The Joker

by Alice Friman

A house of cards has no window. No kitchen, no tarts. The queen, with all her hearts, holds no more sway than a four. The king, equal to a deuce or that knave, the town crier with a bell, announcing … Continue reading


by Michael Johnson

Democracy — Côte d’Ivoire Dervishes and snake husks blown against the broken quills of grass along the ditches like lost prayers, and the gendarmes, come so quietly into the holy place of your home. There might be ink on your … Continue reading


by Michael Johnson

Kindles in the cool grass, and the night builds hoarfrost like small cities of glass. Dawn will spill across these scattered shadows leaves of light. A hummingbird will sip a bluebell flute of dew and go on burning. Grass blade, … Continue reading

Archive: The First War

by James Hatch

Across the bomb-crater marsh Insignia, bayonets faintly flash, Privative buckles pinch spirited flesh. Men grip their guns like the golden bough, Under fire scatter or flow. Tired boots through gravel and bone plow. The officers shout out their paces Over … Continue reading

Elegiac Fragments: A Quartet

by Diann Blakely

to Jennifer Reeser Did you like slasher flicks, their doomed coeds In eighties’ leg-warmers, six-packed dates Loaded for a weekend’s fun with sex and sleds And skis? But not in the Magnolia State, Where rows runnel the delta’s silt, not … Continue reading

Noir Nocturne (Small Town Impromptu)

by Mark Wagenaar

Evening light steals in amongst the tulips like a pickpocket’s hunger. Grain in the streets, Midwest goldrush, tractors towing in trailers piled high, long wains shaking their way in. Half a horse shy of being a one horse town. One … Continue reading

Poem Noir

by Michael Spence

–for G. M. Ford The only reason I survived Is I was sitting by the door. The diner was the kind that thrived Before the Second World War– You know the sort: the tables chipped Like the mugs of coffee … Continue reading

Bucharest, 1945

by James Hatch

1. Master of ceremonies, hack actor With red wig and smudged rouge, Declaiming with ample spittle how Corpses were displayed in butcher shops, Laid on the racks. The chorus of churls Mimics heroically drunk and questing Brass bands and flags. … Continue reading

An Inch of Electric Green

by Brendan Galvin

for Ellen It leapt through a dashboard louver onto the passenger seat.  Grasshopper, delicate as a dress accessory you might wear. Did I own a neon windbreaker that color sixty years ago, could I have been that gauche?  And if … Continue reading


by Eugene Gloria

Unlike the grotesque bonnet worn at church, the apron is more a second cousin to the humble scarf in winter. The apron would never say “So what” to you. She’s agreeable as a kitchen mantle with ripening fruit. A sponge … Continue reading

Havana, 1958: A Noir Sestina

by Stephen Cloud

Havana, 1958: A Noir Sestina Backdrop: Havana’s Hotel Capri, scorching heat; I’m in the casino watching this gal losing big at the roulette wheel. She aims a kiss at some jackass in the corner, lurking in shadows. He blanches and … Continue reading

Between Two Pine Trunks

by Brendan Galvin

What it wasn’t was one of those miniature electrical storms that can appear in a corner of the eye. This one was in blues, greens, purples, colors exotic as the jewelry hawked on TV channels and perhaps with names like … Continue reading


by Brendan Galvin

ORDNANCE Ever see one of these before? McDaid tossed me a hard plug, weightier than the ignorance I’d attached like a water balloon to the phrase “rubber bullet.” It’s January now, but winter and summer I keep coming across these … Continue reading


by Karina Borowicz

           Planks nailed this way and that bar broken windows. Every day, I pass by the nineteenth-century sea captain’s mansion. Timbers giving up the ghost of paint to storm-cloud gray. Weeds have taken over and now, late summer, are going to … Continue reading

Craigslist Killer Noir

by Stephen Gibson

He hid their panties in the back of his closet, trophies of his attacks (which he didn’t think of as attacks), replayed in his head how everything went down, not as he planned (nothing ever went as planned), but had … Continue reading

Manhattan Noir

by Stephen Gibson

She played in a philharmonic; he was a handyman. She was trained how to hold a cello by the neck and draw a bow across its strings so that sound made listeners leave this world and find themselves in another … Continue reading

What the Girl Wore

by Kathleen Driskell

  At the store, on the hanger, the blue dress must have fallen like water to a froth of frilled hem, its bodice as smocked as a christening gown. A season out of date, her mother chose it from our … Continue reading

That White Sustenance

by Anya Silver

after Emily Dickinson’s Fascicle 640 Because of your final, fatal crack, I’ve put you, golden handle, in the back of the china cabinet, to which I, only, hold the key—so no one knows you’re there except for me, and even … Continue reading

The Real World

by James Cummins

“Most of life is just protection money.” Life wakes you from a dream to tell you that. Like when it told you there’s no Easter Bunny. The Big Boss has a voice that’s rich and plummy; his limo’s like a … Continue reading

The World of Whiskey

by Al Maginnes

The World of Whiskey “If the river was whiskey and I was a duck Might swim to the bottom, never come up” Traditional blues lyric Understand. The world was whiskey once, and dive we did, seeking the shifting bottom of … Continue reading

The One Where the Girl Died in Woods Close to Home

by Adam Houle

It started when a filament popped in the lone headlight of the snow sled, quietly, beneath the engine’s roar and the grind of the single-track trundle churning snow as the girl left late to make it home. The blizzard, my … Continue reading

House by the River

by Don Johnson

“Earth is a door I cannot even face.” James Wright I read from left to right what the carpenters have hauled out during the renovation and stacked against the outside wall of the garage: coiled electrical cable, two five gallon … Continue reading

Mandolin in White Wood, Grain Count

by J. Camp Brown

       The Lord’s made of this spruce            an example:—been blighted, been burnt, but like the bush his huff stoked,        not, not yet, been burnt up.            By what little pitter-patter he seen fit, from scratch heap, through scrub,        been brought up:—though withered … Continue reading

Gretel in the City

by Annette Oxindine

She’ll tell you a story made hungry by woodsmoke, moondrunk by branches rune-cast on shut blinds. By the time she gets to you, she’ll taste of tin and brine and leather, just tugged off. Along the avenue, pretty eyes, all … Continue reading


by Alison Prine

I haven’t lived there for thirty-one years but my unicorn decal shines in the bedroom window. Through the floor we felt the deep vibration of the central air unit that hunkered beside the house. Hollow doors, drywall, thick patterned drapes, … Continue reading

Ode to a Forgotten Conversation

by Alison Prine

I sat at a diner years ago between a man I pretended to love and a woman I pretended not to. I reached across to punch the buttons on the jukebox, and poured more cream into my cup. Music held … Continue reading

Intersections — Neptune and Vienna

by Jessica Murray

This brazen tangle of ferrous metal is familiar to the city’s most well-fed pigeons, if we can judge by the ratio of sidewalk to droppings. W.H. Wainwright’s Wind Wheels, resurrected from Terminal C, now spins at the edge of the … Continue reading

Some Things That Allowed Us to Access Life’s Joys

by Kevin Phan

The saw’s water changed from clear to an earthy red ignition— the color of myself inside. Kara & I named the puddle beneath the Corolla The Gulf of Valvoline & rang the slick with our spits & laughter. A half-frozen … Continue reading