Monday, February 27, 2023

the people i have to forgive By Scott Ferry

 

are all locked up in a room

i barely keep them alive

with crackers water

daytime tv the occasional

diet coke

 

they have been there for years

waiting for me to decide

to either kill them or let

them out they sob and mewl

in my cat’s voice

 

at 5 am and scratch my

face with my own fingers

(who knew you could

keep people hostage inside

your body?)

 

i think i will give them

the good news this morning

that they are free that they

have never been here

chained in my

 

hippocampus their spindly

arms reaching up my veins

their voices ghost paint

on my apologies i will

tell them

 

this morning the prison

is open and there is a

continental breakfast in the

lobby they can ask the

concierge

 

for their wallets and purses

and phones and keys back

i will tell them sorry sorry

but leave before i change

my mind

 



Scott Ferry helps our Veterans heal as a RN in the Seattle area. His collaboration with Lillian Necakov and Lauren Scharhag titled Midnight Glossolalia is now available from Meat for Tea Press. More of his work can be found at ferrypoetry.com.

 


Saturday, February 25, 2023

(UN)EXPECTED By Edward Lee


My greatest mistake,

among the many

I have made

was to try 

and understand your love

for me, instead of simply

drowning in it,

as one should do

when given a love

they believe

undeserved.


And now you are gone,

soon after your love for me

left you, what I believed

I deserved made cruelly true.






Edward Lee's poetry, short stories, non-fiction and photography have been published in magazines in Ireland, England and America, including The Stinging Fly, Skylight 47, Acumen, The Blue Nib and Poetry Wales.  His play ‘Wall’ received a rehearsed reading as part of Druid Theatre’s Druid Debuts 2020.

He also makes musical noise under the names Ayahuasca Collective, Orson Carroll, Lego Figures Fighting, and Pale Blond Boy.

His blog/website can be found at https://edwardmlee.wordpress.com

 

Friday, February 24, 2023

It All Becomes a Metaphor By Richard LeDue

While billionaires create electric apples,

poets sip on cheap rye

(the same brand Al Purdy preferred),

and the lines seem to flow

like a perfect pour cracking ice,

but some always ends up on the floor,

letting slurred words buzz

loud as a black fly, trapped

by a picture window 

on one of those summer days,

when glasses are big enough

to drown the royalty check that never arrived,

only to breathe life into them 

so it all  becomes a metaphor for determination

instead of another defeat.





Richard LeDue (he/him) lives in Norway House, Manitoba, Canada. He has been published both online and in print. He is the author of eight books of poetry. His latest book, “Secondhand Salvation,” was released from Alien Buddha Press in February 2023.

Monday, February 20, 2023

JESSIE JOY’S COMPLAINT by Ken Anderson

You elbowed in, like a crook— a gun tucked 
under your coat. You stripped to your shorts 
and fed me my cue, but one small detail knocked it all
askew. “Turn off the light,” you ordered, cross,
no romantic fool. I aroused one stiff little flame
in the kitchenette just to follow, if not pursue, the affair. 
For your deep, dark secret had gathered itself
into something big and bent I couldn’t face 
nor use, though I’ve borne the wrench
of more crooked bastards. I could turn only my hand
to you, like a knob, but not to a door I’d dare
to open. You felt wrong as if touch had warped
as vision could with a mote. You needed a mercy job, the foil
of my calling. Of course, such scruples failed
to fit the part, but you weren’t straight. A true man, no.
You could not plumb me true. Broke, however, 
I charged what you had and got down 
to business, halfway curious, I must admit, 
to take such a monster in. Even there, the taste
of ugliness would be ugly, yes, ugly as sin. You wallowed
in me, wild and unwieldy, but never quite managed 
to fully employ me, like most. What an odd road
for blood to travel. Thrills must’ve swerved. O pirate, 
how you’ll miss me with your hook. I’ll trade another night,
as vowed, for neither love nor cash.



'

Ken Anderson’s poetry books are The Intense Lover and Permanent Gardens. Publications include Better than Starbucks, CafĂ© Review, Club Plum, Coffin Bell, Dash, Dawntreader, Free Verse Revolution, Harvest (Quillkeepers Press), Hole in the Head Review, Hyacinth Review, Impostor, The Journal, Last Stanza Poetry Journal, London Grip, Lotus-eater, Lullwater Review, Modern Literature, Nebo, Neologism Poetry Review, Oddball Magazine, Orbis, Penumbra, Rudderless Mariner Poetry, Sangam Literary Magazine, Sein und Werden, SurVision, Toho Journal, Verbal Art, The Waiting Room, and Willawa Journal.

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Break by Chad Parenteau

My moment
is now.

No one 
else agrees.

Clocks lie
to them,

say save
for later

that never
arrives.

All time
stolen,

nothing 
given.

Kill it
in hiding,

bury where
it is missed.




Chad Parenteau hosts Boston's long-running Stone Soup Poetry series. His latest collection is The Collapsed Bookshelf. His poetry has appeared in journals such as RĂ©sonancee, Molecule, Ibbetson Street, Cape Cod Poetry Review, Tell-Tale Inklings, Off The Coast, The Skinny Poetry Journal, The Rye Whisky Review, Nixes Mate Review and the anthology Reimagine America from Vagabond Books. He serves as Associate Editor of the online journal Oddball Magazine.

Saturday, February 18, 2023

Beer Seasons by Taylor Dibbert

Lagers,
And pale ales,
In the spring,
And summer,
Stouts and porters,
In the fall,
And winter,
Pilsners,
Brown ales,
Cream ales,
And others,
Here and there,
India pale ales,
The IPA,
Fit for all seasons.




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.

Friday, February 17, 2023

The Storm by John Drudge

By the grave
I saw the storm
Unbroken
And saw the steep ill luck
Of my generation
Destroyed
Left wakeless
And recondite
By a muddled relevance
Pulsing
Like a dying universe
As I mourned 
On the edge
Of a wind bound sea




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.

 

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Stuck In This Moment by Wayne Russell

This place has the allure 
of an aging dungeon, the 
cold dank smell of a sunken
ship, rotting hull; dilapidated
bow.

Wallpaper from the '70s
peeling into oblivion, come
21st century.

And once again, here I am
seated in the darkened corner
of this rotgut pub, clutching
onto hope, where all hope is
gone.

My pint is warm, and my heart
is cold, She's Gone by Hall&Oats
seems to fit this occasion like a tight
glove on my wrinkled hands, or a
noose around my weathered neck.


 



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.



Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Now I’ve Seen Everything by Laura Stamps

“Dear Elaine,” she writes. “You’ll never guess. Never. At the liquor store. King’s. One of his stores. The one down the street from my apartment. He’s got a new product. Saw the sign this week. On my evening walk. With Holly. Big sign. Right next to the road. Can’t miss it. This new product. You’ll never guess. Never. Ice cream tacos. Can you believe it? I mean. Whose idea was that? Crazy. Totally. For any store. But a liquor store? Come on. Think about it. No one goes to a liquor store to buy ice cream. No one. And yet, and yet. I can’t help wondering. You know. What does it look like? This ice cream taco. So we did it. Me. Holly. We stopped. Tonight. On our evening walk. And went in. We did. We came. We saw. We couldn’t believe it. Ice cream tacos. Right there. In the frozen section. Just a big blob of ice cream. Vanilla. Stuffed in a taco shell. Topped with a few sprinkles. And that’s it. I mean, seriously. How boring! Crushed. That’s what I was. Holly too. So disappointed. Totally. Had to fix this. Had to. Went to the grocery store after that. Bought a Milk-Bone. For Holly. Her favorite. Bought a pint of Haagen-Dazs Double Belgian Chocolate Chip. For me. You know. Real ice cream. Ate all of it. I did. Yeah. We’re feeling better now. Much, much. Thanks for asking.”




 Laura Stamps loves to play with words in her fiction and prose poetry. Author of 49 novels, novellas, short story collections, and poetry books. Forthcoming: “The Good Dog” (Prolific Pulse Press 2023) and “Addicted to Dog Magazines” (Impspired, 2023). Winner of the Muses Prize. Recipient of a Pulitzer Prize nomination and 7 Pushcart Prize nominations.  

 

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

gagaku by Tohm Bakelas

for Steve Richmond

Lying here alone, upon this stinking
bed, covered in sweat, in this dark 
room of death, suffering from covid. 
Symptoms: a never ending headache 
from hell, nasal congestion, runny 
nose, appetite loss, persistent and 
productive cough, multiple fevers 
and total lack of sleep. When light 
breaks through the curtains it’s like 
a hot needle swiveling around the
inside of my skull. There’s nothing to 
do but shed tears and wipe them away. 
Attempting to distract myself from this 
nightmare, I grip the cat who has joined
me, and read Steve Richmond’s poems. 
This was a man who knew of great 
suffering. Knew it on so many different 
levels. Here, in my suffering, I imagine 
Steve smoking his joints, drinking his 
methadone to stay off the hard shit, 
while his demons swung axes at his 
neck attempting decapitation. I laugh 
at these thoughts while my demons 
dance around this room, cackling at 
my pain from shifting shadows as 
I break another fever and wonder 
how and when this might end. 




Tohm Bakelas is a social worker in a psychiatric hospital. He was born in New Jersey, resides there, and will die there. His poems have appeared in numerous journals, zines, and online publications. He has published 18 chapbooks and 2 collections of poetry and his latest book "The Ants Crawl In Circles" is available at Amazon.com. He runs Between Shadows Press.  

Monday, February 13, 2023

Traces of Life by William Mullins

The sun climbed higher in the sky as brown haired Evelyn quietly stepped into a spacious clearing, her
warm eyes searching for the tranquility afforded by the deep woods. The early morning rays had
scarcely been sufficient to lead her on this excursion to an unknown segment of the otherwise familiar
terrain.

Having arrived at this mysterious destination, she sat down to rest underneath a foreign tree. There was
no wind to caress its dry and craggy limbs, no rain to soak its tired base. Its branches hung like dark
specters in the haunting light of dawn, yet it seemed like comfort and shelter to the girl beneath.

The tree was large and old, reminding those who might pass by of the ancient horrors of human kind.

The tree’s soul whispered stories of starvation, powerlessness, and injustice. Myths and plausible denial
played in the midst of its aged bark and fell to the ground like poisoned leaves. Sunlight could not
cast a glimmer on its worn and barren exterior, where the eagle’s eye would see fields of desperation.
But the desperate were not quiet. They sprang forth with farm implements in their hands, and the fire of
ages gone by filled their voices. Their song was a sword. Their fists formed the very heart of
revolution.

The tree occasionally creaked or groaned a little, calling sprites to the minds of the enlightened and
summoning bitter bile to the throats of waking warriors. Its roots spread throughout the land, touching
many living things and sending visions of remembrance and conflict deep into the world. It was not
alone however, nor was it altogether wrapped in darkness. Hope shone through its branches and tickled
its roots where the old sun and the dangerous rain could not, casting a spell into the land, a magic of redemption and hope for all life.

The resting girl stirred below and reveled in the emergence of a new day.

Evelyn thought of the comforting earth beneath her feet. It was too cool outside for taking off her shoes
and digging her toes into the beckoning soil. She wished to though, as the charms of nature enveloped
her. Sliding her hands along the woodland floor, she embraced good memories and smiled.

The tree called to her, offering its wisdom. As she began to climb, Evelyn thought about the ages gone
by that this sturdy giant must have witnessed. Evelyn felt the need to understand what realities the past
held. Human beings needed to comprehend more than their own time and circumstances. She wanted to
experience things beyond the conventions of her own life.

Evelyn sat for a while among the trees branches and heard it whisper the stories of others. There were stories of Earth's energy and the transformation it worked in those who experienced it, sisters, fairies, one and all...

In time, she easily reversed her climbing action and completed the brief descent to the ground. When
she was safely standing upon the Earth again, Evelyn erupted into a fit of youthful madness. Running
throughout the trees, she created a game with no name and no rules. The energy of her youthful body
and the momentary elation of her mind drove her to play until she could no longer stand up from
temporary exhaustion.

Shortly thereafter, Evelyn ate a lunch that she had packed for her day in the woods. She slowly chewed
on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Even with the jelly, the sandwich seemed quite dry, and she had
nothing but lukewarm water to drink.

When one o’clock arrived Evelyn decided to head for home. Her day had been all that she hoped
it would be, but familiar creature comforts were beginning to sound good to her.

Nearby, an abandoned dog listened to the passing away of the girl from the clearing. He had been
observing this strange visitor from a distance for the last hour or so. He dragged his scraggly hide to the
area where all the play had occurred, searching the ground for rare prizes. He foraged successfully,
finding bits of sandwich that had been left behind.

The dog was altogether without a master and roamed the woods, struggling to survive. He had become
wild, despite being born in captivity. The scent of humans was almost unknown to him, as few of them
ever ventured this deeply into his adopted territory.

He was quite glad that this girl had come to his domain. Her crumbs would sustain him for the day, and
her presence had somehow soothed his soreness.

When he had eaten his fill, the dog skipped along triumphantly, forgetting the afternoon’s experiences
like a shadowy dream. The tree, although not sentient, could not forget this day or any other. The breath
that sweetened its air, the sweat that dripped upon its branches, and the food that enriched its soil would
always remain a part of the aged roots and the reaching branches.




Will's poetry, short stories, and guest blog articles have appeared in Half Tones to Jubilee, Riverwind, REAL: The Journal of Liberal Arts, Limestone, Cyclamens and Swords Magazine, Scrittura Magazine, California Quarterly, Off the Coast, On the Veranda, Orange Coast Review, Salmon Creek Journal, Ripples in Space, Theme Park Magazine, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Thrive Global, Submittable's Guest Blog, and the Institute of Internal Communication's Guest Blog.

Sunday, February 12, 2023

Are Those Kids Smoking Doobies? by John Doyle

My uncle collects me from late-shifts,
working 7am ‘til
night itself calls quits,

falling face-first on daybreak.
Christ I'm so tired Carl, I say,
his jibber-jabber

of horses getting shot
or priests being de-robed
makes me want to walk back instead.

When we make it to the outskirts,
students going home laughing
spark his inner Jimmy McNulty -

Are those kids smoking doobies?
he asks, missing my turn,
nearly clipping a garbage can.

I've no idea Carl
I say,
just drop me off here.

I go through my pockets
for a lighter,
then call those kids back, smiling…





John Doyle became a Mod again in the summer of 2017 to fight off his impending mid-life crisis; whether this has been a success remains to be seen. He has has two collections published to date, A Stirring at Dusk in 2017, and Songs for Boys Called Wendell Gomez in 2018, both on PSKI's Porch.

He is based in Maynooth, County Kildare, Ireland. All he asks is that you leave your guns at the door and tie up your horses before your enter.



Saturday, February 11, 2023

Bar Fight Tonight by Catherine Arra

She pulls on black cowboy boots, cinches the broad black belt, centers hips to breasts,
holsters the Smith and Wesson 38. She’s gunning for the Booze Bitch that takes her man,
lassoes him, wrangles him to dirt. Ranchers and cow rustlers … the way it is.
Not this time.
Boot heels echo on worn saloon wood. She sidles up to the bar.
Dusty cowboys tip back hats, step aside. The Bitch has her leg looped around his ass,
strokes his unshaven chin, tips him sips of Jameson, three more shots in a queue.
Poker hands fold to place new bets—the Bitch or the Blond—as if his life was a rodeo.




Catherine Arra is the author of five full-length collections and three chapbooks. Her newest work is Solitude, Tarot & the Corona Blues (Kelsay Books, 2022) 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

Friday, February 10, 2023

Today by Heather Sage

Today, Death,
I see your translucent wind
blowing through the solemn pines
and a garden’s chalice-headed
pink poppy flowers. 

Tonight, Life, 
I swig double-malt scotch
in the front-room of a sordid 
lounge—
the liquor glazes my mouth
and stomach
as I open my book 
to a fevered drawing 
of a harlequin and clown.




Heather Sager has contributed to numerous journals, most recently StepAway, Magma, ActiveMuse (Pushcart nomination), and more, and a few anthologies, most recently Our Changing Earth Vol 1 from THE POET. Heather lives in Illinois. 

Thursday, February 9, 2023

Miss Nora by Dennis Moriarty

Miss Nora is a quaint old lady, a local
celebrity of sorts.
Eats hot buttered toast, Greek yogurt
and porridge for breakfast.
Dutifully taking her pills with all the
enthusiasm of Johnny Cash
on a 1960’s Nashville bender.
Drinks with the thirst of Oliver Reed,
back and forth
the well of temptation, abstinence a word
she cares not to hear.
She is a gastronomist, the best food critic
this town as ever known,
curses with all the eloquence of Gordon
Ramsey
reading from a script to camera.
She’s a connoisseur
of the finest chocolate, not for her that
cheap supermarket shit,
85% cocoa and nothing less. Once, after
a night of over indulgence,
a whole box of Green And Black’s organic,
she ended up in rehab,
hooked up all day to a drip and at 5o’clock
we picked her up
and she sat in the back of the car, totally unaware
that we were now £300 poorer,
totally ignoring the vet who stood on out
on the pavement,
gleefully waving goodbye!


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.

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

around here by Stephen House

i am not alone in having achieved an element of standing around here, and as is often the way when one with any clout meets another, at first there is a delicate distance, for territory in our world is competitively volatile and steadfastly defended, although if one operates with integrity and clarity and proves oneself by his dealings, then a bond sealed with respect often develops, as it has between me and a new bloke hanging around here, happily carrying the nickname i gave him, ‘the captain,’ and even though he seems brittle, he does pull off some clever moves away from my terrain, and i’m sure has been a captain amongst men in his time; he’s since given me the nickname, ‘the general,’ and i suppose that says it all regarding who is who around here. 




Stephen House has won many awards and nominations as a poet, playwright, and actor. He’s had 20 plays produced with many published by Australian Plays Transform. He’s received several international literature residencies from The Australia Council for the Arts, and an Asialink India literature residency. He’s had two chapbooks published by ICOE Press Australia: ‘real and unreal’ poetry and ‘The Ajoona Guest House’ monologue. His next book drops soon. He performs his acclaimed monologues widely. Stephen’s play, ‘Johnny Chico’ has been running in Spain for 4 years and continues.

 

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Improv with Whiskey & Cars by Linda Bryant

That night, a broken axle, sticks
inside me, sweet burnt
odor of bourbon & Marlboros. Drunk
on Wild Turkey, Mama cussed Daddy
out, my sister & I bawling. The two-hour
ride home in the white ’63, the one
with tailfins. My father driving
mute into a downpour. Why

do I like enormous salvage
yards & side roads where tractors
rust alongside crumbling
sheds? Isn’t there music in rust
& abandonment? A country
song in a decaying barn, corrosion
of an old thresher, blackening
husk of an El Camino? Salt

ate mother’s ‘78 Camaro until
the floor fell out & then she offered
it to me as a “gift.” Years later, to make
up for it, when she could no longer
drive, she gave me a perfect, low- 
mileage Grand Marquis with electric
seats, factory window tinting & cruise
control. I trashed it. When unemployment

ran out my husband got 30-hours at the auto
parts store. I sold our beater
& walked to work. I graze still for spare
parts, hunt for a door without rust
or reminders. I can hear mama
yell, Bill, fix the damn Ford. I smash
a transistor to my ear to muffle
their whiskey-fueled scrap. A disc

jockey gripes about Dylan
going electric. My sister’s gone
existential, her head’s buried
in Huxley & Camus. Daddy devours
an unfiltered smoke like he’s trying
to shrink into a chamber of hot
brown leaf & nicotine
& he walks away.




Linda Bryant published widely as a career journalist for over 30 years before devoting herself to poetry. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize three times and won two national writing fellowships.  She lives in Bighill, Kentucky, where she operates Owsley Fork Writers Sanctuary. 

Monday, February 6, 2023

Don’t Remember His Name by Holly Day

When she woke up, she was told she was in love

this was all she would ever need. She remembered going home

with the man from the bar, remembered passively letting him have sex with her

mostly because she wanted to sleep in his bed and not on his couch or on the chair

but she did not climb into his bed to fall in love

no matter how much he tried to give her head before and after.

 

When she woke up, he was already making  tacos in the kitchen, asked her

if she’d ever had tacos for breakfast before, like making or eating tacos

was something she’d never done before. She was very polite

acted appropriately respectful and polite, because

she wanted to get a ride home instead of having to navigate the bus

all the way from L.A. to Orange County.

 

It took so many weeks of avoiding phone calls

looking through the curtains before leaving for work

checking the parking lot through another set of curtains

before leaving work to catch the bus to go home

before he finally decided

they weren’t in love after all.





Holly's writing has recently appeared in , and Day’sAnalog SF, The Hong Kong ReviewAppalachian Journal. She currently teaches at the Loft Literary Center in Minnesota, the Richard  Hugo House in Washington, and WriterHouse in Virginia.


Sunday, February 5, 2023

a day in the life by jck hnry

i sit up against
a wall
in a coffeehouse
in a shit part of town
filled with addicts
and hookers
and confidence men
and gang members
all drinking Frappe-fucking-chinos
waiting for sun to set
waiting for lines to queue
waiting for the innocent
to arrive
waiting for cash to flow
the game to begin
all drinking Frappe-fucking-chinos

and this guy
w/a scar and a lazy eye
and a dirty Dallas Cowboys tee shirt
looks at me
and says,
who the fuck are you?
as i slam the keys of a second generation
laptop
a coffee cup half filled with coffee and whiskey
and i say,
i’m writing
and he says,
oh yeah, what about?
and i say,
poems about halfwits like yourself
and he says,
no one gives a fuck about poetry nowadays

i read 
in the
New York Times
that poetry had died
and i didn’t even
realize the New York Times
still existed

and a hooker,
sorry, a sex worker,
sides up to me and
says,
hey baby
and
what’s cooking
and
wanna date?
as she slugs back
her Frappe-fucking-chino
and i say,
maybe later
and she turns
to the dimwit,
they wander off
and the sun begins to set

people leave 
in groups of twos and threes
the solos stay
seated
waiting
for an alarm 
only dogs 
and addicts
can hear
they finally leave as well
and the guy at the counter
says,
hey man. time to go

and i put my POS laptop
into an old leather satchel
exit through
the backdoor
past the dimwit and the sex worker
engaged
in a coitus,
pants down, skirt up,
dead eyes stare back at me
as they grind together

i walk up the alley
past houseless junkies
shooting up 
in the shadows
of society
or maybe they huff
or snort
or something
i stopped paying attention
years ago

and i walk past
a cop
drinking
a Frappe-fucking-chino

he looks at me
nods
eyes dead
thinking about
a girlfriend
or a lover
or someone
that might force
life back into his veins

i walk twelve blocks
to a bar named Vic’s
and walk inside
sit up against the back wall
bang on my POS laptop

waitress says,
you drinkin
i say, 
yeah
she says,
how you doin?
and i say,
i just don’t know anymore

she nods
doesn’t care
barks my order
bartender
she brings it back
leaves
door opens
two gangsters walk in
masks on 
guns out
the one carrying
a Frappe-Fucking-Chino
screams,
this is a stick up
and i think,
no one says stick up anymore





jck hnry is a writer/publisher/editor, based in southeastern california.  recent publications include:  Deuce Coupe, Rye Whiskey Review, Razur Cuts, Cajun Mutt, Dissident Voices, Horror Sleaze Trash, Bold Monkey, Red Fez, dope fiend daily and a bunch of other noble zines and journals.  Books include:  “With the Patience of Monuments (neoPoesis) ,” “Crunked, (Epic Rites)” and the upcoming "Driving w/Crazy (Punk Hostage Press, 2020).”  hnry is also editor and publisher of Heroin Love Songs and 1870. for more go to jackhenry.wordpress.com.

Saturday, February 4, 2023

I Dip the Strawberries Into the Fancy & Creamy Sauce [because I do not wish to be rude] by Jimmy Broccoli

I’m eating the last noodles from the bottom of my bowl of store-bought spaghetti (and sauce) –
and I realize I am overwhelmingly depressed 
(it has been coming on for hours) –
like, “fuck!” …
like, depressed like I didn’t think I was still capable of being –
fucking 4 years of therapy…
I shouldn’t feel like this
motherfuck – I shouldn’t feel like this…

…so I call my therapist [she’s on speed-dial]

She recommends I take a break

And, so I do
____

I take a cheap overnight flight to visit my old stomping grounds – 
(for a temporary change of scenery) -
..and it’s like shit, motherfucker –
I walk into my childhood home and feel violated – I feel unholy – and unclean –
and uncomfortable as fuck –
everything is so small – and I remember it so large –
I remember it so large and overwhelming – and consuming…
(I’m beginning to think this visit may be a bad idea)

Family photos in the hall closet 
(where they have always been kept and ignored) –
they are still here – yellowing and slowly disintegrating –
and I don’t care the fuck at all about them (or so I claim) – 
fucking burn them for all I fucking care – 
I shut the hall closet door with too much force –
perhaps the memories mean too much 
(I probably should leave)

So, I do.

I’m at the Buffalo Lounge – 
It’s a gay pub I used to frequent as a younger man –
it is the location where I was almost sexually assaulted –
why the mother fuck would I be here sitting on a swiveling stool?
(I probably should fucking leave) …

And, so I do –

I stumble out the front doors and, 
sloppily and without elegance, hail a taxi
(as I did frequently, so many years ago) …
____

The following evening I’m sitting in the living room 
of the home of my childhood best friend - 
(she arranged a “welcome back” get-together for me!) -
she has done really well for herself and for her family – 
she’s a schoolteacher and he’s a fucking chemist or some shit -
and she’s smiling at me now, while serving strawberries 
with a pink creamy sauce that comes in fancy metal saucers –
I’m lactose-intolerant – but ignore this fact –
I do not mention it - 
The creamy sauce looks fucking delicious –
and I ain’t gonna ask – and I ain’t gonna be rude –
I’m with friends – good friends – amazing friends – long-term friends
(there are nine supportive friends on couches and chairs seated around me –
and they are glad I’m here)
and I ain’t gonna fuck that up

[I dip the strawberries into the welcoming and creamy sauce]

I spend the night on my friend’s couch –
‘cause I end the evening – I end the party - drunk as fuck –
but it’s alright – 
it’s okay (nobody is angry or complaining or throwing me out the door) …
My friend gently and lovingly lays a blanket across me –
“Here is a pillow” she says, while she smiles genuinely and lovingly –
as she always does – as she always has

The fancy cuckoo clock on the wall will chime in a few hours –
and I will welcome it –
I’m still alive – 
who the fuck would have thought that’d be true? [absolutely nobody]

I’m still alive – 
[this evening nobody talked about the years of my drug addiction -
and I’m thankful for that!]
and I’m under a loving and comfortable blanket – 
and beneath my head is a comfortable pillow –

Never would I have ever imaged (many years later) …

Depression will wait for me until tomorrow –
For this evening, I exhale it as I fall quickly and confidently to sleep…
[a bit too drunk, but that’s okay]

I’ll call my therapist long-distance in the morning
[I have her on speed-dial] …

It’s not all bad. It fucking ain’t…

It ain’t -
It fucking ain’t.





Jimmy Broccoli lives in Atlanta, Georgia, where he enjoys hiking, playing the washboard, and playing with puppies.

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