The only aristocracy lies in not touching—Fernando Peossa

We once walked three miles with gas
leaking from a red plastic can I held
between us and both of us laughing
with no sound at our inability to figure
the speed of our feet vs. velocity of the drip
in order to determine if there would be any gas
when we arrived back at the old Fairlane,
that bastard Fairlane, the same car
that had left us stranded once before, atop
Dick’s Gap, dark mountains looming over the valley
as we trudged down the curvy two-lane road
in the green mountain heat, silent, he
with Miles and me with Monk,
though I held his hand once, standing
beside his brother’s grave, the newspapers
full of explanations of the necessity of the death,
he squeezed my pink hand until it was
white as the underbelly of a flatfish,
a sea fish, one that lived deep beneath the sound,
drifting in that vacuum, always on the lookout,
drifting among the black stones, the weeds,
the millennia of coral.


John Riley has published poetry and fiction in Smokelong Quarterly, Oddball Magazine, Connotation Press, Fiction Daily, The Molotov Cocktail, Dead Mule, St. Anne’s Review, Better Than Starbucks, and numerous other anthologies and journals both online and in print. He lives in Greensboro, NC, where he works in educational publishing.

Bill Wolak has just published his eighteenth book of poetry entitled All the Wind’s Unfinished Kisses with Ekstasis Editions. His collages and photographs have appeared recently in the 2020 Seattle Erotic Art Festival, the 2020 Dirty Show in Detroit, the 2019 Rochester Erotic Arts Festival, the 2018 Montreal Erotic Art Festival, and Naked in New Hope 2018.