In our Apostrophes section, (614) Magazine attempts to highlight some of the incredible literary talent that lives, works, and writes in Columbus. If you are an interested writer, please direct your submissions (1,000 words max for prose, 300 words max for poetry,) along with a brief bio, to david@614columbus.com.




By Jimmy Mak

[toggles style=”toggles”][toggle title=”He was just an old man, a stranger standing in front of me in line at the grocery store, but I immediately felt drawn to him.”]He was just an old man, a stranger standing in front of me in line at the grocery store, but I immediately felt drawn to him. I wanted to sit with him at a bar and listen to his life story. I couldn’t help but stare. His dripping face was weathered with life. He looked down mostly, and the moments where he braved looking up, it was as if his eyes had to cut through memories of loss: a dead wife, a runaway daughter, a missed fortune. He had a T-shirt on which sported a cartoon man, hair frazzled, on a surfboard. His pants were silver and dressy and his shoes were shiny black. As he dug into his wallet for money, his left knee jerked in and out, perhaps moving to the beat of a song he had forgotten long ago. The checkout girl looked for a short time at the two cartons of Basic 100s cigarettes, which were separated a little from his other purchases. “These yours?” she asked him. “Please,” he replied, softly, sadly. “Payin’ with cash?” “Please.” She took his money before he had finished handing it to her, as if she was afraid he’d change his mind, and he stood there for a second still holding on to his invisible dollars. Then he sighed and his embarrassed hand searched for shelter in his pocket, only to spring to life once again to catch the few coins she was dropping. Then, suddenly, he turned to me, perhaps feeling my stare, my fascination. He looked completely at me, his eyes no longer squinting, and he gave me a wink. I smiled self-consciously and he turned back, picked up his white plastic bundles of treasure and headed back to his life of cigarettes and pepperoni sticks, his leg still moving to surfing songs of his youth. I think of him from time to time at moments unexpected – in the middle of arguing with my wife or when I’m completely engrossed in a good film. And I think about his wink, and whether it was a warning or a welcoming, perhaps letting me in on the secret that one day you wake up and all you can say is “please.”


Jimmy Mak has been the head writer for Shadowbox Live, the largest resident theater company in America, for 18 years. In addition to comedy sketches, he routinely writes essays, one-act plays, and musicals, including the award-winning Back to the Garden. He loves comedy, Columbus, and the word “pithy.”[/toggle][/toggles]

On the Social Contract

By Michael Vander Does

I go



my body against yours

your arms against mine


my fingers brush your phalanges

buttons on a phone

keys on a sax

squeaking congas


because this is consensual

with some prior understanding

no arbiter but our senses

when my hip hits yours

and forces a miss

it is


when you can adjust

it is not


because this is personal

and we need to be able

we do not argue the calls

forgive blatant but harmless

because only winning is at stake



lean in

to take the hit

and I

try to mold my body

to your motion

without touching

each reaching




Michael Vander Does is the leader of The Jazz Poetry Ensemble, one of the longest running jazz poetry ensembles in the country – dating to 1986. He started the Poetry in the Park program for Columbus Rec & Parks, bringing poets like Allen Ginsberg, Marge Piercy, Nikki Giovanni, and Amiri Baraka to Columbus, as well as presenting hundreds of Ohio poets. His works have been published in various magazines and e-mags over the years. Vander Does is deeply committed to social justice, with much of his poetry reflecting this fact.




By Andy Kalan


Think of all the places we’ll go:

what impermanent destinations we could

pin on the map;

what permanent snapshots

we could memorialize in our album.

If only we could shake the dust out of each

and every picture and taste their every

subtlety on our ever so ready lips:

the coconut-stained sand, the dark Hispanic

tan amidst balmy palms and white-skinned

umbrellas. If only we could cut a slit and

slide back in, one leg at a time, and implant

ourselves on that day and remain in the

hanging shade underneath that sagging sun

and be that couple

so rested and peace-filled.


Think of all the things we’ll create:

what permanent fixtures we could produce

with magic and mystery;

what impermanent youth

we could resuscitate from the crumpled

edges of what’s been discolored and seize

that moment of levity. If only we could put

those giggles and snorts and awe-inspired

shouts on continuous playback and rewind

the wasting away of time. Those fragile

porcelain dolls with their hope-filled eyes

running, dancing, catching every drop

spouted out from the innocent sky; how we

could only dream like those little bodies

racing through the sharp-shooting jets of

summer, drenched and naïve in the center

of our city.

Oh the life we’ll have led with all these

albums filled with all the right traces

of something worthwhile

as we’d shoot down

any loose expectations of

what’ll restrain us.


But what about

all the lost space in between

those smiles? There’s still so

much left unwritten.


Andy Kalan is a resident of Clintonville. He serves as a leading pastor at NewLife-OSU, a collegiate church at the Ohio State University. His first collection of poems, Nude, is finished but yet to be published.