May-September 2015 RSS feed for this section

Tom Sheehan

The Stone Menagerie

What is inordinate
are the hippopotami of rocks
at Nahant,
unblinking, refusing
to mourn themselves;
a half-displaced
surge out of sand as if
they’ve lost their breath
in that terrible
underworld of salt
and constant push.

Their shoulders
beam as smooth as agates
from the iodized wash,
gray pavilions
of armor plate massive
in titillating breezes.

Some are remote,
the unknown at reunions
holding quiet places,
waiting for recognition
in a place in the pool,
a niche in the sun.

Only the sun
enters these huge hearts
and moves them,
only the sun
stirs the core where
memory has upheaval.

But in moonlight,
as the cold year ends down
and sand leaps to lace
as intricate
as six-point stitching,
the broad backsides
become mirrors
and a handful of earthquake
glows at rest.

Bar Harbor Interlude 1

On this graveled morning, wind and wire
are quick partners in Down East melodies,
violent stretch of voices, cloud-high reach
of their alphabet, and rare Elis hurled above
October’s crackling grass.

Raw cries come ambivalent in outward leap
from fence wire stiff as an immovable idea,
and wind, moody as arias or transient as hobos
or gypsies from the arch of Time, touch me
where mornings seep inward, the way

forgiveness moves, slow mounting of steps,
simple knocks at my door. Maine sun-ups need
no introduction to what they toss about, placid
as icebergs, slow and enormous, that fit you
dependable as old gloves you’ve broken in,
or a hunting jacket

hanging beside the back door, a wallet pawed
for years on end, a hammer whose handle knows
your palm with its unspoken arch of intimacy.
Mornings whistle, become covenants with outlandish
trees, quick rivers holding their breath, and all along
the hectic coast blue stones underfoot, trembling,
all day long, trembling.

Louie Crew

Louie Crew is an emeritus professor at Rutgers. He lives in New Jersey with his husband, Ernest Clay.


Louie Crew

Louie Crew is an emeritus professor at Rutgers. He lives in New Jersey with his husband, Ernest Clay.


Erik Noonan

Erik Noonan is the author of the poetry collections Stances (Bird & Beckett, 2012) and Haiku d’Etat (Omerta, 2013). He lives in San Francisco with his wife Mireille.


Degas: Dancer Posing for a Photograph

shock tactics composition-as-arrangement
jargon learning-from-nature metaphysics
with ties to all camps he sought an obstacle
exercises in the esoteric Valéry says
his dark eye never saw rosy light
“painting isn’t difficult if you don’t know”
Morisot recalls droll vivid table talk politics
high-minded violent impossible as himself
here a lofty studio’s tall windows show
winter roofs diffuse backlight mingles
sheer artifice of circumstance with her
selfpossessed balance yet what she felt
blurs like the master when extinguished early
he rode the open decks of trams at evening  




Manet: Chez Tortoni

not the Great Writer he might have painted
ten years ago desk hedged about
with colored prints plus beard pretentiously
who lays a ladies’ paradise aside
to pose in profile as premier realist
instead this moment stolen little canvas
looks as if he made it on the spot
stranger collar and hat comme il faut caught
bock untouched café ignored cane chair forgot
mot juste is just what he lacks the single word
servility of portraiture delirium of
impression both recede before an image
city man ink on the make modern creature
playing “the game of speech” therein most human




Vermeer:  Woman With a Lute

no yellow sleeve hung dancelike at wrist and elbow
in muted contrasts with such a Fuck It air
coat appears in the other paintings
building’s not hers instrument even face
only this gesture tuning up belongs
turning away out over whatever else
notes bend she half smiles suspense slips
between moods humors her eyes give voice to
the lute would have been a throwback by those days
hark falsely to simpler times fewer debts
less property take loved ones off leaving
wall map and viol cold company
house a mere reliquary not hers
who was all that enterprise knew of grace 

Bunny Goodjohn

Born in the UK, Bunny Goodjohn is an English professor at Randolph College, Director of the Writing Program and Tutoring Services, and author of Sticklebacks and Snow Globes and Bone Song. Visit her official site. Read her SubtleTea interview here.


To My Husband on the One-Month Anniversary of Our Separation

In the absence of children, we placed checks against animals:
four cats and hens to remain with me; the dog moved
to your side of the page along with the sectional sofa,
the king-sized missionary bed, the Smith Mountain watercolors.

While you moved out, bought new sheets, acquired
a phone number I need not learn, installed another
electric perimeter fence around four acres of real estate
I will never visit, I pet-sat my own dog;

at night she paced, chewed my baseball caps to damp spirals,
went cold turkey. Day found her insanely panicked, at peace finally
in the back of our old car, her long blonde nose resting
on the Jeep’s rough carpeting, one ear unflopped and cocked.

Last week, while you pet-sat the cats and hens, I visited my parents
to explain our separation, a situation I thought as fragile as the eggs
the Rhode Island Red had been brooding for a fortnight.
And today you drove eight miles to the airport to pick me up,

and I’m with the dog in the back of the car, her tail beating
a soft tattoo, snout burrowed beneath my leg. A strange land,
this back seat—watching your fingers upon the steering wheel,
your tanned arms, the shirt I have laundered for seven years—

and I wonder at the choices we make: at the dog’s, to hunt
down comfort in cars; at mine, to tell my mother you are stupid
but essentially a good man; at yours, to bring your girlfriend,
to open the car door for her, to give her my front seat.



Running 29 North

Two dogs trot slow down 29 North,
proud and skitty. Behind, traffic creepsto nothing. We sound our horns, lean out
our windows. The man at the front
tells them how goddamn late he is,
how they need to goddamn move right now.

We, who are in a hurry to get to where
we need to be, crawl hood to trunk
while these two—one white, one brown— revel in the road’s wet asphalt, its cracks
and ridges, the trash stitched through
the hedgerow, field’s wet scent rising like mist.

I’m tying down my need to rescue them, to tempt them into my car with treats. They’re not skinny, this pair, in no need of intervention. In fact, they’re indifferent
to us, locked in our cars, stalled
on our way from, our way to.

We’re a mere distraction in their moment,
as much as that fence is, this broken gate,
those crows lifting to trees, the road signs
that force us to yield, to stop. And yet,
I still have this need to catch them,
to show them my life is better than this,

this life they’re living now, fur furrowed
by rain, noses scrubbing the road,
and I’m mad at their stubborn refusal
to get out of the way, to let me pass,
to get back to all the things
I have to offer them.

previously published in Reed Magazine





In a room with flock paper and a dresser
whose drawers had never held anything
precious for more than a few nights,
I used sex—illicit and fumbled—
to wreck a marriage. The dalliance, raised
from five days of fluttering and flattery,
opened to my fingers, unused to suit cloth,
stroking his lapels, to my ear full of breathy
obscenity, to the fact I was naked as a girl
while he was fully clothed. He wore a string vest,
its old man lattice embossing his silk shirt.
When he realized I was game, a fawn
in the headlights of his daring, he ran
to raid his car for condoms. Holding back
the fireproof drapes, the yellowed cotton
nets, I watched, mesmerized: him,
his heavy body, half in, half out of his car,
like a bear rooting in a cave; me,
smearing honey on my palms. I like
hotel rooms with sewing kits and bathrooms
with fake marble and movie star mirrors,
the toilet roll tongues origamied to perfection.
In rooms like these, I am a woman
partial to Perrier, to mints, to having more
than two pillows on her bed. I have shivered sick
under torn sheets in a 10×10 room
off Hong Kong’s Nathan Road, watched my life
with the only man I have ever loved go down
in an ocean of tissue and take-out. I have stowed
bags of hash behind switch plates, have slept
under nets in a stilt-legged cabin on the shore
of the Andaman Sea, have listened
to the gong song of one hundred nights
as the drowned took their leave.
I have watched the drunk monks sing.
I have been bound to a bed with silk ties
and played that relationship upon the room’s
bark-papered walls, projected its jinks and turns
upon plastic frames round jungle flowers
and New York’s broken skyline. I like freebies:
doll bottles of pearly shampoo and conditioner;
a cake of soap, virgin curved to fit my palm; a pack
of pins, needles, and cotton to repair everything
that needs it. In the room up there on the fifth floor,
someone who is no artist painted the pictures,
and the manager has screwed them to the wall
so that no one can take them from him. That is love.
This is New Year’s Eve in Brunswick, Maine
and I have walked back from the bar alone,
my pockets tight with fifths of Grey Goose,
snow showcasing the silence, the occasional car
throwing light my way, like white water.
In the parking lot, a concrete moose twinkles,
his antlers laced with fairy lights, his back so low
you could climb on board, ride him clear to next year.
Or you could reason with me, persuade me to return
to the bar, to Auld Lang Syne. Or we could just go
inside, kiss the concierge who’s hunting under plastic
mistletoe, call the elevator, anticipate the room,
the tight-tucked bed, the 100 channels, the papered glasses
on the bathroom shelf, just begging to be used.



Negative Capability

I do not understand the people who believe
their dog loves them. I meet them in the park,
at PetSmart, in the vet’s waiting room,

and they cannot help but tell me of that first meeting
at the pound, the shelter, the breeders, and of how
the dog (this dog, this beautiful boy) did the choosing.

They tell me to look into his eyes, into his little face.
They are convinced those eyes hold love—the same love
they themselves have for their parents, siblings, children.

Last week, a friend brought a print to the house: a black dog
whose sky gazing Goya had captured on the wall
of his dining room and even this hound was not spared

the ignominy of our humanizing: critics would have us believe
the dog seeks divine intervention, release from the quicksand
of his landscape; fears abandonment, neglect, the absence of regard.

I cannot see it myself.
Today, dawn slowly returning yet again to light the yard,
my own dog lies outside in the dark grass. Inside, his bowl,
a brown sheepskin bed, a tin of crunchy treats, I who love him.

Yet he stays out there with the scrubby grass and all its insects,
the bony pines stalking forward from the weak-veined blue of the sky,
the garden shed moving by slow degrees from black to orange,

with the cows in the valley beginning to call to calves, the jackdaws calling
to other jackdaws, the sun inching up from behind the symmetry
of factory chimneys and roofs, the bulbs dirt-warm in the front border.

And I am sad. Not because I feel he doesn’t love me
enough to come in, to settle on the bed alongside me, to give me
his paw, but more because I am merely human and

have somehow lost my place in all this, my ability to be still,
to set aside my machinations, to be quiet with beauty,
to love all this like a dog.


previously published in the Connecticut Review


“Homeless” by Karl Miller

“Mommy, what’s the matter with Daddy?”

Kevin Pierce looks through the open window of the Civic to see a thin child pulling on the leg of her mother’s dirty jeans as the woman and a man rummage through a pile of garbage that rests against an overflowing dumpster in back of an Italian restaurant.  The three have dirty-blond dreadlocks and are barefoot; lesions run across the parents’ cheeks but the child’s face is pristine. A pizza box moves, the tail of a rat flicks under its lid. The man doesn’t appear to notice and stares at the ground with a distracted expression. Pierce shakes his head and keeps driving toward his destination. 

Fort Zachary Taylor had recently seen more action than it ever did during a war. A few days earlier, Francesca Donovan, a junior at Miami University and the daughter of one of the city’s leading investment bankers, was found floating facedown in the moat around the fort. In the hours after the discovery the scene had been choked with police and reporters, with morbid onlookers raising their phones to snap a post for Facebook or Instagram. One even got there early enough to see the body, and, like a dutiful contemporary American, promptly put it on the Internet, where of course it went viral. Shortly afterward, a letter from the Donovan family attorney arrived, threatening a lawsuit against her sorority – and the school itself – for negligence in keeping participants at an official school function “reasonably safe” from harm. Attorneys passed the letter to their insurer, who in turn assigned Pierce to fly to Key West and investigate.

Before he left his office in Jacksonville, Pierce had looked up the memorial site for Francesca. The pictures traced a kid who had pieces of a nice life. A lush home on the water in the earlier photos. Private school. Basketball and piano. Travel teams and a lot of attention for a 6’1” forward who averaged 27 points a game – and could also place with her Schubert in regional piano competitions. A Mercedes on her sixteenth birthday. A mother whose smiles looked increasingly forced as she aged. A father who was largely absent after the divorce. Francesca had been a striking brunette, a free spirit who sometimes wore sparkling blue contacts over her brown eyes.          

The investigator read her profile on the team’s website. Her status showed a noticeable decline since her sophomore year. A link had shown a YouTube video of an interview with Francesca that now had 129,372 views, a lot for a backup player on a mediocre team. Pierce guessed ninety-nine percent of them came in the last few days. Francesca came across as witty, downplaying a 79-51 loss to Virginia with an endearing laugh. 

Now it’s quiet, with only a handful of people wandering about, taking much less interesting pictures. The dirt path Pierce walks leads to a breakwater composed of hundreds of boulders placed along the Gulf shore.  Occasionally a heron cries in the distance. 

The insurance investigator photographs the site carefully. He walks around it in every direction, closely checking the surface of the dirt road. Not surprisingly, after so many others had gone through the same exercise, Pierce finds nothing. He clambers onto the rock wall and begins examining the spaces between boulders, potential hiding places filled at high tide with sand, shells and assorted driftwood. Stymied, he walks to the fort and looks over every inch of ground as he steps off the perimeter, staring at the water and imagining the beautiful, promising college kid floating there. 

Using the bridge, he enters the fort itself, a brick structure finished in 1866.  Once much taller, it was reduced to a one-story structure in 1889. He walks past a bored-looking park ranger with a scraggly beard and a Union uniform that seems stretched to the limit, and moves onto the spotty grass of the parade ground then to the interior of the fort, making his way through the enlisted men’s quarters and the mess before he gets to the officer’s area.

Light arrives through ancient cannon openings in the thick brick walls. The massive Columbiad is black, silent and impressive. Plaster coating the interior is chipped and completely worn away in places. Rust flakes from old turrets are scattered on the floor by the remains of iron cannon supports. Dusty red bricks lie in the corners of the room.

“You won’t find anything.” Pierce jumps at the sound of the voice. He looks up and sees the homeless man who had been milling about earlier. The man is wearing a brunette wig. His teeth are horrible, gapped and discolored. “I don’t know why people feel the need to pry into sorrow.”  Pale and sickly thin, the man’s voice sounds broken, an oboe with a faulty reed.

“You’re probably right,” Pierce replies, straightening up and looking at him, “but my boss wouldn’t like it if I didn’t check around a bit.” He finds himself trying not to stare at the wig, then finding himself staring at the lesions, so he goes back to staring at the wig, finding it less problematic as an alternate focus. 

“Oh, you’re one of those,” the homeless man says, viewing the investigator with disapproval.

A second passes before Pierce grasps what he means. “Oh, no,” the investigator responds. “I’m not with any tabloid.  I’m with the insurance company.  Do you know anything about this, you know, the girl dying?”

“I know something – I think.  It’s all very confusing.”

Pierce prepares to mentally kick himself in advance for asking a stupid question. “Confusing?”

“Well, I was there. And then I wasn’t.”

The investigator delivers the mental kick. “OK. Well, I have to work now.”

“Whatever,” the man says, abruptly disinterested in tone. “You should let the dead lie in peace.” He moves away but keeps staring at Pierce as he goes.

Pierce shakes his head then resumes his search, spending the next hour fruitlessly going over the grounds again before giving up and walking back to his rented Civic. He turns the car on and, sitting in the cool air, he pulls up a message on his phone from Ron Torborg, once a classmate at North Florida, now a deputy with the St. Augustine Beach Police Department. Torborg recommended Pierce contact John Jimenez with the Key West Police Department as a possible aid. Pierce leaves a message for Jimenez then kills an hour writing an initial report on his laptop before his phone buzzes with the return call. 

After they exchange introductions, Jimenez says “Ronnie told me you may be calling.”

“Yeah, I appreciate you calling me back. This thing is getting lawyered-up pretty quickly, and we need any help we can get.”

“Well, not a lot to give at this point. The autopsy is not back yet. he family attorney is involved on that. Her sorority sisters all swear they hadn’t seen her for at least four hours before her estimated time of death, which was around 3 AM, give or take. No indication of anyone else with her at the scene. Apparently she wandered off by herself. Could be a simple slip and fall. Hit her head and fell in the water. All possibilities are being checked.”

“Say it wasn’t a slip. Any suspects?”

“You know we can’t talk about that kind of thing.”

“I realize that. But there’s an awful lot of money riding on this and we’d like to work with the police in every way possible.”

“Actually, at this point we seem to be OK,” Jimenez says ironically.

“Can you give me anything to go on?” Pierce pleads.

“OK, no B.S., and of course, off the record, we are looking at Ricky Velasquez. He’s a local dealer, small time. She was apparently dating him.”

 “Why is he a suspect?”

 “A potential suspect,” Jimenez corrects. “And I can’t really say, other than circumstances dictate we look at him.”

 “Can I get any info on her sorority sisters?”

 Jimenez gives the names of the girls. “Most of them have stayed here to party, in spite of the death. They’re still at the Sheraton on Roosevelt. I guess they couldn’t have been too close. Kind of messed up.”

 After the call, Pierce looks up the girls online and quickly gets pictures of all three. At 5 PM, he checks into the Sheraton and gets a decent third-floor room with a balcony that looks down at the tiki bar by the pool. He opens the sliding glass door and walks out into the warm evening air, then sits down by the glass table and starts watching the swarm of kids hanging at the bar. A reggae band plays “Buffalo Soldier” and then launches into some pop covers. Around seven-thirty, he sees the girls arrive.

 The investigator walks down to the bar and tries to stand inconspicuously a few feet away from the girls. At thirty years old and wearing khaki shorts and a polo shirt, he doesn’t fit the crowd but no one seems to pay attention to him. He orders a Sam Adams then watches the Panthers-Canadiens game on the bar TV, gradually moving closer and surreptitiously listening carefully to the kids wearing the UM T-shirts. 

Jennifer Winston, a voluptuous brunette with arresting green eyes, sips a Mai Tai from a plastic cup. “I never figured this Spring Break would have gotten so much better, after the way it started.”

“What time are those boys from KU getting here?” Elena Rodiguez asks.

 “Should be around 8,” answers Ashley Canfield, a well-tanned blonde in an orange T-shirt. “But whatever. I’ll always remember this as a horrible Spring Break.”

“You’re not glad you stayed?” Rodriguez asks, looking up from her strawberry daiquiri.

“I still don’t know if it was right thing to do,” Canfield answers.

“Well, we burned a day going back to Miami for the funeral,” says Elena.

”’Burned a day.’ Nice way to put it,” Canfield says sourly.

“Don’t act like you were her best friend. Everyone knows you two had issues with each other.”

“Well, you should have said something about that scumbag boyfriend. You knew what Ricky was like. You dated him.” 

“Two dates, OK? Two dates. And I stopped when I found out how he could be.”

“If I had dated someone who hit me, I’d be sure to tell you.”

“It was one hit. He was drunk when it happened.” She pauses. “He didn’t hurt me.”

“Sure, he’s a great guy. All men hit girls on the second date,” Canfield responds, rolling her eyes. “Did you at least tell her about his side business?”

“You do know she was into it too, right?”

“Yeah, thanks to him.”

“Come on. She was never an angel.”

“No, she wasn’t. But she sure wasn’t like she became. I found needles she hid up high on bookshelves. I’d leave them alone, but it always freaked me out that she was doing it and playing ball at the same time. Crazy.”

“And we probably should all shut the hell up now,” Jennifer says, interrupting her friends as she looks around carefully. They abruptly start talking again about the overdue boys from KU. Pierce finishes his beer then gets the tab from a beleaguered bartender who drops the bill and returns to his blender. The investigator leaves a ten on the bar and returns to his room.

After fifteen minutes on the Internet, Pierce finds “OMG Ricky is amazing” along with a photo of a thin kid with a big smile and dark, menacing eyes. A few more minutes and Pierce has an address. He drives to a rundown street by the Naval Base and parks behind a late model Infiniti. 


Ricky’s supposed residence is a dilapidated two-story wooden house. Occasionally some Spring Breakers pass, laughing raucously, but Pierce sees no one enter or leave so he departs for his hotel at 10 PM.

In the morning, Pierce drives his rental through the quiet streets, passing empty bottles and assorted trash from the prior night’s partying and goes to 7:30 Mass at Mary Star of the Sea. The cadence of the prayers comforts him, bringing back the memory of sitting between his Irish father and Jamaican mother at church when he was a kid. When he gets back in the car, his phone shows Jimenez called and also texted him to come to the station right away.

Pierce drives to the police headquarters and parks the Civic by the main entrance. He walks in and asks the officer on duty for Jimenez. When Jimenez comes out, he seems tired and aggravated. He’s tall, maybe 6’3”, and in his early 30s, with thinning hair and a thickening stomach. He doesn’t look like the voice on the phone. “Kevin Pierce?”

“Yes. Your message said to come down?”

“Yeah, thanks.” He gives a perfunctory handshake. “Come back with me,” he says, and Pierce follows him back to a worn, gray metal desk dominated by a gold-framed photo of a blonde with two little girls.

“Were you parked around the Naval Base last night?”

“Yeah, I was. Why?”

“Parked by Ricky Velazquez’ house?”

“Right. Why do you ask?”

“Let me ask the freaking questions, all right? Ricky Velazquez was a lead we were looking at, and I thought you’d have enough sense not to interfere.”

“I didn’t interfere. I didn’t see anything at all, so I left after about an hour of sitting. I actually never even got out of my car.”

Jimenez pauses and seems to catch himself. “Did you see anything at all?”

“No, just some people passing by, but no one came or went from the house.”

“We had him under light surveillance, which is how we found you were watching him. We definitely would have liked to have talked to him some more.”

“Well, why don’t you?”

“Because he’s dead.”


“His throat was cut. Almost decapitated. We were going to ask him some questions, but when we got there, we saw his body on the sofa through the window.”

“Damn. Any suspects?”

“Well, he was a drug dealer, so no shortage of enemies. But the only one – other than you – who showed up was Francesca Donovan.”

“Who?” Pierce asks, surprised.

“Yeah, exactly. Our camera has footage of someone about her height – which is pretty damn unusual for a girl – and looking a hell of a lot like her walking out of his place shortly after you departed.”

“Well, it obviously wasn’t her. Any idea who it could have been?”

“You can take the ‘obviously’ out of your sentence. She walked right past the surveillance camera. It wasn’t totally clear but it even kind of looked like her close up. I know it sounds crazy, but I actually called the morgue to make sure her body was still there. Which it was.”

“How do I fit in?”

Jimenez sighs. “I guess you don’t. We were just checking if you saw anything.” He looks around his desk for a second. “Right, I left my cards up here,” he says, standing and taking a step toward the high window ledge over his desk. “One good thing about being a little on the tall side,” he says, as he takes a card from a box on the ledge and gives it to Pierce. “Let me know if you find anything.”

“Will do,” Pierce says, suddenly struck by what Jimenez said about his height. He walks out to the Civic and drives to the fort. A scattering of tourists stand along the top of the walls. Pierce jogs through the gate and into the interior.

No one else is in the first room Pierce enters.  He walks around it, carefully looking at the top part of the room, then moves on to the next room, following dim passageways as he makes his way through the fort.

Pierce strides past a gun emplacement – and stops short. In the corner, wearing the same brunette wig, the homeless man sits on a stool. He stares down at the dirt floor as though he hadn’t noticed the investigator’s arrival. His slow, deep breathing fills the room. Gradually, he raises his gaze. Pierce is stunned to see the homeless man is wearing blue sparkled contacts, with blue eye shadow. “Whoa,” Pierce says, “you’re going way too far.”

“Do you think?” the homeless man asks, except the voice is purely feminine now, a pitch-perfect imitation of Francesca.  

“Why are you…” Pierce stammers, trying to get his footing. “A girl died here. This isn’t right.”

The homeless man sighs. “You’re not getting it.” He stands and gives a brief smile with perfect teeth.   

Pierce could swear the man is at least three inches taller than before. There are no lesions anymore. The investigator shudders and unconsciously reaches into his pocket and finds the Kel-Tec .32 he keeps there as a precaution for when investigations go wrong. “Look, I don’t want any problems. I’m just doing my job then I’ll be out of here. Please stay over there and I’ll be gone in a second.”

Near the cannon port is a ledge Pierce can barely reach. He looks around and locates a wooden stool. Keeping an eye on the homeless man, he pulls the stool toward the ledge.

“What are you doing?” the man asks.

“Just doing my job,” Pierce answers warily.

“Don’t look up there,” he says, still in a woman’s voice.

“I’ll be gone in a second,” Pierce says.

“But it’s that second that matters. Please don’t look.”

The homeless man begins to move toward Pierce. The gun comes out and the man stops moving forward. “No need for that. No need for that,” he says.

“What’s on the ledge?” Pierce asks.

“Don’t look. Please just don’t look,” the man says, his voice dripping desperation.

“All right, calm down,” Pierce says. “Just go on your way, OK?”

The homeless man takes a step backward. Keeping an eye on him, Pierce steps onto the stool and glances at the ledge. A syringe rests in the sunlight.

The man makes a small cry. “I let everyone down,” he says in the woman’s voice. “I should have known. He should have known.”

“Who should have known? Have known what?”  Pierce asks.

“There was no point in any of it. No one was any good. Nothing was any good. It was all a letdown, a wasted trip. But I didn’t mean to go that far. I just wanted to touch the edge, but not go over.” He stares at the ground. “But Ricky knows now. That son of a bitch knows.” He stumbles out the door. 

Pierce steps back down and puts his gun away. Even the air seems unnatural after the homeless man leaves. The investigator takes out his cellphone and calls Jimenez. When the police get there he carefully omits any mention of the homeless man. After being questioned, he heads to the airport, drops off the rental car and gets the first flight back to Miami. He stares blankly through the plane window as the sun disappears and the night begins with a purplish introduction to black. Pierce spends the leg to Jacksonville successfully convincing himself he was mistaken about what he saw and winds up never mentioning the incident to his wife when he gets home.

A few days later, when he receives the final police report that rules the death an accidental overdose, Pierce leaves the office early and goes home to his apartment. He pulls up Francesca’s memorial website, pours some Patron, and slips away to random images. The forward in mid-air blocking a shot. The pianist in a black dress sitting pensively before the keys, fingers poised to start. The sorority girl holding a beer and laughing with friends. The sad-faced child standing on the beach. 

But in the end, Pierce’s thoughts return to a homeless family wandering somewhere in Key West, and he wonders what they’re doing at that moment, and how the four of them will turn out.  

Claudio Parentela

Claudio lives in Catanzaro, Italy.  Visit his site.


Ashkan Honarvar

Born in Iran, raised in the Netherlands and currently residing in Norway, Ashkan is a collagist whose pieces, to quote artist and columnist Annabel Osberg, “speak to humanity’s intrinsic obliviousness, heightened by vanity and abused by others. We think we know ourselves and the world around us, but how much do we really understand? Just as Honarvar´s figures are obliterated, severed, and reorganized by him, we are often at the mercy of circumstances outside our control.” Perhaps Osberg summed up Ashkan’s art best with this line: “[T]he body itself is a living paradox:its vitality can be beautiful; its deformation, grotesque.” Visit Ashkan’s official site here and his Facebook page here.


Carl Scharwath

Jenny’s World
(model: Jennifer Fernald) 

Sarah Kayss

Sarah Kayss is an award-winning photographer and editor of The Transnational, a bilingual literary magazine. She was born in Germany but now lives in London.  Visit her official site here.

Capetown, South Africa

cover art for Ich mag die Welt, so wie sie ist