Friday, July 31, 2020


why can’t you buy liquor
in a thrift store
those slightly used bottles

that opened bottle of champagne
popped to ask the question
but he said no

perhaps that chocolate wine
given as a dinner party gift
unsure who gave it so you can’t regift

that bottle of old red wine
a touch of cork taint to the wine snob
but most would sip it unnoticed

perhaps that bottle of scotch
too peaty for your unsophisticated tastebuds
stored in the back of the booze cabinet for years

upscale resale & upcycle recycle
yes indeed there should really be
a liquor thrift store

Terrence Sykes is a GASP Gay Alcoholic Southern Poet & was born and raised in the rural coal mining area of Virginia. Although he is a far better cook &  gardener – his  poetry - photography - flash fiction has been published in India, Mauritius,Scotland, Spain and the USA. ..Other interests include heirloom vegetable research & foraging wild edibles .

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Futility and Other Sins by Lauren Scharhag

I have tasted defeat so many times
I can tell you what wine to pair with it.
I have felt futility carve into me
its Sisyphean groove.
I have glimpsed bitterness myopically,
like a pair of broken reading glasses
at the end of the world.
Rejection is the dominatrix that stings me
and keeps me coming back for more.
I am not the friend to the downtrodden
I had aspired to be in youth.
I have never been the rescuer
of a single marooned sea star, even
when the opportunity presented itself,
but stood instead on the desolate shore,
as if in a doorway,
awaiting grace or ubuntu to show up
and drag me from my hermitage.
I’ve wrung every drop from solitude
as I’d wring the juice from a prickly pear,
stranded, parched, along the Devil’s Highway.
I cling to apathy the way a passenger
clings to the drop-down oxygen mask
as the jet spirals to the ground,
believing, with a sort of holy urgency,
that I must help me before I help anyone else,
that I cannot pour from an empty cup.
I realize I, too, am a gasping starfish,
a distressed passenger at the mercy of gravity.

Lauren Scharhag is the author of fourteen books, including Requiem for a Robot Dog (Cajun Mutt Press) and Languages, First and Last (Cyberwit Press). Her work has appeared in over 100 literary venues around the world. Recent honors include the Seamus Burns Creative Writing Prize, two Best of the Net nominations, and acceptance into the 2021 Antarctic Poetry Exhibition. She lives in Kansas City, MO. To learn more about her work, visit:

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Foxhead ends the night by Leisha Nicole Stanek

PBR, Jim rocks, Fernet and cash.
tell me about your lady friend
if you have one
where does she go?

I like your coat and its buttons.
I’d do them up and revel in patterns
chasing the throat while
thinking about
your deep kissing lips
and your want to be romantic
after pressing my windpipe with
your ulna.
always a never-ending hip assault
and you don’t give me enough
for immediate orgasm
because you won’t let me in.

okay, one more Fernet and I’m gone.
the Wildlife channel has me chained
down to the barstool that you claimed:

geometric light portholes form;
a door ajar, illuminating memories.
the strong tank in the men’s bathroom recalls
ten minutes of grunts when I bowed
and gripped to your thrusts from behind
three months ago after locked doors.

floor weights in your steps
under this cracked leather seat
sealed in matched duct tape.
steel leg distress in presence
how are we doing in time
close to the end
thirty seconds to finish
on path to pull neon cords.

goodnight, for now, tender -
my American spirit calls.

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.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Johnny Cash Was A Friend Of Mine. By Dennis Moriarty

Johnny Cash was a friend of mine

Age and distance no barrier to friendship.
And over the years I lost count
Of the pills he popped the women he shagged
The booze that he drank
The men that he shot and the songs that he sang.
We met for the first time in San Quentin
State prison
He on the stage and me in the front row
Of a south London bar.
And together we toured the world wrecking hotel rooms
painting walls black
Taking many an axe to many a door when many
A handle would do.
We carried our guitars like riffles slung over our backs
Shooting from the hip
Spraying songs like bullets where ever we went.
A generous man a man generous to a fault he shared with me
His women his pills and his booze
Showed me how easy it was to surrender my soul to the devil
And I did again and again until it became an addiction
So easy to feed
Hell becoming my ultimate holiday destination.
A generous man so generous in fact he asked nothing more
In return than a slice of my sanity an appreciative ear
And the last dregs of my pride.

Yes I’m proud to say that Johnny Cash was a friend of mine.

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, July 27, 2020

A Spatial Issue by Susan Tepper

We had parted for a span of about six months.  At that time he wore a shaved head. Now he has butter yellow flanks of egg noodles to his shoulders.  A long, dark, empty narrow trench down the middle of his wig.

A place where flies sat after he came in the other night from a hard rain.  Flies perched on the hair sucking water from the trench.  He felt nothing.  I had to tell him, “You have flies drinking from your head.”

Once, I thought I could love him.  I saw us together munching from little cups of mandarin oranges, or sharing raisins while we did the crossword.  It was a dreamy little bit of my own making.  Those are the worst, most desperate kinds. They never foster love but push it away.  

Who could possibly love when the whole scenario was pre-arranged in the mind of the other?  But, I am digressing.
Before him had been a confusing time.  My inability to find love.  Lasting love.  Transient love.  Dog love.  Any love.  Even my dog turned.  Like I said, it was a confusing time.  

I fed my dog high quality dog food, walked it around the square and picked up its leavings.  I never deserted the dog even when the weather was so foul I had to walk it during my bronchitis.  
One day the dog woke up and just hated my guts.  Its rich brown eyes had flattened into dead black olives.  You might say the light had gone out of the dog’s eyes.  

Next thing, I meet a guy with a shaved head (you know who).  Sweet person, all in all.  Very caring.  Invites me to Pizza Express where it took over one hour to provide us with our salad pizza.  Which came with the hole in the middle but no salad.   He didn’t once yell at the wait-person or storm the pizza station where four guys looking very high kept flipping dough in the air despite that he gestured to them and pointed at our table.  

He came back, sat down and just ordered more pints, then more still.  Finally we left without eating our pizza.
We both knew he had me in the palm of his cold from the bottle hand.  Which, once it warmed up, no longer wanted me.

So the dog dies and soon after I bump into him again near the fountain crawling with tourists for London Fashion Week.
After we say our Hallo Hallo, I ask if he will be taking photos at the shows.  
Why’d you think so? he wanted to know.
I was momentarily speechless.  After all.  He did have on that yellow wig and I thought it might be his idea of a cool fashion statement.  We sort of picked up where we had left off though I prefer the clean smoothness of his skull.  And though I’ve yet to tell him, I’ve felt that bone stuck in my windpipe.  
It’s all I can do to look at him consumed by thirsty flies.
On Friday, I swatted at the flies with a pamphlet on his coffee table advertising Fashion Week.  It hit his aviators and sent them sailing.  The flies returned a moment later.  
Finally, I could no longer stand it.  As if a surgeon made a long narrow incision and left the rest to fate.  In our case, it was a spatial issue.  The flies merely took advantage.
In the early morning hours, with no light creeping at the corners of the window blinds, I make my escape.  I slip out of his bed and into my clothes, giving the flies one last shivery glance.  Everything sorted.  Unaware, he snored lightly.  Carrying my shoes, on tiptoe, I shut the door to his flat.
Flies are hanging around his buzzer, as if they know.

Susan Tepper is the author of nine published books of fiction and poetry.  Her most recent titles are CONFESS (poetry published by Cervena Barva Press, 2020) and the road novel WHAT DRIVES MEN (Wilderness House Press, 2019).  Tepper has received many honors and awards.  She’s a native New Yorker.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Dust Jackets Imply what your Book will be Gathering. By Ryan Quinn Flanagan

It’s as if they know right from the beginning
and plan for the flop, hold back a little of that push money
when the time comes to put yourself out there,
put a jacket over the bloody thing to keep it warm 
during critic season –
dust jackets imply what your book will be gathering;
straight from the printers to the “special archives”
section of some nowhere university library 
that may as well be storing dead bodies on ice
so that when they come back at you, it is YOU that 
didn’t sell and never them, because THEY are in the business
of selling which means you always fail 
and they never do.

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.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Hazard Lights by Ivan Jenson

I speed
over the limit
as I drive on
she who eludes
and evades me
at a leisurely pace
I just can't get a grip of
the raw stuff of love
and they say
it will happen
when I least
expect it
like an angel
who knows how
to change a tire
at the side of
some lonely highway
who also happens
to have a lug wrench
and a spare desire

Ivan Jenson is a fine artist, novelist and contemporary poet. His artwork was featured in Art in America, Art News, and Interview Magazine and has sold at auction at Christie’s. Ivan was commissioned by Absolut Vodka to make a painting titled Absolut Jenson for the brand’s national ad campaign. His Absolut paintings are in the collection of the Spiritmusuem, the museum of spirits in Stockholm, Sweden.  

Jenson's painting of the “Marlboro Man” was collected by the Philip Morris corporation. Ivan was commissioned to paint the final portrait of the late Malcolm Forbes.  Ivan has written two novels, Dead Artist and Seeing Soriah, both of which illustrate the creative and often dramatic lives of artists. Jenson's poetry is widely published (with over 600 poems published in the US, UK and Europe) in a variety of literary media. A book of Ivan Jenson's poetry was recently published by Hen House Press titled Media Child and Other Poems, which can be acquired on Amazon. 

Two novels by Ivan Jenson entitled, Marketing Mia and Erotic Rights have been published hardcover. Ivan Jenson’s new novel, Gypsies of New Rochelle has been released by Michelkin Publishing. Ivan Jenson's website is:

Friday, July 24, 2020

Stop The Presses. By John Patrick Robbins

The view from the floor is always a bit confusing.
And when that said floor, is the restroom of your favorite bar. It just makes it
all that more interesting.

Considering the place smelled like a bucket of piss and Shorty the owner.
 Never seemed to wipe down the bar, let alone mop the bathroom floor.
Frank abandoned all hope to salvage his often semi shabby wardrobe.

Walking out into the bar it was clear the party was over and everyone had gone home.
And somehow had left the drunken kid in the candy store all alone.
So being he was locked in he figured he would make himself at home as best he could.

He grabbed a bag of chips, took a bottle from the bar and flipped on a twenty four hour news station .

The news anchor was rattling on, about the idiot in the white house as usual.
The virus was everywhere and a fool fanned the flames in every direction.
It was the same shit every day and the reason Frank had largely ignored the news.
So much to the point, one day he was on the opposite side of his current problem.

As he stood outside of Castros, scratching his head wondering why he could not get his usual lunch time routine. 
Of a bowl of Beam and a club sandwich.
Which forced him to dial the owner Dan “Shorty” Martin.

“Hey , you little fat fuck what you die or are you just getting so old you forgot its Monday?”

“If I was dead would I be answering the phone you stupid prick?”

The little gruff voice replied.

Frank cracked up at that one as Shorty, was like a living cartoon character.
Always grouchy and utterly hilarious .

“Fuck Frank, go home and watch the fucking news for a change and sincerly piss off !”

Shorty hung up the phone and Frank took his favorite dive bar owner's advice .

The world was going into lockdown and soon it would be a full blown pandemic.
Taking lives and striking fear and wreaking havoc  all over this world.

Riots spread like wildfires people turned on each other, at  the drop of a dime.
Hatred had become the new norm and the mags, were cluttered with covid writes 
social justice rants .

It was a total shit storm and through it all Frank just kept penning the lines that few and fewer were reading these days,
People didn't want stories about men being drunk skirt chasers.
In truth in these times people didn't need words, they needed change and settled for rage fueled destruction instead.

Frank turned off the tv and turned on the jukebox instead.
Dialed the owner who after this shit had started, seemed to age at least fifty years.

“What the hell do you want?”

“Well hello, to you as well there sunshine, just sitting here at the bar wondering if you might like to swing by and let me out.
 Or at least tell me where you hide the pillows.
 So I can catch some zzz's on the pool table.”

There was a slight pause before the old fart replied,which made Frank question had he
 given the old fart a damn heart attack.

“I’m going to fire Shirley tomorrow and you better pay for the damages you bastard!”

“Yeah you really need to get some better  help around this place pal.”

“Yeah well if you could keep your dick out of my bartenders would really help .”

Frank cracked up at that one as he poured himself another as the Whorehouse Blues began playing from the jukebox.

“Hey I never did a damn thing to Stuart gramps .”

“That’s just because he is a man and turn that fucking jukebox off for fucks sake ! 

Are you brain damaged or something ?  I am on my way, so just try not to do something stupid.
To attract any more attention than you already have you drunk prick.”

Frank didnt turn off the jukebox, being he had five songs left.

So he simply got some change and put it into the pool table.
He had already made the break when Shorty in his pajama bottoms and semi clean undershirt finally arrived to the party.

“About time you showed there sweetheart, you got the stripes pour yourself a beer on me.”

Shorty just shook his head, turned off the jukebox and grabbed a pool cue.

Frank and Shorty were friends by default, the bar owner and the barfly.
 Shared a necessary relationship which is key to one another's existence .

And as they sat at the bar and shot the shit it was a strange magic in the room that held infinite memories for so many including Frank.

The old man looked around the room at the pics on the walls from current friends and old ghosts.
Frank always looked to one of him and Rebecca in what were much better times.

“What's eating at you gramps ? “

Frank asked as he poured another from the half empty bottle.

“I’m losing the place kid, I can barely afford to make the rent. Let alone pay help and all the other shit this virus is killing my business, I just don't know what i'm going to do.”

The old man said as tears welled up in his eyes.

Frank saw the truth behind the gruff exterior beyond these walls Shorty had nothing.

Owning a bar on the outer banks was a always gamble, from the storms always threatening to tear the place apart and the damn turons that about gave him a stroke in the summer.

Castros was a staple down here and more of a home to Frank than his own overpriced tomb.

There was a shared understanding  in the silence.

“Where the fuck did you passout at ? you think that stupid bitch would notice a pair of feet sticking out of a booth.”

“I wish I had passed out in the booth, fucking woke up in that asylum you call a restrooms floor.”

“Jesus Christ  kid! Grab your coat I'm taking you to the emergency room to get a damn tetanus shot just to be on the safe side.”

“As pickled as I am, I do believe I am immune to everything kind sir but I do appreciate the offer 
Hey, want some breakfast?  My treat I mean, seeing how you're losing your ass and everything it's the least I can do .”

“Fuck you! ya fucking prick !”

Shorty replied as he laughed as they were heading out the door into the ocean air.

The old man locked the door and they parted ways as Frank was literally a few paces from home.

That following day Frank sent over some money.
 To at least cover the rent for a few months as the bar would sit closed, a ghost of  a life that seemed would never fully return .

Shorty didn't have much in this life, but even if Castros was to sit, open one week and closed the next.
 Frank thought the least he could do was afford the old guy a peace of mind.

No matter people’s opinions of Frank, he  always paid his tab in full.

John Patrick Robbins, Is the editor in chief of the Rye Whiskey Review and Black Shamrock Magazine. 

His work has been published in. 1870 Magazine, Romingo' s Porch , Heroin Love Songs, Punk Noir Magazine, San Pedro River Review, San Antonio Review,  Red Fez and Piker Press. 

He is also the Author of If Walls Could Speak Mine Would Blush published under his pen  name Frank Murphy from Syndicate Press. 

His work is always unfiltered.


Thursday, July 23, 2020

Summer Love by John Drudge

I had only
Just walked into
The middle
Of the drama unfolding
But bones broke
Beneath her feet
As she moved across
The room toward him
She looked
To gouge his eyes
Spit in the sockets
And sever his spinal marrow
With a spike
She was clearly
Deeply in love
And nights
Are sometimes singular
In the summer heat

John works as a clinical social worker and is the president of a national disability management company. He holds degrees in Social Work, Psychology, and Rehabilitation Services and has studied philosophy extensively.  He is an avid traveler and a long-term student of the martial arts holding a 3rd degree black-belt in Kempo Karate. His diverse educational and experiential background gives him a broad base from which to approach many topics in his poetry. John currently lives with his wife and two children in Caledon, Ontario, Canada. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

In Your Absence by Jake St. John

I spend my minutes
looking towards
the moon

a waning crescent
a sliver
in the night

you there
in the north woods
and me
here in the hills
of my birth

I think of you
below maritime stars
eyes lit
like a field
of mayflowers

I stand
by my pit
of fire

the night
as I would
your neck

my heart
in your hands

one defends
and the other

you have
all of me

I lay myself
down before you
like a vast
tilled field
to be sown

you have
dug your fingers
into the meadows
of my heart

you've planted
your seeds

come fall
we'll harvest grain

Jake St. John spends nights in a fort on the edge of the woods.  He is the author of several collections of poetry including Snow Moon (Holy & Intoxicated Publications, 2019), Lost City Highway (A Jabber Publication, 2019) and Working Man’s Odyssey (Analog Submission Press, 2018). His poems have appeared in print and online journals around the world.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Set for Life by Cord Moreski

for Chet Moreski 
Tearing up another losing lottery ticket
my father tells me as we sit in his backyard  
that if he ever won THE BIG ONE  
he’d give me enough money to be set for life. 
He guzzles his Budweiser tallboy empty 
then mentions the usual suspects—the mansion 
on some sunny island off the grid of the world,  
the baked lobster and shrimp cocktail diet,  
and the muscle car that has fewer miles than my age. 
I chuckle in response listening to crickets chirp   
in grass that hasn’t been mowed in weeks 
knowing damn well that even with all that money 
I don’t mind the view of the sunrise 
from my one-bedroom apartment,

and if I’m stuck eating cheeseburgers  
and chicken wings for the rest of my life 
then I’m certainly okay with that,

and although a new set of wheels is tempting 
my wife and I have an ongoing bet to see 
if my ’94 clunker will reach 300,000 miles. 
I want to tell him all of this  
but I’m interrupted by a quick,  
“But what the hell do I know?” 

I hand him another cold one as we talk 
and laugh under a new summer moon  
stopping every once and a while
to gaze at shooting stars.   

Cord Moreski is a poet from New Jersey. His work has been featured in As It Ought To Be Magazine, Alien Buddha Press, Silver Birch Press, Eunoia Review, The Rusty Truck Press, and several other publications. He is currently working on a new project for late 2020. You can follow Cord here:  

Monday, July 20, 2020

After 9. By Alyssa Trivett

I stood on the porch
and talked to him.
Streetlight clicks on
post thunderstorm and words
start to knock.
I wish I had a ship in a bottle.
I'd take the ship out and
shove the memories of
this last hour
in there, instead,
if they let me....
Or some lost words or
rampant thoughts...
but this young writer
will leave the jumbled stanzas
on the sidelines, for now,
only to finish laundry;
my conundrum
for this evening.

Alyssa Trivett is a wandering soul from the Midwest. When not working two jobs, she chirps down coffee while scrawling lines. Her work has appeared in many places, but most recently at Ex Ex Lit, and Duane's PoeTree site.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

A Scene from The Neighborhood Bar by Don Robishaw

All for conduct unbecoming an officer (and a gentleman?)
Seven steps below street level is a forty-foot mahogany bar in a dim narrow room — tight fit for its legal capacity of thirty-three. A glorious history, dating back to World War Two. Over the years, offbeat and diverse patrons have more than added to the colorful ambience. 
    There’s Sheridan over there, one of those offbeat patrons. In his usual stance, stooped over the bar, big black boot on a brass rail. He says, “It’s the last rodeo.” Pub’s closing its doors for good. Gentrifiers and wheatgrass juicers buying up the neighborhood.
Eyes open wide, “Can anything be done?” asks Jessie. 
“Lease expired. Building owner got an offer he couldn't refuse. Pub lawyers, just about exhausted every avenue available. They fought the good fight, bro!” That they did.
    “Hey, what are we gonna do?”
    Being one of those offbeats, Sheridan says, “Find a place to park. Drinks, would be nice.” On the strange side, even sober. Cups his mouth and yells, “ICE!” Three red-headed lads, stow-a-ways from Dublin, drink up and beat feet toward Boston Hahbah. Known Immigration enforcement agents stop by on occasion. Nice fellas.
    Two sailors, out of uniform, squat on stools and order Newcastle drafts. Furious bartender says, “How many times I told you not to do that? You know how much I’ve lost, ya bastard?”
    “Good to see you too, bro.” To change the topic, Sheridan points his thumb left. “Remember Jessie James?”
      “You still an Admiral, kid?”
    “Conan, I was never a fuckin’ Admiral. They wanted to can my ass. At the court martial my JAG Lawyer made a deal. Here I am, on board The Destiny for another year, stripped of my officer’s commission, and reduced in rank from O-1 to E-1.” 
    “Sorry, didn’t hear about that.” Conan’s pissed off and says, “What — the fuck — did you do this time?” That’s a great question. Sounds like he killed someone.
    Jessie Shakes, “Give me a second. Let me get there. . . A couple of mild indiscretions. Long story short, tried to smuggle my Bonny Anne aboard the icebreaker. You remember her?” A real pip, that one.
    Pointing above the bar to a 5x8 color glossy beside the 2020 rugby league trophy, “Performed the wedding service for her and Sheryl last week.” That’s a bit of a shocker.
     Jessie’s mouth drops, *Cough* Tears fall. “Coast Guard moved in a rescue mission a snowball toss, South of the North Pole, to get her. It was so frigid, only non-frozen liquid aboard was vodka.”
     Conan asks, “How cold was it?”
    “How cold you ask? Wicked fuckin’ cold! The helicopter dispatched to pick her up damn near stalled in mid-air.”
    “Don’t they use saltpeter in the chow anymore? Why in my day—”
    “Shit, didn’t work on me, brother.” 
    The trio laughs loudly. Sheridan sets up shots of Jameson Irish Whiskey on the well known and well-worn original mahogany bar. 
    Conan, from behind the bar, raises his shot glass to his younger brother. “Here’s, to conduct unbecoming an officer.”
    Raising his shot, “Salute.” 
    Oldest brother Conan, long time proprietor of The Neighborhood Bar, with a tear in his eye nods, “It ain’t over til it’s over, boys.” Quietly, the trio throws back the first of many. 
    Together again for the first time since Jessie returned from the sea. Ryan boys, catching up on old times, are just getting started. And drinks keep coming and Friday becomes Saturday and Saturday becomes Sunday. . .

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.

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...