on knowing the queen of the sanitation department by John Grochalski

look at this, she says
slapping down the daily news
in front of me

it is a picture of a dead woman
being taken out of her house on a stretcher

the neighbors are loitering around
taking photographs with their cell phones

disgusting, isn’t it? she asks

typical, i say
standard human behavior

no, she says
people have gotten worse
society has gotten worse
it’s these cell phones
and this technology
air conditioners and reality tv
the internet and all of those damned video games

people don’t care, she says
not like they used to

people have never cared, i tell her
you have us confused with another kind of animal

people did care
they did once in this country, she says

people had respect and pride
we had a sense of community in this city

but not now

people are disgusting to each other here
and in the world at large, she says

just yesterday i saw a woman walk outside
and dump garbage all over the street
even though there was a garbage can
a half a block down

i asked her what she thought she was doing
dumping that shit all over
and do you know what she said to me?
she asks


this bitch says
what’re you? queen of the sanitation department?

and what did you say?

i said, yeah, i’m the queen of the
fucking sanitation department
you bet your ass i am
and if you don’t pick that garbage up
i’m going to grab you by the neck
and ram it down your fucking throat

i swear, she says
people just can’t be kind and considerate

Two Poems by Ryan Quinn Flanagan

The Only Crayon in the Crayon Box
That Ever Scared the Hell
Out of Me

The red lights in the church basement
at night
were always sinister.

My parents would have the radio on
in the front seat
and (seemingly) not take notice
as I watched the Grace United Church basement
at the corner of Cook St.
and Dunlop
light up an ominous funery red
as if the fires of hell had been released
on the world
while no one was looking
and the four horses of the apocalypse rode closer
and closer
while Connie Francis sang about the boys
somewhere above the commercial band.

I imagined wild thirsting orgies
where men in black robes
drank the blood of sacrificed virgins
and sodomized their lifeless bodies
to Gregorian chants
and pentagrams etched into the floor
or severed heads on sticks
with the mouths sewn shut
leaning against a wall run red
with blood.
I may be projecting such images
on the past
with hindsight
(or perhaps not),
but I assure you
my blind fear of that searing basement red
was both sincere
and palpable.

Imagine my terror
when my mother took me
to join the congregation
one Sunday
when she was going through her pious
give thanks
body of Christ
Noah with water wings
collection plate absolution

The only bathroom was in the basement
and I really had to go.

While Saul
turned into Paul
from the pulpit,
I turned water
into urine
all over the pew.

And as my mother lead me out
of there
a resounding chorus of Hallelujah ran out
from the congregation.

unbeknownst to my mother,
praised the good lord
in song
by day,

and dismembered stillborn babies
over a basement altar
in the evening.


I never understood why TV programs
that try to hit you up for money
are always on at 3:30am
trying to catch the stoned
welfare crowd.
Or do they imagine the Fortune 500
is looking to open its purse strings
to late night programming
and the middle-classes decided
they no longer need sleep
before work?

If this is their hope
they’ll be sorely disappointed.

If you’re like me
and you’re sitting up at 3:30am this morning
you likely spent your last 30 bucks
on mushrooms and beer
and can’t stop laughing
at the starving kids
in Africa.

No Adjectives by Mark Reep

In the bathroom a redhaired girl sat hunched on the toilet with her
face in her hands. She stirred and said you get it? I said sorry, no.
You okay? She looked up, blinked. Fuck are you? I shook my head.
Nobody you’ll remember, I said. I was closing the door when she said
hey, something’s wrong with my legs. She stood swaying, trying to
button her jeans. Lean on the sink, I said, it’ll pass. No, she
said, my legs. Her eyes glazed. She crumpled. I caught her, picked
her up. She wasn’t heavy. Don’t throw up on me, kid, I said. Her
head rolled and she didn’t hear me. I turned sideways so her feet
wouldn’t hit the doorframe and carried her down the hall. Her arm
dangled. A tattoo said No Adjectives. In a bedroom where I’d stayed
once I propped her up against the headboard. No one should die
choking on their own puke. The lamp on the nightstand didn’t work
anymore but yellow streetlight shone in the window. When my eyes
adjusted I watched her breathing. Sometimes she’d stop, sometimes you
couldn’t tell. The room was stuffy and the window wouldn’t open and I
needed to piss but I didn’t want to leave her. Across the alley a boy
sat on a fire escape talking on a cellphone and smoking. Downstairs a
door slammed. Cars started. Basslines thumped. When they faded the
house was quieter but sometimes you could still hear someone laughing.
I wondered whose room this was now, who slept here. The girl
whimpered. She’d slumped sideways. I sat beside her and straightened
her up again. She turned her face into my shoulder. You want to call
somebody? I said. She might have shaken her head. She was crying. I
put my arms around her and patted her. Across the alley the boy’s
cigarette flared. He flicked it away and closed his phone and rose
and climbed in the window. The light went out. The girl made a
choked sound and sat up and vomited. Sour whiskey puke stink filled
the room. She fell back groaning. It’s okay, I said. I’ll get some
water, we’ll get you cleaned up. She moaned, flung an arm across me.
Kid, I said, I gotta piss. She murmured something. What? I said.
She was snoring. I moved her arm aside and got up. The bathroom door
was shut. I knocked. Occupied, a boy said. A girl giggled. I went
downstairs. No one was in the kitchen. The back door was open and I
pissed off the stoop. When I was done I dabbed puke from my pants and
rinsed my shirt out in the sink. A cellphone on the table played
Crazy Train. No one came to answer. It stopped. I wrung out my
shirt and hung it from my belt and took a Molson’s from the fridge.
Upstairs somebody said what the fuck. The phone was almost fully
charged. I put it in my pocket and went out.

Idiots On Parade by Rose Aiello Morales

Everywhere I looked

Standing at the bus stop
with transient grins, plugged
in to nothing in particular
and thinking it important,
speaking in tongues to the air
and the crackling static.

Mumbling in the movie theater,
talking dialog from different films
and yelling out the endings
of the coming attractions, all
the while throwing popcorn
from the lower balconies.

Museums were over run, crayoned
signatures on masterpieces, mustache
on Mona, fig leaf on David, beer bottles
at the Last Supper, Timexes sharing space
with the melting clocks of Dahli.

And in the streets the martyrs were trampled
in the rush for fire sales at Filene's Basement,
free lattes at Starbucks, GaGa sitings in Times
square, the return of Elvis to his Graceland home.

I saw and went suddenly insane

Obsessed with idiots on parade, screaming
news of Lindsay Lohan and the Big Brother finale;
until kind hands helped me with my (strait) jacket
and brought me safely to my beautiful new home

Where I could talk to the rest of the Intelligentsia.

Two Poems by John Grey


Dan’s lived half his life in jail,
in darkness, even when sunlight shines
through the bars or the overhead bulb
cranks out its miserly imitation of a streetlamp.
He has a watch for company.
It not only tells time, it is time.

Dan’s father comes to see him,
feeble though he is these days.
Fifty years of working down the mine
stares in at twenty more of
no way is that kind of life for me.
A guard watches over the bodies
but no one looks on when contradictions face off.

Dan remembers cheap Christmases,
scrawny birthdays, evening meals
with too little food, too many hands.
Mixed in are solitary house-breaks,
jimmying open windows,
standing in a stranger’s parlor,
overwhelmed by all the gifts.
And gas station heists,
the gun in the face of that liquor store clerk,
two hundred grubby bucks spilling from his hands
like it was a shiny million.

His father shrugs his shoulders,
wonders where did he go wrong.
Dan can never figure why he keeps on getting caught.
The world wants him down the mine,
is that it.
It’d rather he have a large family
that he can barely provide for.
It wants him to have the next Dan,
the one who finally uses that weapon
on some trembling store clerk.
It wants the life inside
passed down through the generations.
It wants his light to shine down on sons
and sons of sons.
And for everyone to have a watch,
to tell time, to do time.


Out of the corner
of my eye, that border
between my body
and what threatens it

I saw something
through the border
of dark and light,

a man
maybe his bad
bordering his worse,
who was shuffling toward me
across the border of
walk into intent.

“You want something?”
I said, my tongue tip-toeing
the border of bravado and fear.

In English broken by
being on the border of Spanish,
he handed me my wallet,
explained, “You dropped this.”

I leaped across that
border of relief into gratitude.
We shook hands,
a friendly greeting
of two border policemen.
With unforced smiles,
we let each other cross.

The Story of Us by P.A.Levy

I’m the kind of person who would have gone to a public
witch burning to find out what kind of kindling was hip,
you would have gone to public hangings to see if the guilty
jerk and spasm, piss themselves; puddle or spray?

Yes, it’s true, I would superglue a pound coin
to the pavement and find enjoyment watching a chancer
casually try to pick it up, but you would drop
a fifty ton weight. The coin was bait.
You watched far too many cartoons
when you should have been studying for your GCSEs.

I might go to the scene of a car crash only to collect
the shattered pieces of red and amber glass
for my mosaic. You would want copies of police
photographs, hunt for blood stains
and gather up bits of limbs.

When we played cut and paste in the library
I thought it a laugh
to slash out the odd paragraph, or write coded messages
on page one hundred and sixty three. Never content,
you spliced pages from hardcore porno into large
print editions of romantic fiction. You even assassinated
the final pages from the who-done-its.
Snip. Snip.

I hate you.

I hate you because you told that priest he smelt
like a peadophile and we spent all those years
in purgatory. And because you stood up in school assembly
and blurted out that the headmaster wears frilly lingerie,
swore blind you had seen him in the gym mistress’s PE kit,
we got two months detention; thanks for that.

I hate you for telling every foreman on every job
to get stuffed and then for looking befuddled
as to why we always get the sack, that you always pick
arguments with biggest blokes in pubs, and because you tell
every woman that we meet they look like tarts.
Then have the nerve to ask how much a blow job costs.

On a radio phone-in you told
the nation I’m a habitual masturbator,
knicker sniffer, pussycat fiddler,
you just had to give out my real name
and where I live.
It seems this compulsion to humiliate
is all the motivation you really need.

I hate that you are there for the thick
but never the thin.
That I can’t get the better of you,
I can never win.
Charged with insincerity
and feigning compunction
without due care and attention
I stand accused
whilst you sit back and grin.

Two Poems by Ross Vassilev

love song

I should get a job
become a productive citizen
and salute the flag

I should buy that calendar
with Marilyn Monroe
showing her tits

Marilyn, you're a cum-stain
on the red red rose
of my heart

I should write love letters
to Joely Richardson
and Tuesday Weld

I should write my name
in the hallowed ashes
of d.a. levy in Cleveland

I should write pornography
on the skulls of the raging
American war machine

I should write to old Tim Leary
guru of the tripping stars
in the 7 seas of Buddha

I should write to Pete Seeger
who performed at
Obama's inauguration

democracy in this country
is a goddam lie

Obama ain't no different
from the rest of them
ain't no hope

just ask the asphodels
that shrink away
from the bastard in horror.

the ballad of Ian Curtis

suicide clouds
make me think
of ducklings and
red beach balls

I open the closet
and there's Ian
hanging from the rod

a hanged man
is a lead balloon
turning blue

it's a lazy, quiet day

as a punk rock sky
over Manchester

peaceful as
despair, depression
or years of

as beer bottles in
the rusted grass
along forgotten roads
in Ohio.

Two Poems by Daniel Porder

Private Party

green lights zigzagged to guitar
and bass and people slow-danced
in the drunk dark and sipped Pepsi
and the floor sighed and trembled
when police lights blasted the windows
and sirens mutilated the music and I leaped
through the cracked back window
and dashed through a blue-red haze
to my room where I played solitaire
and ate sushi and sat perfectly still
to experimental jazz and sipped Pepsi
and slow-danced with my shadow

All Aboard

I pile your promises in the corner
like dirty clothes.
I sculpt the air into your scowl.
The clouds light up
a bloodshot red
and I stumble to my amplifier,
set the feedback higher
than our sealing eyes. My mouth
echoes with your name.
Dear vulpine smile drawn across lips:
join the coastguard now
and forever patrol my veins.


About Me

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