On Their Own Terms
By Nick Ostdick, Sept 29, 2006
Chicago is one of those places that no one really thinks about when it comes to literature and publishing. Sure, a few writers have made homes there: Studs Turkel and Nelson Algren are probably the most notable names. But in terms of working writers Soho, Brooklyn, Boston, and San Francisco are in the front of most folk’s minds when it comes to literary hangouts. Yet Chicago has developed and matured like that strange girl in high school with the big-framed glasses and pink-dyed hair, and many writers are now coming to find out what literary gem the Midwestern city is... (more)

A Face Lift, as Some Might Call It
By Mike Smith, Sept 30, 2006
Welcome, decomP fans. This month we bring you an article by Nick Ostdick on the Chicago literary scene and all it has to offer (see left), a review of Saunders's The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil by Jason Jordan (see right), and three new poems from three new decomP contributors from all over the country (see our poetry section below).  As you may have noticed, we have incorporated a new look, or "a face lift," as some might call it.  Call it what you will, as long as you continue to enjoy these things we publish.  We welcome your comments and suggestions.  Now, with the new look, comes a few other things.  In the coming months, we'll be talking more about a best of decomP book.  If you're interested in being in it, the best thing you can do is to submit to the site. More details are ahead, but in the meantime, we need to raise funds in order to make this book a reality.  If you are interested in donating, you may do so in any amount via PayPal.  The button is at the bottom of this page on the right.  The person who donates the most money will win a prize-filled package of some sort.  We'll also award the person who donates the least amount of money.

A Review of Saunders's The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil (2005)
By Jason Jordan, Sept 28, 2006
One can’t help but be envious of George Saunders’s achievements. Besides penning two well-received short story collections titled CivilWarLand in Bad Decline (Random House, 1996) and Pastoralia (Riverhead, 2000), and regularly publishing pieces in Esquire, Harper’s, McSweeney’s, and The New Yorker, he’s won several major awards. And perhaps that’s why it’s surprising that his fiction becomes stranger with each new release – evidenced by last year’s novel, The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil (Riverhead, 2005), which is his least accessible yet best effort to date... (more)

The Last Days of Mingus
By Michael D. Grover, Aug 20, 2006

It must have been torture.
One of the most beautiful composers in the world
Trapped in a body paralyzed by Lou Gehrig’s disease.
He maintained a positive outlook,
They say he just sat propped up in his chair.
The music would come to him.
He could not play the music out of his haunted head.
He could not move his chubby fingers across the piano.
So he just hummed the notes.

-2- (Beyond The Underdog)

Did you find your boy?
Did you find your man?
Did you guide him through deaths door
As you did through life?
Did you take him by the hand
And float away from the shell?
Did you float with him high above the Mexican plain?
Did you take him to that place where the spirits go?


On the day of his death
It was reported that
Fifty-six whales beached themselves
On the nearby Mexican coast.
One whale for each year of his life.
Do you believe that some people are just so magic that this just happens?
Charlie, he was magic.


Sue flew to India
To spread his ashes over the Ganges.
Just as Charlie wanted.
His body to become part
Of that sacred river.
Mingus will flow on forever.
The dust of his shell.
A soul he said would not leave this Earth.
I wonder if it still wanders today.

Michael D. Grover has featured and read his poetry all over the country. It has been published in Alphabeat Soup, The San Gabriel Poetry Quarterly, Mad Poets Review, Philadelphia Poets and the anthology One Drop: To Be The Color Black. Michael lives in Florida and is a student at Indian River Community College. From there he hosts this website.

Cave Canem
By Tony Brewer, Sept 6, 2006
I keep returning to the cave to emerge a man,
but haven’t I emerged already at least once before?
Breathing and heart rate, apples and ribs
aren’t enough anymore. It takes a special balance
of denial and sensitivity in the sense that anyone
would ever want to be a man after all
the police reports and self-help books
on bad sex and silent threats of leaving —
him either father and unavailable
or married to her and unavailable
or born of her and unreachable.

Aren’t we always leaving the cave,
convinced it is a well, a place to return to
not in defeat but to refuel?
We never leave entirely, guys.
That’s why the pale cocoon of oblivion
is so seductive — so warm and whole,
and safer than what in brighter days
might seem just another hole in the stone
but tonight is refuge and asylum.
I keep telling myself to resist this madness,
and the echoes ring forever in the belly
of the Earth full of seekers, full of men,
and some of them are even still alive.

Tony Brewer lives and works in Bloomington, Indiana, where he has been writing and performing for over fifteen years. His work has appeared in Bathtub Gin, Poetry Midwest, The St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture, and elsewhere. He is also a professional editor, an adult-literacy tutor, and a renowned sound effects artist. His first book-length collection, The Great American Scapegoat, is available now.

The Crazy Girl on the Street Car
By Jonathan Hayes, Sept 7, 2006
sat across from me -
her eyes sparkled like priceless diamonds
beneath dark black hair surrounding her almond skin.

stop after stop, i stared at her, but she did not catch
my eyes - i noticed a perfect gap between her two front upper teeth,

and every other minute she softly muttered something
at a volume only she could hear.

when we got to my stop, she was looking out the window past me
at the north side of Market Street.

i got up and asked her what she was looking for, and

she told me, "i'm looking at a luggage store sign - i like luggage."

Jonathan Hayes lives in San Francisco, California. He has taught poetry at 826 Valencia, a writing center for children, located in the Mission District of the city.

Web www.decompmagazine.com