Five Poems

Donal Mahoney

Never Is the Best Time

November’s lovely in the rain, she says
from her rocker near the window
to no one in particular although

the butler’s waiting for her grocery list
having walked her Pekingese.
She hopes to see December

and her neighbors hoisting snow
and she wants to see April’s tulips
although her doctor doesn’t know.

She hopes to see the sunflowers
and this is why she tells the butler
never is the best time to die.

 

Confetti Waiting for a Parade

As autumn turns colder
there’s only one moth
fluttering at midnight

around the porch light.
He’s the last of the flock
that danced all summer

in the glow of the night.
Confetti that never fell
on a holiday parade.

 

A Red Kettle Crisis

No red kettles and bells
this December outside
the stores at the mall

in our suburbs this year.
They irritate shoppers,
the business article says.

So folks will keep their bills
as usual but now they can’t
get rid of their change.

 

An Old Bachelor Reflects

He should have married someone,
James tells himself at 80
coughing in bed with the flu.

He remembers very well
that Miranda was a nice girl.
She’d bring him coffee now

and April would too and then
she’d go and find his paper
hiding somewhere in the snow.

Jane wouldn’t get his coffee
and wouldn’t find his paper.
But love wasn’t enough.

 

Bulbs Alive

A doctor by day
Ralph spends his nights
ordering tulip bulbs

from Holland
beautiful and rare
to arrive in autumn

to plant and think about
for months ahead until
spring arrives and the

tulips become a rainbow
beautiful in his garden.
Ralph talks about tulips

at the office every day
where he pulls small bulbs
from the gardens of patients.

Unlike his tulips
those bulbs don’t grow,
never become a rainbow.

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Nominated for Best of the Net and Pushcart prizes, Donal Mahoney has had poetry and fiction published in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa. Some of his work can be found at http://eyeonlifemag.com/the-poetry-locksmith/donal-mahoney-poet.html

 

 

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In The Dark

Michael Chin

The first time I worked the Pacific Northwest territory—the first time I worked for Dennis Dean—there was so much I didn’t know.

Like if Chuck Sampson, who booked the Colorado-based wrestling promotion I was contracted to at the time would have a problem with me going west, where I wouldn’t be in competition, but I would still be making money from, and more importantly for someone else.

Like why Dennis Dean was so desperate to get anyone who’d come that he’d pay double my normal booking fee for that Tuesday night’s show.

I heard it’d be a tournament and he needed both a field of competitors, and half of them would need to work twice or more in the same night—some as many as five times. Then I heard he wanted to stage the biggest battle royal of all time—a hundred men in one, custom-made, super-sized ring.

So we piled into Samurai Smith’s pickup—three in the cab, four of us riding in the bed of the truck to hit the road, speculating about what else might be at stake. A twenty-man tag match. A double-tiered Lumberjack Match with forty men around the ring to really guarantee neither of the main eventers couldn’t escape the fight. Maybe a beat down of the local hero—whoever he was—so Dean could write him out of the storylines while he got married and went on a honeymoon. I’d heard of such things.

Dennis Dean paid every wrestler who showed, though it was only one and a half, not two times what I was used to. Confirmation of what the boys had told me along the ride that only about half of what Dean told anybody was true. Whether the concept had changed, or none of us had heard it right, we’ll never know, but by the time we arrived, it was Dean’s objective to break the world record for longest wrestling show ever, and go for a full twelve hours, from noon to midnight. He charged three times the ticket price for the extended show.

The dingy little arena wasn’t much to look at. Heard from the local boys nothing had happened in it for nearly a decade, that it was on and off the block for demolition and Dean booked it for a pittance.

Everything was going just fine, a packed house of lively fans with good endurance until midway through the fifth hour when the generator blew and the arena fell into darkness.

I figured we were in for a disaster. Refunded tickets and boys being asked to pay back part of what Dean had given them, or else an angry mob that took out its frustrations on what wrestlers they could find or their cars.

But Dean was ready.

Dean had a megaphone and walked out into that darkness to announce that this show featured the best wrestlers in the world. And anyone who wanted to leave could get a half-price refund, but anyone who stayed would be in for a truly special show. For these wrestlers—these warriors—were trained to use all of their sense. They wrestle through eye gouges, through blood pouring down their faces. Yes, it’s true, they don’t need to see to fight. And all of you who stay will be treated to the privilege of the most remarkable wrestling show you’ve ever heard.

Maybe he sold them on the idea. Maybe the half-refund wasn’t enough .Maybe the consensus decision was that maneuvering out of the arena in the dark wasn’t worth the trouble.

Whatever the cause, out of a crowd of five thousand, fewer than fifty stood up and took his offer to leave.

And us?

We worked the show. In clapping hands that sounded like the smack of flesh on flesh. In stomping feet that sounded like running and like falling. In grunts and groans and screams. Referees counted pin falls when both men stood on their feet. We scored submissions without physical contact.

And the crowd ate it up. Some of them had to know we were scamming them, but there weren’t catcalls or boos. A mostly silent crowd, listening for hints of the action. Exploding after the finish, after the referee called for the bell, after the ring announcer used the megaphone to winner.

When we weren’t in the ring, most of us boys went out to the section of the parking lot cordoned off for talent and the crew. We played cards, drank beers that we couldn’t keep cold, stretched.

After the show, Dean met us out there and told us we’d done good. He told us the same thing he’d told the crowd at the end of the night—the message we’d heard rumble through the walls, fed through the megaphone. That we should all come back for another show. That the whole family was always welcome.

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Michael Chin was born and raised in Utica, New York and is an alum of Oregon State’s MFA Program. He won Bayou Magazine’s Knudsen Prize for fiction and has published in journals including The Normal School and Passages North. Find him at miketchin.com and follow him on Twitter @miketchin.

All Along The Watchtower

Mark Young

Two minutes ago I
answered a knock
on the door to find
I’m Harry & this is Bill
standing there in their
outback hats & boots

& moleskin trousers.
Wanting to share some
special information with
me. Looking old enough
to have witnessed Jehovah
the first time around.

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Mark Young’s most recent books are Mineral Terpsichore, from gradient books of Finland, & The Chorus of the Sphinxes, from Moria Books in Chicago. An e-book, The Holy Sonnets unDonne, came out earlier this year from Red Ceilings Press; another, a few geographies, will be out later this year from One Sentence Poems; & another, For the Witches of Romania, is scheduled for publication by Beard of Bees.

Three Fictions

Samuel J. Fox

Yodeler

I, knee-locked and clearing throat on the edge of a cliff, toe life and death. I tremble before the treble patch in my vibrato. No audience. No purpose nor functionality. The garble of brook is a raspy whisper behind me. The sky: a cheek dabbed with rouge lit sanguine and metallic. I am forgotten by those who I have forgotten. I second-guess my outfit: a cardigan stitched with my father’s silver linings, my mother’s blonde hair slicked down onto my crown, my brother’s skinny jeans unable to hold back bulge and chill, and God’s own pair of high-top Converses colored with liminal spaces between hope and vanity. Shades of grey, off-white. I inhale, exhale an uncivilized mountain call. I immolate a Swiss-army knife thrust into the thigh of nightfall. I came to scream through this controlled torture. I came to find absolution over the deep drop into ravine and let sonic-blood out of voice-box. Even my echo is caged. I am nothing to write home about. I am nothing to write about. I am about nothing. I am nothing. I am something in a world where suffering is a lost art only learned with patience. I came to sucker-punch God in the throat and take a heavy breather: I’m all out of breath. Can you guess who never showed?

Bestial Disposition

Call me anti-romantic, but I always dap up the devil. He says we are just animals disguised with wit overcrowding in cities. He says there is no one who believes in magic anymore. I figure this is because we discover better ways to ruin ourselves with technology.

Once, in a bruised twilight, my dead girlfriend walked through the trunk of an oak and laid down next to me. I thought it was the LSD but she told me there’s no such thing as hell. I believed her and her cyanotic eyes, her split lips, the umbra shadowed on each cheek.

The priorities of animals are as follows: birth, see, hunt, fuck, and die. Once, in a concussed midnight, I cried. The tears were minuscule, dripping diamonds fading into my hands.

I watched an old friend ride by on his signature Schwinn (the same he let me borrow to visit my deceased girlfriend). When he waved, the moonlight pierced straight through his gesture. He yelled that we should catch up sometime. I had already forgotten his plot number.

Call me nihilistic, but, ever since I was five, I have wanted to unlearn to be alive. I have exhausted the verb survive. I’d rather observe the way ravens peck flesh from bones, listen to the coyotes roam toward the spot where life rots, and listen to the applause of old friends before ascending into the night.

What good is an animal if it cannot be trained? What good is an animal if he can’t thrive on what must be done? What good is an animal? What is good? What good?

Uncommon Laws that Shouldn’t Be Broken

I once danced with a bear on the tile floor of my near pocket-sized kitchen. He engraved claw marks in the calk between already scuffed tiles. His voice gruff, his beard brownish. Both are whitening. He says he misses those days. If you must dance with a bear, be sure to let him lead.

I had a lady friend (had). She liked to pinch my right butt cheek. I wasn’t sure if this was her kind of affection. Sometimes, it hurt. I still think of her after we parted ways: her hair sun-burnt and windblown, her left eye golden-wheat toned while the right a slight greenish tint. We abused love arguing over who wore pants. When the shit hits the fan, it’s never evenly distributed.

I’ve never jumped out of an airplane. Why step out of a perfectly good chance to receive complimentary B-rated movies. Why waste jet fuel? I had a model of a Jet (once). I worked hard in my childhood to build it. The ceiling dropped it on my head one morning: kamikazed into forehead and bombed its way into splinters. I will never jump out of a plane. It’s quite obvious that a falling object will always land to impact efficiently to do the most damage.

My heart is made of multiple things: a dying four cylinder engine, Plexiglass, rusting bolts; a bear paw, beard trimmings, and canine encased in a ballet shoe; a small vice grip and shreds from a ripped pair of jeans, plus epoxy and gasoline to keep its going together. It works well enough. I’ve always believed in an old, bitter maxim. If something ain’t broke, better not fix it.

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Samuel J Fox is an M.A. candidate in English at Western Carolina University. He writes poetry and nonfiction/lyric essays. He queers the lines often and refuses to concede with social norms. He has been published most recently in Luna Luna Magazine and A Quiet Courage; he is forthcoming in Polychrome Ink Literary Journal. He lives within the mist, foliage, and beauty of the Appalachian Mountains.

Four Poems

JD DeHart

Working on the Stack

There is another
voice to be found, rifling
toward the bottom,
pressed finely like grapes
beneath a group of readings,
There is another author
shouting to be heard
beneath the fluttering pages
of other bully writers
who fight to share verbs.

Day Off

I could have been
brilliant today, taunts the empty
bag of chips.
I could have written
the masterwork, so says
the star of the film I watched
then re-watched.
Worse yet the plastic toys
of my youth line up in revolt
accusing me of wasting
my childhood on fantasy.

Cup Two

By cup one I’m remembering
who I am, living my life
on the java surface.
By cup two I’m getting pumped
for the places I’m going.
I know not where they are yet.
There’s a cup three, maybe four
and by then I’ll be positively
stirring like the dark bits
swirling toward the mug bottom.

Simple Words

Some may say
I use simple words
packed lines. I could definitely go to the edge of the screen
or drop a word like prestidigitation
a vague reference to Nabokov
or another word like pusillanimous
It’s not like we don’t have a life
full of spell check now, after all.

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JD DeHart is a writer and teacher. His work appears in a variety of journals and blogs, including Mother Bird and Gargouille.