Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Embers and ash by Dennis Moriarty

Hand rolled and glued to my lips I smoke
this room like a spliff
thick earthy autumnal smoke, windfall fruit
in the orchard,
my lungs a flaming grate of apple wood.
I am listening to the night
the elemental grunt, groan and gasp of copulation,
the rain naked and responsive
to the thrusting wind, a frenzied coupling, octaves
of please in the chimney breast.
I am listening to the voice of despair, harrowing
chants of tawny,
an owl lost in the loneliness of longing, searching
for a soul mate,
the back and forth of advance and repel, the serve
and return of unrequited love,
ping pong balls of moon in the star lit wood.
I draw on the spliff,
my lungs hot and heaving, trying to decipher the
dialects of darkness
until the owl lapses into a silence of acceptance,
and pricked by a branch,
the moon deflates and the stars ebb on the incoming
tide of dawn,
the rain comes in a final climatic squall and the wind
slips into post coital slumber.
I close my eyes and smoke this room to it’s inevitable
conclusion, a dull glowing tip of embers and ash.

Dennis Moriarty was born in London, England and now lives in Wales. Married with five grown up offspring Dennis likes walking the dog in the mountains, reading and writing.

In 2017 he won the Blackwater poetry competition and went to county Cork in Ireland to read his work at the international poetry festival. Dennis has had poems featured in many publications including Blue nib, Our poetry archive, Setu bilingual, The passage between and others.

Monday, October 3, 2022

I remember Smileys' by Dotty LeMieux

I remember Smileys’ bar where I met all my best boyfriends and a few of my worst, my lost loves, and one-night stands, and everyone knew everyone else. It was our living room. It was where I went to tell Ronda my puppy killed her kitten; it didn’t mean to, the kittens were all so small; she forgave me, one less mouth to feed.
It’s where you went to look for someone you couldn’t find anywhere else, and sometimes you found their car, but not them, and then you’d say—I see you spent the night at Smiley’s again.  And sometimes you’d spend the night at Smiley’s too.
It’s where I met husband number one and husband number two and in between Pool Playing Michael and poets whose names I can’t mention although they are dead, but then they were married and their wives would be in the bar too. It’s where I had late night drinks with Jerka from Hungary who was just passing through. It was where I danced, we all danced to the tinny jukebox, we bugalooed around the pool table and got angry looks when we knocked a player’s elbow; where we bought a six pack of Bud to go at last call and then we sat in the corner and drank it until Sue, the owner, threw us out.
Then we’d go across the street, 2 am hushed beach town quiet, walk down behind the grocery store to Dorinda’s house and get naked in the hot tub and gossip and flirt ‘til dawn. 

Dotty LeMieux is the author of four chapbooks, Five Angels, Five Trees Press; Let Us Not Blame Foolish Women, Tombouctou Books; The Land, Smithereens Press, and Henceforth I Ask Not Good Fortune, Finishing Line Press. A fifth is forthcoming from Main Street Rag in 2023. Her work has appeared in numerous print and online journals, and anthologies.  Dotty lives in Northern California, with her husband and two aging dogs, where she helps elect progressive candidates to office.  

Sunday, October 2, 2022

Heaven is a Dive Bar in Hell Serving Only Shirley Temples by Chris Butler

Drink until your blood turns into a fine wine.
Eat until your flesh turns into tasteless waifers. 
Smoke until the burning bush's ash rises like a phoenix.
Inject until all of your veins cave-in under the skin.

Once you detox for three days,
escaping the cave with a boulder door,
you will never ressurect your erection again.

Anti-Chris Butler is an illiterate poet. His last chapbook, DOOMER, is available through Ethel. He is also the co-editor of The Beatnik Cowboy literary journal. 

Friday, September 30, 2022

New York memoir by Stephen House

when i was forty i lived in New York for two months, after a funded playwright residency at banff in canada, (that i’d received through the australian arts department). it was an exciting time of travelling around and writing. 

i found a cheap room in an old character building in harlem. this part of my travel was self-funded, i wasn’t flash with cash, but the room was fine, low budget was how i was existing, and there were interesting and unusual people living there.

in the mornings i’d do yoga in my room (as i do everywhere), grab some fruit and bagels from a mini mart for breakfast, and head to my local cafĂ© to work on my new play, drink coffee and chat to a few other artists i’d met there.

every day i’d take the subway downtown to hang out in washington square with a poet and musician i’d met, smoke weed with them and other stoners they knew, and watch New Yorkers with their dogs in the dog park nearby. from there, i’d see exhibitions, and often line up in times square for cheap theatre rush tickets. 

towards sunset i’d head to an old un-used hudson river pier and hang out. it was a cruising spot, peppered with lone seeking guys, near the notorious meatworks district i’d read about in novels by some of my queer literary heroes, so it felt cool to be in that area.

after eating either chinese or mexican, i’d usually go to christopher street and play pool in a leather gay bar and drink beer, meeting different guys of all races and leanings. it was a laid-back place and i made a few local mates there. other nights i’d go to see theatre (on and off broadway), if i’d scored a ticket earlier in the day.

every night i went to the same nightclub. lined up with others at midnight for my after-dark New York hit. it was a mixed race, sexuality, and age place, and that’s my thing. some locals called it rough. i liked the downmarket vibe. i remember meeting a latino taxi driver and a black actor from jersey city; both, nice guys.

my last night there a drag-queen named, “ima bitch”, gave me lines of coke in the toilet and we danced together until sunrise, and had coffee before i rode the subway up town to my room to sleep and pack to leave New York. 

that was twenty-three years ago. i’ve never returned. the nightclub is still there i found when i searched online. i may go back to New York one day: see theatre, wander around and write, though i’ll pass on the weed, the club every night, and the snorting coke. we change with age. fortunately, memories usually remain with us.  

Stephen House has won many awards and nominations as a poet, playwright and actor, including two Awgie Awards from The Australian Writer’s Guild, Rhonda Jancovic Poetry Award for Social Justice, and The Goolwa Poetry Cup, and nominations including, a Greenroom Best Actor Award, Tom Collins Poetry Prize, Patrick White Playwright Award and Queensland Premier’s Drama Award. He’s received several international literature residencies from The Australia Council for the Arts and an Asia-link India residency. His chapbooks “real and unreal” and “The Ajoona Guest House” are published by ICOE Press. His next book drops soon. He performs his acclaimed monologues widely.


Thursday, September 29, 2022

Hoping for Rain By Beverly Hennessy Summa

Lighting another cigarette,
she pretends she isn’t looking 
for metaphors of love
in the lightless faces of the men 
who press sweat-stained rolls of twenties 
& sometimes an unwanted Molly
into the cool heart of her palm. 

With some she asks permission
to take their photo.
With others she dares
to just take—
maybe a close-up, side profile
of a two-day stubble & white glister
of a single diamond earring. 

Or the forearm of a client
resting postcoital across the mattress,
red painted toes and lower half
of her leg lying in approximation.
Make this one black & white
& call it the hobbyist.

It’s only a job,
not the essence of her being, 
she would rationalize. 
Someday I’ll be an artist, 
she tells herself. 
A photographer of the uncanny,
maybe a self-taught 
Francesca Woodman.

She orders another gin & tonic.
Her brain turning like a storm cloud,
ready to rip open.

She’s hoping for rain.
She’s hoping to get home 
early tonight.
Her eyes drop to the fast-melting ice
at the bottom of her glass.
She snaps a photo

then turns the lens on herself, 
tilts her head & closes her eyes.  

Beverly Hennessy Summa’s poems have appeared in Rust + Moth, Chiron Review, the New York Quarterly, Buddhist Poetry Review, Anti-Heroin Chic, Trailer Park Quarterly, Nerve Cowboy, Hobo Camp Review and elsewhere. She has a BA in English and is a Pushcart nominee. Beverly grew up in Yonkers, New York and New Hampshire and currently lives in South Salem, New York with her family.

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Taking The Dogs Out By Jake St. John

I fell down 
the stairs 

feet skyward
eye level
in the overhead

the banister 
just out of reach

as I land
on my 

in a pile
of kids

paint cans 
in all directions

I struggle 
to my feet
and realize
none of my friends 
will believe 

I was sober.


Jake St. John lives in the woods on the edge of the Salmon River. He is the author of several collections of poetry including Ring of Fog (Holy and Intoxicated Publications, 2022), Night Full of Diamonds (Whiskey City Press, 2021), and Lost City Highway (A Jabber Publication, 2019). He is the editor of Elephant and is considered an original member of the New London School of poetry. His poems have appeared in print and online journals around the world

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

The man on the hot Prague Roof by Nick Gerrard

Today what about you talk to your wife? You take a day off from the heat of the roof; take a day off and talk to your wife. Instead of shouting at her because you’re frustrated at how things turned out. 

You are fucked off with working on hot roves for rich fuckers whilst you sit in your box miles away from any historical part of the city. Far away from the barber shops and the taco bars. Far away from the street food place by the river, far away from the quiz nights in English and the bookshops with writer’s groups. What if you could be nearer. What if you could look out of a nice apartment and see guys sweating on roves. Guys with overalls rolled down to their middle tarmacking the road, re-laying the tram tracks. What if you lounged in a beer garden with a view. 

‘I’ll get to the fuckin bathroom when I have five minutes.,’ You say to her.

‘You said that last week and the week before.’

You look at her and wonder if she fucking even knows you.

‘Look! I’m fucking knackered after six days a week hard graft, and on my one day off you moan cuss I don’t re-tile the fucking bathroom!’ You look at her and screw up your face and open your hands and plead for some acknowledgment.

‘I work my fucking socks off for this family, don’t you know that?’ You shake your head.

She walks off with no answer.

You follow her. 


‘Never mind, forget about it!’

You swear and shake your head and grab your jacket and head out the door, slamming it.

You walk around the estate. You watch the mothers gossiping as they hang the washing up on the hot roves of the block. You know they are moaning about their men, you just know it. You kick a ball back to the gang of happy kids, the young ones. You bow your head as you pass the bigger kids some on bikes others sitting on the wall of the little shop. Others are stood around smoking and shouting at their phones. You walk past and hear their swearing and anger. They sing along to some rap song on a phone. Every other word is you cunt…I’m gonna mess you up!...Fuck the police! You can’t hum along to their songs anymore, there’s no tunes coming from their teenage mouths. 

You go into the pub, the usual crowd is there. A pivo is plonked on the table In front of you before you even ask. You raise your glass and nod and wait for the complaining to start.

Nick writes Gritty realism or social realism or as he likes to say 'Working-class kitchen sink drama! ‘ His short stories, flash, poetry and essays have appeared in various magazines and books in print and online. Nick has five books published available on Amazon and elsewhere. His short novel out last year, Punk Novelette is all about a group of friends growing up with punk in the 70s in the UK and the effect the movement had on their lives. His latest short story collection is Called Struggle and Strife; fifteen short stories covering the political and personal struggles of today, yesterday, and the future. Stories of casual workers, holocaust survivors, refugees, slum dwellers, and trade unionists. Tales of protests and fight-backs against oppression, and the daily battles of ordinary people. https://nickgerrardauthor.wixsite.com/books

Embers and ash by Dennis Moriarty

Hand rolled and glued to my lips I smoke this room like a spliff thick earthy autumnal smoke, windfall fruit in the orchard, my lungs a flam...