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Showing posts from 2022

Karen Cline-Tardiff

  Friday Night I’m gonna smoke all your cigarettes,   Make you go crazy trying to   figure out if I’m really that girl   in the album liner notes   of your favorite band. You pour your beer in the trash,   refuse to drink the backwash.   But hell, it’s Friday night and   there’s more than leftover beer   in your future and mine. We think about fooling around,   but the couch is full   of passed out hippies and   covered in cigarette burns,   and shit, it isn’t even our house. I bum your last smoke   but your lighter is dead.    Kinda like tonight you joke   and I give you a pity laugh. Karen Cline-Tardiff has been writing as long as she could hold a pen. Her works have appeared in several anthologies and journals, both online and in print. She founded the Aransas County Poetry Society. She has a Kindle book of poetry, Stumbling to Breathe. She is Editor-in-Chief of Gnashing Teeth Publishing.

Rebecca M. Ross

To The Thinking Camel Cricket That bent-legged audacity compelling your jumping cockeyed bravery to cross thresholds, climb silently through damp basement spaces to enter darkened dwellings only to receive a post-shriek boot to your humped back, a trigger-forced splash of spray, or a body glued immovable-- Once I understood your blind defenselessness, seemingly random leaps meant to terrify your own larger fears, my unease around you lessened Still, though take your crooked-bodied friends and get out of my house. Rebecca M. Ross is originally from Brooklyn but currently lives, hikes, and teaches in New York’s Hudson Valley. Rebecca’s writing has recently been published in Uppagus , Whimsical Poet , Streetcake Magazine , The Westchester Review , Soul-Lit, and Peeking Cat . She has poetry forthcoming or published in Last Leaves, Pif Magazine, and The Metaworker .

Brian Harman

To the Priest Who Stole the Eulogy I Wrote for My Uncle’s Funeral Standing, kneeling, sitting on repeat on a front row pew at a church in Riverside, California, with welled tears in my eyes after my heart was gutted the day before at my uncle's open casket viewing, I was in shock when I heard the priest plagiarize to family and friends in mourning, the eulogy I had written about my uncle, that I was about to deliver minutes later, that the church strangely requested I email to them earlier that morning, so they could get an idea of who my uncle was, which I blasphemously learned the real reason was so the priest could thieve my words, my sorrow, my full on sentences as if it was his own sermon, and when the priest stammered and ad libbed “Carlos loved Pepsi… Pepsi is life… ” I couldn't help but shake my head at the absurdity, and I looked around and saw my cousin did the same – yes, my uncle loved Pepsi, he drank a liter everyday wi

John Dorsey

A Long-Handled Spoon the big lost river is still your body the old fisher king there’s water in idaho the hand of god exchanges rain. The Desert this town a little good dirt dad caught a train into manhood & jumped off. Little Kids stripped moaning hands in pockets the shouts the beatings a wine jug of hot win In Pocatello embree haunts the cold railroaders stoned by local magic a beer that no one touches. John Dorsey  lived for several years in Toledo, Ohio. He is the author of several collections of poetry, including Teaching the Dead to Sing: The Outlaw's Prayer (Rose of Sharon Press, 2006), Sodomy is a City in New Jersey (American Mettle Books, 2010), Tombstone Factory, (Epic Rites Press, 2013), Appalachian Frankenstein (GTK Press, 2015) Being the Fire (Tangerine Press, 2016) and Shoot the Messenger (Red Flag Poetry, 2017),Your Daughter's Country (Blue Horse Press, 2019), Which Way to the River: Selected Poems 2016-2020 (OAC

Drew Pisarra

Eros Thanatos Brutus Am I sick? And does sobriety mean this body will walk without knots while soaking up life’s crassest joke? Who does that? Again, am I sick? And will I take to a healthy bed where I’ll have the courage to act sick at night and attract neo-kink-isms fostered by some sister spirit that fists and fingers a long-misnamed disease? There is a crime of illness in your mind that I need to know better and more: along the way I promise you beauty, I promise you warmth. But first, desire: Tell me why are you so hard-headed, so hard-hearted, so hard-pressed, so hard that you should have me on repeat: for here are six or seven me’s hiding faces and phalluses in the dark. Mourning the Crown Prince Grief doesn’t linger. It sticks. It makes the hands fumble and the throat gunge up. Time doesn’t heal. Time inserts itself within the pain. The clock is crueler than the calendar. Eventually the hour hand lets up. In the almanacs charting t

David L. Williams

Homework Dylan’s desk did not stay vacant long, Though I know it got stared at emptily A short while, till it got reshuffled back In line with other daily absurdity. He’d been a quiet kid, and had no friends That I could tell, but of the pleasant kind Who did his homework, stayed out of the way, Polite enough in ways we teachers liked. I never got to know him very well, Grading his papers, making pleasantries That daily went by virtually unnoticed As Dylan did, almost in secrecy. Not bothering others, he got left alone, So it’s no big surprise that no one knew him, And none of us knew much about his family As we discovered sadly on that day. Administration promptly filled me in Before the first bell rang, and now the kids Had filed in, edging around his desk, Then sitting quietly, and so I guessed They’d heard the news, at least from one another. Surprisingly, there wasn’t any comments. From what we knew, there wasn’t much to say; Eerily gone, with his ent

PRYING, Jack Micheline, Charles Bukowski, Catfish McDaris, a Review

Roadside Press $18.00 https://www.magicaljeep.com/product/prying/71 Limited Edition of 69 The three poets nesting cheek by jowl in this fetching 2022 reprint of the 1997 Four-Sep Publications chapbook Prying from small press dynamo Michele McDannold's Roadside Press will be familiar to anyone paying attention to even the tiniest of the outlaw poetry scene in the last 50 or so years: Charles Bukowski, Catfish McDaris and Jack Micheline. Bukowski and Micheline need little introduction; their long shadows hover over the outlaw poetry world even now years after their deaths. And the third, the only living poet of the three within, Catfish McDaris, has been building his own small press reputation with considerable success, for nearly as long as the former men. Illustrations are from Scott Aicher. It's most fun to talk about the living McDaris. He appeared and appears so widely it's difficult to keep track and critique, or not, but as his portion of the cover copy says, he doesn

David Centorbi

The Magic was Amazing It felt me up. And I was confused. So I asked the sparrow with the broken wing, “Why does magic feel so cold when it touches my skin?” But all he said was, “Please turn the channel to a new episode, this corner of despair is taken.” I laughed because the cold started scratching down the middle of my back. “Can you hear that?” a voice from the dark asked. “Hear what?” “The sad silly song I’m playing down your spine.” I closed my eyes and listened. Sure enough, I heard it– something like the whispers in between a mummer and a whimper. “Is that what magic sounds like?” I asked. The voice from the dark just sniffed at my question. “Are you deciding if it smells good enough to answer?” I teased. Then the chill got colder. I felt my limbs tighten until I fell stiff as a soup spoon onto the floor. All around me the sniffing sound, the cold getting colder, but I started to feel warmer and warmer, “Until the cold will burn you away,

Rob Plath

doomed love songs baudelaire you died at 46 & i feel guilty b/c i’m 51 now why should i live longer than a beautiful dark giant? maybe living longer isn’t so great especially if yr a failure like myself living in a busted dungeon alone baudelaire there are so many cigarette burns in this carpet like the fossils of fallen black stars i count them over & over but still can’t sleep the windows are falling out of their rotted sills i stub my insomniac toes on broken tiles in the sleepless dark the cat is sleeping in the window tho the moon light a ghostly second coat every decrepit window is magic w/ her in it baudelaire i’d give you my five years if i could just to see another poem of yrs you lovely green haired dandy of doom i feel guilty for walking about on the planet while my idols are mere dust baudelaire i smoked outside before while october crickets sang for love last week i read their amorous songs attract parasitic flies tho

John Tustin

Inclusivity Every literary journal claims to be searching far and wide For the poet who is not like the others; The poet who has been previously and permanently excluded By society at large and the literary gatekeepers in particular And I want to tell them about How I loved her more than anyone could; How my hate is as spectacularly unique As my love; That I graduated from nowhere, I learned only through life, the books I’ve chosen, The pain I’ve internalized, the rays of sadness That beam from my house alone; That I’m the only me there is, My uniqueness extends everywhere – From the words I choose to my odd gait To the thoughts I think and attempt to convey And that my cover letter doesn’t say anything Not better expressed in the packet of poems They may or may not end up reading After they decide whether or not I’m in the Class of the Excluded. Deadline He put the pistol in my hand. Don’t ask me what kind, I didn’t know anything about guns. T

Tohm Bakelas

160 E. Main Street down at the exchange where coke is passed around like change owed from a tab, i sit in the darkness with my beer and pay no mind. in this life we all have too many chances but not enough fight, not enough fight and too many chances. but down here we all gather, a lost congregation praying for continued solitude with fading hope that an unfamiliar face says “hello.” but here the coke goes to and fro, up noses and tucked into seamless pantyhose, blue bras, and flannel shirt pockets. and in the darkness i wait, cigarette lit, beer sweating, me sweating, while tomorrow morning creeps in, and soon i’ll return to a place where people laugh all day long when no jokes are being told, where no jokes are ever told. Tohm Bakelas is a social worker in a psychiatric hospital. He was born in New Jersey, resides there, and will die there. His poems have appeared in numerous journals, zines, and online publications. He ha

Tony Brewer

The Doctor Is In Sitting in my car gloving up before mask on to buy groceries I’m in Mindy West’s old Ford Fiesta – 1986 we’re parked in gravel between cornfields her back seat jammed with wet swim practice towels as we navigate her stick shift for a hustle in the front buckets Gloving up with the news on is Bon Jovi out of a boom box because her car has no stereo and every time feels like that first Gloves snug as jeans opening the nitrile cuff and inserting my fingers bunched as bananas flexing in ecstasy at the bind carefully rough and excited and scared and embarrassed adding a layer of alone is nothing like in the movies her eager smile and that damp hair in that moonlight while at Kroger beneath the stare of 360-degree surveillance lot cams projected death tolls I cannot turn off not feeling wild – wild in the streets She guiding like a nurse as I operate on a school night with a playful snap of left glove skin and breath weaponiz

Tom Barlow

When the Music's Over the first time a young person yields hir seat on the bus to me I will throw down / my target dressed in bell bottoms and tie-dyes / head band and peace sign / following me like I was holding a joint behind my ear / on my way to The Lizard King's grave / past the ghosts of American flags we flew upside down in front of the White House / back in the day when we loathed ourselves for all the faces our people trampled as we scrambled to hold the high ground / but the shame did not outlast the costume / and our zero sum games meant that ambition had to build a bonfire of our poems and guitars / we escaped Love Street by that light / but the suckers who staked themselves to 1968 right through the heart found that their blood at retail would barely pay for the time machine that set them down here to see how the clouds carry such regret for riders on the storm. Tom Barlow is an Ohio author of poetry, short stories

Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal

Everything Crumbles How everything crumbles like a cookie, like snow- men who get too warm. See the sad faces sitting in rickety chairs holding a book of sad poems read from top to bottom. The moonlight poems are the worst. Silence fills every room in the house. How the tumblers and bumblers fall on slippery streets. They do not cry when their bottoms bruise up in the cold Polar-like pavement. Luis is the author of Make the Water Laugh (Rogue Wolf Press, 2020) and eight chapbooks from Kendra Steiner   Editions, including Make the Light Mine (2016). Recent poems have been in or accepted by Ariel Chart, Blue Collar  Review,  Escape Into Life, and Otoliths. He lives in California and works in the mental health field in Los Angeles.

Gary Carter

Hear Her Hellbent Leaving what can you really say about a lanky lovely girl who invites you home where you discover in the ratty bedroom only a rumpled sleeping bag snuggled close to a gutted chevy engine with every scattered part duly noted & numbered in order that one day soon she will return every nut bolt part & pulley to its rightful place before jamming the greasy hulk into a down & out camaro ragtop still somewhat metallic blue but leaning toward rust that will propel her down the highway & in her words out of this shit town toward neon dreams of a kick-ass life where nothing is improbable everything is possible & hell hath no fury like a small-town girl chasing big-city dreams tell you what you can say: you say go kick the living shit out of life take everything you want until the day you roar back into this little town to make the rounds tell everyone in no uncertain terms to kiss your sweet ass & then blast back out laugh

Jane-Rebecca Cannarella

In response to a text that said what else could I have done?   I've wet bedsheets with blood from stagnated piercings; middle-of-the-night fugitive weight. Earlier I was a monster, with no action as my only other option. I didn't know how to yell no at the time or that giving gifts of puncture wounds in that moment would hurt worse than the lightning scrambling through my body raising the hair on my arms and neck. Later at night, existing outside myself, the storms subsided absorbed by the bed. I imagined the mattress as soil, and the blood as springtime sun showers; and maybe one day, somewhere else, potions of puncture wounds will feed others. And then, I will become a gardener growing again. Jane-Rebecca Cannarella (she/her) is a writer and editor living in Philadelphia. She is the editor of HOOT Review and Meow Meow Pow Pow Lit, and a former genre editor at Lunch Ticket. Jane-Rebecca is the author of Better Bones and Marrow, both published by Thirty West Publishing House,

James Diaz

Dystonia All night I watch as the rain collects inside of things left out on the porch some god above tossing out her empties from the sky I think of my mother her ache a million miles long and a century deep there is a moment when the word you want to use uses you and a body too wrecked in on itself so long ago the mileage on it has become the soul a family on a highway a small girl goes through a window and is never again the same and before that so many hands being put where they ought not I tell you the body’s memory is ruthless there is a dream I have where she is no longer hurting where her ribs are not crashing into her lungs like waves and she doesn’t have to flail her arms to be heard she does not drown in a goddamn thing she takes to the lighthouse finds all the other versions of herself drags them up from the undertow places them by her side says; let’s ride her body is her own she . doesn’t . move . a . muscle and it’s a

Gabriel Hart

Shelter to Cinder I tore apart the tweaker’s shack now, firewood for the winter my little way of getting back at them, when they burnt their shelter to cinder their field mice escaped to bunk with me assuming they were evading flame yet all I’m doing here: waiting for the half-sane human being to earn my heating a reason to learn the discipline of a controlled burn Gabriel Hart lives in Morongo Valley in California’s High Desert. His literary-pulp collection Fallout From Our Asphalt Hell is out now from Close to the Bone (U.K.). He's the author of Palm Springs noir novelette A Return To Spring (2020, Mannison Press), the dispo-pocalyptic twin-novel Virgins In Reverse / The Intrusion (2019, Traveling Shoes Press), his debut poetry collection Unsongs Vol. 1., and the Pushcart-nominated story "The Maid and the Maidens." He's a regular contributor at Lit Reactor and Los Angeles Review of Books.

William Taylor Jr.

Centuries More Alive In some dirty old bookstore in downtown San Francisco I found a copy of Hustler Magazine from 1976 featuring an interview with Charles Bukowski. He was in his mid-fifties and just reaching the height of his fame. In the photographs he's got a bit of a snarl on his face, a smoldering in his eyes. He comes off as somewhat nasty and full of himself, but reading it felt like a brush with livelier times. He said some things that would have buried him now, things that would never have made it to print. For the better, you might say, and fair enough but there was an energy there, some moxie, a kind of ragged joy that feels largely absent from the present times and I'm a bit wistful about it all. I miss the 20th century. I miss porno magazines and Charles Bukowski.. The day at hand feels beleaguered and half-alive, just wanting to lie down somewhere and be done with it all. The poet is long dead, and the young girls

James Croal Jackson

Hydrangeas with my arm around yours around mine a garden grows into meadow of petals each day a field a boundless entrance to tomorrow's tomorrow hydrangea petals floating even through the rare rains one white petal for each new year that sings through time to land inside your hand enclosed in mine James Croal Jackson (he/him) is a Filipino-American poet who works in film production. He has two chapbooks (Our Past Leaves, Kelsay Books, 2021 and The Frayed Edge of Memory , Writing Knights, 2017) with one forthcoming: Count Seeds With Me ( Ethel , 2022 ) . He edits The Mantle Poetry from Pittsburgh, PA. ( jamescroaljackson.com )

Steve Passey

Five Dollar Dress I’ve seen forever dancing in the kitchen in her bare feet and her thrift store dress. The sweater on her shoulders was left at her place by some past Tom Sawyer of a lover (it’s some kind of a test.) If we don’t have a car, we can ride the bus. If we don’t have money, we will still have us. We could really use some money, and some better days to come, but I’ve seen her dancing in the kitchen in her bare feet wearing her summer dress. It won’t always be like this. Something will come for us, Come in the future or come from the past, Tom Sawyer for his sweater, maybe, or money we have to have and haven’t got - but until then we have right now, and we have enough for the wishing well, five dollars for a dress. a pencil for a poem, and whatever for the rest. Steve Passey is from Southern Alberta. He is the author of the collection Forty-Five Minutes of Unstoppable Rock, (Tortoise Books) the novella Starseed, (Seventh Terrace) and many o

William R. Soldan

That Night I Left Work with a Pocketful of Cash on Fire and you went and fucked it up by taking a bullet through your hand. You never watched After School Specials, so never learned not to do stupid shit. None of us did. He’s in the ER, Juanita said, her voice so flat and put-out, as if describing how the dog had just pissed all over the rug again. You’d been playing around with it, .25 with the pearl grip and nickel finish, lifted by some kid from the projects from his grandma’s top drawer, the way we did, passing it back and forth in the lot by the tracks, killing time between fathers and griefs. You could still roll a damn fine joint with your good hand bandaged, its fingernails caked with dirt, the raw and ragged hole, the rotten smell of it like a body bloating in the sun, and after, with the bones of your metacarpus tenting upward, a miniature volcano pressing against the puckered flesh. It would never heal right, no feeling but the dulling of dead

Chris Bodor

File Cabinet Full of Sins At the Good Friday service members of the parish wrote their sins on paper and one after another they nailed their confessions to the wooden cross set up near the altar. After the mass before I cleaned the carpet and swept out the chapel I removed each piece of paper from the cross and placed them in a small plastic bag. The anonymous sins of the congregation are locked in my second-floor office in a file cabinet near the paint cans next to the dust mop and the broken vacuum cleaner. Chris Bodor is a US poet, who was born in 1967 in Connecticut to an English mother and a Hungarian father. After working for ten years in New York City, he moved to Florida in 2003. In August of 2009, Chris started hosting monthly poetry readings on the last Sunday of every month in St. Augustine, Florida. During the past 25 years, his poems have appeared in many independent, small, and micro-press publications, such as the Lummox Journal, FM Quarterly, and O

Maureen O'Leary

Grief (for J’uan) Maybe we turn into clouds of reefer Particulates coating the lungs of the people thinking about us First and secondhand smoke Clinging to the frizzing gray locs of the women mourning us Or maybe we are in the splashes of Hennessey Swirling in the bottoms of Styrofoam cups A bad burn in the throats of our brothers Something to remember us by On the way back up. Maybe we are still here. In the way the candles keep going out In the way they call out to God. If they only looked up they could see our eyes Shining through the branches and glittering through the haze Below the stars. Maureen O'Leary lives in Sacramento, California. Her work appears in Coffin Bell Journal, Bandit Fiction, The Horror Zine, Ariadne Magazine, and Sycamore Review. She is a graduate of Ashland MFA.

John Dorsey

1995 wolfgang & i burn a joint in the woods behind his grandfather’s house like stoned vampires who haven’t slept in ages we laugh as his girlfriend falls into a dry creek bed while attempting to walk across a log in jelly shoes. Poem for Ida in 1986 gyrating shuttles like dandelions their screams blowing away in the wind mashed potatoes from an ice cream scoop ice cream from an ice cream scoop sweaty hands no metal detectors no bomb threats the captain of the football team stayed in the closet & died inside everyone was lonely the occasional fist fight solved everything & nothing that went unsaid. John Dorsey lived for several years in Toledo, Ohio. He is the author of several collections of poetry, including Teaching the Dead to Sing: The Outlaw's Prayer (Rose of Sharon Press, 2006), Sodomy is a City in New Jersey (American Mettle Books, 2010), Tombstone Factory, (Epic Rites Press, 2013), Appalachian Frankenstein (GTK Press, 2015