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