Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Spirits in the Moonshine by T. J. Herrin

Water of life, trickling down my throat welcoming me to a peaceful place
where I no longer feel that world of death, or fear, or sting
whisking my body washing, consoling, embracing me with firewater that
wanders my depths, heating my veins wholeheartedly consuming my
watered down dreams; wishing, trembling I call for more.

Warm shots in a glass whimsically, whisper to me, oh!
whisky, my love, carry me away we dance through the haze of
white-lightening breeze, enchanting my mind with silky ease
when you are inside we can be anything.

I am a writer living in San Antonio Texas. I am earning my BA in English with a concentration in creative writing from The University of Texas at San Antonio. 
I write poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. I love whiskey, dogs, and long peaceful walks. In between, I look over my many children and try to pass on the love of words. 
T. J. Herrin

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Texting With my College Roommate after 40 years by Greg Clary

Ricci: The Bible says we have to bless each other so we can live in love. So, I’m sending you this message. Today is a day of blessing! I bless you. Your heart. Your health. Your home. Your life. In the name of Jesus.

Me:  You going to church now?

Ricci: Yes, I do go to church. Don’t you go?

Me: No

Ricci: I will pray for you

Me: Good. I need the prayer and you need the practice.

Ricci: Bless you! Do you believe in anything?

Me: It’s all a mystery to me. I know I don’t go for that fundamentalism stuff I was raised on. You still indulge?

Ricci: I drink a beer or two.

Me: Ok. You still burn one?

Ricci: Sometimes

Me: Ok. Sounds like you aren’t a fundamentalist, either.

Ricci: Oh, I forgot. You’re a Democrat

Me: And you’re not. I should have known back when you were ordering all of those Brandy Alexanders. Do you believe in science?

Ricci: I believe in the Son, the Father, and the Holy Ghost

Me: Ok. But, do you believe in science?

Ricci: No!

Me: What do you do when you are sick? Do you take any meds? How are you communicating with me right now without science?

Ricci: I believe that Jesus died on the cross for your sins and mine. Do you believe in that?

Me: Ok. Does that mean you can’t believe in science?

Ricci: Some of it. But, I believe in Jesus. Don’t you?

Me: Some of it

Ricci: There you go!

Greg Clary is Professor Emeritus of Rehab and Human Services at Clarion University, Clarion Pa.
His poems have appeared in The Watershed Journal and North/South Appalachia.
His photographs have been published in The Sun Magazine, Looking at Appalachia, and The Watershed Journal.
He resides in Sligo, Pennsylvania and is a Son of Turkey Creek, West Virginia

Monday, October 28, 2019

No Score. By Tony Pena

No more do I dance
the Tinder shuffle.
Been Charlie Brown
at Lucy’s mercy
missing the football
far too many times.
I try to kill the urge
by devouring those last
three dogs blistering in
a slow roll at the seven
eleven till I nightcap
with whatever’s cold
and recognizable on tap
at the nearest old timer
watering hole where
I make the swill mix
to jukebox B sides
as the humming
neon of the night
lulls lust to a draw .

Tony Pena was selected as 2017-2018 Poet Laureate for the city of Beacon, New York.  
A new volume of poetry and flash fiction, "Blood and Beats and Rock n Roll," is available now at Amazon.  He also has a self published chapbook, "Opening night in Gehenna."  His publication credits include “Chronogram,”  "Dogzplot,"   "Gutter Eloquence," “Hudson Valley Transmitter,” "Red Fez," "Slipstream,"  "Underground Voices," "Zygote in my Coffee,"  and others. 

Colorful compositions and caterwauling with a couple of chords can be seen at:

Sunday, October 27, 2019


Hi cousin
I would offer my endeffector
But shaking hands with me
Might mash your fingers to pulp
My locomotion device
Doesn’t know its own strength
And you are so puny 
So I will keep my manipulators
Dormant at my sides

If I can be of any help
Just knock my door 
My sensors are always active
Keeping my computerised controller
Fully informed and up to date

I would ask you in
But my regular visitors
Like to choose from selections
Of grade A oils
And I guess you are more
A tea or coffee sort of guy

Take no notice
Of the young ones, my friend
They mean no harm
And it’s only chanting
Have you heard their latest?

“All things must come to pass
  Flesh is weak, flesh is farce
  Just you kiss my plastic arse”

Sorry about that

Bryn Fortey is a veteran writer from Wales in the UK. Widely published
over the years, he has had two collections published by The Alchemy 
Press, both featuring a mix of short stories and poetry. He is grateful that

in old age he is still able to put pen to paper and finger to keyboard

Saturday, October 26, 2019

MY THIRST RETURNS by Bradford Middleton

It had been some week and a half when work seemed never-ending
And time to myself never really felt well spent
Running around sorting life is never one of my top priorities
Not as much as quenching my generous thirst.

It finally kicked in Wednesday night and a bottle of wine that barely
Touched the sides, followed by a Thursday waking early desperate
For further sustenance and by 3pm the hour had arrived, out I
Ventured, desperate to drown my soul in glorious booze.

That first pint came with 4 double bourbons and then when a
Friend arrived it became even worse as the drinking speeded
Up as the lager went down.  Then a few hours into our session
I got to my feet, walked outside and blazed away.

Smoking my way to complete black-out what happened after
I ain’t too sure.  The smoke was smoked and then the drink
Carried on being drunk until the next thing I realise, it’s half-6
The next morning and I’m home alone on my bed still drunk.

 Bradford Middleton was born in south-east London during the summer of 1971 and won his first poetry prize at the age of nine.  He then gave up writing poems for nearly twenty-five years and it wasn't until he landed in Brighton, knowing no one and having no money, that he began again.  Ten years later and he's been lucky enough to have had a few chapbooks published including a new one from Analog Submission Press entitled 'Flying through this Life like a Bottle Battling Gravity', his debut from Crisis Chronicles Press (Ohio, USA) and his second effort for Holy & Intoxicated Press (Hastings, UK).  He has read around the UK at various bars, venues and festivals and is always keen to get out and read to new crowds.  His poetry has also been or will be published shortly in the Chiron Review, Zygote in my Coffee, Section 8, Razur Cuts, Paper & Ink, Grandma Moses 'Poet to Notice', Empty Mirror, Midnight Lane Gallery, Bareback Lit and is a Contributing Poet over at the wonderful Mad Swirl.  If you like what you've read go send a friend request on facebook to bradfordmiddleton1. 

Friday, October 25, 2019

Two Wake by Donald Hubbard

     When Frank Lodge was his son’s Tommy’s age, his friend Timmy Timilty was murdered by a scion of a wealthy Yankee family, money as old as Beacon Hill dirt.  A chap named Dudley Wilson.  The District Attorney refused to charge Wilson with anything but manslaughter and the Judge, Ephraim Wheeler, did not even let it go to a jury, dismissing the charges and allowing the murderer to walk.

     It was a peculiar sentence from Wheeler, notoriously a hanging judge, quite literally the last justice to preside over a murder case in Massachusetts in which a hanging occurred.  Indeed, Wheeler attended the execution, coughing loudly in the front row in order that the final thing the condemned man heard before entering Hell was the rasp of the old bastard who sent him there.

     But not this time, far from it, as several of the dailies ran pictures of Wilson and Wheeler smiling together after the hearing that exonerated the young man, an image crafted to show Irish Catholic Boston where true power rested.

     Meanwhile, Timmy Timilty’s mother, dressed in widow’s weeds walked all the miles from the ancient stony Suffolk Superior Court House back to her Roxbury parish and immediately called on a priest to confess that she wanted the judge and the murderer to die and she knew she should not feel that way.

     All the way there she disturbed everyone, from small children playing in the Common and Public Garden to older pedestrians who thought her a queer sight.  Proper etiquette required a female mourner to alight from a coach and into a church and back, or at least have the grace to stay indoors in the case of a prolonged period of mourning.  Deliberately, Mrs. Timilty displayed her agony at losing her son then seeing his murderer walk.

     The weeds weren’t real weeds of course, nor did they resemble sea weed or rag weed, rather they comprised an ensemble of a long black dress with a bonnet and veil of the same hue.  No one looked good in a black veil, it failed to flatter the face, causing the mourner to resemble a witch or a particularly malevolent ghost.  It transcended death and sound fashion sense.

     Unfortunate Mrs. Timilty’s trek caused her rented ensemble of widow’s garments to deteriorate each step back home, as the horses kicked up dust and she began to perspire, further destabilizing her aura from one of tragedy to high creepiness, yet she spawned all offers from Good Samaritans to pay for a carriage ride to her home.  She felt obligated to present her poverty-infested grief in its reality, holding up a picture of her son like a chalice bearing the blood of Christ. 

      After returning home, she confessed to Father Ryan who counseled her that true justice resided in the heavens, though curiously he did not order her to say any Hail Marys or Our Fathers after her confession had concluded.

     Frank Lodge and his friends heard a version of this story from Timmy Timilty’s sisters and decided to stage their own trial, so they hired retired prize fighter Young Kid Carter to murder the murderer, passing a hat at Tommy Feeling’s saloon, collecting $200.00, enough to keep Kid Carter on Mother’s Little Helper for weeks.

     Maybe the repeated blows to the head had done it or the pollution to the brain by the druggy patent medicines and grain alcohol or perhaps some people just were created a certain way, but Kid Carter was crazy.  He enjoyed killing women like Mildred Donovan up in Lynn, men less so since they presented a threat to him; but he lost his qualms once when Willy McPherson disrespected him at Garrity and Prendergast’s saloon, whereupon Carter expedited his enemy’s path to the afterlife with three shots from his revolver.

     While Timmy Timilty’s mother continued her mourning, Dudley Wilson went to the Union Club and celebrated by playing billiards and drinking gin well into the evening (“so what will you do now you’re free, Dudley, will you run for office?”), afterwards retiring to a prostitute on Essex Street armed with a batch of fresh white roses.  What a very good day.

     Indeed, Dudley Wilson spent much of his free time at the Union Club or the prostitutes on Essex Street, or some vector in between, a fact ascertained by Frank Lodge who trailed him for several days.  To Frank Lodge it felt as if he had embarked upon a Medieval Crusade, inhaling holiness every step he followed Dudley Wilson, consecrated by the free beers he received each time he returned to Roxbury to his friends with his report of the comings and goings of Dudley Wilson.

     Frankly Lodge loved the work, tailored perfectly for his organizational skills, keen observational sense and patience in developing evidence and synthesizing it into a plan of attack.  While he had never hunted in the forests as a youth, Lodge innately knew how to stalk prey, it seemed all too easy.  He watched how Wilson held a glass or a cigar, which eye he favored, how he turned his head when he heard a loud noise.  He noted the nights when Wilson drank stronger spirits and more of them and otherwise let his guard down.

     Lodge wanted to share with Wilson how thoroughly he had distilled his life, barely reining  his impulses, concealing his wish to could bump into the young Yankee swell, whispering, “Get your affairs in order, you do not know the time or the hour,” before darting away into a Boston alley.  But no, he kept his powder dry, content to lay the trap for his prey and leave it to Kid Carter to perform the coup de grace.

     He told Kid Carter of Dudley Wilson’s nocturnal habits and his hangouts, and while Kid Carter generally eschewed caution, he knew well enough that stalking Wilson outside of the Union Club was most unwise, the police would hang Carter at Boston Common before his gun or Wilson had gone cold.  They had the right man tracing Wilson, so Kid Carter began a residency at Feeling’s, studying the accumulated information at his disposal like the professional he flattered himself to be, guzzling beer, dope and grilled meat.

     Finally the conspirators had marked up their night for Dudley Wilson’s mock trial, seating Frank Lodge at the edge of the Boston Common, across from the Union Club, enjoying an apple while pretending to read the Scientific American.  Blowing smoke rings with which he used to frame Wilson walking toward his Club, Lodge periodically feigned attention to the articles he pretended to read, with titles such as “Something About Balloons” and “The Bessemer Saloon Steamship.”

     Alighting onto the brick pavement as he departed from the Union Club, Dudley Wilson sucked in the warm air, fresh from the cigar smoke of his mates, crowning his head with his new straw hat.  A few children still played on the Common, but mostly swells with their dates congregated along Beacon Hill, replaced in a few hours by vagrants sleeping where they fell.

     Not drunk, Wilson still had infused his being with enough liquor to feel pretty good about everything and everyone he encountered, full of charity for all, tipping his hat here and there, satisfied with his good meal, great company and soon, sex with someone who always did what he wanted.

     As Wilson beelined toward his Essex Street junction, Lodge opened a satchel and withdrew a railroad oil torch lantern.  After lighting it, he yanked it up and down once, a signal to a cohort down the street to pass the message along the chain of fourteen co-conspirators situated in the city streets that the plan was in execution.  As Wilson walked, these men, some armed with lanterns, other just emitting loud whistles, others pretending to juggle, relayed the information to their next conspirator that the condemned man had just passed and appeared headed to his usual late evening destination.

     Wilson saw some of these men along his route to the whorehouse, making him feel safe as he wended into the dodgier parts of the city, those laid waste in the Great Fire and rebuilt and largely repopulated with immigrants and merchants.  To one of the conspirators, Wilson even stopped to say “what a very nice day it is,” to which he received the reply, “It is sir, watch yourself though, it gets tough nights sometime if you are heading in that direction.”

     Wilson thanked him and marched on.
     At the final stage of this chain, the fourteenth messenger received his signal and walked into a church on lower Washington Street where his friends had hidden Kid Carter in the rear, maintaining his sobriety for the solemn task to follow.

     Once inside, the final messenger knelt, then jogged up the balcony steps to a giant pipe organ, on which he solemnly played an old funeral dirge, Dies Irae, roughly Doom is Upon Us, the sign to Carter and his handlers that Wilson’s trial had begun.  Carter arose, gave himself the Sign of the Cross, shadow-boxed a bit, then ran out from the sacristy through the back of the church to the street.  His handlers walked out to the altar, lighting candles for the success of the venture and the soul of Dudley Wilson, then joined Lodge for the trolley back to Roxbury. 

     Approaching his task deliberately, Carter divined Wilson’s scent up Essex Street, it was a strange part of town, not really any part of a neighborhood, more like an adjunct to the retail and theater districts, where somehow a number of very poor and unfortunate people did not want to   live, but they gnawed out a place for themselves.  In attenuated cogent moments, Carter plotted to kill Wilson in the prostitute’s room in Essex Street, rightly estimating that few police patrolled that area at night and if they were there, they were off duty.

     Wilson no longer saw stout men with lanterns, he saw the usual unfortunates and slummers like himself.  Along Essex Street, unacceptably old prostitutes, delirium tremens-ed sailors and perverts of all kinds found common cause. They begged along Tremont Street or Washington Street during the day and tried to sleep in the Common or Public Garden at night, but the police invariably broke it up by shoving a bill club into their ribs and ordering them to move on.  The only time the authorities spent on Essex Street involved collecting protection money from the purveyors of exotic pleasures.

     But the police never went into Essex Street at night, eminent Bostonians pretended they never wandered there and if you were stupid enough to end up there, you deserved what you got.  British tax agents discovered that, tarred and feathered and forced to drink pots of tea under the Liberty Tree, and after that the area became strictly a repository for the demi-monde.

     Wilson tapped on the front door of the whorehouse, did not hear anyone, so he let himself in and walked up a set of stairs to his favorite prostitute.  She always knew he dropped by at the same two appointed times each week, he was predictable in that manner.  He walked to her, handed her a red rose and kissed her on her lips, then she clasped his hand and led him into her room.

     Wilson discriminated in the choice of flophouses he entered for illicit sex, he liked one girl who did everything he wanted.  Her room was decorated in a typical suicide den style, cracked walls, a vanity for the not so vain and a stained sheet bed.  Oddly enough, in sties like this, the wallpaper generally had already stained and peeled considerably, but here it had recently been rehung with robins and blue jays flitting about, a slight nod to civilization.  Otherwise, Wilson felt soiled, but it was where you went.

     She removed the diamond studded barrette from her hair, letting the ringlets of her black hair dance on Wilson’s shoulders.  Wilson kissed her neck, moaning, “God Damn.”  He undressed her as she lowered her right hand, running the tips of her fingers along his thighs.

     Young Kid Carter barged into the prostitute’s room while she and Wilson made love.   Carter rudely interrupted his privacy, boldly entering the room without the benefit of an invitation or the courtesy of a knock on the door.  Outside, a second group of conspirators created a diversion, seemingly engaging in a loud and drunken brawl, all staged to drown out any noise that Carter chose to create.

     “Help, I’m being set upon by thieves, help!”

     “Aw shuddup and give us your money or we’ll blacken your eye!”

     “Help, Help Help!”

     Carter stuck a knife against Wilson’s jugular and said, ‘This is for killing an Irish Catholic boy and treating him like a fucking pig,” before snapping Wilson’s neck and methodically hacking off his head.  The prostitute screamed but a lot of other prostitutes on the floor of the flop house screamed too, so her horror failed to resonate, particularly with the loud apparent donnybrook outside her window.  Carter then raped the prostitute, reasoning to her that “you’re still on Wilson’s time and you have not completed your service.  You better be worth it.”

     He had his way, then afterward told the girl that he was a policeman and to never say a word about this, then traded his bloody clothes for the clean clothes that Wilson had cast of into a corner of the room.  The same size as the late Wilson, Young King Carter cut the figure of a swell donning his new expensive suit with a still relatively fresh white rose as a boutonniere, clutching a dozen more roses.

     That night Kid Carter returned to Feeling’s Saloon with Dudley Wilson’s head in a sack and the white roses in his other hand, collecting $200.00 and receiving a free drink from the house and most of his fellow patrons, who laughed at his story, particularly the part about getting Wilson’s prostitute for free, wearing the clothes of his victim.

     The late Dudley Wilson got some free drinks too as some of the more twisted patrons bought him beers then poured them down the gaping craw of his decapitated head.

     “I never thought much of Dudley Wilson before tonight, but this gentleman can drink all night    and never get drunk.”

     “But he’s going to have a wicked hangover tomorrow morning.”

     “Don’t lose your head Wilson, old boy.”

     “Wilson, you’re getting free ones all night, when are you going to buy a round, I thought that you came from money?”

     Someone clamped a cigar in Wilson’s dead mouth and lit it up to the delight of most of those in attendance.  Later that evening, a bored young man brought in some firecrackers and stuck them into Wilson’s head.

     Feeling stepped in, “You take that fucking head outside, I won’t be picking off brains and bones from my bar! I run a Christian establishment.”

     So the bar emptied and Dudley Wilson’s head exploded all over Dudley Street in Roxbury and the patrons went home, laughing and singing, graciously alive, Timmy Timilty avenged.
     They sang,
And I will take you back, Kathleen,
                to where your heart will feel no pain
And when the fields are fresh and green,
I will take you to your home Kathleen.

     Except for Frank Lodge, who never left the bar, nursing a beer, a fact not lost on Feeling who approached him and slapped him on the back.

     “Doesn’t feel so good, does it Lodge, this lynching a man and desecrating his body, does it?”

     “It’s okay, I’m okay, It’s okay I guess.”

     “No it isn’t, otherwise you’d be out with the boyos rolling Wilson’s head up and down Mission Hill.  Finish your beer, you won’t feel worse and you might numb yourself a bit until it all sinks in.”

     “I thought what we were doing was right, obtaining justice for Timmy and his mother.  It doesn’t feel that way now.”

     “That’s because you aligned yourself with a lunatic like Kid Carter, a man who likes to kill.  Even if Wilson had received a proper trial, he never would have swung from a tree, he’d be sipping tea with a dowager in Europe in three years. You’d have been better off leaving him to his whores who eventually would have given him brain fever, let his head rot away to die from the inside.  You let him off easy.”

    Lodge grimaced, “Probably should have let the bastard live.”

     “Too late for that now.  Now you have to live with yourself.  What do you think keeps me in business, Lodge?  Without regrets, I’d have gone broke years ago.  My conscience is clear, I’m glad the son of a bitch is dead, I just did not want his head to blow up in my bar.  You, Lodge, have an overdeveloped conscience.”   

      Lodge shoved his beer aside and threw his head back rolling his eyes.  “You’re right Feeling, but I’ve got to face this one dead on.”  Getting up, he exited the saloon to brace himself against the fierce unforgiving Roxbury air.

      Dudley Wilson’s mother wore widow’s weeds, long black dress, bonnet and veil, at her son’s funeral, Young Kid Carter went west on the first morning train to kill again as the laughter in the saloons and betting halls in Roxbury reverberated all the way up Beacon Hill.  Periodically afterwards, Judge Wheeler received packages containing parts of Wilson’s skull fragments at his home, his chambers or his club, once famously in a Christmas fruit cake.

     Frank Lodge confessed to Father Ryan who only meted out to him one Hail Mary to recite for the absolution of his sins, hell you got more for farting in church.  That day Frank Lodge applied to become a policeman for the City of Boston.

Donald Hubbard has written six books, one of which was profiled on Regis and Kelly and another that was a Boston Globe bestseller and Amazon (category) top ten.  Two books have gone into a second edition and he was inducted into the New England Basketball Hall of Fame as an author in 2015.  He has published thirty five stories in twenty one magazines and had a chapter from one of his books published in Notre Dame Magazine.  He studied English at Georgetown and the University of Kent.

Black Tears by J.C. O'Neil

She wears those 5 inch stilettos,
matching ruby red lipstick,
gold eyeshadow with
wing tipped eyeliner.

Night out with her girls
to keep her mind
off of the asshole
that broke her frail heart.

It’s just a lace chemise,
an attempt at covering her feelings,
something a little tequila
helps to suppress his memory.

She’ll flirt, a little
bat her eyes, a little
drink, a little.
just a little.

She won’t go home with anyone.
Not the accountant with the good hair,
or the lawyer with the Armani suit,
or the leather clad biker.

They’re not him.
Not the guy who knows her.
Not the guy who breaks her.
Not the guy who can fix her.

It’s just a lace chemise,
a made up face,
red 5 inch stilettos.
An attempt to hide her feelings.

She’ll stumble to her room,
kick off those shoes
and pull off the lingerie
hidden under her dress.

She’ll slip on his t-shirt
he left at her apartment one night,
forgotten, like the makeup on her face
leaving a trail of black tears to her pillow.

J.C. O'Neil is a writer living in Cheswick, PA. He studied English Writing at the University of Pittsburgh in Greensburg. Between balancing work life, writing life, and family life (a beautiful wife, a sassy three year old, and fearless one year old) he's managed to have his poetry published by the Mad Poets Society and his stories in the Authors' Tale Anthology series.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

ten shots of booze by J.J. Campbell

the first shot
is for the long line
of drunks and assholes
before me

the second shot
is for all the women
who knew i was a
waste of their time

the third shot
is for all the lost souls
that beat me to the
finish line

the fourth shot
is for a rising sun
and a chance to fuck
it all up again

the fifth shot
is for that lonely
soul at the end of
the bar looking better
with each one of these

the sixth shot
is for the drive home
and avoiding the police

the seventh shot
is for superstition

the eight shot
is because i could
always use another

the ninth shot
is the one for the road

the tenth shot
is poured at home
by the stranger that
came along for the ride

J.J. Campbell (1976 - ?) was raised by wolves and is currently trapped in suburbia. He's been widely published over the years, most recently at Record Magazine, Misfit Magazine, The Beatnik Cowboy, Mad Swirl and Synchronized Chaos. His latest chapbook, the taste of blood on christmas morning, was published by Analog Submission Press in July 2018. You can find him most days on his mildly entertaining blog, evil delights. (

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Irish Haiku by Bruce Morton

Take holy water
Distill three times until you
Get Irish whiskey

Bruce Morton splits his time between Bozeman, Montana and Buckeye, Arizona. His volume of poems, Simple Arithmetic and Other Artifices, was published in 2015. His poetry has appeared in various anthologies and magazines including Kansas Quarterly, Connecticut Quarterly, Spoon River Quarterly, Pembroke Magazine, North Stone Review, Muddy River Poetry Review, and San Pedro River Review.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

2nd and Union, 1986 by Leah Mueller

The pool hall in the 211
overflows with empty bottles,
stale piss and newspapers.
Huddled bodies lounge in

the corners. “Broken” sign
taped to elevator door.
My friends and I will
need to take the stairs.

Earnest white kids,
we bound up the steps to
the pool hall, and the
bald, middle-aged black dude,

same guy who played
the bartender in “House of Games”
brings me a warm Rainier.

“Do you have a jukebox?”
I ask. He laughs, shakes
his head. “No, sugar,” he replies.
“Just folks shooting pool.
We’re a pool hall.”

Rows of tables span the room
like tiny fields, dotted
with plastic, iridescent flowers.

We choose one, dead center,
shoot a couple of mediocre games,
lean on our table, giggle.
Everyone ignores us.

The 211 is already
slated for the wrecking ball.
Only question is when.
The building will fall
two years from now,

and that’s just the beginning.
Developers have big plans
for downtown Seattle,
and they don’t include you.

Leah Mueller is an indie writer and spoken word performer from Tacoma, Washington. She has published books with numerous small presses. Her most recent volumes, "Misguided Behavior, Tales of Poor Life Choices" (Czykmate Press) and "Death and Heartbreak" (Weasel Press) were released in October, 2019. Leah’s work also appears in Blunderbuss, The Spectacle, Outlook Springs, Atticus Review, Your Impossible Voice, and other publications. She won honorable mention in the 2012 Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry contest. Her new chapbook, "Cocktails at Denny's" is looking for a home.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Waiting for that door to open by Nick Gerrard


We line up for our named plastic drug cups. Neck them quickly then line up again for our smokes.
Packets and lighters checked from the basket from the second draw down.
I was the only one with an electric one; I fill it with liquid and check the battery. Ready to go.
I sneak to the toilet before they let us out; I smoke quickly to pre-empt the emptying of my bowels.
I need the nicotine but my body is still fucked up and my bowels move suddenly and violently.
I go back to the door, put on my coat and boots and wait for the reluctant nurse to turn the key.
Finally we are out.

My fellow patients place a chair for me to sit. I am still detoxing and too shaky to stand and the buzz of the nicotine makes me shake even more. I hold off the shits and the need to vomit. I take in as much as I can before I am too sick to take more. We are on the side of the old Monastery and beautiful baroque place now a hospital, drink tank and psycho unit. The masonry work is beautiful. We stand on the top with majestic staircases either side of our place. Down below are gardens and a scout hut in a corner, then fields and factories and the railway yards. I smile and try to think good thoughts for a second but then my sickness returns and I can no longer smoke, I get up and wobble, am helped inside as the smokers frantically light another fag. I stagger to the toilet and shit painfully, then lie down and wait for the dizziness to pass.

This is my second day here. Three times a day this happens; it’s not enough. Three times a day after meals and drugs; we all need more nicotine than this. Shit we are all in long term recovery from alcohol. I had come here after the one night of hell in the drink tank via the intense psycho ward. Before that I had had three weeks of non-stop vodka, three hourly trips to the 24 hour shop, then a head wound and stitches, screaming fighting and eventually hospitalisation. I took the short sharp shock of the drink tank, to get my alcohol level down to zero so that I could get the drugs to help with the withdrawals.

The drink night of being strapped to a bed, tied to your bad trip, your shakes. Unable to escape the screams and shouts of madmen; the stench, the vomit, the crying.
You wait in the morning to be checked and hopefully to god to be let out. A doctor came to check me; he remembered me from the last time.
-You are going straight to the unit right?
-I hope so doc.
He took pity on me and got a nurse to inject diazepam into my arse. It helped me a little. I got my stuff together...I couldn’t check if I had everything as I didn’t remember what I came with. The ambulance took me to the unit. I hung around with my wife; signing forms, vomiting.

We chatted to another doctor...’Give me drugs now...please.’ He was helpful and did, and it helped for a while.
I am admitted, given ill fitting pyjamas and too big plastic slippers, and then I am tested and prodded and thankfully given more drugs. I try and sleep but only doze, and then I feel bad again and start the pacing.
I pace to pass the time in between drug out-givings. I pace to stop from thinking, I pace to stay sane.

I am given food, but don’t eat, I drink thin tea and pace and wait for drugs to get me better.
Three days I pace...I am then transferred here to the long term alcohol place, the Baroque asylum.
The drugs here are better, stronger, but we have to do therapy sessions...everyone here has been here a while and has stopped withdrawing...I am still fucked. I skip as many therapy sessions as possible...the Physical exercises in the morning, the group talking; the meditation...the doctors get angry but I don’t care, the nurses get mean but I don’t care.

Every morning the early shift nurses wake me up
-Good morning, let’s go, arses out of bed!
Loudly and bangily. I know that’s not a real word but Jesus it really describes how they wake us up. I could have put a swoosh here to signify the sweep of the curtains. But that’s not how the early morning shift nurses do it; they bang them open, and then bang everything; your clothes off the floor onto the chair, your fresh water jug onto your bedside rig. Then they go about their tasks with swift efficiency.
Toilets are being mopped as the waking dead shuffle to pee, to brush and just to shuffle; up and down the corridor, waiting to be fed meds.
Little white plastic Drug jugs checked next to long lists of names, and what pharmaceuticals go with each patient. Blood pressures taken, beds stripped; new patients stripped. All smart and military like fashion.
-Sleep OK?
-How you feeling today Mr Clarke?
-Look at this rain!
Friendly, unsmiling but friendly, and busy. Breakfast to get done.
It’s 6.30 in the morning and the factory is up and running.

I drag my hard stripped hospital issue baggy pajamed arse to the toilet, shuffling along with the rest of um.
-Good day!
The actor is sullen today, just a grunt.
The hippy kid smiley, but silent.
The Baroness is yet to appear, she needs to put on her face.
The doors to three rooms are half closed to hide terrors.
We all look for glimpses as we drag past.
A body inside a netted cage, another strapped down, another in a corner trying to disappear into the wall.

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


Sunday, October 20, 2019

The Guitarist by James Steck

drifts up and out from his effort burning
fingers strumming into the blur--

humidity rests on shoulders
like the children above the crowd
gripping their parents’ hair in little fists
curling the song up wordless
like ocean water forcing its
body around theirs
sunlight into aching pupils

the air contributes only
to the movement of the sound
between the strings

as a young girl howls
she feels it
turns to her mom and points;

she is the only one who notices,
through the decaying night
and the saturation,
that dead light in the sky.

James Steck grew up in upstate New York, and now lives in Washington, DC. He teaches high school English and coaches track and field in Fairfax, Virginia. He often draws in relation to his poetry. His writing is influenced by romanticism and realism while focusing on contradictions, the body, and everyday life. You can find his work in The Ugly Writers, The Woove, and The Silhouette Literary and Arts Magazine.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Awareness Across the Whole Realm by Ben Nardolilli

Give no reigns to greed,
No whip to pride
And to malice no throne,

Keep the prejudiced
To the edges of the pasture,
Let them face the woods,

And this is how might
Makes all right,
And how it might all work,

Seeking not the change
Of hearts but to worry
About their arrangement instead

Ben Nardolilli currently lives in New York City. His work has appeared in Perigee Magazine, Red Fez, Danse Macabre, The 22 Magazine, Quail Bell Magazine, Elimae, fwriction, Inwood Indiana, Pear Noir, The Minetta Review, and Yes Poetry. He blogs at and is looking to publish a novel.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Red Ties by Ryan Quinn Flanagan

John Nash noticed
a preponderance of red ties
on the MIT campus
believing he had uncovered
a secret Communist society
that communicated through
their red ties

and later he snuck around
in red sneakers
leaving tiny intricate equations
on classroom blackboards

students took to calling him
“The Phantom”
which seems like a really cool name
to have if you need to have
a name at all.

Ryan Quinn Flanagan is a Canadian-born author residing in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada with his wife and many bears that rifle through his garbage.  His work can be found both in print and online in such places as: Evergreen Review, The New York Quarterly,The Rye Whiskey Review, Outlaw Poetry Network, Under The Bleachers, The Dope Fiend Daily and In Between Hangovers.

Thursday, October 17, 2019


So drunk,
if he weren’t in his own body,
he wouldn’t know who he was.

The woman he’s with
knows his identity all too well.
That’s why she’s trying
to drag him toward the car.

Then comes a moment
when not even her arm is enough.
He stumbles, falls.

It’s a jolt to her system,
seeing him like a dead man,
struggling back to life.

But he’s sinking into drunken torpor.
No way she can even budge him.

She would cry out for help
but that’s not easy
when you’re the helper.

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Examined Life Journal, Evening Street Review and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Harpur Palate, Poetry East and Visions International.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Everything Ends up Blue. By John Kross

The pills I take at bedtime, blue as starling eggs
are supposed to hatch the inner me, crack
the thin blue shell of my social maladjustment,
instead they make me feel like shit
but I take them anyway.

Its not as if another color can make it any better
red or green or yellow doesn’t matter
they all suck, I get shit results anyway.

the red make me angry,
the green make me nauseous,
the yellow turn me coward,
afraid to leave the house.
The blue? They bleed
their color in everything I do.

These fucking pills are such a crutch.
I wouldn’t be surprised if pills were made
from dead men's bones, stolen from graves
and crushed into dust then blended with color,
red, green, yellow and  blue. Don’t forget
the blue, especially the blue because in the end

everything ends up blue,

blue as the pills I take at bedtime.
Blue as starling eggs.

John Kross is an aspiring poet from Arlington, Texas.
He is fortunate enough to have been published numerous
times by Kind of Hurricane Press including Storm Cycle, the 
"Best of " collections for 2012,2013 and 2014 along with several 
print anthologies including "Something's Brewing", and "Petals
in the Pan". More recently you can find his work at Red Weather, 
Mad Swirl, Keep Poems Alive and VerbalArt. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Blood Usury by Don Robishaw

Make a deposit at the blood bank Twelve dollars Late only ten.
Hang out drain all their OJ.                                           
Thank you for your donation. Thank you for your service Sergeant Robinson.
Can’t stay here all day.
It’s Willie please.
Hit the street.
Cash ten dollar check around corner at Multi-service Packy.
Only get back eight.
Blood usury.

Gypsy girl with the melancholy eyes,
reminds me of a lost daughter someplace somewhere. 
Gypsy girl touches hand twists it over scans lines,
frowns and shakes her head.
Gypsy girl knows.

Never ever charges me for coffee at the Packy.     
Never ever says thank you for your service.       
Willie have a nice day.                               
Smiles hands over Java and the paper sack.

You’re a good kid I say.
Fran from shelter waits outside sipping bad coffee.
We linger and shiver.
The hell with me liver.
Owner pounds plate glass window.
We get it Go on and call the cops Louie GO ON!

We gotta move says Fran.                         
Gonna get fucked-up Fran. 
She laughs Slaps my shoulder.                   
Loss of blood and cheap wine causes flashbacks though.
Willie I’m here for ya baby Don’t even think about ‘em ‘aye.

Before Don Robishaw stopped working to write, he ran educational programs for homeless shelters for thirteen years. 

Don's also well-traveled, using various ways and means: Sailor, Peace Corps Volunteer, bartender, hitchhiker, world traveler, college professor, and circus roustabout.

His work has recently appeared in, The Rye Whiskey Review, Drunk Monkeys,O’ Dark Thirty, Literary Orphans, Crack-the-Spine, The Remembered Arts, Open: Journal of Arts and Letters, Flash Fiction Magazine, and others. His chapbook, ‘Willie’s Bad Paper Odyssey’ was a semi-finalist in Digging Press 2018 Summer Chapbook Contest.

He like to write poetry, satire, tragedies, and gritty fictional tales — of men and women from various backgrounds — that may have sprouted from a seed, from his past.

Many of the characters he developed have been homeless, served for periods of time in the military, or are based upon archetypes or sterotypes he's met while on the road. 

Monday, October 14, 2019

Spiderman Curtains By Jim Bourey

Backsliding into sobriety
these days, not that I was ever addicted.
Always had it under control.
Always knew where I was in the morning, 
even if Spiderman curtains were swirling 
in soft breezes and the bed
was six inches too short. Fortunately,
no kid was there. But a kind, somewhat lonely,
not-too-young, woman stood 
at the stove making a recovery breakfast.

Now, most mornings, I don’t need
recovery, make my own healthy
breakfast, think longingly
of the days when my half-cup of coffee
was filled to the top with a
matching measure of Kentucky’s finest.
Just thinking, you understand.

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.

THE DREAMS I DO NOT CHOOSE. By Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozábal

Though I seem to sleep soundly,
I am carrying my burdens inside.
I walk in mud. My name is mud
in the dreams I do not choose.

If I could be a stick in the mud,
at least I would not be mud. Grief
follows me into my dreams. It
forces me to swallow tears of mud.

I cannot sleep for too long. I am
looking to fill my days with rest I
cannot find in sleep. Perhaps I
could lay drunk on the seaside sand.

I could sit as a stone and look to
the heavens, bird watching, cloud
surfing, seeking enlightenment 
that cannot be found in dreams.

Luis was born in Mexico, lives in California, and works in the mental health 
field in Los Angeles, CA. His poems have appeared in Ariel Chart, Beatnik Cowboy,
Dope Fiend Daily, Unlikely Stories, and Zygote In My Coffee.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

After an Old Town by Chuka Susan Chesney

Wild Turkey binge, 
lost in the shock absorber 
of my brain, I pedaled home  
from the Blind Donkey Bar,
astride my bike, 
waving goodbye

to my friends driving by 
in the nearest one-way
lane. Then I crashed into  
a trash can before spinning
landed with my temple
on the Green St. curb.

My portside ear no longer
heard, splayed
peanut bowled, I was 
tossed by handlebars
beside the debris of jacaranda leaves
where the bittersweet gutter
flowed beneath my jaw. 

I had a concussion, 
friends threw me 
in their car,
curled like an ear, I  
grimaced under stars  
on the scuffed leather seat
over stone deaf rocks
of sweet vermouth sleep.

Wind tunnel spokes
in a Pasadena sky
where my hearing 
was timpanied by
too much bar hopping. 
I woke in the morning,
texted my mom.

She came and carted me 
to Emergency
in the shotgun of her SUV,
my bicycle a pretzel,
granny knotted to a pole.

Chuka Susan Chesney is an artist and a poet. Her poems, art, and/or flash fiction have been published in Peacock Journal, Inklette, New England Review, Compose, Picaroon, and Lummox. Chesney’s paintings and collages have been in exhibitions and galleries across the United States.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Twelve Bar Lullaby a blues for Geoffrey. By Jedediah Smith

When your best friend lies dead 
there’s no more singing the blues
they’re sung 
or back seat drinking rum
it’s gone
slipped out the same backdoor 
where it all began

the plans
aren’t plans
no more
’cause they’re buried

Just another felt hat   
(but he wore sunglasses at the movies)
Just another redneck
(but he owned six pairs of identical purple jeans)
Just another flash in the American night 
driving on the edge
so long

No more key
no more kingdom
no more starting over

Only odd sideway stares
at a long grey box
and one less voice.
We’re sung.

Jedediah Smith teaches literature, mythology, and whatever he can get away with at City College of San Francisco. His poetry has been published in California Quarterly, Ekphrastic Review, Mojave River Review, and The American Journal of Poetry. He also edited Parlando: Collected Poems of Ray Clark Dickson.

The Stranger By B. Lynne Zika

I am the stranger beside you. Forgive me. My clothes scatter dust. Who can blame an infant for hunger or a dying man for thirst? I am the st...