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.

I Swear to God by Murphy Clamrod

"Do you solemnly swear
or affirm that you will tell
  the truth,
   the whole truth,
      and nothing but
the truth,
so
help
you
god?"

-my last beer cap was a king of clubs.
-I'm listening to Faith No More.
-I can't throw away receipts or bic lighters.
-Johnny Cash was always right, in my eyes.
-Once in a lifetime by Talking Heads is good.
-Cotton & Petroleum Jelly make great wicks.
-Fact is only commonly accepted opinion &
-Truth is based on fact or acts or I get so confused
after that last hit, then the just before the next, I
wonder if I could convince everyone on the planet.
-google, youtube, twitter, facebook are tracking you-twit-face; google it...
-History is told by the living and belongs to the dead.
-I'm listening to Johnny Cash.
-Art is subjective.
-vague statements are never statements.
-American means something.
-Being American means nothing.
-Caffeine was my gateway drug.
-Drinking can keep you from thinking.
-Everyone is going to die, its our thing.
-Finding time is impossible, it isn't a thing.
-Giving is best if you need for everything.
-Hope the rest of these lines don't need to end in g.
-I am still listening to Johnny Cash.
-Jealous of what it was like w/the  'highwaymen'!
-Kindness leads to less fights and bigger tips.
-Love is based solely on perspective.
-My muse never picks up a tab, we never 'go out'
-Never is that moment where you've given up.
-Oprah is rich.
-Poetry should have never taken a backseat to stand-up comedy.
-Questions that don't lead to more questions should be kept to yourself.
-Reality is less about love and more about conditioning.
-Some people take the fun out of everything.
-Take nothing you want and everything you need.
-Umbrella's are inconvenient accessories.
-Violence is always an option.
-Weekends depend on your calender or profession.
-My next beer cap was the ten of hearts.
-Smoking cigarettes will kill me, smoking pot will keep me from killing myself...

[fucked if I know]

S.O.S. by Catfish McDaris

My old man spoke of eating shit on a shingle
for breakfast in the army, “Yes sirree bob,
nothing better, it’ll put hair on your chest”
my sisters all made ugly faces

Visions of big hairy assed roofers crapping on
top of our house came to mind & then our dad
climbing up there & bringing down a steaming
platter of monstrous green greasy turds, all
curled around for a morning meal

When we found out S.O.S. was army talk for
chipped beef & gravy on toast, we all breathed
a sigh of relief, then he started singing a marching
song about Eskimo vaginas, we all thought war
must have warped his mind forever.

Filled with Birds by Ben John Smith

The drink
doesn't work sometimes.

It props you up,
keeps the ball rolling
but it doesn't work.

Not really.

She looks for villas
in bali
on the ipad
while
I pour another white
wine.

A pile of books at my feet.

Vegetable soup in the kitchen.

My garden
sits in the precise
night light.

Dark.

It's not a gamble.

It's a throw of dice
with out the spots mattering.

With out money on the board

the dice don't work,

the drink doesn't work
but some how,

she makes the wheels turn;

and I wake up
for work on a Sunday
to pay for our wedding

because she makes me work.

The morning
is filled with birds
and I don't worry bout things
I can't change

as the boys fall from a pub
or a woman's bed
or a park bench

and pile into our work truck

to smoke cigarettes
from a crack
in the window

and at this time in
the morning
I have nothing else to say.

1,400 Degrees: Five Micros by Sheldon Lee Compton

Burnout

The room is empty as scars without stories when Ben wakes.  It is a knocked about box 
made of soot, and he tries again to swallow, as if his lips aren’t burned away, as if in prayer.


Flag

That first date.  Ben saw her auburn hair illuminate color each time she lit a match, 
smiled when she smiled, stared at his feet when she let the match burn to her fingertips.


Infatuation

Children were drawn to her in the way sunlight seems drawn to still water.  He watched, 
and was drawn, too.


Measurements

When Ben spoke to her, she studied him so closely.  He might have been in a hog pen, 
not a man with cold, meaty hands in his pockets.


Hello

Lonely Ben.  The dark lady.  Friend of a friend, and then more.  This dark lady who will 
talk to him.  And listen, mouth slightly open.

Past Life Regression Attempt #4 by Melanie Browne

There are Cloudless skies;
I am shoving cake in my own
mouth, faster and faster
Like a bulimic’s wet dream,
While in the distance,
An ocean of peasants
Laughs and jeers,
They want to
Use my head for
A piƱata,
But then I realize,
They don’t
Play that game in France
I know I should say something
but I can’t,
I hang my head in quiet resignation,
It begins to rain,
My wig drips
Between my breasts,
The peasants head home,
Their amusement over,
I drift through the city
Dirty and alone

Two Poems by Joseph Ridgwell

The Sun Goes Down on Another Day

Wasted
The millions stuck in dead jobs
Dead people in a dead world
Ferried to and from joyless employment
By Automobile, plane and train
Boat and bicycle
To spend an allotted amount of time
Breathing bad air and staring at paperclips
Subjugated by processes and automatons
Harassed by insane men and women
The Yes people
To emerge finally
Like battle-scarred warriors of the mundane
Onto dusty, polluted streets
Hot with maddened traffic
Alongside millions of others
Just in time to witness
The sun go down on another day
The sun go down on their dreams
The sun go down on them



Watch for Me by Moonlight

When I’m gone
Watch for me on a starry night
Or a lonesome beach
Bottle in hand
One arm waving free
A trail of footprints in the sand
Beside an ocean's roar
Or street corners and cosy nooks
Shady corners and dirty dead ends
Propping up a ghostly bar
By a fire bright
And remember that I once lived
And loved
And sung rebel songs
Till the morning came
Caressing and cavorting
Seeking truth and beauty
And the shining path
That leads the way
To silent caves
And lonely rocks
And dark mountains
And green valleys
So watch for me by moonlight
And I’ll show you the way

Nightlife by Stephen Jarrell Williams

On the street sticky wet
careful where you step

never turn your back
on dudes or women tattooed

here the dark has substance
whispering in your perked ears

memory mirages
around every corner

she teases you to follow
down the long alley

trashcans stuffed and dented
with how you use to be

she giggles
leaving her warped door open

silver beads and bullets
dangling from her unmade bed

she's in the bathroom gargling
her backside already bare

you step in stiff
knowing the price

daylight unable to heal you
when she spits you out.

THE KNIFE by Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal

Under the bed
he kept the knife.
It kept him safe
from the perils of
the world.  The knife
would dream along
with him.  The shiny
blade was like a mirror
when he looked into it.
His hair was out of place.
The knife was there
every night ready
for action in case
anything went down.

Man at the Bus Stop on Halloween by Donal Mahoney

The others, of course,
are more rabid than he
but less apt to show it.
Whenever he strikes,
he never romps off.
He stands with the wrist
that he's snatched
from the lady
tight in his teeth
as he waits with a smile
for the wagon.
He's one of the few
wrist-snatchers still
on the streets of Chicago,
and he makes his rounds
in old tennies.
His technique is simple:
He dives for the purse hand,
gives it a whack, and severs
the wrist without slobber,
then stands like a Vatican Guard
with the wrist in his teeth
until he is certain
he has no pursuers.
At night in his dreams he sees
the women whose wrists
he has held in his teeth.
They stand at the bus stop
like Statues of Liberty,
shrieking and waving
their stumps like flares.
He prays their screams
will bring to a frieze
the patrol cars glowing
in the middle of the street.

On Hearing About a Possible Taliban Shooting of a 14 Year Old Girl by David S. Pointer

Unlikable Islamic extremists
fill the world with honor killings,
fill hospitals, morgues and midnight
shifts with dismembered bodies,
make it too easy for the blue suits
of elite economic complicity to
disappear into the deeper pockets
of designed perception, telling the
public it’s all good except for them

Two Poems by David McLean

summer is 

summer is the blind witch;
she is looking for the murderers
who took her mother,
or just a motor car driving in Paris

like Lucy Jordan might have wanted
once; warts and all the anxious
immeasurable, summer
was never yet heaven for them;

she is looking for her murderers
so she can be forgiven



stars 

stars in the sky like cocaine
wasted,

and water to slake the thirst
of everything else forgotten -

a smear of time
over dried paper,

dead words and hungry ashtrays
and all these incessant “maybes”

are a face to peel off
over every empty pedestal,

and the night wants nothing -
especially not faces and babies

Two Poems by Justin Hyde

tasting the back of my teeth in a truck-stop booth

having been dumped
by the married copy-editor
and having dumped
the indonesian dipsomaniac
on the same day

a snub-nosed brunette
tapped me on the shoulder
at carl’s place last night

she asked:

are you justin hyde
from the class of 96
at ames high?

i told her
that was
factually accurate.

we calibrated nostalgia
over eighty dollars worth of
jameson and bud light.

back at my place
she asked:

where is your couch?

i told her:

i try to winnow
all superfluities
from the needle of my compass.

no really
where is your furniture?

i grabbed two metal chairs
from my closet
unfolded them
and palmed her right tit.

i can't stay here,
she said.
this is too weird.

indeed
as i thank the graces
for being blessed with
the constitution
to laugh about this

sitting here

tasting the back of my teeth
in a truck-stop booth.



ex wife calls

her grandfather

(winnowed
to a husk
by cancer)

finally passed.

and i think:

well

what was that worth?

seven decades and change
of useless hustle
yielding the same
foregone conclusion.

another filament
gone rot
in this cosmic
back alley
craps game.

turn
your ear
to the earth:

the sediment

holds our mortgage.


Two Poems by Rob Plath

OPEN

my scars
become skylights
most nights

the stars
shine thru
the wounds

their silvery milk
bathing any traces
of pain



LUCK

i have this
old mug of
brushes

& these
tubes of
primary colors

& these makeshift
canvases

but if everything
should suddenly
become terribly stale

then i have these two hands
to un-postpone my
suicide ....


Exit by Jonathan Butcher

As I shuffle around street corners,
I feel their shadows, almost hear
the muscles in their faces contort
into frowns.

I hold back in fear, as the old
memories slide back like unwanted
presents, and the grime from the
pavement seems even greyer than
usual.

And this allows me to picture an alternative
back drop, if only for a few seconds, a back
drop that always seems far to much effort to
achieve.

They stand behind me, fists like rusted
shovels, grinning like fools, knowing
my one and only exit is now truly blocked.

I allow them this grace, to let them have
their crowning moment, let them think
they've left their mark.


Two Poems by Kevin Ridgeway‏

Valley Transit

On a rickety local
evening bus passing
an endless parade
of boarded up strip malls
framed by power lines
decorated with
dirty pairs of shoes
and fields playing host
to burned out oil rigs

a senile old man
asks me if I
know about the
Octomom

the endless
stream of
aluminum,
concrete
and
broken glass
pass by
in fluttering
blinks
and he
yells

--she has
Fourteen
Children!

billboards
smile in
the darkness
above us--
a woman
clad in lingerie
with gangland
graffiti
tattoos
lining her
bronze figure,

another
depicting retirees
embracing
each other for
Rose Hills
mortuaries

we climb
the hills
and enter
the heart of
the valley,
the millions of
lights twinkling
from each tiny
suburb,
slowly dying
but still
breathing



Notes on a Law and Order Marathon

They happen almost daily
Formulaic plots, coffee and blood
Spilling into each other
As we nosh lazily on stale popcorn
And masturbate infrequently
To our favorite female assistant DA’s
There’s one we like to call Hot Lips,
Another we like to call Big Red,
And our favorite Mocha Delight
The male cops spout cornball zingers
At the unlucky perpetrators
And haul them to the meat factories
Where they’ll get cut deals
From our favorite ladies
In our favorite skirts
As we frolic through these
daydream doldrums
Hours of suspended reality


Two Poems by Ford Dagenham

TOO SANE

shall i attempt to describe
what over-pilled and hanging writers
already
written? - the filths black animal blanket
that
grips
your reason away?
no - i shall describe tuesday when time was still on dry gears,
when my voice shrank small as a mouse's,
when, too sane, all faces were intricately lined by artists,
when i touched the slow lumbering large things all around me
so conscious of being on the surface of a populated planet,
and i, too sane,
clearly knew and felt the earth’s solid girth and soil heft under my feet,
all sky's painted in
hollywood watercolours.



PULP POEM

well, up later than usual
modest place east of town
8 AM
read my detective novel in hot bath drawn from tank in the attic
heated overnight
cigarette smoke mixing with steam.

on green rusting washing pole
cord long gone to coil in the winter border
sits a white dove lit glowing by the low sun,
looks soft,
no hint
of his noisy oils
in the creamy feathers
he ruffles and smooths again.  long shadow of his beak stretching along his back.
he
is
framed in the window perfectly like
in-laws on the mantelpiece.

well, at the back door i light another cigarette
i wear a damp towel pulled tight
in the draft.  quiet/ one man mends his shed roof
bent over behind
the bare trees
higher than fences
hitting nails in threes.

on the bent aerials monochrome magpies impossibly bright against
the heavy grey storm clouds
nod and twitch and pace
smaller birds scattered
lost like seeds till shoots sprout
showing themselves again
in spring.

well, i'm not in west texas anymore . . . are these birds omens i wonder?
this year’s nearly done with me.  its mistakes and endurance and drool tailing off
like dawn mist on the choppy lakes where the
small boats creak
waiting.

well, i decide to decide the birds are omens.  why not?
and i stretch out
on the old bench picking at the weathered peel
and
looking at the churches.


Two Poems by H.L. Nelson

Undeveloped

She ran between
coffee shop mornings
and coitus interruptus nights.
Which was between
3rd and 6th streets.
Gluten-free coffee biscuits
and congealed-cum ass cheeks
were her markers.
Begin race, run, end race,
ad infinitum.
The days blurred together,
a photograph of movement
taken with a cheap camera.
She was the cheap camera.
Used once on vacation
by him, dozens of hims,
the tourists.
Clicking her button,
getting her wet,
then tossing her away
in the morning,
undeveloped.



Daddy

I fear holes
punched in drywall,
the anger
that lived and breathed,
seethed,
within his house.
The cigarette smoke
that curled around his fist,
which was ready
to strike
at the slightest provocation,
that yellowed the walls
and stained the ceiling
the color of sickness.
Ashes smeared
on every surface,
ashtrays filled
to overflowing,
dropping their contents
onto the dismal,
dark brown carpet
where they would lay,
until he yelled at me
to pick them up.
Glasses flung and shattered,
shards not near
as sharp
as his words and hands.
Linoleum cracked and peeling,
gathering West Texas dirt
in its abundant crevices,
which stepmom scrubbed,
on her knees,
madly
and in vain,
with a toothbrush
in the dark hours
of the morning.


Two Poems by Brian Pitt

Self Destruct (I ate the wine pt. 2)

On that lonesome night I put the bottle to my mouth
I took out my good blade and slit both of my wrists
I smeared my blood all over the walls and I kept punching myself in the face
I used my own blood like lipstick and then I beat my eyes black
I danced around my living room shaking my ass to the sound of the static on my television set
I walked to the hospital and told them that I had attacked myself
"We can't help you tonight, sir." they said, in their white coats and rubber gloves,
thinking that they were something really special and important.
They couldn't help me, so I helped myself.
I made hypodermic needle angel wings.
"Look at my wings Doc! I'm a movie star now, Doc! I'm a real Hollywood guy!" I told them.
"I attacked myself, Doc!" I reminded them once more in case they had forgotten.
"Look at my eyes and lips! I did myself up all pretty for you and now you are going to turn me away?"
I am going to be a star.
I am going to be in the movies.



Scaled Hero

The covered wagon filled with snakes
The wheels cease to turn
The dusty path ahead of us will surely keep our bellies empty
I beg for rain
We are thirsty
Our kettle filled with dirt
Our spirit dried out by the sun
Camouflaged Messiah, locked and loaded
Paranoid guerrilla hiding in the brush
Jungle Christ, rapture ballistics
Baptismal hero with scales hidden in the clouds.


Two Poems by Mike Meraz

A Simple Act Of Survival  

you have thought about it.
if not one day you will.
the thought will be with you
for a long time.
for months
maybe even years.
until one day
the thought is gone.
you are actually doing
what you thought about doing
for so long.
it is not the miracle
you once thought it was
but a simple act of survival
as natural as breathing.

you pack up your stuff,
walk out the door,
and leave.



There Is No Such Thing As Failure

there is no such thing as failure,
it is a lie, a hoax, a tall tale
told to you by your parents,
teachers and employers.

there is no such thing as failure.

it is how you look at things,
if you look at things realistically,
not emotionally,
you will find failure
is a lesson on how to succeed.

Two Poems by John Tustin

I REMEMBER

I remember you being quite beautiful
and you are quite beautiful still
after all these years,

not even differently so.

It’s not about the way
the light reflects
or the clothing hangs
or the shape of your breasts
or body,

‘though that is spectacular.

It is some unnamable thing,

some glow,
some movement of your mouth
with lips and teeth
of my drunken dreams.

The way your eyes are something
that seem to be
made for me
like God apologizing.

I remember you
as you were

and see you
as you are

and dream you
as what may be.

Tonight it sustains me.  



THE SAME ENGINE

all my life
wherever I go
it’s been the same –

the same conspiring eyes
on a different face

the same chastising mouth
on a different head

the same inexorable killing engine
in a different frame

the same switch
in a different taskmaster’s hand

the same ending
sweetened by different beginnings

Two Poems by Stephen Jarrell Williams

Again

Again
she has a grip on me
below the waist
straightening my tower
playing her hand of cards
I reach for the dark heavens
making constellations on the ceiling
she breathes in my ear
whispers the price of slavery
turning over night to dawn
flutter of light through dust motes
her shiny hips rising
from the sea of shadows
gliding to the mirror
disappearing
again.



So Many Times

You
standing there
dressing
in dim light
bulging breasts
pearl buttons
wanting to pull
you
back into bed
squeezing the good
out of you
hoping
you forgive.


Three Poems by Benny Roberts

EVERY DAY IN THE OFFICE 

This office surrounds me with mediocrity
conversations are banal at best
I sink into my chair and try to fight the boredom
I take on some filing and lose

I look out the window at the office across the road
see endless reflections of myself
soul after soul at similar desks
clutching on to nothing
they never dreamt of this as a kid

a gang of three boys and a girl go past
they’re carrying crates of beer
lucky, young, free bastards
that girl will be crying by the end of the day
even the best male friend can break a girl's heart

the girls in this office are full of anxiety
all think they’re too fat
I’d fuck every single one of them
apart from the bitch of a boss
I do have some morals

lunchtime comes and there’s a stay of execution
there’s nowhere to go except the supermarket
the trolley collectors look blissfully happy
who argues with you over a trolley?
I sit in my car and eat my sandwiches
I’m surrounded by doppelgangers
all wondering where it went wrong
brushing the crumbs from their seats

I get back to the office
those damn kids are probably drunk now
that girl’s discovering what lies ahead from men
I’m sorting out the photocopier
I win the heartbreak stakes by a shade.



HOT DRIVE

The sun beats down on my aging Citroen
sapping what's left of my spirit
on this goddamn drive to work
to an industrial estate hell
which even Satan would wince at.
The misery is punctuated only by girls
stripped to the bare minimum by the heat
revealing tanned flesh in all its glory
for a moment I forget about my in-tray
until I see my supervisor getting out of her Ford
a carriage straight from the underworld
paid for by misery and spite
and driven on pure arrogance.
I can see her legs
withered, veined and a sickly shade of death
the same fate that awaits my soul
I turn the car round and head home.



DESPERATE DAYS

She was like a cigarette butt
screwed up
unwanted,
nicotine stained.
“You’re very attractive” she slurred.
What was that white sediment on her teeth?
it was thick and furry
like the hairs springing from her upper lip.
Her oestrogen had given up long ago.
It really highlighted the age gap.
Yet I was thinking about fucking her
my young cock pushing into her patchy haired cunt
forcing its way past those dry, discoloured labia
doing its best to avoid the warts.
Two years without sex was really starting to take it’s toll on me.
I dry heaved at the thought of coming in her.
“Come here, sweetie,” she gurgled.
I smelt stale alcohol on her breath.
It had a tragic scent.
There’d been life there once
but some bastard had beaten it out of her
taken everything that made a woman good
and reduced her to this.
I dry heaved again.
She went to put her arm round me
but I left
she deserved better.


twenty-three dollars by Steve Calamars

in my bank account
and kafka stories
shuffling thru my skull

i’m a mess of
taut lean muscle
and
book smarts

as these rainy
december days
roll beneath my
vans like
ball-bearings

and i trip over
the weeks
and fall into the nightmare
of a new year
with time clocks
unnoticed prose and
shrinking youth

i see carver mopping
floors and cleaning
toilets till his death

i see selby never getting
out of a hospital bed
and over to a typewriter

i see lorca crushed by
the loneliness of new  york
and leaping from a towering
tenement rooftop

and i see my own
bearded face
stocking cereal boxes
in a grocery store

run down by life
tire-treads like
typewriter ribbon
torn across my brain

my mind caved in
from an avalanche of
unfulfilled ambition
and words heavy
as anvils—

Two Poems by Devlin De La Chapa

YouTube Interlude


trotting through these
fiber optic veins
is the liquescent boredom
of  teens,
some troubled,
some abused,
some x-rated,
some outdated,
but damn are they popular
on YouTube




Fatal Love Chase


radiator falters
the separation-
120 degrees


somewhere
in Texas,
a revolver spins


she wipes her nose
the hit is bad
tweaking hard


daylight breaks
thunder cracks the sky
blow melts the heat


from his hands
they glitter of gold
slugs plated of love


In Chesterfield and Spats by Donal Mahoney

The father of the girl
I stare at now,
as we wait for our morning bus,
stands across the street,
tall and proper in his
chesterfield and spats.

He is waiting for a bus
that goes in the opposite direction.
He wears a derby,
swings a silver cane,
smokes a green panatela.
Suddenly he pirouettes

and smiles at my daughter.
She takes the same bus
to school every morning.
That night at supper,
I ask her about him.
"Dad, he's super!"

At 12, she knows.
"Dad, he rides the same bus
as me every morning.
He checks my homework
and I ask him questions.
Dad, he knows all the answers."


Two Poems by Bill Wolak

In a Brothel Bedroom


Charles Baudelaire’s 
only recorded dream
takes place in a dimly lit 
brothel bedroom
where a body curls 
in a fetal position
beneath many 
obscene paintings 
hanging on the walls.



The Wife’s Revenge


When a wife of the Ugandan Gisus tribe
is denied sex by her husband,
she screams at the top of her lungs
night and day for all the village to hear:
“My husband’s penis has died!”


Insect Proverbs by Melanie Browne

you see her in the street,
nadja with the chocolate eyes,
you have arabic  dreams where it rains sand 
and she feeds you red locusts 
you are too shy to speak to nadja with the 
fireflies in her hair,
you want to make love
under the jasmine trees,
but nadja refuses,
you follow her,
the vines clutched
tightly in your fists


Two Poems by Michael Ashley

Two Bullets Away

at 2.43am
Dr Konowitz
removed the first slug 

it swilled 
around the kidney dish
like a small black beetle 

number two 
was never removed 

today he slaps his chest
rattles a penny in a jar 
and laughs with Billy  

too ashamed to tell him 
how this moment 
almost never came



The Vintage Jacket

it hangs 
in the confines
of my wardrobe

the words 
Devil's Disciple 
emblazoned 
on its back

at least once a month
I take it out
slip it on

for a moment 
I'm nineteen again
and can feel her roar
between my thighs

taking the hair-pins 
at ninety on Sunday
afternoons 

but the door
always shuts

sometimes
leather scented memories 
are not enough

most Sunday afternoons
I walk to Wynstons

pay £75.00
for an hour
with Halyna

who smells 
of CK One

and grunts
dirty words at me
in Ukranian 

as I plant
another meaningless load
into the emptiness

Untitled by A.g. Synclair

You find religion in a glass
in half empty bottles
in the twisted notes of that song
in the way she swallows you whole
in the secret hiding place
where you keep her words
a tangled language of crickets and clocks

I Look to You by Tyree Jackson

My journey isn’t smoothly paved.

I’ve been stopped by predators and poisoned along the way.


There were many times I believed I couldn’t stand.

And there were many times I felt my life would just end.


But then I looked to you—your smile allowed me to break the walls that

isolated me from society.

So when I looked into your eyes—my reflection reminded me of a boy striving.


When I cried, I knew that you would be there to wipe away my tears, and say

“My son be strong and keep your head up high.”


You give me strength, when mine has depleted.

And it’s your motherly touch that heals my cuts and bruises when needed.


I look to you when others turned away.

And I will always look to you—for your presence allows me to truly see brighter days.

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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

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