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Issue 21 • July 2016
Male Perspectives
edited by Marge Simon

Table of Contents

Editor’s Intro • Male Perspectives Marge Simon

Ambassador to the Amazons • Herb Kauderer
The Red Spacesuit • Brian Garrison
Emancipation • John C. Mannone
Marco Polo 3879 • Wendy Rathbone
Untitled • G. Sutton Breiding
Exotic Heads Trimmed Neatly • John Reinhart
Stepmother • Mary Soon Lee
I am not my father’s son • Jane Williams
Age-Old Game • G. O. Clark
Wire Transfer • W. C. Roberts
New Planet Landscape 28 • Ken Poyner
The Distant Future • Josh Pearce
Holo Debate • Mark Danowsky
Now and Then • Lauren McBride
Iron Maiden Myth • Justin Holliday
The Spacecraft Landed Gently and Soundlessly on Their Lawn • J.J. Steinfeld
The Call • Francis W. Alexander
Jack • Sara Backer
The Aluminium Apples of the Moon • Jenny Blackford

Ambassador to the Amazons

Once he was a warrior
swinging a sword against
other warriors in a code
and brotherhood
shared and understood
on the all-male battlefield.
Now he is always out of place
oblivious to the subtext
of Amazon conversations
that follow protocols
he will never understand.
He serves the high table
offering women revered
as demi-gods
their sustenance,
remembering a time
when a diplomat’s position
gave him status,
but that was another world.
He focuses on his work,
both the presentation
of dinner, and the collection
of information to bring
back to Greece.
And at night he prays
for a return to war
a return to a world
he understands.

—Herb Kauderer

The Red Spacesuit

so much depends

my daughter’s red captain’s

reflecting earth’s final

beside the white

—Brian Garrison


It’s a hundred years later and I imagine sharing a bowl of collard greens and cornbread with Abraham Lincoln, but he isn’t dressed in his presidential garb, just jeans and a red plaid shirt; clean shaven. We’re sitting in a small diner in Baltimore. A hickory tree just outside our window. There’s a chill in the air and we order a good hot cup of coffee and … apples. Mr. Lincoln likes apples, all of them. (We saw a bowl of bananas and Golden Delicious on the counter when we came in.) But the coffee is tepid and a bit bitter. Food is supposed to be simpler than politics. But some places are integrated in name only, overt inequality continues to lurk in the smallest corners. We talk about the war, the promises. The creases in his forehead deepen as we look at the still black & white TV, its raster flickering the Riots: looting and fires; smoke. Tears well up in his eyes.

—John C. Mannone

Marco Polo 3879

guests of the greatest cyborg kings
of the Oort Cloud Dynasty
my father, uncle, and I
looking for safe passage
along the Silk Star Roads
have only our words to offer
an interstellar language of
and sonnets
they do not like it when
we recite poems of love
their metal lips twitch
they cannot stop pacing the
comet fields
searching for their makers
demanding they fix
the circuits of their hearts

—Wendy Rathbone


soon morning
insane with birds
shall arrive like a glass spaceship
in my head
O walk upon this light
with me
and I shall comb your feathers
with the shadow
of my

these scattered lyrical ruins
of a lifetime.

—G. Sutton Breiding

Exotic Heads Trimmed Neatly

the sign reads. Dismal, dingy, antiquated place—straight razors, mirrors, and his own odd collection of classical Greek paraphernalia: altars to Zeus, Athena, Hermes, swords and shields, winged sandals and a hat he’d only ever say was foreign, even armor made by friends for some occasion styled after ancient Greek relics. Some antique junk shop or forgotten tribute to a golden age when man could still reach the gods and the gods could still reach down, albeit not always helpfully, often leaving mortals to sort out problems too complex for celestial minds.

His visitors are mostly older men, bearded but otherwise devoid of visible hair, who talk in Greek that tastes like soup stewed too long in seaweed, discussing friends long gone, oracles, minotaurs, and such, and though they occupy the chair far longer than necessary they pay him well like tribute to the better days, and Percy lightens for a time, a man transported on some winged journey inward to that lonely shore of memory increasingly hard to navigate.

I asked him once how he started barbering, a trade which seemed hardly to interest him, and he responded in curt English that it was a nasty business, though the nebulous subject of his remark remained mysterious to me. Then, inspired, he brightened as if he recognized some distant friend in me and with wistful countenance he elaborated in that archaic Greek that remains Greek to me. Details no clearer than before, my uncle’s mischievous gleam told me, it must have been about a woman.

—John Reinhart


what are you doing?
Riding beside the new queen,
applauding the arrows
that fly from her bow?
Remember the rules:
mistrust her.
Oh, she’s a huntress, all right,
captured your father’s heart,
or rather his groin.
A man’s passions,
even a king’s passions,
urgent not wise.

what are you doing?
Wasting your time on a girl
who threatens your grip
on the throne?
Remember the rules:
the brat’s not your own,
it’s your duty
to hate and despise her.
So honey your tongue
with false promises,
and go plot the princess’s

Both of you,
stop this at once!
Remember the rules:
you are rivals.
Don’t look to each other
for friendship,
just look to the men
who define you.
Claim your prince!
Claim your king!
For females divided are weaker
and that’s reason enough
for the rules.

—Mary Soon Lee

I am not my father’s son

though I sport
his heavy brow,
his endomorphic shape
too soft for this world
but knowing no other,
and I am upholstered
in the same pellucid skin
designed so we
may never forget
our blood and bone
will one day feed
the gardens
that sustain us now.
It’s the eyes
that set us apart—
his the standard ochre,
almost opaque,
mine shot through
with pinpoints
of light and dark,
spiral galaxies
just like hers
I heard him curse
the day I was born.
He will not hold my gaze,
if he could he’d see
I remember everything:
the cosmic collision,
the sublime horror
of their union—
bloodless, boneless,
the never ending trail
of stardust in their wake …

—Jane Williams

Age-Old Game

Every day the son
unconsciously kills his father,
cocooned in his bedroom,
bent before the TV, both hands
clutching his video game controller,
racking up a hundred or more
symbolic, cyber-battle deaths before
having to rejoin the family for dinner
and small talk about work, school,
mall, and laughing on cue at his
dad’s ancient jokes; smiling, always
smiling as if nothing at all oedipal
had recently occurred.

—G. O. Clark

Wire Transfer

He flew up the back of the tenement,
iron fire-escape stairs clanging under his boots
as the story continued to unfold,
its blistered lips discharging
clots of yellow, salacious reportage.
From the reader’s flat, you can look down
on the Hanging Gardens,
where viceroy Eldritch dangles
with his courtiers in wigs and hosiery
—a bouquet of corpse flowers
made to dance in the wind and the rain.

A flash, and thunder follows
in that jagged wake
as power to the brainwashed masses.

—W. C. Roberts

New Planet Landscape 28

I feel the planet’s cumulative despair.
Its elements are mote fractions of thought;
Its life, if it is life, are engrams
Searching for a clutch. It cannot
Make itself known; it cannot say
What it, as a whole, thinks of us.
But it thinks. One mind, one
Mission to be understood. It once
Made another me, but I sent him
Away. Now it has made for me
What to my imagination would be
The perfect complementary woman. Ashamed,
I ungainly gesture and speak in greeting, and wonder
Whether it is a she, or an it, I am speaking to—
And if her every part is anatomically correct.
From the spark of beginning, I doubt any
System’s mathematical competence
Would be able to distill a happiness
Out of our glistening potential

For wintry cascades of foreplay.
I prepare, and she does not dissolve.

—Ken Poyner

The Distant Future

It is the distant future,
the year 1984


Plasticine policemen wear
looking-glass masks
and reflect
as you vote with your tax.

There are,
in every Amazonian mall,
neuralmancers pulling
apart the yarnball
of your brain to predict
the not-so-distant future.

There are reports of minorities.

Cathedral factories
burn chrome.
Heavy metal thunder
sends radioactive
snow crashing
on our heads
wrapped in newspaper
hats like all that information
will protect us from the sky.

We alter our carbon with tattoos
and Braille piercings
as if all these injectable words
will protect us from the sky

line of a metropolis
manipulated by metal arms
building cars,
slaughtering electric sheep,
conducting monotone automata.

Industrial refuse
that refuses to be
robotic workers
refuses to be redundant.

When every medium is digital
we will be the only books left
to burn.

—Josh Pearce

Holo Debate

There’s a button of course
at which point I can summon
Ralph Waldo Emerson
and he will be here
projected in this room

We can converse—
he using any words
in his collected works

And I can pace the room
circle his hologram
question myself weary

We can banter back and forth
well into the night
and I will lose time
and time again
all the less lonely for it

—Mark Danowsky

Now and Then

Relaxing beside
Moon Dome pool

I try to imagine
my great-great-grandfather

helmeted in a white suit
collecting samples

leaving booted footprints
outside in the dust.

—Lauren McBride

Iron Maiden Myth

The crone is made of iron.
She has survived centuries
of taunts; some want only
to press a finger inside, others
their whole arm. She’s closed
herself off behind museum glass,
humming songs from the band
that took her name; her only relief
now is spectators can’t see
her spikes have rusted,
fallen off decades ago
like deadly seeds, a reminder
that she never was a true maiden,
never had bitten down to mad bones.

—Justin Holliday

The Spacecraft Landed Gently and Soundlessly on Their Lawn

early evening in a nondescript neighbourhood
the spacecraft landed gently and soundlessly
on their lawn just as the husband on the porch
said the word inadequate to his wife
an argument of sorts over sexual desire
and a worrying marriage

she pointed silently
to the spacecraft
he still entangled
in words and definitions
now in the midst
of a sentence—
my urges and wants
that made no sense
outside the context
of his indignation
and constrained
world view

a light shone
on the porch couple
inside the spacecraft
there was deliberation
and what might be
construed as discussion
or argument
for there was room for only
one more passenger
and they selected her
his noise made them cringe
like family members displeased
with an evening meal

—J. J. Steinfeld

First published in a slightly different version in San Pedro River Review 3:1, Spring 2011).

The Call

No one saw it ooze,
red fear flowing like lava,
collecting buildings and beings
glued to its body
like silly putty.
A dark ages mass of hysteria
rolling over the land
tied the masses in knots.
The straws they reached for
were short, none long,
the roll of a loaded die.
Appeals to sanity strangled
like a lone flower in a weed patch.
Mob mentality is hungry piranha.
It forced the warring hordes
into the jaws of extinction.

—Francis W. Alexander


I have become the smaller flag on a ship,
the shorter rafters of a roof, a knave
in a pack of cards. I wear a skimpy coat,
tall leather boot, and leather drinking flask.
I am captured in a child’s game
and hit when grown men gamble.
I am what they call a tame ape.

I was a common man
whose job was to lift weight.
Mechanical devices that replaced
my muscles took my job and pay
and more—they took my human name.
And I, who used to pull
my master’s boots, hoist meat
and turn the spit, work the roller
and the winch, climb the steeple,
strike the bell, and connect lines
in telephone exchange, am a daw,
the tiniest of crows, gathering
loose sticks to nest in castle ruins.

The solace of six centuries—and still—
is once, on a high and windy hill,
beside a well that was clear and full,
I kissed a girl named Gylle.

—Sara Backer

The Aluminium Apples
of the Moon

My skin’s the tarnished
silver filigree of ferns
under a waning sky,
reflecting light pale
from its long trip
from sun to moon to earth.

Luna’s my long-lost mother;
I hunger for her milk
that lies thick as metal cream
over the brackish cold tea
of the creek. It’s slathered
on the ti-tree trunks as well,
profligate and white as death.

One levitating night,
I’ll rise into the air
and through the void.
My crescent fangs will pierce
the aluminium apples of the moon
and I will suck their juice.

—Jenny Blackford