Mask of Cherries and other poems

by Grant Tarbard

Mask of Cherries

To all the ones without a destination

The mirror doesn’t
exist when there’s no grooming
figure applying

a mask of cherries.
The periwinkle lipstick,
her ghost of blusher

in powder puffs of
orchids, her eye liner shields
a blue nebula.

The sloe mascara
that will be clotted tears by
the drone of midnight’s

liquor coated bells.
The mirror has a pasted
glue masquer with a

lone charcoal player
who exists in the crumbling
glimmer of sad songs,

a mask of cherries
orchid lipstick, eye liner
her ghost of blusher.

Lament for the Loss of Silence

there’s no frontier
in the old dog willows

of empty chip wrapper cables
that blow about in the wind

raw flesh given
to capture the last moment of calm

no newsprint boundary
no static radio no man’s land

rest is at work
hushing babes to sleep

the best silence
never happened



our lifecycle is
like a globe, when you’re
to the east of death
you end up in the
sunshine of the west

the scene of the crime
was a lifecycle
burned in the fire
of Hades’ lust for
fair Persephone


New Years Eve, 1986

That vinegar taste,
my first sip of wine
at a party that
the girls took hours to
fabricate themselves,

hair in rollers a
week in advance. Oh
yes, that silver foil
for highlights, that old
rotten egg perm smell.

The pop delivered
from the milkman in
the morning, a case
of it stored in the
shed with the spiders.

We didn’t have fizzy,
except on Christmas.
The glass bottles of
different colours,
florescent orange,

florid sin crimson,
midnight black, to a
small flat boy it was
as fascinating
as the contrails

of a space shuttle.
Come the party, I
was plied with Guinness
and beer by the men,
white wine the women.

I spent the party
on chocolate stairs
hushed, playing with my
friend in the alleys

of his village, no
one bothered me as
they were engaged in
grown-up talk, which I
now know is claptrap.


Lear and His Fool

Desperate in a daughter’s woe-be-tide
There lies a selfish boar, cherished, haggard,
Vain, and to Cordelia he denied
Her share, with hardly a rattled scabbard.
Pictures of what he once was are cracked, lost,
He’ll end his days upon the madness rock
They whispered, he’ll catch his death in the frost,
He’ll tempt his ruination with sweet talk.
While the world sleeps he watches the moon’s lust
Feather ivory across the mud smear
Sky. The king furrows his brow and throws crust
After spear and cries ‘the moon’s veneer!’
The moon is a kite owl in a silk pouch
Boxing with mist, all his former selves slouch

Disappearing as
quickly as they came,
rowing in the clod,
just waiting for the
suffocating hand.

Smell the blue air of
his no man’s land. His
mouths are fountains that
sprout trees, the death of
a film spooling out

in a collection
of light, the moon is
a kite. It’s roots are
zinc white. Move dust to
the light, move stars from

the night, solemnly
he writes. August is
his soul, kingly gems
thrown in a puddle
of mud, exile of

blood, his malady
is his clarity.
What horrors unfold,
his genitals are
frozen to the ground.

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Grant Tarbard is internationally published. His chapbook Yellow Wolf, published by WK Press, is available now.

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Scott7painting by Skot Horn




Encyclopedia and other poems

by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois



Juan Pio Periz
finished the eight volume
Encyclopedia Yucatanense
completing the work
Father Pedro Beltran had labored over
for decades

Father Beltran had willed himself to stay alive
until he finished his labors
but did not succeed in this
partly because he was divided against himself
at least sometimes against himself
at the best of times ambivalent

Father Beltran was half man/half dog
but because he always wore a wide-brimmed hat
and his face and head were mostly human
and also his hands
he was able to keep the dog part of him
under his robe

until after his death
when his secret was discovered

His secret wife was half reptile/half bird
and spent most of her life
lounging among rocks

but did not have responsibilities
other than to Father Beltran
so hiding who she was
was not difficult


Anthony of Padua
the patron saint of marriage
carries baby Jesus with him
like a football
tucked firmly in the crook of his arm

He constantly feels a failure
So much marital maladjustment
So much divorce

The Mayan God of Bees
constantly criticizes him
but Anthony has a come-back
He angrily asks why the bees are dying off

The Mayan God of Bees
who is
in the large sense
a climate change denier
also denies the bees’ imminent demise
(if the bees go extinct, he will be unemployed)
and Anthony argues that marriage is still viable
Do you see how gays are fighting for the right?
Fighting for the right to be miserable,
says the God of Bees


With my flat forehead and crossed eyes
I am the most beautiful woman on the planet

My parents practiced cranial deformation
and also, early on
started me in the practice of
cultivating a convergent gaze
which is also a form of meditation
so I am not only alluring
I am enlightened

Dental mutilation has given me
a unique smile
and finally
body paint adorns my ample flesh

I am aware of the characterless anorexics
that the enslaved Norte Americanos worship
in their machine empire
and I feel sorry for them
They are static while I
easily move from the earthly level
to the divine
and back again

The gods made several attempts to create
the human being
and with me
their efforts
ended in triumph


It’s mean to say:
That chick’s so fat she’s got her own zip code
but I’m sitting in my Studebaker
outside the Chase Bank
on Oracle Street in Tucson
waiting for my old lady to come back
from exchanging

when this enormously fat white woman walks by
right in front of me
past the twin ATM’s
where the brick wall says: Chase What Matters

She turns and walks up the pebbled slope
to the bank’s glass doors
and I see the tattoo on her upper back:
Damn if she doesn’t really have her own zip code!

She pulls open the glass door and struts into the bank
as if she’s about to rob it

I ask myself: Is that really her personal zip
or is it something she shares with others?
so I punch the numbers into my i-phone
It’s the zip code for LaBobo Bankurung, Indonesia

My Dentist, My Lover

Even on Thanksgiving
my lover harangues me about my teeth
and gums
about Acid Erosion
and Periodontal Disease
Baby, you’re way beyond gingivitis, she says

Her concern is understandable
She’s not only my lover
she’s also my dentist
She “sexually assaulted” me
on my first visit to her office
while she had me helpless on nitrous oxide
I knew that cocaine enhanced the joy of sex
but I’d never realized that the same was true
for nitrous

This woman, my dentist, my girlfriend
is eleven years older than me
and sometimes I catch her examining herself
in the mirror
with a worried expression
She thinks I’ll stop loving her
as she ages
as wrinkles appear
and the flesh on her arms gets loose
She works out with dumbbells as we
watch TV in the evening
I think she’s gotten stronger than me
but I’m hesitant to test it out

But she’s right:
my gums and teeth are a mess
Maybe she’ll stop loving me if I don’t consent
to expensive and painful treatment
But I guess I’ll take the chance

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois has had over eight 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.

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painting by Skot Horn

Cher Bibler, Fiction, Uncategorized

The Time Before

by Cher Bibler


Tonight there is no light but the glow from around the streetlights. I am standing here waiting for you, but you don’t know it so you won’t come. I stand alone and look over the park past the swingset and the slide, into the darkness over the baseball field. This is such a sweet slow time when I’m alone and there’s no one to misunderstand me.

A car goes by slowly but I pretend not to see it. The air looks thick and foggy in front of its headlights. I hold in my breath until the echo of its sound dissolves and I’m alone again.

If I’d told you to meet me, you would have, but I’m still not sure about you. I pretend there is some magical way you will sense that I’m here and come to me, because this is the way I want you: I have a dream figure of you sketched out, how I’d want you to be if you knew that I wanted you, if you were sure of me. I know what reactions I’d want, things I’d want you to say and feel.

In a way this time is better than the real thing will be, this dream time; or so I tell myself. I am holding myself back, keeping this suspense, watching you.


I am sitting here with you. We’re talking about books. We’ve never read the same ones but we’re sure we’d both like them, if we had. I’m trying to tell you why.

I hold myself just far enough away from you so we don’t touch. I’m waiting for this to overwhelm you. When I first met you I never expected to feel this way about you. You were just an ordinary person; I had no warning.

I’m sitting crosslegged hugging my legs. I lay my head on my knees and look down at the carpet. You’re talking about your sister but I’m not listening anymore. Our conversations lately have drifted aimlessly.
I’m amazed at this thing that’s grown here between us. I analyze its beginnings, as far as I can dissect them. I can’t find the seed where it began, but I can see how it gathered momentum and how I witlessly encouraged it along.


I’m thinking about my last lover, and how he merged into the dream I had of him until I couldn’t tell them apart. I’ve had plenty of time to think about the mistakes I made with him and I keep them at hand for reference so I don’t make them again with you.

It’s not fair, I guess, to compare future lovers with past lovers, to make them compete with old ghosts grown mellow with memory, but at each step I’m reminded of the last time I felt this way, and sometimes your eyes merge with his eyes and I think there is only one man out there who keeps coming back to me in different disguises.

My old lover never really liked competing with my fantasy of him.


I have practiced conversations we will have someday; I’ve told your dream counterpart all the secrets about myself. He took it well. He was very understanding.


I sit here by you, not touching but close enough I can feel your body heat. I’m looking at your hands, studying the texture of your skin wondering how it would feel. It looks very soft and I wonder why that attracts me (stereotype—men are supposed to have strong hands).

I imagine how you would react right now to me touching you, but I don’t touch you. I sit wrapped in this thought.


* * * * * * * * * * * *

Cher Bibler is the author of About Irene, a novel told from the viewpoint of a collectible french fashion doll about her friends, her owners, and the things that happen around her. She has had poetry and fiction published in magazines such as The Evergreen Review, Amanda Blue and The Firelands Review. She sings in a rock band, edits an incredible online literary publication, and has perfected the art of making potato pizza. She currently resides in Merida, Mexico.

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photo by Skot Horn



by Judith Steele

A priest in white robes lives in a lofty cool temple. Outside is a desert, red sand dunes, sky solid blue. The priest stands at the arched exit of the temple, strains his eyes, sees sand and sky, black shadows. Are they shadows of people? He hears screams, or is it laughter? Not for the first time, he wishes for the courage to go out. But he thinks: Is it a laugh or a scream? He retreats into the safety of the temple.

Bird song from trees in the castle garden. A woman in soft gowns and floating veils, day after day protected and sheltered by riches not hers, her only wealth her potential to produce a male heir. Her absent lord married her for just that purpose, but she has failed him. Every day she smiles at everyone, sitting with her useless beauty in the walled garden.

Twenty uniformed men crouching in wet grass in the mist on the top of a hill, watching four stone buildings at the bottom of the valley. Inside the stone buildings are twenty men wearing a different uniform. Sentries stand at the doorways to watch the hilltop. Not long after dawn, some men of one uniform or the other will possess the territory of these stone buildings. Not long after dawn, some men of both uniforms will be dead. The soldiers of both uniforms wait for dawn, hoping their obedience will outlast their fear.

Cherry works in an office, the only female in a hush-hush job, between two wars. She wears a sober dark suit, red red lips, takes pride in her work, her life fulfilled. Something happens, a slip-up by someone too important to take the blame. Someone has to take the blame. Cherry is not supporting a wife or children. Cherry can retire to the country they say, with her dear old parents. She understands, she is not one of the boys. She packs up her desk, walks sedately and obediently from the office. In the corridor she screams. And screams. And screams. Inside the office, the men wait for her to stop.

Every day the child tries to find the way to please the mother. Every night when the father comes home the mother whispers to him, and the father shouts at the child. When the mother is sick and the father is absent, the uncle comes and takes the child into her bedroom and shuts the door and the child thinks she is being punished for making her mother sick and her father absent, and thinks when she has finished being punished, it will all end.

She is silent and waits for dawn. She smiles meaninglessly in paralysed obedience. She forgets. With whatever cunning the brain has to hide events. If not feelings. She becomes a
loudmouthed rebel, a catastrophic risk-taker, dangerous to everyone and herself. The intelligence she has produces nothing.

One day she remembers. With whatever treachery the brain has to store what it has hidden; and to produce it at an unknown signal from parallel events, words, feelings, appearances. She is paralysed by fear. She retreats to silence. She wants to break it, to walk in the open, to have the courage to speak, or simply to scream. Will she?


* * * * * * * * * * * *

Judith Steele is Australian. Her poetry has appeared in Northern Territory and South Australian publications including Northern Perspective, Northerly, Dymocks Northern Territory Literary Awards, Friendly Street Poets. Poetry or prose has appeared on websites including The Animist, Four and Twenty, Islet Online (as Dita West), In other Words:Merida .

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painting by Skot Horn


Nightfall and other poems

by Crawdad Nelson



Far off the concussive message of sporting arms:
goosehunters deep on the bay, lying flat on their backs,
on floating caskets lining the flats, on flat water,
on the flats, on backs
like disabled beetles lifting single skeletal arms
–firing into conflicted sky–
as rain simmers everywhere, goes on forever,
and wind tries me across the cheek; out there on the island
ring of steel against dried timbers,
splintering planks, sinking in;
there’s something to be said,
wind says it without me,
distant shotguns pronounce it with modern accent
geese high over all proclaim it with courage
despite revolving winds and birdshot,
exclaiming “here I am,” sailing into gunfire,
eternity at a thousand feet,
far off the beating drum of time choosing who dies,
I see nothing coming up the alley, nothing soaked
to bare skin on barren coast,
walking home, eating the body.

I see steel across darkness into shadow,
someone grunts, and does it again, steel
clean and hard against the wood, into the wood, the wood.
Sitting in the room old as time
I watch the white dress flap in the wind

and sand falls like dry rain seeping inside the walls;
solving and resolving things, measuring good and bad,
deep and wide;
voices rising from floorboards confused in purpose and effect,
crying out schedules and times, charging two bits a plug,
accusing visitors of cold murder,
calling out names;
whereas the bay renews itself at dawn and dusk, purges
trenchant obstacles and the small parts of expired creatures,
that form the breast of the sea, and time
is unheard of on the soft roll,
unheard of and unheard.
Nothing creeps in like a night fog.

Stealing Time

Discovering old Playboys on the shelf
at Cardoza’s antique shop I relive secretly 1970s ,
when nobody shaved.

Avoiding work,
expenses, expectations.
Watching girls pass outside, swinging hips,
between jobs, after clients, business;
across the street hookers tarry,
disguise their intent, speak with their hands.

Under the $40 skillets and War 1 medals
a cluster of stiletto knives,
surrounded by dead raccoon coats
still slightly inky and rainy,
and one has to push through big band records

and carved balsa salmon trolling lures,
triple barbed and hideously clawed,
the type that hang like charms in every old garage or shed
on the Pacific coast, smiling anachronistic herring,
awaiting rebirth, to discover the genuine stone blade
or the box of fragile obsidian arrowheads
dating to antiquity. Time comes wrapped in trade blankets,
a man’s last decorated pair of nuts
for gambling, burled and runic
as a set of oracle bones.


What do you know about love
wondered the bank teller, accepting my nom de plume
on a $25 check
you ought to know something if you write
those poems…

I tried to explain how little I knew with a simple
gesture and a few words

but she caught and held my eyes,
she stood
on her toes which
was like watching the sun rise
as her neckline
dazzled with gravity
and promise,

I wish I knew what you know,
she offered, but I said it was far simpler
to be a poem than to make one.

I wished I knew less.


* * * * * * * * * * * *

Crawdad Nelson has published poems, stories, essays and articles in the small press for over twenty years. He has been editor, pasteup man and photographer as well. He currently works at a community college helping people understand what they think about things they read and write.

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photo by Skot Horn


Art by Skot Horn, part 2: painting


“I can’t remember a time that I wasn’t both interested in photography and painting. It never occurred to me that I had to choose between one or the other. We are not even talking about my other interest in sculpture, found objects, assemblages, woodworking, ceramics or music and then the mere experimentations in other mediums. It wasn’t called to my attention that this may be a dilemma until I was attending school at the art institute of Chicago. An instructor pulled me aside and said he thought I should choose a medium, any medium! At the time I didn’t think I was ready to make that decision. It was in fact impossible at that time. It’s still hard but I have reluctantly set aside many interests and tried to focus primarily on painting.”



“In my painting I often revisit themes after many years, picking up where I left off and exploring it further as if no time has gone by. I think that’s why my work often looks disjointed from an outsiders perspective. It’s just new to you.”





“People that really know me say that even though they appear so different,” (his photography and his paintings- editor) “they can still tell somehow they are all from my hand.”



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Skot Horn, from northwest Ohio, attended the Art Institute of Chicago, and has exhibited with solo shows at the Secor Gallery, the Hudson Gallery, Toledo Museum of Art, Westgate, in the Toledo area, and the Ann Nathan Gallery in Chicago, as well as many group exhibits. His show, “Flower Power,” is currently ongoing at the Secor Gallery in Toledo, Ohio.

Interview, Photography

Art by Skot Horn, part 1: photography


“I am from Fremont, Ohio. Farm country I guess you could say. In two minutes I can be in open country roads that lead off in every direction. Driving puts me in a very meditative and calming state.”



“I have yet to encounter an artist that I could not find some redeeming quality in. The fact they are an artist interests me and makes us kindred spirits. Discovering the evolution of their ideas through their work is fascinating. The more I know about an artists background the more I appreciate their work. I have yet to meet an artist I didn’t like unless they are too mainstream and commercial. That’s a whole different thing.”



“I was a graphic designer my whole life but it wasn’t until I designed my dad’s tombstone that I realized all that other stuff wasn’t actually carved in stone. It put it in perspective.”





“Photography I do while out and about in the world while painting is a solitary activity done alone in my studio. The two can be very separate or almost one and the same depending on what I’m currently interested in. Right now the idea of painting from photographs seems absurd and no fun at all. I don’t want what I do to become work so the immediacy of painting primarily from my imagination is the most fulfilling.”



“Whether I am drawing or painting I am documenting my daily life experiences. The final work is but the residual effect of how I chose to spend my day and ultimately I suppose, the way I chose to spend my life. My joys, hopes and even sorrows can be mutually experienced and shared. What I do now and what I did when I was five years old really has not changed. Just ask my mom.”
— Skot Horn
(Stay tuned for part 2!)