Three Poems by Carl Boon

Sins at the Marmara Sea

I buy the last bottle of beer
at Mustafa's shop and slide
down the hill toward the sea.
It's the first night of Ramadan
and I, the only Christian here,
am reading Nabokov 
and drinking fiercely in the slit
of separated night-clouds.
At the sea, a woman spins
and twirls and spins and 
tosses her dead husband's 
clothes into the water,
chanting prayers. It's a ritual
to honor the dead, 
a sky of dervishes, a beer
in my hand, and my mother
reading the life of St. Ephrem
in Ohio, very far away.





It took me many months 
to realize a poem ends
where it begins, on the neck
of a girl sleepy with sunrise
at Kadıköy, clutching a purse
containing all she knows:
a postcard from Ankara,
a photo of a friend, lotions,
and the accoutrements 
of being young. She dozes
past the Bosphorus Bridge;
she will not be disturbed.
I hold the collected poems
of Francisco X. Alarcon
and shall not wake her.




A Supposition

She asked me if I believe in destiny.
I said the sky is blue, it will be blue
tomorrow. Suppose this allured her.

Suppose she descended the Metro
steps thinking of her boyfriend,
thinking every step she failed to make
will drive him farther away. To Eda,

to Efla, to Merve, who waits at his door
with a plate of eggplant and a pocket
of roses. I've made a sad dilemma 
by answering a question. I'm unfair.

I can't distinguish airplanes from stars.
I can't even tie my shoes without reviewing
the consequences, and she's crying now.





Carl Boon lives in Istanbul, where he directs the English prep school and teaches courses in literature at Yeni Yuzyil University. Recent or forthcoming poems appear in PositThe Adirondack ReviewThe Tulane ReviewBadlandsThe Bangalore Review, and other magazines.

Taking Ustad To Devon by Rafiq Ebrahim

     Just as I was peeling potatoes, after cutting onions – and shedding tears- to prepare a family lunch with my wife, the telephone rang. It was Ustad Bilgrami announcing his arrival in Chicago He had checked in at Marriott near O’Hare Airport the night before to enjoy a blissful night’s sleep after a strenuous eighteen-hour journey from Karachi. He would be in Chicago for a day before taking a night flight to Rockford to visit his son and his family. He wanted me to pick him from the hotel and spend the day with him.


    “Ustad Bilgrami has arrived and I have to see him immediately,” I said to my wife.  “Depending on his mood, he may come here for lunch.”


    “But what about the potatoes?”


    “Potatoes? Oh, lady of the house, you must realize that there are far more important things in life to attend to than peeling potatoes,” I said, rushing out.


      I always had a deep admiration for Ustad Bilgrami, for he was a remarkable man. More than three decades ago when I was in college he was our sports coach. But he is remembered by the students not only as a coach, but as a mentor, a guide and a genuine friend. Though he would coach all students, he was very selective in admitting them into his inner circle. When introduced, he would look at you with a piercing gaze for a few moments, size you up there and then and either accept you or do away with you; the only thing the rejected ones would get was coaching. I was lucky to have been one of his inner circle mates. After classes every day one or two nascent youths would approach him, pour out their hearts and seek solution to their problems. Ustad Bilgrami would carefully listen, analyze and ponder deeply; and within twenty-four hours would come up with a solution.  His price?  A glass of sweetened lassi. He made his name as an extraordinary trouble-shooter with an ability to turn any situation into a win-win one.


     I accidentally met him at Karachi’s Lal Qila last year and at once recognized him. Age had neither withered him nor robbed him off his charisma, though it had taken away all his hairs, making him completely bald. He looked at me with his characteristic piercing gaze for a minute or so, and then burst out laughing as he recognized me.


“Ah, you are the same boy who had fallen head over heels over that gorgeous Turkish girl, and had come to me to seek solace when she had put you back on the shelf."


I simply marveled at his recollection of one of the many heart-breaking episodes in my life.


     During my stay in Karachi for about four weeks, I was fortunate to have met him several times, each time he had a problem to solve for one of his ex-students, and each time I had to accompany him – either willingly or unwillingly – in his mission. While saying good bye to him on the eve of my departure back to Chicago, he had promised me that he would be visiting Chicago soon.


     Now he was here and I was simply delighted. Perchance, I may get more enlightened and learn some more ‘Bilgrami ways’ to deal with people and situations. At Marriott I found him in the lobby. He was in earnest conversation with a pretty receptionist, his hand over her head – later he told me that the girl was heart-broken and he was pondering over the situation, thinking a way to help her out. On seeing me, he waved his hands energetically and locked me in a tight embrace affectionately.


     He gladly accepted my invitation for lunch, which he really relished. Admiring my house and the picturesque surrounding, and sprinkling my wife, son and daughter-in-law with precious words of advice, he expressed his desire to go to Devon Avenue. Every visitor from India or Pakistan almost invariably wants to go to Devon first, leaving aside all the other attractions of the city to be seen later. Maybe because they want to feel at home.


    Devon Ave, a ten-block stretch in the north of the city, forty-five minutes drive from our house, is one of the biggest Indo-Pak shopping centers in USA, abounding in clothing stores selling saris of the latest fashion, well-cut shalwar qameez, gold-embroidered garments, jewelery stores, video shops, offices and an endless chain of eating places. I took a long route to Devon, enabling the Ustad to see Sears Tower, other attractive buildings in the downtown and enjoy exhilarating Lake Shore drive.


      Tantalizing aroma of tandoori meat filled the air as we came to Devon and parked the car.


    “Let’s have some lassi,” said Ustad Bilgrami.


    “Oh, I almost forgot. You and lassi are inseparable.”


     We entered a famous fast food restaurant, and as soon as he saw the owner at the counter, his eyes opened wide. He rushed to him and yelled amid a cluster of customers, “Hey! Aren’t you Dhiraj Patel, who used to sell sherbet on the street of Ahmedabad way back?”


       The owner was stunned. Nobody likes to be reminded publicly about his humble past, particularly if he is presently rolling in wealth. He waved his hand and asked us to be seated on a table. In a jiffy, a waiter came to us, took our orders, and in no time the eatables and two glasses of lassi were on our table.


       Finishing the snacks, we got up and I took out my wallet to pay. Dhiraj Patel waved me aside saying it was on the house. Ustad Bilgrami was not yet finished.


     “Did my recipe for Pomegranate syrup work to boost up the sale?” he asked.


     Totally embarrassed, shuffling his feet in nervousness, Dhiraj Patel nodded and was obviously thinking of a way to disappear. I grabbed Ustad’s arm and drove him out.


     “Did you make up things about his past? Why should you embarrass someone like that?”


     “I never lie,” said the Ustad. “I just use facts at appropriate time and place, and there is no need to get embarrassed over what you were in the past.”


     We entered a clothing emporium named ‘Fashion Fantasy’. Ustad selected two shalwar-qameez sets, each priced at $30. He took them to the counter and started bargaining, in spite of the fact that there was a big sign at the top of the counter: Fixed Price. No Bargaining. “Your prices are too high,” he said to the young salesman.


   “Take it or leave it. Our prices are fixed and there is no bargaining as it is displayed on the sign,” said the salesman.


   “Is that so? This particular shalwar-qameeez is available in Pakistan for a thousand rupees, equivalent to ten dollars, and you are selling it for thirty dollars?  Isn’t it a rip-off?”


   “Not at all. Our prices are reasonable and competitive.”


   “In that case I’ll have to announce to some three hundred Asian families who subscribe to our “Asian Club” and who are shoppers at Devon that your store, misnamed as “Fashion Fantasy” thrive on cheating the customers. Just wait and see customers avoid your store.”


    The sales man was now feeling uneasy. He thought for a moment, and then said, “Okay, how much are you willing to pay?  Take anything at your price, but for heaven’s sake please don’t spread the word about our store charging high prices.”


     A few minutes later, he triumphantly bought the merchandise, the price being slashed to $15 each.


    “Have a nice day, grandpa,” said the salesman, while we were leaving.


    “Grandpa?” roared Ustad. “Do I look like a grandpa? I am young enough to be your father.”


   “Okay, grandpa, er.. sorry, uncle,” said the shocked shop-keeper.


    Ustad beamed and nodded his head.


   “Now take me to the airport,” he said. “I have to catch a flight to Rockford to visit my son and his family for a few weeks, but I’ll be in touch with you.”


     Suddenly, I saw a cop near my parked car. God! I had forgotten to put quarters in the parking meter. He was about to write a ticket. Both of us rushed to the car, and Ustad said, “One moment officer. Please be considerate of a very old man like me. My friend here has a very low mental capacity. He often forgets important things to do.”  Being referred to as a person with very low mental capacity would have offended any other person, but I knew that Ustad never misses an opportunity of belittling me. He takes pleasure in doing so. You may call it his hobby.


     One look at Ustad Bilgrami, and the cop was taken in by the charisma. He stopped writing the ticket, and seemed to be wondering whether to write or not.


   “A million thanks,” said Ustad, motioning me to get into the car. “Have you ever tried a lassi?


   “What is lassi?” asked the officer.


    “A delicious drink made from yogurt. I am sure you will like it.” Saying so, he hastily entered Dhiraj Patel’s restaurant. I could see from the glass window of the place that Dhiraj looked panic-struck, looking for an escape, not wishing to be further embarrassed.


     The cop looked like he was in a trance. Just to break the silence, I said, “A little bit windy today, isn’t it?”


    “Not my fault,” he muttered, and then went back into his trance.


     Ustad came out with a big disposable glass of lassi, handed it to the cop, got into the car and ordered me to get away immediately.


     I sped off. After a few minutes of silence, I said, “Ustad, you know what you did? You bribed a Chicago cop! He could have arrested us for the offence.”


   “But he didn’t. Did he? All is well that ends well.”

Paddy Murphy's Wake by Donal Mahoney

The priest had been there earlier and the rosary was said and relatives and friends in single file were offering condolences. "Sorry for your troubles," one by one they said, bending over Maggie Murphy, the widow silent in her rocker, a foot or so from Paddy, resplendent in his casket, the two of them much closer now than they had ever been. 

A silent guest of honor, Paddy now had nothing more to say, waked in aspic, if you will, in front of his gothic fireplace.

The moon was full this starless night and the hour was getting late and still the widow hadn't wept. Her eyes were swept Saharas and the mourners wanted tears. They had fields to plow come morning and they needed sleep, but the custom in County Kerry was that no one leaves a wake until the widow weeps.

Fair Maggie could have married any man in Kerry, according to her mother, who almost every day reminded her of that. 

"Maggie," she would say, "you should have married Mickey. His limp was not that bad," but Maggie wouldn't listen. Instead, she married Paddy, "that pestilence out walking," as her mother often called him even on a Sunday but only after Mass. 

Maggie married Paddy the day he scored the only goal the year that Kerry took the trophy back from Galway. That goal was no small thing for Ireland, Paddy would remind us all in pubs, night after night, year after year, until one of us would gag and buy him another drink. 

That goal, he'd shout, was something historians in Ireland would one day note, even if they hadn't yet, and every time he'd mention it, which was almost daily, Maggie's mother would remind her daughter once again that she should have married Mickey and had a better life. 

The final time her mother praised poor Mickey, a screaming match ensued, so loud it woke the rooster the very day her mother, feverish in bed, gurgled like a frog and died. 

This evening, though, as the wake wore on, the mourners grew more weary waiting for the tears the widow hadn't shed. Restless in his folding chair, Mickey put his bottle down and rose to give the eulogy he had needed days to memorize. 

"Folks," he said, "if all of us would holler down to Paddy now, I'm sure he'd holler back. Despite the flames and all that smoke, he'd tell us all once more that Kerry winning over Galway is all that ever mattered. We'll always have cold Paddy over there to thank for that. Ireland never had a better man. St. Patrick himself, I know, would vouch for that." 

The Widow Murphy hadn't moved all evening, but after hearing Mickey speak, she began to rock with fury as she raised a purple fist, shook it to the heavens and then began to hum her favorite dirge. The mourners all joined in and hummed along until midnight struck on the mantel clock and then, as if released by God Himself, the mourners rose, one by one, from folding chairs and paraded out beneath the moon, freed by a hurricane of the Widow Murphy's tears.




Donal Mahoney lives in St. Louis, Missouri. He writes poetry and fiction. Some of his earliest work can be found here. 

Lunar Tropic by Michael Paul Hogan

Pieces from a fisherman’s notebook



At six p.m. the street
submits a false gradient,
seems to tilt towards the bay,
as though one coin has been taken
from a pair of balanced scales
and made into the moon

(an absolute circle
of fine white gold, with
the Presidente’s head smoothed
almost entirely away
except for one eye
and a vestigial stern smile).



Tonight the moon is sharp
as a fish-hook, trailing a few strands
of seaweed-colored sky.

                                                                 So, come,
Joaquin, let the girl you sleep with sleep
alone this baize-blue evening.
We have a boat made of tar and ricepaper
and an acre of phosphorescent ocean
to sail beyond.

                                             Look! I bring a jug of seagreen
wine, and a necklace made of shark’s teeth
to protect from storms.



Like the dial on an old-style bakelite telephone
the moon is silent, circular, and filled
with imaginary voices.

                                                                 In his shack
by the water’s edge the blind sailmender
straightens his knuckled back and hears
the hum of transatlantic conversations.




Born in London, Michael Paul Hogan is a poet and journalist whose work has appeared extensively in the USA, UK, India, and China. He currently lives with his wife in NE China, where he is the Features Editor of a monthly magazine.

The Kitchen Rules by Erin Renee Wahl


1. No loud chewing or slurping.

While living in China, I ate more noodles than I ever have in my entire life before then. One day, while eating Lanzhou noodles with my friend Tao, he told me the Chinese theory of eating. Noodles especially, he said, should be eaten quickly and as loudly as possible. The more noise you make the better. According to Tao, making a lot of noise while eating proves to the cook that you love and appreciate their food. It is one of the greatest compliments you can pay them. While visiting my friend Wang Hui in Changsha, in the south of China, her parents fed me many delicious and strange foods. One night while eating a soup made with a special worm that was supposed to improve your health, Wang Hui’s mother asked a question that made my friend laugh so hard she almost choked on her rice. Her mother wanted to know why I ate like a ghost.

“It’s how my mother raised me. She wanted to raise a polite girl so she taught me never to talk with my mouth full and to always clean my plate. To keep my elbows off the table and say my prayers before dinner. In America, it’s not considered polite to slurp your soup.” I said.

“In China,” Wang Hui advised, “you eat too quietly. My mother says it’s like inviting a ghost to the table.”

In my kitchen we are polite. We do not slurp our soup. But if we really want to, we walk three feet into the living room and slurp away.


2. Always clean up after yourself.  

My mother hates it when my dad cooks. She is always complaining that he puts too much garlic in everything, or he fries everything in too much oil or he has to dirty every dish in her kitchen. However, my mother’s greatest frustration with my father’s cooking habits is that he rarely cleans up after himself. She hates coming home from work to find a kitchen of dirt-streaked counters and a sink full of nasty, unrinsed, unsoaked dishes. Sometimes my father remembers to clean up after himself. Not all the time.

“Your father made spaghetti sauce with that immersion blender and left the kitchen in a terrible mess this afternoon!”

“I wish your mother would appreciate it when I cook for her.”

“I appreciate the cooking, but not the mess left behind for me.”

“I had to run to work!”

“You put too much garlic in the food!”

I’ll be hearing this argument for the rest of my life.  

When I was an undergraduate student in Ohio, I shared a dorm floor and small kitchen with at least twenty other girls. I had beautiful ideas of what a shared college kitchen might look like from movies and books. I figured it would be pretty big and we would all descend upon it on the weekends to make cookies and run around in leopard print slippers and ponytails while listening to 80s music. The reality was a college with a problematic budget and kitchens with appliances at least twenty years old—at least something was from the 80s. The reality was a community of girls who rarely cooked for themselves, preferring the convenience of the college cafeteria. The reality was a population of women who oddly seem to have been raised without the Clean-It-Up Gene. The reality was a grimy kitchen with dirt and sloshed dried food so thick it had a permanent smell. Since it was the residents’ responsibility to clean their own kitchen I decided to persevere with a bucket of soapy water and two sponges and rubber gloves. It took a while but finally the counters were clean, the stove wiped, air freshener in place, and fridge wiped down. The only thing left was the drain, and this is where my journey met its terrifying end. Something was clogging the drain and when I reached my hand in to figure out what it was I pulled out a lot of gunk—mold, leftover decomposing pieces of food, some of it recognizable as ramen noodles, hair, coffee grounds, a tea bag, a Barbie doll leg—and a kitchen knife that slashed right through my rubber glove and into my thumb. That was the day I learned a lesson about sticking my hand into an unknown drain. That was also the day the RA closed the kitchen on our floor for the rest of the semester as a punishment for whoever dropped a knife in the drain and left it.

I am not always the nicest girlfriend. I am most definitely a kitchen cleanliness stickler. I nag my poor boyfriend constantly about cleaning up after himself in the kitchen. I don’t want another repeat of a knife in my thumb. I don’t want to complain the rest of my life about being with a man who never cleans up after himself in the kitchen. I remind him now so that eventually he will wipe the counters when needed, and put food into Tupperware instead of leaving it out all night till it gets bad, and clear out the bad stuff from the fridge.  My boyfriend will be messy no longer and we will both be very happy.

Two years later: My boyfriend cleans the kitchen. I don’t ask him to.


3. Always put the dishes away ASAP, either in the dishwasher or in the cupboards.

When doing dishes with my Brazilian friend Karina in China, I learned a thing or two. An obsessive cleaner, Karina was adamant about washing the dishes as soon as she finished eating. She did not want crusted gunk on her pans or tea stains in her cups. In contrast, I grew up with my mother’s method of the washtub. My mother piled all of our dishes into a large tub sitting by the sink. When the tub got full once or twice a week, my mother would do all of the dishes at the same time. While in China, I came up with the best of both worlds. I kept a washtub, where most of my dishes would go after rinsing, but I also learned to wash the dirtiest pots and pans right away. In my kitchen I have a dishwasher. I didn’t use it until my boyfriend came to live with me. Now there are always so many dishes that it is just easier to use the dishwasher. I feel lazy. In my future kitchen, I hope I don’t have one.


4. Never use paper or plastic utensils.

I know that when I was a child, my mother used real plates and napkins and silverware and cups. I don’t know when she started switching to paper. I think it was paper napkins first. She got sick of washing the cloth ones so much. Mom started using paper and plastic utensils because she decided we didn’t care enough about the nicer things. What she doesn’t realize is that I loved my pink crayon cup and the plates she always used with the big red flower in the middle. I do not use paper plates. I do not use paper cups. I only use paper napkins every once in a while. I do not use plastic silverware. I love the dishes that I collect from thrift stores. They do not all match, but they have at least one other partner and they are all special, unique. I wouldn’t trade my nice dishes for all the paper and plastic in Los Angeles.


5. Wear an apron.

Cooking with mom was a privilege. It was fun to put on an apron and dump chocolate chips into stainless steel mixing bowls, or hold the electric mixer on low, or practice cracking eggs into an old plastic margarine bowl. I always wanted to wear her pretty white and black patterned apron instead of the ancient, faded strawberry one, but that was mom’s apron. Mom’s apron was the special cooking apron. The one we all hoped to be handed on a snow day in the kitchen with the oven on 350 Fahrenheit. My continued tendency to spill all over everything I wear, even though I am careful and perhaps not even eating anything spillable, means that now I have two aprons for different uses. There is a thin apron for simple, relatively clean kitchen work. There is also a thick, quilted apron for very wet, very oily kitchen jobs. I’m not taking any chances with stain. Both of these aprons have become just as special as the one my mother used when I was a girl.


6. Always use a napkin correctly.

Before the switch to paper napkins, I can remember the Wahl family eating homemade pizza on Sunday nights with what I now assume was actually old washcloths. I loved to be first to snag the napkins from the pantry to set the table so I could choose my napkin first. I always managed to find the least ratty one for my own place. The pizza was always greasy and the old washcloth napkins were so fuzzy that there tended to be more grease and napkin fuzz spread around our mouths than on the actual washcloths. Now I am more careful with what I eat and my relationship to the environment in general. Those days of cloth napkins were happy ones for me. So when my friend Adam brought me four nice napkins he creatively borrowed from his job, I was very happy. Finally I wouldn’t have to use paper towels as napkins! My friend had beat me to the punch and brought me some lovely napkins. There is only one problem. My boyfriend thinks his shirt is also a napkin.


7. Don’t break the salt owl.

I bought it in Chinatown in Vancouver, Canada. I was walking around slowly, missing Asia and missing my boyfriend who had just dropped me off that morning for a visit to my friend Sarah Elizabeth who was in a famous film school there. I wandered into a cheap market on a side street that had all sorts of things from Asia for very cheap prices. I was scanning the dishes, looking for some of those wonderful deep Chinese spoons to add to my kitchen’s collection when I saw him sitting on a counter next to a mass of vinegar dipping dishes. My salt owl. He is tiny and fat and lovely. He is white and brown. You can lift his head off of his body and fill the empty space with salt. There is even a teeny tiny spoon that sits inside so you can scoop salt out for your food. Oh, he is perfect! He reminded me, in a cuter way, of the spice containers I had in China with lids and handles and tiny spoons. Everyone had some of these in their kitchen and they kept all the seasonings they used most often in them. It varied depending on household but the most common things you’d find were: salt, MSG, chili pepper, chicken bouillon, and maybe some kind of five-spice powder. I love my salt owl. The person who accidentally breaks this salt owl will find himself or herself in an emergency room very quickly. I don’t have the money to go all the way to Vancouver just hoping to find another. This salt owl is my little reminder of everything I miss and love about living in China.


8. Don’t get drunk. Unless you’re cooking, and then only after you’ve cut everything up.

Need I say more? I have a first aid kit, but it might not be enough.


9. No burping or flatulence allowed.

My dad and brother are the kings of odor. I have never smelled so much gas coming from two people in my life. Boys will be boys and these two are no exception.  My childhood was spent running from the aftershocks of loud farts in the house. As teenagers, the cousins would all converge upon our poor grandmother’s home and hold burping contests over cans of Pepsi and red cream soda. The one place that we were all safe was when we were sitting around the kitchen table at dinner. No one ever seemed to do these things when we were all sitting around the table having a meal together.  It is the magic of the kitchen. The kitchen reeks of a different kind of significance that demands a measure of propriety from even the most pungent offender.


10. Clean the microwave.

I learned how to clean the microwave from my mother. My mom’s method of cleaning the microwave was to put a bowl of water on the turntable and set it for five minutes. As the water boils, condensation forms and makes it easier to scrape the gunk off the sides and ceiling of the microwave. I use a similar method. The only addition I have made is to add lemon or lime juice to the water. That way I get all the condensation and all the lovely citrus scent.

In graduate school I didn’t even own a microwave until I met my boyfriend. It’s easy enough to heat up leftovers on the stove for one person. A microwave was not a necessity in my life and I got an odd sense of satisfaction and freedom from living without one after so many years of relying on one. Besides that I’d been seeing a lot of articles in the news questioning the health and safety of microwaving your food. My boyfriend remembers our first meal of leftovers together as particularly annoying.

“Where’s your microwave?” He asks, bowl of cold soup in hand.

“I don’t have one.” I slide a saucepan onto the stove. “I’ll heat your soup up in this. It’ll only take a minute.”

“You’re joking.”

“No. It’s really better this way. Healthier. And I don’t mind a few extra dishes.”

The next day he arrived at my house in the afternoon to go grocery shopping with me. We stopped at a department store first and he steered me directly to the appliance section, stopping me in front of the microwaves and planting my shoulders firmly and squarely in front of the one he wanted.

“Without a microwave, this is never going to work.”


11. Clean the refrigerator.

My parents have a tendency to forget what is in their refrigerator. Sometimes when I come home I find things at the back that have expired six months prior. My goal when visiting my folks is always total fridge annihilation. The same was true when I spent the summer with my boyfriend at his cousin’s house in Alaska. The house was under construction and I was the only one without a job so it fell to me to keep things as neat as possible. Boys do not keep their refrigerators clean. By the end of the summer I had tossed the junk and the moldy expired stuff and bleached that fridge twice. Between all the kitchens and all the cooks I know I have learned a lot of lessons. I keep my fridge well wiped and all the food rotated so that I’m extremely aware of expiration dates.


12. Update the grocery list.

When my Mom goes to the grocery store, she calls my dad every five to ten minutes to ask if he needs anything. She updates him by what section she is currently in and asks for any requests. Usually he insists he doesn’t need anything. This habit of hers gets annoying when you’re with her, particularly after you realize that my father trusts her so completely with the grocery list that he never really feels like he needs to ask her for anything.  This weekend we ran out of onions. My boyfriend and I eat an unholy amount of onions. There is no greater annoyance than running out of onions when you don’t have a car and there is six inches of snow on the ground and more coming. No one wants to walk to the store in that. It is always important to have a fully stocked house.

The second year I lived in China my flight back from the US was delayed so I arrived at my apartment so late at night that there was no one from the school to meet me at the airport. The secretary from the school’s Foreign Affairs Office had told me that since I would arrive so late with the delayed flight she would put some groceries in my furnished apartment for me so it wouldn’t be totally empty. Upon the kitchen table was a loaf of bread, a jar of peanut butter, a couple bottles of orange juice and no dishes in the house but chopsticks. After the hour-long taxi ride out to the rural suburb in which I was to live I really had to use the bathroom. I had a five-hour flight’s worth of soda in my bladder begging to exit. I entered the bathroom and realized the secretary had forgotten something else—toilet paper. It was so late in China by that time, that all the stores were closed and all my neighbors were asleep and all I had was notebook paper. This does not rank amongst my top ten pleasant bathroom experiences.  

These incidents have taught me the value of a well-made shopping list. Now I know that when I use the last of something it should immediately go onto the grocery list. I do not want to have to run around for hours looking at the various household goods I keep to figure out what is needed in my house or take the risk of forgetting something important.


13. Do not bother the chef when she is cutting things with the large, incredibly sharp, red knife.

My boyfriend has a habit of coming up behind me in the kitchen and hugging me or kissing me on the cheek. This is particularly nice in theory but problematic in practice. Often I don’t hear him coming and he startles me at inopportune moments. For instance, when I’m cutting something with our sharpest knife—the one with the red handle—or stirring something that is boiling, or gingerly peeking underneath the lid of a pan full of searing hot oil. This tendency of his to sneak up on me in the kitchen was the catalyst for purchasing my second apron, which is extra thick in case of spillage. I have many ideas for expanding my basically nonexistent current early warning system. Future plans involve putting a bell around his neck so I always know where he is, or perhaps tagging him like a shark on the Discovery Channel. At the very least I learned to keep glancing over at him every few minutes so I can ascertain his whereabouts within the apartment and determine whether or not sneak-up-age is about to occur. This only has about a fifty percent success rate.

Suggestions are welcome. I’m willing to revise.


Erin Renee Wahl's work has appeared or is forthcoming in: Sterling, Dirty Chai, Blackmail Press, Spiral Orb, Cirque, and others. This year, she is a monthly contributor to Michigan Quarterly Review's blog. She currently lives and works in Fairbanks Alaska. 


Three Poems by Katerina Black

noah baumbach


it's getting late, he says.
do you want me to drop you off.

you watch farmland pass for
five minutes before saying anything.

you’re thinking about what you can do.
picturing the different rooms 
in your apartment, what will be on tv.
(you couldn't just ask someone in for a drink,
after all that.)

you picture the silence in all those rooms,
waiting for you like a cat, curled up
on a chair, watching the door.


when he gets to the hill above your building
you tell him to stop, you'll walk down.

you slip on the wet grass and just lie there
a while, letting it soak into your jeans,
staring up at the false moon.


not knowing any better, tomorrow will be a day
like any other. you will consider fonts,
bite no more than three nails.

at lunch you’ll walk to the edge of town
for a sandwich, and eat on a bench in front of
a preschool, your back to the kids.

you’ll sit and watch the cars go by.
none of them are his.




matt dillon

there's keeping your body fed
and there's keeping it clean. (there's crumbs).
there's keeping a job. there's pets if you have any.
there's socks. there's trash day, and then there's
recycling day.

there's losing a job and there's
losing weight. there's losing your father.
there's losing your mother, though less abruptly,
over a few years. there's losing a bike,
forgetting you had one.

there's vitamins. there's cars. there's pens.
there's house plants.

there's losing a sock and there's losing sleep.
there's keeping track of time. there's keeping
control of your drinking. there's losing a bet.
there's losing your marbles. there's losing your lunch.

there's the rest.




werner herzog

we lived back then in a house of thieves.
only once in a long while did they let us out,
and we wasted all of it talking to each other. 
(we had so much of each other already.)

we found whiskey as soon as we made it to the street.
(months in captivity can go by, and 
still it doesn’t burn our throats.) 
we got sloppy. we took our pills and remembered
to look for the things they’d stolen 
from us, the books, the records, the photos, 
ticket stubs and eyeliner pencils. 
we wound up going slow, stooping down 
every few feet, though the wind
tore terribly at our ears and i think gave me hepatitis.

we had hours of whispered arguments then.
i found myself saying things with my mouth
that my brain didn't think. i would have taken it back,
but i had so little to give those days,
it seemed the least i could do.

then some nights we heard them coming
through the walls, and held each other, 
sure they would break in at any moment
and find what we’d been hiding,
and beat us for lying to them,
whom we said we loved.

now all of this is over and we are out,
free to work and own things again. but 
i remember the scary nights. i haven’t been happier




katerina black is a dc native who has lived in tucson, amherst and nyc, but boston will do for now. she is a librarian by day and what she does at night is her own business, thanks.

Strangers in a Bar by Donal Mahoney

Sammy had been sitting in the bar for four hours drinking his usual gin and tonic, one drink after another, and even he would admit he was soused if he could put a sentence together. He didn’t have to talk, however, since he was the only customer left and there was an hour to go before closing. All he had to do was tap on the bar twice in front of his empty glass and the bartender would give him another drink. The service was wonderful.

Then two men in trench coats and fedoras walked in and sat down a few stools away from Sammy. They ordered a couple of beers. They seemed to be concerned about something and Sammy always liked to listen in on other people’s conversations.

“We need more room,” the big man said. “We can hardly take any more people. But they keep coming down and we can’t send them anywhere else. You would think we were Las Vegas and the drinks were free."

“Where will we get more room? We’re not talking real estate here,” the little fellow said. “No one thinks this place exists anyway. They think we’re a figment of someone’s imagination. New arrivals are always surprised.”

Then the big man said, “Oh, some people know we exist but they think we only get dictators and used car salesmen. The common belief is everyone else goes upstairs right away, provided there is an upstairs. More and more people think there may be nothing at the end.” 

The little guy thought about that for a moment and said, “Well, I heard two women arguing the other day about where cats and dogs go. I know we don’t have any cats and dogs. Where would we put them? Pretty soon we’ll be getting Boomers. They’re a fussy bunch. We need more room now!”

Sammy didn’t know what to make of all of this. He wished he wasn’t drunk so he could join the conversation but all he could do was listen. The two men finally left and Sammy told himself he’d come back tomorrow night and ask the bartender who the hell those two guys were. Then he tapped on the bar twice in front of his empty glass.




Donal Mahoney lives in St. Louis, Missouri. He writes poetry and fiction. Some of his earliest work can be found here

Justice Served? (Part Two) by Todd Tavolazzi

Read Part One here...


I dropped to the deck, pulled the empty magazine, field stripped the rifle back down to two pieces and stuffed them back in my golf bag. I fished out Danny the security guard’s cigarette butt from my pocket and threw it on the deck at my feet.

    That ought to throw off the dogs for a bit. Sorry Danny, but better you than me.

I picked up my three brass shell casings and dropped them in my bag, zipped up the pocket, hoisted the bag and headed for the roof door. I kept my golf gloves on until I was through the door. There was only one flight of steps from the roof to the top office floor. I had no idea who would be on the other side of that door. I’d just have to take a chance.

I opened the door to the top floor offices and only saw one guy far down the hall walking away from me. He rounded the corner at the other end of the hall and was out of sight. I pulled off my gloves on the way to the elevators and tried to look as nonchalant as possible as I hit the down button. My heart was still beating in spasms from the adrenaline but I concentrated on keeping my breathing under control in case I had to speak to anyone when the elevator door opened. As I waited for the elevator I looked at my watch.

    Let’s see, I dropped my target two minutes ago. If I can get out of the building in the next two minutes, I’ve got a chance.

I looked up at the lighted numbers on top of the elevator doors as the elevator crawled up to my floor…4…5…6…7, then, I heard someone speaking unusually loud for being in an elevator. I heard the man’s words in a deep, anxious voice just as the bell rang at my floor.

“You go left, I’ll go right, don’t let anyone off the floor,” I heard him say through the doors just before they opened.

I hit the stairwell just to the right of the elevators as I heard the elevator doors open on the top floor.

“FBI, nobody leave this floor,” I heard the same man yell behind the stairwell door as I took the steps down two at a time.

I made it down one flight and heard the stairwell door above me swing open so hard it slammed the wall and reverberated through the concrete floors throughout the stairwell. I slowly opened the door to the seventh floor, one floor down, and walked to its bank of elevators. I hit the button and waited again. It seemed like it took the bright number eight above the polished metal elevator doors an hour to switch to a seven.

The bell rang and the elevator door finally opened. It was empty. I stepped in and hit the number two and continued to concentrate on my breathing, this time with my eyes closed. It was too nerve racking to watch the numbers count down. I opened my eyes when the bell rang and the elevator door opened onto the second floor. I walked the four steps around the corner to the stairwell door that led two more floors down to the underground garage. In the stairwell, I heard the commotion far away near the top floors and smiled as I got to the garage entrance.

Despite the commotion inside, the garage almost seemed too quiet. I hit my keyless entry button and the trunk button on my keychain. My black Ford Flex’s lights flashed as the doors unlocked and the tail gate raised automatically a few steps before I got to the car. I placed my golf bag in the back, got in, looked at myself in the rear-view mirror and smiled.

    Almost there.

I drove over the spiked pads at the garage exit and turned right onto the street. I saw some movement in my rear-view mirror and noticed that they had just lowered the security gate from the ceiling behind me only seconds after I’d left. I was the last car out before the building went into lock down. I practiced my cover story a dozen times on the eleven minute drive to my neighbor’s storage unit complex.

 My neighbor was a divorced naval officer who’d lived next to me for two years. He’d felt comfortable enough in our neighborly relationship to ask me to take his jet ski out a few times while he was gone on a six month deployment overseas so he wouldn’t have to winterize it while he was gone. I was happy to oblige. The storage unit where he kept it locked up along with a lot of his other belongings served as the perfect spot that couldn’t be directly traced to me to destroy my evidence.

About a month ago, I bought a hand-held circular metal cutting saw on Craig’s List for a hundred bucks. I plugged it in and its circular diamond blade made quick work of my M-16A4. It reduced my tool of justice (not murder weapon) to eight pieces that could fit into a can of muriatic acid I had standing by. The acid wouldn’t break down the weapon totally, but it would eat microscopic ridges in the metal, especially inside the barrel where the rifling leaves specific markings on a bullet like a fingerprint. The damage caused by the muriatic acid will make it impossible to prove it was the weapon that fired the rounds that killed Mr. Randolph. That is, of course, assuming anyone ever finds the bucket.

I put the chopped up weapon, magazine and my gloves into the bucket of muriatic acid and was placing the lid on it when my cell phone rang. I looked at my watch before I answered it: twenty-two minutes since I dropped my target.

“Special Agent Winters,” I said into my phone.

“Boss, you gotta get in here quick. We’ve been trying to reach you.”

“Oh yeah? What’s up?”

“Someone took down William Randolph outside the court house.”

“What do you mean ‘took down’?”

“Three rifle shots to the head. He’s deader than shit. They think the shooter was on the roof of our building.”

“Our FBI office building?”

“Yeah, how crazy is that?”

 “Pretty crazy. Anyone in custody?” I said.

“Not yet. We’re locked down here. They’re still searching the building. How quick can you get here? They want statements from everyone.”

“I’m about fifteen minutes away.”

“You at the driving range again?”

“Well, I was on the way, I’m turning around now.”

“Okay, I’ll tell them you’re on your way in. You’re lucky you weren’t here. I’m sure it’s going to be hell for anyone who was in the building at the time.”

“You can bet on that.”

“Okay, see you soon.”

“Copy,” I said and hung up.

I put the secured can of eroding evidence in the back of my car and drove two miles to an abandoned warehouse. I dropped the can down a manhole I’d scoped out a few days prior. I washed my hands up to my elbows along with my neck and face with hand sanitizer and changed my shirt so I wouldn’t be wearing one that had gun powder residue embedded in the threads when I showed up to the shit storm at the office.

On the ride back I couldn’t stop smiling as I tried to control my breathing and prepare my mind for the inevitable questions and lie detector tests. If I was going to get away with this I had to consciously purge the words “justice was served” from my mind, even if I believed them to be true.               




Todd Tavolazzi is a full-time Naval Officer stationed in Norfolk, Virginia and a part-time writer. He usually writes on his porch with a drink and a smoke. He is a frequent contributor to Potluck.            

Justice Served? (Part One) by Todd Tavolazzi

My only regret was that I was unable to stop the killing. I knew about William Randolph’s threats against stem cell researchers since the FBI placed him on the domestic terrorism watch list eighteen months before he committed any crime. The point of the watch list was to focus surveillance resources on known international and domestic terrorist threats.

In his case, the FBI had access to William Randolph’s phone records, driving records, state and federal tax information, utility and water use (to track whether he was harboring like-minded potential terrorists or criminals at his residence), website traffic, point of sale transactions and even his general whereabouts. The FBI considered him enough of a threat to place a satellite tracking device on his vehicle to monitor his location (or at least the location of his vehicle).

Despite the green light to conduct surveillance on him, I was never convinced that the FBI was doing an adequate job in actually tracking Mr. Randolph or truly understanding his intentions with enough specificity to stop him from doing anything illegal. His home address happened to be within ten miles of where I lived and I spent more than a few weekends staking out his house and following him around.

I wasn’t formally trained for this type of work but couldn’t stomach letting a known domestic threat have the run of the country while lurking in plain sight among the sea of law abiding Americans. I figured it wouldn’t be too difficult to do my part since the FBI only had about 14,000 Special Agents and nearly a million names on its terrorist watch list.

Even with my extra vigilance I was unable to stop what Mr. Randolph had planned.  Of all the weekends, Mr. Randolph chose the one when I happened to be out of town at a friend’s wedding to launch what amounted to a brutal and well-thought out plan.

While I was taking down double rum and Cokes from the open bar and watched the mother of the bride do the chicken dance on the dance floor, Mr. Randolph donned a backpack and pedaled his mountain bike to his target. He had packed two hand guns, a disassembled assault rifle and several magazines of ammunition for each weapon into his pack and rode five miles to an office park that housed a bio-tech company known for its stem cell research.

He leaned his bike on a shady tree in the parking lot, assembled his assault rifle, pulled on a tactical load bearing vest to hold his magazines and two pistols and calmly walk into an office and killed people he didn’t know as punishment for a perceived moral slight in his delusional mind.

Although the quick call to 911 from the bio-tech receptionist before she was mortally wounded and the excellent reaction time from local authorities helped limit casualties, the real hero was a janitor with a concealed carry permit who got off three shots and landed two of them with his Kel-Tec P-3AT .380 caliber handgun before Mr. Randolph returned fire and killed him. The janitor managed to get Mr. Randolph in the right arm and the right leg which slowed him down long enough to allow the police to respond. Police officers found Mr. Randolph behind a desk, bleeding profusely, trying to reload one of his two pistols with one hand.

* * *

William Randolph’s trial lasted for a little over a year as prosecutors argued for the death penalty for taking three innocent lives as payment for being involved in what their defendant said was “usurping the privilege of creation reserved solely for God.” When the verdict was publicized, only one dissenter pushed the vote toward life in prison without the possibility of parole. One person was all it took. A death penalty vote must be unanimous.

I was pulling into my reserved parking spot at work when I heard the verdict reported on the radio. I turned off the engine and made a decision at that moment that my tax money would not be used to pay for the 24/7 supervision for this individual’s feeding, housing, clothing, medical care and recreation for the remainder of his life. Whether he ended up living for one year or fifty, it would be too long.

I had mentally and physically prepared for this eventuality over a few weeks prior to the verdict. I resolved to follow through with my plan immediately. My heart raced as I came to the realization that today was the day. I would have to act immediately or lose the opportunity. The clock was ticking.  

* * *

Sheriff’s deputies would have to transfer Mr. Randolph from the courthouse to a waiting armored van to transfer him to a Federal penitentiary. The challenge for them was the twenty yard open area he would need to cross where he’d be fully exposed. This brief exposure was my only chance to make right what the jury obviously got wrong. The Sheriff’s only possible precautions to keep their newly convicted inmate safe were a bulletproof vest and speed. Fortunately for me, both could be negated with a bit of planning. And I had planned appropriately.

The only way to negate a bulletproof vest is to get close with armor piercing rounds or land one or more head shots. Getting close was not an option so I prepared for a head shot or two which took about a month. I told my colleagues I was diligently working to improve my golf game with the goal of achieving bragging rights over my asshole brother-in-law. This tactic allowed me to set up a consistent time block a few times per week to hone my marksmanship skill well enough to keep a three round group no bigger than two inches at three hundred yards.

Negating the speed of transfer would be taken care of by hand and leg shackles connected at the waist. This system ensured the prisoner could not remove either their hand or leg shackles independently or move quickly while properly shackled, a must for the successful execution of my mission.

* * *

The layout of the open area, a small fenced in parking lot behind the courthouse, could only be covered from two possible locations with adequate distance and cover for my purposes. The first option was impossible. It was a building under construction with contractors swarming all over it, including the roof, from early morning until sunset. That left only one other possibility, the roof of the FBI building across from the courthouse. This too had its challenges, but wouldn’t be impossible.

* * *

At the FBI building, I put on my golf gloves to eliminate fingerprints as I pried open the roof door with a crow bar while the roving guard was in the bathroom on the ground floor. Danny, the day guard, complained to me himself one day, in the designated smoking area outside, that the building manager lost the key for the access door to the roof. He was told to coordinate a replacement with a locksmith so the HVAC people could do some maintenance on the roof units, but he hadn’t gotten around to it yet. He said he used to go up there to smoke but he hadn’t been up there since they’d lost the key.

Some days, Danny and I chatted at the gazebo around the shady side of the office building just before his lunch break ended. I made sure I was there to shoot the shit on execution day. We exchanged polite conversation for a bit before he mashed his cigarette out in the sand-filled ash tray and went inside as I lit up another smoke. Once he was gone I pulled his cigarette butt from the ash tray and pocketed it.

I had printed out a sign on a generic piece of printer paper at a local hotel business center outside of town on my long way home one night in preparation for the main event. After the fact, there’d be an exhaustive investigation to find out what exactly happened and how. If I expected to be successful I couldn’t risk having local paper or printer ink traced to me or my office or printers. I hung my sanitized sign on the inside of the door and went to work on the door lock with my crowbar. The sign read: NO ROOF ACCESS – LOCKSMITH HAS BEEN NOTIFIED TO COMPLETE REPAIRS.

The door finally gave way after prying on the lock for a few tense moments. If anyone would have come to investigate the noise and caught me in the act, I’m not sure I could have offered a logical explanation. The fact that I was prying open the roof access door with a crowbar while I carried a golf bag was weird enough activity to make any normal person suspicious let alone a building full of Feds. But the justice-loving gods smiled on me and I managed to get the door open, made sure my sign would stay put, ensured the damaged door would still allow me an escape route, and then stepped out onto the roof. I couldn’t help but smile at the perfect mission conditions: warm afternoon sunshine and a cloudless blue sky. I walked to the twin HVAC units and squeezed into the shaded shoulder-width space between them.      

There were surveillance cameras mounted on the roof at each corner of the building but they were all pointing out and down toward the street. There were no cameras covering the roof area.

    I’m sure they’ll correct that after today.

I sucked in a deep, soothing breath, exhaled and got to work. I pulled a two-by-four inch piece of wood from my golf bag and fished out four ten penny nails and a hammer that were hanging out amongst the golf balls and golf tees in my golf bag’s cavernous pocket. I hammered two nails per side through the wood and into the sheet metal sides of the HVAC units. It wasn’t perfect but was solid enough to take the weight of my rifle’s bipod.

I then pulled my two sections of my broken down M-16A4 from the golf bag, assembled it, extended the bipod and rested it on the two-by-four that now spanned the gap between the two HVAC units. I had a semi-concealed, steady, standing firing position with an unobstructed view of my kill zone. The position had to be standing because I needed to be set back and a little higher than the four foot wall that ringed the roof to maintain cover and have a clear shot.

With my gloved hands, I grabbed my single magazine with three rounds and loaded the rifle. I verified the distance to the kill zone with my laser range finder: 296 meters. Perfect range for my sights and almost the exact distance I’d been practicing for. All there was left to do was wait. Luckily, it wouldn’t be long. A little bird told me that they were planning on transferring the prisoner at four o’clock sharp. Good intel was essential.

After about fifteen minutes, I saw the media vans roll up followed by local news jockeys milling around checking their equipment and doing sound checks in front of their cameras. Then, the dark blue armored van that was scheduled to transport my target arrived and parked in front of the stairs where Mr. Randolph would have to descend in leg cuffs. Six minutes after the van arrived, I saw Mr. Randolph appear in a florescent orange jump suit with a Sheriff flanking each side holding his arms as he walked through the double doors and down the concrete stairs to the parking lot.

His slow waddle was perfect. I could see through my rifle’s scope that the speed of his choppy steps and the distance he had to cover would give me about five or six seconds to get two or hopefully three rounds off. No problem.

I began the mantra I’d been using for weeks as I practiced my marksmanship for this very moment: One, Inhale, exhale half a breath, hold it.

A few thoughts also creeped in behind my mantra threatening to waste my opportunity, Should I really do this? Have I thought of everything?

I saw the red dot on my scope bounce on his left cheek as it matched the quick rhythm of my heartbeat.

    Now or never.


The rifle butt kicked my shoulder and I began the mantra for the second shot: Two, exhale, inhale, exhale half, hold it, reacquire the target.

I saw that the target was on one knee as one of the officers was trying to pull him up to his feet. The officer’s head blocked my target for a second, but then he cleared. The red dot rested on the target’s left ear.


I never looked through the scope after the third shot. I hoped they connected.

    Time to go.



Read Part Two here...



Todd Tavolazzi is a full-time Naval Officer stationed in Norfolk, Virginia and a part-time writer. He usually writes on his porch with a drink and a smoke. He is a frequent contributor to Potluck.

FIVE by Lucy Tiven

Everything at Once 

Rob Kardashian is getting so big and sympathetic & all of his plots are about that. In one, he locks the camera crew out & says “I’m sad, I’m sad, I’m sad!” while they film a shut door. More recently, he has designed a line of whimsical socks for the holiday season, which boast colorful messages like “YOLO” and “Fa-la-la-la.” A central, if unintended facet of the Kardashian sock campaign is a series of Instagram photos in which men & women lie face-up in colorful footwear.  Due to their composition and the manner in which models are styled and positioned, these images invoke portraits of bodies in a morgue almost immediately, lending an additional eerie, curatorial presence to the warblings of a troubled son hawking novelty socks while attempting to reel himself in on a molecular level – so not to expand beyond forms welcomed by television audiences. Since everyone is scared of an irreversible thing happening to them at any moment, it is a relief to lose weight on accident without thinking about it - at least for insurance purposes. Then, if and when it happens later on, it is less bad. But, it isn’t just one thing. 

I take pills and lie down for different reasons. Lazy is lazy, though. Either Rob Kardashian will keep expanding until he is big enough to hold more and more of our fears, or he will not. He may get smaller instead, while each of us grows a little bit large in our way. Maybe he will go on The Biggest Loser like his mom hopes, with the taught faced woman and strong men yelling cruel names up a hill. Or instead, he will go off like the others, in a ship or a jet - to see the whole sky & its weird & glimmering largess of size-fluctuant silence. He will chose that again, and again, forever. I do too. Everyone does.



Lucy Tiven is a poet & essayist living in Los Angeles. Recently, her work has appeared on AvidlyVice, and in Two Serious Ladies, Lazy Fascist Review, The Quietus & The Scrambler. She is a Contributing Editor at The Fanzine & writes copy & editorial at LA Mother, a feminist-flavored marketing agency in Hollywood. She also writes a column on Real Pants about animals in literary life with help from her little cat Joey. He is a scamp.

Space Colony by Scott Rooker

On the surface of the moon, inside the geodesic dome, in the hum of the artificial light, Dr. Demetrius blew his brains out with a .38 caliber pistol.  He was the last of the survivors.  The secrets of the moon died with him. 


Back on earth, the Channel 5 News Room was giddy with anticipation of the arrival of the President of the United States of America.  The Secret Service vehicles were already there; parked in every space in the parking lot.  

News Anchor Brian Dudley, a 17 year veteran of the station, was pissed that he had to park so far up the hill and walk.  'Fuck the azalea gardens,' he thought.

Later on, Brian Dudley sat in a chair reviewing note cards while makeup was being applied to his face.

The Programming Director carefully approached the Anchor.  

“Got a sec,” he asked retracting his headset mic.  


“Good.  I just wanted to go over something right quick.”


“So you've got the questions?"

“Right Here,"

"Great.  Stick to those and you're going to do wonderfully."

He turned to walk away but then he spun around and said, "Oh, and there is this one thing.  There is one subject his people requested that we not talk about."

"And what would that be?"

The program director lowered his voice and said, “Please, whatever you do, promise me you won't mention anything about.. Space Colony."

During the interview Brian Dudley never asked the President about Space Colony.  They sampled some classic hush puppies.  Boy, were they good.  In fact, Brian Dudley never even really got off a question in the 3 minute and 17 seconds segment.  Brian Dudley was a Pro Journalist.  He knew that sometimes it's not what you ask that matters, it's what you don't ask that counts.  At least that's how he rationalized it.



Scott Rooker is an artist, musician, and writer from Raleigh, North Carolina.


Two Poems by C.T. McGaha


like holding a book up to look at a tree i saw you
standing in bluebonnets just north of fort worth

and the umbrella you held dropped like asshole ralph
like eyelids like hopes in east texas like you

want me to drop everything sometimes i do
but sometimes i just need my fucking pictures

in cellophane preserved with little light
to damage them i could just drop them

like sears tower pennies like new york pigeons
like lee oswald's rifle like marilyn’s panties

tissue paper wrapped flowers rub against one
another. like a bacon-eating pig i saw you there

standing in bluebonnets just north of fort worth 
wasn’t raining. your umbrella broke in hand

and you cried. when did you start crying? when
you held me? my little oshkosh overalls grass- 

stained. my ex-fiancée started crying 
a year ago. she asked me what she looked like

i ran out of the room screaming
bluebonnets bluebonnets bluebonnets





Two trees growing together
under the shadow
of fort worth texas 
and we are in the yard

we watch in the yard

as the holy hot bird feeder
is rattled to the earth
and the trees shoot skyward
taking tire swings with them
that smash together
—it’s a makeshift eight

and a swarm of bluebirds
plume the sky 
like they can fly enough 
to eclipse our mother

standing above us with 
hands like bluebonnets
that dart and sway
in the flat land wind

we sit bull on the lawn
clockhands in three
separate dots
and we watch




C.T. McGaha is a writer from Charlotte, NC. His work has been previously published in Gambling the Aisle, Haunted Waters' Press' From the Depths, and Crab Fat Literary Magazine. When he's not writing, he's driving down Central Avenue, blasting Outkast's "Aquemini." 

black ice by Julia Berke

a year ago to date i graduated from college after careening off of the proverbial asphalt due to a collection of black ice that stretched over the road of my life. the ice sent me skidding into bars at two o’clock in the morning, full tilt, ready to take on the experience of life. i was ready to feel everything it had to offer, opening my doors to strangers and letting them take me out for a spin, check under my hood, fill me up with booze and drugs and other things. my tires lost their traction and i was launched headlong into a ditch on the side of the road.

the roads were slick because of the polar vortex that had settled over new york city but that didn’t reduce my speed, it merely made the engine rumbling inside hungrier, sending the pistons of my mind into overdrive to create the friction i needed to keep going in the dead of winter.

i came to in mid april, the ice was thawing out as it littered the streets with pools of sick and memory i wish i could wash away with a garden hose but stayed, stained on the asphalt. i went for a tune-up. then i broke down — 6 months later, a total engine failure. i couldn’t start.

and now, it’s my one year inspection and i’m scared. although the road is clear and there isn’t any ice on the ground, i have my hazards on. it’s been weeks of slipping down the road, sitting around bonfires, smoking cigarettes with the other dejected youth of the too small town that doesn’t understand there’s more to life then sitting around bonfires and drinking. we can’t stomach the conversation without a full tank. and so they binge, i watch, for fear of the ditch on the side of the road.

but then i give in, i fill up and i ask if anyone’s looking for a ride out of here. some are and some aren’t but i’m ready to experience my life again. and then i start to spin, here comes the ditch. i close my eyes and try to steer. my foot finds the brake. i open my eyes and there i am again, sidelined, the ditch on my other side, shaking all over, head on the steering wheel, hazards flashing deep orange fire.

this time i made it out without a scratch but that doesn’t mean the road’s safe. it’s a long drive and i must stay alert. better find a rest stop and get a coffee.


Julia Berke likes to wear many hats. some of them are blog superstar, freelance video production extraordinaire, shutter bug, occasional writer, and all around ethical humanist. you can find more of here fiction work here on potluck!