Friday, September 29, 2023

HELLO, FOUR AM by M.J. Arcangelini

Wish I could say it was good to see you again,
we used to meet when I’d start in the late evenings,
falling into spontaneous binges, running from the daylight
with various versions of the same parasitic friend
sucking up as much of my whisky and coke as they could get,
unless I was that parasite, leeching off of someone else,
both of us careless of the time,
convinced the night would go on forever
and our young bodies keep up with it 
shot for shot,
hit for hit,
line for line,
laughing about nothing, like the fools we admired,
composing our cantos and novels with ephemeral words
destined to be absorbed by the cigarette smoke air,
then you would show up, Four AM,
the official mortician for the day,
when the booze ran out and
the words stopped coming,
when the last line had been snorted long before,
when no one had noticed that the woodstove had gone cold
before they collapsed onto the nearest couch or unraveling rag rug,
trying to push the cold morning off to some other day, when
a mountain of such mornings had already accumulated, their 
insistent hands thrusting out to be paid.

Now, sober and older than I ever thought I’d get,
we collide at the late end of the night, the darkest point,
when sleep has retreated,
as evasive as a deadbeat dad,
as annoyingly persistent as a pandemic sniffle,
and the words, gathered during these times of 
unsatisfying slumber, come on like that desperate
trick at closing time who will say anything to get laid,
I’ve been that trick myself from time to time and,
these days, I’ll still take what I can get from the night,
while thanking the morning for showing up one more time
before it all goes to shit.



M.J.  Arcangelini, born in Pennsylvania in 1952, has resided in northern California since 1979. He has published in little magazines, online journals, & over a dozen anthologies.  He is the author of 6 published collections, the most recent of which is PAWNING MY SINS, 2022 (Luchador Press).

 

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Tonight is a Poem by Karen Warinsky

Because we’re here
feeling good
safe for the moment
money in our pockets
beer on the table
breathing in
breathing out
smiling in your eyes
hugging when I can
brushing up to let you know
the caring is killing me
and there’s nothing I can do
except feel all this
love
desire this 
friendship
hope it stays intact.
Forget tomorrow
her suitcase of problems
and her trippy drippy doubts
because
tonight
is a poem
and I want it
to write all over me.




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.

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Looking into a whiskey glass full of ice under bar room lights by John C. Mannone

The color of sadness is often cold
blue even under the moon glow

of bulbous bar lights. I see her smile
in amber shards, warming, but not

melting the ice forming around my
heart. Each cube refracts the light

of my thoughts every which way
in the whiskey yellow, even after

the last shimmering, the slamming
glass on the counter, the remains

of un-dissolved ghosts haunting
the bitter dregs. Poltergeists dance

in ethereal light. The pallor of my
sheet-white face reflects in the wet

cold cracked mirrors, all broken
by the heavy weight, by the gravity
of depression

while the calculus of reason jostles
toward a singularity, an inescapable

pit of darkness that even a whisper
of bar room light cannot escape.








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

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

Monday, September 25, 2023

my shirt by Stephen House

 

the guy standing next to me

in the front bar of the pub

is wearing my shirt


it’s actually not mine now

but until a week ago it was

and then i gave it back to the op shop


the same op shop where i bought it

wore it a few times 

and found the neck scratched 


i was cleaning up my stuff

trying to de-clutter the house a bit

in case i drop dead soon


not wanting my son

to have to clean up  

too much crap i’ve held on to


‘nice shirt’ i say with a grin to the guy

deciding to play a game

and he smiles and says ‘thanks mate’


and then i add

‘but the neck is fucking prickly

so i took it back’


and i point in the direction 

of the opportunity shop down the road

and he laughs and pulls at the neck


‘yes the neck is so fucked’ he says 

and then looks at my black t shirt

with a green pattern on it


i point towards the op shop and nod yep

and he laughs and asks me

when i’m taking the t shirt back there


as he wouldn’t mind buying it

and then he invites me to join him 

at a table outside with my beer


and we go outside and sit and drink 

and share stories about the best bargains 

we’ve had buying second-hand clothes  



  


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. 

Friday, September 22, 2023

Milwaukee’s Eastside early 70’s by Mary Ray Goehring

          After Joe Walsh 
 
After we slept all day to be up all night
after a few High Lifes and doobies
we descend the concrete stairs 
underground to Humpin’ Hannah’s. 

After ordering more long necks
after whispers of a guest guitarist
after finding an empty table close to the stage
we settled in then choke on our beers amazed 
after they announce Joe Walsh
without the James Gang
jamming just 20 feet away.

After listening all night long 
his riffs tearing down the house
stripping our minds of coherent thought
After the roar of the now standing room 
only crowd after his last song
we pinch ourselves 
stumble up the stairs
ramble to a random pool joint

After our previous good luck
I slap my quarter on the rail
then step up to play the winner
After rolling my chosen cue across 
the green felt like I knew what I was doing
after chalking then waiting for the break
shot after shot finding the pocket
my companions as shocked as me
after sinking the eight ball on my last shot 
still basking in my string of dumb luck
even after the loss
I finish the night’s last High Life 
knowing life’s been good to me so far.




Mary Ray Goehring spends her time migrating between her prairie in Central Wisconsin
and the pine forests of East Texas.  She has been published in both print and online literary journals
and anthologies such as:   One Art:  a journal of poetry, The Path of Kindness: Poems of Connection and Joy, Lothlorien Poetry Journal, Blue Heron Review, Bramble, Your Daily Poem, Highland Park Poetry and others. 

Thursday, September 21, 2023

A Ripple In Time by Bruce Morton

NEWS FLASH!
It seems that scientists
Have found ripples
In space and time.
Well, hell, fifty-years
Ago I discovered empty
Bottles of Ripple filling
Dumpsters and gutters
On Sunday mornings
Because, heaven knows,
We had the time and were
Spaced out in our ever-
Expanding universe. There
Is a space-time continuum.




Bruce Morton divides his time between Montana and Arizona.

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Up In The County by keith pearson

The green car had Jersey plates.
I’m going for a walk by the pond she said. “Ok”. He never saw her again.
The sky was a single blue and white wave caught in a second of time.
Tom believed we only had so many words and one day we simply had nothing left to say.
She saw nothing but the first red leaves in the trees.
A storm passed over and cut a muddy swipe thru the garden that left the sunflowers weeping.
What they didn’t know left him stunned.
Tom lost his way in the radiant glow of the afternoon sun.
Her grandfather had been in the war and wore a blue moustache that washed away when it rained.
One plus one is three she said and smiled in a way he did not then understand.
All hell broke lose at the nursing home square dance.
The sun and the rain and the moon left scars on his wrinkled scalp.
A report of suspicious behavior was nothing more than cats playing in the graveyard.
His dog barked at the apples that fell from the tree in their yard.
Birds there flew in circles for no reason.
The sunflowers had assumed their autumnal slump. In the dawn fog deer ate apples from the wet grass.
He sold his shotgun for twenty bucks and they found the bill folded in his wallet when he died.
When he was a boy he spent hours with Tom watching the trout in the pool beneath the old mill.
Her mother never forgave her for the thing only the two of them could see.
The largest boulder in the county split in two. No one discovered it for days.
He would watch them as he tended his bees. They would walk thru the orchard hands joined or kicking at the fruit spoiled in the grass. Sometimes they would point to the odd circle of birds in the sky.
She woke to discover her mouth empty.
 A green car was found deep in the woods. There was a tree growing where the engine had been.




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

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

On The Menu Tonight Is By Travis Gauvin

Don’t give the drink 

A name just yet 

I’m not sure 

Of the head against the glass 

Or the balance of the components, 

The legs don’t respond well 

With the body. 

I could say you were a sour 

A play on a classic

Savory with a hint of citrus,

I may even leave you up 

And discard this garnish.

In cupped hands this unfinished creation lands 

The dry shake doesn’t dilute 

The way I feel about 

Pinch of salt 

Or dash of bitters 

I keep overcomplicating 

What is pure 

Flavoring poison with a stir,

And until I give a name to this new vice 

I’ll shake and strain again 

With a side of fresh ice,

And I’ll take my time to taste. 






Travis Gauvin is an emerging poet from Maine. He published his debut collection "Pizza and Beer Money'' with Maine Authors Publishing in 2020, where it became the publisher's highest selling book in its genre. He is a founding member of the PortlandPoetsSociety and is the host of SPEAK EASY, a spoken word event that runs every other Tuesday in Portland, ME. 


Monday, September 18, 2023

Hotel Dostoevsky By John Drudge

Insistently moody

Obscurely born

Of a murdered father

And tormented mother

In a grey town

Beyond crime and punishment 

Among the fragments 

Of brothers

And the good and evil

Of inevitable existence

Through harsh 

Irascible histories

And timid futures

Down from the gallows

And into the fire

Over the bare bones

Of violent dialectics

And the creation

Of a new art

Tangible as tears






John is a social worker working in the field of disability management and holds degrees in social work, rehabilitation services, and psychology.  He is the author of four books of poetry: “March” (2019), “The Seasons of Us” (2019), New Days (2020), and Fragments (2021). His work has appeared widely in numerous literary journals, magazines, and anthologies internationally. John is also a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee and lives in Caledon Ontario, Canada with his wife and two children.


Saturday, September 16, 2023

Misty Blue Eyes by Peter A. Witt

Radio plays a sad Willie tune,
the kind that mists the eyes, knots
the stomach, causes the world to spin
until all you can do is sit down and cry.

Drink, the alcohol kind, doesn't help,
as sad becomes welded to my chest,
I drink anyway, old habit, as cat curls
in my lap, purring as if he cares.

Commercial for a Kentucky bourbon plays,
a call I can't resist, two fingers to chase
the sad, as Elvis sings of heartbreak
and hotels, a place I've been many times.

Evening ends like all the others, man
with a country voice plays hours of Loretta,
while I sit, misty blue eyed, drinking the bottle
two fingers at a time, cat purring in my lap.




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

Friday, September 15, 2023

Here’s This Thing by Alec Solomita

Here’s this thing I keep remembering:
We’ve just crossed Washington Road walking
toward Nassau Hall, alongside the chapel,
and it’s very early in our affair and I still think, 
and let’s face it I’m right, that you are a bit of a square.
You’ve wearing your conservative yet fashionable
soon-to-be-assistant-dean suit, and I’m wearing
my untucked grad student look, and we’re in a hurry,
having spent lunch hour consuming each other.
If only I could remember how the subject came up, what 
small worry might have prompted the comment I made
that I can no longer remember, and if it was timid
or more likely my street bravado dirty, or, as you would
say, bawdy, yes, you might well say bawdy 
to describe the comment that I can’t bring back, you in your 
19th-century English Lit. advanced degree argot. 
I know exactly where we were and I recall the squirrels 
stopped their incessant incessing and the birds shut up too
and you, in your impeccably cadenced and musical speech, 
offered, “Don’t get me wrong, I love it from behind,” 
pleased, chirpy, as if you were telling a conference room 
full of deans, “I think the Power Point is working now!”






Alec Solomita is a writer working in the Boston area. His fiction has appeared in the Southwest Review, The Mississippi Review, Southword Journal, among other publications. He was shortlisted by the Bridport Prize and Southword Journal. His poetry has appeared in Poetica, Lothlorien Poetry Journal, Driftwood Press, The Rye Whiskey Review, The Galway Review, and elsewhere, including several anthologies. His poetry chapbook “Do Not Forsake Me,” was published in 2017. His full-length poetry book,b“Hard To Be a Hero,” was released by Kelsay Books last May.

Thursday, September 14, 2023

The Mentor by Jonathan Butcher

You pontificate slightly outside our circle,
the cigarette paper hanging from your 
bottom lip, comparing music studios
to apple factories; formulation to cowardice.
You quote your master, the only one you attach
any modicum of mutual respect to,
as you dismiss our interventions
to the contrary. 

A crossed word of wisdom, which always
accompanied a frown, a frustration 
at sentiment lost over time. 
Your lessons preached like faded scripture,
but with a congregation who would actually
practice your quatrains, even if they
slightly missed the original point.

And across flats and bedsits, amongst 
comfortable squalor, the peeling of paint jobs 
and floor boards creating a downpour
of flakes etched with a past worth drinking 
over, to clink glasses of clouded glass
together, a delayed celebration 
over the fact that you were always right. 





Jonathan Butcher has had poems appear in various print and online publications including, The Morning Star, Mad Swirl, Drunk Monkeys, The Abyss, Cajun Mutt Press and others. His fourth chapbook, 'Turpentine' was published by Alien Buddha Press.
He is also the editor of online poetry journal Fixator Press. 

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

The Bowery, 1975 By Greg Clary

 Wet tables,

sticky floor,

quarter drafts,

cover band

playing nonstop.

 A rowdy gong on

 the cowbell 

hanging from

the ceiling

after a big tip.

And if it’s

big enough,

Sugar Bear will

hop on

stage and sing

Mustang Sally

while flashing her

kitchen table tattoo,

”Can’t Touch This”.





Greg Clary is a retired college professor who was born and raised in Turkey Creek, West Virginia. He now resides in the northwestern Pennsylvania Wilds where he enjoys cathead biscuits, an occasional 2 fingers of Jameson over one cube of ice, and people who can ease into a conversation without taking it over.

His photographs and poetry have appeared in many publications including The Sun Magazine, Looking at Appalachia, Rattle, The Watershed Journal, Appalachian Lit, Rye Whiskey Review, Waccamaw Journal, and the Hole in the Head Review.


Tuesday, September 12, 2023

pills by John Grochalski


everyone my age

is on pills now


it’s either aging or the grave

they tell me


then they take their pills


i look at the wondrous asses

on twenty-year-old women


and realize that i’m almost 

thirty years older than them


it depresses me


twenty-year-old asses 

shouldn’t depress a man


i wonder if i should go

and see the doctor


find out

if there’s a pill 

i can take


for something

as tragic as that.








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, September 8, 2023

THIS WRITER HAS BEEN DRINKING by Bradford Middleton

The typer has been drinking
But it’s me sat here writing and for
That I’m truly grateful as that means
7 new poems in the last 27 drunken
Hours.
The drunk me screams
Can I get to bed yet but not right now
The stoned one always replies
Always shouting back, go on
You got to have 1 more before
That blessed bed beckons and the
Dreaded thought that tomorrow is
Just another day at work...




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, September 7, 2023

Triple Distilled By Cherie Rankin

There isn't much 
poetry in pure desire,
little in the way of nuance.

It's too strong, proof too high--
hot in the throat
burning as you swallow,
like a shot of whisky
all the way down.

Not much mystery, 
spare in subtlety
a shot glass of blind bravery,
chaser of small odds mixed
With a fiery dose of hope.

You bang your glass on the bar and
demand another and another,
till you feel woozy and light--
stumbling buzzy and warm
into a familiar set of arms
you know will catch and hold.





Cherie Rankin is a professor of English at Heartland Community College, in Normal, Illinois; she lives 45 minutes southwest of Normal... Her work has been published in Dragon Poet Review, Labor: Studies in Working Class History, and Poetry Breakfast. 



Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Just Spit It Out by Connie Johnson

You.
Me.
And your opinion.
Have become an unholy 3-way
And I’m waiting for you to pry my name
Out of your mouth.

Skeletons rattling around in your brain
Can they come out and play?
A fistful of he said/she said and it’s no wonder that all
Your unasked questions pose such a shaky proposition. 

(Why am I so intoxicated in your embrace?

My name, something you want to drag
Ghosts clambering onto your back for leverage
Incessant tongue work is what you should call it  
And I don’t think you can even read me right
Without a little 20/20 hindsight.

Like many a sage or street corner philosopher
Who know what it’s like to be misquoted, I started out speaking
In a foreign tongue. It would be rude to switch up now.

Words from a fever dream, flickeringly specific
All your hand held mirrors so one-sided. Your reflection
Scaring off what feel like haints in the house. And every time
You talk to yourself (“you’re just talking to yourself”
You mention my name.




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.  

Monday, September 4, 2023

slow retirement community by Ben Newell

Hands gripping the wheel,
I drive past the facility 
and frown at the yellow sign
and wonder where the others 
are expected to live,
the old folks who insist age
is just a number,
the old folks who still dance
and drink and smoke and hope
to go out with a bang.




Ben Newell dropped out of the Bennington Writing Seminars during his first semester, eventually resuming his studies at Spalding University where he earned an MFA. He lives, writes, works in Mississippi.

Friday, September 1, 2023

POSER by Glenn Armstrong

When I broke a nude reclining pose, and took a
cigarette break on the roof, the instructor outlined 
the vacant space with masking tape so it looked like 
a crime scene. My robe was worn ceremoniously, 

not for the cold. I picked up the pose accurately
again after my smoke; flesh, muscle, and bone covered
nicotine-stained lungs. My bare body became an 
inanimate object in front of the class, and 

artists stood inches from me as if I had turned  
into brass or marble. Afterwards, I noticed some  
sculptors had neglected to provide my likenesses
with clay penises, but left smooth groins instead like 

those found on ‘70s Hulk action figures with remov-
able clothes. (I used to blow up my plastic 
superheroes with firecrackers inserted 
into their arm and leg joints, which explains a lot.) 

But why did TV Hulk’s shredded clothes actually 
get bigger when he expanded? How did his pants 
and boxer shorts not split and fall off? Anyway, 
although I posed for the money, it helped would-be 
artists edge a little closer to 15-minute fame.




Glenn Armstrong has been a journalist, art model, and monk. His poetry has appeared in The Beatnik Cowboy and other publications. He lives in San Diego.

 

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...