Other notable work by Jason Allen and David J. Bauman.


Brian Fanelli-

My father never carried a briefcase

never wore a suit with cufflinks
polished to gleam like shoes of lawyers or doctors.
He did wear white dress shirts, loosened top buttons
after work, the weight of his footsteps heavy enough
to make floorboards sigh.
Some days he scooped me in his arms,
until my world blurred,
until I dizzied and laughed.
Other days he yanked off the tie,
said nothing, even at dinner.
I never asked what he did,
only knew he clocked in at an army depot,
his Ford gone before dawn caressed my face,
the hours grinding enough that each night
he dozed on the couch, remote resting
on his belly, rising, falling with each breath.
Before he blared Chuck Norris westerns, I begged
to play catch, and sometimes, he complied,
despite muscle throbs and headaches,
despite the way a son notices
wisps of gray in his father’s hair.


Hearing Nirvana’s Nevermind

Electric Mindshaft on Lackawanna
is where I bought my first album—
Nirvana’s major label debut Nevermind.

I drifted through dusty stacks of CDs and LPs,
a consumer hooked by the cover of the naked baby
swimming towards the dollar bill.

Home, I cranked the boom box,
moshed with no one as Cobain’s tortured howls
and Dave Grohl’s snare drum kicks rattled walls,

the sonic assault loud enough to drown out
mom’s demands to shut it off
before my eardrums bled out.

Lost in “Lithium’s” booming bass,
I forgot about the girls who laughed in gym glass
after their boyfriends blocked my shots, pantsed me half-court.

Months later mainstream mags plastered Cobain’s face
on their covers, while he proclaimed,
corporate magazines still suck.

That fall, Nevermind thundered from cars.
Jocks head banged to “In Bloom,”
then pummeled punk rockers in hallways.

Concerts swelled with frat boy fans,
slurring, Play “Teen Spirit” again,
so they could bash more heads in the pit.

The rest of us rocked out alone,
too scrawny for mosh pits, but certain
Cobain’s pained screams were meant for us.


At the Front Door

I am always afraid you will show up at my doorstep,
demanding to know why I haven’t called or texted,
why I accepted your Facebook request
but never wrote on your wall or liked your status updates.
I am always afraid you will show up at my doorstep,
your hands still tightened to fists, ready to brawl
because of the time I threw you out of the apartment
after you said, Go on hit me, College Boy,
while your breath stunk of coke and whiskey.
I am always afraid that you will forgive me
and want to hang at The Bog again,
until you down enough shots and slur enough pick-up lines
that I have to drive you home, like all those times I did
after I returned from college and found you
working at collection agencies, where you counted commission
and sold pot on the side to pay rent.
I am always afraid you will show up at my doorstep
and ask where I’ve gone, why I no longer call the old crew,
or drink Jack Daniels until I puke,
why I moved out of Scranton, into the ‘burbs,
why I got engaged when the activist I used to be
always said, Marriage is part of the fascist patriarchy.
I am always afraid you will show up at my doorstep
and show me how personal politics and ideals change,
that you now zip around town in a BMW
and no longer spit and snarl at bankers, but have moved on
to hustling more expensive drugs or managing
collection agencies, circling the floors in a suit and polished shoes,
your barks and commands like the snap of whip
causing workers in cubicles to dial faster
and not hang up until the other end pays up.
I am always afraid you will show up at my doorstep
and confess that you’ve burned the Chomsky books
and no longer protest the mad money oligarch
because after years of working doubles,
you’re just too drunk or too tired to care.


The Gambler

Every Friday at 4 he circles cubicles,
waving lottery tickets, calling out,
Who wants to play Mega Mill?
Got a buck for Mega Mill
He looms over work spaces
while women fish in their purses
and men dig in their pockets
like red-eyed casino players
scrounging for change for another round.
On breaks he props the duct-taped soles
of his Payless shoes on plastic chairs and dreams
what he’d do if he hit it big—
punch out forever, yank off the tie,
toss the employee ID in the air
like a cap on graduation day.
He can almost see clear water beaches and hear
gulls caw, until the phone
buzzes back at his cubicle.


Road Warrior

By noon he logs 200 miles,
zigzagging from school to school,
downing Dunkin’ Donuts coffee
until his hands shake.
He pumps quarters into meters,
hikes six blocks to campus,
where full-time faculty fill parking spots.
He slips and slides,
like an ice skater losing balance,
then bends to fetch spilled papers
scattered across snow. He scurries
to another class where another set of students slouch,
text, fidget, pretend to care
about MLA, a lecture he gave twice already,
using the same air-chopping hand motions,
though such gestures could rouse the academic dead.
By 8 p.m. his feet throb
inside Payless shoes, pressed to the gas pedal,
while books slide across his back seat, then crash
to the floor, burying stacks of papers.
By 7 a.m. he unlocks his car, his office on wheels,
the Taco Bell burrito stench still strong.
Spent ketchup packets and crumbled wrappers litter the dash,
as he fishes for change to buy another coffee
on his way to another class.


Brian Fanelli’s poetry has been published by The Los Angeles Times, World Literature Today, Boston Literary Magazine, Blue Collar Review, Portland Review, and several other publications. He is the author of the chapbook Front Man (Big Table Publishing) and the full-length All That Remains (Unbound Content). Brian has an M.F.A. from Wilkes University and teaches English full-time at Lackawanna College, while completing his Ph.D. at SUNY Binghamton. Find him online at www.brianfanelli.com.


Jason Allen-

Pale As Milk

I live in a constellation of memories
of visits to Grandpa Roy and rides on his bulldozer,
visits to the hospitals where Uncle Jeff insisted on illness
for the free room, free meals, the free cable TV,
visits through the phone line after midnight
when Uncle Culby wanted to play me a song
by The Who after a few days off his meds—
we never visited him
in the psych wards or in jail,
we never visited Jeff on the skids,
we never visited our own Pop
aside from Sunday afternoons,
and I wonder now
where he spends his Sundays,
or if his last was spent alone.

We never visited our family’s men for any celebration
until we collectively broke the law
when we broke into that golf course by moonlight
to scatter Grandpa Roy’s ashes
and I sat there in Pop’s driver’s seat, sixteen,
permitted to drive only with an adult
but only my thirteen-year-old brother beside me

as I gripped the wheel and squinted at the shapes
approaching from the darkness—the strangest
figures in full stride—my uncles,
wet from the golf course sprinklers, laughing,
and then Pop’s boots crunching gravel—
the first time I’d seen my father run.
And he too was wet, but also pale as milk,
not laughing, not even in the neighborhood
of a smile,
as I turned the key
and he shoved me from the seat
to drive.


Naked As The Night Is Long

Stopped at a red light, just after midnight,
I gazed up at a billboard and read:
If you think you have a problem with alcohol or drugs,
we’re here to help
. I reread the words
again and again, the streetlight still glowing red,
not another car in sight, no movement on Burnside,
not even the air—

not until a bicycle wheel flashed across my headlights
and the rider, an older man, pedaled by
naked as a winter tree limb.
The light turned green and a naked woman wheeled by
and then a sudden herd of bicycles,
a herd of human bodies all proud of their pubic hair,
proud of their flab, proud of their love handles,
their floppy chests, their bird-like pecs,
all those private parts shriveled upon their seats—

a laughing, smiling herd of children
unashamed of their aging flesh, their gray, their scars
and faded blue tattoos. A hundred of them or more
clogging Burnside, whooping and zinging handlebar bells,
until I’d waited there for three full cycles of the streetlight—

glad to have witnessed the naked bike ride,
glad to see the billboard offering hope
still had a phone number along the bottom,
glad not to have had any warning
that tonight would be the ride
that would bring the smile
I hadn’t known I needed—

as I understood how the drowning must feel
more joy than you can imagine
when they break the surface

and take in all the oxygen
of that first deep inhale.


Jason Allen is a poet and prose writer with an MFA from Pacific University. He is currently living in upstate New York and pursuing a Ph.D. in creative writing at Binghamton University, where he is an editor for Harpur Palate and at work on his first book of poetry, a memoir, and his second novel. His work has been published or is forthcoming in: Passages North, Oregon Literary Review, The Molotov Cocktail, Paterson Literary Review, Spilt Infinitive, Cactus Heart, Pathos, Life With Objects, and other venues. He hopes to one day meet Tom Waits and buy him a cup of coffee.


David J. Bauman-


While I was waiting
for the bus, Miss Shaffer said
“Get off the gate!
It’s not for swinging.”

But I knew better.

Another, on the playground—
I don’t recall her name,
But she yanked
me by the arm, right off

the swing set, and screamed,
“Don’t call me ‘old Lady!'”
I was only trying to yodel
(Yodaladie, yodaladie…).

And one time I wasn’t doing anything,
so I was sent to the principal’s office.
That was when days were for doing
nothing when you could.

When swings were for singing
anything that came to mind.
Fences were just in the way
and every kid knew the truth;

gates do that for a reason,
and it goes against nature
not to swing them.



In the Bible it happened—Fishermen, Levites
They just went away and kept on going
—William Stafford, from “Saint Mathew and All”

He asks me with a grin,
What advantage do you
young guys have over me

He stands there with his neat blue
cap and casual shoulders.
I cannot think of one.

Certainly not smarts, I say.
Wisdom would be the word, but seems
too cliché, too patronizing.

Not charm, for sure. I follow him
toward the door, while a clerk
shouts to me, holding up my bag.

He smiles and waits
as I retrieve my groceries.
When I was a boy, he says,

my mother’d make a list,
and I sat reading comic books
while the grocer filled the sack

We pass a few moments in the parking lot,
lingering for what reason, wondering aloud
where we had parked. I could leave
more than what I’d bought.

Someone else would eventually find
the car. My inadvertent tempter smiles,

Take care now, friend.
And I think, one could do worse
than follow strangers.



As children in the grave yard
we used to play a game
with flashlight and fear,
our minds scrambled
with a nervous delight,
a desire to be missed—
and then discovered.

Now we do like then,
but headlights pass on,
engines fade. No one waits
behind a tombstone here.

Tonight I help you home—
not far, just down the street
and across, but it takes time.
Weaving the sidewalk, we find
a stoop with three steps,
and rest a while.

No moon. No stars. No ghosts.
The other bars let out hours ago.
You and I discuss wives,
children and exes, our need
for gods, or not, thoughts
on the cross, crusades,
and inspiration, scripture
and verse, muses
and the history of prayer.

Eventually we rise,
walk wavering and slow,
not wanting you to go
as other greats have, downed
by a taxi near the tavern.

Seven more steps to the curb,
under a halo of light, you
bobbing slightly as I bring
you around. I am happy we are
here, aiming for your door,
and more than a little relieved
that the grave yard is outside of town.


David is a blogger, birder and father residing in central Pennsylvania. His poetry has been printed in various student and faculty journals. His awards include the Savage Poetry Prize from Bloomsburg University and the Academy of American Poets. He has recent poems published or forthcoming in T(OUR), The Blue Hour Magazine, Word Fountain, Watershed, a Journal of the Susquehanna and the Tic Tock anthology from Kind of a Hurricane Press.