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.

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.

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.

Two Poems From Jonathan Bauer


How can you go about your day,
When I’m shouting out in misery?
All you have is fairy tales,
And all I have is me.
My valentine’s coming,
And when they find me,
My fingernails will cut the sails,
And stop this sorrow ship.These lights make passion in the storms.
I can’t stay in the forest anymore.
Ribbons float above the fading sky.
Sinister, oh please be mine.
This zombie’s coming,
And when he finds me.
My glitter sinner lullaby
Will remain a treasure.

Vanishing Act

Losing our way, evident of what I felt.
The congruence of love and hate. Rumors.
The whitest sympathy in the blackest scrutiny.
Blackest malice, we can find happiness.I’m not yours, and you not mine.
You claim to take me to the sky,
Like Aladdin you say, but with nothing to hold.
I grasped the first piece of fabric from your shirt.
Flying is a lie, the night only carrying fear.
I blew the candles out when we landed.
No love, just choking. Dying, my love.Sugar skulls, death on the mind.
The face of perfection, tainted by my hand.
Time being started and not finished.
Incomplete thoughts, ruined by neglect.
These ranges trapping us runaways, alone and afraid.
Hold me closer, and we can feel again.
Do you care? Am I just guts in my words?
Meaningless, or worse: a stain. Disdain for myself.
I finally admit defeat, and the audience applauds.
I pull the trigger, and they rise to their feet.


“I’m Jonathan, I’m a Monster, I’m a blogger, I cuss like a sailor, I talk really fast, and I find myself in many awkward social situations that are ‘way beyond my maturity level’ (first Juno reference). Essentially, all you need to know is I am art, I am writing, I am music, and my work is fantastic. VALIDATE ME.”

Three Poems by Jessy Randall (featuring Dan Shapiro)

Thank-You Note to the Supposed Lesbian Who Stole My Boyfriend
(first appeared in Slow Trains)

You and your
clingy shirts with
girl cartoon characters,
your funky glasses
and super-short haircut.

You and your
broken heart,
knowledge of diners
and flea markets,
vegetarian recipes.

You took him,
and forgot to say

But then,
I forgot to say
thank you.


The Seductiveness of the Memory Hole
(first appeared in The Magazine of Speculative Poetry)

“He crumpled up the original message and any notes that he himself had made, and dropped them into the memory hole to be devoured by the flames.” – George Orwell’s 1984.

We have an invention. We
invented it. What you do is,
you email us the thing
that you want to forget.
You list every detail. You
describe in full. When we
get the email, we delete it.
We don’t just delete the email.
We delete the thing. The thing
never happened. No one involved
will remember it; no one
who heard the story will
repeat it; even you yourself
will forget it.
We have done it already.
We are doing it right now.


Or Not
with Daniel M. Shapiro
(first appeared in 42opus)

We could get married. Have children. Be happy. Or decide
not to have children. I could marry your best friend.

I wield a potent vocabulary. You’re pulchritudinous. I napped
through English class. You know. Like. Um. Ah. You’re hot.

Do you remember what I said, that night in the car?
You don’t? Me neither. But at the time, it was true.

You loved how, tuxedoed and boutonniered, he squeakily asked
you to dance. But he might’ve just nodded. At somebody else.

She told me things about you that I already knew. I pretended
I didn’t and gave her away. It was easy. Or not.

Well, you know I would never try to stop you. Just go ahead.
You’re probably better off doing that, anyway. Wait.


Jessy Randall‘s collection of poems A Day in Boyland was a finalist for the Colorado Book Award in 2008. Her 2009 young adult novel, The Wandora Unit, is about love and friendship in the high school literary crowd. Her newest book is a collection of collaborative poems, Interruptions, written with Dan Shapiro and published in 2011. Her website is

Daniel M. Shapiro‘s chapbooks are Teeth Underneath, Trading Fours, and The 44th Worst Album Ever. He and Jessy Randall have a collection of collaborative poems, Interruptions, now available from Pecan Grove Press. He blogs at