an idiot’s guide to death by Steve Calamars

i was a klutz
when it came
to the razor and
the noose

managing only
to knick my wrists
and give myself

the gun was
useless too
with my lazy-eye
and shaky hands

and i could
never get the
dosages right
when it came
to the pills

so i did the
only thing a
person like
me could do

i belly-flopped
from a 7th story
window onto
a buick

something soft
hitting something hard
really did the trick

like strawberries
and a cinder block-

Pastoral Reality by Joseph Hargraves

I look out my window
for solace from nature.
There is a sparrow
in a branch. It turns
its back on me and shits.

No one ever said birds
only sing; but I read
poetry and am distant
from the truth of the
pastoral. The joy of the
bird is a pathetic fallacy.

Besides it's cold out
and I would rather read
an Ode to a Sparrow
than listen to one sing
while it defecates white
slime down my window.

The Empty Vase by Jenni Fagan

(from her book "Urchin Belle" published by Blackheath Books)

The eighth floor of the tenement view
sliced in three, an' in the centre you sit
naked on a table, legs in lotus, drinking light.

Petal hair an' opal eyes, your fingers
see through, you lick their salt, saliva
scents dry air, the vase contracts, a sigh.

Black clouds settle low around the volcano
outside, crags with their jagged ancients
grumble, a flash of blue, further even than waves.

You, naked silk, drinking light orange to grey,
you're bone-thin, pretty evermore, purple petals
for hair, the empty vase, iridescent perfection.

You incite storms to gather, veins see through
as octopi, petals falling slow into the vase,
browning as the view beckons in the night.

We must follow our stupid hearts, so you sleep
quiet as night an' just as true, nestled in petals,
glass folds around your dreams, tucks you in goodnight.

The Quiet of You by Duane Kirby Jensen

I linger here,
near your body,
which has forgotten how to breathe.

Footsteps sound from floors above,
people doing the ordinary things of the living,
unaware of your contorted form.

It is 3 am. Crinkling plastic shatters silence,
morticians entombing your body for transportation.
Days of ritual and remembrance await.

Ted Berrigan and The Pulled Pork Bunch, My 'O' My by Frank Reardon

Too many have laughed while cutting
my throat.
I watched Ted Berrigan's ghost run out
the back door, he carried a sack of bone
I never really wanted to die that much.

Bullwhips cracking upon my back, hand cuffed
to the telephone pole.
I was in plain sight for the Doo wop dogs on
Main St. while being sodomized by last years
sermon on lacing up your boots,
Four are dead after getting into it.

Too many missing immigrants never knew
how to turn around and feel,
It might have been my fault as I tend to feel
like a lazy bar.

My eyes always seem to change color when
the dogs mist is in the northern hemisphere.

I am anyone to me, a perfect feeling when electricity
is away from home,
A tiny calm while the dynamite waits for the answer
deep inside my stomach.

Watching something stunning float inside my glass
of half filled anxiety,
I move with the nervous pee pee in the pants girls.
I think their brains melted, sometimes we can get
confused with the My 'O' My.

My bones are of rubber,
long and pulled,
I've watched too many atrocities on the roadside,
Ted Berrigan's bunch just tasted that pork of mine.
you just have to make no sense at all to find the correct

dirty words on clean living by Steve Calamars

Jake runs the razor over his face. The blade is dull. He knows immediately that his wife Shirley has
shaved her snatch again –
Every few months she shaves the thing and ruins Jake’s razor. She refuses to use her own razor for the
certainty of ruining it. Instead she uses Jake’s and puts it back into the medicine cabinet, thinking he
doesn’t know.
He hates it terribly when she shaves it. It feels to Jake like he’s fucking a twelve-year-old. It makes
him sick to his stomach. Shirley though, for some reason has it in her head that he likes it. So every few
months she ruins his razor and surprises him one night.
Jake finishes shaving. His face feels like it has been repeatedly slapped by a hand made of sandpaper.
There are dozens of small nicks, cuts and rash spots along his cheeks, chin and neck. Jake dabs them with
toilet paper and pats his face with aftershave. The burning is immense and Jake wipes tears from his eyes.
He rinses with mouthwash and tosses the razor in the trashcan beside the toilet. He flips off the light and
walks from the bathroom into the kitchen.
Shirley is in her lacy nightgown making eggs and bacon. Jake sits down at the kitchen table and puts on
his work boots. She walks over with a plate of food and a cup of coffee. He stands up just as she sets the
plate down.
“I don’t have time to eat this morning,” Jake says, taking the cup of coffee, “I’m gonna’ be late.” “What
am I suppose to do with this food!?” she asks. “Feed it to the dog, I can’t be late.” “Feed it to the dog, why
didn’t you say something earlier!?” Jake doesn’t say anything, he takes a sip of the coffee and picks up his
coat hanging on the back of his chair.
“What happened to your face Jake?” Shirley asks, finally noticing the cuts. “Nothing,” he says, putting
down the coffee and putting on his coat. “Something, you look like you tried to kiss a weed-whacker.”
Jake doesn’t say anything, he picks up the coffee and takes a sip.
“What happened?” Shirley asks again, “Why does your face have all those . . .” “Cause you ruined my
god-damn razor again!” Jake says cutting her off. “No I didn’t!” “Bullshit Shirley!” “I’ve never used your
razor Jake,” she says, “I have my own, why would I need yours!?” “Forget it, I gotta’ get to work,”
Jake says. “No, no you tell me, why would I need yours, why would I lie!?” Jake takes a sip from the coffee, he
looks down at her crotch and then up at her face. He doesn’t say anything.
“I have my own, I don’t need yours!” she says. Jake grabs the truck keys from the hook near the door.
“What do you want me to do with this god-damn food?” she asks. “I told you, feed it to Buddy,” he says
walking out the door. “You’re a real asshole!” she says. “I know, I know I am,” Jake nods closing the
He climbs into the truck and starts it. It warms up while he sits, watching the birds and finishing his
coffee. He tosses the empty cup onto the lawn and backs out of the driveway.
He thinks to himself, work is gonna’ be rough today. With the number of shipments he has to make
sure get off the loading docks, plus the guys giving him shit for his face, Jake briefly considers turning the
truck around. He knows if he does though, he’ll have to go back home and deal with Shirley. If they do
manage to smooth things over and make up, he’ll have to fuck her with that sickening shaved snatch.
Jake decides against it. He instead merely flips on the radio, turns up the heat in the truck and gets onto
the freeway.

a duet by Steve Calamars

hemingway played
a 12-gauge
like a trumpet

lips wrapped
around the barrel
cheeks inflated
like dizzy gillespie

he blew a solo
of buckshot and
brain-parts all over
empty white walls

times have changed
but not really that much

i now cling to a glock
instead of a shotgun

i punch the keys
of a laptop
instead of a

i too strive for
sparse prose and
poems clean as

and i routinely
squeeze the trigger
of an empty gun

perfecting my technique
and warming up
my fingers

preparing to
close my eyes
gather my will
and play a duet

vulgar as a bull fight-

Prayer for the Ragged, Torn and Confused by Colin Dardis

It's feckin' cold in Ireland, Jesus,
the dogs have nowhere to hump
all the rain puddles have mud;
where's a dog got to go
to get a clean drink these days,
with no owners to leave
out bowls of kindness or charity?

All the dogs do now is lick their balls
and wait; at least the free ones are left
alone to do so; Ganymedes, Cai Lun,
Origen and Boston Corbett moan
their loss, despite degrees of self-
infliction, lost in the kennels of
Skopsty, Heaven's Gate and Cybele.

The bitches turn their heads away,
snarling, barking, slobbering
waves of hatred flow freshly
from the River Styx: let them
keep in the dead, if only to
remind the living what lies in wait.

It's feckin' cold in Ireland, Jesus,
what with all these lifeless mutts
fouling their tongues onto the pavements,
cuckolded by their own spirits;
Leopold roams, unfulfilled
by a faithful wife, he masochistic,
she, no sadist to the end.

Thomas Chatterton: 1752-1770 by Joseph Hargraves

In a dingy room in Holborn
a teenage forger dead.
Arsenic's convulsions
stopped poetry in his head.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
November 2003, 5:30 PM:
In Days Diner because of the cold.
Drinking coffee as fog
washes the windows.

The busboy sits alone in a booth
smoking a cigarette.
Curses come from the kitchen,
the waitress refills my cup,
puts down the check.

The busboy asks an old lady
if she's finished with her plate.
I notice his English accent
and think of Chatterton:

Not as Wordsworth's "Marvelous Boy,"
but dying with vomit, not iambs,
issuing from his mouth.

The waitress tells the cook
that each year there are
less family at the tables
because each year another
member passes.

She wonders who'll die next.
The busboy blows rings of smoke.
The cook says, "The thing about death-
is that we all do it."

Then a couple comes in silently,
and I see skeletons embrace
and decide to leave my coffee
for a fresh cup in a different restaurant.

Time Is A Naked Man by David McLean

Time is naked man standing in the snow
he does not mind. he is wakeful always
and naked, memory is him naked and ice
forever on his skin.

history is standing forever cold in angry snow,
and acceptance and maturity is not minding it,
taking time where you find it, living the life
we find, Time's out of his mind

endlessly alone by Suzy Devere

heavy like bags of gold
my past drops at my feet
you feel me reach
to find you
to light your cigarette
to light the candle
by your eyes

i want you to see me

you don't look


you go

smoking the cigarette
and taking the candle

to guide your way

to the bar
where you use
the stories i've told you

to make yourself more

my plasma screams like bottle rockets by Rob Plath

I sharpen my blade
among hordes of ordinaries

I knot my noose
among harems of unhaunted

I cock my gun
among processions of puppets

I lift my drink
among droves of sober sheep

I burn my skull cover
among multitudes of masks

I fork my heart out
and pitch it, still beating
into the furnace of ennui

and phantoms shoot out
screaming like bottle rockets
across the face of the mute moon


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