August 2012


At Ten I Thought Everyone Had A Shoebox
Filled With Human Teeth And Seashells

Hemingway was either drunk
or writing, a bore, no fun at all,
or so say the few I’ve met who knew
him. For me he was Papa, a man
who took me fishing in Cuba,
gun running in Martinique,
Civil War fighting in Spain,
drinking and whoring in France,
and big game hunting in Africa.
He taught me how to love a woman

more than war, and how to walk defeated,
but never destroyed, along an infinite path
of grief. He even taught me how to end it
decisively, simply, and with grace. Some people
loved my real father, a round man in a brown suit
who cried for days when his brother
Francis died from the same excesses
that would claim my father in later years.
At ten I thought everyone had a shoebox

filled with human teeth and seashells. My dad
spent WWII in the Evacuation Corps
where the unspeakable stifled explanation
of those polished surfaces – teeth pulled
from Japanese soldiers’ mouths
that my pudgy childhood fingers found
amid craggy shells from Guadalcanal. My father

smiled often, had a grateful laugh, and avoided
any brand of toil other than lifting a bourbon glass
to his lips. He spent his life drinking and watching
the Ed Sullivan Show. Hungry when drunk,
he’d fry and burn an egg, then another,
to brim the empty mass, his booze—
bloated corpse to be. What is the nothingness
that nothing fills? He never wrote anything
save his name, rather elaborately, on bar tabs.
The only similarities to Papa were the boxing
he did in WWII and the desperate drinking.
I wasn’t his son; I was an excuse, a conduit
to a Fleischmann’s Bourbon bottle,
the glass tit that ran his life and ours.

The Great Tactician

There you were naked
at the river’s edge,
after your two day swim.
Nauticaa stood over you

when you awoke
a smile of yearning
and compassion
on her soft lips.
You thought she was

beautiful and terrifying.
You didn’t know whether
to grab her knees
and hope for mercy,
or use your honeyed speech,

beg some clothes,
the direction into town.
You chose words and
she showed you a mercy
that, had you paid attention,
could have changed Western Civilization.


you ate her father’s food,
tossed the discus around,
impressed her brother
and all the boys,
but once back in Ithaca,
you destroyed your enemies

with a wrath that would have shamed Achilles.
Your boy even hung their lovers,
watched, with glee,
their tiny feet dance to death.

What of their pleas for mercy,
Great Gamelegs?
What of Nauticaa’s compassion,
man of all occasions?
You chose words and so did they,

but your heart was cold with greatness.
We could have had
three thousand years of mercy.


your savagery endures:
the glory of dead heroes

piled one

Charles W. Brice is a psychoanalyst and a freelance writer in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. My poetry has appeared in The Potomac – A Journal of Poetry and Politics, The Paterson Literary Review, Spitball, Wild Violet Magazine, Bear River Review, Barbaric Yawp, Jerry Jazz Musician, The Erie Peace Voice, and The Front Weekly. My poem, “Goodbye,” was awarded third place in the 2012 Literary Life Bookstore Poetry Contest, judged by Robert Fanning.


She turned on hearing
The now familiar scrape 
Of shambling feet
That gave him away
As did his vacant leer
Grey, green pallor
And blood smeared jaw.

She gave a wry smile
Some days were golden
And nearly laughed
As she muttered the catchphrase
‘Bloody zombies’
Quickened her pace
And got in her car.

Went from nought to sixty in seconds
Veered onto the pavement
While he stared gormlessly
‘Nothing changes’ she thought
Then his face smeared the windscreen
Before rolling under the wheels
With a satisfying  thump.

‘Why don’t they walk in the road
Like the movies?’ she wondered
‘He always was an awkward shit’
Incandescent with luck
She headed for her bolthole
Now she really, truly
Could call him an ex.

 Margaret Browning lives in the North West of Ireland overlooking a bog, 'which is a lot more attractive than it sounds' she shares. She has been writing since 2000 and only recently attempted poetry. This is her first piece on the world wide web.

The Bone Servant

I saw the bone servant
under the last full moon
of summer,
nightmare bright,
in the corner of my eye,
with his raw skin
and new hands
that could not focus.

His gait dragged
west wind sad,
his mouth crossed with thistles,
and his coat dangled
off his wrists
as a different person.
And his eyes,
his eyes
were the color of jet
and wide open
like a new house
waiting for its first guests
to wipe their feet
and enter.

He whistled high
and sweet
as he crawled
inside me
with his tiny trowel
and buttons like fresh pennies
to shake at morning,
and his whispers were thin
at the nape of my neck
where hairs stood up
hoping he would see.

He carried his story on his back
and his voice,
his voice
sang river dark
along my spine -
so much blue
that my ears
wanted to crawl away .
He put his hands
on my face
searching for breath
and begged me
to bind his feet
and bathe his wounds
in sweet oil

And his tears,
his tears
were wings
shard white and weary,
by my fingers
and tasted
oh, so delicate
bird sweet
and just like

I ever wanted...

Brendan Sullivan resides in the excessively warm, sunny and happy state of Virginia. A former actor, he has turned to poetry as it is a more reliable muse. His favorite roles from his illustrious theatre career include Godot in "Waiting for Godot" and Sandy the dog in "Annie". A recent graduate of electric shock therapy, he now divides his time between poetry and being a beach bum. His work has been published at Wordsmiths, The Missing Slate, Every Writer's Resource, Gutter Eloquence, After Tournier, Bareback Magazine, Barehands and A Sharp Piece of Awesome.


The Basement of Vampires

They’re banging at the cellar door again
demanding to be let up.  It’s midnight—
as usual—and that eerie organ music
plays in the background even though the TV’s
off and my iPod’s out of juice.

I’ve made this scene before—dreaming deep
In the four-poster, moonlight in the garden
blanketing the night blooming cereus
and streaming through the French doors.
I wake and find the ripe wounds,
the trickle of blood across milky flesh.

All my revenants are Victorian
straight up psychosexual—repressed desire,
Count Dracula in any form, deathly
stark and living dead, a ruby bead
languishing in the corner of his mouth.

Once I had a taste for love forbidden,
dangerous passions, Eros, Thanatos,
the scent of sex with an aura of death,
until I woke in the pale light one dawn
my immortality slipping away.

I wore garlic around my neck, filled my bed
with wild roses, scattered mustard seed
on the roof, and hanging a silver mirror on the door,
I turned my face toward the bright dullness of day.
That kept them quiet—for a while.

Now they’re at it again down there, pounding
on the door, disturbing my sleep, wanting
to party like it’s 1899.  They’re dressed to kill
and eager to feed, ready to suck my blood—
as though I had any left.

But on certain nights when the moon is full
and the hour of the wolf approaches
I unlatch the door, light the candle,
slide silk on silk between the sheets and pray
the shadow will pass once more across my bed.

Cheri Ause work has appeared at Every Day Poets, Fiction365, The Redwood Coast Review, and Short, Fast, and Deadly and among others.

*Collective noun coined by David Malki in Wondermark No. 566