Guinotte Wise… High Bridge


High Bridge

He was scared shitless, up this high. But he was scared not to come up, off balance with the bucket of bolts, a drift pin and a wrench. The steelworkers above him placed angle-iron sides and he put the cross pieces on, an X, stuck the drift pin in a hole to secure it while he bolted the open holes. Then he’d tap the pin out, bolt that hole. Three inch angle iron was his footing. Climb up the X, do another one. No one used harnesses. It never occurred to him. OSHA was not a factor in the 1950’s.

He’d heard about steeplejacks and mountain climbers just letting go, relaxing backward to gravity, falling without a sound, no yelling. It was a rapture of some sort, a fuck you to fear. They gave themselves to the monster.

The wind was wilder up here. His hard hat blew off. He grabbed for it reflexively and lost his footing for an instant before he hooked an elbow on the X, hugging it while he watched the metal hat fall. The hard hat turned over and over in seeming slow motion as it fell, smaller and smaller: he saw it hit the deck a hundred feet below, a hundred and fifty, bounce off the plate steel, into the water, flashing in the sun. A couple of men tying steel below looked up, shading their eyes.

He left his bucket hooked to the X, climbed down X by X, slowly, shaking. When he got to the bottom he fell forward on all fours. He saw the foreman’s Red Wing boots, heard his voice, lowered so only he could hear, “You don’t like working high, you don’t have to, son. Hell, I got welders who won’t get up on a stepladder.”


Guinotte Wise has been a creative director in advertising most of his working life. A staid museum director once called him raffish, which he enthusiastically embraced. (the observation, not the director) Of course, he took up writing fiction.

Copyright © 2015 by So-in-so








Guinotte Wise… Transgressions



Her tanned skin turned white over her knees as she knelt by the side of the pool. I held onto the tiled ridge, the water lapping about my shoulders.

“Your eyes are red,” she said.

“Chlorine. I’ve been in too long.”

I kissed her knee. Briefly. Softly. It seemed natural. She put her hand on my head. It felt like a benediction. Karherine was born in 1921. I was born in 1943. The year was 1965. It wasn’t that she was twice my age. Jesus, she looked like Lana Turner. Heads swiveled wherever she went. More problematic was that she was my mother-in-law.

“I’m going back to the room,” she said, pulling her dark glasses down over her eyes. She dropped her lighter, knelt again on one knee. She had a paperback, some lotion, the lighter, her drink. She kept dropping things. Then she scooped them roughly into a straw tote, stood, finished her drink, slopped the ice out onto a grassy area. One piece white suit cut high on the thighs. Legs like a Las Vegas showgirl. I let myself sink back into the pool. I watched her form undulate through the blue water, then swam away.

It seemed like the world was on the edge of a cliff. The only reason I wasn’t in Vietnam was my 2S classification, married, a kid. Not mine, I’d found out. The draft lottery could still get me. I almost wanted that if the war hadn’t been so futile. Blacks were on a short fuse. Feds were arresting my friends for pot-selling entrapment, and the sentence was medieval: life was over for them, they were running to Canada. Things were changing. A man had taken pictures of us in Mexico City. I’d noticed the sun on the lens. Then he took off.


Guinotte Wise has been a creative director in advertising most of his working life. A staid museum director once called him raffish, which he enthusiastically embraced. (the observation, not the director) Of course, he took up writing fiction.

Copyright © 2015 by Guinotte Wise








Matthew Brouwer… Introduction to Life


Introduction to Life

The first thing to know is that life is suffering
The second thing to know is that whoever wrote this
was a depressive pessimist
The third thing to know is that we don’t actually know
who wrote this
If you ever take a historical scriptures class you’ll learn that a name
like Buddha, or Krishna, or Jesus is the equivalent of saying,

“Our Founding Fathers”

The fourth thing to know is that “Our Founding Fathers”
were probably all men
The fifth thing to know is that it takes a father
and a mother to make a baby

The sixth thing to know is that a baby is life

The seventh thing to know is that babies are the cutest
while they’re crying or laughing
or doing anything else that babies do
The eighth thing to know is that if you ever make a baby
you will find yourself simultaneously drenched in agony and joy
The ninth thing to know is that this will continue long after your baby

has become a woman or a man

The tenth thing to know is that if the Buddha ever had a baby
He probably would have actually said,
“Life is suffering
and joy”


Matthew Lane Brouwer has performed his poetry throughout the west, leads writing workshops for teens and adults, and coordinates the Whatcom Juvenile Justice Creative Writing Project for youth in juvenile detention. He has a smattering of publications in online and print journals and a bundle of self–published chapbooks beneath his bed.

Matthew is also a Rapoetics Issue 6: Ghost House contributor

Copyright © 2015 by Matthew Brouwer







Dennis Caswell… To Fire


To Fire

O leaping catharsis of atomic libido,
you have us. You sold yourself as a god
who comes when he’s called, and now
we lick the sludge off the bottoms
of primeval vegetable drawers
so we’ll never need to leave home
without a tankful of you.
BANG! Remember that?
That was the cosmos beginning.
Back then, you were everywhere
and everything, but now you’ve grown older
and learned to calm down, though sometimes
us clots of you feel you still in there.
Heraclitus didn’t need Einstein to know, “All things are
an exchange for fire, and fire for all things.”
For instance, I can exchange 3500 bucks
for a lovely certificate entitling me
to build confidence and foster a sense of empowerment
by instructing seekers to walk on you.
A Viking circumambulates land
holding a gobbet of you,
and that proves he owns it
(the land, not you).
I can’t figure out if you’re a genius
for making yourself the go-to metaphor
for both terror and sex, or if
you’re as reckless and stupid
as an incurable virus that has no idea
it’s killing its dinner. You have us locked
inside Earth’s garage, with your many engines
running, and not even Vulcan,
Vesta, Nusku, Girru, Agni, Pele,
or Kagutsuchi can make a wish
and blow you away.


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







Frank C. Praeger… Neutral



Gypsum, quartz,
an antinomy of parts;
recused to be host
who wanted to have joggled
rather than to have been a joke.
Flagrant, even if neutral,
dismissive as a gentled touch,
as to have been
Thus, seized, regressed while pining for
three days now, a fortuity
that would leave one breathless,
a tocsin for self
whose rampages,
unlikely august,
would go unnoticed.


Copyright © 2015 by Frank C. Praeger