"And then a hot dog made him lose control" - Rob White

"And then a hot dog made him lose control" - Rob White


I like to think that I'm a thinker

I ponder and philosophize and wonder about the way of things

I struggle with the epic problem of mankind's direction

Where we're going and who we're going to be

There's hope there despite the darkness

But one bit of painful mystery stands between us and nirvana


What the fuck is a hot dog?

This be-breadded abomination

This dick-shaped tube of pig lips, rat guts and God's regret


Woe is man that we could create such a thing

Proving further that we have strayed from the pure light of creation

And into the infernal morass of "why the fuck not?"


It is neither a dog nor is it often hot

It's just a cylinder of sadness cradled between halves of ugly white loaf

Would it be any better if it were actually dog?

Surely we'd balk at consuming our quadrupedal best friend

So why in the hell do we name this salty meat after them?

What's wrong with hot goose?

The geese are nature's assholes, so why should we feel guilt at naming our culinary mistakes after them?


This unholy meat is so bland and non-descript that we have to slather it with other shitty substances in order to disguise the self loathing we must feel for having created such a thing.

We adorn these substances with fun and pithy names such as "chili" or "relish" to disguise the fact that every bite brings a pang of existential doubt

"Why am I eating this shit?"

"Why am I covering it in liquids bearing the hue of the crayons my five year old eats?"

"What has happened to my life and am I a slave to the fickle whims of predetermination?"


My biggest question, perhaps, is this:

Is my fate, indeed, already sealed?

For I know that come Labor Day, or June or before

I'll be standing on some middle-class white dude's back porch

Talking shit about local politics I do not know shit about

And wondering when the meat's done


I'll forget this epiphany of life's promised light

Held ever out of reach behind the adequate convenience

Of this rolled up, grease-covered decepticon posing as a sausage

I'll scoop it up and pop it on a paper plate, careful not to spill my solo cup


For a brief instant, I'll hear the wisdom of my greater angel whisper in my ear asking why?

Why must man destroy itself?

Why can we not cast down our chains and transcend the prison of consciousness?


I will tell that voice to shut the hell up and pass the mustard.

"For the twice dead" - Gail Tyson

"For the twice dead" - Gail Tyson

Fog wraiths sweep across the road,
swathe our car, headlights hurdling
two-lane blacktop past Amish farms,
shuttered taverns, towards our hotel.
Grudge-hoarder, phone-slammer, my mother
sleeps five miles and five years away.
Her mind, riddled with holes, has made
us whole, can no longer dredge up times
I enraged her, thinks the remote
is a phone. Tonight I’ll listen
to my husband breathing, recall
all those who died to me before:
fellow travelers who swore they’d stay
in touch, best friends who moved too far—
kinship stretched eggshell-thin until
the day I hear, by chance, they are dead—
and her, the parent who cut me off.
Tomorrow we will roll away
affronts that entombed regret, years
wasted that nonetheless thickened
my soul, that help me bear our coming
together, her coming death,
that make love denser than before.

"Surrender" - Eugene C. Bianchi

"Surrender" - Eugene C. Bianchi
“…there’s nothing wrong with impermanence, suffering
and egolessness; they can be celebrated. Our fundamental
situation is joyful.”  (Pema Chodron, “When Things Fall Apart”)
Disappointment and anger on a cold afternoon
when we arrive to do a poetry program
the cultural director neglected to schedule.
It may be why I chose a dark Christmas blend
to shake the blues at a favorite Starbucks reading
Chodron on unfounded joy.
Death ahead is all around our shaky traces,
much as we deny it even in old age…
rather than criticize, we reschedule,
because who knows the pressures on the director?
Better to feel our feelings and let go,
aware of brokenness and compassion . . .

"Ode to Browsing the Web" - Marcus Wicker


"Ode to Browsing the Web" - Marcus Wicker

Two spiky-haired Russian cats hit kick flips
on a vert ramp. The camera pans to another

pocket of  the room where six kids rocking holey
T-shirts etch aerosol lines on warehouse walls

in words I cannot comprehend. All of this
happening in a time no older than your last

heartbeat. I’ve been told the internet is
an unholy place — an endless intangible

stumbling ground of false deities
dogma and loneliness, sad as a pile of shit

in a world without flies. My loneliness exists
in every afterthought. Yesterday, I watched

a neighbor braid intricate waves of cornrows
into her son’s tiny head and could have lived

in her focus-wrinkled brow for a living. Today
I think I practice the religion of  blinking too much.

Today, I know no neighbor’s name and won’t
know if  I like it or not. O holy streaming screen

of counterculture punks, linger my lit mind
on landing strips — through fog, rain, hail — 

without care for time or density. O world
wide web, o viral video, o god of excrement

thought. Befriend me. Be fucking infectious.
Move my eyes from one sight to the next.

Marcus Wicker was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He is the author of Silencer (2017) and Maybe the Saddest Thing (2012) and is the poetry editor of Southern Indiana Review. He is assistant professor of English at University of Southern Indiana. "Ode to Browsing the Web" originally appeared in Poetry.

Haiku and Senryu

before she leaves for work
a toothpaste flavored kiss

tattooed granny
butterflies, flowers, and a ball of yarn
with needles 

though she’s long gone
he still puts the toilet seat
back down

David Oates is the host of Wordland, a radio show of poetry, stories and comedy. His "Night of the Potato" is a collection of poems and short stories. Haiku collections are "Shifting with My Sandwich Hand," "Drunken Robins" and the upcoming "The Deer's Bandanna." Oates is the former editor/publisher of "Monkey" Magazine and slammaster of the Athens GA Poetry Slam. He is a creative-writing teacher and a performance poet.

"Return" - Elsa Russo

"Return" - Elsa Russo

I haven’t taken five steps
Before I hear her walking behind me
I haven’t taken ten steps
Before I can smell her perfume
I haven’t taken twelve steps
Before I feel her arm around my waist
And her hand around my throat

“Can’t escape me now,” she whispers
Knew I couldn’t hide forever
Knew that she would find me
You can’t go sneaking around
And not expect to be found
I choke on smoke and beer
Hear a distant jazz singer on the wind
And smell salt in the air
“Can’t escape me now,” she sighs
Caught between imitation and authenticity
My tongue stutters and stumbles
It takes me two tries to order dinner
Fruit of the ocean and mud from the pot
I don’t think I’ve eaten anything finer
At least not in the past year
Not in the past 15 years

“Can’t escape me now,” she growls
The city wears its scars like a banner
Yes this happened
Yes I was in pain
See me rise again
See me and all that has happened
She is different, but she is still the same
And I am still just in love with her as before

“Can't escape me now,” she whines
From the wind coming off the river
I want to lose myself in the waves
I want to be dashed against the rocks
I want to drink the river down
So it never leaves me again

“Can't escape me now,” she laughs
I’m greeted by the mothers and sisters
The women who smile and wrap me
In the arms of time and laughter
We whisper jokes that only we understand
Name names that are not names
But we always know who we are talking about

“Can’t escape me now,” she moans
Taught to suck the meat from the shells
I drink liquor from goblets that dwarf my hands
And taste the bounty of the ocean one last time
Old shamans pass me off to new ones
And we stare into the night of shared experience
Realizing at last that we were never that far from each other

“Can't escape me now.”
I turn and whisper,
“Who said that I want to?”

"Rope Trick" - Frank Montesonti

"Rope Trick" - Frank Montesonti

This modish hairstyle into this season.
Fog to sky. This boat, its tracks on the sea
gone. Each moment pulled away
by its hashtag. Patient
sunlight on this book, panting.
Passion into the passionless. Lesson
into rule into ruins. Scholarship
ironing its tie.  The sugar of affection
into the weight of love. House,
house in which we can’t live
that consumes itself. The clouds
cinched in their bags. Worry into its warehouse.
People into population.
Prose and prose and prose,
but bleaching to something lighter
in like, deeper in love.
In light I find little to hold;
in light that moves too fast;
in light that stops at my skin;
in light that travels forever through nothing.
The dime novel dims.
Overt pathos. The passwords
Each light a hundred-watt, angry.
Pollyanna to Policeman.
The little legs in gin that walk
the evening warm.
What is in the moment, in a moment
expands. These leaves falling.  A bucket
filled with rainwater. This minute
into this year. This thread
into this rope that rises into the sky,
apparently attached
to nothing.

"Rope Trick" appeared online at Drunken Boat. Frank Montesonti is tonight's featured reader at Athens Word of Mouth open mic, upstairs at The Globe.