Archives for category: When I Hear That Song Series

Independence Day
by Tony Gloeggler

As soon as you hear
Federici’s mourning organ
punctuated with Bittan’s
piano, you can see Bruce
with his head hung low
lurking in the shadows
still steps from the microphone.
When he moves closer
the crowd rumbles, roars
and Springsteen shushes
them quiet with his hands.
As he folds both hands over
the mic, he opens his mouth
to let his hoarse whisper
reign over the stadium,
you are back home
walking in the hallway
after another aimless late night,
walking in the dark past
your parents’ bedroom.
Happy to have avoided
seeing your father
all day, you hear him
talking to your mom,
his voice a simmering
whisper, telling her
how sick and tired
he is of you. When
will you get a freakin’ job
and move your lazy ass out.
My mom listens, waits
until he runs out of breath
so she could say, “Just
give him a little time..
He’s my son and I won’t
let you throw him out.
No, never.” I drop my clothes
on the floor, get into bed
without waking my brother.
and fall asleep humming,
“They ain’t gonna do to me
what I watched them do to you.”


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tony Gloeggler is a life-long resident of NYC’s boroughs and manages group homes for the developmentally disabled in Brooklyn. His poems have been recently published in The Raleigh Review, Rattle, Chiron Review, Mas Tequila Review, Nerve Cowboy, and Paterson Literary Review. He’s been nominated for Pushcarts a handful of times and would like to know who he needs to talk to to have a chance to actually get one. He has published four collections (One Wish Left/Pavement Saw Press, The Last Lie/NYQ Books, Until the Last Light Leaves/NYQ, and Tony Come Back August — a duo with photographer Marco North — with Bittersweet Editions). The last two books focus on his 35 years working with the developmentally disabled and his connection with the autistic son of an ex-girlfriend.

Rock(in’) It
by Todd Duffey

One humid day
on a back yard deck
in Houston, Texas,
It was 1983.

One white boy,
padded down like
the Michelin man,
spun on his helmeted head
to the seminal song “Rockit”
while his mother watched
from a bathroom window.

He fell, and bounced
off himself, off his padding.
He moonwalked, poorly.
He then violently rippled his body,
his chin smashing into the
cardboard underneath,
then his knees.
Chin, knees. Chin, knees.

He stood, then whirled his
leg around, twirling, then falling
to the ground, where he curled up
and spun sadly on his back.

He was Rockin’ It.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I tried many things as a child. I was too small to play sports, so my mom put me into dance classes to keep me active. I fell in love with the adoration of the audience at recitals, and ventured out into breakdance, as it was something the cool kids were doing. But the dexterity it took for me to shuffle my tap shoe to “New York, New York,” or ball change my way through The Rolling Stones’ “Get Back,” were different from what it took to thrash my body on the ground to the 1/16 tempo of an electronic breakdance beat. I gave up the dancing life and moved into acting, where I could break hearts, not bones.

todd duffey

Todd Duffey
is the annoying waiter from the cult film Office Space. He was also the puppeteer and voice for the puppet squirrel Scooter McNutty on the kids’ show Barney and Friends. He’s been acting entirely too long and has many stories about these adventures. Currently he’s being considered for publication for a memoir he’s put together after years of drinking and trying to forget said stories. His stories and writing style are as he thinks — no filter, just get it out and deal with the offended people later. This is a true-to-life moment from his life, when he was trying to learn to breakdance. His mother actually put him in a breakdance class, where he failed miserably. He lives in Los Angeles, where he still believes “he coulda been a dancer, if he could only get the shit off his shoes.”


To Rage
by Crystal Brinkerhoff

The smell of rain on pavement offered relief from the stale, fast-food odor of the car. The captain of the basketball team drove with the windows cracked, her sister in the front seat next to her, me in the back.

We’d lost our game. Again.

I was tired of losing. Tired of feeling inadequate. Tired of welcoming other teams onto our court only to lose in front of our home crowd. Tired of psyching myself up each week that this time would be different. This time we’d find our magic. Only to fail.


We were heading to a local pizza shop to commiserate our sorrows as a team. A postgame tradition. Lose on the court together. Eat our feelings together.

The song on the radio changed and, with it, the energy in the car. We sang, all three of us shrieking along with the music. A declaration of: I am woman, hear me roar.

Rock your body.
Rock your body right.

The volume pulsed through the car, filling every bit of me. It felt good, this attack to banish the feelings of embarrassment and disappointment. To rage.

Even if it was to the Backstreet Boys.


AUTHOR’S NOTE ON THE PHOTO: Senior year of basketball, winter 1999. Playing in the gym of the only team in the league worse than us. Go Lady Irish!

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Writing brings me peace. It allows me to express myself in a way that’s sometimes difficult to do in the hustle and bustle of a large, busy family.


Crystal Brinkerhoff
is the reluctant wife of an outdoor enthusiast. She is a stay-at-home mom of five kids, one Chinese exchange student, and one dog. Writing keeps her grounded in her busy and demanding life. She is currently working on a YA fantasy, a memoir-style collection of stories, and blogging. Crystal has an active online presence, utilizing twitter (@crystalbrink6), linkedin, facebook, and a website at


Cool Blue
by Gillian Mellor

“Cool blue.” Track 4, side 1. The cassette sits, redundant in my palm; my ipod plays the song in my ears. I’m returning the cassette 25 years after you lent it to me. Social media helped to track you down.

I exit the train, hail a taxi and walk to the garden. I sing “Cool blue” softly to myself under my breath and wonder if you can hear. I have bluebells from home. I lay them with the cassette next to your name. Reality hits, tears appear. I’ve missed you.

SOURCE: Originally published in The Fankle (2014).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This piece of flash fiction is about “Cool Blue,” track four, side one of the Touch album by Eurythmics. It was released in 1984. It is just over 25 years since I left school, when the copying of cassettes took up more of our time than we’d now care to admit.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Gillian Mellor lives next to the West Coast Mainline just north of Beattock, Scotland. From here, she fits in writing in between everything else. Sometimes, she tidies the shelves in her local bookshop.

So Happy Together
by Joan Leotta

Most couples decide on their song
by the time of the first dance.
We discovered ours last week,
driving home from an errand.
Blaring out, from across time
on the “oldies station,” came the
declaration that
there is no way to love
anybody but you.
We smiled at each other
noting the truth of those words —

True words
for days of
happiness, arguments
irritations, quiet, and soaring joy.
True words
for the small
ordinary, moments and hours
of hugs, dinners, walks.
True words
bolstering our souls
as we daily, together.
shoulder the infinite sadness
of losing our son.

Moments to minutes,
hours to days —
every day
for thirty-eight years,
deeply in love,
happy together always,
now with a song that is ours.

ABOUT THE SONG: Happy Together” was written by Garry Bonner and Alan Gordon, and sung by The Turtles in 1967.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Pretty much the way it is in the poem—We were driving along, near Valentine’s Day, on the country roads behind our house. It had always bothered me that we did not have a “song” of our own. And it just hit me when this one came on the air—”Happy Together”—that’s us!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joan Leotta has been playing with words since childhood. Joan recently completed a month as one of Tupleo Press’ 30/30 poets and has poems current or forthcoming in the Knox Literary Magazine, A Quiet Courage, Eastern Iowa Review, and Silver Birch Press. Her fiction includes a four-book series tracing an Italian American family from 1860s (US Civil War) through modern day from Desert Breeze Publishing (Secrets of the Heart, the latest), a collection of short stories, Simply a Smile, from Cane Hollow Press, and a picture book emphasizing the importance of the father-daughter bond, WHOOSH! from TheaQ. Joan, a Pittsburgh native who lived for many years in Washington DC, now resides in Calabash, North Carolina, where she walks the beach, collecting seashells with husband Joe. You can learn more about her work at

PHOTO: The author and husband Joe — Christmastime, Rome, Italy (2014).

love shack
You, Eternally Memorialized
by C.A. Cole

I’m writing a love flash, a poem without line breaks, hummed to the
B-52’s, love flash, love flash, short, like the time we spent together. If you’d stayed, it’d be a short story, maybe a novel, but since you weren’t capable of sustained attention, a flash is all you get.

SOURCE: “You, Eternally Memorialized” first appeared in 50 to 1 (Feb 4, 2012).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Our town has a free weekend of music every summer, Bohemian Nights. At least one nationally known act is featured during the event on a stage which closes the main east/west downtown street. The year the B-52’s were featured, “Love Shack” kept going through my head as love flash, and that seemed like the perfect metaphor for high school relationships.

Version 2

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: C.A. Cole lives in Colorado where she used to write flash with a partner in coffee shops but now has go it alone. Recent work has appeared in Smokelong Quarterly, Blotterature, NonBinary Review, with a short story upcoming in Blood and Thunder.

PHOTO: Still for MacBeth, high school English assignment, Smithboro, New York.

Cry Me a River
by Perry S. Nicholas
          Remember? I remember all that you said.
           You told me love was too plebian,
           told me you were through with me and…

Even though we were travelling together,
we were separated on the flight home,

ended up sitting half an airplane away, still angry.
It might as well have been a mile of black sky.

I located the clip on the back of your hair,
but you couldn’t spot me at all over your shoulder.

We panicked, then laughed when we told
each other later of a similar thought:

what if this plane went down, and we perished
at odds, you dodging a puking baby, me

holding onto an old man gabbing grammar?
I’d reach for you mouthing our sad song in slow motion.

Hands extended across the seats, our love
falling hard into a river, a divided descent.

EDITOR’S NOTE: “Cry Me a River,” written by Arthur Hamilton in 1953, was popularized by Julie London in her 1955 recording and subsequent TV appearances.

perry nicholas

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Perry S. Nicholas is an Associate English professor at Erie Community College North in Buffalo, N.Y. where he was awarded the 2008 SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Scholarship and Creative Activities and the 2011 President’s Award for Classroom Instruction. He received the SGA’s Outstanding Teacher Award on two occasions. He has published six books and one CD of poetry.

Erasure _ Shankar.png
by Shloka Shankar

Empty spaces
fill up a world
half asleep, un
broken, complete,
swimming in wonder.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: An erasure culled out from Incomplete by the Backstreet Boys (watercolour on paper).

Shloka Shankar

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Shloka Shankar is a freelance writer from India. She loves experimenting with all forms of the written word, and has found her niche in Japanese short-forms and found poetry. Some of her poems have recently appeared in Of/with, The Gambler Mag, The Syzygy Poetry Journal, shufPoetry, Otoliths, and experiential-experimental-literature. She is also the founding editor of the literary & arts journal, Sonic Boom.

Shake Hands (and Walk Away Cryin’)
by Kenneth Pobo

In May of 1967 Lou Christie
made #22 on WCFL’s music survey.
How upsetting to miss the Top 20!
Years later, I learned it barely made
Billboard’s Hot 100. At 12

I had little money, waited a few months
until a favorite record hit the oldies bin,
39 blissful cents. At Kresge’s
with early crush Dale,
I bought “Shake Hands.”

Lou sang that his sweet baby
put him down. After several months,
Dale put me down. I was a book bag
lost on a playground. Even now
I get every Lou Christie record I can find,
saw him twice in concert. Songs

cool like a summer swimming pool.
Dive in and notes splash up.
Swim to your past
and find it’s your present.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kenneth Pobo has a book forthcoming from Blue Light Press called Bend Of Quiet. Also forthcoming from Urban Farmhouse Press is a book called Booking Rooms in the Kuiper Belt.