Joanne Limburg envies Heroes' Sylar and Elle

Sylar and Elle  
Into the midst of things more real
and personal, creep Sylar and Elle.
She is shaking with grief and rage;
he wants to know if he can feel
for someone else, he covets pain.
So he approaches her, this girl
whose father he scalped some episodes back,
and she cries You! and zaps him. And again.
I’ll kill you! Zap! She hurls blue lightning
from her palms, it hits him dead
in the chest, and he falls back, his arms
spread wide, a T-shaped allusion to something –
make that ‘someone’ –  the viewers know,
and maybe love, and maybe pray to.
Then, in case you hadn’t got it,
he gets up.  He has no wounds to show
but he looks chastened, and his shirt’s
in charcoaled tatters. I understand,
he coos. You hate me. Let me have it:
I can take it.  She slings her hurts
again. Again. The shirt is gone
completely. His body twitches back
to life, as we expect. He’s keeping
calm. He’s kept his trousers on.
Elle’s given up, she’s emptied
of her hate.  His work complete,
Sylar crawls to her, the blue
sparks in his hands, all mended,
and they laugh. I never want
the scene to end, but it must.
I want to do what Elle does, give it
all to Sylar, but I can’t.
*Joanne Limburg has published two books of poetry with Bloodaxe, Femenismo (2000) and Paraphernalia (2007), which was a PBS Recommendation. The Woman Who Thought Too Much, a memoir about anxiety, OCD and poetry, came out last year.

This poem first appeared in Poetry Salzburg Review last year.

Read More

Andrew McCallum Crawford on more of the weird and wonderful…

The Weird and Wonderful World of TEFL  #16 – #20


It's late. The place is heaving. The barman has a pony tail growing out the front of his head. We're with a Canadian tourist. 'So what do you like about Greece?' he says. 'Easy,' says Mark. 'I can walk into any bar in this town and I know I won't get hassle.' I go to the jacks. When I come back, the barman is standing on the counter, pummelling some unfortunate punter with a length of wood. When he's done, he props the wood in the corner and slicks back his pony tail. Mark gets another round in. The Canadian can't take his eyes off the body twitching on the floor.

# 17

Danny's the man. He reminds me of my dad, which is strange, because Danny plays the guitar and looks like David Bowie. 'I've actually met him,' he tells me. 'When I was at Uni. He wasn't very famous then. I had to ask him how to pronounce his name. 'Bowie', as in 'Bowie knife'.' I'm impressed. 'That's nothing, though,' he smiles through his big squint teeth. 'You should hear Bowie's story about meeting me.'

# 18

Saturday afternoon, and the sun is beating down. We're at a table on the pavement. The phone goes. It's Danny's wife. 'Yeah, it'll be a while yet,' he tells her. 'We're still on the first one.' He sits down. 'Must be a bummer when you have to lie to her like that,' I say, as Danny prises the top off another bottle. 'Not at all,' he says, and counts the empties at his feet. 'It's still the first crate, int it?'

# 19

Danny works at the British Council. He's laughing. 'Get this,' he says. 'The Director reckons there's too much drinking going on. He put a note on the fridge in the staffroom. 'No more beer in here!'.' Fair enough, I think. Teachers. Alcoholics all. The Director's a bit of a dick, though; he reckons he can play the cello. 'Did it work?' I ask. 'Oh, yes,' Danny smiles. 'When I opened it this morning it was full of wine.'

# 20

'Right,' says Ray. 'Tonight's the night.' It's Ray's 21st. He wants to pop his cherry. Danny reckons he knows the score. We fall into a taxi. The place is down the fish market. We climb the stairs. There's music behind the door. Mozart. I'm shitting myself, even though it's not my party. Danny pushes the wood and we fall inside like the three stooges. A fat, naked old woman is sitting in a wicker chair, red under the light. She shakes her head. I don't know how Danny feels, but I'm relieved. Ray stomps down the stairs. Still a virgin.

* Andrew McCallum Crawford is a Scottish writer who lives in Greece. His work has appeared in Lines Review and the Athens News. His first novel, Drive!, a comic tale of 1980s Edinburgh, rock music and attempted murder, is available from Skepdek Publishing.

Read More

Tim Turnbull is making a move


It is
a struggle
some days
to set
one foot
in front of
the other.

My, that
is, your,
that is,
our, eyes
fail, her
hair fails,
his lungs

fail, civil
fails and
falls. Great
rise, rise
and fall.

my friend.
Let's take
this one
step at
a time
and then–


Let’s go!

* Tim Turnbull's most recent collection Caligula on Ice and Other Poems is published by Donut Press. He lives in Scotland where he works on adult literacy projects, poetry and, at present, a series of horror-ish stories. His website is here.

Read More

Bob Johnson is enjoying unicorn dumplings

Unicorn Dumplings
we’re chasing a lovely ghost
through a shrapnel storm.
hurricane windsock tongues
& anarchist party favors
bellow revolution hymns
above an anxious orchestra
of red sirens, blue bruises
car fires and bone thumps.
freedom looks magical
painted in bloody screams.
head wound says social change
is like unicorn dumplings;
it doesn’t exist. it never has.
oh, thank you so much officer.
I’ve always wondered
how my nose would look
purple, staring up at me
from a dirty sidewalk.
zeal hopes next time will
be better. If we're lucky,
they’ll kill every one of us.

* Bob Johnson lives in Texas and writes “This is my first submission to IS&T. But, I have been enjoying the poetry and prose for awhile. I especially enjoyed Coffee Cup by Kelly Oziemblo, which I might have never had the joy of reading if you hadn't posted it. It is brilliant. Thanks for that.”

Read More

Four haiku for Friday by Bill Cooper

cranberry bog
a honeybee drains
the pink flower

darkening sky
orange leaves
a deeper glow

green tea
the taste
of distant stone
slanting sun
red ivy
on grey stone

* William (Bill) Cooper is the Distinguished University Professor and President Emeritus, University of Richmond (Virginia).

Read More

Book Review – Bobby Parker reviews Thought Disorder

Thought Disorder by Joshua Jones
Published by Knives Forks & Spoons Press

Finally, a poet who can reach me on this lonely plateau, where middle-aged duds circle my malnourished bookshelf like vultures flapping wings of twee verse, their pretty beaks sharpened on domestic landscapes I couldn’t give a fuck about.

Joshua Jones writes strange, witty poems that, wrapped in the everyday, carefully bridge the gap between surrealism and a charming way of looking at the world from the point of view of a manic, beard stroking hipster.

He explores perception with a philosophical edge and a self-awareness that reaches beyond itself and floats around in a wilful, poststructural bubble floating in and out of the self and the people around him.

In these poems, Tom Waits growls with ‘a question mark that dangles / like a poisonous snake.’ CCTV cameras tell him ‘you’ll never know yourself / I will always know more.’ And his mind ‘is a room full of men aging / stupidly quickly / running around / after the notion of flesh’ (this reminds me of Francis Bacon’s paintings, always a good thing).

Thought Disorder is broken into four parts, with sharp, penetrating poetry and playful prose flickering side by side. There is also a sense of menace rubbing its hands between the lines, though not enough to make you anxious, it is enough to make you question your own place in this world of juxtapositions and fragile relationships.  

The metaphors are striking, ‘a splurge of rain / like blood from a headshot/ splattered / across the windscreen.’ and quirky ‘When I was a kid this guy spoke / of the horizon / told me how / everything looks smaller there / like backgrounds in cartoons.’
Overall, I would say buy this book for two reasons, 1: because this may be the antidote you have been looking for, and 2: because without it you might start feeding the vultures.   

… reviewed by Bobby Parker

Read More

Jeffrey McDonald has some instructions for the uninspired

Instructions for the Uninspired

Been around long enough?
Tried and failed?
Moved, changed, married, divorced, a make up, a break up?
Screamed into a pillow!
You can write something with a
unique voice.
Something that no one else in the world
could write.
No one, but you.
Just keep it personal.
If it doesn’t have
your voice
in there
then anyone could have written it.
What does a person who has:
Lived in Grand Junction,
owned a yellow car named Butterbox
got punched in front of everyone in fourth grade
and rode every roller coaster in Ohio,
think about wild lilies?
If that’s you
go write about lilies.
A schizophrenic
yarn collector
that’s artificially inseminated an emu,
saw the Spice Girl’s movie in the theatre
and has a mom and four sisters named Olivia
See the arc in the air after the squirrel’s jump from oak to feeder?
Your life has made you unique.
Eliminate random variables.
Until you’re alone in the world.
Find that voice.
And write from there.

* Jeffrey McDonald writes poetry and short stories from his home in Brooklyn, New York.  His work has been featured in Haggard & Halloo, The New Verse News, and The Mine Falls Press 2010 Anthology Best Stories From the Shelf.

Read More