Issue 1.4

Magnolia Nights by Peter C. Venable

Sweat oozes down my chest,
Fills my navel.

It trickles down hairy calves
Into steamy sheets as I read
Against a soggy pillow.

Air is thick with vapor.
Cicadas whir. I can hardly bear
This sagging ceiling, dripping overhead.

Outside is the wild—
Humidity drains on beaded grass;
Teams of mosquitoes roar;
Trees are dark sentinels in misty yards.
A blackbird sprays its song on the screen.


You can hear sweat seeping
On a glass of ice tea,
Through dank walls, puddled floors,
Pours of slippery skin.

Night wrings dark drops,
Drowns bed light in this muggy room.

Only a cool breeze can sop
Sweat of this draining night.


Ghost Crabs by Peter C. Venable

Ghost crabs have
Burned-matchstick periscopes.
They flaunt ivory claws,
Strut by neighboring bluffs,
Duel over property lines.

I think of my sheetrock burrow,
My sandcastle tucked in suburb strands.

One king crab fashions the highest tower,
Perches, taunts rivals—
Until a draining ice chest
Erodes his palace into a wet lump.

A siege of sand gnats attacks in bloodlust fury.
Cursing, I rise; the crabs dart into their dens.

Over sandy rims they peer at the ghost man,
Scurrying up warping steps
And fading between bungalows
Into a dark hollow surrounded
By mounds of sand.


A Gray Morning by John Stupp

A gray morning
couldn’t see much
oyster beds clogging
the marsh
they told us
stay in the main channel
but fish were biting everywhere
soon creeks
and ditches
joined the party
like drunken visitors—
we picked a good spot
and went to work
fall storm clouds
pushed our boat
back and forth as a cold pendulum
hooked to the sky
in a day’s time we drifted
like old curtains under a wet ceiling
when the rain ended
two country boys
were playing guitars
and singing
on the back of a pickup—
I saw a pair of boots
in the parking lot
waiting for snow—
they weren’t mine


About the Contributors

Peter C. Venable has written both free and metric verse for over fifty years and been published in Vineyards, Third Wednesday, Time of Singing, Windhover – A Journal of Christian Literature, The Christian Communicator, The Whirlwind Review, The Anglican Theological Review  (forthcoming), and others. He is a semi-retired clinician, volunteers at a prison camp and food pantry, leads vespers services for senior citizens, sings in the annual December Messiah, and is graced with a happy marriage, daughter and son-in-law, and Yeshua.

John Stupp is the author of the 2007 Main Street Rag chapbook The Blue Pacific and the 2015 full-length collection Advice from the Bed of a Friend (also by Main Street Rag).