Spring 2014

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Book Review by Scott Holstad — Warren Hammond’s KOP


KOP (Juno Mozambe Mystery #1)KOP by Warren Hammond

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Seldom have I enjoyed a novel so much as I enjoyed this one. It’s a gritty, noir mystery wrapped up in a sci fi package and it doesn’t disappoint. I feel drained from reading it and I don’t think I can write anything worthy enough to do it justice, so I’ll just highlight some things for those reading this review.

Juno Mozambe is a bad man. Yet he’s a cop. A dirty cop. Very dirty. Former enforcer for the Chief of Koba’s Office of Police (aka KOP) on Lagarto, a world that once exported a type of wine that got taken off world and was produced elsewhere for cheaper, thus leaving Lagarto a giant slum, for all intents and purposes. When we meet Juno, he’s working as a bag man for the boss, taking bribes, hiding a shaking hand and thinking of retirement. He’s been on the force for 25 years. Things seem grim.

Things get much more grim when a brutal murder occurs with potential political ramifications, in which he’s pulled in to act as investigating officer, with a new partner — a younger, attractive, rich woman who plays by the book. What follows is a brilliant novel of hard boiled twists and turns, mysterious characters and motives, a lot of violence, some of which can be hard to stomach, and it’s a page turner til you get to the end. The characters are well written, and feel real and believable the entire way through the book. There’s not a lot of technology here, though, so I guess the setting on a distant world makes this sci fi — the plot could take place anywhere, any time — but when you finally realize toward the end of the book what’s actually going on, you could care less — you’ve been sucked in.

Everyone in this book is dirty. Juno is a kind of anti-hero, but one you can identify with. His new partner starts playing by his rules soon enough, and you sympathize with her as she struggles with what she wants to do versus what she must do to solve this case. Juno reverts to his enforcer role, beating confessions out of thugs and criminals, but does this make him just as bad? That’s never really answered, even though the book throws that out there.

Juno, and the boss he’s so devoted to, his former partner Paul Chang, took over KOP 25 years ago by making a deal with the largest crime syndicate, effectively splitting up the city between them. The new mayor wants to clean house, but he’s as big a crook as everyone else.

I kept waiting for the pacing to slow down, as many books have slow middle sections, but this one never did. It kept pushing the envelope. Furious pace. I strongly, strongly recommend this book to all sci fi and mystery fans. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.




I am, fiercly


“I Am, Fiercely”





cool down

“Cool Down”

the little visitor

“The Little Visitor”

going for a little ride

“Going for a Ride”






“The Cool Gang”




Monday by Doug Draime



I take off my boots and place
them on the floor in front of me. My
feet burn and sting and my back is in
a vase of torment. It’s now 8:30 PM
and I’ve been up since 6 AM
working two different manual laboring
jobs, which barely
keep me in the game. I’ve
made love to Carol
as the sun rose over
the mountains surrounding us. I’ve
written 2 poems. I’ve talked to
a friend who failed his audition again
at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. I’ve watched a little girl not
more than 3 play hide and seek with
me, her beautiful face, her big brown eyes
laughing and jumping
in the beauty shop window
across the street from one of my jobs. I’ve read some
Amira Baraka and

The San Francisco Chronicle
from cover to cover. I’ve sent poems off to a friend in town
who publishes an alternative newspaper and I’ve
sent poems to 4 poetry magazines. I’ve discussed
the meaning of life and Christ
with an aspiring cretin. I’ve talked to my 2 sons on the phone
and heard my ex-wife in the background
screaming in anger, asking what I
wanted. I’ve watched the storm
clouds come slowly,
the rain begin to fall. The dog
curls up near my feet and Carol walks
by flossing and brushing her teeth, talking
to him. And as she finishes and begins
to wash the dishes,
the thunder cracks
like a cat-o’-nine-tails and lightning
is illuminating the mountains surrounding us.


Ramshackle by D.A. Spruzen



He sat there honing his axe
after drinking some sort
of hot sludge from a thermos,
teeth tearing a hunk of bread,
a gob of cheese,
maybe a pickle.

Did he ever bring a fancy
woman inside for a little

fumbly fun? Or did
his wife or mother keep
him honest with napkin-
wrapped repasts slammed
down on the table at odd
times. Did he take a son
there to show him how
to slaughter trees? A son

who didn’t carry on for
one reason or another.

The old place is useful again.
At intervals, it hosts the new
families replacing the old.
Beetles rattle and snakes slither,
moss creeps and weeds
poke through, while wasps build
perfect nests. I think I see them
inside that ramshackle hut with
its gaps and collapses,

a sanctuary for their
living and dying.

Dear Carl, by D.A. Spruzen


Dear Carl,

I was just in Copenhagen, the land
of a little stone mermaid and ferries
and fresh fish and fat blueberries.
I must tell you about a wondrous
finding that fired my spirits and set
my mind dancing
to hidden music

Eavesdroppers found that space
rings loud with the music
of red giant stars,
celestial minims that swell
near the end of their life,
gassy and imploding in

This red giant concert
airs on different frequencies,
holds different overtones.
Astronomers recorded it,
this overture from the
space we call

We heard it in Denmark
from star chasers who
showed that bigger stars
have deeper voices
than smaller stars, small
drowned out even in

The same note played on a cello
and a violin sings different,
and in the same way
large stars flicker in low tones,
small ones flicker higher,
universal laws of physics

Astronomers listened in Denmark,
devotees who live for such
a find. Envious colleagues tried
to shoot holes in the evidence.
Their closed minds did not hear
the essence of this
universal puzzle

My dear Carl,
you always listened, always heard.
With affection,


Donna Summer… by Erren Kelly


Donna Summer…

some days, after daddy
got off work
he would pick me up
and we would go riding around
baton rouge
in his pickup truck
sometimes, he’d wear his work
on his clothes
when we rode around town
others, he would be
clean as the board of health
in a leisure suit
fresh flat top hair cut
with long ass elvis sideburns
and shined floresheim platform shoes
he’d take me to burger king
never mcdonalds
(he only insisted on the best)
and we’d cruise around baton rouge
listening to r and b or
cheesy disco music
which now, doesn’t sound
so bad

my brothers and me roller skated
skinned knees and bloody elbows
didn’t stop us
daddy whipped my ass senseless
once, when he learned
i got caught stealing a playboy magazine
from the 7-11
but it was worth it:
my first time looking at tig o bitties
donna summer was part of the soundtrack
to the plesant moments
of my preteen years

donna summer was a church girl
who managed to be sexy
but never slutty
and she was more grounded
than whitney houston
donna summer wanted to be
the queen of rock
but record company executives
let tina turner have that title
donna accepted disco
as a consolation prise
but donna became famous
and ended up making rock songs
donna summer had integrity
you never heard anything bad about her
her death came out of left field
which makes it more disturbing
no matter how long you live
life is too short
my friend in north carolina
(whom i’ve known since she was a
jailbait teenager, is now approaching the dirty 30s)
sent me a picture of her
wearing platform shoes
(minus the goldfish)
she is one of those friends
you can stop talking to for a few years
hook up with again
and continue
as if nothing happend
we’re like jordan and pippen or starsky and hutch

you thank god for buds like that

she wasn’t even born during disco
and yet i picture her as a mirrorball baby
i gave her some advice
my mom gave to me
which left me scratching my head
but finally made sense years later

don’t be in a hurry to get old


Stowed Away by Thomas Piekarski


Stowed Away

Catholics at Carmel Mission church
kneel or rise at the priest’s command.
His sermon revolves around
the aged Zechariah visited
by angel Gabriel arrived with word
that God would be giving him
a son soon. Zechariah wilts, doubtful,
as his wife is too old to bear child.
So God takes away his speech until
a son John the Baptist is born.

And then the priest conducts
an adoring congregation
in electrifying harmonies
drawn from various Psalms.

Along Highway One, a few miles
north of Big Sur, river water
flowing into the oncoming ocean
is completely submerged.
A mind-bogglingly tall rickety old
iron bridge spans a wide gap
in the mountains where that river
merges. From the side of the road
the seacliff drops a sheer 1300 feet
down onto whitewashed waves.

A mile or so above
Half Moon Bay where
freezing ocean water
laps against boats
at Princeton Harbor,
a hamlet called Moss Beach
is a horticultural bonanza,
private, isolated alcove
where during Prohibition
the bootleggers
would unload their bounty
of rotgut moonshine to supply
thriving speakeasies
along the Central Coast.

They stowed the booze
at Frank’s Place.
Frank the fink who paid off
cops and was never arrested.

Pescadero Beach is abundantly
covered with piles of driftwood,
enough to have a huge bonfire.
I speculate the Japanese tsunami
responsible for landing it here.
Beachgoers build little driftwood
fortresses for a lark, knowing well
how ephemeral such structures.

Black and white period photos
show Carmel Mission in almost
utter ruin, reduced to one
building, the small basilica,
at that time in great decay.
Thus the present structures
may be considered fake.
The church in which
the faithful pray
but a lovely reproduction,
retro Alta Californiana.

The hiker at Big Sur River bridge,
excited, approached me and asked
if I’d seen the daredevil who ran
to the middle of the span
and jumped, parachuting down
hundreds of feet to disappear.

He had caught this chilling act
on his cell phone camera, but lost
track as the parachute vanished
into the womb of the deep canyon.
He was eager to know
had the parachutist landed safely?
Did anyone come to retrieve him?
How could he possibly get back?

Bootlegger Frank’s bar in Moss Beach
has survived for decades, constant
renovations rendering it an in spot
for dining and entertainment, renamed
The Distillery. A ghost they call
the Blue Lady haunts it to this day.
She prowls the lounge, restaurant
and oceanfront grounds, at times
seen frolicking in the gentle surf
that roils and breaks upon the beach
at Shark Reef Cove some 200 feet
below. Unsinkable Shark Reef Cove
where the waves splash and fan out,
dazzle then fizzle like fireworks.


Ouroboros by David Cravens



yesterday was spring
or so it seems
when on the warm wind
came robins
bringing with them
the strong earthy smell
of melted snow
thawed soil
and bright bolts of lightning—
in an eerie blue light
the roaring
foaming river

yet in the calm of morning
her mood had changed
and I climbed
over ancient stone
through white dogwoods
and the Osage’s
sacred redbud
that showered pink mist
over lime-green forest
to a bend
where she’d washed away
a high bank

there were bones there
a smooth stone tomahawk
and that night
I’d wondered if they’d belonged
to the Osage
or the Lost Cherokee

now it is Buffalo-Pawing-Earth Moon
and I sit upon a small
whiteoak dock
overlooking the River Saint Francis
as I listen to the long
haunting cry
of fowler’s toads
for dusk has fallen
and they’ve dug themselves
from gravelbars
that will be here
when the last person
has forgotten the name of Aristotle
and I wonder what the Osage
or perhaps the Cherokee
called these small creatures

for a moment I’m sad
that I cannot ask
then strangely happy
they’re gone
and didn’t have to watch
as I have
metastasize like cancer

gone are the elk
mountain lion
and bear that would den
in the labyrinthine roots
of giant sycamores
full of thousands
of noisy emerald parrots

but alas I think
those children of the middle waters
shared the same nature as I
for they started this slaughter
that we’re to finish
for a moment
I let my mind see the river
as if they’d never crossed Beringia

there’s a crashing from the forest
on the opposite bank
as a mastodon lumbers to the river
sucks water deep into his trunk
and curls it to his mouth—
there’s the sound of another
but what emerges from the dark timber
is a great sloth
her back covered with the same
thick green moss
but before bending to drink
she stands
to look for cats and wolves
and for a moment
is taller even than her neighbor—
there is a loud splash
and the beasts dissolve

it’s a beaver
not the Pleistocene giant
but his smaller cousin
who’s seen me
and warns his comrades
with a smack of his tail
against the surface of the river—
I get up and walk back
with mask
snorkel and a mesh bag
full of mussels
and the skull of an old buck
who I found
staring at me
clean and white
from under the gin-clear water

when I arrive
I hang the skull over the door
then lean back
into a straw-stuffed rocker
to watch fireflies
sip Wild Turkey
and light a cigar—
I listen to whippoorwills
as the moon bleeds
the silver light of indifference
and I know in my heart
that it reflects off the river
regardless of what some philosophers
might say
and for a moment
it is difficult to remember
that nature is a hard mistress
over the chorus of frogs
and insects
I hear the lonely howl
of a coyote
it’s answered by a yelp
far off in another direction
then another
and another
soon the hills
are on fire with them—
there must be thousands
I think
and the hairs upon my neck
and arms
in something ancient
and residual

tonight I dream
of Gothic European architecture
surrounded by dark wolfladen forest
but it is here
in the New World
and in the dream
I remember Goethe
calling architecture
frozen music—
I wake and stare at the ceiling
thinking yes
prefab steel buildings
thrown up in a week
reflect the music on the airwaves—
stonemasons used to cut themselves
bleed into their mortar
but no one bleeds
into their work anymore

getting up I notice
the gray light of dawn
boil coffee
then walk back to the dock
to watch mist
curl off the calm water
I think of Yeats
saying the centre cannot hold
and I sit
in my womb
and drink my coffee

under the Moon-of-Painted-Leaves
dawn brings frost
and evening chill
as day and night balance—
acorns crack underfoot
squirrels rustle through molting trees
as I walk through hollows
filling a burlap bag
with persimmons
hickory nuts and pawpaws

there is a place here
where the sun
flecks through the canopy
and over the woodland floor
to a spring-fed pool
of sapphire blue
covered with red
and amber leaves
that bleed into it
what the Cherokee called
the best medicine

it is somehow enchanting
this place of magic
and I think of the faeries
of the Osage
Miah-luschkas (if you could see them)
We-luschkas (if you couldn’t)
and the Yunwi-tsunsdi
of the Cherokee
with their long hair
falling near to the ground—
the real medicine men
of these hills
it must have been here
I think
that they drummed and danced

I take the beads from my pocket
drop them in the leafy water

back on the porch
I open a Budweiser
eat persimmons—
Lynyrd Skynyrd
tells me from the kitchen
that Montgomery’s got the answer
but I think
if they were here
they’d agree it was on a porch
by a forgotten Ozark river

it is cold now
dark comes early
and Baby-Bear-Moon
casts tangled shadows
under bare trees—
I wake in the night
to the lonely cry of a great horned owl
feed wood to a cast-iron stove
and I light my pipe with an ember
the windowpane is frosty
under my palm
Orion and Taurus
are bright
in the clear sky
but it doesn’t stay that way
for when again I wake
a deep blanket of snow
covers the ground

outside I breathe steam into the air
relight my pipe
and walk into the forest
spend the day tracking deer
fox and turkey
but not all is white—
Christmas ferns grow green
on snowy wooded slopes
as does cress around the springs
then a flash of red
as a cardinal
flickers through the snow-covered trees
with his brown companion
and I wonder
what holds them together

from the cabin chimney
curls the thinnest ribbon of smoke
before being caught
and dissolved by cold wind—
I set my boots by the stove
rekindle the dying embers
soon the boots steam
and upon the stove
I set a soot-covered pot—
a soup of last summer’s mussels
with cress from the spring
until the lid rattles
and liquid flows from it

this night I sleep
warm and exhausted
with my head near the stove
to the sound of cedar
popping and cracking
I dream dreams of summer
when sun warms my shoulders
and the river runs clear—
I wake well into the afternoon
when the stove grows cold
getting up
I slide into my coveralls
and step from the porch
into more fresh snow

with an armload of wood
I stop
in the soft white silence
look up at the skull of the buck
antlers cast against gray sky
and naked branches
flakes fall thickly around us
like feathers
as he gazes into the white forest—
there is a promise in this
I think
and for a moment
steals into my heart
the kind of peace
that one remembers forever—
perhaps even
that one last memory
upon the deathbed


Gethsemane by David Cravens



so much depends on cold plums
and red wheelbarrows
that often I forget
about algorithms and Turing machines
Errol Morris and Desmond
and the noise of colored prayer flags
beaten by the wind
at the summit of Everest

I look down
to the clear voice of a child
“she has a brown face and brown arms”
the girl tells me
“and she’s waiting for you there”

I want to tell her I’m grateful for her honesty
and ask if she means on the mountain
but sensing an opportunity
I ask what haystacks have to do with relativity

“doesn’t matter” she answers
“what matters is she’s there”

I close my eyes and shake my head
but cannot wake
remembering that aged couple, buried in ash
(and frozen in time)
the old man hugging his wife to his side
and shielding her with his toga
I wish to ask: “how much blood
Primus Pilus did you spill for Rome?”
but I look instead to the ground
and follow the penises
carved in ancient cobblestone

perhaps I’m a soldier
for I remember running down a frozen river
set in a Currier & Ives landscape
except that I wasn’t skating
but trying to kill a man

when I reach the Lupanar
I throw a purse of silver
at the doorman
after he tells me (in German) to leave

the ground begins to shake
and the sky darken
but I’m not afraid

for the part of my mind that doesn’t sleep
that vigilant part
(the little man at the levers
I call him)

knows that Vesuvius isn’t in Germany
and tells me so
“my god” he asks
“what would Freud have thought of you?”
“you mean what will he think of me
of us” I reply

“two thousand years from now
people will pay men like him
whole salaries
for what I can get rubbing oil
into the back of a Gaul slave-whore
for a few of Caesar’s coins”

this makes me think of European porn

and how loud they are
for I can hear them through the stone wall

“it’s probably your neighbors”
he says
for I live in a small apartment
with thin walls
and no…
they’re not Europeans
but exceptions proving the rule

Americans are quiet, I think
even when they fuck—
a cultural gift from the Indians
according to Robert Pirsig

yes – there’s a quiet continent, I suddenly remember
“we’ll go there” I say
“we’ll go there and we’ll look west through darkness
and we’ll remember that Plato said the soul was a circle
and we’ll find the four graves
with headless chickens thrashing about them
in fountains of blood
and we’ll find the Indian who said all things are trying to be round—
he’ll tell us what all this means
he’ll tell us who lie in the graves
and why the birds won’t allow them their freedom”

then it occurs to me…

inorganic – biological – social – intellectual

rock – paper – scissors; with a fourth dimension

yes – that’s it

it too was along these lines that Einstein thought
so few footnotes they said—
so few

“but you are not Einstein” he reminds me

and I want to find someone
and take them by the shoulders
and tell them about the internet
I will be a god
written about
sung about

“no” he says “you will be crucified”





who called while he was
on air, asking where was
the peanut butter. Now she
probably has children of
her own. And the son who
said, when he saw a looker,
he had to jam his fist in
his mouth to not scream ,
became a priest. His photo
graphs in a drawer in a house
I rarely go to. They stay
as he never could . Lake blue
eyes the women who tuned into
went mad for like the blue
sweatshirt they fought for.
I painted over the mark he
left on the wall, He filled
poems as he filled me.
Now editors what to chance
Vietnam to Iraq. A week
after he told me he
loved, he pulled away,
packed off. Might as
well have been retreating
in to the jungle. Now you,
not your fault he insisted,
crazed. It’s old news but
those words jar, a knife,
tho he’s still dead





sometimes it’s a relief
to have it all done,
become code blue,
no, no mess, no fuss.
Gone like a pilot who
crashes and is never
heard from again.
There and not there
like a cat embryo
absorbed into the
mother cat’s blood.
Over, past stains and
longing. Finished as the
poems and relation
ships never are.
Complete. What you
cherished, diamonds,
rubies, all those clothes
that never kept the
blues from the door,
discarded . Those men
like lovers that didn’t
call tho they wanted
a piece of you, pieces
of clothes too small
for any of them, the
chance gone, as close to
you as for now
they can get


SOME LOVERS by Lyn Lifshin



are only not on
e mail. You must have
known men like
that. But then, after
we both fly halfway
across the country,
only a dry kiss.
Others shove your
cat off the bed,
You imagine you’ll
get the same treatment.
Still, it doesn’t follow
if one saves a stray
diabetic cat and
cuddles and loves him,
that he’ll do the same
by you. And what
to make of the lover
who says he can’t find
anything wrong with
you, says you’re up there
in his “top ten girl
friends. Or the one
who was so stingy he
used his tea bag
12 times, opened a
box of cookies his
mother sent him,
munched away but
didn’t offer you one.
Some lovers are
Tuesday might lovers,
a fuck, not a bad one,
a cup of tea and
he’s gone.


ONE MAN by Lyn Lifshin



took me to breakfast,
might as well have been
a million years ago

Someone who was supposed
to meet me didn’t. My
hair thicker and

darker, perfect skin
tho I didn’t know. A
decade ago he saved me at

an Above Paradise reading
on a west coast. He was
a looker, He seemed to care

I couldn’t remember, did I
sleep with him in some
abandoned year? and

then near the Everglades
he was there, with a look, a
way that said somehow

we had. Even with his
woman walking thru the
park with Florida flowers

perfuming the night, some
intimacy, some talk, some
hush as if we knew too

much about each other.
Some look These last
months he writes me more:

how I didn’t eat any
breakfast, just wasn’t
hungry and in the last note

this week, days nothing
good has happened, his
freeze frame of me:

on the bus stunning
he writes you were stunning,
wildly stunning

then you were gone




A Fling by Gregory Letellier


Jackie and I liked to sit in the darkness. It was the summer, and we liked the beach at night where the only visible light was emitted from the moon, the stars. We especially liked movie theaters, magical venues where we could suspend our disbelief and indulge in cinematically embellished happy endings. Our first date, in fact, was to the movies. I can’t remember which film we watched; all I recall is her face lit by the screen, the subtle glances I snuck just to see her profile.

I was back in Maine after my first year at college in Boston, recently out of a break-up, and ready to meet new people. My best friend Ryan had a first date with a guy we knew in high school, Joe, and he needed me to tag along to entertain a girl his date would be bringing along. Her name was Jackie, a girl who I knew from high school, but never actually met. Ryan said she and I would have a lot in common, and aside from our Kurt Vonnegut obsession and punk rock t-shirts, he was right; we were both single, and open to the idea of a fling, a romance to fade harmoniously, willingly, with the summer.

I’ll never forget how beautiful Jackie looked, that first night at the movies. Her hair, black as calligraphic ink, was short and tied back. Her eyes were the color of a coffee with a splash of milk. Her hands looked soft, but I was too afraid to touch one too soon. She wore beat-up Converse sneakers which stayed, for the duration of the movie, on the chair before us. That’s how I’ll always remember her: kicking back, breaking a rule, beautiful.

After the movie, the four of us bought Cumberland Farm’s slushies, piled into my mini-van, and headed for the beach. Ryan and Joe walked along the water, hand in hand, and Jackie and I were left to sit on a log, facing the waves. We talked about our small town lives and looked out at the water.

“Do you remember me from high school?” she asked.

“Of course,” I said, fiddling with my hands. We ran in similar circles. The nerds, the art geeks. I stared at the waves, took a breath, and confessed my infatuation. “I thought you were cute,” I said. “I mean, think. I think you’re cute.”

She slid closer to me, and we dealt with the heavy stuff—the boundaries of the fling. We said we would do anything until August, the time at which she would leave to visit family in South Korea, and  shortly after, our respective college semesters would begin. Given the distance between northern Maine and Boston, we determined that the college relationship was not in the stars for us. It would make our summer romance complicated, messy.

Summer, we agreed, is the time to avoid the messy things.

And we did just that, Jackie and I; we read comic books and played on swing sets and laid in grassy fields until the bug bites left us scratching our forearms and walking separate ways, to our own houses. By day, we walked along the shore, played tennis, and exchanged mix tapes of Bright Eyes and The xx, onto which, with bright colored Sharpies, we wrote sweet nothings. By night we lay on tennis courts, beneath flickering stars forming the mighty Orion’s shield, kissing until we nearly fell asleep into each other’s arms. We felt safe there, hand in hand, under that celestial shield. But if astronomy can tell us anything, it’s that nothing truly stays safe: the universe is ever-expanding; and we were like galaxies, slowly and conspicuously, through the dark, heading in different directions.

But it was not the summer to consider concrete ideas. We lunged at big, abstract concepts like art and philosophy, our most frightening curiosities. I read her my writings, mostly poetry; Starbucks napkins were my Leaves of Grass. She was a painter, and she gave me one of her best paintings, a pop-art portrait of all four Beatles, to hang on my wall. For that summer, it was the only thing on that wall.

When we weren’t playing tennis or stargazing or exchanging art, we were exploring each other’s bodies. We would drive to a desolate spot, park, and move to the back seats of my mini-van, hidden behind the tinted windows. She was forward with me, and I liked that. She was the first girl to plainly ask me, “Would you like me to take my bra off?” I like to think I was the most awkward guy she dated, the one gave her the most memorable response to that question.

“Do you want to take you bra off?”

We fumbled through the intimate moments. We wanted to be as close to each other as possible, but we were cautious not to get too close. And we brushed past any potential arguments. She once said, “I love Ayn Rand.” I pretended I didn’t hear anything, nodding and with a forced grin, when in reality, I wanted to say, Ayn Rand sucks, Jackie. You’re politically and morally misguided if you like Ayn Rand. But it was the summer suppress our bleeding-heart convictions, for such things, we felt, weighed us down in the way a cold hard rain makes grassy sods heavy, difficult to carry.

As summer moseyed on, we grew aware of our impending end. We became champions at distracting ourselves: stargazing, swapping mix tapes, and of course, watching movies. We watched Where the Wild Things Are, and discussed the aesthetic of Spike Jonze, speculating on the symbolism of the monsters. I showed her my favorite movie, Away We Go, and kissed her hand in the way John Krasinski kisses Maya Rudolph’s in the final scene.

But no matter how many movies we watched, we never learned their deepest lesson: they end. George Bailey finally sees his life as wonderful. Rosebud, we find out, is a sled. Travis shoots Old Yeller. One of the things that distinguishes life from movies is the pause button. We can keep Travis’ finger on the trigger, the barrel staring down his Yeller, but there is no pause button for the things that matter.

Jackie went to South Korea. Walked on a plane and left me. I was blind-sided by my own unforeseen attachment to her—how, like the waves, our romance crashed before our eyes. I tried to fight my feelings by joining a recreational soccer league, drinking vodka from the bottle, and writing poems which publishers deemed unfit for their publications, ending up intermixed with tear-soaked tissues in the bottom of my wastebasket. I played one of the mixtapes she made, listening exclusively to the first lines of track one, the song “Heart Skipped a Beat,” by The xx.

Please don’t say were done

When I’m not finished

I could give so much more

I didn’t truly hear those words until after she left, because that summer wasn’t about the implications of words, but about their inherent music. And it was only after she left that things took on their disappointing reality; movies became imaginative fantasies which distorted sex and love to devastatingly false stories, and we couldn’t look away, not even as the credits rolled and lights flooded the theater, revealing the cinema for what it truly was: tacky wood-paneling and oily bags of popcorn tipped over, left to turn stale by paper cups and abandoned Skittles, dispersed, stuck to the floor.




David R. Cravens received his undergraduate degree in philosophy at the University of Missouri and his master’s degree in English literature from Southeast Missouri State University. He was the recipient of the 2008 Saint Petersburg Review Prize in Poetry, the 2011 Bedford Poetry Prize, and was a finalist for Ohio State University’s The Journal William Allen Creative Nonfiction Contest. His work has also appeared in Ontologica: A Journal of Art and Thought, EarthSpeak Magazine, The Houston Literary Review, Albatross Poetry Journal, The Monarch Review, The Interpreter’s House, Willows Wept Review, The New Writer Magazine, The Penmen Review, Poetic Diversity, Red River Review, Liturgical Credo, The Fat City Review, and is forthcoming in Mirror Dance, Fickle Muses, and War, Literature & the Arts. He teaches composition and literature at Mineral Area College.

Doug Draime’s most recent book is More Than The Alley, a full-length collection of poems from Interior Noise Press. Also available are four chapbooks: Dusk With Carol (Kendra Steiner Editions), Los Angeles Terminal: Poems 1971-1980 (Covert Press), Rock ‘n Roll Jizz (Propaganda Press), and an online chapbook, Speed of Light (Right Hand Pointing). He was awarded PEN grants in 1987, 1991, and 1992 and has been nominated for several Pushcart Prize awards. He lives on the outskirts of Medford, Oregon.

Britta Froehling is a seeker, a yogini, a friend and a lover of all things beautiful. She is currently living in South Africa with her two dogs, after having left Switzerland seven years ago. She loves being creative and finding new ways to express herself. If you ever bump into her, she will probably be carrying a yoga mat or a camera and be surrounded by dogs or other lost souls. Alternatively you can find her in cyberspace on her blog http://b-ephemeral.blogspot.com or follow her photography on Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/b-ephemeral

Gregory Letellier is a writer from Biddeford, Maine. He has poems published or forthcoming in Poydras Review, Emerge Literary Journal, Umbrella Factory Magazine, Linden Avenue Literary Journal, and Hobo Camp Review. Read more at http://gregwritesstories.tumblr.com/

A former Ray’s Road Review contributor, Erren Kelly received his B.A. in English-Creative Writing from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. His work has appeared in a number of magazines, such as Hiram Poetry Review, Mudfish, Poetry Magazine [online], Ceremony, Cactus Heart, Similar Peaks, Gloom Cupboard, Poetry Salzburg, and anthologies such as In Our Own Words, A Generation X Poetry Anthology, Fertile Ground, and Beyond The Frontier. He is also the author of a chapbook titled Disturbing The Peace, published by Night Ballet Press. He loves to read and travel, having visited 45 states, Canada, and Europe.

Scott C. Holstad is the poetry editor for Ray’s Road Review.

A former Ray’s Road Review contributor, Lyn Lifshin has written more than 125 books and edited four anthologies of women writers. Her poems have appeared in most poetry and literary magazines in the U.S.A, and her work has been included in virtually every major anthology of recent writing by women. She has given more than 700 readings across the U.S.A. and has appeared at Dartmouth and Skidmore colleges, Cornell University, the Shakespeare Library, Whitney Museum, and Huntington Library. Lyn Lifshin has also taught poetry and prose writing for many years at universities, colleges and high schools, and has been Poet in Residence at the University of Rochester, Antioch, and Colorado Mountain College. Winner of numerous awards including the Jack Kerouac Award for her book Kiss The Skin Off, Lyn is the subject of the documentary film Lyn Lifshin: Not Made of Glass. For her absolute dedication to the small presses which first published her, and for managing to survive on her own apart from any major publishing house or academic institution, Lifshin has earned the distinction “Queen of the Small Presses.” She has been praised by Robert Frost, Ken Kesey and Richard Eberhart, and Ed Sanders has seen her as “a modern Emily Dickinson.” Her website can be found at http://www.lynlifshin.com/.

Thomas Piekarski is a former editor of the California State Poetry Quarterly. His theater and restaurant reviews have been published in various newspapers, with poetry and interviews appearing in numerous national journals, among them Portland Review, Main Street Rag, Kestrel, Scarlet Literary Magazine, Cream City Review, Nimrod, Penny Ante Feud, New Plains Review, Poetry Quarterly, The Muse-an International Journal of Poetry, and Clockhouse Review. He has published a travel guide, Best Choices In Northern California, and Time Lines, a book of poems. He lives in Marina, California.
A former Ray’s Road Review contributor, D.A. Spruzen is a writer of fiction and poetry and has lived in Northern Virginia since 1971, except for a two-year hiatus in the Middle East. She grew up near London, U.K., earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Queens University of Charlotte, and teaches writing for Fairfax County Schools Adult and Community Education program and the McLean Community Center.  She also runs private critique workshops in her home and is President of the Northern Virginia Writers Club. In another life she was Manager of Publications for a defense contractor. Dorothy’s short stories and poems have appeared in many publications, and she is seeking representation for her novel The Blitz Business, set in WWII England. The first two novels in her Flower Ladies Trilogy, Not One of Us and Lily Takes the Field, are available on Kindle and in other e-book formats, as well in paperback.  Her poetry chapbook, Long in the Tooth, was published by Finishing Line Press in July 2013. Dorothy lives with her husband in McLean, Virginia, with a Jack Russell terrier who doesn’t know he’s old and doesn’t know he’s small. Her website can be found at www.daspruzen.com.