Joel Shearer


“Usually I Do”

Sometimes I put the bananas next to the lemons

Sometimes I forget to breathe

Sometimes I feel lonely

Sometimes I hold my loneliness in my lap and stroke its head until it falls asleep

Sometimes I am too busy to feel though I really want to

Sometimes I make myself too busy to feel cause I don’t really want to

Sometimes I wish things were different

Sometimes I am full of what ifs

Sometimes I am happy for no reason

Sometimes I let my dog sleep on the couch

Sometimes I don’t want to eat from my garden, I just want to look at it and feel grateful

Sometimes I think I am in love, but only cause I want to be in love,

not cause there is anyone actually there

Sometimes I cry at sunsets

Sometimes I lose my mind

Sometimes I fumble my words though I know what I want to say

Sometimes I fall back on sorry

Sometimes I help a friend but only cause I think I should

Sometimes I check my email with no intention of replying

Sometimes I sweep instead of vacuum

Sometimes I give myself credit

Sometimes I leave my freshly laundered shirts inside out

Sometimes I feed the squirrels

Sometimes I hope for the best

Sometimes, instead of doing what I need to I:

Organize the studio, clean the cupboards, sort the closet, move around the books, delete digital photos, back up hard drives, redo the tool shed, read through old journals, get rid of texts, futz with the loose handle, fix something around the house, water the garden, masturbate, go for a hike, call a friend, check my Facebook, dance in the mirror, sit outside in the sun, wrestle with my dog, do the dishes, make a list, dust the house, rake the yard, squeeze out a black head.

Sometimes I avoid


Sometimes I call my mother, careful not to step on land mines

Sometimes I don’t answer the phone

But usually I do

 Photo & Poem by Joel Shearer
© 2013

“Praises From A Tenor Sax” by L. K. Thayer

like salt on a bloodsucker

recoiling, shriveling

paralyzed fits of punishing



with the sell-out

the down and out

muck and mire choir


praises from a tenor sax

and a song

you can’t let go of…

fill the loving cup

and drink it dry

try to stay away

but you can’t fight

the pull

of the taffy

you get stuck in the


and you wanna

die happy

L. K. Thayer

Photograph by Milos J. Kohout


Prague © 2011

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“Speedy’s Kitchen” by Steve Almaas


“A Minneapolis Story”

He only came to Mill City ’til the heat cooled down
He had friends there who could set him up
Those square heads would never know what hit ’em
Or how much they could lose to Lady Luck
I don’t have to tell you the times were hard
But me, I was doing alright
My cooking was better than the bathtub gin
They served to the swells there, every night

When I met him I worked the Flame Bar & Grill
Started bussing but I made Souse Chef
The only joint where you could get a drink
In a town where everyone’s asleep or dead
Excuse me, I’m rambling, back to Kid Cann
Speedy’s the name, did I mention?
That it was Saturday night, in the middle of a rush
When a boy from the Northeast
First caught his attention

(chorus) Get along, little doggies, get along
You’re gonna have to throw that dog a bone
Get along, little doggies, get along
You gotta keep him happy
When you have to get along

He came in through the out door, a well dressed man
Looking more annoyed than scared
Hot on his tail, an ape with a piece
I sent the Kid down the back stairs
There was union trouble in the year of ’32
Shots rang out in the alley
He returned sans the trouble, spit blood and then grinned
“You won’t say nothing about now, will you pally?”
Well the heat came down pretty hard on the Flame
We don’t see much killing around here
They closed the joint, but I never squealed
It reopened in less than a year
By then hootch was legal, but the money was scarce
It didn’t matter that you could sell beer
I soon found a way to make three squares a day
Well, the truth is, I was in stir

And that’s how I came to see him again
A vagrancy charge in Beloit
He pumped my arm hard, slapped me on the back
From then on I was in his employ
I stuck with the kid for the next fifteen years
Through the war and some hard, wild times
Giving the square heads the pleasures they want
They take ’em and then call ’em crimes
We ended up back in Mill City again
Hid out in the caves by River Bend
As the mighty Mississippi rolled on and on
I realized we were at the wrong end
I still make my home down in New Orleans
The Kid passed away in ’63
The Cuban who shot him looked more than annoyed
At the time I was glad he didn’t shoot me

Get along, little doggies, get along
You’re gonna have to throw that dog a bone
Get along, little doggies, get along
You gotta keep him happy
When you have to get along

Steve Almaas

© 2010

“The Bridge To Nowhere” by C. Jean Pearlstein

L.A. Times article on valued added by LAUSD teachers
Ranking them by name.
Final blow for struggling, depressed young man
He jumped off the bridge
Jumped to freedom from brutal pain
Jumped to freedom from humiliation
Jumped from possible reprimand or job loss
Potential heard in children’s memories, lost
A son, lost
A mentor, lost

Later, tender hearted Tyler Clement
Outed on Skype broadcast
Unthinking, reptilian brain cruelty and callousness
A talented musician lost hope
Lost hope for a good life
Lost hope for acceptance
Lost hope for ecstatic pleasure

Jumped off the bridge
Writing this tears roll down my face
The daughter, mother, and grandmother of sensitive young men and women,

a teacher, a tender hearted nurse, and music students.
Welcome to the information highway.

C. Jean Pearlstein

© 2010