Sunday, October 31, 2021

Between The Static by Murders Row

Is a paradise within hell.
For the rings are just as much delusion, as your sacred truth.

On wings and nightmares, upon a plain you cannot fathom.
The eye can view what the blind in vain seek.

No buried treasure, but plenty of skeletons in the proverbial closet.

Tigers wait until that moment.
You never know it's close until you sense its fangs.

Dismember the evidence and leave the file.

An artist always leaves a signature behind.

Stained in your essence, what a splendid canvas you did create.

Murders Row are a group of artists who choose to remain anonymous. 
Their art is dark as so often is life.
 That is all that needs to be said.

Friday, October 29, 2021

Shillington by Carl Kaucher

At Harding Avenue,
bumbling past broken sticks, a dirty paper plate
and a little patch of crusty old snow,
I came upon the old High School
now remodeled and adorned 
with an array of security cameras
that thankfully were not there back on that day
when Steve M. drove up to the lunchroom door
with a case of beer in the trunk
to pick up the crew for a big Woo Hoo
up at Shillington park.

But as for now, in the now
the ground is well saturated to a slop 
from a steady January rain all morning 
and in my vagrant like stumbling
I slip into a muddy puddle
soaking my shoe to a cold squishy squash.
The shoe is still somewhat squeaking
when I cut in the side door at Flannigan's pub
a few blocks further away.

Luckily the room is a noisy and bawdy affair
of loud voices and bad music permeating the air.
Sitting down to observe all the posturing 
and imagery involved in making the scene 
but not for one as me with squishy shoes,
cold feet, a red runny nose and fogged up glasses.
I just don't fit in between double shot guy
and the coupling couple Googling beside me.

Along comes a woman furnishing free samples
of an ice cold pilsner in small plastic cups
from some brewery in San Diego.
The beer tastes pathetic and gross 
and the grimace on my face causes her to move on
so I miss out on the free pint glasses 
she gives to everyone else but me. 
So be it, so I beat it 
cause all I want to do is leg it
and fumble around in the world.

Later, under the care of Dr. Rick Marshall IPA
at another location of libation,
I again study all the gestures and intimations
of the character and condition of the human situation.
Overhearing the conversation of the couple beside me,
I wonder just how it ever happens 
that the sexes can stay together
given the, oh what the hell do I know,
It just seems odd given the points of view,
the implications and intimations 
indicative of "till DEATH do us part".
I consider this in part 
because I wanted to use the word indicative.

Hell, I am a writer and cannot even describe
the sinister shadows creeping 
by the side of the road
making my way back to the car
a mile away too far after I left the bar.
I am becoming one with the frost
in the land of the loathsome and lost
and my foot has now frozen off.

Carl Kaucher is a poet, photographer, and urban explorer who lives in Temple, Pennsylvania.  He is the author of two chap books, "Sideways Blues ( Irish mountain and beyond )"and most recently "Postpoemed" His work has appeared in numerous publications and on line. The writing explores his experiences wandering urban spaces near his home and throughout Pennsylvania. Using his photography and writing, Carl has been exploring the overlooked places and documenting the chance occurrences that happen to him and by doing so gives us the opportunity to reflect upon those similar events happening in our lives also.   and on instagram @Carlkaucher.

Thursday, October 28, 2021

drinking beer in the snow by John Grochalski

there are two women
outside the catch-22 bar

drinking beer in the snow

dressed in heavy coats
wool hats and gloves

they sit at a small round table

sipping from pints
like it’s a summer day
and everything here is normal

i guess it’s not too odd

people drink beer in blizzards
at football games in green bay

but this is a street corner in brooklyn

it’s early february
and the football season is over

restaurants are only open for take-out
and the catch-22 shouldn’t be open at all

but where there’s a will
there’s always a cop or two
on the take

the women smile at each other
in between sips of beer

their teeth chatter
as they wipe snow off of their sleeves

and try to convince themselves
that they’re having a good time

while lighting drooping cigarettes
against the bitter winter wind.

 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.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

These Are the Days of Our Lives by Reneé Drummond-Brown

I read a post online today
it read
“Things that money can’t buy:
Common Sense
Type ‘yes’ if you agree.” (Unknown author).
I cogitated, deliberated-within, and mused over those painstaking words…
And I believe that money
can buy all of the least of these
in a superficial ‘kindda way…
For example,
Money can buy manners cause people use their money to talk and it sells (I mean sounds) real nice.
Money can buy morals because people respect your raunchiness; the more money that you have, less is more-Al’s, and looks darn good on you gal.
Money buys respect from the lowest of the totem pole to dropping it like it’s hot!
Money buys character; everybody looks good wearing their money (just don’t sweat the funk).
Money buys common sense; we’ve certainly seen many UN-educated leaders in our lifetime.
Money buys suck-up’s, I mean them trustworthy friends.
Money buys patience ‘cause everyone will definitely wait on you hand and foot.
Money can buy class; we ‘gotta lot of PROMinent families who’ve paid their way (and their children’s childrens’ way) through schools and universities. Lest we forget them ‘GIFTED’ straight A’s, who can’t spell a lick.
Money buys integrity ask the courtrooms how many solemnly do swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth…so help them God???
Money sho-nuff buys luv- I mean love; ask the 18-year-old model married to the 81-year-old billionaire stud.
So nope, I don’t agree with the post…
‘bout money.
But what I will say is this
money couldn’t buy Jesus, ask Judas’
bout that 30 pieces o’ silver.
O’ I forgot
he hanged himself ‘onna tree
‘ov’r the love of blood-sucking-money.
Dedicated to: Iniquity hath abounded
A RocDeeRay Production

Reneé Drummond-Brown is a renowned author born on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, located in Onslow County, in southeastern North Carolina. Drummond-Brown now resides in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Though she holds several degrees, she still rises towards the mark of higher education.

In 2021, the Literary Forum for Peace and Human Rights (WLFPH) awarded Drummond-Brown the humanitarian award. In addition, her requested work can also be seen in Poets Unify World Poetic Anthology for Global Harmony.

Drummond-Brown’s first book “Renee’s Poems with Wings are Words in Flight-I’ll Write Our Wrongs!” was published, 2015. She has since authored over 30 books to date, including anthologies, and her poetic works are recognized across the globe on both national and international platforms. Her books can be purchased on Amazon, AuthorHouse, and Westbow Press bookstores. Her literary work(s) have also taken flight in anthologies, magazines, radio, videos, colleges and universities.
Drummond-Brown takes pride in her very first (shared) poem getting published by The Metro Gazette Publishing Company, Albany GA., Publisher Judith Hampton Thompson. The poem, “THANK YOU FOR YOUR INVOLVEMENT IN THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT” was written for Ms. Rutha Mae Harris, Original Freedom singer of The Civil Rights Movement, Member of The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Songbird, and Activist. Drummond-Brown’s Professor gave Ms. Harris the poem.
In Honor of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Drummond-Brown was presented by the office of The Multicultural Student Services 2nd Prize in the Undergraduate Essay Contest while at Geneva College, 2015.
Her works address societal ills and woes that plague less fortunate people. Renee is quoted
“My ink bleeds black.”

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

COACH JIM by Scott C. Kaestner

Jim knew he was perhaps too aggressive to be talking to his son’s sixth grade class so he tried hard to dial it back during his presentation on dealing with stress. But when a student asked, “How do you get through hard times?” it triggered an unfortunate response from Jim.

“When life gives you lemons, you throw those lemons in the face of the motherfuckers who gave them to you!”

Jim then feigned a throwing motion and screamed, “Suck the sour outta’ that asshole!”

It was no mystery as to why Jim was banned from his son’s elementary school, however, it was somewhat surprising when he was offered a job as the pitching coach for the local high school baseball team.

Scott C. Kaestner is a Los Angeles, poet, writer, dad, husband, and a man who believes simplicity and cannabis can get you through life almost unscathed. Google ‘scott kaestner poetry’ to peruse his musings and doings.

Monday, October 25, 2021

Rain by Allan Pleaner

Rain is falling on corrugated iron rooftops 
of the tired houses next to Tim’s Scrapyard & Auto
washing the '46 Chevy's rust down the alleyway 
into the gutter. 
There it joins the soapy rinse waters of Nick’s Laudrette
Pitter-patter over the grimy silent sidewalk.
Drenches her long brown hair as she stumbles on her way to
wearily load her soiled sheets.
Heartbroken remnants of Friday's long loving night.
Bourbon then Scotch then beer … or maybe
beer first, then Scotch…? 
Now gusts of wind sweep rain from the east, 
through the cemetery and along worn banks of the river
while she pulls a soft blanket over her shoulders
slowly sipping a warm Bud and inhaling deeply on her Camel plain.
The washing machine porthole
aquarium-like, soapy bubble swirling, flailing, gyrating her sheets.
You can’t just wash it away. 
Thick drops of rain drip from the nose of the statue in the park
Bacchus, all vine-wrapped naked.
She thinks about him, 
The way they laughed and touched and tasted and loved
Then he left at dawn, 
quietly, so as not to wake her.
Will I ever see him again? 
Now, drenching the town's fields and gardens, turning soil to mud
the rain-soaked carcasses of wet scrap metal
glisten under the streetlamp. 

Allan Pleaner is a wood turner, sculptor, collage artist, illusionist and story-teller in the SF Bay area. He has a therapy practice and also builds miniature wooden buildings, mostly weathered depression-era structures. His writings include short-fiction, poetry, memoir, travel-writing and prose.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Standing Ovation by Daniel S. Irwin

Bill was a fantastic actor.
Actor?  No, not actor: star.
His dedication to realism
In all his performances
Was well known: contusions,
Bruises, dislocations, blood,
Cracked/broken ribs, et al.
Just striving for perfection.
His efforts for the upcoming
Part in his current film was
No exception.  He would
Work on the gin soaked
Drunkard’s suicide scene
Until it dazzled the audience.
It turned out so well that it
Received a standing ovation
From the men who loaded
Him into the van from the
Coroner’s Office.

Daniel S. Irwin, native of Sparta, Illinois (St. Louis area east of the river not Chicago), has had work published in over one hundred magazines and literary journals world wide.

Author of nine books…some frequently seen at local church book burnings.  Recent work can be found in/at Horror, Sleaze. Trash magazine, Beatnik Cowboy,

The Dope Fiend Daily and one here at The Rye Whiskey Review.


Saturday, October 23, 2021

Pubescence Old-Fashioned by Chuka Susan Chesney

Deodorant spray in

my parents’ bathroom drawer.

I hurry to the door.

“Wait til we’re out!”

My mother implores.

My father grunts crossly while

razoring his chin.

I return to my room,

yank on a chartreuse turtleneck,

plaid jumper, knee socks,

and violette headband,

then reappear at their bedroom door.

I glance through the doorway

at their muddled double bed.

They have left

for the kitchen

to nibble applejack toast.

The deodorant’s straight up

on the Irish cream counter.

I flick away goo

in the hole of the nozzle,

reach it through my collar

and spritz my underarms.

I sit on the bus on the way 

to school.

The deodorant’s cheap—

my father bought it on sale.

Trickles of sweat drizzle down my sides.

I chat with my friend

on the pickled vinyl seat.

She doesn’t know I’m sweating.

Embarrassed, I pretend 

it isn’t happening.

I just keep grinning

my Jack-O-Lantern smile.

I realize I need my own deodorant

to twist in my bedroom

so my brother won’t use it.

That night I say, “Dad,

please take me to the drugstore.”

He does. I buy roll-on

and a pivoting razor.

Chuka Susan Chesney is an artist and a poet. Her poems, art, and/or flash fiction have been published in Peacock Journal, Inklette, New England Review, Compose, Picaroon, and Lummox. Chesney’s paintings and collages have been in exhibitions and galleries across the United States.

Friday, October 22, 2021

Siren Song by Kendra Whitfield

Whiskey and fire force memory’s shadow
Far from the threshold of my

Amber promise soothes from the inside out;
I feel the burn but not the

Flickering flashes beckon me to frenzy
With crooked fingers of

Until all that is left of Light Is a white-hot,
Blood-hearted ember on which to roast my

Kendra Whitfield lives and writes on the southern edge of the Northern Boreal Forest.  When not writing, she can be found basking in sunbeams on the deck, or swimming laps at the local pool.  Her work appears in the forthcoming anthology, We Were Not Alone (Community Building Art Works, November 2021).

Thursday, October 21, 2021

WORSE THAN COCK BLOCK by George Schaefer

The bell rings
so someone bought the bar a round.
You look up 
to politely acknowledge
the kind stranger.

You have another shot
You go with J.D.

The creative juices
are flowing 
and you feel inspired
Great—or at least adequate—poetry
might be committed today

but then you realize
there’s no ink left
in the pen you have
You don’t want to draw attention
by requesting a pen.

It’s even worse than cock block
when you feel a poem coming on
and lack the means 
to commit it to paper.

The locals in the bar
are chatting up a storm
and craziness is abundant.

Thru the chatter
I find out
that moose barbacoa
is actually a thing here

I want to be writing
as the despair 
of the locals 
is begging to be exploited

On the radio,
I hear Boy George singing,
“Do you really want to hurt me?”

the answer is yes.

George Schaefer is a Philly based poet who hides out in a small suburban apartment.  He occasionally utilizes mass transit to visit the city and record poetic observations that he hopes will one day inspire dozens to new heights.  He clings to the hopes that the poetry will speak for itself.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Why does Michael Myers kill? by Alex Z. Salinas

Because he does not speak—
Not “can’t” speak
But no desire to deliver lines
And we’re stranded with action
Which we believe speaks
Louder than words
Which strangle silence
The language of the dead—
Michael kills not because
He rejects the path of his throat
But rather 
Clogs it
Blackened gore—
Let us not delve into the purpose of
The bleached Shatner mask
Which is a double mask
And current sign 
(Antidote & toxin)
Of our times—
Michael is strong & silent
And so chooses to slash
For reasons forbidden to
Human ears—
Let us end all trickery & debate 
For remaining Halloweens to come:
Why Michael Myers kills
Is none of our business &
Evil persists outside of fear & 
Gun ownership snubs out the blameless &
Certain screams shatter wine glasses
And kitchen knives are double-edged spears
And bloodlust lodges in each of us
For we slithered onto this mud 
Soft red eggshells—
A horrible quiet face lies underneath our own
And we refuse to peel it back
And so drown it with noise.

Alex Z. Salinas is the author of two full-length poetry collections: WARBLES, and DREAMT, or The Lingering Phantoms of Equinox. His debut book of short stories, City Lights From the Upside Down, is expected to be published in August 2021. He lives in San Antonio, Texas. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Beer in His Soul by Melinda Longtin

I knew a kid once
With beer in his soul.
Perception removed.
Eyes clicked off
Just echoes of BoJack Horseman and Family Guy
Laughing in the violent vigor
Of adult content.
Inappropriate is a way of life.

His grandma screams in the field back home.
Kid’s baby brother falls out of her drunk arms.
Baby brother smacks soaked soil
Face first.
Storms and drooping hops
Blinded the baby too.

I am a social worker.
My heels were made
For kicking down doors,
Delivering glass eyes,
And catching infants
Before they hit the ground.

Back at the group home,
The children are too busy spinning,
Tainted by delirious vertigo
They cannot see my outstretched arms.

Too much beer in all their souls.
How do I sober thunder?
The calligraphy of lightning
Etched upon my back.

Melinda Longtin has several years of experience providing multi-disciplinary education and social work support to K-12 students in the foster care system. In addition to her foster care work, Mrs. Longtin has extensive hands-on experience working with children with special needs. As an advocate for equal educational and economic opportunities for both children and adults, she volunteers for a variety of relevant organizations and has also founded insprwing, a blog about the right to pursuit of happiness. In addition to inspirwing, Mrs. Longtin uses poetry to provide a voice for domestic violence survivors. Her previous publications include poems in literary magazines around the world as well as her collection, Metaphoria, which focuses on her own journey of surviving domestic violence.

Monday, October 18, 2021

This Time by Don Robishaw

Five AM

    Thirty days removed from the bar life: There are things I can’t erase. One drink is enough to destroy what I’ve accomplished over the past month. Today, I live clean for the kids. They’re the ones that urged me to stop.

    My lifelong friend Roger and I have a mutual goal. A bigger boat and we can expand our legal lobster operation.

    Down by the beach, Roger, ex-con and occasional motorcycle mechanic hovers over ‘Scorpion’ as he towels off his tattooed chest and salt and pepper beard. Two bald Harley Davidson Sportster tires sink in white sand.

    Roger Feeny lives free, for the beauty of the sea, changing tides with hues from blues to greens, and the steady ripple of ocean waves. Sometimes seas are tranquil — smooth as aged whiskey. Other times, the current’s combatively angry, like on those cold wintery evenings Roger spent in sick-bay. Things were looking up, at the time. He would soon be discharged and able to rejoin his shipmates. . .  Although, their screams eventually ceased, the memories of his lost mates entombed on a sub in a hole on the bottom of the ocean still haunt him.

Six AM

    Dark clouds gather overhead. Today, Roger and I paint pleasure craft bottoms at Shell Marina and other marinas along Rhode Island and Massachusetts southern shores. We sand hulls down to the primer with a heavy-duty disc-grinder. Googles and closed mouths required.      Jack-of-all-trades, we expect to be paid a lot. ‘cause nobody else wants to do it. 

    People want boats in the water now, and we want to increase our savings account in order to buy a bigger lobster boat with a new engine. We have picked it out already. We need money right away. A more reliable and bigger one produces more income. More income and my ex is happy, and I get the kids more often. Everybody’s happy.

    Rains come before we can apply the primer. We don’t get paid until the job is finished. Damn it. We secure a blue tarpaulin to the hull. Press trigger-finger against left nostril and blow. 

    I yank the driver’s side door three times before it loosens, reach under the passenger seat for an empty Bud can that’s been rolling around for ages, and toss it left-handed into a dark-green dumpster from twenty-feet away. Hook shoot. Two points. Still got it. Back in high school days, starting forward for the Blue Waves before they expelled me from school for drinking too often on campus.

    We get in my faded ’59 gold Bonneville and head towards Quahog Point, a well-known area for lovers and for digging the hard shell clams by hand. High tide — Seas are too rough today. Steady lightning flashes. I come here to park, cry, and think about my ex and the kids. She and I have been lost to each other for two years. You fucked up too many times, Danny boy. My name is mud to her. But, just maybe. . . No matter what, the kids are everything to me.

    On the drive up Beach Road I space out over the massive Newport Bridge, we built in ’68, whistling along to Otis Redding’s ‘Sitting on the Dock of the Bay’ playing on my eight-track. Remembering now, how the money used to pour in, back in the day. “Wanna set our lobster traps? Got the engine running on the old boat.” Engine still knocking, though. I raise my thumb, “Good rates now.” 

    “Gotta lay low, Dan.” Roger rubs his black eye. “Guys looking for me. They think I stole their traps. Might be facing more than an ass-kicking.”

    “How they got these ideas I’ll never know. Did you do it, Rog?”

    “Fuck no. Remember when my ex-brother-in-law did that shit?”

    “Shave your beard, and people won’t get you mixed up. What happened to your eye?”

    “The Clayton brothers, last night. One-on-one I can handle them.”

    “Charlie Clayton was my point guard on the Blue Waves. We got thrown off the team, but he didn’t get expelled. I took the heat. Let me talk to him.”

    “Thanks Dan.”

    “I’ll need a ten-spot to buy him a dime bag.”


    “That’ll get me in the door.”

    Roger laughs, “Beware of Greeks bearing gifts, right.”

    Rog and I have been struggling to stay straight for a lot more than thirty days. We 

power-shake to reinforce our commitment to stop petty crimes and drinking. “Hard to fathom you were a jail-bird. Eleven months. For what? An ounce of weed.”

    Honorable discharge didn’t mean shit to the judge.” Roger wrinkles his brow and lowers his voice, “and don’t call me a fuckin’ jail bird, either.”

    “Sorry, bro.” I say, “Southern New England Shucking Company is hiring. One of the last houses still shucking those huge sea clams by hand.”

    Roger rolls his eyes. “How much can it suck?”

    “We ain’t gonna make a career out of it, mate. We’re both lefties.”

    “Let’s give it a go. What do we have to lose?”

    “Yesterday the judge said, ‘Daniel Ryan, if you want to see your kids again keep your nose clean and keep up the child support.’ Therefore, I have a lot to lose.” WTF, I can’t work for peanuts.

    “That little Danny of yours is a real hot shit, bro.”

    I smile to hold back tears from behind my dark aviators.

Seven AM: Two Aging Pretty Boys

    Five miles from the point: A white shingle triple-decker stretches to the rear porch on the wharf, dwarfing us. Inside, middle-aged-women stand at stainless steel tables. After a tour, they teach us the ‘right-handed’ system. A tobacco-brunette reaches from behind, brushes up real close, and teaches me how to hold the blade. She guides my knife-hand, making incisions into the muscle to get clams to open-up. Next, we slide the knife around the edge, scoop and drop the meat into a white plastic bucket. 

    She smiles. “You can call me Marina of the Sea,” and squeezes me with forearms that would make Popeye look more like Olive Oyl. 

    Sun breaks and it’s going to hit a hundred. Air conditioner’s broke and no breeze. Heat, sweat, and salt-water upon my face and arms in the morning. Inhale . . . Exhale. . . I’d love to have my first cold one about now. Love to have a drink with Roger. Stop shaking damn-it. I’m half the man I coulda been, if only. . .

    Country music blasts from a transistor AM/FM radio. I shake out my shoulder length thinning dirty blonde hair, tie it into a ponytail, and get to work. 

    And the pay? Former card-carrying union iron workers don’t expect the minimum wage of a dollar-forty an hour. Fuck peace work. Best we do is seventy-five cents. Top shuckers average six bucks.

    We go to the boss-man. First, get rid of our sweaty t-shirts, and then enter the office, if that’s what you call it. Forty years old and not an ounce of fat on me. “Sorry, we’re done.” Politely I add, “We want our pay.”

    A  kindly looking overweight man from behind a messy old wooden desk says, “Keep on shucking,” With a smirk on his face adds, “you’ll get better.”

    “Something wrong with you ears, mate?”

    Shaking, he stares at the menacing looking blade on my belt and pulls out the cashbox. We’re not in the mood to take his shit and demand minimum wage.

    We say, “Have a nice day, mate!” Wish there was a way money could go directly into a bank account without touching my itchy fingers.                                Four PM: A Final Barrier

    Pockets jingling, we stare at our reflections in the plate-glass window of ‘The Lonely Clam.’ I turn towards Roger. “That shucking place was enough to drive one to drink.”

    The green-screen-door swings open with creak to a fifty-foot mahogany bar hiding in a darkened room. Cigarette-filled ashtrays, overhead fans, and several white life-rings line the four bulkheads. Men-of-the-sea stand, one foot on a brass rail. Broad-shouldered women-of-the-sea slump on stools with elbows on the bar. Nothing like the whiff of real drinking men or women, that stench of sweat and beer and whiskey-laden breaths.

    Something can be said of men and women who know that stench of failure, lost opportunities . . . a ring in a card game, that unused basketball scholarship or GI Education Bill. Nothing like the sweet smell of resignation, of not expecting much from a disappointing life. 

    Something can be said of men and women who go through life with few goals other than where’s the next beer coming from? When am I getting laid?

Four Thirty PM: This Time

    There are things I can’t erase. Thirty days removed from the bar life, and I breakdown in front of my friend. “One drink, Rog.” Tears roll out from under my aviators. “I promise to go back on the wagon tomorrow.”

    “Up to you. I can dig how much you love your kids, man. There’s an AA meeting at Saint Michael’s. Free buffet.”

    A month dry. Roger and I are on pace to meet our goal. If we’re serious about the new boat, five restaurants are willing to buy all our lobsters. Finish two more bottoms and we can expand our operation.

    So, I stare through the plate-glass widow, walk away, this time, taking each day as it comes. Forecast tomorrow: Blue skies overhead.



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.


Sunday, October 17, 2021

when everyone is healthy and no one is mad by Scott Ferry

and the sounds of the light-breasted morningbirds
and swift dipping crows create a place to rest
i watch my child try to unscrew the sprinker
apparatus from the hose again and all settles
under these low flying mists and the cars labor
out on the highway and nothing is wanting
for now
i am scared of contentment because i know
how it tears like a ricesack and begins vomiting
each white worry into my kitchen i know how
the fates like it i know god sees me grinning
at the placid clear whiteboard i know there
will be unanswerable equations scrawled in bodily
fluids by lunch i know to half enjoy this
it doesn’t pay to take a photo the only thing
which sticks is grasping my son and holding him
and sniffing his damp face and wishing him
this painlessness this ease and wishing it for me
and my daughter my wife and to try to capture
the smell of his running the smell of fearlessness
mixed with dying grass just watered
try to keep august 1st sunday morning through
thanksgiving try to bargain with change and virus
and calamity try to meet god in the garden
and sing her asleep with guarded whistling
faithless songs with a half grin and a child’s slobber
on my cheek with these few breaths where the
morning can breathe itself into a time lapse
where pain will not be pain where illness will not
persist where death of any kind will not take
i hope god you can agree to keep sleeping
through the fall you can narrate your dreams
to me when you wake i hope there will be foxes
and wet marsupials and beaked storybirds i hope
the clock will be stopped by the pale moon
i hope we will still be alive and you can dream
us into myths like a vacation in apple-feathers
like a rashless chest like a clear long rain
like a dish of faceless fruit like an ocean of
numb ankles like a howl of fishflesh
like a laugh of a child when you hold him
and hold him and finally let him fly


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 @  

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Fables for L. Cohen by Tanya Rakh

I once met Leonard Cohen in a stanza
I asked him to note my passing, and my poems
I don’t know how I expected him to outlive me
I am barely a solar system
He was dark matter.

I once met Leonard Cohen on a plane to nowhere
We flew over the ocean, drank black coffee
and poured sugar on the floor
It formed spirals as it spilled.

I once met Leonard Cohen in a brokendown tropic
He was collecting feathers that fell on the sand
while Henry Miller sat in the treetops above, laughing,
throwing oranges at us.

I once met Leonard Cohen in a dream
He was walking backwards in an ice cream world
We followed the broken furniture into warmer rooms
and he helped me tune Picasso’s blue guitar.

I once met Leonard Cohen on a superhighway
He crushed the traffic underfoot
No one was hurt except machinery
The people collided in somersaults above the shoulder.

Only one of these stories is true, and only half true at best
Nevertheless, I’ll always remember
the backwards ice cream air traffic somersaults,
the sugar spiral orange world
The way the air smelled, even though it wasn’t air
His words forming the shape of a blue guitar
as he followed the cracks that led him home.

Tanya Rakh was born on the outskirts of time and space in a cardboard box. After extensive planet-hopping, she currently makes her home near Houston, Texas where she writes poetry, surrealist prose, and cross-genre amalgamations. Her writing has appeared in numerous journals including The Gasconade Review, Redshift 4, Literary Orphans, Fearless, Yes, Poetry, and The Rye Whiskey Review. Tanya is the author of two books: Hydrogen Sofi and Wildflower Hell, new editions of both available from Posthuman Poetry & Prose.

Friday, October 15, 2021

A Drinking Accident by Dan Brook

drinking at the pub 
they take a taxi back home 
exchanging glances 

another whiskey 
and lots of silly giggling 
at their apartment 

a bit drunk together 
accidental lesbians 
touching and kissing 

her friend is happy 
kissing, petting, enjoying 
so she's happy, too 

after an hour 
of kissing, licking, touching 
two sweaty masses 

lying there with her 
in their post-orgasmic bliss 
she dreams of next time 

just a yellow sheet 
on their entangled bodies 
peacefully sleeping 

the sun on her face 
feelings of satisfaction 
on this good morning 

Dan Brook teaches in the Department of Sociology and Interdisciplinary Social Sciences at San Jose State University, from where he organizes the Hands on Thailand program. His most recent books are Harboring Happiness: 101 Ways To Be Happy (Beacon, 2021), Sweet Nothings (Hekate, 2020), about the nature of haiku and the concept of nothing, and Eating the Earth: The Truth About What We Eat (Smashwords, 2020).  

slurred words by Lorraine A. Padden

slurred words
rubbing another spot
off a glass

Lorraine A. Padden was a professional dancer for many years. She now publishes haiku and related forms in journals such as Modern Haiku, The Heron's Nest, tinywords, Frogpond, #FemkuMag, and Kingfisher. She was recently featured in Tricycle Magazine after one of her poems won the Best of the Haiku Challenge in 2021.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Grief, a Hangover by Catherine Arra

Circular, circuitous. Unmapped.

Requires kegs of time, ten-toed tight roping 
to miss the wall, skip the fall, gutter-banging brains.

You can’t lose the headache, crotch ache,
the heavy-footed hungover hunger. The loss.

You stagger grocery aisles, drive snail-pace slow in
your own funeral procession, horns honking behind.

Cursed and dazed, you move in sludge.

You think you are speeding. You almost want the cliff
to arrow into space, hang glide down.

Weightless, aloft, free.

But you keep on. Keep on chasing ghosts,
feeding pain, order another bourbon. 

One more shot won’t make a difference
any more than one more phone call, one more kiss.

One more roll under the sheets of delusion.

It will be better this time, you say.
But it never is, no matter how tight you hold the pen,

the wish, the full-throttle control of authorship.
You can’t rewrite the story.

Catherine Arra is the author of Deer Love (Dos Madres Press, 2021), Her Landscape, Poems Based on the Life of Mileva Marić Einstein (Finishing Line Press, 2020), (Women in Parentheses) (Kelsay Books, 2019), Writing in the Ether (Dos Madres Press, 2018), and three chapbooks. Arra is a native of the Hudson Valley in upstate New York, where she teaches part-time and facilitates local writing groups. Find her at

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

St. Teresa’s Day a cadralor by Lauren Scharhag

1. Prostrate
I am seven when the first migraine seizes me in its jaws. 
I’d spent the night on my grandmother's floor, Sirius prowling the July sky. Glaring afternoons pass like the whine of a mosquito, the nights craving the weak gust of a box fan, kicking off sodden sheets, wanting to climb out of my own skin. Sharing a bed is an impossibility. 
I try to raise my head and this, also, proves impossible. 
From the kitchen comes the drone of bacon, my grandmother’s voice
telling me to come eat. The world has become unbearable. 
If I could form a thought, it would be only to find some way of escaping it. The pain is almost mystic, a seraph’s spear piercing my skull, a holy trepanation.  

2.Goya’s Dog
At a discoteca in Madrid, a boy wants to kiss me, and I dance away. 
I live for the open air mercados, lunching on manchego and baguette slices. In Puerto de Lapices, I eat green olives from the grove outside. 
I make my pilgrimage to the Prado, soaking in the cool dark, the cathedral silence. Its masters, Velazquez and Bosch and El Greco, await my adoration. Goya haunts me, especially the dog, alone,
looking up at something only he can see.
I’m afraid to be the dog, alone with my visions,
at the mercy of my senses, at the mercy of everything.   

3. Cherries
The apartment behind the club. Our balcony faced the alley.
Throb of bass every night, drunks fighting and vomiting over the fence, 
tinkle and crash of bottles. Nonetheless, we strung up a hammock. 
There was a fruit and flower stand on the corner.
We bought a basket of cherries, and two bougainvillea that bloomed 
impossible shades of heliotrope and Fanta orange all summer.
We swung beneath them, petals falling on our faces. 
I spat cherry pits over the railing, hoping that one of them
would take root, a childish wish for a tiny oasis,
lush leaves and ruby fruit. 

4.The Blue Ridge
The year my father and I road tripped along the Blue Ridge.
I could barely take in the spectacle of it: lowland fields of sunflowers,
bursts of cattle birds, white as salvation, and runnels of water
cascading down out of the granite steeps. At a roadside stand
a solitary woman sells peaches. She offers us three bushels
in exchange for my father’s collie. No deal. We buy the peaches outright, our hands stained with their juice all the way to Asheville, stickying the seats. It starts to rain. Homeless men huddle around a metal trashcan fire. I skip stones across the Shenandoah. The mist is a cool hand on my brow. I can breathe here. In these woad-colored mountains, I can breathe.

That night the call came from the transplant center, sleep was out of the question. So I cleaned the kitchen, folded laundry, my mind blank with terror. Someone had died. Someone had died so that we might live. A thief in the night stolen in. I look up, my head a fruit that’s gone soft, pulp ready to yield up the hardness at its center. You were not with me,in the mountains, in the marble halls, but you were. You were not with me on the shag rug of my agony, but you were. All that pain, all the panic and paralysis,all the prayers, all the bargains I’d made with the universe. (If I deny myself this, my reward will be that much the sweeter.) This is what I’d been waiting for. Tomorrow, in the operating room, I won’t be with you, but I will be. I will be with you.

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

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Erosion by John Drudge

I have turned
The curve
Toward sundown
And the reckoning 
Of my choices
Sweeping swiftly
Across the flatlands
Of my growing
Over sullen inclinations
And the wastelands
Of blind alleys
Across swaths
Of unused mornings
To the stream
That runs
Through the weeping 
Into the river
To the sea
That churns 
With the tide
Against the shore
Washing away
The last of me

John is a social worker working in the field of disability management and holds degrees in social work, rehabilitation services, and psychology.  He is the author of four books of poetry: “March” (2019), “The Seasons of Us” (2019), New Days (2020), and Fragments (2021). His work has appeared widely in numerous literary journals, magazines, and anthologies internationally. John is also a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee and lives in Caledon Ontario, Canada with his wife and two children.


For The Mourner By Alec Solomita

For the mourner only one thing is: things like business, cooking, seeing birds stir the spring air, falling snow, even watching the home tea...