Thirteen Myna Birds






With Any Luck

Shouldn’t be too hard
on yourself for falling
short of Nirvana, or heaven,
or eternal slumber, whatever
you’re shooting for.

Might be you don’t have prior experience
being human, maybe
you were a rhinoceros,
or an eggplant
before you popped out in St. Pete’s Maternity Ward.

Might not escape
the meat wheel
this time. With any luck,
you’ll come back a squid
or some other being that’s not to blame

for every goddamned thing.

~Jason O'Toole~



Golden Eye

Tucked in T-shirt,
fast-food belly,
straight legged Wranglers.
Behold the man.

Holding phone sideways,
two-handed salutation to the sun.
Reaching towards redtail soaring
above Golden Arches.

The hawk is too far.
The photos won’t come out.
This poem might not either.
This hawk is not Horus,

just another hawk flying
over the Macy Street McDonalds,
and this time,
the man isn’t me.

~Jason O'Toole~



Bush Meat

Muddy lumber roads meander
through the Cameroon rainforest.
Beneath the cloak of fog and night
poachers travel twisted trails.

Listen to the gorilla when it cries.

Hear the grinding of gears,
the whining of engines,
see the blinding halogen beams
as jeeps wind deeper into the night.

Listen to the gorilla when it cries.

Trespass on the land of the Baka,
Pygmy inhabitants since near Neolithic time.
Trespass on the land of the gorilla,
anthropoidal inhabitants since prehistoric time.

Listen to the gorilla when it cries.

Frightened and blinded by halogen lights,
Listen to the gorillas when they cry,
Listen to curses of the mighty poachers,
Listen to the roar of their mighty rifles.

Listen to the gorilla when it cries.
Listen to the buyers when they buy.
Listen to the logging companies when they lie.
Listen to the Yaounde diners when they dine.
Listen to the Baka Pygmies when they cry.

Listen to the gorillas when they die.

~Daniel G. Snethen~




carrion beetle
orange, black--grave-digging sextons
strip carcasses bare
recycling death unto life
rejuvenating Earth's sod

~Daniel G. Snethen~







Beware of the Whippoorwills

Beware of the whippoorwills
when they sing,
whip-poor-will, whip-poor-will.

Beware of the phantom bird,
invisible harbinger of the Massachusetts woods,
vociferous soul-catcher screeching—
whip-poor-will, whip-poor-will.

Gray as the ashen moths they devour.
Gray spectral denizens of death.

Beware of the whippoorwills
when they sing.
Beware, beware!

~Daniel G. Snethen~



Wild Strawberries

As soon as I sleep, I forget to be positive.

Last night, for example,
I dreamed I was rushing
to meet my mother
at this trendy café
(she’s a trendy café kind of person)

but when I arrive,
the café turns into a gondola, and it
takes off through a canal in Venice
with me in it, surrounded by
trendy clowns.
I’m scared of clowns.
Have always screamed at the sight of clowns.
The child, my therapist says, is
a sponge,

but I call myself sponge cake,
no calories or substance,

designed to soak up wild strawberry sauce.

And I prefer to think
my soul is like a sun-block that
absorbs UVB rays.

That's how
my negativity protects
you all’s

~Mish Murphy~





Not Quiet Writing

From hating the lack of love
To loving every bit of hate
It is what it is, it is, everything is
Everything is what it's doing right now
I am a fidgeting statue
My laptop is an anthill
Belief is a placebo for truth
The beating percussion of the discussion
Keeps my heart from forgetting to continue
Since apparently my pen is too blue to host
at most venues where off stage the writers
are never on the page; recycling lines like they are out of stock
Without clocks, seconds would stop passing
there are only seconds because there are clocks telling them constantly
Dishonesty is the same, they keep lying and you keep buying
All of my poems are free because I freely fixate on the truth
They are broken, I’m only broke, that’s not so bad, I’ve been broke
But I’m not begging for change, I am making it, when they see, they rearrange
I am the subject, they are the shadows

~John Maurer~



Through the Fog

No matter how many times my mother tells me on the telephone that it will all be okay
It never is, it never was, and I struggle to explain that happiness is a hollow goal
That survival feels pandering and only in death has revolution ever been found
If they read this and believe it and say I am more than I am, I hope they remember I’m not
No man is more than a man, there are no truer truths; in fact, there are no truths at all
We are lab rats being force fed propaganda through a feeding tube that we brag about
We want everyone to stare at our delirium and call it revelation or inspiration
But this isn’t that and that isn’t real and the desire for what isn’t is delirious
And all along, I’ve known disassociation, I’ve known imagined grandeur
Is in fact the only nobility in a world whose compass spins endlessly

~John Maurer~



One Pill, Two Pill, Red Pill, Blue Pill

This is the resin of the pulped tree beneath it
Everything came from somewhere else first
Except me, still in my hometown driving past cemeteries
Like one day, I'll live there, that wouldn't be so bad
Lots of grass, lots of flowers, lots of silence and crying

I like going on picnics with my partner
I like trying to step away from this Wi-Fi cancer in my brain
I so badly want to be loved that no one loves me
There isn't a genre of creation I don't have my hands in
I'd rather be a jack of all trades than a master of any

What an artistic burden
what a weight on the lead tip
I am in the game of avoiding break downs
Of living long and being forgotten quickly
My art is me talking shit on me, so when they do the same, I know they understand

~John Maurer~



Contact Us

Sir, thanks again for your patience
with our standard unusual volume of calls.
The voice you now hear, please be assured,

is of a real person. That would be me, human
with viscera, dependents, and rent.
Don’t shout, sir. Let’s knock down your problem.

First, are you sure your mouse finger twitched
on the link we told you to twitch? Not the one near it
that’s almost the same but it’s not. Inconvenience

was caused. We are sorry. Please also be certain
that you’re at our new site, not the mothballed page.
That scrambles everyone and I can’t prevent it.

What? Oh, you insist I explain “what in the hell”
an autofill is. You “don’t understand gobbledygook.”
I hope you remember this call is monitored

for quality purposes
. I’m not allowed to betray
what that means. (What it means is how fast
I ram through the queue of very important to us

despite your insistence I stay to rejigger
your zeroes and ones.) Think about “auto,” sir,
imagine “fill.” Hope that helps! Say that again?

Your shopping cart vanished? Don’t use the left arrow,
that’s wrong. Click the back button. See the word Back?
I know “it’s not shaped like a button!” I can’t tell you this:

Quality purposes means I’m shackled by personal metrics
like every valued associate. That means a full cupboard
or empty. My lights on or off. House or no house.
You’re panicked? Who isn’t near out of their mind?

~David P. Miller~







Pumpkin Cycle

The orange ball wasn’t. Then all at once was and there it is.

Squirrel’s incisors flicker at nerve ends.

It rattles across the porch rail to stop at the pumpkin,

big hard berry-kindred.


Rural seasons we’ve never lived

curve us to sentiment.

Supermarket pumpkin,

store-bought “Indian corn”

our equinox ornaments.

Back-to-the-land whiffs.


Squirrel finds pumpkin gripless. Claws can’t secure

a siege against the orange rampart.

But first success.

Light rind shavings, hard chewing.

More, more, rodent wide-eyes assault.

Tree sleep.

Then daylight branch vaulting, return to pumpkin.

Fresh scrapes.

Sun-orange stripped for white under-rind.

Still tough work. This fortress sphere.


We don’t make jack-o-lanterns.

We let the rot happen.


Pumpkin squats on porch and continues to die.

Soft patches slime the curious human finger.


Corn tossed to the porch at Christmas. Hunger

strips niblets from the cob.


Squirrel teeth breach where rind rots.

First penetration straight through.

Gut scents uncorked.  Squirrel probes hole.

Seeds and meat.

Weaker rind, wider holes. Stringy pulp clots.

Seeds dropped from paws and mouth.

Eating, sated, sleeping, eating, sated, sleeping.

Fat squirrel.


Winter withdraws from vomitous splatter

of pumpkin leavings.

Squirrel scrambles here and there,

stuffs leaf jawfuls into the nest.


Compost soaks up the traces

of our annual chaos. We

implode an orange globe

in partnership with rodents.

~David P. Miller~




Night comes up out of the cellars,
the gravestones,
the tips of the sagging willow branches.
It's brand new shadows,
unrepentant dark places,
maybe even a soul or two,
getting together,
sharing their bleak resources.
Night as a separate endeavor
wouldn't survive the lighting of a lamp,
the burning of a bedside candle,
but as a cumulative process,
a shared enterprise,
even a good heart must beware.
For night leaves nothing to chance,
mirrors the reach of the day
and then some.
It has fear on its side,
loneliness as a tool,
nightmare as a backup.
Night's born.
It spreads.
It encroaches.
It moves in.
It takes over.
Isn't that the way
you dread things happening

~John Grey~




Who would have thought
that little black book
would turn out to be
great black night,
that the names of
eligible and eager women
would be erased
and the monikers of demons
scribbled in their place.
Who would have imagined
that it wouldn't be me lonely
and consorting with that well-thumbed
travel guide to romantic tete-a-tete
but something dark and chilling
dialing the number for me,
and a strange, unholy voice answering
at the click of twelve o'clock.
No Julie, no Ruth,
but a creature from the nether world.
No candle lit dinner
but a rite of human sacrifice.
No canoodling on the sofa
but a bloody dagger
hoisted high and threatening
above my naked chest.
Still, in keeping with tradition,
when morning came,
my company made me breakfast.
I hope I tasted foul.

~John Grey~







When Death Hears Nazis Are Burning Books, He Begins Questioning His Job Description

Do books go to heaven?
Or even hell?

I know about people.
I’ve ferried them and the dying stars to their graves since I was born.
The compilation of thoughts which inhabit them are people the same as a memory,
hidden in dark corners like a gaunt boy who speaks a language I don’t understand
with eyes I cannot relate to.

If a book can ascend
can it also be
Shoveled on a bier with Kafka and Marx
above the ash,
the blackened pages
lift toward… what? Justice?

like the wind,
take them to a place they will remain unrecognizable.
Only the bindings of leather and the acrid smell are sensed.
The hounds sent to find them still revel in the aroma of their work
permanently infused in their nostrils.
The box they used to hide is now a foot stool;
four feet
by four feet
by four.

~Malachi Ray Adkins~



Having Read Icarus’s Book, The Gods Decide To Rewrite History

What if,
instead of a story on hubris,
we heard a story on redemption?

Where flying to the edge of the sky
is not a punishment
but a dream.

A dream we all want to achieve
where we can feel the mist of the sea
and the heat of the sun
and, as we may fall,
we restore balance,
we restore order with
our wings
and then
even higher.

And when
we land
what could we do?
other than build.

~Malachi Ray Adkins~