An Interview with Pearl Starr


Pearl Starr is best known as the daughter of the infamous wild and reckless outlaw Belle Starr. She also gained notoriety as the girlfriend of the lawless bad boy Frank James. Pearl has gone on to becoming one of the hardest working women in the town of Great Bend where she works tirelessly to make the town a generally all around happier place.

What was it like growing up with a mother like Belle? What are your some of your most fond memories of those times?

I guess it was like anyone else’s childhood: full of resentment and inadequacy. My most fond memory of her is when she’d go to sleep. Because she’d stop talking about herself. Unless she talked in her sleep, and then you were in for another 8 hours.

What did you love about her most?

Her face. Because it was different enough from mine where I could get away with saying we weren’t related if I didn’t feel like dealing with the ”Oh my god, BELLE STARR IS YOUR MOTHER?!” conversation.

What do you think is the most important thing she taught you?

“Don’t smile like that. You’ll get wrinkles.”

What was it like being the girlfriend of Frank James? Was it the lure of fame and fortune that first attracted you to him or was it his personality?

I think Frank and I were like any other couple. If you like fishing, you want to find someone else who also enjoys fishing. If you like robbing banks and the rush of dodging bullets as you gallop away with enough money to buy yourself anything you could ever dream of…you wanna find someone who enjoys that, too. And it didn’t hurt that we looked good together on a Wanted Poster. Nothing good ever lasts with outlaws…it was still fun, though.

Why do you think so many women seem to be initially attracted to men that carry those sort of bad boy traits?

I think most women like the fact that they’re with a man who isn’t by the book, who’s “dangerous”. Does things that are illegal and exciting. I think they like being close to danger without having to do it themselves…but I liked finding someone to be in the danger with. My mom always said, two people robbing a bank is better than one. Not that I’d do that anymore…that would be illegal. And bad. And wouldn’t give you the best rush you’ve ever felt in your life. And…really bad.


What did you think when you first saw the town of Great Bend?

“This place smells like a giant turtle turd.”

Did you ever imagine you would be living there?

Not even in my worst nightmares.

How has your life changed most since you’ve settled in to the small town?

Well, I went from being a member of essentially an all-male group of hardcore criminals to living with a handful of prostitutes. With the gang, if someone did something you didn’t like, you’d shoot them. With the ladies at Honey’s, if you do something wrong…no one tells you. But tiny passive-aggressive notes start popping up everywhere. On your vanity. In the outhouse. On your face when you wake up. I miss the shooting, it was a lot less painful.

What is the most outlandish thing you have seen during your time there?

I had a customer ask me about how I was “feeling” once.

What do you love most about living in Great Bend?

I feel like love is a strong word when talking about Great Bend. I guess I like some of the people…Honey’s really great. Hoyle is…a lot. Eli has a nice face. Wanda smells like my grandma, which is oddly comforting.

What do you find most challenging about your current career?

Taking a vacation. Redheads are in high demand and supply is limited. Also, I’m double jointed. So you can imagine.


Why do most of the women who work at Honey’s saloon seem to keep their gloves on a lot? Is that to establish some sort of protective barrier between you and your work?

It’s the same reason we don’t kiss customers on the mouth: it’s just not sanitary. Can you imagine having sex with people and actually touching them with your bare hands? That’s disgusting.

Do you think your particular line of work helps somewhat lighten the mood and improve the dispositions of the citizens of Great Bend?

I think it definitely takes people’s minds off of the fact that they live in a barren wasteland of a town and that their lives are pretty much meaningless. So, yeah.

Is there a certain freedom that comes from working at the saloon and being able to pay your own way? What advice would you offer women in regards to having your own career?

It definitely beats relying on someone else to buy you food or a hat or something. I don’t like having to ask anyone for anything. I was raised where if you wanted something, you have to steal it yourself…or, yeah, buy it, I guess. But ladies, pick something to do that you can actually make a decent living out of. Like making your own whiskey. Or bank robbing. Or prostitution. Those are careers that’ll go somewhere.

Were you surprised to learn that John Henry Hoyle was your step-father? Does it feel good to have at least some sort of family left?

I was definitely surprised that Hoyle was in any way, shape or form related to me. Definitely not my mom’s type. There was about 10 seconds of my life where I thought there was a possibility of him actually being my father. Those were the scariest 10 seconds of my life. But honestly, he is probably the best father figure I have. Mostly because he’s the only one who hasn’t tried to murder me. So that’s nice.


Do you think people tend to underestimate you given your roots?

I think I’ve been here long enough where people forget who I was before I went straight. Sometimes it’s good to give them a little reminder…

What aspirations and dreams do you hold for your future?

I’m trying hard to do this “normal” thing. So. I guess to have normal things…like living in one place for a long time. And laughing at jokes people make even if they’re not funny. And not poisoning anyone. Yeah…I can’t wait for that.

Are the any little known things about you that our readers might be surprised to learn?

I can’t read. But I AM an excellent shot. So I feel like that evens things out.

Do you have anything else you’d like to say?

Cuddling IS extra. I’m tired of having to repeat that.


“The Tuscan Cypress and Van Gogh” by Chris Waters

Road with Cypress and Star by Vincent Van Gogh

Road with Cypress and Star by Vincent Van Gogh

The Tuscan Cypress and Van Gogh




Into English, from Greek and/or Latin.

Where from there? Hebrew “gopher”: Noah’s tree,

sweet and long-lived? Or, along other trails:

“camphor”? ; “brush”? Still what’s in a name? Different

species vie. Same name” “Monterey cypress.”

Other names: China’s five varieties.

No names for cypresses go back far enough.




Chums, the cypresses and the Etruscans

first traveled through Iran and Syria;

then the island called after them, Cyprus.

They settled at last in self-named Tuscany.




Trees of death encircling cemeteries,

thin straight-down roots respectful of tombstones,

the very caskets made from their sweet wood.

Though survivors too, living centuries,

staying green year-round, deflecting bad winds,

life’s guardians via its countless forms of

boundaries, Stonehenge-like telling of

folk-tales and for assorted church doings,

heat-providers with thick fuel even when

excavated from long-past extinctions.




How about the trees in themselves? R.L.

Stevenson flubbed. His title characters

in “Cypresses” hark back three millenia

to the Etruscans, At least, Van Gogh skipped

God, and didn’t look on them as upside down

humanity. They’re not now even real

trees. Mostly at night, grouped or solitary,

pulsating, emitting warmth and feeling,

transgressing barriers between the senses.




“This wondrous mysterious tree has…,”

yes, the Tuscan cypress has a fungal canker.

Goodbye too to its black ash cousin, ground into

by the emerald bore. Their last century.

Oh to be a cockroach or a bedbug,

likely several more extinctions to go.

Wrong track? Rebaptize, waiting in the wings,

the canker-immune Bolgheri cypress?

And there are other hues of ashes. Don’t

say die. Allow, green, blue, and white a chance.

Ecosystems live, woodpeckers change tastes.




Wrong track bis! Alas, beloved Vincent!

Stars galore, cypresses a gogo, fields.

Where would Vincent be otherwise, or we?

No, another flag! Those themes were just aids,

drawing him on, ways to share, soothe, recount

a message he didn’t quite know himself,

the pulpit not having worked out at all…

For fun! Let George G. Mallory(Everest fame)

play the short-tempered Vincent Van Gogh.

(By one year they lived the same lifetime!)

“Why do you paint stars and trees so often?”

“Because they’re there!”

Van Gogh’s Ear Volume 4 special offer, $7 shipping included


Featuring poems by Maya Angelou, Norman Mailer, James Dean, John Gilmore, Tony Curtis, and many, many other talented poets of our time, Volume 4 of Van Gogh’s Ear is now available for the extraordinary price of $7.00(USD/Can) and $5.00(Euro). To order please see:


Volume four of Van Gogh’s Ear: Best World Poetry and Prose is now to be experienced! A powerful poem for peace by one of the great voices of contemporary literature, Maya Angelou, seizes the soul; Margaret Atwood’s insightful, often amusing essay on poetics inspires; Beat legend Carolyn Cassady’s intriguing new prose piece explores the energies that create and sustain all life; a high-speed letter from Beat icon Neal Cassady sweeps one away with his thoughts on Intellect and the arts; acclaimed renaissance man Leonard Cohen’s poem excites both the imagination and emotions; James Dean’s hardhitting poem gives a brutal glimpse into the acidic mixture of love and hate the legendary actor had for his father (a scan of Dean’s actual poem appears with photos from a private collection); John Gilmore’s snuff poem for Elizabeth Short“The Kiss of the Black Dahlia” churns the blood; Norman Mailer’s tasty “If Poetry Is The Food” will not only have you salivating for more, but on an inward journey beyond flesh and bone; Bangladesh poet Taslima Nasrin, who had to flee her country following death threats by Islamic fanatics, contributed a poem which reveals much through the rape of two young sisters who are ordered by a judge to be whipped in public for speaking out against the man who raped them; Yoko Ono’s piercing “Maybe I Was Too Young” and lovely “A Rose is A Rose is A Rose” appear with one of her intimate Franklin Summer drawings; Sue Russell shatters the Hollywood portrayal of serial killer Aileen Wuornos in the movie Monster with her probing essay. There’s also Sonia Sanchez’s startling poem about a mother torn between love for her 7-year-old daughter and addiction to crack; Irish poet Eabhan Ní Shuileabháin’s intense journey into the minds of the main people involved in executing a criminal at the time of execution; and even more powerful work by Tony Curtis, Joyce Carol Oates, C. K. Williams, Diane di Prima, John Updike, Daisy Zamora, Michael Rothenberg, Joanne Kyger, Tess Gallagher, Richard Kostelanetz, Marc Smith, Alice Notley, J. T. LeRoy, Aram Saroyan, Billy Collins, in total 91 great talents. After reading this landmark anthology, you’ll feel as if you’d lived intensely in the skins of many different people in different parts of the world. Highly recommended as a rich resource for teachers and a library basic.


Maya Angelou, Shamsul Arefin, Colin Askey, Margaret Atwood, Michelle Auerbach, Elizabeth Ayres, Ian Ayres, Joe Bacal, Amanda Bay, Itzhak Ben-Arieh, David Bergman, Bill Berkson, J. J. Blickstein, Pat Brien, Mary Burger, Carolyn Cassady, Neal Cassady, Andrei Codrescu, Leonard Cohen, Billy Collins, Caitlin Condell, Holly Crawford, Victor Hernández Cruz, Dave Cunliffe, Tony Curtis, Jen Dalton, Andrew Darlington, James Dean, Albert Flynn DeSilver, Peter James Drew, Jordan Essoe, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Marilyn Yvonne Ford, Gloria Frym, Tess Gallagher, Marcene Gandolfo, John Gilmore, John Giorno, David Helwig, Jill Hill, Marie Houzelle, Scott Hutchison, Michael Huxley, Brendan Kennelly, Galway Kinnell, Richard Kostelanetz, Richard Krech, Joanne Kyger, J. T. LeRoy, Lyn Lifshin, Mark Lipman, Ken Mackenzie, Jayanta Mahapatra, Norman Mailer, Randall Mann, Sylvia Miles, Laure Millet, Taslima Nasreen, Thom Nickels, Alice Notley, Joyce Carol Oates, Tommy Frank O’Connor, Nessa O’Mahony, Yoko Ono, Lisa Pasold, Barbara Philipp, Kristin Prevallet, Diane di Prima, Terry Rentzepis, Bob Rosenthal, Barney Rosset, Michael Rothenberg, Carol Rumens, Sue Russell, Sonia Sanchez, Aram Saroyan, Larry Sawyer, Eabhan Ní Shuileabháin, Donny Smith, Marc Smith, Carolyn Stoloff, Nelson Sullivan, Mark Terrill, John Updike, Gerard Van der Leun, François Villon, Lina ramona Vitkauskas, Phillip Ward, Karen Weiser, C. K. Williams, Daisy Zamora, Harriet Zinnes…

Available at:



An Interview with Wanda


Wanda is best known as the salt of the earth whore who works so many long hours at the Great Bend Saloon. She is not prone to niceties and doesn’t mind speaking her mind. She fits in well with the men of the town with her direct manner and general lack of disregard for what the world thinks.

What did you dream of becoming when you were a little girl?

I wanted to be a shoemaker because I didn’t have any shoes. I started making my own shoes with old newspaper. If I was ever stuck in an outhouse without something to wipe with, I’d use my shoe. Win win for me, although my invention never took off.

When did you first learn to play the piano? Is music often a welcome escape when dealing with life in Great Bend?

I never really knew how to play that well til’ Hoyle came to town and started frequenting Honey’s boudoir. I couldn’t bear Hoyle’s sobbing post coital so I’d start tickling the crap outta those ivories to muffle his lady-like sobs. Now I’m the best pianist Great Bends got.

You were rather upset when the Temperance movement hit Great Bend. Do you find it strange that people don’t realize how much alcohol helps in your line of work?

Don’t be an ass. “Rather upset” is an understatement. I’m Great Bends go-to painted lady when it comes to fornicating outside the box. There’s some twisted Johns that come from far away towns just to lay with me. But mainly, I’d say alcohol helps me cope with the frequent pulled muscles I get from bouncing around on whatever my clients point to.

You seem a little more down to earth than the rest of the girls at the saloon. Why do you think that is?

Because I don’t give a shit. Unless I’m out of whiskey, then I give a big shit.


Did you feel a little slighted when Honey asked Pearl to take over the business instead of you?

Nah. Pearl’s just the pretty face that leads the pigs to the troth. I’m the goods the pigs eat up from that troth, so…Pearl can suck an egg.

Do the girls working the saloon get in arguments a lot or do you all generally get along well?

Us alley cats bicker back and forth from time to time but for the most part we all love each other. But we don’t love each other on the mouth.

Was it upsetting to lose your tooth on that steam powered vibrator? Did that make you somewhat wary of machines?

I was deep in the barrel when it happened so I didn’t feel a thing. But that’s war, man. I lost my tooth that day but I sure as hell didn’t loose my pride. I’m not afraid of any machines! I’ll go head to head or coot to crack with any machine any day!

Was it particularly hard to get over crouch rot? What do you think is the best way to deal with a situation such as that?

I’m used to it now. Just like pinnin’ your garments up to dry, you gotta do that with your lady parts now and then. I suggest ditching your bloomers so the air has easy access to your dame.


Is there anything particular about yourself that your friends and clients might be surprised to learn?

I’m not in the mood to share today, so kindly piss off. Fine, I’m colorblind and I have no sense of smell. Happy?

What do you hope to be doing years from now when you are old and grey?

The way I’m living I only got…five good years left in me, but if I’m still breathing God’s good air when I sprout my first grey hair, I imagine I’ll have saved up enough to run a dog and whiskey farm.

What do you think is the key to a life well lived?

Make every day a party day.

What advice would you like to leave our readers in closing?

Firstly, just because they can read doesn’t mean they’re better than me. Second, life is gonna throw lots of horse shit your way… don’t hide from it. Run into that shit head on then ask life if that’s all it’s got. Take risks. Drink while you take them. It’s more fun.



“Baby Wears Wayfarers” by Daniel Knauf



Baby Wears Wayfarers


Nothing but dirt out here
Cracked dry roads and Dairy Queens
And half-naked trees
And church bells
And cows, lots of cows
And hash browns
And hair-dos
And men who drive rigs
And their women
Who best not ask why
Who best have dinner on the table
Who best fix their eyes forward
Always forward, never back


California perched
On the bridge of her nose
The scent of salt, the cry of gulls
The endless heaving blue blue blue
Hidden behind
Black glass.

An Interview with David Lloyd


David Lloyd is best-known for his work on V for Vendetta. He also co-created Night-Raven for Marvel, worked on Doctor Who magazine, contributed to Hellblazer and many other series, and produced the acclaimed crime-noir graphic novel, Kickback, now available as an app from Panel Nine on Sequential. He currently publishes the multi-award-winning onscreen comic magazine, Aces Weekly.

For those who might not be familiar with you background, can you tell us a little about your beginnings?

North London working class, grew up loving the cartoons in the daily newspaper. Not academically strong, but was good at art and photography and English. Trained in advertising art and left after 6 years to try to become a strip creator and eventually succeeded after much rejection and study to become better at it.

Did you have an active imagination as a child? Do you happen to remember what you used to sketch most often when you first started learning you could draw?

Simple cartoon characters first. I drew on the back of surplus posters, cut up into convenient squares, that my Dad brought home from his work in a bus garage. My imagination was mostly fed by movies and tv but also Mad magazine and suchlike, and b/w UK reprints of US comic anthologies.

When did you know you wanted to work as an artist?

It was the only thing I could really be, but I remember seeing a kids tv show that showed actors portraying various occupations that might be aimed for in adulthood and one of them was a ‘ commercial artist ‘ – depicted sitting on a high stool at a drawing board. It looked like exactly what I wanted to do – so that was me set!

Did you develop a love of comics early on?

No. Tv and movies were my real love, but I admired and enjoyed those things I’ve mentioned, and Batman comics and suchlike when I chanced upon them now and again. In our house we mostly had the cheapest published British comics on a regular basis, because we didn’t have much money – and they weren’t very inspiring.

What was your very first favorite story?

My first was a favourite, if you mean of the ones that I did – the first that I got paid for was one I wrote and drew, so it was my first and the first favourite.


How did you get the job at Marvel UK? What was running through you mind when you first heard you’d landed that?

I was not awed, if you’re implying that. Marvel was just another employer I was glad to be employed by. I got the job because I’d done good work for the Editor there athis previous place of employment, and he remembered I had.

Do you think comics in the UK differ much from comics from various other places around the world? Why do you think the appeal of comics is so universal?

Comics here have no industry left to speak of, though the creative ones still reflect the best qualities of our British creators, who, in the past, left these shores, in work terms, to serve the US market, because they weren’t appreciated by the publishers here for their individual creative personalities. Comics are different from country to country in the degree of appeal they have to their public, ranging from artistic acceptance in France, to being a cultural essential in Japan, to being pop entertainment in the US. Unlike film, which evolved similarly across the globe, strip storytelling grew in differing ways all over sadly. I’d like to see it as respected as cinema is on a worldwide basis, but I think it’s too late for that to happen now.

What are you feelings on the recent popularity growth of superheroes and comic characters in cinema?

I don’t care much personally. Don’t see them. Not sure they’ll create fans of the actual medium of comics if any of the non-comics folks seeing them are attracted to comics because of them. If they do, that’s good. Lots of V moviegoers bought the book afterwards and went on to read other graphic novels, so it can work like that -but how many were converted to a full appreciation of our medium generally through it is a mystery.

Are there any little known facts about you that your fans might be surprised to learn?

I don’t know how much people know, so I can’t tell what anyone might be surprised by.

How do you think you career has changed most since your early days? What advice would you offer the artists of tomorrow?

I’m publishing now almost solely, so it has changed a lot now. Other than that…well, in my early days I just went from one job to another before I figured out that keeping a good bank balance always allowed me to choose what I did rather than be ruled by it- so that was a change I made, and one I’d suggest others in this biz to do, too, if they haven’t done it already. Advice? Work hard to be as good as you can be at what you want to do and grasp every opportunity to do it when you’re ready to.


How did Aces Weekly come into being?

I saw how easy it could be to publish an anthology onscreen instead of paper, so I did. The initial plan was to put it on another platform, not one of my own, but it was decided having our own identity for the thing was valuable. It’s been, and still is, very hard work, but is very rewarding creatively to deal with all the fantastic Aces we have on board. We still need lots more subscribers and buyers of our great collections of strips though, so I hope your readers will join the pack! At

Has offering the reader an exclusive comic weekly, offered more freedom to pursue story lines and images that might not be seen elsewhere?

Yes – my policy is to give invited contributors almost total freedom, so we have an amazing mix of the conventional and the unconventional, with the more unusual work often coming from well-known creators taking the opportunity to experiment.

What do you hope the public takes away from Aces Weekly?

Great, and often surprising, entertainment in comic art across a range of genres.


Do you have a dream project you’d most like to complete before your time is up?

None particular, but there are lots of things I could do if I had the time – and the potential of this medium is still under explored.

What are your feelings on life and death and what comes after?

There’s nothing after so make the most of it.

Anything you’d like to say before you go?

Yes. Please subscribe to Aces Weekly and buy our collections. It’s the best at the best price, and has been created for the benefit of the creator and the buyer – not printers, distributors, shippers or retailers. We don’t need the purveyors of paper to tell our stories. We put great comic art onscreen not on paper, and it goes directly to you, from us, with love (smiles).




“Mirrors” by Erren Kelly



My father was in the backyard

working with the bricks and concrete blocks

and weathered 2 by 4’s

and big, dirty pipes-

the essentials of his livelihood.

Linda was out in the carport;

she looked more domesticated than refined.

When I was younger,

I went on a lot of trips with her.

She used to tell people

she was “my mother.”

I always made it clear:


But unlike mama, she was assertive;

She walked out on him.

An air of tension lingered

as I stood among my blood kin.

We were family, but strangers,

Relative, yet distant.

My father had a typewriter for me.

Judging by the description

on the phone the night before,

It appeared to me a dinosaur;

I fancy the high-tech Macs.

Dad was beaming with enthusiasm

as he prepared to show it off;

The rope was around my neck, tightening.

When I was twenty,

I stood against him

and mentally castrated him,

But this day I was scared of him.

As a kid, he was the Zen Master;

he would carry me on his back

and we’d conquer the world.

Out of the night came Graelyn, my half-brother;

He wasn’t a squirt anymore-

but a football player.

As we three stood,

we made an attempt at male bonding,

But the words became murmurs lost to the rain.

When I was seventeen,

a bookworm and a loner,

I liked Hemingway more than party hopping,

Shakespeare more than fucking.

When Daddy asked, “Have you got any pussy yet?”

I blushed crimson

(an incredible feat for a black man).

When I told him I was still a virgin,

he wanted to disown me.

He couldn’t understand

I was a romantic.

I liked Coltrane and Langston,

I never did the nasty dunk

Even then I had doubts about

God and Jesus.

Whenever someone who knew my father saw me,

they’d always called me “Sonny”

‘Cause they said I favored him.

I had the Flat Top,

the abrasive, arrogant disposition,

the round butt high as a mountain,

the big, fine legs.

As I made my way back to the living room,

my eyes scoped out familiar pictures,

surveying them.

Tamiko, my half-sister probably went to college;

She must be glad to be free of his wrath.

Linda was sitting at the table,

making out the lesson plans,

Oblivious to my presence,

So I went to Graelyn’s room.

I noticed the double-barreled Winchester

hanging on the wall;

When I was twelve,

Dad taught me and Kevin how to hunt.

The closet was covered with pictures

of C.J. and football and Len Bias.

He asked me about my studies,

and I told him about the writing.

Daddy yelled out in the next room;

There was no second guessing:

You came or else.

Surprisingly, the typewriter was good,

Not exactly an Electro Computerized Whiz machine,

but dependable.

When I told him about the wonders of computers,

he seemed embarrassed,

and played it off without another word.

But the face always told the same story:

Nothing was ever enough to please him.

I longed for ages to get

beyond the man that he was.

Later on, I went back outside

and saw him working.

Only this time the rain was fierce.

But he didn’ t seem to mind;

I just stood there and watched him:

So many conflicting, confusing things

went on in my head. Occasionally,

he’d look my way;

All the lies that he had told in the past,

all the promises he had broken,

didn’t seem too much now.

I could forgive him for abandoning me.

But then, one of his friends said he was taking off,

and Daddy suggested I ride with him.

I guess the talk will have

to wait until another time.

Now, whenever people who know my father

Tell me I’m a lot like him,

I begin to wonder:

Am I what I am because of him,

Or in spite of him?


Erren Kelly is a pushcart nominated poet based in Portland, Oregon. He has been writing for 25 years and have over 100 publications in print and online in such publications as Hiram Poetry Review, Mudfish, Poetry Magazine(online),Ceremony, Cactus Heart,Similar Peaks, Gloom Cupboard, Poetry Salzburg, and other publications. His most recent publication was in In Our Own Words, a Generation X poetry anthology; He has also been published in other anthologies such as Fertile Ground, Beyond The Frontier, and other anthologies. His Work can also been seen on Youtube under the Gallery Cabaret links. He is also the author of the chapbook, Disturbing The Peace on Night Ballet Press.