A Poem Was Deleted on 8 January 2014… by Penhead Press


A Poem Was Deleted on 8 January 2014


This is an empty poem. It is not unlike the number zero. It is a destination stop between the numbers one and negative one or two and negative two or X and -X. One number plus the negative of the same number are like the combination of matter and antimatter. They cancel each other out in the equation. But before they become nothingness, they release a blast of energy. Perhaps this is what the big bang was. A collision between a universe and its negative counterpart. Perhaps our universe is the byproduct of a collision of opposites. Perhaps our universe itself is the release of that energy. And perhaps when the energy of the collision disipates all that will remain is nothing. The complete absence of all that we are.

The poem that was here before 8 January 2014 is still a poem. The deletion of the poem is an expression of something sound and good. The poem that was here moved on to another plane of existance. The absence left behind has been filled by phosphorescent illumination. The poem itself will be missed, but a whiff will remain imbedded in the immortal web of cyberspace.


by Penhead Press




Cruel Summer… by D.C. La Terre


Cruel Summer

seven months: i loved the non-linear & abstract writing i was doing. & the most prolific i’ve been in years. but he told me, more or less, ‘give it up. time to give it up. oh, i do so prefer your more linear, statement-writing instead’ (the basic statement, manifesto or ESSAY easily understood by all).

of course that person was like that; devaluing what most considered my otherwise progressive & inventive work. i had to question his motives. he was competitive. he would never give a compliment without some variety of dismissive rejoinder – especially if it encroached on his limelight.

i often thought: what would the world be like if there was only one type of writing? surely the aim wasn’t unselfish: eliminate all attempts of attaining the new apart from his own? he once related: ‘you do have some good attributes; you’re a good audience member.’

i have had some experience with Negative Imaging. i view this very strongly. the manifestation of low self-esteem often belies some negative-imaging done in the past. -which is to say, not constructive criticism. i have had two such harsh critics from the past who were not professional critics.

i should state here that since i’m not a NAME, since i’m (for the most part) unpublished; & that i pretty much do all this for nothing, i should be beyond criticism. like most writers, i am prolific enough – more bad than good, & stowed away in countless folders. the only reason i’m not ‘mediocre’ is because i’m not in the GAME.

mediocre isn’t this wincing valley of bad & failed work; it is, ironically, completed & successful work that is read, published & usually notable in some degree. many don’t understand mediocrity. it is the result of time & labor, that merely achieves a middle-ground; but not greatness. a mediocre piece can even move the emotions. there is nothing wrong with being merely entertaining, inventive, playful & progressive. does one expect a salmon rushdie from a rod mckuen?

likewise, it is ineffectual for mediocrity to criticize mediocrity; it of the same pool. a writer cannot grow from such comments if the critic inhabits the same middle-ground. should greatness even be expected or taught? it simply appears. it is almost never cultivated. you cannot suggest it …

mediocrity should not strive to be great. it is this desire that encourages less-than-creative competition. although this variety of critic, to his credit, will always preach perseverance. but in the end, if not the beginning, they will inform you that you are limited. a teacher wouldn’t say this but a critic would.

what motivates a critic? what portion of their job is helpful & what part of their job is sizing-up-the-competition? & critics should not be in the trade. they should do what then is their job: produce constructive criticism apart from product. let them teach then; let them labor in the progressive & noble role of contrasting & comparing. yet they want to push them to the next step, just not in the same town! that ‘critic’ may also want to write; they may have an old manuscript between the bookcase & the wastebasket…

though a critic is not entirely against abstract & nonlinear. unfortunately they know that the market is usually limited to the novel, short-stories, essays, nonfiction, or even epic poems & libretto. they claim to be realistic. ‘let someone else forge new writing so we can all dive in, only after it’s been established.’ critics want to make discoveries (& take the credit) – they long to be taste-makers/they have ulterior motives!

my response is: i have now been published three times from working seven months in these formats. yet the critic argues ‘it’s not mainstream.’ -you know, mainstream like steinbeck or hemmingway … ‘-but that’s outrageous – they were so great!’ no they weren’t. & that’s my point: innovators had to stay off to the edge. ‘-but surely these artists were finally appreciated…’ no, actually, they weren’t. go to the library – go to the second-hand/did they survive?

you have to dig deep – for inspiration, & in your own work. these folks have done a bang-up job burying the work of artists so you can’t find them. & i’ll tell you this: they walk among us! they’ll tell you that they are looking for the New, but they refuse to showcase it. if you bury the Next Big Thing then you can achieve a wide middle-ground. -why does it have to be so wide? so one cannot tell the difference between mediocre & GREAT – & everyone can play.

‘-just get out of my way because i got a dusty manuscript i want to pass off as the Next Big Thing!’ critics, bless their hearts, don’t actually know what the world wants. they’re like the Borg; stealing & assimilating culture – trying to forge the same crap into the same pressed-wood bookcases. -it’s just like Tooey in the Fountainhead …

you know, you can’t argue with a HOBBY. you cannot argue with the timeless pursuit of mindless busywork. you can’t repackage & judge mediocrity. nor can you expect mediocrity to lead & inspire the masses. you cannot appeal to the masses – they resent it.

i really do wish a genuine non-trade critic would emerge with suggestions that don’t apply to what-worked-before. i would often walk away from these realistic ‘sessions;’ review the world of abstract & nonlinear writing & forget all about the ‘critic.’ for this reason these people cannot actually discourage anyone. they cannot alter anyone’s inspiration. they can only allot a temporary ‘value.’ all these pundits can do is compare your work with some other work.


Copyright © 2002 by D.C. La Terre





The Weight of the head… by Doug Draime


The Weight Of The Head

Rimbaud had consumed more
alcohol than any 16 year old
could possibly hold, and was
laying in the gutter puking

on the Boulevard Montparnasse,

in a new, blue silk blouse …
that he had stolen from a
40 year old trick …
who had finally gone home
to his grieving wife.


Doug Draime lives and writes in Ashland, Oregon. His most recent collection of poetry, More Than The Alley, was published by Interior Noise Press. He also has two chapbooks available: Los Angeles & Rock published by Covert Press.

Copyright © 2013 by Doug Draime





Yellow… by Denise Falcone



       In August on her large terrace overlooking the sea where the conversation lingers over the last glass of wine, Senora Lazzari will declare to her children in a reverent embrace of their surroundings that their father left the money for this, only to suddenly shift from the benevolent to the accusatory, “to keep everyone together because who knows if you even speak to each other during the rest of the year.”
       On the other side of town, the house where she peeked out from behind her mother’s lace curtains to watch Mussolini’s soldiers file past like machines was long gone now. What stood in its place was surrounded by a garish fence, with windows tinted blind, making the mansion appear as if someone had poked its eyes out.
       Andrea, the oldest, arrives with his wife and their three lovely daughters. Giulia comes with her husband Franco and their two rambunctious savages, and this time Tita stopped by to bestow on everyone kisses and presents. She drove her red convertible out of the hotel parking lot like a spark which seeks out the fire of its life, leaving the others standing and waving in the gravel dust, killing time against the interminable moments of boring silence that only someone like Tita can leave in her wake.
       “Ciao Tita, Ciao!”


       “How good it is to see you again! How is your beautiful family?”
       Giulia remembered the woman’s name was Zorah.
       “Do you have this dress in another color? I’m not sure if I like it in yellow.”
       “Ma certo! Yellow is the color of cuckolding!”
       Giulia turned to see a diminutive old woman sitting with her legs crossed in an over-sized blue velvet upholstered armchair. It could have swallowed her in one fast gulp, mistaking her for a raisin left on the seat by a child.
       “Yellow is the color of cuckolding!”
       “Thank you Madame,” Zorah said.
       The woman kept staring at Giulia.
       “Do you have a husband, my dear?”
       Giulia could see her viscid glaucomatous eyes.
       “Yes she does and a handsome one too!” called Zorah from the dressing room, holding its curtain to the side, inviting Giulia to enter quickly.
       “She’s crazy, what can I tell you?” she whispered behind her hand before running off to answer the furiously ringing telephone.


       A few well-remembered pop singers dressed to the nines walked out on the amphitheater stage to rekindle their top of the chart favorites. The nostalgia brought some of the fans to tears.
       A trio of high-spirited jugglers tumbled out, and then a fashion show of looks for pre-teen girls. The timid mannequins done up like supermodels in ravishing hair and makeup struggled to contain their nervous giggles and adhere to the instructions of the mother in charge not to pop their gum.
       The next act was a troupe of clowns.
       Giulia never cared that much for clowns, not even as a child. At once a gust of wind blew the hat off one and sent it into the audience. Someone in the second row caught it and eagerly came forward to give it back to him.
       While they loped about in their enormous shoes, pausing to whack each other with tattered oversized handbags in a series of choreographed jumps and bumps accidentally on purpose, Giulia couldn’t help but notice how he stood out from the other clowns as he moved with the nimble intelligence of an artist devoted to his craft. His uncensored reactions to his companions and their schemes to harass and annoy him pulled the curtain back on the pretension and soulless politesse that she too had been fighting against for most of her life. It was the very truth of her existence.
       After the finale she told the others to go because she had to go to the bathroom. The children were tired and wouldn’t walk. Franco just wanted to get them into their beds so there was no time wasted in an argument about why she couldn’t hold it in.
       Meanwhile the two snobs stayed put in their seats to watch a small group hanging about the stage. A young tour guide mistook them for a couple of cripples and offered them a hand. They rudely dismissed her as they would a revolting insect.
       “I imagine it must be rather flattening to see your star emerge washed of his character and wearing a wan expression of someone who just wants to go and eat rather than see you again.”
       “So true, Cesare.”
       “I know about these things, Beppe.”
       Behind the stage among all the goings on, still in costume minus his red nose that he kept examining while turning in his hand, a slip of his foot against a snake-like tangle of cable caused him to look up to see Giulia standing there in her yellow dress.
       The surroundings receded into a courteous blur. She walked over to him and kissed his moist flaccid cheek as if it had been a long time.


       “I like your cleavage,” he said smiling when he came up beside her.
       He looked the same without his makeup. Giulia wondered if this was the ability of all great clowns, to stay in their aura at all times.
       Perhaps while they strolled along in the privacy of a secluded via or along the Borgo, or surely when they sat on the bench under that tree over there with the castle in the distance, he would kiss her like there was no tomorrow.
       With pitiful determination she took him everywhere, only to end up in a crowded square where he delighted in a large-sized purple fruity drink while she pointed out the gallery of saints attributed to the work of an unnamed cousin of Pious II in thirteen hundred and something or other.
       He interrupted her lesson by telling her he was going to America the next day to be in a film.
       “No,” he said. “Nothing to do with clowns.”


       At sunset if you climbed the old rose trellis for a better view, you would see beyond the pink a cruel picture where Giulia lay in her room crawled up into herself on her wide elegant bed.
       Darkness brought in a raw sense of loss. It could hardly fit through the door, it was so enormous.



Copyright © 2012 by Denise Falcone




Walking on Bryn Mawr past the Park… by Jim Davis


Walking on Bryn Mawr past the Park

On Tuesday afternoon, something like a shark
splits the bowing limbs and buildings and the moon
appears like a boulder exposing itself in the river
of blue sky and foam. Last night too I was walking
listening to a lecture which connected walking
to thought, and stopped in my shadow as a car
came up behind me, lighting the path and the skunk
ten paces ahead. I turned around, believing in signs
and dropped an online course on Model Thinking
picked one up on Gamification, so I might be better at
splitting endeavors – I remember one winter playing Zombies
Ate my Neighbors while listening to my first Apocalypse
Hoboken album – I tried my best to like cigarettes –
“1999 will be the best New Year’s ever – and Prince will be
a rich man again.” Flight is a funny thing. You take a nap
and wake up somewhere you’ve never been: time, if not
place. In the cedar kitchen of a small clapboard cottage
she is pouring pancake batter onto a skillet. Meanwhile
he is chopping wood. An older woman, setting flatware
on a checkerboard tablecloth held by twin rooster-
shaped candleholders, partridge pepper and salt,
says don’t be so dramatic and he says I am not
hungry as tiny bubbles appear in the batter, as I
iron the crease from my pants, wipe fog from the mirror,
wave to the sharks circling the tree limbs, eyeing eggs
in aeries of braided twigs, hair, and used mint floss –
as she works a spatula under the halfway pancake and flips.


Jim Davis is a teacher. He lives in a world where nothing is ordinary. He is passionate about poetry and painting. He graduated from Knox College with a degree in studio art. He has won several poetry contests and has appeared in print multiple times.

Copyright © 2013 by Jim Davis