AM I WORTHLESS? by John Tustin

My wife has called me worthless
innumerable times.
Because I did not perform,
did not negotiate,
did not meet her predetermined
criteria in some way,
in any way
(I take it
like a boxer
takes a right hook).

I have seen that look,
barely camouflaged,
in the eyes of my parents,
my teachers,
former friends,

The disappointment.

Because on the surface,
in the smiling beginning,
I seemed better,
smarter, stronger,
full of promise.
Shy but brave.

I watched my mother cry
and couldn’t reach out to her,
hug her,
give her what she wanted.
I was a child
no matter what my age.

I cried once as she was dying,
once when she died,
and once after.

I have been fired from a job.
I have been asked
not to return
to a dozen places;
a job, a diner,
the Long Island Railroad,
an acquaintance’s home.

I have done things
I am ashamed of,
when clothed or naked,
and they burn my soul, these things,
until the smell of rot
comes from it.

But when my friend Emily
moved to Boston seventeen years ago
she wrote me a letter
telling me
there was a light around me
she could see
and it was a rare thing I had.

And either she saw something
or was lying to me
to make me feel good
and either way

when I think about it
the angels that
I blasted
out of the sky
with gunshots and words
and action
and inaction
rise and glow like the promise of heaven,
forgiving me,
waving glorious wings
of a slowly unfolding

I am something bright and beautiful!

this poem is for you.

Two Poems by Billy Joe Howell-Sinnard

side effects

the blue sound of conversations
a smokey blue threat
a blue thumb

the blue that's really black
the blue day and the blue night
a blue mirror a blue tattoo

blue smoke above the city
the blue moon in my head
the blue eaten food

blue tongue
naked blue lips
the blue pill under my pillow

This is Where I am Today, but There is a Tomorrow

Recoil and gun powder
shock to life,
words a grey residue
on the pure white page.

Poetry is suicide resisted,
the cocked gun turned aside,
bullets fired in the air.

Two Pieces by Sean Pravica

A Good Cause

My brother rarely speaks. After giving a homeless man a dollar, he rubbed his chin before blithely recalling, “There was a day when I only had three dollars to my name. I was hungry and I was bored. Then I bought a forty. I wasn’t hungry anymore.”

He exhaled a satisfied breath for a time gone and over, saying, “And I wasn’t bored.”

A Stranger in Town

Rail thin, he wore a red and blue one-piece jumpsuit. He rubbed his crotch blatantly before traffic, but his placid blue eyes gave no indication of perversion, only relief.

It was impossible to peel my eyes away from his face, calm, serene, waiting at the crosswalk. I was sad to think I would see him only like this, from a car window and likely never again.

What I wondered second most was what his voice sounded like. What I wondered most was what his child was named, since he again carried the powder blue blanket warmly bundling up nothing.

be here now by Sean Pravica

The hangover was strong
She was gone
And the money on the table
Went with her

There are moments in the day
Relentless with presence

Its now
And now
There’s no escape

That pummel us into submission

The dark side of satori
It’s the sadder ending
To an old zen story

lorca by Steve Calamars

soft clocks shatter
against hard times

as we crush cars
like accordions and
tear tanks in two like
tissue paper

because the muscle strains
in our chests
turned out to be heart ache

which turned into
heart burn and left
our insides scorched
as martian suburbs

so now we butcher
butterflies and assassinate
landscapes just to
feel alive

even though
we can hear our
deaths like
black violins

and see our futures
bursting like fire works
and femoral arteries

Sister Louisa by Melanie Browne

spent her time
sprawled on the
floor of bookstores,
a goose quill pen
became her
secret companion.

I fear I love
the ink more
than I love
Jesus, she
whispered later,
as she sipped
coffee from a
chipped teacup
and nervously
tapped her fingers

in her sleep
her hands
became the

in the morning
she scrubbed
vigorously the
raven smudges
from her palms,

after awhile
she assumed
Jesus didn't mind
the ink,
he was too busy
with the emperors,
and the kings,
the dukes. the lords.

when the other
sisters began to
gossip sister
Louisa quoted
she stared ahead
at the flat earth,
the quill pen
folded in her bosom

The Death Of King Arthurs Mare by Melanie Browne

The poet read his poem,
a long one about the
death of King Arthurs Mare,

he slurred his speech a bit,
he rubbed his eyes,
and the legs
of his jeans,

Arthur was alone,
grieving for Llamrei,
the poet began,
and that whore
Gwenevere was
off fucking Lancelot

The room was silent.
I could see that he
was tearing up,

Arthur wished he was
a wild boar,

the poet
took a drink of water,
gulping loudly into the

so that he might rip off
Lancelot's head,

the moon that night
was purple,

and the night was cruel.
Arthur cursed the heavens,

Lancelot and Gwenevere
didn't last, however,
Gwenevere got caught in
the housing crunch,
was laid off from her job,
and started turning tricks
near the entrance to the
Lincoln Tunnel.

Arthur still weeps
for Llamrei and
sometimes Gwenevere,
but he met a cutie
from El Salvador-
they sell handbags
near Canal street.

After the poet
finished the reading,
I told him I
liked his poem,

he smiled
and asked me if I
liked coffee,
if I want to read
more of his stuff,

later he showed me
his notebook,
it's full
of poems about

her real name is Arlene,
he said,
she likes horses,

I just met her at NA

Two Pieces by Michael Frissore

Three Cheers for Our Fathers!

Our daddies were all young once. Well, not mine. He’s from Ork. But our fathers who said it is what it is in Heaven worked hard
planting bubblegum in the sand. They beat the shit out of chickens with rakes and moved objects with their minds. Our poppies ate
their own shit and grew cocktail frank trees. Our dads used Uzis and AK-47s. They had no use for reading and writing. We accept that.
Our male persons who begot children ate dog food from a can and drank goat piss on the rocks. They let us drink it through a Krazy
straw. Our papas punched each other in the face and lay, loose as a goose, in quicksand. Our padres bought flamethrowers and burned
down the town hall. Our sires gave us marshmallows to roast. What could we possibly do, then, but run to the convenience store for
some chocolate and graham crackers.


For the first seven minutes. You feel that shower spout ebbing and storming and drooling and burbling. Stronger than Jim Thome or God
because, come on, Thome never took steroids and what kind of ballplayer never does the juice. And God? Let’s be honest, if there
was a God why doesn’t he just show up here and buy a sandwich and a bag of Lays, maybe a Pepsi?

Then nothing. Then that broken towel rack and Old Spice deodorant and Bob the Builder on a LG television. Beauty lasts seven minutes.
Except for that spider you had to kill. That’s what I mean. Dancing and cranking it in the shower. That’s just silly, but still. It’s
something. Not as bad as a wedding with no open bar. If you must jack in the shower don’t try to fuck the shampoo bottle. Trust me.
Do it naked, lying down, standing up, whichever is comfortable. Call out the name of your silly God who doesn’t exist. Just don’t let
the kids walk in on you.

Two Poems by Ross Vassilev

the meaning of life...

is white clouds and a lollipop.
the meaning of life
got lost somewhere in
dreams of Loni Anderson
and these pills that I'm taking
that make the room
lean first to the left
and then to the right.
what I'm going through here
is some kind of
unraveling of the spirit
or maybe
a Los Alamos of the mind.
I'm writing to you
from the other side
of something
and I'm staring at a clock with
no hands.
these pills remind me
of the dead
I came across once
staring up at me
with its dead black eye
like lost soldiers
in long faraway forgotten wars.

still (more dead than) alive in some rathole somewhere in America

I'm still alive
cuz when I wake up
in the morning
I feel this pain in my right leg
like one of those hairy
crippled smith-Gods that
never shave, just sit around
playing with themselves
in the forge all day
dreaming of nymphs
and Goddesses
and high school cheerleaders
and I'm still alive
cuz I hate with the heart
of a true Bolshevik
I mean slitting throats
bayoneting the class enemies
setting fire to the churches
a real bloodbath orgy of
killing before sipping
my iced tea
this world is mostly insanity
like Maupassant going
from the syphilis he got
from some Parisian whore
and Henry Miller laughing
at Parisian whores
and Apollinaire dying
a thousand deaths
living is a walking cancer
living is dying slowly
like the surgeon cutting
off one piece this month
and another the next
and I'm sorry if this poem
didn't cheer you up.


About Me

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