Spring 2010

Winter 2010

Autumn 2009

Summer 2009

Spring 2009

Autumn 2008

Summer 2008

Spring/Summer 2008

Winter/Spring 2008

Editor's Note




by Mike Berger, Ph.D.


The plane was full.
I stared at the man across the aisle.
He was dressed in blue coveralls.
His hands were massive and
he had dirt under his fingernails.
He wore a shaggy beard.

I struck up a conversation with him.
He was a roughneck from
the oilfields. He operated the huge
drilling machine.

He was leaving the oilfields and
flying home. He had been laid off.
He said that he would have to wait it out
but he thought he'd be to work
in a few months.


The bed was Spartan but it
had clean sheets. My stomach
was full with a hot meal for the
first time in weeks.

I showered weeks of grime from
my body. The facility had a barber
who cut my shoulder length hair and
he trimmed it my flowing beard.

After eight weeks, I'd be dried out
I might even put on a few pounds.
I'll tell my story in group therapy
because that's what they want to hear.

Then I'll go back to the streets and
I'll hold it together for six months.
Then the drink demons will pour
gasoline on the smoldering flames.

The fire inside will burst scorching raw
flesh. The searing will grow into
a wildfire; body shaking as agony descends.
The only thing on your mind is wine.

You deed your soul to the winery. Their
precious liquid is the only way to dampen
the raging fire. The bottle caresses your
lips and the white muscatel puts out the
the torrent of flames at least for a little

Cookie Lady

Traffic was fierce. I was running late;
the Bell hop gave me a wink as I
took the elevator. I had the usual
room, paid by the company.

The john was a squatty aerospace
engineer. The service had checked
him out. He was a negotiator on
a multimillion dollar contract.

He was shy even embarrassed. He
was unconscious of his wedding ring.
He twisted it a dozen times. I must
admit he wasn't much of a lover. Out
of the room I put on my wedding band.

This was my Thursday ritual; leaving
the kids with my husband and heading
the pay was great.

I stopped in the bar for a drink. I needed
to unwind. Then I was hit on by a good
looking guy. What is this world coming to;
he could easily see I was wearing a
wedding ring?


The ground shook.
Old brick buildings came crashing down.
Walls turned into gray powder.
Odd steel beams jetted to the sky.

A hawk above cried out a message.
Nature is laughing at man's impotence.

Hands tore at the rubble. Below was a
mother and her child. The baby's cry
tore at the rescuer's hearts.

The tangled mess yielded slowly. More
hands joined the search as the baby's
cries became more frantic.

A giant of a man who worked the mines
lifted the ceiling. The rescuers found them.
The mother had a severed artery and had
to bled to death.

With the baby safe, the burly rescuer
shook his fist at the hawk and snarled
"The baby is still alive

Sinister Specters

Sterile dark walls stare at me.
The prints of Monet and vanished.
The old recliner offers no comfort;
the abyss in my stomach makes me
nauseas. My thoughts are hollow.

The fight was brutal and ugly. She
had every reason to leave. What
sinister specters hide in the minds
dark corners that drive you to
say that cruelest things?

There were so many good times.
Two kids riding life's merry-go-round.
Laughing and loving, where did it
all come unraveled.

I wipe a single tear from my cheek.
My eyes close and my lower lip
trembles. Visions of her face
flood my mind. I'll pour myself
another stiff one. I'll kill the pain
by hiding in that bottle.

Mike Berger, who has a doctorate in clinical and research psychology and who worked with children for 30 years, has written two books of short stories, and three humor pieces have won awards. His work will appear in 35 journals, such as AIM, Still Crazy, First Edition, Stray Branch, and Mid West Quarterly, Evergreen, and Krax.

Copyright 2010, Mike Berger. © This work is protected under the U.S. copyright laws. It may not be reproduced, reprinted, reused, or altered without the expressed written permission of the author.