‘The Bowdoinham Porch Song’ by Fred Cheney

soft cartel april 2018

This Bowdoinham porch is that low tide smell out on the Cathance River.
It grows us ducks and smelts, and then kayaks in the summer.
In time it makes its way down to Merrymeeting Bay
Under the watchful eye of the mighty bald eagle—
Our national bird. White feathered head … so it’s not bald at all.

This Bowdoinham porch is that chicken barbecue up at the school.
It happened on July the 4th, and started with a parade,
Where Miss Slick Chick waved to all of us and graced us with her smile.
Then fiddle contests, ox pulls, and folks that you ain’t seen in quite a while.
Nighttime comes, and fireworks with a chick.

This old porch is a town with just one grammar school now,
There used to be quite a few, one room and eighteen scholars.
The Jellerson’s been brought back, not the Lancaster nor the Bishop.
Us smart ones went to Bishop, and then straight off into college.
Sometimes, I went in early, and I lit the stove.

This Bowdoinham porch is a steaming bowl of Abe Lincoln stew.
It’s at the Town Landing, and who knows what night is right.
But if you’re lucky enough to get it and you ate there back in the week,
You can bet your boots that that stew will taste familiar.

This old porch is that Bowdoinham Country Store, it’s not that far.
Some still call it Marian’s, us old ones think of Delmar.
Sell you groceries, sell you hardware, sell you sandwiches and beer,
And don’t forget it is the place where David tags your deer.

This Bowdoinham porch is that long gone, springtime minstrel show.
Our fathers and their friends, they sang and danced as end men.
And they always said of the blackface, don’t pay it any mind.
But it did a lot of damage, and we’ve left that shit behind.

This old porch is a town that won’t forget its history.
I was a kid for the bicentennial, and an old man at two-fifty.
There’s “Growing Up Bowdoinham,” and the Veteran’s Wall.
Speaking Frankly here, one verse can’t say it all.

They’ve got them a society, it is his-tor-i-cal.
They save letters, photos, and tools for the stories that they tell
About the way things once was, times well worth remembering.
The past and the future intersect right where we’re standing.

This Bowdoinham porch is that low tide smell out on the Cathance River.
It grows us ducks and smelts, and lots of kayaks in the summer.
In time it makes its way down to the bay and then the ocean.
Time is like that river there, they’re both always in motion.
They carry us forward. They bring us back. We watch it all
Right from this Bowdoinham porch.

‘Soulmates Journey’ & ‘Do you miss me?’ by Theresa Ford

soft cartel april 2018

Soulmates Journey


No signs of my beloved
on the face of the earth,
peace in dreams
a promise of worth.
A personal reflection
of how it should be,
not aware of the beauty
that still awaits me.


Along the garden wall
weeds tried to take love
and destroy the bloom.
Sunlight brightened the path
Your smile
caressing my bruised soul
like velvety fingers of mercy.
your wondrous blue eyes
coaxed me with everlasting
calm . . . and serene love.


I pull back my warm cozy covers
and tiptoe quietly toward the opaque glass portal
My eyes are drawn heavenward
For there suspended in the resplendent atmosphere of black cashmere,
is a mystical full moon that cast its soft azure light
The night shadows seem to gambol upon moonbeams
Upward, just past the tree line,
I am hypnotized by the ethereal vision
and as I gaze upon its foaming lambent beauty,
it seems to whisper to me,
“Come my love, gather your thoughts
your dreams, your burning desires
and meet me here.”


Do you miss me?

When evening clouds are painted with soft hues
and all the trees become dark silhouettes
against the purple skies, I think of you
and wonder how you live without regrets.

When night has passed and painted clouds disperse,
and skies are once again aflame with dawn,
do you regret your passion as a curse,
and wish somehow all thoughts of me were gone?

Or do you hold me still, as once you did,
inside your heart with tenderness and care …
and wish we could have shared the love we hid,
a love that you once promised to declare?

I see you with her every now and then,
the one who wears your ring and bore your child,
and wonder if you ever see me when
you look at her, recalling how we smiled,

and laughed and talked when we were all alone,
until the sun went down and you grew sad,
and gathered up your things to head for home.
My all was not enough, though all I had.

Truth be told,
when darkness fills the sky
and every morning when the dawn appears,
I think of you with longing while I cry
and wonder if you know the taste of tears.

‘A Girl As Pieces’ by Devin Overman

soft cartel april 2018


I do not have the words to scream for you, yet I convince myself you can hear. There is a piece of the night inside me, the same night inside you, and it connects us like a string from tin to tin. Has it always been there? Has it changed? Years spent hopping from person to person, desperate to find its twin, hoping if the stars shine brighter, it will be seen.

Maybe fame is a beacon, calling a single last ship to harbor. My boat is broken, many of the large pieces still intact by sheer force of will. I am afloat but only because my pride can’t allow anything less. Perhaps if I could sink, maybe you wouldn’t need to shine for me anymore. Dim your light, conserve your energy, I’ll send you a love letter in a bottle with my blood, seal the note in sweat, and push it away with tears.

My pride is the last thing under.



Open your hand and lay it out flat. Do not rush, you must be patient with me. With time, when I’m ready, I will strip my body of the excess — the fears, the certainties, the concerns, the self-inflicted consequences — all pulled away, folded neatly, and set aside. Then I, clothed in nothing but the Moon and my vulnerability, will climb into your palm, and you may hold me.

When I’m there, treat me delicately, but do not coddle. I am not a toy, I am a person, but you already knew that, didn’t you? You already know all of this, somewhere deep inside. Despite what they tell you, listen to that voice. The others have forgotten theirs.

It doesn’t matter how sweet your words, you can’t hold me in the palm of your hand on your own. I must walk there myself.



Could you open me up and take a look? I’m afraid it’s not as pretty in there. It’s dark and roiling and much of the mechanics don’t work properly, if at all. So many things desperately need repair, but I can’t see inside so well. I tinker and root around but end up doing more harm than good. Sure, I’ve been jostled and twisted, but most of the disarray can only be blamed on me, you see.

You need not be an expert, but if you could just take a look? Take a look and tell me if anything is salvageable. Tell me if there’s any beautiful thing inside.



Wanting to fall in love means wanting to rip yourself apart for another person and have that person rip themselves apart for you. It’s terrifying to allow yourself to be so vulnerable, but it’s equally so to be trusted with that vulnerability.

So when I say I hope we fall in love someday, my greatest hope has little to do with old age. It’s that you won’t run away from me simply for mentioning it.

Devin Overman writes short- and long-form fiction, poetic prose, and screenplays that consider the ways humans around the world love themselves and one another. Her recent screenplay is being contracted by an international production company, and her debut novel and short story collection are forthcoming.

‘Went To See The Gypsy’ by Jackie Jones

soft cartel april 2018

I went to see the Gypsy, again.   I was desperate.   She had moved her “offices” to more glamorous digs near the beach.  Now it looked like a therapist lounge. I wondered if this new location had anything to do with the instructions she gave me.

She told me it was very simple.  On the next blue moon, you will swim around in Ventura Cove with a baby stingray.  You’ll have to bring your goggles to find one.  They like to burrow in the sand, so it might be tricky. And for heaven’s sake do NOT step on them or they’ll sting you.  When you find one, brush your hand against the fin, gently, and then get out of the water.  Then, you must sing, “L’amour est un oiseau rebelle,” from Carmen, in the parking lot.  Beware of Seagulls.  Then, you must dance the Mashed Potato, the Pogo, the Pony, and the Running Man for 40 minutes on the beach, in the sand, without stopping.  Any combination is fine, but you must do them all.  Then, go back into the bay, swim to the buoy, rub the buoy ten times up and down, swim back, and drink this.

Then, she said, he will love you.

I did as I was told, but it took me almost a year and a half before I saw a baby stingray.

I also had to take French lessons and singing lessons for the Carmen bit, as I just couldn’t get it right.

I can’t dance worth shit, so I watched endless YouTube videos and also took a class at the Community College.

Finally, it was happy hour again at the Princess of Whales.  Brian, the sales rep from Dallas, was definitely coming.  I could barely look at him.  He had the most incredible shiny black hair, like a Comic Book hero.  He was an Adonis – I’d lose my breath when he walked into the office. Waves of nauseous lust overcame me every time he was near, and I’d have to excuse myself.   This time, I felt a little bit better as I had gone through all the steps of the Gypsy’s and drank the potion in the bathroom.

But it happened again.  I loved him so much I threw up the moment I saw him.

I went back to see the Gypsy.  She asked me if I swam with the stingray, if I had touched the buoy the correct amount of times, if I truly could sing Carmen.  She asked me to sing for her.   She went down the list.

I said, “Look. It didn’t work. He flew back to Dallas and asked Pam out instead of me.”

She asked me if I drank the potion.  Yes, of course, I said.  But I did throw up.   Oh, she said.  I’m sorry to hear that. That was the most important part. The rest of the stuff was, frankly, bullshit.

Anyway, you’re all paid in full.  Try online dating, maybe.  Now you can say you’re an Opera Lover!

Three Poems by Ben White

soft cartel april 2018

Molecular God

Molecular God was searching for atoms
And Eve, hoping to pull a rabbit
Out of his sleeve – but never having
Seen one

He wasn’t sure what he was thinking about
But no-one had come up with a word for doubt
So He maintained His omnipotence
As the events

He wanted to manipulate passed from late
To early between the dark and light,
And feeling squirrely helped Him create one
But He wasn’t done

Because there were pies to bake and orchards
To make with figs – or apples depending on
How the Greeks would translate vocabulary
In the library

Of knowledge where the sun would set and burn
The lessons Pre-Socratics learned about
The ancient powers of lightning-bolt Zeus
Cut loose

And washed away by a snake’s worth of fruit juice.

Confections Dripping

At the confectionary counter
Confections can’t counter
The chocolate-filled emotions
That self-reflect

On opinions that don’t concern
Them trying to burn them
With the sugary flames
On dim candles

Down into pools of factual wax
That puddles back up into abstract
Stepping stones sold at psycho-
Analysis parties

For the Post- and Neo-Freudian
Groups of nostalgic sense
Compiling the stories, storms
And consequences

That fit together in short haiku
Nature scenes to explain what it means
To melt and have their feelings felt
Right before

They make a mess on the candy store floor.

Dada Flowers

Petals puddle their own perfume
Inviting bees and humming birds to smell
The blurred wisps of colors twirling
And swirling

Into seasonal pools of moistened longing
Gathering at the end of the stem
And along the rim of the bouquet
Wanting to be

Cut and taken into forbidden waves where
Hidden faces bury their butterfly tongues
Into the pleasure of warm, aromatic places full
Of water

And nurturing ideas of modern collections
Where thorns and infections are kept
Out of the hive and away from the honey
Combed with sunny

Days where the nectar pays for the labor
It takes to collect it in the effort
Directed by passion and natural instinct’s
Own calling

Where harvests keep flowers from falling.

The author of Buddha Bastinado Blues and The Kill Gene, Ben White was convinced he was a poet only to find out he is not a poet at all – he is a witness. What he writes is testimony. His work has appeared in various online publications; As You Were, Exterminating Angel, Creativity Webzine, AkashicBooks.com, and most recently, Tuck Magazine. He also has writing included in The Paragon Journal’s anthology, Seven Forbidden Words: The New Way of Protesting and Proud To Be, Volume 6. His half-poem, half novella (a “poevella”), The Cuban, is forthcoming from Running Wild Press.

Five Poems by Daryl Muranaka

soft cartel april 2018

A Toilet of Unusual Proportions

I stand in a restroom
built for tiny giants
with long legs
and short torsos.
This is a room
of remarkable form
when sober
and terrifying
when drunk.

Who’s Inside

The window sign
in bold, bright red letters:
Is this an invitation
or is there
a Primp Polish Groom
Who can tell which
is sitting in the dark?

Generation Gap

There is something amusing
knowing that what he sees
when hearing “The Monkees”
is so joyfully divorced
from my reality
and my enduring disappointment.

The Appropriated Man

I am so tired of all this ninja shit.
I am waiting for it to be done.
But it will never be over. I will never be
free of everyone looking for
the supernatural in the dirt, the dust.
Everybody wants something
they cannot hold on to, believe in,
never bothering with that thing
that is sitting in their hand,
the thing that is real and warm
and useful. Because that isn’t
useful at all when one is looking
for something bigger to be a part
of. So why am I doing this?
Standing here in ancient gear
and explaining this shit to you?
I think about Hayashi-sensei,
standing half naked in the window,
dressing for class as the train
passes below him. Open to world.
And now I am trying to be
like him, naked to all,
being what I was before
I was even born.

Winter Magic

A woman huddles
on the corner
scarf pulled tight
around her head,
shoulders bent in
from the weight
of the cold. She is
as dry as the unlit
cigarette shaking
in her hand. Winter
has pulled years
from her fragile skin.

Daryl Muranaka lives in Boston with his family. In his spare time, he enjoys aikido and taijiquan and exploring his children’s dual heritages. His work can be found at darylmuranaka.com and you can follow him on Twitter at @dmuran1