He was the best (Chef-de-Cuisine),
before the Zombie atmosphere.
After his demean,
customers begin to disappear.

If you’re not with the Zombie crew,
an you come in to eat,
You will end up on the menu,
you’ll be taken off your feet.

Restaurant imposes no fee,
you’ll need no plate;
Zombies need no money you see,
an business is really great.

For fresh he strives,
you might say raw,
Taking Customers lives,
as Zombie’s chaw.

Open 24 hours,
unless the clientele runs low.
Run out of folks to devour,
public dining, say Hello!

Leroy Trussell has shown his diverse talent at various genres in poetry, and is the author of Cowboys Compañero, available on Amazon. He is a retired goat rancher while working at a farm part-time he enjoys writing again at 75. Leroy lived most of his life and raised a family in small town Marble Falls, outside of Austin. Texas.



Hickory sticks,
Don’t cross me.
If you lay upon me, there’ll be hell to pay, see.
You don’t even know me,
And wanna settle for iniquity…
I say don’t touch me -
Mama, do you hear me?
She looks intent,
Serious about whoopin’ me.

“Turn around, Lee.” She breathes into the air heavily.

If I turn, the sticks made of hickory will know me.
So I’m stubborn like a rock in the sea;
My feet are petrified to floorboards - wooden currents running deep.

“Boy, you are silly.” She grabs my shoulder to turn me.


I’ll burn them sticks in my sleep.

Alifah Omar majored in Broadcasting and English Literature at Chicago State University, and earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Broadcasting from Purdue University-Calumet. While attending CSU, she received the Chicago State University's Excellence in Creative Writing Award. Alifah grew up on the South Side of Chicago, where most of her inspiration is derived from, whether or concrete or surreal. She now works as a producer for an Adult/Urban/Contemporary radio station (WSRB Soul 106.3fm), and spends her time cooking for her family, enjoying a good game of pool, and writing a fiction novel of an ancient time.



opaque pools of waste.
a fetid stench.
Hands caress a soured soul.
Our love decays.
The days
gorging upon your emptiness.
History opens its infertile throat
crushing in the gullet defiled memories
of youth spent with you.
Company kept while by
your side - flaccid pity has no place.
Longing for communion
'Pleasure' comes.
Still and cold
Embalmed you satisfy no one.
Our bed a mortician’s table.
Attraction has ensnared -
A wild beast, I would consume
my own flesh for respite.
Vows of love?!
You knew before you spoke disdain.
Yet, matters
unresolved evolved entwined.

Joseph L. Izzo Jr. lives in California nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada with his wife Lara and 5 children. While she raises the children and tends to the small farm, he works as a Civil Engineer for a local power company.




You are somewhere in the woods, lost,
And your worthless phone has no reception;
So much for that lying
Cell phone salesman’s sale pitch.

The sky is getting darker, the shadows growing claws.
Despite the adage you discover
Moss grows on any side of a tree
It damn well pleases.

Following running water is another myth;
The only water deep in these woods
Is stagnant, festering foul fungus.

In the movies, they always light a fire
By rubbing sticks.
You soon learn if you rub
Two sticks together long enough
You can generate enough heat
To create blisters.

All your hopes sit with that flashlight ap
On your dying cell phone.
You light it anyway
So someone can find you,
Like me,
Me the one you as a schoolboy
Used to tell tales about during sleepovers
From deep inside the womb
Of your sleeping bag, the lantern on
All night inside your tent,

Me, the lunatic escaped from the asylum,
Me, the dude with the prosthetic hook,
Me, whose name you could only whisper,
The Slasher,
And unlike your bumbled woods lore,
I’m no myth.

This is Robert E. Petras’s fourth poem to appear in Z-composition.  Lately Petras has been writing poems in the dark humor vein, but he has also shown his other moods in flash fiction, short stories and poetry in literary, sci-fi and fantasy, these works seeing print in more than 170 publications across the globe.  He lives along the edge of a forest in Northeastern Ohio along with his wife Debbie and two dogs, Simon and Cutter.



There it is again
A sound beneath my bed
The bogeyman has always haunted me
As a child, it took my baby brother in the night.

Now I am sure it has come for me
Writhing down there between the moonlight
To take any limb dangling from out the sheet
I will not be afraid but I must look.

No, there is no bogeyman
Just the frightened eyes of the girl next door
The gag across her mouth makes her moan
But it is not the call of the bogeyman.

Tonight at least I am safe
I can sleep while my prisoner keeps watch
If that damn demon does come
I have a sacrifice to offer instead of myself.

Matthew Wilson, 31, has had over 150 appearances in such places as Horror Zine, Star*Line, Spellbound, Illumen, Apokrupha Press, Hazardous Press, Gaslight Press, Sorcerers Signal and many more. He is currently editing his first novel and can be contacted on twitter @matthew94544267.



In front of the screen,
Mae sat and absorbed -
the acting techniques
of those she adored.

Her whole life she had spent
watching films and preparing.
It took many years,
but remained so forbearing.

Her dream was alive,
‘though the rest was quite dead.
Determined to make it,
so the grave she had fled.

She lived to reach fame,
but she died far from there.
The news of her passing
passed by without care.

This fueled motivation.
“I won’t die again!
At least not before
that gold statue, I win!”

Her nerves at auditions
calmed down once she ate -
all of those trying out
who were thought to be late.

The part went to her,
by default I suppose -
and her head got too big
for her boney small nose.

She found a good surgeon
who gave one anew.
He lifted her tush
and some other parts too.

Once he had finished,
she felt so alive!
The doctor was then
found too late to revive.

Her performance brought stardom,
nominations galore!
But inside she was empty.
Always wanting much more.

Those whom she chose
to bite on or nibble -
now wanted fame too,
not a lot - just a little.

Soon many films
began starring the dead -
who ate their way up
to the top as they fed.

If a movie had zombies,
it was easy to sell.
Death scenes were something
the dead did quite well.

Each week a new movie
was set to premiere -
starring more corpses
than those shown last year.

The red carpet was filled
with dead actors like Mae
who all wore a dress
that showed off their decay.

As the envelope opened
tension quickly grew -
“The award for the best
undead actress goes to…”

If Mae could still breath,
she’d have held it just then.
As the award went to Myrtle
Mae’s career came to end.

An appearance or two
in some low-budget flicks
couldn’t pay for the body
of hers to be fixed.

In her final performance
she played Mrs. Bone -
in a movie who credited
the actor “unknown”.



The blow came down upon his head,
but still he would not stop.
I scurried back and dropped ten feet.
On me, he fell on top.

My hands moved fast to keep at bay
his jaw that opened wide.
His rotting flesh just peeled away,
showing all he had inside.

The dripping ooze of life’s decay
ran slowly down his chin.
It reached the point when it must fall -
my mouth it then went in.

It burned my tongue yet felt so good,
I yearned to suckle more.
I tasted days of years he knew
and saw what was in store.

A milky haze had changed my view,
changed too his look at me.
No longer was my brain a feast
of me he felt fondly.

He stood and scanned the room for more.
This time if he should eat,
infection he’d try not to pass
onto his luncheon meat.

In Seattle, Washington Gary McGrew writes from within the walls of the haunted house he dwells, built in 1903. His horror-humor can be found not only in the books he writes, but also in the numerous short films he has created over the years.



you will crinkle
like aluminum foil
and crack the surface break the seal
without the real or the surreal
I know that feel
that creates live wires inside
vibrating in time with my
degenerate mind
thats in the dumps or the gutter
but never alive
I’m now brought low by this
shaking inside
just in time for the next step
I’m replicating emptiness
this circuit overblown
emotional wiring about to abscond
and its me on my own that I fear when alone
what I see is a photograph lacking her features
and speeches that reflexively light a spark inside of me
candid and lively like calamine to poison ivy
drive me to be me dive into life freely
but what will become of me
lacking a face in these
digital repercussions of events I’m drug into
passively brought to and because i love you
every step I take towards healing whats at stake
bought and sold with chicken and steak
side of baked potatoes and fried brains
but I field these feelings in therapy
easing into audacity by speaking so freely
and belching my urgency to be free of these
self loathing tendencies and self destructive reelings
believe me when i say I’m done when the time has come
to uncover every wrong and right whats been undone
I’m without reason to back of soon
when this late flower takes hold
and finally blooms

Zachary Jarrett lives and writes in western Virginia, he mostly keeps to himself and lives alone.  He received an honorable mention in the 2001 Writers Eye contest, was the winner of the 2004 Second Street Gallery Young Writers competition, was published in the 21st edition of an anthology called the Poet’s Domain in 2005, and more recently, in 2009, was a finalist in the First Amendment Writes Poetry and Songwriting Competition which aired on local television. Renowned author Rita Mae Brown presided over this contest as one of the judges and though she wasn't present for the award ceremony she said of his poem in her notes that his entry, Syllabic Waffles, had “Real internal rhythm married to condensed venom”.



eyes this unmoving
must have seen

that lips so silent
will not speak

what really happened
is frozen in the flesh
numbed in the bone

a rigid body
perfect repository
for what you know of me
at last

John Grey is an Australian born poet. Recently published in Paterson Literary Review, Southern California Review and Natural Bridge with work upcoming in New Plains Review, Leading Edge and Louisiana Literature.   



Tightly compressed pap –
I suckle you
in the night, white orb of slumber…
I erect an altar for you
on the tip of my tongue –
I place and secrete you
and lift you up
into the sanctum of my
unholy mouth and pray
for a yawn.

Catherine Cavallone is a teacher of middle school students.  Her work has appeared in Four WallsSensations MagazineThe Rift Arts Forum PublicationBeyond the Rift: Poets of the Palisades, Red River Review, Phantom Kangaroo, Red Wheelbarrow, Turk’s Head Review, The New Verse NewsThe Oddville Press and has work forthcoming in Nerve Lantern.  She lives in New Jersey with her husband, George and son, Michael.



Up a path, which led to the cliff, we sat on rocks and split a six-pack of Busch. I was conscious of the intoxication. I had lost my confidence the year before. I took advantage of the beer to spew nonsense. I wanted to be nine once more. John was speaking in witty voices! He was a natural clown. His chip-on-the-shoulder intrigued me. I wanted to be a psychologist. He smoked cigarettes because they relaxed him. The year before, a car hit his little brother, which had to do with John’s moodiness. John’s hobby was engines. I would watch him in the garage toiling with his outboard motor. Clamped to a workbench, the motor was a brain caked in oil. When I was a budding writer, I thought nine was the age to revisit. My younger self was a prototype—comprised of innocence and fall. After nine, I experienced a scripted version of myself. I began to fantasize that life was a movie. Life was made up as you went along. It was made up from a heroic and nightmarish mouth. People died, falling from earth, but a watchful eye and charmed hand could ward off death. John kicked Pete’s half-filled beer like a place-kicker. The can spewed a spiral of foam as it spun through the air. I suspected John was only acting drunk, pretending to be wild.



I climbed across boulders. Over a hundred thousand years they had crumbled from the cliff. Against the base of the cliff, whose jaggedness rose like a throne, the scree had gathered. I scaled the cliff along its terraces. Once, at the top, I had been cut by glass. Peter and I had been collecting bottles to hurl to the boulders below. We saw, we dove, and we fought over the same broken bottle, and in our battle I felt something warm across my skin. In a calm tone I asked Peter to rise, and looking at my arm saw the open wound. I had twelve stitches from that misadventure. Jeff had it worse. I had warned him not to be so cocky. He seemed to leap to the ledge below. He tumbled over the gap, and his bulk went thud. I shouted Jeff! He is dead, I thought. When I got to the bottom, he was kneeling by a tree, saying my name. I helped him home by making a sling from my shirt. Then we drove to the emergency room of UConn Medical Center. I explored the floors of the hospital, while Stan stayed in the waiting room, listening to Jeff scream as they set his arms.

Matthew Kirshman lives in Seattle, Washington with his wife and two daughters.  He is an English teacher, but before that had a varied career–telephone repairman, bartender, and cook, to name a few.  Writing since the early 1980s, his publication credits include: Altpoetics, Annapurna Magazine, The Bacon Review, Charter Oak Poets, Dirigible: Journal of Language Arts, Futures Trading, Helix, Indefinite Space, Key Satch(el), Phoebe: The George Mason Review, posthumous papers (NothingNew Press), Vangarde Magazine, Xenarts, The Wayfarer, Wilderness House Literary Review, and Z-Composition.




People walked by the body all afternoon.
Some even played the arcade’s crane game—
hoping to win a generic, patterned animal,
a bootlegged Barbiedoll, a knock-off Go Bot,
or one of the many college team decal caps
that held-up to even the closest scrutiny.
One young scrutinizer pointed out the bear
to his mother, who notified the proper authorities
then dragged her son by the hand
back into the mall proper, grumbling about
“the shit they try to get away with here.”
The arcade attendant shrugged-off her remark,
pointed out the disclaimer on the game
to her departing backside, pointed a finger-pistol
at the back of her head
and fired.

The attendant opened the case after they left,
fished out the misshapen body.
The teddy bear had a jagged tear
which ran from between its stubby legs,
along the abdomen and thorax,
to just below its grinning, stitched-shut lips.
The black bear’s white bowels threatened
to drain out like so much wispy viscera 
as he placed it, gently, on the floor.
He knelt over it then, prodded at it with his pen,
examined the button eyes, the black fur. A moment
passed, he pressed its palm, pronounced it dead.
He looked around the room, squinted suspiciously
at the button mashing patrons—
but no one paid him the slightest attention.

On his way back to the counter he paused
in front of the Extreme Hunter machine.
He touched the shotgun handle,
rubbed his fingers together, sniffed,
and looked once more at the hole in the hide.
As if postulating a theory, he tapped the screen
as if it were a glass door, or a truck window,
as if the pixilated person inside would suddenly
throw his hands up in the air, walk over,
and confess to the whole thing.

Derrick Paulson received his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Minnesota State University Moorhead in 2011, and is currently pursuing his high school teaching licensure at St. Cloud State University. His works of poetry and prose have appeared in print and online in 365 Tomorrows, Annapurna, Canary, Disingenuous Twaddle, Orion Headless, The Gander Press Review, The Red Weather Journal, and elsewhere. He lives in Little Falls, Minnesota, with his wife and two sons, and dreams of one day moving far, far away from winter.



So I walked up to this pretty woman sitting there and said,
“Excuse me, would you like to dance?”

Looking me up and down she seemed to focus mostly on my shoes.
Finally she said, “I will dance one dance with you only because
you are wearing the same kind of shoes my father wore when he
kicked us out of the house.”

“Why would you want to dance with me if he did something like that?”
I immediately responded.

“Because it was the best thing that ever happened to me! I learned
to be self-sufficient and to trust my instincts, though for my siblings
it was disastrous!”

“What happened to them?” I asked out of curiosity.

“One became a thief; another a prostitute; and the other is president
of the United States,” she answered. “The president is doing the worst.
He no longer sleeps because of all the pressure and worrying.”

And just as she said, after our dance she went back to her meditation,
and from what I saw, she refused to dance with anyone else for the rest
of the evening. . .

Jeffrey Zable is a teacher and conga drummer who plays Afro-Cuban folkloric music for dance classes and Rumbas around the San Francisco Bay Area. He's published five chapbooks including Zable's Fables with an introduction by the late great Beat poet Harold Norse. Present or upcoming writing in Toad Suck Review, Clarion, Chrome Baby, Kentucky Review, One Trick Pony, Dreginald, Uppagus, Chaos Poetry Review, and many others.



the weakness of the hero
is being
the selfsame

to be victorious
is also to be
the monster and

to be above what those fear most
as something much more

to patrol, to creep, to stalk.

obsession is the hero’s fault wherein
its enemy lives.

'Keny' Kenyatta Jean-Paul Garcia is author of What Do the Evergreens Know of Pining, Yawning on the Sands, This Sentimental Education and Enter the After-Garde, Kenyatta Jean-Paul Garcia, was raised in Brooklyn, NY and now resides in Albany, NY. Garcia has a degree Linguistics and has studied several living and dead languages.  Kenyatta was a cook for over a decade but currently works overnights putting boxes on shelves and spends the days editing and writing for kjpgarcia.wordpress.com, ALTPOETICS and Sparks Of Consciousness.



There was no reservation,
only houses and shanties
in the wetlands along the Esopus Creek.
Not good land, it flooded
in the Springs when the run-off
to the river was high.
Dutch burghers and Tory descendants
disdained it, but
it was place to these displaced Algonquians,
Lenape from New Jersey, Manhattan  and Delaware.
They took the twenty-fours dollars worth of trinkets
for land they did not own,
and they knew farming,
how to make fabric from plants and skins.
They had kitchen gardens
tended by women and children.
In time before driven out of the valley,
men worked the slate mines,
skidding great gray slabs on timbers
to Hudson's stolen river.
Straining horses and men delivered
the sidewalks of New York
to barges dipping and bowing
in the residual tides of estuary.
Commerce walked like a ghost
on the water
of the Creek and of the River,
slipping away toward Manhattan
and the sea.

Howard Winn's fiction and poetry, has been published recently by such journals as Dalhousie Review, Taj Mahal Review (India), Galway Review (Ireland), Antigonish Review, Southern Humanities Review ,Chaffin Review, Thin Air Literary Journal, and Future s Trading Literary Journal. I am presently working on a novel dealing with Tom Brokaw’s “Greatest Generation.”  My B. A. is from Vassar College. I have an M.A. in Creative Writing from Stanford University . I have done additional graduate work at the University of California San Francisco.  My doctoral work was done at N. Y. U. I have been a social worker in California and currently am a faculty member of SUNY as Professor of English.


(These works posted on Artwork/Photography page)

Leave of Absence: An Illustrated Guide to Common Garden Affection, with poetry, a collaborative work by Sally Deskins, artist and poet, Laura Madeline Wiseman (click title to visit work on Artwork/Photography page).