Volume Three, Issue 1 (2015)

Rat's Ass Summer 2015

Welcome to the Summer 2015 issue of Rat’s Ass Review.  During our spring submission period we received hundreds of poems from all over the world. We read them all, and we gave many of them lengthy consideration, eventually settling on the collection which appears below. As we promised in our submission guidelines, we have undoubtedly rejected some good poems.  However, we have selected forty-eight which are excellent, and we are pleased to present them to you.
The forty-four individual poets have been a delight to work with. Some are well established and have a long string of credits behind them; others are experiencing their first publication on this page. All are poets whose work you will see in other publications in the future. The poets have been invaluable in their assistance to one another and to me in the process of bringing this issue into the light.
If you came here looking for a particular poet or poem, the links below will get you where you want to go. But don’t stop at that; wander around a little. You may never come here again; enjoy yourself for a few minutes. I think you will find your time well spent and well rewarded. –Editor

The Poets:
Heather Altfeld, Svea Barrett, Giuseppe Martino Buonaiuto, Chelsea Callas, Wendy Taylor Carlisle, Susan Deer Cloud, Rosemarie Dombrowski, Victoria Dym, Arika Elizenberry, Jim Ferguson, James Fowler, Neil Fulwood, Michael Gause, Patricia L. Goodman, Mitchell Grabois, Brit Graham, John Haugh, Martin Heavisides, TJ Heffers, Marianna Hofer, Erica Hoffmeister, Shareen Knight, Kaye Linden, Jessica Lindsley, Katharyn Howd Machan, Tony Magistrale, MD Marcus, Michael Mark, Tim Mayo, Bruce McRae, Stephen Mead, Megan Merchant, Tracy Mishkin, Jocelyn Moore, Kenneth Pobo, Sharon Scholl, Terri Simon, Catherine F. Simpson, Julie Steiner, Paul m. Strohm, Susan Laura Sullivan, J.A. Sutherland, S. Triella, Ian Walker


The Poems:
Heather Altfeld
Who knows how it will happen.
One minute you are opening your throat
to gulp the evening’s pinot, and the next
it spills through your teeth fast as clown wine.
Or the defective weeble of the sabot
you were teaching your niece to sail
bobbles and sinks in the bay,
and your ankle is trapped around a stray piece
of heavy rope. You can hope it is not
A) a gardening rake flipped wrong side up into your heart,
B) anything charred/blackened
that takes your kitties too, or
C) compliments of an angry power tool.
Some nice hypothermia perhaps,
accompanied by a delicious side of Percocet,
a long wander in the snow followed by a sleepy dream
of roast goose. So, after the white light blinks its beacon
and you listen to your own elegiac voice-over,
you realize that you were meant for this.
It is the role you’ve been planning for
all of your life. Now it’s your special morning,
and you’re decked in black—you look good,
though the dress is long, no doubt
your mother’s doing. If your lover
had his way it would be that black lacy thing
you bought from the back room at Camouflage,
the pleasure cuffs cabled behind your back.
And there’s definitely too much blush
on your cheeks; you look like a loud valentine
or the girl in the Riunite commercial
who’d drunk so much she’d turned
into a zinfandel. It’s a potluck, which you hate,
the theme being it’s better with butter,
but your friends were wary of dying
and so nobody salted anything,
and there wasn’t enough to go around,
excepting the vegan quinoa.
Behind the white hilly oak
two Mormons in long underwear
whisper your name and convert you by proxy,
while the rabbi, in accordance
with the sorrow doctrine,
banters about your life as a Jew
and your silly love for the crustacean;
warbling a little in Yiddish
just like you would have done
had you been to rabbinical banter training.
Why aren’t there gifts? You really wanted some gifts.
A few silver parcels of mirth,
some nice sateen sheets. Le Creuset cookware
and a purple cape and a pear-wood pentatonic recorder.
Someone you don’t even know
bound your poems in a cruddy little book
at Kinko’s. You take note of who is missing.
This isn’t the usual crowd from your dinner parties.
So many didn’t show up due to sorrow,
and the opening of the new bakery downtown.
You’re flanked by bureaucrats waiting
for your social security number, the waitress
from the Cozy Diner who remembers when
you popped her tire by backing into her too hard,
and a fellow lecturer who says how funny you were,
even though (ha!) she’s glad she’ll get your classes.
Your father gives a speech so long
that everyone departs in a flurry,
but he says one line about the complicated loch
of loneliness you’ve left in his landscape
that you wish you could have stolen for a poem.
All you had really wanted as a send-off
was one of those amazing rains
that only happen in Texas and Terre Haute
where dimes are thrown down from the stars,
and a boy who would kiss your dead forehead
and play Stairway to Heaven on his acoustic guitar
as you rode that little escalator upward,
wiping the gum from your shoe.
I never understood
why she drew the chiseled lines of their loins
over and over on the paper covers of math books,
while mine were littered with puffy clouds
and poems penned for Chachi. What was it about
the dream of grooming the immense ass of an animal
large enough to lay crap the size of opossums
that made her endlessly starry-eyed in class,
designing Pegasus dot-to-dots
on her Pee Chee?
I did not long to jockey around
with my legs spread hard
over the great girth of leather
or rake hay in a stable
full of sweaty equestrian breath.
What was it that compelled her
to attend horse camp each summer,
riding around on the back of a beast
who bucked her off the year before,
hovering his ginormous equine balls over her
for one long moment before piercing her femur
with his great hoof
rendering her six months in a body cast
signed by all of her horsey friends
who drew little lassos and unicorns
and wrote “you’ll be back
in the saddle by Spring Break”
leaving her to scratch
fledgling pubic hairs beneath the plaster
with the metal tip of a coat-hanger.
I’d give her this; there is nothing
more graceful than the shape of a white horse
in a silent meadow—
Until he begins to grunt and whinny,
edging against the ground
with preternatural heat,
opening his enormous eye
in my direction. And I admit
that nothing is more appealing
than the idea of cantering off into the sunset
with something pressed against my fiddle
besides a drunken boy from the saloon—
so how can I really stand in judgment
against her high, horsey laugh,
knowing that she is not alone in bed tonight;
somewhere in a sprawling ranch house,
tack hung in the two-car garage,
that filly is straddling the slim saddle
of her husband’s torso with practice,
and with care, parting his mane
and currying the fine grain
of his skin until they each fall
into a standing, fitful sleep.
Heather Altfeld’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Narrative Magazine, TLR, Okey-Panky, Cimarron Review, Pleiades, ZYZZYVA, Poetry Northwest, Superstition Review, and others.  Heather is the 2015 recipient of the Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry from The Nimrod International Journal of Prose and Poetry. Her first book, The Disappearing Theatre is forthcoming Summer 2015 with Poets at Work Press.  She lives, writes, and teaches in Chico, California, and is finishing a second collection as well as a book for children.

List of Poets
Svea Barrett
Because the museum is in the middle of the Pine Barrens.
Because there is a sculpture called “Chicken Man” which is
a chicken with thick human legs and a penis, and “Deer Woman”
which is a deer head with breasts, but with antlers. Because
the sculpture I’m standing in front of now is a map of you made of
latex gloves that hang like condoms, and I was disappointed
that it wasn’t actually made of condoms. Because my late
mother-in-law picked up Popsicle sticks, made pencil cases
out of yogurt cups with old yarn because reduce, reuse, recycle.
Because she’d have laughed I think, appreciated a map of you
made of used condoms, though I doubt she’d have touched them
herself. Because this sculpture is beautiful and weird like you,
and what if it was condoms and beautiful, even close up? Use
the ugly, make it new. Because at the school in NY City all the kids
wore hoodies for Trayvon, colors glowing over Facebook,
softening the ugliness of posted comments below. Because you’re
the terrified people who wanted to cut down all the trees on the island
after the hurricane because they might fall on your house, and the
guy on my street who built his deck around the double birch
in his yard. Leaves in the barbecue? he says, fuck yeah, whatever.
Because leave my god damn guns alone, but wait, are you ok?
Does your car need a jump, a tow? Here, I brought you dinner.
Because you’re the 24 hour drugstore when my son had a fever—
103  at 3 AM, and the little old lady who saw my pajamas and
children’s Advil and let me cut in line, but you’re also the poor
people who shop at Walmart, ignoring the poor people who work
at Walmart. Because Hurricane Sandy. 9-11. Tornado Alley.
Rainbow flags replacing confederate flags. Because the Debt ceiling.
Taxes. Because fresh peaches. Because fresh sweet corn in a basket
on a table beside the road in upstate NY, next to a box with cash
sitting next to a handwritten sign:
Please Pay What You Can.  Thanks.
Svea Barrett is a 29 year veteran NJ public school teacher and mom of three boys. Her chapbook, Why I Collect Moose, won the 2005 Poets Corner Press Poetry Chapbook Competition, and her book I Tell Random People About You won the Spire Press 2010 Poetry Book Award. Her work has appeared in Samsara Quarterly, the Paterson Literary Review, The Journal of NJ Poets, LIPS, Caduceus, US 1 Worksheets, Ariel XXVII, and other journals, and she tied for first place in the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Awards in 2013.

List of Poets
Giuseppi Martino Buonaiuto
When a woman says she likes
the man to take the initiative,
What she is really saying is:
“Yes, I will fuck you, just ask.”
As I write these words,
I rent The Eugene O’Neill Theater,
located between Broadway & 8th Ave,
on West 49th Street,
no shabby venue, I might add.
Then I stage & cast the play,
choosing for the role of me,
myself:  Queequeg.
Ishmael’s Crypto-Gay,
New Bedford, Mass bedmate,
a large, well-toned,
muscled man of much ink & few words,
just short pigeon-English phrases,
utterances such as: “I likee.”
That’s right, playing me is
Melville’s freaky, tattooed,
Polynesian harpooner,
right out of Moby Dick.
And should the sexual imagery &
metaphor of me—yours truly
packing a harpoon in my trousers,
prove a trifle too scrumptiously
potent for you, consider please the
erotic potential of a three-way with
Giuseppi Martino Buonaiuto is a former commissioned officer and veteran; employed later by one of the more obscure government clandestine services. He holds numerous graduate degrees including a Masters from the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. He is retired, splitting his time between two gated over-55 lunatic asylums, one in northern New Mexico and the other in southern California. He was born and raised in Brooklyn. His two children know him by another name.

List of Poets
Chelsea Callas
I bought some sensual body armor from Forever 21
It was only $19.80 which was a good deal since it showed off my shoulder blades
I read that shoulder blades were a party ‘do’
I don’t know how I became so afraid of everyone
There would be a few funny people at the party
Everyone would be nice
A couple would be kind
I drank just enough before to put me in a state of eerie exuberance
where I would be in control
and might say something so quietly witty that guests would remember it when
they were doing something meaningless- like watering flowers
They would laugh to themselves and mouth, “I couldn’t understand then, I don’t
understand now”
I smeared beets across my parched lips-such comments deserve a vessel that is
strikingly colorful, but natural and accessible
I put my best star spangled stilettos on and wondered if I would be the one to
make the toast
“To love and lust and losing your head” I’d say
All the starry eyed battalions would laugh
I’d wonder how I was ever afraid of a few of the helplessly underdressed
who loved seeing the glaze of Mayfair almost as much as me
They’re still waiting on that toast
There are things I probably shouldn’t laugh at
But I don’t know what they are
Chelsea Callas is 24 years old and from Portland, Oregon. She has a BA in English from the University of Oregon. Although she’s been writing for years, she only recently began submitting her work for publication.

List of Poets
Wendy Taylor Carlisle
The ferrous taste in my mouth heightens your attraction
as do the soft blue welts that bloom and unfurl
like phlox on my upper arms. You are only superficial
on the surface. Once I know this I am crazy
for you. I bite the inside of my cheek.  It bleeds like the skin
of any lie you tell me, slick with that jam.
When I eradicate sheen, give up toys like touch
and the sins: jealousy & rust, I long for carnage
and an armpit with some sweat in it.
I will pay and be paid for. After you, I will slip
from the hearth burned, brightened, hardened.
Wendy Taylor Carlisle lives in the Arkansas Ozarks. She is a ten time nominee for the Pushcart Prize and the author of two books, Reading Berryman to the Dog and Discount Fireworks (both Jacaranda Books). Her most recent chapbook is Persephone on the Metro, (MadHat Press, 2014.) For more information, check her website at www.wendytaylorcarlisle.com.

List of Poets
Susan Deer Cloud
in bathtub, she floats to sleep thinking about
Tu Fu, Li Po, and other ancient Chinese poets,
dreams she dwells on mountainside
with those two poet pals who give her rice
they bummed from the mountain monastery,
even sharing their wine with the young
green-eyed woman in her dream. She can’t
decide which bad boy she loves more,
possibly Li Po because of that way he gazes
so ridiculously at full moon glittering on lake.
Behind door she hears male voice cry
“Hellooo!” Crossing back over the river
between sleep and waking, she shines
“I’m here, Li Po. Come in!” But no one
comes. She gazes at old woman’s body
in tub-lake size of a coffin.
Brother remembering Grandfather’s
webs so high up toes his feet
looked like frog’s feet, how Grandpa
would show him the webs then laugh.
Webs strong-delicate. Webs evoking
Orkney Isles selkies, sea creatures
who hide skins on beach
then mate with humans.
The Scotch-Irish sailed here,
mixed their Orkney DNA
with Turtle Island Native blood.
When my brother and I lift our feet
light glows through seal skin,
reminding me of sunrays
shimmering through
pale blue rice in China bowls,
of all the lights I have met with
lovely as any shine that has flown
into my eyes.  Webs threading back
to Mongolia, to Orkney Isles,
to seas of mystery. And there comes
some powerful gentleness I bring
to land whenever I press foot soles
to Mother Earth, leaving
slow trail of ancient light
that makes my clan be as children
forever slipping off shoes, boots,
sandals, moccasins, raising up
freedom feet to delight in their webs
and the metaphor of toes, old
knowing of wild north seas,
the kisses of selkies.
Susan Deer Cloud is a mixed lineage mountain Indian from the Catskill Mountains. An alumna of Binghamton University (B.A. & M.A.) and Goddard College (MFA), she is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship, two New York State Foundation for the Arts Poetry Fellowships, an Elizabeth George Foundation Grant and a Chenango County Council for the Arts Individual Artist Grant. Published in numerous literary journals and anthologies, her most recent books are Hunger Moon, Fox Mountain, Braiding Starlight, Car Stealer and The Last Ceremony. Deer Cloud is the editor of ongoing Native anthology I Was Indian (Before Being Indian Was Cool) and the Re-Matriation Chapbook Series of Indigenous Poetry (FootHills Publishing). She is a rover who enjoys the company of cats because they don’t give a rat’s ass. http://sites.google.com/site/susandeercloud/.

List of Poets
Rosemarie Dombrowski
The accusation was flawless—
you stink of pure jealousy.
It sounded so right that I wrote it down.
It was nearly perfect, so I saved it for months.
Months later, I found it tucked under
a cd case and an empty red envelope.
A saved line does nothing for a writer.
I propped the 45 against the collected works of e.e. cummings,
across from the family photos and the rotary phone.
My mother claimed it was disturbing.
The boy on the cover had squinty eyes, a heavy brow,
two sickly, pubescent shoulders.
He had the face of a weasel-ly kid,
and you could almost hear him
screeching out the words
you broke my fucking heart.
That kind of sentiment does something for a writer.
When we talk about the water-table at Hoover,
we vilify the golfers and the Canadian pipeline,
the alchemists who want to remove salt from the ocean.
I doodle the symbol for recycling on a notepad
and slide it dramatically across the table.
I watch the clock as you strum your mandolin.
Your counter-offer is a chorus, sung madly
and with passionate protest—
every molecule of water is a filthy whore,
so deal with it.
The truth is everything for a writer.
Rosemarie Dombrowski (RD) is the co-founder of the Phoenix Poetry Series and a poetry editor for the literary magazine Four Chambers. Her first collection, The Book of Emergencies, was published by Five Oaks Press in 2014. In the past year, her work has also appeared in Hartskill Review, A Clean, Well-Lighted Place, The Huffington Post, and The Review Review. She can typically be found performing and/or teaching classes on the anti-story, Lady Gaga, and rebellious poetics.

List of Poets
Victoria Dym
O Dali—
Your facial hair I covet
and just as yours
I wish I could grow it so—
I could wax it, twirl it
and swirl it into iconic
There is a competition of sorts
between some men to grow it
thick and long and bushy—a silent
‘My mustache is better than yours’
a stare-down contest of hair
Emilio used to always say:
Mine is better than his, right? –right?
And I would say:
Oh yes, of course, Emilio
Because, that is how you love a narcissist
though truth be told—yours, Dali, was always
the grand prize winner—my envy every time
The one I wish I could grow—           And now, so many
years later, no men in my life, I fashion a black pipe cleaner—
twirl it, swirl it—make two bends so it fits into nostrils
and pretend
Victoria Dym is a graduate of Ringling Brother’s Barnum and Bailey Clown College, the University of Pittsburgh, BA, and Carlow University, MFA. Her poetry has been published in various anthologies, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the City Paper, Adanna Literary Journal and Pearl Magazine. Find Victoria’s poems online at the Writer’s at Work site, and, Eunoia Review.   Her chapbook, Class Clown, was chosen as one of ten finalists in the Coal Hill Review Chapbook Contest, by Autumn Hill Press, and published ultimately by Finishing Line Press in 2015.  Victoria won first prize and publication in 10, Carlow University’s MFA Anniversary Anthology for her poem, When the Walls Cave In. Ms. Dym resides in Tampa, Florida with her cat Mook.

List of Poets
Arika Elizenberry
There’s your name etched from
hot iron in stone on the ground.
The sun casts its gaze on your
77 years of life. You were never
one to dwell on death, but celebrate
life’s blessings, which is why I
brought the following: a hazelnut
latte, a plate of churros, and
my Nobel Prize book Baby Leo.
Forget the primped hair and
pressed black suit, my blue
Mohawk, Metallica shirt, and
torn jeans were fine by you.
So to honor your birthday, I sit
beside you, read my book with
your glasses, and I hear you
whisper to me, That’s my girl.
Arika Elizenberry received her associate of arts in creative writing from the College of Southern Nevada, where she was Vice President of the college’s creative writing club for three years. She is currently the assistant editor at Helen: A Literary Magazine. Her work has appeared in the Silver Compass, Neon Dreams, East Coast Literary Review, 300 Days of Sun, Toasted Cheese, Burningword Literary Journal, Open Road Review, Sippy Cup Magazine, ZO Magazine, and Blue Lyra Review with forthcoming publications in Aspirations, Deltona Howl, Meat For Tea, Rockhurst Review, and Crab Fat Lit.

List of Poets
Jim Ferguson
bleach just kills stuff
shouldn’t drink it
or use it
too much
over a million
can live inside
your vacuum cleaner
mostly too small to see
even if you’ve had a recent eye-test
they like to live in your gut
and in yogurt
two kinds of people
those with passports
and those without
the counting of syllables
exact same thing as
the measuring of skulls
are there really poetry fascists
The apostrophe hang-up
a new mental illness
some chairs
are too expensive
to burn
when you’re cold
advanced artificial intelligence
that just kills stuff
dumb artificial intelligence
a great humanitarian tool
drone drone drone
footballers wages
and transfers fees
loose change
for any pensioner
two kinds of people
the rich
and the rest
why do thousands
obey a few who have guns
why do the few with guns
mostly work for the rich
why are some ponies
immune to the midgie
no one invented DNA
was it always there
blind empiricism
can make your nose bleed
bleach and bacteria
the natural inhabitants
of the toilet bowl
open sewers
have a natural tendency to riot
toilet humour
best appreciated by the lower orders
the suppression of the urge to happiness
is good for your health
god has told us this
via many prophets and faiths
god knows
what he’s doing
the inventor of spaghetti has stated
the truly uncivilised
eat their main course
with a fork and spoon
Harry doesn’t like dogs
although he is one
the Nietzschean aphorism
is by no means a vehicle
for driving
philosophical inquiry
comparing tomatoes with bananas
is by no means a vehicle
for driving
an analogy home
how does an olive know
where Israel is
when it can’t even jump
over the wall
the inventor of the spoon has stated
this is not a tool
to be used in the fight against fascism
John Wayne can’t jump that hedge because he’s dead.
Jim Ferguson is a poet and prose writer based in Glasgow, Scotland. Recent publications include the novel ‘Punk Fiddle’, poetry collection ‘Songs to Drown a Million Souls’ and musings on the Scottish independence referendum campaign ‘The Pine-Box-Jig Involves no Dancing’. A recent review of his poetry cd ‘More than Quirky’ states: ‘Ferguson’s strong Glaswegian accent is striking and his voice is forcefully expressive, most particularly when reading words and phrases from the Glaswegian dialect… In all poems there is a conviction in the reading, at times both poignant and haunting.’ He works as a Creative Writing Tutor at Glasgow Kelvin College (Easterhouse Campus), is available for readings, and can be contacted via his website www.jimfergusonpoet.co.uk.

List of Poets
James Fowler
(for Frank Potvin, after
the last line from his last poem)
A fox leaps over a windfall,
hops forward, places his front paws
on the shoulders of his mate.
She rubs her head across his chest.
They prance circles in the snow.
Was the thought of Thanksgiving
too much? In all your new places
since I saw you, did you lose sight
of the dancing foxes in
such thickness of shadows?
A crow half-hops, half-strides
ahead of me, takes flight,
threads his way between the trees,
climbs above the canopy,
reaches the sky.
Is gone.
James Fowler lives in Charlestown, NH, and has over two-hundred fifty poems published in various journals and anthologies. He edited the poetry anthology Heartbeat of New England (Tiger Moon Publication, 2000). Finishing Line Press published a chapbook of his Japanese forms, Connections to This World, in March, 2012. A book of his Japanese forms, Falling Ashes, was volume VII in Hobblebush Press’s Granite State Poets series. For more of Jim’s work, go here.

List of Poets
Neil Fulwood
The hand that manipulates the media
rules the world. Lucifer, falling,
knew God had the witnesses,
the writers and probably the plans
for a printing press buried among
those eighth-day doodlings
from when the act of creation
seemed like anti-climax;
when the grand design
revealed itself and control was key.
Lucifer wrote his side of the story
in the dry earth with his fingers.
God sent rain; made things grow.
God raised forests; acres of roots
twisted the ground illegible.
Lucifer wrote on mountainsides,
blasting words into the rock.
God invented erosion; shaved
layers off the landscapes
of His own making. Lucifer
found a means of reflecting
his testimony on the still surface
of the earth’s waters. God
destroyed it with a tsunami;
dead words littered the beaches.
Lucifer tore himself apart
and the light men would forget
he was named for
streamed into the night,
an aurora borealis. God
began work on a hole in the sky.
Neil Fulwood was born in 1972, son of a truck driver, grandson of a miner. Where the whole poetry thing comes from is anyone’s guess. His work has been in The Morning Star, Nib, Art Decades, Full of Crow Poetry and Butcher’s Dog. He’s married, holds down a day job and subsidizes several bars.

List of Poets
Michael Gause
I used to think it was your crazy Aunt Pam
who watched us when we were 7.
Dancing with birds on that three-season porch,
I figured if anything was going to keep us alive
she was it.
As we got older you decided it had to be some big city cliché
somewhere on the lower east side.
You imagined a post-orgasmic angel snoring away
like something out of Dostoyevsky
reaching for the darkest light.
After college I remember telling you I was sure
it was just our anti-selves pushing us
one step toward the dream
taking two back toward start.
When the news came you died
I asked the question all over again.
Of course what we never discussed was the obvious question:
which of us deserve to be saved
and who’s just plain got it coming.
Michael K. Gause cut his baby teeth on southern solitude and the written word before moving to Minnesota. He has taught German, sold men’s clothes, and stocked diapers at midnight. He is author of two chapbooks and other things. You can hear him mumble to himself at thedayonfire.blogspot.com.

List of Poets
Patricia L. Goodman
after Jan Beatty
I carry a secret pouch of cyanide pellets/I poison the teen who lured my nine-year-old innocence into the foyer of the local candy store on Sunday/shoved my hand down his pants/made me squeeze his erection/I poison the sophomore geek who made snide remarks about my poetry because I was an old white woman/I poison the long-haired guitar player who strung me along until I refused to sleep with him/dumped me on my rear/even in a sheltered life of innocence/enough offenders/so I poison the sixteen-year-old who pulled me into the woods at fifteen/smeared my mouth with saliva before I knew what had happened/I/ too embarrassed to tell my father when he asked if he was being fresh/upset I would never be able to claim sweet sixteen and never been kissed/I poison the man in the train station in Toronto who screamed I want that little girl/while my mother clutched me in panic/until the police came/hauled him away/I’m on a roll now/I poison the grunge in Spanish class who ridiculed me because I answered all the teacher’s questions/one of my husband’s best friends who wanted to meet in a motel/a colleague whose boozed eyes ogled my cleavage when I was pregnant/I poison the father of a patient who announced too loudly that he wanted to get in my pants/I poison all the men who wanted me for my face/my body/without noticing I had a brain/I poison all the boys in high school for being afraid to date me because I was too smart/too pretty/too distant/I see the reasons now/my terror of body/of feelings/of sex/so I poison the Victorian morals that made me think all physical intimacy bad until after marriage/when it was too late/cripples me even today/because poison within rebounds/like cyanide on my own tongue.
Patricia L. Goodman is a widowed mother and grandmother, a graduate of Wells College with a degree in Biology and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa. Her career involved breeding and training horses with her orthodontist husband on their farm in Chadds Ford, PA. She has had poems published in the likes of Aries, The Broadkill Review, Sugar Mule, Requiem Magazine, Jellyfish Whispers, Fox Chase Review, Mistletoe Madness, Storm Cycle, Poised in Flight (all from Kind of a Hurricane Press), On Our Own (Silver Boomer Books), and The Widow’s Handbook. Her first book, Closer to the Ground was a finalist in the 2014 Dogfish Head Poetry Competition and she has twice won the Delaware Press Association Communications Award in poetry. She lives on the banks of the Red Clay Creek in Delaware, where she is surrounded by the natural world she loves. For more of Patricia’s work, go here.
List of Poets
Mitchell Grabois
I am Rasputin
with the spirit shining out of my ears
the Crimea under my belt
the Cossacks at my command
Pussy Riot has been vanquished
Anna Politkovskaya has been murdered
Big mouth woman didn’t know
that the bullet is mightier than the pen?
She is only one of two hundred
Now she knows
They all know
They commiserate with each other
in Purgatory
I am Rasputin
with the spirit shining out of my ears
The Cossacks mount their horses
as in days of glorious gore
They spur their horses
and in the bright sunlight of Mother Russia
their flesh becomes transparent
and their skeletons will out
men and horses
an inspiring sight
I am Rasputin
tall, bearded, in a black robe
with the spirit shining out of my ears
Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois has had over seven hundred of his poems and fictions appear in literary magazines in the U.S. and abroad. He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize for work published in 2012, 2013, and 2014. 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. He lives in Denver.

List of Poets
Brit Graham
After Kim Addonizio’s “Mermaid Song”
Man-made gills,
razored into
existence by spade-shaped
fingers, callous
and jagged. Nails part
skin, like the sea.
Perhaps now she can breathe
while he holds her under.
For now Brit Graham traverses the tundra that is South Dakota, tripping over things while stargazing in the all too brief summer months. She is the crux of an ongoing love affair between the Pacific and Atlantic. She managed to pry an M.F.A. in Poetry from the grasp of Converse College. You can read her poetry things in publications like Devilfish Review, The Night Owl, RealSouth Magazine, and The OWL.

List of Poets
John Haugh
Part I   Mute Anger
You see an oil painting, of a Hereford steer in a typical field,
staring at you. More than a little angry, with no access to
shade or water, he dares you to see him on that vibrant field
of chlorophyll. His right eye full of recognition, limited
but real. The entire painting draws focus to one angry eye.
Now, imagine yourself, not so much older than now, feeling
a need to scream truth at the world but mute, like that steer.
Let’s say a left-handed stroke, six minutes without
brain oxygen so you no longer speak. Imagine sitting
in a glider rocker as another stroke hunts you, unable
to reach your medicine or get your son’s attention as
he rambles on about a hot barista. Now, can you see
that steer true, feel his mute anger as the butcher herds him
into the chute one last time?
Part II  Diesel Long Days
At sixteen in Oregon, a booky smart-ass; my parents
sent me to work on a Hereford ranch. Dad told foreman Joe,
“work the shit out of him.” So, I lived without television or
car or friends or bus or civilization. Over diesel-long days,
I lived alfalfa hay, tractors, Herefords, and Joe, who
could call individual cattle, have them come to him.
All God’s creatures, right?   I cherish memories of helping
foreman Joe and a cow with a difficult birth until three A.M.,
bottle feeding a calf with a slipping grasp on life.
Joe grew up in cotton fields, no school after fifth grade,
one of my great teachers: revere all life,
especially if you love your steak.
Part III “Everybody Dies Frustrated and Sad and That is Beautiful”1
You send an accomplished painter a few words, receive back
a flood of parallel details, resonating, harmonizing, riffing
on 1964 Montana and a Crow named Victor Morningstar
working tirelessly to keep his family in flour and lard.
Affirmed or endorsed or just understood, after your time of writing
like baseball lived below the Mendoza line until one sharp CRACK
of contact and a cowhide ball flies off in a perfect arc.

  1. They Might Be Giants, “Don’t Let’s Start” They Might Be Giants, 11/2/86

John Haugh’s writing has been published in Notre Dame Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, and elsewhere.  He won the Nancy J. Heggem Poetry Award, and is making progress on a chapbook with help from the Winston-Salem Writers and Writers Group of the Triad.   Mr. Haugh serves on the Board of the WGOT and also held a Board position with the Barrington Writers’ Workshop.  Mr. Haugh moved to Greensboro from Chicago after accepting a risk underwriting position with Volvo.  He was a NCAA national champion in fencing and spent untold hours browsing Powell’s City of Books in Oregon.

List of Poets
Martin Heavisides
let’s say the worst happens
you survive, which is normally a good thing
but permanently disfigured, universally ostracized
it’s no picnic/bowl of cherries/barrel of laughs
medical and social science can do nothing
it’s not so much that people actively scorn and despise you
though there is that, it’s more that they’re able
to actively scorn and despise you
simultaneous with ignoring your very existence
but a band of loyal friends gathers close round you in spite of it all? nah
the great light and love of your life sticks with you through thick and thin?
not even through thick
let’s say you’re right on the brink of ending an existence
nobody, not even you, values — feel in your pocket for a gun
why would you have a gun? who’d even sell it to you?
cyanide or arsenic maybe, if they could watch you take it
instead you find a strip of paper, a lottery ticket
the clerk who sold it to you was very suspicious
“you trying to pull a fast one? know something
the rest of us don’t? what assurance do i have
this is functional money? telling me nobody would bother to counterfeit one dollar bills
is suspicious in itself” but he sold you the ticket
the numbers on the first line look awfully familiar
cut to the chase, you have the winning ticket
overnight there are breakthroughs, advances
in medical and social science
the one tiny scar surgery cannot correct
could be from dueling in the old days
or some more contemporary romantic affliction
sex can be bought for money of course
but why bother? it can be had free, gratis
once you learn how to play on expectation
you spend like people much richer than you
which is to say, far less than you appear to be
two wildcat investments pay off handsomely
a third tanks so you grow more cautious with your money
no need to do a blessed thing in life
you don’t want to, ever again
trust no-one of course, where were they when you needed them?
love no-one, like quite a few well enough, expecting nothing
knowing what you know, sometimes late at night
study in the silvered glass your new knife-sculpted face, probe with the fingers
let’s just say
nostalgia for angry tissue
the veins beneath the skin ache and remember
Martin Heavisides has published his first novel, Undermind at Crossing Chaos Press, a full-length play, a study of the English playwright Peter Barnes, a very rude essay on ideas about God and a study of Louis Armstrong in Linnet’s Wings; Film Rights and Practica in Sein Und Werden; a poem in Cella’s Round Trip; a poem cycle in FRiGG; Cubist Torso and a cartoon in Mad Hatter’s Review; a flash in Gambara, to name only a few. He expects to be featured in an animated film soon impropria persona. Rumors of a yellow teddy bear as muse are rigorously denied.

List of Poets
TJ Heffers
You curl into me like a tumor
that I might invite inside
nestled close to the heart
that will give out on me too soon
and I hope you turn metastatic
creeping through my veins to grow
inside my organs like branches
so my blood flows sideways
It’ll be too soon no matter
how long we’ve spent fumbling
in the dark for the ace wrap
to keep our broken bits together
those moments waking
to find you bright-eyed beside
me in the bed and like an infant
I reach for you with swollen digits
Too soon you will be alone
and when someday comes
when my too young body
softens and tears like paper
in the rain when I reach
for you when vomit
dribbles through my goatee
when my shoulders can’t prop
me up in bed when you stroke
my thinning face and straw
hair I want you to know you
grew in me that I relish your
cancer’s grip in my chest
that your fever burns
me but never too hot to bear and
I want you to remember only
my voice
TJ Heffers is a Pennsylvania-born, Arkansas-based writer with two cats and too much debt. His work has previously appeared in the Red Rock Review, the Blue Lake Review, FuckFiction, and others.

List of Poets
Marianna Hofer
The diner’s parking lot full with
dinged up pickups, rusted cars,
your red Mercedes with the black
front fender, lost hubcaps, fits
right in. And like that sharp slam
of the diner’s ragged screen door
behind us, we’re clearly through,
How did the settlers, the émigrés,
make it, not end up on some trail
that just vanished into a thicket?
The first mile or so seems easy,
but those first five hundred miles,
or those next thousand miles?
How did they convince themselves
that seemed like a grand adventure?
And for what? Every proposed end
still meant at best maybe, still
the chance to miss a critical turn.
My own paternal grandfather made
that choice to give it a try during
a last gold rush, went west, came
back east with just a pearl handled
pistol to show for it.
………………………….Which, as any good
dramatic tale ends, goes off, someone
dies. Only it was him, a badly botched,
but a week later, successful, suicide.
So I have my reasons, clearly, to
maybe, for once this time, just finish
the buckwheat pancakes, not push
through this screen door of indiscretion
so quickly, chase out it once more.
But I will. At some point, miles
from where they started, the émigrés
knew it was better to just push on,
never have to answer the question
‘so you gave up that easy?’
Marianna Hofer has Studio 13 in the gloriously haunted Jones Building in Findlay, OH. Her poems and stories appear in small magazines, and her b&w photography hangs in local exhibitions and eateries. Her first book, A Memento Sent by the World, was published by Word Press in 2008.

List of Poets
Erica Hoffmeister
(or how I remember it)
In a stranger I found the kneecaps
of my first husband,
linen he wore on our wedding day
sneaking tiny bottles, his liquor lips
on the back of the bay mimicking his father’s
in the sea mist— I, corseted in
champagne flutes bubbled
apple cider, a sugar high or
love, perhaps.
Quick-switch with one facial tic: ex-boyfriend,
October snares of domestic delusion
plump in Hawaiian print, the day we met holding
a typewriter he never used,
I never used. His gifts as unimagined as they
were non-existent,
a fallacy.
He’s never read Hunter S. Thompson, anyway.
So, why does this stranger repulse the crowd?
He’s plucked our thoughts with the strong hands of
an egoist; and so, my first husband returns
to this unlikely collage of sexuality
resurrected in stood-up peach fuzz— erotic now, but then:
I was just a teenager. A child
hiding in groves tucked beneath desert hills,
if only my mother cared to snuff out
orange blossoms stuck to powdered skin in
creases, indented thighs and white, cotton underwear,
hardened leaves braided into an un-tamed ponytail—
I thought I was as grown as he.
Yet, decades have passed between
lovers. This man has caught my gaze:
devious, witting, could he know this
is how my mistress snared my ankle last spring?
I, transparent in his history, if only he knew then
I would change the course of his battalion’s army,
an accidental obsession,
his wife, an object
I told her: It was never about sex,
And here on the F, a dimple deeper than my grandfather’s,
a canyon, a precipice, a mountain to be climbed
by thighs and hips pale, withholding cheeks
keeping hibernated secrets safe through the winter.
This montage of lovers—
seven-year heartbreaks: the ex-lover who
never called from his Midwestern fields,
now a father; I waited
a childless mother for as many years
as I’ve been with men,
with men
necks-naped and wrists
I’m barren, a collage. Numbers too high now to count.
A stranger sits next to me on the train to Queens.
He sweats out cheap wine;
I may be in love with him.
Erica Hoffmeister is a 2015 graduate of Chapman University, earning an MFA in Creative Writing with an emphasis in poetry and an MA in English. She has been published in the literary journal Split Lip Magazine, and received an honorable mention for the Lorian Hemingway Short Story Prize in 2014.

List of Poets
Shareen Knight
Am I a secret? Did you tell your lover, mother,
brother, sister about me? Do I exist
in your world, or any other world that you know of,
that you’ve explored or guessed exists?
There are things we don’t tell,
not to anyone, especially not the relatives,
and certainly not the neighbors
who have all made it their business,
this relationship that exists
between you and me.
So, what then? Should I send cards,
like Christmas, Lent, birthdays and bar mitzvahs,
or when you go into hospital at the end
of a long vacation in the Caribbean
with your lover, or your mother,
which probably amounts to the same
thing about now, I mean where are you
in your life?
Am I a secret? Did I ever exist at all
in your life?
Tell me now, so we can go on being
friends, or however it is you explain
my presence.
Shareen Knight is an artist and writer who lives on the edge of the world in the remote coastal mountains of British Columbia, where she documents the landscape through photography, writes plays and poetry and is currently working on a work of fiction about a Cuban exile and Caribbean folklore. Current work can be found at The Persimmon Tree, Wild Quarterly, River & South Review, *82 Review and White Stag Journal. Art work at Limestone (Cover), amongst others. She can be reached at [email protected] and shareenknight.blogspot.ca

List of Poets
Kaye Linden
Ma, aboriginal toothless shaman, tosses her ninety-nine year old bones behind the steering wheel of the windowless jeep and jams her foot down on the accelerator. Desert driving, flash flood driving, rising waters near the top of the hubcaps and trackless tires sinking fast into whirling mud swirls. Sky blows blacker than her skin, wind whips welts into her hanging jawline, Ma pains on, the falling down mulga-wood homestead in sight, too distant on the boiling roiling horizon, straight one line straight line straight ahead no wavering but straight the shortest distance between two points. Rain pouring torrential, blinding into her old eyes, she keeps driving through driving rain to get home before the rusty untrusty jeep sinks deep into sudden ravines and eddies that grow fatter and hungrier. She reaches the leaning splitting woodpile homestead in the raining pouring driving wet, the wet, the Alice Springs wet, the wet that only those people who live in The Alice know and understand. The homestead swirls under water, turning and topsy and turvy and upside down and inside out, her favorite rocking chair in pieces, rusted pots banging together with an eerie sound like a bell tolling, the scraggy brown Kelpie swimming to meet her, tongue lolly-gagging “hello”, brown eyes yellowed and alight, but Ma’s jeep coughs and rattles and chokes and sinks with Ma not a swimmer but a hiker with strong old rambling legs sunk into army boots that now anchor her down in mud. She grabs the old dog’s matted neck and they both go down and around, thunder announcing their pending demise, kookaburra laughter long gone, gasping and hacking and gurgling Ma turns her face up level with the water, eyes turned to the heavens, to the ancient gods whose invisible hands don’t reach out.
“Where are you, you bastards?” she shouts to the sky and the dog whines a carping whittling fingernails-down-the blackboard cry that only those from Alice Springs, understand, only those from The Alice who have witnessed bleached brittle bones baked in desert heat and the dreadful prayers of those on a run for their lives, only those understand. Panting dog and woman cling to each other, going down, going down, going down but with a whoosh and a slosh the water suddenly stops,
the rain stops,
the rivers stop,
the widening knife-like gaps in red mud close and Ma, army boots ankle-deep in mud, stands on her feet again, holding the dog in her arms, standing in the watery footprints of a flash flood in Australian desert,
here now,
there now,
Kaye Linden, born and raised in Sydney, Australia, is a Registered Nurse with an MFA in fiction, now studying for an MFA in poetry. She is past short fiction editor and editor with the Bacopa Literary Review, occasional teacher of short fiction at Santa Fe College, assistant editor for Soundings Review, previous judge for Spark Anthology, and medical editor for “epresent learning lecture reviews.” Kaye’s work is widely published. Her books include Prasanga in the Underground World, Tales from Ma’s Watering Hole and Ten Thousand Miles from Home, available on all book sites and at kayelinden.com/the-wet/

List of Poets
Jessica Lindsley
Dusty cab of the field truck, i belted out the words to every old rock
and roll song on the static of the am station
with a kind of naked immodesty that comes from having no idea
what the lyrics mean, with lips never kissed—
hard to believe atoms hold together in the face of everything,
the cosmic coldness of a frigid rock hurtling
through the path of a billion other rocks. Imagine young atoms
in a kindergarten,
holding hands and playing Red Rover, or in a middle school party,
playing spin the bottle.
Imagine a world a little less like the one we know—perhaps,
i should forgive you…
Did i look like Lolita, all child-face and calculation as i sang
Brown Sugar at the top of my lungs?
Jessica Lindsley grew up in North Dakota before the oil boom. Her work has been published in the Smoking Poet, Blackwood Press, Thirteen Myna Birds, DEAD SNAKES, cryopoetry, and other publications.

List of Poets
Katharyn Howd Machan
he danced in gold—oh!
he danced in gold above the straw
of the sloppy floors of a Key West bar
enchanting every soul desiring
the power to claim quick love
gold upon his cheeks and thighs,
gold within his sunswept eyes,
Duval Street the perfect stage
for his long longing in a world
needing magic’s thrust
bump shimmy grind express
sex more sex as soul’s unrest
shimmering the metal sought
by pirates and all treasure-starved
divers past young brother’s death
Rumpelstiltskin hid his name
in a secret folded notch
no one but the queenliest
would ever dare
to touch
and always in his audience
he found someone to fill his night
with all his promises turned real:
shining crown upon a head
his lonely mouth—oh!—didn’t have to steal
Katharyn Howd Machan, Professor of Writing at Ithaca College, holds degrees from the College of Saint Rose, the University of Iowa, and Northwestern University. Her poems have appeared in numerous magazines; in anthologies and textbooks such as The Bedford Introduction to Literature, The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2013, Poetry: An Introduction, Early Ripening: American Women’s Poetry Now, Sound and Sense, Writing Poems, Literature: Reading and Writing the Human Experience; and in 32 collections, most recently Wild Grapes: Poems of Fox (Finishing Line Press, 2014), H (Gribble Press, 2014—national winner) and When She’s Asked to Think of Colors (Palettes & Quills Press, 2009—national winner). Former director of the national Feminist Women’s Writing Workshops, Inc., she edited Adrienne Rich: A Tribute Anthology (Split Oak Press, 2012).

List of Poets
Tony Magistrale
That was what she called herself
every time I went to visit her
down in her mother’s basement
Nothing but a mattress on the floor
two chairs and a television set
I would enter through the back door
after I dropped the cheerleaders home
by curfew at their fathers’ front doors
She was always there watching Carson
because she never had to work in the morning
smoking cigarettes or painting her nails
When I was seventeen
as much terrified as eroticized
by her fleshy strangeness
her red lips and hair
A vampire-like Lucy Westenra
after The Change to voluptuousness
as I sat on the straight-back chair
across from her bed
uttering banalities that made her snort smoke
Holding onto my virginity like a crucifix
uncertain how to let it go.
Tony Magistrale is Professor of English at the University of Vermont. He is the author of three books of poetry: What She Says About Love (Bordighera Press 2008), The Last Soldiers of Love (Literary Laundry 2012), and the most recently published Entanglements (Fomite 2013).

List of Poets
MD Marcus
I loved him once before
with wide eyes
eager feet
Loved him with a love that comes
but twice,
or thrice if you’re a slow learner,
with notes and with blows
Now he’s returned a-knocking
a fisheye lens distorts the view
My hands meet behind my back
closed fists tight
My heart settles
into the heels of my feet,
weighted down
immobile and defenseless.
He seeps back in
through all the holes
that had been left behind
Over the threshold he goes
MD Marcus is a freelance writer and poet living in the past. Recent work can be found on Salon as well as in Femmewise Cat Part 1, Calliope Magazine, The Rain, Party, and Disaster Society, In-Flight Literary Magazine, The Round Up, the Monkey Star Press anthology “Motherhood May Cause Drowsiness”, and the Red Dashboard Publishing anthology, “dis-or-der.” Please read everything she writes, follow/like her on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and visit her at mdmarcus.com
List of Poets
Michael Mark
I’m listening to her
tell him she
has the wrong karma.
She lists proof: her car,
her job, her kid.
He says that’s bad karma.
No, she has her twin sister’s
karma, she says, and vice versa.
She lists her sister’s cars,
her house and
that she doesn’t have to work
because of a lawsuit.
When he asks to meet the sister,
her fingers snake around his
like a python
swallowing a pig.
He must be thinking,
with all the sane, pretty girls there,
he’s the one
with the messed-up karma.
If he gets free,
I might have the right karma
to change both of theirs.
Michael Mark is a hospice volunteer and long distance walker. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Diverse Voices Quarterly, Gargoyle Magazine, Gravel Literary Journal, Lost Coast Review, Rattle, Ray’s Road Review, San Pedro Review, Scapegoat Journal, Spillway, Tar River Poetry, Sugar House Review, and other nice places. His poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. michaeljmark.com

List of Poets
Tim Mayo
I’ve been thinking how this poem
comes and goes as the crow flies,
picking at the raw red pieces of me
it finds smeared between the yellow lines
of my road––how a poem can hover
over the flesh and sinews of the spirit,
so all you feel of the sky
is a piercing needle of want
as the poem’s long beak
pokes at all your wanting parts.
So what I have wanted––no––needed––
is for this poem to open
its dark metaphoric wings, to take flight
with that one last piece of me
in its beak, to carry it to your nest,
weave the long skinny sinew of it
into the delicate mesh of your twig-lined house,
to let it nestle in your soft egg-haven,
and then, what I need is for this poem
to make you have of me more than this
small spurt of poetry this bird
insinuates into your life.
Tim Mayo lives in Brattleboro, Vermont, USA, where he works in a mental institution. His poems and reviews have appeared in Narrative Magazine, Poetry International, Poet Lore, River Styx, Salamander, San Pedro River Review, Tar River Poetry, Verse Daily, and The Writer’s Almanac. His collection The Kingdom of Possibilities was published by Mayapple Press in 2009 He’s a four time Pushcart Prize Nominee and has been a top finalist for the annual Paumanok Award.

List of Poets
Bruce McRae
I’m familiar with apprehension,
aware of doubt, sympathetic to terror.
Consider me a patient knot in a thread,
a little stone calling to the dark of the world,
the multi-eyed beast in her sullen quarter;
she who is tethered to a latch or a hair.
The spider says Sweet fly, sweetmeat,
think me the wraith to your gummy end,
my door invitingly ajar, the table always set.
And these are my babies, my thousands,
so curious, so ravenous, nimble copies
of copies, sentient pebbles fleeing hunger’s edge.
It is they, era-perfect, who scurry.
I set them loose upon the edible earth.
Pushcart nominee Bruce McRae is a Canadian musician with over 900 poems published around the world. His first book, The So-Called Sonnets, is available via Silenced Press and Amazon. To see and hear more poems go to ‘BruceMcRaePoetry’ on YouTube.

List of Poets
Stephen Mead
These small purple spots,
something love made, or lust,
unnoticed in the moment of dark,
but for wanting sighs…
Is the flesh rusting now
from those nibbles & what else
came in colors no naked eye
could see the you of
in me?
Chemicals & swabs
now stain, poke this canvas
for slides the microscopic brush
shall enlarge as a testament:
that swatch of viral samples…
Simple, it is art of the spirit
in the physical manifest
science makes use of
as our lovely landscape of cells
hums on.
As a writer and artist publishing for the last three decades, Stephen Mead has finally gotten around to getting links to his poetry still online at various zines available in one place: stephenmead.weebly.com/links-to/poetry-on-the-line-stephen-mead. His latest Amazon release is Our Spirit Life, a poetry/art meditation on family heritage, love, and the evanescence of time. For Christmas 2014 he released a sound collage song cycle, Threnody for a Forgotten Plague, a series-in-progress, dealing with the early days of the AIDS Pandemic, free to listen to via amazingtunes.com/stephenmead/albums/24122

List of Poets
Megan Merchant
you can’t expect
a fractured wing
to heal over
the clump of tape
and crude stick propped
You can’t expect it will
eventually flap.
I believe you are doing
your best.
But if I could count
each slight as a grain
of salt and slip it into
our sheets,
between tears and sweat,
we’d be an ocean
dissolving in a drain.
it’s common sense—the wing
will heal angled,
Even after slipping the stick
it will fly as though splinters
are piercing each beat.
And when it catches its crude
over a water stain,
it will believe
it was the light
that captured it
all wrong.
My sweet boy
shits himself for six days.
I swaddle him in diapers,
even though he should be in school.
What sleep
comes in cracks between
large slabs of night—
cradling his sweat-blistered head,
soothing his febrile chatter,
helping him sit.
The small mechanics
he learned years ago, juddering now.
Open wide. I find myself pleading.
There’s mush on this spoon—flake-white rice.
It will heal you.
I feel the squalor-grief of every dirt-caked
child with a plumped hunger belly,
of every mom with caked-dry breasts.
For a quarter a day.
But who is going to stop the flies ?
Open wide. Please, open wide.
This warm snow will melt the moon.
Let it fill you.
I fear that if we pray, our pleas
will ache about the room,
and thwap
and thwap,
useless as a yarn fly-swatter.
Megan Merchant graduated from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas after completing her M.F.A degree in poetry. Her poems and translations have appeared in publications including The Atlanta Review, Kennesaw Review, Margie, International Poetry Review and The Poetry of Yoga. She was the winner of the Las Vegas Poets Prize, judged by Tony Hoagland. She is the author of two chapbooks : Translucent, Sealed, (Dancing Girl Press, 2015) and In the Rooms of a Tiny House ( ELJ Publications, October 2016). Her first full-length collection, Gravel Ghosts (Glass Lyre Press) will be making its way into the world summer of 2016. Her first children’s book, These Words I’ve Shaped For You, will be also appearing in 2016 through Philomel Books. Her future is bright. She wears shades.

List of Poets
Tracy Mishkin
He’s a sweet old beast, the bear of bad news,
but who likes to see him shambling over?
The air stills where he walks
as if he were an ursine gunslinger.
He doesn’t smell like honey or salmon,
more like dried blood from some forgotten,
accidental mauling. He sidles up, whispers
Gas prices gonna double. And by the way,
your favorite uncle’s dead.

Other times he scratches his rump on a tree
until you realize If I’d played my wife’s birthday
on Powerball instead of my girlfriend’s,
I’d have won a hundred bucks.

He’s a bear of all trades: serves the big crap sandwich
and the little one. He can climb trees like a black bear,
swim like a polar bear. But he’s tired of dodging bullets,
all that shooting the messenger, wishes he were
a good news bear.
Sometimes he tries humor: Grab your life jacket—
the bathroom’s flooded again.
It doesn’t go over well.
He misses hibernating, but his is no seasonal position.
He has to share what he’s got when he’s got it.
Tracy Mishkin is a call center veteran with a PhD and an MFA student in Creative Writing at Butler University. Her chapbook, I Almost Didn’t Make It to McDonald’s, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2014. Her work has appeared in Reckless Writing 2013: The Continued Modernization of Poetry and Little Patuxent Review. She has poems forthcoming in The Quotable and Postcard Poems and Prose.

List of Poets
Jocelyn Moore
You’re not the typical assassin.
In fact, you look like a grandmother,
photos of your progeny
propped on the piano you never play.
Every Sunday you parade
to church with instructions for God.
Your holy, humble, pious persona perfectly performed
until lunch, when the murderess emerges.
On your dining table, a smorgasbord
of smug self-righteousness,
side salad of slander and bowl of smashed reputations.
Out of earshot, you bludgeon fellow worshipers.
If only the Christian army shoots the wounded,
then you earned your marksman’s medal.
A sniper camouflaged in Bible verses.
A she-wolf in the Shepherd’s clothing.
Jocelyn Moore is a westerner living at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Her favorite writing spot is in a 1953 log cabin in the Wyoming wilderness overlooking a glacially carved lake. She writes her observations of nature, people and unrequited love. While she waited for Rat’s Ass Review to make up its mind, she had two other pieces accepted by quicker-witted editors elsewhere, and struggled home from the Post Office under the weight of contributors’ copies of yet another publication.

List of Poets
Kenneth Pobo
I listen to Bobby Sherman ask
if Julie loves him. Perhaps she did
in 1970. I wasn’t in love then
though I pictured naked men often,
prayed that I would stop that—
I was supposed to dwell
on Julie, any Julie. Rock n roll,
so damned straight,
Sunday School with a beat. We weren’t
born to be wild–we were born
to do hetero stuff, a plangy
guitar leading the way. I learned
how to queer lyrics: Julie
became Danny–when we kissed,
our town rose through a tear
in the sky, hovered.
We stayed high above
as it dropped back down to earth.
Kenneth Pobo has a new book forthcoming from Blue Light Press called Bend Of Quiet. His work has appeared in: Mudfish, Nimrod, Profane, The Queer South Anthology (Sibling Rivalry Press), and elsewhere. He loves 60s music, often the flops. And dahlias, madness on a stem. Twitter @KenPobo

List of Poets
Sharon Scholl
My grandson bursts through the door,
his smile vibrating like a jar of shaken candy.
No reason he is here, safe,
splitting his seams with another year’s growth,
not gray-stiff in a sinking grave
with me bent like boneless flesh upon the dirt.
No reason I am here, braced
against the flying leap of his small
ecstatic body, not trembling
with frailty, pillows at my crumbling back.
We are accidents of time, whenever
now is, my small fraction of forever,
coincidents of place, wherever
home turned out to be.
I merely revel in the solid smack
of his chest slamming me windless.
Sharon Scholl is the usual retired professor who finally has time to write. She has the usual publications (Clementine, Cahaba River Literary Journal, Heron Tree) with several collections: Message on a Branch (yellow jacket Press) All Points Bulletin (Closet Books). A practicing musician, she maintains an extensive website that gives away music free to small, financially struggling groups. Otherwise, she serves on too many committees and boards and has a growing allergy to meetings.

List of Poets
Terri Simon
It’s not until after,
after the minister has bowed
his head and said his words,
placed the box in the niche in the wall,
after the out-of-town relations
have hugged their goodbyes,
and the leftovers have been wrapped
and carefully put away,
after the dust-to-dust has settled,
that you really hear the silence.
From the other room,
you should hear a foot fall,
the clack of the keyboard,
or just the quiet clearing of a throat.
You call his name,
wondering where he could have gone to
this time,
then catch yourself,
closing your lips around the syllables,
afraid to let them go,
worried they will leave you alone.
You know (or is it hope?)
you will do this fewer
times each day,
you will stop mistaking strangers
in the grocery store.
Slowly, stop hearing
his voice in your ear while you sleep.
You know (or is it fear?)
that someday you’ll find breathing
isn’t a betrayal,
every note of music
isn’t his song.
You may even find
a new restaurant
that’s just as good as the old one,
a wine that’s not too sweet
or too bitter.
Terri Simon has degrees from Sarah Lawrence College (Writing/Literature) and Virginia Tech (Computer Science) and works in IT. She lives in Laurel, Maryland with her husband and dogs. Her work has appeared in Aberration Labyrinth, Three Line Poetry, Black Mirror Magazine, and the anthologies A Mantle of Stars: A Queen of Heaven Devotional, Bright Stars: An Organic Tanka Journal (Volume 1), and Switch (The Difference). She tweets @terricsimon

List of Poets
Catherine F. Simpson
………….Thank you for taking me
……………………… …..under the fire escape.
………….It had the enchanting verve
,,,,,,,………………………,,,, of the Abstract
…………………………………………….rushing in
………………………………………..………to replace the futility of the concrete.
…………The alley possessed a tragic quality
……………………….…………beneath that lonesome star
………………………………………..………….– against that rusty car.
Catherine F. Simpson was born in Belfast, and immigrated to Canada with her parents when the Troubles broke out. She has a B.A in English Literature from University of Toronto and teaches English as a Second Language. She is the writer and presenter of The Americana Show on Garden County Radio and is a musician and songwriter. She lives in Greystones with her husband, her daughter, and their 2 pet robots, Dingus and Min-yaz. She is very excited to have her first poem accepted for publication in Rat’s Ass Review and to have another poem upcoming in the anthology Bye Bye Bukowski from Hyacinth Girl Press. She tweets @CKatFury and blogs at catothebog.wordpress.com

List of Poets
Julie Steiner
“Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,”
you say, as if you think those two compete.
Compared to men, unhinged and packing heat,
hell hath no fury. Like a woman? Scorned?
Express your anger—manly, unadorned!—
by shooting random people in the street.
Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,
you say. As if! You think those two compete?
Girls, it was an isolated case:
one guy with mental illness. That’s a fact.
Don’t wave your “women’s issues” in my face.
I’m not a predator. I give you space.
When off my game, unable to attract
girls (it was an isolated case),
I went away. Stop reaching for your mace.
It’s overkill, the way you chicks react.
Don’t wave your “women’s issues” in my face.
I’m not misogynistic. Not a trace
of male entitlement. Your anger’s jacked,
girls! It was an isolated case.
Be grateful. In a less enlightened place,
the norm would be for girls to get attacked.
Don’t wave your “women’s issues” in my face.
Shit happens. Sheesh. Accept it with some grace.
Calm down. Hysteria will get you smacked.
Girls, it was an isolated case.
Don’t wave your “women’s issues” in my face.
A longtime participant of Eratosphere (Able Muse’s online poetry workshop), Julie Steiner is also a member of the international task force to preserve and promote the late British poet M. A. Griffiths’ literary legacy. More details at rambling rose.com/grasshopper/. Julie lives in San Diego, California.

List of Poets
Paul m. Strohm
I’m dating one of T.S. Eliot’s rejects.
Poor girl, just sitting at home with nothing to do,
no internet service, no iPhone, no X-Box.
She seems a very nice person too.
Too introspective, reserved perhaps for me,
I usually like a little bit of rough but when
she said, “couchemar!” I came un-glued.
Speak nasty to me lady and I am yours.
Not totally true, I will need more than
my dry biscuit dipped in a cup of tea.
I am thinking karma sultry redux here
followed by some post climactic dirty talk
Eliot may have worn the bottoms of his trousers unrolled-
but my question is “Did he get them completely down?”
Paul m. Strohm is a freelance journalist working in Houston, Texas. His poems have appeared in HuKmag.com, the Berkeley Poets Cooperative, The Lake, WiND, and other literary outlets. His first collection of poems entitled Closed On Sunday is scheduled to be published by the Wellhead Press. He worked at the Humanities Research Center at UT-Austin cataloging the correspondence of D.H. Lawrence. If he had to count the number of times D. H. wrote that imaginative line, “Dear ____. How are you?” he would never read Lady Chatterley’s Lover again.

List of Poets
Susan Laura Sullivan
The drunks and me
out on this peanut paste
heat night you can smell it
the peanut paste there’s
no getting through it
thick and heavy as it is wrapped
tight round my shoulders like
a shawl it flaps in the wind it
makes as my bike cuts through this
early this morning late this night
sleep won’t pin the lids of
my eyes together and for all I know
the time could be the time to go
home but I’m not no I haven’t
drunk like the drunks drunk with
an excuse to be out so I ride to
avoid to observe them and it’s
at the shrine where I feel I shouldn’t
be doing what I’m doing and
I’m only walking
it’s at the shrine where I wash one
hand in water from the spout of the dragon’s
mouth and then the other
it’s at the shrine where the light
from the telephone shines globally saying
see I’m still awake, why don’t you call me but
the roosters I’m sure were asleep before I
came the roosters of the shrine who
start crowing as I walk footstep
soft on the concrete leading to
the big building the roosters who
call as I sit shadow breath
scared on the steps to one another
and the other and any
moment now I know a holy man
will walk in the gravel and disquiet
me with footsteps that will quiet
the birds and ask what I’m doing
on the steps there shadow breath
scared at no time at all
on this hot paste night.
Susan Laura Sullivan’s Reasons for Song was shortlisted for the 2012 T.A.G. Hungerford Award for an unpublished novel. She has been widely published, including by Harper Collins/Radio National (Australia), The Font, and Uneven Floor. She co-founded the Toyohashi Writers’ Group, and holds a creative writing MCA. For more of Susan’s work, go here.
List of Poets
J. A. Sutherland
You left a window open in the living room.
Didn’t think it dangerous or risky.
Besides, only a small child could gain entry,
and it’s been some time since
adults had unscrupulous kids
climb chimneys, burgle houses,
or pick a pocket or two.
You left a window open in the living room.
You’d double-locked the front door;
all other entrances (or exits) were blocked;
you’d be back soon. You’d only popped
out for a pint of milk or something
equally mundane. All the same,
that open window bothered you.
A person of precaution,
you were not the sort to leave to chance
an open goal for any passing opportunist.
You double-locked your life:
never left your bag unguarded;
covered the keypad when entering your pin;
never gave your password out to anyone.
But then – but then – you left a window open.
And someone – or something – got in.
It was around 3 in the afternoon,
you returned without any surprises,
and there in your room a creature stirred,
although you couldn’t see or touch it.
You stopped because you heard –
or thought so – no: could sense
a spirit that you couldn’t put your finger on.
Nor taste, nor smell, nor any other instinct
could explain its presence.
Should you leave the window
open for this strange beast to escape?
You paused, since
that would surely be a waste.
Should you close the window?
To fathom this position, newly-poised,
you had to make a choice.
Only then – only then – you heard a voice.
J. A. Sutherland is an emerging writer, performing frequently on the Edinburgh spoken-word scene, at events such as 10Red, Caesura, Café Voices and Speakeasy at the Scottish Storytelling Centre, and with groups such as Illicit Ink, Inky Fingers, and Blind Poetics. For three consecutive years Sutherland received Special Merit in the Scottish National Galleries Inspired? Get Writing! competition.
Besides poetry, Sutherland has had short stories published, and writes drama for theatre, radio and spoken-word performance, and regularly blogs on [email protected]

List of Poets
S. Triella
Thalia was Ginger’s summer lover.
She’d show up unexpectedly, kick off her boots,
and shed her ridiculous pork-pie hat
and pastel abstract-print sundress.
She loved slow food and fast fucking,
and sometimes the reverse.
Thalia loved old movies, Children of Paradise her favorite,
as seen through too much Cabernet–
a little tart, lean, trace of tannin.
She loved taunting the neighbor’s dog,
and Rollerblading without a helmet.
She loved pot and would cadge it however she could,
once with a messy hand job to a stranger in the men’s room
between sets of the Gizmos at the Troll Club.
“Can you smell it on me still?” she whispered to Ginger tauntingly
in her delightful husky, gawky alto accent,
sharing, out in the lot at 2 a.m.,
the third and final joint.
Thalia loved games and dildos and humiliating Ginger,
putting a dog collar on her, slapping her once, then kissing her gently,
then crying because it was so beautiful.
Thalia loved the Doors and the Misfits and the Bitches and the Carpenters
and samba and baroque and especially Medieval chants.
She loved fetching the paper without pants.
She loved incense and candles and sit-ups
and farting and laughing and Federico Garcia Lorca and garters and Pilates
and dumbbells and deep kisses and spin classes
and gauzy scarves and sorbet and limoncello.
She loved taking Polaroids of nipples with stemmed cherries perched on them,
and elongated necks covered with whipped cream.
Or of Ginger by the lake.
“Take off your top. No one will see. No one cares.”
People saw. People cared. Ginger came involuntarily,
then slipped on a T-shirt, ate a lovingly compiled lamb sandwich,
drank Pellegrino,
and felt happier than she ever had.
Thalia went home to Italy. Ginger never saw her again.
Thalia flashes through Ginger’s mind now
as Ginger drops her son off at day camp.
She buys an anti-virus package at Micro Center
and stops for a coffee at Grounds.
Flips through The New Yorker.
Munches a muffin. Goes to pee.
She has a second cup,
hears the monks’ remixed chants,
looks at me, and sees
S. Triella is a poet in Washington, D.C.

List of Poets
Ian Walker
The ratio of things in my life that I actually enjoy to things in my life I actually enjoy is 1:1.
If this conclusion shocks you, please refer to my references.
I’m in love with the idea of never getting married.
Emotions are like body fluids, one way or another I’m coming home dehydrated.
I used to sling Acme products on Highway 66.
I drink with Wile E. Coyote.
I smoke bowls with Elmer Fudd.
I’m the reason why Porky Pig has a speech impediment.
Fuck preconceived notions of those who conceive prematurely.
What do you expect when you’re never expecting?
If I had a nickel for every kid I’d never have, I’d have at least five dollars.
Stanza three, line four.
Totally unoriginal.
Completely misinterpreted.
100% organic.
Big, steaming cup of fuck off and die.
That’s a huge fucking piano.
What are you gonna do with that?
Oh, okay.
No, really, what the hell are you doing with a baby grand?
Seriously though, Wile E. Coyote has a drinking problem.
I, however, have a drinking solution.
Smoke so much weed so fast you time travel between high and sober.
Looney Toons themed pornography.
So many baby grands.
Rainbow colored animated genitalia.
Chuck Jones in Lithuanian made “fuck me” boots.
That’s all folks.
Devastating convenience in the face of unrelenting bullshit.
Now put the poem down and read something with substance.
Ian Walker is a Film Studies major with a minor in Creative Writing at the University of Colorado Boulder.
List of Poets
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Edited by Roderick Bates




3 replies on “

Volume Three, Issue 1 (2015)

This is a wonderful gathering of poems. I read them over a number of days, and I enjoyed every one. Some I admire more than others, of course, but I see no need to single them out. This is not a contest, and I am not a judge. I look forward to more issues of Rat’s Ass Review, and I wish all concerned the very best.

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