Thursday, December 31, 2020

A BIT OF THE BAR FIGHT IN US ALL by Tim Suermondt

                           The dark boat that bears
                           us away—tell me

                           that’s the one, coming
                           here, that sank.
                                         --Andrea Cohen

If that is the one, I’ll give a Bronx cheer,
adding on “not this time, fella!”

Of course another boat will arrive—
one that can’t be sunk by a host of nuclear

bombs. Someone or something on board
will shout my name, adding on “We’ll

show you, get in now!” And I will, scared
but proud I held out—such a fierce while.





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.


Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Darwinism, 2020 Style by Leah Mueller

If you are in 
your pajamas,
seated at your desk

in front of your Mac
clutching a 
homemade cappuccino,

earning your 
usual salary
while you telecommute 
from your armchair,

congratulations.
You’re a winner.

If you are trapped inside
your studio apartment
trying to call the
unemployment office
1500 times in one week,

wracking your brains
to figure out 
a new recipe for rice
and lettuce,

waiting in line
12 hours for dried beans
and cans of pork,

checking your door
for a 5 day notice
multiple times
in one day,

too bad for you.
You’re a loser.

Shelter at home
is great if you are
lucky enough
to have shelter.
If not, you’d better 
find some quickly, 

and be sure 
not to breathe 
your low-rent toxins
on anybody else.



Leah Mueller is an indie writer and spoken word performer from Bisbee, Arizona.  Her most recent books, "Misguided Behavior, Tales of Poor Life Choices" (Czykmate Press), "Death and Heartbreak" (Weasel Press), and "Cocktails at Denny's" (Alien Buddha ) were released in 2019. Leah’s work appears in Midway Journal, Citron Review, The Spectacle, Miracle Monocle, Outlook Springs, Atticus Review, Your Impossible Voice, and elsewhere. 




Tuesday, December 29, 2020

The Nighttime World Is A Desperate World by Brian Rihlmann

she used to sit at the bar
after a few cocktails
and torture me with secrets
how she loved it hot on her skin
on her face and tits
she’d rub it in like lotion
she said
and I never knew 
whether to believe women
when they talked shit like that
I thought of it as degrading
but back then I didn't yet realize
how many people love 
to be degraded
 
she was about 10 years older 
but she looked good to me
a barfly with dyed black hair
who wore too much makeup
heels that were too high
and skirts that were too short
yet just right
 
from behind the bar
I'd squirm with my hard-on
grin and say
I could help you out
but she was always gone
before my shift was over
and the next time I’d see her
I’d ask where’d ya go?
she’d just laugh and say
I got a better offer
and I’d laugh too
and say, oh really?
 
yep...no one likes to wait around
until 3 a.m. to get what they need
not when there's so many others out there
just waiting to give it to them




Brian Rihlmann was born in NJ, and currently lives in Reno, NV. He writes mostly semi autobiographical, confessional free verse, much of it on the so-called "grittier" side.  Folk poetry...for folks.  He has been published in Constellate Magazine, Poppy Road Review, and has an upcoming piece in The American Journal Of Poetry.





Monday, December 28, 2020

Here, Today by Gerry LaFemina

A brand new love affair is such a beautiful thing...

With hair the color & texture of grackle feathers
the woman at the table beside mine waves
to a friend on the street. I’ve fallen in love
with Dublin today, even with the cackle & caw
caw of seagulls on St. Stephen’s Green, 
which could be the name of a shade of green
noticeably different than St. Anne’s Green or
Phoenix Park green. I’ve fallen in love, too,
with the way raindrops freckle the sidewalks
one moment, then sunlight sets the whiskey
in my tumbler luminous. As well with the word 
tumbler, which I will not look into the origins of.
I want to raise my glass to that woman,
not because I find her attractive or I’m lonely
in the way of tourists & transients, but because
we’re both here, today, a Thursday, afternoon
& our waiter has left us alone.  Lovers 
parade past, walking close, even that pair of seniors—
how gently he holds her arm to steady her.
Maybe Tony Asher got it wrong. I could watch 
musicians play songs their fathers knew, 
their grandfathers, or else see the Blackrock
Boys cover the Ventures, Jan & Dean, the Surfaris,
the Beach Boys. They insist the surfing’s great
a bus ride away in Dublin Bay, no need
to go to the west coast despite the famous swells
off Donegal & Sligo. Everything old is new again
or so the saying goes, even this city,
even desire, even the green that fills 
the sycamores so that I want nothing more
than to be here, by myself, where the faint
keyboard & guitar & tambourine tumble from
a neighboring pub when the door opens, 
the Blackrock Boys imploring in harmony
with slight accents we keep in mind love is here, today
tomorrow it’s gone. Or I’ll be gone. There’s only
this moment. I can’t bear to try a whiskey
called Writer’s Tears, but I’ve tasted the Red Breast,
the Yellow Spot, the Method and Madness. How 
satisfying this Green Spot’s sweet smoulder when 
I take another sip. I’ve fallen in love with anonymity. 
At the other table only her empty wine glass 
remains, pink lipstick stain on its rim the only kiss.




Gerry LaFemina is the author of several books of poems including 2018's The Story of Ash, numerous books of prose poems, a short story collection, and Clamor, a novel. In 2014 Stephen F. Austin University Press released his latest poetry collection, Little Heretic, and a book of his essays on prosody, Palpable Magic. His textbook, Composing Poetry: A Guide to Writing Poems and Thinking Lyrically, came out in 2017 on Kendall Hunt, and a new collection of prose poems, Baby Steps in Doomsday Prepping, was just released by Madville Publishing. The recipient of numerous awards and honors, he is a professor of English and serves as a mentor in the MFA program at Carlow University. He also plays rhythm guitar and sings for The Downstrokes.


Sunday, December 27, 2020

The Rye Field by John Greiner

Eye in flames,
my tongue
on the chopped liver
in the rye field
of the painter's sight.
Lunch's certainties
exit with shadows
asking the time.
The dining room wall
wavers at the loss of white.
This far north
there are too many gray hues.
In the cellar laughter cracks.
Hilarity 
inevitably follows
immolation.



John Greiner is a Pushcart Prize nominated writer living in Queens, NY. He was educated at the New School for Social Research.  Greiner's work has appeared in Sand, Empty Mirror, Sensitive Skin, Unarmed, Street Valueand numerous other magazines. His chapbooks, broadsides and collections of poetry and short stories include  Turnstile Burlesque (Crisis Chronicles Press, 2017), The Laundrymen (Wandering Head Press, 2016), Bodega Roses (Good Cop/Bad Cop Press, 2014),Modulation Age (Wandering Head Press, 2012), Shooting Side Glances(ISMs Press, 2011) and Relics From a Hell’s Kitchen Pawn Shop (Ronin Press, 2010). 


Saturday, December 26, 2020

Happy Holidaze for Todd Cirillo by Jake St. John

I'm stoned 
and got some 
last second ends 
to tie up 

the bills 
aren't paid 
and the car 
broke down 

sickness hangs 
in the air 
like ornaments 
on a pine tree 

shadows 
keep company 
in an empty room 
unwrapping memories 

with each beer




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.



Thursday, December 24, 2020

Oh Jesus by John Patrick Robbins

The kids always hated the shit their parents forced them to do for church. And every December it never failed Tommy got caught up in bullshit he didn't give a fuck about. Which if he had not been at the mercy of his family and ball busting mother. He wouldn't be standing here freezing his balls off.

Standing as a lawn ornament at the living nativity.

Playing Joseph to that pain in the ass bitch Tammy, who was playing Mary.

Tommy's buddy Riley gave him shit the whole time.

"Hey dude being your old lady cheated on you with God , want to slip off and burn one?”

"Shut the fuck up Riley!”

"Hey dude when you tap your old lady and she gets to saying oh God! Do you get jealous?"

He had to crack up at that one.

"You guys are disgusting."

Tammy piped in.

She was good looking enough, but a total stuck up bitch.

Riley lit up a joint nobody was around and his fellow wise men were all about as bored as him.

"I cannot believe you guys are getting high!"

"Lighten the hell up Tammy, you know just cause you're God's favorite go to girl,
doesn't make you better than everyone."


Tammy just glared at us all, as we all took a hit of the passed around joint.

She was truly pissed off.
Unlike them, she took everything seriously.

Tommy was silent, Riley never shut the hell up.

"Hey Mary, I mean Tammy I am just joking."

"Well it's not funny you prick."

We were all getting buzzed and began giggling like a bunch of stupid kids that we were.

Riley kneeled down next to Tammy, he always had a way with the girls.

"Hell you're right I am sorry we're just bored is all, I apologize."

Martin and Philip just kept giggling and Tommy was buzzed and trying not to burst out in a laughing spell.

Weed always kicked his ass.

Riley comforted Tammy and  got her calmed down by kissing her ass as usual.

He had her finally calming down when he looked at Tommy and knew from his devilish grin he just couldn't resist.

"You know Tammy, something I have always wondered about Mary. "

Tammy although she should have known better still walked right into the trap.

"What's that Riley?"

"Well you ever wonder if God had a big dick?"

They all busted up laughing, Tammy was far from amused.

I took the last drag of the ever dying joint.

Just then an older couple drove up.

"Fuck Tommy toss that joint dumb ass!"

Tommy didn't think about anything but not getting busted by this old couple smoking weed in the damn living nativity of all places.


He tossed the damn joint as the couple approached and just prayed he could keep a straight face.

The couple stared at them, it was an awkward scene.

They took pictures, it was a weird experience being a human statue.

It all seemed to be going okay until the smell hit him.

"Arthur do you smell something burning?"

The old woman asked her husband.

It was just then, Tommy looked down and saw it.

The joint had landed in baby Jesus, bed of hay.

Martin and Philip lost it and so did the rest of the kids, well besides Tammy.

Who just screamed and ran away.

Tommy literally rolled on the ground laughing as the little plastic Jesus went up like Grenoble.


And all too soon the preacher came running with a fire extinguisher.

The woman just about fainted and the old man acted like he wanted to kick their asses along with the preacher.

And that was the last time Knotts Island Methodist church ever tried to host a living nativity again.

They all got our asses torn up but Tommy just about pissed himself from laughing.

Least he wasn't asked to be part of the festivities anymore.

I'm sorry plastic Jesus.

But I was on drugs.

   

                   Fin




John Patrick Robbins, is the author of the Still Night Sessions published by Whiskey City Press. His work has appeared in Fearless Poetry Zine, San Antonio Review, Punk Noir Magazine, Piker Press , The Dope Fiend Daily, San Pedro River Review, Heroin Love Songs , 1870 Magazine. His work is always unfiltered.


Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Semper Noel by Robert L. Penick

When they sewed me into the Santa suit, I should have been more concerned, but it had been almost two years since I’d been employed (prison trustee doesn’t count) and the motivational speeches given during our training were madly inspiring.  We were going to be St. Nicholas from Thanksgiving through Christmas Eve.  There were three others in my class: Melville, a lumpy teenager with Tourette’s; Ron, who looked like the Samuel L. Jackson character in “Django, Unchained:” and Tricia, who was the most convincing Santa of the group.  The four of us were to cover every Santa shift at the Northfield Mall for the duration of the war.  I mean season.
     It had all gone to hell by the tenth of December.  We huddled at a back table at Freddie’s Tavern, bloodied but still defiant.  
     “I will cut this motherfucker off,” Tricia promised.  “Cut it off and burn it.”
     “You’d lose that...SWEET...thousand dollar bonus, puh-payable December 24th,” Melville reminded her for the fourth time.  
     We sat in silence, which Ron eventually broke.  
     “Last night I dreamed I was the Easter Bunny,” he said with a cracking voice.  “When I woke up, I was so happy I wasn’t.  Then I remembered this suit.”  He began to shake uncontrollably.  Melville braced him to keep him from falling out of his chair.  
     I had to be the strong one.
     “Two more weeks, guys.  Fourteen days.  I know how bad it is.  I’ve got toddler pee wafting up from my lap, baby puke hanging around my collar like a noose, but we’re invested in this now.  Lose the suit, lose the bonus, lose the job reference.  If we drink and don’t think, we can pull this off.”
     “All right.” Ron raised his beer to his face and took a long pull.  
     Things seemed to calm down.  The mood became almost mellow, in fact.  Then an inebriate stopped by our table.
     “Hey, fellas.  We—those of us at the bar—we were wondering: How do you guys go to the bathroom?  I mean, being sewed into those suits and all...”
     We descended on him like locusts.  Like smallpox.  Like rioters after a Super Bowl.  Dancing on his fallen body like cloggers, we celebrated our commitment to this surreal cause. 



The poetry and prose of Robert L. Penick has appeared in over 100 different literary journals, including The Antietam Review, Slipstream, and 4th and Sycamore.  More of his work can be found at theartofmercy.net


Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Heroin By Linnet Phoenix

 

I see it now

blue skies open

I have been admitted

I am an addict


I find you

my personal heroin

a precious,

beautiful thing


A habit formed

I cannot wake without

thoughts drifting


I check my stash

search all the usual

places I hide

among mere words






Linnet Phoenix is a poet who currently resides in North Somerset, England. She has been writing poetry for years. Her work has previously been published in Heroin Love Songs, Punk Noir Magazine, ImpSpired Magazine and others. With poems in the upcoming Spring 2021 edition of Poetica Review. She also enjoys horse-riding in rainstorms.

Monday, December 21, 2020

To the Great and Glorious Among Us by Jeff Weddle

Read your Dante 
and your Shelley.

Memorize whole stanzas 
of approved verse 
or even long poems 
to recite 
whenever someone 
might be around 
to listen. 

Dress erratically. 

Drink only imported tea 
unless a decent red wine 
is available. 

Wear your hair 
as though you live 
inside a hurricane.
 
Eat dainty biscuits 
and pine for praise 
from the worthies. 

Love only women 
who are out of reach. 

Read your Wordsworth 
and your Byron. 

Memorize an obscure 
passage from Lamb 
and mutter it 
while sitting on the toilet.

Tell people that nature 
is your church.
 
Bathe once a week 
and don’t overdo it 
with the soap. 

Read your Proust 
and your Joyce. 

Look down your nose 
at the commonplace. 

Tell yourself that this is how it’s done. 
Say to new acquaintances that you are a poet. 

Believe in your heart 
that the ancient gods 
are your patrons. 

Die someday 
and have one or two people 
wonder for an hour
what became of you. 

Decompose in silence.

This is the destiny 
of your breed. 

This is the glory 
which awaits you 

your Valhalla 

the best forever
you, Great Titan,
can ever hope to find.





Jeff Weddle is a poet and writer living in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He won the 2007 Welty Prize for Bohemian New Orleans: The Story of the Outsider and Loujon Press, and has also received honors for his fiction and poetry. Jeff teaches in the School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Alabama.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

DAVE AND THE CANDLE by John Grey

He's in the dark corner
of a bar
sticking his hand in the flame,
He doesn't tell us
what he did in the war, 
what he saw,
but instead
just shows us how. tough he is
and lets us take it from there.
So the flame is a head exploding
So the flame is a child
holding back its bleeding guts.
We don't have to know what
the fire is.
But his hand glows red
in its reflection off the whiskey glass.
His skin's black in places
where the healing changed its mind.





John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in
That, Dalhousie Review and Qwerty with work upcoming in Blueline,
Hawaii Pacific Review and Clade Song.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

The Boobirds of Christmas by Mark Tulin

It was 1968, Christmastime,
and Santa was tied up at a barroom
on West 53rd, downing a few more
with the Philly faithful

His elves kept reminding him of the time,
but big Santa didn’t yet get his fill
It was still early, and the game didn’t start,
Santa said, so I’m drinking a few more
and going to play Skee-Ball with the Vets

It was a snowy Sunday, the day the Eagles played
in old, rundown Franklin Field
Santa just barely climbed on the sleigh,
half-tanked, he didn’t know which end zone
was which or who should sit on his lap

At halftime, as Santa was handing out presents,
some Eagle fans booed and pelted him with snow
Drunken Santa wasn’t no slouch, packed some in his hands,
and launched them at the green and white.




Mark Tulin is a former psychotherapist who lives in California. He has a Pushcart Prize nomination and authored Magical Yogis, Awkward Grace, The Asthmatic Kid and Other Stories, and Junkyard Souls. He appeared in numerous publications and podcasts. He can be found at https://www.crowonthewire.com.



Alice, from Old East New York by Emalisa Rose

From her hospital bed, piping with morpheme, she caresses those triple crown days - of dirty martinis, five olives of deep tans on curves, a...