“Family Shrapnel” by L.K. Thayer


My mom asked me,“was I a bad mother?”
she couldn’t remember how she’d mothered us
it was all more about coping, surviving & needlepoint
painting the wall bittersweet
the emerald green carpet, white wicker furniture
and collecting brass birdcages
she would douse herself in Estee Lauder
enough to choke the neighbors down the hall
I think she must have been in a state of shock
for a few years
just went on automatic kamakzie pilot
when the “D” bomb went off
the family shrapnel blew out into tiny
pieces in tiny hands
cupping Campbell’s tomato soup
with grilled cheese sandwiches for supper
helping us on and off with our winter snow suits
& boots & hats & mittens
on & off with mosquito spray
on & off with life preservers
from Fargo for God’s sake…
icicles running down our little snot noses
slipping on the ice chin first,
bleeding into Kleenex tissues
(there goes my Sonya Hieny skating career)
the mother thing…
I dodged that bullet
I picked up the worry gene
from my grandmother
and colon cancer
the surgeon sliced eight inches off of mine
now I’m a semi-colon
(she says with an exclamation point)
Mostly I’ve dodged my own Uzi
pointed at my self destructive noggin
mostly I was the hit man
the target I wanted to take out
I should have citizens arrested myself
spent a few nights in lock down
mostly I got loaded, shit faced
drunk, numb enough to slide
out of my shy state
and under the covers
with some underling
under a sheet like a ghost
dressed for
trick or treating
Jonesing for some lonely hearts grab bag
searching for the sweetness
relying on
the naughty tart
that I have perfected
and the multi-colored rainbow ball
spins on my laptop
fucking up my world
I give it the weight of gold bullion
and the wounds
of my
endangered species
© 2013

Mary Fae Smith


What Woman Wants

“Go deeper, Go deeper, Go deeper”

He told her.

He questioned her.

He begged her.

He pleaded her.

Not her. Him. Him Him. Always him. Deeper into her but never into him. What did he want from her? WHat was he excavating inside the mine field of her soul?

Entering through her womanhood and moving in.

Out…out. Out! She wanted out. She wanted him out. Out in the open. THat is where she wanted him. No longer insider her.  In front. Standing. Staring. Revealing.

He was no longer allowed to hide in the Woman.

She forbid it. Gave him no respite. Gave him no solace. Gave him no home until he built her one first…

And let her go inside. Go deeper and deeper and DEEPER into he man.

All the longing in her soul craved entry within.

How does woman enter a man?

How does she penetrate and plant her seeds?

How does she build a life within his love?

Serious now. She meant it. Meant it down to the fibers holding her together suspended in time.

“Leave me. Leave me be. I want you to go. Go far away. I can no longer be your home. You must find your own. I cannot replace what’s been lost in your soul. You cannot infiltrate mine and play parasitic host to mine either. Be yourself for once, you slob. Be Man. Not A Man. Be Man. I need Man. All of Man. In one man.

Let me enter into that.”

She cried in her pillow.

– Mary Fae Smith

© 2013

“Secret Beaches” by David Romero



Secret beaches
Tend not to live up to their name
But they often mean a lot
To those who name them
Today we walk your secret beach together
The meaning is not lost on me
Today we walk
Like mad and innocent children
You make me feel ancient
We have a history
Years ago I took you to a secret beach
Where we shared our first kiss
Under a shining sun
The crashing of waves as our soundtrack
You’ve brought me here
So that I could hear it playing again
Irresistible, I pull you towards me again
Once more
Like the surf falling from the seashore
This all seems inevitable
Your body still fitting into mine
Comfortable in my arms
Our lips and our tongues finally part ways
I look into your face
No longer seeing the woman you have become
The girl you once were
The girl I once found
The sweet princess
With a heart surrounded by barbed wire
A castle surrounded by landmines
You placed them there yourself
Part defense mechanism
Part masochism
Cynicism and sarcasm
I loved it all
I love to see you smile
You are mine again
Like you never left
The secret beach is playing our soundtrack
It keeps on skipping on this track
With sounds jarring

“Son, I never want to see you like this again.”
Again and again
In the past
My friends come up a hill
Something in their slow approach highly suggestive
Heavy with bad news
I know
You stand upon this beach
Asking for forgiveness
When you don’t have anything nice to say
You shouldn’t say anything at all
So, I am silent
Fuck you
Your smile, is beautiful
Vulnerable and open
My smile is there too
Full of hate
We have a history
You are comfortable in my arms
A girl I once found
A woman who would be mine
Part sadism
Part masochism
Cynicism and sarcasm
I once loved it all
As I love the beach
I will never love you again
Will never believe in secret beaches again
You are not a girl any longer
You are a woman
I am a man
Secrets are not kept
Others will walk this beach

David Romero

Photo by VC Ferry

© 2011

“Stories Replace People” by Herbert T. Schmidt, Jr.


He said something that hurt her
She reacted angrily
He raised his voice
She spoke louder than he
He told her she was acting like a child
She said he was being manipulative
He shook a finger at her
She said she was leaving without him
He said there’s no leaving in love
She said you watch me
He was overwhelmed by a sense of great loss
She slammed the door on the way out
He had seen the look in her eye
She hated him during their argument
He grew very cold and shook for hours
She did not reappear or call
He was alone
She was gone
He sent her flowers
She said thank you I want to talk to you
He was afraid of what she would say
She knocked on his door later
He opened it
She asked him if he was going to hug her
He hugged her
She sat down and began to tell him how much he had taught her, etc.
He asked her if she had come to break up with him
She said yes she had stopped loving him during their argument
He said there was nothing else to talk about and left the room
She left her ring on the table and closed the door softly as she left

He told the story to his friends
She told the story to her friends
His story stressed how childishly she had behaved
Her story stressed how he had hurt her

Where she had been in his life there was now a story
Where he had been in her life there was now a story

There is nothing in life sadder than when
Stories replace people

Herbert T. Schmidt, jr.

Foto by L. K. Thayer

© 2010

“Power” by L. K. Thayer

I have cramps.
I thought the period thing was over.
I have no energy, I don’t want to speak to anyone, or show up for anything. I’m tired of showing up. I’m tired of showing. I’m tired, period.
Trying to make something happen. Trying to make it.
That damn word, it. The it thing, the it girl …it can go suck it! Fuck it… Fuck it’s self!!
I wear an art mask. Masking taped together with thumbtacks and glue. I don’t want to take care of anybody or anything…I don’t want to take care of myself.
I feel like a loser. A hamster on a ferris wheel, I don’t wanna be the sideshow, the second wheel, the second fiddle…I want to open. Be the one who they pay to see.
The phone rings…I see it has a blocked number. I reach for the sound to turn it off. There was a time when I would’ve given anything for him to call. Just to hear his deep voice would send shivers in all the right places. Knowing we would spend hours sharing saliva and other bodily juices. I miss that feeling of really wanting someone, the way my heart rushed at the thought of him, wanting to look good for him, kiss him, smell him, stroke his hair, lay my head on his chest. He broke my heart for a while, but I got it back and he wants to see me again and Jimmy Crack Corn and I Don’t Care…
I turn the sound on the cell down to vibrate and feel my power, the power I gave away… and I feel good.

L. K. Thayer’s Foto Fetish

© 2010

“This Life” by Jack Grapes

Photo by Alexis Rhone Fancher

My wife is getting dressed,

rushing off to see her clients.

She puts a top on that comes down past her navel,

barely covering her pubic hair.

But when she sits on the bed to pull up socks,

the chemise rises up, exposing hair between her legs.

She puts one leg up, resting her heel on the bed’s edge.

Her legs a few inches apart.

Her pubic hair and mound clearly visible.

It’s enough.

This altar. This sacred, secret, sanctified,


I stop by the TV and ask her

when she’s coming home,

do I pick up Josh today,

are we going to David & Gina’s for dinner on Saturday,

should I get bread and milk at J-Market

or what?

“What,” she says.

I’m talking, she’s got her head down working on the sock,

no, I think it’s panty hose or tights,

something like that,

something complicated that requires her full attention

I’m talking but I’m really looking at her pubic hair, her sacred

whatchamacallit, that is . . . . and is not . . . . her,

the embodiment of everything,

the symbol of nothing but itself.

This is when . . . . I think . . . . maybe not . . . . but probably so.

this is when I love her the most,

when she’s putting on socks, half-naked,

paying little attention to me.

“What?” she says.

She’s not even listening to me.

“Should I pick up Josh,” I say,

“and what about the bread and milk?”

Actually, I’m not really talking to her, either.

I’m looking at her pussy

while she struggles with this complicated long sock or something,

her head down, working it fold by fold past her heel

and ankle, then up the calf, over the knee,

up the thigh, finally standing

and jumping up and down, small little jumps,

as she tugs the last part above her pubic hair,

above the navel.

She rims the elastic with her thumb,

gives it a snap, then looks up at me,

finally. She gives her head a shake,

straightening her hair for her clients,

getting all neat and composed and psychotherapeutic,

her sacred whatchamacallit covered by a gauze curtain,

and in a minute, by the dress.

I’m looking at her,

thinking of that Grecian pottery

where Aphrodite rises from the sea,

her sandstone naked body

gravely and glistening in its classical flesh.

“What?” she asks.

“Do I pick up Josh today?”

“Yeah. Is that okay?”


We stand there, holding everything

unsaid that seems to float along with the dust motes

made visible finally by the first light of the morning

coming through the blinds.

When you coming home?” I ask.


“Don’t forget my class starts at 7.”

“I won’t.”

Then she’s off, rushing from one room to another,

grabbing necessities.

I catch up to her at the door.

She kisses me.

I kiss her back. A little piece of sweet lip

in her sweet breath. I keep my eyes open

so I can see her face close-up.

“Love you,” I say.

“Love you, too.”

I stand on the front steps and watch her

get in the car, buckle-up, start the engine,

make a U-turn and come to a stop at the stop sign

at our corner. I walk to the mailbox

on the corner and give a little wave.

She sees and waves back,

then pushes off for her day, her clients.

I have things to do, too.

Have to xerox poems for my students, my fellow poets.

The sun’s not out yet; by noon, the clouds’ll break,

and it’ll be a sunny day,

and the sun will shine

on my wife and on my students

and on this blessed, sacred, sanctified life.

Jack Grapes

© 2010

“Barbed Wire Romance” by L. K. Thayer

barbed wire romance

sucked into chance

and all that is written on walls

as graffiti is sprayed

and the apple is bitten

let our love not fade

with the ashes

of burning Cinderellas

and lost slippers

sipping from big dippers

on the milky way

of what’s mine is yours

and the galaxy of

meteors and space between

our sentences, let

our pregnant pauses

birth new beginnings

from lust to trust

grounded into


giving each other permission

to become

who we are

L. K. Thayer’s Foto Fetish

© 2010

“Laugh Riot” by L. K. Thayer

He said he didn’t know what he liked better
my stories or where the holes were in my pants.
We drank dollar margaritas and our memories
shot back to when were lovers.

We were goofy and laughed more than we’d ever
laughed with anyone. Holed up during the LA riots,
we drank. Trying to numb out the rivers
of hatred and desperation burning in the streets
below and wondered if we were all going to die,
a good reason to drink some more & eat a great steak.

This was before cell phones & texting & computers.
The streets were on fire with racial incineration and
kerosene hatred. We were hypnotized by the theme
song from Twin Peaks and tripped in and out of playing
house and whose ATM machine we could rely on.

We were cuddly and precocious and cut from the same
cloth. Except he needed to be mommied and I needed to be

daddied and we could no longer pacify each other.
Our playpen could no longer contain us
and the babysitter with no notice
up and quit.

Photo & Poem by L. K. Thayer

All Rights Reserved

© 2010

“20 Stories” by L. K. Thayer

below the underbelly of the stretched cat winter
claws scratch what has unraveled in the tangle
of deception, sticky on your fork tongue
I watch as you slink back into your lair
waiting for the next pawn to suckle dry

your crumbs I am no longer hungry for
they don’t satisfy my well of discontentedness
your couch no longer swallows my every cell
I gasp for air in your billowing tented ego

I dangled on your charm bracelet
I dreamt of your crooked smile
I fell twenty stories to an untimely death
from our penthouse love affair

exclusion is a crushing blow

L. K. Thayer

Photo by VC Ferry

All Rights Reserved

© 2010