Maggie Ellis

2012/03/29 Comments Off on Maggie Ellis

on the theme of secret life


I want someone who will pull my hair
when I’m angry
because of the hole in my tights
on the back of my leg.
Where the skin of my leg
takes oil paint to color
the scratches and threads
of the hole in my tights.

Someone who will pull the hair
at the nape of my neck
as if to hold me back
when I’m angry
because of the hole in my tights
on the back of my leg.
Where my hand rests pulling
and pulling and turning
the ladders and threads
of the hole in my tights.

I want someone who will pull my hair
when I’m in a dream
because of the hole in my tights
on the back of my leg,
where the seam has been split
down my leg by my fingers
scratching and waking the threads
of the hole in my tights.


Author Biography
Maggie Ellis
Lancaster, PA
Student, flower-child-Quaker, and alive

Jason Mashak

2011/09/14 § 1 Comment

On Somewhere Never Traveled, Gladly Beyond
Postscript to “Places”

(for Karolina Majkowska and her students)

Imagine a small boy lying
on the deep-shag carpet of his living
or rather his parents’ living or rather
the bank’s living room floor.

He is looking at, studying, a map,
thinking what it must be like to live
someplace else. After hearing
his grandpa say a Danish prayer,
his great-grandmother coughing out German,
his other Bohunk and Polack elders,
he realizes, young, he is of the world
and not of a country or race.

The boy soon tires of pronouncing
his name for Anglophiles — he knows it
doesn’t fit the language he was born to master.

Later, he gets a spinning globe
to accentuate his maps, plays a game
holding his finger on it as it spins
and wherever it stops is where he’ll go someday.
Cartography is therapy, he thinks, and so he begins
to listen — to really listen — to from
where came who and what and why.

In time, he’ll write a poem titled “Places.”

Author Biography

Jason Mashak (b.1973) lived in Michigan, Georgia, Tennessee, and Oregon before moving in 2006 to Prague, Czech Republic. He has two mostly Slovak daughters with whom he derives much inspiration. His first book of poems, Salty as a Lip, was anointed Most Poetic Book for Haters of Poetry in 2010 by Black Heart Magazine. An expanded, 2nd edition of the book is forthcoming by Haggard & Halloo (Austin, TX) sometime in 2011. Mashak’s writing can be found in numerous journals and anthologies, including a few in Czech translation.

Joseph Taylor Golding – Featured Artist, September

2011/09/14 § 1 Comment

Joseph Taylor Golding is an American video artist. His recorded images and words, composed of found and original footage and sound, sometimes are like messages from an imagined future long gone cold, but they glimmer lightly with something that smells subtly of hope or perfect summer blackberries.  Joseph’s work is a thing of great discovery, beauty and endurance.
Joseph, in his own words:
artist statement for Unshod Quills:
Joseph Taylor Golding is an autistic visual artist living in the pacific northwest. A land of black sunlight. and smiling police men . He composes the moments of poetry in his everyday life With an eye of an angel dragged in hell joseph creates poetry and visual sculptures and short films and feature films in between twin collapsing suns joseph has never called anyone father or mother so he lacks the humanity needed to be a person. in his attempts to communicate via discarded images he feels like the old coins and archeologist finds with the faces of dead kings, their value as forgotten as himself. he places a new value on them. as he does himself. Joseph studied film at Evergreen in Portland and in Paris. Joseph is supported by his imaginary friend pete . joseph’s body is primarily consisting of water, 98.6

We will let Joseph’s work, video poetry on the themes of fire, America, somewhere never traveled, gladly beyond and rapture, speak now. We can’t hold it back any longer. Seldom do I comment on work published by our journal, as I like to allow the art and literature to speak for itself, but I comment now.
Thank you, Joseph. Please continue to do this work.
Anyone who might see this and be interested in learning more about Joseph, or in hearing from him, will please email me at dena @ haliterature dot com.
Dena Rash Guzman
Unshod Quills
“My Name is Joseph”
on the theme of “Somewhere Never Traveled, Gladly Beyond”
Drunk On Empty Words
on the theme of Fire
Visual Sculpture – The Sky Was Full of Snakes (part one)
on the theme of Rapture
Visual Sculpture – The Sky Was Full of Clockwork Crows (part two)
on the theme of Rapture

More of Joseph’s work can be found here:

Sacrificial Totem

Look for some great work utilizing the poetry of Richard Brautigan.

A Little Heavy Petting with Dena Rash Guzman

2011/09/09 § 2 Comments

No, that’s not going on at all. We are too busy. Thanks for stopping by though, and for buying into the rumors.

This place is a little bit of a mess until the fifteenth of September, when Issue Two hits the fan. We’re late like a homework because of computer issues, but we are coming on without brakes now.

We are currently archiving Issue One and making room for Issue Two. Until then, this journal will reside in relative squalor. After that, it will once again be a place of great splendor, featuring writers like Riley Michael Parker, Kira Clark, Zachary Schomburg, Jason Mashak, Chris Leja and a whole bunch of other people who are not from Portland, like Bjorn Wahlstrom, Chloe Caldwell, Jillian Brall and Joseph Taylor Golding. Joseph’s from the Northwest though, and he’s lived in Portland. Jillian’s from New York, which is nothing like Portland unless you are talking to a hardcore Portlander, who might say, “This place is better than New York and we were drinking PBR here first.” Bjorn is Swedish, but lives in China, and Portland has a Chinatown. Chloe will be arriving in Portland sometime next week, and staying at the farm with me, so again, same same.

Our archives will have more Bjorn, Kevin Sampsell, Jamie Iredell (sonnets!), Dayvid Figler,  and Tammy Stoner (her story was really good)… all contributors to Issue One, but if I keep naming names, you won’t ever get to see their work again, so I’ll stop now.

See you all on the fifteenth. Sometime around September 20 we’ll release our new call for submissions complete with five new themes by which to be inspired.

Until then, just remember darling, all the while; you belong to me.

Dena Rash Guzman
Unshod Quills

Dayvid Jann Figler

2011/06/01 § Leave a comment

A poem by Dayvid Jann Figler of Las Vegas, Nevada


– on When We Two Parted


It doesn’t matter who I am.
It matters who I was.
Look deeply into my sunken eyes and
Find the sparkle.

There it is.

Now wait for….

The tingle creeping along your spine.

There it is.

Now wait for…
Balmy anticipation.

Damn! You’re awash in it.

We are now lovers.

I am used to this.
No matter where I am.
This happens if I let you get close.

No one can’t get close these days.

We are in a Dairy Queen.
I ordered a Blizzard (you hear me say… “Blizzard”).

We are giving produce the once over at Safeway.
We reach for the same Fuji apple.

We are at the self car wash.
I am smoking a cigarette like it was the greatest cigarette on Earth.

Want to know a secret?
Of course, you do.

(I abandoned all hope seven seasons ago).

I walked heel-toe on the edge of the grid
into devious convictions
And it suited me fine.

I’m set every 30 days for 10 days.

We shall be wed long before dawn.
Then, you will see my sores in the new daylight.

I predict humiliation.

Don’t worry.

It will be supplanted by glee in exactly 6-8 hours.
But now, you gather your clothes quickly.

The last thing you will see are my leathery lips
By your foolish kisses and stained by Trader Joe’s wine.

I wonder if you’ll tell your friends.

No one else will care.

I gave up and I still got you.
My lover, my wife.

We are both richer.

I close my eyes, again.

The last remnants of the day
Sneak through the wood slats
suspending dust in shafts above the couch.

Scatters as I rise.


Author biograpy

Dayvid Jann Figler is firmly entrenched.

Robert Meyer

2011/06/01 § Leave a comment

The Poetry of Robert Meyer

The Passion of the Barbie

Both Simon Zealot and the Great Houdini
heard boasting. “I can saw a girl in half!”
Her brother stole her toy, said, “I’m no meany,”
then, “oops!” so all the little boys would laugh.

With tears the martyred doll was gently slipped
into a box while Ken fulfilled the suttee,
and in a candle his devotion dripped
at Barbie’s feet, a brownish ball of putty.

A midnight requiem, then they convened
tribunal for injustice to the coven.
His sister fetched his G.I. Joes. The fiend
deserves a cake – the girls turned on the oven.

Ten heads popped for the cake’s decor. They placed
it at his door, a gift in his own taste.



If I can’t kiss your face each day, alone
Like this I’ll paint your visage in my room
On walls of memory, your words intone:
Veracious words, entrancing voice. Illume,
Eclipsing nature, even sun at noon.
Your name now makes me weary of my home,
Or rather, frightened, faced with my cocoon.
Unleash me. Love me under heaven’s dome.

Guys try to tame us. Bring me no bouquet
Of poetry, refrains that I’m to feign
An interest in. In vain you strain, take aim
With sonnets praising my black negligee.
Again I play the liar, say, “It’s migraine.”
You only see a trophy, game to claim.


Orpheus Enters Hades

Mirrors are the doors through which death comes and goes
Come to the mirror and go
down beneath the Paris Opera
down, down below the New York subways
down, down, down to the underground lake
smooth as glass, a slothful stream
We came to the river and wept to remember
oracle Apollinaire, bandages on his head
(concealing devices for messages from other worlds)
but Peace brought Death, as passionless as Socrates.
I too had bandages on my head;
I, patron saint of mediocrities!
Reflect on this, did my Muse depart?
or is vers libre really art?
is it the creature that doesn’t exist?
Muses are isomorphic to a random-number generator in the mind of God
the artist is merely an output device.
“I love your verses with all my heart, dear Miss Barrett”
…grief is passionless…
Go tell the king no prophecies, the water has dried up at last.
When Orpheus was hit crossing the street in his electric wheelchair,
what does his survival mean?
When Eurydice was hit crossing the street with her seeing-eye dog,
what does her death mean?
Just random numbers?
Wie bitter sind der Trennung Leiden!
He had also descended into the lower parts of the earth…
sans hair, sans teeth, sans claws,
…sans mask…
No, I am not Orpheus, but was meant to be.
Grief is Passionless.


Notes: Jean Cocteau’s “Orphee”, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Phantom of the Opera”, CBS TV series “Beauty & the Beast”, Psalms 137:1, Cocteau’s “Professional Secrets”, Peter Shaffer’s “Amadeus”, Rainer Rilke’s “Sonnets to Orpheus”, Robert Browning’s first letter to Elizabeth Barrett, Elizabeth B Browning’s “Grief”, the last words of the oracle at Delphi, the death of Debbie Anderson, “Magic Flute”, Ephesians 4:9, “As You Like It”, “B & B” and “Phantom”, TS Eliot’s “Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”, sonnet “Grief”

Author Biography

Robert Meyer received a BS in Math from UNLV in 1977, enrolling in their Master’s program in the fall.  In May of 1978, during the last week of the school year, he had a brain hemorrhage (left side, affecting speech & right side of body) while lecturing in complex analysis.  He completed work for his  MS in Math in 1981.  He began working for the US Air Force at Nellis AFB  in various computer related jobs (database management, programming, and system administration) in 1982 and retired after 22 years.

Tammy Lynne Stoner

2011/06/01 § 5 Comments

Fiction from Portland’s Tammy Lynne Stoner

Because There Is A Story To Tell

Marie Curie was the first woman to receive a Nobel Prize. She left Poland to study in Paris, where women of the kind of woman she was could do such things. Later in life, she would watch her husband crumble from exposure to the radiation that they had unlocked.

Marie Curie had shared jokes with Einstein, my mother told me when I was younger. She was a brilliant, fearless scientist. And that, my mother said, is the reason I named you Curie.

Now I – who looks nothing like I think a Curie would – write. Why, you ask? Because there is a story to tell, of course.

This is a story has the smell of salty water and of a too-old onion in a moist container. It is a story with the taste of licorice seeds. It is the story of love.

I crossed that out because really, it is more the story of frogs.


Few people connect readily to frogs – perhaps it is because they leave their young before they hatch. We humans always have a hard time connecting with egg-bearing species that leave their young to hatch and fend for themselves: the fly, the fish, the frog.


Marie Curie died of long-term radiation exposure in the form of pernicious anemia, with a host of other ailments including cataracts and lung disorders. Her eldest daughter, Irene, had also worked in her mother’s lab with radium – the element Marie and her husband had separated out from uranium ore years before. Irene died of leukemia in her 50s.

Gamma rays come from radium. That was what really did them in – the gamma rays. Gamma rays have the smallest wavelength and the greatest energy of all waves in the electromagnetic spectrum. They are released as radiation in nuclear explosions.

Before their release, gamma rays are forced to move rapidly in order to survive – small, tight, passionate waves living too much life inside small boundaries. In this way, they live the way I live – growing but unable to expand, their energies consolidating under the pressure. Gamma rays create massive worlds in tiny spaces.

I am a short man. Shorter, probably, than most of the men reading this. Shorter, perhaps, than some of the women. And like the gamma rays, this, I believe, has compacted my energies and given me quite a bit more bang for the buck – if I were to charge for it which, excepting that one time in Madrid, I have not.



I saw my first three-legged frog on the same day that I saw him – or who I perceived to be a him, before I realized – to my shock – that he was a she. That, I thought at the time, is different, but in some ways much easier.

She was the one to explain to me the importance of the frogs. That their continuance guaranteed the continuation of the human race. She told me this while I looked at her watery green eyes, her body hidden under a huge coat that looked as if it had been felted from lama fur.

Many frogs are infertile now. And infertile frogs, she explained as the air turned salty and somehow onion-y, are forecasting the end of the human race.

Oh, I said, smiling, so how long do we have?

Long enough, she answered quietly – me not knowing if her pause meant I should kiss her then or not.

I stared at her boldly for a moment as the frogs continued making their frog noises in the background.

I am obsessed with infertile frogs, she said, and now maybe, with you too. She continued: the three-legged frogs here have birth defects because of pollution, although I guess we can never be sure if it is only from the pollution.

Then she took off her coat and became a girl.

It is good, I thought, to be with someone who can admit that there is no way of knowing something (or, really, anything). Plus I like her soft-looking breasts stretching against her white shirt.


Our brain reacts to thoughts in the same way it reacts to actions – as if they are really happening, even if they aren’t. The same centers of the brain light up when we see something really happen or when we watch it happen on TV. The same blood is delivered. The same emotion is directed.

Curie, she said to me then, laying her coat on the ground for us – and I remember moment this every day, playing it in my mind like a TV episode – Curie, she said, this is a good time to kiss me.


Frogs, she told me an hour later, touching my earlobes, lay eggs in clusters. Toads lay eggs in chains. That is one way to tell them apart, she said, but after a while, you get to see the difference straight away. Frogs look more… athletic.

Good swimmers with bad swimmers, I laughed, making a joke about the three-legged frogs and their birth defects.

She moved away for a moment, to let me know how serious she was about frogs.

I’m sorry I made that joke, I said, kissing her straight brown hair that smelled like the ocean.

Some toads, she continued with her watery eyes down, even have live births. . .


According to several interpretations, on the day of the Rapture, people will literally disappear. They will be hiking or driving or working or crying or yawning or baking or jogging or having babies and they will simply disappear.

Others think that disappearing might be possible, but for different reasons. They believe that since we were thought into existence, if enough people think the same patterns for long enough, then perhaps certain ones can be simply un-thought. We can un-think ourselves.

Later that night, after we laid a long time in the grass, I looked over at her sleeping and watched as she disappeared.

Stunned, I sat up and looked around – my guts pushing into my chest and my eyes rubbed with sandpaper, as the smoky tendrils of her ghost snapped suddenly like a piece of skin in the wind, and she simply disappeared.

Left behind was the taste of her kiss – like licorice seeds, the frogs that abruptly went silent, and me.


Author Biography

Tammy Lynne Stoner is the Fiction Editor for Gertrude Press. She is the creator/writer of “Dottie’s Magic Pockets,” which has been in a dozen international film festivals and is in 100+ libraries in the US and Canada.  Her work has been published most recently in Draft and Society (Pale House). Her website:

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