Featured Contributors Spring/Summer 2014
Top Row: Left to right, Ashley Dioses, Peycho Kanev, Stella Santamaria,
Craig A. Hart, Mark Burchard, Venger As'Nas Satanis
Bottom Row: Left to right, G. David Schwartz, Anthony J. Langford,
Richard Hartwell, Gregory Vincent St. Thomasino
Featured Artist:Tomasz Wieja
A CALENDAR IN SOIL AND SHED
by John Grey
*Any Night* by Peggy Carter
Counting Bodies by Rebecca Freeh
Fluoride for the road by Tom Pescatore
Folding Dirty Laundry by Colleen Colkitt
Forget Me Not by Kenneth Wortendyke, Jr
"I've been diagnosed..." by Jan Spence
No Fixer-Uper by Jeff Bernstein
One Eyeball by David Lawrence
Sonnet for K by Charles Byrne
The City Cemetery by John Sibley Williams
Wicked Funeral by Michael O' Connor
THE PIG AND THEPROSELYTIZER
by Dennis Vanvick
Current Issue: Spring/Summer 2014
Next issue availble October 2014
Cover Art (Dead End Collective) by Niall Parkinson
The Stray Branch
Publishing poetry, fiction, art and
photography since 2008.
Founder/Editor: Debbie Berk
"All religion, my friend, is simply evolved out of fraud,
fear, greed, imagination, and poetry." -Edgar Allan Poe
Site banner, design and layout by Debbie Berk
Featured Contributor Spring/Summer 2014
Poet / Peycho Kanev
Peycho Kanev is the author of 4 poetry collections and two chapbooks. He has won several European awards for his poetry and he’s nominated for the Pushcart Award and Best of the Net. Translations of his books will be published soon in Italy, Poland and Russia. His poems have appeared in more than 900 literary magazines, such as: Poetry Quarterly,Evergreen Review, Columbia College Literary Review, Hawaii Review, Cordite Poetry Review, Sheepshead Review, Off the Coast, The Adirondack Review, The Coachella Review, Two Thirds North, Sierra Nevada Review, The Cleveland Review and many others.
Emptiness is everything in this room.
Outside, the sky is not overflowing,
but pouring over the years.
What is the use of the numbers of time,
when she picks up the phone and says:
“Hello, please don’t hang up. I want to
talk with someone.”
But I am looking for spiders to build me
a clock out of silence,
crows for a poetry reading and rusty nails
for a different kind of farewell.
To read more from this author as well as the poetry of many other great authors in this issue, get your copy here.
Featured Contributor Spring/Summer 2014
Poet / Ashley Dioses
Ashley Dioses is the author of a couple short stories; one published in Tales from the River
Vol. 1 ezine called ‘Out of Reach’ and another soon to be published in The Horror
Zine ezine in the summer edition called ‘Infused Realities’. She is also the author of
several poems, which can currently be found in The Horror Zine and
Blood Moon Rising. She has also had several poems published on the now
closed ezines of Dark River Press and Horrotica.
Ashley Dioses started writing horror and fantasy poetry and short stories since the age
of 12. Edgar Allan Poe was a major influence in writing dark poetry and Stephen King
was a major influence in writing short horror stories. Her poetry has been previously
published at The Horror Zine, Horrotica (now closed), and Blood Moon Rising
and a horror short story and poetry at Dark River Press (now closed).
When she’s not writing, she enjoys practicing Soo Bahk Do,
a Korean martial art, and delving in esoteric studies.
Blots of blood across the ceiling
Suddenly set minds in motion;
Silent snaps sent brainwaves reeling,
Feelings benumbed to that notion.
Little sisters felt it in sync,
Careless of the red stain overhead:
They set their backpacks down of pink,
And raced up the stairs without dread.
Playfully entering a den,
The color red drifted away;
Next, memories were of strong men,
Carrying the stench of decay.
Vivid red changed to bright chartreuse
As the tiles blinded their eyes--
The coroner’s words were so abstruse--
Those green shades were of tiles and flies.
Strange words like “trauma” and like “shock”
Were quickly whispered here and there;
The two little girls watched the clock,
Waiting for Mother to come care.
Limply lifted on the gurney,
Mother lay there dead, gone, and green--
Chartreuse, the color of decay
Left by Father who’s not been seen.
Obstructed visions of the fight
Quelled memories for protection--
Until reality comes in sight,
Their brains will block those horrid sections.
Such horror blocked the memory
Of their mother’s death, and instead
Of blood red, chartreuse tiles they see,
And then their mother is not dead.
Forever mentally ill,
The girls will never know a thing.
But what happened, though their hearts are still,
Can be brought by a triggered ring.
Chartreuse, the only reminder,
Will long be sketched into their minds.
The brain can do nothing kinder
Than erase memories of all kinds.
To view more great poetry from this issue, get your copy here.
~ Mark Burchard ~
Mark Burchard, a former Motion Picture Costumer, was inspired by the slaphappy moments in his 29th film,
“The Silence of the Lambs,” to try his hand at writing comedy. He quickly moved on to include poetry,
fiction, and memoir. His work has appeared in THE BATTERED SUITCASE, WESTWARD QUARTERLY,
AUDIENCE MAGAZINE, LITTLE EPISODES, KEROUAC’S DOG, DO HOOKERS KISS?, SKIVE MAGAZINE,
and THE STRAY BRANCH.Mark’s photographs were shown at the launch of Little Episodes in London,
and can be seen on the covers of The Stray Branch and WestWard Quarterly. They also appear within
the pages of Audience Magazine, The Battered Suitcase, and The Stray Branch.Mark’s filmography
can be found at IMDB.com.
An Illustrated Poem
After the bells sound midnight
When shadows no longer fall
Hallowed figures look down on us
From their lofty stalls.
Of famous men,
With eroded faces
That cannot grin.
With out-stretched wings,
Stifle the dirges
They dare not sing.
Keep the toll
Of atrocities fashioned
From human souls.
Wrought from steel
Or carved from stone
From ancient Greece
Or noble Rome
Forged in the East
Or places unknown
You are never alone.
Forced by the Fates
To keep watch by night,
Enslaved by the madness
Of human delights;
Murder and thieving
Raped and bleeding
Stabbed and dying,
For their lives
They are pleading.
To close their eyes
And look away,
It’s what effigies ask for
As they pray.
But the gods hold at bay
The pleas of those wrought
From stone and clay.
So throughout the ages this stately band
Will, for as long as there’s a grain of sand,
Watch humanity and rightly grieve
And silently lament on bended knee.
For twenty-four years I didn’t see him
There was plenty of cause and lots of reason
Face-to-face he was on the attack
He beat me with a belt on my back
The first of his ten to take a stand
I grabbed that belt right out of his hand
“Kill me if you want,” I shouted with dread
“I’d be better off cold and lying here dead!”
Screams in the night of impossible deeds!
“You’re nothing more than a mouth to feed!”
Women and drinking were his kind of play
As the dreams of my childhood drifted away
I couldn’t abide his swaggering ways
Or the guilt dealt out on holidays
That house never felt to me like a home
I had no choice but to leave and to roam
As a young man I was out on the run
Not many choices, what else could be done?
Trembling for hours in the cold drifting snow
I searched and prayed for a place to go
I moved to a city along side a lake
No more reasons to cry or to quake
But when that fair city proved much to close
I flew to the Apple on the far Eastern Coast
Heaven on earth, nothing could compare!
A whole new world opened for me there
Yet after those years without hearing from him
I’d weep at the thought of what could have been
But today I’m no longer in mourning,
Since I stepped from that stifling haze,
On the day I tossed the ghost of him
Into an all-consuming blaze
Was it your precious ego
Or were you too much of a man
That caused you to reject me
When you found out who I am?
Your mind was very narrow
For a guy who knew it all
For a man with all the answers
‘Cept for one thing that’s so small
There are no carbon copies
Of anyone I know
So what’s wrong with being different
You angry so and so?
You were a married ladies’ man
On that you had no peer
Is that what gave you the right
To name me your, “Little Queer?”
I never got inside your head
So I guess I’ll never know
What caused the hate to buildup
In your lone and callused soul
Unchained today from all the shame
‘Bout what you thought of me,
Cause on the day you met your maker
I’m the one who was set free
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