April 2015

Welcome to the April issue of the Dragonfly Press Ezine! This month, we have:

“Response to the Raging Penis in Effie’s Lounge” by Michael J. Vaughn (Prose Poem)
“Frank” by Phil Johnson (Poem)
“Pow!” by Phil Johnson (Poem)
“Witness” by Paul Dunlap (Poem)
“Everything Is On Its Way To Gone” by Calder Lowe (Poem)
“I Force Myself Not to See You Standing There” by Mark Heinlein (Poem)
“He pays himself first…” by Mark Heinlein (Prose Poem)
“4:30 a.m., I’ve dreamed I’ve come home” by Mark Heinlein (Prose Poem)
“Darling, it’s spring” by Mark Heinlein (Prose Poem)
“Green Arrow” by Dixie Salazar (Poem)

Response to the Raging Penis in Effie’s Lounge

When I say the man’s been to Afghanistan I don’t need your phony Thank you for your service I need you to understand that he could leave large chunks of you in the parking lot and I need you to stop whizzing all over our patio for the benefit of your girlfriend who tries to calm you down but secretly gets off on this shit and I need you not to hassle the black guys entering a white bar because their antennae are already out for peckerwoods like you, like you’re the gatekeeper, like you own the fucking place, but mostly I need you to hear this: I am not a patriot but I have seen the look in this man’s eyes when he talks about the destruction he has seen and here you want to bring more because you’re bored on a Tuesday night and you can’t keep that thing in your pants why don’t you just check yourself into a jail cell right now because you are already half way there.

Michael J. Vaughn is the author of thirteen novels, including his most recent, Mascot. He is a regular competitions judge for Writer’s Digest, a karaoke Sinatra specialist, and drummer/singer for the San Jose band Up a Notch. His poems have appeared in more than 100 journals, including Skidrow Penthouse, The Chaffin Journal and Confrontation.


Late March
in the city bright
blue, you could scratch
a match on the sky.

I take apart
a Philip Johnson building,
put it back

Tripping down
West 53rd—Jerry
my news stand man
winks, slips me
the latest Art News.

Fifth Avenue: a woman
with her dress
on fire—polka dots in flames.

Last night the scotch
was awful but we kept on
drinking and when
did we finally get to bed?

I love the spidered bridges
of conversation.

Down at the Cedar Tavern—
Pollock, Franz Kline,
Kenneth, Creeley, Larry,
Norman Bluhm. (The time
when Jackson tore the door off
the men’s room, it was just
something he did.)

Remind me
to tell you about Clem
and Peggy Guggenheim.

No one ever said
my profile looks like
Scott Fitzgerald’s.
The beautiful
and the damned—a little over the top,
wouldn’t you say?

And when I shuffle away,
keep it light,
don’t talk about my dark times.

The surf so cold that night
on Fire Island
it smashed me awake. I just dove in.

The wave we ride—
don’t mention oblivion.
I am standing on the beach,
watching myself
in a crest of foam.



They’re having a pow-wow in Poway. While David Byrnes
his britches behind him, sits out on a limb,
brewing coffee thru conical filters,
random driplets, splash arrays, operations?


The lonesome cowpoke clutched his bedroll,
wishing real hard
it was a woman. Only make believe,
he humped as he sang—a humpback whale
beached on low topographical relief.
You get so alone (thank you, Buk)
at night on the prairie
even the prairie dogs
get scary.


He blundered into a clearing where the brush was cut back—
there he was, facing his wife. He spun back around
quick like, into the forest
looking for the grizzly who was chasing him.


Hare Krishna, I follow the Mishna into the Tora Bora caves.
Make mine Michelangelo. Lying on his back
under the beamer, maneuvering
on a three wheeled creeper,
he was touched by the Divine Creator,
the differential in his greasy hands.


These words end here. We’ve reached the end time,
end of the line on this train to the sublime
boneyard. Aliens are fallen angels,
ancient progenitors, breathing
our history. Believe this bright lie,
and the radiant antichrist
shines like a searchlight
from his luminous throne
in the windshield sky.

Among the magazines where Phil Johnson’s poetry and fiction have appeared—Poetry Motel, Bloody Someday, Seen (Unseen), Lair of Cracked Domes, YAWP, The Montserrat Review, and online in Big Bridge, New Orleans Anthology: Sturm und Drang. His work is included in the book Veterans of War, Veterans of Peace (editor, Maxine Hong Kingston). Phil’s recent chapbook Walk Zone features his poems and photographs.

Phil’s plays The Unusual Adventures of Mr. Jib and Pete and Repeat were given dramatic readings at the New Stage Performing Arts Center in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. A staged reading of his play Outskirts of Nowhere was performed at the Flea Theater in Lower Manhattan.

For six years Phil hosted a radio show, Across the Borderline, featuring spoken word, interviews, live mixes, and music across cultures on WBCR-FM in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.


News crews watch as five people bathe
in gasoline and set themselves alight.
Arms raised, they stagger by reporters
who shift portable screens to hide the mouths
from our sight, the lips forming words of flame.

Young drunk driver claims he’s the angel of death.
The reporter says firefighters had to torch
the asphalt to burn victims’ blood from the street.
They show it. I mute the television –
the mouths keep moving – insistent, silent.

That photo only shows the monk’s final offering.
To purify himself for sweet smelling flesh
he had to diet on pine needles, oils and incense
for two months. Strike the match, touch the skin,
look up, fragrant protests pluming from their mouths.

Is it any wonder we hear the voice of God
in a burning bush? We who spend our days
watching a cloud of smoke, a hovering pyre
– bodies dusked by the pall, faces nearly singed –
intent on learning the language of fire.

Paul Dunlap’s work has appeared in English Journal, Image, The Greensboro Review, The Montserrat Review, Reed, and the anthology Proposing on the Brooklyn Bridge. He teaches English at Henry M. Gunn High School in Palo Alto, California, where he also advises Pandora’s Box, the student literary magazine.

Everything Is On Its Way To Gone

(for G. K.)

The dead are cupping my elbows,
assisting me onto the people transport
at SFO International. I know this
because everyone around me is dissolving
from corporeal form, and splintering
into particles of light. The computer engineer
in front of me has phantom fingers
extending from the nape of his neck
and reaching across to scratch the ears
of the calico cat, only he sees,
perched atop the ATM machine.

The girl of nine in the pink windbreaker
feels a sharp stab between her shoulder blades.
Her wings span the diameter of the waiting room,
cause the preoccupied certified public accountant
from Houston to trip unceremoniously
over the seminarian’s luggage. In the distance,
the numbers of departure gate 11 glow softly.

Seated on a bench, a grandmother
glances up from her knitting to see me
gliding toward the gate. She marvels
at how I brush my hair from my eyebrows,
a gesture of her granddaughter Lilla,
pregnant with her first child,
a miracle made possible by a transplant
from a young boy gunned down in a drive-by
somewhere in the South Bronx.
“A senseless act turned transfiguring, luminous,”
a local journalist had stated. The grandmother looks
down at the pastel blue booties hammocked
between her knees and makes the sign of the cross.

The dead are sighing. I know this
because everything is on its way to gone,
thumbing a ride to a flatline.
The halo of smoke straddles the custodian’s broom handle.
The scent of chicory hitchhikes on cheap cologne and fades.
The foul-shot iced by the opponents’ time-out
competes with crackling white phone courtesy calls and
movie soundtracks leaking from headsets,
the standard coitus interruptus of airport commerce.

Integuments of loss and desire
envelop canvas carry-ons. Before lift-off,
a laptop emits signals from a cyberspace home,
delivers updates on a friend’s condition,
offers a scrolled, hypertext runway for the soul to taxi on.

The dead are whispering to me. I know this
because I will smile for no good reason
other than my heart beats in my chest,
the bells are pealing in St. Mark’s Square,
the sun eclipses my face, the finch elects to pick the crumbs
from my table at the café, the geraniums flame orange-red,
and the windows lining the Via Enrico will extend
their hinged wooden shutters to anyone
looking skyward for a sign.

Calder Lowe is an award-winning writer/editor, former college English instructor and Ragdale Foundation alumna. A collection of her poems and flash fiction, Holding the Light in Your Arms, was published in 2010 by Jacaranda Press and her prose collection, The Light on His Feet, was released in 2014.

Her work has been published in Will Work for Peace (Zeropanik Press), New Millennium Writings, Reed, Caesura: 25th Anniversary Issue, Spirit, Peace and Joy, (Pen Women Press), convergence, in A Taste of Literary Elegance (Manzanita Writer’s Press), Sweet Obsession: A Triton Museum Exhibit Catalogue of Lynn Powers’ Paintings, and numerous other journals. She is the 82nd Annual Writer’s Digest First Prize Winner in the Nonrhyming Poetry category and has won six awards over the past year at the Los Angeles, San Francisco, Great Midwest, and New England Book Festivals.

I Force Myself Not to See You Standing There

In the light trumpeting through the blinds, morning etches
its filaments onto the Lay-Z-Boy. My body sheds itself

of shales of skin, threads of curling hairs expiring into the short-
napped carpet, never believing in such decay as the day presses on.

Nightly, I dream of seeing you again, so I convince myself this must
be some mirage, some trick of longing I play on myself.

As the light shining luminously elevates this plain room to a shrine,
my heart bucks. I force myself not to see you standing there

behind the chair, arms resting on the headrest, legs strong as ever,
as taut as an athlete’s, like Achilles’s I guess (even Hector’s, sacked

by the Great Runner, leather straps lashed through deep slashes
in his arms, around and around Achilles whipped his corpse,

circling Patroculus’s tumulus to appease his anguish. Nightly
Apollo salved and repaired the body so Hector’s desecrated beauty

could remind those beached on the Aegean shores or lost in parapets
of the damned walls of Troy, what it meant to be immortal because

one loved, was loved). Your body was smooth as marble. Later,
it foundered. You barely managed sipping water and hardly ate.

Why must we love, must we bind ourselves to hours of giddiness
we know won’t last? Still, choosing to live when we’ve been abandoned,

when our beloved is burnt up, returned to ash, scattered beneath
the scythe of the wind, our decimated city, our kingdom come –

what was love and therefore everything – our hearts shall fetch their
metronome rhythm. It is an act of courage, then, to open the blinds
and let the light of morning flood in.

“He pays himself first…”

He pays himself first like his uncle taught him to do, though he pays into a 401K there’s nothing left at the end of the month for savings, Christ, with the banking crisis that toxified the market, it lost 40% of its value. He’s rebuilding, contributing 8% of his check, but he hasn’t false notions. He lives paycheck to paycheck and he’ll never retire. Still, the seasons come, like always, and moments of exquisite beauty that can never be bought.

He wholeheartedly believes in making the relationship work no matter what, clean the dishes when they are stacked in the kitchen, vacuum twice a week, clean the toilet with Ajax. Sometimes he piddles down the bowl, he’s middle aged and doesn’t have so much ummph. Lying in bed though, God, there’s nothing better than pulling her close, especially on Sunday morning, the sun coming through the blinds and the world could go on doing whatever the hell it wants to do – a man and his woman touching each other with sleep clinging to them like blankets.

These days he eats better to get back into a size thirty-six pant. Good god, after the holidays he just kept eating. Now concord grapes chilled in the fridge are dessert. It’s difficult to know the right path in life, and he’s no Taoist. Life’s chockfull of hard knocks, long as the Great Wall of China. He’s simply a pebble in the mortar, mix to bind the great design together. So what difference to eat a piece of cheesecake or Big-Mac? Why wear size thirty-six pants again? Might as well wake up, realize the best life is the intimacy with your surroundings, alertness with your big-enough, all-that-you-got life. Then, like today’s a new year, begin anew.

He’s always wondered about couples who’ve lived their lives together, the couple who shops on Thursdays, seventy-five years married. She wears that hat, the old guy wears two sweaters, only once did he come unshaven. When was the last time they made love, either orgasm? The body’s urges falters when the body falters, they say, and desire is of the mind, too. What’s tangible, intangible, gives us our conception of the divine. Body and mind. Mind and body.

He played outside striker on his soccer team and when there was a timeout, he examined the little flowers blooming beneath the well-groomed field. They were white, he knows that, but did he ever pick one and smell it? Did they have a sweet aroma? If he forces himself to, he imagines he knows the smell of the cut grass after the sprinklers watered the field and the bright, sharp spring sun penetrated deep into the blades.

He hates work. And every day he jokes that he only has sixty-five years left before he retires. That will make him one hundred-two years old and he’d better be in good shape to work that long. What gets us through the day when our meal is so distasteful? She has a birthmark the size of a child’s hand on her right hip, and delicately he removes her blouse from her jeans, delicately he puts his lips to her skin, delicately he inhales her aroma so that she lives inside him.

1. 4:30 a.m., I’ve dreamed I’ve come home
from the war with my brother and we are adding ice
to plastic motel cups to chill our whiskey. Suddenly,
we hop in the Datsun to visit the old neighborhood,
but get jumped by a gang of kids lying in wait
on the muddy road beneath the overpass. I yell
at my brother, Gun it!, but he doesn’t. He pulls
the fickle car over and we slosh to a stop. The door’s
unlocked, someone points a pistol to his head.

2. I get up to pee and back in bed, snuggled beneath
the blankets, and pray I don’t slip back into the dream.
Then I notice sounds on the roof, like birds hopping
along on the shingles, except these sounds echo
through the bedroom. I realize, it’s raining. Big
drops. Then more and more big drops.

3. Like a dream, really, the one I keep having
when I question God. I don’t know why the man keeps
ascending the airport stairs to leap from the top step
to kill himself. I charge from the infield where I am doing
an uncanny job turning-two and sprint up the stairs to block
his path. I talk him down, and he descends. I return
to the infield, but he returns to the stairs, headed
for oblivion, determined as ever. So I race back,
taking two steps at a time, and talk him down
again. Then God appears, and I ask Him, Why do we
have to face this every year?

4. Dad’s still in the nursing home and no one’s bothered
to shave him. Everyone’s glad insurance covers the facility
in the valley tucked in the woods and the brown grasses
of foothills. It’s autumn, but the smells of eucalyptus, buck-
eyes and oak waft in when I drive with the windows open.
By the time he’s sent home, the grass will turn green and
early wildflowers will begin, and bucks with their furry antlers
will nibble the tips of grasses. Mother drives that highway
every day, more tired than she’ll let on. She eats what he leaves
on his tray: his fruit cup, hunks of dinner roll sopped in gravy,
half his tapioca. She believes nothing should be wasted.

5. The raindrops expire on the pavement like breath.
What comes and goes in mere moments reminds us we’re
mortal. I go outside to look for rain, only a few glistening
leaves tell the story. It’s October and fall nears and rain-
storms, clinking heater pipes. Apples, clung to branches,
show their bravery. In a few weeks, however, when I peer
out the window, like some terrible dream, the apple will be
a sarcophagus, a trunk shorn of its fruit and its leaves.
With the deadness of winter set in, there’s nothing for us
to do but pray for spring.

Darling, it’s spring, there’s: dizzying feats of diving humming-
birds and finches, rouge-breasted and bigger hardly than fists,
singing, and buds from the bravest apple trees, it seems to me,
because they bloom early, and daffodils, their yellow yellow
yellow, shaped like mouthpieces of the earliest Graham-Bells.
Each is a promise of something grand when you’ve left our
home for work. All this sumptuousness reminds me of Portland,
remember the Rose Garden – it was the last of summer –
Mt. Hood still sparkled snow,

we bought a turkey and avocado, red potato salad. Parked
on a bench to eat our lunch, while tourists snapped snapshots
of thousands of breathtaking blooms. As those roses pulsed,
we stood with desire throbbing in our hearts, thumping
beneath our feet as we held hands walking bed to bed, as
the sun seemed to select us, charismatic and august as
the Duchess of Windsor, from the crowd to adore.

You asked if I wanted anything more, a hunk of cornbread
in the paper bag still unwrapped. I said, because we’re beloved,
it’s not surprising we can savor what can be touched and what,
like hummingbirds’ acrobats, cannot. For instance, in those
moments when you disappeared into the public bathrooms,

then reappeared snapping your hands to dry them, I longed
for you, I could nearly taste you as I stood at the snack shack
chockfull of cotton candy, hot chocolate, chocolate-covered
Marionberries, fingering the turnstile packed with picture
postcards. As I waited, I composed in my mind what I’d inscribe
on one, if by some catastrophe I never saw you again. Look,
I’d write, I was here, I was loved, I saw these blossoms,
I existed every day because of you. Now, come home.

Mark Heinlein’s book of poetry, Everything We Call Ordinary, was published in 2014 by Tourane Poetry Press. His awards include the American Academy of Poets/Virginia de Arujo Award and the Bonita M. Cox Award for creative nonfiction. His poems appear in Tar River Poetry, DMQ Review, Reed Magazine, and Content among others. “Family, Culture and How a Poet Makes His Bread,” his TEDx Talk, was performed in 2013. His photography appears in the flash nonfiction anthology, Three. Born in Beech Grove, Indiana, he is a fishmonger and lives in San Jose, California. Check out markheinleinpoetry.wordpress.com.

Green Arrow

Today I wanted to write a poem
that smelled like hibiscus in Spring, but when
I opened my window, the smell of manure
drifted in, like you mash into raised beds
and later watch fat juicy tomatoes
jump out of the ground overnight…
I wanted a poem like finely spun silk
but when I pushed back my chair it caught on
a hairball coughed up by the cat, so I
closed my eyes but all I could see was
the face of the girl on the median at
Palm and Shaw with her pleading sign.
I didn’t even give her a dime
because I didn’t want to dig in my
purse and I was in a bad mood and I
missed the green arrow and thought about that
leftover sushi waiting at home, and
what if I had to stand on a corner
holding up a sign just to get a greasy
corn dog from the AM PM mini
mart, and then I felt awful and wanted
to give her a buck but the light changed and
I couldn’t hold up the line, so I raced
home in time for the mail, a funeral
insurance ad in Spanish and a letter
from the cousin of an African
emperor who’d recently died, but the
cousin couldn’t get all his millions and
needed my bank account now so he could
split the money with me a complete
stranger…which for some reason made me think
of Billie Holiday’s song…yea, I’d like
to write a poem like that…sweet, acidic—
then, strange blessing, the doorbell rang. Through the
screen door, the Virgin Mary was selling
rib eye steaks from a van. I was in luck—
God Bless the Child That’s Got His Own, I said
and shut the door, the smell of manure
lingering, even sweeter than before.

Dixie Salazar has published five books of poetry: Hotel Fresno by Blue Moon Press in 1988, Reincarnation of the Commonplace, (national poetry award winner) by Salmon Run Press in 1999, Blood Mysteries by University of Arizona in 2003 and Flamenco Hips And Red Mud Feet also by University of Arizona in 2010. Limbo, her novel, was published by White Pine Press in 1995. Her newest collection, Altar For Escaped Voices, was published by Tebot Bach in February of 2013. A young adult novel, Carmen And Chia Mix Magic, was published by Black Opal Books in 2014. Dixie is also a visual artist working mostly in oils with an extensive showing record in the Central Valley of California, Merced, Sacramento, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Nevada and New York.

She has also taught extensively in the California prisons and the Fresno County jail. Currently, she is involved as a homeless advocate and shows her art at the Silva/ Salazar studios at 654 Van Ness in Fresno, California. website: dixiesalazar.com