A Literary Publication

Poetry - Fiction - Art - Photography

Friday Dec 19, 2014
An Introduction:
This is the religious, political, pretty poetry free zone. Here the words bleed as the
ugly truth speaks from the depths of its darkest, rawest heart; exposing scars 
the still fresh wounds of the imperfect flesh most 
beautiful in the humbling flaws
of the human unmasked, 
confessing secrets, thoughts and realities most haunting...... 


Featured Artist and Cover Artist Fall/Winter 2014: Niall Parkinson

Niall Parkinson is an Irish artist specializing in the origination of dark, surreal, conceptual and spiritual hand drawn illustration from which he explores the darker regions of the human heart and experience. His background is in commercial graphic design and he had spent over 20 years working in this capacity within the printing industry. Niall has also had success in the music industry designing cd covers and booklets primarily for European metal bands. Read More 


Current Issue and Features

Featured Contributor Spring/Summer 2014

Fiction / Richard Hartwell


Rick Hartwell is a retired middle school (remember, the hormonally-challenged?) English
teacher living in Moreno Valley, California.  He believes in the succinct, that the small
becomes large; and, like the Transcendentalists and William Blake, that the instant contains
eternity.  Given his “druthers,” if he’s not writing poetry, Rick would rather still be tailing
plywood in a mill in Oregon. 
He previously has been employed as: apprentice carpenter;
dairy ranch hand; plywood mill worker 
(twice); plastics manufacturing plant; newspaper
delivery; armed security; facilities analyst; 
telecommunications analyst, supervisor (twice)
and manager; business manager; US Army -  
infantryman, legal clerk (twice), legal clerk
instructor, Warrant Officer (Legal Administrative 
Technician); and, high school teacher
for the emotionally disturbed (twice).


Montrose Drive

He should have lived on Montrose Drive in Altadena.  But he didn’t.  He should have lived there, but he only visited, staying only briefly with his grandmother in the third bedroom with yellow flowers and pink linens and the ghost of his grandfather.  His grandfather only visited there too, dead or alive.  Sometimes he thinks his cousin Penelope didn’t live there either.

The house he is thinking about -- the house in question -- was a long, low, spreading affair of ranch-style-California, but upscale to some tastes and nearly all incomes.  It sat on seven-and-a-half sloping acres, nestled against the San Gabriel Mountains and near enough that the smog to the west could be ignored during the day and attention paid to the yips of coyotes at night in the next-door hills.  The house had a long, curving driveway that started at ornate wrought-iron gates and then struggled uphill for several hundred feet.  The drive first passed two lilly-padded fishponds on the left that were connected by a small waterfall of imported granite stones, although the golden fish were domestic.  On the right there was a pine-needle-covered dirt path that entwined through a small grove of firs where he and his cousin played Robin Hood during family gatherings; Penelope always refusing to play Maid Marian.  Continuing onward and upward, the driveway then passed a woodshed, never used for discipline, and a tool shop, and then terminated in front of a four-car garage, on a concrete tennis court, laid out by painted white stripes and lighted at night from overhead poles.

The garage was connected to a small, three-room apartment in which his Aunt Dorothy lived among doilies and knitting bags.  Actually she was his great-aunt, but known as Aunt Dot to his generation, and she was the mother of his Uncle Milton who owned the house, and the sister of his grandmother Natalie, Bonnie to his generation.  It seemed complicated to outsiders, but two brothers had married two sisters, even twins, several times over the generations.  The garage and mother-in-law apartment braced back-to-back with a laundry room.  The garage and Aunt Dot’s rooms were connected to the main house by a covered walkway of flagstone and white trellis, perhaps twenty feet long, which led to the kitchen.  Everyone entered the house by the kitchen; never by the main front doors that were double-doors and which overlooked the front lawns.  The lawns were twins also, like the doors, and were professionally manicured and heavily sprinkler-equipped, quite unusual in the late ‘40s or early 1950s.

No, you did not enter by the front doors with their electric chimes and twin foot scrapers and twin ceramic jockeys, black-faced and wearing someone’s racing colors while holding a ring each, waiting for visitors who seldom came and never with horses.  In fact, much of the house appeared in twins, almost as if my aunt and uncle led lives separate but equal.  No, you did not enter by the front doors, but only by the single kitchen door and directly into the smells of 2424 Montrose Drive.  These were the residual smells of innumerable Thanksgivings and Christmases at what his grandfather would only refer to as, “The Heights.”  They were the smells of ceremony, of roast turkey and smoked ham, of mashed potatoes and giblet gravy, of raspberry and bread pudding and mince or apple pie.  Those smells could trick you, inhale you further into the house; past the kitchen and the breakfast nook with Cape Cod windows overlooking the twin lawns; past the formal dining room with its twin, faux-crystal chandeliers and wall-papered woodland scenes of English deer hunts; past the formal study with long, lined red drapes and the don’t-you-ever-touch-that mahogany desk; past the family room with its two foot high, twelve by twelve foot day-bed covered in a deep-corded brown-cotton twill; past the paneled entrance alcove and its hanging, musical chimes and through  --  never into, but only through  -- the formal living room.

This was the living room of facing twin couches in front of a massive stone fireplace, inviting your approval but not your use, with carefully distributed mahogany and teak tables and bureaus and overstuffed furniture.  This was the never-used living room.  Never used except for weddings and wakes and Christmas mornings, but it was always maintained in readiness.  It was meticulously maintained:  dusted and vacuumed and flowered, straightened and primped and primed for formal eventualities.  It was even used once by his Aunt Roberta, his uncle’s wife, to marry off the uncle’s secretary, his mistress of several years, right under his nose.  This perfectly maintained living room was not for occupants, but for unique, casual visitors; for those who would not sleep in the third bedroom, a wing actually, with twin queen beds and a sitting room, double walk-in closets and a separate bathroom with a glassed-shower on one side and bathtub on the other.  But the third bedroom was only used for dressing for weddings, or anticipating Christmas mornings, or crying for the departed.

And when the smells lured you or pushed you finally to the back of the house, you entered a long screen-enclosed porch with a gray flagstone floor.  It lay back-to-back with the perfect living room and shared the fireplace stones with twin hearths, one on each side of the wall.  The porch was filled with green-canvas chaise lounges and chairs and glass-topped tables.  Through sliding screen doors each end of the porch opened onto the back yard with its eighty-foot California live oak.  The tree erupted through the flagstone extending outside the patio and rills of moss trickled through the gaps between the stones.  The branches of the oak created an arbor over the lower backyard and were kept from breaking off by the careful attention of a tree surgeon, one who had wired and cabled the branches to the roof and filled the decaying center bole of the tree with cement.  The tree was dying throughout the visits of his youth, but like the living room it was always perfectly maintained.

Beyond the concrete oak and the house of melted relationships, up the hill from the screened back patio and past the rose garden, again meticulously manicured like the lawns, again maintained for appearances, this time by Ted, the Japanese gardener, nestled the swimming pool and the bath-house and the greenhouse; outbuildings for those out of the house.  The best thing about the pool area was the overly large apron around the splash gutter, an apron which allowed the two, again with the twins motif, Saint Bernards, Chien and Noel, to run and to gather speed and chase each other around the pool; ever faster, cutting the corners with leaps and bounds, until one of them no longer made the far edge and landed in a tidal bore within the pool, solitary until joined by the second dog in sport.  The pool man often visited twice weekly, replacing the cartridge of the skimmer filter because of clogs of dog hair.

Except for the gates at the base of the driveway, the entire lot was landscaped and fenced, planted with climbing ivy or bushes over stone walls and hurricane fencing, either to keep the dogs and family in or the rest of the world out; he was never entirely certain.  His uncle never installed electric or automatic gates, but preferred the manual advantage of stopping at night to collect the mail and the evening news, driving up to the lower fish pond, retracing his steps and closing the gates behind the long black Lincoln, with only a last deep inhalation and sigh.  He knew this because Robin Hood and the dogs occasionally hid in the woods to await rich travelers coming up the road.

The last time he visited 2424 Montrose Drive was in 1967 when he returned from Vietnam, out of the hospital and on convalescent leave.  His aunt and uncle were away on separate vacations and his wife and he had the place to themselves.  Even the dogs were being boarded away, although by then they were different dogs with the same names.  Penelope was living in San Jose, married to the manager of an Orange Julius.  The couple stayed in the third bedroom, the one reserved for visitors.  His Aunt Dot was long gone, and in looking back he was surprised that her old rooms, the ones next to the garage, weren’t opened for them instead.  But they stayed in the third bedroom, visitors to “The Heights,” and he was supposed to spend a week trying to remember his youth, or forget the war, or some such.  He was never comfortable that week.  He never felt at home.  Perhaps he hadn’t arrived yet.  He was lonely and neither he nor his wife ever invaded the living room.

After the house had been sold and his memories had moved away, after Penelope’s young son had died in a car accident when she was drunk, after his own accidental-alcoholism and failed marriage, after all that he learned that during that earliest childhood stay, when his grandfather had died and he and his Bonnie were temporarily housed in the third bedroom, after that he learned that his Uncle Milton and Aunt Roberta had offered to adopt him, to raise him as their own.  But his grandmother had said no, she needed him, and his own mother could not be found to disagree or to be disagreeable again.  So his aunt and uncle had adopted a young girl and they had named her Penelope, Penny for short.  She got to stay in the second bedroom.

He should have lived on Montrose Drive.  But he did not.  He should have lived there, but he had only visited.  In fact, he guessed that is all that any of us ever did or ever will; just visit.

To view more great fiction from this issue, get your copy here.

Featured Contributor Spring/Summer 2014

Poet / G. David Schwartz

G. David Schwartz - the former president of Seedhouse, the online interfaith committee.
Schwartz is the author of A Jewish Appraisal of Dialogue (1994) and Midrash and
Working Out Of The Book (2004) Currently a volunteer at the Cincinnati J Hospital in
Cincinnati, Schwartz continues to write. His newest book, Shards And Verse (2011) is now
in stores or can be order on line.


Names are not real people.

You Are Allowed

You are allowed to smile
And you are allowed to sing
On Wednesday 27th you can do
Absolutely anything
Tuesday is the twenty-sixth
And that just the best
Because Monday the twenty-fifth
Goes a little something like this
Sunday was the twenty-fourth
Saturday twenty-third
And Friday well twenty-second
And then oh Lord  the twenty-first is heard
Friday the twentieth
Tuesday is in the teens
And that’s just the way you get

To view more great poetry from this issue, get your copy here.

Featured Contributor Spring/Summer 2014

Poet / Venger As'Nas Satanis

 Venger As'Nas Satanis has had poetry, short fiction, and articles published in various
journals and websites over the years.  Two of his aesthetic influences are H.P.
Lovecraft and Thomas Ligotti.  Venger is 38, a husband, father, scifi/horror geek
living in Wisconsin.


This Awful State of Reverence



Anyone ever tell you
You have a sick sense of humor
Sometimes it just pops in my head
The worst possible thing to say
At that very moment
So, I say it



Come down from there, I say
Land of candy denizen
Tasty sugar plum demon
Plunging and plumbing those sacred depths
From which red turns to white and back again
The candy land mountain hides this strange deity
Our friend in Miami 



Does she obey wordlessly
Or are there too many words
Unspeakable blasphemies upon the one true darkness
That illimitable void
Where mutation is prayer
And sacrifice transforms us into puppets seeking forgiveness

To view more great poetry from this issue, get your copy here.


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