Thursday, June 25, 2015

New Short Fiction by Donal Mahoney

Paddy Murphy's Wake
  The priest had been there earlier and the rosary was said and relatives and friends in single file were offering condolences. "Sorry for your troubles," one by one they said, bending over Maggie Murphy, the widow silent in her rocker, a foot or so from Paddy, resplendent in his casket, the two of them much closer now than they had ever been. 
A silent guest of honor, Paddy now had nothing more to say, waked in aspic, if you will, in front of his gothic fireplace.
The moon was full this starless night and the hour was getting late and still the widow hadn't wept. Her eyes were swept Saharas and the mourners wanted tears. They had fields to plow come morning and they needed sleep, but the custom in County Kerry was that no one leaves a wake until the widow weeps.
Fair Maggie could have married any man in Kerry, according to her mother, who almost every day reminded her of that. 
"Maggie," she would say, "you should have married Mickey. His limp was not that bad," but Maggie wouldn't listen. Instead, she married Paddy, "that pestilence out walking," as her mother often called him even on a Sunday but only after Mass. 
Maggie married Paddy the day he scored the only goal the year that Kerry took the trophy back from Galway. That goal was no small thing for Ireland, Paddy would remind us all in pubs, night after night, year after year, until one of us would gag and buy him another drink. 
That goal, he'd shout, was something historians in Ireland would one day note, even if they hadn't yet, and every time he'd mention it, which was almost daily, Maggie's mother would remind her daughter once again that she should have married Mickey and had a better life. 
The final time her mother praised poor Mickey, a screaming match ensued, so loud it woke the rooster the very day her mother, feverish in bed, gurgled like a frog and died. 
This evening, though, as the wake wore on, the mourners grew more weary waiting for the tears the widow hadn't shed. Restless in his folding chair, Mickey put his bottle down and rose to give the eulogy he had needed days to memorize. 

"Folks," he said, "if all of us would holler down to Paddy now, I'm sure he'd holler back. Despite the flames and all that smoke, he'd tell us all once more that Kerry winning over Galway is all that ever mattered. We'll always have cold Paddy over there to thank for that. Ireland never had a better man. St. Patrick himself, I know, would vouch for that." 
The Widow Murphy hadn't moved all evening, but after hearing Mickey speak, she began to rock with fury as she raised a purple fist, shook it to the heavens and then began to hum her favorite dirge. The mourners all joined in and hummed along until midnight struck on the mantel clock and then, as if released by God Himself, the mourners rose, one by one, from folding chairs and paraded out beneath the moon, freed by a hurricane of the Widow Murphy's tears.

- Donal Mahoney 2015

Donal Mahoney lives in St. Louis, Missouri. He writes poetry and fiction. Some of his earliest work can be found at

New Poetry by Andrew Condouris

I was back on the streets

I pulled my cap
down over my ears
crossed the avenue
into the bed of traffic
zigzagged and forgot myself
the snow sneaked
under my scarf
no time, no rest
nothing but the news
and the news was bad
in each of my footsteps
a grip, a breath
glass, concrete
I counted my steps
palms blanched
a purple fire swirling
in my guts
and the fire
spoke across the dark table
of night and sea
of what collected in shadows
and pools and puddles—
the fire sang
the greatest advertisement of all:

the world is wide open
and they’ve discovered another day
in the week and this day is for you
and you alone
reach out
I'm reaching out, too
I tell no lies
reach out
I'm reaching out, too
and it's true no fingerprints
and it's true odd creatures
tread the foam
and it’s true this city
sputters and sparks
and it's true the world
is burning
and it’s true we'll dance and sing
with wanting hands
across the silence
oh can’t you see that I am
a child wiping away the tears
standing up
I speak to you
I have no one else
I speak to you

- Andrew Condouris 2015

Andrew Condouris is, by his own confession, a zen monk who drives a car for uber. He lives in New Jersey.

Monday, June 22, 2015

New Poetry by Michael Keshigian

Present Comfort
He stands in the open doorway,
a brisk breeze caresses his face.
There is a shadow cast
from a dried maple branch
of straight lines
dyed black upon the lawn
that resembles a stick man,
an apparition that points up
as if to designate its source.
He imagines himself the outline
penciled atop the green,
where the grass is cool and moist
as it brushes his skin,
where vagrant ants
and earthworms tickle his underside
when they course beneath.
The landscape is quiet otherwise.
He is content.
Vagrant clouds, like the years,
move rapidly over him,
close enough to the sun
to threaten and momentarily
dissipate his imprint.
There is nothing he might do
to stem the inevitable,
but to distract himself
with the magic about,
for the future is black,
the present, light,
though it will yield no notice
when it dissolves him.

- Michael Keshigian 2015

Michael Keshigian’s tenth poetry collection, Beyond was released May, 2015 by Black Poppy.  He has been widely published in numerous national and international journals most recently including Poesy,The Chiron Review, California Quarterly, and has appeared as feature writer in over a dozen publications with 5 Pushcart Prize and 2 Best Of The Net nominations. (

Friday, June 19, 2015

New Poetry by Irina Grosu


burning bridges (i used to have a body once)

the neighbors are celebrating.
some wedding. or some death,
it seems they are the only
people want to remember.
I pull the curtains and I face
it is all here.
I would wrap them around me if
they were not green
but I can’t be a hypocrite – how
would their sendaline gaze
become me ?
I touch myself – everything is in
its place.
the teeth at my neck
the claws in my heart
scratches all over my legs.
fumbled hair locks
devirginized eyes
and the sounds, oh, the sounds!
everyone fears the smell, but it
is them sounds
the cruelty, the steadiness, the
of jigsaw going through the
skull – the shriek
gives me a concussion.
I am faltering.
my hands!
I still have my hands – they only touched beautiful.
do you want them too ?


a ride  back home

what is this movement with slow strokes
brushing past me, going forth?
it breathes loudly I can’t hear
it is softened and I shiver.
should I take it?
should I stop
doing nothing, feeling not ?
there must be a catch here, some sort of spell
that if I put my hand out, it fell
that if I search it with my eyes
it changes shape and stays behind.
could it be theirs, should I lie back
and wait it passes, hail at that ?
you say it’s mine! That I have yet
to stand up brazen, to forget
the times before when I stood up
to face their fears so mine stopped.
so be it then, I will invite
you take a walk on the inside.
do not look back, nor to the side,
or leave me waiting on the ride.
while doing so, if you don’t mind,
reach outside and shut behind.


the stretch


I spread my arms apart and my arms are short,
shorter than the right measure.
Though they come in different sizes,
spaces are never enough for me.
Like every elastic, I too have limits, you see
but if you can’t, I will tell you
In words
confined to my chest,
Instead of dangling on the tip,
a bottleneck
I contemplate
like a silent earthquake.
Like every elastic, I grew tired.
this time –  of smuggling in
embellished by acceptable wrapping.
I wonder what my color would be, if I threw myself up all at once
–noli me tangere–
I seek to see a predominance
Like a smoothie having a shake up
When you add something yellow
To raspberry pink.


So I decided to take off
all for the good of a high-resolution quality
with missing pixels the eye won’t see
Doing away
with the shallow distinction of space that is lost and space that is gained.
I am the rain.

- Irina Grosu 2015

Irina Grosu is an artist-philosopher and a ghost writer. Her career has included managing an International Magazine, Editor of two journals and over 10 years experience in various Social Science and Communication constituencies. She is currently running a poetry blog and pursuing her artistic and philosophy endeavors. 

New Poetry by Michele Seminara


Gurgling sounds woke me — (perhaps I needed to pee?) — 
the sink had filled with water abundant enough to spill 
out onto the floor and flow 
in a sacred stream under the bathroom door. 
In this lucid dream 
within a dream I rose 
from your father's bed and followed the trail 
to you, my son, a lotus blooming 
improbably from a golden yoke on the belly of my ocean —
and I knew, like queen Maya upon receiving
a visitation by the sublime white elephant 
that soon you would appear.

And now here you are — yes, here you all are! —
little lotuses mired in my mud. 
Tying your nooses around your necks each morning
strangling yourselves a little more each day:
obediently becoming (for me) 
what I never wanted 
you to be.

- Michele Seminara 2015

Michele Seminara is a Sydney poet and Managing Editor of Verity La.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Alison and Leopold

To some it is a literary masterpiece, cluttered and idiosyncratic as the city it chronicles. To others it is the world’s longest obituary, but whatever your view, one thing is clear, and that is that 113 years after poor Paddy Dignam was finally laid to rest, James Joyce’s Ulysses remains the only book in the Anglo sphere (apart from the Bible) to have its own day.

He is gone from mortal haunts: O’Dignam, sun of our morning. Fleet was his foot on the bracken: Patrick of the beamy brow. Wail, Banba, with your wind: and wail, o ocean, with your whirlwind.

So settles the cloud of tobacco, stout and grief between Bob Doran and Alf as they spy Leopold Bloom hovering outside the chemist shop on an errand for his wife, Marion of the bountiful bosoms. Bloom, the eternal outsider, child of Abraham in an Apostolic nation, and bookish to boot.

I declare to my antimacassar if you took up a straw from the bloody floor and if you said to Bloom: Look at, Bloom. Do you see that straw? That’s a straw. Declare to my aunt he’d talk about it for an hour so he would and talk steady.

As any of my legion of drinking buddies both past and present would blearily attest, I identify strongly with Leopold Bloom.

But there is another reason Bloomsday sounds a particular note for me each June. For it was on the evening of June 16, 1996 that my good friend and drinking buddy, Alison Gooch, was run down and killed by a drunk driver on the sweeping bend of King street just south of Newtown bridge. Nineteen years and I can still hear her laugh.

Vale “Bootsie".

(Originally posted in 2011 on Bluepepper and re-posted at Sydney Poetry)

Monday, June 15, 2015

New Poetry by Robert Halleck


My sister called to tell me that Martha
had jumped from a hotel balcony in
Kansas City. She left no note and called
no one, leaving the earth to wonder why.
At least three times a week for 30 years
they had talked while my sister raised children,
nursed the sick, and flunked Marriage 101.
Martha in her trousers, soft hair, and blue eyes
had private schooled, earned summa cum laude,
and took Wall Street by storm and partners
like the pioneer she was. Wall Street took her
ideas and gave no credit. The partners just left.
I remembered little of the young Martha 
across the street and she remembered much,
reminding me of the time she dropped her
ice cream cone on the seat of my car
and how I didn't get mad but just drove
back to Baskin Robbins to get another.
That was the beginning that ended in 
Kansas City leaving my sister to wonder why
and me to hold a phone listening to sobs
that went on and on until a click to silence.

- Robert Halleck 2015

Robert Halleck is a hospice volunteer and retired banker who lives in Del Mar, CA. Over 55 years he has written three books of poetry and collected a large file of rejection notices and acceptances from many poetry publications.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

New Words and Images by Wayne H. W Wolfson

Red Pants
She said that she kept the extra words in her mouth in case of an emergency. Silence only loves the gate which creates it. Her hair smelled like wine and peaches. I just stood there trying to remember what it reminded me of. Too long of a lull in our conversation and she forgot that I was there. An itch on her forehead and she began sawing away with the nail of her pinky.
As we stood by Zola’s grave I noticed that she was now crying. It was not real though, his importance to her lay only in that the grave was an ideal prop to serve as a catalyst to the dramatic scene that she wanted so badly to act out. I wondered if it would look as suspect to someone who did not know her.
Her hand went into her pocketbook for a tissue. She momentarily froze. Calculations were being worked out in her head, which would offer her a better emotional payoff: to complete the scene as she usually did such things, with a musician’s sense of timing; or to purposely make it drag out too long so that I would lose my cool and we could have a fight?
Before she could finish working out the equation, a group of elderly couples, cameras in hand taking a tour happened by. Momentarily she was rendered inert as long ago Marthe had made a vow to herself not to play games in front of the elderly.  This was to prevent consciously having to dredge up the memory of the time that she had defeated herself in Marseilles.
Marthe had wanted to go shopping even though she knew that I had kidney gravel, my discomfort made worse by the heat. We kept walking by bars, I did not ask for permission to stop but in the spirit of compromise asked;
“This one all right?”

She would pull a face or pretend to be in deep thought as to not have heard me. Finally my discomfort reached a point that I could not wait any longer and so chose for us. By happenstance it had a nice view of the bay.
My first drink I put down fast. She assumed that I would slap some money down on the zinc and that we would leave. As the drink relaxed everything, I realized that I should have some water and one more, this time for pleasure’s sake. The motivations for my actions had nothing to do with her or our games. By way of protest she got no drink but sat on her stool sideways ignoring the view as to be able to bore her eyes into me.
Finally I told her that if she wanted to, then she could go on without me. Somehow this caught her by surprise. She took to the street, the look on her face being mistaken by an older man eating bouillabaisse al fresco across the street as some kind of hurt. He called her over and insisted that she have a vermouth, telling him what was the matter. How could anything be so terrible for a pretty girl in a place with beautiful weather and good food?
By the time she was being handed a menu I had left, heading back to the hotel. To the old man, as they sat there talking, he had worked his magic. See, he thought to himself, she was smiling again, such a lovely smile.
Marthe chuckled to herself as she had finished figuring out how long to spend at the table to make me jealous or if I had not seen her, a little worried. It was right around this time that under the table the old man was putting well practiced fingers on her bare thigh.
Back at the hotel, I was giving the concierge an envelope with her name on it in which there was enough money for a cattle class seat on the train back to Paris and her passport, everything bound together by a faded red elastic I had found on the nightstand.
I made my way back to the city alone, letting scenes outside my window lull me to sleep. Of course we made up but she now spent most of her time stateside. Obviously practicing on who knew, as her techniques were now more varied. Even with the confidence of an increased skill set still, old men were now an omen of bad luck for her.
“Shall we go get a drink?” she asked me. Taking her hand, as we walked away;
“He is not actually buried there any longer you know.”

- Wayne H. W Wolfson 2015

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

New Poetry by Sophia Pandeya

Odysseys of an Onion Moon

Last night, beneath
the warm June window, she dreamt
the moon was an onion,  wedded
to all manner of odds

the full moon onion in cahoots
with the child playing hooky
from the odious class, slipped
under an armpit and hey presto!
feverish clouds appeared
fluffy as a sickbed

the destiny of the demi-moon onion
was a bit more complex
one half of a twin, forgotten 
in the rotten cavities of the fridge
she suffered the pain of her sibling
nonetheless. Everyone thinks 
they are crying while
slicing flesh & bulb
but really the lunar onions are just
homeless tears waiting
for eyes to take them in

an excellent root-boat 
the hollowing quarter moon resents
being a namesake in the Yankee pocket
afloat in the indigo sky, he plies 
his cause, dropping leaflets 
of protest moonlight, deep 
into the sleepless night

as for the much maligned 
crescent onion, there is little
to tell except, that in Vienna 
the croissant-moon was made
a buttery scape-goat for
the defeated Ottomans

its a popular myth
that the onion-moon disappears
in the dark sky but actually
she has dissolved into honey, a magic
syrup poured into the hoots of barn owls
the throats of bullfrogs, the sore singing
wings of the cicadas. There never seems
to be enough onion-moon 
to go around

- Sophia Pandeya 2015

Sophia Pandeya is an Asian-American poet. Her publications include Cactus Heart, Askew Poetry, Bank Heavy Press and Spilled Ink as well as Poetry International, The Adirondack Review, The Daily O,  Lantern Journal, Convergence Journal AntiSerious and  Full Of Crow.  My debut  poetry collection, Peripheries, is being published by Cyberhex Press in July.  

New Poetry by Rick Mitchell

Garden Birch in Winter Rain
What should caress
her white limbs
with ice
winter betrayal
to the ground
and stains the
sleeping bed with
damp spots.

- Rick Mitchell 2015

At This Time, In This Place
A white scar,
cold milk in winter,
glistens on her chin.
Alone on the bus to school
sneakers breathless
beneath her seat
and bombs from the living room
dirt floor at each
jostled stop
the silent explosions of nothing.

- Rick Mitchell 2015

Rick Mitchell's poems have recently appeared in the Louisville Review, The Pittsburg Quarterly, Skylark and the Cimarron Review; Chiron Review Press published Speaking of Seed and Night, his first book of poetry, and Aldrich Press published Before Every Other Fall last year.

Saturday, June 06, 2015

New Poetry by Margaret Holley

Tasting the Perseids

Space grit,
comet debris, the daily rain
of one hundred tons of meteoroids

toasted to ash,
charbroiled by the friction of air –
there it floats till water vapor

in love with dust
gathers and rains it down to earth,
where it settles into the potato rows

sifting into the soil, giving in
gradually to the lips of rootlets

and the pale potato
fruits, each plumping tuber
infused with the scent of the night sky.

On the Fourth
we watched spectacular loud fireworks
synchronized to Tchaikovsky, also loud –

rockets, roman
candles, chrysanthemums banging
and booming over an audience of thousands.

ten chilly evenings into August,
we lie in the back yard, just the two of us

in sleeping bags
whispering, dozing, and gazing up
into black silence, hoping for a glimpse,

a one-second
trace of incoming rubble,
the wreckage of other worlds, shining

as it falls,
to mingle darkly with our world’s
aura of ash and soot, our common dust.

- Margaret Holley 2015

Margaret Holley’s fifth book of poems is Walking Through the Horizon, published by University of Arkansas Press.  She is the former Director of Creative Writing at Bryn Mawr College.  Currently retired, she lives in Wilmington, Delaware, where she volunteers as a gallery guide at Winterthur Museum.