With this issue we enter our fifth year as an online journal. I've heard it said, "90% of success is just showing up." We've done that. I've also heard, "Even buildings and whores become respectable if they get old enough." Five years as a literary e-zine certainly qualifies, and I'm proud when writers list us in their bios. Apparently we have become a respectable credit.

Since Melic's inception, when I wrote the short essay "On Modulation" for our guidelines, our editorial philosophy has been to promote intellect and passion in a comprehensible form — which makes us Neo-Elizabethan as to category. Also, although the name Melic was chosen because it means "to be sung" in Greek, it also forms an acronym: Meaning, Economy, Lyricism, Innovation and Clarity. Then there are our past issues, always the best guide to editorial preferences.

Yet as I've said many times, we will not be limited by our theories. A good poem is a surprise that often changes one's preconceptions. Thus we regularly take work that doesn't necessarily reflect our stated philosophy — of which there is ample example in this issue.

As our last issue was an all women's issue, we asked some men to wait for publication in Melic XVII. As it turns out, most of the pieces we favored during this submission cycle were written by men, thus the men's issue. In Melic XVIII we'll return to co-ed, complete with panty raids and paperings. Since left to themselves neither men nor women can reproduce, we do not foresee the birth of another gender-segregated issue in the near future unless by in vitro methods or preferential adoption.

My wife, Kathleen, joked about the women's issue: "What do women write about? Men." To which our fiction editor, Val Cihylik, replied: "And what do men write about? Themselves."

Strangely, although women's issues are passť in literary e-zines, I can't think of a single men's issue I've read. Why? Because no one cares? It's un-PC? Because men are loners, not joiners? It certainly has nothing to do with talent or fairness, as I see no gender inequalities on the literary net.

That said, I think this issue particularly strong — from the compressed neologisms of Harold Larrimore to the geographic incantations of Stephen Oliver, from Kris Kahn's vulnerable imagining of a lover springing from his navel to Joop Bersee's tribute to Andy Warhol, from the boyhood baseball memory of David Linebarger to R.J. McCaffrey's morbid notes from a medical examiner. As for metaphor, it's hard to beat Allen Itz's "tight cheeks flexing against the soft cotton / like two little monkeys in a velvet bag," which proves men also write about women, as do Jon Teets, Tony Grist and Ryan Costello.

Roy Doughty contributes a mystic, guilt-inducing "Admonishment Out of Nowhere" while Nigel Holt shares his Eliot-like lyrics (which include Greek and French). Joel Fry makes a great Zen pun with just a title and two lines while Thomas Bates provides a lesson in humility as his speaker attempts to teach a juvenile offender poetry. Timothy Patton writes not only about women but the making of a family through a puzzling metaphor of pronouns and numbers, while Pug Marr adds a lyrical elegy. A. P. Taylor unabashedly admits the influence of Rilke in his bio and it shows in his poems.

One of the most encouraging (or frightening) things about this issue is the craft shown by younger writers. Thomas Bates is 21, Gabriel Dean, 22, and Ryan Costello, 23. It bodes well to see the young write so proficiently, but it also makes an older scribbler wonder if he ever had it. Oh well.

Special thanks to Sherry Saye, who acted as Assistant Editor for Poetry for this issue. She did so well (she was pickier than I) that I asked her to edit Melic XVIII, assisted by Thomas Bates. I hope it won't irk anyone to know their poems may be rejected by someone who just attained drinking age (and I don't mean Sherry). Besides, Bates has been writing for six years; we nominated him for a Pushcart Prize last year before we even knew his age.

My thanks also to Val Cihylik, inveterate fiction editor, Kathleen Chaffin, most exalted proofreader, Blake Kritzberg, webmistress emeritus, and Mark Melton, Melic's webmaster (and the editor of 3rd Muse). Thanks also to our Roundtable Poetry Workshop monitors and participants, our new Interboard Poetry Competition Representative, Jewel, and all who have supported Melic through donations.

Speaking of donations, we could use some. If you'd like to make one, go to our homepage and click on the PayPal feature in the lower right corner. For snail donations, make your check out to Melic Review and mail it

c/o C.E. Chaffin,
700 E. Ocean Blvd. #2504,
Long Beach, CA 90802.

Our anthology, The Best of The Melic Review: Three Years Online is also available for purchase through PayPal or by mail. The more of these we sell (at cost, and worth the price), the sooner we can start the second printing for those who've already ordered. In addition, I tutor an intensive six-week poetry course online to help defray expenses. Taking advantage of the course is a nice way to help both yourself and Melic. Details are available at the bottom of our Roundtable Workshop guidelines.

It is now my distinct pleasure to give you Phallic Melic for your extreme enjoyment. Comments and criticism are always welcome, especially at our natter discussion board (which you can reach through the Roundtable Workshop). Contributors who include e-mail addresses in their bios may also be mailed directly. Otherwise, you may write them c/o melicreview@hotmail.com

Thine in Truth and Art,

C.E. Chaffin, Editor