Black-Listed Magazine

Three Poems by Jasmine Aequitas

sleep

legs are slick
scissoring
sin and
bedsheet and skin
talon grips
pillow
slips
cotton tethers

the night
is made
for ease

but i fight
like i never
want to see
daybreak.



bottoms up

i fell
clumsily
into love

caught
off guard
all
topsy turvy

in a vertigo
i enjoy
more
than i let on

he laughed
brushed
the dirt
from my scraped
knee

and
casually
remarked

do you
always
defy
gravity?

for the right
moment
the right
mouth

i break
every rule
i was told
i need to
follow

the ground
is where
the foundation
of anything
great
begins.



chasing mania

on nights
like these

i
chainsmoke
drink
write

i dance

trying
to outrun
the voices
the heaviness
the
not-good-enough
not-nearly-enough
of life

of blank faces
empty eyes
cold lips

on nights
like these
my skin
burns
come-hithers
and shivers
coaxing
lioness
from
complacent
housecat

on nights
like these
i channel
the woman
whose hips
speak
with a cheshire grin

whose
spine
curves
like
a question mark
that punctuates
need
as an
answer

whose
mouth
is a weapon
half-cocked
and ready
to be fully
loaded

on nights
like these
i am
pliable promise
breaking

until the cigarettes
are all ash
and the bottle is empty
and the sun
threatens tomorrow

Two Poems by Volodymyr Bilyk

hold your breath for a minute or so

Complacency sets in
Squandering
the savage jaw

"Drive", he said
"Steve Taylor"

"Drive", she said
"Stan Ridgway"

"...A change of speed,
a change of style.
A change of scene..."

you dream of their kiss
Do you think you'd like that?


________________________________


Thin White Rope
for the
Thin White Duke

over the
Thin Blue Line
and the
Thin Blue Line
and the
Thin Red Line
and the
Thin Red Line

Man on Wire
Walks on By

Two Poems by Danny D Ford

She’s Gone

She’s gone to Milan
and left her perfume in the closet
sweet cheek and neck
hanging with the coats
Her hoodie lies crumpled
in the bidet
it’s clean enough to do that
she tells me
but I know
I wash my balls in there
I don’t know when she’ll be back
I have a faint idea
but
until then
I’ll just have to walk the rooms
wondering
checking the curtains to see
if any of her warmth
still creeps from the window
where she stood before lunch



Bellano

There’s a town we pass often
called Bellano
which literally translates as
‘beautiful asshole’
No one around here finds it funny
Now in my time
I’ve been fortunate enough
to have opened
some sublime slender
legs
to have pulled panties
from tight, smooth
cracks
to have stared into infinite
bliss
and to have kissed what felt like the cheeks
of God
BUT
I’ve never seen a view like this
the trees, the lake, the mountains
I guess
whoever named this town
had been more fortunate than I

Monday Morning 7:05 AM by Ted Jackins

These are the days
When all I want to
Do is lay the needle
Down on Bitches Brew,
Side two,
And throw open every
Window so that the
Sounds of the slowly
Falling rain gets
Lost in the faint
Crackle of the speakers.
I'll light a cigarette,
And sit by idle
On the couch
With my coffee
And my woman
As the cats chase
Buzzing insect
Intruders under
The kitchen table,
And for one brief
Moment not have
To worry about the
Slowly piling bills
Or whether or not
I'll be late
For work,
As the last gasps
Of summer fade
Into the run out
Grooves of
My periphery.

Pussy by Amanda Harris

You write about as well as I did
when I was six–
with your use of animals
and your need to make
every goddamn
thing you write
in the shape of an animal-
My friends think I shouldn’t
hate your guts,
but they’re nice people.
They don’t know what
it feels like
to look at a poem
and want to
gouge your eyes out
with fire.
For months, I’ve
been trying to forget
you exist.
I trashed my library.
I attacked my computer
with a blowtorch.
Every time I got in bed
to write or fuck though,
I thought of your bad words
and your bad sex
and it’s no wonder
a woman like me would
say such angry things
when the literary world
is contaminated
with men who
can’t fuck,
can’t write.

In which my Puritan ancestor visits me in a waking dream by Thomas R. Thomas

and another thing, you’re just dressed in a t-shirt.

but I’m home alone in my couch.

but it’s shameful. God will condemn you,

God doesn’t care what I wear at home.

and you should be ashamed

well, you might have something there. I don’t have the body
of a thirty year old,

of yourself and cover your shame.

and I can’t imagine God made this body, and look at you
you’re just a skeleton in a Puritan outfit.

Well, I’m dead you know.

That you are, and besides some nights even a t-shirt is too
much clothing, but I can’t take it off all because of you
damn puritans - thank you very much.

You’re welcome.

That’s one thing you Puritans gave to America.

Shame.

Shame, thank you very much.

You’re welcome. What’s America?

Pow Wow by Bud Smith

other people don't understand
our window, washing machine
the trick to the shower
how to force open the broken
cellar door, cabinet, closet
where to find our condoms
secret fact, there are none
they can't stand in our doorways
even, and sigh how we can
or find the other shoe
the secret sugar, the pink candles
playing cards, remote controls
maps to wherever the dog ran
wish I knew too
our sheets could use more bleach
and our cops need to get laid
in this development, our fortunes
are invested in beer
we raise our fortunes to you
as you walk up the driveway
thanks for coming to visit
tell me about some things
I could never
understand.

Two Poems by Marc Olmsted

Vegan Lollipop 

she wants to be approached
she doesn't want the trim hipster beards
she wants trouble with her blue hair
vegan lollipop
the next big thing
glowing phones
has somebody called?
getting older
it's in the crowd
a pestilence
the next big thing
red-lit
nobody won
hands of vapor
cigarette ruins
Poe's "Red Death"
"...dominion over all."
BLACK ANGELS
private
party



di Prima B-day

Hook knife suspended by itself

Poetry benefit - those who don't come send the most money

The silence is deafening
the gap between words
drive a truck through

between worlds
enlightened society flickers

here you are 80

Dharmic yammer
Political rant
Kitchen sink practice

Two Poems by Kevin Ridgeway

Cock-Blocked by Robert Stack and the Pillsbury Doughboy

twelve years old
and lying flat on the
pink fuzzy bath mat
of the only bathroom
in the house,
the sink running
two feet resting against
the door, a pair of
Wrangler jeans wrapped
around twin ankles,
a wrinkled picture
of Barbara Stanwyck
in a negligee
cut out of a movie
magazine taped
on the wall at eye level,
hard at work and
nearly--

there is a loud
knock at the door.
my mother asks if
I am alright.

Yes, I yell back.

she asks me to hurry,
that Unsolved Mysteries
is about to come on.

at work fast.
Stanwyck sneers
with absolute
disgust as I am
just about to--

another knock and
hollers to hurry.
the creepy music and
Robert Stack's voice
ruin everything.

I walk out with my
Fred Flintstone t shirt
stretched to conceal
the miniature failure while
the Pillsbury Doughboy
giggles with delight from
a commercial; I bet his
mother gave that little
bastard plenty of time to
finish up.



The Macauley Culkin Lookalike Contest

you've got the goods, kid
the talent agent told me
after I wowed him with
a monologue from
Eddie and the Cruisers 2:
Eddie Lives!
and all his fellow
agents agreed that I
could very well be
the next tow-headed
miniature billion
dollar franchise
to sink
his Velcro shoes
in Chinese Theatre
concrete, immortalized
forever in between
Ethel Merman and
Billy Dee Williams

my hair was saturated
in Sun-In for each casting
call, where me and hundreds
of other kids ran our lines
from the same three page
scene in competition for
the coveted role as
Alan Thicke's son
in a sitcom pilot,
which I came very close
to landing but they
complained that I was too
reminiscent of Macauley,
which all of the casting
directors said until I called
it quits.

my headshot still greets
me from mother's wall,
a stark reminder that I
am a generic label
knockoff, one of
thousands of bastard
Culkins who never
amassed fortunes or
hung out with Michael
Jackson and Bubbles,
only to grow up to have
kids at Jamba Juice tell
them they look like
the fat guy from
The Hangover.

Two Poems by Joel Landmine

Extended Metaphor

I’ve heard of these shamanic “power animals.”
Power animals are supposed to represent a person's connection to all life, their qualities of
character, and their power.

Bullshit modern people
have adopted a bullshit version
of this totemic belief.

Except these bullshit modern people
just make up their own
and pretend they’ve always had it,
that it means something to them.

So I’ve given it some thought,
and decided to join them.
I’m as full of shit as the next guy.

My power fucking animal

is the snail.
That means something to me.



Sometimes I Think the Fates Are Just Shitty Kids Shoving Firecrackers Up Cats’ Asses 
and Lighting Bags Of Shit On Fire On Your Stoop

“I have a dentist appointment
tomorrow at one.
Please, please, leave before or after that.
Please don’t leave me while I’m sitting at
the fucking dentist’s,
with those protective glasses
and that little fucking bib
I don’t think I can bear it.”

It was the last thing I ever asked of her.

“Oh baby,”
she cooed sweetly, kissing my scowling mouth,
“of course I can do that.
You know I wouldn’t do that to you!”

And guess what?

Two Poems by Cassandra Dallett

Chains

I’d been walking along in the afternoon sun
when his fist hit my sternum
ripped my shirt open.
Reaching up I feel my chain still there.
That’s what he was after
but he’d missed.

I held my shirt closed,
felt a little raped.
He was gone before I could yell, or turn, or run after him
just a blur behind me
standing at Seventh and Mission
fingering my saved Herringbone
the top ripped open on my fly black shorts outfit
printed gold with Egyptians
there was nothing to do, no reason to call,
I lived with the Police
was out on a pass
from The Sherriff’s Work Furlough Program
what could I do but keep walking
Seventh Street is always bad news
the path to the VD clinic
or the police station

I crossed the street by the new jail construction
head to the Swap building.
Wonder at the fact that, though I have nothing
I have something
I‘m kind of homeless these days
since my surrender.
I live in custody but this piece of gold on my neck
a gift from a married man
is something,
someone else wants enough to take off my body
the day’s light cools
I sign in at the deputies’ desk
head back to the ladies dorm
throw my fly ass Egyptian short suit in the trash.



Open Containers

At dusk I’m dreaming country roads and pick up trucks
places I ran away from long ago
my bare feet on the dash
jean cut-offs leave thighs burning dusty vinyl
some dirty white boy behind the wheel gripping me one handed like a beer

Every summer these fantasies come
I close my eyes in traffic
will myself to another time
on a bed of moss under a canopy of green
where rain thunders through the hot build up
not like here where air keeps thickening but stays dry
the grass all yellow parched matchstick
not like here in drought city waiting to combust

I need at least a week with no rules or phones or interwebs
late nights empty bottles roll the floor
crickets fill the spaces warm enough to lie under
the speckled dome above us and he will worship me
hold me weightless in cold spring water
mud between our toes cat tails guarding us

why does everything have to go.

Ecclesiastes 12:7 by Joseph Hargraves

Leaves of bonsai Bodhi droop
    Over computer screen. Buddha
        Of bronze under Norfolk pine.

Christmas cactus un-bloomed.
    Dead English ivy turning
        To dust. I touched the quill on

Saint John of the Cross
    Statue. In monastery
        Where it was made

They poked a finger bone
    Of San Juan de la Cruz’s
        Onto the plaster poet.

T.S. Eliot Reading “The Wasteland”
    On Youtube:
        Transmissions

From the past
    And hot coffee
        As I wait to turn to ash.

Fit for a mummy by Ben John Smith

She hated the way
I made the bed

I had put the sheet
Over the pillow
Like they do in hotels

"I hate it"she said

The Egyptians
Used to build
Pyramids
For the dead
So they could sleep
Well.

A man can't always
Please a single
Woman
Let alone
The whole fucking
World

I never made the
Bed again.

Just left all the
Sheets in a bundle
On the mantras

Man can't please
A woman
By making
A bed

Egyptians don't build pyramids
For the dead
Any more
Either.

BREAKDOWNS REALLY by Ford Dagenham

saturday night london basement
escaped mothers dance like strippers with staring fakesters
and me
i’m moody drunk and high
staring down at the Kickers and box fresh Converse
some nobody saying
IT AINT ALL BAD YOU KNOW
to my dead face of whisky misery-thunder
and
then
cab rolls us south in silence
and it is like magnets – our hands
i can’t not – tho i shouldnt
and its ok - i think i am helping you
and anyway we’re all having breakdowns really
and then we’re drinking more
under the Heathrow flight paths
and you fall asleep on me
i got one arm to drink with – reach for the valium with
and i wake you at dawn
for drunkards breakfast
of
coffee
unfinished toast
cigarettes
and
i leave with no job and half the bus fare
and really i wasn’t helping at all
cos
we’re
all
having breakdowns really

"poetry reading" by Steve Calamars

I walk into the convenience store.  I have a book of poems by Todd Moore and a snub-nose 38’ in the pockets of my pea-coat.  I can either select a poem
or the gun.  I go for the gun and pull it from a pocket in a single silvery flash.  The barrel is resting snuggly against the cashier’s forehead.  His face slips
into transparency and his eyeballs seem to shiver.  I extend my free hand, fingers open, palm up.  He opens the register and places a stack of green bills on my hand like a pedestal.  I pocket the money.  I cock the hammer of the 38’.  He stops breathing.  I slide the barrel from his forehead and squeeze the trigger two inches from his temple.  The bullet shatters a glass cabinet behind him filled with cigarettes.  I pocket the 38’ and pull out the poems.  I read him 2; short, fast, violent.  I pocket the poems and walk out.  As I go, I know the poems didn’t leave an impression, nearly as deep as the blistering white ringing in his ears—

Four Poems by Rob Plath

LOST IN YR OWN ROOM

you can feel lost
in yr own room
don’t let the four
walls fool you
& what good’s
the lamplight?
it might as well
be pitch dark
& yr ready
to scream
but then yr cat
jumps on the bed
& you feel her
heart beneath
the ball of yr thumb
& suddenly yr
home again

_______________________________________


REVENGE

when yr demons
are all alone
sleeping on a cot of fire
in a barracks in hell
they’re tortured
by visions of you
happily drinking tea
& stroking yr cat
the morning light
illuminating yr clean
& manageable wounds


________________________________________


POEM FOR MY OLD CAR

i sit on the hood of my 21-year-old car
for the last time
beneath a cloudless blue late september sky
it was already 14 years old when i acquired it
but every time something busted i’d fix it
i remember the mechanic once saying,
“it’s like you adopted an abandoned, beaten, old horse
covered in bandages…”
but it gave back in return
& held more loyalty than all my dead loves
i’d sit in the driveway some evenings
gently patting the dashboard
thanking the guts of the old engine
for pulling me thru those days like razors
& nights like jaws of nails
yes, these lines are for you, old boy

__________________________________________________


ART THERAPY

i painted my
goddamn blues
lotus-pink

& then gessoed
the hell out of
my fucking darkness

historia by Jasmine Aequitas

i am quite drunk
the sounds of my elders
swirl around my ears
as i sit
on my fire escape

just another girl
from brooklyn

their spanish
is a relic
reminder
of my own
dna
drums

accents
like warm milk
soothing
the crying
i find
tumorous
in my chest

i smoke
my cigarette
and whisper
mi vieja

i am my
grandmother's daughter
and i drink to you

abuela
corazon

you are
my story

we always
begin
a story
this way

through
heartache
and a search
for home

never knowing
how it will end

but i drink
sigh
smoke
and
look to the sky

we
women
learn
how to make
home out of ash

even with
skewed accent
and broken word
raspy throat
and
half-complete
deed

smoke and memory
we
are a dream
not yet finished

About a Film by Chad Grant‏

Mark Rothko’s used razor
Etched a Prozac smile
On life’s concluding face
As
It
Stared
Back
At
Him.
Allan waits for his Lolita
Inside
Of the Guggenheim
Asking
Questions to
A girl about
About a painting.
When finally inquiring about
Her plans
She sighs
Despairingly,
And gives him
An
Abstract expression
As if he could
See right through her
Grin.

Three Poems by Jeremiah Walton

SOUL

HELLO SOUL
you are my 5:15 sunset
you are my 5:30 burning lungs
you are my 5:45 face buried in the sand
seeing what chicken ostriches breath
you are my 6:00 death
you are my soul
possessing my body
you just killed the earth for Moonlight.



BITE MARKS

pulling rich men on camels through needles
the sigh of a thousand humans crumples all attempts to write love letters
cynicism stirs the sky line to suicides to scary to try
what a beautiful place I have found in a dream circling around the sun
bite marks on my shoulders will not fade
I won't let them
I want them to be there
for if any other woman touches them
they shall know my heart is not theirs to touch
they shall not touch it
I've remembered something soft
I've remembered a dream where a young girl possessed by my soul kills me
I remember sitting out front of Starbucks chain smoking wifi
then the young girl refuses rope and my soul ditches her in the starucks
to possess my body
the baristas didn't notice and kept frapping
I found two people who thought they were jesus
put them in a booth together
and they became one god
a bank built for robbing
impassioned silliness forced to get laid
curlicues of hair turn to snakes
o, it's just my soul's surreal clothing speaking again
put on your sunday shoes and masturbate quietly to get over the sunday shoes

Person -
from Latin persona
'actor's mask, a character in a play'
later,
'human being'.

even if a mask
I've remembered something soft.



JERKY

printing poetry onto slabs of beef
o well,
who needs ink
it was sort of bourgeois to begin with.

Three Poems by Mike Meraz

She comes into
The room
And sees all the
Empty wine
Bottles
Spread all over the
Floor
On the fridge
In the
Trash can
She asks,
What’s the matter?
Is everything
Okay?

You reply,
Things have
Never been
Better.

She looks at you
Happy and
Sad
At the
Same
Time.

______________________________


In New Orleans
I gained
15 lbs.
Grew a beard
Let myself
Go

I was like a
Dead Jim Morrison
Walking the
Streets
Singing
Songs
Thinking
Poems

Later to be
Put on
Paper

Later to be
Put on the
Internet

To be read
By
You.

__________________________


I look
Sideways
At those
Who hold
Writing
As a
"Hobby"

When
I am
Trapped

Under its
Claws

And seeking
Rehab.

Apex Predators and Sunhats by Ryan Quinn Flanagan‏

The birds

fly in formation
on military
parade.

Past my tenth floor condo
in the Florida
panhandle.

Over hash
and eggs
and freshly squeezed
OJ.                  

As the tiger sharks
in the surf
mistake the boogie boards
for seals

and act
accordingly.

Two Poems by Michael Ashley‏

Rising Demons

they are not red and muscular
but translucent and piss-thin,

they don't howl or scream
but sigh softly in my inner ear,

they take flight, not with a shadow
-bearing wingspan, but silently

their horns, like obelisks, push up
through the the earth

silver, plastic, painted in a factory
in central china, smelling of £land

if I were a lesser being I'd have shit
myself by now, instead I just smile.



Take nothing from the hatch

we have something you don't here,
a simplicity like open fires
and liquor hot down our throats,

the hole is filled with flesh
feathers, dead pigeons
a warm smile from close relatives,
a scribbled out paragraph
on the final page of long novel

the sharp edge of your elbow
cutting into my ribs,
eyes and teeth, a smirk
a snarl, your hot breath in my face.

Paddy Murphy’s Ode to OCD by Donal Mahoney

Lad, this stuff
has got to stop,
this standing
in the washroom wiping
till the tissue
comes back free
of any fleck of what some
forty wipes ago
it first went after.
Lad, the stuff is there;
it’s always there.
Forget it now.
Rewrite your poems.

CLOSURE IN 3-POINT PERSPECTIVE by Jay Passer

day by day we wait
for what

by strident daylight monotony
or some moon demanding anticlimax

sick and wasting hours between
servitude and excess

brawls about the city
strewn with

clacking and pop
of operatic gaiety

say we
won the World Series

slivers not lost
on the thumb of the maker

dynasties lacking the mistrial
of dire awakening

hungover
or not at all

Before Her There Was Fire by Christopher P. P. White

Before her there was fire
And it was so bright and hot,
Painfully hot and it never let up;
Always burning and keeping that
Orange blaze brighter than the sun
Shining through the car windscreen.

Before her there was nobody
And it was the worst kind of hell,
Painfully hot and it never let up;
Always feeling the pressure of an eternity
Filled with the only lovers I thought
I’d have; those fucking magazines.

Before her there was fire
And after her there were the ashes
Of one hell of a romance.

women in bars by Larry Duncan

i don’t do them any favors
i’m only there on the weekdays
when it’s light
and anyone with half a chance is still at work.
but I have a weight that arches my shoulders
and a rail thinness that cuts a nice angle
and they seem to like me
because I’m there
and they’re old or tired
or broken or insane
and I have a habit of smiling
in a way that is old or tired
or broken or insane
so I buy them drinks when I can
and they buy me drinks when they can
and sometimes we lean into one another
touching shoulders when a certain song comes on the jukebox
because it’s still so early
and there are still so many hours
left alone in the day

Two Poems by Matthew J. Hall

death and art

had it not been such an unproductive
non creative time, the blank pages
would have been filled with shaky sketches
of disfigured rohypnol victims
open-mouthed corpses
bursting veins
tooth collages of asphyxiated babies
all running around like bloodless gorillas
as the portfolio gasps for breath
as the canvas is split in two
as death imitates art
and art imitates death



eventually


all

the

noise

will

pass

His Mount Everest by Donal Mahoney

Bug no bigger
than a comma
scales the wall
next to my recliner.
He's climbing
his Mount Everest

and headed
for the ceiling,
a solo climb,
no bug in front,
no bug behind him.
He has no gear

and miles to go.
He may fall
at any moment.
Let's hope
he signed up
for Obamacare.

Two Poems by Ryan Quinn Flanagan

Rolling Antoinette Heads like Hub Caps in the Street

Just wait until they start chopping off heads again
dying breaths
like bags or plastic
in the grocery store checkout
line.

Make any animal desperate
and it returns
to survival.

Civility
is a mask
children wear
every Halloween
to clean up
on candy.

I watch the rolling Antoinette heads
like hub caps in the street.

Six million dead
in the ovens
instead of
pizza.

Like the side mirror
on every vehicle
warns:
objects are closer
than they
appear.



The Price

Thumb wars
are better than
real wars,
but no less
numerous.

Disagreement happens
over the placement
of a placemat.

Let the tree huggers
hug
and the Greenpeacers
peace.

As long as there are human beings
on this planet
with pants that make them
look fat
there will be other human beings
that have to pay
for that.

Three Poems by Rob Plath

DEAR BUDDHA

i agree it’s all
a fucking illusion

but a big whiff
of shit makes you
think otherwise



DEAR ABYSS

gaze at me
all you want

this tea & toast
is so fucking good



CRAZY ONE-MAN PARADE

he walked
the deserted streets
alone
thru thick kafka fog
strange gray confetti rained down
landing in his hair
he was a crazy one-man parade
the tiny ragged squares stuck
to his slim shape
like a mad second skin
he picked one off his arm
it had the word FUCK written on it
they all had FUCK on them
it looked like blood
he screamed three times
& ran home to take
a bath of fire

Three Poems by Mike Meraz

I smoke a cigarette
In a room where
It's not allowed.

I put up a sign
On a wall where it's
Not permitted.

I write a poem
In a style
That is looked down upon.

I am a criminal,
In a sense,

But the cops
Are wrong.

__________________________


The poets
On the edge
Are now
In middle class
Houses
Drinking
Coffee
No longer
Bad asses
Of the
Underground
But coddled
Socialites
Reading
To each other
At the
Latest
Open
Mic.

__________________________


I always dreamed
Of bridges
Not of tall buildings
Or of shotguns
But of bridges
At midnight
When no one
Is looking.

Two Poems by Michael Ashley‏

If I Knew

I'd have taken the noise

placed it in a bottle
forced the cork in

her orgasm
was raspy

her voice
a little too deep
for a true lady

but none of that
matters today

the hum
of the mourners
fills the church

I mumble along
to Jerusalem

I'm falling

landing on my couch
with a glass of brandy

people talking
at me, wearing tears
dribbling cliches

I can still see her face
smell her hair

& her voice
roves my skull

like the fragments
of hymns

in an atrium



Turn Away

when she yells
your name
hot step it
out the door
as she holds
the empty
pint glass
up to the moon
& blows
a stream
of smoke
from the 'O'
of her dark
red lips
don't argue
when the blade
of her glare
strikes your face
don't move
when her irises
shudder
a shower
of bright
crystal blue
don't ruin
it now boy!

Fuck Moderation by Paul Hellweg‏

Untimely death acceptable,
but only with a large side of
raw, edgy poetry.
Medium thin-crust pizza delivered too fast,
garlic and veggies,
mushroom, onion, green pepper.
Not enough minutes elapsed
from last drink
for synapses to fire and
write something memorable.
Next time, no hurry,
fuck the veggies,
fuck thin-crust,
large pepperoni pizza for me.
Damn the cholesterol, full speed ahead,
extra cheese, extra pepperoni,
no limit on beer and Scotch.
Anything.  Whatever it takes
for a few moments pain free or
the writing of one poem
good enough to justify
this existence.

From The Forest by Donal Mahoney

In another moment
it will all be over.
On this winter night
her breast will slip
from her blouse
like a fawn, in spring,
from the forest.

Press Enter to Continue by Howie Good‏

You couldn’t get back to sleep.
After about a thousand years,
it was dawn, napalm on wildflowers,
the flames wavering in a lost kind of way.
When the phone rang,
you thought it might be me.
Was that just?

The only voice you need
is the voice you already have.

Stink Bomb Of Love by Catfish McDaris

The used bookstore tended to fuck
over anyone wanting to trade old
books in for something new to them

I found a John Fante & a Steinbeck,
the midget clerk there scared me,
after 20 minutes ransacking my 4
boxes of trade-ins, she bellowed

My name, “That’s $7, I know you,
you’re that nasty poet from Hotel
Wisconsin” she said smiling cutely

I just stared at her, her arms & legs
were short & stubby & the rest like
it had been compressed somehow

She watched me like a mongoose
ready for a cobra, I gave her $6
for the balance of my book purchases

As I left she stripped off her Levis &
panties & said, “Here motherfucker,
now you have something to write about”

She flung her undies like Thor’s hammer,
they covered my face like a giant squid
from hell, I screamed, “I just saw a
midget’s pussy & I’m going blind.”

Two Poems by Justin Hyde

at a red light

young girls

say nineteen or twenty

don't tell me
you've ever seen
teeth so white

pixie genies
in a wheeled
magic carpet
on mom and dad's dime

i can hear
their music

feel it
vibrating my seat

one of them
combs out
long brown hair
with a yellow brush

another
seems to be
talking on two cell-phones
at once

the driver

inimitable phosphorescence
sun-drenched
in angled
light

i'd like to
tap into that energy

tap
into that ass

grind them down to a pulp

smear it all over myself

change my name

and start this life
from scratch.



watching rain drip off the bare branches of a cherry tree

and all is well

so far as
the beginning
and the end
are unknown

as for now
my seven year old son
stumbles into the fold

my ex wife says
he's like watching a piece of your heart
wandering around
outside you

i say
it's more like your consciousness
and sum total of fears
being thrown in your face

then
there is this painful wart
on the bottom
of my foot

the back of my teeth
are rotting

and i judge everyone
harshly

notwithstanding

even if they gave us
blueprints
at birth

finely drawn schematics
with an
aerial view

we'd still
fuck it
up.

The Unrequited Essence of Not Breathing by P.A.Levy

i was already dead inside
when i considered committing suicide for
the first time

until a do-good samaritan up to no
good found me weighted
on a bridge
she said her name was codeine
with razor sharp loathsomeness i called her
slut
using a car battery attached to nipple clamps
she shocked my heart

defibrillated
she fucked life back into me
rode the throb of a pulse to the impact
of a car crash

i went down on codeine
washed away the bitter after taste with kerosene
i asked her if she fancied playing
with knives
share a self harm game of
cutting peep holes in our skin
glimpse inside our rib cages
see the beat within

but she said
not tonight luv i’ve got a headache
turn over and swallow sleep

Three Poems by Kevin Ridgeway

Be Good

when I was a small child,
my mother came home
from a yard sale
carrying a doll
that looked exactly
like me

“It looks just like you,”
she said, hugging it

whenever I was bad
out came the doll
she would throw it
against the wall
and I would scream in pain
“be good” she warned

years later, I came home
from a bad marriage
and many other troubles
she pulled out the doll
by then bearded and
pot-bellied, just like me
“be good” she repeated
and she plucked a beard
hair from its chin
as I winced in pain



His Holiness

the Mexican family
on the corner
is having a
barbecue;
I walk past
them and one
of the men
yells out
to me
“Hey Jesus!”
due to my
long beard
and hair—
this gets a
huge laugh
from the women;
I wish I WAS
Jesus, then I
could turn this
lukewarm bottle
of water into
some strong
red wine,
flirt with
their women
and steal
them all
away from
them
but I’d
come back
the next day
to heal them
of their
hangovers
and give them
and
their dogs
a pat on the head
goodbye



Marriage Inequality

up
the
ladder
to the
loft
where
we kept
our dirty
little secrets
where you
would
bawl
and
shout
and
my
angry
head
smoked
I fell
down
that
ladder
and
I
broke
us

Three Poems by Rob Plath

THERE’S NOTHING WORSE THAN TOO LATE

quit
counting
yr
fucking
demons

refrain
from
fingering
yr
scars

instead
go
gaze
at
yr
angels



this lens

i can’t help holding yr death up
to everything

you die again w/each season
you die again w/things
you’ll no longer witness

death isn’t the approaching winter
or a dark shrouded figure
death is this piece of glass
fashioned from yr absence

death is this lens i keep
holding up to everything



of pure joy

i hear my landlord yelling at the dog thru the wall. look at all this hair! it looks like a fucking barber shop floor! i’m gonna get rid of you! & i picture the old boy standing there wagging his whole backside, reminding humans that the coat of his frame is composed of magic strands of pure joy.

Three Poems by Ford Dagenham

AT 38

i am a stranger to myself
tired and drawn and stubbly and old-
my age ENORMOUS

like i landed suddenly in my future

enormous alien hands
clutching
the
maintenance meccanno of the soft machine.

working again
in
the hospital.  all my clothes are too big now.

he’s looking at me from behind deep glass
in
the
dark
light
of
a service lift mirror.

HELLO YOU i am saying.



WITHHOLDING MOON

all this/the drunk rubbish/the drugs and whatever
this
is
what
i do
in
the mystery of it all
under light night skies of silence and diamond
when
it all feels glorious and like there’s answers just in front of
us
in the dark sky – just there



BREAKINGDOWN 

those bleak mornings SHIT!
those 3 AMs when i held the dread inside me
as still as i could
with a balled up pillow.
those panic steps to the toilet bowl FUCK!
and
those nights JESUS! – the stale tv/pointless books/nothing for me/even music MUSIC! was irritating and trivial.
those morning dew fields like holograms in the science museum
and
the sunrise views like they’re
painted
on
a
flat wall.

those forced Saturdays going out anywhere at all
with all the cigarettes all the time.
all
those slow steps thru CGI nature 1000 miles away.
the world so solid and heavy on my soles pushing up!
and
those cold Sundays MY GOD!
they
wouldn’t end
and
never started.

that frozen up white noise in my head – couldn’t think
so
i
ran . . . tears hidden in sweat.

those moments CHRIST - those moments
when
FUCK ME!

i
was
sure
i’d
lost my mind.

Two Poems by Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozábal

DRINKING EARLY

I started drinking early.
I gave up on the day.
I sought oblivion in
a bottle and a few more.
I didn’t answer my phone.
I didn’t open the door.
I didn’t log onto my
computer.  I just drank.
I ate salted peanuts.
It was my only food.
I drank until I could
not drink anymore.



I HEARD YOUR VOICE

I heard your voice
on the answering
machine.  It was
an old recording.
You don’t call me
anymore.  You met
someone and I am
out of the picture.
I don’t know why
I don’t erase it.
Perhaps it is just
a reminder for me
of what I lost.  I
need to learn to be
good to myself.

The Bad Night by Holly Day

the secrets
of motherhood
elude me, even now, after years
of practice, of
learning to deal with
late-night temper tantrums
too little sleep. every time I think
I’ve figured parenthood out

the rules change and I have to
start all over again.
my mother
keeps telling me
that the worst is yet
to come but I’m not
sure I can imagine things getting
much harder

than this.
someday it will be over.

The man visits the cafe almost every day by John Yohe

The man visits the cafe almost every day and enjoys
the girls who work there and know his name and what he drinks
and smile seemingly sincerely when they see him and he sits in
the corner and reads books of poetry or philosophy but never
risks making a fool of himself by asking any of them if
they would like to really talk though not sure which
would be more embarrassing a girl two-thirds his age saying no
or saying yes and finding nothing to talk to her about
but still also enjoying the tight jeans they wear
almost as much and sometimes more than his books
oblivious to a woman two tables over a few years older who
is too inhibited to talk to him but sees him looking
and grows a bit more bitter but decides to eat
a slice of pumpkin bread with her maté latte anyway

AFTERNOON CADENZA by Brenton Booth

Wednesday afternoon
dreaming of beautiful
women in short skirts
though Beethoven and
a day off from work
seem good enough:
if we all just accepted
what we now had as
enough—
the economy would fail
and people would flourish,
I still think of those women
though
even now that the cadenza
has begun and its Nigel
Kennedy behind the notes:
I suppose no one is perfect
and that’s what keeps
everything as it is.

Pistons in Her Haunches by Donal Mahoney

It's a 50th anniversary dinner
for Bernie and Blanche at the Elk's Hall.
After dessert Blanche grabs the mike
and primes the crowd by announcing,
"Fifty year's we've been married
and Bernie's never had a sorry day."
Then Bernie grabs the mike and says
"The nights have been wonderful, too.
Despite her orthopedic shoes, Blanche
still has pistons in her haunches."
In fact, after all these years, Bernie has
but one complaint: Blanche never
gets to the point in any conversation.
It's up to Bernie to decipher the code.

Early every morning Blanche and Bernie
sit in their recliners and sip coffee.
Blanche stares into space and then
jots down on a legal pad everything
Bernie must do before their lovely
Victorian house falls down.
Bernie in the meantime reads
the obituaries with one eye
and watches Blanche with the other
and waits for her head to rear back,
a mule ready to bray a prologue
Chaucer would envy.

Many times Bernie has asked Blanche
to give him the bottom line first.
"Tell me up front what you want me to do
and then fill in the details," he tells her.
But with no bottom line in any conversation,
Blanche makes Bernie feel as though
a python is winding around his chest.
"I know what the python wants,"
Bernie says, "and he'll be quicker."

After 50 years of marriage,
Bernie says meandering by Blanche
in conversation is a small complaint.
He'll never have a sorry day as long as
Blanche has pistons in her haunches
because every now and then,
despite stenosis of the spine,
Bernie likes to bounce off the ceiling.
That bounce, he says, is why
he married Blanche in the first place.

lorca by Steve Calamars

big dreams
burst from
small minds
and blow
holes thru
artificial realities
that we
shake like
straight jackets
to stretch
our peculiarities
and bask
in our
strength like
a million suns
rising
simultaneously—

Two Poems by Rob Plath

HOW THE CONVERSATION ENDS

he thinks he's tough, a real self-taught poet of the streets

he wants some feedback & possibly advice on his work

after the fourth poem about just how tough he is, i ask him:

did you ever see someone w/a tumor inside their face?

no, he uncomfortably laughs

you never saw somebody w/a large mass in the maxillary cavity?

i mean the real aggressive shit that keeps growing
until it pushes their eyeballs half-out of their head?

no, man, he says, serious now

you never saw somebody hemorrhage from their eye socket,
blood streaming down like they're weeping blood?

his face scrunches up in disgust & he grabs his poems back

yr fucked up, he says & walks away



MEAT PUSHER

you look sick! he says

you need to eat MEAT!
he says

be a MAN! he says

have some of these
raw sausages! he says

live a little! he decides
to add to his ridiculous tirade

i look at his gut
spilling over
the notches of his belt

all i can do
is picture his liver
beneath there

fat & yellow
& suffocating

i want to rip it out
& nail it to his chest

an oversized badge
of fucking stupidity

Two Poems by Justin Hyde

putting a new battery in my car

"yea
bring it to me baby!"
comes a gravely voice
behind me
followed by catcalls.

i turn around
see a pretty blond
jogging past three bums
on the other side of grand.

"come ere bitch."

"yea come ere little bitch."

she has headphones on
either doesn't hear it
or doesn't
let it faze her.

the middle guy
a black broom of hair
sticking out behind a camouflage hat
picks up a rock
swings back
and pretends to crack her on the head.

"dinner is served boys."

they cackle like hyenas
and pass around a paper sack.

part of me
runs across the street
beats the hell out of them
right there
in the toothless sidewalk daylight

another part of me
empathizes
with the gallows humor

the sheer caprice
of dichotomy.

i lean against the fence
watching them stagger back
to their tents
under the mlk bridge.



teetotaler's epitaph

quit drinking

run thirty miles a week

lift weights three days a week

six small meals
evenly spaced out

finally stay true to a girlfriend

sleep peaceful
like a turtle
seven hours a night - -

give it a go friend

break the curve
of the actuary's death charts

lock toes with jesus
in a symbolic
non denominational way - -

it's damn near impossible
to be miserable
under these conditions - -

and by proxy

write a decent poem.

Valentines Day by Mike Meraz

I am confused about the worship
of relationships.

I think we should start worshiping
solitude:

find a holiday

to celebrate

the man

who is alone,

that he has
fought off the forces
and has not relented
but carried on,
remained, stood still.

there should be a holiday
not for the weakness of two
but the strength of one.

MY CELLS SIMPLY PREFER THE ART OF NO WAR by Rob Plath

i’ve handed each of my demons a paintbrush

i’ve offered my suicide a bouquet of bok choy

i’ve poured cups of chamomile for bad memories

i’ve unlaced death’s combat boots & given it a stack of books

i’ve vacuumed up the debilitating dust

i’ve exchanged ashtrays for flowerpots

i’ve torn up my bukowski jacket for cleaning rags

look, i’m drinking a bottle of cool water

tho you’d rather me be lobbing malotov cocktails at the ceiling

a pathetic cliché dancing in my own flames

DREAMS & ASHES by Rob Plath

i dream of a table in the middle of a wooded road
& natalie portman runs up to a bush, crouches down
& pulls out a binder marked ‘suicide letters’
along w/a tray of freshly baked peanut butter cookies

& we sit at the table straddling the center white line
& slowly read the letters & eat the sweet, warm cookies
& never once look up to see if a car is coming

& when i awake my mother’s ashes
are right there on the table
but i feel briefly & strangely consoled…

Three Poems by Robert D. Lyons

stepping
into the
shower
and remembering all
the women
the hungover mornings
their eyes
gentle
as they scrubbed my
cock
and back

their hair
heavy
in my hands

the way the
water
dripped
over their
cunts

like rain
over a rose
bud

their hands were so
soft
so compassionate

half dead
they resurrected me
with soap
and a smile

but today
there is only a
single
cockroach
in here
with me

i imagine its
female

but i drown her
with my
hangover

____________________________


breathing the ash
of old wamac
over a dollar fifty
beer

an old town
that has become
new
again

half the town
burnt
to the
ground
forty years ago
they only rebuilt the
dives
and the liquor stores

and it’s the closest thing
ive ever seen
to eden

the gods
sit
on the stools
up front
and speak as they
always have

in a drunken
slur

___________________________


for the past year now
i have been consumed
by the need
to flee
this city

i want to become a
refuge

but im barely
paying
my bus pass

i dream of finding
a city
bathed
not in sunlight
but in shadow
and rain

where the
jobs
and women
are easy

and where the
popping
of bottles
can be heard
as soon as you
step
outside

Miss Lakeishia Sings The Blues by Donal Mahoney

Listen, mister, you're a guest
at the Night Owl Club
so you can sit here
all night long, tip me
after every song,
buy me scotch
till the final gong
but none of that will help.

You'll still go home alone
unless some other lady has a need
to make her rent
and sees the opportunity
you offer. It won't be me;
I can't be bothered.
I need a different kind of man,
a man who'll hug me tighter

than my panties can,
a big ole man
whose big ole tongue
will be my tampon
when I'm dry.
Get off that stool
and look in the mirror
behind those whiskey bottles

so you can see what I see.
Then we'll both know why
you can never be that man,
not even for an hour.
I'm no Billie Holiday,
but even with my glasses off,
I can see that you
ain't no John Wayne.

Two Poems by Mike Meraz

ONLY A WRITER

a girl, Italian, big hips,
tattooed legs, comes in
my store every week
to buy groceries.

I’ve been meaning to talk
to her but all I get out is:

“can I help you?”

and

“uh, excuse me…”

and all I can get out of her
is:

“no…”

and

“mhmm…”

though our conversations are short,
I feel we have something going on,
a little pitter patter floods my heart
every time I see her.

I must think of something
suave to say to her,
something clever,

like in one of my poems
where a light shines
at the end
and a smile enters
the heart.



You Are Beautiful, Don’t Let Anyone Tell You Different
.
your eyes write books.
your mouth plays songs.
your body is an orchestra.
.
you are not one
that needs to create.
you are a creation.
.
be still
and wondrous.

Three Poems by Rob Plath

PATTI SMITH WOULDN'T WRITE ME A POEM ABOUT SHIT

i asked patti smith
to write me a poem
about taking a healthy shit
"i have no time," she said
so i flashed her
my HOLY THE ABYSS tattoo
she said, "that's cool"
but still didn't write me
a poem about taking
a healthy shit
i was sad on the subway
damn her, i thought
as the car screeched
thru the dark tunnel
i'll write a fucking poem
about patti smith not writing
me a poem about taking
a healthy shit then!
i was happy i 'd decided on it
in fact, i was psyched
& far from constipated



PLANET ABSENCE

some absences are colossal
the emptiness the size of a planet
have you ever traveled in a lonely capsule to PLANET ABSENCE?
have you have wandered its terrible wilderness
where every one of the twisted trees is braided w/absence?



POISE

yes—there is a wound
for each doomed love

many scars from failures
like ugly constellations

& misery is for keeps,
my friend

but then again, there are
always white teacups
offering sweetness

a generously open window
resuscitating yr dead angel

& a bird in morning fog
whistling of peace

Three Poems by Mather Schneider

ANOTHER JOB LOST  

shin splints and a
pimple inside my nostril
way inside where it’s dark and hard to reach
impossible to pop
I just keep touching outside of it
Ow
Ow
and checking the mirror like a
demented chicken

another job lost
like a lottery ticket in the wash
another job lost
like a dollar bill in a sandstorm

this going against the grain
1/3rd laziness
1/3rd  disbelief
1/3rd incompetence
this going against the grain
like a surfer

dreaming of the rocks.



WHAT’S THE MATTER?

I’ve eaten my beef stew
and popped my vitamin complex
I’ve slept my 8 hours
on a firm but
not too firm mattress

I did the laundry
and had a bath
and thoroughly toweled all parts.
I’ve cleaned the apartment
and I’ve sat sober

thinking of the next workday
thinking of the next dollar
thinking of how
to be a good citizen.

I’ve scrubbed the oven
and jogged 3 and one half miles
and made the bed
and resisted masturbation.

I should be feeling
better by
now.



REMOVED  

I used to walk down to the corner
on Sunday mornings
to use the pay phone
to call my mom.

One morning I went and
the phone had been removed.
I didn’t know why and didn’t
know who to ask, so I just walked
down to the Chevron gas station
and used the pay phone there.

This was fine for a few weeks.
But today I walked down and discovered
the phone by Chevron had
been ripped out too.
There was nothing left but the cement base
swept clean with a broom.
So now
I have to hoof it
all the way to McDonald’s
to use the phone outside
the thoroughfare of their front door.

I suppose when they rip that one out I’ll
move on down
to Fry’s
then to that Circle K on Broadmont
and from there I’ll have
to see.

Mom can’t live forever,
can she?

Two Poems by Kevin Ridgeway

The Kid

The kid is maybe
thirteen years old,
raking the leaves
and dirt
of a small lawn
adjacent to
the bus stop
I’m sitting at

He sweats
while I sip
from a plastic
water bottle
full of wine,
and he curses
as I fumble for
my disabled
discount
card.

His father
curses
at him
in Spanish
while I
daydream
in gibberish

I’m twenty five years
old
dressed in fly-bitten
flannel
and kissed
by the darkness
of my flophouse
room

this kid
is royalty
compared to me.



The Two Poets

I saw a well known-poet,
and I approached him
to introduce myself
and tell him I
admired his work

another well-known poet
who knew the well-known poet
I was talking to
rounded the corner
and the two men
greeted each other
this other poet looked at me,
said,
who’s this?

I told him my name,
and his three name nom de plume
shattered my parent’s
meager baby book choices
like glass

as they walked away
from me,
a bird took a shit
on my notebook
of recent poems


Tethered by Melanie Browne

One day after
Valentine's Day
I surf the net for
conspiracy theories
like any good American.
I read about
Illuminati handshakes
so I know who they are,
I think about how cold
society has become,
I read zen books
and occasionally the bible
hoping to figure out
how to withstand
this permanent goose flesh,
how to tackle this inertia,
I think of us,
all tethered astronauts,
just one flimsy string
away from the final
drift

Two Poems by H. L. Nelson

Mutinous Me

I’m going to explode one day,
I just know it.
Not an angry exploding
with limbs flailing
at the nearestperson,
due to something they said
or did.
I’m no Hulk
with super smashing skills.
You should not be afraid.
My explosion will begin
with a quiet surging
of skin.
Emotions suppressed
will jostle up
and jettison their way
out of my body
on tiny cell ships,
destined for less destitute,
more perfect planets.
My fingernails and cuticles
will fly off,
like boosters and external tanks,
not needed
for the trip.
My fingertips will
become small space pods
that rocket my mutinying
feelings far away.



One Week Late

I pee on the stick,
a zygotal divining rod,
and wait.
I wonder how many women
have done the same
and hoped for a different outcome,
translating the configurations
of pink lines into something positive
for their lives.
Hopes and dreams
not once considered
that hot night,
hips raised,
a larger stick between their thighs.

Two Poems by Brian Le Lay

Eulogy for a Modernist

They say he hung it all out to dry,
The old forms, his women,
The publishers in New York
Even himself. He said:

"I am not the spokesperson
For a generation," like a father
In denial of his children.
When he died, his women said:

"That's all you ever do;
All you ever do is go."



Blanket Fort

Your heart floats in holy water
When you French kiss
The California Merlot,
But when you were seven
At a moment like this
You would build a blanket fort
In your grandmother's
Dining room, which, then,
Was all you needed
To insulate yourself

el sangrado de algo precioso (the bleeding of something precious) by Michael Ashley‏

[i]

Juan kept
  his eye on
the target
through dirt
& dust
dos Chilangos
taking a stroll
  down
San Pablo
  dressed
in black
two shadows
  dance
in plinths
of sunlight
their pace
  increasing
almost as if
they sense
danger
& then
the gunshot
sings--
her hollow
end-note


[ii]

Miguel mi
hermano
his face
blown wide
like the head
of a dark
-red Dahlia
& just before
the shot
sunlight
fell between
balustrades
catching
his eyes
I smile
holding
the moment
a tiny nugget
  of gold
in the filth
of Mexico

Two Poems by Paul Hostovsky

The Debate at Duffy's                                                                                             

She said that sex was a yearning of the soul.
He said it was a very compelling argument
of the body, a compulsion. She said it was
a spiritual compulsion. He said it was nothing
if not carnal, carni, meat. This conversation
took place in a bar. The background music was
so loud it was in the foreground. The bodies
on the dance floor were moving in ways that
would interest even the dead if they could only
remember how to live. There was a baseball game
playing on television. On the table were two
empty glasses, and the bottle's green phallus
which she took in her hand and pulled toward her,
pulling him toward her as she poured them both
another drink. He drank deeply, felt the spirit
filling his cup. Then he looked into her eyes and saw
that she was beautiful, sexy, and at the bottom
of the 9th, suddenly, surprisingly, irrevocably, right.



To a Landscaper                                                                                                  

You smell like a lawnmower, love.
Come sit your grassy ass down
on the bed. I want to taste the green
sweat spreading like wealth all over
your body, the lawns of the rich and
gasoline commingling on your skin and
bones. I want to feel the suburbs
rub off on us like the laughing poor
streaking through the formal gardens
of the scowling rich, the fine gold pollen
sticking to our nakedness like sex on sex,
our own bed filthy and rich beneath
the well-oiled machine of our lovemaking.

The Man Who Lives in the Gym by Donal Mahoney

   St. Procopius College
Lisle, Illinois
after World War II

The man who lives in the gym
sleeps in a nook up the stairs
to the rear. Since Poland
he's slept there, his tools
bright in a box locked
under his bed. At noon bells
call him down to the stones
that weave under oaks
to the abbey where he

at long table takes
meals with the others
the monks have let in
for a week, or a month,
or a year or forever,
whatever the need.
The others all know
that in Poland his wife
had been skewered,

his children partitioned,
that he had escaped
in a freight car of hams.
So when Brother brings in,
on a gun metal tray,
orange sherbet for all
in little green dishes,
they blink at his smile,
they join in his laughter.

sleeping settee rough poem by Ross Leese


the dog barking at nothing gone midnight
a kid with sunflowers for eyes walks my mind says hi then dies
an attitude the devil-may-care-for fucks away the corpse of my heart
a hurricane inside my veins pumps every surge of evil from my pores
whistle involuntarily through my nose and pick it clear
the girls in their beds with feet tucked away from closet devils and demons
the dog barking at fuck-all
                                         at just gone nothing past midnight.

Two Poems by Karl Koweski

open secret

everyone is conspiring against you
even now they plot
beware those who would tell you
paranoid delusions breed
within this mentality
they are the most
insidious conspirators
who wish to inflict
the greatest amount of harm

you've always suspected this
in the supermarket aisles
behind closed office doors
in the bedroom of your home
forces are aligning against you
the faces of friends and strangers
with clenched jaws or loose smiles
they are all scheming
archetects of your collapse

even I...
as I write this
I am working toward
your utter depletion
while you...
as you read this
program my destruction



a three stanza affair

I wooed you with poetry
now your love
has revealed the folly
of the written word

I wowed you with pornography
now your sexuality
has obscured the fantasy
in scribbled erotica

I scorned you with fiction
now your anger
has cemented the betrayal
of ill-disguised prose

Two Poems by Justin Hyde

tell us about yourself

says my girlfriend's female cousin
as we sit around the kitchen table
after christmas dinner.

they're all drunk on wine

fog

and dirty jokes

while the men
watch football
in the den.

i'm a bit of an introvert
takes me a while to calibrate,
i tell her
going back to reading the instructions
for the fancy coffee-bean grinder
my girlfriend's mother gave me.

come on
give us something

tell us a secret

bet you've got a-lot of secrets,
says one of the older aunts

as my girlfriend blows me a kiss
from the den
where she's taking pictures
of the kids
playing with their presents.

ok

well

i think women

are beautiful terrible creatures

i used to chew on their hearts

like laffy-taffy

most nights of the week
i would go to a bar

shot of whiskey
bud-light

i would alternate
like that

and wait

maybe a woman
would sit down next to me

maybe she wouldn't

i never chased them

but if she did
i was straight for the heart
like an indian tracker

i wanted it in my hands

for a minute

a week

a month

just long enough
to know she had
given it to me

and even though
i don't drink anymore

it's probably the reason

things won't work out

with your cousin and i.



subject to change

heart distilled

in the ocean of her eyes

locked in each others arms

after making love

it could all be gone
in an instant

a thousand
different ways

snow

rain

betrayal

sun
between clouds
through a window
onto your hand

grim reaper
plays bag-pipe
on a hill

it's good reason
to count your blessings
and love without shame
or remorse
in each moment

but it's
just as good of reason
to wrap your heart in tinfoil

hide out in a truck-stop booth

and write poems

while the world
passes you by.

EVERYDAY by Suzy Devere

may you never have a body that betrays you
wake up and feel like you never went to sleep
hold a coffee cup instead of a lover's hand

may you never touch your neck and feel a lump
look in the mirror and no longer recognize your face
cry tears only because your eyes don't work

i never felt invincible
unlike the rest of them
i always knew i would die someday
but i never thought i'd die everyday
every breath another loss of freedom

may you never understand this poem
never need air you can't have
or a man whose dead

Two Poems by Holly Day

The Other Woman

(dim the lights a little more, gather your belongings
leave. Fling a crimson rag on top of the bare bulb
next to the divan—wheel in the post-holocaust gag city mock-up
and permit the vermin to commence loping through the maze.)
I’m walking in your ideas, in  a colorless seaside scene, naked feet
leaving no footprints in the sand. This chunk of ass

is the single solitary genuine human being here tonight. Wings
of seraph hammer against the glass windows of the inn, insensitive
to everything excluding our blind sins. (pour a couple additional
pails of murder on the coastline, wrap up the distended cadavers,
destroy the rats). I nearly telephoned you yet again last night,
imagining that the phone was right by your head, but I knew

that disgusting thing would be staying over for the weekend
and would pick up the phone, stockpiling your calls—I
enfolded the pink, synthetic die-cast receiver between my sodden thighs
and imagined I was hoarding sections of you through these hallucinations.
(the Armageddon recreation will go back to the beginning by itself
tomorrow. Let’s call it a day. The conclusion of any epoch signifies

something has to die.)



Loose Change

he chuckles, “you’ll never have to fret
about becoming one of them”
and it’s funny to him since he is insinuating that I
will never discover how to be similar to them, to
maintain an organized house, have a genuine
work plan, be a high quality wife and

soccer mom. I don’t desire to be like
them at all, but I could be, I know I could
be taught to do all that, without difficulty, transform
into some easily-annoyed valium
housewife, scowling at imperceptible
grime, dust motes, could even

run the vacuum now and then. he mocks
me once more, talks about my mother, pronounces
how fortunate I am to have married
him when I did since the way I am now,
at this moment in time,
only miserable, solitary elderly
men, only genuine trash
would want to be with me.

I’ll Be Writing the Rest of My Poems from Prison by Kevin Ridgeway

I never turned in my jury summons form,
they say
I had my psychiatrist decorate
it with his strange symbolism
masquerading as a note
that I’m insane
and
unfit for jury duty,
a flabby manic depressive
who would only
cause trouble
and paint the
court with his triumphant
skid marking psychic shit stain
of endless jibber jabber
and sudden crying fits

they seem to have ignored this,
and have sent me my notice:
a fine my meager pennies
cannot satisfy,
so I shall be writing the rest
of my strange verse
murmurs
in a cell with
T-Bone,
who will christen
me “BabyCake”
and ask me
what I’m in for

“I failed to report for jury duty—“

and he blisters my cherubic
cheeks with his supersonic
mad-headed gaze,
ready to pounce
and surely destroy
me

and I’ll write many poems about this
incident,
a traumatic stain
on my funky, weird-ass soul

Four Poems by Antony Hitchin

A Sweet Treat

impish
prick
flick
red
velvet
battenburg sandwich vanilla drizzle double
dip
mucilaginious
fondant
finger
head
         trip



Vertigo

Passengers…
I never even glimpsed her
did her passing shadow descend on me as a soft whisper - I would like to think so - I want to believe.

This gastric haze of gangrene our
paper death her
thesis: ‘the artistry of murder and the unreliability of memory’

little wonder I viewed her so vertiginously

her marijuana breath
her twin peaks of Faberge



Spool

London traffic

pigeon-purrs, the home-coming faces of
parted day.

bedroom wall
your naked
fingers
change - slithered
the scythe of harsh insistence that arrived before me,

wheels trance fading from
sense,
without any silver cord to hold
this body

collecting objects as the coffin glides away…



Glitz

prefontal loins
imperial prick
seeks the
atom of your sex


orgasmglitzedallvistasanduniversescontainedwithinit

Three Poems by Mather Schneider

SOMETIMES PEOPLE FEEL BAD

Sometimes people feel bad
when they don’t have much
and they know others have
much more than they could ever use.
They don’t want to seem needy
and so they deny their hunger
until something explodes.

Sometimes people feel bad
when they want so much they can’t have
even if the things they want
would not make them happy or
satisfy them,
they would still
kill for them.

They believe
because their belief is
all they have.

Sometimes it feels bad
to be a human being
no matter how much you have,
no matter how much you give
or take or
beg for.

Some people think intelligence
is education
and rights come with status
and status comes with birth.

Suffering is not
and has never been
equal.



HONK IF YOU LOVE FREEDOM

I’m driving my taxi down La Cholla Boulevard
when I see a large group of people
well dressed and with comfortable
faces and with coffee and other
drinks in hand.
They are protesting something.
One guy holds up a big sign that says:
HONK IF YOU LOVE FREEDOM.
People are honking right and left, a regular
goose festival.
I press my hand
into the taxi’s steering wheel
but the horn hasn’t worked
in over a year, the boss
won’t fix it, it was hard enough
to get him to fix the turn signals
because he thinks using turn signals
means you’re gay.
Don’t these protestors
have jobs? I think.
How do they pay
the bills?
It looks fun, standing out there
in the sun, laughing
with the other protestors, who’ve all
parked their Volvos and Camrys
with functioning horns and turn signals
up and down
the side streets
where mysteriously they don’t get
tickets.
That guy with the sign probably thinks I hate freedom
but I can’t stop
to explain.
I’m late
and the clock is my
master.



OUR LITTLE PAGEANT

Who knows how far
this can go,
our little pageant.

Who knows how far this can go,
our little summer stock,
because summer has to end
even though we’d like to go
on afterwards.

Who knows how far this repetition
with slight variations
can delight people.

Slipping
is natural on the wet rocks
and I don’t care if you’ve got 2,000
buck shoes

we’d still like to go on
without mourning your useless
death

so do me a favor
and just stick
to the script.

When it’s over, clap
like everyone else
and go to hell.

Margaret by Wolfgang Carstens

was eight years-old
when she died.

it was
the middle of January
and the ground
was too frozen
to bury her

so her father
put her in the cellar
until spring.

her mother spent
every night that winter
among the preserves
talking to Margaret,

stroking her hair,

searching
for the words
that would raise
the dead.

Fresh Off The Brazier, Medium Rare by Donal Mahoney

How many times have I said
I’m through teasing myself,
through pretending
I don’t enjoy
the wreath of a woman
warm around me.
How many times have I said
I’ll go out on the streets,
as I have in the past,
in cummerbund and sash,
top hat and cane,
a one-man parade
with bugle and drum,
seeking the sweetbreads
served there all day,
fresh off the brazier,
medium rare.

The Very Last Friday by Jonathan Butcher

As it slowly approaches 10:00pm,
our hands are still just as empty as
the eyes that serve behind that bar, that
refuses to play music, or anything else
for that matter.

Tearing beer mats, you scout out the
room, your eye's ablaze, awaiting the
first inappropriate twitch from the next
poor sap who passes by.

The wraps are passed around like over
due telegrams, your hands almost passing
through the green bottles, from the two-for-ones
that never seem that great a deal once the coins
are exchanged.

Outside in a pile of grey, the hungry hands once
more plead for any superfluous, but charity was
never your strong point, your fist far too firm for
a mere conscience to prize open.

Now of course, when you think of that final hour,
with the rest of us miles in the distance, we now only
see your face as a fading flicker, that lost its spark an
age ago.

shipping news by Sam Ledger

I laced you to the ships foremast, passing rope between your ribs and tying a binding knot. You never
realised we were at sea until this moment. I felled the oak in the far right corner of the garden to craft
a carrack with rusted nails and sails stitched from bled on bedding. I liked the elements of renaissance
in the craft and named her Mary Rose.

You said shadows were too deep          
and the cold was making your                    bones rattle.

I cut out the shape of branches and leaves and roots and my own silhouette standing amongst
browning acorns from news papers. The scissors were blunt and each of your words barbed burrowed
under my skin. I had never wanted to scratch my own flesh from my bones until that moment but my
finger nails were chewed to the quick.  Yellow sulphurs stench wafted on cooling air of late autumn.
Ignition of emotion would have created more commodious elements of warmth, stretching into an
effortless eternity of unconscious contentment.

 I have only now fires of hell to warm me and words
of Milton bleed from my lips.

Carbon has a sense of weightlessness about itself, a belief in a freedom flesh could not promise much
less deliver. My stomach turned inside out, finally I consume. Acidity bites organs, muscles, sinews and
synapse and nerves wired incorrectly, firing misleading statements from head to heart. I judge it seeks
sights of oceans and scents of good clean sea air.

All this longing for sailors gone too long in rusted vessels riddled with holes and we have only buckets
to bail out  guilt as it rushes over the bow.  Would you have had it any other way.

I was always cruel in my forgetfulness as I was in love.

Two Poems by Danny D Ford‏

The Bookcase

The bookcase
has been replaced with
another bookcase

The new thing is made in Sweden
and assembled
in the wet dreams of code breakers
and psychiatrists

I try
all the bits are there
I thumb tiny pieces of metal
into crude wooden holes
the ‘designated ports of joinery’ I believe they’re called

Before we know it
we have a coffin shaped box
in the middle of the floor

The inevitable heated exchange ensues
planning ideas are slung back and forth
with the girlfriend
she’s flustered and gorgeous
I’m half erect and inappropriate
- which is more than can be said about the cheap furniture

and then I pause

Wow
look at us all grown up
we’ve made it
we’re finally fighting
about things
that don’t matter



Three Yet to be Free

Mother worried
rumination running 'round eyes
twisted sleep bag deprivation
desperation ticks
and a yearning for warm body bed comfort

Daddy dead to the world
dead on his feet
workman hands stretched to brittle bone
calluses’, bumps, Band-Aid
broken skin
and short tempered
watching young shapely legs in the rear view mirror

Baby
sitting
waiting
crawling
crying
watching clouds creating shapes
drift to nothing and disperse
into blue
the ever endless blue
where dreams escape beyond horizons
and where lost pets play
forever out of sight

under the tuscan sundress by John Grochalski

she looks like one of those cinematic
raven haired italian chicks
created to stop the heart
but she’s speaking pigeon english to the boy
across from her
pressing her purple sundress
talking about the university
as he rubs her ankles
kisses her feet
occasionally she’ll look over to me
and smirk in an unkind way
frown or furrow her brow
it’s okay, i think
i know she knows that i’m the ugly american
on this train
spoiling the tuscan landscape
with my baseball cap and mcdonald’s bag
but i’m too tired to try and act like i belong
it’s too taxing to try and hide oneself in europe
all of the time
to not be so american on these ancient streets
when that poison oozes so easily
out of every pore
let her look
let her talk that college talk to her boy
as vineyards
and homes tucked into green mountains
roll by the train window
let this girl think what she wants to think about me
anything she wants
just so long as she doesn’t put her knee down
because this chick isn’t wearing
any underwear
and i’ve been staring at her cunt since rome
memorizing its twirl of hair
its every contour
the way an art scholar would
the david
the sistine chapel
caravaggio’s the calling of st. matthew
or any of that other shit
that i came to this country
to see.

Gray Matter by Dena Rash Guzman

maybe you fit somewhere else better,
maybe inside coffee cups or onto lined tablets of old paper,
the real kind, the kind you don't mind.
maybe you will learn to accept imperfection,
maybe your next cat will be white and not a cat at all but a dog,
forget the litter, don't litter, don't litter at all,
those cigarette butts end up in strange places.
maybe peasants curse me for smoking on the street,
the lines don't keep my writing straight,
maybe I don't care about that anyway,
nor really do you,
but maybe I can look inside my own brain for once,
not afraid anymore of what you don't want for me.
maybe this is the arrogance of youth,
well earned at the end of it
when my ancestors were considered ancient
and babies cried in their arms for mothers, dead at 14 from childbirth,
and maybe I can make something nourishing now,
maybe money, maybe poems, maybe love, maybe not
but maybe you can settle in and down and let me see for myself,
without your hand in mine,
guiding and maybe strangling it to death on a curbside outside a terminal.

The Not-So-Epic by Shawn Misener

Yesterday I finished my imaginary novel

took me three years to write,
three years of immaculate invisible toil
three years of faux sweat and tears
hardest thing I've ever done

I dedicated it to my imaginary friends
and I hope that it finds the transparent hands
of millions of imaginary readers

the invisible man is slated to pen the review,
I imagined we discussed it through the aether

my imaginary wife pretends to be patient
pretends to love me
pretends to tell me I don't know how to dream

but I wrote with angry fingers:
I'm awake I'm awake I'm awake

only those awake and alive write novels
and in their dreams they fake their deaths

Three Poems by Cassandra Dallett

Busytown

I remember what dead hands feel like
and they’re not worth holding
at all.

I remember when I asked you to smash my Fisher Price
push popper so I could get the gumballs out
even though I knew they weren’t really gum balls
You smashed it with your sledgehammer
Shirt off blonde hairy chest all lean and sweaty.

I remember how I liked to steal your
Smith Brother’s cough drops black licorice
and after that Luden’s Lemon from the glove box.

How your jaw clicked when you bit into an Almond Joy
or a Pecan Pie from the Village Store
we didn’t tell mom about the sweets.

I remember when Franny Bear got shot
came home leaking red pools
you examining her furry body and exclaimed
the bullet had gone clean through.

All those other dogs you straddled on the kitchen floor
pulling quills from whining snouts with
needle nose pliers.

And the stories you read, Wind in The Willows,
Frog and Toad, and Richard Scary
Personified animals hold you the most

You liked to get stoned and watch people
in their little cars and trucks
buzzing around quaint New England towns
imagining them as Richard Scary characters
Lowly Worm in his apple car
the Beagle policeman
you laughed with such abandon.
I remember.



The Raptor on E.14th

There is a tower in East Oakland.
Down by Seminary on the hoe stroll,
that’s where he lives.
I’ve never seen him,
but I heard
from the heating and air conditioning guy
who works the building.
He hunts this wasted tundra
of coke smokers, winos,
Baby girls on colt legs wobbling by on stilettos
thick-assed mini-skirted vets holding up street corners.
Like the girls, the Great White Owl
uses the “sit and wait” style of hunting.
His penthouse home is high in the brick tower
above the low-standing blighted buildings
of the flat lands.
Above the taco trucks
and ice cream carts of the surenos.
He’s built a queen-bed size nest
surrounded by shit pellets and pigeon carcasses
like fried chicken bones outside The Fish King
a few blocks up.
I want to stalk this bird of prey
catch him in action
taloned king of the ghetto
he rules among scavengers
no one scraping up much more
than a welfare check
or a stolen flat screen



Moist Petals

panties drop
shea butter fingers
dip
I don’t miss you at all
a lone wolf
I lean into new men
at parties tall bodies
bathroom hallways

a sharp knife I push
under tortoise shells
pry at tender spots
kiss strange lips

I’m pillowy in a size 14
a steak too big  for the plate

I’m back!

Threw the plastic pill pack
in the trash
a cage
small enough to palm
locked me in a body without nerve endings

But oh baby

I’m here horny hormonal
fat and wiggly as a grub worm
in a frying pan

Two Poems by Ali Znaidi

Digital Flesh

Flesh
recycled/
Flesh
in social media/
Flesh is digital/
Facebookian flesh
tastes like wires
& cables/
Venus is watching over/
Perhaps her flesh
wants its share
of digitization/
& recycling/
A dream of evenings
drenched by
dampness
of digital flesh/



Mockery

In fields similar to black ash,
over a scarecrow,
a crow
disguised in pigeons’ white
feathers
is learning graceful movements
& experimenting with cooing,
trying to invent
seductive songs
[sardonic tunes]
—luring hymns
of sirens.
Sporadic cooing
has gone with the wind
across a body of black,
& bursts of laughter
are echoing across
fields similar to black ash.

The Science Of Free Prostitution by Robert Wilson

She always claimed to want gold
Before tossing it to the trash
After acquisition
With bags of bones and hearts

Instead her hand is outreached
For rotted trees
Eager to carve trophies out of death
Put them on display
for all to see
Hoping to shape-shift
Into a status symbol

But a wish for vogue repute
Is just regression
The only way to evolve
Is to love

Two Poems by David Parham

pointed

would I know you in the store
aisle three
where cans of soup for one sit lonely
or in line banking on a chance unknown
to soothe a soul
would your scarf cover my vision
of yesterday's losses as I simply order a dream
to go
perhaps a sign would be more appropriate

enter here



..and I wonder where they are now...no I don't

Don was bad ass
an original Drugstore Cowboy
shrimper by day
doper by Life
he's dead

Andrew was my back up
a natural born drummer
never missed a beat
or a chance to escape
he's dead

Mark was a thief
who stole hearts
if you knew him
you Loved him
he's dead

Mike was the clever one
big designs on everything
planned to own a home
when his Mom died
he's dead

Russel was available
any hour of the day
a true business man
with no account for taste
he's dead

Paul was the quiet guy
always thinking
how to help you out
before you had to go
he's dead

Emily was the future
six strings in her hand
a magician for the masses
she played too hard
she's dead

David was a runner
chasing his tail
never catching on
but always ahead of the game
he's alive

BASILDON PLASTIC SPOON by Ford Dagenham

we’re all drinking tequila/prob first time/prob only jose.
keep
ordering
rounds.
barmaid coming over tray with the salt and all that.
mostly empty in here.
blokes round the pool table start an argument/get lary and
one
grabs a
plastic spoon/threatens his mate brandishing it
brandishing a plastic spoon!
and
WE CANNOT BELIEVE IT/WE’RE LAUGHING/PLASTIC SPOON!
later
we’re all back in someone’s house/folks away/cheap lager.
we’re chucking fag butts down behind the sofa cos theres no ashtray about
and
no one likes him anyway and some go in the fish tank.
someone’s fucking someone in his bed and he’s pissed off.
his front door gets broken round the hinges
when
pizzas come and he paying pissed off.
and
i’m
spending some time on the roof/freaking out whoever’s upstairs fucking.
fish tank is getting turned off cos no one can sleep on the carpet and the sofa with all the noise and the tropical light.
so
we’re
walking home
across enormous empty car parks/bricked up flats/skirting the mall and out by the station/down the hospital hill
and we’re resting up
climbing in an abandoned Citroen/roofs been cut off
and
smoke cigarettes
watching the dawn come up on fire over the
Fivebells roundabout laughing about the guy
brandishing
a
plastic spoon.

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Black-Listed Magazine is an online literary magazine. We publish on a rolling basis: weekly, daily, sometimes hourly. Send submissions here: blacklistedmagazine@hotmail.com