Friday, December 31, 2021

Benefits Of Escape by Rp Verlaine

Kicked to corner 
where she said 
I’d find company. 
 
I walk outside 
where the wind lies 
It’s fresh. 
 
The corner girls 
spin their stale tales 
that I’m next. 
 
I pass the bar 
three times then 
traipse in. 
 
One whiskey 
becomes  
five. 

Then I see 
tattoos too dark to read 
yet her smile says enough. 
 
Beckons me to lose 
for I gather quickly 
her victories are small. 
 
We leave seeking 
a temporary respite 
letting stars kiss our wounds. 
 
With only the moon 
truly golden 
over a pawnshop. 
 
Where in the morning 
I’ll sell my watch to buy 
more time with her. 



Rp Verlaine lives and writes in New York City. He has an MFA in creative writing from City College and taught English in New York public schools until he retired. He has several collections of poetry including Damaged by Dames & Drinking (2017), Femme Fatales Movie Starlets & Rockers (2018), and Lies From The Autobiography 1-3 (2018-2020).


Thursday, December 30, 2021

The keys By Alex Z. Salinas

Came close last night to

Making words mean

Other than what they mean—

What do words mean beyond

Meaning?—beyond meaning

What do words do? What words

Do what & when do they

What? Do words when when they

What & why do they do what they

Do? Say what? 

How do words mean & why

Do I care?

Where the fuck are my keys?

“Where you left them,” replies I.

I dig The Black Keys primarily 

Because of their name. 

What’s in a name, a wordy funky name?

How many names can I stuff in the garage?

However many I want.

O how I wish to be what I

Can’t & why God gave me

Poetry to write home about

I don’t want to know why. 

Beyond meaning, words are taffy—

The sponsored dessert of the

Parareal parallel to the 

Ultrareal wrapped in surreal quilts 

Knit by phantasms 

Shoving me out the door

Onto the wending concrete

Into the glimmering skyscrapers of death—

Yes,

My keys were always in my hand.





Alex Z. Salinas is the author of two poetry collections: WARBLES and DREAMT, or The Lingering Phantoms of Equinox. He is also the author of a book of stories: City Lights From the Upside Down. He holds an M.A. in English Literature and Language from St. Mary’s University. He lives in San Antonio, Texas.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

When you write, try By Chris Spark

When you write, try

to be drunk. That way 

you’re stumbling 

and you might fall 

into some 


amazing ditch.






Chris Spark (a.k.a. Chris Dingman) graduated summa cum laude with a degree in biology from Harvard where he began writing humor for The Harvard Lampoon and poetry for himself. From screenplays to songs to philosophy to more poetry, he’s been writing ever since. He optioned his first screenplay to Warner Bros. in 1989, and has since been involved in various Hollywood shenanigans.

One of Spark’s  pieces  was  included, alongside those of Conan O’Brien and John Updike, in The Best of the Harvard Lampoon: 140 Years of American Humor. He’s a published poet, and a   contributor to The American Bystander, which Newsweek called the “last great humor magazine.” He’s also a frequent lecturer of friends and family.


Website 


http://www.sparkwrites.com/

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Talking to My Younger Self by Ann Christine Tabaka

Heed well;
for my words are but a concept in your young mind. 
We cannot pass through the barrier of time. I am 

a memory that you do not know. Looking back  
many years, we traveled seventy journeys around 

this sun; seventy-one, counting heartbeats within our 
mother’s womb. Remembering all the tears shed; all 

the mountains scaled; all the sins buried deep.
I tell you, do not look back, do not fear the future, 

do not give up hope. Your passion and your desires 
are held in a secret trove; hidden from all but you 

and me. They are not to be revealed to a hungry world, 
ingesting each weary breath. Past-lives tumbling off the 

edge of an eyeblink. It is too late for regrets. It is never 
too late to change. We have shared a history that no 

one else can share. We touched the sky, we sailed through 
clouds. Icy oceans held us up, as we were about to sink.

We loved, we lost, we survived this far. We do not see 
where we are going, but we know where we have been.

Listen, yes listen to the voice within. Your future is my past.




Ann Christine Tabaka was nominated for the 2017 Pushcart Prize in Poetry. She is the winner of Spillwords Press 2020 Publication of the Year, her bio is featured in the “Who’s Who of Emerging Writers 2020 and 2021,” published by Sweetycat Press. She is the author of 13 poetry books. lives in Delaware, USA. She loves gardening and cooking.  Chris lives with her husband and four cats. Her most recent credits are: Sparks of Calliope; The Closed Eye Open, Poetic Sun, Tangled Locks Journal, Wild Roof Journal, The American Writers Review, The Scribe Magazine, The Phoenix, Burningword Literary Journal, Muddy River Poetry Review, The Silver Blade, Pomona Valley Review, West Texas Literary Review, The Hungry Chimera, Sheila-Na-Gig, Fourth & Sycamore.
*(a complete list of publications is available upon request)

Monday, December 27, 2021

The Incredible Mr. Snips By *(Matthew Bowers)*~93


I was as tired as the day felt long,

and right now that seemed like a god damned eternity. There were plenty of goings on throughout the house, but nothing that struck my curiosity. 


A new tenant moved in across the way. In a small tank with water, lettuce, and a fairly good size rock, considering the amount of space provided. 


The mister called it Leon, which I found a little odd for a red-eared slider. The name seemed pretty "street" for something that'll never leave the comforts of it's ten gallon tank. 


Yeah, this day dragged long, otherwise uneventful save the usual rapping at the window when Larry and Gus the local  Columbian livias showed up casing the joint for some grub, usually week old bread scraps and old stale hamburger buns. 


The monotony can drive one mad. If I didn't know how to jimmy open the cabinets of the mister's liquor cabinets years ago, I'm sure I'd be a goner by now. There ain't nothing like a nightcap or three to break up the day's insanity, a little gin and vermouth to take the edge off always seemed to do me right…. 


Well, once again the morning comes along like rolling thunder. Breaking open the sky with bellowing claps like some proverbial ten pin strike down aisle four. The echos igniting dull throbbing pain behind my eye sockets and lower frontal cortex. I guess I must've tied one on tighter than I thought. 


The whole place wreaks and seems like it's falling apart, and I ain't seen the mister in about three or four feedings.


Tipsificator Spelunking. Yeah, he's probably three sheets to his own wind out looking for tail or clever anecdotes to include into his own daily writings, trying to write that Moby Dick of personal projects that never seems to materialize. First things first, he got to shake them DTs.


Well, the sun's gone down on another day, punched it's timecard for it's time spent shining above this dirty city. The hustle and bustle of the streets below seems to have mellowed down to a dull roar, at least for the moment. 


Late Night chit chat and canned laughter fill the void of commercials aimed to get folks to purchase shit they know they don't ever need. 


I myself have reached the end of another cycle of twenty-four hour doldrums. Time to cash in the chips, have one more for the road, even though we all know I ain't got nowhere to be. 


Leon seems quite content in his little glass abode. Can't knock him for not having much going on upstairs. There's a certain kinda freedom, living in the moment, not bein' aware of self or death. Things get rough for Leon, he just pulls himself in all tight. Retreat into his self made asylum. I guess there's perks for being thick as a stump, not having any aspirations. Ignorance is bliss in the hollow moments of the dog end of the days gone by. 





   Born in Massachusetts, received the "Class Artist"  title for the graduating year of highschool, as well as assisting in the writing and production of the school poetry book.

    Later moved to Boston then Salem MA. becoming a novice practitioner of pagan and ritualistic arts, spending time studying Chaos MagicK before moving to Hollywood CA. to write and perform music. 

    In 2020 starting up The Calling which incorporates a YouTube channel, podcast, group, Facebook pages, as well as a website and store. Something Witchy This Way Comes was released in 2021, with several more projects in the works including a first Novel and Young Adult adventure.


Sunday, December 26, 2021

Writing By Wayne F. Burke

This writing I do

may add up to

something: some

kind of living is

my hope, which

is a joke. Maybe

a grant, but who will

grant it? Maybe a

position, top or

bottom (I will take

either). Most of my

words will go, I fear

with me onto the

funeral pyre.






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.

Friday, December 24, 2021

PEOPLE WATCHING NEAR PENN STATION (OR, AGAINST BASHO) by Dan O’Connell

among moon gazers
            at the ancient temple grounds
            not a single beautiful face 
- Basho


Got a window seat at Houndstooth Tavern, 
ordered fish and chips and a bottle 
of white wine, then a bottle of red,
and watched humanity pass by
until I could not take it anymore – 

that sweet infant tucked in light blue blankets, 
the beaten-up stroller he’s steered in
over cracked concrete like choppy waves 
amid doctors and the destitute and all others
going about their day’s destined business,
smiling back at his mother’s face,
that one face in a sea of city faces
that neither the baby nor I could see
behind her winter scarf – 

that beautiful face





Dan O’Connell is a four-time award winning poet, and multiple finalist and honorable mention. His poems have appeared over eighty seventy times, including in Mississippi Review, America Magazine, Assisi, Prometheus Dreaming, and Ghost Town Literary Magazine. A former Philosophy professor, Dan is an eviction defense attorney. He is the author of two full-length collections of poetry, Different Coasts, and Theory of Salvation, and the chapbook State of the Union. Find Dan O. at www.danoconnellpoetry.com




Thursday, December 23, 2021

ATTACHMENTS By Laura Stamps

 The cat came out of nowhere, jumping out of the bushes, hissing at the pit bull. “Poor Rocky,” Carol said, stroking his trembling ears. Dumped on the side of the road, battered, bruised, and left for dead. That’s how the dog rescue people found him. He was a bait dog that had outlived his usefulness. When the vet discovered rocks in his stomach, the rescue agency named him Rocky. A starving dog will eat anything. Even rocks. When he was ready for adoption, Carol applied. She’d never had a dog before. But she couldn’t resist his sad face. Pampering Rocky became her new hobby. She fed him premium dog food, dressed him in stylish sweaters, and walked him every evening after work. There was only one problem. The neighborhood cat. It loved to come out of nowhere and terrify Rocky. A timid giant, he never defended himself. His past had beaten the fight out of him. Carol could relate. She’d also escaped an abusive relationship. Therapy had healed her wounded soul. Maybe it could heal Rocky too? She decided to try. Every night before she went to sleep Carol would read empowering books to Rocky, his head resting on her shoulder. “We become what we’re attached to,” Carol read, turning the page. “You’re a survivor, Rocky. Attach yourself to courage, not fear.” Winter arrived, and Carol slipped Rocky into a warm red hoodie for their walk. On the street, the man came out of nowhere, hurrying toward Carol. “Why haven’t you answered my calls?” he demanded. Carol stepped in front of Rocky. “Our relationship ended six months ago,” she said. The man grabbed her arm, pressing his fingers into her flesh, bruising. “That’s unacceptable,” he threatened. The growl came out of nowhere. In a flash of red, Rocky moved between them. The man jumped back and ran away. Carol looked down at the leash in her hand. She was the only one trembling. “Let’s get a snack,” she said, stroking Rocky’s soft ears. “My treat.”  




Laura Stamps loves to play with words and create experimental forms for her fiction. Author of several novels and short story collections, including IT’S ALL ABOUT THE RIDE: CAT MANIA (Alien Buddha Press). Muses Prize. Pulitzer Prize nomination. 7 Pushcart Prize nominations. Mom of 4 cats. Twitter: @LauraStamps16. www.laurastampsfiction.blogspot.com  

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Half-Empty, Half-Full By Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozábal


I empty the glass
half-full and half-
empty of all its
contents before I
fall asleep. Spirits
fill my thirst as I
become a ghost too.

I empty the red,
white, green, and brown
liquids and like a
magician the glass
is freed of the proof
that I have imbibed.
I become someone

new almost over-
night, conversing,
singing, speaking a
whole mess of nonsense.
The spirits save me
some nights from feelings
I keep bottled up.





Luis has lived in California for 45 years. He works in the mental health field in Los Angeles. 

His poems have appeared in Ariel Chart, Dope Fiend Daily, The Rye Whiskey Review, Under The  Bleachers, Yellow Mama Webzine, and ZYX. Kendra Steiner Editions has published 8 of his chapbooks.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Jagged By Terrence Sykes

On the motel dresser 

7 jagged Little Pills

Once for each day 

7 jagged Little Regrets

Only before dawn

7 jagged Little Hours

One deed shall be done 



 



Terrence Sykes is a GASP Gay Alcoholic Southern Poet & was born and raised in the rural coal mining area of Virginia.  Although he is a far better cook &  gardener – his  poetry - photography - flash fiction has been published in India, Mauritius,Scotland, Spain and the USA. ..Other interests include heirloom vegetable research & foraging wild edibles.

Monday, December 20, 2021

Riverwalk By James H Duncan

 winter jazz nights alongside black waters dancing red blue green white in all possible Christmas variations, fiesta phosphorescent, the smell of late night fajitas and red wine ebbing in the wind that slips through stone bridges crossing the narrow river snaking through the heart of downtown, a palm tree canopy overhead, little hollows and coves tucked below street-level traffic, grotto solitude where shadows and a lonely cello somewhere soften his touch along your hairline, running one long black curl behind your ear, smiling as I pass by and turn my eyes away into the night, allowing as much intimacy as one can along the Riverwalk, escaping into the darkness of another bridge and stone steps leading me up into halogen yellow streets engulfed by a sudden warm wind, rare for December, though this is south Texas, where heat and a soft caress in the night are so mundane the stars deign not one glimpse down through the cloudless sky, only burn burn burn lifetimes away as their own hearts die a slow fiery death, cautionary tales a million times over, should we care to notice, but we don’t, we won’t, and the river trembles onward through fiesta neon midnight  




James H Duncan is the editor of Hobo Camp Review and the author of We Are All Terminal But This Exit Is MineFeral Kingdom, and Vacancy, among other books of poetry and fiction. He currently resides in upstate New York where he works on novels and reviews indie bookshops at his blog, The Bookshop Hunter. For more, visit www.jameshduncan.com.


Sunday, December 19, 2021

A Fine Tether By John Drudge

A bleak spectral mist

Descends

Into the valley

Like the creeping tendrils

Of a slow growing

Cancer

The steady drip

Of a rusty sunset

Faint on the horizon

Turns the pond

The color of dried blood

As my mind drifts

Into the cool dead greys

Of regret

Leprous and oozing 

Into the pools 

Of every memory

Every dream

And every mastication

Of sinewy thought

Lost in the possibility

Of madness





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.

 

Saturday, December 18, 2021

The Distance Between Us Review by Scott Simmons



    In The Distance Between Us jim exposes readers to his own unique perspective on life as he reflects on years in both past and present in a refined yet honest style with a few hints of  humor.  The book is structured into 3 distinct sections with quotes from figures like publisher Lawrence Ferlinghetti to help set the tone of each section and also as a nod to his favorite literary influences as well.

    However I really think the first section utilized this element the best as jim uses it to connect an overall theme of sex and intimacy in a very interesting way as jim boldly embraces his age with such as "it’s halted by an arthritic twinge or a potassium shortage leg" in a poem that's titled Explicit Sex and other writes about "weathered bodies" or "orthopedic Stilettos". Which he cleverly uses to add in a rich blend of humor and unconventional sensuality that ultimately drives home the endearing message that love is timeless and it should be appreciated during every phase of life. Although this is not without heartbreak as well as the title write The Distance Between Us as jim tearfully states "Today I wish you hadn’t stayed" after his partner recollects distant memories about their relationship.The 2nd section talks a lot about jim's past and his time during military service as in his words "we really weren't built for peace" a sentiment that was demonstrated in several different writes including one of my favorite poems in the book called Calibrations where he discuses that targets were something that didn't shoot back or move to give his reader a reminder of the darker side of war. However it also recounts other little stories from his life as well like recovering from a hangover and seeing Spiderman curtains or watching a one winged bird at his feeder before transitioning into the third section which focuses more on modern times.

    In my opinion the first section was the most concise with its theme while the second and third section had a more of a relaxed flow that was slightly harder to follow but certain elements such as his poems about nuns and literary references throughout his writes that tied into every section and ultimately helped the book all tie together very nicely. Overall I think that The Distance Between us is a very smartly crafted book that offers jim's readers a diverse selection of his work and it features many memorable moments that were definitely worth reading.


https://www.coldriverpress.com/HTML/distance.htm

The Lake House By Keith Hoerner

Deep below the lake’s murky surface, there sits—in tact—a house. A two-story structure of Carpenter Gothic details like elaborate wooden trim bloated to bursting. Its front yard: purple loosestrife. Its inhabitants: alligator gar, bull trout, and pupfish. All glide past languidly—out of window sashes and back inside door frames. It is serene, and it is foreboding. Curtains of algae float gossamer to and fro. Pictures rest clustered atop credenzas. A chandelier is lit, intermittently, by freshwater electric eels. And near a Victrola, white to the bone, a man and a woman dance in a floating embrace.





Keith Hoerner lives, teaches and pushes words around—aside the rolling hills of the Shawnee National Forest in Southern Illinois. His work can be found in lit journals like decomP, Fiction Kitchen Berlin, and Litro. His recently published memoir, The Day the Sky Broke Open, can be found on Amazon. 

Friday, December 17, 2021

temptation By Stephen House

i remember a night 

just before dawn 


howling moans of fear 

echoing 

down that lane 


night ghouls dragging 

ourselves 

back to the grimy holes 


from where we came 

and went 

no shame 


wind against our sequins 

beating of the rain 


flea pit palaces 

cry always the same


wobble back 

mumbling

once more 

never again 


temptation 

is such a nasty game 

making blame


pain of easing pain

same conclusion 

nil remains


i do remember nights

before and after dawn 


no gain 

our game


repeat




Stephen House has won many awards and nominations as a poet, playwright, and actor. He has been commissioned many times, and had 20 plays, and several word and image exhibitions and short films produced. He has received international literature residencies from The Australia Council for the Arts to Canada and Ireland, and an Asialink India residency. His chapbook “real and unreal” was published by ICOE Press Australia. He is published often and performs his acclaimed monologues widely..



Wednesday, December 15, 2021

I’m Gettin’ Old by Carlin Corsino

“You really love 
to have all your holes plugged?” 
she asked. And she was dead right in regards to 
my head in my sleep. Ear plugs, a sleep 
mask, and now CPAP device to keep me from slipping
to sweet slumber of eternal dreams 
when my lungs collapse in the night. A bellows 
for bellows. A burner for the balloons
which crumple from the night sky as the pilot
laudanum dreams, drifting on winds of dark
constellations to the north star as those paired 
swallows whistle surfactant, blissfully ignorant
of their dysfunction. 

My bones now perotic and muscles empty
bags of sand, standing so slowly that
time itself stands still. The laws 
of physics and my skeletal self play
a cruel joke on whichever specter 
controls my second hand.  I swing
my legs with the gusto of a creature 
so well versed in inertia, look her straight
in the eye and say “Yup, 
I’m gettin’ old.” 




She calls me old (now)



Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Make Your Mark by Robert Pegel

Even a massive tree
can be uprooted.
We are specks in the universe.
So humble yourself.
Pride cometh before the fall.
And we are at the mercy 
of it all.
Shudder at the sight of a lost soul,
paper cup in hand,
panhandling at a red light
in traffic.
The world can do better.
When we’re not flowing 
in positive motion,
life has become static.
Need a plan
to expand our horizon.
Suffering in silence is
no longer an option
when the daily grind 
has left you numb.
You were born to explore
the world and all its wonder.
Trailblaze and make your mark.
When it’s over and done life is 
close to a lark.
Half our days waking
another half sleeping.
Sleepwalking doesn’t work anymore.
Can’t hide from what you feel
or run from what you know.
Explode into the stratosphere
in an immersion of truth. 





Robert Pegel is a husband and father whose only child, his son Calvin, passed away almost five years ago.  Calvin was 16 and died in his sleep of unknown causes.  Robert writes

poetry in a search for meaning.  He hopes to transform his pain and grief to something positive. 

Robert graduated from Columbia University where he majored in English. 

He has been published in The Galway Review, Lothlorien Poetry, Ariel Chart, The Pangolin Review, Trouvaille Review, As Above So Below, Bluepepper, Unique Poetry, Adelaide,

Grand Little Things and others.  He has work forthcoming in Resurrection Magazine, Goat’s Milk and Mason Street.

Robert lives in Andover, NJ with his wife, Zulma and their Min Pin dog, Chewy. 

 





Monday, December 13, 2021

That family trait By Emalisa Rose

Driving back home, Kate took

the scenic route, deflecting

the sting of the bimonthly visit.


She’d stop for some camomile

to detox from the angst about

Anna, her mom, in recovery.


Key to the door, she kicked off

her heels, with lips on the bottle,

salt on the side, hold the ice, as


she slept until Sunday surrendered

her sanity.





When not writing poetry, Emalisa Rose enjoys crafting and drawing with charcoals. She walks with a birding group twice monthly through the trails in her state. She volunteers in animal rescue and tends to cat colonies in the neighborhood. Her work has appeared in The Rye Whiskey Review, Mad Swirl, Literary Veganism and other wonderful places. Her latest collection is "On the whims of the crosscurrents," published by Red Wolf Editions.


Rules For Working in A Bar by Clay Hunt

To Justin Frahm, thanks for the first and the eleventh, and to my wife Laura Adkins for the tenth . 1.Keep your eyes on the ground. You’ll a...