Saturday, April 30, 2022

drinking hard liquor at forty-eight By John Grochalski


you think

it used to be so easy

to throw it all away

the jobs

the cities

the bank account

but now?

drinking hard liquor at forty-eight

as the television advertises

erectile disfunction pills

blood pressure meds

life insurance

and tells you

at your age

to get your colon checked

you’re reminded

that it’s not so easy now

to give up on it all

that the world doesn’t want you

the way that it once did

that the world would

throw away a guy like you

if it could

no new jobs

will take you

no new cities

have anything original to offer

age and experience

are a trap

instead of some kind of freedom


you give less of a fuck

but no one cares about your opinion



or maybe you’ve just gone soft

and the fire that used to burn

is just a flicker of light

this liquor a salve

on the open wound

that is your existence

you lift weights

you run

but at the end of the day

you’re an exhausted zombie

on the couch

by nine

a shell of a soul

in front of a television

drinking hard liquor at forty-eight

doing the math

of your timeline

the years that came before

the ones you maybe

have left

unrefined gambling

with your own mortality

the good years

plucked away

without your full consent

and the anxiety

burns so rich

the self-sadness

such a wellspring

that it’s going to flood

you think

fuck it

fuck it all

you turn off the tv

and go to the fridge

to fill the slick tumbler

to the top

with more cold booze

because why not?

because it’s the way

it’s always been

the only way

and tomorrow?


doesn’t care

about tonight’s pity party

tomorrow is

coming for you, man


and again

and all over again

so suck it down

and suck it up.

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

Friday, April 29, 2022

Tombstone By Brenton Booth


I went


for your

grave but


find it

until later



in the



of an



on the





Brenton Booth Lives in Sydney, Australia. Poetry of his has appeared in Chiron Review, North Dakota Quarterly, Main Street Rag, Naugatuck River Review, Van Gogh's Ear, and Nerve Cowboy. He has two full length collections available from Epic Rites Press.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

SO TIRED By R.M. Engelhardt

The world keeps
A' spinnin

People dying
People living new
Kids being born


But nothing
Truly ever changes
Nothing is a miracle
Among the many who
Seek them 

It's like winning 
The lottery

Except you don't
And never will


Where are all the aliens? 
Where are all the flying cars?
Where is God?

Who is God?

And does he or
She even care
Or even know our names?

Maybe God is a hot
Blonde chick in a 
Flying car who you
Meet at the bar.
She buys you drinks
And then? The next 
Morning you wake up
Next to her only to realize 
That she was just one of those Grays
From a planet far far away
Who only probed you while
Your head showed you some
Beautiful illusion and then
When you report it they put
You in the local mental institution

(Where you secretly wait
For her return)

And take meds

But we get so tired and
We sometimes get
So bored with this world
That we just want to scream
Follow lunatics and elect them to
Office hoping that they will somehow
Start a war or watch the final conflict play out the final scene of that movie that never seems to end

It's no wonder that we all
Drop out at around the age of 80 because
We've waited for so so long

To just wake up

As the world just continues
Ignores us

As if we've never existed

At all 

Bored as Fuck

And waiting for 
The winning lotto numbers
To be announced

R.M. Engelhardt writes, lives & breathes in Albany, NY. He is the founder of Dead Man's Press Ink (1998), a small indie poetry publishing firm & is the original founder of the literary community group Albany Poets. Over the last 25 or so years his work has appeared in dozens of small press journals, anthologies & zines  worldwide and he is the author of roughly 16 books of poetry, such as " DarkLands" ( 2019 Whiskey City Press) "The Resurrection Waltz "(Infinity Press 2012) & "The Last Cigarette, The Collected Poems of R.M. Engelhardt" (Dead Man's Press Ink 2007) .  He currently hosts the open mic for poets "INVOCATION OF THE MUSE"  At Lark Hall and is also a supporter of experimental & Pagan poetry as well. 
His new book, " Of Spirit, Ash & Bone Poems*Parables" ( Dead Man's Press Ink) comes out and makes it's appearance in 2022.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

St. Amand of the Rural Rust Belt Bars by Karen J. Weyant

You gave up fine food and drink for this:

Wobbly bar stools, cracked plastic glasses

and old pool tables with chipped cue balls

that will never shoot straight.


The pretzels always taste stale even

though you open fresh bags for every shift;

the beer tastes the same no matter the brand. 

Every day, factory workers stop by with 

their slim paychecks, waitresses use tip money

for booze. Even a few school teachers,

their souls worn thin by the lives of their students,

slide in the front door, take seats near the back,

nurse bottles with their fingers tight around the glass.

Your old life was more comfortable, but you stay.

You serve up the alcohol, listen to all the problems.

And every night you think of the lives

you hope you have saved: the young cashier who masks 

her prescription drug problem by ordering Pepsi,

the gas station attendant who blows most of his money

on instant lotto tickets, always hoping for the big win,

the men who are weighed down flannel shirt, pay cuts 

and families who already need more.

The author of two poetry chapbooks, Karen J. Weyant's poems have appeared in Chagrin River Review, Cold Mountain Review, Copper Nickel, Crab Orchard Review, Fourth River, Harpur Palate, Pittsburgh Quarterly, Lake Effect, Rattle, River Styx, and Whiskey Island. She lives, reads, and writes in Warren, PA.

Monday, April 25, 2022

Tonic Male By Alec Solomita

I’ve never struck a woman,

at least not yet, but I’m almost

seventy so the chances are slight.

The closest I came was when I

was arguing with L_____ about

something, I think about sex.

I was holding a glass

of Coke and she said something,

I think something about sex.

I tossed the contents of my glass

in her face. She laughed and then 

slapped me.

Alec Solomita is a writer and artist working in the Boston (USA) area. His fiction has appeared in the Southwest ReviewThe Mississippi ReviewSouthword Journal, and Peacock, among other publications. He was shortlisted by the Bridport Prize and Southword Journal. His poetry has appeared in Poetica, Lothlorien Poetry Journal, Litbreak, Driftwood Press, Anti-Heroin Chic, The Galway Review, The Lake, and elsewhere, including several anthologies. His photographs and drawings can be found in ConviviumFatal FlawYoung Ravens ReviewTell-Tale Inklings, and other publications. He took the cover photo and designed the cover of his poetry chapbook, “Do Not Forsake Me,” which was published in 2017. His full-length poetry book “Hard To Be a Hero,” will be coming out this spring.

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Peggy Sue Messed Up by Susan Cossette

Maybe it was the crinolines,
which itched.
I don’t know.
Or the unrealistic expectations of perfection,
the ideal girl with her Aquanet curls.

I gave up.

Ditched the dance,
dumped the dude in the sharkskin suit
with his flask in the ass pocket,
whisky breath and mindless promises
and his cock
pressed against me during the cha-cha-cha.

I gave up.

Took my yellow Edsel,
golden chariot—
drove clear cross town
to the bluffs of Ithaka
overlooking the crashing sea,
the glittering lights
from the heights
of the world before me.

The prom queen is complete.
She is done.

You, Neptune, take my tiara.
I never wanted it.

I gave up.

Susan Cossette lives and writes in Minneapolis.  A Connecticut native, she once auditioned to be a crowd extra in the Nicole Kidman remake of The Stepford Wives but was rejected for lacking Stepfordosity (yes, that’s a good thing). 

Abbie Hoffman once came to speak to her undergraduate Students for Peace group to recruit idealistic liberals to travel to Nicaragua and pick tobacco (it was the 80s).  She was put on the wait list after asking if there were blow-dryer facilities at said tobacco farm. 

Voted “Most Likely to Work for K-Mart” by her college classmates, she has since worked in financial consulting, nonprofit, and adult films (not really).  Among her favorite memories are being excommunicated at the Vatican, riding the elevator to the 40th floor of the English Department of City U in Manhattan with Allen Ginsberg (“C’mon, Prof. G, I know you’re the voice of your generation, but I am late for class!”), and stumbling into William Burroughs wandering the halls. 

Be sure to ask her about the time she table-hopped to William F. Buckley Jr.’s table at a restaurant in front of her boss to nail a promotion for her first fundraising job. 

Buy her a few pinot grigios, and she’ll be your best friend for the night.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Naturalistic Colors by Jake St. John & Jenn Knickerbocker

The man sits
upon loose stone
face in hands
taking that moment
alone and letting
his humanity
fall through fingers
turning stone
into deeper shades
of memory
mirroring the sky
heavy with sorrow
sharp intake of breath
attempting to hold 
that life
once more 

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.

Friday, April 22, 2022

After Seeing You in Sullivan’s By Trish Saunders

How did you answer, when your friends asked,
Who was she?                        

"Someone who meant a lot to me once.
But that was a long time ago,
and I have forgotten just when or where."

Tomorrow night your friends will come back,
and your mouth will close around
another bottle of beer.

"It doesn't matter what happened to those pictures,"
you’ll say to the dirty window.

Yes, you will return
and make up an ending that sounds exactly right.

Trish Saunders, former journalist and technical writer, lives in Seattle, and thinks frequently of Yosemite.  She has poems published in Mien Literary Magazine, Poetica Review UK, The American Journal of Poetry, Right Hand Pointing, Califragile, Off The Coast and other places. 

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Across the River by John Drudge

Keeping it all 
At a distance
And not sure 
Where everything’s going
Means anything
Not enjoying the rhythm
Of this new beat
I can’t tell
If I’m tired anymore
Degrees of tired
Melting into something
Something out of touch
With reality
As Champaign flows
In the old style 
Of living
In the Ritz bar
Across the river
With the ghosts of history
And eternity bleeding 
Onto the floor

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.



Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Harvard University: Bathroom Stall Wall by Doug Holder

 "Kilroy was here."
probably not since
the 40s
his prominent nose
flaps in resignation
a very sad sack.

Mary can't give
you a good time
her gums and teeth
are a thing of the past
nothing lasts.

Under a paper roll
it says "come clean
rip off a new
diploma from 
the Extension School."

And for good measure
" Fuck--you."

  " Jesus saves....
Moses invests."

Doug Holder is the founder of the Ibbetson Street Press. He teaches writing at Endicott College in Beverly, MA. For over thirty years he ran poetry groups for psych patients at McLean Hospital, outside of Boston.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Oh Fuck! Those Pills Were Good By Dennis Moriarty 

The night is an enclosure without fences,
a different kind of darkness,
light and untethered,
a helium balloon of neon stars and a hint
of psychedelic moon
that floats above me. There is apathy in
the side streets,
a new kind of silence in the back streets,
a membrane
of unspoken words and thoughts straining
to be born.
The pavements are dusty and deserted, the
parked cars
like automotive gargoyles watching me
embrace sleeplessness.
I lie here walking those dusty pavements,
the headlights
of passing cars exploding and burning like
stars dying on the ceiling.
I wander far into the night where the city is
living the dream.
West end clubs where Champagne is the life
blood of the famous and the rich,
in wine bars where the plastic and the pretty
are seduced by their own reflections.
In the jazz clubs where the sensual and the
sleazy dance in slow motion
to the slit wrists of a trumpet. I am driving
a fast car
along a slow road through the city, the engine
purring like a tom cat on speed.
The darkness is deflating around me filling my
mouth with excess helium.
I hear myself laugh, my lungs rupturing, my
eyes watering,
the city fades, the silence is roaring in my head.
Oh, fuck!
Those pills were good while they lasted!

Dennis Moriarty was born in London, England and now lives in Wales. Married with five grown up offspring Dennis likes walking the dog in the mountains, reading and writing.

In 2017 he won the Blackwater poetry competition and went to county Cork in Ireland to read his work at the international poetry festival. Dennis has had poems featured in many publications including Blue nib, Our poetry archive, Setu bilingual, The passage between and others.

Monday, April 18, 2022

Fishnet Stockings By Paula Hayes

Sitting in a Panera 

I cannot help but notice 

A young woman 

I would guess twenty-two 

Short hair, brunette

Strong shoulders 

Not even slouching those shoulders 

Sitting cross-legged 

Her life is a slit 

Perky and perched like a pelican 

In a booth that could rival the 1950’s  

With what appears to be her boyfriend

Or girlfriend

To be honest I cannot tell

And why should it matter? 

It doesn’t to me 

Tidbits of her conversation

Float in the air 

Past adrogyny and non-binary lovers

Past, present, and future 

And find its way in a bubble of air

Over my head

Awkwardly hanging there

Like some uninvited guest at a dinner party 

Forcing me to listen 

To the intimate parts of a life 

That I don’t know 

She has started therapy

And she has PTSD

I can relate to that 

But it is her legs 

How white they are 

Beneath her black fishnet stocking hose

That remind me of punk

Except I don’t know punk

Her legs could be The Clash

Or Dead Kennedys 

Her waist is Nico

I saw this woman once in a Velvet Underground video 

If this had been last century she would been co-opted 

Made in Andy Warhol's Factory of stars 

With a mint julep, some speed, a hand, a mop of hair, a sheepish grin 

Her legs are a whole genre 

Of lattice work and ripped holes 

I catch myself marveling at how those legs 

Disappear like some kind of 

Exciting mercury like a melted Salvdor Dali clock 

Falling off the edge of a precipice 

Like a drop of ecstasy licked off in a rave 

Or a pinprick of blood of pinky swears and forever friends 

Into her black combat boots

With its two inch tread and lace-up hooks

Boots that have doubtful ever seen more than the inside of hallways 

And no war crimes 

Well, anyway, life is too short

She says repeatedly

Then pauses to make sure her partner

Is swimming in the pools of her eternal need to be 

The center–just the center

Of what? It doesn’t matter, just the center! 

Maybe the center of a tootsie roll pop for all I know! 

And then your family doesn’t have to worry

Her words continue to float a little closer

But I am more concerned 

About her dove white blouse ruffled and tucked in

Beneath a gigantic oversized black belt 

Make her look like black and white cinema 

About how all those ruffles can stay so perfectly in place 

In a night caught between Spring tides and whatever else is on its way 

And I don’t know if she is wearing any pants

But why would she even need to 

I don’t know it upsets me, her voice sings 

And draws in exactly no one but herself

Her lover

And a random stranger like myself

How torn one can be inside 

Spaces where everything laps 

At the desire to be understood by some other 

As she mentions the word relapse

I think about how many women I know and don’t know 

Who live day-to-day on the edge of a stark realization

That they need recovery, from anything

From their own life, even or more

But like a far off orgasm 

Beguiling, but never quite reaching it 

Yearning for something more 

Paula Hayes is a poet hanging out in Memphis, the same town where the ghost of Elvis hangs out. Music imbibes her soul so it seems a natural fit.

Drunk Haze by George Gad Economou

swilling down bourbon till the very end of memories,  stumbling my way out of the barroom engirdled by fancy dinner-goers in a bar not for d...