June 2015


– reviewed by Kirbee Veroneau

Carolina Morales’ fourth chapbook, Attack of the 50 foot Woman and other poems (Finishing Line Press), is nothing short of captivating. It contains themes attached to the horror film and TV show genre, including Bewitched, The Addams Family, The Blob, King Kong, and many more. The poems really hone in on the normalcy of horror, especially that which can be found in American families. The monsters highlight the horror found within daily life and serve as a catalyst for reflection about our own lives and the very real-life monsters found within American society.

In this snippet of “Attack of the 50 foot Woman” Morales seamlessly intertwines the horrific contents from the big screen with those that can be found within the home.

We drove that night from the theatre’s
gate to our own home slate where
fractured plates, pots and pans and flying
saucers whirled as our mother’s rage played
out against our father’s womanizing forays,
my siblings and I stumbling to hide
like bystanders trapped in the giantess’s path.
And though a future would lead me
through the front door, full-grown at a mere
five feet, a tallying mind, heart ticking
revenge, hands armed with paper and pen
would multiply my heft by ten.

Taking a real-life family situation and coalescing it into the grotesque only serves to show us just how horrific real, American society can be.

With just the right amount of spookiness, the mesmerizing worlds that Morales has created and expanded upon, along with her clever wording, left me wanting more. The use of nightmarish creatures such as zombies, banshees, and boogeymen coupled with the creative ingenuity and the relatable way in which Morales intertwines the two is used to create something horrific…in a most ingenious way.

Aside from the three previous chapbooks she has authored, Bride of Frankenstein and other poems (2008), In Nancy Drew’s Shadow (2010), andDear Monster (2012), Morales has also been nominated for three Pushcart prizes and written two plays. In addition to this, her poem, “Bewitched” can be found in volume five of Turks Head Review.

Gene Twaronite

It was one of those
early grades when they
still taught penmanship.
I envied the girl
next to me who
wrote in tiny script,
neat and compact.
I copied her style,
made it my own,
writing letters
ever smaller  
as the spaces
between blue lines
grew emptier.

One day my teacher
put her foot down:
I can’t read this,
write bigger!

Not wishing to fail
penmanship, I did.
But that girl with her
Lilliputian words
still remained
inscribed on my brain,
leading me to seek
ever more compact
ways of viewing life.
Like the cursive
I copied, small things
seemed more
appealing, whether
a house or a car.
Less surface
to clean and  
less to care for.
Economy and
sparseness of form
I preferred
above all else,
extending this
feeling even
to my lovers.
Why not when it was
complete control
I sought in my
dominion of space?

Now I write
in script neither
small nor neat
but in a wild scrawl
that winds across
checks and documents
with a will of its own.
I try to slow it down,
show who’s boss,
but it ends up
looking mangled
and disrupted, like a
watch spring
suddenly sprung.
And in the checkout
line I see at last the
phantom ghost of
control mocking
me from the screen
while my artless
swiped signature
dissolves into


An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge :

Original Title: “La rivière du hibou” – France (1969)

Based on the short story by Ambrose Bierce.

Courtney Gustafson

Two days before the fire
we dreamed of everything
burning down. After all

the dust, we have ended
up across borders. We
have always come to ends.

Personal, you said. In the
blown-out glass three countries
over, I was thinking

about you in the dark
watching your violins


In the aerial photos you
are a pile of rubble and
brick. The first time

I saw your hallways they
were already in pieces
underground. I wanted

to ask why you took
so many pictures of the
window frames: black

holes with nothing
but smoke and dust behind


In all my dreams since
the fire your walls are
made of glass. We all

know why you left. We
all say: personal. But
I have stood outside

that crime scene sidewalk
staring up at your burnt black
building for three years

now. To say: I have loved
you better. I have loved you

Courtney Gustafson

Up on legs we move
uphill. At corners we look
both ways. It has been years
since the road blocks, the fire
trucks, the one way streets
and the screams

and still: you remain
chained. The things that killed you
for me were not cars, brakes,
windshields, white paint
or chains. You are still
especially when it rains

we remember the day
the roads were slick
and screaming. After
the sirens, the sounds,
we could only hope
to say: you are alive

in another country
but here you are metal
frames and rubber.
If you are all spokes
and suspension
you are painted white now.

Courtney Gustafson

With tire tracks across my back
you told me no. Could have been
anybody: could have been you,
a corpse without a ribcage
saying please.

No photos, please. Wrestle
with us all you want but we
will end up here: face down
and flat, swallowing stones
and begging please.

Lay all your weight on me
and with knees against my neck
I can crack each rib and stay
like this: punctuating
every breath with please.

Courtney Gustafson


Broken-backed, boy with a stick in his spine
and scars across his knees. Bleed. Try not to listen
to the noises of his bones: just hollow stones and teeth.

Carry me. He is ones and zeroes now: aluminum and steel,
inorganic things. Crank me. Wind him up and watch him
walk across the floor: we are broken sticks and skin.

Half metal, make me stitch him back together and
hide the gray beneath his hair. We are not right.
Bruise, bruise: tie me up in wax paper and string.

Outside the courthouse we sat on stone
walls and avoided eyes, each other, the drive
home. Break: don’t be gone too long.

The oldest store in America sold drawer pulls
and screws and we walked there on breaks
just to say: we are metal sheets and nails,

we are broken tools, we are in a soundproof
room and we will deliberate until we are
sanded down to nothing. Put us all away for this.

– Alejandro Escudé

It’s a testament to the grand will of men
and the state of the world;
I stand and grill sausages for the birthday crowd,
my son’s 7th. And he inevitably approaches:
“You should turn down the back burner.”

“Is that right?” I say. But I don’t do it.
All they need is one successful entry
and it’s over—soon, they will stand in your place
and snicker, the worst is the snicker.

His woman will assure that he knows what he’s doing
much better than you do. And you know
you shouldn’t think of her as his woman,
but she is.

Then, the other one comes to say you should spread
the sausages at the bottom
of the grill instead of keeping them up top
and that you should open the lid.
“You don’t need the lid closed,” he says.

And I say, “Is that right?” And I don’t do it.
Halfway through it all
I go into the kitchen to grab the large plate
to serve the sausages on

and when I return I find the back burner turned off,
the grill lid opened.