Poetry: Licorice

Issue 1.2

by William C. Blome

She got on the sailboat, then she got off,
and she looked so, so worried, like a bumblebee
showing doubt it might ever again find its pine-knot
home inside a plank of Andrew’s aging fence,
and so I walked out a-ways and shouted to her
that no pink octopus had ever been known
to ingest licorice; that what we knew her overbearing
husband had done yesterday in northern Australia
was to fill one of her bra cups with licorice drops
and do nothing with the other cup except ice-pick
it through and through so there was no way it could
play puffball on the surface of the sea. He had
thereby given the whole brassiere a genuine chance
to sink in the vicinity of a giant gray octopus. Well,
thus assured (though such assurance was hardly
achieved very quickly), she hefted herself back
onto Andrew’s boat and held tight to its one indigo
sail. I watched her bravely stand beside the mast,
and I noted how she kept rubbing the coarse canvas
between her fingers; it was as if I could hear
the dial of some rotary telephone clicking past
the numbers a caller hadn’t chosen, or spy the bag
of candy I guess she forgot she’d left on the pier.
I imagine the candy now became a factor in her
jumping off the sailboat yet again (i.e., to keep
her licorice safe from the seagulls overhead).


William C. Blome writes poetry and short fiction. He lives wedged between Baltimore and Washington, DC and is a Master’s graduate of the Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars. His work has appeared in Amarillo Bay, PRISM International, Fiction Southeast, Roanoke Review, Salted Feathers and The California Quarterly.

Poetry: Fantasizing in Memoriam With Nancy D. (1942 – 2012)

Issue 1.2

by William C. Blome

I forget how much she could make a collar itch,
and I slipped her an invitation to join me watching shadows
jumping rafters in the bunkhouse, though in practically zero
time, we took off our boots and socks and stretched out to edit
herky-jerky pictures of her coming out of loud blue water
at the country club pool and soon losing her swimsuit top
to an aluminum-siding huckster. I can’t detour bragging about
her paint-chip green eyes and tits that pushed out to the county
line, though in a heavy voice she assured me “being semi-naked
among the rich and poor is almost never a problem,” and so
we looked at and listened to her engage the huckster
in pornographic conversation about Prince Souphanouvong
and his two worthless brothers, and the Charles-Atlas-strong
need for better roads in and out of Vientiane, in and out of all
of Laos, for that matter. O I sympathize with the scratched-up
salesman as he tried mightily to widen the discourse to include
bits-o-banter about which recent years had produced
swell vintages in far-off, well-known Burgundy, but of course,
it really didn’t have to be me, anyone could have seen Nancy
stay stubborn in her radical and happy way and heard her
refuse to let the tin man consider “any year later than 1954
and the glory months of Panmunjom and Dien Bien Phu.”


William C. Blome writes poetry and short fiction. He lives wedged between Baltimore and Washington, DC and is a Master’s graduate of the Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars. His work has appeared in Amarillo Bay, PRISM International, Fiction Southeast, Roanoke Review, Salted Feathers and The California Quarterly.

Fiction: Looking at Pictures

Issue 1.2

by Janet Mason

(May, 1926)

Tina looked at the image in front of her and wished she still had her camera.

She was walking along the deepwater port looking into the hold of a ship that had backed up to the cement pier. She could see both levels. Initially she assumed that first class was on the top and that steerage was down below.  Then she noticed that the people below were almost all women and children.  They looked like immigrants from Europe wrapped in their drab shawls and holding their squalling infants.  None of them looked up.

On the top level, in what looked like first class, men in their bowler hats waited for the sailors to open the gang plank that in a few minutes would be secured on the dock.  To the left a man with a banded panama hat bent forward over the rope railing. He looked like he was lighting a pipe or cigar. He was going to smoke while he waited.  The top of his white straw hat against the brim formed a circle within a circle.

Between the two levels of steerage and first class, a plank ran diagonally through the scene.  Behind the plank, a wide metal chimney came up from the floor of the ship bottom in steerage behind a woman huddled with two children. The effect of the line of the chimney cutting behind the plank made a triangular space in the upper part of the ship where the men and their bowler hats stood.  To the right, the plank and the chimney framed the women and children in the bottom of the boat.  The horizontal line of the second floor and the stairs on the low right leading to the second floor of the ship further divided the image into another triangular space.

Tina recognized that the scene in front of her was as cubist as a Picasso or Braque. It was as mesmerizing as Duchamp’s “Nude Descending a Staircase.”  It was the perfect image.  The women in steerage, with shawls wrapped around their heads and shoulders, looked like they were from the old world.  Even the young ones stooped slightly.  They were probably Germans — maybe from Bavaria.  The men too – in their dark caps and bowler hats – looked German. They were European immigrants who had come to Mexico to flee persecution, to be with family (for there were so many Germans living here), to find work.  Tina grimaced.  If they were coming to find work, they were in for a surprise.

Maybe instead they would find the Mexican Communist Party – like she had, like Diego and Frida had, like everyone Tina was fleeing.  She wouldn’t miss them though – Frida and Diego.  She wanted to put them as far out of her mind as possible.  She would miss the Party.  It had become her life. She never thought about leaving her beloved Mexico, her sunny country filled with romance and tropical fruits.

But then she had met Peggy and she convinced Tina to return with her to Europe.  So Tina sold her camera and bought her passage on the RMS Alcantara.

Peggy was right.  Tina would find more opportunities for her photography in Europe.  But she would miss the land, the people, the Mexican Communist Party.  She would miss Frida. No!  Frida was the reason she was leaving.  The thought made her look away from the scene she had been hungering for.  It wouldn’t be right anyway.  The men in the caps and bowler hats looked indifferent.  They were just waiting to come to a new country.  They wouldn’t care if they were photographed.  But the women were different.  Most had shawls wrapped around their heads but not all.  One had her fuzzy head exposed.  They probably had been at sea for weeks — and Tina knew how women felt about fixing their hair. Plus, they had children with them.  The women would most likely not want to be photographed.

Tina ran down the walkway and reached the gangplank at the end of the dock to the liner, just as Peggy called to her from aboard the ship.

“I thought I had lost you,” she yelled to Tina.

“I’ll wait for you up here and then we can find our rooms.”

Tina threw back her shoulders as she stepped up her walk.


Janet Mason is an award-winning creative writer, teacher, and blogger for The Huffington Post. Her radio commentary airs worldwide on This Way Out, the LGBT news syndicated based in Los Angeles. Her book, Tea Leaves: a Memoir of Mothers and Daughters (Bella Books, 2012), was chosen by the American Library Association for its 2013 Over the Rainbow List and also received a Goldie Award. Janet’s short stories have appeared in many literary journals including the Brooklyn Review, Sinister Wisdom, and Aaduna. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.