French Toast

A Short Story by
Dan McClenaghan


Mona strode through the café with the coffee pot, an eye out for half-full mugs. As she topped off the cup of a construction worker-looking guy on table eight, she felt a tap on her hip, from the fingertips of a thirtyish blonde lady at table nine, by the entrance. The lady wanted to know if the French toast that Mona’s co-waitress, Johanna, had delivered ten minutes before, could possibly be any colder.

Yes, it could be, Mona thought. I could stick it in the freezer for five minutes. Then it would be colder. But she said, “Oh, I’m so sorry. I’ll have the cook heat it up for you.”

frenchtoastShe plucked up the offensive meal and beelined for the service window, where she clunked the plate next to the order wheel and said to Ellis, the cook, “Hey, numb nuts, you wanna heat this up a little? Lady says she doesn’t like cold French toast.”

“Oh yeah? Well I don’t like mouthy waitresses, but I put up with ’em.”

Mona gave him a look that would have wilted a lesser man.

Ellis was undeterred. “Did you tell her it was cold because she sat there yakking on her cell phone for fifteen minutes after Johanna delivered it?”

“Just make me a fresh order, jack ass,” Mona hissed.

“Yeah. Right,” Ellis said to her back as she stepped out into the dining room to tell the French-toast lady that the cook would have her order—piping hot this time—right out.

The lady, who had resumed her cell phone use, gave Mona a quick nod and dismissive little wave of her fingers.

Ellis should have made a fresh order. The French toast that Mona had brought back was soaked in syrup that had dissolved the snow flake effect of the powdered sugar. But Ellis, gazing out at the offending woman whose mouth was now running in high gear again, sending communications of the highest importance bouncing off an orbiting satellite, decided he’d just put the tepid breakfast in the microwave and nuke the living shit out of it.

Mona returned, looked at the plate and protested. “This is the same French toast.” She wrinkled her nose at the steaming dish on the service window. “You didn’t make a fresh order.”

“So,” said Ellis.

The syrup, under the influence of three minutes in the microwave, had lost it viscosity. It was now a watery brown fluid bubbling virulently atop the French toast and on the plate beside it, tinting to a rich coffee color the flesh on the decorative slice of orange that Ellis added to the dish.

”There’s a bite out of it,” Mona said, her face crinkling into a grimace of disgust.

“It’s her bite,” Ellis said, nodding at the cell phone lady. “It won’t hurt her.”

“What a class act you are, what a five star chef.” Mona huffed. She picked up the plate and then dropped it immediately. It had soaked up the heat of the microwaved food and treated her to a painful burn. She mumbled “mother-something” at Ellis around the stinging finger she had stuck in her mouth, then folded a napkin to use as a hot pad, and carried the scalding meal out toward table nine.

A folded napkin is not a very effective hot pad. The heat, as Mona strode from the service window, bled through the paper. This increased her pace. She had achieved a screaming, full-on sprint by the time she approached table nine.

The cell phone lady, catching movement in her peripheral vision, turned to see the banshee-wailing waitress barreling at her. It looked like an imminent assault. She screamed, and Mona dropped the plate on her table. The cell phone lady took the scream into another dimension as the syrup—having regained a 30-weight, oil-like consistency on its brisk journey across the café—splattered dew-sized droplets of the sticky goop onto the lady’s face, and sloshed the caramelizing orange slice flip-flopping into the air and hitting the frightened woman in the cleft of the v-neck of her powder blue blouse as she rose from her chair, sticking between her breasts.

She dropped her cell phone and let out a whoop that shattered her empty water glass, as Mona reached out and peeled that burning half-moon of orange—along with a layer of skin—off the woman’s blistering sternum, leaving a scar the would not pale, and eventually found itself incorporated into a stylish, provocative tattoo.

About Dan McClenaghan

DanMcClenaghanMugI write stuff.

I began with my Ruth and Ellis/Clete and Juanita stories in the early 1980s. At the beginning of the new millennium I started writing reviews of jazz CDs, first at American Reporter, and then (and now) at All About Jazz. I’ve tried my hand at novels, without success.

I’ve been published in a bunch of small presses, most notably the now defunct Wormwood Review. This was in the pre-computer age, when we whomped up our stories on typewriters, then rolled down to Kinkos to make copies, which we stuck in manila envelopes, along with a return envelope with return postage attached. Times have changed.

Aside from the writing, I am married to the lovely Denise. We have three wonderful children and five beautiful grandchildren; and I am a two-time winner—1970 and 1971—of the Oceanside Bodysurfing Contest. Kowabunga!



Homeless in July in My Hometown

By Karla Cordero


homelessveteranA long ribbon of fireflies
& a man sleeps under the newspaper
A long ribbon of cloud people
in a homeless man’s sleep

A haystack of rotted hair
sits on his skull

An oak tree of weathered hair
sits all July summer long on his skull

Telephone wires string across our bodies & streets—
hang like veins & arteries all over us in the city
waiting for their time

fingertips between lovers
& we walk to work
no one sees how under newspaper a homeless man sleeps


About Karla Cordero

Born in the border town of Calexico, California, I started my new life in San Diego, whereKarlaCordero the weather spoils the living. I’m currently an MFA candidate at San Diego State University and the 2015 recipient of the Loft Literary Spoken Word Immersion Fellowship. I’m the editor of Spit Journal, a review dedicated to poetry and social justice.

My poetry is published or forthcoming in Word Riot, Words Dance Publishing, The Acentos Review, Gutters and Alleyways Anthology and elsewhere. My first chapbook, Grasshoppers Before Gods, will be published in 2015 by Dancing Girl Press. You can follow my passion for performance poetry at Spit Journal.

Photo credit: anOnymOnOus via a creative Commons license.


Writers Read at Fallbrook Library Presents Author Charles Degelman


A Bowl Full of Nails and Gates of Eden

Preceded by open mic for original poetry and prose

Date: Tuesday, August 11, from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
Location: Fallbrook Library, 124 S Mission, Fallbrook, 760-731-4650

CharlieDegelmanGatesEdenCharles Degelman is an author, editor and educator living in Los Angeles. His first novel, Gates of Eden, is a 1960s story of resistance, rebellion and love. The book garnered a silver medal from the 2012 Independent Publishers Book Awards. A Bowl Full of Nails, published earlier this year by Harvard Square Editions, is set in the counterculture of the 1970s. It was a finalist in the Bellwether Competition, sponsored by Barbara Kingsolver.

After graduating Harvard, Degelman left academia to become an antiwaBowlNailsr activist, political theater artist, musician, communard, carpenter, hard-rock miner, and itinerant gypsy trucker. When the dust settled, he returned to his first love, writing. In the 1990s he was swept up by the film world and the burgeoning digital industry where he wrote and produced documentary and educational films for TNT, Churchill Films, Pyramid Films, Philips Interactive Media and others. Titles include a feature-length biography of filmmaker John Huston for TNT and an award-winning biography of Mozart for Philips Interactive.

Charlie’s books will be available for sale and signing.

For more information about Writers Read, contact K-B Gressitt at or 760-522-1064.



The Irony of the Wooden Whipping Spoon

By Scott Gressitt


woodenspoonsI kept my distance from it, always aware of its place, the wooden handle sticking above the lip of the jar nestled in the corner of the hardest-to-reach spot on the kitchen counter.

I knew to clench when Mother reached for it, but I was consistently impressed by the fact that someone as un-athletic as she could move with such facility and accuracy, swooping the spoon from its resting position, and in one fluid motion land it, with a meaningful sting, on my ass.

The world changed one day when the motion of reach, grab, swing and connect was punctuated with a sharp crack.

What the hell?

Mother and I both stared incredulously at the floor, the bowl of the spoon and half its handle laying miserably at our feet.

We turned our heads simultaneously, like a precision swimming team, to look at the half still in Mother’s hand.

I laughed out loud. What a wonderful world.

She, too, laughed, despite a desperate attempt not to.

Father happened to step in the door at that prescient moment and, genius that he was, needed no further data to formulate a clear picture of what had transpired moments before.

Father was not annoyed in the least. In fact, he grinned an uncharacteristically boyish grin, amused by the ironic turn of events, and then his grin turned to a look of benevolence toward his wayward son.

“Well, boy, the winds of fate have blown your way today. Not to worry, I still have my belt. And Pat, I’ll pick up a new spoon for you this evening.”

I melted off into the horizon of my existence, wondering how God could be so fickle, meting out grace and judgment in the same breath.

About Scott Gressitt

ScottGressittMugAn amateur writer and rapscallion, I write of my past, a life laden with extraordinary events.

I have walked in places most of the population avoid.

Besides scars and bruises, I’ve collected experiences that frighten, delight and entertain.

I write with the intent to take you on a wild ride where all your senses are fully engaged.


Photo credit: Alan Levine via a Creative Commons license.

Memories of Belle

By Kit-Bacon Gressitt


memories lost friendship AlzheimersPictures of her adorn my house still, though we haven’t been friends for some years. Or we haven’t behaved as friends. I continue to think of her as one.

My friend—let’s call her “Belle”—she’s bright and lovely, so much more gracious than I, the perfect Southern lady I will never be. Belle came to me by word of mouth, I can’t recall whose. Don’t you love that sort of thing? Someone thought we’d like each other. Someone I’d thank, if I could remember.

In a photograph on the fridge, Bell and I are posed at a Halloween party, long forgotten—but not the captured moment. She stands behind me, in a flapper dress; I, in my husband’s cammies and flak jacket, helmet under my arm, fat cigar in hand. She has wrapped herself around me, rested her pretty face on my armored shoulder. That’s how we spent our years together, the years we behaved as friends.

Belle wrapped herself around my life and became a family fixture, expected, without need for invitation, at high days and holidays. She’d arrive other times, unannounced—a welcomed breach of Southern etiquette—to flop on the sofa, peruse the bookshelves, comment on the latest piece of art. She’d pour herself some wine, raid the fridge, have an occasional case of the vapors—venting the sorrow of an ill-kempt marriage, a clash of faiths, fears for a beloved son, things darker.

Mostly, though, we’d while away hours in conversation while my family snored—a duet of Southern twang and remnants of Baltimorese. We’d muse on the unfathomable, cry at the cruel, mourn our losses. Laughter sometimes trumped the darkness, not always, but we were sisters. We could survive anything. We’d always find a way to make the other laugh. At some point. We knew each other, really knew.

I wonder how many times it was that she concluded a moment of relationship frustration with “If only we were lesbians.”

We could have been lovers. If we’d been a bit more bi. If we hadn’t had husbands. If she hadn’t remembered the miasmic hurt of oppressive Southern nights, hairbrush handles and gentleman callers invading her childhood bed. If she hadn’t been guided to remember.

I never questioned her memories. Her feelings were real. She needed to express them, sometimes more virulently than others. When the need was great, Belle would wail at the “vile mother monster” who offered her up, while the torches of white-sheeted men flickered across her bedroom window. That’s how Belle recalled it.

Other times, she held the need quiet and clenched: “My mother was an evil bitch.”

My aches seemed relatively trivial. My dear mother was just a wee bit of a bitch—in my teen years, I suppose. But Belle and I held and rocked each other, encouraged and scolded, mothered and sistered as the need arose, without comparison. I was grateful that she fled the South and found her way to a place in my California home.

One day, though, one moment, Belle and I changed. It happened in my living room, amid a gathering of friends. It was so sudden, so simple, so devastating. I failed to honor her memories, to defend them from a curious other, an inquisitor asking for proof of her pain, and Belle left my sofa, my family, my life. She never returned.

I mused over the cause. I cried into her void. I mourned the loss of my dearest friend. And she was not there to make me laugh. Instead, I hung the pictures, so I’d never forget, and some years passed.

Not long ago, a friend of Belle’s contacted me. He thought I’d like to know what had become of her—she had so often spoken of me, he said.

He told me she’s living in an institution, a home for the forgetful. She has early onset Alzheimer’s, rapidly progressing.

I drove to the distant corner of the county to see Belle, to hold and rock her if she wished, to make her laugh if I could.

She rose from a table in the common dining room, bumped her way through wheelchairs, sidestepped fallen lettuce on the linoleum floor. She greeted me with her lovely smile, shook my hand warmly, but she did not know me.

We walked to the porch, commenting on the weather, and sat on a wicker love seat, the cushion protected with plastic. We did none of that pleasant catching up, prelude to more intimate talk. She couldn’t. Every other sentence was the start of a new conversation.

She handed me a piece of paper and asked me to write my name and phone number—a polite trick of the trade perhaps?

When I returned the paper, she held it out as far as she could reach—”Can’t imagine where I left my glasses”—read it, and jumped from the seat.

“Kit-Bacon? Kit-Bacon Gressitt?”

“Yes, that is I, it’s me, c’est moi.”

She clapped her hands and laughed. “Kit-Bacon, Kit-Bacon—how wonderful to see you!” She tucked the paper in her pocket, took my hand, sat back down and hugged me, laughing and repeating my name.

I had forgotten that laugh, Belle’s wild, ribald laugh, so unlike her gracious demeanor. It’s one of those small, dichotomous things I love about her. And with her moment of recognition, I hoped we might revisit our shared history. But in the next moment, she forgot who I am.

I lingered for a bit. We sat in the sun. I  asked Belle what she could remember. She mentioned her son, her “precious boy.” She mentioned her mother.

“Oh, I remember moving to California,” she said. “My dear, sweet mother, she helped me pack. She wrapped up all my favorite things for the road. What a sweet, sweet woman.”

I love you, Belle,

About Kit-Bacon Gressitt

Spawned by a Southern Baptist creationist and a liberal social worker, I inherited the requisite sense of humor to survive family dinner-table debates and the imagination to avoid them.

As the Sunday political columnist at the San Diego North County Times, I won awards, a Pulitzer Prize submission, a fan club, and death threats from angry readers—but the sales department loved me. More recently, I wrote book reviews for the paper, which is no longer: The U-T ate it.

In the last few years, the San Diego Poetry Annual has published some of my late-night poetry, and my creative nonfiction has been published by Trivia: Voices of Feminism and Ms. Magazine blog among others.

Today, the pocket gophers and hummingbirds keep me company while I write—yippee!

how to break up when you don’t even realize that’s what you’re doing


By Conney D. Williams


Deadboltthis morning I am on the toilet
releasing yesterday’s stench
she has decided to return home
doesn’t take her usual route
she doesn’t see the need
to utter goodbyes
tells me I can deadbolt the door
she left her words, unspoken
scattered across the coffee table
spilled on the tapestry rug
leaving stains that vibrato
from the fabric we’ve woven
the same words she swallowed
around 11:30 pm last night
when we were fucking
we fucked away the silence
fucked all the communication
cemented inside our mouths
tongues reeled backwards
to manhole the tepid breath
still rigid inside our larynx
no wonder my stomach boils
tenderness & touch
have become fossil
in my digestive tract and memory
I am unable to wipe quickly enough
before her disappointment
cascades across the laminate floor
bolts through the door and
chokes the oxygen between us
I am naked except
for the plaid pajamas
tangled around my ankles
I peer through a cracked door
Only her license plate
and exhaust smoke are in view
she isn’t honking
or waving that lover’s goodbye
no morning breath kiss
she can’t possibly feel the empty
stranded inside my gaze
can’t possibly taste the sour reflux
like bile upon my tongue
she can’t, cos’ if she did
she would stay or at least wait
I recoil to the coffee table’s edge
collapse next to her stale glass of wine
from the night before
tannins still wafting in my nostrils
her lipstick etched into the glass
like remembrances
I’m left to sort & file by category
in my vault of past relationships
I want to imagine her return
knocking loudly and cussing
when I allow her to re-enter
but she doesn’t, return
even though “I’m sorry baby”
is hushed inside my mouth
even though
I don’t believe that I was wrong
there is no text
or clandestine Facebook post
that only she and I recognize
we are both out of context
speaking in ways intended
to sever love’s connective tissue
she drives away from the intersection
disposes us along her route
like Aaron Hernandez’s missing gun
still warm from murder
never to be recovered
I find my way back to the toilet
and continue shitting
like it’s all I know how to do


About Conney D. Williams

ConneyConney D. Williams is a Los Angeles based poet, actor and performance artist, originally from Shreveport, Louisiana, where he worked as a radio personality.

Conney’s first collection of poetry, Leaves of Spilled Spirit from an Untamed Poet, was published in 2002. His poetry has also been published in various journals and anthologies including Voices from Leimert Park; America: At the End of the Day; and The Drumming Between Us. His newest collection, Blues Red Soul Falsetto, was published in December 2012.

Conney has performed his poetry on television, radio, galleries, universities, grade schools, coffeehouses, and stages around Southern California and across the country, including the Black Arts Festival. He is a talented public speaker with more than thirty years of experience.

Read more about Conney at

Deadbolt photo credit: Quillons via a Creative Commons license

In Praise of Janet Reno and Other Bean Poles

By Penny Perry


Janet Renoshe stands a little stooped in a drab black dress
loosely covering her comfortable paunch
hair cut short, small eyes peer through glasses
she could be the lady who plays piano
at Sunday school or the reference librarian
but she is Janet Reno, the attorney general
she and the president have just fired
the head of the FBI

in the classrooms of the 50s
she would have been told: “Don’t worry dear.
Boys will shoot up to you. Meanwhile, fluff
up your hair. Try to smile more.”

Michelle, Leslie, and Nina Lou
were bean poles at Lincoln Junior High
they found new ways to slouch
one should slid, breasts tucked into abdomens
knees buckled
anything to drop seven inches to cheerleader height

at our tenth year high school reunion
Michelle, at six one, wore hot pants and a halter
she had “filled out in all the right places
the boys who used to call her bean pole
stared at her and she stared back
there was something vengeful in her smile
and that slow swivel of her hips
as she danced with each of them

when asked if she were a lesbian
Janet said she was as romantic about handsome men
as many other middle aged spinsters might be
being single was not the most important
fact of her life

maybe she’s made life easier for the Michelles
Leslies and Nina Lous.
maybe they’ll be less afraid to tower
over their dancing partners
or raise their hands to answer every question


About Penny Perry

PennyPerryKateHardingMugPenny Perry is a six-time Pushcart Prize nominee in poetry and fiction. Her work has appeared in California Quarterly, Lilith, Redbook, Earth’s Daughter, the Paterson Literary Review and the San Diego Poetry Annual.

Her first collection of poems, Santa Monica Disposal & Salvage (Garden Oak Press, 2012) earned praise from Marge Piercy, Steve Kowit, Diane Wakoski and Maria Mazziotti Gillan.

I write under two names, Penny Perry and Kate Harding.

Painting of Attorney General Janet Reno by Dorothy Swain Lewis via the U.S. Department of Justice.


A Flower for the Graves

By Eugene Patterson

Originally published in The Atlanta Constitution on September 16, 1963


A Negro mother wept in the street Sunday morning in front of a Baptist Church in Birmingham. In her hand she held a shoe, one shoe, from the foot of her dead child. We hold that shoe with her.

Every one of us in the white South holds that small shoe in his hand.

It is too late to blame the sick criminals who handled the dynamite. The FBI and the police can deal with that kind. The charge against them is simple. They killed four children.

Only we can trace the truth, Southerner — you and I. We broke those children’s bodies.

We watched the stage set without staying it. We listened to the prologue unbestirred. We saw the curtain opening with disinterest. We have heard the play.

We — who go on electing politicians who heat the kettles of hate.

We — who raise no hand to silence the mean and little men who have their nigger jokes.

We — who stand aside in imagined rectitude and let the mad dogs that run in every society slide their leashes from our hand, and spring.

We — the heirs of a proud South, who protest its worth and demand it recognition — we are the ones who have ducked the difficult, skirted the uncomfortable, caviled at the challenge, resented the necessary, rationalized the unacceptable, and created the day surely when these children would die.

This is no time to load our anguish onto the murderous scapegoat who set the cap in dynamite of our own manufacture.

He didn’t know any better.

Somewhere in the dim and fevered recess of an evil mind he feels right now that he has been a hero. He is only guilty of murder. He thinks he has pleased us.

We of the white South who know better are the ones who must take a harsher judgment.

We, who know better, created a climate for child-killing by those who don’t.

We hold that shoe in our hand, Southerner. Let us see it straight, and look at the blood on it. Let us compare it with the unworthy speeches of Southern public men who have traduced the Negro; match it with the spectacle of shrilling children whose parents and teachers turned them free to spit epithets at small huddles of Negro school children for a week before this Sunday in Birmingham; hold up the shoe and look beyond it to the state house in Montgomery where the official attitudes of Alabama have been spoken in heat and anger.

Let us not lay the blame on some brutal fool who didn’t know any better.

We know better. We created the day. We bear the judgment. May God have mercy on the poor South that has so been led. May what has happened hasten the day when the good South, which does live and has great being, will rise to this challenge of racial understanding and common humanity, and in the full power of its unasserted courage, assert itself.

The Sunday school play at Birmingham is ended. With a weeping Negro mother, we stand in the bitter smoke and hold a shoe. If our South is ever to be what we wish it to be, we will plant a flower of nobler resolve for the South now upon these four small graves that we dug.



The Saga of Clete and Juanita’s Pool, Part 2

A Short Story by
Dan McClenaghan

Read Part 1, “The Possibilities of Zero G,” here.


Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 1.28.31 PM

A U.S. government satellite flies over Clete and Juanita Johnson’s house. Regularly. It’s spying.

A half a decade earlier, a meteorite plowed into the Johnson’s backyard, and, though the space rock proved itself legitimate—a mystery stone from somewhere deep in the cosmos—the specter of terrorism was still on Uncle Sam’s mind, fed by the facts that the laws of gravity had changed in the airspace over the resulting crater and that the dense rocks sifted from the hole by the Astronomy Department of the University of California San Diego and then confiscated by the Department of Homeland Security, would—on a schedule as yet undetermined—rise up from the steel tables and float around the government’s secret research lab. After the hoopla of the meteorite strike had died down—society has a very short collective attention span—Clete had a swimming pool put in, at a discount since the hole had been dug for him—by God, he would say with a wink and a grin.

The pictures from the spy satellite have been revelatory: Ellis Leahy, the Johnson’s next door neighbor, stepping onto the pool’s surface and walking across the water, from one side to the other, to get his beer from the ice chest beside Clete’s barbecue; the Johnson’s Chihuahua, Ginger, leaping off the diving board and soaring over the turquoise water like a sparrow; Ruth, Ellis’s wife, along with her friend Juanita, rising up from the pool cloaked in a shimmering, wobbling globe of chlorinated water that breaks into a million small globules and drops softly back to the surface, along with the ladies; and the pool itself, all thousands of gallon of water pulling up like a gob of taffy, then exploding into a universe of debris that forms itself out of its entropy into stars and galaxies and solar systems filled with planets—some of them harboring life—before collapsing in on itself and dropping back home into the cement-lined crater in the Johnson’s backyard.

All of this had been observed and recorded, but the thing that lit a fire under the Homeland Security guys and got them out from behind their computers and into “the field” with their cameras, was the pool party hosted by Megan Leahy and Evangeline “Vangie’ Johnson, the plans for which were discovered via intercepted text messages.

Megan and Vangie, daughters of Ruth and Ellis and Clete and Juanita, respectively, both of them pushing hard at thirty years of age, shared a childhood as next door neighbors. Now they share an apartment on the east side of Loma Alta, in what has come to be known as Posole Town. They also share a profession: cocktail waitressing at competing Indian casinos in the North San Diego backcountry.

When Vangie found out her parents, Clete and Juanita, were headed to Las Vegas, via a text message from her mother, she texted Megan in a casino-to-casino message, in all capital letters: MOM AND DAD VEGAS BOUND. POOL PARTY THIS WEEKEND, SWIM SUITS OPTIONAL!!!

So the Feds, who’d been listening, sent a SWAT Team to the party, and from their surveillance vantage points—high in a eucalyptus tree in the ravine behind Clete and Juanita’s house and another from the canopy of a sycamore just up the hill—they observed bacchanalian goings on: hard drinking, nudity in the pool, various pairings disappearing to the house for suspected couplings, and finally a huge and gelatinous ball of the cool water pulling up out of its source with a dozen partiers in its embrace, their bodies bare, slightly magnified and distorted, wavering, enjoying a salubrious respite from the maladies of gravity.

The Fed guys decided against a manned assault. Instead, they sent a drone in with a bomb. It pierced the glob of water and exited the far side on an altered trajectory that took it over the fence into the airspace over Ruth and Ellis Leahy’s yard, its soaked explosive nullified. The water-logged motors sputtered and coughed and died before the craft crashed into the back of the Leahy’s house with no explosion, just minor damage to the stucco from the impact. Simultaneously, the globe of water broke into a dozen separate entities, each containing a single human. The Feds got this on film, illuminated by their powerful search lights, making each levitating person appear to be wrapped in a bio-luminescent cocoon that dropped softly back into the swimming pool to merge once again into a collective.

Ruth Leahy, on the other side of the fence, came out to investigate the crash against her wall. She’d heard it over the TV that she’d turned up to drown out the sound of the party, a soiree that she knew was being hosted by her Megan and Clete and Juanita’s Vangie—she’d seen their cars in the driveway next door. She thought somebody at the party had thrown a full beer can over the fence, as people will, but she discovered the drone, one that didn’t look like it was set up to deliver her DeNio’s pizza or Ellis’ Walmart Viagra. It had ominous wires and a black box that might as well have had the word “bomb” written on it. She called 911. The local police sent in the bomb squad.

Next door, the party dissipated, a wet blanket thrown on its fervor by the Fed’s search lights, their invasive drone, and the arrival of the police.

The water in Clete and Juanita’s pool glimmered silently, at rest for the time being.

And the film that the Fed guys took was leaked. It showed up on YouTube, got millions of hits, and was almost immediately dismissed as a hoax by all but a few wild-eyed and paranoid crackpots.

About Dan McClenaghan

DanMcClenaghanMugI write stuff.

I began with my Ruth and Ellis/Clete and Juanita stories in the early 1980s. At the beginning of the new millennium I started writing reviews of jazz CDs, first at American Reporter, and then (and now) at All About Jazz. I’ve tried my hand at novels, without success.

I’ve been published in a bunch of small presses, most notably the now defunct Wormwood Review. This was in the pre-computer age, when we whomped up our stories on typewriters, then rolled down to Kinkos to make copies, which we stuck in manila envelopes, along with a return envelope with return postage attached. Times have changed.

Aside from the writing, I am married to the lovely Denise. We have three wonderful children and five beautiful grandchildren; and I am a two-time winner—1970 and 1971—of the Oceanside Bodysurfing Contest. Kowabunga!

Photo credit: Satellite image via Google Maps.


Summer’s Drought in My Ankle

By Karla Cordero


In my ankle
small wind
stirs in the grass

In my ankle
grass fiddles
their thumbs

In my ankle
sailor’s ships
are locked in ice—

my country’s story
is a locked joint—
a car-smoked-bone



About Karla Cordero

Born in the hot little border town of Calexico, California, I started my new life in San Diego where the weather spoils the living. I’m currently an MFA candidate at San Diego State University, studying creative writing under Sandra Alcosser and Illya Kaminsky. Aside from the graduate life, I’m an associate editor for Poetry International and my work has appeared in the California Journal of Women Writers.

In 2013, I helped the San Diego poetry slam team place fourth in the country at the National Poetry Slam in Boston. I believe that activism exists in the ability to pick up a pen and paper, transforming one’s thoughts into a tangible action for change.


Photo credit: K-B Gressitt