Thursday, November 30, 2023

Peg Leg By Ken Gierke


With Lincoln in the rearview

and Casper well north of us,

the monotony of heading straight

west across the Nebraska plains

lets my mind stray further

down the road to concerns

about our destination, 

an empty house in windswept

Wyoming with no life left to it,

or just enough to cast a pall

over these blue skies.


As we approach North Platte,

Peg Leg starts coming

over the speakers with guitar

and piano almost as one voice

coaxing the drums.

And they don’t stop

when Ron Carter comes in

with his piccolo bass, because 

now all of them are dancing

and that bass is singing.


Our hotel is two miles straight off

the interstate, but when the piano

takes the lead I make a hard right

as soon as we exit.

It’s like this combo knows

that Peg Leg Brewing is right

down the road, a place with great beer

and the same positive vibe.

Where the brewer turns

a handicap into an asset,

with the prosthetics he’s worn

through life, shoes and all,

hanging from the ceiling.


I let that piano play out

and soak in more of the bass

as it dances its way to the end

before we walk into the pub.

Just being there, timed perfectly

with music that’s full of life,

tells me that things aren’t all bad.

We’ll head out in the morning,

and I’ll make sure that Peg Leg

is playing when we pull into Casper.






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 The Rye Whiskey Review, Rusty Truck, Trailer Park Quarterly, The Gasconade Review, and River Dog Zine. Glass Awash, published by Spartan Press, is his first collection of poetry. His website: https://rivrvlogr.com/

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

IT'S ONLY GOD-DAMN NOVEMBER! By Bradford Middleton

Autumn has closed in quickly this year as

i already find myself cowering in my room 

dreaming of turning the damn heating on but

no, hell it's still only November, and

with my curtains pulled shut to hide out the

darkness and cold from my soul which sits

quivering in this chair with only this laptop

for heat I can convince myself it ain't freezing

and I don't need the heating on, hell not yet

it's still only god-damn November!



  


Bradford Middleton still lives in Brighton, UK but has recently landed a new job that he doesn’t hate so maybe here for a bit longer yet…  Recent poems appear in Beatnik Cowboy, River Dog Zine, Back Room Poetry ‘Rebel’ Anthology, Stink Eye Magazine and Dreich.  His most recent chapbook was published early 2023 by those fine folks at the Alien Buddha Press.  

Monday, November 27, 2023

The Stranger By B. Lynne Zika


I am the stranger beside you.

Forgive me. My clothes scatter dust.

Who can blame an infant for hunger

or a dying man for thirst?

I am the stranger who leaves hollow markings

on your pillows, who does not have sense enough

to wipe his shoes at the door of your house,

who peers too long into windows.

Someone should teach me the way things are.


I am the stranger who drives us from home

to the gravel-pitted byway,

where the density of an unbearable sky

presses us forward,

urges us on,

pushes us past road signs

whose characters we cannot read

and where is direction then?

What will tether us to a world

which no longer recognizes our form?


Yesterday I saw the way you lifted your glass.

The liquid rushed to meet you.

Your lips knew perfectly what to do.

They parted; the tongue slipped forward,

pressed itself against the cool rim.

I watched the small tremble of your throat

as you swallowed, the way your mouth

curved afterwards, a shy or lazy moon.

And you did not need to speak.

Thank you. 

It was a rare and beautiful thing.








B. Lynne Zika is a poet, essayist, photographer, and fiction writer currently living in Los Angeles. Her books The Strange Case of Eddy Whitfield, The Longing, and Letters to Sappho: Putting Out the Fire are available on Amazon and through other booksellers. In addition to editing poetry and nonfiction, she worked as a closed-captioning editor for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. She has received awards in short fiction, poetry, and photography. Her father, Yewell C. Lybrand, Jr., was a writer himself. Before his death at 36, he bequeathed her this wisdom and mission for a lifetime: Make every word count.




Saturday, November 25, 2023

California Summer (V2) By Michael Lee Johnson


Coastal warm breeze

off Santa Monica, California

the sun turns salt

shaker upside down 

and it rains white smog, a humid mist.

No thunder, no lightening,

nothing else to do

except for sashay 

forward into liquid

and swim

into eternal days

like this.







Michael Lee Johnson lived ten years in Canada during the Vietnam era. Today he is a poet in the greater Chicagoland area, IL. He has 295 YouTube poetry videos. Michael Lee Johnson is an internationally published poet in 44 countries, a song lyricist, has several published poetry books, has been nominated for 6 Pushcart Prize awards, and 6 Best of the Net nominations. He is editor-in-chief of 3 poetry anthologies, all available on Amazon, and has several poetry books and chapbooks. He has over 453 published poems. Michael is the administrator of 6 Facebook Poetry groups. Member Illinois State Poetry Society: http://www.illinoispoets.org/.

Friday, November 24, 2023

There It Sat By Kevin M. Hibshman


Top shelf and gleaming, speckled with light that hurt my eyes.

Mind's gate open, swinging madly.

I stretched all the way up from the inside with clammy digits that wouldn't cling.

I was standing, wind blowing holes through me, on a craggy shore.

I had to find a way, the elevation I have always craved, mocking me now.

We traverse amid rough tundra.

We seek to cut a swath like the brave.

I left him sleeping soundly in front of the television, limbs flayed in a sacrificial pose.

I had to vanish, to abandon a long held outpost.

It was closing in all around us, that invisible threat.

He did not want to believe it but there it was.

Months later, still a faint light crept in, a warning I wished to ignore.

I had grown older, pale in the light of reason and felt obscure.

Part of the hillside was completely scorched.

We pray in desperation, when seemingly nothing is left.

If I could only convince the gods to bargain once 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, November 21, 2023

Poetry Reading at the Bucking Horse Bar on Rodeo Drive by Sharon Waller Knutson

Swiveling on stools,
couples in shorts
chug Cabernet and Coors
as they listen to country music.

My husband plays bass 
and Bobby wails Willie
and Waylon, as I sit
at my book table.

On the break, I read poems
from, My Grandmother Smokes
Chesterfields, and customers
hand over $20 bills.

The bar owner bans me
from reading poetry
when the band
demands more money

since their tips shrink
when I start selling books.
So during the break, 
I read my poems

on the street corner
and sell books
out of the back
of our camper.




Sharon Waller Knutson has published eleven poetry books including The Leading Ladies in My Life (Cyberwit 2023) and her twelfth book, My Grandfather is a Cowboy is forthcoming in 2024. Her work has also appeared in more than 50 journals including One Art, Poetry Breakfast and Autumn Sky Poetry Daily. She is the editor of Storyteller Poetry Review.

Saturday, November 18, 2023

Settled By Dan Provost

 

You played the

role of bottom-

feeder too many times.

 

Carved the callouses in

your hands, then reaching out

for quarters and sympathy.

 

You trend with the

lower half…deciding

that the “crowd” loves

the misfit.

 

The guy who has

to fight so many obstacles

just to survive.

 

The plight is a

familiar one, and I’m

not reading any more

Bukowski.

 

Save the sad booze

for groupie in-laws

who regard every

day you take a step

 

as an heroic act.

 




Dan Provost's poetry has been published throughout the small press for a number of years.  Some recent publications include: Ariel Chart, Poetical Review, Merak Magazine, Oddball Magazine, Deuce Coupe, Misfit Magazine, the Rye Whiskey Review, Cajun Mutt Press and the Dope Fiend Daily.  He has two books coming out in 2020.  Under the Influence of Nothingness by Kung Fu Treachery Press and Rattle of a Realizer, published by Whiskey City Press.  He lives in Berlin, New Hampshire with his wife Laura and dog Bella.


Friday, November 17, 2023

Drinking too much by George Gad Economou

“why do you drink so much?” Christine
asked when she came home after a night-out on town
with her friends and found me lying on
the couch, cuddling a half-empty fifth of
Four Roses. “I haven’t drunk that much,” I protested, my gaze
glued on the glowing TV-screen and the CZW bloodbath match.
“there’s an empty bottle on the floor, and several cans of beer.”
“I’m watching wrestling, I need to maintain the glow of libation.”
“that’s bullshit.”
“fine.” with a groan of exasperation, I paused the show and sat up. “I
drink to forget and to remember; I drink to feel alive; I drink to get
drunk; I drink for I constantly yearn for elation of the soul and ecstasy of
the mind. when drunk, I’m at my
best; I think the best thoughts, I write the best poems I can, I make
the best love, I trod between the fine line of life and death with the balance of
an Olympic gymnast.”
“you’re drunk,” was her plain comment to my fantastical rebuttal and went to
the bathroom.
“that, I am,” I concurred and laid back; took a healthy gulp out
of the bottle and resumed the show. she came out of
the bathroom, rolled her eyes, then laid down next to
me, throwing both her arm and leg around me. I drank, kissed her
on the forehead, and watched the rest of
the show while slept with her head resting on
my shoulder. perhaps, if I hadn’t drunk so much, she’d still
be around; on the other hand, if I didn’t drink, she’d never
have fallen in love with me in the first place.




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, amongst other places, in Spillwords Press, Ariel Chart, Cajun Mutt Press, Fixator Press, Outcast Press, The Piker Press, The Edge of Humanity Magazine, The Rye Whiskey Review, and Modern Drunkard Magazine.



Thursday, November 16, 2023

BEER STREET By Dave Newman


Because there are nearly 

400 Bourbon Streets in America

and because I believe 

in quiet nights that turn loud

and as many drinks as possible

I have decided that my new address
and all my addresses henceforth
shall be known as Beer Street

and all drinkers who show up 

with a story are welcome to stay 

if the story is great enough

and the evening is long enough.

The roads have now turned to rivers

of beer made of friendship and great brawls.
Swim on. 






Dave Newman is the author of seven books, most recently, The Same Dead Songs: a memoir of working class addictions. He lives in Trafford, PA, the last town in the electric valley. 


Tuesday, November 14, 2023

An encounter with the virgin Mary in county Waterford by Dennis Moriarty

Older now looking back on my younger self
in car five miles out of Waterford city
on a country road dark with rain and night that
had come at 2PM.
The driver and I sharing Irish-English banter.
Talking about Leprechauns and the Blarney stone,
the changing of the guard and Blackpool tower.
And then, out of the gloom, at the side of the road ,
an old woman stood, hunched
under a headscarf dripping rain. “And would you
look at that”, the driver said,
“it’s the virgin Mary herself,” and what I wondered
was the virgin Mary doing out here in the ass end of nowhere?
“Just look city boy, and remember this moment forever,
the virgin mother on a road in county Waterford.”
He brought the car to a stop beside her, wound down the window
and asked if she would like a lift.
She climbed in the back, a papier mache body smelling of
wet earth and something more pungent,
less elemental than the rain. “Is it you yourself virgin mother?”
“It’s me myself right enough Patrick,” she replied.
He told her all about me and how lucky I was to be chosen
for this encounter with the blessed Mary.
We drove on for five minutes and around a bend in the road
a shack appeared.”Here we now mother,” he said, “get yourself
inside out of the rain. Say thanks now city boy, to the blessed Mary.”
As she opened the door I said, “goodbye virgin Mary.”
She turned back towards me and said, “virgin Mary is it indeed?
Well city boy I can tell you, I’ve had more pricks than you’ve had
pints of the black stuff and my fecking name is Bernadette!”



Dennis Moriarty was born in London, England and now lives in Wales. Married with five grown up offspring Dennis likes walking the dog in the mountains, reading and writing.

In 2017 he won the Blackwater poetry competition and went to county Cork in Ireland to read his work at the international poetry festival. Dennis has had poems featured in many publications including Blue nib, Our poetry archive, Setu bilingual, The passage between and others.

Saturday, November 11, 2023

The Law by Daniel S. Irwin

So I got pulled over.  No big thing.
I knew I was speeding.
And I’m the king of cooperation
When if comes to dealing
With the police.  But, ya know,
It really kinda pissed me off.
While diggin’ in the glove box
For my registration, the officer
Flat out refused to hold my beer.




Daniel S. Irwin, native of Southern Illinois (such as it is).  Artist, writer, actor, soldier, scholar, priest among other things.

Work published in over one hundred magazines and journals worldwide.  Has appeared in over one hundred films. 

Speaks fluent gibberish when loaded.  Not much into blowing his own horn as you are only as good as your latest endeavor.

Once turned to religion but Jesus just walked away. 




Friday, November 10, 2023

Forgiveness is for barmaids and I’m a cowboy by Rocío Iglesias

I do not forgive you, nor my inattentive life, nor the earth

I forgive nothing in love for your death

For the tangible, homicidal brutal push that took you

And left this barren brush in your wake


I am the gardener left weeping over the land you occupied and once fertilized

I want to dig up this earth with my teeth,

Separate and rip the dirt apart with dry, hot bites

I want the wind to stall and stagnate in the valleys

May every beautiful field of flowers remain still enough to rot in the sun


I want to mine the earth and find your marrows,

Which remain gloriously unburned,

Kiss your skull and return you to my breast


There is no greater expanse than my wound, my pain

I feel your death more than my own life 






Rocío Iglesias is a queer Cuban-American poet. Her work has appeared in various print and electronic publications and can most recently be found in As It Ought To Be Magazine and Cuento Magazine. She lives, breathes, and works in Minneapolis, MN.

Thursday, November 9, 2023

Seventh St Bar By Holly Payne-Strange


There’s a bar near me I want to show you.  

Sticky floors 

And a whisper of spilled whiskey. 

The kind of place 

You can tell a secret, 

Or a meet a man 

You want to keep a secret. 


I’ll buy you a drink,

Even though it’s your turn.

And we can yell over the music 

That’s always too loud 

And squint in the darkness. 


Actually,

Maybe the bar isn’t that great 

Maybe I just want to see 

You. 




Holly Payne-Strange (she/her) is a novelist, poet and podcast creator. Her writing has been lauded by USA Today, LA weekly and The New York Times. Her  next novel, All Of Us Alone, will be a recommended read for Women Writers, Women’s Books in December 2023.  She’s had her poetry published by various groups  including  Door Is A Jar magazine, In Parenthesis, Dipity Lit Magazine, and will soon be featured in Academy Heart, among others.



Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Eat a Twinkie By Susan Isla Tepper


You wake up and look around

screaming god all fucking mighty:

The writing’s on the wall.

You got nothing.

You can’t love the world too much

it will feel constricted 

turn away

scuttling off 

despite your pleas

The world doesn’t want your

lousy opinions, your tears

and all the rest.  

It wants what it wants.

Settle down.  Eat a Twinkie.

She tells herself.





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.

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...