Thursday, September 30, 2021
Wednesday, September 29, 2021
In the old photo, I am standing
in the doorway, between
the kitchen and my bedroom.
The print is slightly out of focus,
but it is plainly me,
wearing jeans and a plain white t-shirt.
On my face is a yellow and black mask
with cut-outs for eyes;
I gaze out from somewhere far away.
At least, that is how I remember it –
placing the camera on a tripod
then setting the self-timer.
Feeling the sheer pleasure
of slipping on the mask—
the cool touch against my cheek.
The tiger’s skin, the breath of the jungle
the sense of waiting, hunger;
the camera’s click.
The motion of the opening door;
the look of surprise,
then fear on your face.
MICHAEL MINASSIAN is a Contributing Editor for Verse-Virtual, an online poetry journal. His chapbooks include poetry: The Arboriculturist and photography: Around the Bend. His poetry collections Time is Not a River, Morning Calm, and A Matter of Timing are all available on Amazon. For more information: https://michaelminassian.com
Monday, September 27, 2021
Sunday, September 26, 2021
Saturday, September 25, 2021
She was still 20, her hair
a fortress, a hairspray halo,
face an endless nosebleed
in the parking lot. The screaming
pile of sweat and men
at her orchestra, at her love,
heavy as her boyfriend’s
forearms, heavy as double
bass through the chest,
as the rattle of beer cans
in a pick-up truck bed.
I am laying down, the same dream,
‘Panama’ echoes off metal,
off the long strings of hot dog vomit
that runs from my mouth,
the night goes cocaine numb.
In the morning, when the veil
falls, a headliner curtain,
the sound of the birds bully
my head, the wretch of attempt
coats my arms, my knees,
fucking up will always have this smell,
my stomach of cool
dry heaving Jack into chipped
blue paint. When I look,
she is there, our Shields Avenue
home a glowing background,
in her stained hands is this moment.
A time I can never grab, but she holds
it as delicately as a new baby brother.
Friday, September 24, 2021
So you don’t like Bukowski —
I get it. He doesn’t speak your language
and is so crude.
You’d never catch him in a Starbucks
and he didn’t even have the grace
to live in a time when Starbucks
was a thing.
I get it.
You don’t like him because he was a man
and wrote like not just any man,
but like himself and only himself. I get it.
Everyone must get with the program
if they are to matter,
and Bukowski threw up on the program
then set it on fire.
He wasn’t woke the way you have decreed
we must all be woke these days.
I get it.
You don’t like Bukowski
because you read a few poems
and decided he didn’t like women.
I get it.
Did you get to the point
where he didn’t like men, either?
Or that he was generally sad
about the shitty world
that finally destroys all of us?
Or that, really, he generally loved humanity
but was too broken to admit it very often?
Or that the butt of most all of his stuff
It was probably too much to ask of you
to read him broadly and deeply.
Who has the time? One must get to the gym
before the popular shows
come on TV.
Starbucks is so good.
I get it.
Someone told you he was bad.
That saved you bunches of time.
Probably they didn’t read him, either.
A poem or two, maybe. A story.
Somebody probably told that person
they weren’t supposed to like him, too.
I get it.
What was your name again?
What is it you’ve done? Not much?
Maybe a YouTube video
or an article
in some respected journal?
Good for you.
I get it.
Do you get it?
Yeah. Sure you do.
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.
Thursday, September 23, 2021
I had met Lawrence at the bar around the corner. It was late at night and we had already had four mugs of beer. He was throwing peeled peanuts into the air and catching them with his mouth open. He was hitting one in five, so in no time there were peanuts all over our table and unto the floor. For my part, I indulged in swallowing cheese cubes and green olives.
"Do you know, Larry," I said in my best alcoholic voice, "what I've been working on for the last twelve months?"
Lawrence, who always endured my frustrated inventor delusions, smiled after scooping up a peanut and looked at me in surprise.
"A new physics project?"
"I didn't know that you were wasting your time again in that mad scientist stuff. I thought you had left all that and dedicated yourself to teaching and nothing else ..."
True, after my failures to build a perpetual motion machine, a homemade plasma fusion reactor and an antigravity generator, I had stopped going to the Institute. However, nothing prevented me from working at home.
"I built a machine to travel through time. A Time Machine. I'm not kidding."
Larry started laughing like crazy. With teary eyes, he drank what was left of his beer and said to me, "I believe you anything, especially after four beers."
"I spent eight months planning it and four months putting it together. A great design. The tricky thing was building it with my teacher's salary. That's why I've worked so much overtime."
Now I had Lawrence captive to my story. I finished my beer, hugged him by the shoulders, and proceeded to my phenomenal announcement.
"That morning was the great moment. I entered the machine at 9 hours, 12 minutes and 11 seconds. I activated the inertial capacitors, turned on the solid propellant phases, and synchronized the borophene electromagnets. Nothing happened. I tried it several times. In the end, I got off at 9 hours, 29 minutes and 23 seconds: in total, I was on the machine 17 minutes and 12 seconds. Somehow, I traveled to the future. Don't I deserve a toast?"
That night we drank all the beer we could until they threw us out.
Marcelo Medone (1961, Buenos Aires, Argentina) is a fiction writer, poet and screenwriter. His works have received numerous awards and have been published in magazines and books, individually or in anthologies, in multiple languages in more than 40 countries all over the world, including the US.
He loves drinking red wine and whiskey, although he prefers a good beer when he eats pizza.
He currently lives in San Fernando, on the outskirts of Buenos Aires.
Wednesday, September 22, 2021
It’s where I stopped on my way home
From my second shift security gig. Cars parked
Far from the scrutiny of overhead gas pump lights,
Asphalt like alligator hide, spray painted pay phone relic
Broke and leaning like the shadows entering and leaving.
A girl in a black hoodie,
young enough to have run away from home
sits on a swivel chair in front of the video slot machine
emptying her pockets of an endless supply of quarters.
I walk past the candy-colored glass pipes
to the coolers and grab that night’s sixer of tall cans.
The man behind the counter avoids eye contact
And has one expression, it’s the kind
That says “yeah, I’ve seen it all and more.”
The license plate on his red Jeep Grand Cherokee reads “CACTUS.”
I knew then something had to change,
When I could no long find the romance
In the emptiness of Sunday nights
And Mondays with nowhere I needed to be.
Tuesday, September 21, 2021
from my lips
a Slim-Jim —
raise a glass,
your front teeth,
or a vein.
I only wanted
for these hands,
a hot page
Monday, September 20, 2021
Sunday, September 19, 2021
Saturday, September 18, 2021
and a half consumed bottle of gin, it is his only friend
Smoke curled up through his hair
from the cigarette ash
poked in his cheek.
He writes his entire life story
chiselling it in black ink
‘Here read this.” he says
pushing it toward me.
It will take a life time to read
’Then read quickly he says.”
Friday, September 17, 2021
“So jaded,” she laughed. “Whenever I see you it’s always the same. Anyone else would look positively martyred, but then jaded always came so naturally to you. Tell me, do you think I’ve changed? Be honest.”
He shook his head slowly. Two flecks of small white saliva formed at the edges of her mouth.
“I’m thirsty,” she lied.
“What would you like?” he asked.
He looked at her blankly.
“Oh sorry, large Peach schnapps.”
She watched him order her drink without saying a word. In the back mirror of the bar bodies blurred, moved decapitated, without arms or legs. There her world was tried, tested and bottled like a genie bound to do her bidding.
“Still having a good time?” he asked returning with her drink.
“Oh absolutely,” she said. “You can’t imagine how happy it makes me seeing you here. How long has it been five years? Or didn’t I see you last Tuesday at Angels?”
He nodded in a way that neither affirmed, nor denied her question. Behind the bar a phone rang. No one answered. She noisily rattled the ice around her glass.
“You are funny,” she giggled. “Really you are one of the funniest people I know.”
“That’s right,” he said. “I am.”
“So, tell me did you ever go back at all?”
“No, I never went back.”
“I said did you ever….”?
“Many times.” He stared at his drink before throwing his head back with a quick, robotic motion.
They moved a little further away from the bar. Both exit and entrance were lost behind a solid flood of shining hair. Up close she could see where he had cut himself shaving. The scar was old as though rusted on the vein.
“That looks sore,” she said feeling her neck like to find a pulse. Behind the bar the phone kept ringing.
“Touch of the shakes,” he said quietly, “Nothing serious.”
She idly kicked his shadow, but it didn’t move. He winced.
“Did you really think it would be different?” she asked him. Once again he shook his head.
“I know what you mean. I used to ask myself all the time. Why do any of us come back?”
Now a name was starting to come to her; a Richard or a Ray she once knew. The carpet on the floor was dark, stained claret. So jaded without memory, summer closing in old friend, old enemy. She spotted something in the bottom of her glass and picked it out. A dead wasp lay glistening in her palm. Clasping at straws she tried to remember a telephone number, but couldn’t. His eyes were black and handsome.
The crowd was still growing. No one was leaving.
“Your lip is bleeding,” she said.
The tip of her tongue felt sticky as she probed for the cut.
“I expect the glass must be chipped.”
Out of nowhere a sobbing girl lurched past them. Her peach dress was soaked in vomit.
“I can’t see anything wrong with it,” he said holding it up to the light, “Can you?”
She shook her head. The phone rang off, and this time she was certain. She had never seen him before.
“Thirst, can be a strange thing” he said.
Thursday, September 16, 2021
us out many times, where we stagger
through protests with torn vocal chords,
just a presence without the hindrance
In bars, with neo-lit tables,
moving in packs, the conversation
far from elasticated by this backdrop,
our throats lined with sweetened spirits,
rather than the echo of dead statements.
And under dawn's shadows, taped
to pillows, our mouths exhale words
without shape, and now without
a contrived urge we can now
comfortably bask in silence.
Wednesday, September 15, 2021
Tuesday, September 14, 2021
Remember the night at the Bottoms Up in New Orleans and you dared me to dance on the bar. How I threw that white sweatshirt with Eat Me on the floor, my black lace bra for show. Remember no windows in the place, lava lamps and creepy balls of yellow wax growing inside the glass. How the bald guy at the end, somewhere near the orange cat, stuck ten dollars in my jeans and said if I picked up another ten between my toes he’d make me a rich lady. After you passed out in the back booth, we left for an hour, maybe two. Later you said that was the worst time ever?? and I called it my best fuck ever, that old dude boning me crazy till I screamed. My face smeared cherry red. Why didn’t you leave me? Why did you stay to clean up mess piled on mess? Damn, I should’ve died of the heart attack. Not you. Taking care of me till you just gave out. That big heart burst. Nothing left but the suffering. Night after night. Me somewhere getting banged. You waiting for me to come home. My breath sour, eyes bloodshot. You snoring on the couch. God knows I feel guilty. Can’t make it through the day without Xanax. The boss says he’s firing me if I don’t get it together. Tell you the truth, I don’t give a shit. So here I am, ghost man, talking to you and drinking myself to sleep.
Monday, September 13, 2021
Sunday, September 12, 2021
a jealous girl’s effort
to bust me for drugs
Saturday, September 11, 2021
in the sun
outside a restaurant
on the Champs-Elysees—
a hell of a Paris
this town is—
sketchy characters, assorted
and the gyro or giro or
is not hot,
and cost me 12 bucks—
qu’es que c’est
Friday, September 10, 2021
And grim humour
I’ve been reading
Too much Schopenhauer
With too much pessimism
Seeping under the door
The evening news
A sideshow of the damned
The town square
An impoverishment of prayer
Fanatics of habit
With a tacit
Of spiritual suffering
It’s all too much
So I wait
As Beckett waits
In the starkness
Of my dilution
Thursday, September 9, 2021
Wednesday, September 8, 2021
She used to hum while she swept the linoleum floor in the kitchen, infant in one arm, broom in the other.
“Give me the baby,” I’d say. “Use both hands to hold the broom.”
She’d laugh. “Wow, that’s so much easier.” Her laughter, light and tinkling, made me laugh too.
She was only seventeen, a wife and mother. She believed in me, in the promise I made to love and honor. She hadn’t yet imagined that I’d slip off my wedding ring and stuff it in my pocket, the way I did when I went to bars in neighboring towns, where they didn’t know me, where they didn’t know her.
The ring jabbed into my thigh when I sat at the bar, when I bought a stranger a drink and then another.
Tuesday, September 7, 2021
like a fat lady
on a bicycle seat.
I am as dry as
a virgin’s mound.
I remember starting
with whisky and
ending with wine,
but precious little else.
Awaking alone, as
per usual, however from
the nocturnal debris strewn
about is obvious that others
were present, just cannot
be accounted for right now.
Not really hungry, I stab at
eggs and signal for more coffee.
(Need something to act as a
sponge, and sop up the alcohol
eating away at my stomach
and vital organs.)
Clayton “me boy” enters, toting
library books, two extra shirts,
and a bottle of warm beer,
in a large paper bag.
Spotting me, he takes the empty
seat at my table for one.
After making some mandatory
one –sided conversation, I signal
for some coffee for him.
The least I can do I suppose.
He sips and recounts a story of
being at a place last week
where a girl o.d.’ed and
He had just come from arising
at the shore where a paramedic
unit was loading a body into the
back after pronouncing him dead.
He retired to sleep that night ten-feet
away from Clayton “me boy” in
the same sand and mist, never to awaken.
He told these tales without registering
any emotion, so nonchalantly.
Business as usual.
Still suffering from after burn
from the previous night’s drowning
of all feeling and empathy, even
I felt a sudden pang of dread.
I continue eating, Clayton “me boy”
continues telling tales of woe.
Wrote a play last night, wanna’ read?
Sure, I tell him. Gibberish…complete.
When we step outside, we are in
the midst of a homeless encampment
just off Venice Blvd.
Clayton “me boy” knows most of them.
Dreams disintegrating before my eyes.
dashed hopes…semi-good intentions.
I have no change I can distribute. Nothing.
I feel like the fabled “one eyed man”
compared to these forgotten souls.
I lose Clayton “me boy” in the crowd,
and I saunter back to my building after
a pit-stop at the “Liquor Locker”.
I need some time to forget.
My rent is due, I don’t drive or work.
Transitory, empty, detached relationships
are all I can seem to maintain with women.
The next time someone from the real
world asks me why I drink so much…
I just may take the time to explain.
S. A. Gerber is a native and resident again of Los Angeles, CA. after having spent twenty-four years in a neighboring “city of sin” in the Silver State of Nevada.
His three (3) volumes of poetry, Under the Radar, Inventory, and Old School Rhyme can all be obtained on Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com, as well as Beyond Baroque Bookstore in Venice, Ca. The Amber Unicorn in Las Vegas, NV. The Book Monster in Santa Monica, Ca., The Book Jewel in Westchester, Ca. and City Lights Bookstore, San Francisco, Ca.
Monday, September 6, 2021
Sunday, September 5, 2021
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