“That Yellow Pepper”
by Mike Berger
Tears streamed down my face
and fire belched from my nose.
The juices cauterized my throat
on the way down. “Don’t eat that
pepper”, the waitress said. Her
refrain bounced around in my mind.
I woofed it down anyway.
My kids were laughing and hooting
to see their dad cry. My wife rather than
trying to help shook her head and
hysterically laughed. I couldn’t speak.
The fire had seared every membrane
In my throat.
I took the family to dinner at a classy
restaurant. The chef stuck that evil
pepper on the top of my salad. It was
waxy orange-yellow and it beckoned
me on. I picked it up. It’s stubbly gnarled
end gave me a double dare. I bit off the
end below the seeds where the smoke
and fire resides.
My nose dripped, my eyes were
crossed, my toes were curled and my
tongue swelled. The waitress brought me
a grundel of napkins to blot the tears.
She reached into her pocket and handed
me a business card for a nose and throat
“When in Rome”
by Emma Sovich
The angels of Castel Sant’Angelo
protect each parapet, courtyard, and hall.
The grandest, bronze, ignite in sunset’s glow;
the dullest, overlooked on lavish walls
within the papal suite, are soft grisailles
that stand in pairs beneath bright frescoes Paul
the Third admired. These allegories, high
but bland, have solemn eyes, long hairâ€•stranger,
bare Amazonian breasts protrude, belie
dark penciled-in mustachios. What angels,
androgynous or no, sport such attire?
Their wings, their mouths, are stiff. They don’t anger
the tourists watching heroes who expire
above. The pope’s bizarre boudoir instead
will crease more brows. What holy man desires,
needs, near-naked virgins above his bed?
“Work of Art”
by Mike Berger
Gnarled hands were a blur.
Her hands had taken wing.
Stopping only to change the
color of the yarn, magically
the tapestry unfolded.
She tapped each strand to
tighten the weave. A deep
Vermillion background was
so tight, individual strands
Massive black block letters
next appeared. A testament
to the weavers art, the lines
were even and straight.
Row by row the tapestry
emerged. At the bottom, she
used some kind of binding
With a broad grin, she held
up for work for me to admire.
This was a rare work of art.
My bowels were filled with
warm feelings as I touched
the weave. I laughed a little,
the block letters read, “Kilroy