Monday, December 27, 2021

GAS Featured Poet: Michael Ceraolo


Michael Ceraolo is a 64-year-old retired firefighter/paramedic and active poet who has had two full-length books (Euclid Creek, from Deep Cleveland Press; 500 Cleveland Haiku, from Writing Knights Press) and has two more full-length books, Euclid Creek Book Two, and Lawyers, Guns, and Money, in the publication pipeline.

Letter to an Insurance Broker

Man walks up to Postal Clerk to mail a certified letter a few days before Christmas.

Postal Clerk:  Do you need stamps, or anything else?

Man:  Not today, thanks.

Postal Clerk:  Is anything in here liquid, perishable, hazardous, etc.?

Man:  The letter could be harmful to someone's ego.

Postal Clerk:  Thanks.  I needed a good laugh at this time of year.

                                  THE END

The History Game Show (Episode 3)

And tonight's show is

                                   FEAR FACTOR

                                                             with host Russell Alger
                                                             and co-host Charles Eagan

Tonight's challenge:

                                 Will the soldiers in Cuba
                                 eat the beef procured for them
                                 from American companies?
                                (disparagingly referred to as "embalmed beef")

(Stock footage of soldiers eating.)

Thousands of soldiers have accepted the challenge, and their prize for doing so:  far more will die from food poisoning and disease exacerbated by food poisoning, than will die in combat.

                                       THE END

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

GAS Featured Poet: James Cochran

"I am a proudly Appalachian writer, transplanted from the soil of Southeastern Ohio to the hilly streets of Charleston, West Virginia. I embrace the practice of mindfulness through writing and enjoy listening to the neighbor’s wind chimes. I believe in the power of writing to access and understand our shared experience in a way that can heal and empower all of us."


Awaken to wind chimes and crow song

to follow highway of dazed February


sunshine, cut-banks piled with shattered

ice formations like ruined chandeliers.


The stubborn COVID winter asked us all,

“How much more can you take?”


We answered with chemo and blood

tests, then small vanilla milkshakes


and filthy piles of snow in the grocery

store parking lot where sparkling streams


of meltwater run the gutter

and disappear into storm drains.


How can anguish and nothingness

and hope live together in the small

space of the heart?


It was a thing that had to be done…

it was the thing that could be done.





by day I do my work as interpreter (interprete)

remotely, at home, by telephone (teléfono).

I parrot the words of otros, feeling them

flow through me like electricidad through

conduit (conducto). For the minutes or hours

the calls last I am merged in séance with

disembodied voces, we live our lives

together, though their problemas are

not mine, I’m only paid by the minuto.




press 2 for Spanish (oprima dos para español):

911 calls, parent teacher conferences, workers comp,

ancient medicare enrollees, WIC, car insurance,

home foreclosures, tech support, but most of all,

the immigrants waiting in detention centers…




Do you have any heart problems?

No, I have two bullets in my head

from an attempt on my life.

They were unable to remove them

in the other center where I was.

That doesn’t have anything to do with your heart.

Do you have heart problems or high blood pressure?

No heart problems, just these two bullets in my head.




There were a lot of cockroaches in the cell where I was.

At first I would kill them, but after awhile I started to talk to them.

I told them that they could crawl on my body, as long as they didn’t

go in my mouth or ears… I needed the company.




At home everyone in the family has their own bed, even my wife, because I like my space.

I have a big bed, and when I’m asleep the kids will sneak in and get in bed with me.

Now I’m in here on this narrow uncomfortable bunk and all I can think about is

how I wish I could have my kids in bed with me. I miss them so bad it hurts.





Sometimes, I’m just sitting there, and I feel like I have powers…superpowers,

like one of those Power Rangers, like I can just point my hand at the wall

and make a hole in it. But then I reach out my cane and touch the wall

and there’s no hole there. I don’t tell anybody about this because I know

they would just tell me I’m crazy.




The workday ends with a dial tone, no more voices in my head.

Bullets, cockroaches, lonely bunks, and superpowers evaporate,

and I head out to the YMCA to exercise and exorcise my pain

and the pain of others, still not knowing what number to press

for freedom, safety, healing, or a second chance.

Thursday, December 16, 2021

GAS Featured Poet: Victor Clevenger

 Victor Clevenger spends his days in a Madhouse and his nights writing.  He is the author of several collections of poetry including Scratching to Get By (Between Shadows Press, 2021).  Together with American poet John Dorsey, they run River Dog. He can be reached at:

3 Haiku

over morning coffee
discussing who heard
a mouse’s footsteps

stress relief
a child finger painting
the sun

the paths that lead us to
the madhouse

Contemporary Tanka

young girl at dinner belle
crawling through milkman's dreams
dainty spider legs
trudging across greasy floors
her crisp smile & our bacon 


Contemporary Tanka

morning begins
writing words that’ll disappear…
my lost notebook
like distant thunder taunting
small children with sidewalk chalk

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

GAS Featured Poet: John Dorsey

photo by John Walz

John Dorsey is the author of several collections of poetry, including Which Way to the River: Selected Poems 2016-2020 (OAC Books, 2020), and Afterlife Karaoke (Crisis Chronicles, 2021). He may be reached at

Punk Rock is Cool for the End of the World
for Ed Smith

you can’t hear screaming
over the sound of the radio
on a wooded highway
where a cat curls up
with the noise of youth
forgetting there was ever a time
& place for anger
before just diving into a mosh pit
of rivers & more rivers.

In the Morning, for Dan Wright & Carl Sandburg

maybe you would’ve liked each other
watching the fog creep in
each paw with its own shape
each body is a different city you could love
a gentle rain you could hold onto
or let slip away
through a crack
in the window
like an act
of forgiveness.

Monday, December 13, 2021

GAS Featured Poet: Kevin Zepper

Kevin Zepper teaches at Minnesota State Univerity Moorhead in Moorhead, Minnesota. His booklength publication, Moonman, was published by Jules Poetry Playhouse Press in 2018. With four published chapbooks to his credit, a fifth is currently being circulated, The Shaman Said. In addition to writing, Zepper enjoys photography and acting.

English Department

Some folks refer to our department as the “little castle on the quad.” When students graduate, they have their photos taken in front of the English department because it looks “college-y,” sharply contrasting with the other buildings, which look like businesses or banking institutions.

From my office, I hear a student tour guide say “this is where all of the English classes are held, though it’s quiet most of the time.” After a pause they add, “they say it’s haunted. A janitor accidentally hung himself from a thick rope by the stage. They’ve had ghostbusters and paranormal types come here to see if they can make contact.” The guide chuckles and the prospects laugh and move on to the next department building. This is a rare day for me, cleaning up my office. I used to hang out in this building when I was a student when the ghostly haze of cigarette smoke hung in the hallways like vapor sheets and ideas making themselves visible without the aid of device. I am less here, my old haunt, guiding students online at home, a spirit in the machine. In the midst of all these self-truths, maybe a new myth needs to be spun in this quiet keep of stories. Maybe the one about the aged English teacher, who was found dead at his desk, grading 101 composition papers. But, they might see through this one…


Buffalo River Bend

Fishing from a steep bank on the Buffalo River, under an old elm. The best for shade and waiting for bites on the hook. Across from me, on the other shore, a painted turtle suns itself on a grey oak log over the water. I angle for the fish, watching for the bobber to twitch, bounce, then disappear into the green. The turtle dips its head, stretching its neck and nods once under the summer sky. A dark shell, drawing all the light and warmth to quell the cold blood. My skin, cool to the touch, like a stone or sunken log. The turtle finally sees me, and we lock into a monumental stare. The moment freezes. After apprehension, curiosity, then acknowledgement. The turtle tips from the log and kerplooshes into the deep pool of the bend. A daydream follows the momentary trail of bubbles away from my shady spot. The red and white bobber, solitary, unmoving in the river water, my thoughts swimming with a painted turtle.

Road Flowers


As we cross the Colorado border into New Mexico, we see our first bundle of plastic flowers and an aluminum cross. They are on our right, in an emergency stopping area for semis with failing brakes. There is a steep drop on the other side of the sandy shoulder. There is a steep drop into the canyon between the banded mesas. As we continue through the pass, the curves in the road, and the high desert, we see more memorials as bountiful as the piñon and scrub oak. For us, it’s a graveyard we can really leave, markers sprouting from every hairpin turn, sheer drop, or somber arroyo. The perma-flowers weather well here, with shades of red everywhere: red for heart, passion, anger, fire, blood. The Historical marker near Ojo Caliente has a mound of memorials, including signs of fresh cut carnations and baby’s breath. On a plaque of plastic stone, in large letters reads, “unsolved murders.” It is here where we cross the border of accidents into the realm of the intentional. 


 The feral flowers have broken through the asphalts’ cracks at rads edge. Along the old 52 bypass, some stretches show heavy growth between failing concrete and tar patchwork. The roots of the wild easily break through the diminished crust and hard scrabble. Groups of white daisies flourish, mustard plants wave from the roadside of the ditch. Near a corn field, a pair of sunflowers sway, bright hitchhikers hoping for a life to a space filled with bright family. Mixed flowers fill the torn pockets of civilization, florid defiance! At sundown a western breeze kicks up and the flowers gently bob and wave. This is their farewell dance before a return to darkness and the bowing of heads.

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

GAS Featured Poet: Dee Allen

Dee Allen is an African-Italian performance poet based in Oakland, California U.S.A. Active on creative writing & Spoken Word since the early 1990s. Author of 7 books--Boneyard, Unwritten Law, Stormwater, Skeletal Black  (all from POOR Press), Elohi Unitsi  (Conviction 2 Change Publishing) and coming in February 2022, Rusty Gallows  (Vagabond Books) and Plans (Nomadic Press) and 42 anthology appearances under his figurative belt so far.


I feel for the antediluvian forests 
Being systemically cut for
American lumber for building
Spreading more civilisation,
European biomass for burning 
As factory-made fuel, new
Means to spoil the air--
Critters of the trees, of wings and paws,
Forced to fly and crawl to new lives 
Of displacement--
Their original homes in exchange
For uncertainty--


Before age 12:
Put me in a high place 
And the fear of falling
Would defeat me.

At age 12:
To break from boredom
Sitting inside the house,
I walked outside,

On a whim,
To my aunt and uncle's backyard
To climb up
A pecan tree.

Limb by sturdy
Nut-bearing limb, 
My bony pre-teen self
Made like an annual cicada

Clutching the bark,
Scaling up, up, 
Up and away
To the deciduous

Tower's highest point.
As my spindly arms 
Held tightly onto the super
Steady trunk of the pecan tree,

My eyes beheld 
A whole world 
Different from ground level:
Many chimneys, rooves, metal TV antennas,

Building blocks to aerial
Suburban stretch for one mile,
Alone in an alien dimension that
Included the top of my house.

The climb up the pecan tree
Was easy.
The climb back down
Was the real

Test of courage. A matter of
Reversing my moves
Very carefully.
I no longer feared high places.