Monday, 12 December 2011

I Am Lazy; and Other Issues

I believe I have mentioned before that I am lazy. If not, I will mention it again: I am lazy. This is the reason why it has been such a long time since the last issue of Cherrypicked Hands came out and why there is still no sign of the next issue bumbling onto the horizon. It is because I am lazy.

But I am here to make a promise - the next issue is coming soon. This is a promise, and I very rarely break promises. And on those rare occasions when I do break, I break them gently, and with love. But rest assured this will not happen this time.

How long, I hear you say. How long till the next issue will be out?

Two weeks max, I reply, with a self-satisfied smirk. Two weeks. Just in time for Christmas.

Talking of Christmas, have you got all your presents yet? I haven't. I haven't even got one. I am bad at buying presents. I lack imagination. I also lack motivation to buy the presents. This is another side-effect of the laziness issue I mentioned earlier.

I am going home to spend Christmas with my family. I will probably get drunk, and no doubt I will make a fool of myself. I may even argue with my girlfriend. She will probably argue with me. And then we will, hopefully, make up, and live happily every after.

Anyway, I am getting sidetracked. I will stick to the point, and the point is this: Cherrypicked Hands #5 will soon be with you. I know you are all eager for it.

On second thoughts, I very much doubt you are all eager for it. There are not many of you, I know, and yet it helps my pride and my mental well-being to pretend that there are lots of you, all eagerly awaiting the next important dispatch. I see you chomping at the bit, as my grandmother used to say. I see you in the streets, marching, rioting, demanding the next issue. I see you in a crowd outside 10 Downing Street, telling Mr David Cameron that he is ruining the country; that he is a smug so-and-so; that some kind of nice revolution is needed and needed badly; that he should get out of office and get out now; that his policies are nothing more than presents for his rich friends; but that all will be forgiven if only he is able to speed along the arrival of Cherrypicked Hands #5.

I apologise for the political nature of that last statement. I don't know what came over me. Again, I am getting sidetracked. I believe I better go now.

It is raining. It gets dark now at about 4 o'clock. It doesn't get light until about 8 o'clock. There is not much daylight left in the days. If you plan to read Cherrypicked Hands #5 after 4 o'clock, you should make sure you have a candle, a torch, or an adequate electrical lighting system that is provided by the National Grid. Because it is coming. It is coming soon.

I hope you are all having a lovely day.

Send my regards to your family.

Lots of love,


Saturday, 30 April 2011

Cherrypicked Hands #4

Well, well, well. What have we got here, then? What we have got here is only the fourth issue of Cherrypicked Hands! Three cheers - nay, four cheers! - for Cherrypicked Hands #4!

We have some good stuff in this issue. We also have more stuff than we did in the last issue, in which, as you may remember, we only had one poem. It was a good one, but it was only one, and it was lonely. This time, we have more than one. I think you would all agree that this shows conclusively that things are moving in the right direction.

It is spring here in England, and the mornings are bright. Because of this, I have been rising from my bed earlier, which is nice. The evenings are also brighter, which is also nice. I like spring. It gives me a spring in my step. I take my dog for walks in the woods, and I pick up his poo in little black plastic bags that are scented with lavender. Despite this, the bags do not smell particularly nice, particularly when there is poo inside them. But it is nice of the manufacturers of these bags to try to make them smell nice for us, their customers. Futile, but nice. I then put the bags in bins, and the rubbish men to take them away. Some people decide not to do this; instead, they hang these bags on the branches of trees, like defecatory tinsel. This is a strange custom, but it is one that is common in the place where I live. I do not know what to make of this.

The sexual among you will no doubt be disappointed to realise that no one, Oriental or not, decided to add pornographic links to the comments section in the last issue. I find this disappointing. Having first railed against these Oriental sex advertisers, and wished they would leave me alone, I gradually became to love these people, and to welcome them, and to feel a certain kinship with them - and now they have deserted me. I do not know what I have done to disappoint them, but I sincerely hope they come back. The comments section is a lonely place without links to pornographic places.

If I ever open a pub, I am going to call it 'Moderation.' That way, people can say: "I only drink in Moderation." That would be quite funny, I think. It would give people a chance to make a joke, lighten their lives, and bring joy to their existence, however briefly. This is important in these troubled times.

I hope you enjoy this issue, and I hope your lives are all proceeding in the right direction.

Your friend,


by Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal

I want to make myself
at home with you.
I'm not a stalker.
I'm just in love.

I want to take you out
for breakfast, lunch,
or dinner, perhaps
have some ice cream.

I could grow on you
like good disease.
The kind you could not
get rid of no
matter how hard
you tried,

Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal was born in Mexico. He lives in California and works for the Public Guardian in Los Angeles, CA. His first book of poetry, Raw Materials, was published by Pygmy Forest Press. His poetry in English and Spanish has been published in print and online journals. His latest chapbook, Digging A Grave, will be published by Kendra Steiner Editions in October 2010. He has been included in Cherrypicked Hands before, but I still cannot pronounce his name. I call him: "Lou."

by J. Bell

I live quite close to where Madonna has a large house. I read a news article in which Madonna is said to have closed off footpaths that run through her land. This made me angry. Who does she think she is? This land is ours; it belongs to the people who have seen it all their lives. What does Madonna know about what this land means to those of us who it has shaped and those of us who have, in turn, shaped it? I’ll admit it, I got a little obsessed.

I’ve since moved away from the village near to the place where Madonna lives. I hadn’t been there for a small while. So I persuaded my sister to come with me to the place. She can drive. I told her the way and we went there together.

My sister didn’t care about Madonna, and neither did I until reading that article. I kept talking to her about Madonna.

She shrugged and said ‘who cares about Madonna?’.

It was really windy. The hill that overlooks Madonna’s land is the highest hill for miles and miles. I think it’s the highest in Dorset. My sister and I stood against the wind. It was so strong that we could lean back and lie in it. They say that from the hill you can see the Isle of White, which is about fifty miles away. I thought I could see the white cliffs, but I wasn’t sure. We gazed into the smooth valley in which Madonna has a house. There are lots of pheasants there. I imitated them Kukaw! (then I flapped my arms to try and make the wing flap sound.) My sister laughed. I talked about Madonna a bit more, but my sister didn’t care. We decided to check to see if the footpath was open.

The article was lying.

J. Bell lives in the countryside writing novels, short stories & comics. She’s had stories published in Dogmatika, The Pygmy Giant, The Recusant, Just a KissAnthology and a couple of student art magazines. In 2008 she won a Curator’s Choice Award (Noise Festival) judged by Niven Govinden. Her website is at We had a nice editorial discussion about one of the lines in this story, and we sorted it out amicably and with good humour, which I think you would agree shows what an agreeable and lovely world we all live in, sometimes.

by Ally Malinenko

So both you and your husband get up
at 5 o’clock in the morning? he says.
And what do you do?
What do you write?
Stories, poems, fiction,
failed novels.

What does he write?
Stories, poems, fiction,
failed novels.

Both of you? Every morning?
Yes. But no, we try for four out of five.
So you are exactly the same, he says.
You both get up, you keep the same schedule,
you write the same shit.

No, I say. We aren’t.
Well, what’s the difference? he says.
And I think about it.
He drinks coffee, I say.
And you don’t?
No, I hate that shit.
I drink tea.

by Ally Malinenko

We toasted you the night you died,
but I couldn’t help thinking that you
didn’t seem like the kind that would die.

Which is a very stupid thing to think.

Salinger died. But he already checked out,
decades ago firing shotguns at curious trespassers.
Steinbrenner died the day after
they found your body in the bedroom.

But it didn’t make sense. You couldn’t be dead.
You are too real to die.

You are supposed to be in Cleveland
in the grocery store.
Behind the Jewish lady with all the coupons
arguing over canned soup.
You are supposed to be living through the same
shit as the rest of us.
Bus routes
and late bills.
Sick mornings and fights with the wife.
You are supposed to be nervously checking the phone book
for another Harvey Pekar.

Not dead and still and peaceful.

Ally Malinenko has been fortunate to have been published in numerous online and print journals. She's not sure how she got so lucky. Her first book of poems, entitled The Wanting Bone, was recently published by Six Gallery Press. Ally lives in the part of Brooklyn that the tour buses don't come to. I think we should all hire a tour bus and go and visit her and say, "Hello Ally Malinenko. We have hired a tour bus to come and visit you. We liked your poems."

by Blake Ellington Larson

came as black eyed susans
found light
in the midst of kansas

my soul was as young
as pickens go

lord have mercy
read the signs

i was touring hospitals when

my cousin and i

found new light
in blue lips

how nightgowns nurtured

what seemed like an accident
at first

Blake Ellington Larson invented the color pink. He does not collect Care Bears and most certainly doesn't have a subscription to The Believer. On a scale of one to awesome. He would definitely be awesome. He lives in the quiet suburbs of Alameda, California and would very much like to meet you. Additionally, he's been published by, Back Room Live, Beatnik Cowboy, Black Heart Magazine, Bolts of Silk and Picaresque. Feel free to visit his blog:


by Matthew Roberts

Today I had a date with a

lady of the world. Like me

she had not really mastered

any language, only her mother's.

But over a meal in an

Itlaian restaurant, we had good

conversation conducted in broked

French, Korean and English.

I very much hope to see her again

for another pidgin coversation,

followed after dessert with a

complete understanding of the

male and female human body.


by Matthew Roberts

There's smoke on my plate

of the salmon kind. There's

wine and whiskey to satisfy

our needs, and make high class

fools of ourselves. There's

important men with expensive

suits, blowing hot air into a

microphone to inflate our egos.

The year ended to high profits,

it's our right to act like animals.


by Matthew Roberts

I sipped on my strong red wine

during the amazingly boring meeting.

Folded my legs, lent back and

I took an unshelled prawn from

the many large plates on the table.

They'd been fried in olive oil,

garlic and fresh basil - alive.

Put the prawn in my mouth,

whole and listened to the crunching

inside my head. Tasted the flesh.

Lit up a cigarette as my

seniors and juniors around me

tried to put a dollar sign on

the price of human life. As a

big business, we were trying to make

the large sum as small as possible.

Picked pieces of shell from my teeth

and sipped on my strong red wine.

Matthew grew up in the Yorshire Dales and went to University in Carlisle. At 33 he currently works in Seoul, Korea teaching conversation English to adults. In summer 2011 he shall be traveling to Italy to teach adults there for at least a year. Cherrypicked Hands published his first ever poems back in the first issue, would you believe? He seems like a nice man.

by Kevin Heaton

It's 3:20 am, and I am listening
to the overnight radio program:
"Coast to Coast." A British scientist,
apparently of some note, has published
a hypothesis attributing 4% of the current
Homo Sapien gene pool to the sexual
interactions of prehistoric Neanderthal
man, and early forms of our modern species.
This is a source of great comfort to me,
as it explains away at least 4%
of the regressive, fornicating, tailgating,
bird-flipping, dull-witted, dimly-lit,
knuckle-dragging, Pleistocene morons
that I encounter on the street every day.

During a mid-life crisis, Kevin Heaton published country music in Oklahoma, and tried to sing, but it sounded like shit. He runs a lot, scubas, and plays on the freeway with his grandkids. He has published 110 poems so far, but the old fart ain't done yet, and has a chapbook, Postcards of Faith, at Victorian Violet Press, and another one, Measured Days, coming out in 2011 from Heavy Hands Ink. I have informed the police about his behaviour with his grandchildren, and I am sure all my readers will be pleased, and impressed with my good citizenship, to know that his grandkids have been taken away from him.

by Daniel Gallik

Irv got a call. This lady
from this church
was telling him no,
that they didn’t have money
for obese people
to get help. That quote,
“These are tough times
to find money for them.”
Unquote. Irv laughed
at the lady over the phone.
Asked, “Guess the fatsoes
need less help cause they’re fat?
That maybe they’ll get thin
if they have no money?”
The lady quipped, “Well!”
And they both left it
at that.

by Daniel Gallik

She yelled at the kids.
They weren’t even hers.
Told Ohio Edison
they were wrong
on their meter reading.

Said her divorced hubby
had ringworm once.
Questioned her current
hubby, you don’t know
how to hug me, do you?

Cried a lot about famine.
Ate way too much
after supper. Said, I drink
a beer a day. When really,
she drank much more.

Her doctor told her
what to do. Shetold
her pastor that she was
going to hell. He winced,
said, I don’t know.

Daniel Gallik has had poetry and short stories published by Hawaii Review, Parabola, Nimrod, Limestone (Univ. of Kentucky), The Hiram Poetry Review, Aura (Unv of Alabama), and Whiskey Island (Cleveland State Univ). He has placed writings in hundreds of online journals. His first novel, A Story of Dumb Fate is available at for a good price. Currently, he was just notified that one of his novels will be published next year.

by A.J. Huffman

I don’t want to see myself
in your reflection.
And I don’t want to see yourself
in mine.
Close your eyes.
I’ll close your curtains.
in this new dark
we can let our hands
draw the lines.

A.J. Huffman is a poet and freelance writer in Daytona Beach, Florida. She has previously published her work in literary journals, in the U.K. as well as America, such as Avon Literary Intelligencer, Eastern Rainbow, Medicinal Purposes Literary Review, The Intercultural Writer's Review, Icon, Writer's Gazette, and The Penwood Review.

by M.J. Nichols and Greg Phillips

Here is an email exchange, just for your amusement, and to display to you what a fine man am I, and what fine people my contributors are. Or, if not contributors, what fine people the people who send me emails are. Until we meet again, I bid you farewell.

Subject: Submission: Fiction
Date: Fri, 24 Sep 2010 07:40:53 -0400
From: (I have deleted this man's email address, for reasons of privacy).

Dear Bourbon Penn Editor,

It is my pleasure to bring forth, for your consideration, my short
story: "***************" (1050 words).

It is included as an attachment, because you're worth it.

May your Fall be merry.

Thank you!

M.J. Nicholls

From: Greg Phillips 
To: (I have again deleted this man's email address, again for reasons of privacy)
Sent: Sat, 25 Sep 2010 7:48
Subject: RE: Submission: Fiction

Dear Whiskey Pencil Editor:

Who is this Bourbon Penn Editor? That's not my name. My name's Greg,
Greg Phillips, and I'm the editor of Cherrypicked Hands. Despite this
mix-up, I'm pleased to meet you. How are you?

You may have meant to sent this submission to me, and just forgotten to
change the salutation; in which case I forgive you. If, however, you
meant to send this submission to the Bourbon Penn Editor, I hereby inform you
of your mistake. If you did mean to send this to me, I apologise - but
the chance that I might end up reading and possibly accepting a
submission that was never meant for me makes me nervous. Plus, round these parts
we do not accept attachments, I'm afraid.

So there we are. What a confused situation we have found ourselves in!
I hope it clears itself up one way or the other, and I hope you enjoy
the rest of your day.

Best wishes,

Greg Phillips, Cherrypicked Hands Editor.

Subject: Re: Submission: Fiction
Date: Sat, 25 Sep 2010 06:18:11 -0400
From: (I'm guessing you know what I have done here, and why I have done it)

Goodness me. What a horrible submission mix-up. I apologise dear Greg
for the slip and thank you for your hilarious response.

The piece I intended for you isn't up to much, so I'll do you the
pleasure of rejecting it myself:

Thank you for submitting to Cherrypicked Hands, you scruffy urchin, but
your story is the sort of tedious gibberish we use as toilet paper in
lean financial times. When I say "not for us" what I actually mean is
"not fit for human eyes anywhere in the world, even those of the blind
or deceased." So take your attachment and shove orf. Have a lovely week.

Nice to meet you Mr. Phillips, and best of luck on your Cherrypicking

M.J. Nicholls

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Cherrypicked Hands #3

Hello there, and welcome to Cherrypicked Hands #3.

We have some exciting news for you. We are now on Facebook. You can find us at Please be our friend. We are lonely and we need you.

There has also been a change in the email address to which you should send your submissions. It is no longer, as I think by now we have all recognised the truth of this statement, and would all agree that, despite some mistakes in the past, Greg is indeed a good Greg. The new email address is now This email address is permanent. Unlike you, it will not change.

In other news, it is raining. It is also Sunday morning, so that is all right. Soon I will have to brave the elements and go into town and buy some paint. Then I am going to paint some walls. That is my task for today.

Your task for today is to read this issue of Cherrypicked Hands. Your task, I think you'll agree, is much easier to complete than mine, as there is only one item of interest in this issue, and I have four walls to paint. One poem versus four walls: I know which I would choose. And it wouldn't be the walls, that's for sure! Yes, it is.

In other news, Cherrypicked Hands is still being hounded by Japanese/Chinese sex-traffickers. They keep commenting on the poems and fiction included in here. This used to bother me. Now, it doesn't. I welcome the sex. I like sex. I like Japanese people and I like Chinese people. It is nice of them to introduce our readers to a world of Oriental iniquity. So if, after reading a poem or a short story, you fancy a bit of sexual gratification, just scroll down to the comments, click on the comment button, and take your pick. All the links are in Chinese or Japanese, so it will be pot luck which sex scene you access. Hopefully, it will be something to your liking. If by chance you happen to click on a link that doesn't take you to a sex site, I can only apologise, and ask you to please let me know which link it is, and I will delete it immediately. I don't know how these Oriental people found us, or why they believed we would be interested in their many sexual suggestions, but I have decided to look upon it as a blessing. From now on, only Oriental sex links are welcome in the world of Cherrypicked Hands. Let us embrace our misfortune!

I have nothing else of interest to say just yet. I hope you enjoy your day.

by Rebecca L. Brown

I am doing this for you,
Said the man who was superior.
I am suffering to protect you
From the horrors of this world
Lest you be consumed
By the evils of greed and lust.
One day, you will thank me
For my ultimate sacrifice.
You owe me a doughnut
She told him.

This poem is by Rebecca L. Brown. She is a British writer currently based in Cardiff, South Wales where she lives with her partner and assorted menagerie. She has recently returned to writing medium-length, short and flash fiction pieces (including micro-fiction), after a short break which felt considerably longer than it was. Rebecca specialises in horror, SF, humour, surreal and experimental fiction, although her writing often wanders off into other genres and gets horribly lost. Updates and examples of Rebecca’s work can be found on her Twitter page @rlbrownwriter and at her blog Bewildering Circumstances (available at I think we would all agree here writing has wandered into the right place this time.

And that's it. The end. I hope you have enjoyed your brief journey today, and I hope you enjoy the rest of your day. You are free to click on a sexual link should you wish to do so. Unfortunately, I have no time for that at the moment. I'm off to buy some paint instead.

Bye for now.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Cherrypicked Hands #2

Today is a big day in the small history of Cherrypicked Hands. It is our second issue. To continue the theme of "second" things, there will be two items in this second issue - the first, and the second. They are both poems.

You may be saying to yourself that this is a short issue. You are right - it is a short issue. That's because I'm a short man, and time is short, and also, mainly, because I have only yet received two submissions that I feel are worthy to be included.

This will mark a change in the way Cherrypicked Hands is distributed to the big wide world. From now on, I declare issues will only be issued as and when I feel there is something worth issuing. If I receive one thing I think should be issued, I will issue it, and will no longer wait until I have amassed enough other submissions to make an issue seem worthwhile. I hope that has cleared that issue up.

In editorial news, there is not much to say. We have a new government here in England. I didn't vote for it, but that doesn't matter. Other people did - kind of - and in times like these, I always try to think of other people. Summer is on its way, but the nights are still cold, and every day I still have to go scavenging through my local woods in my caveman outfit and lug back armloads of logs to burn on my fire. It is nice, but tiring. One time I found a collection of logs all set together, as if somebody was preparing their own fire with them, but as I didn't see anyone around, I picked them up and carried them back to my place. I think you will all agree that this does not make me a thief. I am drinking a lot, but I am not an alcoholic.

What other news? I am still getting Chinese/Japanese and sometimes English messages about sex. Sometimes these links to sex sites are disguised as words of wisdom - "Do not cast the first stone!" says one of them. I clicked on this link, and was led to a world of sex and iniquity.
I suppose it is something you just have to get used to if you start an online literary magazine. Since starting it, I have indeed been plagued by sex.

Oh well.

Other news? I don't think there is, no. I suppose one downside of what I envisage to be more regular updates of Cherrypicked Hands is that I will have to write more editorials. It is time I started to lead a more active lifestyle, in order to have more things to fill you in on. Hm.

In the meantime, enjoy the issue. It is short, but as I always tell my girlfriend, that doesn't mean it won't do the trick.


by William Doreski

Leering over crossword puzzles
for days and weeks has numbed me
with words like aloe, natal, fungus-
vowel-rich and useless except
to fill spaces empty as the rooms

of the house you abandoned when
a man of nonlinear mien
impressed you away with him.
Mien is another crossword. Too bad
you've left me with so many spaces

to fill with only five vowels
and the occasional y. Too bad
your new mien man can't solve
the warp you've left in time and place,
which eventually will overtake

and fell you both. Fell is another
crossword. Yes, it will hurt you.
Like that honky-tonk night in Dreamland
when in a Coney Island mood
lost in a single mutual smile

we drifted among bristling nightclubs
and swaggered home too tipsy to tell.
Tipsy occasionally crops up
in crosswords, and swagger as well.
Every day the New York Times

delivers fresh invective
to direct at the silence you left
brimming in the kitchen where we sliced
mushrooms fresh from the uplands.
That man you've snagged won't savor

wild mushrooms the way I do,
but maybe he'll make up for it
by eschewing crossword puzzles
in favor of a smaller lexis
still ripe enough to inscribe you.

also by William Doreski

Bicycling to New York to track you
to your lair, I feel the small towns
cringe in the heat of my passing.

Churches sag on brick foundations.
General stores peddle doughnuts
ten years old. Gas pumps weep fumes

that sicken mothers and children
en route to the local mall. The light
of Connecticut looks too slack

to support its huge economy.
Factories stand around sadly,
underemployed. My bicycle creaks

beneath me, tired of my weight.
I stop and oil the chain. Standing
instead of pedaling feels so natural

I question why I'm devouring
all these miles to expose you
rapt with your ripest lover yet.

Not my business anyway, this leer
you impose on half the world.
Let the Defense Department worry

about vulnerabilities exposed
by your rage for self-creation.
Let the President quake in his shoes

whenever your name scrawls itself
across an otherwise cloudless sky.
I point my bicycle home but walk

rather than ride, the long slow distance
extending my life span one town
at a time, the clapboard houses

waving their mortgages like hand-
kerchiefs at a parade, the landscape
too bulldozed and paved to object.

William Doreski teaches at Keene State College in New Hampshire.
He told me some other stuff about himself, but I have accidentally
deleted his email, and can't find it, and rather than email him again
and admit to my embarrassing mistake, I have chosen instead
to simply give you the barest outline of his biography. I hope he
doesn't mind this.

by Meg Eden

what are you doing here? a man in the

airport asks.

it isn’t the Olympics yet. come back later,

as if Beijing is still dressing up, has her

panties over her head, no

make-up on.

we wanted to see China, we answer,

carrying suitcases to the bright hotel in front of

cheap camera stores.

everything reeks of pollution.

but it’s cold. you come back though, right?

white people are walking purses.

we tell him we’ll see.

Meg Eden is the name of the person who wrote this poem.
She's been published in a lot of places and has won quite a few
awards. Unfortunately, in the same catastrophe that also
deleted William Doreski's emails, her full biography has gone
missing - I have also decided to withhold this from her until
now. I hope she is all right with this.

I have also realised this has been quite an error-prone issue,
as I firstlyhinted that there were two things in this issue
(the first, and the second) but I now discover there are,
actually, three things in it. That is a bonus for you, reader,
no doubt, but it does make me look a bit like an unprepared fool.

Let's ignore it, hey?

Yes. Let's. Until next time - farewell!

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Oriental Sex Advertisers

It's been a long time, hasn't it?

Yes, it has.

When's the new issue coming out?

Soon. But I need submissions. I have ignored a great many submissions due to a great deal of personal trouble that I don't think it's fair on either me or you to go into at the moment, and for that I am sorry. It is inexcusable, despite the vague excuse I have wedged into the previous sentence, and I hereby promise to make it up to you. So I would like submissions, and they will be responded to, and all will be well again in the world of Cherrypicked Hands. Or at least that is what I hope for - as well as world peace, of course. The email address to send your submissions to has changed. It is now: I hope that you will all, in time, recognise the truth of that statement, and be able to nod your heads and say to each other: "Yes, Greg is indeed a good Greg."

In the meantime, the previous issue has been commented on 5 times! Exciting stuff, ey?

Yes, that's what I thought, too, when I first revisited Cherrypicked Hands and saw that 5 messages were waiting for me. "Come back!" I thought they might say. "The first issue is legendary - where's the second!"

Things like that, I thought the messages might say.

But they don't.

They are all in Chinese - or Japanese, I'm not sure which.

At first I thought this must mean that Cherrypicked Hands is big in Japan. (Or China.)

But it doesn't.

All the messages are about sex.

Now, sex is nice, I grant you that, but to post a message to Cherrypicked Hands advertising sex is just not on. Is it?

So I would like to make a plea to all the sex-obsessed Chinese/Japanese advertising people out there, and my plea is this:

Find another literary-based online magazine to advertise in! Don't come around here with your sex-talk! Because you're not welcome!

There. I feel a lot better now. I hope you do too.

All the best,


Saturday, 28 June 2008

Cherrypicked Hands #1

Well, here it is, everybody! Please give a warm round of applause for the first-ever issue of Cherrypicked Hands! Hurrah!

I hope you enjoy reading it, whoever you are. If you do, or if you don't, I would love it more than crisps if you would leave a comment about what you thought of it. I know we live in a busy world, and you, like me, are busy people, but it would give me something to read, and it would be interesting. I am in dire need of something to read at the moment. You lucky people out there, on the other hand, already have something to read. I have already read it. It's called Cherrypicked Hands, and this is the first-ever issue. Hurrah!

I must say I was terribly impressed by the quality of some of the submissions I received. I also received some that I didn't like at all, but that is only to be expected. My only gripe is that I didn't receive much prose. This, people, is bad. Send me some prose! Short and strange and beautiful stories is what I want. Send me them! Also, not to make poetry feel left out, send me some of that too. I am now accepting submissions for the next issue. I will also be rejecting some as well. Such is life. And please don't forget the laziness-inspired changes to the submission guidelines, which are detailed somewhere below this, in a different post.

My plan was to write a nice editorial introduction to the issue, but not for the first time in my life, I am not sure what to say. What do people write about in editorials, anyway? I don't know. I have no interest in politics or the current worldwide situation, so I will talk about the weather instead. So: the weather's pretty drab at the moment. (I am in England, by the way.) It's summer, but the skies are grey. It rained like a trooper a few nights ago, and one of my windows leaked. Not much, though, so don't you worry. I am safe and sound. Me and my lady kept nice and warm inside. We had the old stove crackling, and we were listening to Bob Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour. It was nice. The theme was "Laughing," and it was a good show. Bob Dylan is a funny man. I like him very much.

That's all I've got to say, really. I will not take up any more of your valuable time. As I've said before, we are all busy people. Instead, I will let the first-ever issue of Cherrypicked Hands (hurrah!) do the talking. I sincerely hope you like what it says.

All the best,


by Michael Kechula

“You’re all late again!” I hollered. “Don’t you understand what’s at stake here? You act like you don’t care. I’m sick of the lot of you. Now get to work!”

Twenty monkeys put fingers in their ears and stuck out their tongues. Ingrates. If it wasn’t for me, they’d still be chomping moldy bananas and swinging from their tails on Kong Island.

“Look. I didn’t mean to sound so harsh. But guys, time is of the essence. Nine years and forty weeks have passed. We only have twelve weeks left to win the bet. If I lose, I’ll hafta declare bankruptcy and send you back to the jungle.”

My words struck home. Hundreds of typewriter keys began to clatter. Walking around the tables, I leaned over here and there to view the results.

“Hey, you, Monkey A! Stop doing somersaults. Get back on those keys and get dancing. Double time!”

Instead of pressing individual keys, the jerk brought his rear paws down hard, causing three type slugs to lock near the paper.

“Look, if you don’t get yourself squared away, you won’t get a frozen, chocolate-covered banana during your smoke break.” His face fell. He stopped goofing off and got back to work.

“What’s the problem, Monkey B? Why are you turning in circles? I know you got the hots for Monkey E, but stop showing off and restrict your love life to your own time. I’m paying top dollar here, and I expect results. If you can’t concentrate on your work, there’s a bunch of unemployed monkeys who’re eager to take your place. So, get your grimy paws positioned properly on the keyboard and start pressing keys.”

It was time to check the room next door where twenty additional monkeys wearing reading glasses poured over copies of “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare.” All had their noses buried in the books. Good. They were a more serious bunch.

After lunch, they’d rotate to the typewriters. And those now on the typewriters would put on glasses, and spend the rest of the day staring at the books. Hopefully, through osmosis, they’d produce a masterpiece.

Many scoffed when I hired this bunch twelve years ago. I’d heard the old saying, that if you put enough monkeys long enough on keyboards, they’d eventually produce a Shakespearean play. I set out to prove it. After they pulled it off, I’d write a book about monkeys, typewriters, random keystrokes, and creativity. Figured it’d make millions.

I brought them here, provided food, housing, and clothing, and gave them weekly paychecks. I did everything possible to integrate them into society. Then I personally trained them to mount typewriters and press keys with all fours. Consequently, at any given time during an eight-hour shift, 80 paws pressed keys. I figured every passing day increased the odds in my favor.

Day after day, they pranced across keyboards, while I painstakingly checked results. I’d cut and paste from one sheet to another. They seemed light-years away from randomly producing a new play in the Shakespearean manner. However, during year three, and after organizing countless pages of their handiwork, they came somewhat close to producing a sonnet.

In the fifth year, using scissors and a ton of scotch tape, I was able to piece together a 950-word short story. Unfortunately, it didn’t read anything like Shakespearean prose. It was more like something Hemingway would have written in his waning days. But it was good enough to capture first prize in a detective story contest.

The CEO of General International Corporation read about the award in the New York Times. The article mentioned my intention to have a bunch of monkeys randomly type out a new Shakespeare play. The CEO bet me a million dollars the monkeys couldn’t pull it off in ten years. I accepted the bet.

Nine years and forty weeks passed without any significant results, except for the small piece they produced for a Faux Faulkner contest. That one got honorable mention. With only twelve weeks remaining, I was overcome with anxiety. I drove them harder, increasing their workday to twelve hours. For the thousandth time I explained what was at stake. That’s when a labor organizer convinced the monkeys to go on strike for more chocolate-covered bananas and a 35-hour week. We worked out a compromise on the banana issue, but they wouldn’t budge on the shorter workweek.

Then came my interview with BBC. I explained management’s position about the strike with logic and reason. When that BBC segment flashed around the world, amazing things happened. Millions of sympathetic monkeys found typewriters and began to pound them 24/7. By the end of the first week, I was flooded with tons of genuine monkey-typed pages.

On the final day of the bet, while skimming through three tons of that day’s mail, I ran across something that knocked my eyes out: a hundred-page manuscript randomly typed by a squirrel monkey from North Zamboozia. When I read the very first sentence, I knew my problems were over. “Forsooth, friend Glavio, and you also, fair of face Scarpio.”

The monkey had named it “Hamlet and Egglet.”

The play is still running on Broadway and the London Stage. Next year, a movie musical version will be released. I’ve made such a killing I don’t have to bother writing a book.

Meanwhile, I rewarded the Shakespearean monkey with his own private jungle loaded with amenities and eager females.

Oxford offered him a full professorship and a trainload of manual typewriters. Time magazine made him Man of the Year. There’s talk about a Nobel Prize.

As for my original batch of monkeys…they’re still on strike.

Michael A. Kechula is a retired technical writer. I hope he is enjoying his retirement. His flash and micro-fiction tales have won first place in seven contests and second and third place in four others. His stories have appeared in 104 online and print magazines and anthologies in Australia, Canada, England, and US. He’s authored a book of flash and micro-fiction stories: “A Full Deck of Zombies--61 Speculative Fiction Tales.” eBook available at www. and Paperback available at www.

by Tom Sheehan

Just before dawn
a shadow makes tracks
in the dew‑lit grass.

Later, a whisper
and a scent follow
the forsaken imprints.

Not a leaf stirs,
but if I watch closely,
blades of grass ease upright,

a loam granule
is released to airs
staggering under stars,

and the whisper, vague,
is familiar, perhaps stripped
from gists of old conversations.

Years ago,
at a Red Sox game, I
became separated from my father.

All the goblins
of young creation hung over
my hysteria, poked at my terror.

When he found me,
pawed, frayed, diminished,
he said he'd never leave me again.

This soft forging
in the night grass
is a kept word, a vow.

by Tom Sheehan

In a blue nightdress a woman
leans on a Cape Bretton porch,
steaming coffee cup in one hand,
the other hand shading her eyes.

She survives fog and heights,
a buoy bell out and beyond,
what night has left behind,
what debris waves wash up.

Passing by, we acknowledge
her steep privacy, then note,
not yet connected, a pale lone
sunflower leaning with her.

Tom Sheehan’s Epic Cures (short stories), won a 2006 IPPY Award. A Collection of Friends, Pocol Press, was nominated for Albrend Memoir Award. He has nine Pushcart and three Million Writer nominations, a Noted Story nomination, a Silver Rose Award from ART and the Georges Simenon Award for Excellence in Fiction. He served in the 31st Infantry Regiment, Korea, 1951-52. He has published four novels, four books of poetry. He meets again soon for a lunch/gab session with pals, the ROMEOs, Retired Old Men Eating Out, (92/80/79/78). They’ve co-edited two books on their hometown of Saugus, MA, sold 3500 to date of 4500 printed and he can hardly wait to see them. His pals will each have one martini, he’ll have three beers, and the waitress will shine on them. I hope he has a good time; but don't get too drunk, Tom.

by Danny P. Barbare



Danny P. Barbare is only 3-years-old and lives in Iceland with his father, Henrik. He is the author of numerous books, including "Life With Henrik," which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. He didn't tell me anything about himself, so I had to make a biography up for him. I hope he doesn't mind.

by Simon Philbrook

when i was at college
learning history, made up by historians,
yearning to get laid
more often than
just a drunken friday fumble,i lived above a chippy,

hippy curtains said student digs
pig of a landlord
lorded it over us
for weekly rent,
half spent in midweek pub-crawls,

my innocence was befriended
by the local toms,
how wrong we are
about people,

my obvious unskilled need
made me appealing,
and their revealing outfits
to ignore,

they joked about
how crap
i would be in bed
if i ever got there,
"teach you a thing or two
big boy!!!!"
they laughed

and i made friends with kylie,
younger than me
but knew more history
than dusty books,
one look at a punter
told her
what sort of cunt he was,

kylie (not her real name)
walked the mile
that was the Derby Road,
fat bald pimp
too wimpy to protect her
when she got done over one night,

pigs were curb crawling
drooling and fawning over scanty flesh
and happened to mesh
the fucker
who fucked her

middle class, middle aged, magistrate
instead of castrating him
threw it out
of court
of course -

unreliable witness.

Simon Philbrook is a bit dull, really. He has spent the last 16 years working in the care industry. He is right-handed, but left-footed. He likes Sainsbury's potato chips. I hope he has a packet right now, and is eating them as he reads this. This, would you believe, is his first submission ever.

by William Doreski

Basset to beagle to bison—
the alphabetic creatures baa,
bawl, and bray. Town election
today. Dollars waltz in the street.
Ballots fluster in sweaty grip.
I expect to solve the morning
by dissolving it into noon,
the way Emily Dickinson did.
By then I hope the town fathers
have become town mothers. I hope
the wind has discouraged blackflies
so I can come home from the vote
and peel the dressing from my garden
and grub in its manured wounds
without being boned and filleted
by those tiny winged ellipses.
Then as the afternoon undresses
with that sluttish dedication
I expect to delve indoors
and fuel my ardor with bourbon
and a crackle of crackers and cheese.
Alas, I’ve no Virgil Thompson
recordings to wrestle my ears,
but Copeland and John Adams
will suffice. Bassett to beagle—
an everyday canine password.
To bison? A trick of the light.
The human sheep baa to vote
Republican, bawl and bray
to vote Democrat. Not one
independent or communist,
no third-party strong enough
to brace against the northeast wind.
The ballots are moth-winged, drawn
to fire. Filling the circles black
suggests I’m sketching blackflies
to honor the authentic ones,
but my blood cries in protest
that sometimes a vote’s just a vote
and the braying, bawling, and baaing
of the electorate requires
the mockery of self-respect.

by William Doreski

I photograph you smirking
at a paper plate of barbecue.
But the crisp digital image
reveals two of you, the second
frowning in disapproval.

Your ghost? Your soul? We agree
there’s no such spiritual entity,
certainly not a bodily
duplicate. Yet this effect
doesn’t look camera-created

but feels authentic to the eye.
And the clothing differs. You
eating pork wear a pleated
yellow blouse, while you frowning
wear a plain blue shirt with

collar severely buttoned.
Should we ask a priest or rabbi
what this doppelganger intends?
The May evening undresses
slowly, a glimpse of tulip,

a whiff of crabapple blossom,
the church-picnic couples plain
old Americans nodding
over the mildest conversations—
no religion, no politics, no….

I should photograph you again
and see if your double remains
at your side, but we’re afraid
to discuss such disembodiments
even when they have the nerve

to assume a bodily form,
and we’ve these plates of barbecue
to eat, greasy ribs shining
and tender as if gladly
coughed up by the one great hog.

William Doreski’s most recent collection of poetry is Another Ice Age (2007). He has published three critical studies, including Robert Lowell’s Shifting Colors. His essays, poetry, and reviews have appeared in many journals, including Massachusetts Review, Notre Dame Review, The Alembic, New England Quarterly, Harvard Review, Modern Philology, Antioch Review, Natural Bridge. He can now add Cherrypicked Hands to that list, which I am very pleased about. I hope he is too.

by David McLean

i never had red shoes so angels
weren't interested in them, but devils
liked my tattered raincoat, like daddy's
got a brand-new second-hand bag
and it's broken and smoky

he's going to groove it
never, and all night long
but the red shoes never
belonged to me maybe
i need some -

shoes like blood and mourning,
like nasty boxes with memories in

David McLean has a couple of chapbooks out, one a free download at He has a full length poetry collection forthcoming at Whistling Shade Press in May or June 2008. A second full length collection is due from d/e/a/d/b/e/a/t press this fall. See He regularly writes poetry and music reviews for Clockwise Cat. There are around 500 poems now in, or forthcoming in, around 220 magazines online and/or in print. Details are at his blog at htpp:// He is a good man.

by Pablo Vision

The cruel twists of time are like a sickening trip on the most hellish roller coaster ride known to man. Those tedious and torturous dragged out moments of life (like four-hours queuing for a three minute thrill): double Latin with Fart-Breath Jones going on and on and on, ad nauseam – whilst the sun and the smells of summer torment through a window that is too small for escape, and too high-up to gaze out of; or the endless boardroom meeting where some ugly self-satisfied prick of a chief executive explains how we are all sharing the same vision, all part of a winning team – whilst your finger nails dig deep into your skin, to stop you screaming, crying or hitting someone, but unable to stop your mind musing on what kind of low self-esteem would allow you to delude yourself you were part of the same team, when the born-lucky bastard who is doing this motivational talking is on ten times your salary; or the wait for the appointment to see if that treacherous lump residing in your wife’s tit will change both your lives in a way that does not bare thinking about, but, think you do – compassionate, loving, supportive thoughts battling with the selfish, the horrific, and the cowardly – thoughts that will remove any delusions you had about yourself that you were anything other than a self-centred bastard with the morality of a snake – yes, even when resolved to stand by her through this thing you have already allowed that some future affair with a more conventionally breasted woman would be perfectly understandable, in these circumstances. Time twists like a fucking serpent then.

And then it can be like the freefall drop – and you are only aware that things must have happened after the event: the plane landing in some exotic paradise that you have saved up all year to get to, and the days falling from your life like holiday-turds hitting the pan, and then the plane departing the same runway, taking you back to captivity; or days, weeks, years of lust for this other woman, spilled in three minutes of impassioned thrusting, and the emptiness and the guilt stretching across the tangled sheets and flesh – flesh that now seems much the same as any other flesh; or the face in the mirror that has aged twenty years overnight, as much in the creases of the skin and greying of the hair, as in the dullness of the eyes that signifies a life prematurely extinguished by routine – where, oh fucking where, did I go to, and when did this half-death happen to me, and how could I not fucking notice?

Maths and numbers. Forty-one years old: more than half my life, probably. And what use will the years after seventy be? Sixty? How much time spent prostituting some sellable commodity that I find myself blessed or cursed with – brains, labour, or just the acquiescence to take it up the shitter daily from some overfed puppet controlled by the faceless and relentless will of shareholders? There is only one kind of whore that I have any kind of disdain for – those who suffer some kind of delusion that it is not degrading to live this life of evolved slavery – those who think that the collar and tie are not the same as a ball and chain – those whose lack of honesty, and lack of self-respect, would make this most insidious form of prostitution something to aspire to, and to pimp their children to. How much time spent in schools – where talent and originality are despised as non-conducive to the slavery for which you are being conditioned to?

Surely the debits should equal the credits, the hardship equal the gains, or, at the very least, something other than debt as payment for this violent and frequent shafting? Live this life and you are the most desperate and the most pathetic of all the pimped whores, so totally dependant on the car and the TV and the house that you have no choice but to take it anyway it comes, day after fucking day, and year after fucking year. But where is my reward for all this shit? And who is going to audit my life and find out that I have been conned and short-changed? Maybe I should call the Time Accountant, because, in a life that is purely transactional, the credits and debits must balance.

Pablo Vision occasionally updates with obscenity, blasphemy, links to recently published work, information about stuff in print, and, somewhat bizarrely, stories about himself. He has remained faithful to the same woman for a number of years, but is always eager to test his resolve in this matter with attractive gothic girls. What a slut, Pablo.

by Stacy L. Welch
One of the most
intelligent strategies of living
is to not over-stimulate
a problem.
Rather under-stimulate it
until it feels neglected enough
to go away.

Stacy Lynn Welch is a 34 year old Poet with a Juris Doctorate from the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Law, as well as a B.S. in Psychology with a Minor in English from Southern Illinois University -Edwardsville. Currently she resides in Kansas City, Missouri, yet has known several States to be her home which she claims she hasn't found yet. She has been writing since able to hold a writing utensil and also utilizes MySpace for Poetry Postings, under the name of Trixy at or She was a bit nervous about writing her first autobiography, but I think we'd all agree she's done a very fine job indeed.
by Richard Wink
The drummers of Japan
Hammer a beat
Johann Strauss
Sends me to sleep

What point is there for building barricades?

Open your cakehole
And let out
A few words of forgiveness

Exuberant drinking
Romantic entanglement
Broken bottles
Floating beds
and still my toe keeps tapping

by Richard Wink

Cabinets crammed full of damaged goods
Knife wielding banshees hid by neon hoods
Tesco value ready meals
Waiting to be eaten
By pie faced cretins
Drunk on Lennon

Street Art
Creates spray paint millionaires
Men who scrawl lewd words
On toilet cubicle walls

Uneasy institutions
Aren’t the only way to freeze
Thousands and thousands
Search for the same key defiantly
When the door has already been kicked in
Richard Wink (a name, not a command) is a writer based in Norwich, England. His latest chapbook "Apple Road" is out now via Trainwreck Press. I hope he will forgive me for making a joke about his name. Richard, wink!
by Kenneth Pobo

Having no neighbors helps keep
Icelanders happy. In Valhalla,
gods live too close. Our magic trips

each other up. My hothead son Thor
tosses lightning bolts like potato chips
into a waste basket. I’m known

in many galaxies for wisdom.
It’s not bragging. What have you given
an eye for? But I fuck up. I told

a single Icelandic mom to marry.
She wed a dope who craves vodka
and Internet surfing. Sex was a time

killer after shut down. “Odin,” she said,
“He’s creepy, picks his toenails,
farts when soup’s on. I’m divorcing him.

No hard feelings. He can keep the computer.
We shook hands and he went
to the hot springs.” I’ve learned my lesson—

no more family values. Did my
one eye go blind for a moment?
Whatever. Time to help clean the palace.

Kenneth Pobo has a new book of poems forthcoming in July 2008 from WordTech Press called Glass Garden. His work appears in: Orbis, Indiana Review, 2River View, Crannog, The Fiddlehead,, and elsewhere. Catch Ken’s radio show, “Obscure Oldies,” from 6-8pm EST on Saturdays at He teaches Creative Writing and English at Widener University in Pennsylvania. The University was quite narrow at first, but not since Kenneth's been there. Widen A University. Ha ha.
by Matt Roberts

Good friends
Infectious laughter

…She’s my girl.

by Matt Roberts

Before my beautiful travels,
And before my higher education
We used to hang out didn’t we?
We used to have a great time.
Remember that horrid thing we did?
The memory of the look on her face
Still stays with me.
Anyway lets not talk about that.

Things were little and fun back then
But things are bigger and better now.
My mind sometimes goes back to the village
Where we drank, played cards and drove.
This time of year, this time of day
The city sometimes gets me down.
So what you up to now?
Where you been? What and when?

My life is so much better now
Met so many different people
Had so much more better times.
But anyway keep in touch.
Got a small place, so you can’t come round.
Going to say this now
But only because I have to,
Wish you were here.
Matt Roberts is from the Yorkshire Dales, in England, where I went on holiday a few months ago. It rained, but that was nothing to do with Matt. He is 30-years-old and teaches English in Seoul. It has made his day that I have used his poems, and I am very pleased for him. All the best, Matt.
by Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal

They talk all that crazy talk. Don’t they know how stupid they sound when they talk like that to intelligent people like me? I should not be wasting my time in this place. I have a suitcase of cocaine back in my house I need to see about. I have pot plants that reach the sky in my four thousand acre ranch out in the hills. I have refrigerators keeping my beers cold in every room of the house. Why do I have to stay here and listen to fools who say that is no way to live? I was born to be high. The stuff I get in this place makes me sleep and shit my pants. If my drugs of choice are evil, they are heaven compared to the drugs my doctor has me on. I just want to go home before my girl finishes up all my beers. She does not like the cocaine, which is good. And pot makes her evil. She told me she was going to sell my plants and leave me.

I have to get out of this place. I don’t want to be clean and sober. That’s no way to love for me. If I’m going to die, I’m going to die. I just want to live it up. The doctor just told me I will be here for a whole month. He said I have no safe plan for living. I was not born to play things the safe way. I’m a thorn, baby. I’m a match head ready to light a fuse. This medication gives me the low down blues. It makes me feel so crazy.

Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal’s chapbook, Keepers Of Silence, came out on December 20, 2007, from Kendra Steiner Editions. Luis was born in Mexico. He works in the mental health field in Los Angeles, CA. His first book of poems, Raw Materials, was published by Pygmy Forest Press. His first chapbook, Without Peace, was published by Kendra Steiner Editions. His next chapbook, Next Exit, will be the 100th chapbook published by Kendra Steiner Editions and will be co-authored by poet Ronald Baatz. I have tried to pronounce his name, but I can't do it. I call him "Loo."
by Howie Good
Tonight, like most nights, she goes to bed first, and he stays up to test the machine, standing where the light is good and no one can see him from the street. He pops off the lid using gentle thumb pressure. Inside, heating coils glow like the ribs of a starving dog, God rolls dice that have no spots, a mare with a burning mane screams in terror. He bends at the waist for a closer look. After a moment’s argument with himself, he plunges his hand into the smoke. It feels cold, and a spider-web of scaffolding begins to rise around the dark castle of a line of mad kings. He weeps as if it were his own heart he was dismantling. Soon he’ll be tired enough to sleep, and when she awakes before the alarm, the dawn will be full of birdsong and the birdsong, as sometimes happens, full of primitive grief.
Howie Good (, a journalism professor at the State University of New York at New Paltz, is the author of four poetry chapbooks, Death of the Frog Prince (2004) and Heartland (2007) from FootHills Publishing, Strangers & Angels (2007) from Scintillating Publications, and the forthcoming The News at 11 from Right Hand Pointing. His name sounds like a question whose answer would be: "No, we're bad." Sorry, but that's the only slightly humorous thing I can think of to say.