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Gentle Readers,

It is my pleasure to introduce Melic XII. In it we welcome our first repeat featured poet, Scott Murphy. Scott's work is often wry but never cynical, confident but never hubristic, and always, insistently and passionately, human.

We had the pleasure of hosting Scott at our home recently and hearing him read in person. He reads very well, as you can hear if you sample the audio from his previous feature, but alas, we did not have the time for audio this issue. I hasten to add that we had beef, not puppies, for our meal.

And although Murphy tackles the cosmic superbly in his sonnet, he can also make us howl with his "Old Joke," or suffer frissons from the ghoulish "Vlad Among the Rent Boys," which won a contest for best vampire poem. Humor is a quality often lacking in poetry today, and Scott has it in spades. In all, we think Murphy a fresh voice who has not gotten the recognition he deserves in the world of contemporary poetry.

Scott is the first featured poet we've had since my last editorship, a year ago. To become featured poet at Melic one need only have five poems accepted. Should any aspire to the honor, please note on your submission "Featured Poet" and feel free to send more than the usually allowed maximum of five poems.

By popular demand we have dispensed with the "Light Verse" category and integrated the more humorous poems into our main selections to lighten the reading journey.

New names in this issue include r.l. swihart, who lives just up the coast from us but whom we have never met, with his intricately layered "Self Portraits," and Chris O'Carroll, who does a nice send-up of Wallace Stevens, as well as Roger Pfingston, who entertains us by topping the quote, "What's more wet looking when it's wet than a rat?" Jay Mancini returns us to the days of absinthe and Hemingway in expatriate Paris; Kathryn Rantala and Deborah Finch weave evocative landscapes about my newly adopted state, California, where I only recently experienced the grandeur of the redwoods. Tom Moore and Joel Fry round out the list of newcomers.

Old friends reappearing include Larry Fontenot, Taylor Graham and Sharon Kourous. And in an exception to first-publishing our own staff, we proudly display our webmaster's poetic skills in the superb "Voudon Tale" because it won first place in the InterBoard Poetry Contest.

Norm Ball weighs in with a breezily entertaining essay on "Poetry and Celebrity," which evolved from a thread at our Natter discussion board. Our stalwart fiction editor, Val Cihylik, has included a separate message. Val' s acceptance and expert execution of fiction editor duties has, we think, broadened our offerings in that category.

Although this issue comes online a little past deadline, we think Jim Zola's web design was well worth the wait. We are still actively seeking a webmaster to replace Jim, as he is overburdened by so many activities yet donates his time as best he can. We also continue to seek a business manager and have one promising candidate. CE has already begun work on selecting pieces for The Best of Melic, our first print issue, due out this year, commemorating our first three years online. Donations for this project should be made out to Melic Review and addressed to:

The Best of Melic
c/o C.E. Chaffin M.D.
700 E. Ocean Blvd. #2504
Long Beach, CA, 90802

We thank all those who have sent money already, but we do need a little more before we can go to press. A donation of ten dollars should net you one copy.

My especial thanks to Laird Barron and all the Melic Staff for their help with this issue, as well as to our Roundtable Poetry Board Monitors, our IBPC Representative, Gina Bryson, and to our Coffeehouse Newslady, Shoushanna Shy. Laird Barron will be editing the poetry for Melic XIII with the able assistance of Suzanne Frischkorn. Submissions for the summer issue close on May 10.


--Kathleen Carbone Chaffin