J. Alan Nelson

I am a writer and a lawyer.  I published previously in Wisconsin Review, South Carolina Review, Illya’s Honey, Red River Review, Adirondack Review, Red Cedar Review, Identity Theory, Hawai’i Review and Kennesaw Review, Driftwood Review, Ken*Again, Haggard and Halloo and forthcoming work to be published in the Connecticut River Review and Fulcrum.


Medusa’s Scalp


In the aurora of the electric fires

with long ago consequence

still clacking with illusion of will

the soapstones flicker with the sweet scars

of paradise;

rusty hammers

flung from the sky

against the concrete clatter.

Molten metals snap silver;

welding snakes and tufts of wire

hiss and smoke.

Paper lions convulse into stone and steel.

Later the warriors fight

over parking spot allocations

coffee makers and cubicle space,

their pain dulled not to roar, but a sigh.





A man leans forward in his chair

stares at the mercury spangle in a desk barometer

as the metal slides a point down the tube.


A phone number of a girl

who caused his doom

lies scribbled on the desk.

He knows if he calls the number

she will be surprised

then will say goodbye again.


He glances out the window

at the skyline in the haze.

He thinks how a few points under the norm

press the bones.

In the elevator he pushes the wrong button;

the doors open to the same floor.

He wonders what displaced him in this life.



Eblaite Scribe



He can’t remember when curse words

ceased to shock,

moved into his accepted lexicon. 

He presses the wedge into the clay

and moves through the fine-grained earth.

Another move connects the first.

Each stroke attempts to counter self abnegation,

the drunken joy of obscurity.

Each baked scrimshaw

details floods, prisoners executed,

cures for the rich, the fermenting grain,

the ancestors who scrabbled first here

in this hard soil, the sun scorched earth,

the descendants to come

who will scrabble with these words.

In the late afternoon,

the sliver moon rises early.

He muses on the precise neatness

when one cuts ideas in silicates.

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