Time of the Season – Scott Russek

“Those things will kill you ya know…”

Xander looked up as he lit his cigarette. The comment came from the young brunette bartender that stood before him. She was about 5’7” with the build of a runner or swimmer. Lean but powerful. She possessed a pair of hazel eyes that seemed to thoroughly analyze everything in their line of sight. She was running a cloth over the counter to the right of him, cleaning up a small spill left by the customers that had just made their way to the door.

“Yep, and so will half the other things found daily in this world, what’s one more going hurt?” Just that day he had seen a news report stating that an additive found in many prescription drugs had been shown to cause serious health issues. “At least I know what I’m doing when it comes to smoking. It’s not going to take me out by surprise.” Xander said.

Continue reading “Time of the Season – Scott Russek”

Standing on a deck over the Elk River – Victoria Luing

By flourishing trees, a hidden deck
sits waiting for company.
Protruding from a minor hillside, it hangs over
the murky waters of the Elk River.
It’s strangled by Bittersweet Nightshade vines
that mysteriously have no end,
like thoughts before sleep.
The floor boards, rough and worn, creek with the simplest touch.

A wild raspberry bush,
with hundreds of tiny red beads,
burst with jaw-tightening flavor.
A young doe across the river
stands from her resting spot – stretches.
A soft noise escapes her mouth,
the release of air from a pressurized can as it relaxes.
The crepuscular rays fight their way through
the canopies as the ants push their bodies from the dirt.
Dew rises from the ground
like yeasty dough waiting for the oven.
A bald eagle swoops down,
a dead fish between its talons.

A witch-like cackle interrupts the morning air;
everything freezes: a brain after too much ice cream.
A flap of its large feathered wings
and the eagle is gone.


Victoria Luing’s work has appeared in one publication before this, The Chronicle, and she has assisted in the editing of poetry submissions for The Upper Mississippi Harvest Magazine. She holds a B.A. in English Creative Writing and Mass Communications from St. Cloud State University and currently lives in Albertville, Minnesota surrounded by her bookshelves and Harry Potter collectible items.

On Hunting – Bryn Homuth

I’ve been hunting during the November deer season in Minnesota for two years running now. I’ve driven out to a remote cabin heated only by a wood-burning stove. I’ve selected layers upon layers upon hand and foot warmers upon hats and gloves upon all other manner of winter weather gear for the subzero temperatures. I’ve risen far before the dawn to vacuum a breakfast off my plate, dress in the aforementioned accouterments, and stumble out into the dark. I’ve loaded a muzzleloader by the light of a headlamp and confirmed my readiness. I’ve sat completely still for hours just for a glimpse of a viable, in-range target. I still haven’t fired a shot, though. Not one. Continue reading “On Hunting – Bryn Homuth”

Over A “Dragon’s Milk” Bourbon Barrel Stout – Bryn Homuth

The head smolders
as the server sets it
in front of me, the frothy,
thick foam glowing
like embers, the glass imbued
with special fire retardancy,
blown in Smaug’s charred jaws.

My friend orders fat
beef sliders stuffed in a bucket.
We fasten them to the wheels
of our hunger, reach, rend, chomp,
wash down with draughts of molten cold.

We eat as if to stir dormant dragons
in ourselves, beasts in mythic flight
from mind’s unguarded horde.
These brave brew masters,
flame-tempered fingers
scalded on mother dragon teats,

like my grandfather’s muscled hands
milking cows as he sat so often
on a bucket not unlike this one,
bent under a swollen udder
as open rafters leaked light
across cracks and dried blood
fissured through his fists.

I hear the ping of each dart
he squeezed out, knuckles
against greased aluminum.
We grapple with grease-flecked patties
and spice-rubbed spit, breathe
a new human flame, struck to life
in chest’s catacombs, and I wonder
if someday a drink could be christened
in either of our names, if we, like dragon,
like my grandfather,
could be the stuff of legend.


Bryn Homuth has recent poems published or forthcoming in The Maine Review, The Tishman Review, and The Turnip Truck(s), among others in various print and electronic journals. His work has previously been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and for the Best of the Net Anthology. Bryn currently lives near Minneapolis, MN and is working on his first full-length collection of poetry while teaching English courses for Crown College.

Wake Up Call – Scott Russek

Watching the auburn leaves being ripped from the trees by the wind of the storm was destructively relaxing. The Fall thunderstorm was Mother Nature’s way of speeding up the process of the season, cooling the air and removing the leaves, bringing both to late season levels though it wasn’t even Halloween yet. An especially bright flash of lightning illuminated my bedroom, bringing my attention to the bedside clock. 1:57 am. I needed to head to bed if I wanted to get any semblance of sleep before driving to my 8 am course.

Going to college so close to home was great because I didn’t have to pay for living on campus but it sucked because, well, I was still living at home. But it wasn’t all bad.

Living at home in your childhood room brought a degree of comfort to what was otherwise an incredibly chaotic and stressful life of a 21 year old college girl. Sure, I couldn’t bring any guys back to my place but I did get to come home to my paintings and posters on the yellow walls, childhood stuffed animals on the old rocking chair in the corner, (once owned by my Great-Grandmother, now destined to be used to rock her Great-Great Grandchildren to sleep somewhere down the road) and the odd comfort of
the creak that came from the wooden floors. It wasn’t a college student’s dream but it was home.

I washed my face and changed into my old high school volleyball t-shirt (Go Tigers!) and fleece pj pants because who doesn’t love the ultimate combination of comfort and warmth? As I turned out the light there was a bang on my bedroom window loud enough to make me yelp and my beagle Ginger laying on the floor under the window, lift her head from the floor and muster a sleepy woof before succumbing to sleep once again. I wrote it off as debris being blown around from the storm, until it happened again. This time with enough force to crack the window.

Hesitantly, I approached the window. The rain poured in as I opened the window and peered my head out. On the ground below the window were two enormous ravens, both looked to have broken necks.

“Poor birds. Knock and the door shall be opened to you” I thought, laughing at my own lame joke. The impact must have knocked the window off its track because it refused to shut.

“Ugh, this is going to suck in the morning.” I shut the curtains and grabbed a couple of towels to throw on the floor.

Ginger had already retreated to the foot of my bed to get away from the rain. As I began to doze the storm took an odd turn. Outside had become completely still but the rain still fell through the open window while the curtains fluttered. The eeriness of the situation sent a chill down my spine but I ignored the feeling. Until Ginger began to growl from the foot of my bed. I told her to shut up and go back to sleep but she only got louder.

Finally, it was time to just kick her out of my room. It was just a storm, no reason to throw a fit. While making myself comfortable in bed again I noticed something in the window; a shadow. There wasn’t even time to react before it was at the foot of my bed. She was at the foot of my bed. Every flash of thunder from outside illuminated her features. She was gorgeous. She had midback length hair that was blended in with the leather jacket she was wearing. Thin with sharp, defined features on her face. The only thing that separated her from a fresh marble statue was her eyes. They were the brightest blue I had ever seen. Sharp and penetrating like she was looking through you rather than at you. But they were oddly comforting.

Although I had a terrifyingly beautiful stranger in my room, there was no fear. Only a desire to study her features further. My attempt to speak was met by her putting her finger to her lips as she walked around the bed towards me. I nodded in understanding and laid my head back down on my pillow. Her hand caressed my leg while she approached. She reached her hand behind my head and leaned in to kiss me… I woke up to my Mother pounding on the bedroom door.

“Get up! You’re already late. I’m going to come in there and get your ass up myself”, she calls from the hallway.

The room was dark, the blackout curtains doing their job keeping the morning sun out. The clock read 8:47 am. So much for going to class. Head throbbing, I rolled out of bed to open the door for her.

“Yeesh, you look like a ghost. You really ought to try getting more sleep”, she scolded me as she walked towards the window.

“Yes, well, such is the life of a college student”, I replied while brushing my hair behind my ear. There was a sharp pain in the side of my neck so I glanced at the mirror to investigate the cause. But when I looked, there was nothing. Not just nothing on my neck, but no reflection of myself at all. Terrified, I stumbled back and fell into my mother as she threw open the curtains.

My screams of pain as the light hit my skin were soon drowned out by the shrieks from  my mother as she watched the rays of sun hit my skin and reduce me to a pile of ash.

Scott is originally from Delano and now lives in Buffalo with his wife and three children. He is a graduate student studying criminal justice and works a restaurant manager. During his undergrad education he was a few credits shy from a Creative Writing minor and continues to hold an interest in writing. 

Autographs – Bryn Homuth

At night-morning, we fill a trailer:
coils of a prairie-grass blind,
buckets, guns, and decoys so real
you’d think the beaks might snap alive,
swivel, feather brush into flight.

Soybean stalks crunch post-harvest,
nubs like speed bumps
as we drive a dark field’s edge, then stop—
If they come in, they’ll land here.
Into the wind.

I sip coffee as others assemble
a gaggle: craned skyward,
tucked into wing,
necks dipped in a nose
for dry, buried beans.
Drop, drop, arrange, shift, drop,
placed as though by a pattern in the soil,
a confidence the first hunters would have envied
had they leisure to think
beyond instinct and hunger.

Abreast on five-gallon pails,
boot-to-boot, we wait—
sunrise of pink and orange,
mallard flocks’ wing-flap like the rush of rain
from falling to fallen,
a fate planned for the birds,
harbingers of shotgun and steel.

Geese lift from the lagoon mid-morning,
curl into black dotted lines like smoke
at a ceiling, a sketched boundary
between earth and sky.
Let’s see if we can sign on one of them
one says—a plump detaches, angles our way.
Down! Calls honk. Honk again.
Up—fire! Booming barks, spent shells
bank left—they’re gone.

I watch them until my vision blurs
from are
to might have been
to never were,
where, if there is such a place,
they touched down
to awaiting goslings
who had already heard
of the three who cheated death
and were standing in line for autographs.


“Bryn Homuth has recent poems published or forthcoming in The Maine Review, The Tishman Review, and The Turnip Truck(s), among others in various print and electronic journals. His work has previously been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and for the Best of the Net Anthology. Bryn currently lives near Minneapolis, MN and is working on his first full-length collection of poetry while teaching English courses for Crown College.”

The Bear that Wouldn’t Die – Jeff Dixon

The Bear that Wouldn’t Die
Jeff Dixon, 1980

Minnesota bear season opens the first week in September. My buddy Mark and I started north three days before opening day. We arrived in Big Falls around noon at the campground that seven of us had stayed the season before.

We went and put out my bait, which consisted of meat scraps, smoked bacon rinds, half rotten apples, ground corn, molasses, and marshmallows under one of the stands we used the previous year. There was good sign there, like oak trees with the branches broken off from the bears trying to get the acorns, bear droppings, etc.

After my bait was set and we had our camp all set up we went to the local dump to see if we could spot any bears coming into rummage through the garbage for something to eat. That afternoon we had seen a couple of nice bears – almost 250 pounders.

We slept in the next morning and went out to build our tree stands by my bait. When we arrived we were surprised by one of the largest black bears I have ever seen. Its head was as large as a bushel basket. I estimated it to weigh over 400 pounds. It was a large sow. Quietly we left so that we would not spook her so that when season came, she might come around again when I’d be ready for her.

Continue reading “The Bear that Wouldn’t Die – Jeff Dixon”