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Issue 64

Burning Word is a quarterly literary

ISSN 2161-8992 (print)

Oct 2012

publication focussing on emerging

ISSN 2157-7366 (online)

writers of poetry and short fiction.

Issue 64

ISSN 2161-8992 (print)

Oct 2012

ISSN 2157-7366 (online)

In this Issue

Richard Hartwell Walter Safar Thomas McDade Bob Bradshaw Caitlin Thomson Steve Klepetar Jeffrey Park Danny Earl Simmons Mark Mitchell Peggy Aylsworth Lisa Kaitz Jessica Lieberman William Robison Burningword is published by Burrdowning Press Publishing Editor & Creative Director Erik Austin Deerly Editor In Chief Anita M. Garza

Dan Pizappi Michael Estabrook Gary Beck John McKernan Ann Dernier Douglas Sullivan Keith Moul Ross Moretti

Intern Alisha Referda Submissions & guidelines: PO Box 217 Carmel IN 46062 USA Š 2012 Burningword & the authors

Bradly Brandt David Kann James Fowler Lauren Shows Eugene Melino Mike Gallagher Toshiya Kamei Armel Dagorn

Summer Whispered to March


You need not fear the cold much longer;

The human voice,

the seasons of the world are changing,

a peculiar instrument

they are structures collapsing

badly played by most

and will be gone by midnight

can produce beauty,

as if by tidal wave.

making us wonder

You see, the walls keeping things apart,

why so many

they won’t hold much longer.

assault fragile ears.

Soon the sun will come to warm our bodies ceaselessly year-round,

—Gary Beck (

thus causing oceans of missed pleasure to announce their presence greeting us tasting of winter

Fishhook Moon

and smelling of soap. They’ll begin by kissing our necks and nipples and lap and lap against the shore, returning ever steadily-and yet, between sun and burning sand there is space unlimited to grow. —Jessica Lieberman (

baited fishhook moon trolls the thin matter of twilight one eyelid of light one slit scale on the fin of dawn dangling like a silk chemise, across the back of the night’s chair little sawyer moon,

Jessica is currently studying poetry at Kenyon College. She has studied under Daniel Mark Epstein, Thomas Hawks, and Jennifer Clarvoe. She works as an intern for the Kenyon Review.

little snag-edge librating in river’s bed snares from the current’s umbra a kiss from those luminous lips a falcated honesty rising in the aureola of day like Eos unable to sleep with him on her mind —Ann Dernier (d e r n i e r @ m i n d s p r i n g . c o m )

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Shroud At dusk in the dirt near the mouth of the tomb lie the wrappings of Lazarus abandoned in ecstasy A slight figure scurries whisks them away scrubbing in the current till fingertips are sanguine spreads them on a rock to dry in the morning Later she laves her brother’s bowl

Troubadour The troubadour has got no horse so he rides to his gigs on a minstrel cycle to fortnightly ovations and all the roast meat he can carry on a dagger The acrobats hang upside down tumblers half fool, naked juggler vainglorious fat clowns send up tight wirewalkers the ragged trampoline springs a trapeze artist In the land Budapest controls at a mineral spa for well-hung Aryans Dan’s ignoble Lord of Gdansk shows his steps to ill cons on Lion Tamer Lane Full tilt a whirling dervish curves nervously, swerves, observes no perversions but ecdysiasts in Gaza strip and Persian rug rats scare Indian elephants Through the door comes the troubadour jester in the vesture besmirches the churches misrule measures its meter but the inverse poet is averse to reverses —William B. Robison (

rinses the cup Martha left on the table and sweeps up the crumbs spilled by her visitor —William B. Robison (

ethicist the woman drinks milk in a Chinese restaurant says Derrida is becoming an ethicist barely touches her dish of spicy lobster sauce crawfish and onions deconstructed for nothing —William B. Robison (

Burn in g Word U 5

Divine Confection Once my mother made a big plate of divinity and I said to my brother, bet you can’t eat just one. Well, we fell out laughing, thinking about the time when we bought a bag of chips from the sexy checkout girl and kept making jokes coming home from the grocery cracking up and wondering how the Lays lady lays with a cautious nod to the copyright attorney and all due apologies to Mister Bob Dylan, though a man who makes his living from clever wordplay can hardly complain whenever it crops up elsewhere. That’s especially true because he dropped his real name for his birth certificate reads Robert Zimmerman and I wonder: what if his favorite poet were Robert Frost instead of the thirsty Dylan Thomas, unstoppering by a snowy wood when he got dry?

William Robison

Would he now be Robert Robert, and wouldn’t people have confused him early on with Robbie Robertson?

William Robison teaches history at Southeastern Louisiana University; writes about early modern England, including The Tudors in Film and Television with Sue Parrill; is a musician and filmmaker; and has poems accepted by Amethyst Arsenic,, Anemone Sidecar, Apollo’s Lyre, Asinine Poetry, Carcinogenic Poetry, decomP magazinE, Forge, Mayday Magazine, On Spec, and Paddlefish.

Or perhaps to avoid that, he would have a nickname: not Boss or King or Slowhand, but something evoking a singer of poetry—maybe Oral Roberts But, oops, that would be even worse because there is that pompadoured Oklahoma preacher, once the healer of arthritic elbows and the occasional plague of boils afflicting the odd Old Testament martyr to whom Bildad appeared with a shopping cart laden with lizards, locusts, and stinging scorpions and said Take this, Job, and shove it, but the tiny wheels bogged down in sand, leaving him lamenting to leprous laymen I’ll bet you this never happened to Jeremiah! Meanwhile, in the eighties, Dylan found the messiah But it was floral moral Oral who said he saw a hundred foot Jesus saying: raise me more geetus. Now, I’m no dyspeptic skeptic, but I’ve never seen Jesus at all, though I feel his presence at Christmas Still, if his standing height in yards was the same as his

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Dry age when he hung on the cross, you could get him to hold

boney anorexic soul has no breath

up your TV antenna, and I’ll bet you would get

no intake at all, its exhalation

immaculate reception. Of course I’d be cautious,

is only the gasp of the punctured corpse

though I’m not sacrilegious, about standing too close for fear of the lightning . . . but really I’m not worried

stake in the breast of the vampire yielding a pitiful puff of fetid staleness

If God hurled thunderbolts like mythical Zeus, He might

even the putrefaction half-hearted

take a shot at preachers for profit, who fudge truth and fiddle the books like Nero selling fire insurance

too little essence for a full-fledged stink

But God lets us make our mistakes and have some fun, too

skin like the sun-dried membrane of bat’s wings

Ben Franklin, our frequently foundering father, said

stretched out thinly over bones so tightly

beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us

that a pinprick, unleashing fierce surface

to be happy, and I would hasten to agree, though

tension, might fling fleshless flaps skittering

Franklin’s faith was not my own, for he was mere Deist

o’er skeleton, ripped cello-wrap beating

not a Eucharistic fellow with chips for his brew and thus never tasted my Mother’s divinity

hasty retreat from desiccated meat balloon stuff fraying round a vacuum void

—William B. Robison (

vaporless vault of the leathery shrew

no sweat, no tears, no mucus, no moisture

Academic Retreat bland ennui podium drones chittering cadres splintering styrofoam blank figures tedium’s bones self-referential legume enumerators blunt stylus medium’s cones somnolent sputter dreary enervation —William B. Robison (

none of the warm wetness of womanhood blood congealed, condensed, evaporated even her venom a fine dry powder her slithering the sound of sandpaper scraping crass across a rough surfaced stone so little like women damp with desire or kissed with chastity’s milder juices lachrymal in laughter, languor, or lust dabbed, licked, lapped up, but never wiped away unafraid to lactate, expectorate perspire, no bleached sinews or oil-less hair breathing visible heat in the chill air tiny droplets of spirit escaping ectoplasm distilling its essence lovers soak up this liquor like sponges in the meantime, seedless, the arid husk parches in her non-porous poverty —William B. Robison (

Burn in g Word U 7


Newborn Verse

While you are dealing the cards, your face is stoney and

I could write a new verse today


About two roses

You observe your victim like a sphynx.

That we laid down onto the black soil

I escape to the casino table,

When we parted,

Because I don’t have much left,

Perhaps even a poem

Just an old family heirloom ring

About the warm tears that were mutely sliding

And very little hope

Into the cradle of your wonderful soul.

That I shall avoid seeing you in the croupier’s uniform, Or the habit of a butler

I could call you loudly,

Who is serving death.

Without shame and boundaries, Like a bird calls another bird,

My place is at the casino table.

But my throat is trapped by silence

The emptier my pockets,

Born to powerful solitude.

The hungrier my passion. I’ve heard the restless voice of a gambler:

Yesterday, I loved you less than I do today,

“Perhaps I shall once manage

And the living memories are proof of that,

To deceive destiny... Perhaps...”

Memories that are warmly flowing

And the voice vanishes in the echo of many a gambler’s

Through the dreamy summer air,


Like blood is flowing through veins.

You once again decided to scourge me,

In the silence of this summer day I could write a poem

Your shiny hand throws the white ball.

About our last dance below the old walnut tree,

Who knows whose bones this white ball was made of,

From which the beautiful memories still emanate,

This ball that dances so seductively

But the sun is still so cold without you,

In front of the inebriated man’s eyes?

Shining like gold:

Will my bones end up

Cold and deadly blinding.

In its white interior tomorrow? When solitude tends to my heart with sadness, It didn’t take you long, destiny,

All I have left are memories

To throw me out into the street

To give birth to a verse

With an empty wallet and a vacant gaze.

Like a wonderful child of hope.

Now I stare into this empty night, And death awaits below the old oak tree

While the present haunts me into the past,

That has accusingly raised its bare branches

I haunt my spirit towards the sun’s golden cradle,

Into this empty night.

So it would become a blood brother to the newborn verse,

Do not wear the black butler’s suit, destiny,

Because I might see you tomorrow

Let death wait.

And read this poem to you.

I know you will comply, destiny,

—Walter William Safar (

You don’t like those who play it safe, Because there is me in you, And there is you in me. Throw another one, destiny! —Walter William Safar (

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Old Oak In the shadow of solitude now I see Your eyes,

fearfully looking at it as it drags its dignified old face along

that so faithfully carry about the light

the ground,

through my thoughts so dark,

its memories are as lively as mine.

and the pen trembles in the hand,

Once, yes, once the memories,

waiting for the prodigal son’s acknowledgement.

who live so inaudibly,

My one and only, acknowledgements arrive in solitude’s

shall become so weak,


so humanly weak,

just like tears, and where there is a tear, there is love,

that they shall find their dark home

always faithful and invisible but so real

next to our wooden crosses.

that you can touch it with thoughts and with the fiery breath in the infinity of solitude.

—Walter William Safar (

I admit to using my verses as ransom for my guilt, (and guilt is my silence), and I listen to the rumor that perpetually, like a bat, whirls across the lonely poet’s street. They say that me and You, my one and only, are fantasy, but a pen immersed in ink. But You know, don’t You, that me and You are perfectly real, full of wishes, dreams and memories.

Walter William Safar was born on August 6th 1958 in ShermanTexas . He is the author of a number of a significant number of prose works and novels, including “Leaden fog”, “Chastity on sale”, “In the flames of passion”, “The price of life”, “Above the clouds”, “The infernal circle”, “The scream”, “The Devil’s Architect”, “Queen Elizabeth II”, as well as a book of poems.

My one and only, I am listening to the whisper of the wind in this warm, dreamy summer night... It is silent, horribly silent without You, and the wind’s whisper is dying down, farther away, oh so far, as if called by death to its black hearse, and I have waited for so many days, months and years to appear, to bring Your voice to me, gentle, soft, warm and yearning, but it is so silent, oh so silent now, that I can hear the screams of solitude chase away memories into this warm summer night, my one and only, I am standing in the shadow of the dignified oak, and I am looking into his empty sleepiness, as if its playfulness left along with You, it is silent like the wind. Its dear, green, eternally waking young leaves, who used to whisper in Your vicinity, untrammeled and confidential, are completely silent now, completely dead. Now I am trembling in the shadow of our oak,

Burn in g Word U 9

The Beam Of Blue Light Will devour The yellow glow To create A zone of Green light Imitating The stars Which always Say Here I am Until they bounce Off the Earth With quark-size

John McKernan John McKernan – who grew up in Omaha Nebraska in the middle of the USA– is now a retired comma herder after teaching 41 years at Marshall University. He lives – mostly – in West Virginia where he edits ABZ Press. His most recent book is a selected poems Resurrection of the Dust. He has published poems in The Atlantic Monthly, The Paris Review, The New Yorker, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Journal, Antioch Review, Guernica, Field and many other magazines.

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Images Of you and your shadow You did not know it But there you are In the universe Riding some beams Of light from Earth Next to a moth & some rust —John McKernan (

Things Live Inside My House

Singing in the Shower


The fragrance


of lavender soap envelops me like the song’s lyrics.

And move at night With the silence

Wherever I travel I carry

Of a spider web

songs with me, lost for the moment in the Appalachian hills

I want to hear The mouse trap snap

as I walk through a gate

And not listen to the color yellow

at San Francisco International,

In a thimble full of cheese as I walk past the lobby’s guard The fish in the tank

and then up the elevator

Are swimming too quietly

to a cubicle on the third floor.

I want them to wake me up Crunching the skull

All day I walk in and out

Of a drowned fly or a cockroach

of woods carrying the songs of owls and bluegrass.

—John McKernan ( They are as close to me as the scent of lavender in a shower. “Art is useless,” a co-worker says.

Under The Stone Moon

practical...” Defiant I stride away humming,

Shadows Multiply

“Give me a bridge, something

In West Virginia

On the dark side Of this black walnut Leafless in March’s iced lilac midnight Miles beneath my feet

waving an air baton. A 100 piece orchestra brazenly joins in as I walk down to HR. —Bob Bradshaw (

Sleek new Japanese half -track Cats Chew a new seam of old forest High-sulfur New jersey power-grid light The fossilized eyes Of extinct birds & flying fish Embedded in chunks of coal Roll their stone retinas

Bob is a huge admirer of the Rolling Stones. Mick may not be gathering moss, but Bob is. He hopes to retire soon to a hammock. Bob’s work has appeared in Stirring, Pedestal, Mississippi Review and many other publications.

Into the floodlights of Wolf Pen tipple —John McKernan (

Burn in g Word U 11


Café at Noon

She is

A youth one might describe (if one noticed


him at all) as thin, delicate even, perhaps sensitive, like a poet, or ascetic, like a monk,

The light

steps into the midst of the afternoon

she deranges

tables, his backpack laden

is her

as one would expect of a young scholar.

as she is, her-

The detonation, however, is a textbook

self, there,

demonstration of pure physics. The shockwave

where she bends

a wall of air compressed to the density of steel.

and frets the sun.

The phenomenon lasts less than a millisecond, imperceptible to the mind.


Its effect on the body, profound.

you got it right.

The ones closest to the epicenter

A body’s weight

are compressed so far beyond their physical

is weightless

tolerances they explode,


are literally torn asunder.


In the aftermath, lumps of flesh

it is all

might be found up to a hundred meters


away. Flesh.


From the Old German fleisch,

it warps

as in the Word made flesh

the air.

as in the flesh sacrificed for the atonement of sins

—David Kann (

as in sins of the flesh. —Eugene A. Melino (

Eugene Melino lives and writes in New York City. He is currently a master class student at the Writers Studio, an independent creative writing school founded by the poet Philip Schultz.  Eugene earned his graduate and undergraduate degrees at New York University, where he majored in English education.  He also studied journalism, filmmaking, and art history.  For many years, he worked as a corporate writer.  These days, he devotes his writing efforts entirely to poetry.   

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Coffee Shop on West Fourth & Mercer Sitting in Swensen’s the lunch hour passed

our first college graduate poised and grinning

I look up from my book black clouds unfurling

because he had the world on a string

the plate glass window like a Gericault

had survived so much already

all storm and swirl sudden rain dousing the wet girls

I never realized how much I loved those old songs

I didn’t know how much I loved a storm

Sinatra on the stereo Saturday mornings

being dry and alone the place all to myself

me sitting cross-legged on the floor a little boy my father lounging long legged across

quiet like a chapel the food an offering

brand new Lionel trains deployed between us

the tepid coffee a libation

slow on the turn don’t jump the track the best toy

I never realized how much I loved chapels

ever with a headlight like a real diesel electric

hidden holy sanctuaries like the one in Antibes

I am the luckiest boy in the world

where I saw the Guernica how I loved the screaming

except the day President Kennedy is shot

horses the rage the sun the light the topless beaches

no school no Popeye no I Love Lucy

the girls bearing their breasts to the sun like desire didn’t

Walter Cronkite so sad John Boy saluting his father


he was younger than me

but desire was everything how I loved desire the ache and arc of it

I see myself in the clouded plate glass

forlorn and unrequited I lived to get my heart broken

still that same round face smiling at the lights

the countless years spent falling in

his grandfather leading him by the hand

and out of love I used to think how I wasted my life

flashing jostling circus fairway the clowns

but it was the best education

the crowd the boy half running half skipping tiny hand holding grandpa’s calloused finger

I like to count the women I made love to

hanging on for dear life the bounding strides

not to keep score but to never forget each one

I never realized how much I loved my grandfather

their bodies their love their charms

the black sheep his brothers called him

all I have left really so I count them every day

how he broke down our door that night

like a litany the first one that strange girl all arms

so drunk and angry at the world

and legs how she liked walking in the cemetery

grandma hiding with us when he found

my arm around her waist so quiet and calm

her my father had to knock him down

I didn’t know how much I loved the wedge of a woman’s hip in the cup of my palm

I never realized how much I loved these people all gone now common as salt strange as exotic birds

The rain sweeps across the emptied street

their hopes their sins their endless striving and falling

diminished Toyotas and Hondas wading along Mercer

now the rain washes away all things cleansing

their headlights like a funeral procession

the world making it new and ready

for some silent era movie star long reclusive but beloved in death

—Eugene A. Melino (

I never realized how much I missed American cars the Electras and Eldorados Thunderbirds and Fairlanes they lined the streets of my youth stood background in all those pictures my mother a beautiful young thing my father looking handsome and heroic my cousin Jim when he could still walk

Burn in g Word U 13

The Jobs I Want Are Never Out

A Place For Everything (And

Of Your Average Jobs Section

Everything In Its Place)

Strolling down Bridge Street my eyes wandered to a sign

Since it’s the time of day for tidying up

in a window reading, in big bright yellow letters, BOOKS

she takes pains to sort each of her words

WANTED. I walked in, greeted the man behind the

into the appropriate category:

counter with the highest grade of courtesy I could muster,

blue, red, yellow, sweet and sour, soft

and handed my CV to him with a casual assurance born

and prickly, clean, dirty or just slightly off color.

of weeks of beating the city’s pavement looking for odd

Softly evocative, thuddingly utilitarian.

jobs. A manager was produced; we conversed. For this kind

Love talk, hate speech, political diatribes,

of position, you see, credentials don’t matter that much

rants, raves, angry spittle-flying denunciations,

but eloquence, the gift of the gab do. And with these I am

baby-voiced endearments,

blessed, and soon I was offered my own office space, on the

all put away now, well out of sight and mind.

shelf, where to box in my chatter. What will I be, the brave

And so we sit and stare at each other across

man inquired. “A Mikhail Bulgakov, sir.” Of the worst kind,

the dining room table, grimacing, shrugging –

of course. A wild and purring mad Master and Margarita.

blink hard once if you want the salt,

A slight frown shot through my new owner’s face, then

twice for pepper.

disappeared – he would have preferred a Brown or Meyer, a Rankin even, something he’d get rid of in no time. But

—Jeffrey Park (

as a man of taste, he soon muted his commercial concerns and congratulated me for the soundness of my choice.

So here I am, dear reader, sitting on this shelf as I

have been doing for weeks now, and if you are reading this

Your Reflection, Distorted

at this very instant, it is that I have started tearing up bits of myself, flyleaves, irrelevant front and back matter, to kill time and boredom and sending them for help. Nobody asks for a Bulgakov these days. I’ll grow old on this shelf. But hell, it’s still better than my last gig as a kitchen porter. —Armel Dagorn ( Armel Dagorn was born in 1985 in France and has been living in Cork, Ireland for the past few years. He reads and writes in his adopted language, English, whenever he gets a chance. His stories appear in magazines such as Southword, trnsfr and Wordlegs. He just opened a little place at http://

I draw my dirty claws across the surface of the water, see your reflection in the broken glass, your hand extended toward me. No matter how frantically I scrape at your image, you continue to smile and oppress me with your terrifying generosity of spirit. —Jeffrey Park (

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Long Flight

The Thrill Of The New

You just knew she’d

Why don’t you sit on down

throw it a long, long way.

and have a cup of coconut milk?

And she did.

Get comfy, roll yourself up

It sailed out over the infield

in my Persian rug.

further than all the others by

Try something new

a full two meters

for a change, like trimming the nail

and stuck quivering

on every second toe

in the hard-packed sand

just to see

while the spectators clapped

what it feels like. Have sex

and cheered and oohed

with a stranger

and aahed

and tell him afterwards that you’re an elf

but you could tell

and you can prove it.

really they were disheartened

Buy a pack of chewing gum

by the sight of it

and don’t wait for your change. Drive

quivering like that in the

a slow car

hard-packed sand

real fast.

like a lightning rod

Say something snide

glaring up at a darkening sky

about the person you love

vibrating gently

and let your eyes show that this time

to an approaching storm

you really mean it.

unseen and quite inescapable.

—Jeffrey Park (

—Jeffrey Park (

Baltimore native Jeffrey Park currently lives in Munich, Germany, where he works at a private secondary school and teaches business English to adults. His latest poems have appeared in Requiem Magazine, Curio Poetry, Danse Macabre, scissors and spackle, Right Hand Pointing and elsewhere. Links to all of his work can be found at www.scribbles-and-dribbles. com.

Burn in g Word U 15


A Heart After Childhood

Goodbye sound of sliding screen door, and the look of your

Grainy snaps show her circled by smiles,

skin under those lights, dainty and dangling overhead,

sons and local spirits, with ample hoist

blues fading green and soon, or at least I thought, soon—

through the hot effulgence of summer light.

you’d come waltzing out to that song we always play, always sing, always saying remember this one, and take

Photos did no justice to her knotted neurons.

from me the last I have to give. She quit childhood too early with a heart Goodbye sweat-born ache, small apartment smelling of

like an empty sack. A girl, she abjured thought

iridescence, and goodbye hand on my chest, slap across

of her future, as short on time as expected.

my face, kiss on the lips when I ask for one on the cheek. A photo cache weighted forgotten albums. Goodbye, goodbye, like a hymn, something slipped from the side of my mouth as I’m pretending not to watch you

Marriage scarred her edges: her dissonance,

change. Nothing explicit, no nudity or pale revealing

her children entertained her. So often weather

under shaky lamps. No, I’m often with my fingers before

lilted curls, muted voice, or silenced evening wings.

my eyes, you’re half spread just beyond me, like we’re dancing two separate edges of the night.

History in song and pictures passed around her.

Go on now, pull closed the window, check the locks tight,

After barren years, she saw better how

until morning there’s only cool reflections across the

things should have gone, but she did not act:

pavement; go on now, good night, ease under your sheets,

new generations grew smiles amid the old.

keeping time like a train station, and soon there’s only secrets left floating, a journey out of sync, I hear you

All around her bore the pall of somber fate.

whispering one step ahead of me, She sulked. She raised intolerance in status. Soon you’ll be calling to ask where are you now? Soon

She bored her friends, off center of respect.

there’ll be nothing to explain, to mumble; nothing to slip

At last, she lined her walls with mollusk shells

beneath the cracked door. sent her to excite the hollow breath of song Goodbye back stairs, natural curve as we pressed our

and sat alone until her body in disuse ached.

mistakes together; goodbye look in your eye, sting of

She wanted much more, but pretended less.

poison, shaved ice and two fingers vodka in a rocks glass. Until she dies, this account is unauthorized. Goodbye, soft call into the empty night; —Keith Moul ( Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye— —Douglas Sullivan (

He has recent fiction publications in: Crime Factory Magazine, Sleet Magazine, and with Vagabondage Press.

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Rebellion Takes Up Conspiracy With Mankind

Painted Face Like a planet in a cold orbit, rarely did he need the sun. Stay on course,

Howard Thomas had grown engagingly human.

rotate at an awful pace, shed your ice

He nurtured Harry S. Truman, his heretical cat. Howard, who had many, often invited

into the unlived silence of black space.

friends to visit him for bracing conversation

He fished catfish to see them dangle

about what it meant to be engagingly human.

helpless on a line. Waste their fish souls,

Howard provoked his friends to act feline;

eat them panfried, wash them down with beer.

occasionally, his friends engaged with claws.

At private moments, with his lover in his arms,

More than ten feline friends are hard to herd.

he dreamed punishments for enemies.

But Howard rationalized that his humanity could resist even the bloodshed of rebellion,

Pile them on a heap, take your spoils,

that as long as his friends stayed in his parlor

mark your face with battle blood you won.

and did not spread their cat insurrection outside

Passing within a whisper of home he did not hear.

the rest of Mankind would embrace their differences. Coming into old territory, he did not veer. Harry S. knew better. Harry S. would have preferred

Leaving his mark on bushes, he felt gods in stars.

that his instincts led the cat skirmish, from atop a cabinet,

Steal children in pairs, in ritual gag them, then watch.

a favorite place. Harry S.Truman got exact terms he wanted when human rebellion

—Keith Moul (

took up conspiracy with Mankind. Afterwards, Howard came to believe that humanity will not be engaged nor be well served by soothing purrs. As a hermit, Howard expanded the biography of notable cats. Harry S sought other comforts.

Keith’s poems have been published widely for almost 45 years. Recently two chaps have been released: The Grammar of Mind (2010) from Blue & Yellow Dog Press and Beautiful Agitation (2012) from Red Ochre Press. He also publishes photos widely. In fact, in 2010 a poem written to accompany one of his photographs was a Pushcart nominee.

—Keith Moul (

Burn in g Word U 17

Your mother attempts to clear the bushes

“Free canoe. Not seaworthy.” The ad suggested that it could be used for a sandbox, a planter, decorative piece

A first infant taste of lunacy

but no one, not those you hated most

that made me think I could jump the

should peer out to sea from its unworthy hull.

4-foot porch over the thick hedge into the yard, scratchless, blameless.

“I will help you load it.” We made the call, joking as we bobbed down SR 343

Kid, you’ll be jumping any day now.

then pulled in, gravel skipping, pack of dogs barking

You’ll get to know them folks,

and walked up in the dusk and no-see-ums hover.

them fellas, them naysayers. You’ll see what I mean:

We should have listened. The mosquitoes grieved over a still black pond. We bit back laughs

Always the wide- mouthed expressions,

as the red-faced man said, “Ain’t good for shit,”

always, “Are you serious, kid?”

and scratched his chin, days and days unshaved.

when you come up bleeding and mount the porch again.

What else can we do? As the sound of water enters our ears, our shoes, the pockets of clothes

But had you cleared the bushes,

we unmoor it from the porch, and the rain abides.

toes in grass, knees unscathed,

Step in. Hope the old man knew he was wrong.

family behind you on the porch, cheering, that’s when you’d have given up jumping. So anyway, what I mean is, though it pains me to say it: jump. I still do. With any kind of luck, eventually we’ll both make it over. —Lauren Shows (

18 V Is sue 6 2

—Lauren Shows (

The Missing Poet’s Lounge

A Literary Myth

In memoriam Weldon Kees and Lew Welch A dry pen

In the missing poets’ lounge, a sad man

rolls down the table.

Tickles the piano, key by cold key, Thinking, all the time, of his escape plan.

It teeters, momently, on the edge

He spreads his long fingers into a fan, Drops a chord, exhales smoke. He wants to see

then falls

What he’s missing. Poet’s lounge, young sad men

turning gymnastically

Looking too cool. One watched since he began

and lands point

Playing. He snapped his fingers far too quickly,

down in the carpet

Thinking in double time. He had his own plan exactly like For getting out, he knew. The second hand

a sword in a stone.

Ticks loud. He strikes a note. Could all these be Missing poets? The lounge seemed sad. Each man —Mark J. Mitchell ( Speaking only to themselves as they scanned The room. Alone, each one was sure that he, Alone, was thinking up some escape plan. He trills a slow riff. He stops and stands. He bows. The faces tell him he is free Of the missing poet’s lounge. This sad man’s Thinking all the time. His escape is planned. —Mark J. Mitchell (

Mark J. Mitchell studied writing at UC Santa Cruz under Raymond Carver, George Hitchcock and Barbara Hull. His work has appeared in various periodicals over the last thirty five years, as well as the anthologies Good Poems, American Places,Hunger Enough, and Line Drives. His chapbook, Three Visitors will be published by Negative Capability Press later this year and his novels, The Magic War and Knight Prisoner will be published in the coming months. He lives in San Francisco with his wife, the documentarian and filmmaker Joan Juster. Currently he’s seeking gainful employment since poets are born and not paid.

Burn in g Word U 19

Rift Time A crevice spilling seconds

Excelsior, or Lover Lost to an Overdose

into the endless cup, a whorl of glass so fine

Cellophane tensions swelling;

as the film of saliva over lips

pearled intoxicants

spun in the gasp of a moment,

mixed in the dark:

tongue tucking back into its cave— we pumped the cool stop-flow exhale,

everything you never had

waiting, weighting,

into that syringe,

the mass of time

sealed with a kiss over the needle.

evaporates from the flesh, swirling in the tangled ether,

I pierced you with the feather

sprouting from rooted breath;

and you took wing in the psychotropic aftermath:

the clock unfolds between lovers’ teeth,

fluorescent eclipse and

blooming into a flower, its face

nectared aurora.

the weeping mask of an instant, Mid-flight, you realized its hands two warm, slick leaves

my gold foil betrayal,

reaching through white picket fences

pretty in the sun, but

to conjoin in the space between.

insubstantial, the brass knuckle of my love,

—Ross Moretti ( and you flew skyward

Gravity’s Arrow

through frosted cloud and filament air to dash upon the knife-blade stars,

Gravity carries only one arrow in his quiver,

leaving me to crystallize

a bolt of blackened cypress salvaged from fire,

amongst the raining

tempered in the warm ashes of sorrow.

celestial shards.

It is fletched with red feathers, plucked from a falling dove dyed in blood and cherries.

—Ross Moretti (

Platinum-tipped, it shines in the sun, and in the darkness drips a slick glimmer. This is all he needs to bring the world down, to bring the moon to her knees and make her sway with the ocean tides. One arrow, fed through with steel cable that he keeps in a coil on his hip. With this, he will seize you by the heel, Achilles, and drag you back from the far shores of Troy, sparing you the final grief of heroism. —Ross Moretti (

20 V Is sue 6 2

Ross Moretti is a first-year graduate student at Stanford University. An aspiring poet who originally hails from New Jersey, he was published several times in his undergraduate literary magazine, Lafayette College’s The Marquis. He recently participated in a poetry reading with Matthew Dickman, in recognition of one of his poems in Lafayette College’s annual H. MacKnight Black poetry competition.

Seven Glimpses of Patti maniacal


although she nods, pats my shoulder, and says, “Don’t

under an empty moon, I walked the three miles from my

worry about it, Dear, I know you’ve been busy. I know you

house to her house, hid in her back yard, down low in the

have more important concerns on your mind,” I can tell

bushes, waiting, hoping, for a mere glimpse of her sweet,

that behind those soft brown, pseudo-sympathetic eyes

pure, white form moving up in her bedroom window

lurks a maniacal, mindless, slaveringly hideous female beast, already plotting her revenge for me not having


noticed her new hair-do. she’s incredulous as I tell her my terrible dream where she pricked

no longer loves me, her eyes staring empty, so empty, into space

in the twilight I see her across the grass and the folding chairs and faded blankets talking with some friends,

—Michael Estabrook (

gesticulating, pushing the hair back off her face, and I think how very pretty she is still, and listen intently, like a fox with its ears pricked, for the sounds of her precious voice to reach me in brief, simple, unorganized tones

So Gray

serenade I did not know I always felt I should do something unusual or extreme to

the lighthouse was white;

win her over, to gain her attention, her look of approval,

it always seemed gray,

like serenade her or call out to her from beneath her

like the cold empty sea

window like in the balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet,

to which it stood sentinel.

climb a ladder, snatch her away, her knight in armor

But, once, the sun danced

shining like the moon

through the clouds and the lighthouse beamed -

first kiss

adagio of glow upon stone. Soon, the tide ebbed;

we’re up in the spotlight booth as the lights go dim in the

bitter clouds closed in;

high school auditorium, she seems so happy, yes, she does

things returned to gray.

seem happy, quietly waiting with her eyes closed tight

I am lonely, fearful of storms.

allowing me to steal my first kiss from her there alone in the night

—Danny Earl Simmons (

beauty on the steps outside the old gym, early winds of autumn blowing in from across the playing fields, I have to try and

His work has appeared or is forthcoming in various journals such as Naugatuck River Review, Avatar Review, Summerset Review, Burningword, and Pirene’s Fountain.

tell her, I must tell her, about her unspeakable softness, her shattering beauty, her shining brown eyes, her sweet, feminine scent, but all I can proclaim is, “I love you,” and clasp her precious hands desperately in mine

Burn in g Word U 21

Omelet The man who did twelve

Many attempts to top that

years says he has two

account fail but a couple

Honorables covering eight

of guys are too busy to compete

and a Medical Discharge

fashioning joints and tobacco

for the rest that does not

smokes using nifty rolling devices.

state a reason but he’ll tattle

The Mongrel is named Jesse

after a minute or so gabbing

and she barks her two-cents worth

that booze graced most

and more as if all these sea and terra

of his sailor days—

firma tales pale against what

take that, jump ship,

she could gush concerning

use some imagination.

her existence before

A mongrel in the corner stares

adoption discharged her

at him head tilted quizzically.

honorably from a shelter.

Civilian-wise, he’s been

A hunk of omelet overboard

DUI convicted five times

passes for gourmet

and he’ll proudly name

among this howling dog

states, cities, fines

pound of a crew.                               

and incarcerations.

All that aside, he’s been doing

—Thomas Michael McDade (

pretty well, dry a couple of months but a reunion revealed that tipsy on memories is likely to diminish per shipmate arrival. No Taps or Reveille, morning delivered him animated and unwinding amid strong urging to enjoy the three-egg cheese omelet dwarfing his plate. Managing a bite, he halts and cuts to his first liberty in the Philippines. Holding up three fingers he says Count them! All mine for a week! My harem fought over rights to little ole me, butterfly knives settled each day’s first possession! Dangerous shit, he adds, glancing at a pistol hanging off a the host’s rifle rack like a stepchild and no one disagrees.

22 V Is sue 6 2

McDade is a former computer programmer living in Monroe, CT with his wife, no kids, no pets. He did two hitches in the U.S. Navy. He’s been most recently pulished in New Maps.

So Long

Only in Silence

When Chet’s going cold

Even now, as my fingers

turkey, can’t work

Turn incised in time,

long solos, his trio must

As my eyes fall upon

rescue the slack

The dusting of artificial

as Chet stalls and paces

Sweetener some careless

and instead of resting

Hand forgot, I wonder

places his horn

On the involute silence

on the barstool.

Of empty space.

Spinning the seat he watches soft light

A never

ricochets off the brass

Silent silence. Bespotted

and a dim glow

Always with the stigmata

of accusation play

Of an omnipresent hum.

roulette on his face, Arm twitching

This hum is not unlike

for the trumpet, he drags

The hum of industry

long on a cigarette

But for its source— its source

before hoisting his horn

Lies hidden deep in the earth,

He closes his eyes,

Or perhaps it originates

brailles the brass,

In my very skull.

as wandering lyrics perch restlessly

This hum, this ceaseless

on his tongue.

Murmuring, I think at times

“Every time we say goodbye,

To be existence itself

I die a little…”

Sighing without end.

Pistons like syringe plungers shake him. Death jerking

From here I can almost see

horn to mouth, he blows and blows,

The opening doors and feet

blows clear of wives, lovers

And hands descending like

and children: clear of himself.

Locusts. Foreknowledge needs

Lost in applause Chet wonders

Not prophesy. And I hear,

how long art based on Taps

Now as then, the lingering hum

can last; he traces his lucky

Deafening always and louder

vein, dwells on the spitty air

Only in silence.

streams tricked into music, tastes the words:

—Dan Pizappi (

“Every time we say goodbye, I wonder why a little.” —Thomas Michael McDade (

Burn in g Word U 23

The Straw Girl

The Unbearable Heat

No one comes. House lights burn

It’s the usual scene – family, close friends, and distant

in the empty street, white oaks

relatives are packed into a tiny salon. Their black

shudder in all these silent yards.

mourning clothes make them indistinguishable from each

She stands in October moonlight,

other. It’s hot.

leaves swirling at her feet, opens her eyes to another gravity’s

The tension is extreme. It breaks when the body is carried

magic pull. How strange to feel

in. Now comes the theatrics, the crying, the weeping,

that pale yellow bath on her cheeks

even fainting. Breath, sighs, sweat, and tears add to the

and painted smile. She drinks

humidity. It’s unbearable. Seated on the sofa, kneading

the darkness as an owl floats

a soaked, wrinkled handkerchief, I can hardly hide my

by, its alien face round as another

loathing. I want them to go. I wish they would sweat blood

moon dotted with black

rather than salt water.

stars, rush of wings and from somewhere breath and a beating heart.

Gradually the dark figures leave, taking their moans with them. Only a few of his closest friends remain. Attempting

Maybe you’ll meet her some night

to comfort me, they offer me coffee. I shake my head. With

on the moonbeam road, when

disturbed and quizzical looks, they, too, finally depart,

careless dreams push you toward

leaving me alone, fulfilling my wish which would have

the margins of a tired life. Feel

shocked them...had they known.

your own swimming arms pull a body through surging sky.

I have long imagined him like this – transparent, bluish.

Don’t fail to greet her with your

I see the grimace of rictus on his face. It chills me to my

eyes at least, or if your tongue

bones. His eyes fly open in a bloodshot flash. I feel hot. In a

unfreezes, speak to her in the unlocked

moment, he’ll be inside me, taking my breath away, leaving

language of your weightless blood.

me to pant.

She might take your hand then, lead you home to secret pools where wolves lap at secrets with their scarlet tongues.

—Steve Klepetar (

Steve Klepetar teaches literature and writing at Saint Cloud State University in Minnesota. His work has received several Pushcart nominations and his chapbook, Thirty-six Crows, was recently published by erbacce press.

24 V Is sue 6 2

—Carmen Simón (translated by Toshiya Kamei,



I’d seen him an hour or so earlier,

Four - or is it five? - lonely leaves

outside of Medford, before the

left dangling from the apricot tree;

rain set in, and I’d hunkered down

wrinkled, yellowed ancients of the

at a truck stop to ease the dizziness

ravages of late fall, early winter.

in my mind and the queasiness of an empty stomach, too many cigarettes.

Seems sort of forlorn to be the last ones left hanging around

Must have gotten a ride soon, then

when all the others have left

passed me when I was off the road.

hurriedly, in the wind, weaving

Here he was once again; suede coat

away to the far side of the yard.

now soaked to a seal-skin sheen. His dog was soaked too; black lab,

Leaves and fruit bunch together,

no leash, sitting next to the bedroll.

huddled communally, windrows

That was about all I took in before

against the base of the wall as if

eased the gas and onto the shoulder.

in group therapy they organize to rout the wind and restrain the

I don’t know what possessed me.

ravages of snow, rain, and ice.

Normally I don’t pick up anyone. Something about his reappearance

—Richard Hartwell (

perplexed me and needed an answer. It was kind of a closed-in, dreary day, a day when you look for company, good or bad, just to share the rain and the half-full bottle on the seat. He didn’t run to the truck when I stopped a bit ahead of him, as a young man might do, but merely bent full from the waist, retrieved his pack, tipped down the brim of his hat a lower, and

Rick Hartwell is a retired middle school (remember, the hormonially-challenged?) English teacher living in Moreno Valley, California, with his wife of thirty-six years (poor soul, her, not him), their disabled daughter, one of their sons and his ex-wife and their two children, and twelve cats. Yes, twelve! He believes in the succinct, that the small becomes large; and, like the Transcendentalists and William Blake, that the instant contains eternity. Given his “druthers,” if he’s not writing poetry, Rick would rather still be tailing plywood in a mill in Oregon.

started forward with a purpose. The dog came too, of course, perhaps adding to my belief in this man’s native goodness; I can usually rely on dog sense. Whatever the reason, I decided to pick up this soaked hitchhiker; he and the dog grew larger in the right hand mirror, as did the knife. —Richard Hartwell (

Burn in g Word U 25


Owned and Operated

But did he find the tribe

her wail so fiery

spat out of rock

and tender all

below the cousin clouds

a sugary bird

with sounding conch shells

gone hoarse

between their ears?

sliced by guitars

They feed on everything:

surrounded by drums

metals, birdsong, saffron,

a tussle

until what’s out and in

resurrecting memories of

seem twin and one

nails cut and painted plum

like the dance of lesser

head cocked just so

and greater dreamtime.

aimed at who else

Social as termites,

glossy raven bangs

they raise tower upon

brushing above

tower, projecting

seething indigo eyes

a blind, spiral god;

rolling over themselves

vicious as hornets,

as they do now

they cultivate venoms and

while this precious song is

enemies to die of them.

stolen from a gorge

There’s less blood

two decades deep

painting and head polo

when such things

than their fathers knew.

fused my soft skull together

Customs evolve as

despite ditching and driving

killing grows easier.

hitting mock-one

They’d almost rather

at residential fifty

track evil spirits

with this song

to their inmost cells,

this song whose sounds

corner them in forests.

unfurl out of

Their stories tell both

my turd-yellow Datsun

of gates and pits,

like vapor

how one can seem

getting tangled in

much like the other.

every lucky tree

Armed with a language

this precious loot

they speak forward slowly,

now exploited

liable to lies

by some little shit

and misconstructions,

half my age

tending at times

making triple my salary

toward the grotesque,

who figured out

but hopeful at last

the demographics of SUVs

of their waiting name. —Lisa Kaitz ( —James Fowler (

James Fowler teaches literature at the University of Central Arkansas. His poems have appeared in such journals as Poetry Quarterly, Rockhurst Review, The Hot Air Quarterly, Amoskeag, and Parting Gifts.

26 V Is sue 6 2

Herb Robert

Box Living

The pale-pink spikes of Herb Robert

One doesn’t intend to comment on

recede in hedgebank’s galaxy

strangers lives, but when you wake

of buttercup, harebell and phlox

to a glass shattering on the floor

unsucked by butterfly or buzzing bee; one visitor alone alights on its unfancied petal- fair hard to tell if wasp or flyits pungent nectar to imbibe. As in the case of flowers spurned, insects that seem grotesque,

above you, followed by a scream and then the words I refuse, repeated, you know that sleep will not return for quite some time. They divorced and for a while

everyone and everything

it was quite. The husband would wander

is each by nature blessed

the neighborhood in white undershirts,

with purpose and the gift

the wife presumably far away. Then

of love and being loved;

they discovered the phone and a whole

and for their very difference,

new kind of one sided argument erupted,

by only fools are scorned.

louder, with no broken dishes.

—Mike Gallagher (

Our next door neighbors were happy, and in love, which is a different sort of problem. A different set of sounds.

Car Park

—Caitlin Elizabeth Thomson (

Blonde: Tall Legs:


Jeans: Blue Coat:

Quinault Rain Forest


Colours: Clash Beauti: Fully Long legs

First Afternoon

There are a million pebbles beneath my feet.

Long strides

A small riverbed sleeps eight feet in front of me,

This way

The wind circles my small chest.

Bygone Old man

Dream on.

I rise to a full forest and a hungry belly.

First Morning

A long haired father with three caught fish, —Mike Gallagher (

two Trout and one Steelhead.

In Ireland he has been published in The Doghouse Book of Ballad Poems, Irish Haiku Society, Revival, The Stony Thursday Book and Crannog; outside Ireland, his poetry and prose has been published throughout Europe, America, Canada, Japan, India and Australia. He won the Eigse Michael Hartnett viva voce prize in 2010 and is a current nominee for the Hennessy Award. He is the editor of thefirstcut, an online literary journal.

First Night

Limbs of Red Cedars move at night. I hear the Tree dream particles come out from underneath us. Father wakes me and feeds the fire outside, The trees then move again. —Bradly Brandt (

Burn in g Word U 27

Invitation From Hopper

By The Grace Of

She leans forward into the bay window.

The orange moon

Water, a long way off and a loon cries.

plays the banjo, hot tempos

In the room, a man speaks,

over blackest night

someone listens. Expectations

as the city bravely lights it tower-tops.

are set in motion. She remains

The beat

frozen at the window, waiting,

presses through glass.

not a matter of time. The call

Ovens blister

of the loon carries over the water.

the sleepless in New York.

Expectations have a way of shifting.

All things interior breed new eyes, opening to the unseen,

Though The Scream has been stolen,

held for the perspicacious

Oslo keeps its appeal, the train ride

to uncover in the star-hung night.

a preliminary. Formal introductions

Delicate lights

have their own façade. Do you

signal windows, signal pauses

bow or let your eyes reach

for thought,

their own conclusions? So much

a revelation luminous as the moon.

has entered, rushing to fill the gap.

Country calls can almost be heard,

Still she leans into the morning light.

but their value

The thicket, green and familiar,


doesn’t distract. Out there,

the impeded.

the air has a yellowness, lifting

Night birds have nested

from the tall growth gone dry.

in the lungs

Anticipation holds, a thread not quite sewn.

of many born in tall grass gone dry,

—Peggy Aylsworth (

grown foreign. —Peggy Aylsworth (

28 V Is sue 6 2

33 authors




ISSN 2161-8992 (print) ISSN 2157-7366 (online) Burningword is published by Burrdowning Publishing. Copyright Š 2012 Burningword and the authors.

Burningword Literary Journal, issue 64  

Issue 64: Poetry and short fiction by 29 established and emerging writers. Visit for all previous issues.

Burningword Literary Journal, issue 64  

Issue 64: Poetry and short fiction by 29 established and emerging writers. Visit for all previous issues.