Concise Prose. Enough Said.
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Deborah Barchi
Mary Speece
Michael Estabrook
Cortny M. Riblett

The We-Don't-Run-Poetry Poetry Section


The Haircut

By Deborah Barchi

What I want you to do is to cut my hair so that it makes me look thinner and prettier and somehow different; not that I am saying I’m not happy with myself, but everyone wants to improve something about themselves, don’t they, even if they don’t admit it the way you don’t admit that you really don’t like your sister, even though she is your sister, and blood is supposed to be thicker than water, although what water has to do with blood I don’t know; so many of those old sayings make no sense like “you can’t have your cake and eat it too, ” which is stupid because why have cake at all if you can’t eat it; I mean, are you just supposed to stare at it and salivate and suffer and offer it up to God, like we were told to do in Catholic school by the nuns when anything bad happened, offer it to God, or the Virgin, or the Pagan Babies; and, by the way, I always thought it was mean of God to make the Pagan Babies, who died without being baptized, stay in some sort of purgatory, like a non-ending-poor-quality day care center where no one ever touched them or played with them or made them feel like they were worthwhile, just because their parents were too stubborn or too stupid or too something to get them baptized, because the babies couldn’t help it, could they, so why should they be stuck there forever; I always felt disappointed in God about that, but that is something else you don’t want to admit, at least not to a nun, not if you value your knuckles or the palms of your hands which the nuns seemed to feel were fair ground for whacking with a ruler; you learn early to at least put on the appearance of believing what they tell you and to keep your doubts to yourself, but it wears you down, never being quite honest about things, and it spills over, doesn’t it, to other parts of your life, and you wonder, after a while, are you ever honest about anything, with anyone, ever, or have you learned to be good at being what others want you to be; and you wonder why it should matter to other people what you choose to do or believe or look like, and I suppose that’s why it’s wrong for me to ask you to make me look thinner or prettier, so maybe we should skip the haircut; but since I’m already here, do you think you could cover some of this grey and make me look younger, and, while you’re at it, maybe you could trim my bangs?

Deborah Barchi is almost as neurotic as the protagonist in The Haircut, although to most people she appears to be a calm and competent librarian. A native Rhode Islander, she has all the annoying characteristics of Rhode Islanders: Dropping her “r’s,” giving directions based on where something used to be, insisting that noodles be called pasta, but probably none of the endearing ones, whatever those might be.

Photo courtesy of


By Merry Speece

The sad man irons.
The sad man sands, saddening.
The sad man standing shaves his shadow.

He irons.

He awaits that Hawkins female Sadie, irons her sateen undies. Over and
over, lovingly, same pair. The gal’s got grit. His own lily of the sand and him the crane, sandhill. What in the sam hill. Irons.

Gregor Samsa, meet Sam Houston.

And now a matching pair, stole and camisole, of madder lake. Camisole, in
fact, with shelf bra. “When breast milk talks, people will listen.” Merry
mama of gawd. And him her galactopoietic muse.

Irons the thumbs of mittens.

Back in his band’s glory days, he played jazz banjo. Played jazz banjo to
ten minute standing ovulations.

Now in the latter days of Pompey. Mirandize. Mirandize the villagers. Out
of the bus onto the touristy village streets spill seniors. Old people
those pushovers, out of my way, you marshmallow peeps.

Celibate as a lay pope’s own doo-dad.

Irons and irons the king-bed sheets while on the big screen, baseball,
smack, that first hard whack. Climax. The girls he got to first base,
second, third base. Home.

But then Sadie along the roadside with her sign: Will Dream for Sex.
Standing there in her prom dress, faint, the blood pooling in her feet.
Love at first sight. How long would he love her? “Always.”

For her birthday one year he gave raspberry Snickelfritz homemade soap and a rubber nun (cat-and-bathtub toy) so that night S.ended up, in her own words, Snicklefritz squeaky nun clean.

He would love now to give her her very own Joseph Cornell love box:
“Assemblage, Petit”: N. Bonaparte; a vignette (printer’s); pince-nez; infant
Nez Perce.

If only she’d come back.

o\ /o

Our ironing man takes a bathroom break. Ahhh. The Madhi in samadhi.
Whoa now, touched porcelain, didn’t want to.

Mankind! Dude Love!

No one draws heat like the Iron Sheik.

Flushes, checks his navel. The sorry born-on date of his tire.

And he must remember to check the online instructions for the polite way to
eat curled pork bits on a nude beach.

o\ /o

Coming up in our next half hour: weaponized brucellosis. What would Emily
Dickinson do. WWEDD.

To iron a bride’s stiff dress shields on her big day. And her dress, old
velvet he must not forget to gather up to mirror.

STATE WILD PIG POPULATION EXPLODES. “I’ve got a special place in my heart for feral pigs”. Headline, Valentine.

Was he to be forever her gegenschein – or gegenschwein?

A woman with a plan (and a canal and Panama). Fuck the palindrome.

What the President calls the whim of a hat – iron that!

On and on, the pieces’ newsless softness.

But then: Man opens fire in fireworks display.

o\ /o

Darling, the cellist, plays the coda to the microtones of the Wulu Bunum in
“Pasibutbut,” the sound of humming bees.

o\ /o

Change: the fishing channel.

Poke boat and a pink canoe.

All the things you do that you shouldn’t do in a see-through canoe.

That pleasure-seeking device, her laptop, leaves her thighs rosy.

Another flashback: pasted on the curves of the doily heart she mailed him
from afar, the bbs of her mammogram nipple guides.

He turns his head to watch out the window a line of schoolgirls – or are
those – so easy to confuse – the sexy schoolmoms? One strolls past in black pullover, boatneck, and leans a little towards him: tiny crimson strap.

Just that.

Essence of raspberry and player piano. Slow gizz finn.

o\ /o

Girl chivalry (the way Sade always said): “Nice pants.”

Yes, and what’s in a man’s pants, what we call vogelgesang.

Irons his light pants and goes out for today’s eclipse.

Merry Speece has published two chapbooks of poetry and been a recipient of a state arts commission fellowship in prose. Her Sisters Grimke Book of
was published in 2004 by Oasis Books (England). A prose piece of hers is in an online anthology at and another was published last year in Nixion Under the Bodhi Tree and Other Works of Buddhist Fiction, Wisdom Publications.

Photo courtesy of

Shakespeare's Chin

Michael Estabrook

I’m not certain
having made only
a cursory search
over the volumes
and volumes written
about him but
I don’t think
anyone’s ever written
anything about
Shakespeare’s chin
so here it is.


Michael Estabrook is a medievalist at heart and by training. His creative nonfiction is available in VerbSap.

sweet epiphany

By Cortny M. Riblett

my fortune cookie
has finally come in

and your name isn't on it


Cortny M. Riblett is a 23-year-old writer with an evil day job as an accountant.  She lives in Omaha with her lovely finance Lori and their naughty pup Dexter. Her poetry has been featured in the January 2005 edition of Main Channel Voices and the current online edition of Perigee.  In February 2005, she had a piece of flash fiction published in a literary supplement to The Reader, called Soltice

Photo courtesy of Brian Dudek

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