Monday, July 31, 2023

So It’s Sayonara by Scott Simmons

Our last night together was a wild hell ride.
Full of cocktails and bad decisions. 

Perhaps there was more we should have said.
Or done together before our curtain call.

But still I don't regret a single thing.

Because you’re just another heartache of many.
But also a beautiful memory.

And that’s all I could ever ask for.

Scott Simmons is a poet, humorist, and a shitty artist from Houston Texas. He is also the editor of the Dope Fiend Daily and usually enjoys reading your submissions as little as possible.

His work has been featured in places such as The Rye Whiskey Review, Fearless, HST, Daune's Poetree, It Takes All Kinds, Off The Coast Magazine, The Black Shamrock, The Anti-Heroin chic, and Under The Bleachers

Friday, July 28, 2023

Cuernavaca Nights by J. B. Hogan

In ebbing light of dusk, 
across from the little city park,
large Tongolele mugs of beer in hand,
they packed the Bar Universal to savor the 
decline of day in this city of
eternal spring, eternal hope.
Young women selling pulseras,
cheap bracelets, pass through smiling,
smiles far more dazzling than their wares.
At nightfall, the crowd drifts away,
diminishes, rearranges into small groups
at this café, to that new watering hole,
moving slowly through the dark,
humidly throbbing heart of the town.
In a new bar, buckets of ice-chilled 
Coronitas at hand, new friends, 
old teachers, drink and laugh,
cultures new and old melding 
into one, merging for the moment
in the dark, pulsing heart of this
land beneath the volcano.

J. B. Hogan has published over 300 stories and poems and eleven books, including Bar Harbor, Bounty Riders, Time and Time Again, Mexican Skies, Tin Hollow, Living Behind Time, Losing Cotton, The Rubicon, Fallen, The Apostate, and Angels in the Ozarks (nonfiction, local professional baseball history). He lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Club Le Pep by Stephen House

Club Le Pep is at is darkest 
its maddest
the meanest 

as one would expect it to be 
just before dawn
when the worry 
of those that seek 
is at its most agonizing 

eyes scan the room
i throw back a drink  
close off my mind 
and dance 

here in a club in Paris 
i dance 

with stranger’s eyes 
and solitary souls
a ghoul in a corner 
and a crying friend 

are you a friend
that friend of the friend from just before 
didn’t i meet you here another time 
another life 
don’t laugh at me
are you just another part 
of some funny game we play 

i dance with him and her 
and they and them 

i dance with nothing 
and all for more 
in Club Le Pep 
i dance for dance 

even when no one else does
i dance 

and i have spent 
a thousand lost nights 
in the Le Peps of cities 
in the universe 
of the lonely lost
like we are here
locked together 
by fear and hope 

the friend stops crying
and saunters 
on his floodlit stage 
to a pack of others
not unlike himself 

and i decide 
to stay at the bar
not descend 
into that place below 
of tarnished joy 
where he and the rest
will soon go

there is no time in Le Pep
no night or day
no rules in wonder world
no restrictions or limitations
no dream impossible
the life of night is not all forlorn

i watch them shuffling
towards the stairs falling
fast and dark below

smile at some spinning hero 
who i think i loved  
once before
or maybe not

throw back another drink
close off my mind
and dance

here in a club in Paris
i dance

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’ ran in Spain for 4 years.

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Should I Watch? by Brannon O'Brennan

Noon vodka disguised with ice, the camouflage of alcoholic civilization. 
We just funeraled his mother, he deserves some slack. 
He’s explained for me going back to Reagan. 
I was his peer before I retired. 
Do I say something if I see something? What if I write it down? 

Much later, when mourning has no practical application, entire plans are forgotten. 
Made and then
distilled in 
4 PM 
The chorus laughs so then I can laugh. His wife is in the chorus so then I can laugh. 
All can be forgotten, even if never remembered. 

Don’t Make Plans After 8 PM becomes Don’t Make Plans After 4 PM. 
Don’t say it, but don’t forget it. 
Not him. Me. 
I’m not just watching. 

I am a writer from Washington, DC. Two of my pieces have been published in the literary journal Within and Without Magazine, and three more will be published shortly in the White Cresset Arts Journal and Periwinkle Pelican Lit.  I previously published through George Washington University: WHY AN INTELLIGENT MAN MADE UNINTELLIGENT DECISIONS: THE COGNITIVE FACTORS BEHIND ROBERT MCNAMARA'S DECISION TO ADVISE IN FAVOR OF ESCALATION OF THE VIETNAM WAR, JANUARY - JULY, 1965.  I am currently seeking literary representation for my upmarket crime fiction novel THROUGHLINE, a novel about a dysfunctional family of outlaws and the effects of trauma across generations.

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Archie Bunker opines about Pellegrino Water by Doug Holder

 This ain't your meathead Poland Spring
this is what comes from what you call
Virgin Springs.--
hey—nobody gets laid there
their happy just drinking water
may Jesus strike me dead!
It's like seltzer
but it is not made by the Hebes --
like a sucker punch
no bitch slap
of dem bubbles
here there are 
no troubles...
She is long and green
a regular queen
you know
what I mean?

 Doug Holder is the co-president of the New England Poetry Club founded by Robert Frost and others in 1915. He is also the founder of the Ibbetson Street Press of Somerville, MA. He teaches creative writing at Endicott College in Beverly, MA.

Monday, July 24, 2023

Just a Peach Schnapps Kiss by Nick Gerrard

-You need to move to Brno my friend. 
This was a psychiatrist in Vyskov who I was seeing because of my alcohol problems. Basically, I was drinking my face off. What else was there to do here? A soldier’s town with a few bars and two shit discos with bad strippers. I had come here from Birmingham via Lisbon where, after two years of hedonism, I had cried out for help from someone to set me up somewhere else. So, I ended up here working and living in an agricultural school. My room was next to my classroom, and sometimes the students had to come in and wade through the bottles and books and pizza boxes to wake me up to teach them.
-Really, you think that might help?
-If you stay here you may die!
Fair enough, I’ll move then. So I did. 
Someone lent me a flat but I wasn’t allowed to use it. I had no electric or gas or furniture, so it was just a place to crash. My drinking didn’t stop; I found the worst bars and took my lunch of cheap soup and cheap beer amongst the alcos in the train station bar. I got some work, so started to go to better bars like The Hobbit and The Two Goats, where there were cool young people, so I behaved myself more and tried to get to know people; well, women to be honest. 
The guy who owned the flat gave me two weeks to get out after I set my mattress on fire after a bender. I had fallen asleep with a fag in my mouth but thought I had put it out and put it smouldering onto the balcony and went back to my drunken slumber. I got woke up again by the fire brigade banging on the door and rubbed my eyes to see the bed blazing away on the balcony. So, I had to get out.
It wasn’t easy to find flats back in 95, I asked around and got a job in a language school and put an advert up…Room wanted! I got no replies. And I asked every class I had if anyone had a room to rent. I got no interested faces. 
One day a colleague was sick so I had to cover for him. At the front of the class was this interesting-looking woman; huge rolled-up jumper and flared trousers and mad jewellery, and short hair. She stood out amongst the mini-skirted high healed, big bouffant hair brigade. 
So, I spent the lesson trying to engage a lot with her, but she just flipped me off with ‘yes’ and ‘no’ answers, so I gave up. During the lesson I did my usual pitch about needing a room, after the class the girl approached me.
-I have a room you can rent.
-Really? That’s great.
-I share a panelak with three guys, we are all croupiers, so we are not there much, but you could rent the living room.
-Ok, that sounds fine.
-Just one thing, you’ll have to share the room with Kevin.
-Who’s Kevin?
-Kevin’s our rat.
-Is he a friendly rat?
-Yeah very friendly, but we don’t keep him in a cage, I mean when I say share, you really will be sharing.
-Well, I’ve shared rooms with worse people than rats, I’ll take it.
-Here’s the address you can move in today, here’s a key, I’ll be home about nine, after my shift.
So, I moved my stuff in and made some food and waited for the strangers who I would be living with. The three guys arrived about seven. All cool guys, into good music, though too much metal for my liking, and sports and drinking. We got to know each other over shots of Slivovice and some beers. 
Dasa arrived at nine with a bottle of peach Schnapps. We retreated to my room, the living room and Kevin’s place of residence. We had a good chat, though her English wasn’t that good as she spent a lot of time in the pub with a gang of suitors who followed her around all the time, I was to find out. With the bottle nearly empty she leaned in and whispered…
-Would you mind if I kissed you?
-Not at all.
We kissed, not too deeply, but it was a good kiss.
And that was it; we went to bed, separately. 
The next day at school I told the guy who I had substituted for that the move seemed great! I got drunk and a kiss from my landlady.
After some classes Dasa and her gang of guys approached me.
-Don’t ever talk about what I do out of school understand?
-Yeah sure, sorry about that. 
She went off in a huff. The teacher had mentioned the kissing and drinking in his class and she was well pissed off. I went home and she was aloof and abrupt with me. I thought that this was a big mistake and was going to be a nightmare place to live in; what with this stuck-up housemate.
She continued to be aloof and snobbish, and I started to really detest her and dreaded going home to be in the same flat as her. The guys were Ok though, and we went to pubs, and to see Boby Brno play. 
Things changed after a few weeks when I lost my job because I wasn’t turning up for work because of hangovers. Dasa then shaved her head and consequently lost her job too. 
Here we both were, jobless, skint and stuck in the same house as each other; nightmare!
-I am going to a new art exhibition if you want to come?
-Sure, why not.
And actually, we had a good time; we went for a coffee after and chatted and got on OK, not best buddies but OK.
In the next few weeks, we went to loads of different places; hidden gardens, museums and our favourite art house cinemas. In Lisen amongst the rows of panelaks was a shopping centre and in the middle of it was a cinema restaurant. This was a great place to see a film. The tables had comfy sofas and chairs and all raised a little higher so everyone got a good view. They bought steaks and wine to our table as we watched Frankenstein and Natural Born Killers.
Over those weeks we began to get to know each other better and started to like each other more. I had thought she was a stuck-up snob, and she thought me an arrogant over-confident dick. But spending time together we changed our views, I saw she was an intelligent, funny and caring woman, and I think she thought the same as me. After one night out we ended up in bed together and from there our relationship blossomed. We spent loads of time together and eventually, we both got new jobs. And I used to watch her walk to work or come back from work through the window and I adored watching her walking in that red coat. Gradually, over time, we fell in love with each other, and we became a couple. 
Our usual route after town was the number two tram to Zidenice then a trolley bus up the hill to the rabbit hutches of Vinohrady. In the shopping area, there was a bar that stayed open all night. It wasn’t a cosy bar; a lot of metal and Formica, and terrible music played on a tinny tape player. So, not that pleasant but always good for a couple before bed.  
One night we arrived late or early according to the clock and went in for one; it was never one. This night the place was empty apart from two guys at the bar. One was really short and the other a big bear of a man. We stood at the bar to drink and started chatting. Turned out it was the grizzle’s birthday. So, the drinks flowed as we celebrated with them. The midget guy spoke English so I stood chatting with him while Dasa was left with the drunken ramblings of the bear. She was sat on a stool and he leaned in more and more as he got more and more drunk. I asked him politely to stop getting in her face so much but with little effect. In the end, I got pissed off and warned the midget that if his brother didn’t stop bothering Dasa then I would smack him one. But, this guy kept leaning in and leaning in. 
-Look, man! I won’t ask him again. Tell him to back the fuck off or there’s going to be trouble.
-It’s cool man, calm down, I’ll tell him; he will be fine. 
After another five minutes, he wasn’t fine at all, in fact worse. I got off my stool walked behind him and tapped his shoulder and as he turned I smacked him one, a right beauty, right under his nose.
He fell to the floor. Suddenly, the dwarf was on my back, punching anywhere he could. I rolled over and over with this guy on my back and we smashed a couple of tables flat as we rolled. Next, the bear got up and dived in. Now, I had two of them punching and rolling and flattening every table in the place. 
Meanwhile, the waitress had called the cops and they arrived and pulled us all apart. The waitress then explained that it was all mine and Dasa’s fault for the whole thing; the place was a wreck.
So, me and Dasa got handcuffed and thrown into the back of a meat wagon. 
At the cop shop, we were searched and had our shoes taken away and thrown into a cell. At least they let us smoke, and we sat there still drunk contemplating what would happen. Dasa was worried; me not so much, it wasn’t my first cell visit.
After a while, we were led into an interview room with a guy behind a typewriter at a desk. He was wobbling a bit and had clearly been drinking; shots of Slivovice behind his locker door no doubt.
-So, you started the fight in the bar.
-Wait a minute!
The guy rolled off statement after statement where we were said to be the sole perpetrators of the fight.
 -Sign here! 
-No way, I am English and I don’t understand anything and demand a translator.
Dasa translated for me. She spoke firmly and it seemed to have the right effect. Things got serious all of a sudden and we were put back into our cell. We were there for some hours until we were taken again to an office and had a guy read the statement to me in English. We refused to sign it and we dictated our own statement denying everything.
After a couple of more hours in the cells, we were given a load of paperwork and our shoes and let go. 
It was almost midday. And we now had hangovers and had not slept. What to do? We went to the nearest bar for a beer and to think things over. For some reason, I really fancied some Chinese, so we hopped a few trams to our favourite restaurant that was just opening. It was Dasa’s first time drinking in the morning and she went with the flow. We drank a few bottles and wolfed down some food and started to feel better. Her initial shock and fear started to disappear a little. We took a tram and had some drinks at the terminus, took the trolley bus up the hill, fucked quickly, and at last went to sleep. 
 A couple of days later the Midget and the Gorilla appeared with a cop at the door, their brother-in-law. They gave us a warning that things could get very difficult for us, but with some cash paid, it could all go away.
They came a couple of more times and the guys in the flat said I needed to pay these guys or I might have to go to court or even get done over by the cops; or even, both!
I looked at my options; part with cash was not an option, and hope for fair justice was not on offer either. 
-I think I should get the hell out of here.
The guys agreed; with me, out of the way Dasa wouldn’t get into any trouble.
In the Two Goats, I told Dasa.
-It’s our only option.
-I’ll come with you
-You’ll come to England with me? To live? That would be great. I mean you’ll have to give me some time to get set up, you know, somewhere to live, a job and that. 
-Nick, I know you by now. It’s not going to be easy but it’s definitely going to be interesting.
A week later I packed my bag and took a rickety old bus to London. 
After a few months, I was set up with a job in Cambridge and a room in a shared house, so Dasa packed her bag and got the same rickety bus and we hugged each other deeply in Victoria coach station before taking the train to Cambridge and beyond.

Nick writes Gritty realism or social realism or as he likes to say 'Working-class kitchen sink drama! ‘ His short stories, flash, poetry and essays have appeared in various magazines and books in print and online. Nick has five books published available on Amazon and elsewhere. His short novel out last year, Punk Novelette is all about a group of friends growing up with punk in the 70s in the UK and the effect the movement had on their lives. His latest short story collection is Called Struggle and Strife; fifteen short stories covering the political and personal struggles of today, yesterday, and the future. Stories of casual workers, holocaust survivors, refugees, slum dwellers, and trade unionists. Tales of protests and fight-backs against oppression, and the daily battles of ordinary people.

Sunday, July 23, 2023

Special Occasion by Todd Cirillo

My birthday has arrived again,
cards and packages
received in the mail,
calls and texts
from close and far,
social media messages
from friends and people 
I don’t know and will never meet.
There will be no cake
because I don’t like cake,
but there will be something
with a candle in it
because I like candles
but cannot even stand 
to watch those go out anymore.
I prefer long days to the long nights
that send another day into the past.
I don’t like to see the end of anything.
Perhaps, I’ve reached that point
where calendars are the enemy
and I purposefully do not wear a watch.

Today, everyone wants to know 
which once-a-year something 
I will do, just because,
“It’s your birthday today!”
“It is your special day!”
The one day you get a fancy expensive dinner, 
cheat on your diet with decadent dessert,
do absolutely no chores,
maybe co-workers put up a banner in the break room,
or your partner puts on a sexy outfit,
one that slips off easily,
maybe gives you a teasing dance,
and if a candle wish comes true,
a birthday blowjob or birthday sex.

I do not need those extras today.

For the first time 
in a long time
I am not waking up alone
on this birthday morning
and that is a gift.
So, in looking to the day ahead,
I’ll choose to take it easy,
move like the Mississippi River,
go where the currents take me,
get some Vietnamese food,
do the dishes,
float in the pool,
go down to the French Quarter,
find live music just right for the moment,
order my same drinks
and, I suppose
if some extras were offered
I will accept
it is,
after all,

Todd Cirillo was born of bastard lineage. He has many books and misdemeanors. His books include; Sucker’s Paradise, Burning the Evidence, ROXY, Three For the Road etc. His latest book is, Kisses From A Straight Razor (Epic Rites Press, 2020). Todd is co-founder and editor of Six Ft. Swells Press. His poems have appeared in numerous national and international literary journals, magazines and on cocktail napkins everywhere. Todd lives in New Orleans, Louisiana where he seeks out shiny moments and strange wisdom. He can be found at

Saturday, July 22, 2023

Hi by Wayne F. Burke

A woman in the
grocery store says
"Hi!" And I say
"hi," and she gives
me a funny look, and
I realize she is
speaking to the clerk 
behind the counter:
"I thought you were
talking to me," I say
but she doesn't reply:
too busy talking to the 
guy behind the counter.
I buy a copy of the
useless local newspaper
and walk out to sidewalks
that do not recognize me

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).

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Liar, Liar by Laura Stamps

You know how it is. Everyone’s 
always telling you. That you 
need to expand your universe. 
You know. That it’s a good thing. 
To get out there. To meet new 
people. Widen your circle of 
friends. Experience what life 
has to offer. All of it. All. 
Whatever. So I did. I made 
new friends. I expanded my 
universe. My small life. I went 
places. I did things. New things. 
With new people. And you 
know what? It’s exhausting! 
It is. And stressful. That too. 
But I learned. My small life. 
My few friends. My little 
Chihuahua (such a good girl!) 
My job. My marriage. It’s 
enough. That’s what I learned. 
And those people. The ones 
who say bigger lives are 
better? Yeah. Those people. 
Liars. That’s what they are. 
I mean. My days are already 
full. Too full. Why did I listen 
to them? Why? Those people. 
The experts. Geez. What was 
I thinking? What? Tell me. 
Does anyone know? I don’t.

 Laura Stamps is the author of over 50 novels and poetry collections. Most recently: “The Good Dog” (Prolific Pulse Press 2023) and “Addicted to Dog Magazines” (Impspired, 2023). Recipient of a Pulitzer Prize nomination and 7 Pushcart Prize nominations. Lover of feral cats, Chihuahuas, and Yorkies.   

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Forget It by Phil Huffy

A truck with a load Chablis

overturned and the shipment broke free.

A wine snob came ‘round,

saw a case on the ground 

and said, “Leave it, it’s 2003”

Phil Huffy writes all sorts of poetry, often at his kitchen table. His work has appeared in dozens of journals. Some of it is funny.

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

The City Where I Live by Ian Lewis Copestick

The city where I live
is in the worst, most
deprived 20 % of the

I've just read
that it's now known
as the ' monkey dust '
capital of the U.K.

If you haven't heard
of monkey dust.

Don't worry, I don't
know what it is either.

The city where I live
used to be one of the
most prosperous in
the whole country.

We were known as
the potteries for a

Doulton, Wedgwood.

We were the world

Well, the world
leaders in making
fancy pottery.

One of my first jobs
was in  ' pot bank '
As we called them.

In a factory churning
out plates, teapots,
teacups, saucers,

Now, they've all
closed down.

They outsourced the
work to Malaysia.

I've got nothing
against anyone
from Malaysia,
or anywhere.

It's just a shame,
that's all. 

Ian Lewis Copestick is a 49 year old writer (I prefer that term to poet ) from Stoke on Trent, England. I spend most of my life sitting,  thinking then sometimes writing. I have been published in Anti Heroin Chic, the Dope Fiend Daily, Outlaw Poetry, Synchronized Chaos, the Rye Whiskey Review, Medusa's Kitchen and Horror Sleaze Trash.

Monday, July 17, 2023

This Language May Be Offensive to Your Reader by Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozábal

My computer program seems to know best when I write a poem and choose words such as bullshit. It brings my vocabulary into question. It tells me that this language I am using may be offensive to my reader. I find that offensive if I take this suggestion literal. Do I have just one reader? Should I have said manure, cow dung, or lies instead of bullshit. As for any edits, the computer program wrote, No suggestions available. Fuck it, I am going to keep bullshit in the poem. In fact this poem is much better than the bullshit poem or funnier at least. Don’t get me started with Siri, who is such a prude.

Born in Mexico, Luis lives in California and works in the mental health field in Los Ángeles. His poems have appeared in Ariel Chart, Fearless, Mad Swirl, The Rye Whiskey Review, and Unlikely Stories.

Sunday, July 16, 2023

One More Saturday Night on the eve of my birthday By Jake St. John

The clock ticks 
towards dawn
like the heels 
of the warden
off the cold floor
of death row

it'll drive some
right over
the edge
but at this age 
it's all just noise
and I turn on the radio
to avoid the inevitable 

I'm not flying 
any white flags 
as the hours
pass like
exit signs
into the night
I'll carry on
and see this 
to the end


Jake St. John lives in the woods on the edge of the Salmon River. He is the author of several collections of poetry including Ring of Fog (Holy and Intoxicated Publications, 2022), Night Full of Diamonds (Whiskey City Press, 2021), and Lost City Highway (A Jabber Publication, 2019). He is the editor of Elephant and is considered an original member of the New London School of poetry. His poems have appeared in print and online journals around the world

Friday, July 14, 2023

Serve Them Straight Rye Whiskey or Saving Dollars Through Subterfuge By GC Smith

Been around for awhile
that good rye whiskey
canal diggers swilled it
steel workers slaked thirsts

Been around for a while
Farmers hid it in hayracks
City boys hid it in closets
Wives found it and sipped

Been around for a while
Union soldiers took it afield
Johnny Reb eschewed it
The Yankees had it right

Been around for a while
Pennsylvania straight rye whiskey
served to us at eighty-six proof
more recently a whoppin’ hundred

Old Overholt’s been around a while
serve small shots to cheapskates
the crisp strong rye whiskey taste
hides the amount, seems like it’s lots

GC Smith is an award winning ( 1.Writer's Digest and 2,University of Maine --The Binnacle) writer.  He writes novels, short stories, flash fiction, and poetry.

Smith's short story and poetic work can be found in many publications: Gator Springs Gazette, F F Magazine, Iguanaland, Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Naked Humorists, The GLUT, Flask Fiction Magazine, N.O.L.A. Spleen, NFG Magazine, Cellar Door, The Beat, Dispatches Magazine, Beaufort Gazette, Coyote's Den, Lamoille Lamentations, Quiction, The Landing, The Haunted Poet, Flavor a Deux, The Binnacle (University of Maine), Stymie Magazine, Bannock Street Books, Fried Chicken and Coffee, Write to Meow --Grey Wolfe, Publishing, Fiction Southeast and elsewhere. 

Smith has six self published novels written while honing craft, WHITE LIGHTNING --Murder In the World of Stock Car Racing, THE CARBON STEEL CARESS; A Johnny Donal P.I. novel, IN GOOD FAITH; A Johnny Donal P.I. Novel, MUDBUG TALES, A Novel In Flashes, wit' recipes, TO LIVE AND DIE IN DIXIE (a sequel to WHITE LIGHTNING), and THE CATS; AN Unauthorized Biography. Smith also has: A SOUTHERN BOY'S MEANDERINGS, a poetry chapbook, ANTHRACITE COAL COUNTRY, A Bygone Era In Poetry and Prose, COLLECTED POETRY, in three volumes, and REDNECKS AND HARDCASES, a book of short stories.

Smith lives in Aiken, South Carolina, where he writes, reads, plays golf, builds furniture and other stuff, and works on boat and automobile motors and other parts. He also cooks yummy things, often with a redneck or Cajun flair.

After you've gone: Horses, Beer, Cigarettes by Trish Saunders

She calls across the pasture. 
Over here, I answer. 
Grasses shrink 
from her big yellow teeth 
as she approaches—
weeds don’t know
a mare’s gentleness. 
And I still miss you. 
Clouds pause.
Wildflowers hurtle
seeds into cracks
beneath the interstate,
open into 
that catch fire 
in the sunset. 
And I still miss you.
Ancient forests are burning.
Smoke dissipates, like exhaust
from an old bus, 
like the Rainier beer we poured over cemetery grass,
killing it. And I still miss you. 
The rain will return,
it always does. The wind
will have business elsewhere—
trees to terrorize, 
crows’ feathers to blow across a river. 
And I still miss you. 

Trish Saunders lives in Seattle, works as a freelance editor, and has published poems in numerous publications. 

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

A Battle With Butter by Kevin M. Hibshman

It was an outdoor gathering.
Family and friends in the Summer backyard heat.
Hamburgers and hot dogs.
All the classic picnic items I believe were present.
I was probably fourteen or fifteen.
I was something of a clown with the budding desire to entertain.
I liked to get laughs and most often, could.
We were all chomping on corn on the cob.
I put a pat of butter on my knife. aiming like I was going to shoot it off at my neighbor girl.
She jeered me on, knowing I wouldn't actually fire it at her.
Suddenly, I felt a stinging sensation in my left eye and that eye went blurry.
It took an embarrassingly long moment for me to realize that I had unintentionally lobbed the aforementioned chunk of butter into MY OWN EYE.
Son of a bitch, it stung.
I jumped up and ran into the house amid confused laughter I did not willingly solicit.
Upstairs in the bathroom, I doused my greasy eye with cold water.
It was a mess.
It was a few days before the redness and irritation began to subside.
I wondered if I would ever see out of my left eye again.

Kevin M. Hibshman has had poems published in many journals and magazines world wide.In addition, he has edited his poetry zine, Fearless, since 1990 and is the author of sixteen chapbooks including Love Sex Death Dreams (Green Bean Press, 2000) and Incessant Shining (Alternating Current, 2011).

His current book Cease To Destroy from Whiskey City Press is currently available on Amazon. 

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Lucky Penny by Cheryl Snell

He pulled his pockets inside out and spilled his change across the bureau. “Take a coin,” he said. His little girl looked over the small mound of silver, and then at his empty pockets. They reminded her of a puppy’s ears somehow. She picked up the only copper penny in the pile. It glinted brightly, perhaps knowing it was less valuable, so grateful to be chosen. “That’s a lucky penny,” her father said.” Keep it close and your luck won’t run out.”
She did as he said, and every so often he’d check, asking, “Where is it, then?” and she’d pull the coin out of her pocket or the cuff of her sleeve, and once even from her shoe. He chuckled at that. “There are more secure places to keep it.” He hadn’t noticed that penny loafers were popular that year, but then again, why would he? After all, she never noticed the trail of clues to the double life he’d been leading.
After he left home for his girlfriend with the brand new baby, it was the penny that comforted her. She still believed it was lucky, and thought, maybe if she stroked it like her mother’s bottle of gin, its good luck would again rub off on her. “Wishful thinking,” her red-eyed mother sniffed, shuffling her feet in her husband’s abandoned leather slippers. She pinched the coin between her fingers, then turned it over in her palm. “My brothers used to go pennying with coins like these.”

“What’s that? A game?”                                                                                                                                        

“Lining train tracks with a bunch of them and letting the train flatten them.” 

The image of a train derailed by spare change rose in the girl’s mind. “Why did they do that?” 
She held out her hand for the coin. 

Her mother tucked it in her bra instead. “A flattened penny becomes a good luck charm. I had one when I was young. I carried it around with me for years. And then, one time, a cop stopped me for speeding. I couldn’t afford a DUI ticket, so I slid my penny from my pocket to my mouth, and sucked it.”


“A friend told me that you can fool a breathalyzer by sucking pennies.”  

“Oh really,” the daughter sneered. She knew more about such things than her mother thought she did. 

The mother shrugged her shoulders. “Apparently copper alters the alcohol reading. Or it used to before all the machines got so smart.”

“So did it work out for you?” The daughter suddenly wanted to believe in something.

“No. The officer just laughed and said, ‘Penny for your thoughts?’ Maybe that’s when my luck began to run out.” 

If the mother had not already taken her lucky penny, the daughter would have given it to her just then. Her mother needed it more than she did, she could see that now. The daughter had time. She would make her own luck, bring it home like great tubs of pennies, solid and gleaming; set it at her mother’s feet, drink a toast, and let all the good luck in the world rub off on her. 

Cheryl Snell writes poetry and fiction of all sizes. Her books include Bombay Trilogy and Geometries.Visit
 for more of her work.

Monday, July 10, 2023

stealing kisses with your imagination by J.J. Campbell

the fading noise from a wind 
chime in a passing cool breeze

these are the nights you swear 
you can see the moon starting 
to sweat

time bleeds through each of the pages

all comedy comes from tragedy

stealing kisses with your imagination
yet again

a stunning blonde stops you dead 
in your tracks

the words get trampled by a rush 
of blood to the only working brain

sure, you notice the wedding ring 
but you are too old now to give any 
shits about morals or standards

it’s an old guitar and a bottle 
of bourbon

string the right chords together 
and the demons will come out 
to play

every blue moon

you can still see a little reckless 
abandon not wasted on someone 

J.J. Campbell was raised by wolves yet managed to graduate high school with honors. He's been widely published over the years, most recently at Misfit Magazine, just good poems, Synchronized Chaos, The Beatnik Cowboy and Horror Sleaze Trash. You can find him most days on his mildly entertaining blog, evil delights. (

Sunday, July 9, 2023

Leaving Kansas with Jimi by Ken Gierke

No crosstown traffic here.
We’re talking cross country.
Yellow fields on the left,
yellow fields on the right,
a foot tall and waiting for a chance
to be in your next wheat beer.

Driving into the morning sun,
you thought you were leaving
gray skies behind, but when you see
that straight and narrow ribbon of a road
disappear at the crest of a hill
four miles ahead framed by black sky
punctuated by jagged bolts of lightning
you know there won’t be any magic
carpet in this electric lady land.

The rain starts slow and lazy at first
as Jimi’s guitar dances with a sax,
but five minutes later, you drive into
a rainy day that may as well be
a long hot summer night and wish
it was all a daydream. Rain lashes
your windshield, and thirty feet
is the farthest you can see,
so you slow to thirty and hope
you’re still pointed straight ahead.

But then, as if tonight’s full moon
was turning the tides gently away,
you burst through the last of it
to find a patch of blue sky
as you head out of Kansas,
thankful to have that behind you
and looking forward to that beer.

Ken Gierke is a retired truck driver, transplanted to mid-Missouri from Western New York. His poetry has been published or is forthcoming both in print and online in such places as Ekphrastic Review, Amethyst Review, Silver Birch Press, The Gasconade Review and River Dog Zine. Glass Awash, published by Spartan Press, is his first collection of poetry. His website:

Saturday, July 8, 2023

Erasing Away the Pain by Ann Christine Tabaka

The whiteness of morning fog invades daylight
hours / drifting into noon. A fragile veil of dreams
surrounding all. White / like the petals of a Cala lily 
falling gently from dawn. No sun to burn off haze as 
droplets hover / thickening air. Breathing in dense 
clouds / daylight is suspended. Walking through a 
dreamy mist / reality dissolves / emotions unfold
The softness of fur / caresses pale moist skin. Time 
collapses inward / taking all sense of being with it.
There will be a time / when all life fades / and 
vanishes / devoured by the sun. And today will 
be but a memory / painted on an ebony sky.

Ann Christine Tabaka was nominated for the 2017 Pushcart Prize in Poetry; nominated for the 2023 Dwarf Stars award of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association; 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 16 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: The Phoenix; Eclipse Lit, Carolina Muse, Sand Hills Literary Magazine, Ephemeral Literary Review, The Elevation Review, The Closed Eye Open, North Dakota Quarterly, Tangled Locks Journal, Wild Roof Journal, The American Writers Review, Black Moon Magazine, Pacific Review, The Silver Blade, Pomona Valley Review, West Texas Literary Review. *(a complete list of publications is available upon request)

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...