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Nathan Leslie, John Grey, John Sweet, David B. McCoy

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Nathan Leslie has published two collections of short fiction, most recently A Cold Glass of Milk (Uccelli Press, 2003).  Uccelli Press will publish his next collection of fiction, Drivers, in the summer of 2005, and Ravenna Press will publish a collection of flash fiction, Reverse Negative, also in 2005.  Aside from being nominated for the 2002 Pushcart Prize, his fiction and poetry has or will appear in over one hundred literary magazines including Southern Indiana Review, Chiron Review, Amherst Review, and The Crab Creek Review, He also completed a MFA at the University of Maryland four years ago, where he won the 2000 Katherine Anne Porter Fiction Prize. He's currently the fiction editor for The Pedestal Magazine.

Saint Sebastian
 
Under winter layers, reading Yukio’s unfettered hands,
released at Saint Sebastian’s martyr shot, I think of
my own shudders on my parent’s living room floor,
where the porcelain chest lay punctured with arrows,
bristled with quivers, in their leather bound tome.
Yet, where Yukio’s man converted his father’s desk to
a nuptial mattress,  my lure was a thin trickle of
blood, the butt of an arrow embedded in his rib-cage,
his eyes rolled towards heaven like a fish in a toilet
bowl.  Now I will damn missiles—the state axe—and
curse the molasses eyes slogged to asphalt, yet retain
a share of the mayhem peeping Tom.  Mantegna’s
portrait remains as one—the rubble of marble blocks at
the saint’s feet, the ruins of Roman children, the
crumbling retaining wall, the lone column holding him
tight.  Still, after shafts into chest, thighs,
forehead, neck, twists of red amassing at his feet,
the executioners lazy stroll up the clay crest to the
hills of ruins, tumbling over each other for flight
from the epoch.

 
Silence
  
    When the man left it all behind, it wasn’t for
love, or God, or the distant glimmer of gold.  It was
silence that lured him.  The man longed for
nothingness, or to get as close to it as possible.  In
his mind a vision burned:  a plain, an empty horizon,
the sound of his feet through the grass, the only
sound.  This vision kept him comfort as a part of the
working world.  Now, in his waning days, he sought to
make it a reality. 
    The man set out by foot, leaving his belongings in
his split-level, leaving his car in the garage, his
friends with their concerns, his wife and children
with theirs.  He walked through the city streets,
barraged by the sounds of buses and motorcycles,
street vendors, car alarms, the conversations of
passersby, radios, the buzz of electricity.  The man
walked out of the city past neighborhoods littered
with the cries of children playing, sprinklers
spraying, lawnmowers running, birds chirping,
telephones ringing.  He walked out onto country roads
where tractors moaned, and planes buzzed, dogs barked
and owls hooted.  He left the roads and walked into
fields where crickets chirped, and cows mewed, and
rain fell.  He rested under the cool darkness of an
oak tree and slept, shutting his ears with earplugs,
and further muffling his ears with his hands.
    For months, the man walked westward, into the most
desolate plains imaginable.  Still, he could find
little silence.  There were always distant sounds—the
thrum of traffic, a stray plane, the sounds of distant
animals.  And if nothing else, the ceaseless wind
always whipped through the grasses, stirring up dirt,
brushing through his hair.  The man thought he might
never find solace, or peace.
    Weeks later he stumbled upon a cavern in the looming
hills at the far border of distant plains.  He crawled
on all fours into an expansive dark room.  His
flashlight revealed hundreds of feet of space in every
direction.  It was pitch black, and the only sound he
could hear was himself—his breathing, his heart
beating, his feet shuffling.  The man sat upon the
cold floor of the cavern, and shut his flashlight off.
For hours he sat there in cavern, in the stillness,
and he wept.  His breathing slowed.  His heart calmed.
The great rest was just ahead.


John Grey latest book is "What Else Is There" from Main Street Rag. He has had work published recently in Arkansas Review, Agni and Big Muddy.

Dupe

Fooled by the way shadows stop talking the moment you
enter a room. Ignorant of the control midnight and the
moon have over your window latches. Checking underneath
the bed or in the closets only on those occasions when
there's nothing there. Thinking no one could possibly
scale the side of your house or slip out of a secret door
behind the fireplace. Believing only the comforting
chapters of the Bible. Passing off nightmares as mere
sidetracks on the way to perfect dreams. Convinced that
your home is a secure fortress of love. Unaware of what
your wife wishes for you, who she has on her side.

 
 
John Sweet recent work has appeared in Underground Voices, Snow Monkey and East Village Poetry. A new online chapbook, IN THE KNOWN WORLD, online at www.slowtrains.com

 
Walking the Soft White Earth:  an exercise in automatic writing
 
yellow skies this afternoon
and the smell of smoke

the rumor of fire
six hundred miles to the north
devouring everything it can

and the truck payment due
and the rust on my car like some
terminal cancer and april's hands
pressed to her stomach

she says she can feel
the baby kick

says love is something i
don't understand

and each day
has begun to feel like an ending

each moment laid out precisely
on a clean sheet of paper
still has no visible meaning

and if there is any worth
to be found in truth
then i tell you simply that i'm
not the man i want my son
to grow up to be

if there is
any hope for the future
it escapes me

and i say this as both a father
and a son
and yet i have chosen names
for my unborn child

i have made plans to
paint the house next summer

small acts of faith
without the need for religion
or the desire for salvation
and is it enough to say that
one life is all any of us
deserve?

is it okay to
let the things that matter
go unspoken?

the answer is obvious
to anyone who's ever tried



 

David B. McCoy  is a Social Studies teacher in a township school near Massillon, Ohio and holds a graduate degree in Socialization and Personality Development from Kent State University. For nearly 25 years, David has run Spare Change Press, which in recent years has focused on publishing Solo Flyer and poetry chapbooks. David is the author of Ohio Wineries Guidebook (available from Amazon); the Internet book, Buffalo Time;  The Geometry of Blue: Prose and Selected Poetry and Voices from Behind the Mask (both available at www.mccoy.shorturl.com).

Sign

 

            After extensive research, it has been deter-mined that the bank of billowing, feather-like clouds moving around the Midwest is comprised of evaporated chickens. 

            At first, it was thought to be a gathering of angels; then maybe a huddle of cherubs trying to keep warm. 

            The church has yet to release an official statement. They seem to be in some disagreement as to how this heavenly sign should be interpreted.

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