May 5-May 11: Michael McNeilley and Don Cheney

Week of May 5-May 11

Michael McNeilley and Don Cheney

Michael McNeilley
10 by mcn:
Zero City:
The Far Cry:


Michael McNeilley is editor of Zero City and the Olympia Review, and fiction editor of The Hawk His poems and stories have appeared in hundreds of publications, including Chicago Review, New York Quarterly, Mississippi Review, Slipstream, Poet, Oyster Boy Review, Plazm, Exquisite Corpse, Bouillabaisse, and on websites worldwide His latest book, _Situational Reality_, will be published by Dream Horse Press of San Jose, CA in Spring 1997

The following work is Copyright © 1997 and owned by Michael McNeilley and may not be distributed or reprinted in any manner whatsover without written permission from the author.

these poems are from an upcoming chapbook,
_in hell with Hitler’s eyeballs_

Cream-colored revolver

As love is a gun,
fish in a barrel
seduce the water
Though we see only
the top halves,
rainbows form complete circles,

so that the job of searching
for the rainbow’s end
must fall to the swift bullets of
infinity, and none other
Then again, you might have
too much time
on your hands
As the brain is
a magazine, too much rain
yellows and swells the pages
The holes in the sheets
were put there by insects, 
without use of weapons,
though their effects

are no different
for being random
and irrelevant
by degree
The cream-colored revolver
in Alice’s dream
melts when she touches it
It makes no sense to fear
the passage of things known
when so much remains
If I am running
out of information;
if I am running out of ammunition
it’s a good thing
only one target remains,
my dear.

we’re all dead and this is hell

that waitress looks like catwoman
says my buddy Tom
Tom is 11
and just discovered women

tell her dad tell her
she looks like catwoman
and I tell him I can’t
tell her that because
it’s true

I can barely stand to look at her
in fact
that heart-shaped face
those eyes

my food keeps getting stuck
in my throat
and I am drinking too much beer
and Tom can’t drive
so I order coffee

she brings the coffee and
my dad thinks you look like catwoman
Tom says
and she smiles
and my heart grinds down to nothing

I have a cat in me
she says

I have a cat and a wolf
and sometimes they fight
and I have a fairy
and they go on to talk about
Picts and fairies and elves

and I know a thing or two
about Picts
but I am mute
her voice holds a deep resonance
her hair blonde I wonder how she fits
voice and all in that small body

she’s nice says Tom
she turns back smiles
at Tom or me
yes I say
she’s nice

and rats run the alley
crows straddle the power lines
stirrings of an untuned piano
and I am old old old
but for some reason
I am not dead

I will come to their wedding
Tom and Catwoman
others will say she’s robbing the cradle
the two of them and I will be
the only real people there
the rest simulacra
as always

I will drink too much
and puke out back

we almost stepped on larry

he was lying in the hallway
between the bathrooms
as we headed back
from the card room
to the bar

we knew he was larry
he had a blue shirt on
that said so

the bar was loud with
good blues and we wanted
to get back
but she had to see
why he was lying there

I just figured
he had his own reasons
for not wanting to get up
but later I decided
I liked her for that

we split my last
percodan and had
some more jack
she said

tell me something
I don’t know
and I told her how
a motorcycle
saved my life once

we were sitting
on the curb out front kissing
when the ambulance
showed up
somebody called 911

the band was playing
buried alive in the blues
they’d opened the doors
to cool night air

some NA people
had checked larry
for a rig
he didn’t have one

as they put him on
the gurney she was
licking my upper lip
saying this is
so good


to trunk
to ocean liner
to iceberg
to north pole
to santa claus
to not what you wanted
to searching the bars
to boilermakers
to talking politics
to dentist
to coffee dribbling down the chin
to lovely woman laughing
to engaging discussion of poetry
to dinner
to breakfast
to more dinners and more breakfasts
to a tiny package with dinner
to first class tickets
to las vegas
to left at the altar
to losing your shirt at roulette
to the long flight home in tourist
to the free coke
to peanuts

Hitler didn’t die

in that bunker in Berlin
he shot Eva Braun but couldn’t do it
to himself
the Russians got him
the captors got big pensions
for a while
and Stalin put Hitler
in a small cage
teased him with hot pokers
and broken German
till he died at last
and Stalin left him
on the roof for the birds
saved the bones
in a file cabinet
Hitler’s back now
washing dishes in Uganda
trying to get money for
Stalin died appropriately enough
of neglect
he got sick from TB
pneumonia and self abuse
and they locked the door
to his room
and went away
too weak to get out of bed
still it took him days to go
they held parades
but the spectre would not pass
the fear as well
seemed only to grow
and one by one
they joined him
I saw Stalin last month
driving a yellow cab in New York City
he stared out at me
as we waited in traffic
his big moustache twitching
that red light seemed to last

Charlie didn’t kill nobody

he was drinking in
some little stinkhole
a good mile away
when they wasted
Sharon Tate

man she was
a babe
that was the
worst part
I think

but hey Charlie
didn’t kill nobody
not that they ever proved
and now plenty of those
little Mansonettes are
out there on the streets
well not Tex Watson
or Squeaky Fromme
but you know like
the ones I mean

Charlie oughta be
out there too
he done his time
paid his dues
by now
he could come
in here like
somebody famous

and some smart promoter’d
get him a few gigs
back him with
guitars and drums
just put him out front
loud with a mike and
let him rant
mark my words
less than a year
he’d be opening for
dancing with that Love babe
on stage

hey tell me you wouldn’t
pay to see him
and Charlie didn’t
kill nobody
hell I’d like to
buy the little bastard
a beer
sit and talk awhile
helter skelter
and all that

plenty people
done a lot less time
plenty of them out now
OJ’s playin golf
hangin out with babes
look just like that wife
of his what was
her name


too fast
too wet
and they
and bent the car doors
and the gas tank
ruptured and
and they were in there
as we pulled in
burning to death
covered with
they hadn’t
paid for

Don Cheney


I’m 38 live in san diego with my girlfriend Wendy Smith and my son Maxwell Cheney I work at UC San Diego in a large warehouse o’ books I’ve acted (the waiter in Lydia Davis’ play “Henry’s Day”), I’ve bowled (about 4 months ago, a solid 147), I’ve pitched a 3-hitter (about 24 years ago) and I’ve been held up at knife-point and at gun-point My favorite phrase is “Pinch me Alfredo and pass the hot sauce” and I have never been incarcerated.

The following work is Copyright © 1997 and owned by Don Cheney and may not be distributed or reprinted in any manner whatsover without written permission from the author.

Some of these poems were published in the magazine CRAWL OUT YOUR WINDOW and another excerpt is due to be published soon in LETTERBOX

from The Qualms of Catullus & K-Mart


Who donated this frail and dumb book of nouns?
It is mostly arid and partly exploitation
Cornelius, isn’t it you? You are the only
one who would be as liquid as to donate such a nugget
I am upset, but come, ask us: Is one Italian
too many? I, myself contribute explicit correspondence
from doctors, laborers and Jupiter
They have to be quick with words
Quality comes with these letters, which, as one patron urged, 
are more than a man can eat in a cyclical year


Basil is ill When he lives it’s in a hospital
eating Navy-surplus celery
All of us taunt this impetuous doorman
and see that it is quiet for we are dedicated to him
This pricks his temper because of his condition
but we give him Castor oil and a little Castor oil.


Varus, my cat is in love with you
You pig! Let’s duke it out!
You little squirt! Repent! You are a pig!
A pig with an upset stomach! You’re not sane!
Don’t sermonize, don’t quibble, just quit it!
And when you profess to me
that you will respond to my pleas
nothing comes of it
‘At a certain time,’ you say, ‘with luck
‘I will cease this bombast
‘and go out with people ‘ All I know is
if it were up to me I would beat your face in
‘No,’ you say, ‘that would malign my fate
‘and I wouldn’t be able to pronounce “incestuous”
‘or make love to possums or people ‘
‘Well,’ I say, ‘to me, I am Catullus and I give
‘this command: You’re lower than a Serapion, 
‘brother Mainly you should inquire about men or women
‘This could stop my habit of duking you out
‘Forget me and my solitude, you rat, and just quit it!’


I condone my life To me it proposes love
Your lover is not interested in perpetual foreplay
Face it, promiscuity wears out possibilities
And being sincere doesn’t stop animal urges
Your license to produce life has expired
I turn to the sanctity of love to feed us

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