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Issue Two

Crack The Spine Issue Two December 12, 2011 Edited by Kerri Farrell Foley Collection copyright 2011 by Crack The Spine

Cover Art “Windows” by Jim Crossley Jim on Flickr

Contents Howie Good……………………..…………….Imaginary Landscape #4 Colin James………………………..…….…………..The Suggestion Box John Stocks……………………..…..………….Comorants & Guillemots Alicia‟s Diary The Forges of Marrakech Rich Boucher……………………………………....…………..All Natural Daniel Davis ……………………………………….…..What Kind of Lie Mike Berger………………………………...……………..Summer Storm

Imaginary Landscape No. 4 By Howie Good

On the bus over, I can hear people whispering behind me. Their voices sound bleak. I donâ€&#x;t know which is worse, the prophets speaking through broken and rotting teeth or the shriveled men on crutches and in wheelchairs on the other side of the window. The red of fall reminds me of my fatherâ€&#x;s face. These things happen by chance, not prearrangement. The bus slows to allow four deer to drift like quiet across your dream.

Howie Good, a journalism professor at SUNY New Paltz, is the author of the full-length poetry collections Lovesick (Press Americana, 2009), Heart With a Dirty Windshield (Be Write Books, 2010), and Everything Reminds Me of Me (Desperanto, 2011), as well as numerous print and digital poetry chapbooks, including most recently Love Dagger from Right Hand Pointing.

The Suggestion Box By Colin James

The key was labeled, "INTRINSIC TO THE NEEDS OF ALL". It was protected in an amazingly durable leather pouch, and it hung from a small hook in the cellar office of The Store Room Of Standard Issues. There was enough room for a desk, one of those transparent computers, the occupant and half of a visitor. The other half compelled to straddle the narrow doorway. It was difficult to ascertain in what direction Clerk Snoad was looking. He suffered from opposite eye, a forehead to chin malady that resulted in a confused appearance and impractical ranch of vision. I tried placing my work order for reviewing the contents of the suggestion box on all five corners of his desk without success. Then a slow counter clockwise motion did the trick. He snatched it up like some astrological sufferer and said only, "This is highly irregular". I waited not wishing to engage the 72% lower mass creature in formal negotiations. Couriers like myself, had been known to rip their own brains out rather than partake. The evidence of this appeared as oozing splotches on the room's otherwise cheerful walls. Snoad begrudgingly gave me the key with non-advice, "Keep an eye out." No transport vehicles were available. I was required to walk the mile to the suggestions box's last known location, the shoulder of what was once a busy highway. Everything save for a labyrinth of tunnels had been obliterated during The Oblivion. I traveled what was left of the old road with intrinsic hesitation. The black sun was up and darkening all except for its edges of hopeful peekabooing.

After several hundred yards of walking I paused amongst the sea of rubble to fine tune my bearings, such as they were. My job mainly consists of transporting valuable medicines to those in need and capable of affording a transaction. I calculated I was half a mile from the suggestion box. The selective day-night air was barely adequate for my garrulous lung. The scratching shrieks of hunger birds blustered down from what was left of the sky. I stood up and performed a sort of living dance to prove to them I had the energy to attempt to fight them off. Seemingly that was enough. They flew away searching for the more dead. The road now resembled a gulley. Large quantities of water had used it as the path of least resistance. I climbed the embankment at intervals to check for the box. I found it on top of a steel post resembling a short legged man. The suggestion box was as big as a baguette and normalized. The key fit perfectly into the megula lock. Contents were of the wear in case of emergency variety, arcanely prophetic, a dress-up wig and excelsior portent. I put them both on. Cunning disguises like these were becoming increasingly essential. The wig had a very discernible front back. It was not fun figuring my naturally desperate ambiatic. Thinking back to a childhood of dread-heads running like mad to cut us off at the vernacular pass seemed counterproductive, so I sat pondering the suggestion box's now empty center. The sound of a crooked wheels' approach made me sit up, best crouch behind a thinking rock while whom so ever arrived. The bike and its topper did just that. A radish of a man. Red cloak, red hair, red sandals. He half pushed and half sat atop the sad remnants of a classic twin wheeler. He pulled something casually from his "I want". He was in possession of another key to the box. Here was my chance to obtain a sizable reward from Clerk Snoad, perhaps even a weekend in The Tree House

Of Gibraltar. I crept up behind him as he opened the box but he had seen me coming, and in one motion ripped the wig from my head and snatched the excelsior portent. With his foot on my throat, he dribbled from a caustic mouth. I had made a big mistake. This was not your average apocalyptic wanderer, more likely an ambitious survivor stuffing the only suggestion box with his personal influence. Yet even he wasn't above a decent bribe. I gave him my alcohol tickets and he obligingly rode off into the nothing. I hobbled back to The Store Room Of Standard Issues and returned the key when Snoad was out to lunch. I would have to renegotiate when the seasons returned. It might be a while. The acrid air wasn't worth coughing and everything was disappointing eventually.

Colin James has chapbook of poems available from Thunderclap Press.

Three Poems By John Stocks

Cormorants and Guillemots

Come with me to the Western waters, Where the waves lap a coarse kiss on the shore, And we can learn to love the silence, To give love and know the love of others.

For we are nothing, a scattering of dust A fleeting spark of electricity; And yet we feel the pull of the moon Some sense of mystery, communion of souls The subtle tugging of a distant star.

When sometimes our imagination leaps To empathy, then we are unique Embracing some other consciousness, An elemental wildness deep within.

To some other alien heart betrothed, Sensing the salt water on their beaks, Their disingenuous curves off light The nuances of their transitory lives.

Then we are Cormorants and Guillemots We are the brooding deep water whale The swift to whom, the west wind whistles home We are love, life indestructible, Their grief is our grief, our souls are cleaved As to the dreams of our sons; our daughters.

Alicia’s Diary

Meet me and I shall know you, light and shadow A formless, fantastic distillation, Confection of smoke and fogs and gaslight.

Meet me and I‟ll watch you as you wander Dreamily up pea-souped side streets, Longneck hidden by black buttoned collar, Your exhaled breath a ghostly miasma, Drifting past the clanking city tram-cars, The news boy who teases you, calling out your name.

Meet me on Fargate, waiting at Cole‟s corner, Top hat and tailed, tapping with my cane, Yours for all eternity my darling, Yours beyond the final cutting edge of time.

Late for your theatre tea, warm hands wrapped in velvet, Hat pulled down over your pert, pink ears, Your diary shows me all your sweet conceits, And makes me long to hold you- snug as the grave.

The Forges of Marrakech

A taxi strike forced a tricky walk Through the maze of streets in the medina, Harassed it seems at every step By some child or beggar, tugging at my sleeve.

Past the woman with the withered arm, Skin and bone and brown arsenic stains, Feeding girls coins like slot machines. „A Salaam Alaikumâ€&#x;

Past the boy on the steps, his tiny shop Carved out of the wall, churning dust A boy with the smile of an angel, And a laugh that made the shelves tremble.

Then, suddenly, I was by the forges, By pumping bellows and burnished faces, Welding, smelting, wholly absorbed

In their energetic tinkering.

I liked the honesty of this place. A place where the shape of time seemed blurred, It was so easy to lose myself here, In this world within a world.

John is a widely published writer from the UK. Recent credits include an appearance in , „Soul Feathers‟ a poetry anthology, alongside Maya Angelou, the English poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, Bob Dylan , Len Cohen, Rimbaud and Verlaine. This anthology was the second best selling poetry anthology in the UK in January, is raising money for cancer care, and can be ordered online from Waterstones UK. He also features in „This island City‟, the first ever poetry anthology of poetry about Portsmouth, also available from Waterstones. In 2012 John will be launching a collaborative novel, „Beer, Balls and the Belgian Mafia‟, inspired by three of his primary interests.

All Natural By Rich Boucher

A church bell sounds metal and rings a mile away; in the mood for communion Iâ€&#x;m standing alone, my flannel shirt unbuttoning in the piney forest of Jaramillo, Texas early in the morning of a July. I spy a cricket listening to me over the distant ridge; I am one with the topsoil and hard stones under my toes; I know the mission of every mammal and bird that flutters and squeaks amid the pitch-black green of this woodsy, natural and tree-having area. This means I can hear the whispers of the feral and I can whisper back; snakes slither past me. One snake stays close by, pale and irascible Naja, indigenous and natural to the wilds of Texas; he watches me and knows that I belong here. Not far off from where I am I can hear a wild boar frolic with the rainbow carp in a watery river stream. The leaves are afraid of the wind; thatâ€&#x;s the reason they come up off the ground and turn around. Notice my adequate heart and passionate equipment; see how I can be green; notice how you can be pink.

As I unbuckle my belt and start to remove my jeans, made from denim and as blue as a sky somewhere, I smell the eucalyptus in the breeze between my thighs; I close my eyes and I sing to the world that I am nasty.

As prickly hornet butterflies dive and swoon around my torso, love takes me over; I‟m yanking my striped tennis shoes and gym socks off of each foot; a beaver fixes me with a stare from his comfy perch atop a large boulder across from me in this clearing: perhaps the rodent is reading my mind and can see that I am thinking of my ancestors as I make myself naked. Looking back into the eyes of the beaver, my thoughts travel through the air from my human brow all the way over to his brindled, cinnamon-soft, stuffed-animalish brow: “I am not here to hurt you; I am here to live and die; I am here to become one with your little dam-making spirit; I am here to make myself betrothed to mother‟s nature.” A mongoose peers at my naked, unclothed genitals from the safety of a high branch on a nearby pear tree. My coin purse trembles; his whiskers twitch. My excited eyes are babbling like giggling stars. Another signal travels from my mind to my hands, and in a flash, I hook my thumbs into the waistband

of my dark blue satin boxer briefs and pull them down, exposing my unashamedness to the light and air. Removing my sunglasses, it is done; I am nude. Nude and nasty. One with the wild world. “Here I am,” I seem to say, “really naked and nasty.”

I try not to focus on how much clothes I don‟t have on when the peacock, native to this part of the Texas, tip-toe struts up behind me and my naked, naked form. He only wants to greet me, and welcome me here because he is the king of the dark green forest jungle and he will brook no misbehavior during this ritual. My bumcheeks shiver, a cautious drop of sweat trails down from the nape of my neck down my spine; this fear I feel is nearly sensual; it is not creepy; the peacock is right behind me now in this nature. Turning my head slightly and very slowly; I‟m trying to conceal my motions so he won‟t startle but the peacock catches me trying to look at him and he roars, angered, chastising me with warning. Frozen, I freeze, fearful that this bird will break my ass; I‟m shocked to learn a peacock‟s shout of challenge resembles exactly like a mother lion roaring in rage. Maybe today made a mistake in giving me over

to the earthen spirits that are forest-dwelling; perhaps it‟s true I have not prayed enough; perhaps my mind; it is not clear; perhaps the peacock and the beaver and the innocent, fluttering hornet butterflies are all reading my mind right now.

Maybe they know that I am nasty.

A past member of five national poetry slam teams (Worcester, Mass. (x2),Washington, D.C., Wilmington, Del. and Albuquerque, N.M.), Rich has published four chapbooks of poetry and for seven years hosted an open reading and slam in Newark, Delaware. Since moving to Albuquerque in March of 2008, Rich has been performing and writing steadily in the Duke City and is a regular contributor/editor at Living day to day with physical abnormalities caused by the consumption of Monsanto‟s supercorn, Rich is also an educator, adventurer and an unlicensed psychic. Rich‟s poems have appeared in Adobe Walls: An Anthology of New Mexico Poetry, Fickle Muses, The Rag, Menagerie, Clutching at Straws, Shot Glass Journal, Mutant Root, The Mas Tequila Review, Borderline and The Legendary. Hear some of his poems at

What Kind of Lie By Daniel Davis

Will Flatt knew he was drunk, and that made all the difference. There were two kinds of drunk drivers: those who knew they were drunk, and those who didn‟t. It was the latter group you had to worry about. They were the ones who would drive recklessly, under the assumption that they were sober and clearheaded. Those who knew they were drunk took it easy: the exact speed limit, stay between the lines, no fiddling with the radio knob. Straight and smooth until you reached your house. That was how it was done. Will had driven this route from Harley‟s to his house more times that he could count. Most of them had been while intoxicated. It wasn‟t entirely his fault; Harley‟s had cheap beer and a bartender—not Harley, there had never been a Harley as far as anyone knew—who encouraged heavy drinking. Plus, Will‟s friends liked to play pool, and in a bar you couldn‟t play pool sober. That was the rule. Will didn‟t much like pool, wasn‟t any good at it, but he had to play because that‟s what you did, and when you played pool you drank. The logic was simple, so simple an idiot could work it out, so simple a drunkard could work it out, which was just fine because Will wasn‟t a drunkard, he was just drunk. There was a difference there, too. Will didn‟t have to drink; he knew this because he spent a good five nights a week sober. He didn‟t have to drink unless he was in a situation that required drinking, and he was only in those situations when he was with his friends, which was every weekend now since he‟d found out about Marla‟s whoring around. That latter bit, of course, was Marla‟s fault, pure and simple, so you could say that she was to blame for him driving that particular night, although it didn‟t matter much of course because he knew he was drunk and as such wasn't taking any chances. There were no empty beer bottles in his car. There wasn‟t even the smell of alcohol, thanks to the windows he‟d rolled down. And the breeze helped keep him awake. There was alcohol on his breath, couldn‟t help that, but he knew how to breathe just right when talking while drunk. It was a trick he‟d learned with Marla;

half the drunken conversations he‟d had with her, she‟d never known he was wasted. It was all in how you breathed, how you exhaled. He wasn‟t too happy with the fact that Harley‟s was on the opposite side of town as his house; it made for a long, nervous ride back, at a time when cops were patrolling the main roads for swerving cars and suspicious behavior. That‟s why Will stuck to the back roads, the residential streets. The cops didn‟t like to drive down these roads; whenever they did, old ladies would call up the station and inquire as to whether another meth lab bust was going down. Will thought the cops had already arrested all the meth heads in the county, but the busts kept making the papers, so he guessed he was wrong. He wouldn‟t know, personally—he stayed away from that shit, didn‟t know anybody who took it, or at least admitted to taking it. There were certain things you just didn‟t mess with. Alcohol wasn‟t like that, because alcohol you could predict. You couldn‟t control it, like the drunkards thought, but you could predict it, know when to stop, know when it was okay to keep going. Will had long ago figured out the rhythm of his drinking; he‟d never been too good at math—hell, he‟d never passed a single math class that he knew of—but he had the equations of drinking all figured out. Will knew his limits just like he knew when he was ready to drive: he just did. It was gut instinct. Will didn‟t have to look at the street signs to know where he was; this was Polk, sure enough. There was that goddamn blue house, the one that was a fucking eyesore. It had spires—fucking spires—and even a stained glass window with some Christian design, one of the saints or Moses or somebody. The door was blue, too, but a darker shade; you couldn‟t really tell at night, because the door was so dark you couldn‟t even see it, but during the day it looked like the door was covered in shadow, or else the rest of the house had been left in the sun too long and paled. The porch went around the front of the house and down the side, and had those white handcrafted rocking chairs you saw in front of a Cracker Barrel. Probably where they‟d been purchased, too; people in this town often liked to pretend they lived elsewhere, but they didn‟t. You could purchase all the fancy things you wanted, but you could never cover up the fact that you‟d gotten them at Wal-Mart. Perhaps it was a bit hypocritical of him—after all, here he was, working in a paper factory in the same town he‟d gone to high school—but Will at least accepted what he was. He didn‟t try to hide it with name-brand shirts and shiny SUVs; he wore plaid and band t-shirts, and his car was a fucking rust bucket that had always looked

like it was on its last mile. A fucking Plymouth, for God‟s sake! They didn‟t even make those anymore. Old it was, but it handled well. Good, solid steering. Reliable brakes. It accelerated a bit sluggishly, but that was okay. The brakes were really the important thing, especially when driving drunk. That and the steering. You needed to be able to keep it between the lines, and stop when you were supposed to. There weren‟t any stoplights on the residential streets, but there was the occasional stop sign, and though there weren‟t any cops around, Will always stopped. If you kept going even one time, it could lead to a habit, and that was what got you busted. Will had never gotten a DUI, not once in the many years he‟d been driving back from Harley‟s and the various other bars around town. His buddies, all of whom had gotten busted at some point in time, were in awe, but he just told them it was because he knew he was drunk. That‟s the only difference—he knew and they didn‟t. It wasn‟t something he was proud of. Oh, he was proud that he could tell when he was drunk, yes; it was a skill that he‟d acquired over the years, he‟d earned it and so could be proud of it. But the driving itself—no, he wasn‟t proud of that. It was just something that had to be done. He had to get from Point A to Point B somehow, and he couldn‟t afford to call the cab company every time, could he? They‟d have to pick him up at the bar and take him home, then pick him up at home in the morning and take him to the bar. Plus, the damn cab company around here only had two or three operational vehicles, and they worked the entire county. He could spend an hour outside the bar, waiting. It was quickest just to drive. The radio was off, so as not to cause any distractions, and Will listened to the wind as it came in through the windows. The night air was brisk, not too cold, but still chilly enough that he knew he should‟ve worn something over his t-shirt. He would probably have the sniffles in the morning; that happened on occasion, whenever he was unable to tell the temperature outside. Alcohol played with the senses; again, it was all a matter of knowing this and accommodating for it. Will had some Sudafed at home he would take when he woke up; by the end of the day, his sniffles would be a thing of the past, and he would be ready for tomorrow night. That‟s what he loved most about Friday nights: no matter how much fun he had, there was always the next night. Friday and Saturday blurred together, one giant cocktail of fun and music and women. Not that there were a lot of women for him

personally, of course; he‟d been married the past year and a half, and had been faithful even if she apparently had not. Nor was he likely to hook-up with anyone too soon, not at his age and looking the way he did. He wasn‟t old, but he was older than most of the gals who hung around Harley‟s desired. Plus, he looked older than he was, and supposed Marla was the reason for it. Marriage had aged him, and he had nothing to show for it but half his shit missing and alimony checks every single fucking month, whether he could afford them or not be damned. He‟d caught her with the last one, some guy around Will‟s age. She could‟ve at least fucked younger men, not that younger men would really have wanted her. Ugly as this guy was, Will figured he‟d only gone for Marla because he knew he couldn‟t get anybody else. Marla had been aged by their marriage as well; only thing was, she‟d never been that great to start out with. Overweight. Nagging. Sagging. Will had married her because marriage had sounded like a good idea, that‟s what you did around here anyways, you got married to someone you didn‟t love and spent the rest of your life regretting it. That‟s the way his father did it, and while Will Flatt, Sr., wasn‟t a millionaire, he was at least a content man who spent his retirement whittling on his front porch and sipping Coors longnecks. The breeze coming through the window was cool, yes, but it was also comforting. The way it caressed his face reminded Will of a girl he‟d dated in high school. She‟d played a game: put one fist on top of his head, then rapped it softly with her other fist. Then, with both hands, she‟d drag her fingers down through his hair, across his cheeks. She called this “Humpty Dumpty,” and it usually ended up with them making out on her bed. He‟d always loved the way her fingers had felt going down his face, which he‟d kept clean-shaven solely for that purpose. The way her thumb would tug at the corner of his lower lip, catching there. The way her index fingers would tug at his eyelids, lowering them… The car swerved, and Will snapped his eyes open, jerking the wheel to the left. As he did so, the Plymouth jolted, and he heard a thud. The car swerved into the other lane, then he corrected it, and pulled off onto the shoulder. He sat there, breathing deeply, his foot on the brake. He glanced into the rearview mirror. The gravel beside the road was bathed in blood. No, not blood—the glow of the brake lights. Just the brake lights.

But there was a dark shape, just beyond the lights. A pile of something, just shadows from where he was. Bile rose up into his throat, followed by a buzzing sound in his head and a dry feeling in his mouth. He closed his eyes until the sensations passed. When he opened his eyes his vision swam in and out of focus and he was tearing up. He wiped the tears away and glanced into the mirror again. “Oh Jesus. Oh sweet Jesus.” He was talking to himself. That‟s what you did when you didn‟t have control over your senses. “Oh Jesus. Oh God.” He stared at that dark shape in the rearview mirror, willed it to move, then willed it not to move, because of course it was just a mailbox or a trashcan or something. It didn‟t move because it couldn‟t, trashcans and mailboxes didn‟t move on their own, so that‟s why it wasn‟t moving, that‟s it, thank God. The longer he stared at the shape, the more it seemed to substantiate, to take form. It could be…didn‟t have to be ,probably wasn‟t, but it could be… “Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.” He opened the door to get out of the Plymouth, but a chime began to go off, and he jerked his foot off the brake, and the car began inching forward. He panicked, stamping his foot down, accidently hitting the accelerator. The car lunged forward, and he moved his foot to the brake, and the car stopped again, throwing him against the seatbelt that he had forgotten to takeoff in the first place. “Okay. Okay. Cool it.” He closed the door. The glow of the dome light was too bright; it had been spotlighting him, marking him. He put the car in park and turned it off. He undid his seatbelt and sat there, staring out the windshield, collecting his thoughts. Then he opened the door quickly and hopped out, closing the door behind him. It shut a little too loudly, and he winced, looking around. He was in the middle of a block. There were houses on either side, anonymous two-story houses that were all dark and silent, except for one that had a porch light on.

He stared at that house for some time, looking to see if anything moved, but all the windows were dark and he figured the porch light had been left on accidently, or else was automatic. Some people, who didn‟t have to worry about being able to pay their power bills, did that. After making sure there was nobody watching him—he felt watched, though, he felt eyes on him, dammit—he stood beside the car and stared at the spot where he'd swerved off the road. The lights were off now; it was just shadows back there. The streetlight was busted, and he didn‟t know if he was grateful for that or not. It could be used as an excuse, of course. But he didn‟t need an excuse „cause that was just a trashcan back there, or a mailbox. You didn‟t need an excuse for anything like that—you just drove away and pretended it never happened. He placed a hand on the window to steady himself, then took a few steps forward. His legs were weak. He used the car for support until he got to the end of it, then stood there, hoping he could see what it was from there. He couldn‟t. He took a deep breath and shook his head. He closed his eyes but that only made things spin, so he opened them. It was dark; it was very dark. The streetlight; yes, he could blame it on the streetlight if he needed to. When he thought he could walk, he did so, wobbling a bit. That dark shape waited for him, unmoving, and he felt that dry sensation returning to his mouth. He stared down at the dark form, then took another step until he was standing directly over it. He looked, because there wasn‟t anything else he could do. It was a girl. It was a little girl, with dark hair that maybe wasn‟t black, you couldn‟t really tell because there wasn't enough light. Her skin was pale, hidden beneath the hair brushed across her cheek. Her clothes were dark, probably maroon or something. She was so small, curled up there. So small. What was she doing out? Dear God, what the hell was a girl this small doing out at this hour of the night? He knelt down, touching her cheek, brushing the hair away. “Honey?” Her face was warm.

“Hey, girl? You alright?” He stared at her side, willed it to move, prayed for signs of breathing, but he couldn‟t see anything. It was too dark. He tried to check for a pulse but wasn‟t sure how to do it. His fingers kept trembling anyways. “Hey, honey, please say you‟re alright. Please.” She said nothing, and he stood up and looked around. “Jesus. Oh sweet Jesus.” The right thing to do was call the cops. He knew that; he gave himself credit for knowing that. He should call the cops. Manslaughter, wasn‟t that the charge? Second-degree murder, maybe? He deserved it, he knew he did, and staring down at that girl, curled up at the side of the road, he almost went to the car and grabbed his cell phone and dialed 911. He really, truly almost did. But instead he knelt beside her again and tried one more time to bring her around. He slapped her face and whispered, a little louder than perhaps he should have, “Hey!” She didn‟t move, though, and he stood back up and walked to his car. “I tried. I tried.” He was muttering to himself, aware that he was doing so, aware that he had finally lost control of his senses—which meant he hadn‟t completely lost control of them after all, right?—but was unable to stop himself. The words just came out, and deep down in there somewhere he was grateful that he was whispering to himself instead of screaming, which is what he felt like doing. “Just go. Just leave. Get away. Go…” He stopped. She‟d hit the bumper; they‟d be looking for a car with a dent in the bumper. And there might be paint on her, right? They‟d be looking for a dark blue car with a dent in the bumper. And what if someone had seen him turn down this road? Then they‟d be looking for a dark blue Taurus with a dent in the bumper. “Shit.”

He turned back around. There had to be a way out of this, didn‟t there? There had to be something he could do. Call the cops. You can do that. He wouldn't, though. He wasn't too sure why, knew it was only making things worse, but he wouldn't do it. That left only one option: "Get out of here." He got back in the car, the dome light searing his face. He started the car and drove away too quickly, spinning the gravel, surely waking someone up. He ran the next stop sign, then the next. He didn't calm himself again until he was just a few blocks away from his house; he didn't know how many traffic laws he'd broken, except as he pulled into the carport he noticed he wasn't wearing his seatbelt. He fell out of the car, skinning his knee on the concrete. He barely noticed. He walked around and looked at the front bumper of the car. There was a dent; he could tell that much. What he couldn't tell was if there was any blood or not. Not that it mattered—a blue car with a dent in the front bumper was conspicuous enough, blood or no blood. In the house, he left the lights off, finding his way to the bedroom in the dark. He knocked over one of his ex-wife's potted plants, banged his skinned knee on a table. Once he was in his room he stripped out of his clothes. Hot—no, sweltering— he turned on the ceiling fan and fell down on top of the bed. He watched the blades of the ceiling fan, spinning endlessly, refracted through his watering eyes. "What kind of lie do you tell," he wondered, but couldn't finish the thought. He glanced at the glowing numbers on his alarm clock, then fell asleep.

Daniel Davis recently received his M.A. from Eastern Illinois University. His work has appeared in various online and print journals. You can find him at

Summer Storm By Mike Berger

Without warning, my hair stood straight out. Fear seized me.

Air around me turned brilliant white. Blazing arc.

Jagged, it stair step from the sky. Fear incarnate.

Roar of a dozen cannons shook the ground. Deafening ears.

Billowing black clouds turned upside down. Rain pounded.

Comfy plaid shirt turned to sponge. Dripping wet.

Gray earth morphed into slimy goo. Slipping and sliding.

Peering into the torrent, seeking sanctuary. None in sight.

Waddling along in the ocean of mud, going home.

Mike Berger is an MFA. He is retired and writes poetry and short stories full time. He has been writing poetry for less than two years. His work has appeared in seventy-one journals. He has published two books of short stories and five poetry chapbooks, He is a member of The Academy of American Poets.

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Crack The Spine - Issue 2  

Literary Magazine