Friday, June 30, 2023

I Grieve Like A Sunfish by Robert J. W.

I am permanently bound to
the closing seconds of
my parents’ lives.
I grieve

like a sunfish.
The grains of
sand that I

cough up every morning
elongate my
lifespan to that of

a bored rockstar instead of
a drunken housefly.
Perhaps I’ll
cherish

the music this time.




Robert J. W. is a poet and writer from Morgantown, WV that is known for his work about mental health and memory.  He has been writing poetry for 20 years now. He has frequently published collections with Alien Buddha Press (including Dusty Video Game Cartridges and Bed of Bones) as well as being featured in several of their zines and anthologies. He enjoys listening to music, meditating, reading, and hanging with friends. You can find him on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @robertjw4688 as well as Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/Robertjw4688

Thursday, June 29, 2023

Noble Savage by Tony Brewer

Bars are a bad place for a fight

sharps & blunts at every turn

as many enemies as friends

someone quick to call cops


Bars are a great place to start a fight

enough booze to drop the leash

dim details yawped above the din

pressure to push a brain to pull

another body into fists


Parking lots

the outside stepped into

dirty puddles

the only thing

quivering

at my feet






Tony Brewer is a poet and audio artist from Bloomington, Indiana. He co-produces the Writers Guild Spoken Word Series and the Urban Deer Performance Series. His books include Hot Type Cold Read, Pity for Sale, and Fragile Batteries. More at linktr.ee/TonyBrewer


Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Tricks are for kids by Mike Zone

Turning tricks
that’s what you do
every day
9-5
in an office
stacking merchandise in a store on a humid afternoon
sucking cock for crack in the backseat of a john’s car
flipping burgers
fixing cars
assembling doodads in factory daze
cleaning up squalid shit in…
well
you get
the picture
contemplate this
every morning
breaking fast
eating
your star-spangled cereal
pour vodka in it
instead of milk
breakfast of champions
‘cause
you’ll never be one




Mike Zone is the Editor in Chief of Dumpster Fire Press, the author of Fuck You: A Fucking Poetry Chap, Shedding Dark Places (almost), One Hell of a Muse , as well as coauthor of The Grind. A frequent contributor to Alien Buddha Press and Mad Swirl. His work has been featured in: Horror Sleaze Trash, Better Than Starbucks, Piker Press, Punk Noir Magazine, Synchronized Chaos, Outlaw Poetry and Cult Culture magazine.

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Advice Tweets to a Young Poet by Curtis Blazemore

JONES IT

You may bake a cake, but Edie will eat it. Robo Love is so over. But peek a look at these infantile poems anyway. Random strangers had indifferent sex atop most of them.


LAY OFF

No one here is into your hostile bullshit. Sure, you’ve got a gun and a strong urge to use it, but that’s all the more reason to lay off. Have a plastic cup of Kool-Aid made with our special high-fidelity juice.


STONEY LIT

The only thing worth reading. Well, half reading. One eye on the bong, one eye on the page. Your third eye up and down and all around that fine ass that keeps parading around the apartment.





Curtis Blazemore has been on the planet far too long, publishing various works in between having bad luck and making people rethink their faith in humanity. No matter. He sees sentences in the exhaled smoke and scribbles furiously. He hopes someday to be able to afford a Greyhound bus ticket to Graceland.

Monday, June 26, 2023

Slip Into the Still Silence by Connie Johnson

And what does it entail? Hired cleaning ladies
With a key to your house sift through secrets. They eavesdrop
On your rituals, all that melanated magic served over a hot
Plate of conversation. “Get to the essence,” they tell you.

You prefer silence, a poured vessel of common knowledge
It’s nightfall already &: “You ain’t never told the story straight,”
They complain. All your dogs hungry, rumbling through what
Feels like stripped bones and freshly-baked revelations. Come partake
As we sift through an armful of stars and blue-yielded avenues. 

It’s so quiet on these streets and you look so good
Head to toe, your cocked hat and nimble limbs.  This feels like
The wine talking and no telling where that could lead

I know you.
I feel like I know you.

Never question a soul tie, the thinnest of veils separating us
And if you knew how beautiful you are: (If you knew
If you knew…

You would never beg in silence again.




Connie Johnson is a Los Angeles, California-based poet whose work has appeared  or will be forthcoming in Iconoclast, Haight-Ashbury Literary Journal, Jerry Jazz Musician, Voicemail Poems, Misfit Magazine, Exit 13 and Mudfish. 

Sunday, June 25, 2023

To Solitary Drinking by Paul Smith

Getting drunk alone is like virtue
because it has its own reward
for one thing, you don’t have to put up with any other drunk
who wants to be chummy because you’re under the same table
no, it’s you and only you
and you can forget all that nonsense you thought heretofore
about how low you were
about how you lacked character
about how you betrayed what you believed in
about how you deceived your friends
after a glass or two or three or four
of Napoleon brandy or Old Style Lite
you discover you’re the only person in the world that can tolerate you
because you know exactly how you got here




Paul Smith writes poetry & fiction.  He lives in Skokie, Illinois with his wife Flavia.  Sometimes he performs poetry at an open mic in Chicago.  He believes that brevity is the soul of something he read about once, and whatever that something is or was, it should be cut in half immediately.

Saturday, June 24, 2023

Open Road By Karen Warinsky

Back then I thought

all the place had 

was the sunset

and the open road

showing the way out.


Every street in that town

already walked or driven

every watering hole frequented

money spent on beers

cups of cashew nuts

jukebox songs.


College done

degree in hand

I moved on thinking 

gold was in other hills

and that we’d

keep in touch.


Other sunsets seen

other highways driven

this other life lived

and the rearview mirror

showed the truth

but too late.






Karen Warinsky  has published in various anthologies and literary magazines including the 2019 Mizmor Anthology, Honoring Nature ( 2021)and Ms. Aligned: 4 (2023).  She is the author of Gold in Autumn (2020), Sunrise Ruby (2022), and her new collection Dining with War will come out this summer from Alien Buddha Press. She is a former finalist of the Montreal International Poetry Contest. Find her kayaking or organizing word readings for Poets at Large.  https://karenwarinskypoetry.wordpress.com.


Friday, June 23, 2023

Daze of the Week by Peter A. Witt

I never drink on Tuesdays,
that's when I brush the dangling
hair off my shaggy dog,
pull weeds in the garden,
write emails to my lost loves.

On Wednesdays I recover,
by nursing a fifth of vodka
while watching endless Seinfeld reruns,
my life is pretty much like Jerry's,
pointless, privileged, and  absurd.

On Thursdays, I dabble
in the poetic arts, finding rhyme
where none exists, ruining meter
both iambic and hexameter.

By Friday, I'm ready to socialize
with the Bukowski wannabees
at Jakes, a place where
no one can remember your
name after nine p.m.

Saturday is for laundry,
mainly dirty, sometimes ironic,
often humorless, maybe iconic,
nonetheless success is
hanging sheets in the wind
until they're dried out.

Sunday I repent, with my dog,
gusto, watching the doomsday
preachers talk of hell and
the evils of drink, after which
I mourn losing my sobriety
at sixteen to a sixpack wielding
pothead who was twice my age.

Monday is the day I trundle
into work, tell my boss she's
the reason I drink, which
she insists on discussing
over a two martini lunch,
which invariably I pay for.

So that's it, a seven day
routine, with all its trimmings,
nothing left out except the
occasional AA meetings,
and my wife yelling at me
something about remembering
to put out the trash.




Peter A. Witt is a Texas poet, avid birder/photographer, and researcher/writer of family history. He started writing poetry after 42 years as a university professor as a way of recapturing my storytelling and creative writing abilities, skills he'd lost in the stultifying world of academic writing. His work has appeared in several online poetry publications including Rye Whiskey Review, Fleas on the Dog, Open Skies Quarterly, and Active Muse.



Thursday, June 22, 2023

One Shot at a Time By Rick Christiansen

I notice the cars parked askew as I arrive.

Indication of a liquor run, not the first of the day.


They buy their booze one shot at a time.

Tiny airline bottles lined up at the Bodega.


They say they are not alcoholics.

They say—just one more.


The eight year old has eighty year old eyes.

He is aging exponentially, one shot at a time.


I teeter on the tight rope.

Balancing love against enablement.


We play a sloppy game of Jenga.

Another shot—to steady the hands.


I see in the eight year old’s eyes,

those towers will fall.


I imagine him emerging from the wreckage.

Brushing off the betrayal and disappointment.


One shot at a time.






Rick Christiansen is a former corporate executive, stand-up comedian, actor and director. His work is published or forthcoming in MacQueen’s Quinterly, Oddball Magazine, Muddy River Poetry Review, Stone Poetry Journal, The Raven’s Perch, The Rye Whiskey Review, As It Ought to Be Magazine, WINK Magazine and other journals, magazines and anthologies. He recently released “The Dead Pets Poetry Anthology” that he co-edited with Damian Ward Hey.  He teaches poetry form workshops.  He is the co-host of SpoFest and a member of The St. Louis Writers Guild.  He lives in Missouri near his eight grandchildren.

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

that bar in buffalo by John Grochalski

was across the parking lot
from my job selling wine

i went there for lunch
as much as i could afford

a burger and a few beers

and a chance to sit there
and wonder what in the hell
i was doing with my life

sometimes i drank my lunch away
with just a bag of chips

and it felt like heaven not being at that job
and i didn’t care about that job

buffalo was cheap
my rent was cheap

it was probably the last time in my life
where i didn’t have to care about anything

now i have a career
and i’m middle-aged

waiting on a pension
that the job keeps threatening
to try and take away

i agree to things that i don’t want to do
through gritted teeth

and tell myself that it’s fine
while getting drunk on the couch at home

i pass the dimly-lit bars now
and never walk inside

because they hold nothing for me
except aggravation

but that bar in buffalo
had a jukebox that played all of my songs

and the people left me alone

the burger was good
the beer was cold

and i sat there on my lunch
reading bukowski poems
like i was reading the bible

sometimes my boss came in
and glared at me while he had a sandwich and a coke

but i was on my time
and i ignored him

he couldn’t touch me in that bar

i’d order another beer
just to call his bluff

the prick never said a word to me
when we were back in the wine store

he knew buffalo was cheap
he knew the rents were cheap

and there were cheap jobs everywhere
that would hire the clueless
and spiritually confused

so i stocked wine bottles
and breathed stale beer
through my nose

thought about bukowski
suicide and death

and when i punched-out
i’d walk out into that parking lot
and think about going back to the bar

but it would be lit up in neon

and you could hear loud, young after-work voices
and the worst club music booming into the night

the place seemed
foreign and strange

like some slick aliens had taken it over

so i’d just go hone
to get drunk listening to cds

but the next day
the place would be back to normal

silent and dull
waiting for me to come over
at noon

to sit with my beer
and my thoughts

sometimes pretending that i was rich man

and there was nothing in this world
that i had left to do.





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.

Monday, June 19, 2023

Walk Like a Wet Dog, Smell Like Tobasco By Harry Katz

Oh my god, I’m gonna sweat through my fucking shirt. Staggering to my feet, I head for the bathroom and lean in against the sink as thunder crackles away outside. My pupils seem to have filled my eyes and I want to tell the sad man with the combover and the tremor next to me that I could love him like a brother if he needed me to, so I assume our old friend Molly has indeed arrived. 


It was supposed to be better than this. Four or so hours of fast music from your favorite band? That’s at least vaguely worth the comedown from X. A rain-out five minutes into the show, five seconds after you took the damn pill? Well that’s just tragic, now it’s a real lose-lose. 


The above is a truth I confirm as it takes me a full fifteen to start pissing, though I do take some small solace in the ever-present and seemingly forever-pained wincing of the gentleman in the stall next to my own. Various graffiti (graffita?) on the inside of the door tell me that Jesus, Muhammad, and my mom have all been here. I roll my eyes. Bullllllllshit, no way would my Orthodox Jewish mother be caught dead with either of those guys. 


 After washing my hands quite thoroughly, I again lather my palms with sticky, floral soap and reach them up under my shirt to alleviate the drug sweats that I’d been hoping the rain would’ve washed away. No such luck. The poor guy still in the stall behind me lets out a howl and stamps cowboy boots against the floor. I tug at my collar, but still I can’t suppress a smile as I walk out of the restroom. Nothing good is happening in the Richmond Taco Bell, but I seem to have it better than most. 







Harry Katz is doing his best to fit in out in the Bay Area but he’s not sure he could survive a cross-country car drive with anyone. His work has won him the Bocock/Guerard Prize and occasional parental approval. 



Saturday, June 17, 2023

Cabernet by Desiree Batiste

Watching the sun-kissed vine
give birth to the grape
Carefully selected and prepped
Squashed into paste
to attain its life’s blood
Fermented and bottled
Every year a treasured vintage
The grape’s destiny fulfilled
Let’s raise our glass
in thankfulness
to the fertile ground
for this superior harvest
which yielded a masterpiece
of unblemished Cabernet Sauvignon
The ghost of the grape
looks on, envious of its new form
knowing it is more popular now
than it was on the vine



Desiree Batiste was born in Mesa, Arizona in 1979. She currently lives in Buckeye, Arizona with her husband, Michael and her daughter Kaylee and their four cats: Sketch, Pixel, Trace and Slim Shady. Writing stories and poetry has been a lifelong passion for Desiree. She had her first poem published in a small circulation newspaper for children at age 9 1/2, which only fueled her interest in writing. She has been diagnosed with PTSD and several anxiety disorders as the result of her past experiences. She continues with therapy on these issues, but writing has always been very therapeutic for her and she hopes by sharing her poems and stories, she will help others who are in similar life circumstances.

Friday, June 16, 2023

Gozzlebeck’s By Terry Jude Miller

near the on-ramp

of I-10 in Crowley, Louisiana

we unload our band equipment

into the back of Gozzlebeck’s

not the real name of the bar

but an homage to the owner

who has an eagle-beak nose
it’s a dump—a dive—a place

in a Bukowski poem—but we

get fifty bucks a piece and free

beer—so we play this place

about once a month—get hit on

by the sixty-somethings who

know the night is a long cold

road that never ends—Gozzlebeck
tells us to watch for the hole
in the stage floor—where 
our drummer sets up

in the middle of our first set
a rat pokes his head out of the hole

and quickly disappears—we laugh

and say he’s on to something

outside as the 18-wheelers whisk 

by on the long dark road into

the night—our music seeps

into the stars above the bar’s
aluminum roof







Terry Jude Miller is a Pushcart Prize-nominated poet from Houston, Texas. The recipient of a plethora of poetry awards including the 2018 Catherine Case Lubbe Manuscript Prize, the Maxwell Prize, and the Inez Grimes Award, the Georgia Poetry Society 2018 Langston Hughes Award, a Juried Poet for the 2011 & 2012 Houston Poetry Festivals and winner of the Global Peace Poem competition of the 2012 Tyler Peace Festival, his work has been published in the Southern Poetry Anthology and in scores of other publications including anthologies of the Austin International Poetry Festival and the Rio Grande Valley International Poetry Festival, the Texas Poetry Calendar, Harbinger Asylum, Postcard Poems and Prose Magazine, Everyday Poets, the University of Houston's Bayou Review, Ancient Paths, Orbis, Stepping Stones Magazine, Furnace Review, Shine Journal, Blue Skies Poetry, Survivor's Review, Live Oak Review, Lamplighter Review, Bijou Poetry Review, Chaffey Review, Foundling Review,  Houston Literary Review, Boston Literary Magazine, the Edison Literary Review, and the Birmingham Arts Journal. Miller's books of poetry, are titled: "The Day I Killed Superman", "What If I Find Only Moonlight?", and "The Butterfly Canonical" and can be purchased at barnesandnoble.com and amazon.com.  He is a member of the Academy of American Poets, the Poetry Society of Texas, the Gulf Coast Poets Society, and Poets Northwest (Houston).  He is the creator of the Texas Poets Podcast. Terry is a retired professor of eMarketing and held an Innovation Fellowship at Kaplan University.

Thursday, June 15, 2023

party by Scott Ferry

i am somehow invited to the famous poet’s house  / at the door i air-kiss her on the cheek and say thank you and she rushes off / i instantly go into the back where i help stir the stew / i don’t really want to talk anyway / when i do interact i make cat noises and pretend to follow conversations / young poets with shiny shoes know me but don’t really make any effort / so i am stirring the stew on the porch and see people paddling down the river / smiling people on sups on crew boats with coxswains yelling directions right right don’t hit the buoy / a duo of men in wetsuit loincloths on a paddleboard / why aren’t they cold? / at some point everyone is drinking wine / the hostess says we only have one bottle of red left we have killed all the white / i miss my family but there are only adults here / i decide to not ask to bring them in for the fear of being denied / but i feel guilty / my husband and daughter walk in / where is my wife and son? / i introduce my husband to the poetess but my daughter will not make eye contact and her eyes are made of black porcelain / the poetess is dismayed / i try to find her later / she thunders down the stairs saying the child will have to leave / and scott / don’t ever bring her back here / i ask is it because my daughter hates it here / she nods / my wife and daughter leave waiting for me in the car / i am holding an empty wine glass / did i forget i don’t drink? / on my way out i notice there are more children than adults now sitting at toddler tables drinking juice boxes and drawing amoebas with red crayon / i think how unfair my daughter was told to leave / i exit silently make a cat face with my hands to the handsome man who recognizes me / go out into the flood / my family is asleep and the car is an orange boat / a storm is coming




Scott Ferry writes things. He is a RN in the Seattle area. His latest books are The Long Blade of Days Ahead and Midnight Glossolalia (with Lillian Necakov and Lauren Scharhag). More of his work can be found at ferrypoetry.com.

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Hair by Laura Stamps

She selects a postcard. A super-cute one. You know. From Hobby Lobby. Bought them last week. Really cute. These postcards. Loves that store. She does. “Dear Elaine,” she writes. “So this morning. Driving down Tucker Road. We stop at the traffic light. Me and Holly. And then, and then. An empty soda can shoots out the window. The car in front of us. That car. Out its window. Like a missal. That can. Lands in the bushes. In front of Walgreens. And then, and then. A big clump of hair. Long and curly. Brown hair. Shoots out the window. I kid you not. Lands on the sidewalk. It does. And then, and then. The light turns green. And the car drives away. What? What? I look at Holly. She looks at me. I mean. Who rips out her hair if she doesn’t like her soda? Tosses it out the window. Her hair. And the soda can. That too. Geez. Only in the city. Right? Holly looks at me. I look at her. She barks in response. Holly. She can read my mind. Did you know that? It’s true. Such a good girl. She is.”    





Laura Stamps is the author of 51 novels, novellas, short story collections, and poetry books. Most recently: “The Good Dog” (Prolific Pulse Press 2023) and “Addicted to Dog Magazines” (Impspired, 2023). Recipient of 7 Pushcart Prize nominations. Lover of feral cats, Chihuahuas, and Yorkies (crazy, I know, but there you have it). www.LauraStampsFiction.blogspot.com   

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Blood by Keith Pearson

I am well fortified with Bird Dog Whiskey. Against half my instincts I refuse the invitation of her summer blouse. In that moment I really don’t care if I live or die. We are all dancing on borrowed feet, the poet says. Even on a steaming summer night my heart knows there is nothing there but cold rain and snow.




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

Monday, June 12, 2023

PT, Session Ten By Alyssa Trivett

I lost recorded track of
the number that it was.
It is almost mid-month and I breathe
Tuesday morning air into my lungs
walking in.
It’s my weapon, to conquer this,
along with the micro prayers
that dance in my noggin.
It was hard for the receptionist
to remain straight laced/straight faced as he told me I owed an $0.01 balance
since yesterday.
I sit with a timer after the PT session.
Think good thoughts and kick my
Vans shoes like I’m waiting at stoplights since my vestibular system needs
ten minutes to reset,
he says think of it as a snow globe
just shaken up
that needs to settle down.
The comparison is brilliant.
He told me he had three kids and explained in detail their hectic schedules.
I called him softball dad.
I don’t know what his wife does for a living.
We didn’t get that far on
conversation highway as the timer rang
like a telephone on a Sunday afternoon
with company over.
I usually talk to God as the timer winds down.
He says hopefully he can discharge me soon.
I believe he is correct,
after this month and a half
of 8ams or 5pms
or 6pm appointments.





Alyssa Trivett is a wandering soul from the Midwest. When not working two jobs, she chirps down coffee while scrawling lines. Her work has appeared in many places, but most recently at Ex Ex Lit, and Duane's PoeTree 

Sunday, June 11, 2023

Poems by Ken Poyner

HALF-WAY

The man is not going to get any prettier
She early concludes
So she tries to stuff all the sex
Succinctly into the front half of the marriage.
At first, a half glass of bourbon helps.
Then half a bottle.  It does
Make him seem half-way prettier.


ORIGINAL SIN

My cousin chose to work
As a prostitute.  I don’t think
It provided a living wage.
She ended up with six

Children, a mixture of races
And likely conception stories –
Though no one rightly knows
What stories and circumstances



Apply.  The embarrassment lies
Not in the work itself, but in
The unfathomable lack of effective
Or even spotty birth control.

The children were farmed out to
Understanding relations, the cousin
Neutered.  Who knows what she does now,
But we hope it does not involve

Sequencing.


 


Ken’s four collections of brief fictions and four collections of speculative poetry can be found at most online booksellers.  He spent 33 years in information system management, is married to a world record holding female power lifter, and has a family of several cats and betta fish.  Individual works have appeared in “CafĂ© Irreal”, “Analog”, “Danse Macabre”, “The Cincinnati Review”, and several hundred other places. www.kpoyner.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...