Ballade For Single Women – Irene Cunningham

Cavaliers on the weekend tour
we keep our eyes peeled for well-heeled
men with wallets, and hair just groomed.
My hot lips squint from lurching cheers
in clouded rooms, guessing careers
comparing body parts to heights
though any one might test the means
come the end of the long long, night.

Sliding from cocktail to bar, whore
they call us; our skirts laugh at sneers.
We slant eyes across pints of Coors
nudge each other Had him last year
condommed to the armpits, no fear
and necks stretched against boisterous bites
walled up dark lanes with trembling knees
come the end of the long, long night.

Now bare-back riders buck no more
no sucking and jumping bones, dears –
safe sex penetrates. No encore.
My fingers don’t feel the same here…
turns the man into a gloved peen.
In these diseased years thighs are tight,
the months are passing, now eighteen
come the end of the long, long night.

So cancel my ticket to ride
blow sweet kisses, goodnight good knights,
sing softly of white wine and beer
come the end of the long, long night.

Cabinet Of Heed Contents Link 24

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Yesteryear’s Silicon Jukebox “Do No Evil” World – Gerard Sarnat MD

SAN FRANCISCO, AP, April 21, 2005 — Google Inc. is experimenting with a new feature that enables the users of its online search engine to see all of their past search requests and results, creating a computer peephole that could prove as embarrassing as it is helpful…

Doing my parking lot homeless medical clinic today, there’s
old Wild Ray root ‘n toot’n folks to sign his petition banning
the growing identity theft crisis. Somethin’ ’bout the
gov’ment stealin’ three of his eight multiple personalities.
Which he damn well wants back, and pronto, please.

The late Erik Erikson first used the now common phrase
“identity crisis.” When his biological Danish dad split before
his birth, he was adopted by his Jewish stepfather and took
the name Erik Homberger. But because of his blond-and-
blue-eyed Nordic look, Erikson was rejected by his Jewish
neighborhood. At grammar school, on the other hand, he was
teased as a Jew. Feeling that he didn’t fit in with either
cultural world, Erikson’s own identity crises fueled his career’s
work. Not needing a weatherman to know which way the wind
blew, he left the Vienna Psychoanalytic Institute and
immigrated to the United States in 1933.

In 1935, Monk Eugenio Pacelli Pacelli, speaking of the Nazis,
told 250,000 pilgrims at Lourdes, “It does not make any
difference whether they flock to the banners of the social
revolution, whether they are guided by a false conception
of the world and of life, or whether they are possessed by
the superstition of a race and blood cult.” Four years later,
this hybrid Monk committed identity theft, evidently no
identity crisis for this hypocrite, when he oxymoronically
renamed himself Pope Pius XII. For much of the war, he
piously maintained a public front of indifference and
remained silent while German Holocaust atrocities
were committed. He refused pleas for help on the
grounds of neutrality, while making statements
condemning injustices in general. Privately, he
sheltered a small number of Jews and spoke to a few
select officials, encouraging them to help the Jews.

Homeless Squirrel Girl shows me her very own hybrid
Munk, a mixed-breed pet chipmunk squirrel she’s raised
since birth as her baby girl. Now looking like an overfed
rabid rat, the fat rodent slithers from her shoulder down
her blouse, crawling up her skirt. How ’bout that.

Looking for a place to stay, Milo’s back from a short
unsuccessful vacation in Waikiki. “Turned out to be
Disneyland corporate Amerika, a tourist companytown
scam, too many regulations, too high a cost of living.”
Sniffing his unmistakably sweet smoke, I’m inappropriately
asked if I want a toke. Nope. “But by the way, Doc, will
you renew my San Francisco City and County Volunteer Medical
Cannabis Card that Hawaii won’t honor”…for nonexistent
chronic hepatitis B?

Now a middle-aged Stanford dropout, Shady Slim sidles
over with a new story about an old identity. “Once upon a
time, I was a horse trainer until my partner died. A year
ago, I was surprised when his son contacted me with an
offer of 20% equity if I taught him all I knew. We got lucky
getting a horse runs good down in Southern California. Now
Consolidator’s rated fifth of the ten that’ve qualified for
the Kentucky Derby next month. Four-time Derby winner
Wayne Lukas’ training him. Got new duds to wear back there.
If he wins and goes to stud, I’m a rich man, wish me luck.”

Hard to hear under the boombox’s Iggy Pop and Bessie Smith,
Suzanne, a Native American with congenital alcohol syndrome
stutters, “P-p–lease g-g-ive me s-s-ome p-pills to s-s-stop
my piss.”

Vicious truth sees into metal, making it melt: President
Tru Man spoke of the White House as a jail cell. Same time,
in a woman’s parallel outlaw universe outside the usual soupy
gumbo political rain, Billie Holliday sang about Strange Fruit.
Today, a middle-aged Lady Day lookalike and stranger to the
Urban Ministry, there she is in her full black glory. So demure
and sexy, sitting there on a folding chair, strangely unnoticed
and alone, rubbing oil slowly onto calves lifted above green
socks under brown high top boots. Mother Mary full of grace,
I long to kneel before and anoint you. Rings on every finger,
black garbage bag backpack covered with wilted red roses,
busted guitar case held together by fraying bungey cords.
Short gray dress above the knees, with sparkly white specks
peaking out like stars on a cloudy night. Chartreuse and
purple silky head scarf tied in front like a beautiful serenely
freed non-Aunt Jemima.

Jimena, Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and Northern
Africa, among today’s forgotten refugees. Thinking he’s
helping by wielding a broom to the ceiling’s corner to clean
out a nest of spiders, a new volunteer is booed by all for
making fellow creatures homeless. Even if you don’t
have everything you want, be grateful for the things you
don’t have that you don’t want.

The radio blares a Marketwatch Bulletin: Google profit
rises fivefold as revenue tops target.


GERARD SARNAT MD’s authored HOMELESS CHRONICLES (2010), Disputes, 17s, Melting Ice King (2016). Gerry’s published by Gargoyle, Oberlin, Brown, Stanford, Main Street Rag, New Delta Review, American Journal Of Poetry, Poetry Quarterly, Brooklyn Review, LA Review, San Francisco Magazine, New York Times. Mount Analogue selected KADDISH for distribution nationwide Inauguration Day.

Image via Pixabay


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Conflagration – James Lepak

The pizza boxes we had accrued
Almost hit the ceiling. There were no dorms
With more collegiate hygiene.
The diet, the order, the sloth of bright
And horny teens bled out
Into our idealized décor.
What better sacrifice to make
Than this monument to the cusp
Of adulthood? We burned it all
In a pyre that excited solely
Because of its novelty,
And that it was our waste,
Our waste of health and time
And privilege underused.
The burning of our eyes in heaving smoke
Was joyous, as only the illusion of freedom
Can allow. Rob shouted,
“Fuck pizza!” and echolalia ensued.
You weren’t much in the spirit, Scott,
But you dutifully repeated,
And that chain of brotherhood
Was not broken by solemnity.
Pat was most aware
Of the nihilism we celebrated
And was therefore the happiest.
I saw the fire’s reflection
In all their eyes and loved
This projection from hearth
To man to world,
And did not care
The order in which it truly came.


JAMES LEPAK is an ESL instructor who enjoys reading and writing poetry in his spare time. His work has appeared in Isacoustic and Songs of Eretz Poetry Review.

Image via Pixabay

Passage – December Lace

It’s a lonely walk through the dark tunnel
All light extinguished
There’s no guarantee
He’ll be waiting for me
At the other end
I’ve left the cold, but it crept in
Keeps trying to attach itself to
The cloth I wear, snags in my hair
Wind picks up and enters the walls
No matter how far I’ve come
It follows me
Like an earlier sin
My velvet boots make echoes in
The hollow darkness
Rats scurry round my ankles
Away from my destination as
More wind slaps my face
My punishment for braving the night alone
I am unsure if there are
Any demons poking about at this hour
Dressed in rags or suits
Then my hearing fails
And it’s darkest at the end
One lone street light is on
The man with the dim coat
Isn’t where he said he’d be
He’s at the opposite entrance
Waiting for me across the street
But he is


DECEMBER LACE (@TheMissDecember) is a former professional wrestler and pinup model from Chicago. She has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, The Molotov Cocktail, Pussy Magic Lit, The Cabinet of Heed, Awkward Mermaid, Vamp Cat, and Rhythm & Bones YANYR Anthology, among others. She loves Batman, burlesque, cats, and horror movies.

Image via Pixabay

Because I Couldn’t Bear – Ray Ball

Because I couldn’t bear

to let you go, I transformed
you into a small bird. I shouldn’t
have done it, but I caged
you in my right hip.

You built a nest in the dry
and brittle bramble of bone
and fascia. Sometimes,
in certain yoga poses, I can

feel you flutter against
the wrought iron of my widest
point. Sometimes, when I run,
I hear the faint acoustics

of your song beating
into my blood, and I slow
a bit so that you will rest
once more. Remain with me

to support this weight,
this internal rotation,
another season without
enough numbing snow.


RAY BALL grew up in a house full of snakes. She is a history professor, Pushcart-nominated poet, and editor at Alaska Women Speak. Her chapbook Tithe of Salt was just published by Louisiana Literature Press. Ray’s work has also recently appeared in Ellipsis Zine, Moria, and UCity Review.

Image via Pixabay

Tichners Point – Doug Stuber

Gale winds and lightning push me a mile or more down the lake.
As the aluminum Grumman canoe fills with late-spring rain.
I bullied my sister, insisting on paddling alone, so she raged.
The storm wiped the smug smile from my face, added pain.

That canoe remains the symbol of love in my heart.
I cling to it in my dreams. Its nurturing hand saved
A ten-year-old that day, and inspires further pours of art:
Paddle trips for trilobites wedged in cliffs of shale.

It waited every winter, unlike others I know
We wrapped cross bars with life preservers to portage lake to creek.
We pulled ashore on Squaw Island, a long way to go,
Retracing the frightful past strengthened this belief.

Fifty years later, there you are, not a spot of rust,
We hit Canandaigua, my love, my arms, my trust.

DOUG STUBER: father, professor, abstract expressionist, Hippie-punk improv rock bassist. Twelfth volume “Chronic Observer” now available at Finishing Line Press’ online bookstore.

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Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Why I Pierced My Nose – Cinthia Ritchie

Because in junior high
a girl with banana-colored hair
stuck a pin through my ear,
yanked a thread, blood dripping,
it felt holy, Christ
on the cross, Moses wandering
the desert,
my ears crusted with pus
until I smelled infection
across my pillow
animal odors, comforting,

Because few years later a boy
with dark hair and green eyes,
led me to his bed,
another type of piercing
but Jesus, how he moved,
cat eyes blurring,
I licked the blood from the sheet,
tasted myself.
When I walked I could feel
a hole between my legs
gasping and hungry for breath,

Because the years smeared
together and suddenly I had a son
with beautiful teeth,
a job at a newspaper,
poems published in magazines no one
read. Every Sunday I blew a copy editor
in the supply closet, printer cartridges praying
my knees as outside the door reporters’ keyboards
sang the news.
After he left, I paid a man to tattoo
a dolphin over my arm, blood mixing
with ink, I loved the pain, the permanence.
Some things should never stop hurting.

But they do and soon you forget,
which is why years later,
no longer young,
I had my nose pierced,
pain blaring hot-rock shout,
eyes watering, it was almost unbearable,
Mary searching the temple for Jesus,
Abraham ready to slit his own son’s throat,
and then, just as suddenly,
it was over, a small pink stone
embedded in my right nostril,
a gift, a song,
a reminder not so much of pain
but of the relief, the welcoming
stillness, that follows.


CINTHIA RITCHIE is an Alaska writer and ultra-runner who spends her time running mountain trails with a dog named Seriously. Find her work in New York Times Magazine, Evening Street Review, Sport Literate, Best American Sports Writing, Bosque Literary Journal, Clementine Unbound, Deaf Poets Society, Into the Void, Gyroscope Review and more.

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Feverish – Kristin Garth

With scarlet fever, swans grow fangs. Two teeth
will spill, orange bills, overhang. While you
perspire beneath a portico, two beasts
conspire, crooked necks, approaching slow. Drool, blue,
that tinges feathered throats, you try to scream,
too raw to properly emote. Grey feet advance
too quick upon St. Augustine, wild gleams
in beady eyes — you deem them rabid. Chance
a feeble stand, retreat, screen door, if you
can. Land before them, lustrous grass, their mouths
upon your flesh so fast devouring. Shooed
away, saviors emerging from the house:
Veranda’s dangerous for you, it seems.
They will tell you it was a fever dream.


KRISTIN GARTH is a Pushcart, Best of the Net & Rhysling nominated sonnet stalker. Her poetry has stalked magazines like Glass, Yes, Five:2: One, Former Cactus, Occulum & many more. She has six chapbooks including Shakespeare for Sociopaths (Hedgehog Poetry Press), Pink Plastic House (Maverick Duck Press), Puritan U (Rhythm & Bones Press March 2019) and The Legend of the Were Mer (Thirty West Publishing House March 2019). Her full length, Candy Cigarette, is forthcoming April 2019 (The Hedgehog Poetry Press), and she has a fantasy collaborative full length A Victorian Dollhousing Ceremony forthcoming in June (Rhythm & Bones Lit). Follow her on Twitter: (@lolaandjolie), and her website

Image by Hans Braxmeier from Pixabay


Puff – Marie Fields

I took up smoking when I lived
In the ex-hotel, ex-brothel building
Everything had been repurposed
I’d sit in the kitchen with my feet up
Puffing on Sobranie Cocktails
The insulation so terrible that I
Didn’t even need to open a window
No fear of the alarm drawing attention
Not like Johnny would care
He’d probably join me
I splayed out a smorgasbord of
Colorful cancer in front of me
Letting each one inch me closer
To a high I was loathe to
Leave behind in sleep
The itch so strong I had to
Start chewing gum during the day
Keeping up the façade of decency
I had repurposed
Just like the building.


Image via Wikipedia Commons

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