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Christmas with Stanley-Fiction by Robert Kokan
Gravedigger Sunrise-Fiction by Zach Wilhide
Billy at One O'clock-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Christine's Tune-Fiction by Andrew J. Kolarik
Paid in Full-Fiction by Bill Baber
Is Today the Day?-Fiction by Thomas X. Cross
Dead Bodies Everywhere-Fiction by Roy Dorman
Murphy's Law-Fiction by Edward Ahern
The Ghost in the Factory-Fiction by Jeremiah Minihan
Communication Breakdown-Fiction by Joe Surkiewicz
So Long, and Thanks for All the Texts-Fiction by Jay Adair
Time-Share-Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
It's Xmas and Maureen Feels Like Death Warmed Over-Flash Fiction by Gay Degani
Uncle Andrew-Flash Fiction by K. A. Williams
In a Nearby Church-Flash Fiction by Bethany Cody
What Happened after His Head Oozed-Flash Fiction by Michael Dioguardi
Prospero's Last Party-Flash Fiction by Jacqueline Doyle
Slick-Poem by David Spicer
Word Cruncher-Poem by David Spicer
The Life that Lives on Man-Poem by John Short
Pet Shop Story-Poem by John Short
dear tom-Poem by Meg Baird
the canvas-Poem by Meg Baird
A Killing-Poem by Ian C. Smith
Green Grass-Poem by Ian C. Smith
No Joke-Poem by Ian C. Smith
a soft landing-Poem by JJ Campbell
going through the motions-Poem by JJ Campbell
the shotgun still rests in the corner-Poem by JJ Campbell
an earthy affair-Poem by ayaz daryl nielsen
death loves the deep-space pirate-Poem by ayaz daryl nielsen
robotic mistress-Poem by ayaz daryl nielsen
A November Morning-Poem by John D. Robinson
Hard & Heavy-Poem by John D. Robinson
The Storm-Poem by John D. Robinson
The Earth Keeps Sabbath-Poem by Judith Partin-Nielsen
Obituary-Poem by Judith Partin-Nielsen
Rock Whisperings-Poem by Judith Partin-Nielsen
Longing-Poem by Judith Partin-Nielsen
Cartoons by Cartwright
Hail, Tiger!
Angel of Manslaughter
Strange Gardens
Gutter Balls
Calpurnia's Window
No Place Like Home
ALAT
Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

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Cover by Nancy Spicer

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Cover by Nancy Spicer

Cindy Rosmus: Editor

 

     Back in August 2012 David Spicer submitted me three poems for Yellow Mama. Somehow, I “lost track” of his submission, and in February 2013, he emailed, asking about them. I felt SO bad, swore I never “lost” a submission before, and said I’d run his poem “Amnesia” in the 2013 Valentine’s Day issue (#36). That was the beginning of David Spicer being our “star” V-Day poet! Every year we featured powerful love poems by this guy. I can’t believe Issue #84 (Feb. 15, 2021) will be the first Valentine’s Day without our David. YM loved him, and he loved YM. He said, “I'm looking forward to being in your journal. I like it a lot. There aren't too many mags that like the wild stuff.” Run wild and free, dear friend. We will miss you.

 

Tony Knott, Publisher, Artist, Author:

 

      David Spicer lived and wrote simultaneously. His world made more sense that way. At some point, he stopped for a good spell then became doubly driven, restarting at a seasoned age, from the vantage of the view, on higher ground, clearly seeing the road he had travelled. He wrote to me of literary institutionalization, of fear and conformity. Something earlier in his life had tried to stifle him. He answered that with words, playing, pain-ing and rebelling, shouting and weeping, all eloquently; and with authenticity slung, slammed, spurted, fucked, his verse a stiff tool and that’s what I loved about working with him, understanding all that, from whence he came, his urges, seductions, helplessnesses, everything human defining him as a real writer. Few can claim that. I’ll miss the guy.


Alex Salinas:

     In the brief but memorable time I knew David, he advocated hard for my work—his astounding blurb graces the back of my second poetry collection—and he served as an inspiration to me with his late-career renaissance. We had just been emailing, David having sent me a digital proof of his forthcoming collection, Mad Sestina King (his fourth book in a year). In David's memory, I wrote a poem: "Hispanic sonnet, or End of American maniac." American Maniac is the title of David's poetry collection published two days after my second book; it was 30 years in the making, he told me. Hold close the people of your tribe.

 

Hispanic sonnet, or End of American maniac


By Alex Z. Salinas

 

for David Spicer

 

David, you’re dying / but it feels as tho

You’ve written yourself out of death.

Sestina King, American Maniac, your

Mind let go but the machines keep you

Breathing. For now. Not much longer.

Remember you told me how in 1980

You accompanied Denis Johnson to an

Arizona prison to visit a mutual friend? You

Said Denis was a marvelous man & writer

And minutes later that Hollywood’ll fuck

Anything up, Shelley’s Frankenstein as

Proof. You blurbed I had cojones to publish

Poems about God. Naw. David, I have to

Tell you, before goodbye, grab the nearest 

 

Partner. Dance. This life. Unbearably sad. Precious.

 

Kenneth James Crist, Editor of Black Petals, Webmaster @ Fossil Publications

 

     Truthfully, during the time I saw David’s work, I liked his work as well as any other poet we published, but I was never especially impressed until he sent Regrets. That one grabbed my attention, as I was setting it up in Yellow Mama. Just, for some reason, made the nape of my neck tingle, and I found myself reading it again and again. It reached inside me and made me say, “There is my story. Right there. So much of this rings true in my own life.” I sent David an email immediately and told him how much I liked the poem and that I thought it was the best thing he’d ever done. We ran it last issue, but I know many readers may have just gone to the website and read their own poem or story and moved on. We are sometimes just that busy. But please, if you don’t do anything else today, read Regrets. Here it is again. And thank you, David…

 

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Art by Cindy Rosmus 2020

REGRETS

 

by David Spicer

 

 

I regret not writing this sooner.

 

I regret not applying better parental skills toward my eleven cats.

I regret I didn’t travel to the Galapagos and their 200-year old headless shells,

to Ireland to hear a barmaid’s lilt singing Danny Boy,

to temples of chanting Buddhists in Thailand, to cracking icebergs of the Arctic.

 

I regret my shy nature, its reluctance to engage with train station strangers.

My regrets could fill an Earth-sized bowl. My regrets could be yours:

Did you steal a candy bar and get caught? Did you French kiss

dates and regret it because they bit you? I did and I don’t.

 

I don’t regret slugging my father in the mouth the last time he pushed me.

I don’t regret catching my mother telling yet another lie.

I don’t regret showing my twelve-year old brother a Playboy.

Your  regrets? Did you ever sneak a peek at a nude sunbather?

 

I regret not watching I Love Lucy when my sisters giggled.

Maybe my humor would be more raucous.

Maybe I’d possess a Shih-Tzu’s impatience with his human.

Then I could tolerate shrill voices that haunt my sleepwalks.

 

I regret disliking rap music—except for Ton Loc jiving Wild Thing,

I regret selling my off-the-wall record collection to a dealer,

I don’t regret buying double that number of cd’s because I’m

an audiophile who hears the silence between a country singer’s notes.

 

I don’t regret blasting the Byrds’ Turn, Turn, Turn in the dorm.

I regret I didn’t study as diligently as many students—

not reading more Milton, Yeats, Dante, and Shakespeare.

Now I regret not reading younger poets—their insights may surpass mine.

 

One night I pointed a gun at my brain because my father hated me.

The gun called me a coward. I didn’t pull the trigger: I don’t regret that.

I don’t regret avoiding the draft and dodging a Cong bullet.

I don’t regret shooting a rifle when forced to in the Air Farce.

 

I don’t regret eating too much junk food in the barracks.

I regret not hiking up the Sandias bordering Albuquerque.

I regret my life was a black hole when I transmitted pilots the weather.

I regret I didn’t walk to the off-base bookstore often and read more Ellen Bass.

 

I regret not tattooing a raccoon howling at the moon on my left butt.

I regret getting cut from the tenth grade baseball team.

The coach said I had the most heart but the least talent.

He appointed me team flunky but I quit, which I don’t regret.

 

 

 

I don’t regret fronting a guitar player $35 a week after I met him.

He repaid me after I nagged him for weeks.

I learned not to loan money to friends or acquaintances.

Or books, or records, or movies. Or to borrow from relatives.

 

I regret a coworker borrowed my copy of Atlas Shrugged.

She returned it with her dog’s puke stain on it, a testament

to the pup’s critical talent. I’m glad it wasn’t a first edition.

I regret she apologized for her pet’s taste. I don’t regret I laughed.

 

I don’t regret never apologizing for transgressions.

One time I fantasized garroting an adversary. I won’t apologize for that.

I didn’t apologize for yelling, Spit it out, Scates, when he stuttered

after pulling down a map, and there she was, Naked Miss June.

 

I regret farting in college: more than 20 roommates disowned me.

I plugged up the poots like a dam-fingering Dutch boy.

My grandmother told me, There’s more room out than in.

My grandfather said, Pull my finger and make a wish.

 

I regret harassing a woman by saying, Show me your tits.

I regret not knowing better. I regret I wasn’t taught well.

I regret not learning quicker. I did, finally.

I regret my narcissism, regret not seeing all people are narcissistic.

 

Do you regret reading this? Will I regret writing it? I don’t regret

writing anything. I have boxes and boxes of regrets and non-regrets.

I don’t regret writing love notes to women I’ve loved.

I regret not writing them to women I could have loved.

 

I regret never having a mentor as a young man,

my old man useless in that role. No older brother.

I regret gravitating to males I saw as fathers.

I don’t regret my own counsel. I don’t regret despising lawyers.

 

I regret buying encyclopedias from a door-to-door salesman.

I didn’t need those books, don’t regret giving them to my brother,

who shelved them in his dark, melancholy den. I don’t regret

never visiting him, because I’m dead to him anyway.

 

Regrets are cotton balls with bloodstains.

Regrets are wounds that don’t heal. Do you scratch your regrets?

Regrets are lonely shadows that lurk in my loony brain.

Regrets are grey clouds that reappear with moody weather.

 

Regrets, do I ever approach you like a scruffy panhandler?

Tell me when you don’t want attention like a doting aunt.

Regrets, do you think people mean it when they send a Regrets card?

Can you tell me the last time you felt compassion for a victim, Regrets?

 

 

 

Should I regret not looting a house or pissing on a midnight golf lawn—

not feeling the rush through my body like a wheelbarrow of berserk smiles,

not running naked through a mansion with a pillowcase full of stolen jewelry,

not pissing in the 18th green hole—ah, adrenalin, chock full of maniac energy!

 

I don’t regret heckling a comic, stealing a laugh from him.

He called me an asshole and I told him he could lick me where the moon

didn’t moan. I don’t regret telling a professor she broke a promise

by assigning A students a term paper. She frowned like Medusa

 

but I didn’t turn to stone. I don’t regret murmurations, darkening skies,

I regret the sea rising, I regret my old girlfriend doesn’t call me,

but we haven’t slept together in decades so she isn’t my girlfriend.

I regret I haven’t seen her. But I don’t regret marrying the One.

 

There must be a god of Regret. Give me a second. I’ll Google that.

Hades! Imagine that. I don’t regret Google. I regret Facebook and Twitter:

deluded parrot ranches. Imagine the gods of Twitterers and Frienders,

calling everything and everybody amazing and awesome in Greek or Latin.

 

I do and don’t regret flunking Trig three times, I don’t regret not getting an MFA.

I love my lack of an MFA. But sometimes I do eat a regret morsel like a cracker

crumb off the floor. I regret my lousy study habits. I don’t regret the lack

of discipline to snag a degree that means I’m a sellout. I do regret my sour grapes.

 

I played air guitar one night alongside Bloomfield at the Fillmore East, regret

not strolling to a Village hotel with a streetwalker who said, Hey Babe, want some fun?

I regret not losing my cherry to that pro I didn’t know.  I regret losing it to my uncle’s

woman after he egged me on to fuck her. I did and he dropped her like a dead cat.

 

I regret never sailing on a boat. I could have imagined Ahab pursuing Moby Dick,

his men scurrying like fish, like manic clouds after they boarded their ship helmed

by a captain who loved the sea but hated the whale more. I don’t regret

hating continent-sized oceans and the thought of drowning. Have you ever sailed?

 

I regret not telling my father he was a redneck Buddha slob with spaghetti gobs in his gut,

not standing toe-to-toe to him the minute I grew taller than him. I regret I had no finesse

as a child, lived inside my body wishing I could escape. But I wasn’t Houdini, was I?

I’m a prisoner in my body but have no regrets. Regrets are fools I no longer love.

 

I regret endings must happen. I regret I’ll die some day. I regret I don’t know

what Death is. Do you regret that? Will you and I meet in the heaven or hell of regrets

and guzzle boilermakers trading regrets like kids with boxes of blemished baseball cards?

Or will we suck black air after the alleged white light and regret having believed anything?

 

I regret I ignored my dying sister, a force of nature, the wind refusing a cowboy’s rope. I wish

I had visited her, but I was a sad owl lingering on a lonely limb. Do you regret reading this?

Are you a sad owl? Do you regret dark sins? Like that tree swaying with the breeze that’s

the ghost of your vanished lover? Is there something you don’t regret? Are you human, too?

 

 

David Spicer has published poems in The American Poetry Review, CircleStreet, Gargoyle, Moria, Oyster River Pages, Ploughshares, Remington Review, Santa Clara Review, The Sheepshead Review, Steam Ticket, Synaeresis, Third Wednesday, and elsewhere. Nominated for a Best of the Net three times and a Pushcart twice, he is author of six chapbooks and four full-length collections, the latest two being American Maniac (Hekate Publishing) and Confessional (Cyberwit.net). His fifth, Mad Sestina King, is forthcoming from FutureCycle Press.

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2020