"Don't use the phone. People are never ready to answer it. Use poetry." -Jack Kerouac

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Mat Black Online Magazine Inaugural Issue- February

Featured Authors

Howie Good
Matt Ryan
Kenneth P. Gunrney
Dave Davis
Steve Klepetar 
Gerald So 

Paul Lewellan 

(February 2011)


Howie Good

Howie Good is the author of the full-length poetry
collections Lovesick (Press Americana, 2009), Heart With a
Dirty Windshield (BeWrite Books, 2010), and Everything
Reminds Me of Me (Desperanto, 2011).


A little blonde from Tacoma screams your name while having
drunken sex with a sailor.  White light floods the engine
room. What did they expect would happen? He wouldn’t
remove his hat.

The moment you look away, everything becomes something
else – shipwreck, massacre, plague. You start to make a
list. In former days the overseer’s lash was a dried
bull’s penis.

Chained to their oars, galley slaves would shit where they
sat. Slit your eyelid if you wish to see more.

Search parties themselves have gotten lost and with only a
sleeve of stale Saltines in the breadbox. On visiting day
you bring her a pair of dancing mice. The anxious
expression on her face says, If anyone finds a key to a
Volkswagen, please let me know.

Matt Ryan

Matt Ryan is the author of Read This Or You’re Dead To Me (forthcoming from Hopewell Publications). He is the publisher and editor of the poetry press, Lowbrow Press, the fiction editor of Best New Writing and teaches creative and academic writing at Concordia St. Paul University.

Matt Ryan the Poet Threatens Matt Ryan the Atlanta Falcons Quarterback
Matt Ryan the Quarterback, your parents should have used a lambskin condom, rather than give you a pigskin ball that you cover with your seed and throw at my self-esteem, impregnating my insecurities, which I store in a hog-like hump in the belly of my numberless shirt. 
This name we share is boring, though I am older, had it first, I’m guessing you want me to give it back. The part of me that’s Indian thinks you’re politically incorrect for suggesting this. The stadiums that rise like an army of Custer’s men who chant their allegiance to you don’t care that my name is my land that you stole, a brass nameplate that you squeezed into glitter and hoisted into the air at a party that I wasn’t invited to. No, I was left to sit at my desk and call an audible with a poem that I will fumble inside your brain, taunting you with the story of the falcon that took its own reflection as a rival and attacked it until death. 
Matt Ryan the Quarterback, I am your enemy. When you flex your biceps and gaze into the looking glass, I am on the other side, tuning into my inner Archimedes who used mirrors to burn Roman ships. I’ll look into a polished piece of obsidian, admire my underappreciated good looks, chisel the igneous rock into an arrowhead that I’ll aim, with the precision of a seed drill, and plant a field of starflowers into your athletic frame, that you can’t help but pick and swallow until you overdose on your own celebrity. 

Hook The Stroller To The Earthquake
This is my memoir: that of a fetus not yet conceived but still accomplished enough to have its own reality show. Before my soon-to-be parents share their first kiss in front of a jukebox playing “You Shook Me All Night Long,” I was contacted via a Ouija board by a Hollywood agent. This cat said I didn’t have to waste one of my lives in the Ozarks. My eventual mother contacted Lindsay Lohan’s parents for advice and it looks like we’re a go. The agent’s plastic surgeon will give me a butt that’s bigger than Kim Kardashian’s. He promised that the San Andreas Fault of my ass will safeguard my candy and cocaine when life’s seismic waves do their thing. Arkansas may have the occasional earthquake, but their residents don’t understand them, and when you don’t understand something, bad feelings always follow. Wal-Mart recognizes the threat my anus poses and announces over the intercom that everyone hates me. Guess I’ll go eat worms. This message will be packed into a super-sized box and mass-produced. Once the TV viewers despise me, I will make so many people billionaires. My book will include the story of Perez Hilton describing the scent of a drunken woman whose perfume smelled like bait.

The Geometry teacher steps up to his students who are peering into the Bermuda Triangle. They think Geometry has no real world application. It’s what you call equilateral, he says, before pushing them into the portal that heretofore collected airplanes and ships. He’s one square who will always say no to the hammer. You can’t pound him into the hole. You’re going in, he says to the striped balls on the pool table. He understands the angles but none of the kids in the hall will play him in a game of billiards. Probably because he calls it billiards. He points to the corner pocket, watches the ball go in and winks at the librarian. This is where he took her on their first date. His bevel protractor is used to measure the three remaining balls. The exact degree of his favorite angle is a high number. This room is hot. He asks if he can determine the axis of symmetry of her perky parabolas. She takes out her magic ball, shakes it and waits for the words on a pyramid to emerge from the dark waters.

Kenneth P. Gunrney

Kenneth P. Gurney lives in Albuquerque, NM, USA.  He edits the NM poetry anthology Adobe Walls.  To view his full biography, publishing credits and available books visit http://www.kpgurney.me/Poet/Welcome.html


the piano
with tuna
so the cat
the keys

May Be Too Far Away

This morning I woke before the sun and when I turned the light on
roaches scattered for the wall and under the sink.

I sleep with that feeling of ants crawling all over my skin
and often wake swatting my mouth and eyes.

The fog pushes through the open window
as I place my fried eggs and potatoes down on the table,

next to a book I’ve pretended to read on the recommendation of a blogger,
but I really have no interest in the depressed, suicidal characters.

It is not far fetched to suggest that this loneliness
at this furthest point of the dead end road where my house stands

is a self-inflicted choice of the ear that does not know how not to listen
to all the sounds that enter it.  And I think sometimes

I might be able to tolerate the nearby town if only people keep ten feet away
or the love of a woman buttresses me in a manner where I control the drawbridge.

I step outside for a moment’s illusion of going to work, but work
is over the internet and the coded lines that genome a smarter phone.

The sun will break through by noon, but the fog will close again
around the walls of this house as evening settles into starless night.

I would like something uncoded, simple, straight forward:
a voice as clear and wide open as a cloudless day.

I would like to speak something beautiful out loud that pierces the general din,
like a cardinal sings even as crows caw and the wind rustles branches—

something beautiful that catches a unique ear
and draws a woman out of the camouflage backdrop of the town.

Crossing the Border

I remember the day the letter arrived
written in a lovely hand—
a fountain pen for sure—
and announced that I would die
on March seventeenth,
twenty-ten at three-thirteen p.m.

I remember the postscript
and how it said so simply
No procrastinating will be tolerated.

And when the day arrived,
for reasons I cannot explain,
I made sure the laundry was done
and folded and put away,
that all the dishes were clean
and in the drying rack,
that the vacuuming got all the corners
and tucked away places,
that Bob would stop by
between three-thirty and four.

All of this kept me busy until two-thirty-seven
when I showered and dressed
and took my favorite seat at three-o-five
to wait out the last eight minutes,
because a person needs a little time
for reflection.

And when the moment came
no clock struck, no door bell rang,
no crash or thunder or anything
and the second hand moved
with its steady sweep
until the minute hand advanced
and Bob arrived a little early
at three-twenty-one.
And I so wanted to smell ripe fruit
that we drove down to the farmers’ market
where fresh produce arrives daily
from Mexico.

Dave Davis

Old Woman with Stairs

The old woman across the street is struggling. She lives alone by choice.
I think she is alive by choice.  Each morning her options narrow.

She watches for the mailman. They chat about unknown things.
Faces and voices in a brief exchange of human contact.

On Halloween, my daughter helps the old woman hand out candy. She gives
my daughter magazines that smell of her house stacked in an unused bedroom.

The young lady next door collects the old woman’s paper each morning. My wife
drinks wine with her.  It is cheap and comes from a bladder in a cardboard box.

In winter, I shovel the driveway where her husband died,
eyes open to the wind drift snow. I do not think she grieves him.

Her daughters call and browbeat her about living alone.  Come live with us.
Grandkids and dogs would fill her lap.  That is not what the old woman wants.

The sores on the old woman’s feet have spread, creeping up calves
blotched purple and blue.  My wife takes her to the doctor.  He is not pleased.

A nurse in war, she served in hospitals made of canvas and planted in mud.
She keeps the secrets of dying young men forever in her heart.

Falling, she drags her body to the nearest piece of furniture and
pulls herself up
 – the penance she pays to be free.

Her washing machine is down stairs in the basement.
Down stairs of naked wood, rail on one side, open on the other.

She lives stubborn,
taking chances with life and steep stairs unfinished.


Memories are vapor.
Never wholly cogent,
playing hide and seek
with reality, history,
our sense of self and generation.
Perhaps one in the same.

There is no face in the mirror.
Only an image masked by
cosmetics of the mind that
reveal what is no longer visible.
Underneath the advertising
lurks what is true,
what cannot be changed.
Gone is the aura of timelessness.

Somewhere there is a sadness.
A futility that cannot be suppressed.
It comes calling
when you are alone
so that none may see.

Somewhere there is a reverie.
An infinite hopefulness that cannot be denied.
It is spirit, unexplainable, gutbucket,
human beyond humanity.

The Ambition of Angels

Walking braided paths,
living lives touch and go,
we journeyed.
Good and evil marked time
under a cerulean sky.
Shards of primeval mystery lay at our feet.
Our world was unfathomed, like theirs.
There was no motion, no sound.
Suddenly, no space but the one we shared.
Southward, fire dotted the valley floor,
peaks rose in relief against dusk’s palette.
The vacuum of space silenced
the drone of lives pre-planned,
manufactured, and
packaged for shipment.
Notions dissolved.
Words shed their skin.
In earth’s womb, love came.
The pitch and yaw of life no longer mattered.
With the ambition of angels we flew.

Steve Klepetar


nothing occurs
here   a splintery
boat in the cold
lake’s heart   I
float through
green  nothing rises
forced from bottom
muck   flotsam
and fish
the blind
water’s cavernous


Stars scatter from rooftops
in the mouths of birds.

I believe the world is made
of tin.  Coming around the

corner, I bumped into a woman
carrying a vase.  She cursed

me softly in an English spiced
with cilantro, fennel, sage.

Secretly I sewed candles down
my inseam, left my tailor in the dark.

All night I loved her from the ceiling
down, praised her chin, devoted

myself to the beads of sweat welling
on the seismic trembling of her lip.

Speaking to Your Father

I’ll speak to your father in seven tongues, promise to alert him to the wheel of drums. 
With my tongue of flame, I will speak to him.  With my tongue of silk, sing sylvan ballads of his misremembered youth.  I will hold him with my tongue of mud, encase him with my tongue of steel.

He listens when storms drive down from the west, his coat hangs in my closet when shattered moon crackles in the yard.  I’ll speak to your father in a parlor swept clean of dust.

I’ll sit him down where cats and bluebirds chase the wind.  With my tongue of ice I will show him the way to sit, with my tongue of ribbons how to sail the sky. Where my clock reads faces, luminescent in the dark wood floor, I hope to say something very like this, something with my secret tongue, piquant and burnt like the taste of last spring.

Gerald So

Gerald So's recent poetry has appeared in Nerve Cowboy and The New Bedlam
Project. He is co-editor of The Lineup: Poems on Crime, whose guidelines are at

Four Weeks Before The Wedding

Your fiancé’s name
shows on Caller ID;
I imagine
upset you
more than I know,

and he's calling
to say
it would mean
the world
if I attended.

I pick up,
say hello twice,
and hear you
far enough
away to tell
you butt-dialed me.

I Should Be

writing the universe,
not craning my neck
around corners,
crowds, for someone
who, even in dreams,
blows me off.


It's what's left
when one can no longer
boil off, downplay,
sublimate, explain away;
it's what must be heard,
no matter how
well formed
or badly taken.


Paul Lewellan

Paul Lewellan has published over forty short stories, including fiction in South Dakota Review, Big Muddy, Word Riot, Porcupine, Timber Creek Review, The Furnace, and American Polymath.  His story, “The Queen of Bass Fishing in American,” received Special Mention in the 2010 Pushcart Prize anthology.  Paul is an Adjunct Instructor of Communication Studies and Business Administration at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois.  

Rockabilly Stomp

“. . . oh, I have met women in the personals before,” he said, turning the key to the front door. “None of the others ladies were as nice as you.”
            “That's sweet, Billy,” she said as he turned on the lights. 
            “It's Bill.”
            “Right.”  Sherry looked around.  The bungalow was small, isolated from its neighbors, but the interior was better than she imagined, just by looking at him.  The walls and ceiling were white.  Together with the frequent use of mirrors, the effect made the room seem larger.
            “A lot of room here,” she said as she removed her damp trench coat, “for just one guy, I mean.  You sure you don't have a wife coming back to barge in on us?”
            “I'm sure.”  He clicked a remote.  She heard Buddy Holly singing “That’ll Be the Day.”  Bill Took off his tailored calfskin jacket and draped it over a chair to dry.  “I’m a widower.  No one will bother us." 
            The living room was sparsely furnished.  Each piece, though, had been carefully selected:  a handcrafted leather sofa, a Frank Lloyd Wright lamp, and a Dean Ludwig cherry wood rocking chair.  Rust-colored carpet covered the floor and flowed down the hall to the bedroom and, in the other direction, into the dining room, stopping when it reached the kitchen.  Sherry moved to the glass case almost hidden in the bedroom hall.  She stared at the contents.  “That’s a lot the trophies.”
            “Riflery and martial arts.”
            “I wouldn’t have guessed from looking at you.”
“That's what everyone tells me.”   
Despite the blustery weather, Sherry wore a yellow summer dress, one size too small, bulging at the hips and bust.  Her shoes were tall red heels that laced around her ankles.  As she leaned against the glass, the lights from the case spilled over to her face. Her personals ad had said she was thirty, but her eyes seemed older.  And her hair was an unnatural auburn.  
            He reached over with his white handkerchief and polished the glass where she had touched.  “Would you like a drink?”
            “A gin and tonic, if you got it.”
            “Right,” he said as he walked toward the kitchen.  “The limes are fresh.” His small, wiry body moved with confidence.
            He sure isn't a looker, she thought, watching him leave, but money makes up for a whole lot of ugly.  She laughed at her own joke.  It wasn’t the first time she’d told it.
            Sherry moved through the house, trying to evaluate her prospects.  The bedroom, too, had mirrors.  Vinyl wallpaper, spattered with dots of varied sizes, covered all but the one wall filled with video equipment--cameras, monitors, two DVRs, and a 55-inch flat-panel TV.  Scarlet sheets covered the only furniture, a king-sized bed, built rock hard solid.  There were no pillows. “He’s got some kinks he didn’t mention over our steaks,” she thought.  The floor had the same rust carpet as the living room.  Carl Perkins sang “Blue Suede Shoes” through the hidden speakers.
            “What are you doing in here?” Bill said sternly, as he walked through the door.  He carried two gin and tonics with thick slices of lime in squat Waterford crystal glasses.
            “Oh, you scared me, Billy.  I’m not normally so snoopy.  But, after dinner, and that movie, I kinda thought we were friends?”  She walked toward him.  “I get curious.  The cat in me.”  She winked.  “I can learn a lot about a guy, seeing his bedroom.”
            Bill handed her the gin and tonic and began sipping on his.
            She took two hearty swallows as she tried to read his face.  “Hey, Billy, don't give me that look.  My father gave me that look.  I won’t disappoint you.”  She searched for a place for her drink, and decided on the flat top of one of the four square oak posts of his bed.  “Hot in here, don’t you think?  I mean, not so as you'd need an air conditioner or anything, but, just so a person needs to be comfortable.”  She unbuttoned two of the large orange buttons on her bodice.  “Can I help you with your tie?”
            “I can get my own tie,” he said, setting this drink on the carpet.  He took off the tie and rolled up the sleeves of his blue oxford shirt.  He stared at her as she wandered back to her drink.
            “Where'd you get the money for all the electronics, Billy.”
            “It’s Bill.  I told you; I'm a baker.”
            “Bakers don't drop thirty thousand on an entertainment center.”
            “I own Bill's Bakery.”
            “Shit!  Bill’s Alaskan Bakery.  I eat your white powder doughnuts.  You're not a baker; you're the biggest bakery in the state.”
            “Yes, I suppose, I am.”
            “No wonder you got dough,” she giggled.  Then she stood up straight and got serious.  “Look, this is a little awkward for me, but, since we're friends . . ..  I mean, we're going to be good friends, in just a couple minutes,” she said unbuttoning the rest of her dress, “I thought you wouldn't take it bad if I mentioned it.  I'm a little short on rent money.  My Explorer lost its drive shaft last week, and groceries got a little steep this month . . ..  Maybe you could loan me a few bucks 'til I get paid at the Ready Stop.  As she eased up to him, sliding her body into his, she knocked over his drink, still on the floor.   “Shit, I'm sorry.”  She reached down to pick it up.
            “Don't worry about spills,” he said taking her arm.  He stared into her heavily made-up eyes.  “You're like those other women, aren't you?  I'm too ugly to do it for free, so you want money.”
            She tried to back away.  “I'm no cheap whore.”
            “I believe that,” he said as he swung efficiently with his free hand.   When she awoke, Bill's tie secured her left wrist to a bedpost.   Leather strips lashed her right hand to another post.  She could not move as Bill set up the video cameras and spread a plastic drop cloth. The Stray Cats blared over the speakers, covering her screams.  He readied the knives.