Cynthia Cox, Nick Francis, Joanne Merriam, Pete Lee

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Cynthia Cox received an English degree from the University of Houston, and currently teaches high school English in Katy, Texas. Her poems have appeared in The Houston Poetry Fest Anthology, Tres Di-Verse-City, The Texas Poetry Calendar, Curbside Review, White Tail, and Blue Violin.



I have committed murder in my sleep. Dismembered the body and hidden the bones. But I can’t remember where the remains are buried, and although I am on the verge of something urgent, something spectacular, I can’t stop thinking, where is that body, where are those bones, how can I guard this lost carcass I own? When I wake, the relief is so deep I want to empty out of my bed, down to the carpet, and kiss it like a pilgrim. But lately I’ve begun to doubt my innocence, and the benevolence of dreams, started staring at my hands, palms open like a plea, losing trust in my grudging feet, wondering to what guilt their muddy bootmarks lead. I’m beginning to believe in the facility of forgetting what you’ve killed, the snuffing of wrongdoing that should not be so easy. Soon I’ll lose my comfort in the absence of awakening, and all my crimes will rise behind me like a trail of wailing women, keening for confession.

Nick Francis is currently an andjunct instructor at his alma mater, Northwest Missouri State University. He teaches Freshmen Composition and is hoping to begin a Phd program in American Literature next fall.

Aim For Total Extermination  (a found poem)

Shrouded in superstition and folklore
Skilled 'rat-catchers' employed in medieval days
Gave rise to the legendary
Pied Piper of Hamelin.

The essential step in any ideal control operation
Is the elimination of food and shelter.
Rodenticides are the main eradication tool
Chemosterilants are useful in supporting roles.

Additional features of an ideal rodenticide are:
Toxic action slow, to allow animal to consume lethal dose
The poison should not be unpalatable
Symptoms of acute poisoning should be absent
The poison should be specific to species
The manner of death should not arouse suspicions in surviving animals
No difference in susceptibility due to age, sex or strain
No danger of secondary poisoning through animals eating poisoned rodents
No immunity or build-up of tolerance
Chemical compound in bait should be stable
To allow easy removal of corpses, the animals should die preferably in the

The bait chosen greatly contributes to the success of a particular poison
But as yet, a poor rodenticide has not been transformed into a good one.


    They took him, blinded-folded, in the night. He had awakened to the rough hands of several men holding him down and had been conscious just long enough to smell the ether-soaked rag pressed into his face.
    His entire body throbbed and he could barely breathe. Each breath sent piercing slivers through his arms and ankles. The barn was lit by candles and between gasping, fading into unconsciousness and awakening to repeat the cycle, the clown slowly discerned the movements of hooded figures in the shadows.
    The floor seemed unusually distant but even if it had been close, the distance between the ground and the crucifix is always an impossible distance to the crucified.

Joanne Merriam is a Canadian writer living in Tennessee. Her work has recently appeared in The Magazine of Speculative Poetry, Strange Horizons, and previously in Big Toe Review. You can find her at



You: the language of trains, the shuddering against the track and the
endless wailing warning of approach; a voice like summer grass and
whiskey and quick water on the phone late into the evening; window 13D
in the second coach car

through which a sliver of moon, yellow and sinister, floats low above
the lights of a Manitoba highway, and everything else black; the
animals waiting, bored, out of sight, for us to pass.


Me: the wailing of the train going on for so long it acquires the
quality of silence; the same sleeping through it, the same continuity
punctuated by the rise and fall of your breath, the same itch for an
end to it; under us the wheels continue; a loss of words to describe
love, leaving an echo in the ear;

all of it conspiring with the closed windows to silence the tracks in
the mud, the tamaracks, the white birches, beaver trails in the
marshes, willow ptarmigan on the other side, magpie nests tangled in
the branches.

The forest just looks at us. One damn stick after another growing out
of the mud.

---First printed in Fiddlehead

Pete Lee former occupations include army sergeant/counterintelligence
agent, federal intelligence operations specialist, private investigator,
newspaper reporter, and social worker. He now lives in relatively blissful
semi-retirement in a small town in the Mojave Desert. His poetry has been
published or is forthcoming in Northeast, Blue Unicorn, California
Quarterly, English Journal, Hawaii Review, and The Lutheran Digest.


she's a walking
flashback: her

neat lines, the arc
of her direction,

linger in the air
after she's passed...

and you follow, boy,
like a bloodhound

stoned on the scent.
The Hidden Life of Typists

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog --
but he's a sheepdog, and he's dog-tired
of counting sheep (plus he never could
count past one anyway), so he reckons
this one-trick fox will suffice.