Three Poems by Ron Hayes

Racing the Rain

First summer rain and kids scurry
fast and hard down the quiet city street.

Sandal-shod and shirtless I’m six
years old and somehow sharp enough

to sense a yearning between chaste earth
and brash rain. Dust and shadow flash

before me as I run. Cars parked
along curbs fleck with crazy spots

as drops the size of dimes patter
upon metal, glass, and chrome. Rain

refreshes the way heat oppresses, and now
there’s reason again for kids to stay outside.

The storm brings static, my hair on end,
electric crackle of elation in the air: first summer

rain, thunderous and warm, and through it
I’m running because my father is home.

We rush to him, all wanting to be first,
the first to tackle him, hug him, catch a helicopter ride…

I see him in the grass, shuffle


his mannish frame toward our door, our home.
Suddenly I’m racing him, racing the rain,

my brother, my friends, all of us falling,
falling ‘til suddenly I’m alone

shunted to my own here and now,
to today

in the grass of my own yard, realizing,
abashed, it’s a race I’ll never win.

Urban Idyll: A Requiem

Clouds roll across my town, waiting
to downpour until they’re directly
over my house, my neighborhood:
the place in the city where feral cats
have their kittens, litter abounds,
and every house has broken windows.

In the mornings I look out my window
drinking coffee, thinking, waiting
to eat breakfast while kids bound
for school pass by directly.
They preen and posture like cats,
thinking they run this neighborhood.

They don’t. This is my neighborhood.
I have stood in this doorway, at this window
for twenty-eight years. These cats
don’t impress me. I’m still waiting
for someone to challenge me directly,
but I know no such bravery abounds

here. Not much does. Fear abounds,
but then, that don’t help the neighborhood
much, does it? I can tell you directly–
if more folks looked out their windows
and spent less time sitting, waiting
under their eaves while it rains cats

and dogs, maybe we’d have fewer wildcats
and this could be a place where hope abounds
instead of fear. I imagine I’ll be waiting
a long time for that in this neighborhood.
Too many broken windows.
Not that it matters much. Not directly.

The rain is coming sideways now, directly
through countless panes of shattered glass. Wet cats
flee with their kittens. How many more windows
will be broken by morning? Misery abounds.
No, there’s no saving it, this neighborhood.
I think I’m through with waiting.

Shatter the windows directly where they are.
Keep waiting as kittens grow to marauding cats,
and only rage abounds in this idyllic neighborhood.

R. Mutt Writes a Love Song

“Mythology,” was all she said, and I,
unknown to her before tonight,
went screaming down the hall.

Once there my room became my jail, (alive with taunts
and jeers) a bounding beast of boundless burdens haunting me,
taunting me, seething madly as though my vendettas were its own.

And yet I found the moment to be real. She and I
and we, alone, together in this room.
(Still it reeks of booze and blood and cigarettes.)

She wanted to, tried to, hoped to call it Fate but foolishly
I branded her a fool. She dreamt easily enough
for both of us. “Mythology,” she said and, dutiful, I wept alone.

When through an open doorway framed, the moonlight
caromed reckless off of walls, and somewhere birds alit
upon their nests to find the eggs they’d kept were gone. Broken.

And through it all I found I knew exactly where to go.
About the town and all that day we kept
a secret from ourselves, a secret from our flock: this moment

was a lie. She and I and each of us had known it all
along, but we never tried to stop ourselves. We never tried
to stop it. We never tried to stop it all. We never tried to stop.

Outside our broken town, a sullen train
laments its broken whistle and I take it
as a new dispute. It scars me

like the scratches from the birds. “Mythology,”
was all she said, and I, familiar to her
then, went weeping down the hall.


Ron Hayes is a poet, writer, teacher, and football coach living in Erie, Pennsylvania. Due to receive his MFA from Queens University of Charlotte in May of 2012, he was a finalist for Erie County, Pennsylvania’s inaugural Poet Laureate position in 2009 and held the staff Poet Laureate position in the Erie School District from 2005 to 2009. He shares his home with 3 Chocolate Labs, 2 teenage sons, and 1 patient wife.

The Duck Drowned


I know it was the year of 1984 and that he smelt of a thrift store on a Sunday Morning.

He bought a record before he died, it was Otis. His mother loves Otis.

The only voice in his rummaged room was his own.

I think they called him Duckie.

He wanted her voice but she kept saying her phone was broken.

He wanted the rogue red-head with crafty clothes

She preferred the smell of money rather than old clothes

He scribbled on a wrinkled paper,

“The Duckman has left the building.”

With heart broken eyes,

he scratched an itch with a sharp piece of a record.

The news spread faster than old spice cologne

on a claustrophobic strut through

the hallways.


A Poem by Zack Shipp


I walked step by step upon the damp brick road
I began to see the silhouette of a man
3 AM every morning I stroll to the water
I try not to look back, but I hear his steps

The fog was so thick I couldn’t see a block ahead
Who would be out right now?
Five years , and no one has been out to join me
Fear has taken me over

I could smell the ocean mist
the fog began to clear
Confusion arose, as did the fog
I turned around and screamed to fight

I was close
I was suspicious
I was being followed
I was alone

A Poem by Chrissy Tu’ua

Eight layers of briefs and gym shorts
Sweatshirt was extra large
Khamel tugged at his pants
He started yelling
Voices were yelling and people were panting
A woman was crying
Blood was pouring
He rocked pitifully back and forth
Afraid to move
People screamed and fell to the ground
“He’s got a gun!”

A Poem By Frankie Klein


Shots fired at Seal Beach
The smell of hair dye and gun smoke
Nine innocents grasped and held
We didn’t think we would be touched
The ripping of family fabric
School is very quiet today
We walk with a sad knowledge in our mind
This kid in science was crying next to me
I just looked at him
His eyes are still red
And tears are still present
Lives are still shattering
And I still don’t understand it
I feel the melancholy spreading
Starting in my chest
I didn’t even know the mom that died
Or her son
Or any one of the nine
But it happened
And I’m standing in the middle of it’s chaos

Francesca Klein is a saucy sixteen year old who lives in Long Beach California and only Long Beach California. She is made of cutouts of Rolling Stone and Spin magazines. She wanders in the astral plane and doesn’t come back for days.

Alone and at Fault

(Originally from “It’s On Me”)

If I love her like you love him
Then why do I need a ring and a wasted tree to
Prove that?
With your persecution
You can’t have that satisfaction
I can’t back down
I won’t give up now.
Until the both of us have bands on our hands
And white as our shroud.
I do, I do, I do
I do love you
And you love me, too.
Because you came to me
When they turned you away
But I couldn’t stand tall
For you
And I knew
I knew
I knew
I knew you would fall without me there
And I’m sorry
You’re gone now
I’ve lost you for good.
They think they’ve won and maybe they have
But I won’t let them know.
I won’t let this go.
I will fight forever
For you and for me
For us and for we
For them and for they my anger prevails
And I don’t know what feeds it more;
Not having you here
Or them putting all the blame on me.
Pushing me
Until I know it was me.
That I brought it on.
And now I’m alone
So alone.
No farewell. No goodbye.
I couldn’t come in.
“Family only,” they said.
And that’s my fault as well.
Because I
I am not a guy.
But without me you had no one
And I lost you.

– Melissa


Coffee Stains

Coffee-colored eyes like to stain. Chamomile tea is sewed to the freckles of my skin. This one guy got lost in tea. Charles Manson is his roommate now. He gave up tea bags for a knife. He traded in his Led Zeppelin records for her eyes. They weren’t on sale this time. Coffee was his companion when he had sleepy eyes. She was his friend in the light. She had Hitler’s heart and Stalin’s smile. They pretended they knew each other. They stroll through the sidewalks like strangers on a Sunday morning.


A Poem By Tamara Madison

Without the Camera

When the camera dies what’s left are senses and memory:
Waves rolling their white arms toward shore
Stars moving in clusters over the dark sea
Morning traveling through spring’s green mountains to light the waves
Seals’ dark bodies in silhouette as they rest, noses up, in jade-colored swells.

When the camera dies what’s left is scent:
Wild rosemary, sage’s purple columns of bloom,
Mustard that colors your shirt as you pass
Wild radish with its white and purple stars
Mesquite’s scent of chocolate, vanilla, smoke
The sea, all salt and mussel, and the tar that blackens the rocks.

When the camera dies what’s left is vision:
Men with whining toy airplanes that swoop and twirl above
the baseball field, to anchor their owners into this fine spring moment
Turkey vultures looping in the deep sky, wings outstretched
like flying sombreros of death, with crows capering behind
laughing, jeering, one of them carrying a mouse’s warm body
in its sharp beak over the fields of red-tipped grass
The sun casting a brilliant parting glance over the silky waters.

Tamara Madison teaches French and English in a high school in Los Angeles.  Her writing helps preserve her sanity.  More or less.


My appendix pierced with blue eyes.

Hair follicles that fell from her scalp


our future.

Seven days of sobriety starved salvation.

Where I ended, she began.

Connected in a human being,

A baby girl.

I wanted my close-knit family

Buried under my nails.

Instead, I locked our hysterical baby girl in a

Concentration camp with


Gun powder,

Things that go boom.


-myk aral

Poem: Estranged

Her words burn like churchfire. Hardly a strand or mere leaf of kindness emits. I’d like to introduce her to a bag of knives. I’d like to introduce her to a new car smell at the bottom of the lake. But she takes hold of my shirt collar and pulls it close to hers. It tears. I flee. Flee like school gates flung open. Like car alarms and shattered glass. Like searchlights. Like a crowd of rolling churchgoers. When will I be free?

– Ryan