Amarillo Bay 
 Volume 18 Number 1 

Welcome to Amarillo Bay!

Something Good To Read
Volume 18 Number 1 — Published 1 February 2016

In addition to the works in this issue — the first issue of our eighteenth year — you can read the 745 works (266 fiction, 88 creative nonfiction, 391 poetry) we have published since 1999. See the Previous Works, including the ability to search through the issues.

Fiction Editor: Richard Moseley Richard Moseley

Richard Moseley is professor emeritus in English at West Texas A&M University who taught literary courses in modern short fiction, film and literature, Southwestern literature, and the contemporary American novel. His degrees are from the University of Texas at Austin (B.A.) and the University of Cincinnati (M.A. and Ph.D.).

   by Tim Millas Tim Millas

Tim Millas lives with Susan and Clare in New York, Florida, and Maine. Twenty-five of his stories have been published to date, in such journals as Adirondack Review, The Battered Suitcase, Confrontation, Conte, Dirty Chai, Eclectica, Exquisite Corpse, Literary Orphans, Gargoyle, and Unlikely Stories, and in the print collections Best of Nuvein Fiction and Unlikely Stories of the Third Kind. This is his fourth appearance in Amarillo Bay. You can reach him at

The black of Maine night blinds everyone who enters it. Gil was drunk and already half-blind before he entered, but hours later, when his eyes opened to black, he instantly knew he was awake. Because his dream was green.

In the dream he was moving. Couldn’t feel his legs, but he felt his motion. Not fast, yet he was unable to stop, his helplessness accelerating. Light splintered and became leaves, branches thrusting into his face. His panic turned green, green in his eyes, nostrils, mouth, ears, and he couldn’t hear what Vee was saying—

So black came as a relief. He left the bed, found the living room, stumbled into a chair, felt Teedy’s wet nose against his leg, and all was still black and he realized it didn’t matter. Fleeing the dream only brought him back to its source, which the purest black couldn’t hide or pardon.

But neither would he return to bed and risk sleeping again. He thought of Vee in her bed, fifty miles away. Was a coma the same as sleep? Was everything black, day and night, or did she dream in green, like him?

Teedy’s tail thumped the floor. Thanks to his hangover Gil felt the vibration in his skull. “OK,” he said, and stood, and he could hear the dog’s panting and the click of her toenails. He knew how many steps would get him to the door. It opened to a cooler black. He heard a grunt as the dog left to do her morning dump and patrol.

Several light switches were by the front door, but Gil didn’t reach for them. In his mind’s eye he saw everything anyway. Moving from living room to dining room, he saw the table. He put out a hand and felt it. A cracked round table left by the previous owner. He saw Vee sitting there, her skin white enough to be luminous. In two weeks she’d made it her creation table, where she drew and wrote and sometimes sang her Barry stories. Your Gold Mine, Gil would call him, not affectionately, to which Vee would reply, “Not gold. Half dog, half pig, half dragon, and Very Red!” Gil would remind her that nothing contains three halves. “Oh! Mathematical Gil,” she would laugh, all the while sending Barry into new adventures, because she could work in the open with her husband talking at her.

Gil could not fathom this. He needed a silent room with the door shut to do basic accounting.   Continue…

   by Ken Wheatcroft-Pardue Ken Wheatcroft-Pardue

Ken Wheatcroft-Pardue is a writer living in Fort Worth, Texas. His stories have appeared in Lynx Eye, Hardboiled, and the on-line literary journals Scrivener’s Pen,,, and The Write Room. In 2013, he was one of four finalists for the Texas Observer Short Story Contest.

O Lydia, lying on your side in your purple robe—like a Matisse with blossoming flowers instead of lines—lying alone on our rumpled bed. Oh, how I long right now for just one caress of your gluteus maximus, love juice, an all-together divine tangle of sheets, a clandestine meeting at Vine and Tongue.

But, alas, not this night, for your usual soft face has been made hard from the molten heat emanating from its center, those two, and here I must mix metaphors, ice-cold blue eyes—what got me into this mess in the first place. Oy! I am sunk, all of me—all because of—well, to be honest, me.

Of course, you could say dinner with friends is what did us in, but if not that it would’ve been something else. You see, not to brag, but I am a prize-winning poet, tenured professor, and a self-admitted pendejo-holic. Or to put it another way, I suffer from what I’m afraid is a terminal case of assholishness.

Or, perhaps, more charitably, I suppose I could be suffering from a learning disability. You see, I’ve always been easily bored, and if I can’t be grousing and chiding, life just gets too damn boring. Or it’s that I need repair, new disc pads on my tongue. I’ve a shortcut, a super fiber-optic highway from brain to tongue that’s faster than a speeding bullet and more hurtful, yes, than the Lone Ranger’s silver bullet right between the eyes.

Believe me, I know, I know, what a barbed thorn in the side I can be. But on the other side of the ledger, I once was quite a hit at academic parties where any excitement to break the boredom and complacency is always welcome; and I walked away with more than my share of conquests into the wine-drunk, late-night, early-morning streets made electric by what was very soon to come.   Continue…

Swing Set for Adults
   by Daniel Miller Daniel Miller

Daniel Miller is a Texas-based writer and teacher. He holds degrees from the University of Edinburgh and Duke University. He has published one book, Animal Ethics & Theology (Routledge). His short fiction and nonfiction have most recently appeared in The Tishman Review, Short Story Sunday, New Blackfriars, and Modern Theology.

“Why not?” she thought as she neared it. Mary paid the daycare to keep Ben until 6:00 and they would keep her full monthly check regardless of whether she picked him up thirty minutes early. Ben probably wouldn’t notice if she arrived at 6:00 instead of 5:30. In fact, he might resent being taken away from his friends early. She knew that he enjoyed free play center time in the afternoon the best because he could then rotate to the blocks center. Yesterday he built a castle. Unfortunately, its strong blue, yellow, and red walls had failed to withstand the trollish assault of Jessica Manske, the six-year-old girl who had recently made it the purpose of her four-foot-two-inch life to systematically destroy every structure Ben could build. That, at least, was the impression Mary had formed from Ben’s retelling of the devastating fall of the once proud and prosperous kingdom of Benjalot. If his eyes shone red from wiped away tears again today, she would talk to the staff of the Kiddie Korral about putting Ben in a different play group. Maybe she didn’t have time after all.

She almost passed it when her feet stopped her. Just this once she would be selfish. She would think about herself first–her own needs and extravagances. And this was only a small extravagance. The half-lot playground lay just beyond the No. 6 city bus stop at 6th and Sycamore St. She passed it every day as she walked the four blocks from the bus stop to Kiddie Korral on Rosewood Cr. to pick up Ben. A closer stop sat just one block from Kiddie Korral in the opposite direction, but that one let out at the corner of a supermarket. Mary preferred the solitary though longer walk from Sycamore St. to forcing her way through elbows and plastic shopping bags. “Yes,” she said. She half cupped her mouth with her gloved hand and looked around to see if anyone had heard her unintentional declaration. The street appeared deserted. Had fellow pedestrians heard her, however, they would have thought the self utterance no less strange than the following sight of a grown woman walking into an empty playground, placing her purse in her lap, sitting down on the rubber sling seat, and pushing off with her low heel shoes.   Continue…

Wish Me Luck
   by Donley Watt Donley Watt

Donley Watt lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. His five books of fiction include Can You Get There from Here? which won the Texas Institute of Letters’ Stephen F. Turner Award. His other publications include more than forty book reviews, short stories, and essays.

“It’s only a house,” Laura says. She strides over to the window and waves her hand at the dark street. “Go out there, drive up and down, drive for an hour any which way. A house on every lot, everywhere you look. Hundreds of houses. Thousands. That’s all you’ll see.”

I don’t look up, just sit there on the edge of the red sofa, but I’m leaning forward, as if I’m ready to make some sudden, dramatic move. “That’s not what I meant,” I say, but I’ve already forgotten the point I wanted to make.

Laura turns back to face me. She gives me her “You’re a pathetic moron” look.

Now she’s pacing again, moving back and forth across the room, her long denim skirt cutting and whipping the silence of the house.

“My point,” I say, trying to think clearly, “is that I thought you would stay here, in our house. This house. I mean divorce is hard on us all, and I thought if you and Chris could stay here it might be easier.” Although it wouldn’t be easier, I know. Not for me. I need the money out of the house the same as Laura.

She ignores me, faces the front window again with her back to me. Laura moves her head side to side and her blonde ponytail swishes across her shoulders. “There are more houses on the other side of town,” she says, “and in the town after that. Houses everywhere. Houses choking up the whole goddamned earth.”

She stops for a minute and I hope she’ll see she’s being unfair, that she’ll soften. But only her voice does. “Jackie,” she says, “I’ve told you a thousand times. I need my space and it’s not here, not in this house, not anywhere around here.” She flings her arm around in disgust.

“Can’t you think of Chris?” I say. “Can’t you think of anyone besides yourself?” I push up off the sofa and move to the half-empty bookcase. I straighten up a row of books that has dominoed over. I scan the shelves, try to remember what’s been there, what’s now missing, to know what’s in the tape-sealed book boxes at my feet with LAURA lettered on three sides.   Continue…

Creative Nonfiction Editor: Gretchen Johnson Gretchen Johnson

Gretchen Johnson lives in Beaumont, Texas, and works as an Assistant Professor of English at Lamar University. Her short stories and poems have appeared in The Blue Bear Review, The Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, Poetry Harbor, Spout Press, The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, and others. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing from Southwest Minnesota State University and her MFA in Creative Writing from Texas State University. Her first book, The Joy of Deception, was published by Lamar University Literary Press in 2012, and her second book; A Trip Through Downer, Minnesota, was published by Lamar University Literary Press in 2014.

The True Story of Her Play
   by Paul Dickey Paul Dickey

Paul Dickey’s first full length poetry manuscript, They Say This is How Death Came Into the World, was published by Mayapple Press in January, 2011. A second book, Wires Over the Homeplace, was published by Pinyon Publishing in Fall, 2013. His poetry and fiction have appeared in Rattle, Pleiades, Prairie Schooner, 32 Poems, Sentence, Pinyon Review, Mid-American Review, and online at Verse Daily, Potomac Review, Ascent, Diode, and Linebreak and several other journals.

After class, I talked to a student who didn’t want to drop. There’s a fighter in me, she said. Something says I’m going to do it. I didn’t want her to drop. Half the class had already dropped; no one had explained why.

She, if anyone, should drop my class. She turned in a mediocre first essay two weeks late. She failed the midterm. She’s missed half the classes and hasn’t logged into the website. She writes emails suggesting (and sometimes even saying) that her and her husband are in financial desperation (her word), but she shouldn’t let herself get so stressed. It is just her. She thinks too much about details. So see, there was no way she could come to class that other night.

I said it is impossible to think too much. Actually when people say that, they are thinking about the wrong things for the context. They should be thinking more about what is relevant. I picked up my can of crème soda and asked her how much soda would she think I have left if I told her I had “a few drops.” Would she need to use some sophisticated chemistry measuring devices to get a more exact measurement, or should she just understand that there is not enough to give a satisfying drink? But that isn’t thinking too much. It is thinking in an inappropriate context. She nodded her head as if I were right and continued to believe that she thinks too much.   Continue…

Poetry Editor: 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.

Alfred in Winter
   by Bill Carpenter Bill Carpenter

Bill Carpenter’s work has been accepted by journals such as The Copperfield Review, Sewanee Theological Review and The Heroic Age, among others. This passage is an excerpt from a long sequence of poems depicting King Alfred’s struggle with the Danes in 878. Bill lives in Minneapolis where he works on his writing before going downtown to practice law. He grew up in Fort Worth and is still impressed by the Minnesota winter.

As shadows lengthened (later every day
according to our Father’s providence),
a sharp dampness nettled Alfred’s nostrils.
They stopped. The merlin stooped on a lone stonechat,
riding the birdling earthward, pierced and stunned.
Beornwulf ran to meet them where they fell
and pounced upon both predator and prey.
They found a shepherd’s shelter stocked with wood,
a spare spindle idle on the floor,
and as the seed of Ingeld laid the tinder
the smothered sun slipped underneath the cloud
and set the rumpled countryside on fire.
The travelers eyed the flaming streaks of snow,
the burning turf, and the far smoldering hills
and Alfred said a prayer to praise the Lord’s
mercy in serving up a Shrovetide feast.
They crossed themselves and plucked and cleaned the fowls
and roasted them attentively on sticks.
That night they fell asleep, not satisfied,
but on the upward slope from desolation.
Like the Greek giant who regained his strength
from the earth’s breast, the king sucked his from heaven.   Continue…

A Cross along a Road
   by John Stephens John Stephens

John Stephens is the author of Return to the Water (C & R Press, June 2013), which was reviewed by The Georgia Review. Other published work includes poems in Stone River Sky, An Anthology of Georgia Poems (2015) and The Penwood Review. John lives in Milton, Georgia, and his gifts have helped to establish the Adam Stephens Night Out for Poetry at the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Poetry @TECH series.

Isolation, like a rusty razor, cuts a jagged wound.
I reach for words, the jack-russell you took,
                                                            our bed now empty.   Continue…

The Seedsman’s Watchers
   by John Stephens John Stephens

John Stephens is the author of Return to the Water (C & R Press, June 2013), which was reviewed by The Georgia Review. Other published work includes poems in Stone River Sky, An Anthology of Georgia Poems (2015) and The Penwood Review. John lives in Milton, Georgia, and his gifts have helped to establish the Adam Stephens Night Out for Poetry at the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Poetry @TECH series.

A dog gnaws at a juicy bone, and from a rock
comes the sharp chuck-chuck of a blackbird.

The day is too dark for shadows,
and the seedsman, in his steady rhythm

slowly slices the ground hardened by time
into a shallow, 4-by-8 pit.   Continue…

A Fire: Galveston, 1965
   by Ken Wheatcroft-Pardue Ken Wheatcroft-Pardue

Ken Wheatcroft-Pardue is an essayist, short story writer, and poet living in Fort Worth, Texas. He has had poems published in The Texas Observer, California Quarterly, Blue Lake Review, Ginosko Literary Journal, Wilderness House Literary Review, Barbaric Yawp, and two anthologies of Texas poetry.

On my grandma’s stoop, we watch
a fireman carry a black man fireman-style.
The burned man’s skin hangs from his arms
like the fringe on the leather jackets
I lust for this summer of ’65.

Then my grandmother stands up,
shakes her head,
“No sympathy,” she spits out.   Continue…

On the First Rain after the Drought
   by Chera Hammons Chera Hammons

Chera Hammons is a graduate of the MFA in Creative Writing program at Goddard College. Her work has appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal, Borderlands, Rattle, San Pedro River Review, Tupelo Quarterly, and Valparaiso Poetry Review, among other fine publications. Her chapbook Amaranthine Hour received the 2012 Jacar Press Chapbook Award. Her book Recycled Explosions is forthcoming from Ink Brush Press. She is a member of the editorial board of poetry journal One. She lives in Amarillo, TX, and teaches at Clarendon College.

The crops were already lost—there
              was no saving cotton, corn,
              or cucumber, watermelon.
When it came we were glad all
              the same. I felt the loosening in
              my gritty throat and sunburned shoulders.   Continue…

Summer of 68
   by Loretta Diane Walker Loretta Diane Walker

Loretta Diane Walker is a three time Pushcart nominee and an award winning poet. Her manuscript Word Ghetto won the 2011 Bluelight Press Book Award. She has published three collections of poetry. Her book In This House was recently published by Bluelight Press. Walker’s work has appeared in a number of publications and anthologies. Loretta was recently elected as “Statesman in the Arts” by the Odessa’s Heritage Council. Walker received a BME from Texas Tech University and earned an MA from The University of Texas of the Permian Basin. She teaches music in Odessa, Texas. Her Web site is

For three days a long candescent tongue of fire
licks across the desiccated mouth of earth
sequestered in far West Texas—burning vines and stones.

I watch the stubborn flames;
my stomach struggles with the same dread
as it did when I was ten.

Bobby throws me in the deep
end of a pool.
I fail to remember what I learned the first day
of swimming lessons, flail my arms
instead of stroke, forget how to paddle my feet.   Continue…

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2016, Volume 18 Number 4, 7 November 2016 — Future Issue
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2015, Volume 17 Number 4, 2 November 2015
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2011, Volume 13 Number 4, 7 November 2011
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2007, Volume 9 Number 4, 12 November 2007
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2006, Volume 8 Number 4, 6 November 2006
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2005, Volume 7 Number 4, 7 November 2005
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2004, Volume 6 Number 4, 1 October 2004
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2003, Volume 5 Number 4, 3 November 2003
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2002, Volume 4 Number 4, 4 November 2002
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2001, Volume 3 Number 4, 5 November 2001
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2000, Volume 2 Number 4, 6 November 2000
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1999, Volume 1 Number 3, 1 November 1999
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