Friday, April 30, 2021

may 1991 by Scott Ferry

that day i kept surfing that left off of rincon point
and couldn’t fall the clouds surreal tangerine

that day i dropped acid when i got home 
and ken and i drove to bluegrass bands at a local bar

and too many mason jars of beer syphoned down
without enough food and then i notice ken was sloppy

so i drove his drunk ass from goleta to isla vista in his truck
one headlight out and of course the police swirled lights 

and i eventually stopped after pretending i didn’t see, 
turning left down a street calls of “put your hands on the wheel!” 

and an awkward pidgeon-toed test failed and blowing into
the machine until i found myself in a cell with a water

faucet that sprayed you in the face and i noted, correctly
that “this was just to fuck with us” repeatedly laughing

even though i was in jail and the acid just made the entire
experience more transparently controlling but at least

we got bologna sandwiches and a place to sit on concrete
and when i was released in the morning after gagging

on nicotine fumes from other occupants i decided not
to call anyone, decided to run home the five miles because

i deserved it, so i ran, down the same road that funnels into UCSB
now a senior and done with swim team now released into full

enjoyment as evidenced by the last 12 hours and i made it
home down el colegio to the santa ynez apartments 

to find Ken still passed out, me, jail-stenched and sweaty
showering all this freedom off my skin all this absolute

freedom off my skin





Scott Ferry helps our Veterans heal as a RN. He has recent work in the American Journal of Poetry, Misfit, and Spillway. His second book, Mr. Rogers kills fruit flies, is available from Main St. Rag. You can find more of his work @ ferrypoetry.com.





Thursday, April 29, 2021

Smile Down Red Balloon by John Greiner

The sky is swept up
in the 57th Street towers, 
which are as indecent 
as it occupants.
Heaven is gauche.
There is no decency
in naked flesh
on the endless upper floors.
Open your windows
and touch the ground
with the tips of your fingers.
Smile down red balloon
of helium hallucination.



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). 





Wednesday, April 28, 2021

From a Google Search by Dan Provost

  5 Exercises to cure writers block
    1)write about what's on your mind. As Charles Bukowski said, “Writing about a writer's block is better than not writing at all.” Sometimes it helps to just put a pen to paper (or fingers to keys) and let the words flow no matter what they are. ...)
    2) break down your ego. ...
    3) call an old friend. ...
    4) try omm writer. ...
    5) create a spinoff
___________________________

 Ego, glory…We all have the craving.

Don’t we?

The rejections add up and it hurts, deny this all you want…Putting yourself “out there” for an editor to decide if thoughts, emotions, metaphors, and similes are good enough to publish is courageous, scary, and can lead one to be judgmental when the process does not equal the results you wanted.

Raise your hand if you want to be remembered when you are gone. Be honest.  Are you still stammering and slugging through creative hell?

Emotionally bent. 
A fucked-up dolt in a land of plenty.
 
We all want to be considered unique.  A stumbling genius, maybe publicly awkward…but a champion within this pathetic, myopic world.
 
Punching it out with a society who has their own agenda to consider. 

Being stationary with creativity is a curse—a reputation that no one obviously wants.

Emotionally bent.

When doubt creeps in the only outlet that you could count on.

What to do?
What to say?
What to write?
 
PS:  All my “old friends,” are bankers, clergymen, or dead.
 
PSS: Are you John Lennon, Yeats, Coleridge—Donald Hall?
 
PISS: Only Norman Lear was good at creating “spinoffs.”
 
 
Emotionally bent.
On my third hit of soma to
relieve the sadness.




Dan Provost's poetry has been published throughout the small press for a number of years.  Some recent publications include: Ariel Chart, Poetical Review, Merak Magazine, Oddball Magazine, Deuce Coupe, Misfit Magazine, the Rye Whiskey Review, Cajun Mutt Press and the Dope Fiend Daily.  He has two books coming out in 2020.  Under the Influence of Nothingness by Kung Fu Treachery Press and Rattle of a Realizer, published by Whiskey City Press.  He lives in Berlin, New Hampshire with his wife Laura and dog Bella.

 

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

She Becomes Infinity by Linnet Phoenix

after reading ‘Heavy’ by Tanya Rakh

As I picked the poem up
it was a momentary shock
my mind dipped
at a surprise feel of its weight.

My brain adjusted
to compensate for this heavy.
This plumbum poetry
caught me out like that day-

I picked up an off-cut of sheet
lead, left behind by roofers.
Its dull grey patina camouflaged
the liquid silver density.

I cut the poem open
its hint of blue silver shone.
Atomic number 82
I knew this pure element.

The poem squirmed to touch,
she was a bossed lead octopus.
I held hands with her eight legs
in our Cephalopod greeting.

Between my fingers the colour
eight, prostrate became infinity.




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, April 26, 2021

STD by R.M. Engelhardt

Sick
Transparent
Demented
Fuck.

Makes
America
Burn

Lives
Off the
Flesh 
Of the 
Dead

Raises
The spirit
Of idiots
& Serial
Killers

Uses
Them 
Like 
Toilet 
Paper

Wipes
His ass
Smiles
& Walks
Away

Leaving
The earth
A piece of
Shit

Tragic &
Diseased



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 Amazon.com

http://www.gentlemanoutsider.com


Sunday, April 25, 2021

FIRST NIGHT IN DETOX by M.J. Arcangelini

(“Everybody’s got to have somebody to look down on.” – Kris Kristofferson)

The junkie and the drunk
sat on opposite sides of 
a small table in the 
seen-better-days kitchen
of the detox house;
dripping faucet,
buckling linoleum floor.
Fighting off the shakes,
leaning into each other 
across the table,
oozing menace,
rocks glasses of lemonade
close at hand,
arguing, 
arguing:

at least I ain’t no fucking drunk
yeah, well at least I ain’t no fucking junkie
yeah, well at least I ain’t no fucking drunk
yeah, well at least I ain’t no fucking junkie

Over and over,
back and forth across
that kitchen table, which
seemed to shrink 
a little bit more with
each slurred assertion,
for at least half that
endless fucking night.





M.J. (Michael Joseph) Arcangelini, born 1952 in western Pennsylvania, has resided in northern California since 1979. He began writing poetry at 11. He has published in a lot of little magazines and online journals, including lilliput: The Ekphrastic Review, The Gasconade Review, Live Nude Poems, As It Ought To Be Magazine, Trailer Park Quarterly, Rusty Truck. his work appears in over a dozen anthologies.  He is the author of five collections: “With Fingers at the Tips of My Words” 2002, Beautiful Dreamer Press, “Room Enough” 2016, “Waiting for the Wind to Rise” 2018, both from NightBallet Press, “What the Night Keeps” 2019, Stubborn Mule Press, and “A Quiet Ghost,” Luchador Press 2020. In 2018 Arcangelini was nominated for a Pushcart Prize





Saturday, April 24, 2021

Saxophone Heaven by Charlie Robert

Sidemen crouch in stairwells.
Waiting to make their move.
Microphones hiss.
Like snakes on the take.
Parker crushes his smoke and 
Raises the Horn.
This is a Gig Baby and the liquor is Top Shelf.
Remember that time when he played the Grafton?
It was plastic but his reeds were Ricos shaved pussy thin and he blew us all away.
Those were the years of the Arm and the Needle.
When the lights were low and it was all Chalameau and any
God would drop their drawers for a taste of that 
Junk Dope Smack Shit.

They are Gentle and Kind and sleep between sets like infants.




Charlie Robert is a writer living in Silicon Valley. His work is Punchy. Stark. Filled with creatures close to the earth. He has been published in various Literary Journals and Anthologies and currently is working on new collections of original poems and chapbooks


Friday, April 23, 2021

Coffee by Wayne F. Burke

 met an old crony of mine
on the street
he asked
how you been?
What do you say?
Before I could answer
he gave me his views
on national, international, and
local news, then asked
if I had a couple bucks to spare,
enough for a coffee, and
I said "sure," and he took the
bills and said "see you later"
and I watched him go, remembering
when I used to drink those "coffee's" 
too.





Wayne F. Burke's poetry has been widely published online and in print. He has published six full-length poetry collections, most recently DIFLUCAN (BareBack Press, 2019). He lives in the Pine Tree State.


Thursday, April 22, 2021

His Night Life by Barbara Eknoian

We should have saved the 8 x 10 glossy
of Dad and his friend Joe
posing with Sammy Davis Jr., Al Martino,
and Sophie Tucker at a night club
in Cuba, just before the revolution.
The last time I saw the picture,
it was stapled to the wall
behind his tool bench in the basement.
It was one of the few times,
he’d posed without his Fedora,
revealing his bald head.
With his big smile and warm handshake,
I imagine him sending a round of drinks
to their table, then asking
if they’d pose for the photograph.
 
Another time, at the Copa, he engaged
Bob Hope in conversation, because
he noticed him trying to place
where he had known him.
My dad jokingly bet Hope
his diamond watch
that he wouldn’t remember.
He had caddied for him in l939,
thirty years before.
 
In our family album, there are hardly
any shots of my father,
but I recall my favorite picture of him:
he’s standing with his friend, Puggie,
who’d just got back from the service.
They’re leaning against the bar,
holding shot glasses high in the air.
He looks happy in the darkness of the cabaret,
his face illuminated.



Barbara Eknoian is a poet and writer. Her work has appeared in Chiron Review, Red Shift, Newverse News, and Silver Birch Press's anthologies. Her books are available on Amazon. She hails from New Jersey, but lives in California for many years and has never lost her Jersey accent..

Originally published in Why I Miss New Jersey, Everhart Press 2013


Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Possibility days by Merritt Waldon

At the edge of town there's a park
Now you have to go through town to get there

I used to hang out there all the time through
Out the night drawing or writing

Sleeping in the playground tube
Watching junkies shoot up
And high school kids get there 
Rocks off

It’s the community park

Couple times I remember having sex there
Myself, those are stories of a lot older days

Its also one of the same parks I used to go
To as kid with my dad for soft ball tournaments

Now it just sits hardly used, except by scarce random
Power walkers; slightly abandoned place

Then I remember the line from the counting crows song
possibility days
Are impossible




Merritt Waldon 46 year old who lives in Southern Indiana. has had work in Fearlesss,
the brooklyn rail, be about it Zine, 4th american & others anthology, riverdogs, crisis chronicles website,
cheap and easy zine, / an a book of poetry with Ron Whitehead published by Cajun Mutt Press -Oracles
from a strange fire.


Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Relapse Prevention Group by Timothy Resau

We tried finding life & love…
We looked for life & love
in all the wrong places:
drugs, crime, sex, even rock-n-roll.
Our so-called friends were even worse off.

Now, our shirks tell us that
this is good to know …
that it helps us understand
our disease.
Strange how what they
call normal is our relapse.




Timothy Resau has been published in the U.S., Canada, Portugal, and the U.K. Recently his work has been in Adelaide Literary Magazine, Sideways Poetry Magazine, Sylvia Magazine, The Beautiful Space, and an essay is forthcoming in Loch Raven Review, as well as poetry in Rat’s Ass Review, Native Skin, and Pure Slush. He’s just completed a novel called Three Gates East. His career has been in the international wine industry.



Monday, April 19, 2021

Ted Berrigan Baking a Birthday Cake by Mike James

    for John Dorsey 

The first ingredient is one glass bottle of Pepsi
With two sips taken. Also, you will need 
A candy slipper from well before the war. 
It helps if the slipper has been saved in a 
Canning jar, protected by diligent mice 
In a shadowy, spider-filled attic corner. 
An oven is not necessary, but you must 
Have wet mittens and imagine warming 
Them dry over a prairie campfire at dusk.  
There’s a star above a grassy knoll every 
Cowboy is born under. You don’t need to
Know this to bake a perfect cake. Though 
You might need to know this if any tattoo 
On your body references the code of the west.  


Mike James makes his home outside Nashville, Tennessee and has published widely. His many poetry collections include: Red Dirt Souvenir Shop (Analog Submissions), Journeyman’s Suitcase (Luchador), Parades (Alien Buddha), Jumping Drawbridges in Technicolor (Blue Horse), First-Hand Accounts from Made-Up Places (Stubborn Mule), Crows in the Jukebox (Bottom Dog), My Favorite Houseguest (FutureCycle), and Peddler’s Blues (Main Street Rag.) He served as an associate editor of The Kentucky Review and currently serves as an associate editor of Unbroken. 

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Irish Whiskey by Bruce Morton

This fine Irish whiskey
Has become gold in the pot,
A distillation of themself,
Thrice done, once for the Father
Then for the Son, and finally
Then for the Holy Ghost.

The holy water pours from bottle
To glass, a wee sip, first on the lip,
Then on the tip of tongue, until
Sip becomes swallow and brogue’s
Breath breathes heart and home.
Sláinte.



Bruce Morton splits his time between Montana and Arizona. His poems have recently appeared in San Pedro River Review, Muddy River Poetry Review, Main Street Rag, Loch Raven Review, Ibbetson Street, and Sin Fronteras/Writers Without Border. He was formerly Dean of Libraries at Montana State University.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

duncan by John Grochalski

duncan is running around the kettle bar 

with his sister olive


they are screaming and yelling 


while people are

starting in early on the day’s drunk


duncan is three and vacant

olive is pushing two at best


she has a set of pipes on her

that could raise the dead


there are no other children in the bar 

because it’s a bar


duncan’s old man is your garden variety domestic asshole


with his receding hairline and dad gut

hidden under a faded football jersey


he apologies to my wife and i

when duncan and olive smack into our stools

for the third time


but he doesn’t mean it


because his america counts more than mine


dad is enjoying his stolen afternoon beer

with his bros too much

to worry about duncan and olive 

killing other people’s time


he’s too caught up in the entitlement of being a parent 


to see his kids 

for the screaming creeps they are


because duncan and olive are so precious

their shit doesn’t stink


they’re the zenith of what he’ll accomplish in this world

other than watching another NFL season


ignorance that he’ll pass on 

like family jewels and disease


boutique named monsters free to run around a bar 


screaming and yelling 

and raising holy hell on a monday afternoon


like they’re at a playground in a park


duncan in his rookie-of-the-year t-shirt

olive in her plaid dress


smacking their heads off the worn bar 


olive screaming bloody murder

duncan prat falling and farting


the bartender giving us free shots in apology


as dad of the year 

gets up to take a piss


but not before

he comes over to the bar


to order all of his bros

another blessed round.   




 John Grochalski is the author of the poetry collections, The Noose Doesn’t Get Any Looser After You Punch Out (Six Gallery Press 2008), Glass City (Low Ghost Press, 2010), In The Year of Everything Dying (Camel Saloon, 2012), Starting with the Last Name Grochalski (Coleridge Street Books, 2014), and The Philosopher’s Ship (Alien Buddha Press, 2018). He is also the author of the novels, The Librarian (Six Gallery Press 2013), and Wine Clerk (Six Gallery Press 2016).  Grochalski currently lives in Brooklyn, New York, where the garbage can smell like roses if you wish on it hard enough.   

Friday, April 16, 2021

Moscato Blues by Tim Heerdink

Ah yea,
that’s that good, good shit
right there.


That’s that make you
wanna dance
to the invisible drum
shit.


Make you trip over
your lady
wind up
with another baby
type of swig.


Pour me another,
let’s needle the groove
& play Viticulture
‘cause I’m in the mood
kinda moment.


When the bottle
pours no more
grab another
instinct.


It’s fine.
I’ve got beers, too,
don’t worry about me,
mayne.


We’re all chill
& the world 
is good
no matter
if I can recall
the words I say.


At least I’m funny
not busting your face;
I just wanna play.


Fuck,
maybe I had
too much.


Shirt off
on the porch
losing lunch.


I return to the scene
the next day.


Goddamn possession
projectile vomit
didn’t quite stretch
to the grass;
the red resembles blood.


What a fool I’ve been.



Tim Heerdink is the author of Somniloquy & Trauma in the Knottseau Well, The Human Remains, Red Flag and Other Poems, Razed Monuments, Checking Tickets on Oumaumua, Sailing the Edge of Time, I Hear a Siren’s Call, Ghost Map, A Cacophony of Birds in the House of Dread, and short stories, The Tithing of Man and HEA-VEN2. His poems appear in various journals and anthologies. He is the President of Midwest Writers Guild of Evansville, Indiana.



Thursday, April 15, 2021

Doing The Work by Tony Brewer

This business of writing 
poetry while drunk 
is a sweet racket
Wringing conversation bits
from bar detritus
as if the grog is the thing
vocab the inhibitor
Everybody’s on board when high
Drinking cars, dining cars
Abusive self-destructive cars
The highway a gateway 
to the next whiskey guitar
The ancients put it all in a bag
booze music poetry animals
and it shook out Celtic
Now we are outside
warm piss steaming bricks
digging with our little yellow spades
The only relief we all enjoy
Some drunks are poets
who can barely write
their names with it



TONY BREWER is executive director of the spoken word stage at the 4th Street Arts Festival and his latest book is Homunculus (Dos Madres Press, 2019). He has been offering Poetry On Demand at coffeehouses, museums, cemeteries, churches, bars, and art and music festivals for over 10 years and he is one-third of the poetry performance group Reservoir Dogwoods. More at tonybrewer71.blogspot.com.


Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Skydiving From The Ground by John Patrick Robbins

I had just suffered a stroke and here I was buying beer.
I never played anything safe but even the devil that sat upon my shoulder had to look at me and say.

"Dude really?"

My face had gone back to normal, but even a brick to the face could not hurt my looks.

My speech was still a bit off.
Of course the clerk probably thought I was just drunk.

I was beyond a simple addict. I believe I had purchased a first class ticket to looneyville population me.

I knew another drink could end it all and yet the thought of not enjoying that bliss scared me worse than death.

If you think addiction is cool you're more insane than myself.
Truth is always way more fucked up than fiction.

I am a train that is speeding straight off the tracks.
As some will read this as a story.
Some bullshit to sell books or gain likes.

I don't run a cult so please pull your head out of your proverbial ass.
Do yourself a favor and recognize a setting sun for what it truly is.

And do not follow me.







John Patrick Robbins, is the editor in chief of the 
Rye Whiskey Review.
He is also the author of The Still Night Sessions from 
Whiskey City Press. 

His work has been published in.
Lothlorien Poetry Journal, Fearless Poetry Zine, Punk Noir, Medusa's Kitchen, Piker Press, The Dope Fiend Daily, The Blue Nib, San Pedro River Review,  San Antonio Review.

His work is always unfiltered. 


Monday, April 12, 2021

My Black Leather Mini-Skirts by Alicia Mathias

I’ve been bad and they know it.
They want to forgive me, yet it’s not easy.
I put them in a plastic garbage bag
left slouching in the corner
near the front door. Bulging
through the sides, misshapen—
They call out in muffled voices:
Why must we suffer, bored at home?
I see their point.
So close to each other 
but getting no action.

I’ve gotta let them go
out and stir the town.
Conjure up some hell.

So I pull them out
one by one—
feel them up; 
pressed to my past.

All the times we ran away—then came
home after partying.
Stilettos kicked off 
in front of the TV. Falling
asleep together on the couch;
smudged
in mascara—
runs in our stockings.

Lipstick smeared 
with kisses
from men 
we barely 
knew.




Alicia Mathias is a writer, artist, and photographer. Her poems and/or artwork, can be seen in: Ann Arbor Review, The Bitter Oleander, bradlaughsfinger, The Canopy Review, Chiron Review, Clockwise Cat, Fearless, January Review Journal, SetU Magazine, Newington Blue Press, Porter Gulch Review, The Rye Whiskey Review, Sore Dove Press, Unlikely Stories Mark V,  and elsewhere. She lives in New York, with her favorite muse, Zeppelin the Wonder Cat. 




5:00 am yeah i’m not sleeping by jck hnry

 trash truck comes 
clattering around 
gathering up debris 
and waste, bits and pieces 
of the day to day, 
haul it away to a landfill 
down south somewhere 
no one knows when I ask 
and I ask, but later in  
the day. 
 
and Tammy wakes up 
beautiful and fresh, 
young enough to be 
young enough 
and says, hey wanna fuck? 
I say, ya 
and we do  
and fall asleep  
until the recycling truck 
rumbles down  
the broken pavement alley 
 
she crawls on top of me 
again, and we fall asleep 
 
i dream of the next trash truck 
to rumble down 
the broken pavement alley 
but it never does 


 



jck hnry is a writer/publisher/editor, based in southeastern california.  recent publications include:  Deuce Coupe, Rye Whiskey Review, Razur Cuts, Cajun Mutt, Dissident Voices, Horror Sleaze Trash, Bold Monkey, Red Fez, dope fiend daily and a bunch of other noble zines and journals.  Books include:  “With the Patience of Monuments (neoPoesis) ,” “Crunked, (Epic Rites)” and the upcoming "Driving w/Crazy (Punk Hostage Press, 2020).”  hnry is also editor and publisher of Heroin Love Songs and 1870. for more go to jackhenry.wordpress.com.

-

 

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Tommy tequila by Emalisa Rose

He sent me a drink. “Make it a double,”
he tells Joe, with the calico eyes.


Joe, who I’d wanted for seventeen summers.
Joe, tending bar down the shore, putting up 
with the sass and the frass of the frat boys from


Phillie, and the debutantes, orange tinged
cowboys and cougars, with tans from the bottle,
before the sun shine got cozy again.


Back to the drink dribbler. He offered a rose
of a cocktail, sprung for a quarter, told me
to pick out a tune from the old jukebox.


“Figures it’s Elvis,” he said.


Hey, it was hot wings and Heinekens night,
lush with late May, by the marquise of stars
sea air and one double too many.


Thursdays at Joe’s tiki bar; Joe with those
sky eyes, that loved to roll over me.


Tonight, was a lark, as they say.


I left in the hands of a hound dog; He said
I should call him Tommy tequila.




When not writing poetry, Emalisa Rose enjoys crafting and drawing with charcoals. She volunteers in animal rescue. Living by a beach town provides much of the inspiration for her art. Her work has appeared in Beatnik Cowboy, Spillwords and other fine places. Her latest collection is "On the whims of the crosscurrents," published by Red Wolf Editions.



Friday, April 9, 2021

Catalyst by Linnet Phoenix

You were the oxygen
that helped me 
breathe.
So I could write
myself in a patina
of star rust 
across the night sky.




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.




Thursday, April 8, 2021

Rear View Mirror by Niles Reddick

    After a short visit when my mother-in-law drove drunk through the neighborhood with my two-year-old daughter sitting in the backseat, no car seat, no seat belt, I was done. I told my wife who was just as appalled and angry as me: “She can kill herself for all I care, but she’s not taking our daughter out with her.”

    A pathological liar, alcoholic, prescription drug addict who abandoned her children with their father after a romp with the local butcher, Fran had been married eight times that we were actually aware of, though she only confessed four.  Each conversation on her visits ended before sun down because she was tired. She’d close the door to the spare bedroom and make multiple trips to the refrigerator to refill her 7-11 plastic mug with one-fourth Lemonade, Sprite, or whatever was available, and three-fourths vodka (I had faked need for a Tums and watched her out of the corner of my eyes).

    Years of abuse had taken toll. She had gone from slim and high energy, tanned and hair consistently dyed to bloated, slow and unkempt, at one time with a skunk hair look, partly black and partly white.  The more she drank, the more she droned on about how she’d been wronged in her first marriage, how hard she’d work to support her four children, how hard she’d worked as a nurse her entire career, how she attended church, and how she believed in Jesus. Most times, my wife left the room to check on children and never returned, me sitting and watching television and trying to avoid, an occasional uh-huh coming out just to play nice. I knew the only times she went to church was when she passed out in front of the television and woke up to a sermon, and I had heard how she’d supported her children, using them to manipulate their father into money for needs that she ended up spending on herself.

 In all her conversations, she never admitted to bad choices, didn’t admit she had any sort of problems with alcohol or drugs, and refused to accept that she’d abandoned her children, citing her trips at holidays with gifts galore as if store-bought plastic toys made up for rejection by a mother.  She never admitted she was on the phone when her second daughter nearly drowned in the tub and suffered permanent hearing loss or that she was carrying on in her dramatic fashion when one of her sons took an overdose of an aunt’s medication that had been left on the counter because he thought the pills were candy.

    Now, “retired” because she has no license to work as a nurse, she sucks in nicotine all day on the back porch of her other daughter’s condo where she lives rent free. I’m convinced if her daughter could hear, Fran would be homeless. Her Social Security check ought to be enough with no monthly bills, particularly when Medicare and Medicaid should cover her health issues, some of which are mysterious back pain that multiple physicians prescribe addictive pain killers because she convinces them in their own language it’s the only thing that helps.  She obeys the rule of waiting until after lunch to down the vodka because she believes drinking it before lunch would indicate a problem. She makes calls to each of her children, her siblings, and a handful of others, and lies and pits them against each other, except that they understand. She tries to get them to send money to help with medical expenses, and she plays the tragic role of the victim, of one who is entitled, never quite seeing an accurate reflection of her life in the rear view mirror.





Niles Reddick is author of the novel, two collections, and a novella. His work has been featured in fourteen anthologies, twenty-one countries, and in over three hundred publications including The Saturday Evening Post, PIF, New Reader Magazine, Forth Magazine, The Boston Literary Magazine, Flash Fiction Magazine, The Citron Review, and Storgy.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

At the end of the session by Tony Brewer

Two hours ago the music 
had a sweet melancholy
and a melancholy sweetness.
Fast or slow, it pained and soothed,
the notes and the memories they evoked
and the muscles paying for playing them.
Like rubbing a bump on the head
so hard is feels good 
or scratching poison ivy.
Or drinking past the point 
of social lubrication and onward,
as dim sunlight moves
the shadow of a great henge,
till the beer breaks on the granite 
of the gut and soaks 
into the stomach’s bog.

For the skin is the earth
just as the voice is the warbling heaven
of an E string, stabbed
with a finger twisting in the wound
of notes near the heart. 
A non-traditional technique
but just then, the tunes winding down,
all the cheer gone out 
of the table, no more money
left for pints, there was a rightness
musicianship does not require.

Even happy dogs sighing seem sad,
content at master’s feet,
worn out, and gray around the muzzle
but not yet too old to get up and play.




TONY BREWER is executive director of the spoken word stage at the 4th Street Arts Festival and his latest book is Homunculus (Dos Madres Press, 2019). He has been offering Poetry On Demand at coffeehouses, museums, cemeteries, churches, bars, and art and music festivals for over 10 years and he is one-third of the poetry performance group Reservoir Dogwoods. More at tonybrewer71.blogspot.com.



Tuesday, April 6, 2021

And Then He Says Something That Usually Helps by Kevin M. Hibshman

He tells me that I am successful.
That I wouldn't be happier if I were rich, not fretting over useless things
I don't already have.
He says people like us down through history have always been laughed at and 
shut out because we are relevant.
We strive to bring about change.
We are feared instead of celebrated during our troubled lifetimes but are often
remembered as the sacrificial lambs we were.
I then feel better about being valued by only a few true hearts.




Kevin M. Hibshman has had poems published in many journals and magazines world wide. In addition, he has edited his poetry zine, Fearless, since 1990 and is the author of sixteen chapbooks including Love Sex Death Dreams (Green Bean Press, 2000) and Incessant Shining (Alternating Current, 2011).




Monday, April 5, 2021

Jazz Dirge in 5/4 by Linda Bryant

Liver wrecked
from whiskey
& brew, he rents
in Joliet. $219
a week & never can

swing the last. Joey
& I talk jazz & the best
Chicago Deep Dish. I know
it won’t be long 

& we’re all laughs. If
our past has its own
scale it’s bebop
harmonic minor with
that chromatic

switch at the end. I cheer
when Hendrix pours lighter
fluid on his Strat;
but not Joey. He’s far

gone on Dizzy,
Thelonious & Duke.  I conjure
the funeral he’ll never
be given, envision
I’m spinning Miles for him—

Bitch’s Brew, Green in Blue. Vinyl
scratches linger
on top of a long, slow
tune. He jabbers

about scent & taste
& I sit with him
like kin. Like an aquifer
under bedrock his sister’s
anger interrupts. I get why

she turned on him—his wild
blood scorched her—
but I’m not as close. He keeps
calling, says, “Pick me up

a Reuben, a pack
of smokes.” End stage
liver failure means
a few bites
a day. Hallucinations

gather like friends
& he’s back
on the sax. There’s a girl
& he’s cashing

in. I offer two bites
of a loaded baked
potato. He rumbles out
a mmmmmmm sound, praises
the butter’s hot drip, the spud’s

steaming white & the rough
gold-brown of the skin, which he says
is sweet & gritty like slow hot
jazz & dirt.




 
Linda Bryant published widely as a career journalist for over 30 years before devoting herself to poetry. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize three times and won two national writing fellowships.  She lives in Bighill, Kentucky, where she operates Owsley Fork Writers Sanctuary. 



Sunday, April 4, 2021

A Boy’s Life by Keith Pearson

There is a field down behind their house where cows once grazed, but the cows are gone and the barbed wire gone to rust, and the grass allowed to grow wild except for a cutting once a summer or maybe twice if conditions fell right, a little extra for the kitty his father would say, and in the center of the field is worn the shape of a diamond, the basepaths of the ballpark that lives in the boy’s imagination, the place where he is this summer’s afternoon.

His bat is scarred and heavy with age and wrapped at the handle with black tape to keep the splinters from his hands, and his baseball is a tennis ball worn to the rubber. His only companion in the grass that day is a six year old collie named Max whose place in this world of baseball of the mind is everchanging and as important as the

names and numbers the boy memorizes from the newspaper and the radio and knows by heart, if only another soul to share the joy of being outside on a summer’s day and the little triumphs found in games recreated from a boy’s mind and played with feet and arms in the hot sun and the dry grass, creatures born for this a boy and his dog.

And this day finds him late in the battle but at rest between innings in a close game between the dreaded and powerful World Champion Yankees of New York and his beloved Red Sox, his team held so far in the magic of the wily New York lefty Whitey Ford. But the Sox righthander Big Frank Sullivan has been almost as tough with only one bad pitch to the mighty Mantle sent to the seats in far away centerfield for the game’s only run. The collie rolls on his back in the dry grass and snaps at a grasshopper popping by and rolls to his feet staring at the boy eager to return to the play. The boy climbs from the ground and sets the blue cap with the red B firmly on his blond crewcut head, a little small on him but all the better for flying off as he turns the bases digging for third, but not today, the cap is adjusted in determination, it is the bottom of the ninth and only three outs stand in the way of defeat to the crafty Yankee Ford.

Let’s go boy, he says to the collie, and pushes his spectacles up against the bridge of his nose, his tee shirt stained with sweat and the dust from the grass and his dungarees dirty at the knees from a hard but futile fifth inning slide into second, but this is no time to quit in spite of the heat, the top of the Red Sox order is due in the home half of the ninth, the quick centerfielder Piersall who has already robbed the Yanks of a couple sure hits today up first and ready to face the best the Bronx Bombers have, and the boy takes up the bat and steps to the plate drawn in the grass and takes two half swings to get loose and tosses the ball into the air and puts both hands on

the bat and draws it back and swings through the ball and hits the ball straight up into the air. Shit, he thinks, there’ll be no hit for Piersall, calls the voice of the game inside him, Howard tosses off the mask and settles under the infield pop up, the collie bouncing on his hind legs snatches the ball from the air, one out for the Sox, and carefully sets the ball at the toe of the boy’s PF Flyer.

Next is Malzone the steady third baseman and the boy stands at the right side of the plate and tosses up the ball and lets it go, its outside, and the dog crouches on his haunches perfectly still waiting for his cue, the mighty swing of the bat, and in the boy’s mind he sees Ford take the throw back from the catcher and turn his back to the plate and rub down the baseball, the number 16 on the back of his gray Yankee jersey, and turn back to the plate to again face Malzone and up goes the ball as the boy swings and makes contact, a solid hopper through the grass maybe good enough, it’s a ground ball up the middle past Ford, and the dog is off, and the boy is off, arms churning hard for first, Richardson backhands the ball, comes up with it and throws, the slow footed Malzone pounding down the line, the boy stretches to the piece of burlap, the play, he’s safe! He staggers past the base, the dog a step too late to the base with spit flying, the ball in its mouth at his heel, and he takes the ball from the collie and says, C’mon boy, Ted is up.

Ted Williams the Splendid Splinter, Number Nine, his father’s favorite. The boy remembers all the stories how Ted hit .406 in 1941 and how he practiced his swing in front of his hotel mirror for hours at a time and how he’d gone to war to serve his country not once but twice, and how even now is still the best hitter in the game and maybe the best of all time. It is now Ted’s game to win with one powerful swing of the bat.

The boy steps to the left side of the plate and sets himself in

the way he believes Ted would, eye focused on the imaginary Ford sixty feet six inches away. He tosses the ball into the air, the collie crouched at the ready, and swings and misses and spins himself down to the grass. Strike One. Alright, here we go, up goes the ball, its perfect, he swings and again misses, his upper hand flying off the heavy bat, and now he is worried. Two Strikes. Ford will waste one here, he thinks, and tosses the ball, but the ball he intended to be outside the strike zone comes down out of the blue sky a perfect strike right down the middle and he instinctively swings the bat at the last second and misses by a mile. Strike Three. The boy drops the bat and sighs and he can see Ted walk back to the dugout crowd gone quiet, his chin up but his disappointment a mask on his long face. The boy wipes his hands across the back pockets of his dungarees and takes up the bat and says to the dog, Only two out, boy, we still got a chance, and turns to the right side of the plate and now he is Jackie Jensen the blond haired right fielder, and the Red Sox last hope.

He stares out, sees Ford wipe the sweat from beneath his cap, and then draw back his devilish left arm and kick out his leg and throw, and the boy tosses up the ball and feels the bat come around and then the solid plunk of the rubber ball against the wood and the ball is off like a shot, it’s a long drive to right center! Mantle is back, he can’t get, it its rolling to the wall! and the boy is already off, turning first base with everything he has. The collie leaps and is gone in the direction of the ball tunneling a path through the tall grass and the boy turns second base, Malzone scores easily! It’s a tie game! And now he comes around third base and can see old man Higgins the manager frantically waving him on, and the boy can hear the dog coming back at full speed through the grass and with the plate in sight he imagines Elston Howard the giant Yankee catcher crouched

and waiting for the throw from the mighty arm of Mantle, its going to be too late! but then the collie is streaking across the trampled grass of the infield the ball in his mouth, Here’s the throw! And the boy stretches out his arms and dives for the plate just as the collie arrives and lets loose the ball from his mouth one stride short of home plate and the boy chest first in the dust slides across, Howard drops the ball! Jensen scores! Red Sox win! and the boy jumps to his feet and with the dog playfully snapping at his heels around him he hears the cry of ten thousand cheering hometown fans and feels Jensen slapped on the back by his teammates, Atta boy Number Four! and the boy falls onto the brittle grass trying to catch his breath. The collie ceases his spinning dance and circles the boy a few times and lays in the grass next to him heaving for air with his tongue out, and there they rest, the game over.

Sometime later the sun has begun its approach to the trees and they hear the familiar growl of his father’s Buick in the driveway across the grass and up the hill from the field. The boy jumps to his feet and the dog beside him does the same, tail wagging. At the top of the hill stands his father in his white shirt and necktie holding his hat across his face to shade his eyes, his other hand waving, and Tommy says, C’mon boy, Dad’s home, and off they run through the summer grass, the heroics of the afternoon now just something for the dust.

Maybe before supper there’ll be time to play catch.



Keith Pearson

I live in southern New Hampshire and works with special ed students at a local high school.

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...