News & Features

Americana Stories—Poetry

Queen Mary, by Megan Merchant

We hit a gale during the night—remember

when we used to drive fast over sudden rises

in the road to make the people in the backseat

scream? Well, last night was just like that only

over and over, a sideways motion along with it.


Megan Merchant (she/her) owns the editing, manuscript consultation, and mentoring business Shiversong and is the author of four full-length collections. The latest, Before the Fevered Snow, was released at the start of the pandemic (Stillhouse Press). She is the editor of Pirene’s Fountain. You can find her at

Americana Stories—Poetry

Pandemic Sunsets over Nantasket Beach, by Sarath Reddy

Perched like birds on decks
we await brushstrokes of merlot and zinfandel
the inconsolable artist furiously painting, 
repainting evening skies.

Boats reluctantly make their way back
to harbor, moon in absentia,
unchanging arch of coastline dotted
with unblinking eyes.

In the pitch black, ocean serene asleep,
sky hovering like a mother laying eyes on a baby
she has for months only spoken to.
Beneath the surface ripple, we fear the unseen,

live in the inky line separating earth and sky
Shut doors, muffled voices in the hallway,
words like dim stars bridge light years,
faint ringtone of an unfamiliar cellphone,
wind, a child learning to whistle

Like waves receding then stretching
to grab hold of the rocky sea wall, I reach
for a hand then pull it back, feeling
the grip of intersecting lives, fearing
letting go. 



Sarath Reddy’s poetry has been influenced by his experiences as an Indian-American, as a physician, and as a father.  Sarath’s poetry has been published in JAMA, Another Chicago Magazine, Poetry East, The Healing Muse, and Paterson Literary Review. He lives in Brookline, Massachusetts with his wife and three children

Americana Stories—Poetry

Suburban Retirement, by Mid Walsh


No one is living here.

Only house after house of screens
tethering the people inside elsewhere.

A lot where men
of wrecked eyes and earbuds
chuck a dumpster full
of ragged limbs of teardown.

And a lawn split by sprinklers
that hiss transparent daisies
or spit at the street,

where a solitary walker
stops as if to ask,
shall I step on a dark spot?


When I retired the plague struck
and everything stopped working. 

Now I sprout strange fears,
mistrust ladders, scaffolding,
three-legged stools, the cliff
at the end of sidewalks;

the fear of falling
a wake
of empty down-draft.


Why have I not dreamt
of the same old broken place
the rooms of tired rib, knuckle-propped,
needing my repair?

Instead I scrape the sky,
stand beside a man
as tall as towers,

our brotherhood
of architecture
where cut flowers of wind
shear by the building’s base,

and waterworks
trickle at a rock hollow
upped to speak
to passersby of interest,

and his clouded eyes
are telling me
how to know this city.


Awake, I want
to walk like thunderheads
among suburban teardowns,
to listen to the dumpster
of broken mullions
vacant as old calendars
where, like rain, the rat-feet sing.


Mid Walsh is a poet, singer, athlete, husband, and grandfather living near the ocean. His poetry renders his life experiences into the music of language and is forthcoming in or has appeared in San Pedro River Review, Lily Poetry Review, The Road Not Taken, Nixes Mate Review, Silkworm, and others.

Americana Stories—Poetry

Casserole Queen, by Marc Frazier

Hot from the oven sitting in a pool of grease: full-of-fat ground beef, a layer of instant mashed potatoes, an ample topper of Velveeta cheese: gourmet cooking in the early sixties. Other days:  fish sticks not resembling fish, gelatinous pot pies with gristly beef, scrambled egg sandwiches with ketchup, pizza from a box with bland red sauce from a plastic packet topped with little bits of cheese. On Sunday a meal in honor of churchgoing and relatives. Father’s hand orchestrates the Sunday roast browned first on all sides in the electric skillet, joined by fresh carrots, a quartered onion and peeled potatoes. Aunt Bertha helps with the gravy, a challenge for mother. Standing in her heavy orthopedic shoes, she stirs water into a flour paste in the emptied skillet. The best china is set upon the table with two leafs added. Additions to make this a more formal affair: a butter knife retrieved from somewhere, cloth tablecloth and napkins, heavy water glasses, a vase of zinnias centered. As grace is recited, we children put on our civilized selves, resigned.


Marc Frazier is a Chicago-area, LGBTQ author who has published poetry in over one hundred journals. A recipient of an Illinois Arts Council Award for poetry, he’s been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and two Best of the Nets. Marc has published three full-length poetry books all available online at

Americana Stories—Poetry

Amador County Festival, by Tim Kahl

Dance around the tarantula in the grass during the encore
after all the giant turkey legs have vanished.
Throw back a plastic glass of mead and submit to
the beat the best way anyone could imagine.
One of the vendors has already revealed how to
snatch a concrete dragon from a poured mold, how to
make an axe, how to battle with a grappling hook.
The cannon fires. . .then the duo sings their
sweet harmonies, one guitar with a handkerchief tied
around its neck as night arrives destined from an older place.


Tim Kahl is the author of five books of poems, most recently Omnishambles (Bald Trickster 2019) and California Sijo (Bald Trickster 2022). He is also an editor of Clade Song. He builds flutes, plays them, and plays guitars, ukuleles, charangos, and cavaquinhos as well. He currently teaches at California State University, Sacramento, where he sings lieder while walking on campus between classes. Learn more at and

Americana Stories—Poetry

Of Novelty Store Statuary, by Gabriel Meek

Handle a plastic Superman and wonder
how many held him before, whether
the paint-chipped kiss-curl
happened on a playground or in the swirl
of boxes inhabited since.

Do you rescue him? Is this act—
to purchase, wash, and shelve to gradually re-gather
dust until you bore, toss aside, spring clean,
sell back, change hobbies, or die—rescue?
Or responsibility to keep this carbon from the earth?

The proprietor, trader of recovered treasures,
steps from behind the counter to spin tales
of replacement bands, foam, and undyed glue,
of the recoveries made from estate sales,
oblivious Goodwill bins, abandoned obsessions.

You ask about the toy in your hands.
He tells the myth of its craft, the exact year it was cast,
its rarity, design, colors, accessories:
a provenance trusted more than most marbles’.
A known past pairs with the unknowable history of hands.


Gabriel Meek is a poet, teacher, and designer from Spokane, Washington, where he received his MFA from Eastern Washington University. His recent poems have appeared in Eye to the Telescope, NonBinary Review, Star*Line, and elsewhere. He is fond of museums, movies, and monsters.

Americana Stories—Poetry

The Question Not Asked, by Jacqueline Jules

Have you no sense of decency?—Joseph Welch at the Army-McCarthy hearings, June 9, 1954

A bully’s baseless crusade
ended on national television
when a man dared to ask.

Have you no sense of decency?

With one direct question
in 1954, a nation drunk on fear
and sensational claims
suddenly sobered.

Censured and chastised,
the bully disappeared
as the public turned away,
stopped listening to lies.

Frenzied supporters
did not scale the walls of Congress
demanding an end to democracy
the way they did in January 2021
when the question was not asked.

Have you no sense of decency?


Jacqueline Jules is the author of Manna in the Morning (Kelsay Books, 2021) and Itzhak Perlman’s Broken String, winner of the 2016 Helen Kay Chapbook Prize from Evening Street Press. Her poetry has appeared in over 100 publications including Amethyst Review, The Sunlight Press, Gyroscope Review, and One Art. Visit

Americana Stories—Humor

Hospitality, by Niles Reddick

I didn’t think much about a group of my daughter’s friends coming over after lunch on Thanksgiving to snack and watch a football game, but I intuitively felt her roommate and sorority sister Anna Marie looked at me a little strange. Had I dribbled turkey gravy on my shirt? Perhaps some pumpkin pie at the corner of my mouth or a piece of macaroni and cheese stuck in the groove between my front teeth?  I caught a quick glimpse in the hall mirror and knew I at least looked alright. 

After her friends left, Becca said needed to talk but preferred to wait until the next morning over coffee. The next day, I fretted while my wife put out fresh fruit, granola, and yogurt and made individual cups of coffee using our favorite k-cups.

“I want to talk with you about your pineapples,” Becca said.

My wife learned right after we married pineapples signified hospitality and bought several. We had a cement one in the flower bed, a small flag with one embroidered on it near the front door, and even an antique print over the piano that was valuable. Relief washed over me. There was no plan to elope; she just wanted our kitschy décor. “You can have them if you’d like,” I said, beaming. “One day they’ll all be part of your inheritance anyway.”

“I don’t want them. Do you guys know what they mean?” she asked.

“Yes, hospitality,” my wife replied. 

“No, it means your swingers and you are ready, willing, and able to have some physical recreation with others. It’s embarrassing,” she said.

“What the hell? Where did you hear that?” I asked.

“My roommate Anna Marie told me, some of my other friends mentioned it, and I think word has gotten around. It’s horrifying! One of my friends said maybe you weren’t my dad!”

“But we’re not swingers,” I said.

“These pineapples say otherwise,” Becca snapped.

My wife laughed. “Don’t be silly.”

I directed, “You tell them we’re not swingers” and added, “I thought all of that swinging had died off in the 1970s. Regardless, it does give me a great reason to have a yard sale.”

“We’re not getting rid of anything. It represents hospitality!” my wife said.

“Yeah, but maybe a bit more hospitality than we’d be willing to offer!” I barked.

My daughter stormed off, and my wife said, “Ridiculous,” shaking her head and busying herself with laundry.

While there was something flattering about it,  I made up my mind that I could get rid of the pineapples, a little at a time. The concrete statue would topple and break, the flag would be ripped by the wind, and the print would fall, shattering the glass. This would all happen over the next few weeks, so it didn’t seem so sudden.


Niles Reddick is author of a novel, three collections, and a novella. His work has been featured in over 500 publications including The Saturday Evening Post, PIF, New Reader, Citron Review, Right Hand Pointing, Nunum, and Vestal Review. His newest flash collection If Not for You has recently been released by Big Table Publishing.

Americana Stories—Poetry

Upon finding there is a website that compares your weight to that of other things, by Kindra McDonald

I spend an afternoon comparing the weight of everything I see: m&m’s, an overflowing bookcase, a child-sized coffin. I am something akin to 2,500 roses with thorns and leaves intact.

When I learn a single spider’s thread can hold a person, one strand is strong as steel, I imagine one woven long enough to encircle the earth—cradling it the way you protect a baby’s head—the way the space between your thumb and index finger—is the exact measurement of the base of a newborn’s skull. Imagine our blue green planet suspended like a hammock, strong has a new meaning.

The average human heart weighs 11 ounces which is the weight of 114 butterflies. Ants can carry up to 5,000 times their own weight and for the last hour I have watched an ant completely obscured by the curved end of a hot dog roll carry that weight underground.

So strong, I hear when my back is turned.

The strongest woman in the world can lift a man above her head like a trophy. In her photo, she balances on one foot and kicks her leg out, while the man is arrow-straight, wide-eyed and dizzy with altitude. Her smile gleams.

There are world records for the greatest weight lifted by a human beard, the heaviest weight hoisted by an ear, the most weight balanced on human teeth. I find no world records for the amount of grief a single heart the weight of 114 butterflies can bear.

Hard is not the same as bad, or so I’ve been told.

Hard takes on a different meaning when you are trying to pry open a coconut on a dingy apartment kitchen floor with a hammer, a bent butter knife and your grandmother’s recipe

for coconut cake. Hard is your first sober New Year’s, the dark marble of a tumor, burying everyone who shares your genetic makeup. 

Hard things make you stronger, I’m patted on the back.

I spend an entire day measuring the tensile strength of household objects using a spring scale gauge my grandfather made. Testing fishing line and twine, rubber bands, three stands of my father’s hair, the silk from these corner cobwebs. It’s satisfying to know exactly when a thing will break.


Kindra McDonald is the author of the collections Teaching a Wild Thing, Fossils and In the Meat Years. She received her MFA from Queens University of Charlotte and is a poet artist working and teaching in mixed-media and found poetry. You can find her in the woods or at

Americana Stories—Flash Fiction

The Route 66 Gas Station/Mini-Mart/Garage/Biker Bar, by Emily Krauser


There used to be a town here. There still is if you look beyond the parcels of dust and dirt traded for concrete and heartbeats. Route 66 was paved with wet cement and American dreams, littered with neon-lit roadside motels and mom-and-pop gas station quickie marts fueling the weary. The cement has dried, the dreams have died, the stores are cloaked in boarded windows.

It was blistering on a good day when this gas station/mini-mart/garage/biker bar was still in service. It’s even warmer now, a dry heat that stings the eyes when high desert winds roll through. Gasoline flowed not that long ago, the nineties maybe, when gas in even California could be had for a dollar a gallon. You could fill your tank, head northeast up National Trails Highway on the old Route 66 towards Barstow, gawk at Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch and wonder why anyone would buy a vacation house in this desert, in a town called Silver Lake, where the liquid oasis was man-made. You could get to Arizona for ten bucks back then. 

The desert was—still is—the way in, the path to Los Angeles, the Hollywood set pieces, the luxuriously sandy beach. This gas station/mini-mart/garage/biker bar would fill you up, fix you up, get you going right on past this town. Maybe in the sixties you’d rest in the now-shuttered motels, but now? Stop in the antique malls if you need a tchotchke, grab a beer with the bikers (that service still stands, always works), slide a greasy slice of pizza down your throat at the one-stoplight outpost’s only restaurant.

It’s not a ghost town. There are still people clinging on here, living a life on their terms here, commuting into Victorville and Barstow from here. Maybe it’s only a pit stop on the way to and from if you need it to be. Maybe for the folks here, there’s no reason to leave. Why did you get off the freeway only to disturb them?


Emily Krauser is an MFA candidate at UNCW, the Nonfiction editor of Ecotone, and a pop culture and craft beer journalist. Her fiction can be seen in HeartWood and The Daily Drunk and is forthcoming in BigCityLit. Originally from New Jersey, she currently resides in North Carolina.