November 2-8, 2015: J. H. Johns and Olivia Vande Woude

J. H. Johns and Olivia Vande Woude

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J. H. Johns

Bio (auto)

J. H. Johns “grew up and came of age” while living in East Tennessee and Middle Georgia. Specifically, the two places “responsible” for the writer that he has become are Knoxville, Tennessee and Milledgeville, Georgia. Since then, he has moved on to Chicago- for a brief stint- and New York City- for a significantly longer stay. Currently, he is “holed up” in a small town where when he is not writing, he tends to his “nature preserve” and his “back forty.” His goal is to surround his house with all sorts of vegetation so as to obscure it from the gaze of the “locals.” He is assisted in this task by his coonhound buddy and companion, Roma. Most recently, J. H. Johns has been appeared in The Potomac(2), Foam:e (Australia), Literary Juice, The Lost Coast Review, Syndic Literary Journal- Publisher’s Favorites, Fishfood Magazine, ken*again, The East Coast Literary Review, Exercise Bowler, Four and Twenty, Commonline, Danse Macabre Du Jour (2), The West Wind Review, Syndic Literary Journal (7), Smokebox, Word Slaw, Wizards of the Wind, and Alura.

The following work is Copyright © 2015, and owned by J. H. Johns and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

What Some Lives Amount To

I walk my dog
a couple of times a day
I clean up after it,
religiously- zealously-
because I’d want
the same courtesy;
so the guy
who lives four doors down,
pulls up alongside of me
in his Range Rover
and says-
“I saw your dog squatting,
why didn’t you clean it up?”
Well, first,
I told him-
“…females piss that way…”
but, then, I realized
that despite his coat and tie
and his briefcase on the seat next to him-
that’s what his life amounts to-
a conversation about dog shit…


Olivia Vande Woude

Bio (auto)

Olivia Vande Woude is a senior from Charlottesville, Virginia. She has been writing stories for most of her life, and has recently focused her attention on writing poetry. She has attended the New England Young Writers Conference, the UVA Young Writers Workshop, and was selected to read her work at the Virginia Festival of the Book. Her work has been featured in Literary Orphans, Stepping Stones Magazine, Poetry Space U.K, and Canvas literary magazine. Olivia is an intern at Tupelo Press Teen Writing Center, where she is co-editor of the Crossroads Anthology.

The following work is Copyright © 2015, and owned by Olivia Vande Woude and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Safe on the Safe End

The air is sausage and rubber and pavement
after it rains a good rain.

He has the devil on his arm
teeth that slip and trip on words skipping
out and out and out
cigarettes settling in calloused hands.

Went to jail for 2 days
threatened and hollered
at his best friend
for kissing his wife of 28 years
until the police
came and tamed
and his 2 bottom teeth were the cost.

Makes Adirondack chairs
working now on a tree house for his dozen grand kids,
Rebar for windows,


Likes the sting of salty peanuts,
Munchies for 59 cents a piece,
3 years single and loving it,
No biggie, I don’t miss her.

His mother and grandmother
taught him to cook, he was
their little girl,

His children hate anchovies
but when he makes salad niçoise, well
they love the red wine and anchovies for spice.
Learned a2 plus b2 equals c2
took trigonometry
only worker who remembered
at the house with vinyl blinds
he built last year
where his daughter’s ex once spat at her
and hit her
and tried a punch at him
and the mosquitoes loved his bloody skin.

He saw the first red leaf of Fall today
like the 50 times he had before
his blood is Maine, never found reason to leave,
next place he’ll be is easy telling
after all, it’s safer on the safe end.

Man From Trinidad

An easter egg dispenser stands
next to ceramic horses
singing faint, melancholy tunes
for anyone willing to pay
a dime to hear.

Woman buys
Dented cans of Vienna sausage
stickers of rainbows resting
on clouds
Pastel butter mints wrapped in paper
Errands before a round of cards.

Three men sit outside
near a sign that tells
“beer and batteries can’t be returned”.

Talk about women they thought they loved,
sips of alcohol from vineyards they only dreamed of
……..St. Michel’s name butchered
the neighbor who was allergic to basil,
grey tape used to patch holes of screens,
sunken leaves in stagnant pools of Fall.

Drink coffee from 7/11,
a cup for 99 cents
since it’s a dreary day,
and on dreary days everyone drinks coffee.

“I know men from all over,”
one, about sixty, proclaims
voice humid
and heavy with
an Islander accent.

“I even know a man from Trinidad.”

The others, with olive pits for eyes
whisper unanimously
……..“Really, Trinidad?”.

Toussaint, a man of 55
who works the ticket booth
on South Water Street,
prepares for his night shift
gathering his shirt
with his name embroidered in script,
contoured by a pallid orange.

“Just wait until you retire,” another man encourages him.

“Then every day feels like Sunday.”


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