Issue 122 — 

Gale Acuff (ArLiJo#122)
Christopher Barnes (ArLiJo#122)
Jaren Michelle (ArLiJo#122)
Tim J. Myers (ArLiJo#122)
Lucy Ricciardi (ArLiJo#122)
John Stocks (ArLiJo#122)
Gale Acuff

Featured in ArLiJo Issue 122


I love Jesus but not enough to die
for Him if the situation was re
-versed, or is that were, and I had to sac
-rifice myself for Him but then again
if I had to that might mean that someone
forced me to or at least talked me into
it so so much for sacrifice, I have
to give myself freely, maybe I’d take
a bullet for Him or push Him out of
the way of a speeding car which would hit
and kill me dead instead, I’m not sure if
I’m man enough to be the Son of God
which is what I ’d almost have to be to
substitute for Him, well, maybe not where
it counts—teaching and healing and all that,
not to mention miracles, not that heal
-ing’s not, exactly, but I mean the big
ones, walking on water, say, and raising

the dead though I wonder if that really
comes under the heading of miracles,
I guess you can’t get any sicker than
dead but anyway I’m ashamed of my
-self though I’m only ten years old so I
hope to grow into being a hero
when the time comes, when the time really comes,
but ask me to pack it in&mdashso that God
can live again, if Jesus is God, they
swear to that in Sunday School—and I think
I’d pull a Peter, which might not be so
bad, he does have the keys to Heaven and
he was a rock, upon him Jesus built
His church, the Bible tells me so any
-way, there might be something to it. Today

I fell asleep in class and Miss Hooker
had to rouse me and when I realized
just where the Hell I was and my eyes met
Miss Hooker’s like two spears into the side
of Jesus—I just made that up, that
makes me kind of a Creator though I
ought to revise that: her eyes stabbed me but
then again maybe I was right the first
time but who knows, maybe I’m right both
times—when I realized where I was and
nobody was happy but my classmates
were laughing though at and not with me, then
for a moment there I thought I’d murdered
Jesus instead of saved Him, which to tell
the truth I didn’t do, either. After
Sunday School I apologized to her,
Miss Hooker I mean—she loves Jesus like
crazy. If she died now that would be good
somehow. But I won’t die for that, neither.

Copyright © 2019 by Gale Acuff.


The morning after I bury my dog
I wolf my scrambled eggs and check on him,
below the garden, where we bury pets
and their graves cover over with grass, so
we never remember whose grave is whose.
I’m almost through the garden when I see

death coming back to life but not the way
they talk about at church. And talk about
and talk about. Something’s dug him
up, my dog, Caesar, Caesar is his name,
although he’s dead now so I’m not sure if

a name I can’t call to bring its bearer
to me is really a name anymore
if it doesn’t do what a name should do.
I mean, something’s been digging at his grave

and he’s got one paw coming up for air.
When I think I’m sensible again I
run back to the house. My father’s shaving
and I can’t be too excited or he’ll
nick himself, maybe even cut his throat.
Father, I say, as I creep down the hall

—the bathroom door’s just open, the way
old people forget to shut them, although
Father isn’t that old, and anyway,
he went to college. For six years. Seven.
Now he’s a geography teacher.
Father, I repeat. Yes, son, he says. What
can I do for you?
His speech sounds strange—he’s
shaving, after all, so he moves his face
to help the razor do its job, just like

he’s a contortionist from the neck up.
I’ve seen it—he makes funny faces which
used to scare me when I was little—I’m
ten now—but now I can hear the strangeness.
Father, I say, someone dog up Caesar.
Or something. Is that a fact
, he says. It’s
not really a question, and he doesn’t
seem surprised. Yes, sir, I say. There’s a leg
sticking out. You don’t say
, he says. Yes, sir,
I say. Well, well. I’ll be there pretty soon.
Meanwhile, you get the shovel and go back
and I’ll meet you there. Yes, sir
, I say. Right.

I walk to the barn and find the shovel
again—I’d forgotten where it was and
I was the one who put it up last night
after Father and I finished digging
the hole. I walk around the garden and
see it again, one leg pointing to sky
and I don’t come too close—not that I’m scared,
exactly. But I’m not gung-ho, neither.
I stand and stare and soon Father joins me.
I heard him cough when he came out the door.
he did that so he wouldn’t startle me,
I guess. I point to the grave and he says,

Well, well. For pity’s sake. What do you
know about that. Okay, son. Let’s do it
. I follow him—right at his heels
though I’m not eager, just a bit lonely.
I want to give him the shovel—before
I can he says, Okay, son, let’s dig him
. Just like that. I dig with my eyes closed
and when I have to open them I don’t

look directly at the leg. Father lifts him
out and says, Okay, a little deeper
this time, son
. When I’m through he puts Caesar
back in and I refill the hole and we
walk and walk on it to keep a good dog
down. Alright, Father says. Go get those bricks
from the old fireplace and bring them over
I get the wheelbarrow and fill it with
bricks and manage to roll it without it
falling over. Father lays them down like
a brick floor on top of Caesar’s grave. There,
he says. That ought to hold him. Only now
can I ask, Father, what happened last night?

He wipes his face with both long sleeves. Raccoon,
, he says, looking for some protein.
Another dog, maybe. There’s no telling
but that’s my guess or two. He’s alright now,
he adds. Put the shovel and the wheelbarrow
. I do and meet him at the back door.
He’s smoking a Lucky Strike. I’m sorry,
, he says. It happens. It’s Nature’s way.
I’m not sure if he means it’s Nature’s way
to die or Nature’s way to be dug up

again, or maybe he means both. Yes, sir,
I say. It got to me but I’ll be fine.
He laughs. It gets us all, he says. He sighs.
I think he means death, and not just surprise.
You cut yourself shaving, I say. Oh, that,
he says. It’s nothing. Which means it’s something.

Copyright © 2019 by Gale Acuff.

About the Author
Gale Acuff has had poetry published in Ascent, Chiron Review, Pennsylvania Literary Journal, Poem, Adirondack Review, Maryland Poetry Review, Florida Review, Slant, Carolina Quarterly, Arkansas Review, South Dakota Review, and many other journals. Acuff has authored three books of poetry, all from BrickHouse Press: Buffalo Nickel, The Weight of the World, and The Story of My Lives. Acuff has taught university English courses in the US, China, and Palestine.

Christopher Barnes

Featured in ArLiJo Issue 122

“Putting You Through Now, Caller.” (4)

“You always this gruff?
Muzzling your jaw smooths our racket.
Could’ve pocketed Betterbridge, worth the undertaking.
He was roundly pinpointed.
Whine baby, avanti.”

“There’s no getaway hatch
That doesn’t swing onto a precipice.”

Copyright © 2019 by Christopher Barnes.

“Putting You Through Now, Caller.” (5)

“This wipe out has its Laurel & Hardy ingredient.
You had it jaggy
Radiating yourself in vending machine glam.
An x marks the colour print.
Everything’s thimblerigged, faithworthy.”

“Skewing reminiscences aren’t discretion,
Costa del Sol waits,
A golden bubble.”

Copyright © 2019 by Christopher Barnes.

About the Author
Christopher Barnes won the 1998 Northern Arts Writers Award. He has read his work at several events, including at Proudwords, a lesbian and gay writing festival. This collection Lovebites was published in 2005 (Chanticleer Press, Edinburgh, Scotland).

Jaren Michelle

Featured in ArLiJo Issue No. 122

The Pair

The laundry room smells of some freshman’s burnt ramen. There’s a dirty plate in the sink right below the“please don’t leave dirty dishes” sign. Someone’s left the window open; snow dusts the floor. I close the window and sit on top of the tumbling dryer to keep warm.

The room is small: just two washers and dryers, a sink, and a microwave. White walls, brown-tile floor. A bulletin board hangs on the wall; the RA pinned up only a half-sheet of notebook paper. In hot pink glitter pen it reads, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.Jesus.

A small cardboard box has been sitting on the dryer across from me for weeks now. It”s labeled in Sharpie: Homeless Socks, Doodled on the box is a cartoon likeness of a sock, lost to the perilous seas of the washing machine. At first, there had been only one or two, but I counted new ones every day. Today the homeless sock box is full.

Before the box was there, people put missing socks on the window sill, assuming someone would eventually come get them. They sat in a row, cold, gathering dust, looking too small. Some ended up on the floor or fell in the crevice between the washer and dryer. But when the homeless-sock box appeared, the socks could wait in a soft little pile together, saved from the fall.

I’m skipping chapel again today. It’s not worth walking across campus in the snow. Out the window, I see groups of girls huddled in friendly clumps. They don’t notice me watching as they leave schools of footprints behind.

About the Author
Jaren Michelle is the 2018-19 editor of the Quercus, art and literary magazine, at St. Ambrose University. Her short fiction work has been published in Quercus, and her poetry has appeared in Indiana Wesleyan University’s Caesura literary magazine. She is completing her writing degree at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa.


Tim J. Myers

Featured in ArLiJo Issue No. 122

Family of Death Squad Victim
Copyright © 2019 by Tim J. Myers.

About the Artist
Tim J. Myers is a widely published writer who has also published 14 works of visual art, including some in The Doctor T. J. Eckleburg Review at Johns Hopkins.



Lucy Ricciardi

Featured in ArLiJo Issue No. 122

Liquidity Trap

The husband is drunk in a pool
of his own making.

A stranger realigns his legs for

Between him and the cold steps

but slippery rot of ginko and moss.

If he had the cash, he could flow
like a lover over

the edge seeking unexplored lows.

His fingers discover depressions
where water collects

in the absence of other options.

His wife slips down the shiny streets
past raucous calls

from the hundred yen shop, past
the silence

of Kyoto’s specialty stalls
of rare broken tea,

blood-red gold-flecked

and knives to last a thousand years.

She walks home in the rain.

Copyright © 2019 by Lucy Ricciardi.

Berlin, October, 2011

What is left to say of a city dismembered,
Even the young drag rubble-heaps
like entrails in lagged reproach
of their sunny affect, their violent art.

Invisible Berlin is more compelling
than its giddy surface. Always two varieties
of possession, the real and the remembered.

Here we have a statue, part of a frieze—
the rest is in Russia
or still crated in the basement
with basalt from Tel Halaf.

And here, a map. We saved the list.
We know what was lost. It would have been
exactly here. It was—
We were lucky, the villagers buried these
plates in the fields, later returned
bearing them as in a blackened fairy tale.

Look now at the scale model of the city,
four meters square, in three colors.
White is what remained.
Yellow has been reconstituted.
Pink is what is planned for 2023.

We have always been forward-looking,
consider the Staatsbibliothek,
our next bride, decked in glass
and lit with crystal prisms, reflecting
un-built Berlin in every bevel.

Still a feel of empire along the boulevards.

Across an open field, illiquid
waves of granite blocks anchor
the uneven earth. “ A Memorial
to the Murdered Jews of Europe”

Berlin is left to city planners
who live in a house of the bifurcated
twinning and turning to remake the past
according to old recipes
like this one for October plum torte.

Join us in our bunker, re-worked as
a gallery of contemporary art.
Exhibit one is a naked woman,
made from a plucked and shellacked chicken
beside a female amputee.

Next are fragments of the bitter concrete
where 2,000 people were crammed.
These were German citizens.
What did they have
to say to each other once they emerged?

Berlin is our pink rose.

Copyright © 2019 by Lucy Ricciardi.

About the Author
Lucy Ricciardi’s poems raise issues of fairness, health, love, and the weirdness of Nature. She was raised in Carle Place, Long Island in one of Levitt’s first housing developments. She now lives with her husband in Connecticut where she is working on a poetry collection.

John Stocks

Featured in ArLiJo Issue No. 122

Deserted Cottage. County Kerry.

Who were they, and why did they leave?
Grieving for their patch of peaty soil
Few traces left, smothered by fecund
Growth, flourishing in well-loved loam.
Impossible then to ascertain
How long it lingered, in neglect.

Nettles high as the breasts of girls
Who carried the butter-milk home
Through fields of yellow gorse, pink-heather.
The big fella said the slates were old
Old as God, the Devil and the rain
Ripped from a church, three hundred years ago.

But as for the unrecorded lives
He shrugged, no one appeared to know
Whether it was famine from the blight
Or some distant, domestic trauma
That pulled up their roots, and sent them flying
Swift as winter shadows on the Samhain fires.

Copyright © 2019 by John Stocks.

To breathe this air.

Oh, the terrible beauty of the bay
and peaty bog-mountain knockatee
a land drenched into sorrows that drifts away
beyond the blood-soaked estuary
to a land of booze and infamy.

For the terrible beauty of the bay
with its mists, and ghosts, and shadow play
half believed legends of distant days
little people, Fianna and the fays
human life as fragile as wind-blown leaves.

And the terrible beauty of the bay
In winter storm, tumultuous spray
the boys from Limerick, Dub and Galway
all wide eyed, wild and reckless, born to stray
to exile and bitter-sweet misery.

When the lights of New York are blazing
when the mist and the whisky come calling
my fine Island half a life time away;
oh, the terrible beauty of the bay.

About the Author
John Stocks is a UK-based poet, novelist, historian and freelance journalist who has had work published in magazines worldwide and whose work has been widely anthologised. Since 2010 he has appeared in the UK Soul Feathers anthology, alongside Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Seamus Heaney, Carol Ann Duffy, Maya Angelou, Sharon Olds and others. He is the poetry editor of Bewildering Stories magazine and has published and edited several creative anthologies, including, Gaze Diverse Visions and the award-winning GANDA magazine.