Allen McGill

Ginny arrived late from the airport, but managed to find space in the third pew of St. Bartholomew’s RC church. She had hoped to meet her cousin’s fiancĂ© before the ceremony, but there’d been a delay.

She finally got a look at the tall, handsome groom as he, the best man and the ushers entered from the sacristy and approached the center of the altar rail where the priest awaited them. Well, son of a bitch! she thought, catching her breath. Him! She couldn’t believe it! Could she pick ’em!

The wedding march began, but Ginny couldn’t concentrate on anything but the images that came to her mind of her recent trip to Acapulco. The sun, the sand, the hunky guys on the beach and the stud she’d snagged for nightly, hot, uninhibited sex the day after she’d arrived.

There were no silly promises of everlasting love, of course, but the steamy e-mails they’d exchanged in the course of the following month led Ginny to believe that the flame might be re-ignited at some later date.

Vivid flashes came to her of heightened moments in their lovemaking, the chaise on the patio by candlelight. She felt a definite warmth that had nothing to do with the temperature in the church.

She wondered what her cousin would think if she knew. Ginny would never tell her, of course, but had to chuckle. Slowly she undressed him in her mind as her cousin moved to stand close, a vision in virginal white.

Quick giggles broke forth from her as she envisioned him standing buck-naked at the altar rail in front of all these people. Her eruption of laughter caused a number of people to turn and frown. She fought to keep from sniggering out loud.

The only way to avoid further outbursts was to keep from watching the nuptials. She looked at the ceiling, at her hands, at the crucifix—anywhere but at the altar rail.

Finally, the ceremony was over and the happy couple began their life together with a long walk up the center aisle. Lace handkerchiefs were brought forth, oohs and aahs were voiced, and then the congregation followed the couple to file through the massive doors to the street, where the receiving line was staged.

Ginny took her time, but eventually stepped into the sunlight. She embraced her cousin, kissed the groom and, to the priest, said: “Hello, Father Dick, remember me?”


Originally from NYC, Allen (aljons[at] lives, writes, acts and directs theatre in Mexico. His published fiction, non-fiction, poetry, plays, etc., have appeared in print as well as on line: NY Times, The Writer, Newsday, MD, Flashquake, Herons Nest, Cenotaph, TempsLibres, Autumn Leaves, Poetic Voices, Bottle Rocket, Frogpond, Modern Haiku, many others.

Three Poems

Arlene Ang

Behind This Cornea of Storms

The park grows white
under the steel bench
while crows pick
over bloodless flesh.

The silence that greys
leaves and sky
is split by the thunder
of a ringing phone

then office voices offering
patrol cars to the morgue
where Jane Doe slept,
my number in her pocket.

The receiver fell black
lightning as these hands tried
to save my wet face before
it toppled to the floor.

Crows at my feet raise
a cloudburst of wings
as my bag of crumbs spills
morsels not even birds will eat.


Constrained Indolence

For three days now
heat greys the sky
in false premonition of rain.
From the bathroom
a dripping faucet beats
in rhythm with sweat
trickling onto the mattress.

Lying in bed, I spread
my arms like a chicken
dipped first in boiling water
then plucked of its feathers.
The ceiling exhausts
every breath with
its fan of humid air.


Dining in Brisighella

A taste of Tuscany, perhaps. But it’s not
that easy to swallow saltless bread.
The table may be laid for health when
stone walls are warmed for low blood pressure.

Bread, we know, is flour, water, eggs, yeast
and essential NaCl. Bread is life. Enough
to sweep sauces from plates or savored with wine
and Parmesan cheese. Not this insipid mound
of baked sponge melting from saliva in your mouth.


Arlene Ang (aumelesi[at] lives in Venice, Italy as a translator and web designer. She is also the Italian editor of Niederngasse. Her poetry has recently appeared in Sidereality and Absinthe Literary Review (2002 Eros & Thanatos Prize Winner).

Three Poems

Martin A. Mitchell


Look—the sun is coming up.
We’ve burned up the entire night
pouring whiskey on our war stories,
putting out smoldering fires.
So let me play the dentist. Let me
ask if you’re numb enough
to get down to business.
Let’s clink these never-quite-full-enough
glasses together, and toast this
blurry, soothing deliverance.

About two hours ago, I think,
I wanted to reach for your hand,
but I was afraid. After a
little while, though, the fear
seemed to drift away.
But the urge to touch you
drifted away, as well,
somewhere in there. I have
dissolved a little further
into my chair.

My heart is anesthetized. And yours, too,
I believe. It wasn’t easy, but it’s done,
at least for now. And so we must act quickly,
decide and define what this thing is
that exists between us,
that connects us.

Ah, we can be brave philosophers now,
if not poets, in this murky half-light;
we’ve surely accumulated
the requisite wisdom for either,
if not both, by this time. Thus
we can fashion for ourselves
an intellectual agreement, and have a
truly transcendent bond.
Cerebral, and safe.

It was romantic nonsense,
forever the source of our separate
suffering. But now that we’ve compared
our wounds and our scars, we can be
certain of at least this much:
we’ll not be entering that arena.

No, the philosopher understands
some options are ultimately too
risky, too costly, and more trouble
than they could ever be worth.
And the poet, then, must grab hold
of this truth and hammer its message
into something, for all time.

We will move forward, with feigned
grace, beyond the roses and
the thorns, at once, in search of
less hostile objects to admire.
And we’ll maintain a cautious distance,
even when we discover these new objects,
for we really have obtained
that necessary wisdom.

But while this spell lingers, before the
rude light burns away this
mellow mist, and if we agree
in advance that there’s no great
significance attached to the act,
could I perhaps kiss you,
just once?



But now, I have no
stones to throw…
At least, none that I’m willing to
part with like that.
I could gather the ones that have been
hurled in my direction, but engaging them
again will not redeem their
sudden, newfound insignificance.
My heart has gone out of this.

And like the small children we
too often imitate, we should now just
go to our respective houses,
or hiding places,

And remain there, until we have
a better answer, if
running out of rocks
leaves us lost.


Grappled Hooks

Ah, will I ever be
any good at this?
I repeat these rituals, over and
over again, from senseless beginning
to useless end.

The earth lurches, only slightly,
only for an instant, but I
stumble long afterward,
shaken and disoriented.

I lose, and I
suffer and curse and mourn,
only to realize that I
did not want what I lost.
It is the losing itself
that undoes me,
a little at a time.


Martin Mitchell (ma.mitchell[at] lives and writes (and reads) near Dallas, Texas. His work has appeared in journals and anthologies since 1986. His poems have been recently published in two online journals, Facets Magazine and Branches Quarterly.