Jehrico’s Wolf Pup

by Tom Sheehan


When Jehrico’s wolf pup bit the sheriff, on his gun hand, and on his trigger finger to boot, things went from bad to worse. To begin with, Ruben Tarpon was a new sheriff with a fast gun and was trying his best to make his name as good as his gun and do a good job for the folks of Bola City. He was also checking out the pup as a curiosity, some folks telling him about it locked in a cage behind the livery. The sheriff had heard about Jehrico’s stunts and ventures into the business side of Bola City, like his hauling in the first iron bath tub to serve the hygienic needs of Bola City’s male population. Jehrico, Tarpon figured, was gifted with accidental entrances into things that made him money, and him being nothing more than a collector of odd things found in his travels, often just junk. Jehrico, however, knew firsthand the desert, older Indian sites and dwelling areas, ghost towns, closed-down mines, caverns and caves and canyons, and the community trash deposits for a hundred miles around that he reveled exploring in.

None of that stopped the bite when the sheriff put his hand too close to the pup.

And the bitten finger had a far-reaching effect on Bola City’s relationships between the law, local merchants and the bank. The sheriff, an elected official, said aloud to some confederates, “This is all the fault of that damned junk collector, him and his pup.” Though he was a stalwart among the men and a favorite of the women with his ruggedly handsome looks, he was aware of his status at all times, knowing it all came with the territory of the badge, the turn of a key to a jail cell, and the hangman’s noose when it counted.

It all had begun so simply for Jehrico in his newest venture into the world of collecting things. He came up with the pup at the back end of a cave in the mountains, born to snarl it appeared, but cute as a doll.

“Look for the dog in him, Jehrico. He’s as much dog as anythin’.” Jehrico’s pal Joe Brewster was laying it on the line about Jehrico’s new wolf pup he’d brought to Brewster to get his view on having one for a pet. Brewster knew animals, once having lived in the hills around the Strict Elsie settlement on the Guila River for at least ten years before he walked out of the hills one day and came to town of Strict Elsie, leaving all the genuine silence behind him.

He’d spotted Jehrico as soon as he cleared the pass at the high point above Strict Elsie, some vultures riding the thermals hundreds of feet above him, their wings, even that far, as wide as the back side of a pair of oxen in the traces. It was not until Jehrico came within fifty yards that Brewster knew he was carrying a bundle of fur. The way he carried it told Brewster the fur was alive and, of course, had to be a young one.

“Watcha got there, Jehrico? It’s near alive far as I kin see. It ain’t peccary and it ain’t cow, so I’d guess it’s gotta be bear or wolf, and if you say it’s wolf, make sure you handle it like a dog. Like I said, it’s much dog as anythin’.”

He shook his head and said, “If you bring it down into Bola City, be ready to get some sand in your grits; them folks down there don’t like anythin’ that even smells wolf. So best tell ’em up front it’s a dog you found with the momma dead. Them big male wolves have been nosin’ into the wind for a hundred years now. It travels on the breeze, in the wind, and if they find it like we do comin’ in from a month in the desert, knowin’ girl on the wind from a hundred miles away, they’d get mean at things plumb near forgot.”

Jehrico, all smiles, still holding the pup like he was a toy, ignoring the threats of real life, said, “What’ll I call him, Joe? Got any special names you ain’t used up yet? I favor south names, if you know what I mean.”

Brewster, looking at the vultures still at games, said, “How about Bruto, him bein’ so mean and all? Bruto’s good name for that critter just waitin’ to bite your finger off given a chance he come of age.” The two old pals laughed long and loud as they shared the bundle of fur, with white teeth in the middle of the ball.

“You keep to mind them teeth, Jehrico, ’cause they come to growin’ easy as the ground shakin’ when the mountain moves. Bruto get set to use them there’s no kiddin’ around on him. Them kind ain’t born to chew, I should tell you. They was plain born to rip things apart, one part from another, ‘specially they any meat in between or settin’ on them parts.”

The two friends of the animal world set about to make a cage for Bruto, after Jehrico poured some water from his canteen on the pup and said, “I bless you and give you the name Bruto. Wear it where you will, but for now in this here cage we got made, me and Joe. It’s just to keep you from the dogs in town, and there’s lots of them nosin’ around all the time.”

Brewster added a bit more advice. “You best let Bruto smell you every time you feed him, Jehrico. Let him get your smell down good in his belly ’cause it might save a finger or a hand later he come of real age and them teeth do the real thing.”

Jehrico had a rig behind his mule that he could tote the cage in, and that’s how they entered Bola City, Jehrico on his mule and the wolf pup in his cage.

For starters, the sheriff was practically out of commission, and most people around knew it, including some gang members sitting in a cabin at the back end of Snake Canyon off in the mountain range, and knowing the hand of the law was bandaged to a fare-thee-well.

“He ain’t so good a shot anymore,” Dutch the German said, talking to his small gang of robbers, all rested after their last robbery, and just about all the money spent. “He ain’t going to get the jump on us, his hand like it is. That damned wolf pup did us a great big favor. Bola City’s next for us, boys, and that bank over there. We ought to give a toast to that scrounger that brought home a wolf pup, thinking he was going to fool people making them think it was a lost puppy dog his momma run off or killed.”

One member of the gang, No-Foolin’ Toulin, at the back end of the cabin, whittling on a stick, said, “We gotta have a better plan than last time, Dutch. We was lucky on that one.” He rolled his eyes and flashed his hands in the air, both moves for base punctuation.

“Whatta ya mean ‘we was lucky?'” said Dutch. “We came out of there with a whole satchel of dough. So we lost Butchie. Well, he ain’t no big loss to us. You gotta admit he screwed up on the Timberfield job and I think he was asleep again this time. No way he shoulda taken one right in the face. Just wasn’t payin’ attention and somebody else coulda been dropped too, in case you ain’t thought of that yet.” He stressed his statement by pointing to each one in turn and saying, “You or you or you and even you. All of you coulda had the deep end of the tunnel all to hisself, if you really think about it.”

A small wave of mumbling ensued and Dutch the German knew none of the others would speak up; they were too scared, but Toulin came right back. “That stupid scavenger, that Jehrico lug, he ought to be part of us, way things happen with him. You heard about his bath tub and his pianer he brought back one time, like the whole world turned over on its backside for him. They say he smells like gold or silver up close and even gets a free bath once a week. Man like that could throw a whole passel of Rangers right off our trail, he give it a mind to do so.”

Dutch the German had a sudden idea, and he let it run around in his head before he spoke up about it. “What about this?” he said, leaning forward, looking them in the eye, drawing them in one by one. “We turn that wolf pup loose. Let him shake up a few folks, the whole town maybe, and while the pup raises hell of any kind, we rob the bank when they’re all messed up with the thing being loose, like maybe he’s gonna bite a kid or some old lady hangin’ up clothes on her line, or just layin’ around like nothin’ ever’s gonna happen, but the sheriff hisself is already punched out of action by a baby wolf.”

“He still keep that pup behind the livery, near the tub set-up?” No-Foolin’ Toulin obviously knew the answer to his own question. “Want I should take care of him, Dutch? I ain’t too queasy doin’ somethin’ like that.” His head came down into the circle where Dutch’s head had been, demanding attention, getting it, along with a share of responsibility and command. Smiling at Dutch, and then at the other gang members, he laid out a plan. “I figure I ought to feed him somethin’ good, what he likes, while he’s still in the cage. If he’s on the running line, loose as far as his leash lets him go, I’ll still feed him with that somethin’ goin’ to get his blood all lathered up inside, waitin’ to bite the hell out of anybody else comes near him. I learned a trick from an old Indian one time, about dropping a piece of meat in a special sauce, makes an animal go kinda crazy he eats it.”

“Sounds pretty smooth, No-Foolin’,” Dutch said. “He scare half the women in town to screamin’ and we got a walk-through at the bank, and Sheriff Tarpon ain’t gonna draw down on us no way, while all the men folk try to be heroes for their women and kids.”

It all went awry, of course, by the intervention of, not by Jehrico himself, but by his pal, the joker and animal man, Joe Brewster, who, during the darkest part of the night, extricated the wolf pup from the cage, put him in a box in the loft of the livery, and inserted a badger in its place. The badger was as mean as possible for one his size, and Brewster was just hoping to have some fun come morning.

He got all he was looking for.

In the forenoon of the day, a full night’s sleep behind him, Jehrico came to feed the pup and was surprised, but not amazed, to see an entirely different critter in the cage. Instinctively he knew that Brewster had been afoot in the night. He decided not to show any anxiety or any of his surprise, because he wanted to set off Brewster in his own way. The critter was a new one to Jehrico and he decided not to feed him, just to get back at his pal and omit what might be an exciting moment. He heard the wolf pup up in the livery and went to check on him and to feed him his morning ration.

Of course, the exciting moment came when an unsuspecting and usually morning-sleepy No-Foolin’ Toulin came to initiate his plan to feed the wolf pup and set him free to raise havoc all around Bola City. He did not pay much attention to the critter and when he opened the cage to toss in his “special food supply,” that all-out mean badger latched onto the ankle of his boot with a grip that was not about to loosen and sent No-Foolin’ Toulin in a mad, wild, screaming escapade all around the livery area. He wanted desperately to shoot the critter but he could not get his handgun free of his holster, falling knocked down repeatedly or getting knocked against a wall and further drawing out from his deepest insides the unholiest of screams.

Those screams swept across the morning of Bola City like a wild animal caught in a deadly snare, which did force the actions of an uncounted number of people within hearing range.

Jehrico thought it to be Brewster getting hung up in his own tomfoolery, Dutch the German and his gang thought it to be the outcome of the wolf pup on the loose, as promised by Toulin, and Sheriff Tarpon thought someone was being attacked by thugs or a wild thing inside the town limits.

Jehrico sat back in the loft laughing his head off, the wolf pup locked under a box with a heavy weight on top of it. Dutch the German and his gang rushed into the bank to rob it. Sheriff Ruben Tarpon grabbed a pistol in his left hand and fired a shot in the air, then fired another shot, in his attempt to scare off any wild critter or a thug on his rounds of doing nothing good, whatever was going on in his town.

When No-Foolin’ Toulin rolled out into the main street of Bola City, the badger let go of Toulin’s leg and rushed towards the bank in his attempt to escape. Some women screamed their holy terror. People on the wooden walk, which ran in front of the bank and the general store, rushed into the open doors of both establishments, spilling goods in the store and throwing the bank hold-up into absolute turmoil with every man in the place wielding a gun, some expecting to rob the bank and some expecting the wild critter to come right through the front door and were ready to shoot him.

Sheriff Tarpon ran into the street with the smoking pistol in his left hand and screaming all the while for his deputy to get on the job.

Jehrico stayed in the loft, the wolf pup under wraps, envisioning what pal Joe Brewster might be thinking at the time, all the screams and the gunfire and the general excitement gathering steam in the middle of town.

To his credit, pal Joe Brewster was on his horse outside of town heading back to Strict Elsie, hearing the gunshots, thinking that somebody in Bola City was taking shots at the badger out and about town, thinking of Jehrico looking for the wolf pup all the while, and he himself counting ahead to all the laughs they’d have next time him and Jehrico got together, away from Bola City, probably during one of Jehrico’s scavenger hunts.

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Tom Sheehan served in the 31st Infantry, Korea 1951-52, and graduated Boston College in 1956. His books are Epic Cures; Brief Cases, Short Spans; Collection of Friends; From the Quickening; The Saugus Book; Ah, Devon Unbowed; Reflections from Vinegar Hill; This Rare Earth & Other Flights, and Vigilantes East. eBooks include Korean Echoes (nominated for a Distinguished Military Award), The Westering, (nominated for National Book Award); from Danse Macabre are Murder at the Forum (NHL mystery), Death of a Lottery Foe, Death by Punishment, and An Accountable Death. Co-editor of A Gathering of Memories, and Of Time and the River, two collections about his home town of Saugus, Massachusetts, both 400+ pages, 4500 copies sold, all proceeds from $40.00 each cost destined for a memorial scholarship for his co-editor, John Burns, in the Saugus School system as director of the English Department at the High School for 45 years. After conception of the idea for the books, and John putting out the word for material to be included by former students, and with a proposal of actions and schedules prepared for a local bank, ten of his former students signed a loan from the bank for $60,000 to print two books not yet written!!!!

And paid it off!!!


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kristi2photo by Kristi Harms


Van Gogh and other poems

by Christopher Mulrooney

Van Gogh

in a little market town
‘twas on a night like this
when everything is stretched like the heavens
around an empty drumhead
that beats and is beaten upon
like a poor tom-tom for all the world
to gawp and spit at
and say where is his God He certainly
can’t be bothered

many happy returns

the victim there on the hot ashes
come let us eat and give thanks
the rest is a quarrel I should not wonder
without end and without let perhaps
meanwhile let us go incognito

the manufactured past

oh no that is say not so Pozzo
the gimcrank there gives flibbertigibbets
out its maw come sir let’s have ‘em
as ‘e equals M.C. square come on
we can do better than that

boiled beef

it is a strange trencherman
mystificates about his bully
why I’d have his cap off’n him
whippin’ about in the breeze
of the roaring shells before he could sneeze
‘ere ‘ave some more I cooked it in this ‘ere ‘elmet

animal crackers

my solitude conforms to the happy accidents of
birth and breeding in the zoo
this zoo of mine with its proud beasts
that all go in the soup the whatsoever in there
a congeries of the kitchen menagerie


wherefore the geometry forms on the right and the left
it is the Melancholy and we are bestmost bereft
o hunkier male who Domdaniels in the carrying-out of laws
whereby the mail is undelivered to the fertile slot
and we are never born in a work signed Albrecht Dürer

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Christopher Mulrooney is the author of toy balloons (Another New Calligraphy), alarm (Shirt Pocket Press), and Rimbaud (Finishing Line Press). His work has recently appeared in Blue Lotus Review, San Diego Poetry Annual, Black-Listed Magazine, The Quietus, Synecdoche, London Grip, and San Francisco Peace and Hope.

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photo by Kristi Harms


She Didn’t Love Me as Me, Instead She Loved the Writer

by Fernando Izaguirre

She Didn’t Love Me As Me,
Instead She Loved The Writer

She didn’t love me as me,
Instead she loved the writer

Who wrote her poems
About love—sickening the young
And curing the old.

She didn’t love me as me,
Instead she loved the writer

Who wrote her poems
About— the waves kissing
The shore,

And buttering her feet
With salt.

She didn’t love me as me,
Instead she loved the writer

Who wrote her poems
About— swimming naked
in the fresh blue waters

Of Cancún,

And letting the sun
Ripple through her

watered skin.

She didn’t love me as me,
Instead she loved the writer

Who wrote her poems
About— dancing to
Buoyant music in a

Strapless dress

And letting a man
Touch her milky thighs.

She didn’t love me as me
Instead she loved the writer

Who wrote her poems
About— exploring the
Depths of his heart

With her acrobatic fingers
And resting them on his chest.

Which made it clear that
She didn’t love me as me
Instead she loved the writer.


I Fell in Love with a Russian Girl

The Russian girl across the classroom
Reminds of the clouds that skate
Across the sky.

I lost myself in her eyes that dazzled me
Like fireworks thundering and clapping
In the air.

I love the way her pale skin creams up
Against the chair she sits in and the
Way her lips touch the end of her pencil.

She is silent on most days but that
Strings me towards her even more.

And if this poem ever finds her lap
The nothing else matters but the way
Her fingers blush and tickle the ends
Of this precious gift.

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Fernando Rafael Izaguirre, Jr., was born in 1993. He is an Honors student at Lee College in Baytown, Texas, majoring in English. His poetry, essays, and articles have appeared in various online and print magazines such as The Ofi Press, Weber State University Metaphor, and the Rio Grande Review. Fernando plans to obtain a Masters Degree in creative writing at the University of Houston. Eloquence is his first collection of poetry, has been released in September of 2014 by Editorial Trance. Poetry lovers can purchase his book on amazon and other outlets. He is currently working on his second poetry collection.

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photo by Kristi Harms


A Possible Infidelity

by Rachael Ikins

For Puck from Katie
I ‘ve seen your picture, lying across
your woman’s poetry book, consider
yourself a god or at least a minor sun.
I backed up onto the screen so my girl
could no longer be tempted by you.
Yes, you are beautiful. I’ve known your kind.
My torn ear proves it. I loved a feline boy once.
named Irving. Curly hair, colored chocolate
and white. His ecstasy, I’d pin him down,
his throat-skin in my teeth. He smiled.
Winters, we hunkered on the register in the bathroom.
Furnace warmed our toes, our blood
rose. We sang praises, lust and hot planets.
You are not my lover. You are an alien
on my girl’s computer screen.
I growl to ponder your golden eyes.
No matter, when you meet,
you tolerate her touch, you notice
her fingers understand
the exact bones to scratch along your jaw,
behind ear’s flare, transform a cat
into a rocket engine of desire.
I huddle in my window behind the drape,
hoarding sulky sun this Syracuse day.
I wonder if she slept, traveled moon’s fullness
without me. She’d better not be sleeping 
with you.
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Rachael Z Ikins has won 10 poetry prizes among them first place National League of American Penwomen Annual Poetry Contest 2006 and ‘08. Her chapbooks include “Slide-show in the Woods” (Foothills)  August 08, “Transplanted” (Finishing Line Press.) 2010 and in 2012 “Renovation” (Foothills.) April 2012. Her first YA fantasy novel of  “The Complete Tales from the Edge of the Woods” series (Icarus Aloft, Selkirk, NY) debuted April 2013 and was nominated for a CNY Book Award 2013.. She has received multiple fellowships to the Colgate Writers Conferences, Hamilton, NY for both poetry and young adult fiction. She has featured and read at  Smith’s Tavern Poet Laureate Competitions, Vorheesville, NY, at Pine Hollow Arboretum, Delmar, NY with art exhibit, and at Caffe Lena, Saratoga Springs, NY. She is vice president and social media editor, credentialled in  both arts and letters of the Penwomen CNY Chapter and a long distance member of Every Other Thursday Night Poetry Group, Vorheesville, NY, the Canastota Writers Group, and the Downtown Writers Center, Syracuse, NY. She founded and moderated the open mic “Monday Night Poetry at Sushi Blues” Hamilton 2008. 
Her solo art  exhibitions, some of which have included Westcott Art Gallery, The Tech Garden, 2 ribbons at the NYS Fair 2014, and readings all over the CNY region and 5 magazine and journal covers.
 2015 her latest collection of English and Spanish poetry will release with FinishingLine Press
. December 2013 Rachael attended an Abroad Writers’ Conference in Ireland with other Finishing Line poets.  In June 2014 she juried into Marge Piercy’s 2014 Poetry Intensive on Cape Cod.  She lives in a treehouse with balcony with a sign that says “Caution, Dragon Crossing” because you never know,  near the Seneca River. Hummingbirds, bees, and tree toads visit the jungle of houseplants and container vegetables she raises. She travels often with her dogs and her cat. When she is not otherwise occupied with writing projects or art, Rachael enjoys reading, PBS, music, walking, dancing, biking and cooking. 
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photo by Kristi Harms

La Figura

by Terin Tashi Miller
He had become a figura, a celebrity. He had done it this time last year as he had done it before, with grace in the handling of the small red cape and good, swift, merciful killing of the bulls from all the acclaimed ranches. It had happened on the second of May, in a bull fight celebrating the time of El Don Francisco, the painter Francisco de Goya.
Jose Miguel, the bull fighter, had dressed in period costume like the rest of the bull ring’s staff, the men with long hair in Queen Anne nets and he himself carrying a large, Napoleon-style hat.
And, as in Goya’s time, Jose Miguel alone fought one at a time six bulls from different ranches. He had cut six ears in all that day, two on the second bull and one on the third; two on the always capricious fifth and one on the sixth, in the driving rain that almost always opened the Madrid bull fighting festival just before the feast of San Isidro, Madrid’s patron saint.
His poise in handling the more than 1,000-pound bulls, his closeness to their life-threatening horns, and his compassion in dispatching the less-worthy, less-brave and more stupid bulls, made it nearly impossible for bull fight fans to afford tickets for the rest of the year.
His skill had made him rich, again, from the tourists who would pay the inflated prices to see him in front of a bull. He was now 26, and he had been through all this once before.
It was because he had been through this before that he had not lost his head to the fame this time. And it was because he had been through this before that, after his usual circuit of fights in South America, he had spent the Spring practicing with his own bulls on his ranch. It was, however, because he had been practicing that now he wore a cast on his right hand, to keep his tendons in his forearm from becoming more badly damaged by the punishment they took each time he thrust a sword to its hilt into a bull. He had practiced charging the bull simultaneously as it drove toward him in its last fatal attempt to take the life of its oppressor. And he had practiced standing still, receiving the bull as it came for him, allowing the bull, as a man might if the situation were reversed, to take its own life at his hand, his estoque sword the instrument of the termination of the bull’s life, the final judgment having been made by something greater than them both, the judgment that the sheer power and will and brute force and bravery of the bull should not overcome the grace and ballet-like art of the man with the cape, and the intelligence to be able to avoid death while holding it at his finger tips.
He had practiced killing swiftly, severing the aorta of the bulls by placing the sword at the first try in the cross where the bull’s shoulder blades met the bulls spine if his feet were apart, where a space for the sword that would end the bull’s life existed if the bull’s feet were together. Each miss was to his wrist like placing a stick into the hood of a moving truck. Each success was like placing the stick in the space between the truck’s hood and its windshield.
Now, his right hand was in a cast from all this practice. And he wore green and gold, his favorite colors, on his shimmering gold-embroidered costume. It was the twenty-first of May, and again, he would spend the afternoon in this deadly ballet. But this time, he had competition from two other experienced killers of bulls.
This year, he was a figura because of what he’d done last year. This year, what he’d done, and how he’d brought fans to their feet in their plastic rain gear or holding their umbrellas, chanting “Torer-o! Torer-o!” and clapping, some crying, waving their white handkerchiefs into a sea of white around the bullring from the stands for the Presidente of the ring to award not just one, but two ears for his valor and bravery, and his merciful, almost slaughtering-house-swift killing, would not be enough. This year, he had to do better. And again, it was raining.
A cheer and a wave of applause enveloped him and the others as they waited to step into the ring for the procession that would start the day’s event. The King of Spain had just arrived and taken his seat at the lowest row, behind the barrera that separated the ring from the stands. He could tell by the cheer, the applause, and the first trumpet notes and drum roll of the band starting. It was darker in the callejon where he and the others waited, smelling the horses of the picadors and knowing they smelled the bulls. He was glad the King had arrived. And he was glad the King preferred to sit at the barrera. It made it easier to dedicate a bull to the King. It also made it more likely, the King being an avid aficionado, that the King would be able to catch Jose Miguel’s hat when he tossed it to the King for safekeeping until the bull had been killed. He smiled to himself, his head down, shifting his weight to his right side. He could not toss his hat so well with his right arm in a cast now, and he hated trying to throw his hat up the two stories of the open stands to the Royal Box, where the King’s mother, La Infanta, always sat in her wheelchair with her head resting on her shoulder from her stroke.
It was their turn to enter the ring. Jose Miguel stepped forward in the center of the others and held his dress cape wrapped tightly around one shoulder and his waist. When he reached the required spot in the outer part of the ring, near where he and the others had entered, he unconsciously made a cross in the sand with his right slipper. He smiled to himself, still superstitious after all this. It was raining harder.
Jose Miguel looked up into the drops of rain. Across from him he saw the seventh section of the ring, Tendido Siete, where the eternally critical, loud and raucous fans sat, and knew The Plaza was full. The promoters would be pleased with this.
Besides the King, several members of the new government were present. Even the rich and famous came to see him kill. He remembered being hungry. He remembered being poor. He remembered being an orphan like several others at the Madrid bull fighting school. He was glad the beef from the bulls he killed would be sold to the bars near by and not wasted.
To his right stood a friend, another figura whose greatness was eclipsed by his own. Jose Miguel was better with the old-style flourishes of the long and the short cape. He always had been.
To his left stood a lesser-known bull killer, another friend, a Colombian. He would provide comparison, as would the former figura, Enrique.
The bulls were supposed to have been bred by one of the best ranches in Spain.
His two friends each took on the first two bulls. In the beginning of those two fights, Jose Miguel stepped up with his pink and blue long capote and distracted the bull to come toward him, so that he could show his twirling passes, his veronicas that spread the long cape like a skirt over the bull as it charged at the motion, its head low but its hoofs forward – a bad sign. At the part of each friend’s first bull of the day, he stepped forward again, “stealing” the bull’s attention in a quite, removing his long cape from it’s shield-like position in front of him and spinning it over his shoulder, revealing the picador’s horse to the bull and causing the bull to gather strength and try to push the horse and rider out of the ring, the bull still believing itself to be master of all it could see.
The other figura handled the first bull, a dark black beast of more than 600 kilos, well. Enrique killed very cleanly, controlling his bull with the movement of his small cape, the muleta, well, not needing to spread it too wide with the wooden stick at its top to get the bull to follow it.
When there was no rain, there was a cooling breeze that the people in the stands enjoyed. But Jose Miguel preferred the rain. His footing was sure, his toes gripping the damp sand of the ring as it sloped from the center, even if the bull’s footing wasn’t.
Jose Miguel killed his first bull of the day in the driving rain in front of Tendido Siete. He could barely see the section of the stand because of the rain, which struck his costume loudly. But he could hear them over everything which is why he brought the bull there, in front of that section, to kill.
The bull was bleeding some from the picador’s work. The barb-tipped banderillas that hung at the bull’s side from the bull’s shoulders had soaked in some of the bull’s quick-clotting blood. The bull, tiring from its attempts at clearing the ring, was breathing hard, its tongue feeling the cooling rain. Jose Miguel rose to his toes and lifted his killing sword over his head in an arc and sighted down its tip at the spot over the bull’s horns where he intended to take the animal’s life. Then he lowered the small red muleta to get the bull’s horns and massive head more at the level of his own chest.
The movement of Jose Miguel’s small red cape sparked the bull’s charge.
As the bull charged, Jose Miguel charged, and the killing sword, the estoque, sank in straight and smooth as if it belonged in the center of the open cross left when the bull’s shoulder blades moved away from beside its spine. Jose Miguel passed the bull to his right with the small red muleta in his left hand, his arms forming a cross as he plunged the estoque and knew the minute the sword went in that he’d killed the bull. All the fans, seeing the bull’s massive head, its horns hooking inward, still on its feet in its charge, and Jose Miguel’s lunge directly over the bull’s head, his waist to his feet, which were in the air, directly in front of the bull in its charge, feared the worst.
But Jose Miguel knew he was fine. He only hoped he’d shut up “Los Sietes.”
On his second bull of the day, Jose Miguel threw his hat to where he planned to kill the bull near the center of the ring. His hat fell bottoms up, causing some of the older fans to gasp with superstition. He walked up and turned his hat so it sat as if it were on top of the center of the ring.
But this next bull would not charge. It was either smart, or cowardly. Bulls normally attack anything in their vision, feeling their territory threatened. Jose Miguel knew this. People said he knew bulls as if he’d been one before being human. All he knew right now was that there would be no killing his last bull of the day in front of the same section in which he’d killed his first. This bull had barely even noticed the picadors’ horses, despite the picadors’ attempts to clank around in their stirrups and attract the bull’s attention.
As he was thinking this, he noticed the rain had stopped. Then he noticed a very faint breeze. What he did not notice in that instant as he stood in front of his second bull, a bull that would not allow him the opportunity to do his old-style cape work to the delight of the fans and the improvement of the bull’s last appearance alive, was that the breeze had gently lifted the muleta, which he’d had in his right hand. He noticed the rain had stopped while trying to get the bull to move past him with the small red muleta held out from his right side, watching it over his right shoulder rather than his standing in front of the bull. He decided it would be better to switch his position from the natural to stand in front of this statue-like bull. He turned on his left slipper, feeling the wet sand under his toes, moving his right foot in a semi-circle until he was almost facing the bull, still keeping the cape in front of the bull’s face.
The bull saw its chance. The bull saw the cape move and the man move, and it knew the man was bigger. In the instant Jose Miguel moved to face the bull from standing to its left, he knew also that the bull had charged. And the man, the figura, was helpless.
For in that instant of mutual recognition, the bull dug its left horn into Jose Miguel’s right hip, near his groin, and lifted him into the air like a toy. Jose Miguel was impaled on the horn, facing the sand of the ring of Las Ventas, the most important bull ring in the world, the ring in which he’d become a figura twice, from on top of a horn, with the red muleta cape still in his right hand.
He grabbed the sand when the bull’s horn became unhooked, and he waited for everyone to get the bull away from him before hurrying back to his feet. He felt as if he were still in the air above the bull, facing the sand. But he was on his feet, as were the people in the stands.
From the stands you could see just a trickle of blood near his ankle. It appeared to be perhaps some of the bull’s blood. Then you saw it getting bigger, flowing more rythmically, and it was deep maroon.
Jose Miguel took his red-handled killing sword out of its dark leather scabbard. He held the estoque in his left hand, his good hand, while waving back the others who rushed in to make certain he was all right. He picked his muleta up off the sand where he’d let it go, all the while keeping his eye on this bull that had his blood on the tip of its left horn. He bent over for a second, his hand at his hip. There was blood on his cast. He went to the side of the ring where the bull waited, watching him.
The two watched each other without speaking. Both were catching their breath with their mouths.
“Vaya, hombre! Vamos!, ha, toro!” said one loud voice in Tendido Siete, hoping to get the bull to move.
“Callate, cabron!” shouted several voices from the stands.
He lined the bull up at the tip of his killing sword after scraping it along the sky. He now held his muleta in his left hand.
“Huh! Huh!”
But the bull did not move.
He raised himself with his toes digging in the sand, lowering the muleta.
Still, the bull would not move.
So he charged it.
He and the bull came toward each other, both in pain. Being careful to pass the muleta in his left hand across to his right side, his left arm forming a cross underneath his right, he felt the tip of the estoque find resistance and braced himself for the jarring, searing pain of hitting bone with his hurt wrist. But the resistance gave way, and the fingertips of his right hand felt the damp hair on the bull’s hide and the rush of warm blood rising through the opening before the pain of the impact shot up his arm. He rolled over the bull to its side. Jose Miguel killed the bull so fast that, still in shock from seeing the bull get Jose, none believed it until the bull took two steps forward and stopped, as if having just remembered something, and dropped to its side in the sand, its four legs sticking straight out.
Jose Miguel, the figura still, walked stiffly to the infirmary.
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Terin Tashi Miller spent many of his formative years in India, the child of anthropologist parents. Since then, he has lived and worked in a variety of countries in Europe and Asia. The author of three novels, Kashi, Sympathy for the Devil, and Down the Low Road, his writing has appeared in guide books, international magazines including Time and Geografica Revista, and newspapers including The Wall Street Journal, The Dallas Morning News and The Los Angeles Times. His short stories have also been published in numerous literary magazines.
He began his writing career as a part-time reporter for Time magazine, then worked for The Associated Press in India and North Dakota and AP-Dow Jones News Services in Spain and New York, and as a reporter for The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, The Milwaukee Sentinel, Amarillo Daily News and the Hilton Head Island Packet.
Born in St. Louis, Mo., and raised in Madison, Wis. and several provinces in India, he currently lives in New Jersey.
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photo by Kristi Harms
Poetry, Uncategorized


by Conor Smyth


In the middle of summer
He still shivered
Quaking from guttural tremors
Body condensed to a ball
A boned cage once,
Heartily round, contented
Now vulnerable, prey for the elements
Sustenance not forthcoming
Cold sweat and restless limbs
Eyes heavy but alert, the waking coma
He is exhausted by the absence of hope
Dishevelled, disowned by relief
6am, dawn on blackened eyes
A Muted television
Curling, cramped hot/cold
Sleep, only a kind memory


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Conor Smyth is from Bangor, Northern Ireland. He studied Film at DeMontfort University, Leicester, and has written articles for Culture NI; He started concentration on his own poetry in the last 12 months with a view to getting work published.

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photo by Kristi Harms


Fun Nor Fair and other poems

By Christopher Barnes


Fun Nor Fair

Scorn’s a contrivance that ticks.

     “With an hour of free time,
      Three balls and these instructions”

The skittle-alley’s polonaise is sheeny as varnish
On bubblecars going crewless.

     “Juggling has been touted
      As a great stress reliever”

Air-pocket pay-scales would debt me an hour,
Rundling supplied by gears, bobbing,
The bus home – just…

     “Throw a ball
      In a gentle arc”


Celebrating 50 Years In Recruitment
Job Title: Assembly Operatives
Details: Assembly Experience Is Essential,
Preferably Within The Automotive Industry.
Pay Rate: £6.68 Per Hour.

(QUOTES: Juggling Poet)

A jack-be-nimble buzz
Unloaded to constabularies,
Solicits a docket rummage
To side-note any women’s garb
Bagged, shut in a month.

     “The application of medical knowledge
      To aid the administration of justice”

Divers loosen-up, releasing the undertow.

     “Legal responsibilities of the physician”


These Toilets Are Closed
Alternative Facilities Are Available
In The Grainger Market
Or High Friars Mall, Eldon Square.
Sorry For Any Inconvenience.

(QUOTES: Dr. Dinesh Rao’s Forensic Pathology)


Soup Kitchen

Mr. Flint rib-digged the divvies,
Personal belongings all huckstered.

     “Action on charity tax-avoidance”

Axes to grind, flapping.

     “Charitable status”

Volunteers keep bright-side up
So do frost-bitten glitterati.

     “Amend the definition of charity”


Exclusive 68 Faceted Luxury
Set In A Variety Of Gold Rings
An Original Gift
To Be Remembered By

(QUOTES: Andy Ricketts, The Third Sector)
Media Studies

Homework for Pat Wires’ thesis
Didn’t dim with the pounce of flu.

     “A Scottish philosopher and economist”

There’s a Johnny Everyman rubric,
Wedge-driving, infecting squiggle-inked notes.

     “One of the most influential books”

Yawning’s in-the-know.

     “Gold and silver”

Not a post-haste staircase
To the eximious job…

     “Nobody would trade
      If they expected to lose”

TV Bed Package
Includes 32” LED TV
Lowest Weekly Prices!
From £15.00 Per Week
Free Delivery
Within 5 Days

(QUOTES: Adam Smith Institute)

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Christopher Barnes bio details…
In 1998 I won a Northern Arts writers award. In July 200 I read at Waterstones bookshop to promote the anthology ‘Titles Are Bitches’. Christmas 2001 I debuted at Newcastle’s famous Morden Tower doing a reading of my poems. Each year I read for Proudwords lesbian and gay writing festival and I partook in workshops. 2005 saw the publication of my collection LOVEBITES published by Chanticleer Press, 6/1 Jamaica Mews, Edinburgh.

On Saturday 16Th August 2003 I read at the Edinburgh Festival as a Per Verse poet at LGBT Centre, Broughton St.

I also have a BBC web-page and (if first site does not work click on SECTION 28 on second site.

Christmas 2001 The Northern Cultural Skills Partnership sponsored me to be mentored by Andy Croft in conjunction with New Writing North. I made a radio programme for Web FM community radio about my writing group. October-November 2005, I entered a poem/visual image into the art exhibition The Art Cafe Project, his piece Post-Mark was shown in Betty’s Newcastle. This event was sponsored by Pride On The Tyne. I made a digital film with artists Kate Sweeney and Julie Ballands at a film making workshop called Out Of The Picture which was shown at the festival party for Proudwords, it contains my poem The Old Heave-Ho. I worked on a collaborative art and literature project called How Gay Are Your Genes, facilitated by Lisa Mathews (poet) which exhibited at The Hatton Gallery, Newcastle University, including a film piece by the artist Predrag Pajdic in which I read my poem On Brenkley St. The event was funded by The Policy, Ethics and Life Sciences Research Institute, Bio-science Centre at Newcastle’s Centre for Life. I was involved in the Five Arts Cities poetry postcard event which exhibited at The Seven Stories children’s literature building. In May I had 2006 a solo art/poetry exhibition at The People’s Theatre why not take a look at their website

The South Bank Centre in London recorded my poem “The Holiday I Never Had”, I can be heard reading it on

REVIEWS: I have written poetry reviews for Poetry Scotland and Jacket Magazine and in August 2007 I made a film called ‘A Blank Screen, 60 seconds, 1 shot’ for Queerbeats Festival at The Star & Shadow Cinema Newcastle, reviewing a poem…see On September 4 2010, I read at the Callander Poetry Weekend hosted by Poetry Scotland. I have also written Art Criticism for Peel and Combustus Magazines. I was involved in The Creative Engagement In Research Programme Research Constellation exhibitions of writing and photography which showed in London (march 13 2012) and Edinburgh (july 4 2013) see . I co-edit the poetry magazine Interpoetry

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Photo by Kristi Harms



stern backer and other poems

by Christopher Mulrooney
stern backer
back the very sails
with plenteous wind
see the world go round
before your very eyes
shaving cream
a dollop on those cucumbers
in the hot sun oh
upon those eyes
reeling in shade
baker’s boy
…it sings all winter night in the poor bakery, beneath the crumbs of a bread of light.—René Char
he shifts the garden path
between his feet on the way to work
settling the shadows griping the grosbeaks
all in a storm of fine flour till night
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Christopher Mulrooney is the author of symphony (The Moon Publishing & Printing), flotilla (Ood Press), viceroy (Kind of a Hurricane Press), and jamboree (Turf Lane Press, forthcoming).  His work has recently appeared in East Coast Literary Review, California Quarterly, Umbrella Factory, The Southampton Review, J Journal, Offcourse, Kalyna Review, and Lantern Magazine.
photo by Kristi Harms

Unitedstatesians and other poems

by Fer de la Cruz




They speak every language in the world in their cities

and they read all the literatures in their libraries.

Their visits to the moon don´t impress me much.


Their moonshine is out of this world,

sweet as the white corn they invented.

They harvest the best apples from their fields.

They have good wine and cheese, bourbon, and microbeer.


They have lawyers and doctors washing dishes

—those who don´t speak the language.

At home, dishwashers are illiterate.


They´re puritan as Muslims—many are Muslims, Buddhists, Catholic,

or even devout pagans—except for those who´re not.


They´re racist as everyone else,

but they´ll admit it. And many fight for equality,

collect signatures, change laws, and such…


True, they always have a war: some fight in it while others are against it.

Very unlike us, they trust their institutions.

I don´t picture them as subjects to a foreign monarch,

like Australians, Belizeans, or Canadians.

They value their own dynasties

but not more than backyard barbecue.


They have frybread, pita bread, tortillas, and samosas, falafels, empanadas…

They have all of us too—my uncles, aunts, and cousins who are American

and celebrate Thanksgiving, and hyphenate their names, which is also my name.

So I can´t say I don´t love them.


Now they´re aiming for Mars

which belongs to the universe and all.

Next, they´ll claim it as their own

like I´m claiming this piece of American Literature

as my own.



Trace of Mona Lisa


A smiley face next to the line I like.

This one came out with quite a smirk.

I read the line as I recall

the dwelling for my cat when I was, nine?

who redefines me

each time I feel his whiskers on my lap

as in a dream

or as your eyes tonight

or as this amber flame

containing the rejoicing of shooting stars.


O do I love this line!

which makes me wonder what my face looks like

this moment as I chant.


Heavenly Epic of Cats and Dogs


It´s raining cats and dogs.

The barking falls as thunder. The

cats´ eyes resemble lightning. And the


the cats flashing their paws as they

keep balance midair;

the dogs displaying their teeth

while spinning in the sky,

Chihuahuas and Great Danes

equally terrified.


Each battle is won by cats;

aerodynamic instinct makes them experts

on hitting solid ground.


But those poor dogs, o dear!

I hope there really is

a heaven for them all.





Nothing is really happening.

That car did not go by

Nor did we hear the bell of the ice-cream vendor.

We don´t see façades in flowery colors.

Nobody is roasting beef

while listening to cumbia on the radio,

urgeing grackles to grack between the branches

that are not being shaken

by non-existing wind.

Even these tiny ants

are not making the ground move in the shade

that isn´t here. A-ah.


The only real thing is all around us,

among us, inside us,

before and after us,

if you´re a voice of faith.


The problem


to find it.



Fernando de la Cruz Herrera (Yucatán, México, 1971) holds an MA in Spanish from Ohio University and a BA in Philosophy. As an independent editor, writer, and cultural promoter, he has participated in cultural festivals, conferences, and book fairs in Mexico, Cuba, France, and the United States. His poems appeared in the books “Redentora la voz” (Ayuntamiento de Mérida, 2010), “Aliteletras. De la a a la que quieras” (Dante, 2011, in print), “Sabotaje a la che y otros poemas de martitologio” (2012, Instituto de Cultura de Yucatán, announced) and in the chapbook “Seven Songs of Silent, Singing Fireflies” (JKPublishing, 2008). He has received two national, one regional, and one state-wide poetry awards in Mexico. His main passions are poetry (which he often finds in theatre, music, film…), language teaching made fun, and the constant discovery of the flavors, shapes, and depths of human life /

Fer recently won 1st prize in the Premio Regional de Poesia Jose Diaz Bolio, 2011, sponsored by Patronato Pro Historia Peninsular, $10,000 pesos, his second time. The first was in 2003.

And 2nd place in the Premio Estatal de Literatura Infantil Elvia Rodriguez Cirerol, 2011, sponsored by Instituto de Cultura de Yucatan, $5,000 pesos.


photo by Kristi Harms