Monday, November 30, 2020

Sheephead by Mark James Andrews

Night fishing with Felix the Cat

a Sheephead is flopping on concrete

pulled out of the soup over the sea wall

behind Cobo Hall where the Mothers

of Invention just finished doing a show.


It’s a swallowed-the-hook dilemma

with the 20 pound test line tangled

in the landing net and lead sinker

with Felix loaded on Ludes

struggling with needle nose pliers


I waltz over with a flash to spotlight

the oral surgery & gullet probing

when a crowd of hippies gather

goggle eyed and loud chanting

about Mud Sharks & Trout Masks.


Felix gets distracted by a girl

in a halter & mini & he starts up

singing Watch me, Watch me, I got it…

When he tugs at the silver fish too hard

out comes the hook & digs in his forearm.


His little queenie jumps back teetering

on her platform heels to move off

with her gang while kicking over a row

of green bottles of Mickey’s Big Mouths

our lineup of dead soldiers Clink, Clink, Clink.

Mark James Andrews continues to live and write on the borderline of Detroit most of the time. He has a fresh chapbook about to drop at any minute titled So I Lit A Fire For The Last Thanksgiving from Alien Buddha Press.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Drugs Are What We Do By John Patrick Robbins

When we no longer can play as children, so we decay as adults.
It's just something to escape and sometimes keep us going.
It starts out easy and seldom ends well.
But it's always memorable in some fashion or the other.
Drugs didn't start with us, but I believe I have done my share
to promote my addictions and exploit my vices.
From the simple joys of alcohol, to the overindulgence of cocaine.
Drugs aren't for everyone because they're really expensive.
But building ships in bottles and collecting ceramic elephants just doesn't seem as cool.
As burning out from a swift decline.
Anything in the name of art and good time.
See ya kids, I need to go meet my dealer and I never like to be late for my doctor's appointment.
I really wish that quack would lend me that pad and I would happily write out my own prescription.
I guess he doesn't trust a junkie.
Kind of strange being he never seemed to mind helping create one.

John Patrick Robbins is the editor in chief of The Rye Whiskey Review.

His work has been published in Fearless Poetry Zine ,Punk Noir Magazine , Spill The Words, The Blue Nib, San Pedro River Review, Heroin Love Songs, 1870 Magazine, Piker Press.

His work is always unfiltered. 

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Stitches by Steve Passey

If you have ever had glue

where you should have had 

stitches because you were too

drunk to shut up, just shut up

and you couldn’t hold onto your

seat, hell, you couldn’t even 

hold onto the floor and

you showed me yours when

I couldn’t even find mine

I’d say that was a pretty 

good time and I’d say let’s

do this again, soon, real soon,

but maybe we’ll start earlier

and not drink so much so fast

and you can decide if we go fast

or go slow and maybe the glue

will be enough.

The End

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

Friday, November 27, 2020

CHEERS by J. Archer Avary

remember the old bars?
they were dark places with 
dim lights
places for the ugly among us
to hide by candlelight and 
beer wine and spirits

back then the bartender
bought your third drink if you tipped
on the first two rounds
and told dirty jokes 
if that’s what you wanted 
and if not
they’d leave you alone

these English pubs lack spirit
the lights are on at full blast and 
there’s never
any music
just the television blaring 
inane quiz shows that are always on

give me an American bar 
somewhere in the upper midwest 
with a shuffleboard table 
and dim lights
where beer is served 
by the pitcher
and everybody knows your name
even if they won’t admit it

J. Archer Avary (he/him) is a former TV journalist. His poems and stories have appeared/are forthcoming in The Daily Drunk, The Remnant Archive, Burnt Breakfast Mag, The Bitchin’ Kitsch, Potato Soup Journal, The Rye Whiskey Review and elsewhere. He left the United States in 2014 and now lives on a tiny island in the English Channel. Twitter: @j_archer_avary

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

DEVOURER by R.M. Engelhardt

I summon thee

The great end 

Of all lives

All things

All time


Killer of worlds

Harbinger of

Death & sorrow

I summon 

Thee and 


I'm sending you


To hell


Of all the consequences

Or the price


Let all


Violence & hatred

End with the

Conjuring of

These words

"Fuck You"

R.M. Engelhardt is a poet, writer & author who's work over the last 20 years has been published in such journals as Thunder Sandwich, Full of Crow, Rusty Truck, Writers’ Resist, Dry Land Lit, Rye Whiskey Review, Hobo Camp Review & many others. He currently lives & writes in Upstate NY and his new books of poetry are entitled "DarkLands" (Published By Whiskey City Press 2019) & "Where There Is No Vision, Poems 2020"  (DeadMansPressInk)

Both are now available on

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

A ‘Wicked’ Blizzard Hits the Golden Tap & Grill. . . By Don Robishaw

Several of us are standing by the cigarette-machine, leaning against the plate-glass window below the blinking neon blue. Suddenly Red-nose Charlie, a long-time regular appears. He drags himself over a snowbank to land on a shoveled path, created just for him.

Tap, tap, tap. 

“Let the old bastard in,” says the bartender.

Charlie enters a darkened room, steps up to the fifty-foot mahogany bar. “Frickin’ cah’s buried.”

Roomful of unshaven laughter. A fellow snowed-in buddy of mine takes off Charlie’s backpack. I fish-out several baggies and toss special warm homemade brownies across the bar. Laughs turn to cheers. Reefer prohibition has ended, down in Massachusetts. 

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.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Through the Fumes of Whiskey by Gregory Luce

Like fallen powerlines

drifting in water her hair

floated toward my face

but stopped just short.

I started then froze.

She spoke: 

Stop asking fools 

for what you had and lost

back there in Texas.

I stared and sniffed

and caught the scent

of whiskey and another,

the smell of air after rain.

What are you wearing,

I asked, eau de bourbon

et l’air? A weak attempt,

but she smiled slightly

and went on. Texas

is Texas and everybody

is from somewhere and you

could get another drink.

She was right.

I was half drunk myself

and not getting there

fast enough. I found the bar.

When I turned around

she was right there.

I couldn’t get past her,

so we sidled, a pair

of snakes trying to

emulate Astaire and Rogers,

toward a dark corner,

ice cubes tinkling like

broken keys in

accompaniment to our

jagged choreography.

What do you know

about me and Texas,

I asked. Her eyes

went vague. Oh,

you know, people

say things. I felt

a sudden chill

and thought someone 

had opened a window.

Luckily the bourbon

was working and

rekindled some warmth.

She was looking off

toward another corner,

eyes half closed, maybe

trying to make someone out.

I have to go see—she

mumbled a name I couldn’t

quite catch and faltered off.

I noticed her boots

for the first time.

Her right foot kept

slanting sideways

as she stumbled across

the room. I felt a bit 

rickety myself. Home

or another whiskey?

I made my way haltingly

toward the bar.

Gregory Luce, author of Signs of Small Grace, Drinking Weather, Memory and Desire, Tile, and Riffs & Improvisations (forthcoming), has published widely in print and online. He is the 2014 Larry Neal Award winner for adult poetry, given by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. He writes a monthly column on the arts for Scene4 magazine. He is retired from National Geographic, works as a volunteer writing tutor/mentor for 826DC, and lives in Arlington, VA.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

The Transformation by John C. Mannone

        This is my blood of the New Covenant,
        which is shed for many.
        —Mark 14:24

I hold the wine in fragile crystal
        till each facet mirrors the cathedral sky

and catches shimmers of stars
        perched on candelabra clouds.

Prayers rain on the sacred liquid,
    each drop, each pulse, I feel

through my tender fingers. I see
    the rafters as cruciform beams

anchored in glass glistening like
    a moonlight-swished burgundy sea.

The image is shaken to glimmers, broken
    by concentric waves from the ebb

of my own heart. It diminishes me.
    Yet I am filled in spaces between the flood.

He touches me
    through those reflections,
    through the torn veil

of liquid transformed to blood,
    His tears mixing with mine.

John C. Mannone has poems accepted in North Dakota Quarterly, the 2020 Antarctic Poetry Exhibition, Foreign Literary Review, The Menteur, Blue Fifth Review, Poetry South, Baltimore Review, and others. His won the Impressions of Appalachia Creative Arts Contest in poetry (2020) and the Carol Oen Memorial Fiction Prize (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 collection, 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.

Drinking with Jerry Jeff by Greg Clary

“You can’t do anything again, but

you can do something similar.”

Jerry Jeff told me that over a cold

Belikin at Pedro’s in Ambergris Caye.

He told me a lot of things.

“I don’t take requests, only suggestions.

Bojangles is played different every night 

‘cause I hate singalongs.” 

Huntington WV, with Willie, was the first.

Then Pittsburgh, NYC, Austin, Alexandria,

Akron, Gruene Hall, a private party in Erie, and

this, a week in Belize.

He leaned in and rumbled,

“Anything worth doing is

worth overdoing.

Tonight, anyway.”

An admiring delilah stopped by 

and said, “You the Man.”

He laughed that laugh and shot back,

“Well, somebody has to be The Man.”

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

Saturday, November 21, 2020

A Drink-Inspired Moment by Jonathan Bracker

When I was a boy, several smartypants

Wise-cracked about my name: “Bracker

Want a cracker?” Hey, Brackercracker!”

That did not bother me, because they

Were not meanies.  And I wanted to be accepted,

As all of us did, in junior high.  Nine years later

When I went to R.O.T.C. summer boot camp,

A dude from Georgia named Pitts was our “character.”

I remember that once between classes he jumped up

On his desk, let loose a fart, and loudly yelled “Gas attack!”

At that, I was what some parents back then called

“Mortified.”  But I envied his popularity, for

I did not do well in boot camp, did not fit in at all.

After five weeks I was so unhappily stressed I determined

To go for the first time to the club Friday night,

Where most of the others were. There, on purpose, I drank much too much.

I remember ordering a pink lady, of all things!

Then I returned early to the barracks, definitely beyond tipsy.

Almost everyone was still off-base, in town. But not Pitts.

He was sitting in barracks flipping through the pages of The Saturday Evening Post.

Inspired, I stumblingly called, “Hey, Pitts, what are you doing?”

“Reading The Saturday Evening Post,” he replied.

It took me only a moment to think of the perfect rejoinder.

Drink-inspired, I let it out: “Pitts, any man who would read

The Saturday Evening Post would . . . screw his own mother.”

Pitts stared at me, as close to aghast as folks from Georgia

Get.  Later that night, he told the others – I know, because

From then on, I was more or less accepted

As not such a sissy after all.  Strange, the things one does not forget --

And all because my last name rhymes with “cracker.”

 Poems by Jonathan Bracker have appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry Northwest, Southern Poetry Review and other periodicals, and in eight collections, the latest of which, from Seven Kitchens Press, is Attending Junior High.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

King Billy by Damian Ward Hey

King Billy sat

on his throne

at the far end of the bar,


We never 

saw him

get up

to piss.


and day,

he sat there.

Never left.

We drank 
our ale,
but not with him.
He drank alone.

We wondered 

at his bladder.

Was there a can?

Where did it all go?

Frank said, “A tube

goes from his pants

into the ground.

He feeds the earth with urine.”

“Yeah?” we said.

“Yeah,” said Frankie.

“And he’s immortal, too.

It’s why he never leaves.”

“Go on,” we said.

“See, he’s always been here.

Since before the dinosaurs.

They built the bar around him.

And he’ll  be here long after we’ve gone.”

“To King Billy,” we said,

and drank a toast.

Eventually, we left the bar

and got on with our lives.

And to this day, when we drive by,

we see King Billy in the window

sitting on his throne, 

at the far end of the bar,


Damian Ward Hey has had poetry published in several places, including Poetry Pacific, Truck, and Cricket Online Review. More recently, his work has appeared in Madness Muse Press, and Formidable Woman Sanctuary. His poems will appear in The Alien Buddha Press’ upcoming conspiracy anthology as well as Melanie Simms’ anthology, Poets with Masks On. He lives on Long Island and is a professor of literature and theory at Molloy College.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Get in – Get Out By Lisa Reynolds

The bartender tells me to drink up

Like there’s a time limit on downing a whiskey

I laugh and gesture for another

He’s a cute one

Sadly, too young for me

But I watch him anyways

Wonder if he’s got a woman at home

Maybe a kid too

Hard to say nowadays

No one shares

Everyone’s in a rush

To get in – get out

So we save our stories for the car ride home

Cabbie’s got no choice but to listen – right?

Lisa Reynolds is a writer of poetry and short stories, known for her reflective writing style. She is published in numerous online and print publications.  She lives in a small community east of Toronto, Ontario.

Santander By John Doyle

Hinterland music hangs like olive trees,
which shroud and shadow parts of town
un-tamed, and the minutes around us, pink and crisp
in setting sun; these are the dialects of Fascist, Communist,
real and sudden across blanket-swept age,
the flags roaring,
the howl of sea shoved in obese sand upon me -
yet, the translations I expect - jangling knives and forks
an encore from Cafe Erica,
mumbling waves - the beach's drowning choir.
Is there more? Past the Casino I shed my sandals,
take tarmac heat and give last rites
to the shore - ancient music that hides
in bloody-red and icy-blue

John Doyle became a Mod again in the summer of 2017 to fight off his impending mid-life crisis; whether this has been a success remains to be seen. He has has two collections published to date, A Stirring at Dusk in 2017, and Songs for Boys Called Wendell Gomez in 2018, both on PSKI's Porch.

He is based in Maynooth, County Kildare, Ireland. All he asks is that you leave your guns at the door and tie up your horses before your enter.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

DMT and the Volteran Man By Ryan Quinn Flanagan


He tells me he just tried DMT for the first time

and that it was fantastic

and I tell him I just had Volteran rubbed over

my lower back and ass because I am getting old

and threw my back out.

We have both had an experience,

though I imagine one was much more life altering

than the other.

That’s what 23 years gets you!

my wife says

rubbing the cream in and pulling my pants

back up.

My back feels better instantly.

My friend probably left his back and body


You can’t throw out your back

if you don’t have one.

Maybe I should try DMT.

My friend is all positive reviews

and he is no bull shitter.

There are very few people you can trust out there,

but my man in the stars is one of them.

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.

Monday, November 16, 2020

A Christmas Gift by Jon Bennett

I feel bad for  
the old tranny whore 
vaguely Asian, psychotic, 
always a smear of lipstick 
coaxing her masculine lips 
into a blowjob pout 
Orally transmitted gonorrhea 
has been going around the Tenderloin 
and one day I see 
her red gash mouth 
is a pustulating volcano 
like a mouthful  
of soggy cornflakes 
Yes, I feel bad for her 
How will she make ends meet? 
Surely no one would insert 
the specified organ 
into that hellhole 
condom or no 
But two weeks later 
she’s fresh as a daisy 
(go ahead Ginsberg 
pull that fucking thing) 
cured somehow 
maybe at the free clinic 
or by the Saint of Whores 
(not Mary, St. Nicholas 
is the Saint of Whores) 
and just in time 
for Christmas. 

Jon Bennett writes and plays music in San Francisco's Tenderloin neighborhood.  You can find more of his work on Pandora and Spotify or by connecting with him on Facebook at

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Camden Town by John Drudge

Wandering the markets
Of Camden Town
In an endless search
For a lifeline
In tune
With the rhythms
Of a deep downbeat
With the punks
And stragglers 
Huddled on the bridge
Hustling tourists 
For just enough 
To score a bag
With lines
Beginning to form
At the Roundhouse
As I wait canal side
For just a glimpse
Of you
Before I slide

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. 


I walked these streets this morning feeling a renewed Sense of understanding as before me people went About their lives in this town where s...