One Last Song by DK Snyder (inspired by Townes Van Zandt)

Bio: DK Snyder's work appears in Cease Cows Magazine, Unbroken Journal, Shotgun Honey, and elsewhere. She lives in Virginia. Find her on Twitter @millioncandles. 


By DK Snyder

By 2:30 in the morning I’d eased the last stragglers out onto the sidewalk, where they lingered in the pool of light spilling from the front window and the neon sign. I locked the door to the club. Through the smudged windowpane, I watched until two aging regulars, Bobby and Pete, made it safely across the street and out of sight. The empty club was quiet. I wiped the wobbly, mismatched tables, my knuckles stiff with the dull ache of 35 years working here. I stepped behind the long wooden bar top to gather the dirty glasses, and froze: a tall, angular man was slouched on the last stool. My jaw dropped. A glass slipped from my hand and shattered.

“Townes?” The name croaked from my dry throat.

“You look lovely as ever, Cindy.”

I smirked. Same old Townes Van Zandt. Always ready with a bartender’s name and a corny come-on. He looked the same as he had when I’d last seen him more than 25 years ago, with a faded scar under his right eye and gray streaks in his long, dark hair. He wore a suede jacket over a rumpled collared shirt. A beat-up old guitar case leaned against the bar. I poured him a shot of top-shelf vodka. “What are you doing back here?” I asked. “Did Saint Peter bounce you for throwing dice? Or were you at the other place?”

Townes grinned, and a gold tooth glinted in the dim light. “Acoustics,” he said. As if that explained anything. The stool squealed as he swiveled to take in the room. No doubt he recognized most of the old photos near his own on the wood-paneled wall, and the small stage in the far corner with a chair, an amp, and a mic. But his asphalt-black eyes narrowed at the large flat-screen television and then came to rest on the karaoke machine. “The hell’s that doing here?”

“Boss says it’s progress. The beer and food are fancy now, too.” I shrugged. “I’m fixing to go. Putting in my two weeks’ notice tomorrow, in fact. Don’t get me wrong, lots of singers and strummers still come through here. Some aren’t half bad. But this place was never the same after you… got your flyin’ shoes.” I rubbed my stiff hands. “I’m worn out.”

Townes drained his glass. Then he unlatched his guitar case and lifted the Gibson he’d played at his last few shows here onto his lap. He closed his eyes. His left hand danced over the mother-of-pearl inlayed fretboard, while the silver and white fingerpicks on his right hand rang out a bluesy riff. Then Townes began to sing. It was the same weathered voice, tough and dark, that used to make the hell-raisers in here sit down and shut up. The song was unfamiliar to me, even though I’d worn out my copies of all his records before getting the CDs and finally the downloads. Now, after hesitating a few seconds, I pulled out my iPhone and started recording. I was ready to duck if Townes threw a glass, but he paid me no mind. The lyrics were poetic and otherworldly, about a man who cast off his demons to pass through this life and on to the next, but now maybe misses them a little. Time seemed to stop. Then Townes’s voice fell silent. The last chord lingered and faded away.

“That was beautiful,” I said. “What’s it called?”

“One Last Song.” Townes winked, then put the Gibson back inside its beat-up case.

I reached behind me for the bottle, but when I turned back to refill his glass, Townes was gone. I checked my phone, only to discover I’d taken a video of a silent, deserted club. I snorted and shook my head. If my tired mind was conjuring visions now, at least this vision was a good one: Townes was still easy on the eye, and the music was superb. It was one of his good shows, where he wasn’t too drunk to sing. I swept up the broken glass, ran a damp rag over the bar top, and cleaned the beer taps and soda gun. Then I filled a bucket and pushed a mop across the weathered plank floor. Near the end of the bar, the mop struck a small object and shot it into the corner with a soft thud. I sighed. Pete must have dropped his wallet again. The new bartender would really need to look out for him and the few other folks from Townes’s time who still came around.

But when I crouched in the corner, instead of a wallet, I discovered a faded purple Crown Royal bag with a frayed gold drawstring. I picked it up and felt the soft, worn velvet. When I pulled the drawstring, a handful of silver and white fingerpicks clattered to the floor. That’s when I knew Townes would be back. And I’d be right here waiting for him.


Prose by HilLesha O’Nan “A Mockery of Mourning”

A Mockery of Mourning

The death of their father left Matt, Dwight, Steve, Sarah, and Lisa a desire for money. They were his children, and they should have been united in their grief, but it was not to be so. Instead, they made a mockery of his passing. Their squabbling and bickering over the estate turned into an ugly battle that tore the family apart.

The siblings were from Alabama, but their father had lived his final years in Illinois. The distance between them made it easy for tensions to flare up. They accused each other of stealing from the estate, and their bitterness spilled over into public view. The townspeople called them no good southern crooks, a term that stung them deeply.

Their father had been a proud man who had once worked hard to provide for his family. He would have been ashamed of the way his children behaved. Instead of coming together to mourn his passing, they fought tooth and nail for every last penny.

In the end, the only thing they had left was their regret. They were left lamenting the fact that they had let their greed and pettiness consume them. They had taken what should have been a time for healing and turned it into a circus.

The only thing that remained from their father's legacy was a box of pictures. They were reminders of the simple life he had led down south, and the values he had instilled in his children. But even that was tainted by their infighting.

As they hollered accusations at each other, the box of pictures sat in the center of the room, a silent witness to their shame. They had lost sight of what was truly important, and they had paid a heavy price for it. 

Bio: HilLesha O’Nan is a blogger, writer, photographer & marketer. She is co-editor/founder of Fevers of the Mind Poetry & Art. She runs the blog for over 15 years

Fevers of the Mind Poetry & Art Blog

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*NOW TAKING PRINT ANTHOLOGY SUBMISSIONS for our new print journal “The Whiskey Mule Diner” named after our online anthology that was inspired by Tom Waits. This journal has now expanded to become a new print journal endeavor that includes poetry, art, writings, photography and more inspired by musicians, artists, writers/poets, movies & actors/actresses see this link for more Introducing a new print journal dedicated to poetry, writings, art & more inspired by music, artists, movies, and writers “The Whiskey Mule Diner” (all poetry/writings/essays, art, photography will need to be submitted by June 1st for one of the first 2 issues) please put in Subject the artist you are submitting poetry/etc inspired by. Include bio. No need for cover letter. Only in word doc, pdf or body of e-mail for writing submissions. We do NOT send rejection e-mails if you want to withdraw anything or have any questions on your work please send us an e-mail. We DO send acceptance e-mails however. Also, for editing/curating reasons we will most likely add a considered piece(s) to the website prior to any print publications. We are unable to pay contributors however you will receive a free PDF of the journal. (Even the editors have to pay for a copy for themself) Please consider donating to our PayPal at

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We prefer submissions with a bio to help promote your work. Please let us know if something has been previously published, we will make a judgment call on whether able to include. I don’t love the idea of sending rejection letters.  If you don’t receive acceptance assume we passed up this time and send something else. If you have simultaneous submissions out there, please keep this in mind. If not accepted at first, Just try again…We will not accept pieces that we deem racist, sexist, homophobic, or have pornographic themes, photos, or any type of nudity in submissions.

About writer/editor David L O’Nan

Current bio for Fevers of the Mind’s David L O’Nan editor/writing contributor to blog.

My newest book released October 2022 “Cursed Houses”

Out now the Deluxe Edition of “Before the Bridges Fell” for a copy on paperback or kindle (U.S.) please check availability in your country. Some countries take awhile for the paperback to be released. It could be a few days to a couple months until available. Before I Turn Into Gold Inspired by Leonard Cohen cover art by Geoffrey Wren Hard Rain Poetry: Forever Dylan Anthology cover art by Geoffrey Wren Bare Bones Writing Issue 1 cover photo by Paul Brookes

A Prose Story by Michael Igoe “Venetian Blind”

Venetian Blind

Listen to me closely. Something is going to happen. Soon, something will happen to me.                                                                                                                          I can’t say exactly what for sure. It’s an old story you’d recognize immediately. Strange to think, it has no end or beginning, its details are practically forced on memory. Etched. They’re related to legal matters.                                                                                                                                                   At intervals, I visit memory in many clusters. Without apparent reason. At times I do this to avoid arguments...Or in the midst of one. In the presence of a constant anomie. It overtakes me.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          But as far as I’m concerned, these are incidents best forgotten. Relegated to a junk heap. Leave them well enough alone. Caught up in the sequence of events, I can’t help but wonder if they’ll ever mean anything to anyone. I’ve been called a pissant, taking pains with everything to the point of extreme annoyance. Maybe that’s the nature of my recollection. Just maybe.                              
Given the nature of confinement, recollection is the window on lifetimes. And windows often serve well as makeshift mirrors.                                                                                                  Woe is me. When a sad song plays, I think about my brazen approach to some things. Things that gratify the senses, the belly, the eyes, or sexual heat.. In other things, I'm not so brazen. Like warm relations, tenderness, accepting praise and giving. In these things I am reluctant.                                       
What preceded the Now often bores me.  Don’t imagine what comes after won’t be more of the same.                                                                                                                                                                             In these hazy words there’s meaning-but it’s almost impossible to detect. Involving others, of course, but more of me. For what that’s worth.                                                                                                            Are you still listening? I can’t be sure. It might be your time to listen. As long as you’re here, might as well. If there was something  more important, you’d be occupied. You wouldn’t be here in the first place.

 2 poems from Michael Igoe: “Intermittent” & “Cast in Another Life” 

New poems from Michael Igoe

Bio: Michael Igoe, neurodiverse city boy, Chicago now Boston, recovery staff at Boston University Center For Psych Rehab. Many works appear in journals online and print. Recent: Spare Change News(Cambridge MA),, Avalanches In Poetry National Library Of Poetry Editor’s Choice For 1997. Twitter: MichaelIgoe5. Urban Realism, Surrealism. I like the Night.

Prose Poem by Joan Hawkins : Family Secrets

photo from pixabay

Family Secrets

"Your Great Uncle Mott died in a Nazi work camp," my mother tells me. 
It's my 30th birthday, and in my mother's fashion there is a party atmosphere. 
I'm wearing a gold-paper crown, there are streamers, those little party horns. 
And a dinner of Hawaiian pork chops, a cake, champagne. I wonder why 
she has waited until my 30th birthday--the age when Jesus set out to 
redeem humanity-- to tell me this. "We just never talk about it," she says, 
pouring more wine. 

I think about the Holocaust movies I saw at school, 4th grade, 6th grade, and every 
year after. Sobbing for the people who died and the cruelty, but also for myself 
because my family came from Germany. If she'd told me before, I wouldn't have 
felt like a Nazi, I said. Searched the faces of cinematic SS officers for family 
resemblance, thought I caught a glimpse of an uncle, worried about the relatives 
my parents never mentioned. They who talked so often about the War- but always 
Stateside. My father's service, air raid sirens, blackout curtains, food rationing. 
"You were always tender-hearted," my mother says, and I wonder what that has to 
do with keeping secrets. 

When I'm 35, she tells me we're not 100% German. This is in a Hungarian 
restaurant, and she recognizes the dishes because her mother made them. 
"Where do you think you and I got our cheekbones ?" she says. "My mother." 
"I thought your mother was German." Well, Mom tells me, Austro-Hungarian, 
she spoke German. 

When I'm 40 my brother begins a family tree. Traces my mother's lineage back 
to Hungary. Some drunken uncles who tried to raise silkworms, and my grandmother 
leaving with a wealthy family, working as an au pair. In the manner of all old timey 
family trees, names appear and reappear. "Saved," my mother said. But other names 
fall away--Old Testament names like Esther and Ruth replaced with the names of Saints. 
Maria, Anna, Christine. I think I spot a surname-- lost in marriage to one of my mother's uncles. Glassman. Then another. Hoffman. Jewish names. I wonder about my mother's maiden name. Keller. German name, yes. But also Ashkenazi, like the others. And I wonder when I'll be old enough for her to tell me.

Bio: Joan Hawkins is a writer and spoken word performer, who focuses mainly on creative memoir.  Her  poetry and prose have appeared in Avalanches of Poetry, Fevers of the Mind, the Performing Arts Journal, Plath Profiles, and Sand.

Two poems are forthcoming in a special poetry issue of The Ryder Magazine. She and Kalynn Brower have co-edited an anthology called Trigger Warnings, which contains one of Joan’s stories; it’s currently under consideration by Indiana University Press. “My Writing Teacher”  comes from a manuscript in progress– School and Suicide.

Joan lives in Bloomington, IN with her cat Izzy Isou. She is currently the Chair of the Writers Guild at Bloomington.