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Showing posts from January, 2020

John Grochalski

arriving at work to the homeless man who smells like urine
he sits on the stoop like a sickly shroud smelling faintly of urine
he’s huddled in black
black suitcase black duffle bag at his side
his face ghostly and pale his lips white with kidney failure
sometimes there is a beer bottle or two at his side
he sits there shivering as people walk by going to work with huge coffees and bagel sandwiches and little rolly bags trailing them like dogs
in less than twenty minutes i will let him inside where he will find a chair and read or sleep
until he pisses himself anew the good people complain and i have to ask him to leave
arriving at work to the homeless man who smells like urine
sometimes i think about how glad i am that i’m not him
but sometimes i think about how the only real choices in america are to work like a dog until you’re half-dead or to end up smelling like piss in the street
how everyone in this shithole nation is just a few bad mondays from being just like this guy
a fe…

Mike James

Mike James makes his home outside Nashville, Tennessee. He has published in numerous magazines throughout the country in such places as Plainsongs, Laurel Poetry Review, Birmingham Poetry Review, and Chiron Review. His poetry collections include: Parades (Alien Buddha), Jumping Drawbridges in Technicolor (Blue Horse), First-Hand Accounts from Made-Up Places (Stubborn Mule), Crows in the Jukebox (Bottom Dog), My Favorite Houseguest (FutureCycle), and Peddler’s Blues (Main Street Rag.) He served as an associate editor of The Kentucky Review, as well as the publisher of the now defunct Yellow Pepper Press. In the spring of 2020 Luchador Press will publish his 15th collection, Journeyman’s Suitcase.

Kevin Ridgeway

BRAIN MATTER

chow time came before the sun went down on L.A. County Jail, where people try to trade shots of instant coffee for fruit in order to make pruno. I had just been taken off suicide watch and had been stuffed into a yellow mental health smock for dings like us or whatever else the deputies laughingly called us. Everyone’s favorite meal was called brain matter, our tray canvasses decorated in gray hamburger and a decadent brown mystery sauce over curly noodles. We slurped from other inmates’ scraps of a kind of meat we couldn’t beat after lights out and we all passed out fat, happy and behind bars. I started to almost miss the god forsaken place in the cab headed away from downtown LA en route to the suburb where my uncle reluctantly said I could sleep on his couch. That night I had to start proving that my brain mattered more than the way I treated it with the disintegration of what I was really made of: the armor I inherited with a straight poker face and everything my father taught me in his old prison stories of bad foo…