Dennis Caswell… To Doll Houses


To Doll Houses

O bento boxes of freeze-dried domestic Elysium,
you nurse the injured birds of our yearnings,
expressing our deep and unshakable love for the family
we never had, the one in which everyone’s one twelfth our size
and mute, so when we announce, “I’ve always wanted
a camel-back wing chair. Wouldn’t you like a camel-
back wing chair” the subsequent silence clearly articulates,
“Yes! Yes! A camel-back wing chair is just
what we need!” O taxidermic dioramas
of what young girls’ lives won’t be as good as
and of the constraints within which those lives will fall short,
you are seldom designed by Frank Lloyd Wright
or Philip Johnson or anyone born after 1850,
the year The Scarlet Letter was published. Still,
O dishes of hand-cranked interior ice cream, we crave
your equilibrious visions, their faith
that in each life there is one moment
when all the dishes are put away,
when Mother is poised between chores like a monk between prayers,
Father is in his special chair, reading of how the world outside
is going to hell, and the children don’t mind being children,
and this moment must be found and pinned like a butterfly,
wings forced wide to show every marking, because,
while you can’t stop Father from planning to run off with Phyllis,
his new stenographer, or Mother from thinking of Father’s neck
whenever she slices potatoes, or Elsie and Winthrop from
plotting to raid the liquor closet
and finding out what’s underneath
each other’s sailor suits, you can stop time,
so they’ll never get the chance.


Dennis Caswell is the author of the poetry collection Phlogiston, published by Floating Bridge Press in 2012. His work has appeared in Raven Chronicles, Floating Bridge Review, Crab Creek Review, and assorted other journals and anthologies. He lives outside Woodinville, Washington and works in the aviation industry.

Copyright © 2015 by Dennis Caswell







Steve De France… Time Out of Joint


Time Out of Joint

Now without warning winds change direction
as birds lose the ability to fly in the following vacuum.
You see, there is no consequential providence
in the fall of any sparrow

or is there any pleasure left in day or night.

Things seem wrong.

Time out of joint! But there is no
Hamlet here to set the universe right!
He was—-after all—only a fiction
with a penchant for being a day late

and a dollar short.

Who here can say
the dreams that come after death
are any more oppressive
than this morning’s dream of
a broken stove, a flat tire,
or a thickness of the blood
or the knowing—that death is already here.
Who can say this thing we call reality

is not but one of death’s dreams?

Are we not already dead?
Alive or dead?

What traveler has returned to say it isn’t so?

Ophelia was too weak for love
deprived love—or any kind of love

A wild ache for love where there was no love.

Our readiness to bear time’s decay,
to watch in disgust
as we come apart a piece at a time
a crumbling tooth here,
an arthritic bone there,
a cancer on a frightened face,
a tightness in the chest,
a mind shattered like shards of glass.
It must be a dream
And we put up with this dream
Because what if what follows
our dream is worse? So we put
up with all kinds of bizarre shit

because we are afraid.

You see, there is no consequential providence
in the fall of any sparrow
or is there any pleasure left in day or night.


Steve De France is a widely published poet, playwright and essayist both in America and in Great Britain. His work has appeared in literary publications in America, England, Canada, France, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, India, Australia, and New Zealand. He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize in Poetry in both 2002, 2003 & 2006. Recently, his work has appeared in The Wallace Stevens Journal, The Mid-American Poetry Review, Ambit, Atlantic, Clean Sheets, Poetry Bay, The Yellow Medicine Review and The Sun. In England he won a Reader’s Award in Orbis Magazine for his poem “Hawks.” In the United States he won the Josh Samuels’ Annual Poetry Competition (2003) for his poem: “The Man Who Loved Mermaids.” His play THE KILLER had it’s world premier at the GARAGE THEATER in Long Beach, California (Sept-October 2006). He has received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Chapman University for his writing. Most recently his poem “Gregor’s Wings” has been nominated for The Best of The Net by Poetic Diversity.

Copyright © 2015 by Steve De France







Graham Isaac… Hat Trick


Hat Trick

Curtains and tights.
Doves and canes.
Caps, cufflinks, gloves,
We were that joke about
the truck, who turned into
a cornfield.

Hey ravens! Hey crows! these stalks aren’t for ignoring.

Pendants and saws.
Repurposed coffins.
Lights so bright or
none at all.

(crystal, but with a joke about balls. A twitch and a wink)

Capes, capes, capes.
This knife can cut through an
ordinary leather sofa in
ten minutes. Think what
the whole set could do. $19.99.
These shoes were the finest
taps in all the land, we
can be your cobbler.
Keep in mind, we used to
be people who used to be
a truck.

Rally, motorcycles! Rally, flamethrowers! Rally, chrome-winged-donkeys.

it is so unfair that these
things repeat themselves.
Nonetheless, we were velvet curtains,
waxed goatee, blazer. Twirling
a rabbit on our finger, blowing
a kiss in sparkling blue pastel,
what they wanted to see,
harsh realities not withstanding.
(this knife cuts through cob. Wheel, wheel, wheel!)


Graham Isaac is a writer living and working in Seattle, Washington. He holds an MA in Creative and Media Writing from the University of Wales, Swansea, where he co-founded The Crunch, South Wales’ largest regularly running poetry and spoken word open mic. He hosted the monthly Works in Progress night at Richard Hugo House and co-curated Claustrophobia, an underground poetry and performance series around Seattle. He was also co-curator of Five Alarms: The Greenwood Lit Crawl. He has a book of poetry out in the world called Filth Jerry’s Guide to Parking Lots.

Copyright © 2015 by Graham Isaac







Frank C. Praeger… Humbug



Object, the most of it like jasmine tea, et al.
To have, well, yes —
unable to swagger or break out into song,
settling for a bit of Victoria’s chocolate crumble,
that is, unable to cushion this lackluster fall
I have not, well, no, I have not exactly been open,
though open to digression; well, then, spit it out,
who cares for sentiment or aura or ambiquity unless…
unless they can be used for further gain.
So, let the Queen of Spades dictate.
It’s humbug if it doesn’t serve.
What is this mumble-jumble all about, anyway?


Frank C. Praeger is prolific writer from Michigan. When he moves his pen, he stamps out his own style that mirrors a line vanishing into the horizon. His poems have been published all over the interworld.

Copyright © 2015 by Frank C. Praeger