Funerals Are For Whores by Frank Reardon

In case you're wondering
I just got back from my
own funeral. My brains
feel like rolled dice and
probably look like cracked
corn. In case you're feeling
ill I left you a suicide
note next to the lamp stand
and yes I'm explaining to you
why Sloop John B needs to
be played while you roll
me out those church doors.
If you feel the need to say
anything say this, He tried
so hard, he was even decent
at writing. He had his faults
and demons but outside the
bar he made proper promises,
I'll remember you. So I sit
and wonder after my own
funeral if any of it ever
made sense if any of it even
has a purpose if laughter and
love is more than just evidence.

Blanket by Dan Bradley

Clouds are so huge but less dense than me.
There are a million rain drops in a cloud but
A million inches of organ in this
Twitchy bitch of a
Soul, so
How can I get so calm like that?

Problem is that all these clouds, they work
Together. We all forget the drummer, strum
Discordant. I talk at the world,
Cats, blankets, referees..

Tonight I wish I knew something about astronomy. And
Wasn't just a guy
Who writes poems.

There are lines of stars, shapes of stars and a
Full half moon
And I don't even think I've seen so many
So bright. There's one wild one that must be North
Cause it's the way I'm facing.
It causes such a light I see dim clusters like epiphanies, and
Future galaxies.

It's so incredible I almost go and ask that old neighbor lady
Of mine with the dog
Who scares my cats, who's
Waking up as I begin to dream.

In daylight you could stand in the street
And maybe grow afraid at the possibility of cars
(Dogs, busstops..).

In my nighttime backyard it all looks empty,
Like the universe has always dropped
Just around
Us.

Like I could lie down and be welcome
Under streetlamp glow.
Sleep cheek-to-cheek
With willow tree
Shadows.

MORNING HAS BROKEN by Michael Keenaghan

Daylight. Staring into the bathroom mirror. Your eyes, look at them. The fear in them. And your hands, they're shaking; you're trembling all over. Stop this, right now, go back to bed. But you can't. You've got to work. Get to the office and work. Things to do, out there in the real world, away from all this. Got to remind yourself it's just a morning thing; same rush of fear, rush of panic. Everything magnified. All your mistakes, all the damage you've done. Your whole world ready to crash in, drill a hole through your brain, up against the wall, raped, mutilated, flayed alive, you're coming to hell you bastard.

No. Snap out of it. Turn away. And you do. Pissing into the toilet now. But look at yourself. The things you've done. You're evil, do you know that? But of course you do. Can feel it pulsing through your system like a curse. Every morning shivering, sweating, stinking of last night's drink. Go on, get it out, rid yourself of that poison. But you can't, can you. The sickness deep within, etched there like a rot, a deep putrid stink.

No wonder Carolyn left you in the lurch. Wife, two kids - then suddenly nothing. You in this family home all by yourself. Just you and the memories. Remember the time in the kitchen you grabbed her by the hair. Do you remember that? Really went for her that time, didn't you. Carolyn clutching her head where it had smacked against the sharp edge of the cupboard. What a bastard. Gushing out apologies, swearing you were sorry, it would never happen again. But it did though, didn't it.

And look at yourself, brushing your teeth now, terrified of facing the light of day. Not surprising really… She's not coming back you know. I mean, you do know that don't you? Forget what she said about thinking it over, those were just words. You're alone now. This is it. This is how it's going to be from now on. Carolyn, the kids - they hate you. Your own children - frightened of you. Feel pain, fear, every time they think of you. Your own kids.

Remember the football incident. No? Of course you fucking do. Comes out to bite pretty often that one doesn't it. Carolyn out shopping and you in with the kids watching the football. It was the Saturday after you lost out on the promotion, wasn't it. Day after the night before. Let him relax, go on, let Daddy sit and watch his football - delicate Daddy with his sensitive eyes, ears, his pounding head. But Amy, 2, and Jack, 4, running around making a right racket. Jack especially. Jack who you had told two, three, four times already. Head thumping with pain after having drunk yourself into a stupor, in the pub throwing back shorts long after your workmates had left, trying to initiate conversations with strangers and nobody interested, then staggering home and puking into the neighbour's front garden, and look at you now, the state of you, and the kids running and tearing, every sound cutting through your skull, and Jack Jesus Christ if I have to tell you again, and he kicks a toy that goes flying, the screams going right through you, and you grab him, shake him, roar your frustration into his face, then you push him and he goes flying, crashing into his toys. Suddenly looking at you, in shock, in fear, then running crying out of the room, Amy following - Jack, I'm sorry, Jack - and Carolyn appearing at the door, dropping her bags and clutching the children close to her, and you saying it was an accident, you were sorry, you never meant it, you

You make me sick.

And look at you, shaving now, scraping that thing across your neck. Why don't you put that razor to some proper use, stop kidding yourself, living in a fucking fantasy. No-ones stopping you, you know. Think of it. Not going into work, not today, not ever, and the police coming round to break the door down. Or maybe Carolyn herself, suddenly wondering, suddenly caring, coming home atlast. And you there hanging from the ceiling with your wrists all slashed and a smile carved across your face, a sad happy clown, a dead fucking carcass, all you've ever deserved, everyone out of their misery.

But it's not going to happen, is it. Too much of a coward for that kind of thing, aren't you. In fact you're too much of a coward for a lot of things. Take the other evening for example, coming out of the tube. Bloke asks you for a cigarette, a teenager, and you give him one, but the next minute he's strutting next to you down the sidestreet, asking for money, needs it for a travelcard, what about a pound then, a fucking pound, what do you mean you haven't got it? Commenting on your suit and tie, telling you you're lying man, look fucking loaded. But you insist, tell him you're skint, and he gives up, lets you walk on. Tutting at you. Goading you. Fuckin prick. Come round your yard and rob the place, ya fuckin pussy.

But what did you do, what did you even say? Nothing. Just walked. Heart beating. Kept moving. Bastard shouting at you. You, who had spent twelve hours sweating over that sale, sweating, fretting, stressed to the hilt, with your wife gone, your kids gone, your debts, your bills, your mortgage, knowing if this sale doesn't go through you might as well be dead - with some total stranger, some ignorant fucking retard, threatening you, goading you on the street?

Why didn't you do something? Turn round and charge him, knock him into next week. You could have you know. In truth, he was nothing but a mouthy little runt. You could have done anything, gone fucking wild, left him battered and bruised. Go round insulting strangers and you're taking a big risk. Don't these people realize that?

Maybe they do. And that's when he would have pulled his knife out, plunged it in without a care. You there fighting with your fists and him stabbing away like nobody's business. Alone on the street, clutching your stomach, blood running through your fingers. Man stabbed. Killed. All you ever hear about.

But what would you care? What have you got to protect now anyway? It's all gone. Disappeared.

But you don't want to hear that, do you? Of course you don't. You'd run a mile rather than hear the truth. Run to the ends of the earth. Head in the sand. A beach somewhere. Black, polluted. Body dead. Writhing with maggots. Fuck's sake. You splash your face with water. Go on, get out of here.

Coffee. Now. You head to the kitchen in your boxers, watching the kettle as it heats. Body exhausted, mind alive. Flashing back to last night's dream. Down in the tracks, running from the trains, the dream relentless, neverending. Maybe it's time you saw the doctor about all this. Take a morning off, a couple hours even. Maybe next week. But so little time. Fuck it anyway. You bring the cup to the bedroom, start to get dressed. Almost toppling as you pull on your trousers and cursing every cunt and bastard to hell. Jesus. Hands shaking as you fix your tie. Fuck this, you bring your coffee out to the cabinet and in goes a measure of vodka, a generous one, because God if you don't calm your nerves you're going to throw something against the wall. Fucking kill somebody. Serious. You can see it. Donaldson at work, nothing ever good enough, jump over the desk, strangle the bastard to death on the floor.

But you've got to cool it. Get a move on. You down the coffee/vodka and collect up everything you need. Check yourself in the hallway mirror, make sure you've got everything, patting yourself down… phone, wallet, fags, keys, check your breath, your armpits, run back to the bathroom, more spray, back to the room, double check. Go on, fuck off, get to work.

You head for the door. And you can forget about drinks with McCluskey and Logan tonight as well - they're earning alot more money than you, in a different league, stop embarrassing yourself. I mean, standing there with a pint in your hand laughing and joking, pretending everything's normal? That's you all over, isn't it. Just not getting it.

Go on, fuck off, get out of here. You move, heading out the door and down the path. And no pubs I mean it, I want you straight home. Me and you, nice little chat. Are you listening to me? Fucking better be. We haven't even scratched the surface yet. Prick. Door slams and you shudder. Up your pace.


Post Office Freeform by H.R. McGonigal

Out in the town today I observe life as we know it as we collectively know it as we cumulatively know it I focus on the men
in the post office in their freshly clean laundered shirts and corduroy pants fresh like only beach town people know it fresh
like salt water and sun and a short haircut and a tan fresh like weekends at the beach all your life all your small town life
and the smell of the clothes and the laundry you wear is fresh fresh fresh but the woman behind me in line is a stain is a
scourge is a blight is not one of you she keeps barging through the silence with her terror she talks post office trivialities a
Quasimodo short and hunched like a witch like a post office witch she mumbles to herself, Oh that's a mighty big package
and Oh that's a mighty excited little youngster and she stands so close she is my Quasimodo shadow so close that her
purse swings and hits and caresses the back of my knee and I wonder what odd spirit is this amongst all this white
freshness all this superb freshness and the song on the radio says, What a wonderful world this would be, what a glorious
time to be free
and that makes a lot of sense to me those words sure do that makes a lot of sense to me.

Your Health, The Musk Bag by Ben Myers

(Taken from 'Spam: Email-Inspired' Poems' by Ben Myers, published by Blackheath Books)

your neighbours lost their alarm clock today
your neighbours lost that fat today.

many nice things suck
yet you inherited a small dick from your father
the fountain of sperm

one good turn
gets most of the blankets
but your muscles are nothing
if you can't show them off

ever stop to think and forget to start again?

Camping In The Underground by Suzy Devere

I was a thousand miles away from home, and you, and tigers. We’d never been
apart. We’d never been together. We’d never been at all, but there was
something angry on the subway floor that let me know the weather was gunna
change from the center up; something burning down there that seemed hotter.
Waxen sanity melting, I began to question what seemed to me unknowable
things, like the exact location of the sun (maybe beneath instead of above?
maybe Heaven’s hot? Hell weightless, cool and breezy?)…

then my mouth opened and I heard an echo of myself as I yelled out at an
imaginary you across the tracks:

“MY GOD, IT HAS COME OVER ME!
I want desperately to mark you!

–AND YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE!–”
(i yelled this as an aside, aimed straight
at the Pakistani subway vendor, saw his lips
mouth a reply of “what the fuck?”
so went on even louder)

“MAYBE YOU CAN’T HEAR ME!” (and then I turned my head
and settled my lunatic stink eye on a
helpless looking lady in a Mary Poppins hat)

“I said I want to piss on you like a feral cat!
to take you in with one deep and catastrophic breath!
a tectonic breath that snaps the plates beneath us both
and brings us shaking and gasping
to the endlessness of fucking!
to the endlessness of sex, of making love, of colour!

my God, fucking endlessness…

no delineation
forwards or back
up or down
i want you without anything imaginary between us!
or real around us!
i will be your
second skin!”

And then, just as it came, you can bet it left. Silent, this time with my cheek
pressed against the dirty subway tile, a new sensation of bugs made me
queesy. I could feel their myriads of centipede feet crawling into the knots of
my newly matted hair.

Machinations of an approaching train; drugged double vision and feet shuffling
quickly by, my head rang with dissonance. Threads of messy sound wrapped
around me like yards of stretched out gum. Did you know people’s shoes make
melodies that don’t always match their ankles?

Then I wondered if I’d said any of this aloud, any of it at all? Not caring either
way, I decided to close my eyes and go back to sleep. I slept badly until i heard
the glorious “ping” of coins falling into the empty can I’d set by my head; “ping,”
and a swig, and back down I lay to lure the luxuries of dream.

The Curse Of The Ages by Mike Meraz

get ready for heartbreak
cause here she comes
bending down
ordering a sandwich
leaning over a shopping cart
glancing to the left
glancing to the right
all those wonderful things she does
(how can any girl be that pretty?)
I stand pretending not to care
I have seen her before
and her smile made my last four years
but now it’s just plain cruel
for that is all she gives me
or will ever give me
I wave hoping to get her attention
"how are you?" I say
"good" she replies as she glances away
(polite disinterest)
I walk away hating she is not mine
but some other guys
who is probably as comfortable around her
as he is with his own mother
but as for me
my heart is caught in my throat
all the blood in my body
is holding a five minute meeting in my face
there is nothing I can do about it.

the curse of the ages:

wanting something so much
it makes you unable to have it.

MONEY SHOTS by Richard Kovitch

She still has the tape. She wrote this week to say she still watches it. I didn't reply. There's nothing left to say and communication will
simply encourage her to contact me again. She isn't the sort of person you'd want to give false hope to. I've seen her flip out at the
smallest things. She'd confront complete strangers without a moment's hesitation. She attacked a guy in a bar once without provocation.
Something inside her was broken.

I never had a copy of the tape and I only watched it once. It was pretty raw. Handheld flickers of flesh and linen. It felt right at the time.
Hotels have that effect on me, encourage me to shut reality out, indulge a few fantasies. But like so much excess it hollowed me out, left
me reeling when the end days came. I remember them well. I left her screaming bloody insults in the street. I stopped calling. Eventually,
so did she. A tremendous weight lifted. I could breathe again. I moved on.

I knew she'd made other tapes with different men because she showed them to me. She filmed everything, obsessively documenting her
life in motion and sound. It proved to her life was happening. She kept a diary in which she wrote up the intimate details of her conquests.
I flicked through it once. It didn't feel right. Bad grammar, bad karma. I jumped ship before my own write up. Never read your reviews.

How strange that nearly three years later, without warning, she texts to tell me she still has the tape and that she still watches it. There
were no other details. That was all. I didn't know what to make of it. She had no claim on me, and yet I still served her. I couldn't wriggle
free, imprisoned forever in pixels and sound. How could she bare to watch someone fuck her who wouldn't even return her calls?

That evening, on the day her text found me, I was lying on the mattress with my girlfriend. Staring at the ceiling, watching the paint peel,
I prayed the message from yesteryear was a one-off, sent in a depressing stupor simply for the hell of it. But I couldn't be certain, and it
was starting to eat away at me. I had a horrible feeling the past was beginning to catch up with me, and as usual, there was no way I
could stop it.

Written On A Napkin In A Dive Bar While Blacked Out by Rob Plath

birth is
a sadistic
mechanic
who built
pissing-shitting
lying-raping
killing-dying
skin machines
& sent them out
to do 360's
over & over
ripping up
the beautiful
inanimate
wilderness
of heaven
w/their vicious
animate
fleshy wheels

The Orgy by Joseph Ridgwell

I was in a London nightclub, drinking champagne and popping the odd pill. I’d
long ago lost the people I’d originally gone out with, and some ed-up and coked
up posh bird had strangely latched herself onto me. She had a St Paul’s school
for Girl’s accent and was obviously up for a bit of rough. Her name was Isabella
and she was blonde and slim, with nice tits, but totally out of it. It was New Years
Eve.
After intro’s we brought a bottle of champagne and retired to a chill out area.
‘The way to understand the personality of a guy is to check out his wallet,’
whispered Isabella in my ear at some point
‘What, like how much money he’s got inside?’
‘No, read his supermarket receipts.’
‘What if he hasn’t got any?’
‘Then the guys a freak and you have to walk away.’
Oddly, I wondered if there was a supermarket receipt in my wallet.
I French-kissed the girl for a while, but my thoughts kept spinning off into a
thousand different directions, supermarket receipts, supermarket receipts, how
long can a dolphin survive out of water, do astronauts shit into space?
Then Isabella pulled her head away. I was glad because she slobbered
somewhat, and I felt like I was getting a rash around my lips. I sipped some more
champagne, straight from the bottle and then burped. Isabella twisted a lock of
her long blonde hair around a finger and then went bossed-eyed,
‘Do you have a supermarket receipt?’
This posh tart was starting to freak me out, but I went along with the nuttiness.
I pulled out my wallet and fumbled around for a shopping receipt. I found one,
Tesco’s. Isabella snatched the strip of paper from my hand, rather rudely, and
read it avidly. Then she began making some strange clucking sounds, along with
lots of interjections, you know like, ah, oh, erm, yes, etc.
‘What?’ I asked.
Isabella looked up, ‘There’s not much food on this list is there?’
I grabbed the receipt. She was right, there wasn’t much food, it was mostly
alcohol, beer, wine, whiskey, and a bottle of Kaluha because I like to have a
large Kaluha and milk before going to bed each night.
‘I’m not a big eater,’ I said by way of explanation.
‘No, no, you are not, listen what are you doing later?’
I wasn’t doing anything later, aside from crashing out and trying to forget how
much money I’d spent on another wanky NYE, ‘Nothing, why?’
Isabella looked me up and down and then kissed me somewhat wildly, still
slobbering. I pulled away and wiped my mouth with the back of my hand. Then
Isabella grabbed one of my hands, the drools free one, and pressed it tightly,
‘Listen, some friends of ours are having a party, it should be interesting, would
you like to come as my guest?’
I rubbed my beard thoughtfully. ‘Ok,’ I said simply.
Outside the club the erratic Isabella led me to a black BMW convertible parked
on a double yellow line,
‘You’re not going to drive are ya?’ I queried.
Isabella handed me an electronic fob, ‘No, you are,’ she said with a
giggle, a giggle that instantly irritated me. So this is how it works? This is how these rich
bitches fuck you over. I was at least ten or twenty times over the legal drink drive
limit, with seven points already on my license. If caught driving under the
influence, it would be an immediate ban, hefty fine, and maybe even a custodial
sentence. Taking these factors into consideration I thought it prudent to suggest
an alternative, ‘What about a cab?’
Isabella leaned real close to me and rubbed a thigh against mine, ‘Oh darling
don’t be silly, it’s only around the corner.’
With the thigh rubbing and darling thing going on, I felt a stirring in my groin
region, and knew I was doomed. ‘Ok let’s go, but it better not be far, and let me
know if I start weaving.’
We drove slowly along empty early morning New Year’s Day streets. A fine
drizzle was falling, and everything seemed blurred, lights, reflections, etc. I was
hunched over the wheel trying to concentrate, while Isabella rambled on about
whose party it was, who would be there, and snorting coke every five seconds.
Apparently it was some city whiz kid millionaire, but I wasn’t really paying
attention, it was taking all my powers of concentration just to drive straight.
Eventually we pulled into the complex of some brand new riverside apartments.
These places went for over a million each, but they were bland, badly
constructed, and devoid of any character. It could’ve been any apartments, in
any city, in any country, in any world.
A tall black guy, who vaguely resembled Will Smith, answered the door.
Isabella was all kisses and hugs, why I just stood there like a plank,
‘Who is this?’ Asked Will in a strong African accent.
I held out a hand, ‘I’m Joseph Ridgwell, underground writer and minor poet, now
where’s the beers?’
The black guy shook my hand weakly, ‘Hi, I’m Jeremiah, and erm there’s
refreshments in the kitchen.’
I strode ahead, but behind me I heard Jeremiah whisper to Isabella, ‘Oh my
god Izzy, where the fuck did you find him?’
Immediately I wished a cancer on the African prick, but forget about that as soon
as I walked into the living room.
The living room was huge and done out in the minimalist style. There was a
Rothko and a Warhol hanging on the walls, they looked like originals, but I was
distracted by a small crowd of people gathered around a white fur rug. They all
appeared to be watching something. I edged closer, barging two men out of the
way in the process. Then I nearly fainted at the scene that confronted me. Jesus
Christ, an Asian girl and a white man were stark naked and making love right
there in front of everyone. I watched voyeur style for a while, but soon got bored
and then realised I didn’t have a drink.
I looked around for Isabella and found her in the arms of the African. She was
slobbering all over him like she had been with me in the club. Everywhere I
looked couples were getting off with each other, kissing, blow jobs, doggy-style,
etc. I’d walked into a full blown orgy, but something about the whole set up didn’t
seem right, and I felt my stomach turn.
I poked Isabella in the side until she stopped kissing Will Smith and looked at
me,
‘What?’ She demanded.
I felt like giving her a slap, but controlled myself masterfully, ‘Is it ok to get myself
a beer?’
Isabella looked at me like I was a minor inconvenience, ‘Of course it is you’re my
guest, now run along.’
Red and green lights flashed before my eyes, ‘Anyone else want one, what about
you Jerry?’
Jeremiah looked at me in mild amusement, ‘Did you just call me Jerry?’
Now I was properly pissed off, ‘Yeah, that’s your fucking name ain’t it?’
Isabella pulled a face, ‘Easy tiger, drinks, I mean beers are in the kitchen.’
I strolled to the kitchen in a huff. It looked like I wasn’t going to get a shag with
Isabella and now I was stuck in some rich cunts apartment on the other side of
London, with an orgy taking place. Bollocks, just my luck. In the kitchen were a
group of coke heads. I edged past them and opened the fridge door and grabbed
a cold beer. The cokeheads didn’t acknowledge me in anyway.
With beer in hand, I strolled around the massive apartment. Nobody took any
notice of me; it was like I was invisible, not the first time this has happened in my
life. The sex show was still going on in the living room, and couples were still
going at it in full view, in various nooks and darkened corners. Most of the
women looked like prostitutes, high-class ones, but still brasses. Terrible rap
music was playing on an impressive Bang & Olufsen stereo.
Then suddenly it dawned on me, they were all prostitutes, they had to be.
Suddenly everything clicked into place. The millionaire had hired them all to
entertain his guests, his male guests.
I sat down on a settee and smoked a cigarette. But why had Isabella invited
me and was she a brass? It was odds on that she were. Well, prostitution was
just another form of employment, but it seemed strange for such a pretty and
privileged girl to be on the game, but then I guess no rich man would want pay to
fuck an ugly. Suddenly the night seemed to becoming a very weird one.
Then I thought about my life and all the strange unconnected things that
happened in it. For some reason weird shit was always happening to me. I mean
not all the time, but more than normal. I wondered if it was my abnormal
personality, or whether some unseen force was making it happen to me, to give
me material for my writing. No, that was crazy; it had to be down to me.
I sat there for a while observing the scene and wondering if I could use the
experience and turn it into literature. Somehow I doubted it; it all seemed so
contrived, lacking in spontaneity and ultimately soulless. I drank another beer
and then saw Isabella disappear into one of the master bedrooms with Jerry. I
felt low and blue. Outside the first light of dawn had already begun to illuminate
the eastern sky, a smudge of pink on the horizon.
When I saw some partygoers shooting up I decided it was time to make a
move. I didn’t say goodbye and nobody saw me leave. On the way out I saw a
pair of gold cufflinks on a side table, and without thinking I picked them and
dropped them into my pocket. I’m not a thief, but I took them as a memento,
something solid to prove I hadn’t imagined the whole episode.
I walked along the embankment for a goodly while. At Westminster I stopped
at gazed at the river Thames gliding past, the dirty brown water sparkling in the
early morning sunshine. I thought about telling my friends what had happened
and seeing the disbelief appearing in their eyes, but when you think about it
anything can happen on a night out, nothing normally does, but the possibilities
are endless.
Then, for a split second, I thought about jumping in the river, but the water
looked very cold, too, too cold. Eventually the suicide thoughts passed and I
walked along in yellow sunshine. It was New Year’s Day and I was alive.

HELLO OLD MOVIE by Ford Dagenham

hello old movie
I tell you,
I am tired
tired from the machetes and fire
and mornings dark as dawn

old movie,
I spent my last coppers in the cornershop
on eggs and on bread
heavy in inaccurate baggies
I handed them over
then
shuffled back down the hill

so, hello old movie,
you are not so old
it is me, old movie,
that time treads on with tiny feet
old movie,
I drank a monstrous coffee
and I shake now and sweat, cold
old movie, it was black as a winter garden

hello old movie,
I've the end of a bottle to share with you
end of a bottle, times only neighbour
and you old movie,
movie from the 90s, of yesterdays hype
movie I find once a year
with music
reaction shots
and technology
old sci-fi movie,
you are magnificent,
a magnificent waste of time
identical reels I watch while I dream
dreaming of other magnificent things
like lives soft flesh,
held real inside delicate straps

Chris McCandless. by Jay-James May

Everything
About Icarus
Is
A lie.

He never
Flew too high
Burning
His wings.

He
Died in the
Back of a bus
Alone and smiling.

He smiled
And his teeth were yellow.
He laughed
And we all laughed too.

Found Poems by Karl Koweski

I’m sitting at the picnic table
enjoying twenty minutes outdoor time
I’m allotted every twelve hour factory shift

I amuse myself by flicking away
ants scouting for morsels of food
to carry back to their queen

about the time I dispatch the last drone
Randy the programmer steps outside
lights a cigarette and says
"hey, Karl, I was just cleaning
my desk and I found your book,
the one you gave Sarah, she let me read."

"oh yeah?" I vaguely remember
Sarah buying my first poetry chapbook
several years ago, one of the few
I managed to sell of that batch

"it’s the one you signed
‘To Sarah, with all my love’"

Randy stands there, hands on hips,
cigarette nestled beneath that
god awful Tom Selleck mustache
Sarah finds so adorable

he knows he’s been fucking Sarah
a lot longer than
she hasn’t been fucking me

"well, Randy I was gonna write
‘To Sarah, thanks for all the blow jobs’
but it didn’t feel quite appropriate
for a chapbook dedication, you know,
but go ahead and keep it
she paid for it"

"no, I ain’t got no need for it
fucking poems don’t even rhyme, anyway"

FOR THOSE SLOWLY DYING by C. Allen Rearick

"you can watch the ones who
didn't move fast enough
they are dying
& they are called Poets"
- d.a. levy

The winter winds are late
and unforgiving.

The birds for the most part
have flown south
in search of warmth
and survival.

A few have stayed behind
to brave the bitter winds
of death.

I smoke a cigar
with nothing else
to do but watch them.

Perched on stark black
telephone lines,
they will slowly begin to die.

The wind kicks around.
I curl up my coat's collar,
flick my cigar butt to the ground
and the birds take flight.

It's here, where
the sky swallows motion,
and loose feathers
quiet lightly in the air,
I know, despite their
cold indifference,
they are the words
of desperate poets,

born free, but
long ago forgotten,
left behind, homeless in a world
without a
care.

The Hero Inside by Maria Gornell

He says they’re all pretenders
They all lie,
So he mounts them like a beast
Releasing his seed
Unconsciously hoping
For a miracle child?

I say fuck weekend
Wonder boys hissing
Down my ear
Metaphors of lost love
Needy childhood eyes.
Demanding I be grateful
For a quick thrust or
Suckling on my nipple
Hard.

He says be grateful
For small mercy’s,
One night stands
With Bukowski wannabe’s
Who I’ll be able to
Write about
As soon as he’s died,
Pissed up apathy
Riding the underground
Searching aimlessly
For women
who always fall short.

I reply
With woman’s needy cries
That I know will be ignored
I’m supposed to be strong
Obsessed with flesh,
Staring at men crotches
With a pussy on fire
Realistic about impossibilities
Of finding true love,
Whipping myself dry
With home truth’s
And lies..

He’s dead to me
I’m numb to him,
His seed failing to
Awaken my passion,
My heart failing to
Reach his mind,
We are sordid
Melancholy beings,
One taking refuge
In bottles
And empty soulless fucks,
The other
Inhaling life,
High hopes
Finally alive
Yet
Not knowing
If she can ever find
The hero that lies
Within..

Two Poems by Kevin M. Hibshman

Neurotic girl.
Quixotic girl.
Whirlpool girl who never stops drowning.

Material girl.
Ethereal girl.
Volcano virgin yet no Joan of Arc.

Broken girl.
Token girl.
Terminally sad.
Extremely sedated.

Lithium girl.
Xanax girl.
Glazed over in a pharmaceutical haze.

Sepia girl.
Monochrome girl.
Where have all the colors gone?

Blunted girl.
Stunted girl.
How it hurts my heart seeing you this way.


Are You Prepared? (Project Blue Beam)

They are invading.
Intersection of dead roads.
Litigation with the angels aimed at your intelligence, your imagination.
It's not a ghost in the attic or a light in the basement.
The closing of space, sensory deprivation until one is numb and unable
to question
or form an equation.

Passing Through My Culture by Kevin Barcellos

The Stockton cinco de mayo
parade was held downtown
on Saturday May sixth.
There were approximately
five square blocks
closed to vehicle traffic.
Walking through the streets
I passed beautiful hispanic
women pushing strollers. I
passed toddlers in cowboy
boots waving miniature
flags. I passed intersections
filled with crowded smiles
and joyous laughter. I passed
side streets where children
were playing soccer. And
I passed the starting point
of the parade,
all while trying to catch
the ten-thirty showing
of Spider-Man 3 at
the Regal Cinema 16.

Left by Rose Morales

I left it at home,
(at least A home)
a place I had passed
from time to time,
marveling at the
emptiness
and stark bleakness
of the furniture
inside.

I thought I was safe,
(It seemed so safe)
a tomb where no one
slept or stirred.
Hermetically sealed
with leaded windows
armed against the onslaught
of inconvenient truths.

I slumbered long
(So dreamless, no sound, no song)
in peaceful solitude
in my own souless cell
with priceless paintings
to show taste,
and the semblence
of life within.

(A life never loved, never lived)

I woke to laughter
and children playing,
mothers calling
in a language
I failed to understand.

Like something feral
seaking nourishment
it crept behind me
just in sight
but out of reach.

Searching out warmth
after cold gray walls;
the heat of secrets burning,
loves forgotten
hatred simmering
in lifeless halls.

(the dead awaken)

Nibbling at the feet
of those who would run,
the past has a curious way
of catching up.

’Mishima’s Suicide’ by Matthew Coleman

At one point in my life I would have written about sex, to focus on the dark shades of sexual perversion. But sex, and its written surface, has receded into the shadows. I have turned my back on it; I have cast it away. It does not reflect or resound within me anymore.

We are all made up of parts, a multitude of parts which together create the whole.

The image that I have of it is not real; it is filtered through the lens of cinema, photography and fantasy. The brush of my daydream has painted the fantasy. It is a false image, an unreal one that I've projected inwards, onto the screen of my imagination.

For as long as I can remember I have always dreamed of going to Japan. I have always desired to feel it all about me, to hold it in my gaze and walk its streets, to commit its sights and sounds to memory.

Japan, to me, has swallowed the woman I loved. It is over. When I say that Japan has swallowed the woman I loved I say this with uncertainty, as it is only a possibility. The last time we ever spoke she was heading to Tokyo; to the Tokyo I have dreamed of.

In his story 'The Priest of Shiga Temple and His Love', Yukio Mishima wrote:

By means of microscopic observation and astronomical projection the lotus flower can become the foundation for an entire theory of the universe and an agent whereby we may perceive the Truth. And first we must know that each of the petals has eighty-four thousand veins and that each vein gives eighty-four thousand lights.

Eighty-four thousand.

I think of this number, a large and rounded number. How many buildings in the average block of Tokyo can eighty-four thousand lights be found? So many stories can be told within this block of eighty-four thousand lights. Does the woman I loved gaze at any of these lights as she walks? Did she even make it there?

As I wander Tokyo's streets, following her, I wonder what she would find in Japan, what she would say. If I plunge into my daydream then how many buildings found in a block of eighty-four thousand lights would surround her? What would her story be? If I could create one then could we be together in Tokyo?

It seems, reflecting further, that I did not truly consider Mishima's words, that I gave them only cursory consideration. For the Priest said: each of the petals has eighty-four thousand veins and that each vein gives eighty-four thousand lights. This would mean that each petal has 7,056,000,000 lights. In that case, how many lights does each human being have and, within these lights, can we create a foundation to build a temple of truth from the study of this petal?

Did Mishima, when committing disembowelment during Seppuku, come any closer to perceiving truth beyond the lotus of his being? Did the light of the cosmos swallow his reality as well as my daydream of Japan? Did its bright light wash over the outline of everything, rendering reality as a white space of nothingness? Does the one I love ever look at her hand and daydream of the petals of the lotus flower?

* * *

Yesterday, a dear French friend wrote me this: take care, breathe, for the rest is illusion… That's why we love literature so much, because it is a dance around the nonsense.

Japan is nothing to me. I have never been there and I lack the imagination to answer any of my questions. We are all made up of parts; of a multitude of different parts that make up our whole.

* * *

It was on November 25th, 1970, when Yukio Mishima, after a failed attempt to rouse the army into a coup d'├ętat at Ichigaya Military Base, stood in the office of General Mashita. Mishima removed his jacket and shoes before kneeling upon the red carpet in front of four members of Tatenokai, his private army comprised mainly of students, as well as the General, who had been tied to his chair. Morita, who stood behind Mishima with his sword, had been ordered to decapitate him after he had committed Suppuku. Mishima then plunged the short sword into the left side of his abdomen before pulling the blade across his stomach. Morita brought the sword down but missed as Mishima's body jerked forward in pain, where the blade cut across Mishima's back. After numerous failed attempts to remove Mishima's head Furu-Koga, another member of Tatenokai, took the sword from Morita and severed Mishima's head in one decisive action.

The Cure (and The Smiths (but only twice, briefly)) by Pablo Vision

It was more than embarrassing when she found that copy of Straight Men Who Love To Suck Cock. I asked her what part of 'straight men' did she find difficult to understand. But always digging up the past she had to mention the DVD of Shaving Private Ryan's Privates. How was I to know it was that sort of film? I found it prudent not to say that with her short cropped hair and muscular shoulders that she looks somewhat manly from behind, and that anal is more her thing than mine. Don't get me wrong, it is a nice tight fit and what have you, but afterwards the dangling condom, with the stuff on the inside and the stuff on the outside, is a pretty unpleasant sight. In my darkest moments I imagine sending a box of these to her mother. Without is, as always, so much better, but she is not so keen on what she calls the post-fuck oozing. So anyway, determined not to slip into a dark mood, I knew saying nothing at all was for the best. She can't be reasoned with when she gets like that. Far better to let her get over it in her own time, and in her own way.

Her own time turned out to be about three weeks, and her own way was somewhat surprising, and more than a little uncomfortable. But that's women for you. I had done all the rights things, flowers and all that shit. Lots of giving too. And tact. Not once did I explain that the probing and meandering licks of my tongue were more to do with avoiding the little balls of toilet tissue attached to her flaps, than any effort to do what I thought might be pleasing. Better that, though, than when she has used those wipes. The smell and the taste remind me of babies, and that seems an altogether wrong thing to be thinking about when doing that. Really very badly wrong. Jesus-ass-fucking-Christ, I called out when she stuck her finger inside. Her telling me to relax, when all I could think of was that I was going to shit all over the bed, that she should cut her fucking nails, and that Marlon Brando is an absolute fucking bastard. If she hadn't started stroking me with her other hand, I think I might have hit the bloody bitch. So anyway, the feeling of needing a shit subsided - probably just another false alarm - and it started feeling pretty good. And then it was the rabbit. Fucking hell, I can tell you that girth hurts far more than length – it was like she was trying to drive a ten-ton truck up there. She just said I had done turds with greater girth. Not that she watches me shit or anything, but sometimes they just will not go away. Sort of like that whale that got stuck in the Thames. (And that was another time I got in the shit with her, so to speak. Not wanting to leave these beasts swimming around in the bowl, I had put a clear plastic food bag over my hand – like a glove – grabbed the uncooperative turd(s), used my other hand to pull the bag over and inside out, before tying it closed. Must have put about forty of these things in the bin outside, before the day she caught me, red-handed, carrying what looked like goldfish won at the fair. Only with a brown sausage-shaped fish, rather than one that was gold and fish-shaped. Fucking hell, sometimes I wonder why I make any effort at all. If only God had invented men with tits, there wouldn't have to be this unreasonableness to contend with.) So, getting back to the current debacle, after screaming like a stuck pig for a while, again it seemed stupid not to see the thing through. Seemed like the damage had already been done, you know. So she was saying all this stuff about how I liked having a big hard cock up me while this stuff spurts out. But not in the usual way. More smooth rather than all jolty. And it continued to stick up proudly without going down. And the stupid cow saw this as confirmation of some sort of inclination, as she pulled me off once more.

So moving swiftly from the [inconsistently] past tense to the present, here I am, all spent out. Twice [as previously stated]. With this fucking thing stuck up my ass. She tries to take it out – but my sphincter is in no mood at all for allowing the head of the thing to cause that unnatural, and fucking painful, kind of stretching again. Of course I can't go to work with it in. Fuck knows what that would look like. And I don't think they have any special chairs. Even though they have taken to employing all kinds of spazzers there. Some kind of stupid equality thing. But there is no way I can bring myself to have it removed. Not now I know how much it hurts. She says that maybe I could shit it out, when the time comes. And starts going on about how big my turds are again. She's absolutely loving this. Asks me if I want to watch Gaylord Of The Ringpieces while I am waiting. I cautiously try and ease the thing out, but just end up setting off the twisting churning motion inside, and that stupid, almost clockwork-like, noise. This is ridiculous she says, and violently pulls it out. And taking advantage of my painful preoccupation she then puts the fucking thing in my mouth. But (!!!!FUCK!!!!) not before I glance in horror at the little wedge of dark crap caught in the ridge under the head. Consider yourself cured she says before storming out of the room. Something to chew on I suppose…

Eiderdown by Adelle Stripe

Nothing
beats
waking up
with you
on a
sunday morning
buried
underneath
pillows and blankets
my toes
touching
yours

I spend my
whole week
waiting and wishing
for that special
time with you
when pink light
illuminates your
unshaven face
sunken
in my armpit
whispering
“good morning – y’alright?”

I smile and
say yes
because I know
life just
doesn’t get better
than drinking
coffee
and watching
countryfile
with you.

Face To Face by Vic Swan

I see my face in your face
i see my face in the hope and
worried lines that crease
your lips and eyes,
the sparkle in the gleam
of the laugh and glow
of love and loved
and in the
spontaneous combustion
of children playing.
i see my face in weary
torn and sad, the stoop
of burden, the tears
of hopeless,
the hunger unrequited
yearning vagabond heart
of homeless lost souls
and the face of pain.
i know your face
as i know my own
lose and joy
anger and frustration
at injustice and greed
and i see my face in
every face
of our human mirror.
christian, jew, pagan,
muslim, hindu, atheist,
black, white, yellow,
red and brown,
the young and old,
straight and gay mutts
of the universe.
i am an addict,
a felon, a prisoner
an outcast held in
high esteem by my tribe
and see me
in your eyes,
a flawed being
wanting peace, joy
and most of all
love.

The Stomach Is Gone by Frank Reardon

There is not a stomach left
when you feel the city that
is letting you starve. Love
seems like a series of beer
cans and the passion is the
ash from a cigarette on its
brim, lonely and left for the
trash. I've grown to be the
disappointed one and I've
noticed that pain is more than
a set of dizzy spells. It's the
command center to the lunatic
it's the dead hookers mascara
smudging on the body bag.
The fighters stamina grows weak
he grows far more confused
about how and when, he tries
to stand but falls to the canvas,
breathing heavy with nothing
left but hunger, rage and anguish.
I've got this cloud its full name
is The Depraved Beast, He mocks
me and tests me, he says he's
trying to make me a man, lately
I've been hiding in the bushes
with a knife, reality is too fucking
much.

Guinness by Christopher Nosnibor

"Fuckin' 'ell, did you hear her goin' on the other day about how she used to wet the bed up to when she was seventeen or eighteen? That's pretty fucked up. I mean, I can't remember pissin' the bed ever, so I must've stopped when I was a young nipper, y'know, like normal, four or summat.

"Mind you, I've got a mate who shits the bed every time he gets pissed. Whenever he goes out drinking, he just fuckin' shits the bed. I mean, you just wouldn't. I don't know what I'd do if that was me. Imagine pullin' some bird down the club an' 'avin' to explain that to in the morning. Be like in Trainspotting. 'E Imac'd 'is arse once, too, said it made his arsehole really sweaty, like, an' every time 'e farted he thought 'e'd shat 'imsen. Fuckin' lunatic.

"I've only shat mesen a couplea times, that I can remember, like, y'know, recently I mean. Last Friday was I was off I 'ad the worst fuckin' diarrhoea. I was 'ammered an' 'ad a KFC on the way 'ome. I was starvin' and got meself a family bucket and just chowed it all down and I reckon that's what did it. I got up ok an' I was all ready for work – would've been the earliest I'd made it in in ages, too – and then just as I was ready to go it just bubbled out an' I thought, 'Shit. For fuck's sake.'

"The other time I'd been on the Guinness. Really canin' it, 'y'know. Y'know 'ow it is after a few too many points o' Guinness. Guinness makes yer shit. So I'd 'ad a few and turned up at the Cellars and was just desperate fer a bab. I mean I was proper pissed already like an' was just goin' fer the bogs an' I farted an' I thought 'Oh, hello,' an' I just knew I'd followed through.

"So I got into the cubicle an' pulled me trousers an' that down, an' it was a right fuckin' mess, an' so I de-kegged an' there was no fuckin' bog roll so I just had to wipe round a bit after I'd taken a shit an' then drop me boxers down the side o' the bog.

"It was the only time I've had to seriously throw some bird off, that was well up ferrit an' I'd not o' minded hangin' out the backa, y'know. I 'ad to come up with some excuse, an' it was the worst excuse ever. I told her I was shy! Me, fuckin' shy!

"But I'd pulled this lass an' we'd gone back to mine an' she was well up ferrit, an' she was tryin' t' pull me fuckin' trousers down an' tryin' ter suck me off, like, y'know, an' I was thinkin' 'Nooo, gerroff! I might have flakes o' shit 'n' that all in me trews,' an' I didn't know what to say so I'm pullin' away and I'm there pushin' 'er off an' she was pullin' me kecks down an' grabbin' at ma knob an' that an' she said, 'What's wrong?'

"An' I was like, 'Shit,' I don't know what to say, an' completely stuck for somethin' I say, 'Oh, I'm shy!' Fuckin' nuts, can you believe it? Yeah, so I sad, 'Oh, I'm really shy,' cause I couldn't exactly say 'I shat mesen,' y'know?

"Don't go writin' that into one of your stories.... daagh, fuck it, no fucker'd ever believe it anyway..."

Everything I Ever Needed To Know by Richard Kovitch

It was a nothing day, and a P.E class was drawing to a close. Our teacher had drop kicked a rugby ball on the school field, then declared that whoever got to the ball first would win a prize. Eager to win I, along with my classmates, sprinted in the direction of the ball. We didn't know what the prize would be and we didn't care. At that age you don't question things, you simply exist in the moment however pointless it is. For a lot of people this never changes.

I got there first and seized the ball. An excitement swelled inside me. I felt good. The kid that arrived second was from the wrong side of town. There was something animal about him, something broken. He demanded I give him the ball. I refused, so he launched at me and bit my left cheek so fucking hard he drew blood, his teeth scarring my face. Distraught I relinquished the ball. Whilst I stood there in shock, tears streaming down my face, he returned to the teacher and received the prize.

Everything I ever needed to know about the essential nature of life I'd learnt by 6.

Someone Is Pitching My Heart Against A Brick Wall by Rob Plath

as a boy i loved
getting my baseball glove
& ball & going by myself
& pitching the ball
at the spray painted
strike zone on the brick wall
in the empty school yard
at 38 that boy feels like a ghost now
but he still exists
only his young wild arm
is pitching my heart against
the wall
it comes back to him in three
or four bounces
& he slams it into the webbing
of his glove a couple of times
& then releases it again & again
the stitching of my heart
loosening a little more w/every pitch
in the spectral schoolyard
of my mind

It Is No Longer Rebellious To Be Drunk by Mike Meraz

the best
of us
get to work
sober
now

the least
of us
on pills
or booze

there is so
much
heartache
now
in the most
mundane places

you don't
know
who you are
talking to

a pill
a pamphlet
a joint
a line of coke

no one
is hardly
themselves
anymore.

Stream by H. R. McGonigal

Crooked elbow turning point bent corner off ramp roadway forest flow tall trees on her knees significant heard not authored
turn pike symbol symptom the gas flame makes a constant hiss a constant breathing sound sometimes the wind will flicker it
minstrel crown reference nostalgia rain systematic continue conflagration separate dilate fortune the beauty that sleeps
attune saint Paul country music on the car radio listen to the one that matters clean the debris that blocks the message
follow through elephants clamor light dances across the material world like an anthropomorphic entity over the water
crowds of people robust round right receive bird song a whistle through the memory of time through dimensions that unify
past present and future car engine diesel rumble like gravel in the lungs like automobile pneumonia reminder of civilization
Nicola Tesla dharma bell remember that coughing unwell society be grateful for their support be loving be sharing but all this
do gooding is done not from the outside-in rather from the inside-out and realize this no separation first then all the acts
will be natural now each sound has a direct intent into the one cause receive the intent the support of the intent the one voice only one
thing on its mind; awaken, awaken, awaken, awaken.

MAGIC (a tiny fairy tale) by Suzy Devere

She was to be his concubine; mistress clothing calling to her from a
dressing chair; the town whispering in wait for its newest dark sweet.
The finery, the wine, and small sparkly things that suggest one is well-
cared for adding up about her: Italian linens, silks, cashmeres, and
feathers in piles around her nervous feet; never standing too long in one
place; oh if she stopped he'd want a kiss. No slowing down. Forward and
back. Forward, side to side. A bad ballerina. An unpleasant dance. And if
you'd seen it, you'd have felt a twinge of guilt for watching, maybe even
had a bit of sadness for a girl so lost. But then it would have been of no
surprise to you what came next...

One day, while all were out in the town, making preparations for a buona
festa, she fled naked, the look of a thousand years in her eyes.

Now she is trapped only by her loneliness.

The Children’s Tower by Mikael Covey

Lying there in the dark, on the warm sheets of the bed, naked in cool beaded sweat.
Feeling soft fulfilled bereft of emptiness. She, lying there on the moist sheets. Lying
naked on her back, looking at him. Feeling hot inside and cool in the breeze of hot
summer night. Taught flat stomach and firm ripe flesh of young girl, wet and burning
inside.

Looking at him sitting on the edge of the bed in the black night. Sitting there naked
facing the window, smoking now. Both of them breathing normal now, easy peaceful.
Full of themselves and each other. The fullness of one emptying into the other,
draining away worry that was there before now. Washed away.

The comforting smell of cigarette smoke in the room, seeing his face without seeing
through the dark, knowing his looks in her mind. The night is young, the world is
young and belonging to them. Everyone else a foreigner in their world.

Soft blue light glowing from the stereo receiver without sound. Just to have glowing
light in the dark little room. In the tower of the old mansion turned seedy apartment
house. Their little nest on top the world. So small the room there isn’t even a chair,
just bed against the railing where stairs lead down below them to where the rest of
the world lives.

The four, ten-foot high windows in the four walls of the little tower room. The only
breeze in hot summer night comes into these open windows and passes through
their little room pitch black in the night, so gently you barely feel it. Only the
coolness where everything else is hot and stale and unalive.

He, sitting there at the window seeing her without seeing, knowing she is there from
sound of her voice, outline of her shadow, warmth of her young girl body.

“What is it that people do?” he asks.

Him from the poor family of free-thinkers, she from middle-class who try not to
wonder about things like that. It fascinates her, attracts her to him, someone so
young with such thoughts as these. Thoughts she has never imagined before.

“They screw” she says, giggling the giddiness of abandonment.

Bangkok by Steven Wheeler

I awake to the hum of the air conditioner vibrating a fast, funk beat, green curtains opened a foot in the middle. There are white clouds on a powder blue sky, sunshine on the palms and slanted roofs. I slumber for twenty more minutes. Groping and squinting, I light the first cigarette of the day, lay back to smoke it.

White sheets outline the pleasant hump of Joyce’s hips in the bed across the room. Henry Miller’s Plexus lays open at my feet. I try to recall the last bit I read, but several incidents jumble together, it’s not clear.

The small speaker in the wall begins to crackle. An old rock tune wheezes through. The Malaysia Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand.

We have the steaming chaos of Bangkok to travel through, to the photo shops of the Siam Centre, then the Indonesian Consulate, for visas. We need passports, return tickets, whatever other paper we have to pay for. Old Siam? The mysterious East? Bangkok is another Tokyo or Hong Kong, another filthy, polluted, high speed, hot city. Bangkok is downright depressing.

I rise, run to the shower. The tepid water on my skin diverts me.

We smoke a joint of Buddha weed, I eat the yogurt Joyce has gone out for earlier, we gather up all the necessary papers.

Our packs sit on the floor beside the dresser.

In this room there are two single beds, a hand shower attached to the bathtub. I got a four inch cockroach in the bathroom with the flick of a towel rolled up. The room is air conditioned by a central unit that services the whole building, at times. It all costs two dollars American per night. Long before there were guide books on the subject, before Rolling Stone magazine ever suspected, restless western souls explored the vast continent of Asia. The first wanderers grew to gigantic hordes of travellers. Political policies and wars set down the route: from Europe to India, from India to Bangkok, from Bangkok to Australia or America. All of the modern roads of discovery converged on Bangkok.

In every city, in every country, there are hostels, hotels, guest houses, with cheap rates, basic accommodations, services for travellers. By word of mouth, later through travel guides, the locations of these places are revealed.

The Malaysia Hotel in Bangkok is a venerable institution on the trail around the world. Perhaps, she’s the grandmother of them all. The Malaysia is a haven of sleazy, relaxed decadence for westerners.

She’s a modern hotel, by sixties standards. She rises six stories with a grimy little swimming pool, a cafeteria and bar. The loud juke box is full of rock. There is one blues song. The lobby contains a travel agent and a second hand book shop where you can trade two of your pocket books for one of theirs. On the notice board, by the front door, we read, ‘The Dutch girls I met in Burma, I am in room 202, would like to see you again, Rob’ and ‘Don’t pick up Thai chick outside of the Pussycat Cabaret - she’s a rip off. My friend and I lost $2,000 and got badly beaten up by the guys she works with. She offers massage and takes you to Oriental Hotel on Rama 5. The police won’t do a thing - beware!’ under which is written, in another hand, ‘Too bad, you ole smoothy’. There is an abundance of drugs, prostitutes and opportunities to encounter Bangkok’s thriving underworld at the Malaysia.

We were told of the Malaysia in Seoul, getting drunk on Soju and eating bulgogi beef with an American couple. A veterinarian and his wife who were heading home after doing the circuit from Europe to Asia, told us, "Everybody stays at the Malaysia" We make our way across the street to the Blue Fox. I begin to sweat. My body is adapting to the tropics. It’s affecting my mind. I think evil, violent thoughts in Bangkok. I wake up from dreams of being attacked in the street by Thais. Lots of travellers go through it. I think of the marine I talked to, who was raised in Connecticut, posted to the Philippines. He went through a painful sickness which acclimatized him to the heat. When he returned to the States, he couldn’t stand the cold.

The physical effort of a Canadian or a northern dweller confronting the heat must be more strenuous than that of a person from the south. Coldness is a way of life in Canada. Heat is a vacation.

All I thought about for the past three winters, working in the cold, was escaping to a hot climate. Now I was suffering because of the heat. It is cool and dark in the Blue Fox Bar, where we find an empty booth, order breakfast.

The owner is a pleasant looking Thai who works behind the bar in blue jeans. He smiles, says hello. His two pretty daughters are serving beer to a few die hard Australians at the bar.

We smoke cigarettes, drink strong coffee while the loud juke box kicks out an endless stream of Beatles, Stones and Bad Company. The daughters only understand a few words on the menu, but mouth each word of the rock songs.

The regular westerners are there every morning at quiet tables, with cigarettes and coffee. Some are guests of the Malaysia, some from the surrounding hotels. The same westerners spend most of their time in the Blue Fox. As the day progresses they switch from coffee to beer or liquor. Most can be found there around closing time. One guy looks like a French gangster. He is dressed in a tight, black T - shirt with tattoos on his skinny, big veined arms. He wears dark shades, has slicked back, greasy hair with a small, black moustache. Joyce checks out his jewelery, watches him deal. A pretty, young Thai girl hangs by his side. She disappears, returns with strangers with whom he converses. Sometimes he slips outside with them, to do his deal. He is sitting with two large Americans who look like they just got out of the service. All three stare at the cartoons on the colour tv at the end of the bar. When breakfast is finished, we can’t put it off any longer. We plunge into the streets of Bangkok.

It’s hard to deal with the unrelenting discomfort of a place like Bangkok. The streets are jammed with traffic which raises an unbearable decibel level of sound. There are the noises of broken mufflers on buses, motorbikes, trishaws, shouts over them. The sound hits you like a wall. We cringe at the loudness on the sidewalks.

On the main streets the air is blue from exhaust fumes. Tension stalks the faces on busy, steaming corners in the heat. The smell, noise and visual spectacle contrast with Buddhist monks who walk around silently, in saffron robes, with empty begging bowls. The population is expected to fill them with food. Everything and everyone is bathed in wet, glaring light. We walk a short distance to Rama 4, one of the main arteries in Bangkok. There’s Rama 1 to Rama 5 all aiming, like spokes in a wheel, for the centre of town. Rama 4 is a wide six lane boulevard, lined by hotels, stores, wots and parks. It gets worse as it gets closer to the centre where it becomes another high speed, raucous, dirty street. We walk the two long blocks of Rama 4, turn left for more long blocks, decide to take a trishaw. The sweat, noise and pollution is overwhelming. The trishaws are the worst polluters but cheap. The buses and trucks are bad, but the trishaws are driven till they drop. Mufflers don’t matter. The smoke from their exhausts ranges from black to sky blue. We flag down a trishaw driven by a tough looking, unshaven Thai, his picture in his i.d. taped to the ceiling. There is a mandatory bargaining - pleading session required before we get in.

He starts high, we start low. He lets us stand, sweating in the heat, drinking in his fumes. He is surviving on the streets of Bangkok. We are haggling over small amounts of money. His trishaw almost doesn’t reach the Siam Centre. He revs the motor all the way. The machine coughs a lot, but makes it. The Siam Centre is a big, air conditioned complex of businesses like American Express, banks and expensive grocery stores. We make for the coolness as fast as we can stagger. We drag ourselves up the stairs, breathe the cool air. We don’t need to come here, but it’s well air conditioned, so we walk around the grocery store, buy some soft drinks. We have to go across the street to one of the small photo shops, to get a dozen pictures each, for the visas.

We drip dry in the cool air, cross the boulevard to the warren of little streets filled with restaurants and shops for tourists. There is a good six story book store there. A spiral staircase winds up the middle through all six. The sidewalks are steps down the hill, between stores and cars. There are turds and gray sludge floating by, in open sewers. The kids swim in the filthy canals. There are thousands of monks in saffron robes, bald men and women who walk around, all day, with begging bowls. It used to be compulsory for young men to become a monk for a year. Now you have a choice between becoming a monk or a soldier. The army is winning. The soldiers look like the best dressed people in Bangkok. The soldiers look clean, healthy, purposeful. The monks live in wots and beg for food. They go out early in the morning, the public fills their bowls.

The crowds consist of thousands of people, oriental with western dress, many very poor people, businessmen, big, rich cars with chauffeurs, ordinary people shopping, groups of guys hanging around, hiding from the glare of the sun.

They aren’t a friendly crowd. The boys in Viet Nam did their r&r in Bangkok, so the Thais know the hustle and con. They aren’t impressed by foreigners. Their national sport is kick boxing. We watched it, like hockey at home, in the Blue Fox, all day Saturdays.

At the Indonesian consulate we buy visas for twenty dollars each. They insist that you buy return tickets from Malaysia to Indonesia. We hit the street again, walk all the way back to the Malaysia, to save money.

I buy cold drinks in the lobby of the hotel before we collapse in the room. The pool scene at the Malaysia is weird. English and Australian guys make fun of Thai girls who withstand everything. The guys drink, put on spectacular diving displays from the railing of the balconies above. The girls stare into space, in silence.

We are stoned on Buddha weed, the whole thing is in slow motion. Bangkok is everything that’s wrong with Asia. While we are in Thailand the police have a feud with the army, three district police chiefs are shot. There are three different guerilla groups in the south, more in the north, mixed with communists, drug lords and the Golden Triangle. Bangkok is the capital of it all, the centre. It tears along at its own breakneck speed. People there are on the edge of hysteria.

We leave on a train which is guarded, near the border of Malaysia, by soldiers with sub machine guns and radios.



Kentish Town Segue. by Jay-James May

He kissed her hard on the lips and fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck she said times six, Winona going yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.
And then he woke up.
The girl attached to his shoulder with chewing gum in her hair wasn’t ugly but she was snoring, and to him this was an ugly moment. She was young, this girl, not jailbait, but young enough for him to feel like he should know better. He wanted out but he didn’t want to wake her. He knew she would wake soon enough, that her body would jolt out of that drunken sleep and demand a drink. For him, the beer on the bed-side cabinet would suffice but hardly quench. The room, grand, with tall ceilings, his and her bookcases, a hat rack, half empty - Kentish Town middle-class. The room, half-lit in the morning gloom was warm, although only artificially - it was mid-December. He began to slide his arm out from under her cheek but she snorted, like a pig he thought, and he lay still, frozen, agitated.
He thought about his dream.
Winona Ryder had a new movie out and he was a film journalist attending the premiere. They caught eyes during an interview. He could remember questions like ’have you ever dated a killer?’ and ’would you like to know the easiest way to dispose of a body?’ She gave answers like ’if I could swim in a lake of fire and not burn would you ride tandem with my soul?’ It meant nothing in the dream and nothing now, just words, language absolutely pointless. As with most dreams in which Winona popped up, they found each other in the end cubicle of the ladies toilets. This had been pre-arranged in previous dreams. Winona pinned him against the wall, ripping his shirt off asking, ‘if glitter was black would it still be called glitter? Or would girls go to nightclubs with gloom all over their faces?’ to which he replied ‘did you know that Freud was a cocaine addict? Celine was a Nazi? Have you ever…’
Light now replaced the darkness in the room, softly, a torsion of sun-rays and dust cut through the empty space. He slid his arm, softly, from underneath her neck and, softly, moved out of the room.
The hallway was a white wash of unforgiving light. He moved quickly down the stairs, along the entrance hall and out on to the street, where the light intensified. He thought to himself there must be a limit to the amount of strong light a man can take in a short space of time as he now felt dizzy and sat for a moment on the garden wall of the house with the bedroom with the stuck pig asleep in the master bedroom. Then he thought about the stuck pig waking and moved to a garden wall three doors down.

END.

Words Of Love by Michael Keenaghan

Hello Ruth.

You're surprised, aren't you. Me, putting it in writing. Perhaps you thought I wouldn't contact you at all, I'd stay way, crawl under a rock and die maybe. But come on, you know me, I'm not like that. London might be a big place, easy to disappear in, vanish like a ghost, but let's be realistic now, I'm not going anywhere. I mean, where would I go for a start? There's nothing else out there for me, no other life, you know that.

You're just trying to teach me a lesson. Punish me. And fair enough, I see your point. I was wrong. I admit that, shouldn't have done what I did. Violence is unacceptable, of course it is. I'm not disputing that. But I'm fine now. I've seen to it, I did what you said. Ruth, you were right: I did need help. Stress, my God, it's like a mind-bending drug. But that's sorted now. It was just a blip. I'm not perfect, I admit that, but come on, we're all human, you're not averse to the odd tantrum yourself, we all are. But no, there's no excuses. None at all.

I just want to say sorry. I've had a lot of time to think about it all. Three months now. That one night flashing through my head like a nightmare. That person, Ruth, that monster, it wasn't me. Something clicking in my mind, sending me crazy. Wrong, so wrong. I see you lying there in the state I left you - and I just want to hug you and nurse you and soothe you. Kill the person that did it.

Well, Ruth, listen: I think I finally have. This last week I feel like I've woken up and seen the light. I'm ready to put it all behind me. I think we both should. I'm ready for things to be normal again now. As they were. I mean, of course you're still angry, I understand that. But let's call a truce. No more games. No more sadism, Ruth.

Fuck this. This isn't sounding right. Got to get the words right, tell you how I feel. Can't fuck this up. Because I know what you're doing, Ruth. You're torturing me. That's what you're doing. Your little game. Torture.

But listen. I'm close to you, you know. Even now, so close, sitting in our cafe, that place on Kingsland Road; you know, just around from the flat. Our flat, Ruth. You might be at work now - 1.30pm, definitely - but I still feel close to you. This is our place. Where we used to go. All those Sunday mornings here, having breakfast, reading the papers, no rush, just being together. Then maybe we'd have a browse around Brick Lane, the markets, go to a pub, or who knows, maybe go back home, back to bed, the two of us, together.

That's the way things are meant to be, Ruth. This - life now - it isn't normal. I'm living in a single room, shared bathroom, shared kitchen, hate the place, hate the people. It's nowhere near here but you gave me no time, nothing, it was all I could find. But don't worry, I'm not there much. I've even started taking days off work. Without you I just can't concentrate. They keep calling me in, saying they're concerned, that I've become quiet, remote, telling me they care about me, just want to help me. But I'm not stupid. I know all they care about. Performance. That I'm not buckling down, bringing the clients in. They don't give a fuck about me. I'll be out of there soon, I just know it. Who cares.

But it's all wrong, all so unnatural. Like the world has shifted balance, thrown me aside. Laying out your photographs on the bed each night, making a shrine, masturbating for hours, trying to draw you near, will you to me. It's not normal, Ruth, not normal. It shouldn't be that way. I shouldn't be living like this. Now, for example, hours to kill and I'm waiting for you, waiting for that glimpse. I've started watching you, you know. Did you know that? Every day. Watching you get out of the taxi and walk into the flat.

You don't get the bus anymore. Why not? And you've changed your email, phone number, even changed the locks. Too extreme, Ruth, too extreme. There's no need for that. I hide across in the bushes of the park, or sometimes up close, in the side alley, and I see you, pulling the blinds, see the lights go on and off, see it all. Do you think I enjoy that, Ruth, out there in the cold each evening, on my own, creeping about in the bushes in the shadows like a nonce? Of course I don't. I hate it.

But I can't believe what you're doing, Ruth. Never thought you'd take things this far.

Even to broach the subject fucking disturbs me, makes me want to tell myself it's all a mistake, it isn't true.

Ruth. Listen. I know about him. I've seen him. He visits, two, three times a week, climbs out of a cab, just like you. Or sometimes - and this really gets me - the two of you come out of a cab. Who is this man, Ruth? Do you work with him. Is he a work colleague? But you've changed your workplace too, something else to throw me off, so who knows. Maybe you met him in a bar or a club. He walked up to you, a stranger, and you said yes straight away just to try and hurt me. That makes you a slag, Ruth, you know that don't you? And you know what happens to slags. They end up slaves, beaten black and blue by these bastards day in day out every single fucking time. Look at the statistics, Ruth: two UK slags die a week at the hands of a violent partner, violent bastard; I don't agree with it, you know, but real life, it happens.

We've had our ups and downs - fair enough - but we're different, we care for each other, love each other. Nobody else loves you, Ruth. You know that. He probably thinks you're overweight, ugly, feels repulsed every time he touches your skin, but he's just using you for sex, using you like a piece of meat. Believe me, Ruth. I'm right about this. Because you know you're ugly, don't you. Know you're fat. I might not think so - I don't see you that way at all - but everybody else does. They see the truth. Fat, ugly, repulsive.

And that stranger, I've seen him, the cockiness of him, paying off the driver and heading along the path, up the steps. And you, letting this bastard into our home, our bed. Do you honestly think I'm going to let this impostor get between us this way, destroy everything we've got? No way, Ruth, never.

Don't worry. I know what I'm going to do. I've thought about it quite alot. It seems the only way - because I know how things go, these kind of people get possessive, don't want to let go. I know what type of person we're dealing with here. First possessiveness, then violence, you wait and see. It's true, men are all the same; most of them anyway. You don't know what you're getting into.

There's only one way. He's going to have an accident. Walking along the path before he gets to the steps. Prick. Cabs everywhere, frightened to walk the streets of Hackney, I'll show him. Get him right on the garden path. Instrument to the back of the head - whack, bash the fucker's brains out. Or maybe use a knife, again from behind. No, fuck that: let him see who he's dealing with - he won't be getting up again, will he. There you go: straight in the heart. Grab his phone, wallet, go. It's those youths again, those gangs, seeping out of the estates and bringing terror to the residential streets. Terrible. Man dead. Another Hackney statistic.

I'll fucking do it, Ruth. I'm not joking. I'm thinking about it right now. Relishing the fucking thought. You'll see.

Thought I by Matthew Coleman

Where is this cave I've fallen into, where does it lead?

I have not seen daylight for so long now, just the cold walls of darkness as I stagger blindly over the cuts of my making.

Because it is hard to see I can only feel, and I have felt a pain that bleeds under the blade of memory. But the blood is not as painful as the night. It never is. At night even the moon hides. I remember a time when the moon seemed so close that I could reach out and touch it, that I could pull it to my chest and weep within its wonder.

Other Side Of Glass by Juice

Tonight I saw a picture of myself smiling.
It was like coming across an old photo
of a friend that hung himself
or went off to war.
It shocked me at first.
I haven't thought of him in years.
That smile was really something
and the gap in the front teeth
was child like.
Even back then the eyes were turbulent
but veiled in pale blue laughter.
Tiny cities in a snow globe blizzard.
Shook by small hands.
And just imagine how much more they have seen since then.
Sojourner Truth said
man had nothing to do with Christ.
He came from God and a woman.
Both of which I ran off
they say they still love me but
need time to heal
from the wounds I gnashed into their flesh.
I spend many evenings watching television
shows about prison
and now it doesn't seem so Hollywood.
My cat sleeps on my chest
my heart pumping soothes her.
If only I could feel it.
I am a midget dancing
with a girl of normal height.
Someone watching over me
and matching my steps.
I was looking out the tall courthouse window
before I saw the judge this morning.
The tops of mountains were ripping through clouds
like super heroes in chains
the leaves draining to gold and shaking like organ pipes in church
reminded me everything dies
and we get used to it.
It may be a picture frame
snow globe
television screen
or window
the life you want
is always on the
other side
of glass.

Elodie, A Simple Girl With Good Legs by Amanda Joy

and there would always be
someone

to fill that space
left

when she opened
her eyes

Don't Eat. Stay Free. by Suzy Devere

Hungry so
you eat.

Then comes
that tingling
'round your neck.

Next thing
you're
wearing a collar.

Run fast, wolf.
Run away!

D-I-V-O-R-C-E by Ben Myers

(from his ongoing work "I, Axl: An American Dream")

I was crazy about this girl;
for four years it was L-O-V-E, love.

I was a 24 year old hungry nothing
she a 19 year old model-slash-angel

two lost kids with
fuck-ups for parents.

She’s the chick I wrote
Sweet Child O’Mine for.

She’s the chick I quit drugs for
the chick I washed my clothes for.

One day I’m so overwhelmed, so consumed
by passion, I propose without thinking

I say to her, if you don’t marry me Erin
I’ll blow my brains out right now.

And she’s laughing and going, ‘Oh yeah? What with?
A hair-dryer?’; and though her sarcasm makes her cuter

and I’m laughing along too, deep down she knows I’m
packing, deep down she knows I’m serious about this

so a few days later we drive to the desert and have
ourselves a good old crummy Vegas shotgun wedding

in some tacky joint called the Cupid Wedding Chapel
somewhere just off The Strip at 4am.

We spend the wedding night shooting craps,
ordering beluga from room service and fucking noisily.

It was a time, man, but even then the arguments
were already commonplace; drunk, dumb shit

with lots of screaming and hurling of household
objects – just like all regular kids in love, you know?

But this girls, she’s a ball-breaker,
always all up in my shit so’s that sometimes

I can’t breath, can’t move, can’t think
and one day she’s cleaning my CDs

and I just snap: back off bitch – leave now
before I turn your ass out to the gang-bangers.

I mean, this chick made me feel like OJ
and all’s I knew was I didn’t want to see

myself on Fox News one day heading a
dumb-ass 20mph hour live TV car chase.

We reconciled, fought, reconciled again;
a spin-cycle of love and hate. I guess sometimes

my temper got the better of me.
When that red mist descended

like a curtain after an encore
I guess maybe I lashed out on occasion

but, you know, you got to understand
I was fronting the world’s biggest rock band.

I had big deals going down, people to keep in line,
songs to write, people to hire, people to hire.

When she miscarried I knew it was over.
The children in us were still best friends

but the adults had taken over, soured the mood,
spoiled the party. Everything was corrupt.

Everything was corrupt and everything was rotten;
everything had gotten crazy. We nearly killed those

crazy spirits that brought us together
but in the end it just couldn’t work.

Eight months later I had that shit annulled.
Filed for divorce and got myself a new girl.

The Plants Dead And Yellow by Joseph Ridgwell

I collapsed onto a worn settee

And eyeballed the room

They were all dead

The potted plants

The yellowed stalks hanging crisp and tragic

I grabbed a cold beer from the fridge

And went back to the settee

All she’d been asked to do was visit

Once or twice while I was away

And water the fuckers

And as I sat

Looking at those dead plants

The thought struck me

That only a woman could be so cruel

Grief by Karl Koweski

Jerry Betustak’s wake was a who’s who
of Hammond, Indiana’s northwest side.
my engagement to Jerry’s sister, Debi
necessitated my presence the entire
four hours, my hands wedged in empty
pockets, watching Jerry’s wife weeping
over the closed casket while their
son stared off into the middle distance
thinking whatever two year olds think.

I shook hands with the influx of
Dombrowskis, Vavercans, Goreckis, all
six Trombetta brothers sporting various
shades of anger, Doug Walcszak, Vinnie
Fydoreski, my ex-girlfriend Jenny
Murphy with the crooked nose and
psychotic brothers, all of whom were in
attendance except Mikey serving federal
time for the accidental pipebombing
death of an elderly woman, even my
brother made an appearance. Gene
stayed away from the casket, cornering
Adam and Matt Betustak, whispering,
furious for five minutes before leaving.

we were all connected, either by school
or family or region. we all knew Jerry,
dead at twenty-five, a closed casket wake
because the Mexicans who beat him to death
left little facial bone structure intact.
the details of Jerry’s death were no secret
the prolonged beating in the basement
of the High Life Tap on Kennedy Avenue.
his body and the body of his buddy, Shane
found wrapped in plastic in the bed of
Jerry’s F10 pick up abandoned at Wolf Lake.
we knew the two Mercado brothers who owned
the tavern and to whom Shane owed close to
twenty thousand dollars were MIA, likely
relaxing in Mexico, living the high life.

after the wake, I drove Debi to the High
Life Tap, now closed and taped off, the
broken windows boarded with plywood.
there’s a miniature shrine erected along
the sidewalk with white crosses and
multi-colored floral arrangements.
Debi shook the spray can and sprayed
MURDERER across the red brick facade
YOU KILLED MY BROTHER on the door.

across town, Gene pulled up to Pulaski
Park in a Cutlass he hotwired earlier.
Adam with his grandfather’s revolver,
Vinnie Fydoreski with his deer rifle
and Roy Murphy with his shotgun
stepped out of the shadows into the
darkened vehicle, the interior lights
broken directly after stealing the car.
Gene aimed the Cutlass for the eastside
to kill a couple Mexicans, any Mexicans.

Heartbreak Hotels by Richard Kovitch

What it is about Hotels? It doesn't matter where they are, what star rating they have attained. They're a never ending source of
inspiration for me. Down every corridor, in every room and bar, standing at the window watching the world stretch out before you, the sun
rise and fall - all of life is here. They're sexy and mysterious, glamorous and lonely, escapist and imprisoning. The silence of the corridors,
the paranoid glances when another guest passes by, the threat of temptation. It smothers me, sucks me in.

Last night I saw a beautiful woman several floors up posing at her Hotel window, her curves silhouetted against the light of her room. She
was with someone I couldn't see, dancing for them, flirting, stripping free of her black dress. A private moment gone public. She wanted to
be watched, her window directly above the party goers still drinking by the pool below. The reveal that gives way to a twist. The person
she was dancing for was another woman. They kissed, then drew the curtains. The stuff of fantasy and heartbreak.

How many stories does each hotel room have to tell? How many strangers have passed through, lived for a little, indulged their fantasies
before returning to the rhythms of normal life? A home away from home? No. Hotels are so much more than this.

The Unspecial Ballard Of Me And Her by Ford Dagenham

am I an unfree fucker,
some tangled flower
or
torn feather
flitting over the motorway files,
only
tethered by taut twine
to the times
I tied it to?

am I the dull dust,
or the dead cells
cheap and nesting on the dancing needle,
some clot of age
that
noses all knowing
round
a demon 45
I found
on the floor
in 94?

are you a blue wind
or some
busty librarian
disguised as billowy night,
blowing in white
where my weird heart bellows black
describing
the day,
her bust,
and this night?

are you that festival dream
or some
horrible fate,
a feast
a feckless last offering
like
wolves fucking at the gate
or
ripples ripping and tearing
time back
like a blink
one epic decade late?

am I in a
Fucking Frenzy
panting
fit sweat
or painting a picture
of wet fingers
and
warm fondles
in the hazy shades
of a
february unforgot?

am I healthy
or some
hairy dog
thats matted, drooling
denying hesitant dread,
a gang
patrolling,
its deperate terminator handhold
on my
terrible hunger
on my
horrible anger,
thats gatted and degrading
in my head?

are you a lovely taste
some lady
a delicate paste
of the legend of laboured TV,
the celibate lies
laid on thick;
lust,
dry as dust
and calibrated waste?

are you thinking of me
as I am thinking of you,
tall mad
wooly bad
silly-sad
obsessed, overfed
always going gradually
to bed
to nap crap
then; lost...
slowly going all
Old Testament
alone?

To Be Continued by Khara Carlson

...tonight, i noticed --as i awaited the 44-- one of my favorite bouncers
purchase some drugs, but only like he was doing so back in the 70's. the
dealer, a nondescript thuggish sort, was squatting (quite literally) outside
cameron's books, and evoking the pretense of a homeless beggar with
outstretched gloves which fondled the air for a bit beforehand, searching
for handouts. handouts. hand out. handed out. they shook hands twice.
the first handshake an exchange of money. the second handshake? a favor.
meanwhile, down the street and around the corner the miscreants of social
obligation and the underdogs of lust are holding midnight congress at some
speakeasy, plotting the demise of the *next* malversatively labeled
essentia. clearly, my favorite bouncer is making his way towards that
show. a minute or two later, the 44 arrives to sweep me away and as i board
the bus and expose my monthly pass, i notice off to my left a woman who's
pouring herself into the seat like heroin, eyes rolled back, waving her
fluted arms around her lover, a somewhat more sober fella, and slurring a
litany of "ayyyeeee leeeeev you ssooooooo much"es. i take my seat in the
back.

Turning Yourself On by Suzy Devere

he says he always understands me
he says all the times i think no one gets me
he gets me

i don't want to argue so i say nothing
leave my tongue prostrate
stuck between these teeth
stuck in this lobster trap of a mouth

of course he understands me
everything i say aloud is
measured with a surgeon's exactitude

no detectable venom
no honey sweet
no piss flaming drink or fiesta fuck

labored words coupled with
body language wrapped in saran
arms stuck to sides like wearing
a straight jacket buttoned with my own
bones

he understands me because i never say

anything

then he says

"baby, you're really turning me on"

and i think

"you're masturbating. i'm not even here."

Cosmic Orphan by Rob Plath

i can't remember how long
it's been like this
but i woke up one day
& i felt like i was on another planet

i didn't connect with any humans
their faces transformed
they were like the insides of the walls
dark, narrow & full of sharp
incoming nails

but the sunrise was the worst
it used to bring joy
but suddenly its arms
were menacing

they placed each of my cells
in a vice-like headlock
& squeezed to the point
of suffocation

i've learned to live like this
constantly snagged by nails
& breathing like a fish
in a bucket

always waiting for night
when i no longer gasp
& i can dream
of my old home

The Party Of Fools by Mike Meraz

the cockiness
of the ages
has led to ridiculous
humility.

the knowingness
of the ages
has led to ridiculous
ignorance.

we stand in 2008
unlearned,
untaught
by our forefathers.

we are children
playing in the playground
again.

fighting for the swing set
that is no longer
there.

bickering over the
lunch box
that belongs
to someone else.

we gather in armies
and troops,
pomp and circumstance
unabashed arrogance,

the party of fools,
the party of fools.

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About Me

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

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