Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Intoxicant

by Brian Rosenberger

It's like a cocoon
warm, like blankets on a bleak December day
a protective embrace
bury yourself
another drink to enhance or dull the blade
as needed
everything seems more real, or less
reality, a comfortable distance away
and you, the conscientious observer
the bottle makes it bearable
it's home
and if you're a resident
having crossed the welcome mat
this poem is for you, my beauty,
my vulnerable friend
because you understand the pull
irresistible
my little moth
courting the flame
again
and
again
and
again
and sure you will burn
but don't we all
in the end

Writing is a whore

by Brian Rosenberger

It get you off
a price you pay
again and again
willingly
regardless of the
consequences
and there are consequences,
sacrifices to be made
wrists yearning the kiss
of the blade
make no mistake about that
a willing offering to the muse
an ejaculation of ink
a spurt of originality
and truth
if you have the courage
and I think, I hope, you do
to open up
spill yourself
and the words
ah, the words
creation
a vice worth having


*recent and upcoming publishing credits include the anthologies Sideshow 2, Terror of Miskatonic Falls, Retro Spec, and Best New Zombie Tales. Brian also has two books waiting to be unleashed in 2010. additional updates can be found at http://home.earthlink.net/~brosenberger.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Elsewhere

by Jack Ohms

When the traffic clears like a proverbial scotch mist
to let your chicken flesh and bones pass,
the old man from number 78 will buy a newspaper on an average day
at the kiosk across from the church;
his workman's life-history with its back to you
and his hat firmly on his head,
and a lad on a bicycle a size too small wonders,
like all young lads and lasses will
at the dark troupe;
a car or two or possibly three behind,
soon all settled into the corner of a pub you never knew,
to sigh for sighing's sake,
and a few last memories and tentative laughter,
some too-often-told jokes and half-spun stories

- and just as you thought you'd lived enough
to earn a place in merry Hell -

St. Peter will wave you through, not greeting;
his eyes on some other prize
and not even a chicken nugget-sized coal for after-burning -
that's you:

After all,
don't forget,
you were just someone they spoke to in the bars:

"Not very old, was he?"

"No age to go, poor bugger!"

"Smoked like a chimney, though."

"Drank like a fish."

A preist farts and hangs up his cassock, takes tea,
while a boquet flips and flaps, flops in a slight breeze, light grey day,
and the heaving breast mound subsides, in a light rain.

Thunder roars,
elsewhere.

Monday, April 26, 2010

IF YOU’RE A RISK TAKER, MOODY, SADISTIC

by Lyn Lifshin

it could have said you, love, a word
dare devil with of course the best head
start, having a mother who plunges into
Niagara’s waters, falling away, hours
after she stroked your hair, on the
floor, it was in a living room or bed

room rug where bandaged from a
cycle crash you lay drugged and moaning.
“Kerplonkers are copy cat suicides. One
suicide will star a cycle. The publicity
inspires other suicides so that
the effect resembles a line of frogs along

the shore of a pond, one hopping in and
spooking the others to jump too.” I
think of you checking out this website
with its “scavengers, locally called river
rats,” and usually working on commission of
$150 per body in conjunction with a funeral

parlor prowl the banks of the Niagara River
looking for body parts or whole bodies. One
man has the record of 177 corpses. One man
was split perfectly in 2. Another was found
chained to his bicycle. If I found you icy
just reading how gulls are always on the look

out for fresh meat, how on the Niagara Falls
side you won’t be eaten but they burn you
and throw out the ashes, a clue to why
it was so hard to touch you


*Lyn's website: http://www.lynlifshin.com/books.htm

Saturday, April 24, 2010

American Legion

by Thomas Michael McDade

I had early liberty and was coating
my system with some greasy grub
at the Hamburger Haven
for the night’s drinking.
It was Virginia Beach, 1966.
A guy was playing a guitar softly
singing “Blowin’ in the Wind.”
He wasn’t bad and I noted his
sandals and jeans, wondered if he had
a gig at one of the coffeehouses:
The Upstairs or Quasimodo’s.
He had short sailor hair like me.
I applauded along with three
or four others.
There was no guitar case open
or a hat strategically placed.
All I had was enough for a couple
of quarts of apple wine anyway.
We talked. He was stationed on a Norfolk
destroyer and he envied my shore duty.
From Ohio and against the Vietnam War,
he was working on a couple of protest songs,
couldn’t wait to get out of the Navy
to travel around singing at peace rallies.
Hell, he might go AWOL yet!
I shook his hand, wished him luck
while thinking about a chopper
landing and marines jumping out
while the National Anthem played
before every movie screened at the base
and the article I’d recently clipped
by an angry officer in Nam
calling war protesters cowards.
The greasy burger precaution failed again.
A couple of sailors I didn’t recall seeing
said I held my booze
about as well as the tune
to that Dylan song.

Apple Wine

by Thomas Michael McDade

I had early liberty and was coating
my system with some greasy grub
at the Hamburger Haven
for the night’s drinking.
It was Virginia Beach, 1966.
A guy was playing a guitar softly
singing “Blowin’ in the Wind.”
He wasn’t bad and I noted his
sandals and jeans, wondered if he had
a gig at one of the coffeehouses:
The Upstairs or Quasimodo’s.
He had short sailor hair like me.
I applauded along with three
or four others.
There was no guitar case open
or a hat strategically placed.
All I had was enough for a couple
of quarts of apple wine anyway.
We talked. He was stationed on a Norfolk
destroyer and he envied my shore duty.
From Ohio and against the Vietnam War,
he was working on a couple of protest songs,
couldn’t wait to get out of the Navy
to travel around singing at peace rallies.
Hell, he might go AWOL yet!
I shook his hand, wished him luck
while thinking about a chopper
landing and marines jumping out
while the National Anthem played
before every movie screened at the base
and the article I’d recently clipped
by an angry officer in Nam
calling war protesters cowards.
The greasy burger precaution failed again.
A couple of sailors I didn’t recall seeing
said I held my booze
about as well as the tune
to that Dylan song.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Drums on Vinyl Counters

by S. Brady Tucker

Doom, Doom, Doom,
this simple constancy,
this doomed shade
of civilization, this
clutter of meat and
concrete and blood,
mortar, bone.

This is a town just
waking up into a city;
the streets blink their
surprise in pulses of rose
light, the sewers mouth
rank words that smell
of rotting bacon and old
mushrooms, they say, “We
will eat the sky and the earth,
all you bring to us,”
from the iron grates.

I am absolutely nowhere,
watching this town
mature into a city.
Remember, it is Sunday
morning and the streets
are filling with hung over
men and women, congested
and backpacked in oily
jackets. Importantly, they
are not going to church.

Then the streets are suddenly empty,
like eggshells next to iron skillets,
and this town (Edinburg?)
reeks of greasy diner plates
with three pound coffees and
four pound bagels, the same old
bagels they have always
been. Outside, women are going

to church now, in tight
leopard print pants and fur
coats, and the men, I swear I can
smell the darkness of morning
sex, the sweat septic and
chlorinated and swollen—
an array of gray gents
and their oily semen.

I am alone here and godless, among
these lost specters of religion,
and as I write this last line
I feel an erection burning: me, alone
in a techno café—a hardened American
prick in a town that feels more and more
like a city, and twice as empty
as before.

And The Way The Sun Was Positioned

by S. Brady Tucker

I thought you were smoking a cigarette—
just kicking back for the moment, against
the warm metal of a deuce and a half
truck, in the shade. There were puddles
of oil running from underneath the truck,
leaking from bullet holes where rounds
had pierced the engine block. Your leg
was wet from one large ebony puddle, but
we were all dirty then, so it didn’t seem to
matter.

Your M-16 was across your chest, and your
forearm was draped over the handgrip
in such a comfortable manner, I thought
for a moment you were asleep. So I just sat
down by your side. I hadn’t eaten yet, so
I tore open an MRE, threw the sealed package
of beef, dehydrated away and began to
eat the peanut butter on the dry crackers.
You were looking back over the low ridge,
where smoke seemed to be oozing from the
pores of the earth in spurts. And I thought
that dying would be easy now, like sunshine
is easy, or hammocks. I thought that
after what we had seen and done that day
that everything after would be a piece of cake.

But I wasn’t ready to go back, over that ridge
you were looking at, over to where bodies
held on to metal like scorpions hold onto
flying beetles. Back there, I wasn’t ready
to go, and I was glad for you being there, and
I wanted to tell you so. I said, “Danny.”
and you hitched like you were about to
vomit. And you turned and looked at me,
and I could see the cigarette in your hand,
how it was ashes down to the filter,
and how the oil (you said it, ‘ole’)
didn’t look so much like oil anymore,
and how your eyes seemed gray with your
skin, and all I wanted right then
was a burning cigarette so bad.

Whirligig

by S. Brady Tucker

The Dead:

When he is alone, in an
easy chair, say, or in the dark,
under a raspberry jam night sky, sitting
on his oak deck, he hears them:

he hears them whisper their jealousy—
just that. They whisper their hatred of his life
and the world simmers with a heat
and guilt terrible to see and he is not

alone for a moment, but awfully
surrounded by them again, and he
knows what they mean when they
say those words, and his blood red and blue

from heart to arteries to veins
beats like syrup and he is there
again, his knee in the sand, his tan
desert combat boots dug in as if

rooted there, and he hears again the
sound of them whispering with the voices
of bullets popping and whirring and
thumping flesh, and he hears them

roar their fear so loud and awful
and terrible that his weapon falls to his
feet and his gloved hands hold bloody
chunks of sand against his ears

to drown out the sound of it all. When
it is over, he shakes the sand out of
his baby fine blonde hair, and he picks
up his discarded weapon. To the east, bombs

and bullets still purr as a war rends everything
he knows and every thing he ever will know.
When he is alone, they remind him:
“You will never be alone. Never.”

The Alive:

When there are other people around,
he knows that some of it isn’t
real—like how the feel of Erik’s
blood sticking to the black metal

of his weapon was real, or how the
oily smoke of Erik’s blood burned his
nostrils when his weapon overheated was real.
Real real. And he knows this is wrong

and he is as afraid of getting help
as he was in that desert when everything
went wrong in the world. So he pretends
that they are not a fiction, that they exist

like Erik’s severed foot existed still tied
into its boot—how it felt to pick up that
foot and place it in a pile of other things that
were Erik’s, and sometimes it even works for him.

Do you see why he thinks of the world like
proverbs in fortune cookies? “Burning flesh is
the smell of success!” or, “You are alive for some
obscure reason.” He smiles sometimes when

he thinks like this, but he knows it isn’t funny.
He knows that they will continue to whisper to
him for the rest of his life, and that he is doomed
and lost and cursed. No one will ever laugh with him

and no one will ever know the cowardice he is capable
of, and how Erik would be alive if it weren’t for him.
But know this: somehow, one night, he will know five minutes
of peace—just five minutes of life, as it should have been.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Deli On Granville

by Donal Mahoney

I lived in the attic back then,

and late those evenings I had to study

and couldn’t afford to go drinking

I’d run down to the deli and buy


bagels and smoked lox.

I’d watch the lame son

wrap each item in white paper

while his father, coughing at the register,


pointed to the cans on the wall

and screamed, “Serve yourself! Serve yourself!”

I’d grab a tin of baked beans and he’d smile.

Now, years later, I return to the deli


and find that it’s closed.

The sign on the door confirms

what everyone else already knows:

There has been a death in the family.

Monday, April 19, 2010

My Backroad

by Arlen J. Levy

When I got desert sand in my toes
I kick it at the golden gate and the lost tribes come marching down the byway

and they toss me bolts of silk and egyptian cotton
I hold on and swing all the way through to Alcatraz

Mount Sinai rumbles under my feet and propels me up to heights
unreachable
diamond heights
Where the houses stand tall and their ugly paint never chips
Where I walk along billygoat hill caressing sprawling greenery
and the soldiers come marching down the freeway
and their feet stamp patterns in the desert sand
making my two realities collide and crumble
precarious

and I fall
onto molested mission streets
empty soda cans and cigarette butts nest in my hair
and the ice cream man rolls over my crooked ankle making the bells on his cart sing
a song that mingles with mariachi music wafting from a chinese doughnut shop

and the lost tribes come marching on through
with their leathery faces and their billowing robes and their leaden feet that stamp patterns in the desert sand

They lay me on their shoulders and I am passed down an aisle
of my heritage
down from the city streets
down through the Nile

When they take me home
I got desert sand in my shoes
So I take them off and I turn them over
and the lost tribes come tumbling across the floor.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Ode to Arlen Levy

by Zola Hjelm

Remember when we swam across the bay
& when we got to the other side
I dumped back in
like a shark spotting trout under ripples
& we walked barefoot
naked & drying
into the burning urban sun
we stepped the asphalt & granite rocks
paved culture & sun shining
eyes of gold
digging to the top of our peak years
Remember how we trudged
the Third St. roads
blinded by night
but all the more
Happy
& smiling I remember all the stupid shit we pulled
& all the traits we
trade
saving our pennies for luck
then throwing them behind backs
for the Next to pick up on
blurred
but never forgotten
Haze of relentless camped out
Sweet days
& Reckless nights

Sunday, April 11, 2010

COOKIE LADY

by Mike Berger

Traffic was fierce.‭ ‬I was running late‭;
the‭ ‬Bell hop gave me a wink as I
took the elevator.‭ ‬I had the usual
room,‭ ‬paid by the company.

The john was a squatty aerospace
engineer.‭ ‬The service had checked‭
him out.‭ ‬He was a negotiator on
a multimillion dollar contract.

He was shy even embarrassed.‭ ‬He
was unconscious of his wedding ring.
He twisted it a dozen times.‭ ‬I must
admit he wasn't much of a lover.‭ ‬Out
of the room I put on my wedding band.

This was my Thursday ritual‭; ‬leaving‭
the kids with my husband and heading
out to my‭ "‬art class‭"‬.‭ ‬For an hour's work
the pay was great.

I stopped in the bar for a drink.‭ ‬I needed‭
to unwind.‭ ‬Then I was hit on by a good
looking guy.‭ ‬What is this world coming to‭;
he could easily see I was wearing a‭
wedding ring.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

outside

by Kevin Coons

holed up in anchorage
for the winter
im trying to write some bullshit poem
about the beauty of falling snow

it's hours i'm at it and
sometimes i forget the simple things
like sincerity/
like feeding myself

so soon i'll have to walk
out into the snowstorm
out into the meat-grinder

it's hours i'm at it and
out my window
it's just getting colder
and darker

but inside
I can't hear myself think
over the thunder of my empty stomach

sad story

*Phoebe Prince suicide

Friday, April 9, 2010

AS SHE GRINDS

by Craig Sernotti

As she grinds
her tattoos
& fake tits
into my face
I wonder
if her
obituary
will have a
picture.
She says
I can take off
my pants.
Muscle
by the door
turns his back.
& we live
happily
ever after
until
the next
song

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Judeo-Christian hospitality

by Tarik Linthicum

Let's be cutthroat and spill the blood of a thousand martyrs, revel in their mystic cacophony.

Float, a barge in veins, sail up arteries, catch a souvenir
or two.

Glide, tear the flesh, from the inside, ripping, ripper, exposing the soul's cowardly
quiver.

Emerging, making a mark at the center of the dartboard,
ignoring the hoard of missed opportunities.
Let it flash,
as it only can in moonlight,
the sleek glimmer of
hard-wrought metal, implant
purple-heart bravado. And later on,
we can say they died with honor.

Authorial minds hiding behind dictatorship, issuing forth communal wells
of heaven-sent shit, that scent is fresh, and the dogs of war
smell flesh; ripping, ripper,
expose the soul's cowardly quiver.

That sweet bliss of mist, that
drowsy sense of
uncertainty, shadows


in blind spots.

A pandemic run rampant arrest-
ing alkaline droves the salty taste of iron saturated in every ion
of fiber. Leaven loaves with alchemical mold, maturing in
an imaginary grove.

Eyes plucked, fair is fair, blind
to worldly affairs, and now the ears must hear, the soul
train of heaven. The anticipation carried by the tracks, a koan on loan, until you

settle the facts; dejected by an ephemeral nirvana. The map is valid, if the damned

territory ceases to wander. Neutral expiation, and
a rather arbitrary duration.

Left

Right
Left
Left
Right
Left

rather arbitrary directions; always
a rather arbitrary explanation.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Train Wreck

by Judi Brannan Armbruster

A train ran through the backyard of our wrong side of the tracks rental
young and pregnant and mostly alone
I heard longing in its whistle echo off bare cinder block walls.
He loved his dealing, his bar life, he would spring from our half finished
love bed to answer the door then leave without a word
not returning until the 0530 whistle faded into sunrise.

Emotional distance is a treatment hard to take.

The emotional blackmail of retaliation hurts more
Forgettable love making mixed pregnant hormones into hatred -
yet I stayed, heavy with hope for the future.
It was always push and pull with him, never steady,
always looking for the glory train, quick buck dream of riches.
Mr. Wheeler Dealer never made it past mundane middleman.

He drove a used Mercedes, we lived on Welfare.
He refused to be more than a sperm donor, half assed babysitter.
He made me crazy with worry, brought home pistol packing strangers.
He told me cocaine was the next big thing.
I got on that train for a while, rode it to suicide wrists.
Mysterious migraines arrived at 1600, no train
needed to tell the time, only the dread of what crazy thing
would come through the door wanting food or money.

Twice I left him,

and twice he pulled me back with good daddy promises.

It took me 8 years to see that no train could carry this

baggage of wanting what was never there.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

"No Man's Land"

by Tyanah August

There’s no such thing, as valentines in no man's land
No red roses with soft, puckering petals
Sprinkled delicately upon the carpets and tile
Of staircases and hallways into bedrooms and bath tubs
There’s no such thing as passionate soul stirring declarations of
Undying
Unyielding
Everlasting
Patient
Unselfish
Love
In fact, in this town we question rather it exists
There’s no balloons or “ribbons in the sky”
No tattoos of lips on necks
There’s no candle light in no man's land
No lingerie
No dimly lit cabarets
No slow jams in no man's land
….But there is a distinct understanding of the difference between a Fantasy and what’s real
No fairy tales
Glass slippers
Poison apples
Foxes, hounds or thumpers
Sleeping beauties or dutiful princes
There is no dependency to intangible dreams
Or evening star wishes
No unwelcome greetings by disappointment
In no mans land we commit to our focus
No one else’s
And it remains undeterred through necessary sacrifice
So don’t ask the residents about their love lives
Because regardless, they love life

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The 909

by DJ Romo

In the lovely city of Rancho Cucamonga
where the heat cooks even the coolest dudes’ cajones,
lives the mysterious, elusive bugaboo.
Nestled in the San Gabriels, octogenarian
legend has it he wails at night, uvula
rung by a covert Quasimodo under midnight’s murky sheet.

My grandmother doesn’t believe. “Sheet,
este pinche noise is just Rancho Cucamonga
wind, gurgling like chorizo stuck on the uvula.
Sabes when the scrambled cajones
go down the wrong pipe and you choke like octogenarian
putas giving blowjobs to nasty bugaboos.

But the residents say Beware of the bugaboo.
At night he sleeps underneath blankets and dirty sheets
of unsuspecting homeless teens and octogenarians,
and blends in during the day with Rancho Cucamonga
sun, glistening rays: his dangling cajones
taunting our dry mouths like a juicy uvula.

The children’s’ teachers assign vocab words like uvula
when they should assign terms like bugaboo.
But the residents simply lack the cajones
to seek out the menace, sign an official sheet
of paper petitioning the state to declare Rancho Cucamonga
in need of help like “I’vefallenandIcan’tgetup” octogenarians.

It’s an unspoken scene, grizzly like octogenarian
foreplay, an elderly tongue tantalizing
vulva uvula.
Who can help the residents of Rancho Cucamonga
capture the beastie known only as bugaboo,
this invisible criminal with a growing rap sheet
deeper than the canyons of El Cajon.

Cajonas y cajones:
I implore you to help weed out this octogenarian
myth. There is no hard data or spread sheets
providing statistics for this entity’s existence, the uvula
that hangs in the mouth of the 909, bugabooing
the San Bernardino metropolis known as Rancho Cucamonga.

“Let’s snuff it out; stuff it’s cajones down its uvula,”
says my octogenarian grandmother about the bugaboo.
“Sheet. No damn ghost is gonna fuck, with Rancho Cucamonga.”