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Showing posts from 2019

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 …

Todd Mercer

The Dam at Taylorsville, KY
The lake rose over the docks. It kept coming inland and uphill. No one built their homes around it to later drown them, but this day the lake inundates the ground floors without subsiding. It takes upstairs levels an hour later. Come back in a month, in a boat and see if you can make out roof outlines down deep below where town used to be. The lake rose up, but not because of rain.

Todd Mercer was nominated for Best of the Net in 2018. His collection of pre-owned Italian ties purchased for $2 each is probably the most bad-ass pre-owned Italian tie collection outside of Italy. Just sayin’. Recent work appears in: The Lake, The Magnolia Review, Praxis and Softblow.

Mike James

Crossroad Blues
I went to the crossroad, fell down on my knees” Robert Johnson
Some people go down to the crossroad from heart hunger, from being badly loved since that first kiss. Others want advice disguised as directions. Others go because they were born fearless, want to learn what fear is.
It helps if you smell like film noir dreams and worn out coins. If you carry bad luck, in your back pocket, as if it’s a postcard from home.
Most days, the Devil wears a fedora. His smile, forever white. His voice, the accent of an old friend. There’s a joke he loves to make about how his handshake isn’t as warm as people expect. It’s his eyes though everyone notices. No one ever says if they are hazel, brown, or blue. Just that they hold your attention longer than any wish.
Mike Jameshas been widely published in magazines, large and small, throughout the country. His thirteen poetry collections include: Jumping Drawbridges in Technicolor (Blue Horse), First-Hand Accounts from Made-Up Places (S…

Susan Tepper

The Plan
is a dream set in motion by chaos
fallen angels come to shake things up
no discernable reason you can fathom
reliance on whatever say the weather
shot in the back
handcuffed to a truck mirror
opportunity to see for yourself in harshest light percussion noises & street traffic jamming
suffering dogs howl their persistent hunger flesh is flesh
is other beasts huddled around smoking barrels watching
cops everywhere watching don’t lift a hand who dies or what
their coffee & donut on the hour while
prostitutes dimpling for any ready cash smile and jump fast into cars.
From the doorway ice melts down in your hair.
Susan Tepper is the author of seven published books of fiction and poetry. Her forthcoming book titled WHAT DRIVES MEN is a road novel full of zany characters and situations, soon to be published by Wilderness House Press. Tepper has received many honors for her writing which include 18 Pushcart Prize Nominations, 7th place on the Zoetrope Novel Contest shortlist, and a Nomination for a Pul…

Daniel Crocker

Mercury Must Be In Retrograde or Some Bullshit
You go to the reading and then to a nice dinner with friends. You started drinking early and on the drive from St. Louis to Cape you puke all over yourself Fajita Nachos It's your medication making you sick again You know you shouldn't drink on it But sometimes you want to have a nice dinner with friends. There might be something more to it
You slap yourself. Then you slap yourself again harder. You tell your wife this is no way to live You tell your wife that you want to kill yourself. You puke again
It's okay, she says, it's okay
You've been so nervous for so many weeks now that there's not enough klonopin left to do the job even if you really wanted to. And you did
didn't you? For a moment you thought about it and rode the rest of the way home with puke drying on your best pants and a wife who says it's going to be okay, it's going to be okay like a prayer.

My Penis
I've never been happy with it not being as big as I'…

Larry Smith

A Work Story             “A good man is hard to find.”
Work shows up one day red faced with lunch pail and takes a seat at the bar. I ask, “What’ll you have?” And he, “What you need done?”
Four days later the new kitchen is finished shining chrome and real tile floor. I tell him he can have free drinks for as long as he lives, and he laughs, says, “Hey, the job ain’t done.”
When I get home that night, Work is sitting on the porch and says, “I’ve come for that drink and to sleep with your wife.” I laugh, but he doesn’t.
He’s fixed the porch now and put in a new furnace, while I just drive the kids to school and sleep on the couch. This weekend he and Grace are heading to Vegas.

Larry Smith is a poet, fiction writer, critic and biographer of Kenneth Patchen and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. He taught at Firelands College of Bowling  Green State University for 35 years and founded Bottom Dog Press which he serves as editor-publisher. A native of Appalachia's Ohio Valley, he and his wife Ann live along the shores…

Kevin Ridgeway

Losing the Human Race
everything has become so quiet, illness has struck us at close to midnight  and we've missed out on the happenings  sweet medicine eludes us everyone  is in everyone's fan club but mine those who were are all dead now and i can't even write poems about them yet so i suffer in this little bubble of mine a little bubble that I can't seem to pop and make my body tickle all over on up to my brain where all the useless information is stored and where all the memories torture me and where the future horrifies me and when  my fantasies put me on beautiful journeys that make this hardship of opinions, morals and different tastes in music some of my least favorite things as I pass by that cemetery off the Long Island Railroad in Farmingdale where Coltrane rests and where I traveled back to Southern California after the Big Apple was a mean, smug son of a bitch who hustled me into wanting to run away and hide in the  countryside where a drunkard's dream  would send me even tho…

Gypsy Queen by NIcole Hennessy, reviewed by Rusty Barnes

Nicole Hennessy
Gypsy Queen
Crisis Chronicles Press
60 pages
Nicole Hennessy's Gypsy Queen, #109 from Crisis Chronicles Press, is a representative small press text in many ways. Filled with free-verse poems that tend toward the long and discursive, the book is arranged in such a way that the poems' performative aspects are in full effect, with strong voice and lots of sound-play. In "Vultures," a poem in five short sections, the speaker says to the potential partner "Tell me everything about me./Leave no room for me to tell you." which is a nice effect, as potential partners in the beginning usually say "tell me everything about you," so it's an intriguing beginning. We know this speaker is all ego from the get-go, doubling down on that initial statement by confessing just a few lines farther down:

I knew we'd walk to that cemetery together
I wanted to tell you something about myself
through those streets alone, along which I'…