Issue 4, Winter 2014-15: PLAY


Red Wolf Journal

Issue 4, Winter 2014-15


Winter 2014 Issue 4 cover

Terry Adams
Doing It in Your Head
The Comb

James Berry

Viv Blake
The Games We Used To Play
Old Ladies at Play
My Left Hand

Brenda Butka
Game Theory

Mark Danowsky
Deviant Behaivor

Durwood Edwards
Charlene Lanham at the Dixie Cafe

Kalyn L.P. Gensic
Crayola Protege

David M. Harris
If a Declared Infield Fly Is Allowed To Fall

Doug Hester
It’s Not the Years That Separate Us, Sweetheart, Just the Miles

Ed Higgins
Match Point

De Jackson
When Words Come Out To Play

Marie Kilroy
Orange Orchards

Adam L
Childhood Games

Ron Lavalette
How Billy Writes a Play

Nelle Lytle
What Knot
I Am

Patricia A. McGoldrick
Competition in the Key of S Minor

Zachary Matteson

Carl “Papa” Palmer
Ollie, Ollie

Amy Pickworth

William Preston
Autumn Leaves

Pearl Ketover Prilik
A Single Line

Shannon Rayne
Hockey Fever, Even in a Cafe

Margo Roby

Pamela Sayers
Lip Gloss Instead
Poem Starting with a Line by Stephen Crane

Jane Shlensky

Amy Stumpfl
The Last Sprinkler Dance

Mary Theroux
The Dixie Cafe

Sara Vinas
Shoes Not Required

Mercedes Webb-Pullman
Nijinsky’s Sister
Can’t Go Home

Pat Phillips West
For My 40th Birthday
Cloudy With 100 Percent Chance of Rain
Daily I Fall In Love

Walter J Wojtanik
Playing Santa Claus

Fred Zirm
Visiting My Uncle


Contributor Biographies

Winter 2014 Issue 4 cover
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Play = Life, by Margo Roby

Play = Life 
by Margo Roby

Life invites play —
play sparks an actor’s word,
a child’s imagination,
playful pursuits of the heart,
playing the field, and playing around.

Wanna play doctor?
she asks–
and they explore
until they learn
to hide
to seek
to thrill
to the chase.

We play for time, for attention,
into someone’s hands. We play chicken,
fast and loose, hooky, and possum.
We play with fire, run with the hare
and hunt with the hound.

When girl meets boy
they play games
and the one who catches
all the jacks
before the ball bounces,

Play involves risk because life involves risk.
One child, on the swing, wants to go higher
and higher, while another sees monsters
in shadows, and giggles away fright.

Run, run
as fast as
you can;
you can’t
catch me…

Play is a song, and music’s spell,
flirting, teasing, playing the fool. Play
is waiting games, and crawling into dark
places – just to see what’s there.

Red Rover, Red Rover
won’t you come over
and I’ll show you
what love’s all about

Play is deeply human,
stirs memories, leads to regrets.
We play rough. Careless. Without thought.
We play endlessly at being human.
Play is discovering our personal limits.

You’re it,
but I won’t run
too fast.

Play is
practise for… not-play.
Play is

Margo Roby spent the first twenty years of her life in Hong Kong; the second twenty years of her life following her army husband around the world with their two children; and an overlapping third twenty years teaching at an international school in Jakarta. Now, Margo lives in Atlanta, discovering life after salaried work and focusing on her writing.


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For My 40th Birthday, by Pat Phillips West

For My 40th Birthday 
by Pat Phillips West

I can see it now.  A yellow dress
that lifts with the breeze,
freeing my thighs
from their winter dark denim
prison.  A sassy number
that makes men stare or whistle.
Untethered, kids at their father’s
for the weekend, I stroll North Mississippi
Avenue, checking out Gypsy Chic,
Manifesto Shoes.  The Meadow’s front window
stops me, all those stacks
of pink Himalayan salt blocks,
I step inside, want to run my tongue over
their smooth surfaces.  Hope anyone watching
would say, Look at that broad.
I sniff artisan salts from Bali, Bolivia,
sample one from Brazil, wonky, fresh-tasting
with a touch of hotness.
And there’s an entire wall of dark chocolate,
floor to ceiling
waiting to be undressed
and nibbled.  I sample one
made from beans grown on the lower slopes
of the “Mountains of the Moon,”
on the equator in the Congo, spicy,
slightly peppery taste.  Long on the palate,
buzzing on my tongue as I continue
down the street.  Sun-drunk,
hips sashaying back and forth
to the tune of throaty mating sounds
playing in my head.  I twirl so the gauzy fabric
brushes against that soft spot
on the back of my knees.
I walk like I’m on my way
to a bonfire
swinging a can full of gasoline.
Yeah, sunflower yellow
and low-cut with a flash of tit.


Pat Phillips West moved so often even her closest friends asked if she was in the Witness Protection Program.  She refused to comment.  Her poems appear in Haunted Waters Press, Persimmon Tree, VoiceCatcher, San Pedro River Review, Slipstreamand elsewhere.




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Visiting My Uncle, by Fred Zirm

Visiting My Uncle
by Fred Zirm

I sleep in my oldest cousin’s
boyhood bed, a single twin
built into the end of the narrow
room – its shelves crowded
with trophies topped by figures
frozen, forever serving invisible
tennis balls, shooting an unseen
puck, hurling a bowling ball
down an endless alley, or merely
stretching arms heavenward
in celebration of a forgotten
victory in an unnamed sport.

This was the only private
bedroom for what was a family
of eight. Everyone learned to share
space and effort – one bathroom for
six children, plenty of dinner dishes
to scrape and garbage to haul, lots of
laundry to wash and lawn to mow.

When the youngest died of an overdose,
was the grief divided or multiplied?

Now all the kids are grown and gone,
and my uncle has been battling cancer
for longer than his grade school grandkids
have lived, each one well practiced at sending
Grandpa get well cards and crayon pictures
as the greedy cells spread from colon to
liver to bone until he was declared near death
a half dozen times. Today he jokes he awakes
each morning eager to see where the pain
will pop up next, where the radiation or new
drug will next need to be aimed.

His tennis buddies still show up weekly
to play on his private court.
Too weak to walk, he rides the lawnmower
out to watch them and trade barbs
about someone’s lack of a backhand
and someone else’s lack of speed.
They play in the early evening,
when the air cools and the light
gets golden. You can see their younger
selves in their form, and their age
in their immobility. No one holds serve.
They seldom go for winners, mostly content
to trade shots and quips,
to savor the setting sun,
and to rally, rally, rally on.



Although Fred Zirm has an M.F.A. in playwriting from the University of Iowa and has directed nearly one hundred high school plays, he writes more poetry and flash fiction than drama. His poems and stories have appeared in Voice de la Luna, Still Crazy, and The Rejected Quarterly. He lives in Rockville, MD with his wife Robin. My poetry (and a little bit of fiction) can be found at



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Doing It In Your Head, By Terry Adams

Doing It In Your Head
by Terry Adams

This candidate for stepsister,
Sherry, is playing arithmetic games with the son’s father
in the dining room with the potential stepmother
Fifteen plus eighty six? Dad asks.
Sherry flops her shoulders forward,
opens her mouth, squints her eyes,
and tilts her head way back until she looks
like a birdbath.
Suddenly dad turns to son, who is staring at Sherry,
expecting an answer.
Son stammers ninety nine.
Dad is visibly embarrassed with son, potential stepmom decides
the cookies are ready. Sherry stops being
a birdbath and says no,
a hundred and one.

Next question,
son folds himself backward at the neck,
opens his mouth like a birdbath
thinking he’ll get the answer that way,
and dad backhands him off his chair for making fun of Sherry.

Later Sherry explains to her possible stepbrother
how she says the numbers out loud in her head,
and she’ll show him how to kiss, too,
if he’ll come out in the hallway after everyone
is asleep. In the hallway she asks if he has been saying
numbers in his head the way she showed him.
The son says yes.
She says: kissing is the same thing except you say mmm,
mmm instead of numbers, you squint
your mouth instead of your eyes,
and you don’t tilt back
quite as far.




Terry Adams has poems in Poetry (Chicago), Ironwood, The Sun, Witness, Bellowing Ark, etc.  My book is Adam’s Ribs, from Off The Grid Press, in Weld, Maine.  I restored and live in Ken Kesey’s infamous cabin in La Honda, California, and right now I am very thankful for the RAIN!

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Unsnapped, by Jane Shlensky

by Jane Shlensky

Some of my favorite pictures live
in my head, never taken,
daydreams and could-have-beens,
where I mold what never was
into something like memory.

Perhaps you hold your old guitar,
thumbing, strumming and tuning,
the fiddle and mandolin laid aside.
Your cigarette burns down to filter,
a cylinder of ash balanced

on the lip of a saucer,
and you have that smoky, soapy,
sweaty daddy smell I need.
Perhaps I have my dulcimer
laid on my wagging knees,

longing for approval and fun.
Or maybe I have my keyboard
and feel at ease with whatever
sounds we make today, knowing
harmony is contagious.

Perhaps when you clear your throat
and look up, you will see me,
and I will know you have a song
whose words you’ve sung to me
since I was small,

something I can play on the fly,
joining my alto to your tenor,
sounding good enough
to make you smile.


(My father had a blue grass band when I was young and taught himself to play and sing. I only played with him twice in my life and wish now I’d brought this unsnapped picture into fruition more often)

Jane Shlensky, a veteran English teacher, holds an MFA in creative writing from UNC-Greensboro. Her recent poetry has appeared in a number of magazines and anthologies, including The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Pinesong, Writer’s Digest, KAKALAK 2013 and 2014, Prairie Wolf, and soon in Southern Poetry Anthology: North Carolina and Poetry Market 2015.



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The Comb, by Terry Adams

The Comb
by Terry Adams

Puffing my cheeks like Louis Armstrong summoning the saints
I mastered the wax-paper comb for her,
cupping and un-cupping my fingers, my internal fame blooming,
while my mother listened with nodding praise
and asked me please go blow
just like that, down in the basement, because it would echo
so much better down there,
and I did it for hours, just for her.

And 40 years later I want to go back and thank her on her deathbed,
see her puzzled look up at me, which would say even now,
it really did sound better down there.



Terry Adams has poems in Poetry (Chicago), Ironwood, The Sun, Witness, Bellowing Ark, etc.  My book is Adam’s Ribs, from Off The Grid Press, in Weld, Maine.  I restored and live in Ken Kesey’s infamous cabin in La Honda, California, and right now I am very thankful for the RAIN!

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Reaganomics, by Zachary Matteson

by Zachary Matteson

–for my sister

Those summers we vacationed on the Cape blur
to one eidetic day: We eat our weight in saltwater
taffy, brave the weedy north Atlantic, survive Hur-
ricane Bob, and flatly refuse to taste lobster. After

dinner, we Kick the Can as long as we can. Parents,
retiring behind porch-screens, drink gin and tonics.
Fireflies ignite in the pitch-pines’ resinous incense
like Christmas lights. Our salted skins glisten: onyx

dark or glitter ink. The moon’s sad cameo croons
an old Cole Porter tune. Bramble gathered, we turn
to the beach, roasting red potatoes in foil cocoons
like heretics: till they hiss, or are more or less burnt.

The radio tuned to The Bangles’ “Eternal Flame”
drowns out the moon and the ocean just the same.




Sugar le Fae (aka Zach Matteson) is a prize-winning poet, translator, teacher, photographer, songwriter, and Radical Faerie. His poems, essays, and interviews have appeared in numerous literary journals in Canada and the U.S., most recently in Plenitude and Bear Review. Sugar has an MFA in Creative Writing (UBC) and is currently pursuing his PhD at the Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Social Justice (UBC).



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A Single Line, by Pearl Ketover Prilik

A Single Line
by Pearl Ketover Prilik

Each morning for eight weeks
She stood in front of the bath-
room mirror– door barred for
privacy and mouthed her line
until it flowed like honey from
seven-year-old lips – perfectly
pronounced, sticky sweetness
as written for Pooh the Bear
until the evening arrived and
she stepped forward on stage
footlights brightly shining on
Everyone sitting in the dark …
and her lips clamped together
stuck in silence.



Pearl Ketover Prilik is a psychoanalyst/writer/poet in no particular order or perhaps differentiation. She lives on the South Shore of NY, in the U.S. and has had a few nonfiction books published, along with handfuls of poetry and micro-fiction, online and in print journals. Poetry is her language of choice.


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Deviant Behavior, by Mark Danowsky

Deviant Behavior 
by Mark Danowsky

Eventually, you have to stop comparing
yourself to yourself
when you were younger.

Tastes change. Admit it.
Marijuana and Kraftwerk
no longer equal an afternoon
well-spent. Years earlier,
cheese puffs and gummy worms
like butterscotch krimpets and Mountain Dew
were monumental discoveries.

Out of town for work
we purchased local kettle chips
from a gas station by the motel
and I felt deviant
because they contained Trans Fats.




Bio: Mark Danowsky’s poetry has appeared in Apiary, Mobius, Red River Review, Right Hand Pointing, Shot Glass Journal, Word Soup, and other journals. Mark lives in a van down by the Susquehanna River. He works for a private detective agency and is assistant copy editor for the Schuylkill Valley Journal.

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