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Showing posts from 2019

Agnes Vojta

I Need a Wrist Strap for my Ice Axe

Wearing a short dress and sandals, I step into the outfitter, ice axe in hand, and ask for a wrist strap.
The questions begin immediately: What do I want with an ice axe? Don’t I know that is a dangerous mountain? A real climb? Wouldn’t I rather be interested in a nice walk?
My bearded friends on the other side of the store watch for a while, amused, before they amble over to me.
Suddenly, the wrist strap is no problem at all.

Agnes Vojta grew up in Germany and now lives in Rolla, Missouri where she teaches physics at Missouri S&T. She is the author of Porous Land (Spartan Press, 2019). Her poems recently appeared in Red River Review, Minute Magazine, Nixes Mate Review, The Blue Nib, As It Ought To Be Magazine, Former People, Thimble Literary Magazine, and elsewhere. 

Gabriella Garofalo

Listening to comets, aren’t you?
Yet you are deaf, deaf to the voice of riotous angels,
Deaf to the green solitude that heaves at you
While my sad place gathers
A blue ambivalence, or missing lives
Who dreamt of choosing between raw and hard light:
These are sidereal places,
Where fire can’t decrypt your hunger,
Where you can’t give light a nice welcome,
That’s why you need only
A womb insensitive to breathing light,
Here, among your furniture,
And crumpled souls at night who hiss
You won’t come back to the fields,
Nor will you reach the water,
Only exiled limbs hassling with the slant of demise,
The blue light you silence as undeserving
Of your hunger: is it a matter of voices, limbs,
And pewter skies?
Great, so please shape your light in mixed shades,
That will do, and bring me not flowers, nor toys,
As I saw too many at the children’s bedside-
Please bring me seedy cafes where men
Stare at an empty half-light,
Where women all clad in blue go unnoticed
‘Cause blue was the left hand …

Max Heinegg

Lake House Guns

Is it ever only a toy?
Robert Bly in my ears
talking campfire men
who cry handling a sword.

I get pissed at my nephews,
firing Nerf guns, water guns, any
gun—cocking pathologically
until my daughters join the effort,

pinning a hapless cousin
in a bedroom corner. The squad
rains doom, & I think it’s good
for them—girls are better off

not taking shit from anyone.
Let them get hit & hit back,
learn to handle them.
So, I quit bitching about

guns, firing equitably—
no one’s watching them
decide what’s fair play, protest
the other child a coward.

Max Heinegg's poems have appeared locally in Nixes Mate, Pangyrus, and Ibbetson Street Review. He lives in Medford, MA, where he teaches high school English and is the co-founder of Medford Brewing Company.

Simon Perchik

You stir this can before it opens as the promise a frog makes when asking for a kiss :the paint
warmer and warmer will become an afternoon with room for mountains and breezes close to your shoulder
though that’s not how magic works –there’s the wave, the hand to hand spreading out between the silence
and your fingers dressed with gloves as if it was a burden and the brush raising your arm the way this wall
needs a color that will dry by itself leave a trace :a shadow not yet lovesick no longer its blanket and cure.
Simon Perchik is an attorney whose poems have appeared in Partisan Review, Forge,Poetry, Osiris, The New Yorker and elsewhere. His most recent collection is The Gibson Poems published by Cholla Needles Arts & Literary Library, 2019. For more information including free e-books and his essay “Magic, Illusion and Other Realities” please visit his website at 

Catfish McDaris

Drunken West Milwaukee Blues

Drinking mezcal chewing up the worm
listening to Santana’s Blues For Salvador
the police car shined a spotlight in my van

This Barney Fife looking motherfucker
swaggered up and asks me if I’ve been
drinking, I nod my head and take a swig

“Keep your hands where I can see them
and get out of your car,” I finish the bottle
I get out slowly, he has his pistol pointed

At me, “That’s not nice,” “What did you
say?” I did my magic on him and reached
out and took his gun away, I pointed it

At his chest and said, “How does it feel?”
I gave him some gunslinger tricks, threw
it up in the air, caught it behind my back

I ejected the magazine and unchambered
the round in the barrel, faster than sight, I
put it in his holster and raised my hands.

Catfish McDaris won the Thelonius Monk Award in 2015. He’s been active in the small press world for 25 years. He’s recently been translated into Spanish, Italian, French, Polish, Swedish, Arabic, Bengali, Mandarin, Yoruba, Tagalog…

Larry Thacker

What’s on my mind? 
The problem is, you sit in class, or a boardroom in a high rise office building, or within some congregation, say, at a recital or a baptism, but can’t just sit there.
You observe yourself, as you’ve been taught, from outside yourself. A witness to your breathing, visualizing it: understanding, but not quite understanding,
that most of what you’ve pulled into your lungs your whole life, isn’t oxygen at all.
And that you’re a fool for thinking so flippantly for so long about an exchange so potentially deadly.
That this meticulous mixture is a wondrous thing hardly considered moment, to moment, to moment.
And how something very scary, full of cosmic witchcraft propels your heart muscle to twitching like a restless fist-sized alien in a ribbed calcium cage, a body zoo you transport everywhere you go.
And they wonder why you can’t concentrate.
Larry D. Thacker is a Kentuckian writer, artist, and educator hailing from Johnson City, Tennessee. He lives with his wife, Karin, and th…

Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozábal

Brief Conversations With Gary In Downtown, Los Angeles  Thanks for the pancakes. You should smile more. You are my heart, Luis, you are my soul. What is your name man because I don’t want to call you Fraser? You remind me of Fraser. Hey Luis, what do you know about Jennifer Aniston? I saw her driving in a red car. My stomach is killing me. I should not have eaten that Chinese food out of the trash. It is cold, Luis, aren’t you cold? There is this guy at the tent that tried to stab me last week. Could you get me something to eat? It’s my birthday Luis. I have a 25-year-old daughter. Voices told me that I should jump
off this bridge.

Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozábal, lives in Southern California and works in the mental health field in Los Angeles. His first book of poems, Raw Materials, was published by Pygmy Forest Press. His other poetry books, broadsides, and chapbooks, have been published by Alternating Current Press, Deadbeat Press, Kendra Steiner Editions, New American Imagist, New Polish Beat, Poet's …

Howie Good

Advice for the Perplexed

Wash your sex toys (your unmotorized ones, at any rate) in the top rack of the dishwasher. Next up, put on some music. Have a trick for getting bong water out of the carpet; white wine, ironically, gets out red wine stains. But as of now there’s no proven method to erase false memories and the like. Try to avoid being carried off by a UFO when you can just walk. Make mute despair your default greeting to people you happen to pass on the stairs. And always remember, a wild bull becomes docile if tethered to a fig tree.
Howie Good is the author most recently of What It Is and How to Use It from Grey Book Press and Spooky Action at a Distance from Analog Submission Press. He co-edits the journals Unbroken and UnLost.

Rob Plath

the mover

i dreamt my mother was helping me carry her own coffin
to the cemetery

strangely, she was both inside & outside of the box

she was so calm
for a while i doubted she knew who we were planting in the ground

but after a considerable amount of steps i was certain she recognized her own weight

yet it was as if she was the mover of a piece of furniture & not her own pallbearer

peaceful as if she were merely rearranging a space— perhaps moving a large cedar chest
for fresh linens
from one room to the next
Rob Plath is a writer from New York. He is most known for his monster collection  A BELLYFUL OF ANARCHY (epic rites press 2009). His newest collection is MY SOUL IS A BROKEN DOWN VALISE (epic rites press 2019). You can see more of his work at

Gary Powell

Corporate Warriors

We are profiles in likeness in our gray business attire, splash of color in our ties, cell phone whining in our ears.
We have important places to be as we careen through streets and airports, teleconference with peers, interface and meet.
We do it for our families, our companies and our teams, for the false sense of security that allows us to sleep through the night. For the sweet suck of the deal.
We queue up at our cubicles, genuflect and cross ourselves before the throne of the corporate prophet, awaiting the news: merger, acquisition, or divestiture.
And in the CEO’s name we pray:
This stock option is my body Think of me when you eat. This red ink is my blood Think of me when you drink.
We are the gray men, the hollow men, living in a dead land, a land stuffed with IOUs and motherfucking lawyers.
We are the in-between, the rut and rub on the road from desire to spasm. We are the gut wrench of the downward trending Dow.
Give us this day our daily bread, man, and forgive us our debts, althou…

Brian Rihlmann

if there’s a god I have only one request  and that is— grant me eyes to see in them what I see in a old farm truck rusting in a field
how prisms  shine through  shattered glass
how wildflowers sprout through holes in the floorboards 
Brian Rihlmann was born in New Jersey and currently resides in Reno, Nevada.  He writes free verse poetry, much of it on the confessional side.  He has been published in Blognostics, Yellow Mama, Raven Cage Zine, Synchronized Chaos, Cajun Mutt Press, The Rye Whiskey Review, and others.

Survival Tips for the Pending Apocalypse by Shawn Pavey, reviewed by Rusty Barnes

Survival Tips for the Pending Apocalypse
Shawn Pavey
154 pages
Spartan Press
May 30 2019
reviewed by Rusty Barnes

Shawn Pavey's book Survival Tips for the Pending Apocalypse has been on my radar for some time. I travel in or closely observe the outskirts of a lot of different poetry scenes, and one of them is the midwestern ethos of Spartan Press and Stubborn Mule, among some others I am unfamiliar with yet. The poets strike me, in general. as fellow-travelers in the best sense of the word, with varied points of view united under an umbrella of beat poet, confessional poet, Tom Waits or Bukowski-oriented. Some of that can go a long way, if you know what I mean. I am pleased to report that among those fellow-travelers Shawn Pavey is someone well worth paying more attention to.

In his introduction, Mike James rightly--after reading it , how could you not?-- mentions the first quietly strong poem of this long but never meandering coll…

Ryan Quinn Flanagan

Two Bottle Caps and a Gas Station Receipt

I reach down into my pocket thinking twisted blow up dolls back into balloon animals. Feeling around for my wallet that is a no show. Just two bottle caps and a gas station receipt. I toss the receipt and finger around the bottle caps like those Chinese stress balls that professional assholes swear by. The heavy melanoma sun over my face. A rock in my shoe that makes me walk with a limp I don’t have.
Ryan Quinn Flanagan is a Canadian-born author residing in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada with his wife and many bears that rifle through his garbage.  His work can be found both in print and online in such places as: Evergreen Review, The New York Quarterly, Rusty Truck, Live Nude Poems, Red Fez, and The Oklahoma Review.

Doug Holder

We Hold Hands

At dusk we hold hands. We hold hands, withfading tarnished rings.
As if some unexpected storm could suddenly separate us forever.
We listen to the muted horn the hint of some heroin-tainted voice we clink our cocktails the house cat another appendage between us.
And the light grows dimmer as it always does.
Doug Holder is the founder of the Ibbetson Street Press of Somerville, MA. He has recently collaborated with playwright Lawrence Kessenich on a new play based on a short story he wrote "The Patient." It is going to be published by the Presa Press, and  has had a staged reading at the Playwright's Platform in the Boston area. Holder's poem " Oh Don't She Said, It's Cold" adapted into a song by singer/songwriter Jennifer Matthews, will be preformed by the dance company "text moves" in the fall at various venues in the area. Holder is the arts editor of The Somerville Times, and teaches writing at Bunker Hill Community College in Boston, an…

Gawaine Caldwater Ross

Tool Shed

Hard rain rakes the roof of my shed. It’s autumn, and the wind tosses the blanket That serves as my door. I wrap my quilt around me And stare at the books on the wall. There’s no electricity, and after dark I can’t read by candlelight. I haven’t a stove or a fridge; I live on oatmeal, cabbage, and scraps of cheese. I drink rain water, or tea, If I can get a fire going outdoors. Today when the storm  rolled in I stripped and begged to be struck by lightning, But Zeus was not obliging. Yesterday in a state of helpless rage I hammered a boulder into gravel; It didn’t help my mood. Two weeks ago I hiked to the coop And posted a notice that said: Help! I can’t find a job! I have no cash, savings, bonds, Gems, certificates, stocks, Monies due, property, or anything else. There’s been no response. I’ve been homeless before - This is nearly as bad. I came here to be with Darla at her invitation, The cabin is small, so we Screwed outside in the summer sun, Green leaves fell from buttocks. But after only a month sh…

Virginia Chase Sutton


We are all beautiful at seventeen, our flawless skins attached to willing bones and sinews. Some of us are waiting for our chance, for someone to say, let’s make out like a couple
of teenagers, or the stranger with a bottle of Boone’s Farm Apple Wine he will share though you are underage. Or the joint passing around the room, making you happily relaxed in the
front-closing lace bra you are willing to shed for the unknown, the chance at real love, not what you left behind at home, your father missing you, smoking cigarette after cigarette.
You do not know yet how lovely you are with soft brown hair and blue eyes flecked with squiggles. And though your body is not like the striking grace of cheerleaders back home, it stuns
with dazzling breasts and big areoles that men will kiss and love. You will learn of this loveliness even as you scorn those who are not worthy. Later, your friends will grow into their flesh as you grow
away, already ahead, open and waiting, discovering a taste for a certain so…

Howie Good

Science Can’t Help Us
A monk in a monastery in the remote Northeast Kingdom sits in the lotus position for nine straight hours, which is how long it takes to count all the ways there are to kill a person. Every day about 200,000 people die. The ancient oak that once served as the hanging tree has started muttering to itself, saying things like “Here’s my hat. Go away.” That could be why the seasons now seem to come and go in no particular order. Meanwhile, gunmen from around the world have organized a banquet of vultures. It’s only gravity that keeps us there.
Howie Good is the author of The Loser's Guide to Street Fighting, winner of the 2017 Lorien Prize from Thoughtcrime Press, and Dangerous Acts Starring Unstable Elements, winner of the 2015 Press Americana Prize for Poetry. His latest poetry collections are I Am Not a Robot from Tolsun Books and A Room at the Heartbreak Hotel from Analog Submission Press, both published in 2018.

Michael McInnis

Michael McInnis lives in Boston and served in the Navy chasing white whales and Soviet submarines. His poetry and short fiction has appeared in Chiron Review, Cream City Review, Naugatuck Review, Oxford Magazine, Unlikely Stories and Yellow Chair Review to name a few. His third book, Secret Histories, is forthcoming from Cervena Barva Press.

Matthew Borczon

In the years since you took your own life
on angry nights I still stare down stars and wonder if angels feet run fast
or fly in the opposite direction of gunfire and heartbreak
of divorce and all the suicide children
who thought it was over before it even started.

Matthew Borczon is a writer from Erie Pa. He has published 11 books of poetry, the most recent Ghost Highway Blues is available through Alien Buddha Press. He is a navy sailor and a nurse to adults with developmental disabilities. He has four children who joyfully take up all his and his wife's free time.

Jyl Anais

I remember myself piece
by piece. How
does a woman
she wears perfume
to sleep?

With both hands I hold your words gently in a cup hidden in my heart.
Jyl Anais is a poet, visual artist, and forensic medium. Her work appears in Anthony Award nominated Protectors 2: Heroes, Nixes Mate Review, and Asylum Magazine among other publications. Originally from Trinidad, she now lives in the United States where she nurtures orchids and faces the blank page. Soft Out Spoken, her first collection of poetry, will be available this fall. Find her at

Book Review: Nostalgia and Ruin, by Cameron Mount

Nostalgia and Ruin 70 pages ISBN: 1365118002 independently published Publication Date: May 31, 2016 $15/5.38 reviewed by Rusty Barnes

Cameron Mount's Nostalgia and Ruin is a great example of a transitional work. Mount is one half of the duo that runs the pulp magazine Broadswords and Blasters, and I get a sense that this book is very much the work of an excellent writer feeling out interesting ways what will become his permanent subject matter.   
"Spring Break, The Unnamed Key," an example from early in the book, sets up reader expectations and follows through in a satisfying manner.  Simple declarative phrases set off the first half of the poem: "we took;" "we made;"we fished and caught;" we piled;" and so on, followed by simple but rich detail that gives us the feel of what camping on this unnamed key means for the poem's inhabitants, simply going through a day. "It wasn't long/before the drunk/and tobacco high/sent us rolling/throug…