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Showing posts from 2019

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…

Tom Darin Liskey

I was ten That winter night When my brain Burned with fever And I lay Dreaming awake That you had come back From the firmament; An unwinged angel Sitting at my bedside Speaking words That sounded like fire In my ears. I don’t know If it was real anymore. Maybe it was just yearning To touch you once more The way the blind read braille; Or maybe it was just The hot syllables of sickness Wailing like sinners At a tent revival Behind my burning eyes. But whatever it was That night, with the snow Beginning to fall Your hand touched my skin And the fever broke.
Tom Darin Liskey spent nearly a decade working as a journalist in Venezuela, Argentina and Brazil. He is a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi. His writing has appeared in HeartWood Literary Magazine, Driftwood Press, and Biostories, among others. His photographs have been published in Hobo Camp Review, Museum of Americana, Blue Hour Magazine, Synesthesia Literary Journal and Midwestern Gothic.

Porous Land by Agnes Vojta: Review

Agnes Vojta Porous Land Spartan Press March 2019 57 pages 978-1-950380-01-5 $15 Reviewed  by Rusty Barnes
Agnes Vojta's Porous Land is nearly textbook minimalism.. Every word seems created specifically for the task she sets it to perform in the poem. I don't mean minimalist to an extreme, but rather that there is no fat on the words. The overall effect is a bracing shiver of recognition at the natural world and our place in it, as well as how that world shapes our thoughts.
I found myself in a sort of dream-state the deeper I got into the collection. in the "Greening Begins from the Ground," Vojta sets up a scene not by telling us what is in the scene but instead what is not, in lovely simple phrases and lines: "Not in the high places/that still belong to winter/not on the barren ridges/where buzzards rest on bare branches,//but in the valleys". In the valleys she describes, with an Eastern feel, where "shy white flowers hide" in the manner of Japanese mas…

Tiff Holland

Positive Identification
Memorize all his parts, not just lips, eyes, the intimate tools, tiny erect nipples tangled in red hair, the spot where you can most easily imagine him as a mere boy. Sure, count the freckles, the moles you worry over, the pounds he frets, but commit to his scent, to the pink scrapes of knuckles where his skin becomes so dry it cracks, and he superglues himself back together. Stroke the quarter-size Achilles-like blond-spot on the back left of his other- wise reddish, receding, head of hair. Freeze in time his aura, above you, the last time you make love remember when he asked what it felt like "going in" him, going in to you the serious voice you could never mistake for anyone else’s, to say what lovers say and sometimes tire of saying, or assume, after time they needn’t say. Never assume anyone is coming back from just going out to get the mail shirtless, in gym shorts and cheapo Walmart tennis shoes covered in blue paint speckles, his arm hairs wound into sweaty rosettes, his …