Amarillo Bay 
 Volume 16 Number 2 

Welcome to Amarillo Bay!

Something Good To Read
Volume 16 Number 2 — Published 19 May 2014

In addition to the works in this issue — the second issue of our sixteenth year — you can read the over 660 works (237 fiction, 80 creative nonfiction, 344 poetry) we have published since 1999. See the Previous Works, including the ability to search through the issues.


Lingering Effects
   by Kim Venkataraman Kim Venkataraman

Kim Venkataraman, originally from Maine, lives outside of Boston with her husband and two children. Her short stories have been accepted by exactly twelve magazines. She is working on a book inspired by her grandfather's childhood, when he and his sisters were orphaned at the start of the Depression.

Her finger healed, you can barely see the scar. But still there's a lingering numbness from that day when a knife sliced her finger as easily as a mushroom, just like a mushroom in fact. She'd thought at first she'd cut it off, but the tip of her pinky was still connected, dangling from a bit of skin. So her finger healed, and most of the time she forgets she has no feeling in it. But sometimes when she reaches for something, like her coffee, and her smallest finger touches the cup, she's reminded it doesn't feel things the way it should.

After leaving the hospital that day, Charlotte and Brian went by her parents' house. She closed her eyes to the buildings and cars that passed in a nauseating blur. She wasn't ready to go back to their tiny basement apartment, where droplets of blood still lay sprinkled across the cutting board. They found her mother working in the garden, but her doting concern about Charlotte's hand was soon interrupted by a phone call that sent them back to the emergency room. The same woman sat at the information desk, and a cart of flowers still stood by the elevator. But this time Charlotte, Brian, and Eleanor rushed in and found Charlotte's father straining to sit up as a doctor examined his arm. He was saying, "Baby, baby, can you hear me? It's going to be okay," to the woman lying next to him. Charlotte had never heard her father sound like that, helpless and on the verge of tears.

"Oh . . . Ellie," he said, his voice changing to a dull whisper, when he noticed his wife.

"Hank, what happened? Are you all right? What's going on?"   Continue…

   by J. N. Pratley J. N. Pratley

J. N. Pratley ( is a research cell biologist turned fiction writer. Besides numerous scientific papers he has published two novels: Leto's Journey and The Green Helix. (A third novel, Janine of Hydra, is seeking publication.) He also writes and publishes short stories. He is associated with the Aegean Circle of Arts of Andros, Greece. He travels frequently to Greece and most of his fiction has settings on Greek islands. A common theme in his fiction is the application of ancient Greek history and philosophy to contemporary life.

Nick's spoon, sloshing in the steamy bowl of mayaritsa, wafted pungent herb and slaughter house smells up his pinched nose and made him reach for a bottle of vinegar and garlic cloves. He sprinkled it around the slurry of lamb innards—liver, kidney, heart, intestine—then broke off the corner of a coarse brown bread, held his breath, and lifted a spoonful to his mouth.

"Good, eh?" said the waiter, patting down a dirty white towel.

What could he say? Grateful to have the soup this time of the year? Back home in Chicago, he drank it at Easter time, when the innards of young lambs were boiled up into a soup whose purpose was to break the forty-day fast.

He faked a nod of approval at the waiter and ordered a large FIX beer. Then he stirred the bowl, gently dipped the bread into the slurry, hesitated, and stared around the empty dining room, hoping to spot a filching Greek cat. Instead, his dead wife, Kati, entered his consciousness and said, "Nick, it's like that mess Momma and Aunt Toula made. Remember them plopping bloody organs into a boiling pot? We were starved to death for forty days, then Jesus resurrected and flew off to heaven, leaving lamb guts behind. We had to drink his blood all year from the communion chalice. Wasn't that enough?"

Dear, dear Kati. How he missed her irreverence. Their lives had meshed from their childhood, like the twining dough twists of a Greek koulouraki almond cookie. Still, she always had a way to make them forge ahead, and he boldly gulped a spoonful and a swig of cold beer. It wasn't so bad, after all. And with darkness outside and a cold wind, every spoonful of soup and each gulp of the beer began to fortify him. Yes, he would have told Kati, that's what the soup was supposed to do: fortify and resurrect.   Continue…

O Canada
   by Jerry Mikorenda Jerry Mikorenda

Jerry Mikorenda is a writer living in Northport, New York. His nonfiction has appeared in The New York Times, Newsday, The Boston Herald and various other magazines and blogs. His history profiles are included in the 2010 Encyclopedia of New York City. A recipient of a PEN Syndicated Fiction Award, his short stories have appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle andTurbula. He has a master's degree from Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School

Emma Britson stopped crying just long enough to believe that maybe her husband was in on it from the get-go. He looked too grim behind the wheel of their Chevy Astro with his shoulders all hunkered up and his neck slung low like a vulture to betray any emotion other than his own disconfusionment. No question, Karl lived in the Grimatorium. Grim was him. He wore it as a shield even on those grey Saturday afternoons driving back from the Adult bookstore off Route 50 with three rented tapes stacked between them, knowing he was about to get laid. Yeah. Old stone face was perfect to pull this off.

She said nothing for a while, dabbing the creases around her eyes with remnants of a paper tissue strangled in her hands from eight exits back on the Interstate.

"Should we stop?" she finally asked, as they passed a sign for a rest stop.

"I suppooose," he replied, in that low-pitched foghorn of his.

"Bathroom-wise," she added, accidentally flipping the tissue on the floor with the rest. "There's no rest stop for thirty-eight miles."

"We can stop, let's stop."

"No, no need. Better to keep going."

"Coffee sounds good about now," he mumbled, veering onto the service road. "Want some?"

Emma watched her husband drop into the crowd like an upended log floating downriver toward the mill. She should've kept her mouth shut, she thought, trying to follow his movements through the large panes of glass. This is the perfect setup. He's probably in there making contact, getting advice from the crew, or giving one of those little side interviews they always show before commercials. Him with that Frankenstein gash jutting across his forehead trying to tell everyone how sensitive and caring he is. The more she thought about it, the more she realized that's exactly what was going on.   Continue…

Venus De Madre
   by Stefanie Levine Cohen Stefanie Levine Cohen

Stefanie Levine Cohen studies and writes about birth, death, afterlife and the human condition. Currently, she is working on a collection of short stories exploring these topics. Stefanie also works as a volunteer visitor for Samaritan Hospice in Marlton, NJ. She received her bachelor's and master's degrees in English from the University of Pennsylvania and her JD from the New York University School of Law. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in The Montreal Review, Green Hills Literary Lantern, ginosko, and The MacGuffin. Stefanie lives in Cherry Hill, NJ, with her husband and their three teenaged daughters. She can be reached at

It's almost moving day.


The boxes are partly packed and the walls are naked. Without paintings and family photos as camouflage, I can see all the scratches and dings we created over the years. Here, you threw a picture book into the wall—you wanted me to read a different one. There, the mirror chipped when I dropped it. I was hanging it as a surprise for you because you loved to make funny faces at yourself. The ceiling fan is a bit crooked from when you tried to stop it from spinning with a pogo stick. To me, these divots are part of our story. To the next owner, they will be broken bits that need to be repaired, or perhaps just trash.


I'm standing in the room that was your nursery twenty-three years ago. We've done it over many times since then, redecorating as you grew up and then went out into the world. I'm fond of its most recent iteration as a reading room, with that blue love seat and antique floor lamp from the consignment shop. The love seat faces the window, and when I crane my neck, I can see you wandering home from the bus stop after school, examining some leaf or worm you picked up along the way. You wore pink ribbons that never stayed in your wild hair and sparkly sneakers that never stayed tied. It was a ninety-second walk from the bus stop home. Sometimes it took you five minutes, sometimes the rest of the afternoon.   Continue…

Whispering Gallery
   by Steve Lewis Steve Lewis

Steve Lewis is a longtime freelance writer and a member of the Sarah Lawrence College Writing Institute faculty. Married 46 years (7 kids, 16 grandchildren), he has been published widely, from the notable to the beyond obscure. (See Steve writes, "During much of the Sixties I was writing self-indulgent poetry in Madison, Wisconsin—mostly to meet girls—but somewhere along the way the poet James Hazard gave me a flashlight to navigate my way through the self-reflective shadows and into what I now understand is the illuminating voice. I carry it daily up to my writing space in the Shawangunk Mountains as well as into workshops in New York's Hudson Valley and the windy beaches of Hatteras Island, NC."

Jeffrey Gordon shouldered his way into the hot auditorium at Walt Whitman Jr-Sr High with his sneering friends in tow. He wore a black AC/DC t-shirt, long black hair slicked back into a mullet, and across his chiseled face a smirk as sharp as the knife I could have sworn I saw glinting in his back pocket. I had already been seated in Row L, craning my barbered head back, watching him and his posse of seventh grade goons being herded into separate aisles by Mr. Sandberg, the Driver's Ed. Teacher, who knew trouble when he saw it coming.

So there was no knife in his pocket, but there was a silver comb. To a boy who had never owned a comb in his whole life much less run one across his head, I tried to think if I had ever combed my hair. Before I could answer my own question, though, Jeffrey plopped down next to me, smirking and nodding his head as if we were already friends. And when Mrs. Freedman, the Principal, leaned into the microphone and it squealed, he poked me in the elbow and snorted.

Despite the danger I feared sitting to my right, Jeffrey quickly surprised me—me in my button down shirt and Dockers—by reaching into his pocket and asking me under his breath what I got for my homeroom. I could feel my cheeks turning red; I whispered back that I didn't know what a homeroom was. He shrugged and slipped me some Skittles from his fist and proceeded to tell me about the set-up at Whitman. I pretended to slip the sticky candies in my mouth, but kept them in my sweaty palm while he told me that his brother, TJ, was in the high school so he pretty much knew everything we'd ever need to know.

Mr. Sandberg looked right past me then and told Jeffrey to shut up.

I was a shy, pampered, butterball of a big-eared product of the Freedom Trail Elementary School. Practically everyone who went to Freedom Trail lived in the manicured new developments that had appeared on either side of the Expressway after the Korean War. Jeffrey and his friends went to Samuel J. Morse in Mineola, a working class community, Thirties homes on tree-lined streets. The two communities were as different as dawn and dusk, Met and Yankee, Jew and Catholic.

When the dirty blonde kid in the row in front of us leaned forward and belched in the ear of the skinny pinheaded boy in front of him, Jeffrey flicked him hard with his thumb and middle finger right in the back of his greasy skull.

The kid spun around and glared into Jeffrey's unwavering blue eyes, but said nothing and left the skinny kid alone after that. Mr. Sandberg saw the whole thing, though, and Jeffrey, the school's new troublemaker, was yanked from the auditorium and given the first of a hundred or more detentions he would accrue over the next six years.   Continue…

Creative Nonfiction

Are We Criminals?
   by Renee Rod Renee Rod

Renee Rod is a Grant Writer, Licensed Architect, and Urban Planner who lives in Chicago. In her spare time, she enjoys designing houses and writing short stories. Her stories have been featured in Word Catalyst Magazine, The Battered Suitcase, and The Write Place At the Write Time.

As each individual ahead of me succumbed to the humiliation and fled with bowed head, I methodically shuffled my rear end across the carpet, ever mindful of nasty rug burns on my cotton pants. After the fortieth minute passed, the only possession remaining in my hand was a neatly folded white paper with a directive from the state government. I had already finished perusing the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun Times and counting aloud the number of other pathetic souls unfortunate enough to be forced to wake up early on a Saturday morning in the hope of landing first in the queue.

My stomach growled, as I had erroneously assumed that this would be a quick errand, and consequently failed to take a precaution. As additional bodies piled into the cozy, windowless room, the air became stale and sticky. The perspiration stained shirt odors prevailed, and I coughed and cleared my throat just to catch my breath. With my hand subtly covering my nose so as not to give the impression that I believed I was too good to be here, I surveyed the room. The United Nations surrounded me. White faces. Black faces. Young adults. Middle aged adults. Fat people. Thin people. Short people. Tall people. The line stretched out the door and down the dark hall past the Comcast storefront. On this Saturday it was faster to file a complaint about the wretched, intermittent internet and cable service than it was to get fingerprinted.

Why was everyone here? What was written on their folded white sheets? Did scofflaws sit arm to arm among us?   Continue…

Sisterly Love
   by Brenda Gaba Brenda Gaba

Brenda Gaba lives in Dallas with her husband, two dogs, two fish and the two empty bedrooms of her 20-something sons. Her poetry has appeared in The Texas Observer and Language, Uncanned, an anthology published by The Writer's Garret in Dallas. The first in her family to graduate from college, she grew up in a small town in the Texas Panhandle. She is a mentor in the Writer's Garret Writers in the Neighborhoods and Schools program, has worked for The Fort Worth Press and was once the communications officer of The Dallas Housing Authority. She loves photography and travel, and has spent time in China, Japan, Germany, New Zealand and Argentina.

The phone rang. I picked it up and heard at the other end, "Hel-Lo," very loud and slow, the syllables equally punctuated with the strained effort of a person whose right vocal cord is partially paralyzed—one of the effects of a stroke that struck Max five years ago. It could also be the vocalization of someone who has already had several drinks by 11:00 a.m., which is possible for Max. Sometimes people think he's drunk when he's not. Max is my fifty-six-year-old younger brother.

It's ironic that a man who has spent much of his life under the influence of alcohol would have to live his post-stroke, sobered up life responding to people who think they are talking to a drunk. He refrains from drinking for months at a time, but I know it's never permanent.

"What are you up to?" I ask.

"It's a pretty day—the sun is shining. I'm about to go outside and take Cyrus for a ride on my scooter. He loves riding on my scooter."

Cyrus is Max's cat, his companion in his 453-square-foot efficiency apartment.

"Great," I say. I imagine Max's six-foot frame, his halting walk as he holds onto his cane with his left hand, his right hand unable to write. I wonder how he will manage to steer the motorized wheel chair he calls a scooter and hold on to the cat.

Is he sober? Should I have picked up the phone? When he asks me how I'm doing, I'm pretty sure now that he has not been drinking. I pause and ponder. I am skeptical. I am hopeful.   Continue…


Delilah's Father Takes Her to the Barber Shop
   by Katherine Hoerth Katherine Hoerth

Katherine Hoerth is the author of a poetry collection, The Garden Uprooted (Slough Press, 2012). Her work has been included in journals such as Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, BorderSenses, and Front Porch. She teaches literature and creative writing at the University of Texas Pan American and serves as Assistant Poetry Editor of Fifth Wednesday Journal.

My father threw his hands up in defeat.
Perhaps it had become too much for him—
the nightly fight to pull out every snarl,
occasional entangled piece of gum,
or maybe how sometimes I'd hide my eyes
behind that golden lamb's wool veil of hair
whenever I just couldn't face the world.   Continue…

A Different Kind of Sweetness
   by Katherine Hoerth Katherine Hoerth

Katherine Hoerth is the author of a poetry collection, The Garden Uprooted (Slough Press, 2012). Her work has been included in journals such as Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, BorderSenses, and Front Porch. She teaches literature and creative writing at the University of Texas Pan American and serves as Assistant Poetry Editor of Fifth Wednesday Journal.

You think he'll let me hold a bunny, dad?

I ask while walking through the fields, my hand
in his. With silent puffs of breath I count
our boot prints, each one stippling fresh snow.
The barn is just ahead—its faded wood
splinters underneath the weight of snow,
of wind, of icicles and passing time.   Continue…

Eve's Happy Hour
   by Katherine Hoerth Katherine Hoerth

Katherine Hoerth is the author of a poetry collection, The Garden Uprooted (Slough Press, 2012). Her work has been included in journals such as Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, BorderSenses, and Front Porch. She teaches literature and creative writing at the University of Texas Pan American and serves as Assistant Poetry Editor of Fifth Wednesday Journal.

So this is Eden, almost paradise—
a smoke filled bar, a frozen daiquiri,

and me, sleek hummer in an iridescent
dress, who's come to drink it in, to sip

from every flower with a swizzle straw
and watch before her as the well-known tale   Continue…

Seasons of Gold
   by Katherine Hoerth Katherine Hoerth

Katherine Hoerth is the author of a poetry collection, The Garden Uprooted (Slough Press, 2012). Her work has been included in journals such as Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, BorderSenses, and Front Porch. She teaches literature and creative writing at the University of Texas Pan American and serves as Assistant Poetry Editor of Fifth Wednesday Journal.

There was a time when summer meant to lay
without a purpose in the fresh-cut grass,
pluck honeyed globes of grapefruit from the trees,
devour them, lick our sticky fingers clean,
to rush through sprinklers, cool our naked ankles,   Continue…

The Goddess Waters Her Plants
   by Katherine Hoerth Katherine Hoerth

Katherine Hoerth is the author of a poetry collection, The Garden Uprooted (Slough Press, 2012). Her work has been included in journals such as Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, BorderSenses, and Front Porch. She teaches literature and creative writing at the University of Texas Pan American and serves as Assistant Poetry Editor of Fifth Wednesday Journal.

I tend this garden, ritual as dawn;
I come to bead the thirsty with my hose.

I overlook lantana sprigs that burst
in shades of sunrise at my naked feet.   Continue…

   by John Grey John Grey

John Grey is an Australian born poet. He was recently published in The Lyric, Vallum and the science fiction anthology "The Kennedy Curse," with work upcoming in Bryant Literary Magazine, Natural Bridge, Southern California Review and the Oyez Review.

The first woman I've loved who is now dead
occupies a place,
not in my heart, but in a field,
unfussy, just some weeds, some sunlight.

Details are overgrown with
bright and wild that I can pick,
that I can leave alone.
They exert quiet, peace, even   Continue…

   by Linda Kraus Linda Kraus

Linda Kraus taught literature and composition courses at Case Western Reserve University. While working on her dissertation, Linda switched fields to teach film studies. She developed the film department for Northern Essex Community College, affiliated with the University of Massachusetts. She has written poetry, fiction, and film criticism since adolescence.

My mother would rejoice
when she saw two bad movies
booked together as a double feature.
How lovely to miss four hours of
boredom, angst or splatter,
a visual feast for the self-selecting.   Continue…

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Works by Issue

Works are published the first Monday of February, the third Monday of May, the first Monday of August, and the first Monday of November.

2014, Volume 16 Number 4, 3 November 2014 — Future Issue
Number 3, 4 August 2014 — Future Issue
Number 2, 19 May 2014 — Current Issue

Number 1, 3 February 2014
2013, Volume 15 Number 4, 4 November 2013
Number 3, 5 August 2013
Number 2, 20 May 2013
Number 1, 4 February 2013
2012, Volume 14 Number 4, 5 November 2012
Number 3, 6 August 2012
Number 2, 21 May 2012
Number 1, 6 February 2012
2011, Volume 13 Number 4, 7 November 2011
Number 3, 1 August 2011
Number 2, 16 May 2011
Number 1, 7 February 2011
2010, Volume 12 Number 4, 1 November 2010
Number 3, 2 August 2010
Number 2, 17 May 2010
Number 1, 1 February 2010
2009, Volume 11 Number 4, 2 November 2009
Number 3, 3 August 2009
Number 2, 18 May 2009
Number 1, 2 February 2009
2008, Volume 10 Number 4, 3 November 2008
Number 3, 18 August 2008
Number 2, 19 May 2008
Number 1, 11 February 2008
2007, Volume 9 Number 4, 12 November 2007
Number 3, 6 August 2007
Number 2, 7 May 2007
Number 1, 5 February 2007
2006, Volume 8 Number 4, 6 November 2006
Number 3, 7 August 2006
Number 2, 8 May 2006
Number 1, 6 February 2006
2005, Volume 7 Number 4, 7 November 2005
Number 3, 8 August 2005
Number 2, 2 May 2005
Number 1, 7 February 2005
2004, Volume 6 Number 4, 1 October 2004
Number 3, 2 August 2004
Number 2, 3 May 2004
Number 1, 2 February 2004
2003, Volume 5 Number 4, 3 November 2003
Number 3, 4 August 2003
Number 2, 5 April 2003
Number 1, 3 February 2003
2002, Volume 4 Number 4, 4 November 2002
Number 3, 5 August, 2002
Number 2, 6 May 2002
Number 1, 4 February 2002
2001, Volume 3 Number 4, 5 November 2001
Number 3, 6 August 2001
Number 2, 7 May 2001
Number 1, 5 February 2001
2000, Volume 2 Number 4, 6 November 2000
Number 3, 7 August 2000
Number 2, 1 May 2000
Number 1, 7 February 2000
1999, Volume 1 Number 3, 1 November 1999
Number 2, 2 August 1999
Number 1, 3 May 1999