Little Brown Brother By Nick Carbó


I’ve always wanted to play the part
of that puckish pubescent Filipino boy

in those John Wayne Pacific-War movies.
Pepe, Jose, or Juanito would be smiling,

bare-chested and eager to please
for most of the steamy jungle scenes.

I’d be the one who would cross
the Japanese lines and ask for tanks,

air support, or more men. I’d miraculously
make it back to the town where John Wayne

is holding his position against the enemy
with his Thompson machine-gun. As a reward,

he’d rub that big white hand on my head
and he’d promise to let me clean

his Tommy gun by the end of the night. But
then, a Betty Grable look-a-like love

interest would divert him by sobbing
into his shoulder, saying how awfully scared

she is about what the “Japs” would do
to her if she were captured. In one swift

motion, John Wayne would sweep her off
her feet to calm her fears inside his private quarters.

Because of my Hollywood ability
to be anywhere, I’d be under the bed

watching the woman roll down her stockings
as my American hero unbuckles his belt

I’d feel the bottom of the bed bounce off my chest
as small-arms fire explodes outside the walls.


First published in El Grupo McDonald’s (Tia Chucha, 1995). Reprinted by permission on Nick Carbó.



Nick Carbó has edited two anthologies of Filipino literature, Returning a Borrowed Tongue: An Anthology of Filipino and Filipino American Poetry (1995) and Babaylan: An Anthology of Filipina and Filipina American Writers (2000), and coedited the anthology Sweet Jesus: Poems About the Ultimate Icon (2002) with Denise Duhamel. His honors and awards include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts and residencies from the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, Fundacion Valparaiso, and Le Château de Lavigny. His collections of poetry include El Grupo McDonald’s (1995); Secret Asian Man (2000), which won an Asian American Literary Award; and Andalusian Dawn (2004). Carbó’s work can be humorous, even satirical, in his examinations of American pop culture and its influence on Asian countries such as the Philippines. He told National Public Radio, “By writing about these influences, it’s my way of kicking back.”

Quincy, California by Tony Gloeggler


The kind of town we stopped
for gas and asked directions
to that hillside inn ten years ago
When it rained and rained
and we stayed in bed, lost count
of the times we came and came

Kind of town you now live in
with your second husband, split
level home, road side mail box

Town you called from late last night
to tell me about the sharp pains
the red shredded things
that dropped into the water
as you sat on the toilet stool
forty years old, wanting your first child


First published in Mudfish.



Tony Gloeggler is a life-long resident of New York City, having managed group homes for the mentally challenged in Brooklyn for over 35 years. His work has appeared in Rattle, Raleigh Review, Chiron Review, New Ohio Review, Spillway, Moon City Review, and Juked. His full length books include One Wish Left (Pavement Saw Press 2002) and Until The Last Light Leaves (NYQ Books 2015). His next book will be published by NYQ Books in 2019.


Photograph by Tom Spross.

Arroyo Speaks by Paul Mairet


The water in this land is scarce and cursed.
It ripped through earth and ran, gave birth to me,
a sun-dried orphaned cradle, orphaned thirst,
a bed in which a band of scorpions speak

in clicks on shadowed rocks. You’ll never hear
such talk because your ears aren’t made of earth.
You only hear his clicking tongue; your fear
has tied you to the gun he aims at her.

She only hears the fairies in the hut
she built beneath the pinyon like a grave.
She doesn’t know a year before your love
gave birth to her, the strychnine killer gave

a poisoned hot dog to your trusting hound,
smiling as he watched her wolf it down.



Paul Mairet is a poet and educator who currently teaches in Michigan Tech’s English Language Institute. He also works as an assistant to poet and writer David Mura and is ever grateful to him, Wang Ping, and Kristin Naca for their mentorship.


Painting, Dry Arroyo, California, by D. Howard Hitchcock.

Original photograph by idoterna.

Still by D.R. James


It all recurs for the maimed, how they remain,
or don’t, atop the plots of the buried. Those
who could do something table the question.
They relax in the rocker of their certainty,
a war, any war, an abstraction that walls off
the bursting specifics. A twenty-something friend
found he’d deployed to sort body parts. Arrayed,
they’d survive the fever sweeping a land we
could never know. Welcomed by the white-blue
atrium of a foreign sky, he’d prowl his perimeter
until his duty tapped him. Then the oven-sun
would relight his nightmare, the categories
of bone and flesh his production line. What
achievement could signal his success? What
dream in the meantime could relieve raw nerve?
The perfect tour would end when he was still
in one piece, a nation’s need ignoring the gore
behind the games, the horror nestling into
the still-living because still in one piece.


First published in Tuck.



D. R. James has taught college writing, literature, and peace-making for 34 years and lives in the woods near Saugatuck, Michigan. Poems and prose have appeared in a variety of journals and anthologies, his latest of eight poetry collections are If god were gentle (Dos Madres Press) and Surreal Expulsion (The Poetry Box), and his microchapbook All Her Jazz is free and downloadable-for-the-folding at Origami Poems Project.


Photograph by Gunnery Sgt. Mark Olivia, USMC.

Unfamiliar Face of Death by Lazar Trubman


Nagorno-Karabakh: May, 1988

Death has an unfamiliar face,
a face of a drunken, unshaved man;
red bulged eyes, bad breath,
strength, muddy boots, AK-47…
Begging for mercy – logs in the fire:
burn, baby, burn;
scream, woman, scream;
cry, old man, cry…
It’s over now; it’s in the memory
of our god-forsaken earth…

Afterword: June 1994

In the street in front of a hotel
two children are playing;
a boy of five, rachitic,
and a girl with a toy pistol:
they are playing on a serious note,
and the little boy,
rather petulant and unwilling,
is told to stand up
against the piss-stained wall;
he can’t understand that he is then
supposed to fall down;
the girl shows him how –
with all the experience
of her seven years…



Lazar Trubman is a college professor from Moldavia, one of the republics which comprised the former USSR. He immigrated to the United States in 1990, after spending four years as a political prisoner in Northern Russia. He was assigned to Arizona, where he taught the Theory of Literature and Roman languages for twenty-two years. In 2017, he retired to devote his time to writing. Since then, his poetry and prose appeared in Forge Magazine, The New Reader, Kissing Dynamite, Bending Genres, Lit Mag, and others. A collection of his poems and prose is forthcoming from Adelaide Books in July 2019.

Pontneddfechan by Phil Wood


We trudge beside a rain-happy river,
busy with Dippers, squabbling for mates and nests.
It makes a change with no one about, she said.
The mud is squelchy, a primal glue. Waterfalls
cascade the ancient voices of hillside streams.

There’s a dead sheep nestled in silica rock
across the river. Headless. It spooks us both.
In these lichen-coated oak, where air dampens
the moss bright stone, a breath of the old ways
whispers myth. Daft I know. Such places gather belief.



Phil Wood was born in Wales. He has previously worked in Education, Shipping, and a biscuit factory. His writing can be found in various publications, including The Poetry Shed, Snakeskin, Ink Sweat and Tears, and London Grip.

My Mother Named Me America by Kathryn Collins


My Mother Named Me America

without knowing that my coyote father
had been disappeared somewhere
in the wild whooping marshes of Socorro.
She could not know that his last gasping
thought was for the feel of her
long lashes
fluttering against his chest.

That was before I began
screaming with a hunger she couldn’t
to sate. My gummy voice was impossible
to understand,
just like the doctors
who hastened to clear her bed
for the next welfare case.

Later, when loss seeded her lungs
a wet whooping of her own
her native desert called to her between the shouts of
binners and sandwich-board men. Even
the cracked palms of the man who brought
to the creek bank we called home
couldn’t hold her here.

If she had known, would she have stayed
at her uncle’s hacienda
until she couldn’t plead
no señor,
no, anymore. Would she have left
if she had known
her daughter’s voice would cry
those same words into the night?

At least here there was
a chance,
space to fill out her hopes.
Nowhere is perfect, but at least
my world is built with white words
and white violence.



Kathryn Collins’ essays and poetry have been published in CALYX, Flyaway Journal of Writing, The Rumpus, Months to Years, and Robo Book through Bank Heavy Press. She received her MA in Professional Fiction Writing from the University of Denver and currently works as a librarian. After a long period as an expat in Germany, Israel and Australia, she has returned home to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.

#Mountains: Women Are Mountains Scattered by Wren Tuatha


Red pill/green pocket/squire, asks then takes anyway,
can you see me or the planet from a crag in Arkansas?
Gynic peaks pull the moon in you by a string.

What do you orbit? How do you know when to alight if land
and women are mountains scattered, grounded but shifting
unfinished? You and Mohammed, playing pipes at mountains.

Two peaks, one in Africa, the other Appalachia, pour
water that makes the moonbow, marrying light and vapor.
Only two places on Earth does the moon lay this lyric.

Mountains in Nepal listen to gunfire. In Kentucky they
lay down for clean coal, rebranded. Lung forests in Sierras
truck downhill. Peaks in Switzerland take the breath away,

rare oxygen. Do you see me on the planet from Alps, Everest
or Kilimanjaro? Rice terraces and the perfect elevation
for quinoa. Who are you feeding? Who comes to the table?

Not women. When restless we erupt, rebranding, renewing.
We sway slow on our plates. My skin has regrown after lavas.
Sit down. Your babbling is corrosive, a tune in smoke while women

chisel, turn spokes. Narcissus drowning and other irrelevant kings.
No matter your heights, a king convinced of his wings and his view
brought us to this ledge.


First published in Thistle and Brilliant, Finishing Line Press. 



Califragile founding editor Wren Tuatha’s poetry has appeared in The Cafe Review, Canary, Peacock Journal, Coachella Review, Baltimore Review, Pirene’s Fountain, Loch Raven Review, Clover, Lavender Review and others. She’s pursuing her MFA at Goddard College.  Her chapbooks, Thistle and Brilliant and the forthcoming Skeptical Goats, are from Finishing Line Press. Wren and her partner, author/activist C.T. Butler, herd rescue goats in the Camp Fire burn zone of California.