Saturday, April 29, 2023

the clown By John Grochalski


leaving the job

on a friday evening

 

going home

to act like a drunken millionaire

on the couch

 

all weekend

 

i wake up

hungover

 

into the horror

of monday morning

 

the clown suit

where i left it days ago

on the bedroom floor

 

clutching

a large red nose

 

in my

swollen

shaking hand.







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 28, 2023

I’VE SPENT A LIFE IN LUST By Bradford Middleton

As another Friday evening draws on in

I puff away in my room growing

Lonelier with every passing toke

With every passing moment.  This life,

Seemingly always better spent alone,

Does need company some of the time.

The love or just plain physical lust

A woman can bring is needed sometime

In at least this little life of mine.

Outside its Friday night lost in a

Sea of lust, a mass of gorgeous

Young flesh.  Women, who I’m

Certain could be young enough to be

A daughter of mine, don’t know

What they do to me, leaving me

Feeling more desperate now than

I’ve felt in the legion of nights, days

Months and years since I last lay

Down with someone else. 






Bradford Middleton, sadly, still lives in Brighton but last week he had a nervous breakdown, quit his job so who knows where he’ll be if you ever get to read these poems.  You can do 2 things to help; first, buy my book, out now from Alien Buddha Press, or two, contact me if you got a spare room or a million quid to spare.  

 

Thursday, April 27, 2023

DESERT SHORT CUT By Roger Singer

broken  knives

unmarked graves

suspicious eyes

serpents and fire

cold scales, warm venom

dry heat

cold night

bitter winds

busy feet

one shoe

a glove a hat

tire tracks

footprints

empty bottles

unsafe

strangers welcome

 




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

 

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Taking Down Curtains in August By John Doyle 

Days which bring a song to us 
are days that slowed down a globe 
to watch the queens of hemispheres plant corn in the droves of August; 

it's summer-time,
a time to cleanse your curtains, 
wear a dress to match your shoes 

that doesn't submit to swords and sea, 
that won't leave toe-traces on sands that fire turns to glass - 
there, water washes-up to take a soul, 

a soul left in a song a window starts to lock-in, 
that curtains hide 
like a spider looks for a fly  







John Doyle was born in 1975 and is from County Kildare in Ireland. He lives in Dublin with his wife and his dog, and has had eight poetry collections published since 2017. He works as a magazine reporter.

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Tandem by Susan Isla Tepper

Scaling its perimeter

a woman swam the pond

ducking low hanging branches

quick as a water bird—

avoiding floating

Obstacles— such as 

you out of the aperture

golden-hued child of God 

naked and aloof 

following—

then in tandem

‘til the skies bled 

Both scurrying up the banks

to cover






Susan Isla Tepper is a twenty years published writer in all genres. Her current project is an Off-Broadway Play on the subject of art and life.

Monday, April 24, 2023

in this pub by Stephen House


it’s the pub that i choose if i want a few beers

not a pinch of pretention or cool

the pints are six bucks all day into night

and that beats what’s going on elsewhere


there’s no dress code at all and thank god for that

and the age range includes well past senior 

the blokes from the homeless shelter drink here

and the gamblers have a room for their punting


skinny meth-heads carry out deals in the hallway

a working girl chats to potentials 

market vendors drink at the footpath tables

and the chinatown crowd are regulars


in the front bar are a cluster of office workers

it’s only a short walk from the city

and a trendy young group knock back whiskey shots

before heading off to where spirits cost plenty


and at my usual table i write down these words

one of few public spots i pen poetry 

and i see another bar scribe and a sketcher too

who like me must create here with ease 


i suppose as one ages being unnoticed is a comfort

sliding in and simply being is nice

and this unassuming shabby bar with a mix of humans

is a perfect spot for doing just that


i ask the vietnamese barmaid if she likes working here

and with a smile she says that she loves it

then adds many customers she now knows well

and jokes two or three are as friendly as me  


i’ll grab another pint now after knocking out these words

quick verse seems to flow in this pub

and after my tipple i’ll head off for fried rice

in another laid-back budget place



   


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.

 


 

Saturday, April 22, 2023

 No stone unturned By Ivan Jenson

I have called off
the search party
it's no use
there is nothing
in these woods
but darkness
and false hope
my inner child is lost
and will never be
found with a flashlight
certainly not tonight
or tomorrow
I just have to live
with the sorrow
you can all go home
I thank you for your
assistance
but I am heading back
on the path of
least resistance
and I will just
be grateful
I still have
my wits about me,
some family and friends,
a resiliency that weakens
and a dark lake
of mystery
that forever deepens





Ivan Jenson is a fine artist, novelist and popular contemporary poet who lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan. 

His artwork was featured in Art in America, Art News, and Interview Magazine and has sold at auction at Christie’s. Amongst Ivan’s commissions are the final portrait of the late Malcolm Forbes and a painting titled “Absolut Jenson” for Absolut Vodka’s national ad campaign. His Absolut paintings are in the collection of the Spritmuseum, the museum of spirits in Stockholm, Sweden. Jenson’s painting of the “Marlboro Man” was collected by the Philip Morris corporation. 

His novels, Dead Artist and Seeing Soriah, illustrate the creative, often dramatic lives of artists. Jenson’s poetry is widely published (with over 1000 poems published in the US, UK and Europe) in a variety of literary media. He has published a poetry book, Media Child and Other Poems, and two novels, Marketing Mia and Erotic Rights.  Jenson’s memoir “East of Ivan” has been released worldwide. 

Mundane Miracles, his critically acclaimed poetry collection, hit number 1 on Amazon in American Poetry.

Ivan Jenson’s website: www.ivanjenson.com
Twitter: @IvanJenson    

Friday, April 21, 2023

poets setting fire for light By Keith Pearson


poets have been known to confuse
the geography of their redemption
to sleeping in peace with a burning cigarette
under their pillow or talk
with the gun still jerking at their lips
a mouth greasy with oil and fear
as they kiss you
heart sooted with smoke and laughter.

poets do not tell lies
but have been known to put
their mouth to the fire to find hope
curse from dreams through seared flesh
paint scar tissue in shades of pink and black
or sometimes dress alone in
the colors of stars from
a blind moon night.

poets will tear pages straight from the tree
climb to a wavering peak to read
the underside of a golden leaf
or circle beneath a falling word
on the odd chance it may save the world
drop their torch in the wizened leaves
to better mark their path
and stare in wonder as their world burns clean.

poets do not stare down
from the optic nerve of their heart
but speak aloud with fingers of woven rope
praying their words have the strength of vines
something to carry the world along and through
green and searching and holding fast
even as they flail without mercy
at the burning thing that lets them breathe.

for scott ferry






keith pearson was born and raised in new hampshire and works at a local high school in the math department.


Thursday, April 20, 2023

Protocol By Andrea Marcusa



You roll over in bed and see peroxide blond stiff hair, wrinkles, and jowls. This woman you met in a bar, the kind of bar you never frequent, especially alone, across town, with dead animal heads hanging on walls and guys with beefy hands that could break a glass with one squeeze. The kind of bar you, a smallish vegan guy with a white-collar job performing financial analysis (your first since college) and a cat for a roommate probably shouldn’t frequent. But you thought you’d up your excitement factor, since the last three girls who dropped you called you “too nice.” You drove your mother’s cast-off Prius to the Fox & Goat Lounge and parked beside the pickups, Harleys. After this, things get blurry. There was a beautiful blond in a short skirt and black fedora. You remember her breasts and her gravelly voice. Violet. Her hand on your ass. You don’t remember how many drinks you had. You’d started with beers, then six shots of Tequila appeared, and you took one. Then more shots, no idea how many, until the blond said, “Hey, let’s get out of here,” and she pushed her hand into your pocket. You don’t remember driving home.

Now it's almost noon and this Violet’s beside you. To extract her from your apartment you suggest breakfast at a diner. That’s as far as you get with your plan to ghost her. You glance outside and see your car. Where’s hers? You’re not sure of the protocol. Drive her home? You are not used to these kinds of logistics. If you are with someone, you go to her place. But last night was different. You laughed and talked and were sure Violet was your soulmate. You think you even told her this.

Sitting on your bed this morning, she lights a cigarette. There’re several crumpled condoms on the bedside table. You have never been with a woman who smoked. She flicks an ash onto one of the condoms. You glance at your cat, Tiny, who gives you and Violet the stink eye. You think of Aunt Jean who died of lung cancer. Violet looks as old as Aunt Jean. Sure, her body’s in shape, but her lines and extra skin reminds you of your mother’s friend Kay.

You get up to find a saucer for Violet’s cigarette and try to remember last nights’ conversation. Violet works at a salon. All you recall is loud country music, sawdust kicked up while everyone danced, talking nonstop about you don’t know what, and the way each time Violet’s blouse flopped open you wanted to fuck her.

At a faraway diner, you pick to avoid running into someone you know, Violet orders fried eggs runny, bacon, black coffee and pancakes. You have a tofu scramble and sip tea. The waitress eyes the two of you and you shrink down into your seat. She digs into her food, chatters about the salon. You wonder if your mother has been to her salon. Or your mother’s friends.

This morning you are especially grateful to have your father’s last name. Your mother switched hers back after the divorce. Violet drops her heavy cowboy boot onto your thigh. The heel feels like a sharp stone. She smiles at you in a way that feels like she has plans for you. This makes the tofu stick in your throat. You must drop her somewhere. Tell her you have work. Act cool. Violet smiles again and this time there is a piece of yellow yoke on her front tooth. You can’t take your eyes off it. She looks at you the same way your mother does when she wants you to do something you don’t want to do like clean the gutters. That’s when you think of your dad. The way your mom looked at him mornings right before he left. You swore you’d never hurt anyone like your dad hurt your mom. You still barely speak to him. You are different -- sensitive, principled.

Last night floods back. How Violet grabbed your dick and devoured it. And you feel your body sigh. But across from you are jowls, wrinkled decolletage. And this older woman makes you feel squirmy. Like it’s not you. Despite how good your dick felt.

You have got to get out of this restaurant. You don’t want anyone to see you with her. You’ll tell her there’s a big presentation on Monday. The whole office is going into work today. You’ll drop her off on your way. You’ll be nice. Polite. Caring. The way you are. Thank her with a friendly peck. You sip your tea and steel yourself before dumping her and ruining her Saturday.

Violet looks up from her phone and taps your hand. “Listen kid, Uber’s here. Got to go babyface. Pay the check, will you?”

Then she’s gone except for an empty plate with a corner of toast, smears of yellow yoke and a pool of syrup.






Andrea Marcusa's writings have appeared in Gettysburg Review, Cutbank, River Styx, River Teeth, Citron Review, and others. She’s received recognition in a range of competitions, including Glimmer Train, Raleigh Review, New Letters and Southampton Review. 
For more information, visit: andreamarcusa.com or see her on Twitter @d_marcusa

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Daydreaming By George Gad Economou


alcoholic daydreams of better 

days that shall never

come to life; it doesn’t matter, for some

hours the world is at your

grasp, just reach out and touch

the dreams of childhood, the insane fantasies

that have fueled too many a nightmare. be here,

drunk, brilliantly intoxicated, and never

let inebriation end; it’s how you’ll

make it, eventually, either to the hall of fame or

to the unmarked grave. the journey’ll

be a blast, the blackouts monumental, and the stories

you’ll tell St. Peter will rival those of the biggest carousers.






Currently residing in Greece, George Gad Economou has a Master’s degree in Philosophy of Science and is the author of Letters to S. (Storylandia), Bourbon Bottles and Broken Beds (Adelaide Books), and Of the Riverside (Anxiety Press). His words have also appeared in various places, such as Spillwords Press, Ariel Chart, Fixator Press, Outcast Press, Piker’s Press, The Edge of Humanity Magazine, The Rye Whiskey Review, and Modern Drunkard Magazine.

Saturday, April 15, 2023

Lenny Bruce is not afraid By Alex Stolis


It’s all a trip and the best part is you don’t know where 

you’re going, all roads detoured, doors

locked, windows

locked, hearts, minds, locked tight as a drum,

tight as 

the guy at the end of the bar who’s scared of

going home, 

can’t remember what his wife looks like,

can’t imagine 

a world without gin and tonic and whiskies so

sour the 

clouds pucker with rain, and the bartender

doesn’t hear 

and watches the woman hitting on the guy, an

unlit 

cigarette dangling, skirt slit, lights low and

the clink

clink of ice against glass, the music dies a

slow death,

spotlight hits, the murmur and hush of a

bored crowd, 

the marijuana wafting out the door, and there

you are, 

punked-up and gothed-out waiting for me to remember 

how to be seared to ash.






                         Alex lives in Minneapolis 

Thursday, April 13, 2023

Sex With My First Husband By Jane Rosenberg LaForge 

The notion that courage exists
at the bottom of a bottle
is tested each time
he puts his hand in
a clogged sink:
a cloud of glass and water
like something I once made
as a child forms a thesis—
whiskey and a match in a solid state
via ice cube tray, as though the potential
for danger could be held in abeyance
by setting and temperature,
forever captured.

He said, without solicitation,
that I was closed,
shut down, not open
for business: unable
to catch fire but frigid
and contrary like sand that churns
yet refuses to coalesce into cement,
his sex unable to break the surface
tension spreading like a personal
denunciation of his manhood
and then he said I must have been
just another lesbian
like all the other women
in my family.

He spoke not through enamel
and muscle but a raw
hole, a spout, his native
teeth knocked out by impact
and his tongue undisciplined,
a former actor with a forged voice
perhaps suited for television commercials;

his body long and battered
by scars and intentional
accidents, rendering him
useless for nude scenes
he yearned to star in.






Jane Rosenberg LaForge is the author of four full-length collections of poetry, including MY AUNT'S ABORTION (BlazeVOX [books] 2023). She also has published four chapbooks of poetry, a memoir, and two novels. Her most recent novel, SISTERHOOD OF THE INFAMOUS (New Meridian Arts Press 2021), was a finalist in the National Indie Excellence Awards for regional fiction (west). She lives in New York and reviews books for AMERICAN BOOK REVIEW. 


Wednesday, April 12, 2023

 A New Friend By Wayne F. Burke

she stood in the
shadow of the parking lot, waved
and said hello as I walked past
I said how are you?
She said are you looking for love?
Said she gave love to people
nice to her.
I said and how much do these people
pay for love?
$100 she said.
And where do you go with these people?
To her room, or
anywhere else they want to go.
I said not in the mood
just now
she gave me her phone number
and a hug
said my face was handsome
I asked if she was broke
she said yes
I gave her $20
she said call me
I said
I have your number.







Wayne F. Burke's poetry and prose has been widely published in print and online (including in THE RYE WHISKEY REVIEW). He was nominated for a Pushcart by THE DOPE FIEND DAILY in 2022. He lives in Vermont (USA).

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Everyone’s an Expert on Something By Jennifer Poteet


I know a little – I can discern

Ionic columns from Doric

as well as identify Corinthian, which

makes me think

of Ricardo Montalban stroking the

leather car seat

in that Chrysler Cordoba commercial.

My friend the nurse, who works at a Catholic hospice,               

points out the difference between

calvary and cavalry.

Wallace Stevens was an insurance

whiz,

but he was also a connoisseur of ice

cream.

Hayden Carruth really showed you

Chicago,

and recommended scrambled eggs and whiskey

whereas Rufus Wainwright paired

cigarettes

with chocolate milk. Even Sam Cooke admitted

he didn’t remember much about the

French he took

but he could tell you one and one is two.   




Jennifer Poteet lives in Montclair, NJ and is a fundraiser for public radio. Her work has recently appeared in The Night Heron Barks, Paterson Literary Review, Swwim and elsewhere. Her chapbook Sleepwalking Home was published by Dancing Girl Press. Jennifer's website is jenniferpoteet.com

Monday, April 10, 2023

Another poem about the moon By Lauren Scharhag



I watched A Trip to the Moon. They knew 

firing a bullet-shaped rocket to the moon


wouldn’t get us there. They knew there probably

wasn’t snow on the moon. They knew 


mushrooms probably didn’t grow 

in the caverns on the moon.


They knew there were probably no moon people.

Now, more than half a century since the moon’s mysteries


have been dispelled, it sits, a particularly unscenic rock,

like a dingy Nixon-era tourist attraction somewhere 


in Nebraska, covered in footprints and fading flags.

But we also know now that the moon is the result 


of a collision between Earth and some other planet,

dust of our dust, shard of our shard, and from here,


the winter moon is still bright and silver, and the 

summer moon is warm and golden, 


and still, we photograph it, and we paint it, 

and we conjure gods from it, and across 1,000 miles


you and I text each other to ask, 

Have you seen the moon tonight? 


And even when you say, No, it’s overcast here,

we can still, for a moment, walk together


with the Selenites 

through lunar snowfall.







Lauren Scharhag is the author of fourteen books, including Requiem for a Robot Dog (Cajun Mutt Press) and Languages, First and Last (Cyberwit Press). Her work has appeared in over 100 literary venues around the world. Recent honors include the Seamus Burns Creative Writing Prize, two Best of the Net nominations, and acceptance into the 2021 Antarctic Poetry Exhibition. She lives in Kansas City, MO. To learn more about her work, visit: www.laurenscharhag.blogspot.com


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...