Preview Issue 01.01.06

Backyard | by Andrea Avery

Hidden Pulleys on Balcony Four | by Aaron Belz

The Bars of Our Fathers | by Thom Fletcher

Deep in the heart of Chesterfield: A city rat considers the suburbs | by Chris King

Coffeehouse | by Michaela McGinn

This Way Chuck Berry | by Thomas R. Raber

Sonnet: PSA | by Tony Robinson

Stardust in a Phrygian Key | by Stefene Russell

Sophomores | by Julia Smillie

The Ghosts of Winifred Moore | by Mike Steinberg

Four Days Behind the Iron Curtain, or, I'm With the Band | by Mary Kaye Tonnies

Late Night Radio | by Brett Underwood


Hidden Pulleys on Balcony Four | by Aaron Belz

The secret to being happy in the City of St. Louis
is to locate and deploy all the hidden pulleys.
One of them will start a chain reaction
that eventually leads to the reconnection
of a loose wire in the heart of the mayor,
which in turn causes him to stumble as he
is bringing his mistress her morning coffee,
thereby burning her, she runs out, upsetting the cat,
which overturns a flowerpot, which falls
out the window and lands dirt-side-down
on the head of a bystander. The bystander
is either the mistress, completely out of breath
from tumbling down two flights of steps,
or her chauffeur, who is also on the city dole;
in any case, whichever one it is
makes tracks to his or her alderman and requests
to be on the steering committee for the new stadium.
In response he pretends he has been magically struck deaf
and begins to make panicked hand-gestures.
But upon returning home, that same alderman
phones the chief of aldermen, says something,
hangs up, and the next day both men flee the county.
Meanwhile, back to the mayor in his penthouse—
dumped for no good reason but what appeared to him
a complete accident, an act of bumbling innocence,
and now wondering why it was she slept with him
in the first place, and should he chalk this up
to yet another casualty of universal mystery,
when suddenly his phone rings and scares
him out of his slippers. He answers: "Hello?"
He listens. "The yellow one?" he says.
"I don't have the yellow one any more,
all I have left are a pair of plaid ones, and one
of them is broken." Silence. Silence.
He slowly returns the phone to its cradle,
massages his mustache thoughtfully,
lifts it up again and dials a number. Your number.
"Hello?" you say. "It's me again," he says,
"I'm wondering why you ran out in such a hurry."
"I ran out because you practically burned my leg off."
He says: "Is it too late to say I'm sorry?"
You and he carry on in this familiar way until
you agree at least to meet and talk, and finally he says,
"Is my yellow loveseat still in your basement?"
And you, having had enough of this absurdity,
suddenly hang up, knowing more clearly
now than for years leading up to this single
moment that you and he are even less cut out
for each other than you had recently begun
to suspect, that it's best to break it off right here,
and that the real result of your having deployed
that pulley on balcony four was that now you
know, however bleak the City of St. Louis appears,
that at least you're not secretly dating its mayor.


Aaron Belz, professor at SLU and organizer of Readings @ The Tap Room, loves poetry almost as much as he loves his wife Becca, three kids, and home at Hartford & Spring. His new book, Plausible Worlds, is available at Dunaway, Left Bank, Subterranean and though the Observable Books website. He writes, "Please at least leaf through a copy even if you don't end up buying it."