a sampling of Dancing with Chowski, Part 3 by Kari Rhyan

Gus sticks out his mitt
For beer money.

He’s scarred from
Elbow to wrist

On account of his

smoking a Camel
And pumping gas

A few years back.

My previous work, Standby for Broadcast–a memoir on the dangers of canned patriotism, family loyalty, and discount retail–focused on my time as a Navy nurse in Afghanistan, and has received praise from Kirkus and Blue Ink, and are widely available online.

Robert The Doll by Linda Imbler

Scene 1:

Annette, as wraith, remembering when
the emoticon of fear presented,
when the savage effigy inserted himself,
wanting nefarious dialogue between the two.
It pleased him, as the loathsome renegade doll
followed her shadow across the floor.

Scene 2:

Annette now wears her mantilla like a second scalp,
especially in the storm-that of Robert’s great eye.
Does she dare ask?
Who decides where the plunge into the darkness will take place-
Who measures the when and how long of Robert’s wild dance-

Does she dare?

Scene 3:

In the new Millenia:
Cemetery plots expertly cloned, raised higher than in times past,
no more sprawling acreage; land in Key West is tight!
And still, Robert “lives” on.
He calls to them as well as the living.

Again, does she dare ask?

Scene 4:

Let’s roll the bones to find out.
She tips her hand, she should never have lent voice
to the name Robert The Doll even in these modern times.
For even now, the insane ones spill into the street,
lost boys and girls chewing up the scenery
with their mad eyes after Robert’s introduction.

Final Scene:

That lion in his lap, the sentry of this oddity
wearing the cursed cloth, reminds her:
Didn’t Robert once roam the halls of The Artist’s House alone?

Well, didn’t he?

Linda Imbler
Linda Imbler is the author of the published poetry collection “Big Questions, Little Sleep.” Her work has appeared in numerous journals. Linda’s creative process and a current, complete listing of sites which have or will publish her work can be found at lindaspoetryblog.blogspot.com. This writer, yoga practitioner, and classical guitar player lives in Wichita, Kansas.

Myth of the Cthulhu Monster by Ken Allan Dronsfield

An oak branch danced to a serenaded minuet …
neither wind nor music could be heard as
throbbing hearts were beating like a drums roll.
The Cthulhu monster inhales and shadows bend
all along the high mossy wall of the great castle.
The keep wipes cascading sweat from his brow;
a murder of crows send ‘meet and greets’ as the
the monster of the mythos looks toward the sky
black tea steeps and cream drips slowly from a
silver spoon bequeathed upon his year of birth.
An oak branch danced to a serenaded minuet …
the Cthulhu monster exhales once again, and
dark shadows bend whilst long wailing screams
drift and echo repentant as twilight fades and joins
this black starry night whence a monster walked.
In the light of a flurry of torches, his octopus like
head swung left then right, feelers test the winds,
scales on his manatee looking body reflect colors,
prominent claws on his hind and fore feet dig in
and his long narrow wings fluttering like a fairy.
An oak branch danced to a serenaded minuet …
those in the castle quake and quiver in repose.
The Cthulhu Monster is awake once more.

(Inspired by the writings of H.P. Lovecraft)

Ken Allan Dronsfield is a published poet from Oklahoma. He loves thunderstorms! His published work can be found in reviews, journals, magazines and anthologies throughout the web and in print venues. His poetry has been nominated for two Pushcart Prize Awards and the Best of the Net for 2016.

Folded Pages by Wanda Morrow Clevenger

there were
concerns over
the origami

the use of
Bible pages

but pagan or not
the pages folded

Wanda Morrow Clevenger
Wanda Morrow Clevenger is a former Carlinville, IL native. Over 445 pieces of her work appear in 155 print and electronic publications. For a signed copy of her debut book This Same Small Town in Each of Us: http://edgarallanpoet.com/This_Same_Small_Town.html Her magazine-type blog updated at her erratic discretion: http://wlc- wlcblog.blogspot.com/

The Paint by William C. Blome

Last year I decided it was time for my world to add pampering to its list of deadly sins, though I myself became dead-set and determined to continue pampering some part of the world—any part of the world—after first noticing in October that most non-migratory geese looked skinny and lacking in down (that, after scooping a few up, carrying them home, and tucking them in my own bed under flannel sheets and thin blankets).

Last year was also the year I acted entirely on my own and abandoned having anything more to do with Jefferson nickels—wouldn’t have ‘em in my wallet, wouldn’t drop ‘em in my pockets, wouldn’t even touch one if I could help it.

I had driven out to a small private airfield on a one-hundred-degree day in August. I had gotten out of my roadster and walked over to an aluminum plane on the tarmac. When I reached out to slouch against the hull and ponder the plane’s big, blue, silly propeller, I burnt my goddamn hand on the fiery metal. You best believe I jumped back and packed it in, so to speak, and left the airpark posthaste.

After I made a journey to Oregon sort of late in the year, I too-often found myself in long, tedious conversations with retired and broken circus folk: crippled sword-swallowers, dyslexic trapezers, clowns more rouged in their dotage than ever they had been in a haler, paler prime. It was while crossing a thoroughfare on foot in Eugene that I got doused with bright green paint by passersby in a shiny Buick; to this day, I still can’t completely get the fucking stuff off.

So, really, it’s probably the paint—more than the pampering, the fowl, the coins, the burn, or the chatter—that exerts extended impact on me now, as the New Year starts to beckon like a racetrack tout, walking toward me at an even pace and with a can’t-miss offer sounding between her or his saliva-spraying lips.

William C. Blome
William C. Blome writes poetry and short fiction. He lives wedged between Baltimore and Washington, DC, and he is a master’s degree graduate of the Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars. His work has previously seen the light of day in such wondrous places as In Between Hangovers, Poetry London, PRISM International, Fiction Southeast, Phenomenal Literature, and The California Quarterly.

Painted Cat (V2) by Michael Lee Johnson

This painted cat
on my balcony
hangs in this sun,
bleaches out
it’s wooden
survival kit,
cut short-
then rots
widen in joints,
no infant sparrow wings
nestled in this hole
beneath its neck-
then falls down.
No longer a swinger
in latter days, August wind.

Michael Lee Johnson lived ten years in Canada during the Vietnam era. He is a poet, editor, publisher, freelance writer, amateur photographer, small business owner in Itasca, IL. Mr. Johnson published in more than 925 small press magazines online and print. His poems have appeared in 27 countries as of this date, he edits, publishes 10 different poetry sites, with over 103 videos on YouTube. Michael Lee Johnson was nominated for 2 Pushcart Prize awards for poetry 2015, and Best of the Net, 2016.

Absolute Validation by A.J. Huffman

is the lack of feeling
as you stare at your ex
attempting to return
on hands and knees
begging forgiveness,
the absence of desire
to welcome his sniveling
form, however buff
it may still be, the indifference
as the flash-bulb memories
of the reasons for his dismissal
flare in your mind—
ghosts of another life’s darkness,
the ease with which you turn
and walk away without interest
in looking behind you.

A.J. Huffman has published thirteen full-length poetry collections, fourteen solo poetry chapbooks and one joint poetry chapbook through various small presses.  Her most recent releases, The Pyre On Which Tomorrow Burns (Scars Publications), Degeneration (Pink Girl Ink), A Bizarre Burning of Bees (Transcendent Zero Press), and Familiar Illusions (Flutter Press) are now available from their respective publishers.  She is a five-time Pushcart Prize nominee, a two-time Best of Net nominee, and has published over 2600 poems in various national and international journals, including Labletter, The James Dickey Review, The Bookends Review, Bone Orchard, Corvus Review, EgoPHobia, and Kritya.  She is the founding editor of Kind of a Hurricane Press.

Residual Atmosphere by Jonathan Hine

i walked past strange
shadowded yards
down city lanes
up the stairs to
obtain my hidden bag
a smoldering blaze of
orange & red spread
across the horizon
unearthly tints shone
through the window
with long purple curtains
to the side
the faint glow
illuminating & radiating from
the permutations & combinations
of variously enumerated configurations
flickered, then
slowly faded out
and there you were
orbs of mingled light climbed the wall
you smiled
a repose from varying
you were glad to see me
had missed me
now you were leaving town
you leaned in
& whispered in my ear
i think someone
set those curtains
on fire

Jonathan Hine
Having given up writing for five years, Jonathan Hine has picked up his pen again out of sheer necessity. Previous poems appeared in Underground Voices, Gutter Eloquence, Nostrovia!, and Thunderclap Magazine.

Cold Autumn Night And The Beams Are Low by BrianSGore

Cold Autumn night
The leaves have fallen
The gutters dusted with snow
Waxing moon in the dark blue,
Sea of stars washes your eyes.
Your eyelash is on my tongue.

BrianSGore is a writer of short stories, poems, and songs. He currently resides in New London, CT and has published several collections of original works including “Barstool Ballads” and “Eleven Stories For Short… Attentions” as well as a coordinating a collaborative project entitled “A Collection of Poems by Various Poets Regarding the Line ‘10,000 Miles of Farewell'”.

Bible School by Ricky Garni

I don’t think of God as a man or a woman.
Instead, God embraces the spirit of the infinite.
Therefore, God is a Slinky.

Ricky Garni 2
Ricky Garni grew up in Miami and Maine. He works as a graphic designer by day and writes music by night. In 2001, his poetry was subpoenaed in court, in order to assert that his testimony was not valid as he was “clearly not of sound mind.” He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize on seven occasions.