We wanted to go for a swim but the pond was an oval of green slime. A suspicious fog was rolling in but the real problem was the river, which had turned to poison. In a week we would see entire schools of dead fish floating downstream, their white bellies turning in the black water like a line of moons slipping across the sky. But we didn’t know any of that yet. We had our whole lives ahead of us. One by one we stepped through the barbed wire fence and took our places among the cows.

Originally from Michigan, Brad Liening currently lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He’s the author of Deep State Come Shining (PS Hudson).



FOUR POEMS, prose poetry by Howie Good

Edvard Munch: Self-Portrait in Hell 

He was convinced, as usual, that he was about to suffer a complete breakdown. The day’s work had begun badly and gotten worse with each additional brush stroke. He squinted at the muddled canvas on the easel as though it were someone else’s, the fantastical product of a stranger’s delirium. The street outside his window was turning red and black. He tilted his head to the right, the left, the right again, trying to view his painting in progress from the most forgiving angle. There was a moment when what he couldn’t express in words or figurative gestures he might have in a scream, and then the moment passed.

At Eternity’s Gate

A man arrives on a train to visit his father at a sanatorium. The doctor at the sanatorium says the father has died, but the man glimpses his father being led away down the hall by an attendant. The father is barefoot. His hands are bound behind him with wire. The man is too startled to intervene. Meanwhile, the doctor has climbed into bed next to a patient and fallen asleep. The man somehow knows he must catch the next train back to the city if he isn’t to become trapped in the sanatorium. Hurrying toward the station, he sees the corpse of his father hanging from a lamppost, a savage pack of dogs standing guard over the body. A train whistle blows. The man realizes with a pang that the train has left without him. Time is decomposing. One townsperson in six hasn’t noticed or doesn’t care. There is no night, no day, just twilight.

The Third Reich of Dreams

It was snowing. Because the Germans didn’t give them water, the women who were packed together in the roofless boxcars collected the snow to drink. When any woman fell asleep standing – there was no room to sit or lie down – none of the others would steal the snow that accumulated on her. That snow belonged to her. On a train bound to nowhere you know where you are. 


For the first time in decades, ducks were seen swimming in the fountains, and dolphins splashing in the canals. Hitler’s former chief of staff, Rudolph Hess, 93 and the only inmate in a prison designed to hold 600, had hanged himself. One look at his death grimace, and water lilies sprouted in the prison guard’s lungs.


The grave is now empty. His bones are gone. The faithful used to make pilgrimages to the gravesite. They would lay floral wreaths and salute his epitaph: “I dared.” Police on horses tried to keep control. The blood stood in puddles in some places. But the flowers would always be back on his next birthday.


Politics has become interested in me. Just the other night I dreamed I was rushing across campus. I was late for a class I taught. When I entered the building where my class was held, nothing was familiar to me and I had no idea where I was. I started walking up a very long flight of stairs. The stairs grew steeper the higher I went. By the time I reached the top, I was winded and covered in sweat. Then I saw the swastika painted on the wall. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know where to hide.

A Royal Screwing

During his years of wandering from Berlin to Paris to Moscow and back again, Walter Benjamin kept a diary. “Keep your diary,” he cautioned himself in an early entry, “as strictly as the authorities keep their register of aliens.” In his tiny spidery handwriting he recorded dreams, Yiddishisms, profane illuminations. Paris at the time was plagued with packs of stray dogs. Returning to his pensione one night from a hashish party, he saw the dogs were actually men made dogs by their passions. He knew in that moment that all perception was distortion, a kind of phantasmagoria, the blue velvet and gilt doghouse Marie Antoinette had had built for one of her puppies.

HOWIE GOOD’S latest poetry collection, Gun Metal Sky, is due in early 2021 from Thirty West Publishing.

THREE PROSE POEMS by Jeffrey Zable



Fetishism is a pathological disorder characterized by
a peeping creep stealing your panties from the drier
while you were down the block at the café sipping
a cappuccino and talking to a neighbor about how hard
it is to meet straight men in the city. The fetishist usually
holds the desired object and licks, rubs, or smells it,
which reminds him of lonely vacations as a teenager
in which he’d put his arms around trees and fantasized
high heels pressing into his back while his first grade
teacher pulled out his little jigger and displayed it to the
class saying he would never grow into the type of man
that anyone would want. Nearly all fetishists are male
though sometimes women will cross-dress and imagine
their vaginas being licked by bears, wolverines, and
sometimes even lions depending upon their relationship
with their fathers who also were fetishists married to
women who were soccer moms during the day and
devoted churchgoers on Sunday.


An Academic

An academic is someone with great knowledge in a particular field.
He or she doesn’t necessarily have to possess a Ph.D, but he or she
should have read more than comic books and information on the side
of cereal boxes. An academic can be a very bright child whose lust
for learning made them not want to waste their time playing jacks or
hopscotch with the lower elements in the neighborhood. An academic
must be highly organized and driven to write articles that no one understands
thereby perpetuating a complex and alien world that non-academics can
aspire to if they can somehow find the time and discipline to do the research
on their own.



is an addiction dominated by young males which ultimately deprives
them of ever reaching a true manhood. Though a boy may eventually
assume a man’s body and even marry, he will only be accepted by
women who are drug addicts, alcoholics, or onanists themselves.
This male dominated obsession often starts at an early age in which
the boy fantasizes a female pop star chasing him around his house
wearing nothing but a bra and girdle. The boy will repeat this fantasy,
though the female pop star may change to a movie actress or even to
a young woman who works at a Starbucks in the neighborhood. And
in his vulnerable state, the boy tries to compensate for his inadequacy
by eventually trying out for the chess team at school, or he many attempt
to be successful at more physical activities like pingpong or slam dancing.
Statistics show that many of these same boys will wind up homeless,
incarcerated, or committed to mental institutions depending upon how
frequently they practiced this aberration and at what age they started.
To date, there is no known cure for this condition, but new medications
are being tested that have shown positive results on mice and other small
animals, though none of these drugs has yet to be approved by the FDA.



JEFFREY ZABLE is a teacher and conga drummer who plays Afro Cuban Folkloric
music for dance classes and Rumbas around the San Francisco Bay Area. His poetry, fiction, and non-fiction have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines and anthologies. Recent writing in Serving House Journal,Futures Trading, Unscooped Bagel, Mocking Heart Review, Houseboat (featured poet), 2015 Rhysling Anthology, Poetry Pacific, Abbreviate Journal, Third Wednesday, Mas Tequila, Bookends Review, Weirderary and many others.






Last night the wind came up out of the south. I could hear it lifting the trees in the yard and banging against the aluminum storm window. I pulled the blanket higher after punching the pillow into its original thickness. The house rested in stillness, dark rooms spilling into the darker hallway. My wife, sunken in an Ambien oblivion, didn’t stir. Rain followed, splattering in gusts against the thin glass. A baseball bat leaned against the bedroom doorjamb. In tonight’s dim light it appeared small, even foolish against a formidable intruder. A good roof, caulked windows, a serviced furnace—the digital clock cuts the darkness.

mom’s bud vases
yellowed greetings tied
with florist ribbon



AL ORTOLANI‘s poetry and reviews have appeared, or are forthcoming, in journals such as Rattle, Prairie Schooner, New Letters, and the New York Quarterly. He has published six collections of poetry. His Waving Mustard in Surrender (NYQ Books) was short-listed for the Milt Kessler Poetry Book Award from Binghamton University. A seventh collection, Paper Birds Don’t Fly, will be released by New York Quarterly Books in April of 2016. His poems been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net.

2 Prose Poems by Michael McInnis


Acadian Shore

Even the plants are dangerous on the Acadian shore where the tides run as tall as a tree and the water remains frigid all year, the forests stumble over the cliffs retreating to the sea from the bogs and eskers, the blood red fields of blueberry bushes, the caribou plains and granite boulders planted atop each other like giant’s toys precarious in the fog. At this edge of the continent the glaciers stopped.


Sable Island

On Sable Island the ocean hurled itself at me in a terrible rage. I smelled its fury mingled with an ebbing tide and a nearby herd of grey seals hauled out on the beach. A line of rain, marching from the horizon, had become an elongated and rusty smudge, a cut nail dropped in the beach grass only to be discovered years later. And the horses ran. They are always running.



MICHAEL MCINNIS lives in Boston and spent six years in the Navy sailing across the Pacific and Indian Oceans to the Persian Gulf three times, chasing white whales and ending up only with madness. He has published poetry and short fiction in 1947, The Commonline Journal, Cream City Review, Dead Snakes, Dissident Voice, Literary Yard, Monkeybicycle, Rasputin Poetry, and other little magazines and small presses.