Tuesday, March 31, 2020

CURRENCY by Tim Suermondt

My father never made much money,
never mind rich. His dream of owning
a saloon died many times.

He just didn’t understand
that anyone who always railed
against “the big shots”
for “screwing the little guy”
didn’t stand a chance.

I’d like to think that wherever
he is now, his stock portfolio
is rising everyday, profits coming in

faster than shooting stars—
and that, of course,
as I could have told him,
he’ll try to give all his money away.

Tim Suermondt is the author of five full-length collections of poems, the latest JOSEPHINE BAKER SWIMMING POOL  from MadHat Press, 2019. He has published in Poetry, Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, The Georgia Review, Bellevue Literary Review, Stand Magazine, december magazine, Galway Review and Plume, among many others. He lives in Cambridge (MA) with his wife, the poet Pui Ying Wong.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Hudson Street @ White Horse Tavern by Carrie Magness Radna

Hudson Street has been slowly manicured for rich tourists.
I walked towards the White Horse Tavern,
wondering if the strong spirit of
Dylan Thomas was still drinking at the bar,
or, at least, smoking outside by the sidewalk—

I ordered a $7 Stella Artois at the bar (It was all I could afford),
now freshly manicured in mahogany wood.
I silently toasted to Mr. Thomas.
Was he ever mad when Mr. Zimmerman stole his first name?

I was mad the cheap, Kitschy 80s-style Bar is now gone,
a happy, boozy-aided memory with its cheap, greasy burgers.
The bar patrons are now comfortably settled into their late 20s.

Visions of Dylan Thomas were everywhere in the back rooms.
Was he there waiting? (I doubt it...)
The cheap places are steadily disappearing,
no matter the nostalgia or the mortal neighborhood outrage—
we can only talk & walk the walk with lots of money.

Where has all the old New York haunts gone?
Where are artists, musicians & writers supposed to go now?
Is Hudson Street a lost cause?

Carrie Magness Radna is an audiovisual cataloger at New York Public Library, a choral singer and a poet who loves traveling. Her poems have previously appeared in The Oracular Tree, Mediterranean Poetry, Muddy River Poetry Review, Shot Glass Journal, Poetry Super Highway, Polarity eMagazine, Walt’s Corner, The Poetic Bond (VIII & IX), First Literary Review-East and Jerry Jazz Musician. Her first chapbook, Conversations with dead composers at Carnegie Hall (Flutter Press) was published in January 2019, and her self-published chapbook, Remembering you as I go walking (Boxwood Star Press) was published in August 2019. Her first poetry collection, Hurricanes never apologize (Luchador Press) was published in December 2019. Born in Norman, Oklahoma, she lives with her husband in Manhattan.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

After that first lonely night. By Tony Pena

She’s gone and I can’t tell
if I’m shallow or deep ,
with the only sure thing
being I can’t swim
for shit and I’m drowning.
A cramp under rib pulling
muscle like silly putty.
The water in my lungs
rising so fast I had
to go to a specialist
to address the telltale
signs of a broken heart.

My sorry ass dragged
over to see a doctor
of love with so many
initials after his name,
his card like a spoonful
of alphabet soup. First,
he cupped my balls
for an uncomfortable
period of time asking
for cough after cough
as jewels jostled about
in Captain Queeg’s fingers.

Trying hard to think
of anything else waiting
for the stethoscope,
the many songs sung
about the maudlin subject
came to mind with me
wondering if the beat
of a busted heart would
still  swoosh swoosh or
rather bumble like a bass
drum duct taped after
a battle of the bands.

But the white coat puts
the cold instrument
on my ear and I thought,
what a fucking quack,
looking for the Cracker
Jack seal on the diplomas
hanging crooked on nail
popped , grey, and soulless
walls figuring the payoff
once I sue the mansions,
yachts, and BMWs out
of this joker for malpractice.

But it turns out that vacant
weedy real estate between
the ghosts of Van Gogh
ears is where this particular
ache was located,
angry and infected
yet stone cold silent,
kind of like that riddle
about the sound a tree
makes falling in the forest,
waking up the dead who
don’t make any noise either .

A tune of forgotten tongue,
cold on slab and tone
deaf with no words ,
no music, no nothing,
making for a mute
corpse as opposed
to a garrulous ghost.
Brutal the burden
when the heart
has gone the way
of bones buried
six feet deep.

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:

Saturday, March 28, 2020

The Many Moods Of Barbwire by DAH

There’s avant-garde in every word / every
terminal illness, wilting, dying / in sleep:
a photograph fades white. Those empty
eyes filled with air / a measured dose of
doubt between hopes. Circling the drain
where the hole keeps pulling / filled with
possibilities: the oldest dark, a trail cutting
through / like geodes sliced for their dazz
-ling inner beauty.

Abducted is a story told as quickly as lies
/ suicide: a lonely cancer eating the living
to death. The avant-garde in birdsongs, in
one’s last breath / in the cursive of tongues
in the serpent’s pitched-fork, like any sad
evil holding to its conviction. All distances
/ if not reached / are myths. Holding your
breath is not suicide / even when the light-
shapes arrive.

There are hands searching, like weak bones
in mass graves / to find or to not find the
end of breaking down. Rumors are games
played / like the beginning and ending of
a long maze: is it the entrance or the exit /
pleasure or pain / a shortness of breath or
the start of life. The avant-garde: a womb,
like the many moods of barbwire / a refuge
for the straight who are bent.

DAH is a multiple Pushcart Prize and Best Of The Net nominee, and the lead
editor for the poetry critique group, The Lounge. The author of nine books of
poetry, DAH lives in Berkeley, California, and has been teaching yoga to children
in public and private schools since 2005. He is working on his tenth poetry book,
which is due for release in September 2020, from Clare Songbirds Press.   

Friday, March 27, 2020

15 SECONDS OF FAME (NOT THIS TIME) by Bradford Middleton

I’ve been drinking again
But am desperate to get the word out
There for someone to read and
I beg to no one cos no one will listen
And no one will read as
Today is just another day
Another day in the constant struggle
Of being a contemporary poet who
Don’t use instragam and uses a
Machine that don’t even
Recognise that word or this language
To get their word out there and
All i got to say is hurrah!

Never shall 15 seconds of fame come
From writing something for those
With such a short attention span
That i got to be an immortal cos
Come on, have i held your
Attention until now.  If i have,
Thanks a bunch, wanna buy a book
Cos there are probably some lying
Around that maybe i’ll let you
Have for the price of a beer.

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. 

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Flickering by Susan Tepper

Some are built for love
count that 3 ways, Mister—
And nice of you
unlocking the back door
letting me blow in 
with the end of winter
the desiccated leaves, stars
half-lit in preparation.
You must’ve sensed 
a nearby straggler
the single candle
flickering on the bar
A huge relief— hair’s
a mess and thanks twice
for the generous pour and
saying you appreciate 
the company— 
A thousand lifetimes, this, 
though I keep it to myself,
drink slowly, a running stream
that dumps in an ocean
no larger than a tack.

Susan Tepper is the author of eight published books of fiction and poetry. Her most recent book just out in June is a road novel titled “What Drives Men.” It was shortlisted at American Book Fest Best Book Awards. Other honors and awards include eighteen Pushcart Nominations, a Pulitzer Prize Nomination for the novel “What May Have Been” (Cervena Barva Press, and currently being adapted for the stage), NPR’s Selected Shorts Series, Second Place Winner in Story/South Million Writers Award, Best Story of 17 Years of Vestal Review, Shortlisted 7th in the Zoetrope Novel Contest (2003), Best of the Net and more. Tepper is a native New Yorker.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Goodbye forever. By Marc Carver

I walk past the next door neighbour in the park 
but she doesn't really want to talk nobody does anymore.
I get a bit closer to her and ask how she is doing.
She looks very worried as she pushes her young son into the sky on the swing.
We chat for a bit 
and as I walk away her son says goodbye and I say goodbye to him.
Only the next day do I think it is safer to say see you later now 
after all 
goodbye really could mean goodbye forever.

 I do little else but write even when I don't write I am looking at ways and for things to write about so thanks to the world for giving me something to see

Wait For by Paul Brookes

cloud to rise clear to the head
on your newly pulled pint.
Check his got his glasses, lad.
So he can find his way to the bar.

Lasses laughter cracks a jig a pick,
breaks up roads of reference.

He's chuffing googling it.
Bar's over yon, I say.
I've an empty here.

Lad puts away his phone
as if its the crown jewels.

As tha had to use satnav?"
Says his mate. " I can see bottom
of me glass.

You take a sup of yours.

Paul Brookes is a shop asst. His chapbooks include The Fabulous Invention Of Barnsley, (Dearne Community Arts, 1993). The Headpoke and Firewedding (Alien Buddha Press, 2017), A World Where and She Needs That Edge (Nixes Mate Press, 2017, 2018) The Spermbot Blues (OpPRESS, 2017), Forthcoming Stubborn Sod, (Alien Buddha Press, 2019), As Folk Over Yonder ( Afterworld Books, 2019). He edits The Wombwell Rainbow Interviews.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

COVID 19. by John Clayton

I could have had her when I was young
but was too afraid of bats to let her touch me.
Now I am old
but still only know her by reputation.

She’s slippery, they say.  Always changing.
One day an eagle.  The next day a wolf.
Invisible.  Depending on the day.  A changling.
You can not see her, but you will know she was there.

Just listen to the wails
for what she has wrought.
Those poor souls who did not live to tell the tale.
When you can not see her, how can you say you have even fought.

I hear she will set you on fire.
make you dizzy and short of breath.
If you are young and healthy,
kiss her full on the lips, but only if you like danger more than health.

Only 15 and they’ll soon be well.
Many more than that have tolled the bell.
Trust for POTUS should not be rare.
Just don’t trust Bone Spurs, he doesn’t care.

I want to live.  I want to escape.
I will do it by hiding, not wearing a cape.
I will stay in my hole to guard my health,
because life’s breath is all of my wealth.

It’s really very simple, if you don’t get tested,
no one can prove she has visited you.
It doesn’t matter, if you are cold and blue
and it doesn’t matter if she has lain with you.
You’ve only one life.  Only one! Never two.

To the Evil Spirits, Hoodoos and Changlings
raise your glass.
Send them all to Hell.
They can kiss my ass.

John Clayton lives in rural Maries County, Missouri with his wife, Dawn, on 56 acres where, with the exception of invasive spices and the garden, nature is left to her own devices. John has been published in Gasconade Review and online in Wine Drunk Sidewalk: Ship Wrecked in Trumpland.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Baby Teeth by Don Robishaw

Seventeen years old, I’m standing in front of The Golden Tap beside my girlfriend’s apartment. A long haired, dark eyed Romanian girl in her twenties lives above the Acme Paint Store with her family in a crowded tenement. Gray paint chips, empty cans in the yard, and the smell of lead helps keep the rent low.
  A rare moment alone with that young lady, leaves lingering scars from pointy red nails on both cheeks. As we roll around on the floor, she raises her eyebrows, “Don’t be too happy there, Willie. We’ll never get married.”
  “Say what? I still got teeth coming in.”
She laughs.


Don Robishaw’s collection of five FF tales found in, ‘Bad Road Ahead’ was the Grand Winner in Defenestrationism, 2020 Flash Fiction Suite Contest.

Don’s short story entitled,’Bad Paper Odyssey’ was a semi-finalist in Digging Through the Fat 2018 Chapbook Contest.

His work has also recently appeared in The Rye Whiskey Review, Drunk Monkeys, Literary Orphans, Crack-the-Spine, FFM, O’ Dark Thirty, among other venues.

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

Before he stopped working to write he ran educational programs for homeless shelters. Don's also well-traveled, using various ways and means: Sailor, Peace Corps Volunteer, bartender, hitchhiker, world traveler, college professor, and circus roustabout.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Santa Barbara patron by Leisha Nicole Stanek

jaywalking is easy in the silence of the city
lights turn go and stop while I stand
on the dividing double yellow line
contemplating oncoming headlights -
but I see none.
you poor soul -
seduction, you tried, for hours and hours
and once I fell for your promised hotel room
I hollered at you sauntering in the wrong direction
lost on the pavement, dismissed by left shoulder glance.
the unfortunate repercussion
of being one dozen years my junior -
can’t responsibly hold your liquor
food and water are saviors when sex lingers
in the dark early morning hours.
was the lesson contemplated at all
as you helped me sweep
the patron’s side of the bar space?
using the broom to partner dance
instead of collecting straws and foot dirt;
disappearing down chrome plated stairs
to wait until I finished counting the day.
darling, your loss;
these Iowa hips
would’ve given you a new perspective
on your first visit to the Midwest.

Leisha Nicole Stanek
Midwestern woman wandering, writing, welcoming the shared energy of humans to piece together our purpose. Collector of art, books, tattoos and men between sheets. If whiskey laced coffee were a permissible and actual form of daily hydration; tomorrow it would begin.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

sting operation by Ben Newell

None of this would’ve been possible without the five tallboys he had swilled back at his apartment.  Liquid courage.  Or was it liquid stupidity? Either way, Simon was here, parked at the Mid-South Motor Court at 10:30 on a Saturday night.
Time to put up or shut up.  Despite his emboldening buzz, Simon was nervous.  And with damned good reason . . .

He had watched enough TV to know of the risks associated with pay for play.  Sting operations were all too real.  Piper had seemed sufficiently sincere on the phone.  Still, it was impossible to know for sure.  She might be a decoy.  The cops could be inside right now, holed up in an adjoining room, coiled and itching to take him down.
Simon killed the engine and sat tight.  He held his cell phone in both hands, debating whether or not to make the call.  Piper had told him to give her a ring as soon as he arrived.  Then and only then would she give him her room number. 

He sighed wearily, regarding his shabby surroundings.  The place was a total dump, one of several hourly rate establishments dotting a seedy stretch of highway.
“What in the hell are you doing here?” he muttered.

The answer came immediately, an authoritative voice booming inside his head:  Trying to get laid, Simon.  Because you haven’t gotten a piece of ass in almost eight months and you’re desperate and horny and starting to lose it.
It was true.  Simon’s current drought was taking a considerable toll on his self-esteem, not to mention his sanity.  Night after night found him at various watering holes hoping to get lucky.  But he kept striking out, again and again and again. 

Now, facing another jerk off session in his apartment, a desperate and determined Simon made the call.  Piper picked up on the second ring.
“Are you here?” 

“I’m here.” 

“You’re not a cop, are you?”

“Hell no,” Simon said.  “Are you?”

Piper’s laugh segued into a hacking cough.  When she finally recovered, she gave him the room number. 


       It was midnight when a freshly showered Simon opened the sliding glass door and stepped out onto the little balcony of his apartment.  He lit a celebratory Swisher Sweet and cracked open the last tallboy of his six-pack, basking in his recent victory.
The drought is over, he thought.  Back in the game . . .

Piper’s online ad had been somewhat misleading.  She had definitely gained weight since those photos were taken, gained weight and acquired many lines on her face.  But he couldn’t complain.  She had provided a good service at a reasonable rate.
Simon puffed on his cigar and laughed at himself for having been so paranoid.  Sting operation.  He shook his head in dismay.  What a joke.  You watch too much TV, Simon.  Way too much.
He took a hefty swig of beer.
And felt excruciating pain in his throat . . .

Cigar clenched between his teeth, Simon dropped the can and clutched his neck with both hands.  He sputtered and gagged.  The cigar plummeted as something flew out of his mouth, but he hardly noticed.  He was in a state of panic.  His throat was on fire.  He could feel his windpipe swelling, closing up.  It was getting harder and harder to breathe.
His phone was on the nightstand in the bedroom.  He had to call 911.  This was an emergency.  He needed help.  He was dying.

Simon made it inside, made it to his bedroom, but that’s all he managed before the room started to spin.  The floor dropped.  And he went down.


Outside on the balcony, a wasp alighted beside the dropped 16 oz. can and proceeded to imbibe.  Bud Light Lime.  Good riddance, the wasp thought, hoping the next tenant would buy some better fucking beer.


Ben Newell dropped out of the Bennington Writing Seminars during his first semester, eventually resuming his studies at Spalding University where he earned an MFA.  His first full-length collection of poetry, Fuzzball, was recently published by Epic Rites Press.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Drunken Moon. By John C. Mannone

It’s a blue moon tonight, but it’s not really blue,
just platinum on the cusp of August and it’s hot,
just as it’s been in Alabama last week or Maryland
on the beach years ago when I was ten. You were
seventy-two and drinking Chianti from a jug-poured
orange juice glass with a dozen facets running
up and down the glass. Thank you for those few
sips of red wine. You taught me never to cheat
myself—that there was no need to sneak a drink,
let alone get drunk, except years later I might
have just once, just once in a blue moon.

Today, I don’t get drunk—I don’t care what phase
the moon is in. And I don’t drink that Blue Moon
beer either. The orange slice wouldn’t make it
palatable anyway, especially in the bitter hot
dog days of summer when I might want to drink
myself silly because I was thinking about you
just wishing you were here, Dad, to sip a little
starlight with me and reel in the joy of a drunken

John C. Mannone has poems appearing/accepted in the 2020 Antarctic Poetry Exhibition, North Dakota Quarterly, The Menteur, Blue Fifth Review, Poetry South, Baltimore Review, and others. His poetry won the Impressions of Appalachia Creative Arts Contest (2020). He was awarded a Jean Ritchie Fellowship (2017) in Appalachian literature and served as celebrity judge for the National Federation of State Poetry Societies (2018). His latest of three collections, Flux Lines: The Intersection of Science, Love and Poetry, is forthcoming from Linnet’s Wings Press (2020). He edits poetry for Abyss & Apex and other journals. A retired physics professor, he lives near Knoxville, Tennessee. http://jcmannone.wordpress.com

Thursday, March 19, 2020

With a Wicked Certainty. By John Pietaro

The rush of sound soars passed my ears   
At a pace faster than seems natural.   
But it’s welcome.  
The taste of bourbon on vermouth  
Slides over my lips as  
The rush of some sports event  
Rings over multiple televisions in concert,  
And well out of gaze.  
I have no idea whose playing or whether it be   
Ball game, tennis match or  
Horse race.   
Probably not   
A tennis match.  
And the scent of loud pilsner   
Strikes my nostrils with a wicked certainty.  

-John Pietaro, Nov 2, 2018, 7:25pm

loud tavern, Bay Ridge, Brooklyn NY

Photo By Sherry Rubel

John Pietaro is a writer, poet, spoken word artist and musician as well as curator of the “West Village Word” series at CafĂ© Bohemia NYC. A native of Brooklyn NY, Pietaro is columnist and critic of the NYC Jazz Record and currently engaged in book project Shifting the Jazz Narrative: photo essays of women instrumentalists for the Berklee College Institute of Jazz and Gender Studies. He is also writing a first novel, among other ventures. Credits include poetry chapbook Smoke Rings (2019), short fiction collection Night People (2013), a chapter in Paul Buhle/Harvey Pekar’s SDS: A Graphic History (2007) and numerous published essays, reviews, poems, reportage and fiction. As a performer, he’s shared the stage with Allen Ginsberg, Amina Baraka, Pete Seeger, Karl Berger, Steve Dalachinsky and many others. Pietaro fronts the post-punk neo-Beat duo Shadows with bassist Laurie Towers.  http://JohnPietaro.com

You Can Run By Alec Solomita

The blues quotes Joe Louis as I take a hit of weed. The blues says to me, “You can run but you can’t hide.” Been running pretty well until t...