Jeffrey Zable


“Where’s the gold?” I asked a man wearing Levi overalls
with a pick in one hand, but all he did was spit to the side
and say, “I don’t know where you came from, but if I were
you, I’d get on the next stage to anywhere out of here cause
even if you found any you wouldn’t live long enough to buy
another egg, a spot of milk, or 10 cents worth of candy!”

Thanking him for his advice, I reached out my hand,
but his didn’t move an inch. He just spit again to the side,
turned, and walked away. . .

The Wild West

We were singing “Oh Susanna, don’t you cry for me” when the bullets
started flying. Ramsey ran left and knocked over Jim’s favorite spittoon 
which made Jim go for the spittoon instead of running for cover like the
rest of us. First he was hit in the left buttock, which made him do a sort
of dance that everyone watched from his hiding place. Then he was hit
in the same hand he used to wipe the sweat from his brow when he was
working behind the bar. It was strange to watch him continue to dance
while blowing on his hand at the same time. After the shooting stopped
we called for the only doctor in town, an old guy everyone called Doc.
He removed the bullet from Jim’s buttock and said it would eventually
heal, but that the spittoon was cracked in too many places to be of any
use. The shooters, it turned out, were the town pygmies who had originally
taken a wrong turn in a forest of Africa and wound up on the only ship heading 
to America. Once here, they worked hard to save money for guns
which they were told were the only weapons that would protect them
in the wild west. Because they thought their camp was being raided—
when it was really just the medicine that Doc had prescribed for indigestion
making them hallucinate—they all started running and shooting at imaginary
assailants. Later they apologized, and everyone forgave them except for Jim,
who never recovered from the loss of his beloved spittoon, and Doc was
never held responsible for the medicine that caused the whole thing in the
first place. . .

Mark Danowsky

A Thank You Poem

for the dude driving a white
Grand Marquis with a black
drop top and New York tags
wearing shades at dusk
just after Labor Day
but before 9/11
who left his windows down
so I could hear some up-
lifting Motown as the sun
fell, stave off my mood shift
as the air cools by degrees
of eagerness for that first beer

John McKernan

I have Slept in Beds & in Gutters

On trains & cars & buses
In planes & cranes & bridges

On golf courses
Once in a sand trap
Twice on the ninth green

In front of a class
In the back of a class room & on many roofs
In libraries
In study halls

In caves & jails
In cars & bars & barns & parks
In chairs & on stairs & at parties & weddings
On rocks & docks & dorms & beaches
In my mother’s womb for nine months

Watching movies plays opera ballet tennis baseball golf chess
While driving walking talking
While riding a horse or a power mower
In lectures churches stadiums courts offices stores
On a bale of hay & in a pile of rags
At many rock concerts

And one night
In Omaha
After a bet
On blue silk cushions
On a white pillow
With the lid closed
In a bronze coffin     Drunk