2019 Best of the Net Nominations

As the editor of Midnight Lane Boutique, I’m pleased to nominate the following poems for Sundress Publications’ 2019 Best of the Net Anthology. Please, feel free to click on the bold-faced title of each nominated piece, and give ’em all a read . . .

“Wife’s Arrest,” by Kimo Armitage: This first-person narrative expertly balances descriptions of a deeply traumatic event against expression of its lasting impact, often allowing the tale itself to reflect the speaker’s emotional state. With that, readers are taken on a journey where past griefs and regrets are not so much reconciled with future hopes and dreams, but rather form an uneasy truce in lieu of complete closure. A truly fine piece of story telling.

“Ouija Leans In,” by Jeff Bagato: Despite its seemingly supernatural underpinnings, this poem speaks directly to the difficulties of not simply communicating with others, but of sometimes even finding the words to express a complete thought. Not simply a fine example of contemporary absurdism, this poem also illustrates the utility of using the so-called “pathetic fallacy” that many less daring writers would not even think to attempt. And, it does so with both sly humor and rich imagery.

“The Beat,” by Joan Colby: An exquisite piece of elegiac verse, this poem illustrates how a heightened awareness of mortality can ultimately engender a deeper appreciation of beauty in the mundane affairs of the world. And, it does so with truly noteworthy skill, what with its playful alliterations, it well-measured sentences and phrasing, its unusual but always fitting word choices, and its rich yet precise imagery. A beautiful poem!

Just as was the case last year, I’d like to thank Sundress Publications for sponsoring their annual Best of the Net competition. In so doing, they highlight the importance of online publishing and the hard work online editors and publishers do in making the literary arts free to the reading public.

Also, I’d like to just close by noting, though the boutique remains on hiatus, it will likely reopen to submissions at some point in the-not-so-distant-future. ‘Til then . . .


In Memoriam

Midnight Lane Boutique is dedicated to the memory of Joe Dunn, actor, impresario, poet, publisher, and friend.


We will meet again

one day, we will

gather at the river

(Paterson perchance)

               ~Robert Creeley


To hear Joe read Robert Creeley’s poem, “Desultory Days,” click on the picture above.

And, be sure to learn about his important contributions to the San Francisco Renaissance by reading this article about the White Rabbit Press at the glade of theoric ornithic hermetica.

Feature Poet: Joan Colby

Joan Colby is currently the senior editor of FutureCycle Press and associate editor of Good Works Review. Her awards include two Illinois Arts Council Literary Awards and an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Literature. Her Selected Poems (2013) received the FutureCycle Prize, while Ribcage (2015) was awarded the Kithara Book Prize by Glass Lyre Press. Visit Joan on Facebook, or on Twitter @poetjm.


After Midnight, Almost Sunday

Make everything that matters care.
Don’t sit upon conjecture like a hen
Hatching her egg and let it
Not be sterile. Let the blood spot,
When it is candled, bless
All huddled lives.

Again, it’s one a.m. and I’m
Not sleeping. The room is cold.
Tonight we might have snow.
The dog wants out. She has to go
Too often. If something is wrong
I don’t want to know.

Earlier, a car was in the ditch
Across the road. It must have been
The flashing lights of the tow truck
That woke me. Two men
Were illuminated in the glow
Attaching a hook to the bumper.
It seemed to take forever,
Then with a jolt, like a sudden idea,
It bolted onto macadam and departed
Hauled like a second wife
Into a marriage that hopes
To renew intentions.

It’s too late to ponder.
I should read something boring,
Not a mystery that begs solution
Or a magazine full of despair:
The irresolution of current woes.

I know I’ll be too tired to wake
From the dream where I lose
My car in that familiar lot
Behind the university. That feeling
Of almost indescribable anxiety
And the relief as finally
Bad news erupts from the clock radio.
Today at least, it won’t be me
Or anyone I love.


The Beat

The world’s in motion. That’s the elegance
Of a girl’s blonde ponytail posting
Upon the palomino whose pale
Plume keeps the cadence of the pace.
Shadowed down the bridal path
Beneath the overarching elms,
That’s the vast tick-tock
Of a city’s clock. Presence of
Pedestrians with their swinging purses
Or backpacks who know the meter
Of the vanished stars that set their hearts
Upon the scale where grace notes glissade
Into the big imponderable chords.
Heel and toe. The step dance
Batters the wooden stage
And a dog’s tail wags furiously
In acclamation of a visitor.
What you might think is senescence
Is simply the pause between the beats
That commands attention as you await
The other legendary shoe,
Then the bed creaking to the bodies’
Midnight rhythm in the rain or the squeaking
Mouse within the wall that wakes you
To your own heart pounding
In your ear, a tympanum. It’s true
The body keeps on going after dying,
Bones rattling with each shift of clay.
There must be bells ringing in the chamber
Of the prime minister as he composes
The epitaph of his final office.


All Hail! Joan Colby’s most recent full-length collection of verse is Her Heartsongs (Presa Press, 2018). To learn more, please visit her personal site by clicking on the cover image below . . .

Or, feel free to order the book directly via Presa Press.

Previous Feature: David Spicer

David Spicer has poems in Alcatraz, The American Poetry Review, Chiron Review, Easy Street, Gargoyle, Midnight Lane Boutique, Ploughshares, Scab, Tipton Poetry Journal, and elsewhere. He is the author of Everybody Has a Story (St. Luke’s Press, 1988) and five chapbooks. He has been nominated for a Pushcart once and Best of the Net three times.


Thank The Thunder

Everybody heckles Wild Bill
Hiccup: his Harley sputters,
growls, and shakes every time
he starts the beast. He named it
Torpedo because it’s faster than
a gorilla chasing a goat.
I thought that made no sense,
any more than his braided
green-blonde hair down a denim
jacket with a chocolate cake
under the Eiffel Tower patched
on its back. He’s a loner,
complains and brags at the same time
about no gang wanting him.
Besides, he earned his doctorate—
on Andrew Johnson’s impeachment—
in Arizona, where, he says,
he doesn’t need an umbrella.
Something about Bill nauseates
most people, including me:
he eats grasshoppers if it rains,
which isn’t often—thank the thunder—
and claims to sleep in a different
junk yard every night, wearing his
white cowboy hat to his Church
of the Wayward Bikers. He’s the only
member, besides yours truly,
and a couple of his students
wanting As in his course, “Abraham
Lincoln: the First Elvis Presley.”
I wouldn’t go, but I have no choice:
I’m his son.


Family Road Trip

When I was twelve, we toured the Badlands,
having won the vacation in a raffle sponsored
by the owner of the vending machine outfit.

I studied the granite faces and their cheekbones,
watching my blonde stepmother Carol and two
Chinese girls my father loved: he French kissed

them all four hundred feet from Teddy Roosevelt.
That night the five of us slept on the straw
mattress in the purple van nicknamed Slick.

Later, Carol commented on Lincoln’s ivory edifice,
talked about baked linguine, croutons,
and burgundy, listening to the radio.

Mei and Tan spoke another language
when we approached the almond groves,
and I latched onto them because their eyes flirted

with me, their hair curling like twine at the end
of a roll, and I brooded about school when we
arrived back in the trailer, vacation over.


All Hail! David Spicer’s latest chapbook, From the Limbs of a Pear Tree (Flutter Press, 2017), is available via Amazon. Simply click on the cover image below to learn more . . .

Previous Feature: Marisa Silva-Dunbar

Marisa Silva-Dunbar has been published in Anti-Heroin Chic, Better than Starbucks, Gargoyle Magazine, Poetry WTF?!, Redheaded Stepchild, and Words Dance Magazine. She graduated from the University of East Anglia with her MA in poetry, and has been shortlisted twice for the Eyewear Publishing Fortnight Poetry Prize. The E.I.C. of Neon Mariposa Magazine, you can follow Marisa on Twitter @theSweetMaris.


Je ne sais quoi                                                                                                                                                  —Found poem from Allison Mack’s Website

I’m attracted to the struggle of women—
I lived my life conflicted,
never satisfied, raging.

I felt threatened by them—
with painted lips and cat eyes in cashmere sweaters,
the CEOs in crisp, tailored business suits and pumps,
tough chicks in leather pants and white tank tops,
“Good Girls,” in white sundresses and heart-shaped glasses,
hikers in a ponytail with a backpack, and toned arms,
the club beauties in tight, bright body clinging dresses and bling,
Gamer Girls in concert tees and torn jeans.

This was a secret I kept
I wanted to be able to sink
into the women I surrounded myself with.


Love-bombed: November 23rd, 2017                                                                                                        —Found poem from Frank Report

Allison was ripe for the picking:
wealthy, at the start of a quarter
life crisis, searching for a cause
where she could take root and bloom—
there was no one to tether her,
not the paramour she kissed in moonlight,
not even her sweet-sponging mom & dad.

I was there her first weekend,
the ladies love-bombed her
with candied words for wooing.
She indulged it—soaked in their adoration.

The ladies knew how to get their talons
into her bones—how to make her feel
like she was chosen—the high priestess
they’d scoured the globe for.

Before the weekend was over,
they wanted to know, was she willing to be sacrificed
to their god? For the ritual she’d have to swallow
his words, lie on their altar and let him carve her
into his ideal, and he would crown her with Venus
trap, bilberry, oleander, and pomegranate blossoms.

She flew out the next day, to meet the god she’d been waiting for.


March 14th, 2014: My Global Museum Tour, Museum #2: The Neue Galerie                               —Found poem from Allison Mack’s Blog

A typical Vancouver evening: it’s raining—
the street lights reflect off the puddles on the concrete.
I’m living in an impressionist’s masterpiece.
We’ve become a staple here at the Shanghai Bistro.
A glass of white wine sitting in front of me,
finishing the last of the Chinese green beans.

His head is freshly shaven—
his beard bleeds right into his sideburns.
I have never seen him so tidy.
I’ve learned about Shakespeare, good wine, sexual innuendos, art.
Thanks to him, I have a list of “divine places not to be missed.”
Before him, I want. He teaches me how to be decadent, curious.
A true gentleman, he always opens my door, puts his napkin in his lap
—but then he launches into that raw, gritty world,
I’ve been so afraid of exploring.

I call him Big Daddy. He subtly puts me in my place—
shows me the beauty in all things dirty and unkempt.
The secret is all characters are looking to get laid.
The natural reddening of my cheeks in his presence
has become a reflex. He likes the smell of sweat.

I picture John living in his TriBeCa loft—
just after the height of the civil rights movement,
long before the AIDS crisis.
Manhattan was filled with bohemians.
I imagine brawls and free love; Woodstock 24/7.

I see my Big Daddy hosting dinner parties—
wish I was there with him, flowers in my hair,
peasant skirts caressing the floor,
bare feet and sun-kissed shoulders.
There, I embrace the bitter, dirty, sexy and sloppy parts of me.
I finally understand why John has been pushing me
to admit when I am horny or hairy. He loves the rawness of human beings;
the more he sees me—the more I let go.


All Hail! Want to learn more about Marisa Silva-Dunbar, including more about her found poetry regarding NXIVM? Then, click on the GIF of Allison Mack and Keith Raniere below, and visit Marisa’s personal site . . .

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