The Midnight on The Stroll Poetry Contest Finalists

A Brief Background of the Midnight on the Stroll Poetry Contest

On May 17, 2014, Midnight Lane Gallery officially held its Grand Opening, which featured a live acoustic cover of The Gutter Twins’ “Front Street,” by Lisa Litberg, along with “The Midnight on the Stroll” digital art series by Yours Truly.  Poets were invited to submit up to 8 poems of 8 lines or less in response to the music and art presented.  Of those who submitted work for consideration, roughly 45% had work accepted into the Open Screening portion of the contest, which closed on July 31, 2014.  Said poems are now posted below.  All are eligible for inclusion in The Midnight on the Stroll Slideshow, to be presented in The Curtained Room on October 1, 2014.  Likewise, all are eligible for Honorable Mentions, to be presented on the gallery’s Home page.

Pieces accepted into the Open Screening of the contest originally appeared in the comments section of the Grand Opening, with promotional URLs used in lieu of bios.  In presenting the finalists’ poetry now, MLG has utilized the aforementioned URLs to compose interactive bios, and included them in the Credits section at the bottom of this post.  As such, attendees of the gallery are invited to not only enjoy the poetry presented, but to also explore the finalists’ bios to learn more about their accomplishments.

On that note, and without further adieu, Midnight Lane Gallery is pleased to present. . .

The Contest Finalists

 Please, click on Werckmeister Harmonies’ “reverse after rebirth to walk on dead steps,”* then scroll down to read the finalists’ work.



Poetry by Melanie Browne

“Another Ferris Wheel Afternoon”

He turns her
upside down,
she would kill
for a cup of ice,
his jacket
smells like
metal and


“On the street”

he waits for the ladies,
buxom, fleshy,
they stare vacant eyed
& hungry
he pats his wallet to
make sure
it’s still there



Poetry by J.J. Campbell

“park bench”

sometimes i like to sit
on a park bench and
just think

think about how much
it would cost for the
hot one in front of me

to make me forget about
another lonely saturday night


“how to survive life on the street”

i learned as a child
that on some streets
you just keep your
eyes straight ahead
and only ask questions
when you get behind
closed doors


“the dreamers”

the dreamers believe
they will find love one

i look around and
realize all the dreamers
have moved on


“pretty girls”

none of the pretty girls
ever throw themselves
at me

thank god there are no
pretty girls here


“keepin’ it real”

some fools believe
prayer will get us
out of here

i prefer to think
that cash is a
quicker option



Poetry by Alan Catlin


Spray painted
gang tags on

alley walls,
deserted store

front doors
and windows,

do not cross


“Homeless as Found”

Rusting 50 gallon
oil drums contain

small fires.
In flickering light

shadow men drink
fortified wine,

smoke skunk weed,
avoid eye contact.


“Pay Per View”

street girls in
too tights, low

cuts, strut their
stuff all night-

plenty of attitude,
no extra charge.


“Goth Creatures”

in night shades,
black makeup,

clothes, appear
after dark, walk

unlighted streets,
blend in,



“Skins Versus Shirts”

Half court play-
ground hoops.

Nearby, parked car drug
meet gone bad: dead guy

slumped on front seat,
shot three times.

No one heard a thing.


“High Stakes”

crap game in
low light alley:

the rattle of bones,
clicking of dice;

more than one game
settled by a knife.


“Moon in the Gutter”

Spilled oil
and gasoline,

blood puddles
amid sodden

butts, food
wrappers; chalk

outlines another
unsolved crime.


“Weapons of Mass Percussion”

Hot car sound
system, bass line

shakes, rattles,
and rolls

the no moon,
hot and humid night.



Poetry by Wanda Morrow Clevenger


in the streetlight spatter
a knot of men
vie for her attendance

a flower wrist tattoo
makes up for
missed prom corsage



Poetry by Doug Draime


Her eyes,
slits of





As we sing the dirge of

sorrow and doom, from

our deep sleep of

darkness, even the

illusionary spirit of

gravity mocks us


A jagged strip of sunlight
finer than a silk thread,

on a cold, dark day


Baring one breast
with her
T-shirt pulled up,

her right nipple
dark brown and


She weeps for
the moon disappearing behind a
dark cloud like
a coin going into a
baggy pants pocket.



Poetry by jonathan hayes

“It’s Tricky”

Late night


Post Street:

Divas tranny nightclub; grassroots collective; SF fire station

Not one, but all are needed to put the fire out tonight

I find a piece of Latin ass, and salsa with it up the worn stairs
of the Americana Hotel: in her room, told to “take a shower first,”

and the rest is a photograph



Poetry by Catfish McDaris


The crowbar in his pocket
made him limp as he walked
she had questioning eyes, he
pulled out some money, they
rented each other in a forget
about heaven & hell nirvana.



Orphan was left in a woven basket
no church nearby, barflies held
the baby girl, alcohol & drugs
clouding all sanity, no parents
no family, born alone, died alone.



The night is
tender, gentle
friendly, dark
lucrative, death.


“Damaged Love”

Tangled rain trapped
in gray tobacco smoke
shafts of neon illumination
memories of damaged
love, abandoned
sinking boats adrift.



Poetry by Gerald So


She didn’t realize
how safe she’d felt
’til he got in her way,
asking to show her a trick.

She sidestepped
and kept walking
like he hadn’t
made her heart skip.




Poetry by john sweet


young boy on fire and
singing beneath the colorless sky
all sweetness and regret and
where are the people who
said they loved him?

where is the future that was
supposed to grow from his



put your fate in the hands of
dead men, of self-righteous whores

let the sound of your children crying
be the sweetest song you’ve ever heard


“october poem for a bitter sunlit day in early march”

a stranger’s death in some
other town, leaves a box filled with
poems he’s written that no
one’s ever read

leaves an empty refrigerator

an unfinished letter

no mention in it of his
plans for the future



drowns in the pool or is drowned,
is found silent and not quite
peaceful on the bottom

not quite beautiful and open eyes
staring into the past and no
sound but the dull hum of the future

no truths but the ones told by
strangers with something to gain


“photograph of D”

you up close and
beautiful in black & white and
i’m sorry

it was never
supposed to end



Poetry by Angel Zapata

“Keep Driving”

Brake lights become
the blood of virgins
before the gas pedal
dims the glow again.

The street girls laugh.
“Fool can’t afford me,”
the brown-slick beauty
tells her friends.



The girl wipes her mouth,
actually says “ta-da” when she’s done,
climbs out of the car and vanishes.


“The Clairvoyant”

He’s curious.
“How much’ll this cost me?”
She leans in through
the driver’s side door,
glimpses his wedding ring.
“Everything,” she says.


“The Inn and Out”

Another $6,000
and she’ll have enough
to leave the city, regain
custody of her kids.

She holds a sidewalk tent sale
outside her tenement door.
The sign reads: “Come camp with me.
Hourly rates available.”




  • Music / Video:

Werckmeister Harmonies:  The song “reverse after rebirth to walk on dead steps” appears on Werkmeister Harmonies’ 2007 self-released, Bastille Drone.   Named after Hungarian director Bela Tarr’s film, you can visit Werkmeister Harmonies’ Facebook page to hear more about this reclusive, musical project based in Japan.**

  • Poetry:

Melanie Browne:  The author of two full-length collections, Heaven is a Giant Pawn Shop (erbacce Press), and Portrait of a Bad Sailor Girl (Magical Mystery Tour Press),  Melanie is also a former editor of Leaf Garden Press.  Visit her site for links to her many online publications.

J.J. Campbell: Sofisticated White Trash, J.J.’s first full-length collection, is available via Interior Noise Press.   To learn more about J.J. and his poetry, visit his blog, Evil Delights.  Or, visit his site for a list of his many publications.

Alan Catlin: A twenty time Pushcart Prize nominee, Alan is also the editor of Misfit Magazine.   The author of over sixty chapbooks and full-length collections, his titles include Drunk and Disorderly  (Pavement Saw Press), and Alien Nation (March Street Press).  Widely published in the small press, an archive of his published work is held at The University of Buffalo Special Collections.  To read a recommended selection of Alan’s poetry, please visit UFO Gigolo, where he is a frequent contributor.

Wanda Morrow Clevenger:  A preview of Wanda’s poetry, memoir, and short fiction collection, This Small Town in Each of Us, is available via Edgar & Lenore Publishing.  Visit her site to learn more about ordering this collection.  And, be sure to also visit her blog, It’s All Just Telling Tales Out of School, to read more of this widely pubished and prolific author’s work.  To contact Wanda, email:

Doug Draime:  A three-time PEN grant recipient, Doug sits on the reading staff of Right Hand Pointing.   His most recent full-length collection, More than the Alley, is available via Interior Noise Press.  Published in the small press since the 60’s, recommended selections of Doug’s verse can be found online at  the outlaw poetry network, and at Zygote in my Coffee.

jonathan hayes: A frequent contributor to My Favorite Bullet, jonathan’s published collections include the well-received T(HERE) (Silenced Press), and American Haiku (Mel C. Thompson Publishing).  Editor of the long-running print journal, Over the Transom, he can be contacted via email at

Catfish McDaris:  Co-editor of PpigpennCat is the author of over twenty chapbooks.  His most recent is a split with Subhankar Das, titled Thieves of the Wind (Writing Knight Press).  A long-standing presence in the small press scene, his collected works and letters are archived at Marquette University.   An interview at Blues GR, along with a sample of his verse at the outlaw poetry network, provide an introduction to both his life and his poetry.  To contact Catfish, email:

Gerald So: Editor of the crime poetry journal, The Five-Two, his online literary franchise also includes the YouTube site, Gerald So’s Channel Five-Two, and the blog, My Life Called So.  In addition, Gerald’s annual chapbook series, The Lineup— featuring the works of those published at The Five-Two–is available at Lulu.

john sweet:  with such brilliant light pouring from our joyous godless hearts (wall of noise press) is but one of many full-length collections available at john’s Lulu Author Spotlight.  An interview at The Penmen Review, coupled with his blog, the bleeding horse, avenged, provide an introduction to both the poet and his ever growing canon of verse.

Angel Zapata: Author of the poetry chapbook, An Offering of Ink and Feathers, Angel is also the recipient of the 2012 Mariner Award from Bewildering Stories for his flash fiction piece, “Carrion Feathers.”  For a full listing of Angel’s awards and publications, visit his Goodreads site.  And, be sure to also visit his blog, A Rage of Angels.

**Added Credit goes to Tera Melos for posting Werckmeister Harmonies’ “reverse after rebirth to walk on dead steps” to YouTube.  Midnight Lane Gallery claims no copyright over music posted on site.


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