Monday, January 31, 2022

The Plot Thinned by Ken Gosse

Once I began to write the plot,
where I sat, I sot and sot,
then fully sotted (Hit the Spot!),
what I’d begun, I soon forgot.




Ken Gosse usually writes light, rhyming verse filled with whimsy and humor. Sometimes it’s darker. First published in First Literary Review-East in 2016, since then by Pure Slush, Spillwords, The Ekphrastic Review, Lothlorien Review, and others. Raised in the Chicago suburbs, now retired, he and his wife have lived in Mesa, AZ, over twenty years with rescue dogs and cats underfoot.



Sunday, January 30, 2022

Cherry-Orange-Grape by Cindy Rosmus

 Ice pops. Can you believe it? He replaced me with ice pops.
 
Me, and . . . booze. 
 
Soon’s he quit drinking, my husband Ricky froze, like a human popsicle. Three in a box, they came, but he ate the cherry ones first. Then orange. He hated the grape. 
 
“They taste,” he said, sneering, “like your lipstick.” He hadn’t tasted my grape-y lips, or any of me, in almost a year.
 
Two years back, he loved sucking on them, lipstick, or not. Like, at that karaoke bar, where we met, the neon flamingo bathing us in rosy light. More thirty, than forty, we looked, that night. Ricky, with his almost-black eyes, and sexy goatee. 
 
“’All . . . my love,’” he sang, looking right at me. “Unchained Melody.” Around us, chicks watched him, dreamy-eyed.
 
“’If I can’t have you,’” I sang, thinking of my ex, but staring at Ricky, who still had his mic. 
 
“’I don’t want nobody. . .’” With this smug look, he joined me, like that old Dusty Springfield song was his.
 
What balls, I thought. Maybe. Except for fucking him, I’d blacked out most of that night. 
 
Sure, I drank too much. Blacked out a lot. Bruises all over. And DUIs. Last one, they almost sent me back to driving school! Ricky was disgusted. Hey, once he stopped fucking me, I needed some fun.
Way back, we fucked, nonstop. Sometimes, we’d forget to eat. Now, he ate like a pig, but stayed lean, despite all those ice pops. Sherbert, he loved, too. All our spoons were bent backwards. 
 
Yeah, he was stressed. So was I, when I’d worked. But instead of drinking to relieve stress, he blamed shit on me. 
 
Holding his delicate nose when I came home late. Like I hadn’t showered in days.
 
“You smell,” he said, “like booze.” 
 
No kidding.
 
And bedtime? He slept so far away from me, he might’ve fallen out of bed, and cracked his skull. 
 
I wish.
 
Ice pops. All over the trailer, were sticks. Most stained blood-red, and stuck to something: kitchen table, nightstand. 
 
The freezer door slammed. “Samantha!” I cringed, when he yelled to me. “There’s no more cherry. All that’s left,” he said, “are orange and . . .” 
 
“Grape!” I screamed. “Grape! Grape!”
 
“They keep me,” he said, through clenched teeth, “from picking up!”
 
Picking up. 
 
One day at a time. Sick and tired of being sick and tired.
 
All A.A. talk. Like a parrot, spouting age-old knowledge from other dry, self-righteous fucks. Ninety meetings, had been his goal, in ninety days. 
 
How proud they all were, when he made it.
 
Soon, he’d have a year. 
 
Or, would he?
 
He didn’t know I knew. That he was “thirteen-stepping.” With some “pigeon.”
 
Mouse, he called her, though she had some girly first name. Gabrielle? Nah, Giselle, like the ballet. In a tutu, I pictured her, stumbling across the stage. A real loser.
 
But, loser or not, this pigeon came first. Even before ice pops.
 
“A friend,” he lied, when she kept calling. “From the rooms.”
 
The rooms . . .  
 
Those whispered phone calls . . . abrupt hang-ups. That smug look he got each time I caught him.
 
Crazy as it was, I still loved him. And even crazier, I believed he loved me.
 
When you’re sober, and get bad news, you drink. Soon as booze hits you, you’re OK. Maybe for an hour. Even ten minutes drunk beats facing it dry.  
 
But when you’re trashed first, and you find out . . . 
 
How much more trashed can you get? 
 
At Boxer’s Brew, I was, almost seeing double, when she came in. That gut feeling, when she headed toward me: tiny; mousy; geeky wire-framed glasses. She’d left the tutu home.
 
Soft-spoken. Couldn’t hear her over White Zombie. The crack of balls on the pool table made her jump. I was glad. 
 
Finally, she had to yell. “I’m Ricky’s friend! Can’t say from where!” The pigeon. 
 
Staring at her, I downed my beer.  
 
“He loves you, a lot.” She smiled, sadly. “More than he loves me.”
 
Deep inside me, something clicked. Like my safety got shut off.
 
 I grabbed my car keys. If she wasn’t wearing glasses, I’d’ve gouged out her eyes. I got up, fast.
 
She followed me outside.
 
“Keeps trying to leave you!” Behind me, she burst into sobs. “But he can’t!” 
 
Yellow Mama, I’d named our ’69 Camaro. My ’69 Camaro. After Alabama’s electric chair. Despite DUIs, and the time I’d missed that tree by inches, my mustard-yellow baby was a safe ride.
 
Till that night.
 
As she wailed, her tiny fists pounded on my car. I was inside, and it roared alive.
 
Like a fool, she threw herself on the hood. Thinking that would stop me. 
 
As I took off, blood thumped in my ears. Drowned out that thud, like when a monster deer greets you.
 
No deer around here, the cops might’ve said, later. 
 
If not for Ricky.
 
My mess he was stuck cleaning up, out of love: fenders and grille ruby-red, and sticky. Like from all those cherry ice pops he’d eaten. 
 
In the grille, like bent-backwards spoons, were the wire frames from her glasses. The lenses might’ve cracked beneath her. 
 
Her mangled body was way behind me as I drove home . . . 
 
My mind a complete blank.
 
 
THE END




Previously published at YELLOW MAMA

Cindy is a Jersey girl who looks like a Mob Wife and talks like Anybodys from West Side Story. Her noir/horror/bizarro stories have been published in the coolest places, such as Shotgun Honey; Megazine; Dark Dossier; Horror, Sleaze, Trash; and Rock and a Hard Place. She is the editor/art director of Yellow Mama and the art director of Black Petals. Her seventh collection of short stories, Backwards: Growing Up Catholic, and Weird, in the 60s (Hekate Publishing), is available on Amazon. Cindy is a Gemini, a Christian, and an animal rights advocate.



Saturday, January 29, 2022

On Any Given Day You Are By Marc Frazier

An upside-down baseball cap—a turtle on its back 

Blue cloth napkins folded like sails on bread plates in a Greek restaurant 

White hydrangeas craving water

Heartbreak in a child over the canceled birthday party

A pot-bound peace plant reaching for more room

As trendy as torn-up jeans with ripped pockets

Picasso in his striped shirt with palms on the window glass

A curio cabinet added to after each new death

A tiny silver pitcher of cream on a silver tray a la Vienna

Quebec’s motto: je me souviens 

Watercolor paintings on red and yellow walls

The rowboat that flows through toddlers’ stories

The hard-to-get-at sweetness of sugarcane

Yellow lilies and blue iris exciting suburban yards

Heat from a tinfoil tan reflector held under the chin

My confidence in someone else’s flight plan



Marc Frazier has widely published poetry in journals including The Spoon River Poetry Review, ACM, f(r)iction, The Gay and Lesbian ReviewSlant, Permafrost, Plainsongs, and Poet Lore. Marc is the recipient of an Illinois Arts Council Award for poetry and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and a “best of the net.” He is a Chicago-area LGBTQ+ writer who has appeared in the anthology New Poets from the Midwest. Marc’s three poetry collections are available online.

 

Friday, January 28, 2022

Bringing Evil Back by Scott Simmons

Ever since I was a kid I’ve dreamed of global domination.

But now I’m stuck being an editor.

After reviewing the cost of torture devices on amazon 
I really wish that I became a politician or joined a band instead.

Because all I can afford with my poetry empire is one season of Seinfeld.

Seriously like what’s the deal with that?
(Ugh fuck my life)

Oh well at least I’m still making the world a much more horrible place.




Scott Simmons is a poet, humorist, and artist of debatable quality from Houston Texas. He is also the editor of the Dope Fiend Daily and enjoys reading your submissions as little as possible.

His work has been featured in places such as The Rye Whiskey Review, Fearless, HST, Daune's Poetree, The Black Shamrock, The Anti-Heroin chic, and Under The Bleachers.

In addition to his creative "career" he is also a professional asshole.




Thursday, January 27, 2022

the prosperity social club by Jason Baldinger

state college morning
last motel to swallow
after seventy days 
or forty-five thousand miles
this warranty polished
in blue highways lexicon 

near enough pittsburgh
stations static homesick 
I wanna say fuck it
who needs one last reading
let’s gun it for the homestead 

the reverend is on a greyhound 
though, i'll find him in a basement
bar, sharing a whiskey neat
with a mural of chief wahoo 

we roll east 
spy on thomas brenton hart
the reverend tries making college girls 
I pull him away before he faceplants
they ain't coming to the show, babe

tremont is hidden magic
right at the precipice of the times
I know what that shit did to my city
I can't find the golden road though 
no electric grid in my pocket
instead guided by semaphore
no surprise we're late 

if this were a comic
the audience would be full
of first appearances 
rustbelt poet introductions
welcome to the topography of disappearing 

after we've said our words 
all conversation extinguished
dressed for the high life
we leave prosperity social club
to mid-summer biblical rain 

the wipers fight with fury
race the hydroplane 
lightning strobes along
to flaming lips on the stereo
will I see the lady pittsburgh again? 

the last hundred, never easy
tunnel open to this city 
an electric oasis
lights explode in my head
now enter the bardo
and sing a song of home 

friends cheer my arrival
wet and dusty and ecclesiastical 
in a pink death oubliette 
where cigarette smoke gained sentience 

it's past midnight
grant has taken vicksburg
I'm thirty-six now
no understanding of who I've become 

alcohol cleaves this addled brain
the leaving rains now and 
again, harder than before
shirt off through the wee hours
a madman, a shell, a demon
all free and unhinged madness




Jason Baldinger was recently told he looks like a cross between a lumberjack and a genie. He’s also been told he’s not from Pittsburgh, but actually is the physical manifestation of Pittsburgh. Although unsure of either, he does love wandering the country writing poems.  His newest books include: A Threadbare Universe (Kung Fu Treachery Press), The Afterlife is a Hangover (Stubborn Mule Press) and A History of Backroads Misplaced: Selected Poems 2010-2020 (Kung Fu Treachery). He also has a forthcoming book with James Benger called This Still Life. His work has been widely across print journals and online. You can hear him read his work on Bandcamp and on lp’s by The Gotobeds and Theremonster. 



Wednesday, January 26, 2022

SOMETIME NIGHT by Roger Singer

in the distance
a passing train
releases its name
over a
midnight village
where
a blinking yellow
traffic light
speaks to an
empty road
and gray
streetlight shadows
until morning,
when evening breezes
drift to a
distant place,
stirring laundry
and flags
 




Dr. Singer has had over 1,200 poems published on the internet, magazines and in books and is a Pushcart Award Nominee.  Some of the magazines that have accepted his poems for publication are:  Westward Quarterly, Jerry Jazz, SP Quill, Avocet, Underground Voices, Outlaw Poetry, Literary Fever, Dance of my Hands, Language & Culture, The Stray Branch, Tipton Poetry Indigo Rising, Down in the Dirt, Fullosia Press, Orbis, Penwood Review, Subtle Tea, Ambassador Poetry Award, Massachusetts State Poetry Society.  Louisiana State Poetry Society Award.  Readers Award Orbis Magazine 2019.  Arizona State Poetry Award 2020.
Mad Swirl Anthology 2018, 2019.
 
 

Monday, January 24, 2022

Old by Wayne F. Burke

A log-jam at the EXIT
of the supermarket—
an elderly couple doddering
in the doorway…
A woman with cart ahead of
me: “what are they doing,” she
asks, peeved. “Plow into them,”
I say. “No, I won’t.”
A woman behind says “they
do not give a shit about
anybody.”
The white-haired codger
tugs on his missus’ sleeve as
they move, slow as cold
molasses…
The woman ahead gives me
a “look,” eyes above her
black mask. I feel like kicking her
in the ass. “They are old,” I say, but
neither woman, it is obvious, gives
a shit, old or
whatever.




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.




Sunday, January 23, 2022

My House vs. Hers By Chuka Susan Chesney

My friend Brandy shared a Mustang with her brother.

The coupe was olive with cold brew seats.

“Want to go to the liquor store?” 

“I’m thirsty.” We were underage and bought some Coke

which was different for me because my family drank Shasta.


Black cherry, pineapple, Tiki Punch, 

a whole case of soda, cheaper than Coke,

a choice of metal cans stacked on shelves above the dryer.

There was no liquor in my home.


On Friday nights my mom got tipsy on I don’t know what—

rotten cauliflower from the crisper?

She wore her la fée verte nightie with no undies underneath

and lounged on her chaise til she got sleepy.


At Brandy’s, we watched old movies in the den—

“Some Like it Hot” or “Camelot”.


Sometimes her mom cooked dinner; but usually she didn’t, 

so Brandy would open a can of tuna, and we’d eat

sandwiches and quaff our Cokes. 


When Brandy spent the night at my house, we had lots of choices: 

canned soup, chicken pie, macaroni and cheese. 

But there was no T.V. and no place to go

except the back porch or my minuscule bedroom.


Every night Brandy’s parents bought

a fiasco of wine, but I don’t know where they drank it.

Maybe at the table on the indoor patio.

 

After we went upstairs, they watched talk shows

and poured stems of Chianti while they nestled on the sofa. 


At some point we heard her mom's mules thump  

to her bedroom on the staircase that sharply swiveled.

Glasses traipsed down her father’s nose 

while he labored on briefs 'til 2:00 am.





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.


Saturday, January 22, 2022

Dancing With a Cannibal by Catfish McDaris

First time a guy asked me to dance felt weird, I replied no thanks and my drinking pals got a good laugh 
  
Where I grew up you only danced with the opposite sex, but not in my new local, I liked to see the ladies 
shaking it together 
  
Following a poetry reading and some decent sales, a strange blonde man with a hypnotic 
stare asked several questions 
  
He wanted to blow a joint  
and drink some top shelf, Big Frank had my back, he stopped me from chugging a tequila sunrise 
  
A few days later we saw the same guy wearing chains and dancing with a mob of cops. 




Catfish McDaris is a 30-year small press and 3-year Army artillery veteran, from Albuquerque and Milwaukee. He works in a wig store in a dangerous neighborhood. Second day on the job, a lady dropped her purse and a loaded 357 rolled out on the floor, pointed at him. He was nominated for a 2021 Pulitzer but didn’t make the final cut. I hope we connect, amigo.
 

Friday, January 21, 2022

I’m Tore Down By Susan Cossette 

Wore down, down to the hoe down worn.

It’s still storming and I’m still stone crazy.

Call it rainy Monday, give me back my bouffant wig.

The thrill is gone.

 

I’m a queen bee wannabee.

Smokestack of blonde lightning,

a hellhound on my tail.

 

Me and my leopard skin pillbox hat,

born in a chicken shack,

lookin’ for the bright lights and big city.

 

Rattlesnakin’ gin-soaked Daddy,

come on in to my kitchen, baby.

Mannish boy, put a little sugar in my bowl,

and see that my grave’s kept clean.

 




Susan Cossette lives and writes in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Author of Peggy Sue Messed Up, she is a recipient of the University of Connecticut’s Wallace Stevens Poetry Prize. A two-time Pushcart Prize nominee, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Rust and Moth, Vita Brevis, ONE ART, As it Ought to Be, Anti-Heroin Chic, The Amethyst Review, Crow & Cross Keys, Loch Raven Review, and in the anthologies Tuesdays at Curley’s and After the Equinox.  



Thursday, January 20, 2022

My Last Time at the Palms of Joy By jim bourey


On my route from the bus stop 

to the Palms of Joy bar

I had to pass the 

Christian Science Reading Room.

Science and the Savior

didn’t seem like a bad combination 

but my years in Catholic school

brought no mention of Jesus in a lab coat 

handling beakers and the small hell 

of a Bunsen burner. 


Since the Palms was my regular bar,

and the only one that would serve 

a seventeen-year-old

one-stripe airman with a fake ID, 

I walked by that storefront

nearly every day, a pattern

that didn’t bode well for a 

career in the military.


But an argument with an old boozer

about the healing power of faith,

followed by an impromptu

table-top striptease from his

nearly toothless, sixty-something

girlfriend (yes, I watched her too closely)

followed by a minor brawl

and my ejection out to the sidewalk,

face down, cured me of habitual

drinking. (for a long time anyway)


And I rarely argue about religion,

not even now when it could be

of some benefit

in these rapidly disappearing days.







jim bourey is an old poet from the northern edge of the Adirondack Mountains in New York. His latest book "The Distance Between Us" was published in 202 by Cold River Press. And he also had an award winning chapbook called "Silence, Interrupted" back in 2015 from The Broadkill Press. His work has appeared in The Rye Whiskey Review, Gargoyle, Mojave River Review, and many other journals and anthologies in print and online. He can usually be found reading poetry aloud in dimly lit rooms.



Wednesday, January 19, 2022

ACES AND EIGHTS By Michael N. Thompson 


I’m fifteen bucks

into a twenty-dollar bill

on Dollar Draft Night

at the Frolic Two


Not the one of Bukowski fame

near Hollywood and Vine


This is one of those side street bars

where human wheels rust

waiting for their ships to come in


A proletariat society

of lives that came up short

prop up the bar

as they nurse more wounds

than Christ at Golgotha

and I’m no different

than the rest of them


We all came from somewhere

to be someone or something

but this town’s full

of more false promises

than a paroled man

fresh from the penitentiary


Sure, the road travelled

has been bumpier than expected

but it doesn’t mean

the light at the end of the tunnel

has to be a train


It’s better to roll snake eyes

than be dealt the dead man’s hand







Michael N. Thompson likes bacon, cats and fantasy football.  His poetry has appeared in numerous literary journals including Word Riot, Toronto Quarterly and San Pedro River Review. He is the author of four poetry collections, the most recent being A Murder Of Crows published by University of Hell Press. www.michaelnthompson.com

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Hope by Jake St. John & Jenn Knickerbocker

The fire burns
my thoughts
reducing me
to ash

a rush of air
sends cinders 
wild as my mind 
tends to be 
these days

but here I sit
boots in dirt
head in hands
alone and forgotten

the single tear drop
making its way
down my cheek
carves the path
of debris
as I hope
for the same clarity
to reach my mind 
and ease my eyes

the agony 
is suffocating
I take a swig
swallowing the pain
for tonight, I relinquish
myself to the flames.




Jake St. John spends his nights in a cabin on the edge of the woods. He is the author of several collections of poetry including Night Full of Diamonds (Whiskey City Press, 2021), Snow Moon (Holy & Intoxicated Publications, 2019) and Lost City Highway (A Jabber Publication, 2019). His poems have appeared in print and online journals around the world. 




Jenn Knickerbocker is a writer, a mother, and a teacher. You can find her on a forest path or sitting fireside during her free time.



Monday, January 17, 2022

And the Party Never Ends by James H Duncan

if you leave San Antonio around 4 a.m.

you might make that Mad-Max run up to

Austin with almost no traffic, maybe a semi

or two, but that’s it, and I eased from one 

lane to the next in a state of anxious luxury,

looking forward to and worried about another

trek up through Waco, Dallas, Little Rock, 

Memphis, Nashville, the Smokies, then the

choice of Virginia flatlands or West Virginia 

switchbacks, and it doesn’t matter which 

because by then you’re a zombie to the road, 

the fever dreams, the white pills that keep you 

running headlong, the picnic tables at rest stops 

that become your funeral slabs for 30 minute naps

in the open air, then back to the highway dreams


but that morning, close to 4:30 a.m. just

outside of San Antonio, I had the road alone,

the radio tuned to some no-name station

that started to play Robert Earl Keen, 

“The Road That Never Ends,” and as it 

flowed through speakers in the far edge of

night I felt the wheels of the car begin to lift

right off the blacktop, the tale of Sonny and

and Sherry, Main Street after midnight, a beer

between her legs as she’s off to meet some 

friends, how the party never ends…


as the horizon became a cobalt blue zipper

ready to peel open another bright sky highway

that song carried me past the anxieties that had

built and strangled and followed me all the way

from my father’s front steps, carried me beyond

my fears of making another mistake, leaving one 

home behind to re-start my life back at my other, 

both ways home feeling more like emergency 

parachutes than anything, but ol’ Robert Earl Keene 

kept singing and I kept driving, and you know what?


he’s right, the road goes on forever, even when you 

wish it wouldn’t, even after you take that last exit, 

be it another big mistake or the best decision you

ever made, when you’re nothing but highway dust,

that party will still be out there beyond the horizon 

at 5:05 a.m., threatening another bright blue day 

without your bones walking around to greet it


there’s a little comfort in that, I think,

but only if you turn the radio up and

keep moving forward with all the speed

and hope and wild grace you can muster




James H Duncan is the editor of Hobo Camp Review and the author of We Are All Terminal But This Exit Is Mine, Feral 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.


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...