Saturday, December 31, 2022

i see the crows again by Scott Ferry

as i pass near the ikea
they are not crows

they are neurons burning
serotonin and ash

they streak and then solidify
a gas a liquid a crystal stream

they inhabit the bare trees
obsidian leaves glinting

they lift shards into the sky
a dark swallowing

of invisible wings
of wings no longer

attached to the earth


 


 
 
Scott Ferry helps out Veterans heal as a RN in the Seattle area. His most recent book is fishmirror from Alien Buddha Press. You can find more of his work @ ferrypoetry.com.

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Dear Beer by Kim kjagain Moes

We need to talk.
It’s time we started seeing other spirits.
We’ve had some great years,
shared some amazing music and good friends.
But you just don’t support my desire
to have a healthier life.
I exercise my face off and it does me no good
because I reward myself by spending time with you.
You erase all the good work I’ve done.
Yes, you’ve cooled me down on a hot summer’s day
and warmed me up from the chills of winter.
But it’s over.
Your carb count is just too high for me. No amount of
running or aerobics or strength training can keep up.
I’m choosing others over you: water, unsweetened fruit juice,
maybe the occasional glass of wine, or crown & diet.
But we’re through.
Thank you for the laughs, the music, the warm hugs and cool refreshment.
Maybe sometime we’ll run into each other and we’ll say,
Hey, how have you been,
and move on.
Later, gator.
Just kidding.
Pour me another please Donny.

 



Kim kjagain Moes, of Vancouver Island, BC, has appeared in print and online magazines, in English and Spanish. She unravels everyday events finding inspiration to meet the words climbing out of her mind. On writing, she says, “Write the life we live, explore the lessons not yet learned, and then, eat catharsis for dinner.”

 

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Slow and Low in Brevard By Taylor Dibbert

He’s just,
Swinging by,
The liquor store,
In Brevard,
North Carolina,
A few days,
Before Christmas,
Decides to,
Pick up,
A bottle of,
Slow and Low,
Rock and rye,
He’s waiting,
In line,
To pay,
And he remembers,
The first time,
He came to,
This store,
With her,
They were,
Picking up,
A bottle of,
Slow and Low,
Rock and rye,
He was,
A little nervous,
She was meeting,
The parents,
For the,
First time,
He pays,
For it,
With a credit card,
In the parking lot now,
Thinking a little more,
About their,
First time together,
In Brevard,
Feels like he’s,
Looking in on,
Someone else’s life,
Or maybe not,
There’s pain,
In his chest,
The wounds,
Have healed,
But the desire,
To try again,
Is still,
On life support.

 



Taylor Dibbert is a widely published writer and journalist. He’s author of the Peace Corps memoir “Fiesta of Sunset,” and is seeking representation for his first novel.

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Love Offerings From a Martini Glass by Joan Leotta

My mother always ordered martinis
with extra olives that she would
pull out of the gin, slide off the
plastic or wooden spear and hand to me.
Some days I could feel the
disapproving stares around us.
Gin often dripped onto the table
and dribbled into my mouth
as I devoured each green olive,
my favorite food.
Admittedly, when I felt the stares
I deliberately licked the
olive before popping it into
my mouth, sure I had horrified
someone whose opinion
did not matter.


I never did develop
a taste for gin.
I drank wine, sherry, scotch,
vermouth, Campari—no
pretentiousness, just preference
until my migraines decided
all alcohol was a trigger.


After marriage my husband
became the one presenting me
with olive apertifs.
Recently he switched from
gin to vodka, but I don’t mind.
As in childhood,
the only alcohol that slips
my lips is what I lick
off olives. I don’t mind, for
it’s the olives I love.
Inverted triangle glasses
are simply vehicles for serving
olives and their delicious,
briny taste of love.


Both my mother and my husband also like olives, but they love me more.--Joan Leotta


 


 

Joan Leotta
Author, Story Performer
“Encouraging words through Pen and Performance”
Nominated for Pushcart and Best of Net in 2022
"Feathers on Stone" poetry chapbook available from me and at
https://mainstreetragbookstore.com/product/feathers-on-stone-joan-leotta/

Other Joan Leotta Books
Languid Lusciousness with Lemon, Finishing Line Press (Amazon)
Morning by Morning and Dancing Under the Moon, two free mini-chapbooks are at https://www.origamipoems.com/poets/257-joan-leotta





Monday, December 26, 2022

A Neighbor in West Hollywood by John Drudge

“This ain’t no Lindbergh baby”
She would say
Holding her belly
With a cock-eyed smile
Like they do in the south
When the sun goes down
“You won’t catch me
In no forest tonight sugar
I don’t need no more sin”
He always smiled
Back at her
Although he didn’t know
What she was talking about
Most of the time
But she was funny
In a tragic way
And she was always
Nice to him
For a hooker
From the strip
In the lobby
Of a motel
Off sunset
Behind the Copper Penny

 

 
 

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 24, 2022

Parallel Comfort by Laverne Zabielski

So desired
it is sought in hidden places
anguish rises from my gut
near the womb in which you grew


it leaks into the breasts
from which I nursed you
works its way into my throat
a tension pushing me over
 

falling me down
I write into this ache
my body calms
as does overwhelm


with desire
to dig into my words
my only path to redemption
this drunkenness of pain


my pain, your pain
we walk side-by-side
yet far apart
we do this alone.

 

 


Laverne Zabielski is a writer, artist, and publisher of Act of Power Press. She received her MFA in Writing at Spalding University in Louisville in 2004. In 1990 she founded The Working Class Kitchen Inc., a forum for poetry readings, performance art and workshops. In 2022 she created Cafe Luigart to create opportunities for others to read their work in a casual "cafe" setting. Her poems have been published in numerous journals, including The American Voice, The Thinker Review, The Sun and Southern Exposure. Her memoir, The Garden Girls Letters and Journal was published in 2006 by Wind Publications. She has served on the Board of Directors for the Kentucky Foundation for Women, Alternate Roots and The Kentucky Women’s Writers Conference.

Friday, December 23, 2022

AT ART’S BAR by Dan O’Connell

Names have been changed
to protect the drunks.

When old Mary had a seizure
at the bar last night –
spasmed off the stool,
whole wrinkled body flopping
on the Jimmy-mopped floor
like a caught flounder

it made us all remember
other times we needed to summon
an ambulance

Carlos J.’s invisible slip
into drunken exhaustion on his 75th –
fell straight back to fracture his skull
as we sang happy birthday
happy birthday to you

Bobby’s kid Bobby2 not yet
learned to hold his liquor –
broke both kneecaps dancing,
caprioling off a booth

June’s heart attack right there
(husband points to June’s favorite chair)
though she was only 54
and ordering one more

The list went on and on
almost to slapstick
as Big Mike cradled Mary
in his drummer’s arms

and Johnny O’Brien
recently diagnosed with cirrhosis
drank silently, listening for the sirens
 
 

 
Dan O’Connell is a four-time award winning poet, and multiple finalist and honorable mention. His poems have appeared over eighty times, including in Mississippi Review, Prometheus Dreaming, Homestead Review, America Magazine, Ghost Town Literary Magazine, and previously in The Rye Whiskey Review. 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 danoconnellpoetry.com

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Addiction Riff by Catherine Arra

 Like a shot
he disappears. A time traveler.

Swish      Poof.
The hollow echo before the hush.

He’ll spin for days in a wormhole
tunneling this life or that one

jamming with Jack, Jim, Johnny
and Bud until the riff reverses,

strings break, and the boys
spit him out with vomit and piss.

He’ll land back here, where I sit
still staring at ghost-space.
 
 

 Catherine Arra is the author of five full-length collections and three chapbooks. Her newest work Solitude, Tarot & the Corona Blues is newly released from Kelsay Books. A Pushcart nominee, 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 www.catherinearra.com


Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Dream of an Ex-Friend by Leah Mueller

Your face beneath my eyelids,
contorted. I remember

your words: sideways mouth,
rage erupting in whirlpools.

In the morning, all that remains
are your eyes and an empty coffeepot.
Familiar sizzle: hiss of water,
steady drip towards wakefulness.

I wonder where you are now,
two time zones ahead, stirring

in your own small bed. That photo
of you and your lover, hands

protecting your shoulders. The book
of poems you sent me. My final
glimpse of you, face half-covered
in a surgical mask, pushing it aside

between sips of beer. Why have we
allowed forty years to be trampled
underfoot? It wasn’t me,
or even you. Though I tried to listen,

my dreams offer nothing,
and consciousness only brings spite.

 

 


Leah Mueller is the author of ten prose and poetry books. She lives and writes in Bisbee, Arizona. Her new book, "The Destruction of Angels" (Anxiety Press) was published in October 2022. Leah's work appears in Rattle, NonBinary Review, Midway Journal, Citron Review, The Spectacle, Miracle Monocle, Outlook Springs, Atticus Review, Your Impossible Voice, etc. She is a 2022 nominee for both Pushcart and Best of the Net. Her flash piece, "Land of Eternal Thirst" appears in the 2022 edition of Sonder Press' "Best Small Fictions" anthology. Website: www.leahmueller.org.


Tuesday, December 20, 2022

The University Bursary by George Anderson

After decades of squabbling amongst
government & local
& commercial environmental authorities

empty cans & bottles in my state now
retrospectively command 10 cents each.

I take my grand daughter to the garage
& use the remote to open it:

revealing countless thousands
of neatly bagged cans & bottles.

I say to her with a huge grin:
‘This should fund your university education!’

 

 

 



George Anderson edits the blog Bold Monkey Review: https://georgedanderson.blogspot.comHis latest chapbook The Beast With 3 Legs (2022) was published by Between Shadows Press.

Monday, December 19, 2022

Malaise by B. Lynne Zika

This is what it’s like:
Your head’s in a New York bar
slinging poetry ’til dawn,
and on the walk home Nureyev accosts you on the bridge,
flinging his arms around you and calling you Rosamaria,
l’amour qui’il a perdu,
and you could let him lead you through the dark streets
to an opulent hotel with grimy sheets
and demand that room service find a bottle of absinthe—
1923, the price is no object—
and he slips the pearl buttons of his starched white shirt
into your coat pocket so that one by one
he bequeaths you the treasures of his body:
the angular collarbone,
the swell of pectoral,
the iron torso and violent tumble of hair
spilling downward below his navel,
and

instead

you are lying on a wooden plank
in a bunker, glass on the windows
broken a lifetime ago,
and every nuance of the board under your back
needles you
until awareness becomes discomfort
and discomfort, pain
so you roll to your side
hoping for a spot of relief
or at least the cessation of feeling
(you’d rather go numb)
and after an hour,
two,
four,
you’d rather be dead
because it has to be better
with the body gone,
and when the fates prove to be
taking their delight elsewhere
and will not transport you home
you begin to woo the pain,
converse with it,
tell it what pretty ribbons it has in its hair,
and if it slips away,
even for a moment,
you coax it back
because you cannot bear the disappointment
of thinking the respite could last,
and finally you pray for numbness again—
any kind,
from any source,
and on good days
you find it

and later

you ask your mind
to be content with the way things are,
because, after all,
the body has no agility
and only the mind can deliver
a thrilling circus performance in its sleep.




B. Lynne Zika’s photography, nonfiction, and poetry have appeared in numerous literary and consumer publications. 2022 publications include Delta Poetry Review, Backchannels, Poesy, Suburban Witchcraft, and The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature. In addition to editing poetry and nonfiction, she worked as a closed-captioning editor for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Awards include: Pacificus Foundation Literary Award in short fiction, Little Sister Award and Moon Prize in poetry, and Viewbug 2020 and 2021Top Creator Awards in photography. Website: https://artsawry.com/.

Sunday, December 18, 2022

I Don't Belong Here by Wayne Russell

Trapped in this snow globe of sorrow,
the perpetual end of the bar, seated alone.

High-end drink? No, not for me, thanks
but no, I'm from the trailer park, so you know
it's the pint on tap for me, now and always.

Working class guy, windblown weathered
hands, chapped and calloused by throes of
cruel time, a blue-collar Trojan horse in the
white-collar bar; out of place as always.

But this man with a child in his soul has no
interest in the match playing, muted on large
screen, plastered upon the posh walls, always
at the other end of the bar, my friend's shadows,
and silence are here to keep me company.

The snow plummets outside, and in my sorrow
filled eyes that register pains of a world gone
to the wolfs, baying for blood, always.

The ball is kicked through the net, TV people erupt
into hysterics, silently, and in slow motion, bar
patrons go unfazed, at least we agree on something.

Bartender another round-








Wayne Russell has been many things during his lifetime, he has been a creative writer, world traveler, graphic designer, former soldier, and former sailor.

Wayne has been widely published in both online and hard-copy creative writing magazines. From 2016-17 he founded and edited the now-defunct online creative writing magazine, Degenerate Literature.

In late 2018, the editors at Ariel Chart nominated Wayne for his first Pushcart Prize, in addition; Wayne was nominated for Best of the Net via the editor at The Abyss.

In 2020, Wayne had his debut paperback book of poetry published by Guerrilla Genesis Press; Where Angels Fear is available for purchase on Amazon.




Saturday, December 17, 2022

A Poet on the Edge of the Gates of Hell by John C. Mannone

After ‘The Thinker’ by Auguste Rodin

I sit on the brink of a wine glass,
the edge of a black hole, pondering
the wine-darkened ocean of spacetime
inside the event horizon of the black
abyss of my life.

I wonder if this is symbolic retribution
for past sins. There are always consequences.
The past churns with the present, and future
vaccinations against the deadly virulence
of grief are useless when contaminated
with yesterday.

I want to sing like Otis Redding if only
I didn’t have a care. I am sitting on the dock
of the bay where the river Styx has emptied
itself. In the maw of that thing, a burst
of light might be my only salvation—holy
scarlet to wash over me, flush all the pain
away, and spark a glow in the dark recesses
of my heart.

I sit on the brink of a wine glass
pressed to a sheet of paper, a white
hole waiting to be filled with crimson
ink—the passionate account of my
whispers and impressions on the page.

I write to know I am alive so that others
who read this might know they are too.
C.S. Lewis said something like that.
My words swirl out from a deep

vortex where nothing should escape.
How did that black hole form anyway
from where brightness used to be?

When I write those words, there’s fusion
until all the strength of iron diminishes, gives
way to collapse, as in that red supergiant star
in my psyche: a stellar explosion is inevitable.
But I remember that I am made from spoken
words gathered in that cosmic stardust.

I sit on the brink of a wine glass
sipping a French merlot with a long, supple
finish.

 

 


 



John C. Mannone has poems in Windhover, North Dakota Quarterly, Poetry South, Baltimore Review, and others. He won the SFPA Dwarf Stars Award (2020); was awarded an HWA Scholarship (2017), and a Jean Ritchie Fellowship (2017) in Appalachian literature; and served as celebrity judge for the National Federation of State Poetry Societies (2018). His full-length collections are Disabled Monsters (Linnet’s Wings Press, 2015), Flux Lines (Linnet’s Wings Press, 2021), Sacred Flute (Iris Press, 2022), and Song of the Mountains (Middle Creek Publishing, 2023). He edits poetry for Abyss & Apex and other journals. He’s a professor of physics & chemistry at Alice Lloyd College nestled in the beautiful southeastern Kentucky mountains.

http://jcmannone.wordpress.comhttps://www.facebook.com/jcmannone/

Friday, December 16, 2022

Bottled By Terrence Sykes 


dwelling in the land
of Mexico
nibbling amongst
blue agave
of Jalisco
then travel
all over the world
through a looking glass
distilled essence
longing to be
the worm in a bottle
of Tequila





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 .

Thursday, December 15, 2022

The Bad Barkeep by Ken Gosse

Angrily
berating
customers’
decisions;
expelling
formerly
garrulous
high-paying
inebriates;
jealously,
knowingly,
laughingly
mentioning
neurotic
offenses;
provoking
quarrelsome
reactions;
senselessly
tenacious;
unyielding,
virulent
wantonness.
X: Crossed off.
You’re So fired!
Zapped, sapped, scrapped!







Ken Gosse usually writes light, rhymed verse with whimsy and humor. Sometimes it’s darker. He was first published in First Literary Review-East in 2016, and since then by Pure Slush, Spillwords, 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.

 

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

TWO GLASSES By Kenneth Pobo


Oh well, another night,

you upstairs working on your computer,

me working downstairs on mine.  

Same house but we seem 

miles apart, electronically separated.  


9:15. Time to leave the machines, 

meet in the living room, and enjoy 

a martini.  We disagree on the glass.  

You like the traditional 

(why is this not a surprise?) 

with the slim stem.  I like a small tumbler, 

the blue one my favorite.  It’s like 

a drink of sky.  Thirty years ago, 


we used to clink our glasses, 

say Cheers.  Now we talk about 

Peggy Lee or scary news stories, 

olive speared, ice diminishing.





Kenneth Pobo (he/him) is the author of twenty-one chapbooks and nine full-length collections.  Recent books include Bend of Quiet (Blue Light Press), Loplop in a Red City (Circling Rivers), Lilac And Sawdust (Meadowlark Press), and Lavender Fire, Lavender Rose (BrickHouse Books). Opening is forthcoming from Rectos Y Versos Editions.

 

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Something Borrowed by Joan Leotta

In the days before internet
and cell phones tracked us,
I spent four mostly quiet years
in college, in a town
that allowed 3.2 beer
for the under 21 set.
Younger than that
and a hater of 3.2 beer,
when invited to celebrate
one afternoon
at a local “nicer” bar,
I borrowed an ID
from a 5 ft 9-inch redhead
with green eyes, Irish name,
an expired out-of-state license
So when I ordered my first
grasshopper, the waitress
in the dim light, squinted--
none of the information
was where this state put it,
so but brought my drink.
And the second. And the third.
All, in spite of the fact that 5 ft 2 inch,
brown haired , brown eyed
very Italian me was not likely
to be named Maggie O’Shea.
After the third, I began to feel
chocolate and mint trying
to come up.
One girl called her boyfriend,
who, with other friends,
walked over to walk us back
to our college residence.
We stumbled, tripped, laughed
all the way home while the boys
laughed at us while keeping
us from falling flat on the sidewalk.
For weeks after I kept to ginger ale,
and even after I turned 21
it was straight up drinks only for me.
Even now, I can’t even eat
a chocolate mints or hear the wordgrasshopper without turning green myself.
  
 
  
 
Joan Leotta
Author, Story Performer
“Encouraging words through Pen and Performance”
Nominated for Pushcart and Best of Net in 2022
"Feathers on Stone" poetry chapbook available from me and at
https://mainstreetragbookstore.com/product/feathers-on-stone-joan-leotta/

Other Joan Leotta Books
Languid Lusciousness with Lemon, Finishing Line Press (Amazon)
Morning by Morning and Dancing Under the Moon, two free mini-chapbooks are at
https://www.origamipoems.com/poets/257-joan-leotta

Monday, December 12, 2022

Forgiven Sins by Ann Christine Tabaka

 I was not the first. I was not the last.
I was not even in-between.
Mountains that once sheltered us
have crumbled into dust.
I should have known better.
Following a time-warp of deception.
Amassing notches, collecting lies.
Our vows = empty words. Empty bed.
Withered love. Counting, and still
counting. The cowboy and the Earl.
He played the game so well.
Painting synchronized illusions
for his audience of whores.
Twisted truths among the ashes.
Burning tongues of fire.
Another victim, another quest.
Promises that inflicted pain,
spread on the path to doom.
He belongs to her now.
He is no longer my penance.
I do not know. I do not care.
I am free of him. Free of my sin.



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 15 poetry books, and 1 short story book. She lives in Delaware, USA. She loves gardening and cooking.  Chris lives with her husband and four cats. Her most recent credits are: Eclipse Lit, Carolina Muse, Sparks of Calliope; The Closed Eye Open, North Dakota Quarterly, Tangled Locks Journal, Wild Roof Journal, The American Writers Review, 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)
                                                                                              

 

Saturday, December 10, 2022

Tell me a story by Greg Clary

 Local culture is
a collection of memories.

A community loses its memory
when people no longer know each other.

How can they, if they never learned each other’s stories?
Without them, how can they trust each other?

People who do not know each other
 hesitate to help each other.

They live in fear.

Their stories are shared with
lawyers, insurance adjusters, therapists,

bartenders.

 

 
Greg Clary a retired college professor who was born and raised in Turkey Creek, West Virginia, and now resides in the northwestern Pennsylvania Wilds. 
His photographs have been published in The Sun Magazine, Looking at Appalachia, Tiny Seed Literary Journal, The Watershed Journal, Hole in the Head Review, Dark Horse, Change Seven, Detour Ahead, Bee House Journal, Pine Mountain Sand and Gravel, Trailer Park Quarterly,  Tobeco Literary Journal, and many other publications.
His writing and poems have appeared in The Rye Whiskey Review, The Watershed Journal, The Bridge Literary Arts Journal, Northern Appalachia Review, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Waccamaw Journal, Rusty Truck, Anti-Heroin Chic, Sterling Clack Clack, and North/South Appalachia: Poetry and Art, Vol 1.


Friday, December 9, 2022

Braving The Storm By Matt Amott

The weather rages outside.
One of those
Pacific Northwest winter storms,
with gusty winds
and sideways rain.

I hear it rattle my window
as I sit awake
at 3 in the morning
writing you a letter
from the cozy confines
of my bedroom apartment.


Knowing the mailman comes
early and wanting
desperately to share
my words with you,
I decide to get dressed
at such a late hour.
Putting on
all my rain gear
just so I can walk
to the mailbox
at the end
of the block.


Off I go
into the deluge.
Boots, jeans,
hoodie
and my winter jacket.
Armored up
against the weather
just to send you
a letter
of me,
unguarded.




Matt Amott is a poet, musician and photographer who rambles around the Pacific Northwest. He is co-founder and co-editor of Six Ft. Swells Press and has been published in numerous collections as well as three books of his own, THE COAST IS CLEAR (Six Ft. Swells Press), GET WELL SOON and THE MEMORY OF HER (both by Epic Rites Press).  He can be reached at sixftswells@yahoo.com and purchases can be made at Amazon and www.sixftswellspress.com


Thursday, December 8, 2022

It”s A Den Of Sin Yet Once Again By John Patrick Robbins

Frank sat at the bar, trying to kickstart his mind as he flipped on the news, looking out over the ocean.
Boozer snored away blissfully between his occasional farts. That always seemed to wake him as he stared baffled at his ass as if it were some mysterious cavern that puzzled him greatly.

The news was all the same, no matter the channel.

Terror In The Carolinas was the headline as a quasi-human trafficking snuff ring had been busted. Right now, it was all a total shitstorm.

But, Frank knew when it came to big money and even bigger names, the truth would soon be buried and forgotten with the next mass shooting.

Simon, who looked like Einstein's disheveled love child, took a seat at the bar.

“Fuck man, they are still rattling on about that stuff. It’s fucking insane. Hard to believe all that shit was going on that dull as fuck little island Jack lived on.”

“Morning there, Harpo. Yeah, well, I guess old Jack wasn't joking when he talked about just how screwed up that place was after all.” Frank replied as he reached under the bar, pulling out a beer from the mini-fridge, putting it in front of his clearly hungover agent, who almost turned green at the sight of the can.

“Fuck, dude, I can’t drink that! I feel like my head’s going to explode. Goddamn! How many beers did I drink last night?”

“Enough to lose count there, shitstain. Hey, sweet bracelet! What kind of kinky shit are you into there, Manischewitz?” Frank said, laughing as Simon looked to notice the handcuff on his left wrist. Even Simon had to shake his head and laugh to himself.

“Fuck it, dude, hand me an aspirin.”

“That's my boy; glad to see my bad habits are finally rubbing off.” Frank said, handing an aspirin to his agent, who quickly washed it down with a still-cold Heineken.

Simon and Frank had both been through the wringer together, all the crazy shit, and after their old friend's death and becoming the proverbial black sheep of the lit scene. They had to stick together because no publisher with any common sense would be caught dead in association with them anymore.

And as they sat there in quasi silence, Frank couldn't help but think about Jack; the guy ran harder than himself. He lived a life that was ten times harder than anyone could fathom, yet only after his death had he found any sort of praise. His new book was a best-seller, and the prick wasn't even around to enjoy it. Well, in Jack’s case, most likely bitch about it.

“Good morning, gentlemen.”

Ken said, snapping Frank back into reality and almost making Simon jump over the damn bar.

“Jesus Christ there, Freddy Mercury! Learn to give a little warning before you slip up on us.”

“I suppose I could wear a bell around my neck. Hey, nice handcuffs there, Simon. I thought I heard the crack of a whip last night.”

“Yeah, apparently, this place became a house of ill repute. I mean, I just hope my church group doesn't find out. Whatever would they think of me?”

Ken burst out laughing as Frank reached for the bullhorn he kept for just such occasions.

“Attention liars, thieves, naughty nymphos, and Indian chiefs. Please join us in the kitchen for the complimentary pancake mass orgy. And remember, you have to provide your own maple syrup.”

The noise was deafening as Frank, like some overgrown perverted child, hit the siren effect on the megaphone, much to the chagrin of his clearly not amused and extremely hungover agent.

Doors opened all through the house, and the rest of last night's soiree slowly came to life as the rented friends with fantastic benefits joined the cast of lunatic writers, editors, and all-around well-spoken bohemian degenerates.

First was the little Asian dominatrix who, just as quickly as she had said hello and reclaimed her handcuffs, was out the door.

“Damn, don't you just hate to see them come and go so quickly?”

“Ahh, I didn't think you believed in happy endings, Franklin.” Ken quipped, shooting Frank a devilish grin.

“I don't, but I'll tell you guys something. I’m going to have to take out a small loan to cover last night's little gathering of the not-so-vicious circle.”

“Fuck you, asshole! You know it's coming out of the business; besides, Jack's book took off like crazy. This was supposed to be about remembering him, after all!” Simon snapped, as he was a notorious prick after only a few beers and, being he tried to boost Milwaukee’s economy the old-fashioned way last night, it didn't take much fire water to kick start the engine, so to speak.

It was then Boozer finally awoke, as he saw Simon and began to whimper.

“Oh fuck, Frank, keep that motherfucking mutt away from me, goddammit!”

“Hey buddy, look who’s here; it’s your old buddy.” Frank said as the fat old bulldog mix stood up instantly as, for some odd reason, Boozer was turned on by Frank's verbal punching bag slash agent.

“Aww, look how happy he is to see you; he is so cute.” Ken said as Simon sat upon the bar as the old dog sprung into action, trying to hump Simon's leg.

As no sooner had this odd display begun, two beautiful escorts dressed as nuns entered the room. Everyone laughed as Simon tried to break free of the determined mutt's grasp.

“You fucking asshole! Call this horny bastard off, you cocksucker.”

“Why, he’s almost done. I mean, I did get you a high-end dominatrix last night. I mean, the least you could do is get the dog off, but I mean, there's no pressure or anything.” Frank said as the room broke up in hysterics as the mutt grunted, almost falling over, finishing up on Simon's leg.

As a jacked-up dude, who looked like Brad Pitt’s stand-in, walked straight on past as if nothing was out of the ordinary, wearing only a bath towel and opening up the fridge, oblivious to this cartoonish scene.

“I’ll give, little boy; who are you supposed to be?”

The guy took a carton of orange juice, kicking it back like he owned the joint, pausing to look at Frank.

“I don't know, daddy; who do you want me to be?”

There was an awkward pause that was quickly interrupted as the front door opened.

Ricky Martinez, a horror and science fiction author, who oddly resembled Lex Luther or some weird supervillain, stood there with his girlfriend in tow, who clearly was not expecting to take a flight halfway across the country to visit this overrated Carolina cat house.

As Simon just sunk his head into his hands, saying, “fuck my life; just fuck it right up my crusty ass with not even a dash of lube.”

As Frank stood up, sloshing his drink, approaching his buddy’s clearly not amused girlfriend.

“Hey, you must be Amanda; I’m Frank. I swear it's great to meet you. Hey, you all just missed my agent getting the dog off, but hey, can I mix you a drink?’

Amanda didn't bother saying a word as she just turned to Ricky, shooting him a look.

“Ricky, I believe we should leave.”

“Hey, you two, don't run off; at least meet our friends. These two lovely ladies are from Our Mother Of The Unending Orgasm, and this barely clad individual in the bath towel is Armondo, my gardener, who is just taking a little break from trimming the bushes.”

“I don't mess with bushes, but I can really plant some seeds; or swallow them if the price is right. How are you?” The Brad Pitt look-alike said, interrupting, walking over as his towel dropped, exposing some odd deformity Frank believed most people referred to as a dick.

“Hey asshole, show some respect to my woman!” Ricky snapped, royally pissed off as he turned his gaze to Ken.

“Hey man, I expect this kind of shit from these nut cases, but from you, I am shocked. Fuck you guys; this is total bullshit!” Ricky was beyond pissed as his usually laid-back persona was gone, as he lit into his insane and seldom sober as of late friends.

He was in between slurs when a little tight-bodied, just-out-of-college woman entered the room.

“Hey, Toni.”

Ken said as everyone else was dead silent, gawking at this girl in her bikini.

“Frank, mind if I use your hot tub?”

Frank hadn't even replied when another voice called out.

“Hey bitch, wait for me!”

The built-like-a-brick-shithouse strawberry blonde said as she wrapped her arms around Toni. As they embraced, most of the guys just stared as they just as quickly were heading out the door to the hot tub.

Frank, his trusty mutt, and his loyal agent quickly followed suit.

Frank could only imagine what his neighbors must think of this carnival freak show living next door to them.

Back in the house stood Ricky and his very pissed-off, jet-lagged girlfriend, alone with an assorted cast of characters.

“Ricky, we are catching the first plane out of this debauchery right this instant!”

Ricky was transfixed on the scene out in the hot tub, to the point he had lost his train of thought. The key element to any good relationship: never tell the damn truth or disagree.

That and it is probably best to always wear sunglasses so they can never guess what else you're looking at upon life's ever-changing menu.

“You know, honey, maybe we should give it a chance. I mean, we just got here and all. I mean, maybe you could go lay down while I—”

Ricky was interrupted with a swift knee from Amanda. As he doubled over on the floor, everyone in the room winced as she headed out the door. Ricky tried his best not to throw up.

Apparently, much like whiskey bottles, there needed to be warning labels: When it came to attending any get-together with Carolina’s not-so-perverted finest, Frank Murphy, the party never stops, but when it was at last time to ante up, there was truly going to hell to pay.






John Patrick Robbins, is the editor in chief of the Rye Whiskey Review and Black Shamrock Magazine.
His work has been published in.

Fixator Press,  Horror Sleaze Trash, Red Fez, It Takes All Kinds Literary Zine, Piker Press, Punk Noir Magazine, The Dope Fiend Daily And Lothlorien Poetry Journal.

His current book is titled Are We Dead Yet?  from Black Circle Publishing  and is available on Amazon .

His work is always unfiltered.


Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Closing Time by Karen A VandenBos

In the back corner of the
local bar it smelled like a
cocktail of onions, exhaled
regrets and last calls.

The final note of jazz had
fallen from the lips of the
saxophone and heads nodded
towards home.

They had just spent the last
five hours peeling back the
layers of their unfulfilled lives
and dismal dreams.


It was closing time and all
that remained were pieces of
their papery shed skin and
a d├ęcor of empty beer cans
and cigarette butts spilled
across broken tables.



Once upon a time, Karen A VandenBos was born on a warm July morn in Kalamazoo, MI. She can be found unleashing her imagination in three online writing groups and her writing has been published in Lothlorien Poetry Journal, The Rye Whiskey Review, The Ekphrastic Review, Blue Heron Review and others.


Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Do you ever think of me? By Sharon Waller Knutson

You with all your pedigrees:

MFA, PHD, professor, novelist,

husband and father of five.


Me: the girl in glasses gooey

eyed over your prose

published in the New Yorker


while MS magazine rejects

pathetic pieces I scribble

on toilet paper in the bathroom


of the bars in Mexico

where we sit on stools

bloody red as the bulls


and your face after downing

tequila straight from the bottle,

pickling the worm and you.


Me: the crying fool

who leaves you standing

on the train tracks weaving


and waving before you stumble

back to the suburbs. I picture

you on skid row or in a cemetery,


not on Google. Your dark curly

hair is gone, but I see you and me

in your novels and know the answer.






Sharon Waller Knutson is a retired journalist who lives in Arizona. She has published more than  thousand poems in  numerous journals and ten poetry books, the most recent, The Vultures are Circling, forthcoming in January by Cyberwit.





Another Overheard Barroom Argument without a Resolution by jim bourey

Gender change is a fad, and it can’t really happen, we are what we are at birth.

That was Jake, already three beers and two shots into the evening.

It’s an accident of genetics. Sometimes a kid is mentally different from his or her physical make up. So later in life the kid decides to change to match her or his mind.

Louise, chardonnay – very chilled, sounding reasonable. She’s a social worker. Kind, lonely, smart, and able to live her alcoholic life in a reasonably okay way.

Nope. It’s completely psychological. For a long, long time it was considered a mental illness. Now they call it gender dysphoria. But most psych folks don’t consider it an illness anymore. Hell, they even identify something like fifteen gender forms within the two sexes.

Art. The most knowledgeable drunk in the Palms tonight. Also, the one who will be rebuffed by Louise when he inevitably hits on her.

I refill all the glasses that are empty, or nearly so.
The argument heats up. Louise cites cases she knows personally.
Jake brings up the Bible, though he can’t remember the chapter and verse.
Art spouts statistics. Offers quick quotes from his iPhone. Gets louder.
A couple of new arrivals join in. Everyone drinks more as the talk escalates.
It’s good for business, I guess.
But I’m just standing there, thinking about my brand new twenty-year-old granddaughter, her mixed up life, her anxiety, her sadness, her thoughts and threats about ending it all. 





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.


Monday, December 5, 2022

The Book and The Cover By Keith Pearson

Almost everyone in the place stands and points out the front window. Not me. I am trying to read the florid inked script on the back of the hand of the woman at the next table. She is perhaps the most beautiful woman I have ever seen with a blooming rose neck tattoo. She and her companion are discussing the slipping gear box in an late model Chevelle. I never do figure what it says on the back of her hand. Outside an ambulance has arrived to help someone who has fallen on the ice that is everywhere these days. Later when the tattooed woman rises to leave I see the slight bump beneath her Hello Kitty sweatshirt and hope she will be careful on the slippery walk outside. Careful everywhere.





Keith Pearson
I live in southern New Hampshire and works with special ed students at a local high school.


Sunday, December 4, 2022

Grocery Store by Doug Holder

  *** For Allen Ginsberg

Who wept in the lettuce?
Who bludgeoned the chuck roast?
Who walked down the soup line
like Andy Warhol?
Who squeezed the avocado
for a green plume of passion?
Who tried to save the lobster
from its Auschwitz tanks?
Who held the pale flesh
of the Halibut
to his or her beckoning breast?
Who will
 unfreeze
 all this ice? 

 


Doug Holder is the founder of the Ibbetson Street Press, and the co-president of the New England Poetry Club.

 Co-President of the New England Poetry Club

Boston Area Small Press and Poetry Scene   http://dougholder.blogspot.com

Ibbetson Street Press  http://www.ibbetsonpress.com

Poet to Poet/Writer to Writer  http://www.poettopoetwritertowriter.blogspot.com

Doug Holder CV http://www.dougholderresume.blogspot.com

Doug Holder's Columns in The Somerville Times
https://www.thesomervilletimes.com/?s=%22Doug+Holder%22&x=0&y=0
Doug Holder's collection at the Internet Archive  https://archive.org/details/@dougholder



Friday, December 2, 2022

A Tenement on Jones Street by David Painter

A string of clear rope lights hang overhead.
“Those are stars,” she said.
“We can’t see the real ones from here
so these will have to do.”
But the wine is real,
as the cap is unscrewed.

She told me that she loved me
with all her heart,
but not her eyes.
I told her the same lies,
but with me it was just
a matter of
thighs.


So here we sit under our
make believe stars
with no moon
and the flowered wallpaper hangs lifeless
between the curtains.
We drink our wine and
make believe it is
tomorrow.

 

 

 David Painter is a Northeast Ohio poet and photographer. His aim is to capture his point of view on the world through nature, culture, architecture and history.

Dave’s love for photography began in the 1970s with the purchase of his firstMinolta SLR camera.Through his keen eye, Dave became a member of the Cleveland Photographic Society and the Chagrin Valley Photography Guild.For the last decade, Dave has added poetry to his creative repertoire. Expanding his interests to the human condition, fiction and history; his favorite era being the Civil War. Much of Dave’s poetry is inspired by his photography; the perfect marriage of his two passions.

Dave is a member of many poetry groups including Allegory Alley, Scribbles Writing Organization, Poems and Unpoems, Writers Writing Poems and Out of Your Write Mind. Additionally, he is active in The Pixel Photography Club and the local historical society.

Dave was born and raised in Charleston, W.V. but has made the Greater Cleveland area his home for the past fifty years. He is married with two kids.

@davepainterphotography

You Can Run By Alec Solomita

The blues quotes Joe Louis as I take a hit of weed. The blues says to me, “You can run but you can’t hide.” Been running pretty well until t...