Dan Sklar

Issue 16

Circus Performer, 40 Years, Dies
—Mauled 100 Times

”And now, in the most dangerous,
blood-curdling, suicidal,
wild-animal display ever
conceived, the world’s greatest
wild-animal trainer,
Clyde! Beatty!!”

A dramatic, intense and chilling
flirtation with death–a flirtation
that left him scarred, clawed,
and spotted with fang marks.
It was a flirtation, too, that made
him a symbol of the eerie, bizarre world
of the circus, a world of hokum
and high drama, of show biz
and sudden death.

“I want people to see me close.
I want them to see the cats
right up to me; to be close
enough to smell the cats.”

For eighteen minutes, in a cage
filled with between 12
and 30 lions and tigers,
Mr. Beatty whipped and cajoled,
whispered and shrieked.

If a lion lunged at him,
he would stop talking,
he would freeze and stare
at the big cat with the chair
poised and the whip held back.

If a tiger clawed at his chair,
he would push it free
and blast away with his
.38 caliber pistol.

The audience,
of course,
loved it.

“It was a rough afternoon,”
he would say after a performance,
sipping a highball, recalling the show
during which the big cats performed
body rolls, body spins,
walked atop a huge roller and,
for a finale, lay side by side
in a straight line.

“Everything was all right until
the brothers started acting up.
It’s Caesar who’s peculiar.
He has a way of hitting the chair
so it twists my wrist.
For six months now he’s been doing it.
Last Saturday he got me.
He tore my shirt off.”

“When I get ’em fresh from the jungle
they’re afraid of me,” he said.
“As I work ’em they get used to me.
And they’ll turn. Tigers go awful quick.
One day they’re fine, and next day
they’ll run me out of the cage.”

“The last time a tiger had me down
I wouldn’t have gotten up except
a lion attacked the tiger,” he noted.
“9 times out of 10,
a lion will kill a tiger in a fight.
But the tiger is more ferocious
toward me. Lions bluff.
When tigers come, they mean it.”

“Brutus came in today,
maybe you noticed he
circled out front.
He was looking for Buddy,
up on the perch.
Brutus was looking around
for him to say, ‘c’mon,
let’s get this guy.'”

“The worst I ever got was Nero,
a big lion born in captivity.
That was back in the thirties in Indiana.
I had females in the act
and Nero was after one of them.
I stopped him and he got over me,
with his mouth in my face.
I grabbed his mouth and pushed him away.
That’s when he grabbed my leg
and carried me around like a rag doll.
I was unconscious the better part
of twelve days, and they just about
gave up on me.”

SOURCE: The New York Times Obituary, July 20, 1965

Dan Sklar teaches creative writing at Endicott College in Massachusetts. He rides a bicycle to work.

Photo by Tom van Hoogstraten.

Pamela Joyce Shapiro

Issue 16


A traveller who walks a temperate zone
between us, that wherever we went, nowhere
comes the time when it’s later.

Days came heavy with regret,
every poem an epitaph. And any action
forgiveless, unreconcilable,
glittering like pools of ink under moonlight.

How hard it is, we say—
I turn away.

Just like a shadow in an empty room,
knowing myself yet being someone other—
like an object whose loss has begun to be felt,
my life without a life, my life in a life, my life impure,
now mumbling words like wistful and wan.

Out of nothing it came—
poet’s imaginings
quelled or quenched in leaves the sleeping sun.

Rhyming or trailing gerunds, clumps of words
singing without sound,
the weariness, the fever, and the fret
unloose themselves like stones.

Vaguely, as if not wishing it to stay,
we have erased each letter
except for one thing
you opened for me like an underground door.

Zoom out of the curved night trees,
zoom close.

1.Kingsley Amis, Against Romanticism
2. Amy Clampitt, A hairline Fracture
3. Robert Creeley, A Wicker Basket
4. Richard Hugo, Salt Water Story
5. T.S. Eliot,Four Quartets: Little Gidding V
6. W.C. Williams, The Wanderer Clarity
7. Rita Dove, Adolescence II8. Theodore Weiss, Clothes Maketh the Man
9. Margaret Atwood, Daguerreotype Taken in Old Age10. John Ashbery, The Songs We Know Best
11. T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets: Little Gidding II
12. John Ashbery, Lost and Found and Lost Again
13. Kenneth Koch, To Marina
14. Diane Ackerman, The Dark Night of the Humming Bird15. William Butler Yeats, Fragments
16. William Butler Yeats, The Tower III
17. Gerard Manly Hopkins, Binsey Poplars

18. Marilyn Hacker, Feeling and Form
19. Anne Sexton, Letter Written on a Ferry
20. John Keats, Ode to a Nightingale
21. Paul Muldoon, Making the Move

22. Rainer Maria Rilke, Blue Hydrangeas
23. John Ashbery, Life as a Book That Has Been Put Down
24. Leslie Marmon Silko, Long time Ago
25. Pablo Neruda, Swan Lake, translation by Ben Belitt

26. Yusef Kounyakaa, Crossing a City Highway
27. Margarita Engle, More Dangerous Air

METHOD: A dear friend suggested writing an abecedarian cento. With no theme in mind, I began searching the index of a Norton anthology for lines beginning with A, B, and C, trying combinations until something felt narrative with interesting prosody. Those lines set the theme. The rest evolved line by line in order, each line requiring something specific, yet unknown, for the next. I expanded the search to every poetry book in my collection, ending with two Z lines, partly to balance the extra A of the title, but more for the added power and resolution of that closing line.

Pamela Joyce Shapiro is a cognitive psychologist intrigued by memory and language. She teaches psychology in Philadelphia and writes poetry to capture thoughts and moments otherwise forgotten. Her work has appeared in Poetry Breakfast, Better Than Starbucks, The Ekphrastic Review, and is forthcoming in SageWoman.

F. J. Bergmann

Issue 16


These are the things we do
And do not do.
Give us the money and walk away.
We’re going to do things.
If we gave you 2.7 million dollars
What would you do with it?
Call us back in half an hour.
The difference is scale.
The way we’re hearing
It’s supposed to happen.
Tractor-trailer trucks
Backing up.

SOURCE: Taking ostensibly relevant notes, verbatim, during a presentation.

F.J. Bergmann is a foundling who once was lost but now is dumbfounded.

City Saunders

Issue 16


SOURCE: Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III, Federal Bureau of Investigation (30 December 2018) The United States vs. Michael T. Flynn, Crim. No. 17-232 (EGS), CNN. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/2018/12/17/politics/mueller-memo-doc-flynn/index.html/.

METHOD: Found from court filings from the Special Counsel office (Department of Justice).  I read the legal briefs & chose words that I wanted to use in the new poem.

Melissa “City” Saunders is a writer, artist, student, and native of Dorchester, Massachusetts. She is a Virgo sun, Taurus ascendant, Libra moon. Saunders loves writing and loathes writing bios.

Laurie Kolp

Issue 16


Out from behind this mask
rise. From fathomless deeps,
on the beach at night
rise from fathomless deeps.

Out of the rolling ocean,
shadow. My likeness
out from behind the mask
the terrible doubt of appearances
from fathomless deeps
on the beach at night alone.

To the east and to the west,
a glimpse
of the rolling ocean.
To the east and to the west,
a glimpse
of the terrible doubt of appearances.
From behind this mask,
shadow my likeness.
Rise from fathomless deeps,
whoever you are holding me now.

SOURCE: Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. Poem titles.

METHOD: Methods include searching for titles or phrases that I like and looking for themes within them. There is a lot of copying and pasting involved; and many drafts are drawn up. To me, writing found poetry is like a puzzle with multiple end results. It is a very rewarding creative endeavor that has gotten me out of dry spells time and time again.

Laurie Kolp is the author of the Upon the Blue Couch and Hello, It’s Your Mother. Some of her found poems and centos have been published in North Dakota Quarterly, concis, Prelude, Deep Water Journal, After the Pause, and Whale Road Review. Laurie lives in southeast Texas with her three children and two dogs.

Photo by Matt Hardy 

Walker Reynolds

Issue 16


There Is No Liability

Systematic Motion

After the Date

SOURCE & METHOD: I used randomly selected pages from the text of Ohio HB 49, the budget bill for the state of Ohio for FY2018-2019, to highlight the beauty and cruelty that can be found within legal language and governmental bureaucracy. All of the language used can be found for free in the publicly-available version of the bill.

Walker Reynolds was born in Ohio and is determined not to die there. He is a fan of dada, a writer of weird music and fiction, a public servant, in debt, and deeply uncool.

M.A. Scott

Issue 16


remember a sapling a dog a field

it is enough or too much

wild and wanting ripening

we grow apart the ocean it was became me


every morning

trees depend on your darkness

I feel the world explode or disappear

I let it


you reappear riding a rabbit

a small thing

the field needs a revolution

I feel the need to stomp and gallop

the field rides me

SOURCE: McKuen, Rod. Celebrations of the Heart. Simon and Schuster, 1975.

METHOD: This poem is a condensed erasure of one section of Rod McKuen’s 1975 collection Celebrations of the Heart. While I usually do erasures from prose sources, I found this book in my parents’ basement and it presented a true challenge and opportunity for transformation.

M.A. Scott is a paralegal, clarinets, collagist, and poet who likes to spend time with trees. Her poems can be found in The Adirondack Review, Heron Tree, Dream Pop Journal, and elsewhere.

Photo by Jonas Weckschmied 

Natalie Jarrett

Issue 16


Down by the river,
they take sandbagged positions and
eye the rainbow across the water.

Blow torch
the facilities
of my baby,
she fertile like circuit boxes.

On the condition of
anonymity, I shot
her dead.

The world powers who fought here
take me for a ride
in metal canoes. They
send me away from
the hulking here.

Sources and Method: I combined small sections from the song “Down by the River” by Neil Young with sections from the article “An Ancient River in Syria Sections Off a Modern War” from the New York Times. Though the former exists in no strict time or place and the ladder is very grounded in a historical and geographical context, both are very similar in that they document violence where there once was life.

Natalie Jarrett is a high school senior from the Bay Area, California

Sara Pirkle Hughes

Issue 16

I can make the sky any colour you choose. – James Turrell

Light is the fact of vision.
Humans are light-eaters,
subject to memory, beliefs, time.
Paint on windows. A solid wall.
Television screens. Childhood.
The ability to convey information.

Placing two colors beside one another
changes our perception of both.
So too does the sky change at dawn,
that deep expanse of crisp edges,
the threshold between the body
and the life-giving sun.

Therefore, an absence is a presence.
The human eye is the brain exposed,
looking at oneself looking.
Enter this world, this new
landscape without horizon,
without a vanishing point.

Do not allow the ground to remain
in control. Feel the floor end.
Let light pilot in. Embrace the shift
that comes with viewing
the earth as a maze, space as light,
life as a limitless series of tunnels.

SOURCE: “James Turrell: Into the Light”; MASS MoCA pamphlet, Spring 2018

METHOD: This poem has been constructed with the “erasure” method; the original source material are pamphlets from the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA). I was captivated by the ideas in each of the artists’ work described in the pamphlets, and after I eliminated large parts of the texts, I found a poem resided in each pamphlet. Therefore, the words in the poems appear in the same order that they appear in the pamphlets, but as I deleted the majority of the text, most of the word combinations / lines sound completely different from the original text.

Sara Pirkle Hughes is the author of The Disappearing Act, which won the 2016 Adrienne Bond Award for Poetry. She is the Assistant Director of Creative Writing at The University of Alabama, where she also hosts the Pure Products Reading & Lecture Series.

Photo by Nadine Shaabana 

Eric Fretz

Issue 16


Aim a poem at you, center of the forest at night,
But these are words that all can use –
Calm, alone, the cedar guitar
Denied the small desire.

Every poem an epitaph. And any action,
Free from the least knot, equal to the strain,
Grazed the delicate words
Having been steered there only by the heart’s mistakes.

I have strip-mined love for poetry,
Jointing syllables, drowning letters,
Kneeling down in the hot raft of daisies.

Lost poem, I know
My words jingle
Never encircled, and now I’m
Off my rocker. Oh Rachmaninoff!
Possibly that’s the reason I write these poems,
Que no tenga el secreto de mis palabras,
Reality enclosed in the heart.

Shall our blood fail? Or shall it come to be
The poem will resemble you
Until our beating hearts, our violins,
Various in arms, in habit, and in tongue,
Will never more be seen?
Expressing myself precisely, of
Your eyes that once were never weary of mine:
Zealous flesh, wild, yet godly divine.


Ashbery, John. “A Box and Its Contents,” As We Know
Lord Byron, “The Giaour”
Cohen, Leonard. “Calm, Alone, the Cedar Guitar”
Dickinson, Emily. 876 [“It was a Grave, yet bore no Stone”]
Elliot, T.S. “Little Gidding,” Four Quartets
Frost, Robert. “The Axe Helve”
Guest, Barbara. “The Screen of Distance” Collected Poems p.229
Hollander, John. “West End Blues” Visions from the Ramble, XII
Issacson, Bruce. “Lost My Job & Wrote This Poem”
Johnson, Ben. “A Fit of Rhyme against Rhyme”
Koch, Keneth. “With Janice”
Levertov, Denise. “An Embroidery” IV
Myles, Eileen. “An Attitude About Poetry”
Notley, Alice. “Poem”
O’Hara, Frank. “On Rachmaninoff’s Birthday” [“Quick! a last poem…”]
Pinsky, Robert. “Poem with Refrains”
Quessep, Giovanni. “A Reading of William Blake” trans David G Murray
Rexroth, Kenneth. “The Spark in the Tinder of Knowing”
Stevens, Wallace. “Sunday Morning”
Tzara, Tristan. “To make a Dadaist poem”
Updike, John. “Evening Concert, Sainte-Chapelle”
Virgil. Aeneid, book 8, trans. Dryden
Wordsworth, William. “Lucy Gray, or Solitude”
Xi Xi, “What I’m Thinking of Is Not Written Words,” trans Jennifer Feeley
Yeats, W.B. “Ephemera”
Zaimis, G.F. Excavated: Athens to Alexandria, p.43.

METHOD: The constraints for my centos are that each line is a full line in a previously published poem. I cannot change a single letter of the line, but let myself alter terminal punctuation and initial capitalization. Here I adopted a ludicrous Oulipo-derived Abecedarian constraint: the poem is 26 lines long, the first line starting with A, the second B, and on through the end of the alphabet. To make it more limiting, the original author’s last name matches the letter of the line. I tried to create a poem that referred to the process of writing such absurd poems.

Eric Fretz studied contemporary art at CUNY graduate school, and is the author of Jean-Michel Basquiat: A Biogaphy. He is not a poet, but has a weak spot for Oulipo experiments and constructing centos.

Mathew Weitman

Issue 16


I love the roundness
of his counterweights at the top.
I love him for the narrowness of his jibs.

I love him for the elegant lines
of his gondola,
which is now covered up for the winter.

I like the ribbing,
up underneath his main display
—the parallel lines that are coming down—
I love that.

Because, 1001 Nacht,
as I have told you many times before,
and I will many times
repeat it: I love you.

SOURCE AND METHOD: The source was a documentary about Objectum Sexuality (the sexual attraction to inanimate objects) titled, ‘Married to the Eiffel Tower’. OS People, as they are called, believe that their love is reciprocated, and that they can telepathically communicate with their inanimate lover(s). I have transcribed dialogue from one particular subject–a woman who fell in love with an amusement park ride called ‘1001 Nacht’–and rearranged it as a sort of modern sonnet.

Mathew Weitman is a New York-based poet, musician, and writer. His work has appeared in the Ekphrastic Review and Plum Tree Tavern. Additionally, he has spent extensive time in the Fukushima prefecture with the eminent potter and zen monk, Fumio Ito. Much of his writing is inspired by his travels and volunteer work.

Lisa Berley 2 erasure poems/collages

Artwork, Issue 16

(click on images for full-size versions)






Source & Method: Source material for the poems and collages come from the New York Times weekly magazines. I have been resourcing the NYTimes magazine for two decades deconstructing the imagery to create large format mixed media works on paper. For this new work in poetry, the NYTimes articles are equally rich in words. I treat them like a canvas painting over words with ‘Wite Out’. This method of redaction allows the viewer/reader to see the deconstruction process of the artists hand in making new connections, transforming prose into poetry, while also giving a voice to the negative space.

Lisa Berley began her career in San Francisco where she received a BFA. She integrated painting, photography and CGI in digital work. Returning to NY for two decades she exhibited abstract mixed media works on paper. Berley moved to Colorado continuing to work from deconstructed found images and recently combining it with erasure poetry.


Gustavo Barahona-López

Issue 16

My presence marred
the sacred vigil
of phantom millions.
A barrier of dark
trees kissed a wisp
of startled air with ecstasy.
The colossal vitality
of their illusions
made a shadow
on the unquiet darkness
as wind does the sea.
They were consumed
with wonder at a labyrinth
of windshields
that dispensed starlight
to casual moths.
Hot whips of panic
traveled through my body
like a star to the moon. With the flash
of a waving hand,
I left the moonlight,
watching over nothing.

SOURCE & METHOD: Lines taken from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. I underlined words and phrases that I found compelling and stitched them together into a poem.

Gustavo Barahona-López is a 3rd-grade bilingual teacher from the San Francisco Bay Area. His work is forthcoming in PALABRITAS. When Barahona-López is not in the classroom you can find him re-discovering the world with his son.

Photo by Mikkel Frimer-Rasmussen

Boyd Razor

Issue 16


A good magician never reveals his plans
but a good villain always does.

I’m going to make this middle school disappear.
So glad you came.
Have a magical time.

Tonight, I’m going to make a high school disappear.
School dances are way dangerous.

What’s going on?
Something’s not quite right.
The school was there one second and then, poof, gone.
Are you from the future?

I want to serve you. I’ve got a plan.
Join us. Disappear with us, my doves!

Source: Dialogue from “Hypno! Part Deux!,” an episode of Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles TV series.

Boyd Razor is a pseudonym for the poet Boyd Razor.

Photo by Ryan Tauss

Elizabeth Hare

Issue 16


Imagine a house guilty of death,
Taken out of daylight.

Consider the deterioration of the past
And transform, observers,

One-by-one, step-by-step,
Into the aligned predecessors

Who denied the house
Its ideology of the deal

And collapsing partnership
With difficult realities.

Source: Breitbart: “Andrew Brunson Case Proves U.S.-Turkey Alliance Has Been Over for Years” by Caroline Glick (8-19-18)


President ray-gun
Wants space assets
“Up there”
To inform and guide
Our destinations

No doubt

Hostile powers and
Non-state actors need
To control assets
It’s a fifty-fifty
Dog fight

Having space

Send American space
Power ahead
Watch the U.S. dream
Owning the right to
Space itself

Source: The Heritage Foundation:  “Space Force, Done Right, Will Move U.S. Ahead?” by James Jay Carafano (8-17-18)

Method: Erasures are like unseen, adjacent worlds that exist alongside what is considered “real.” I wrote these poems following the genre’s strict rules (minus additional capitalizing) while funneling my civic preoccupations through conservative media pieces.

Elizabeth Hare is a transition designer and death doula whose poetry has been published in Bone Bouquet. She writes and works outside of Boulder, CO.

Photo: SpaceX

Scott Wiggerman

Issue 16


In the focus of the evening there is this island with
the tossing loneliness of many nights,
this tuft that thrives on saline nothingness.
Here has my salient faith annealed me.

There are no stars tonight,
so dream thy sails, O phantom bark,
you, who contain augmented tears, explosions—
insistently through sleep—a tide of voices.

Out of the seagull cries and wind,
up the chasm-walls of my bleeding heart,
the swift red flesh, a winter king
awake to the cold light.

Through torrid entrances, past icy poles,
we make our meek adjustments:
tenderness and resolution
sinuously winding through the room.

I had come all the way here from the sea.
Above the fresh ruffles of the surf,
among cocoa-nut palms of a far oasis,
forgetfulness is like a song.

Source & Method: Each line in this cento is a first line from a poem by Hart Crane as found in The Complete Poems and Selected Letters and Prose of Hart Crane (New York: Anchor Books, 1966).

Scott Wiggerman is the Albuquerque author of three books of poetry, Leaf and Beak: Sonnets, Presence, and Vegetables and Other Relationships; and the editor of several volumes, including Wingbeats: Exercises & Practice in Poetry, Bearing the Mask, and Weaving the Terrain.

Photo by Peter Fogden 

Lisa Zaran

Issue 16, Uncategorized


After a day or two,
lilies sprout the shape of my tongue.

I spill sad. Miss the garden,
fold over fold with inner knowing.

Don’t stop at the mouth,
the world outside is vast and intricate.

SOURCE & METHOD: As most of my peers I have often found solace in reading Rumi, felt a spiritual connection, discovered that God (my God as I have come to know him) can be a pleasurable part of my existence. My method in this piece was to build a relationship between two people based on hints throughout the words I chose to include and the direction I wanted to take. I sourced these fragments from The Essential Rumi translations by Coleman Barks with John Moyne.  The muse was certainly Jelaluddin.

Lisa Zaran is the author of eight collections of poetry including Dear Bob Dylan, The Blondes Lay Content, If It We and the sometimes girl. Lisa is founder and editor of Contemporary American Voices. When not writing, Lisa spends her days working for a Community Service Agency serving individuals with substance use and mental health disorders in Arizona.

Photo by Jelena Koncar