency but place. This is the strongest work possible given its clever interweaving of theme, place, loss and heartache. I very much recommend The Snow Dead. At 23 poems, it is both expansive and clever. A win all around for Marc Zegans.


Marc Zegans is a poet and creative development advisor. He is the author of six collections of poems, The Snow Dead, The Underwater Typewriter, Boys in the Woods, Pillow Talk, The Book of Clouds, and La Commedia Sotterranea: Swizzle Felt’s First Folio form the Typewriter Underground; two spoken word albums Night Work, and Marker and Parker, and the immersive theatrical productions Mum and Shaw, and The Typewriter Underground. The Snow Dead debuted theatrically in Erotic Eclectic’s “Sin-aesthetic” at the Lost Church during San Francisco’s 2019 Lit Crawl. Marc lives by the coast in Northern California. His poetry can be found at, and he can be reached for creative advisory services at

Three Poems

Remy Ramirez

No Blow Jobs

Honestly though, no blow jobs.
Not permanently, but for a while while
you penises figure it out. Stop

putting yourselves everywhere,
this schizo shit makes me nervous,
the muffled anxiety pushing outward—

are you reflecting on your nature? Think of your
future, think of your mother. It’s like
worry got the better of you,

in darkness so often, concealed under
cotton. Two parched plums make
cruel companions, I know,

I know. I get it though: the desire
to be seen is consuming. Last night
I dreamed I was swimming

in a black sea, and a school of you
circled me: tiny Cyclops creatures
darting fragilely,

mimicking the unit, urgent
to conform. I asked one its name
but it had no identity

and they all swam away.
What we’re left with
is what we memorize, after all;

The reach so endless
and the gain so small.
Loneliness looms:

the black of that black sea.
And yet, the grieving being
exposed to itself

is more dangerous than any beast
the deep could muster, more
than any lover.

Still, I refuse to graze
or tongue you. A pool of water lilies
unfreezes at the other end

of that aching. And the perfume
it’s making wakes me
suddenly, as if from fainting.

The sky above me—so empty, but so
infinitely blue—echoes where those
revived before me flew.


Spanish Linguistics, 2002

In your class,
language is a string of chaoses

formatted to your maps
and your angry martyred armies.

I am thinking of things
apart from the Iberian Peninsula,

the invasions of Arabs.
Despite my slogging, my useless

redirection of thoughts to your
linguistic discovery, I am simply

less interested in your dark histories
than in tonguing darkly, the faint

possibility of naked
thighs, of strong fingers,

of fires. In the end,
aren’t we better

educated on human hurt
and contradiction

by the feel of cashmere
hands turning to sand

on our hips, than by the evil Christian
politic, the distant voices of Visigoths…?



At 2AM we left
Joel’s apartment and his dad
fat and Christian sleeping
under the windows opened
to the freeway buzzing
and the ceiling fan spinning
a clicking noise so that
we could have sex at
a friend’s house whose mother
was too drunk to ever
hear our sounds which were the
awkward and predictable sounds
that one might imagine.
But now
a grown woman
I remember them
as apple cores I threw
out the window as I was leaving
only to return and find the changing years
muted in the shade of enormous trees
and the smell of fruit blooming
everywhere in the streets.


Remy Ramirez is a poet, essayist, editor, and pop-culture journalist. She has an MA in creative writing for poetry from the University of Texas at Austin and has been published in The Southern Review, Cherry Bombe, NYLON, BUST, and Tidal (where she is currently the executive editor), among others. She lives in the Arizona desert because the thrifting is good and so is the karaoke.

Three Poems

Laurinda Lind

Elsewhere, Seventeen

Four hundred seventy miles south
of where I sat with molars jerked
from my jaw I saw the jerker,
my dentist down the road at home,
in the Smithsonian standing under
the Spirit of St. Louis, which was
suspended from the ceiling like
an interlude of novocaine. From
the balcony above I didn’t breathe
but no sixth sense made him look
to where I stood in his sky with
a hand hiding my mouth. I was
away with my aunt where in a city
of seven hundred thousand, eight
staticky hours straight down across
three states, no one could expect
to see someone else from our cold
ruined corner. Two years later in
the city for a second time I saw
a couple of so-good girls from
school in my tiny town on a senior
trip, square in my path at the zoo
carrying purses so full of purity,
they could not stand this surprise
from someone who had escaped
but was supposed to stay in place
far north. So it turned out they too
were unnerved by extraction and
wondered, I did too, how I had
dropped down in their lives like
an outrageous engine. Like
wreckage from a root canal.


Drive Into France with Your English Car

Venez! You’ll like it. Probably
no one will bomb the Chunnel
while you’re chugging through
it under water. Vraiment. Your
headlamps aren’t right for
running around par ici but feel
free to spend un peu on peel-
off deflectors plus le crap
you need to carry in the boot
but will never use. Enjoy driving
at the droit edge of the lane
while guessing what goes
on at the gauche. Souriez for
the photo; you’ll look so bon
for the fine. You didn’t need
all those euros anyway.


After It’s Over It’s Not Over

David Berkowitz found his birth family
while his neighbor’s dog was still telling
him how to take down more dark-haired
women. Reimagined genes weren’t about
to weld his wires. What kept you so long,
he said, once the heat finally figured
him out. They filed him away at 24
and today he’s 40 years older and, guess
what, saved. Every second year he passes
on parole review. Even my youngest
son’s older than he was then, a blacked-
out light, a guy getting girls the only
way that worked but now he is
a persistent preacher shooting that shit
as far as it will fly, because belief
goes broader and infects them so much
faster, much better even than bullets.


Laurinda Lind lives in New York’s North Country, near Canada. Some poetry acceptances/ publications have been in Constellations, The Cortland Review, Paterson Literary Review, and Radius; also anthologies Visiting Bob: Poems Inspired by the Life and Work of Bob Dylan (New Rivers Press) and AFTERMATH (Radix Media). In 2018 she won first-place awards for the Keats-Shelley adult-poetry prize and the New York State Fair poetry competition.


Donald Hubbard

Our dogs introduced us, I walked my beagle and she chased her loose dachshund and we tracked down her dog and like our dogs we later mated.

After we had real children, I watched her play with them and marveled over how seamlessly she brought our dogs into their playtime and how sweet she was as or dogs aged and died. How wonderfully she explained to our children about how our dogs were in a far less unkind place, all this before The Lion King was released and postulated the circle of life.

We bought new dogs and she lovingly welcomed them into the family, rescue dogs who no longer needed to worry about having enough to eat or beatings from masters. Only hugs, I hugged the dogs and she hugged the dogs, and though our love for each other grew, eventually we only expressed intimacy through our dogs.

Our children left home, though they returned for holidays and their mother’s funeral. I embraced my children and we wept and I gave my dogs to a young couple who had contemplated divorce before my gift to them.


Donald Hubbard has written six books, one of which was profiled on Regis and Kelly and another that was a Boston Globe bestseller and Amazon (category) top ten. Two books have gone into a second edition and he was inducted into the New England Basketball Hall of Fame as an author in 2015. A chapter of one of his books was published in the on-line edition of Notre Dame Magazine. His published stories include those in Funny in 500, Quail Bell, Praxis, 101 Word Story, Flash Fiction Magazine, Crack the Spine and Oddville Press.

He studied English at Georgetown University and the University of Kent. Law at Notre Dame.

Three Poems

John Grey


A heart must take care of its needs.
The head will follow in time.
But then there’s Jenna – not an ideal subject for thinking straight
though she is among the most intelligent of all women.
Add her silky black hair, slim figure, soft voice
and what do you have?
Thoughts, thoughts and more thoughts.
Jenna’s family includes: Rosalind, Michael, Sean.
Jenna has a large dog, a Newfoundland I believe.
Jenna could be a noun – a soft sigh expressing joy or accomplishment.
Jenna has traveled to every continent except Antarctica.
Jenna is opportunistic, but not cruelly so
Jenna is the brightest in just about every kind of company.
Many have had to admit their error in her presence.
Jenna has a way of communicating with her eyes
Jenna doesn’t play the field, plans to be with only the one man.
It would be a triumph indeed to be that man.
Since the end of adolescence, with a growth spurt,
and the fading of various species of acne
she has been the proverbial cynosure of all attention.
Even when she only drove that blue Honda Civic.
Lawyers, teachers, construction workers –
all have taken a number at Jenna’s door.
Each in turn has learned there’s someone out there
more than what they are.
I can’t imagine Jenna as an old or ugly woman.
Everything she does, no matter how modest, how minor,
is one more note for a love poem.
Oh she has dated. But nothing serious.
I think it’s best to just be liked by her,
to be witness, but not take responsibility beyond yourself.
Today is Friday. I haven’t seen Jenna in weeks.
She is out there somewhere.
I’m content to let that be enough.


I showed him my passport.
He stared at it intently
like it was a crime scene
and he was looking for clues.

I was guilty of having
my photograph taken
and slipped inside
a small booklet

but nothing more than that.
He rippled the pages.
He held up the picture
against my face

like he was a witness
in a police lineup.
He didn’t say anything
but his silence

was hanging-judge severe.
Finally, he waved me through.
There was nothing he could do
about me, my body,

my feelings, my thoughts,
my associates, my history.
He left it to his country
to find me out.


She was barely noticed, scrubbing floors on the margin,
always on the brink of what would finally kill her,
death threats in the intestine, cruel jokes played on knees,
the rising monster in her left breast.

Sometimes dreading, sometimes forgetting,
but always a time when, with mop and bucket,
brush and soap, she bent her back
just to make sure a hospital ward was spotless.

So much sweat went into someone else’s benefit,
so much dying into the life around her,
besides the daily dilemma of food and rent and bills to be paid,
on a paycheck that never broke minimum.

And now the question arises:
who’s to make the necessary arrangements?
And one even more pressing according to some:
did she live on the right side of the church?

Oh she had an occasional vision, a dream
of something she couldn’t quite see
but whether they were reflected this life or the next
never made a difference either way.

Their meaning was untidy, like the grubby tiles before her
and her course involved neatness and cleaning.
The rules dawned on her clear at birth.
Do what’s expected and you’ll be paid to be black.


John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in the Homestead Review, Poetry East and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Harpur Palate, the Hawaii Review and Visions International.

Three Poems

John Grey


I am writing this
as white as the pith of an orange.

Is she okay?
Her face is as red and sweaty
as a boiled beet.

Everything’s fine.
She’s durable.
She wasn’t born with a high temperature.

And her sweetness isn’t compromised.
Nor is the softness of her voice.

She’s vulnerable, as we all are.
A baby bawling for its comforter.
But tough like a hard-backed chair.

Her sickness is merely filtered through
the skin that she wore the last time 1 saw her.

Call it tropical orchards in bloom if you must.
Or any plant that’s nasty and meaty and beautiful
as all hell.



For the longest time
I thought it was going to be
one of those futile drives

when nothing I said
could salve your mood exactly right
and I plead endlessly
until frustration overwhelms

but then the road
had the good sense
to change from paved to gravel
and the suburbs gave way

to farms and hay meadows
then rolling blue hills
followed by deep lush woods –

I stopped talking,
you still said nothing

but I had a sense
that there is more than
one kind of silence –

there’s that which sets itself up
as a counterpoint to sound –

there’s that which
chooses to hold its tongue

often and without warning.



No more tear
of conception, beds, relatives, bodies.
And virginal loneliness.
Sex happened
and it didn’t kill you both.
It was more like humanity
than you imagined
and less like a playground
for youth.
It reminded you of
the time you had orchestra seats
for a play,
front row in fact.
You could reach out
and almost touch the actors.
Only now.
it was more than almost.
You might never see him again
but you could always have husbands later.
For now,
you could believe that
was as close as life had ever got
to being all about you.
It may not have been heaven
but it was better
than nothing ever was.


John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Examined Life Journal, Studio One and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Leading Edge, Poetry East and Midwest Quarterly.

4 Women: 1 Damaged, 3 Dead

Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois


A woman supine on a Mexican blanket is pitted like an olive, with one deft twist. The brass bars of a wind chime hang above her like a skeleton. Her joints glow in the dark, like something freshly soldered. She sleeps.

The men in the front room peer out the glassless windows and listen for moans. When the infant comes, it will be an icon of metal scraps and fish-heads. They will set it in a bare corner atop a

It will scrabble. White powder will film its brown belly. One of its arms will be crustacean.

The dark man and his wife—their hands will fit together grimly, like railroad cars coupling.


I took the tiny Guatemalan doll out of its knitted pouch. It looked like Nanci, recently dead. Dark hair, straight features, a Twilight Zone moment.

Nanci could have reincarnated as this doll, comfortable in her little pouch with no need for food, toileting or other mortal maintenance.

She looks forward to my gently removing her from the knit-work to hold insomniac
conversations. She has plenty of time to catch up on her sleep. After all, she’s dead and, as she always joked, busy painting or making photographs or traveling in distant lands, I’ll have plenty of time to sleep when I’m dead.


My dentist tells me I have acid erosion. Then he bashes Princess Diana. She might have been pretty but she was dumb, he says, a typical aristocratic British daughter, raised to be a potential Windsor brood mare.

What are you saying, I demand. Diana’s been dead… how long? And today you want to bash her? You know I admired and respected Diana. You know I was in love with her (I stifle a sob).

I regret taking the nitrous oxide. Me and Dent huff it recreationally after my appointments, at other times too. We prefer it to cocktails.

Oh, he says, a new biography just came out about good old Princess Dead. I’ve been reading it, and the author’s style and sensibilities have affected me.

Dent and I have been friends since junior high, when he admired my performance art. Now I’m a portrait painter, not terribly successful. I show up in his office in paint-spattered pants. Dent pays his assistant extra to work on me because she despises me and the smell of turpentine.

Dentistry is soulless, I accuse him. Every year you become more callous, more empty. Princess Diana shone like the Virgin in the grotto at St. Mary Star of the Sea.

Dent turns off the nitrous. He yawns. Yeah, yeah, she was a princess she was, he says in a bad British accent.


My favorite cousin killed herself. She took a massive dose of Benadryl. She won’t have to worry about bee allergies ever again. She won’t have to run screaming from them. She won’t have to fear any toxin. She won’t have to fear the toxins inside her head.

I’m so pissed at her, I want to plunge my arm into a bee hive. I want to scream in earthly pain.


Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois  has had over fourteen-hundred of his poems and fictions appear in literary magazines in the U.S. and abroad, including several times in THE MISCREANT. He has been nominated for numerous prizes, and. was awarded the 2017 Booranga Writers’ Centre (Australia) Prize for Fiction. 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 read more of his work, Google Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois. He lives in Denver, Colorado, USA.

Two Poems

Jeff Bagato

They Don’t Call Them Gods Anymore

I didn’t earn any money
today—I sat here,
I wrote, I fought off
the blank page and the blank
mind; I tried to kill
the dullness of the world,
and the deadliness of
the dull, and I couldn’t
watch the mailman
sacrifice his hours placing
junk mail in the apartment
boxes one by one—it was
too deadly, too dull

Egyptians had gods who
told them how to behave,
who to be, what to know—
and you had to know
it after death,
but today
we don’t call them
gods any more

But we have religions and
we die


A Long Sweet Line

In the 50’s, everybody believed
the con
of good jobs
and television;
they believed the advertisements
and trusted
the advertisers.
They believed the power
of toothpaste
and the hamburger.

Now, people are jaded to the con;
it doesn’t cut it anymore,
and they fall for it
in smaller and smaller

So a new line of con
is needed—
a better line,
that makes us think
we are not wallowing
in an extra 40 years of garbage,
an extra 40 years of bills
and brain damage
and death.

We need a whole new rock and roll,
a whole new Howdy Doody,
the next big cornflake,
some hot new sliced bread.

A better hamburger.

A face must sell the prizes,
deliver the sweet line of con
to young ladies’ ears
so they spread their legs
for the young men and make
them happy—like in
the 60s when the face said
turn on, tune in, drop out
and the hippie girls screwed automatic—
making the young men work
harder, the hamburgers get bigger,
cheaper and easier to afford,
and the space program lift off.

We need a new face

and a long, sweet line of con.


Multi-media artist living near Washington, DC, Jeff Bagato produces poetry and prose as well as electronic music and glitch video. Some of his poetry and visuals have recently appeared in Empty Mirror, Futures Trading, Otoliths, Gold Wake Live, Chiron Review, and Midnight Lane Boutique. Some short fiction has appeared in Gobbet and The Colored Lens. He has published nineteen books, all available through the usual online markets, including Savage Magic (poetry) and Computing Angels (fiction). A blog about his writing and publishing efforts can be found at

Five Poems

PJ Carmichael

The Days Are Getting Shorter

“The future is fluid.”

Bricks line the city sidewalks
in protest of impending frost,
trees trashing their décor
in anticipation of the coming

Mornings have grown darker,
afternoons fleeting, evening’s
an eternity.

Night has fallen and refuses to

its stars among the dead and dying.
The forests are stifled into silence.

A collective lack
of energy permeates the landscape
and its sleepy populace,

bleeding life dry of its warmth.

Each breath gains visibility
as temperatures plummet,
ponds freezing slowly in plain view,
Days bringing with them

the guaranteed difficulty
of survival and sanity.

Light fades
before tired eyes
can fully open,

yet sleep still escapes
the frigid and weary.

(Each sunset is a struggle.)

Plans are abandoned
to prepare for hibernation,
goals of modest grandeur all put on hold.

(To save the world
or to feed a family?)


Off the Bridge

I walk to South Boston in
the pouring rain,

the waterfront spitting in my face,
angels shedding stillborn tears
that erode the aging bridge.

My shoes are the first victims,
soaked in evening’s sweat,
rainwater and ocean air,

puddles engulfing my feet
at every street corner.

The flood continues as I
cross over the to the other side,
droplets dragging me into
cracks in the asphalt, open
wounds that only deepen with


Skies darken;
the heavens spill their fluids
over pedestrians, grey clouds

dispersed across the firmament.

Cold wind is unapologetic, assaulting
neck, face, cheeks, splashing innocent
passers-by with relentless fury.

Hair on my head: the mane
of a wet dog lost amongst gutters
and alleyways.

Eyes strain to see
through the storm
but to no avail.

Showers blind pedestrians,
the downpour continuing on
with no plans of ever
letting up.

Cars toss waves onto the crowded sidewalk.

The umbrella is of no use,

but I couldn’t care less.
This is the best part of my day.


A Passing Storm

Daydreams disregarded
by modern industry:

millions seek technological salvation.
Christ weeps again.

(We are the unloved neighbors
whose domestic disputes can be heard
through the walls.)

The global village
has been introduced to force
and firepower;

women and children
scour the landscape for sustenance.

Early-morning ghouls
swarm the subways
while worlds away

are torn apart
in a frantic and desperate search

for order and certainty.

Cloud cover provides conversation
at the local street corner,

the entire Earth and its inhabitants
perpetually turning

in a carnival of momentous occasions
and minor inconveniences,

a spectacle whose stories are carried on
by partial observers who believe

they’ve seen it all. The sky signals
rainfall. It darkens beneath rumors

of a benevolent creator.

By the time we can take it all in,
before we can make any sense of it,

the day has passed.

Listen to the requiem.


Rough Start

A slick layer of ice
coats the sidewalks,

innocent bystanders
thrown to the wet, cold concrete

after a single misstep,
an unfortunate lapse in judgment
regarding the next move

towards the semblance of stability.

I manage to avoid such fate
as others curse the Season,
blasphemies flowing like sweet
wine from their lips>

(I, too, have been guilty of this.)

The frozen ground does not respond
to its furious victims,

their expletives evaporating into the ether,
each obscenity as visible

as the breath it travels on.

Witnesses offer hesitant consolation,
the obligatory helping hand
outstretched towards a broken

The asphalt
provides no comfort.

With each collapse,
a shout of frustration,
all too familiar and sadly relatable.

(I, too, cry out for warmth.)

Clothing torn, ruined
by the remnants of the storm.
The day is off to a rough start.

But in the midst of tragedy,
a lesson learned:

a peculiar camaraderie
to be found in each minor misery.


Through the Fire

I will live to see another day.
I will wake in the morning
with passion in the window,

the sun striking my eyes
with light and love,

an honest will
to survive

enveloping the dark days
of this year’s winter.

I’ll bask in the glory of frigid moonlight,

howl at the dying stars,
lungs bursting with frost,

melt the frozen crystals
with the warmth
of an ambitious

I’ll stroll leisurely
into the future,

dive headfirst into every
early evening,

embrace the fleeting
comfort of an ever-
changing landscape,

rejoice in the shelter
of a lifeless forest,

spark a flame amidst
snowfall and barren limbs.

I’ll pass through the fire
of another sullen season,

sulk with satisfaction
through countless inevitable epiphanies,

drive each and every point home
until all notions have nowhere left
to stay.

I’ll welcome the uncertainty of new paths,

float along the wind and waves
in search of fresh views,
hidden treasures to pass the time.

I’ll stumble across discoveries
yet to be realized,

indulge in the unexpected,
savor the unique sensation

that comes with deeply breathing.

Oh yes,
I will live to see another day.


PJ Carmichael is a writer, noise musician, and outdoors enthusiast from Wakefield, Massachusetts. He finds himself alternating between immersion in the forestry of New England and observation of the sights and sounds of its cities. He is currently working on finding the balance between vice and virtue.


Three Poems

Jake Cosmos Aller

It Can’t Happen Here

The pundits and talking heads
The chaterati classes

All assure us
That it can’t happen here
Fascism will never happen here

Our democratic system
Superior to all others
Check and balances
Power of the media

Will prevent fascism
From taking root
In the American soil

They laugh
And talk amongst themselves
And laugh some more
Convincing themselves

Meantime the darkness
Continues to descend

As our President becomes more erratic
And frankly shows signs of insanity
The fascists supporting him
Gather strength

And one day
They strike back
With furry

When the powers that be
Try to remove the President

He mobilizes his army
His army of deplorables
And they mobilize

And his fascist supporters
In the government
Demand law and order
And restoration of the Leader of the people
As they have started calling the President

He comes back into power
And demands
Unspecified emergency powers

And so, the cycle ends
And fascism wrapped inside a Christian flag

Comes to America
Full vengeance
As they take charge

And the chaterati classes
Are all arrested
The first to be rounded up

America has fallen
The media stars
All comply

The leader is great
America is great
And all who oppose him

Must be terror sympathizers
Or Tersymps for short
And deserve to be rounded up

Public protests are forbidden
Muslims must register
Atheists must be fired

Alt media is shut down
The internet is censored

And I weep
As I see the once great American nation
Descend into a fascist nightmare

And I wait for the midnight knock on the door
Knowing that I am on the list.

Knock Knock knock
Open it is homeland security……


Masters of the Universe

The earth has been invaded
By hideous blood sucking vampires
Disgusting vile alien creatures
Devoid of all compassion
Lacking any human empathy

These so-called Masters of the universe
These psychopathic monsters
Are everywhere
They even took over the White house

And to these vile creatures
Everyone is nothing but a commodity
These alien monsters
Worship the god of the market
While proclaiming that they serve Jesus

Jesus would turn over in his grave
To see these people in action

The airlines in Florida
Facing the worst hurricane in world history
Decided that the expeditated thing to do
The MBA approved thing to do
The profit maximizing, screw the public thing to do

Was to raise prices 600 percent
Without prior notice charging 3,000 dollars

Instead of doing the right thing
The compassion thing
The human thing of offering free flights to all

These executives, these so-called Masters of the Universe
thus, demonstrated that they are no longer human

But greed driven monsters
As are all the other soulless automatons
Who have taken over the world

Perhaps some day
Jesus will come back
And smite these motherfuckers
Send them to the hell they so richly deserve

We can only pray
For our deliverance from such evil
From the soulless evil masters of the universe
Who have taken over the planet


Idiots in High Places

Many years ago
I was amazed to find
So many idiots in high places
All over the world

Senators, congressmen
Office directors
Corporation CEO’s

All were idiots
Completely stupid

People who should have known
A thing or so
because they should have seen a thing or so

and yet these idiots in high places
would reveal their total ignorance
every time they opened their mouth
or tweet or email their profoundly wrong thoughts

and it never ceased to amaze me
that few ever challenged these idiots
few ever said but you are wrong
or you don’t have a clue

and these idiots caused so much damage
to those around them
to the country and the world

and now we have the idiot in chief
in charge of the richest most powerful country
the world has ever known

and I wonder how in a country of 350 million people
we ended up with such an idiot in charge

But the idiots in high places phenomenon
Exists everywhere

Corporations made stupid decisions
Countries make incredibly bad decisions

All traced back to idiots in high places
And these idiots in high places
Can’t hide their ignorance and pure stupidity

They can’t pretend anymore
In a world of 24/7 constant news
The idiots every pronouncement
Fills the airways 24/7

And the only people who know better
Are too afraid to say what they know

That the idiot in high place
Is an idiot
and is destroying the world

and so, we doomed to die
due to the idiot in high places


John (“Jake”) Cosmos Aller is a novelist, poet, and former Foreign Service officer having served 27 years with the U.S. State Department in ten countries – Antigua, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Korea, India, St Kitts, St Lucia, St Vincent, Spain, and Thailand. Prior to joining the U.S. State Department, Jake taught overseas for eight years. Jake served in the Peace Corps in Korea. Jake has been an aspiring novelist for several years and has completed four novels, (Giant Nazi Spiders, “the Great Divorce” and “Jurassic Cruise”, and is pursuing publication. He has been writing poetry and fiction all his life and has published his poetry fiction in over 25 literary journals He speaks Korean, some Spanish and Thai. He grew up in Berkeley, California but has lived in Seattle, Washington DC and Stockton California. He has traveled to over 45 countries and 49 States.


Two Poems

John Grey


A mirror serves a purpose,
strives to remain constant
despite the changing faces –
sometimes someone new,
sometimes the same one
but a day older.

It’s not just
the one gray hair,
the blemish on the chin.
It reflects everything.
It’s up to us to pick and choose.

A mirror is okay with lake water
doing the job for it,
rippling a face
like a snake casting off slough.

Or even a window,
both in the glass family
even if the unwitting pane
can only accommodate parts of people
and, even then, its accuracy is disputed.

A mirror is not devious.
merely holds to the two dimensional doctrine:
return all that it is given
perfectly intact.
It has no interest
in where we go, what we do,
after we’re done looking.

For a mirror has no inner life,
is content to stare at a wall
until we return

A mirror can’t tell ugliness from beauty
though it assumes, on some level,
that, if we stare into it long enough,
we’ll make our own judgment.

A broken mirror, they say.
brings seven years’ bad luck.
But only if it’s the seven years’ bad luck
we already had coming.



The lady is idolized.
Forget the accomplishments.
Her perfect figure
warrants preserving after death.

Love the fantasy.
Skin stops at the edge of our inquiry.
Her eyes say
you’ve come far enough…
wallow in the color.

She had a child,
She wed a man.
She even has a delicate scar
beneath her skin
from a minor car accident.

But her breasts don’t believe
in life stories.
And her hips have nothing to gain
from how she pays her bills on time.

The lady is in our heads
posing for our thoughts.
She can’t be in her head.
Her face won’t allow it.


Blame the lack of stimulants in the air.
Call me an effigy made of stone.
But my blood refuses to be wooed
despite your come-hither gesture.

The moonlight lies like a sheet
on your spotted body.
Your language is a brighter shade of pink.
Lamp tries to warm

but the background music is frozen.
It’s your leopard-skin that’s at fault.
It prods my sensibilities like a pistol barrel.
What’s next? An ocelot coat?

You’re pushing a rock up a hill
if you imagine I can love you in that.
No, make that fighting a big cat bare-handed.
My ideals are clear on the subject.

I‘m so like the leopard,
searching for that justice we seek
but will never find.
And, despite your sexy winds blowing my way,

I will not waver.
For necrophilia, bestiality –
that is the love and sex you offer.
So here we are in the living room –

a man and a corpse
that’s embalmed by pretty green eyes
and a flash of shoulder-length black hair.
But the shadows under those eyes are pits.

Those tresses are a form of tallow.
Really, your insinuations arc beginning to sicken me
Sure, you insist your leopard-skin is really a fake.
But a fake’s the real thing in this light.


John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Examined Life Journal, Studio One and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Leading Edge, Poetry East and Midwest Quarterly.

Field of Vision

Stefanie Bennett

“Everyone knows that the dice are loaded,
everybody rolls with their fingers crossed.”

(L. Cohen & S. Robinson)

He said ‘I lend you love’
which meant – lease:
the aftertaste
of lips
on spent tourmaline.

The attache of indifference
doesn’t come
to terms
with chancery.
Doesn’t see
the meteor fall

or how she aggregates
the delicate


Stefanie Bennett ex-blues singer and musician has published several books
of poetry, a novel and a libretto and worked with No Nukes – Arts Action
For Peace. Of mixed ancestry [Italian/Irish/Paugussett-Shawnee] she was
born in Queensland, Australia. Stefanie’s been nominated for the Pushcart
and Best of the Net.

Three Poems

Matt Dennison


I ran away because my
parents told me that
I needed to do better
in school and I wanted
people to know exactly
what I wanted to do
with my life. I wanted
to be a professional
wrestler and I wanted
them to know that
my life was out of their
hands. I ran away to
make them miss me, and
when they did,
I was the one to
determine whether they
saw me or not.


He takes a back hand
and he grabs the rope
praying that he’ll
get a few minutes rest.
He gets that rest,
and it’s exactly at
that moment that he
pokes his opponent in
the eye.


He dreams of the day
he touches her. His
eyes only ever look
at her and he thinks
about the day he gets
to touch her and hold
her and he dreams
of the day she’ll be
his and he dreams
of the day she’ll
kiss him.


Matt Dennison hails from Florida. His work can be found in numerous journals, but he really wants you to read the work he submitted to The Miscreant first.



The Miscreant publishes flash fiction and poetry that challenges social boundaries, makes us rethink what it means to be human–and more importantly, bludgeons us over the head with raw, honest reality.

Submissions are on a rolling basis and responses will typically be given within two weeks.

The Miscreant is a Duotrope listed publication; further info can be found here:

Flash fiction pieces should be no longer than 600 words and poetry should be no longer than 20 lines.

Send your work, along with a short bio, in the body of an email addressed to

Please submit no more than five poems or short fiction pieces per issue.

The Miscreant is an equal opportunity publishing venture. It does not discriminate on the basis of gender identity, sexual identity, race, religious affiliation and/or disability.

Issue 9a

Table of Contents


Four Poems—-Steve Klepetar

Five Poems—Donal Mahoney




Caseworker Arrives—Catherine Zickgraf

Two Poems—Chella Courington

On Platform 2, You See Yourself—-Kate Garrett

Tenacity—-Nikki Anne Schmutz



I Know—Beate Siggridaughter

Romantic Precepts for the Aesthetically Challenged—Jacob Appel

Final Transmission of HMS Prayopavesa—Joseph J. Wood

Three Fictions—Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

Issue 8

Table of Contents


Three Poems–Eric Allen Yankee

Three Poems–Andi Stout

Three Poems–Tim Suermondt

Three Poems–Irena Koronas

Three Poems–Robert Cole

Two Poems–PJ Carmichael

Two Poems–David Wright

Three Poems–Marc Frazier



Vows–Barry Basden

The Johnny Carson Show–Gary V. Powell

This story is a stone–James Lloyd Davis

Scintilla Whiff’s Short Day–strannikov



Music: Outer Edge (Ollocs)

Books: Underwater Typewriter (Marc Zegans)

Issue 4



Three Stories–Matt Hill

Flim-flam–Chris Okum

Two Stories–Barry Basden

Mandatory Options–Robert Cole

Rwanda Suite: Cabaret La Prospérité–Steven Gowin

First Week–Cezarija Abartis

Tale from a Möbius Strip–strannikov

Sisters–Christopher Allen

Sausages–Deborah Oster Pannell

Thunder Snow–Gary V. Powell


Three Poems–Keri Withington

Four Poems–Emily Bertholf

never a baby–jan Ball

Three Poems–Jenene Ravesloot

Two Poems–Lucy Logsdon



The Miscreant publishes flash fiction and poetry that challenges social boundaries, makes us rethink what it means to be human–and more importantly, bludgeons us over the head with raw, honest reality.

Submissions are on a rolling basis and responses will typically be given within two weeks.

The Miscreant is a Duotrope listed publication; further info can be found here:

Flash fiction pieces should be no longer than 600 words and poetry should be no longer than 20 lines.

Send your work, along with a short bio, in the body of an email addressed to

Please submit no more than five poems or short fiction pieces per issue.

The Miscreant is an equal opportunity publishing venture. It does not discriminate on the basis of gender identity, sexual identity, race, religious affiliation and/or disability.

The Titanic Sails at Dawn

Howie Good

My maternal grandparents arrived in America

on a ship built in the same shipyard as the Titanic.

All these years later, white judges in black robes

are still pondering who was ultimately responsible.

Sometimes they burst into tears, sometimes into laughter.

Often they slurp Chivas Regal straight from the bottle,

and when they do, destroying angels clink glasses.


Howie Good is the author of THE DEATH ROW SHUFFLE, a poetry collection forthcoming from Finishing Line Press.