Two Poems by Philip F. Clark

Strange and Silent Hands

After the film, “Wings of Desire,” by Wim Wenders

The angel was quiet, unseen, felt; stood
over me as I read my book. The world
was filled with an impatient fluttering.
He said not a thing, but he spoke to me
as I turned pages, rapt in the attention
of his unworldly bright language. The books
watched us, voices from their pages
waiting to be read, ‘Please, me; please, me.’
It was not a mouth I felt, but a breath
and gentle solemnity. He bent to me. I kept
reading and the angel watched. Vigilant, touched
back by me, he my sentry and I his common man.
I shuddered. This is how we are chosen
by strange and silent hands.

The Cooler

We stop laughing when the doctors come in.
Don’t want to scare them.
Benny (car accident, Christmas, gifts all over the road) 
tries to freak them out though. He’ll make a low sound
sometimes. One nurse ran so fast she almost went
out the window. Sheryl her name was.

Me (smiling, at work, just as I finished signing a contract), I like to play
dead. Because that’s what I am right?
Evan (his brother got angry one night, forgot he had a knife in his hand)
doesn’t like the dark. We hear him crying sometimes.
You get used to the sliding in and out; the murmurs.

Biggest fear: we are mis-identified. Happened to Joe (air conditioner from
100 feet up) once. Almost Pottered him,
but his sister came by just in time. No wallet, nothin on him.
She identified a tattoo of a rose on his ass.
They say it’s easier now — ‘at peace’ — and all that shit.

But it’s not. It’s harder. Because we still
see everything going on that we can’t do. We see you
but can’t kiss you; see the kids or the husband,
the boyfriend, but we can’t touch you — I mean,
we do, but you know. They don’t feel anything.
But then, we don’t feel anything too.
I’m waiting; haven’t been here long. A day or two?
Not sure who’ll come. This is called passing time.

At night it’s different. You think it wouldn’t be —
us in these locked boxes. But it is. Because then
we really are quiet. I think a lot: what if I hadn’t gone
to work that day? But I did.
You can smell the stars at night. Yes, the stars.
They smell like something we reach for. Like
something we miss, but forgot to do.

There goes Ben. Well, I’ll miss him. Long road
home for him. He was visiting his former lover
in New Hope. New Hope, how funny is that.

Philip F. Clark is an adjunct lecturer in English at City College, New York, where he received his MFA in Creative Writing in 2016. His poems have been published in Assaracus, Lyrelyre, The Good Men Project, Poetry in Performance, and The HIV Here & Now Project. Most recently his work is included in Transition: Poems in the Aftermath, the new anthology of resistance poetry published by Indolent Press. His poetry reviews and interviews have been published in Lambda Literary Review and The Conversant. His poetry blog is The Poet’s Grin: philipfclark.wordpress.com.


Four Poems by Tara Isabel Zambrano

nervous, hopeful

A ring of sunlight around a cloud,
a deserted nest, discerning wind
winds the long, gray days
like sleeping hours in a clock.

Trees lit with frost, wait for the warmth,
suggest survival in the deep curve of this earth,
a pale moon walks on the circumference,
unable to melt its snow.

In distance, whirls of smoke escape
into whole-milk sky. An old cup
with dark circles sits alone,
nervous, hopeful to touch warm lips.

Aubade: a wordless twilight

Kissing you feels like a water fountain.
The dawn is near. Before I knew you,
I knew a night would come when
we’d dance and sink into sleep
cautious not to douse in each other’s dreams.

Yet we floated upon a wordless twilight,
locked in without a key, our shadows
like something zipped and unzipped
with care.

The hours peel the light, our last embrace
curdled as milk by the side of the bed,
your eyes barely open. Before I knew you,
I knew I’d walk away still wanting you.
Kissing you feels like a memory.


My eyes, a half-remembered dream,
struggle to see within,
disrupt their

Glowing in ivory grace,
my body, a moving beast,
is a poem upside

My heart lies between
possibility and loss,
a shadow borne so lightly,
hoping to fall up.

dead clocks

let’s stay in the dark and break stars,
rummage through the sky and wake up dreams
that are like children on bunker beds
holding dead clocks next to their hearts.

let’s walk the moon, realize its dew-devoid beauty
and calculate the time to go a full circle
of solace, mark galaxies that bend
the symmetry of our thought.

let’s fill the glasses with songs and malt,
our eyes with light so we cannot un-see the truth,
order the oceans to take us in, release our souls
where they came from.

Tara Isabel Zambrano lives in Texas. Her poems have appeared in Hayden’s Ferry Review, The Healing Muse, San Pedro River Review, Moon City Review and several other journals. She is an electrical engineer by profession.


Three Poems by Robert Vaughan

Gauze, A Medical Dressing, A Scrim


When they converted the basement into his room, Billy was too young to know any differently. He just wanted his own space, didn’t want to share it with his five older siblings anymore. Then when he was around ten, he stopped eating dinner with the rest of the family. His mother placed his dinner plate on the top stair every night. In exchange he only communicated by notes he’d send or receive by pulley-pails through the laundry drop.

A Medical Dressing

One time when Ethyl, the family dachshund, accidentally ventured downstairs, she was never seen again. Same for one sister, Darla, who thought she’d left a sweater atop the laundry machine. Disappeared. Eventually Billy was indistinguishable from any basement dweller, resembling the spider realm. Webs. Gossamer silver. Detecting vibrations, lurking toward eventual prey.

The family nearly forgot he existed.

A Scrim

Then one day while folding laundry, his mother noticed a note and she decided to read it aloud to the rest of the children at dinner that night: Here is your stormy day, the one with pressing clouds and chilling breeze. Here is your way you fall in step, synchronize laughs and moderate beliefs, acclimatize moods and medications. Here, then your last vestige of blue sky and fortitude. A mélange of mercurial designations. Bastion of sailboats emptying out horizons.

They all craned their necks toward the basement.

When He Left it all to Me

He had to leave he said
though we’d met only days prior
and like with any men
breaking boundaries we’d lain
together despite barbed wire
fences, pools with fathomless bottoms.

The morning he split, he thrust
his blue down coat into
my arms, said I won’t need
this, but it was a bitter
cold day that December I
found the tape in its pocket.

Eva Cassidy sang Fields of
Gold and I can’t forgive
her for dying so young. Where
did you go? Still can’t listen
to more than the first half;
no, less than a quarter of that song.

Ten Notes to the Guy Studying Jujitsu

1. A smile when you read Brave New World, a sort of smirk, like you’re getting away with reading literature that was once banned. Like this is better than Japanese ever was. Except one time when you dreamed that Yoko Ono walked all over your back and ass. This doesn’t come close to that.

2. You took up whistling, jingles from television commercials. Samsonite, Sony, tampon and yogurt ads. It was almost as bad as my ex, Tony, who whistled “If I Only Had a Brain” until I accidentally called him a moron.

3. One morning I woke up thinking, I can’t remember the last time you used the L word. And then I can’t remember the last time you went down on me. Then I recall they used to be linked together.

4.The first time we hooked up was in the back of your truck. It was a hot summer night in the Haight, mosquitoes, scant moon with flutter clouds. It was rough and fast, and you pinned me at one point so I couldn’t move. My neck hurt for a week. And nothing has compared to it since.

5. When you started seeing Brandy, and I’d run into you, you seemed so happy. So alive, when I just wanted to crawl into a hole for a year. I remember thinking what’s she got that I don’t? I mean, besides the obvious. And when I found out she was knocked up , I knew.

6. All that dog shit I shoveled out of the back yard. And it was your dog. Not mine. My yard. But your dog. Yours.

7. My sister would call on Sundays. You’d mouth “not here” and point at yourself. Which clearly was a sign of your inability to commit. Or mine. I’m not sure which.

8. I’d left the gym and saw you that day sitting on a sofa in a coffee shop. Really close to that girl, Tracey, who used to sell us pot. You were laughing in a way that I knew. And for a split second I was thrilled that you were cheating on Brandy. When I got home I drank a six-pack in less than an hour.

9. The weekend before you moved out, you farted in my sister’s elevator and other people got on and you said my name and fanned the air. I pretended it was funny. By then you farted so many times I honestly thought it was me.

10. Seems like someone’s always missing someone. My sister told me that she doesn’t have time for missing anyone- let alone loser ex-boyfriends. Thing is, I don’t really consider you a loser. A little gassy, perhaps. Something always takes the place of missing pieces.


Gauze, A Medical Dressing, A Scrim originally appeared in Flash Fiction Chronicles and won second place in the 2013 String-of-Ten Five Flash Fiction Contest. It also appeared in Vaughan’s Addicts & Basements (CCM). 

When He Left It All to Me and Ten Notes to the Guy Studying Jujitsu also appeared in Vaughan’s Addicts & Basements.

Robert Vaughan teaches workshops in hybrid writing, poetry, fiction at locations like UWM, Red Oak Writing, The Clearing, Synergia Ranch and Mabel Dodge Luhan House. He leads roundtables in Milwaukee, WI. He was a finalist for the Gertrude Stein Award for Fiction (2013, 2014). He was the head judge for the Bath International Flash Fiction Awards, 2016. His short fiction, ‘A Box’ was selected for Best Small Fictions 2016 (Queen’s Ferry Press). Vaughan is the author of five books: Microtones (Cervena Barva Press); Diptychs + Triptychs + Lipsticks + Dipshits (Deadly Chaps); Addicts & Basements (CCM), RIFT, co-authored with Kathy Fish (Unknown Press) and FUNHOUSE (Unknown Press). His blog: http://www.robert-vaughan.com.