Month: August 2015

New Post From Us at Front Porch Commons

We’re so pleased to have a new featured post up at Front Porch Commons, the Community of Literary Magazines and Presses’ new site for all things indie publishing. The article is about the challenges and joys of running a long-distance magazine:

The idea sprouted when I was about to leave New York. I’d been living with my high school friend and fellow writer Olivia in Brooklyn, finishing my MFA and pretty much living a writer’s dream. We both loved the most writerly city on earth. We loved the plays and poetry readings, the artisanal doughnuts and dark bars crammed with storytellers. Over the few years of our roommate-ship, we’d played with the idea of founding a literary magazine. We had always wanted to shape the vision of a journal of our own…
Read the article at Front Porch Commons

Featured: Spring 2012

SPRING, 2012
Forecasters predict deepening snow later tonight.
Spring by calendar, winter still by the cat’s full fur:
wet unreliability for which the season is known.
I recall so clearly a halcyon day forty-six years back
when we lay contentedly, luxuriating in sweet grass
of a Missouri spring, recommitting our pastoral love.
A force flushed us; thrust through unwrapping buds;
propelled puckish nuthatches to birthing tender chicks;
mixed dormant chemicals in us; urged caressing summer.
Rapt, we felt our mouths might suck the moistening blooms;
felt easeful body heat uncurling straight the sticky loops;
felt only pleasure, not heeding scratchings by blanched sod.
Winter winds re-encircled us, our exposed skin goose fleshed.
Privately I begged that Spring assure my love in its making,
that love’s spell not be sacrificed to planetary recalcitrance.
But, under blackening clouds, our desire did not retard the ice.
We pushed, winter smothered us, back and forth. We rode passion
until our ardor persevered and peevish winter assumed irrelevance.
Keith Moul publishes both his poetry and his photos widely.  His latest poetry chap, The Future as a Picnic Lunch, will be issued by Finishing Line Press this September.  He’s retired and having a wonderful time.

Featured: Johnny O. Finally Got that Baby Blue Superbird

Johnny O. Finally Got that Baby Blue Superbird
Samuel Vargo
super bird 1
Johnny O has that muscle car he’s always wanted
And even though it didn’t arrive
Until Johnny was in late middle-age (either 64 or 65),
With a triple bypass, early disability retirement
From Generous Motors and five grown kids
From three failed marriages (all grown up,
On their own), and best of all, Johnny O.’s no longer
Paying child support; he’s thundering around –
Hot rodding the streets he owned
Way back when he had a pack of smokes
Rolled up in his white tee-shirt, an oily, blonde, ducktailed mullet,
And a hot gold GTO that he wrapped around a tree
Four days after he graduated from Austintown Fitch High
(He still remembers the song blaring
From his Quadrophonic Super Star speakers: “Mellow Yellow” by Donovan).
Johnny O. waxes the Super Bird 440 with Turtle Wax paste.
It’s a mutherfucker to rub off, but it’s
Like a regal coat of armor when it’s buffed out
And shines like Lapis Lazuli.
Two big cans these days at Wal-Mart for under ten bucks.
How times have changed – now, the stuff’s dinosaur shit.
Yup, the blue bird looks more copacetic than a master gem-cutter’s art piece.
He’d never use liquid wax, no-sir-ree. That’s for kids and old ladies.
But it’s easy to apply, like rubbing water or window cleaner,
And liquid wax has put Turtle Wax
In the bargain bin,
On a bottom shelf in the auto section.
Johnny O’s not satisfied until he can look into the sea-like
Finish and witness his sweaty smiling face
Peering back through the lusty blue paint job
(All factory, of course; as was every replacement part carefully selected and hand picked
From the finest of aftermarket suppliers).
Yup, his 1970 Plymouth Blue Fire Superbird doesn’t have a hemi, but it’s got a 440
Super Commando engine. And it can race
On the NASCAR circuit. A real muther! God damn!
Nope, Johnny O. only enters it in car shows.
He’d never beat up his love for some tawdry trophy and $300 cash prize
On Lucifer’s drag strip. Oh, his buddies would
Kill for it; but most are already dead. So tonight he’s
Taking his beautiful beast to a show at Quaker Steak and Lube; and oh, it’s going
To be prettier than any knockout waitress there.
Johnny O.’s picking up his new leading lady (who knows him
From long ago). They hooked up just a few months past.
On facebook. Maybe he’ll get some,
Who knows? But Sally Slim thinks the Super Bird’s cool
And Johnny O.’s even cooler.
She just retired from a dentist office (an office manager 35 years and a jack
Of all trades – like her new man, of course). Divorced, too, but
Only twice and with four grown kids (her oldest grandson: a sergeant
Over there in Afghanistan). Anyhow,
It’s almost time to get a shower, get ready, and slick that silver-speckled hair back
(No part, though, since he’s got a pallid Frisbee
In the middle of his scalp which reflects the sun).
photoSamuel Vargo worked for more than 20 years full time as a newspaper reporter and these days, writes for progressive, liberal, online magazines. He holds a BA in Political Science and an MA in English. When he’s not writing articles, he’s either fishing, trying to work off extra weight at the gym, or arguing with others on comment threads.

Featured Poem: "The Language of Love"

Caroline Johnson

The Language of Love

“Without arts, the inner life would wither” –Mark Strand
Take three bus transfers anywhere.
Get off at the last possible spot.
Look around—you will be surrounded
by Chicago, but you won’t be lost.
Doubtless you will see Mark Strand
wandering State Street in an overcoat.
Maybe you see a thousand such poets,
falling from the sky like a Magritte painting.
Open your umbrella to protect your face
from their tears.  Watch as their broken
legs and blood smears the sidewalk.
Step over their bodies.
Don’t steal their bowler hats.
Walk up to Strand and shake his hand.
Fan the inner flame of art—protect
your fragile and illuminated heart.
caroline4 (2)Caroline Johnson has two poetry chapbooks, Where the Street Ends and My Mother’s Artwork.  A Pushcart Prize nominee, she won 1st place in the Chicago Tribune’s Printers Row 2012 Poetry Contest and teaches English in the Chicago area. See her blog at
Caroline Johnson