Friday, April 29, 2016

Poetry By HR Creel

Four poems by HR Creel


in purple ink
I spelled my name
finding a truer
finding a truer
set free in writing.


we roll on
in spite of the bumps
bruises we suffer
in spite of the splatters
what they spell
across the glass.

  Celery and His Fine Wheels From Tiny Drawings By Jenny Mathews 


I take a small side
street as I speak
not aware that I am leading
back to where I started
so go with me for the ride.

Wakes Me

my condition
wakes me reminding me
of how the clock ticks
my moments away.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Three Poems By Angelica Fuse

Three poems by Angelica Fuse. See more of her work at Section 8 

Car Wash

we move forward
on the endless

wash splash
rinse repeat

showing up with
wet hair

to a world of professionals.

                    Flint Water Plant by Jenny Mathews of Tiny Drawings 

Family Business

Donny was the boy
who was to inherit
the kingdom

I was the creature
who was supposed
to be beautiful

all of us deal
with what we have
and rise
as best we can.


a quick glimpse
at the coffin
and its open yawn
gives an idea
of what really
matters in all this
stumble and strive.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Poems About Ireland By Donal Mahoney

Donal Mahoney, the son of irish immigrants, grew up in an Irish neighborhood in Chicago—almost an Irish ghetto, if you will—in the Forties and Fifties. His father had been expelled from Ireland circa 1920 for running guns as a teenager for the Irish Republican Army. His mother left Ireland around the same time, tired of living with 9 siblings in a thatched roof cottage in the middle of an English landlord’s farm, harvesting cabbages and rutabaga. His parents brought to America hope for a better future and the neuroses of their past, both of which affect the author even to this day. He is thankful, though, that his parents emigrated. He prefers loving Ireland, still a very strange if lovely place, from the shores of the United States.  

Signs in Windows

In 1920 he came on a boat 
from Ireland and found
his way through Ellis Island.

He found a room 
in a boarding house
catering to his kind and

went looking for a job
but found instead signs
in windows saying 

“No Irish Need Apply.”
A cemetery asked him to
dig graves and lower the dead.

In America today
there are no signs like that.
Black and brown 

apply and whites 
sometimes hire them.
My father was white.

But in 1920 his brogue
was a long rope that
almost lynched him. 

Donal Mahoney

An Irish Enclave, 1956
         South Side of Chicago,
        long before Barack Obama
On bungalow porches 
and out in backyards,
on hot summer evenings 
old men lower themselves
into green canvas chairs,
smoke and sip beer,
laugh and relive 
Easter, 1916
and plot what they’ll do
when the n?#@ers pour in
and eddy all over
the dregs of their city.

Donal Mahoney

Donal Mahoney

This Mick on the Next Stool

in a pub in Ireland

So this Mick on the next stool,
who's as serious as Yeats
but looks like Wilde,
stares at me, 
with eyes crossed,
sipping Guinness through the foam.
Finally he burps and says, 
"I'll bet that growth is cystic.
If it were on my nose, 
I'd light this match,
hold a straight pin over it,
then prick it. 
Poof! There'd be 
a belch of goat cheese, sure.
But what of it? 
You'd need a Q-Tip,
maybe a drop of p'roxide.
But in two weeks 
new skin would bloom
smoother than a baby's bum.
With your luck, Yank, 
it would freckle."

Donal Mahoney

Meeting Dad Again
Thirty years later, Dad came back
and we met for Ham and Yams at Toffenetti’s.
Pouring his tea, he told me he had
to restore power once
at a newspaper warehouse
and the storm broke again
and the lightning cracked his ladder.
He spent the whole day, he said,
sitting in that dark warehouse,
waiting for the lightning to stop
and for the truck to bring a new ladder.
He had a great time, he said,
sitting next to a flickering lantern
and reading for hours the Sunday comics
printed and stacked
six months in advance.
Donal Mahoney

Stumps in His Cabbage

You would think you would 
love a man who died 
for you and for everyone else, 
even those who will never 
know that he did.
But you don't, not really.  

The monks in the choir
you hear on Sunday 
sing hymns from the heart.
They make fruitcake all week
stoked by the knowledge 
he died for them. 

They love him 
in a way that you 
can only imagine
despite much prayer. 
You adore him, however, 
as well you should. 

You know he's infinite,
omnipotent, without 
beginning or end. 
You hold him in awe. 
No one commands your
respect more than him. 

You follow his will, mostly. 
You tell others about him 
but the love doesn't come, 
gripped as you are 
in tongs that have held you 
since childhood

growing up in a house 
where a man who worked 
long hours, never drank, 
put you through school 
then went nuclear at dinner 
with your mother  

when he discovered 
"stumps in my cabbage, 
lumps in my potatoes," 
a man whose roar rattled
the neighbors and sent 
the dog under the bed.

You would think you would 
love a man who died 
for you and for everyone else. 
But you don't, not really. 
You keep trying to love him 
and your father as well.

Donal Mahoney

Donal Mahoney, an expatriate from Chicago, lives in St. Louis, Missouri. Some of his earliest work can be found at and some of his newer work at

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Five Poems By Dennis Gulling

Dennis Gulling is a protege of Todd Moore, who taught English at Belvidere High School for many years, and is credited as the founder of the Outlaw Poetry movement. Gulling is himself a distinguished, although elusive poet with a thirty-five year history of publication, and was also the editor of Crawlspace magazine from 1980-1989

This one hundred page testimonial of the underbelly of American society is delivered like a gut punch, and finishes with a flourish of wry humor quick as a prison shivving. It is his first full-length collection of poetry.

The Blood Dark Sea is a 35 year collection of poems about small timers finding themselves in bad places at the wrong time. Their misfortune is definitely the reader's gain, as the German concept of schadenfreude is raised to an art form by this poet and his keen observation detailing the worst moments in others lives. Gulling delivers his poems like short, unexpected bursts of gunfire in an idyllic suburban afternoon.


There’s a man on tv screaming
At me about a
Special offer
Limited time only
Not sold in stores
Operators are standing by
But I must act now
The tv looks like
A cage he wants to escape
I turn it off
To lock him in


Driving home from work
Like a thousand times before
I feel a small
Nothingness inside me
Where something used to burn
There’s a darkness
I can almost touch
It takes shape
As minutes stretch
To hours in this thing
I call my life
Watching the tail lights
On the car ahead of me
I try hard to remember
Those things I swore
I’d never forget
And all the days I fell down
Are a blur to me now


The state police found her
Doing a little dance
At the side of the interstate
She was probably in her late teens
Or early twenties
Had hazel eyes
Short brown hair
Wore a ratty print dress
No shoes
Wouldn’t talk
Just bit her lower lip
And looked down a lot
She didn’t carry any i.d.
Just a wolf’s paw
In a paper bag
She liked
To rub it on her face
And growl


She works
In a butcher shop
Because she likes
The smell of meat
On her hands
Makes her feel animal
Sucks her fingers
In bed at night
To draw blood
From her dreams


In his dream
He’s sitting in a rowboat
In the middle of a flood
The water is very cold and very dark
He can’t see anyone in any direction
Just treetops and roofs
Pieces of furniture floating by
He looks into the water
And notices something white
It comes closer to the surface
And he sees a girl’s face staring at him
Her lips are parted slightly
Almost smiling
Her eyes are half closed
Red hair floats around her face
He reaches out to touch her
But she starts to inch away in the current
Lingers a moment
And then she’s gone
He sits up straight
And stares out across the water
He hears thunder in the distance
And that sound becomes her name

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Outsider Poetry By Sergio Ortiz

Sergio Ortiz is a poet who struggles with Bipolar and Borderline Personality Disorder


I enter
the uncomfortable night
of your fortified city.
The long creak
of the catwalk is lost
amid the shouts of stevedores
and sailors. 

At midnight,
I find your labyrinth.
You talk to me
about the fleeting language
of a broken clock, the wings
of your Moroccan city,
the life of its cobblestones,
when suddenly you become
the quiet rage, the trembling
conversation of doubts:
the inaccessible
vigor of your long seductive thighs. 


We got there late. Me to your dream
and you to my best hour, merman hidden
in the cornfields of my body.  Later
we lost sight of each other amid the tumult
of adolescence. We broke up, widowed
before the marriage ever consummated.
Fifteen years later we saw each other,
me the bard, you the juris doctor.
An avalanche of love made me call you
the next day. What superhuman beast
(perhaps accumulated courage) possessed
my body, what lie? What did I say my Troy,
my Caesar, my White Bull, that made you
look my way. I can’t remember,
but out of the sea inside my chest, my abyss,
primitive animals emerged singing:
purple rain, purple rain… 

On a whitewashed wall in the fortified city of your body 

I come to you slowly. You say something I don't understand. You laugh. Write your name on my abdomen. I walk from the edge of my body to yours. Sleepwalkers like us don't distinguish between reality and desire. To us reality is wider, more tangible, more corporal. It’s a garden in the bedroom, a thick weave of braided hair, an endless hieroglyph tangled in our legs, and rarely can we find someone to decipher, read, or write it on our bodies.

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Blood Dark Sea Dennis Gulling

3 A.M.

He buried something
Behind the corn crib
At 3 a.m.
Then ran screaming
Down the road naked
With an axe in his hand
Headlights from the sheriff’s car
Caught him like a deer
He went up over the hood
And landed dead
On the pavement
Blood stain on the windshield
Was a red moon
Glued to the darkness

ROOM 312, BED 2

He wakes up
In a hospital bed
Connected to machines
His memory is just shards
And slivers
A gun going off in a bathroom
Somebody screaming
Running down a dark stairway
Into a street full of headlights
Brakes screeching
He’s flying in the air
And then nothing
Black nothing
Cold nothing
Like a bullet a name
Spikes in his memory
Wanda Kowalski
And his mouth hurts when he smiles
Remembering the way
She danced around the room
With a cast on her leg
And a rip in her dress she couldn’t see
He drifts off to sleep again
Tasting her lips
And smelling her dimestore perfume
As she presses herself against him
Whispering his name



He’s counting the dead flies
On the window sill
She’s picking their clothes
Up off the floor and saying
Something about her sister’s husband
But he’s not really listening
He puts his fingers against
The glass to see if it’s cold outside
Says “I guess so” to some question
She’s asked him
Down in the street
There’s a man getting groceries
Out of his car
He tries to read the brand names
On the boxes sticking out
Of the bags
She’s behind him now
Massaging his neck
He wants to tell her something
He’s been wanting to tell her
For a long time
Instead he tenses his muscles
And stares with dead eyes
Into the pale winter sunlight


When he got home from work
She was gone for good
He knew this day was coming
But he’d have rather choked on the words
Than say them out loud
As though saying them out loud
Would have made it more real
Than he could have handled
She didn’t leave a note
Because she couldn’t think
Of anything to say
That would have made him feel better
He found one of her blouses
Wadded up and sticking out
From under the bed
Her smell still on it
He buried his face in it
Breathed it in
And smiled
Still tasting her on his tongue
Still touching her in the dark
Still hearing her speak his name
Like a prayer


She only drove by the house that one time
Just to see who had moved in
She didn’t even slow down
Saw some toys scattered in the yard
And a black pickup in the driveway
With Minnesota plates
The front door was open
And she could see the tear in the screen
Had never been fixed
She got the house in the divorce
But couldn’t stand living there anymore
It would always remind her of him
Of his silence and distance
The cold inches that separated them in bed
Now it’s someone else’s address
Someone else’s home
That’s getting smaller in her rearview mirror
She can’t think of any place
She wants to be right now
But she wants to keep driving
Keep speeding somewhere
To feel the unbearable peace
That comes from always moving
And never arriving

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Poems By Donal Mahoney

Donal Mahoney has lived in St. Louis for many years, but his heart and his mind remain in his native Chicago, where he grew up, went to school and had his first poems published. Short stories came much later when an editor told him that a poem of his would work better as a story. Since then he has found poems just “arrive,” rough as they may be, and require polishing. Fiction requires him to apply a mind that still works in dotage, and he hopes fiction might help to fend off dementia in any of its various forms. He fears dementia because then he might no longer realize he’s nuts.

I Feel Like James Brown

This morning I woke up early 
feelin' good, feelin' the way
I felt 50 years ago, no aches,
no pains, can’t wait to shower, 
hop on the El, go back to work, 
get the magazine out on time
then dance all night in a bar
to the music of James Brown.

I feel good like James today.
Wonder what my problem is.
Fifty years ago I felt good every day 
but never wanted to go to work.
I must be sick so I called the doctor

and described my symptoms.
I told him I felt like James Brown. 
Anything he could do to help?
He said take two aspirin and
call him when the music stops 
and I'm my old self again. 

Donal Mahoney

Poet Donal Mahoney

Empathy Is Not Pete’s Forte

Pete’s never needed 
anything from childhood on.
His parents had it all 
and gave it to him so it’s hard 
for him to understand why 
people who have nothing 
march with placards in the streets
or sneak into another country
to find enough to eat, a place to live,
and raise and educate a family.

Empathy is not Pete's forte 
and that can happen when
parents give you everything,
send you to the finest schools,
leave you money you can build 
a business with, go broke 
and still become a billionaire. 
Finally you have everything
and life becomes so boring 
you decide the time has come
to run for president. Such fun.

Donal Mahoney

A Senior Dilemma

Couples age and a sign of age is when 
the husband hires someone to shovel snow 
and the wife hires a cleaning lady.

Sometimes the wife doesn’t like the fellow  
and the husband doesn’t like the cleaning lady.
But he keeps the same fellow shoveling 

for years and his wife hires a new cleaning lady
every other week until the husband grows weary  
of dressing up to meet them so he disappears 

upstairs and watches TV in his underwear.
Finally his wife hires the right cleaning lady but 
the husband goes upstairs because he figures she's

a goner as soon as she comes through the door 
armed with her broom, buckets and mops.
But this lady gets along fine with his wife

and comes every week for several years.
Every time she comes, he disappears upstairs 
and watches TV in his underwear. 

Too late for him to meet this lady now. 
What’s worse, every winter his wife suggests 
he find someone else to shovel the snow 

even though the fellow she doesn’t like  
has shoveled the snow five years or more. 
Things will settle down when one of them dies.

Donal Mahoney

Monday, April 18, 2016

Poetry and Street Photography By David J. Thompson

Poetry and street photography by David J. Thompson

                       West Virginia. Photography by David J. Thompson

All My Change

You’re just going to run into Kroger for your usual
snacks and a 6 pack of microbrew Saturday night.  
You put both hands in the front pouch of your sweatshirt
against the winter-is-on-its-way November chill, hurry 
straight across the  parking lot thinking about how early
it gets dark these days. Then you see her, pale and pink-eyed
as an albino bunny and still and silent as Buddha, sort of
a female version of Johnny or Edgar Winter, sitting behind 
a folding table next to the automatic doors.  She’s got 
a big glass jar, maybe a quarter full with coins and a few bills.  
You don’t have to look too close at the flyer to know her kid needs 
an operation they can’t possibly afford for some fucked up disease
that nobody’s ever heard of and only doctors know how to pronounce.

Inside, you pick up a hand basket, head straight for the chips,
trying to distract yourself wondering if Johnny and Edgar Winter
were twins or just brothers, but you can’t help thinking about 
a few years ago and your own deadly disease – the lung sarcoma
and the months of chemo, and hours surgery, and weeks
in the hospital with  a hole in what was left of your right lung.
You grab some Tostitos and a jar of salsa, walk toward
the beer aisle remembering that at least you had Blue Cross 
and helpful friends who knew the right people, and, still, 
you know you’re damn lucky just to be alive, so, you walk 
past the microbrew and the German beers and pull down 
a 12 pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon cans.  In the checkout line 
you stare at the tabloids, wonder what chance in hell 
that poor little kid has with a mayonnaise jar of nickels.

You step out of the yellowy light of the store into the darkness,
carrying your stuff with your left arm, right hand full with all your change,
but she and her table and jar are all gone. Shit, you say almost out loud,
put the bag down on the sidewalk and look out into the parking lot.
You don’t see her, just some other shoppers and some kid wrestling
with a long line of shopping carts.  You pick up your stuff, pull up the hood
of your sweat shirt, head for your car, head down against the wind. 
You figure you’ll come back tomorrow to get groceries for the week, 
hope she’ll be back so you can put your change in the jar even when 
you’ve sobered up enough to know it won’t make any difference.

                               Ohio. Photography by David J. Thompson

Hood Up, Head Down

Jesus Christ, you say to yourself.
I’m fifty-five fucking years old,
and I’m still riding school buses.
It’s the dead of Michigan winter
on a Friday night. It’s starting 
to snow. You’re heading home 
from a game across town.
The varsity coaches are huddled
a few seats back across the aisle
trying to read the scorebook
by the light of their phones.
You’re the JV coach sitting alone 
with the med kit, knees against 
the seat in front of you. You check 
your watch,  put your forehead
against the cool of the window,
look out at the same old highway signs 
you’ve seen a million times before,
try to guess what time you’ll finally get home.

Back at school, you wait in the lobby
until the last kid’s ride shows up.
He’s the worst player on the team.
You tell him to have a good weekend,
then turn out the lights and walk
quickly with your hood up, head down
against the wind and snow, to your car,
the last one left in the parking lot. You brush
off the snow, see your grey breath hanging there
in the frozen blue light. You start it up, 
Springsteen blaring, pray the heat kicks in soon.

You’re a little more hungry than tired,
so you stop at the diner near your place.
The old woman who always wears two sweaters
takes your order at the counter and the guy 
in the Red Wings cap with the tattooed forearms 
is working the grill.  A few minutes later, 
you walk out with two grilled cheese on rye,
a dark grease stain already starting to show
on the bottom of the brown paper bag.

Finally home, you drop your laptop
on a chair, let your coat fall to the floor.
You loosen your tie on your way
into the kitchen to grab a beer
and some paper towels. You collapse
on the couch, click on the tv, pull
out the sandwiches. You eat and drink
mindlessly, surf through the channels
without finding anything you want 
to watch. You get up for another beer,
notice the big pile of laundry on the floor
near the bathroom door.  Oh, shit, you say
out loud, I should have gotten quarters
at the diner. Guess I’ll have to back out
in the morning. You sit back down, take
a long swallow of beer, start feeling
around blindly for any loose change
you might find between the cushions,
wonder if the snow’s ever going to stop. 

                              Indiana. Photography by David J. Thompson