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Murder by the Numbers: Poem by Robert Jeschonek
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Hard Work Damned on the Road to Extinction: Poem by Richelle Lee Slota
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my mind: Poem by Meg Baird
the non: Poem by Meg Baird
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A Reason to Put the Rent Up: Poem by Richard LeDue
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The Apartment Building: Poem by John C. Mannone
Disinfected: Poem by John C. Mannone
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Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

John C. Mannone: The Apartment Building

Art by Bernice Holtzman 2022

The apartment building


by John C. Mannone



doesn’t welcome the immigrants, it looks

outside with window-sagging eyes, no welcome

mat that’s not flipped on its back—silent side up.


At night, mother and child hear the wall mumble

in their native tongue, warns them of looming

nightmares—voices of their predecessors.


In the morning, more of yellowing wallpaper

is torn from night’s anguish. It couldn’t speak,

picture-less nails had sutured its mouth shut.


But the bedbugs spoke in Braille with a trail

of welts, scratchy words proclaiming the blind

neglect of the landlord. The wastebasket outside


his office cries boisterously, but crumpled papers

inside rustle louder with their complaint: forged

disclosure forms about health code violations.


The mother doesn’t know. Her little girl simply

sings as she plays on the porch with the curling

paint chips that also lullaby their own appealing


sweetness. Her beautiful braided hair tight as a fist

blares the secret of dangerously high levels of lead.

Even her grave cannot keep it quiet.



Author’s Note: This is a speculative poem inspired by a ‘Forensic Files’ episode

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5T-_b0HBGmw (accessed February 21, 2021) In memoriam of Sunday James Abek (1997-2000).



John C. Mannone has poems in Windhover, North Dakota Quarterly, Poetry South, Baltimore Review, and others. Winner/Nominee of numerous contests/awards, John edits poetry for Abyss & Apex and other journals. He’s a retired physics professor living in Knoxville, Tennessee.




Bernice Holtzman’s paintings and collages have appeared in shows at various venues in Manhattan, including the Back Fence in Greenwich Village, the Producer’s Club, the Black Door Gallery on W. 26th St., and one other place she can’t remember, but it was in a basement, and she was well received.

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2022