Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Gerringong Cemetery. By Michael R. Griffiths

There’s a certain nonsense that disturbs the dead.
    As we pile in,
    exiled past the ablution blocks,
    roused by the warm still breeze,
    Nick strums an adlibbed 
pigeon tune while
the whole messy lot of us
arc up, join in,
tongues wet with white wine
            or tickled with malt.
It’s a solid tune
that bounces off marble and stone
under the milky whorl of stars,
Orion’s gut
(Roj says), busts bloating out of his belt.
Pete spits pickled lines 
in half remembered Krakow jive— 
Marco Polo melodies, we chew collectively 
like Slav toffee.
There’s a certain nonsense 
for which the dead crave wickedly to turn.

Michael R. Griffiths lives with his partner and a spoodle in Marrickville, Sydney, Australia. He has published poetry in Paper Nautilus, Mascara Literary Review, and the Rye Whiskey Review. He teaches at the University of Wollongong.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Review by James Bourey The Black Shamrock Magazine: Issue 1 Edited by John Patrick Robbins

First, some full disclosure. Mr. Robbins was kind enough to include a few of my poems in the inaugural issue of The Black Shamrock Magazine. And I am very pleased to be included in this fine collection of poetry. Okay, on with the review.

The cover of this magazine, white text against a black background with a photo of a mysterious and attractive woman, might lead one to think about those old pulp-fiction detective books. But this is a collection of poetry not short stories. However, many of the poems here tell stories. And many of them are “noir-ish” in nature. The collection is certainly on the dark side of daily existence. 

John Patrick Robbins is a poet, fiction writer, editor and publisher. He specializes in raw reality, unfiltered stream of consciousness poems and stories, and he has a penchant for finding writers on the fringes, far from the academic main stream. He is editor of the online journal The Rye Whiskey Review. He is also associated with other online journals such as The Dope Fiend Daily and Under the Bleachers. When selecting authors for the first edition of this print magazine he went to authors he knew from these other venues. Bruce Hodder, Todd Cirillo, Daniel Wright, Mark Antony Rossi, Ryan Quinn Flanagan, Scott Simmons, Janna Grace, Matt Amott, David Boski, Remy Boucher, Alyssa Trivett, Dennis Moriarty and Julie Valin are contributors, along with Mr. Robbins and yours truly, to The Black Shamrock: Issue 1.

The poetry presented in this issue is always clear, always accessible. It is free from pretense and free from airy sentiment. Many of the poems lack polish. But none of them lack intensity. Humor is present but it is usually wry and a bit harsh, sometimes self-deprecating. Many of the poems are about struggles; struggles against being lost, struggles for respect, struggles in love and loss. And many are about losing those struggles.

Warm Beer, Cold Dude by Alyssa Trivett tells of a single encounter in a life that seems to have many similar trips to taverns. Some stand-out lines show how a nearly cliche subject can still be fresh and original:

Even the frost stumbled in drunk
as the creaky door finally shuts.
His hand felt like a grave,
or the brick collection
in my grandfather’s garage.

For a touch of dark humor, we find Happy Valentines Day by Scott Simmons which begins:

You’re like the herpes sore I can’t get rid of

The poem is only three lines long but it still has an interesting twist at the end.
The poets represented in this magazine are from many different places but, as we learn from their biographies, they all seem to have a life on the internet where they publish a great deal of their work. Yet that common bond does not mean that they have lost their individual voices. Alyssa Trivett has a gentle worldliness that is very appealing. John Patrick Robbins has a storyteller’s sensibility as he explores dark places and broken people. David Boski is reminiscent of Charles Bukowski as he creates strong lines with a touch of harshness in his observations. Matt Amott offers brief poems full of irony, even in an oddly touching tribute to Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Every poet in the collection has something different to offer and yet the poems are assembled in such a way as to give a cohesive feel to the whole.

As I read this book I was mostly reminded of the days when I first started paying attention to poetry, many years ago. At that time, I was enamored of the poems of the Beat movement. Those artists were not greatly respected by the academic world. They operated on the fringes of conventional society and they wrote without fear. Sex, drugs, hard times, social issues were all subjects that came under their purview. The Black Shamrock Magazine brings back that attitude and those concepts. It’s well worth the price of admission.



Jim Bourey is an old poet who divides his year between the Adirondack Mountains and Dover, Delaware. His chapbook “Silence, Interrupted” was published in 2015 by the Broadkill River Press. His work has appeared in Mojave River Review, Paddock Review, Gargoyle and the Broadkill Review and other journals and anthologies. He was first runner up in the Faulkner-Wisdom Poetry Competition in 2012 and 2016. He has served as an adjudicator for the Poetry Out Loud competition in Delaware. In his North Country months, he is active with the St. Lawrence Area Poets and has taken part in Art/Poetry projects in Saranac Lake.

NO GOOD DECISIONS by R.T. Castleberry

A quarter of six, weather dimming
into lightning stroke, cloud-cracked moon
take a Sam Adams from the sixpack
a shot of Johnny Walker Red
take a twenty from the wallet
Lies happen here

Payoffs counted and tagged
envelopes addressed
Sister pays her debts to Montreal
running cards and dominoes
in a package store backroom
Lies happen here

Cocktail kiss, lunchtime fuck
trading indulgence for misfortune
a wife packs a separation suitcase
still hungry for a first happy marriage
she calls her special friend
Lies happen here

R.T. Castleberry's work  has appeared in Roanoke Review, Santa Fe Literary Review, Comstock Review, Green Mountains Review, The Alembic, Silk Road and Argestes. Internationally, it has been published in Canada, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, New Zealand and Antarctica. My poetry has been featured in the anthologies: Travois-An Anthology of Texas Poetry, TimeSlice, The Weight of Addition, Anthem: A Tribute to Leonard Cohen and Blue Milk’s anthology, Dawn. My chapbook, Arriving At The Riverside, was published by Finishing Line Press in January, 2010. An e-book, Dialogue and Appetite, was published by Right Hand Pointing in May, 2011.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Dope Sick. By Mickey J.Corrigan

Your wrists pulse with living
on some razor edge
you hold over yourself
This is what the world fears
You plunge in deep
your life fading behind
like dim memories
a film you once saw
This is the distillation
No matter how many skies
fall no matter how many
futures lost no matter
what the cost no
matter what, you
want this life
the pain
it causes
everyone else

Originally from Boston, Mickey J.Corrigan writes Florida noir with a dark humor. Project XX, a satirical novel about a school shooting, was released in 2017 by Salt Publishing in the UK. Newest release is What I Did for Love, a spoof of Lolita (Bloodhound Books, 2019). Kelsay Books recently published the poetry chapbook the disappearing self. Visit at www.mickeyjcorrigan.com. 

Missing Smiles. By Nick Gerrard

I miss the morning rush with trains delayed, traffic jammed, tube lines crushed
I miss the crowded car parks with no space for me
I miss the factory hooter that sounds the time for tea
I miss the colours and groans and roars when we score.
I miss the grumpy husband dragged round a garden centre.
I miss the cheers of the pub as I gladly enter. 
I miss my place by the window of the cafe, no cappuccino to sip no people to survey
I miss the children in gangs on corner streets and cool record shops pumping out beats
I miss the guy in the market shouting about his fish, I miss restaurants bringing my dish
I miss the curry house , the Chinese, after kicking out
I miss the races, the dances, the local fete.
The miserable gezzer on the tube and the one with the smelly feet.
I miss the people in our streets, they were made to be lived in.
I miss the bussle of a market, the snugness of a bar, I miss a good morning on a field path from a man with a dog from afar.
But what I miss most in our world of masked faces is seeing people smile and looking for signs of life’s ups and downs in the lines and traces. 

Originally from Birmingham but now living in Olomouc where he writes, proof-reads and edits, and in between looking after his son Joe, edits and designs Jotters United Lit-zine.
Nick has been at one time or another a Chef, activist, union organiser, 
punk rocker, teacher, traveller and Eco-lodge owner in Malawi and Czech.
Short stories, flash and poetry have appeared in various magazines in print and online including Etherbooks, Roadside fiction, The Siren, Minor Literature and Bluehour magazine
Nick has three books published available on Amazon


Saturday, April 4, 2020

The Purpose of the Little Garage by Bill Gainer

Been building a
little garage
in the back.

it’s a little room
with a big door
a window
and a little
that open
to the world.

I wish to sit there
sip my bourbon
enjoy the rocks
out front
the movement of time
and the quiet.

Not silence.
Silence is scary
but the quiet –

The quiet
is when time
holds you
in its hand
extends its thumb
to set your glass on.

The birds, bugs
and other things
stop by
in a whisper
wish you well
and leave

Bill Gainer is a storyteller, a humorist, an award winning poet, and a maker of mysterious things. He earned his BA from St. Mary’s College and his MPA from the University of San Francisco. He is the publisher of the PEN Award winning R. L. Crow Publications and is the ongoing host of Red Alice’s Poetry Emporium (Sacramento, CA). Gainer is internationally published and known across the country for giving legendary fun filled performances. His latest book is The Mysterious Book of old Man Poems. Visit him in his books, at his personal appearances, or at his website: billgainer.com. 

Friday, April 3, 2020

Crown and Coke by Steve Passey

I just want to watch football but she wants to talk. To anyone who will listen. She wants to broadcast her rage, to find an audience to assuage the indignity imposed upon her. Her husband had confessed to going to prostitutes.
Can you believe that, she said? Can you fucking believe that shit? Me at home, free and easy and willing to do whatever, all he’s got to do is talk nice to me, and off he goes to whores. Why? Why? Why? What is wrong with men?
Big Billy the bartender shrugs. I wait until a commercial comes on before I answer her.
There’s lots of reasons, I said. Men go ‘cause their lonely. Men go ‘cause they’re sad. Sometimes – more often than you might think – men go ‘cause they’re mad and they don’t want to talk nice.
That brings on just enough silence for her to throw a drink – my drink – on me. Crown and coke, head and shoulders.
Fuck you, asshole, she says. What do you know? You look like a fucking homo anyways.
Off she goes.
Big Billy cleans up but he doesn’t stand me the drink.
You need to stay out of that kind of thing, he says, and leave it to a professional.
Like a bartender, I say?
Like a divorce lawyer, he says. A whorishly expensive divorce lawyer. That shit is rats in cages, Big Billy says, and eventually leads to blood on the floor, and maybe even cannibalism.
Next Monday night I come back in for football and order my crown and coke - tall. Billy sets it up and tells me it’s free.
Been a long cruise sailor, I say?
Nope, Big Billy says. That woman who showered you last Monday night? She came back in. Said she wanted to say sorry, but by then you were gone. I told her I didn’t know who you were, that you weren’t some sad-sack regular drowning in here every Monday night. I said I thought you might be a tourist. She paid for your drink. She felt bad, she said. She said to tell you, if I ever saw you again, that she was sorry and that she was going through a bad time and wasn’t herself and that was not what she is like.
Well alright, I said. Here’s to angry women and big, ugly, stupid – and honest - bartenders, and I set to my drink.
As far as I know, she never came back in again. Big Billy would have said, I think, but then he again, maybe he wouldn’t.

Bio: Steve Passey is originally from Southern Alberta. He is the author of the short-story collections Forty-Five Minutes of Unstoppable Rock (Tortoise Books, 2017), Cemetery Blackbirds (Secret History Books, 2020), and many other things. He is a Pushcart and best of the Net Nominee and is part of the Editorial Collective at The Black Dog Review.

Gerringong Cemetery. By Michael R. Griffiths

There’s a certain nonsense that disturbs the dead.     As we pile in,     exiled past the ablution blocks,     roused by the warm s...