John Grey, Brent Fisk, Joey Nicoletti

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John Grey been published recently in Agni, Worcester Review,  South Carolina Review and The Pedestal. with work upcoming in Poetry East and REAL.



What would it be like?

In that dark closet,

just a voice


How would my sins sound


Would I forget the worst ones

and mumble hare-brained stuff like

I picked the popcorn off the floor

and ate it?

What if my tongue stumbled

on the names of women

that I lusted over,

neighbor's stuff I coveted?

And all that tripped on

that useless implement

and stumbled through the grid was,

I parked in a handicapped spot?

I'd have to invent stuff I reckon,

just to make confession worth it.

I'd write it down,

ream after ream

of diabolical doings,

passion and dark thoughts.

Instead of confessing,

I'd recite to that shadow of a man.

How can there be redemption

if there was nothing to redeem?

I'd let him have

his way with my imagined dark soul,

haul it into the beneficent light,

never once letting on that

he was saving it from poetry.








How formal the dictator's garden?                         

The hedges are cut clean as heads,

the flowers bloom like women, men,

doing what is necessary to survive.

And the air is sweet and clear,

like a white table-cloth spread across the corpses

that we just know are hereabouts.

That Nabob smiles at us from the t.v. in our hotel.

"Welcome, my American friends," he says.

We can see his face but where are his armpits?


We're filing stories,

no make that indifferently coded lies.

Our syntax is like our bodies transparent on the bed.

Our eyes, freed from truth, float in the mirror.

So what if our wrists tremble as they type.

Some love we are willing to die for

but not kind of love you can fax home.

Remarkable how we screw in the shadow of big brother,

stop at his traffic lights, taste the sands of his desert,

sleep under the trees he ordered

to whatever height they are.

We turn voting irregularities into kisses,

disappearing men into an emptiness our hands can fill.


We even eat at his feast

like it is our wedding breakfast.

The fish eyes are the eyes of humans.

The chicken breast beats a painful proxy heart.

But we are hungry aren't we?

Hungry for love and not for public service.

Hungry for each other sauced with someone else's loot.


Besides, if not this one in charge

then another equally as bad.

If not you in bed with me,

it's not as if the only other choice is he.

And what do I really know of the secret torture chamber?

Only that something squeezes

and we squeeze don’t we.

And a bone breaks, a throat shrieks,

for want of what we have.



Brent Fisk is a poet from Bowling Green KY and his work has appeared in Rattle, Thema, Rhino and Southern Poetry Review. His work has been nominated three times for a Pushcart Prize. He also guest edited the 2006 selection process for Steel Toe Books.


It rocked against the dock, barnacle-free

and bluer than the deep green water. I emptied

a bottle of wine, red crescents staining the table,
and my grandfather's voice came back
as the call of a thieving gull.

Ghost-white in the prow of the boat,
little huddled man, drawn in like a snail, nothing
but bone and skin, white and bruised
as an oyster shell.

The clouds crowded in and drove away the light.

The channel markers rang out and troubled the ears

of the ponies as they waded the surf off Shackleford Island.
Mottled and wild, hungry forever.

I clutched the fork and knife
as the wind swept salt against the windows,
and a grass hat tumbled out to sea.
I carried Beaufort’s Old Burying Ground on my shoulders,

mass grave of the Crissie Wright, the soldier buried standing up.
My grandfather, dead the better part of a year,

rises up and claims this place as home.

He stumbles down the street, whiskered and bent,

one eye near blind, dim as a storm-dowsed lantern.
Signs bang the clapboard shops, displays of beach glass

necklaces, horned shells, the sterling tails of dolphins.
My grandfather pale in a Meerschaum pipe,
shroud of his scent, cinnamon gum left as a gift

on a lost girl's grave.

I cannot shake his aftershave
or the way he cleared his throat.
A small warbler's thrown off course,
catches the leeward rail and holds.
I think I told him that I loved him once
or touched his hand in sleep.
Sure as the blue boat, I rise, I fall.




Getting old has an
You take the years and store them
in your knees. They are gravel,
the rising staircase.

Some nights when the odd bird sings
in the blackness of the yard, you bend out

the boundaries of time, make it shapeless and indistinct,

clothes slipped to the floor while you dozed.

Death so fuzzy but also definite:
the car at night before it crests the hill, the snake

that's not a twig. The teenage boy

with a breast in his mouth, thinking, yes,

this is what I thought it would be,

but more, and somehow, less.

The night drains away

like the minutia of dreams. You were born.

You touched your face.
You woke in the still air before dawn.

The light will never catch
the hours you leave behind.
They are ribbons buried in the earth,
they are buttons holding closed the bellies of the dead.




Joey Nicoletti was born in New York City. Educated at the University of Iowa, New Mexico State University and Sarah Lawrence College, his poetry and reviews have appeared in a number of periodicals, including Bitter Oleander, The Potomac, Aethlon, Free Lunch, Italian Americana, Puerto del Sol, and Valparaiso Poetry Review. He currently teaches English and Creative Writing at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, where he's also an editor for Sou'wester




Mexican Opera


Because I had just seen Judd Nelson in The Breakfast Club, and because my mother held opera singers in the same regard that cops have for donuts, my hands swerved the turntable needle off of her favorite Luciano Pavarotti record like a drunk driver behind the wheel of a semi-truck. My brother John chuckled like a drainpipe. Angry words snowed down from our mother's lips. The next thing I knew, she grabbed us by our hair. Our heads collided like planets. Then I saw stars; flashes of purple and green and we were on the floor. "Caro Mio Bien" crackled from the hi-fi as we limped down the hall to our room. The door slammed behind us. I began to feel better because I had taken my frustrations out on someone else instead of dealing with them directly. There was no denying it: giving my mother hell was my first and only response to the judge's decision to grant her custody of John and me. I looked at the postcard my father sent us from Mexico earlier in the week: two shadowy figures sitting on a beach, taking a sip from their glasses as the sun set on the gulf. I could taste the clouds of salt, dissolving on the margarita shoreline of my father's glassy mouth.  My stomach growled. John listened to his Walkman and I studied our poster of Lawrence Taylor on the paneled wall in front of my bed, taking heart in his linebacker-large arms, raised in a "V," dreaming that I could feel as strong as him one day葉hat I could sack my anger away like he did to quarterbacks in stadiums across the country. All I needed was strength, speed, and agility: a new gene pool. John and I exchanged mumbled goodnights, the two of us tucked in by the pain in our heads and our shameless rage.