The Main Street Rag, Winter 2014-2015


What’s Inside


John Amen: Befriending Life
An interview by Beth Ann Cagle

Fiction by:

John Gorman, Elizabeth Buechner Morris, Frank Scozzari

Non-fiction by:

George Drew

Poetry by:

John Amen, Deborah Allbritain, Anthony Arnott, Peter Branson, Tina Mozelle Braziel, Anthony Butts, Elizabeth Bryant, Noel Crook, Rod Farmer, Andy Fogle, Rick Gray, Cleo Griffith, Diana MacKinnon, Henning, Richard Holinger, Jen Hu, Arnie Johanson, Jack Kristiansen, Robert A. Morris, Sam Less, Timothy L. Rodriguez, E.M. Schorb, Stefan Lovasik, Spiel, Dana Stamps, II, Kelly Talbot, Celisa Steele

 Books Reviewed:

Larissa Takes Flight by Teresa Milbrodt, Ghost Horse by Thomas H. McNeely, Like a Beggar by Ellen Bass, Accepting the Disaster by Joshua Mehigan, Those Carolina Parakeets Once Far From Extinct by Frances J. Pearce, Widow Poems by Betty Adcock, Catma by Gilbert Allen, water unto light by Heather Dearmon, You Were Born One Time by Quitman Marshall, Elegy in Reverse by Mike James


Jen McConnell, Eric Weil, Lisa Zerkle, Richard Allen Taylor, Susan M. Lefler, Anne Kaylor

Cover Art:

Mary Powers

 Ship Date: January 15, 2015


Dear M. Scott Douglass,
When I opened the issue of Main Street Rag that arrived and saw my poem there after all, I was touched by your generosity of spirit. When I read further in the issue, I was blown away by the other poetry and so grateful for that interview with Joseph Bathanti (I haven’t gotten to the fiction yet, but it looks delicious).

Lita Kurth, San Jose, CA

My name is Jason Jones Sheppard. You published my poem “Bluegrass” in the Spring of 2011 and in the following Fall issue, Vol. 16, Number 4. One of your co-editors commented favorably on my poem in an online article. It was discovered by a family member because I wasn’t computer literate at the time. Since being informed, a number of complications (bereavement, moving, ill health, etc.) have prevented me from sending you my thanks and gratitude for the opportunity, recognition, and sense of accomplishment I gained by publishing in The Main Street Rag. It is a truly outstanding journal.

Jason Jones Sheppard, Madison, WI

Hey fellas!
Just got my copy of the new Main Street Rag. Very impressive indeed. Loved Lisa’s interview! Richard [Taylor], that Korean poem could be turned into an amazing epic novel or memoir. I love the image of those three bickering boys and their mother traveling across United States. Scott [Douglass], I certainly appreciated the clarity and finesse of your commentary in the Back Seat. And I was delighted to read Anne Kaylor’s perceptive review of Bewilderment of Boys. It was fair, perceptive, and insightful. (I am happy to report the typographical errors in my novel were remedied in early August.) Thanks for being who you are and for getting this wonderful work out into the world.

Karon Luddy, Charlotte, NC
p.s. Just received my copy of Kakalak! A kickass cover! Look forward to savoring its contents.

John Amen, Charlotte, NC


for Mary


the son we never had
crawls through our kitchen
linoleum cracking beneath his impatience

he studies us as we sleep
sifting through our trophies & urns
clutching his banister of space

he wanders the dim corridors
glimpsing a bedroom that might’ve been his
streaking invisible prints on panes & ledges

any moment he could rush the glowing tunnel
crashing a vortex of flesh & fate
the riptide of a beckoning womb

we can’t blame him
if he rips our contract from the spindle
choosing poverty or blindness or worse

any quick body to escape his demons
swarming in the quiet
in the waiting


Rick Gray, Kabul, Afghanistan



We walked together into the darkness
Of an undisclosed location.
Give it to me, my wife said, and he
Slid it into her hand.
It’s always heavier than you think.

I stood beside them in my boring civilian clothes
Watching her finger tease the trigger like my soft
Earlobe back home.
Safety’s on, he grinned at me.
It’s always heavier than you think.

And when her Arab eyes closed on mine
below the night-visions
we heard an AK giggle over in town.
Wedding, he said, and lifted her hand
Towards a target my weak eyes couldn’t see.

I stepped away and wished it was me.
It’s always heavier than you think.


Robert A. Morris, Clinton, LA



We climb into a car three generations old, driven
by my father, myself, and now by my son,
color fading from blue to green, ambition to
retrospect. My son smiles, shakes my hand, but he

will not call me padre. In ways, I have never left.
Gone for twenty years, yet I have failed at truly
leaving. I can only wonder if my homecoming will be a
failure too. I have returned to your blue nights,

to the Wall of Malecon, to my son. Benito, looking
like a photo of me before America, to Amaya, my
wife, weathered like the buildings along Via Blanco,
still here.

Standing is a thing of beauty when so much has fallen.
Elizabeth Buechner Morris, Marblehead, MA



There’s a parlor game I play from time to time, just to break the ice. It works with strangers or colleagues, even with little children, and it’s harmless. No one can lose.

“What’s your very earliest memory?” I ask. Most of the answers sound insignificant, though not to the one remembering. It’s surprising how many girls will mention a smell: their grandma’s closet, their papa’s pipe tobacco, dog poo. It’s also astonishing how many boys like me remember the trauma of wetting their pants in kindergarten or at pre-school. My all-time favorite reply came from a Russian colleague of mine at the lab. He remembered when the cow fell into the well, head first.

Of course I have a story too. It’s not my first memory, and I’ll tell you why in a moment. The story I tell is a true story, an early recollection. I remember going to the circus with my mother, but it’s not the circus that I remember. Not at all. No elephants or clowns or acrobats litter my memory; no fat lady, tattooed man, or cotton candy. I remember the view from the train window on our way to New York. I’m not sure where we were, coastal Connecticut, I suppose. And there was a line, a flat line that separated blue from blue and stretched far in both directions. Of course I now know it was my first conscious glimpse of the visible horizon over water. But then, when I was four years old, what I saw was a miracle of reflection, where the line represented a flat mirror, magically reproducing the blue of the late summer sky onto its polished surface in a darker hue.

Perhaps that moment was the seed that blossomed into my life as a scientist; although I’m neither a meteorologist nor an oceanographer. I’m an ornithologist; specifically, I study eggs; more specifically, I study hens’ eggs. Or I did. Now I’m retired, and the lab has become a place where I’m invited to the December Holiday party. No; neither omelets nor quiche are served.

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