life story by Karl Koweski

I sense Brandon working up the nerve
to ask me something
and I’m hoping it doesn’t involve
the loaning of money
it’s too early in the shift
to send him away with
an unpleasant physical reminder
of how much he all ready owes

after a good fifteen minutes
of jaw-jacking
he springs the question on me

how much would you charge me
to write the story of my life?

my eyebrows arch up into my hairline
the story of your life?
like the factual story?

yeah, man, how much would you charge
to help me write my memoir?
Brandon, you’re twenty four years old
and I’ve known you the last
two years you’ve been a factory rat
and I know for a fact
you ain’t done shit other
than smoke cigarettes
and bitch about your ex-wife
oh yeah, and you got those tattoos
which I all ready wrote about

well, before you knew me
I was a junkie for like eight months

oh shit,
you and fifty thousand other jackasses
think putting a needle in your arm
warrants a biography
let me tell you
addiction symptomizes
a lack of imagination
you need a therapist not a novelist

I’m just saying I’d hire you to write it
wouldn’t you like to make money
writing something other than smut?

that’s true, I conceded,
if I wrote about your existence
I wouldn’t have to overly concern myself
with writing about sex
so… how does three cents a word sound?


I sat down and wrote:

Brandon was born, but not very well
he seemed to stop growing
at the age of thirteen
he tried heroin but
was too pussy to keep at it
he’s never fucked a woman
who hasn’t turned around
and fucked someone else
in the same twenty four hour
time frame
he got to meet Karl Koweski

I handed Brandon the paper,
said that’ll be a buck, sixty five
I’ll just tack it on
to what you all ready owe me

american high school tour group at anne hathaway’s cottage by John Grochalski

was only
when he
this twenty-six year old
and then
left here
for london
or something
banged all kinds
of chicks
in london
for all
of these
and then
the most
or all time.

i told you
fucking cool
or something

cyber fuck by Coral Carter

infected with loneliness
she fell
into the arms
of the flesh free
no strings attached
cyber fuck

cunt shaved
clit licked
wrists strapped
nipples nipped
bottom slapped
arse whipped
and to the hilt

infected with loneliness
she fell
she fell
she fell
into the arms of the cyber fuck

as the sharks of forever swim through my cigarette smoke by Rob Plath

near the end of it all
we drove far to an aquarium
like staring at seals & penguins
might heal us somehow

we both were smoking
on the long car ride
& patsy cline came on the radio:

"two cigarettes in an ashtray
my love and i in a small cafe
then a stranger came along
& everything went wrong
now there's three cigarettes
in the ashtray..."

after singing those stinging lines
i looked over at her face
& i saw her straining to contain
the guilt

i remember we spent most
of our time at the antarctica exhibit
watching those awkward
flightless birds waddling
over plastic molded ice
behind glass & she commenting
on how sad they looked
diving into the water

& then later we gazed
at large sharks dangerously gliding
through the floor-to-ceiling tank
& she took a picture of me
in front of it which looked like
a shark was sneaking up behind
my back

the drive home was silent
she pretended to sleep it seemed
& later on when we got back
to that little apartment
we fought once again

she didn't confess about the affair
but it was under there

the argument like another jagged piece
of ice sticking out of the water
while beneath loomed the enormous
crushing truth

a week later after 4 years
we were finished
the upcoming marriage stubbed out

"i watched her take him from me
& his love is no longer my own
now they are gone, & i sit alone
& watch one cigarette burn away..."

& now i smoke alone & the sharks circle me
& even though i tell them there's no blood left
only goddamn ashes
they continue their revolutions

night is a coal by David Mclean

night is a coal that is not burning,
like anxiety somewhere else
editing letters, awaiting miracles
or death;

night is a coal between our ribs
where hearts used to be,
when it was people we were,

night is a coal still, is not burning
like a frog learning to fly,
or a memory cold as heaven's grate
inside me, a coal not burning yet

because the tender devils do not come
to tend fires in me, not since years stopped
beating, night is a coal that left me, like time,
not even a memory, where nothing burns

inside any “me,” any brutal body:
this one is so full of gruesome fluids
that it puts out fires quite easily -
a body isn't very arid territory

DEGREES by Joseph Hargraves

"A poem requires metrical form
for permanence," she said.

I said that in most current usage
the simile, end-rhyme and metrically exact verse,
were hackneyed, if not archaic.

She harrumphed,
"you will be laughed out of academia."

I told her I had ditched academics
when I dropped out of high school;
then quoted Henry Miller:
"everything taught is a lie."

She started loudly,
"you'd better be careful
not to make the mistake
self-educated writers make,
with their eccentric
literary theories.
Even the neo-formalists aren't formal enough,
they don't know an anapest from Budapest."

She was annoying me
and knew it, so continued,
"you need to go back to school
and get a Master's
or you will never be taken seriously
no matter how good your poems are.
Why do you think I got mine?
Besides, I can teach."

I smiled. She went on,
"and poetry must never be used
to attack people-
that's hatefulness, not art."

Her poems were never
as lively as her tirades-
now I knew why.

Mono by Mike Meraz

Mono was a drug dealer. I used to buy heroin from him for my girlfriend back in the late 90's. I used to call him "the good-hearted drug dealer" because every time I visited him he would ask me to stay, have some lunch, watch TV, or what not. he was lonely. he was divorced. after years of heartache I think he resigned himself to living on that boat, with his dope and his money. once in a while I would see a girl there, never liked her, or trusted her, she seemed to be using him. she was a heroin addict too.

after a few years passed, me and my girlfriend broke up and one day I got a call, "Mono's dead" she told me. "what?" I asked. "Mono's dead" she said. she told me the cops picked him up and put him away. due to his extreme addiction and dependency on heroin the time in jail was too hard. he could not handle the withdrawals. his heart stopped beating and that was it. I pictured him there in that jail cell, probably scared to death like a caught animal, completely lost in life and probably within himself. those last moments must have been dreadful.

I always had hope for Mono. thought he would finally get out of it, get cleaned up. he talked about it continually as most drug addicts do. those glimpses of humanity that he showed towards me still stay with me to this day. the offering of lunch. the "Mike, feel free to stop by anytime just to talk." those simple things that came from this hardened criminal. it was odd. like seeing light shine out of a man hole. it is funny that I still think about him to this day. there is no truth at the end of this story. no light at the end of the tunnel. just a picture of a man.

Mono, I remember you.

Goodbye by Ivan Brkaric

Sadly, she waves from the shore
as the ferry leaves.

He told her he would stay
if she only asked him to.

But she hid behind a smile,
an awkward hug
and with a single tear,
nothing was said.

hungover by Paul Harrison

in a lunch bar
flicking through the glossy mags
and eating chicken soup
i thought about how inane
and meaningless life had become
or at least
how most of everything conspired
to make it seem that way
another dress, another party
another baby, another break up
another diet, another rehab stint
and then remembered
another car bomb in baghdad
where life is cheap and meaningful
all at once
hundreds dead, hundreds more
shredded like kebab meat
and how magazines like these
or lives like mine
suddenly become
almost meaningless
sweating out the piss
eyes too dry to cry


I am content to know
that I live like any true human would live.

Food with fangs at the bend of this bullshit and dust and
dust drops off the planet once again.
Any true human would live content to know
that I am happily dusted.

And I saw your being taken away, like any true human
with fangs and food, and the planets drop off
a petrol bomb.

If I don't have pills, I feel like I have nothing.
Sometimes, I wish I were an apple.

I Just Let Him by xTx

I got choked by a 66 year old man named Dave.

Afterwards, he offered me his knees.

I declined.

Too intimate, I thought.

Heartache at the Baroque Corral by Paul Hellweg

I went to a poetry reading
at Beyond Baroque,
and it was
babe paradise,
I mean,
I never saw
a gathering
and to think,
male poets
are often thought
gay ...

fuck that.

in the hallway after taking a piss by Justin Hyde

three large portraits
hang on the wall
like sentinels.

they're my age

all three
in crisp
police uniforms:

dump trucks
for jaws

pale blue

gut me
like a deer
if they knew
what i was
up to.

get your
tight little but
back in here,
gloria calls
from the bedroom.

yes mam,
i say
& salute
& apologize
for what i'm
about to do
to their mother
for the
third time

Former English Lit Teacher Now A Talking Bartender by Doug Draime

Byron, Keats and
Shelly were the
only ones
he thought worth
in the general scheme
of things,
the world being what
it was:
a pragmatic place
but not without a little
or the need for it.
And those
romantics were
the revolutionaries
of their times.
What can you say about the ones today,
he wanted to know.
Faggy college boys, or ugly misfits
drinking themselves
to death.
Byron looked like Elvis,
for Christ sake, he had charisma,
they all three did.
It was exciting to be in their
They were all cocksmen, lady
killers, society’s dissidents. The boys parents warned
their daughters about in the 1800’s.
They were dangerous
Where’s the charisma, the excitement, where is
the danger
with the modern bunch,
he wanted to know,
as he sat another bottle of beer in front of me.
I had to just smile and shrug, feeling a little uncomfortable
and wishing
I’d not mentioned
I wrote poems.

boobie-trapped by Steve Calamars


he pistol-whipped
and dick-slapped
his way to freedom

she tried to
counter with
cock-blocks and
body shots

she even resorted
to head-games and

like brain-wash
and deep-throat

but nothing
proved successful

he still managed
to liberate himself

finding safety with
a redbone with
plenty of junk in
her trunk

who nursed him
back to health with
cream-pies and
pink tacos—

DIRECT DEBIT by Ford Dagenham

sleeping on my sofa this afternoon
is a girl
who used to sleep in my bed.

she’s unburdened herself
talking about
her new man.

none of it was good news

and now
she naps.

soon she will drive away
to her real life
and I will become
lonely and afraid.

I will question
Joel on the telephone
about a tri-monthly
£7.79 direct debit
I cannot place.

and later when the news headlines
start to roll
I will feel
a horrible reassurance.


About Me

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