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

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

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:

I want desperately to mark you!

(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
who built
skin machines
& sent them out
to do 360's
over & over
ripping up
the beautiful
of heaven
w/their vicious
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
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
‘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
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


About Me

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

Blog Archive