Vanity's Sideshow: We've Stolen the Greatest Performers on Earth to Boost Our Own Pride

[Cathy T. Colborn, Marilyn Unwaxed, as Lady Stache, Ink and Color ©2013]

Poetry Pyre 

Bleed, Miss Quote

I bleed once a month and still I allowed you to cut me, fracture the best of me, and I accepted the worst of your selfishness. You have her, and I have me the diluted and dwindled version of who I used to be.

This is the price women pay when…they don’t pay attention and allow patients enough time for the truth to be seen and heard accurately.

Listen to the depths of me, ladies, this isn’t the way you want to learn your lessons. I would give anything to be robbed of the state I am in, yet we are prone to do it again and again. Because what is life worth when you don’t allow love to begin. Hidden in the seams of our underwear are the cracked codes that unlock our suspicions and fears. 

The truth is too hard to bear, so we choose not to learn from it and exist in the atmosphere of 12 dwarfs, and sleep our beauty away. We glorify dreams and beg the nightmares to stay. I would tell you to awake from your slumber, but I’m afraid you wouldn’t recognize the women we have become. You silence the voice you hear. Looking the other way when she says desperately:

I am insecure
I am overweight
I am promiscuous
I live in the shadows of other people’s happiness standing right outside bill’s gate
I am molested
I am underweight
I am abused
I am lonely and being hurt is my fate.

I hope this poem is the gentle splashes of water to your cheek that wakes you up to where your virtues and purpose meet.

The lies you’ve whispered to yourself cuts deeper than his actions. What have you done to yourself that you cannot undo? Even the deepest of wounds heal, and I’ve personally witnessed the disappearing acts of black and blue.

I bleed once a month now because this journey has taught me a thing or two. 
Now look ahead, happiness and fulfillment waits for you.

Clouds, Miss Quote

The sky's are horny.
Please understand  I don't look at the clouds the wonderful way you do.
Endlessly, rain falls, 
but you can't drown someone whose already buried between faults and crazy glue.
I have been sexually molested and ruined since the age of two. 
Being alone and guarded is all I know how to do. 
Call me a victim, and I will spit on you! 
Sex is no currency, but done prematurely, it changes you.
Here, I stand between my wants, and my inabilities afraid to admit 
I am defeated, but it's clear 28 years later, 
I am a casualty in a sea of nameless faces that cover their battle wounds 
with packed suitcases and underwear. 
We are the professional runners. 
The ones with no sentiment and oblivious to commitment.
Who do you think you are, trying to love me? 
I am impossible, you see.
I am too good to be true. 
Don't get excited when I tell you I'm single.
Truth be told, I am not alone. My molester stands right there in the silhouette of you 
and theres nothing you can do.
Your body is your temple, mine is a shell 
that I wrap in scorn and spoilt love. 
Listen, the sky's are Horney. 
Please understand. 
I don't look at the clouds the wonderful way you do. I'm a rolling stone 
who doesn't acknowledge pebbles.
I won't be good for you, I'm not good for me.
At this point, I've gained so much weight, I don't even recognize me. 
Reclusive and celibate one day,
the next day, I live carelessly. 
A tree with no leaves I have fallen, drowned in the sweat of his melancholy. 
It's best not to wink at me. I am prone to disappoint easily. 
The winds silently carry years of denied promiscuity. 
I know nothing of vulnerabilities and all about building walls around what scares me.
Not all honey comes from bees, and I am a sweet fallacy. 
I  learn to lie from then "No, Daddy, no one touched me inappropriately." 
I  knew he would kill him, and he was the father of my half siblings.
Little girl made an adult decision and never looked back on what they called innocence.
Eyes sharp like eagles 
quickly identifying friendly enemies to run from. 
Colonized Airports are just my cup of tea.
I say this, because that's where you will need to be to love the force that is me.
I don't look at clouds the wonderful way you do, 
because they take and take from the rivers and lakes their used to.

Miss Quote is a feminist force of unique talent and poise. Hailing from Montego Bay, Jamaica. She is many things – singer, songwriter, actress, author. Yet, her definition remains rooted in her spoken word persona, Miss Quote. She first appeared at open mics in South Florida. She can be found these days performing in cities around the globe – with great passion and thoughtfulness, wanting nothing more than to empower her audience. Her voice will speak to your mind and sing to your soul. In 2012, their first project served over 57 countries internationally inside The Fly By Mic Diaspora Tour.
Visit her videos at:
[Vintage Style Sideshow Poster, Cathy T. Colborn ©2013]
Flash Fire

Moonglow, K.J. Wells

Trees pass at a blinding pace and he scrambles hastily in the darkness, unable to decipher swamps from marsh. The blue moon above can’t shine through the thickness of the summer trees. Heavy breathing permeates the woods as wet soil stains the soles of his bare feet. His ears drum and he feels fear creep up the back of his neck. The footfalls behind him grow impossibly loud. Looking back to judge the distance between himself and his pursuer all he sees is dogs, he stumbles, recovers and runs on.
  “You jus keep on runnin boy. Imma catch you no matta whicha way ya go!” the overseer screams from the same direction as the heavy feet. 

Dogs bark with excitement as they close in on their target. The overseer begins his transformation; canines rip from his gums and his bones crackle adjusting to his changing shape. Smacking his lips at the possibility of dark meat for dinner, he increases his speed.

The slave glances back to see the overseer, but all he’s greeted with is a grotesque misshapen monster.
  “Wha in da holy Christ name is dat? Ma grandma told me not ta go. Awe Jesus help me!”
  He shakes his head not believing the slow overseer could have survived an attack from such a creature. He must have turned back and something else is after him, a devil with canines that are uncomfortably close. The beast’s hands look more like talons of an eagle than anything human. The slave is distracted and keeps looking at the monstrosity behind him forgetting that the lush foliage creates blind spots. He runs full speed into a magnolia tree.
  Shaking his head, he tries to regain his strength then a voice jars him out of his shock and fatigue. The overseer puts his foot on the slaves throat and says, “Didn’t I tell you, I’d catch you, Băiat!” The slave struggles and pleads, “Oh Gawd please, please don’t kill me. Imma be good. I’ll neva run away again, Massa. Dear Merciful Gawd, deliver me from dis devil”
  The overseer waited until his prey had exhausted himself before levitating horizontally and lowering himself until they were nose to nose. His eyes glow orange.   
  “You see Jebediah, it has nothing to do with race and everything to do with dinner.” 

Strange Fruit Too, K.J. Wells

Ripe for the picking, she was strung up an old willow tree with her head hanging at an awkward angle, flies stole the last of the nectar from her glassed over eyes. Her post mortem face was frozen in a look of shock of unspeakable horrors.  
Blood had rolled down her body, forming a sticky path from neck to fingertips, then it splashed on her bare foot. It hung, suspended on her toes, for a few seconds, then hit the root of the tree. The skin on her neck was shredded to chunks. Bone, some tendons, and her esophagus could still be seen in the early morning light. Large pieces of flesh were missing from her arms and legs exposing bone that’s void of fat and muscle. Her off-white nightgown was now soaked with blood.  
She was pregnant with Master Johnson’s seed, her breasts once heavy with milk, had fed his mulatto children. Her belly once robust was now a gaping hole. The baby that had grown there was taken prematurely and devoured as a delicacy. Her husband insisted the baby was his, but she knew the truth. 
Shortly after dawn, they had come to her room in the big house. Master Johnson was faced with a choice: pay for the protection the vampires provided with the new broad backed field Negro he bought or his favorite pregnant girl. Not wanting to lose out on his strongest field hand, he chose the girl. 

BIO: K.J. Wells a Philadelphia Poet with a MFA In Creative Writing. When Wells isn't drinking soy lattes and stealing internet from Barnes and Noble, Wells is preparing for the zombie apocalypse by sharpening her bow and arrow skills and hunting vampires in New Orleans. Wells has poetry and flash fiction published in Lit Garden.

[Sammy Davis, Jr., Showing Off at the Bar as The Fire Breather, Cathy T. Colborn, Ink and Watercolor, ©2013]

Full Blaze

Larry's Ghost Story, Michael R. Colangelo

Vanity is one of the seven deadly sins. Or maybe it’s envy. We’re pretty sure. Anyway, Benny said Sue Ann had too much of it, and we had to go burn it out of her. So we said okay, because his money and cocaine are pretty okay with us.
Benny is a crazy, crazy guy. Always quoting the bible and talking about spirit crystals and wolves and angels. Stuff like that. We just work here, seriously. So Sue Ann’s corpse is still smoldering in her back yard when I tell Larry to hold up. I think I dropped my wallet back there in the yard. It’s not on my wallet chain anymore.
So I hop the fence again and get back into the backyard. I find the wallet in the grass. Thank God it isn’t burned. Then I see the smoldering, and I start to worry that Sue Ann is going to catch on fire again. I go for the garden hose to put more water on her charred corpse. And you really want to know how crazy Uncle Benny is? Guy had us drive all the way down here to torch her.
Sure, Benny. We’re going to burn a lady in the middle of the suburbs and nobody’s going to notice that. Nobody’s going to notice the whole place is going up in flames. Once he threatened Larry though, you can bet that we started to sing a different tune. Guys like us are pretty expendable. Our skills are pretty plentiful. Nobody would miss us much if we disappeared, either.
So Larry drove us out. In the car, we tried to come up with a plan. The plan went like this: We’d do her in the backyard, so we could hose her down after she went up in flames. See? That’s also so if she started to smoke then maybe the neighbors would think it was just some barbeque.
We didn’t figure out screaming, because you can’t cover someone’s mouth while they are on fire. But we took a leap of faith on that one, and as it turns out, smoke inhalation really dampens the ability to scream. In fact, it kills you so fast, that I don’t even think you suffer much. I made a note at the time not to let Benny know about that part.
But I digress. So back to the story at hand.
So I pocket my wallet and then go get the hose. I’m in the middle of hosing her down when one of the neighbors back porch lights snaps on. That’s close enough for me and so I split. Right back over the fence and then back to the car where Larry is waiting with the engine running.
“Did you find your wallet?”
We drive for a bit. Then another question.
“Do you believe in ghosts?”
And here we go again. I don’t answer that question. I know what’s coming. Every time we do a job, Larry gets spooked. Larry sees ghosts. Every single time we do this sort of work. And just because I don’t answer him, it doesn’t mean he isn’t going to tell me about it.
 Larry starts talking about how when I’d gone back to get my wallet, that was when her ghost appeared to him. He’d tried to light a cigarette, but his lighter wouldn’t start. When he turned to rummage the glove box, there she was. Or what he thought was her, anyway. Because the ghost wore a sheet with eyeholes cut out of it. No shit. Just like the kids wear at Halloween.
He knew that it was her, because she leaned in with working lighter to fire up his cigarette for him. The edge of the sheet down by her leg pulled up a little and it was all charred flesh. That was how he knew. Whatever was underneath that sheet was all burned up. I ask him if he got his cigarette lit after all of that, and he says,      “Of course.” I don’t ask him anything else, until we’re at Benny’s place.
Benny lives inside his own club. I know he has a house with a wife and kids somewhere else, but this is where he stays 24-7. I’ve caught him sleeping on the couch in his back office. He calls his club “The Aquarium,” and it has a nautical theme. There’s a clear glass floor inside, and below the glass, schools of colorful fish swim around. Larry and I, both agree, we’d go insane trapped under there. All those vibrations from the music and the dancing. Nobody knows it, but Benny owns the craziest fucking fish in the city, hands down. I guarantee it.
Anyway, we go in there and find him just like Scarface. He’s trying to get through a mountain of cocaine sitting there on the ink blotter of his desk.

Blah blah blah, job’s done. Pay us.

We’re turning to leave when I see the ghost that Larry was talking about. The back office is down at the end of a very narrow hallway. There are all sorts of washrooms and change rooms and drywall and concrete in between.
As we’re turning to leave, I just catch a glimpse of that white sheet. Then it disappears into the dark. I tell Larry, “I just saw her too,” and he runs into the corridor.
 Normally, I wouldn’t go running off into the dark after him, but then I realize that Larry has our money. My money. So I duck out into the corridor also.
The back halls of the Aquarium are big. Vast, even. And pretty soon, I’m lost in what feels like an infinite maze of thin hallways, janitor closets, and florescent tubing that flickers and dies at a moment’s notice.
The only sounds here are the echoes of Larry’s footfalls and his gibbering, manic laughter. Problem is, I can’t actually follow the sounds because they are coming from everywhere. It sounds like he’s enjoying this a lot more than I am. I feel my way around a corner, feel something cold and dead right there in front of me, and smell some rancid barbecue.

Whoops – that isn’t Larry. I try to go back but it’s like the hallway has closed up behind me. It’s nothing but drywall.

I should’ve known better. I should’ve gotten rid of Larry a long time ago once he started with all of his ghost talking.

I’ll regret never knowing if Vanity or Envy or what which one is a real deadly sin and what I just think are deadly sins.

I’m all out of options.
I can’t help myself either, though.
So I ask her for a light.

Bio: Michael R. Colangelo is a writer from Toronto. Visit him at:

[Vintage Style Sideshow Poster, Cathy T. Colborn ©2013
Lust, Catherine Simpson
Oh, penises! I miss seeing them. They're so--I don't want to call them pretty, but what else can you call them? They're so--oh, I don't know. They're like those flowers that grow in the corners of garden that need less water and care, the kind that are used as garden-fillers and arrangement-fillers because they're so wild and roiling, but are lovelier than those wilty, fussy, droopy blooms that have that sticky, cloying scent. The wild flowers smell clean and strange, like grass and spice, and often are confused with weeds. Those are the kind of flowers I like--they remind me of penises.

I've seen a few penises that I've liked a lot. This guy Nick had such a nice one--so triumphant-looking. It matched his square jaw line and black, flat eyes, like a shark's after smelling blood from a mile off. His penis looked a spear--but not a real spear, a Hollywood spear used in a nineteen fifties production of a Gladiator movie, it was that pointedly pointy. It was a showman's penis. I couldn't it seriously--as penises go, it didn't look sincere. You can tell when a guy has a sincere penis, and he didn't. 

This other penis that I've been acquainted with was attached to this guy named Brendon. It was a good size, and very clean and pink-looking, like a toadstool in a Hummel figurine. That's what I thought when I looked at it--wow, that thing looks like a German collectible figurine, it's so glossy with life. "You have a lovely looking penis," I wanted to say. Unlike the penis, though, it didn't come up.

I have seen a penis I didn't like. Hunter's penis was too big, too broad, too purple and veined. It looked like he was carrying around a Thomas Kinkade lighthouse in his pants. His penis looked sincere, but in all the wrong ways. I didn't trust that penis one bit, and I should've guessed that it was a reflection of Hunter's character. 

My favorite penis was Keaton's. He had a very thoughtful looking penis. He was half French, and he had thoughtful brown eyes and delicate white hands and his penis looked like Rodin's "The Thinker"--crouching in his pelvis so focused and unassuming. When I saw his penis Debussy played in my head, I was very fond of his penis, and admonished him to take his pants off just so that I could look at it blooming, so squarely, decisively, whimsically somehow, between his legs.
Bio: Catherine Simpson is a cellist who lives in Santa Barbara. She has been previously published in the Big River Poetry Review, Right Hand Pointing, Spectrum, Poydras Review, This Great Society, Serving House Journal, Step Away Magazine, and Into the Teeth of the Wind.

Flash Interview: Pulling up Some Cool Answers from Ring Leader of Dead Flowers, Mister E.

Photo Credit: Love City Roller Derby 
So you think that you have to wait until a circus travels to you, or that you have to visit some boardwalk sideshow to have fun? No way, Dead Flowers is not your grandma’s traveling circus. I had the extreme pleaseure of being introduced by my fellow artists to Mister E., The Ringleader, of this amazing troupe of performers, musicians, and plain ol’ surprises. Proving my theory that the “mixing of the arts” is the way to go for inspiration. 
Let’s take a look at what this curious world can offer us.
Catt: Mister E., when I first researched you, there was a pic of a blue tap dancing dog, he sort of made my heart melt. He also made me miss my second home in New Orleans (because of the Blue Dog paintings there). Tell us what other surprises can our readers find out about you? What can they discover at your shows?
Mister E.: That's a neat question. Well, we always try to offer something that no one has ever seen before. The blue dog is just one example. I, personally am intrigued by anything considered shocking or unusual. It's almost comforting in a twisted way.

April 5, we had the second installment of our burlesque show, The Smokin' Gun Revue. Rather then just having traditional burlesque routines, we mix things up with choreographed dance numbers (as opposed to standard stripteases), comedic burlesque, belly dancing burlesque, current themes, and costuming. We even pepper in a couple circus performances. I can sincerely say, that as a troupe, “We are never afraid to get weird.”

Catt: You guys at Dead Flowers look like you are having an awesome time doing what you are doing. Are you having fun? I know practice is probably intense and not all “fun and games,” so any advice for those who want to submerge themselves in their art? 
Mister E.: Oh, of course, we are. That is our main reason for putting on our shows. We love to have fun, and we want to share that with our audience. Desire is the key that unlocks the door to success in any medium. I surround myself with ambitious people, because I know that is the only way to architect something as big as a circus company. Even if it small local circus company…It takes a lot of guts to be a part of something like this.

Catt: This is an obvious question, you have probably been asked this a million times: Did you wake up one day and say, “I am going to start my own circus troupe and perform dangerous stunts,” or was it something you cultivated as a child/teen/YA?
Mister E.: Well, starting my own circus company was a bit of one of those farfetched dreams that everyone has that “just stays dormant in the back your brain” feeling, but one day my friends and I, who are performers, put our heads together and made it something realized. I am a painter by trade. Before, the circus was something more of an influence in my art. Currently, it is my main objective.
Catt: Do you do private shows and is that how you got your start (at smaller, private venues)?
Mister E.: Sure we do private shows. Nothing is too big or small. 
Catt: My contacts also mentioned that you have music at some of these events. Is this something we can find at only certain venues? Can you tell us more about set events, incase the readers miss a few upcoming performances?
Mister E.: The burlesque show which is called, The Smokin' Gun Revue, happens every first Friday of the month at The Station on 16th and Mckean streets in South Philadelphia. Like most of our events, it is variety show but what makes that particularly unique is the emphasis on burlesque and dance. We usually host a band or two, as well as, some kind of other specialty performer. I think it is important to embrace all of the arts in this city not just the circus. That is why we showcase everything from fine art to “slop art” (slop art being a term we use to describe oddities and the miscellaneous). You can check us out at Underground Arts (where we do our more circus oriented variety show, Kaleidoscope). This month, we will be featuring a hoop performer, Wendybird Hoops, who will showcase some her skills as well as fan dancing. Check the website for more details on that show.
Catt: Let me say, I like the combination of fun that you are providing, Mister E., I can’t wait to attend all of these cool events with my readers and friends. Thank You for doing this flash interview with PFI. Here is a list of Dead Flowers’ upcoming events:
Other Events in April:
Blasphemy Squad, 4/20 @ The Voltage Lounge, doors @ 9pm
Deejayed set by Mod Cult
Music by Le Yikes Surf Club and Gondola
Dead Flower's Kaleidoscope, 4/26 @ Underground Arts, doors at 9pm

Live music, circus and sideshow: TBA 
The Smokin Gun Revue: TBA
[Like Dead Flowers on Facebook for more details. Please click the link

Mike Icon, Credit: By Scott Chuss 
This Issue’s Featured Celebrity Sideshow Artwork: Cathy T. Colborn, Creator of PFI, and Artist for Hire. Please Contact her at: Artwork is copyrighted 2013.
Follow Cathy’s writing on Facebook and
Coming Soon: Catt on Fine Art America (Website to purchase prints and photography). Email for details or permissions.
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Call for Submissions

When Pigs Fly is When We STOP Taking Submissions (unless you have a great story about pigs flying...I guess we will keep going if that is the case).

Our next issue will be online at the end of the Summer. So please keep sending us your hot submissions set in summertime, and also to our ongoing theme of The Seven Deadly Sins (redemption stories also accepted). Follow us on Twitter: for announcements on contests, appearances, and other upcoming themes. 

Minos can't wait to wrap his tail around your tales.