Thursday, February 29, 2024

THE DRUNKARD AT 2.00 A.M. By John Grey

Ejected from the bar

at closing time,

I avoid a tangle

of brawling drunks

on the sidewalk,

no spring in my step,

no sexy young woman on my arm.,

just the taste of alcohol on my tongue,

and a head like a nest 

of copulating foxes,

my extended arm

out of reach 

of every cab

as the buildings higher up,

close their eyes,

crash in place,

and I stagger 

in no particular direction,

cold and brain-dead

and as thirsty 

as Lawrence Of Arabia’s horse –

I’m like a prisoner just released –

I sure could use

a spell in jail about now.

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in New World Writing, North Dakota Quarterly and Lost Pilots. Latest books, ”Between Two Fires”, “Covert” and  “Memory Outside The Head” are available through Amazon. Work upcoming in California Quarterly, Seventh Quarry, La Presa and Doubly Mad.



Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Half a Lifetime By Robert L. Penick

At thirty years old, you sat in the grandstand

at Churchill Downs, working the Racing Form

and hitting the pint of peppermint schnapps

you kept nested between your feet. No one up there

but you, the wind forcing the proud and the 

comfortable into the clubhouse.

It was Thanksgiving, again, and this killing 

of the day was the best you could imagine.

Somewhere, a worthless brother was hitting

every charity dinner in town, filling up

his refrigerator with enough grub to feed

three families. 

An associate was holed up at the Motel 6,

smoking crack with a woman whose chancred lips

would never heal. In retrospect, you could have

done worse, performed less honorably, chosen

an even lower path to crawl. But you stayed silent

and apart, your every ticket uncashed. 

In addition to The Rye Whiskey Review, the poetry and prose of Robert L. Penick have appeared in well over 200 different literary journals, including The Hudson Review, North American ReviewPlainsongs, and Oxford Magazine. The Art of Mercy: New and Selected Poems is now available from Hohm Press, and more of his work can be found at

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Moonbeams and Moonshine By Troy Schoultz

A moonbeam can’t be contained,

Their light pours from clouds mixed in black coffee

On to the lake, dancing across

Dark northern water, witnessed

By blessed insomniacs

Parked in a twenty year-old trucks

On a newborn morning in late October,

Where the shadows become the living.

TROY SCHOULTZ is a poet, analog collage artist, and apparently, a survivor. He is the author of three full-length collections and two chapbooks. He makes his home in Oshkosh, WI. He is currently working on a novel, but ain't they all...

Monday, February 26, 2024


With the empty green bottle in hand,

he found himself back at the exclusive club

where the sophisticated people milled about,

dropping names while drinking champagne

served in the entrance foyer.

A quite haughty yet beautiful woman

approached him, stepped out of her dress

and sat in the seat next to his,

her attire falling to her ankles.

She stated that only he, presently, 

and her husband, not in attendance,

had peeked the enhanced cleavage

created by her push-up under garments.

The spotlight turned from the singer

upon the stage toward her

to highlight her ample bosom

though the emerald necklace around her neck

produced a glare that blinded his stare

and caused him to fall forward 

while the band played 

“Good Golly Miss Molly!”

He immediately awoke, 

squeezing the pillows

upon which he slept.

An hour later, he stared out 

the same club’s window,

oddly enough

at the verdant lawn, drenched with rain

when a huge, black bear entered

his field of vision,

an angry bear, walking upright,

with matted fur from the ensuing cloudbursts

that created a stick-like figure

when the beast turned sideways,

lifted his head toward the pewter heavens

and roared a window shattering plea

then galloped toward the club for respite,

pounding thunderously at the door 

which woke him for the second time this night.

Michael Keshigian is the author of 14 poetry collections.  His work has appeared in numerous national and international journals as well as many online publications, including The California Quarterly, Sierra Nevada Review, Tipton Poetry Journal, San Pedro River Review, and Chiron Review.  He is a 7 time Pushcart Prize and 3 time Best Of The Net nominee.

Sunday, February 25, 2024

Last Call By Michael Brockley

Phil blew two saxophones at once in between his vocals on “Sweet Home Chicago” and “My Girl.” He soothed his saxophones with linebacker hands, tenored, You dont need no ticket. Just climb on board, to the back of the room at Docs Music Hall, and saluted guests at his shows with a run on the devils horn. On Sunday afternoons Phil would treat the poets of middle America to a sweet-and-salty cookie while picking up gumbo at a Creole diner. I nodded to him at the checkout counter of the library. Or at the soul food restaurant across the street from the used record store that sold me aloha shirts. For some reason I always confused Phil’s “My Girl” with the Temptation’s torch, Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me).”

Twenty-five years ago I recognized Ruth as she exited a Borders in Indianapolis. Arm in arm with a man who spat on the sidewalk. Why did I believe in those three-minute illusions? Im Gonna Make You Love Me,” Aint Too Proud to Beg,” “My Girl.” Songs that harmonized fables for a fool over a rhapsodic lure. The night Ruth stood me up in college, I cycled through the greatest hits of Leonard Cohen and Smokey Robinson on my Circle of Sound. And Just My Imagination,” of course. All while wishing I could have crooned a verse from a Motown chestnut into a cloud-nine serenade. One of those ballads with a baritone who growls, Every night, woman, on my knees I pray…

I sit alone at a bar table, chasing stale Fritos with ginger ale. Listening to Phil caress the keys on his horn while I whisper the familiar rhymes to myself. Day and May. Heavenly and reality. Sometimes I nurse a whiskey sour. Until the night surrenders to the last song on the band’s playlist. Doc tickling and teasing a funny valentine from his keyboard and Phil riffing on the sax. Just a melody summoned from a 2 a.m. Hoosier fog and a fedora worn crooked over a lazy eye. An hour too late for lyrics.

Michael Brockley is a retired school psychologist who lives in Muncie, Indiana. His poems have appeared in The Ekphrastic Review, Prole, Barstow and Grand, and The Whiskey Mule Diner. Poems are forthcoming in Ryder Magazine, Punk Noir Magazine, Of Rust and Glass, and Stormwash: Environmental Poems. 

Friday, February 23, 2024

Jackie By Mark James Andrews

The last days of Jackie

were spent with me

over quiet morning beers

their brain factory fried

now unemployed and waiting

on social security disability

with a work life bouncing around 

joints manufacturing car parts

as a plastic model maker

toxic chemicals a constant

a machinist casting, core-making

injecting and molding poisons

for the profit of “the shop”

heavy drinking and drugs

getting through overtime


“down time” and layoffs

now they knock at my door

every other day early PM

short-term memory gone

speech hesitant with word loss

Nina Simone records calm them

also photographs of cityscapes.

“You’re gonna be mad at me!”

“No dude. We’re cool,” I say.

“Listen. I blew some money

on a tattoo and I know I owe you.

What is it a hundred? Two, three?

I always wanted to get inked up 

with this, man, let me show you.”

They lift their shirt sleeve high

an Old English “D” on flabby bicep.

“The Tigers, man. Our city.

Is that fucking cool or what?

One hundred percent class.

I got ideas for more too.”

Jackie lasted another couple months

and now I think of their ashes

does their ex have them?

and their “D” tattoo up in flames

in a suburban crematorium

a new and final tattoo

and a life setting up machines

for the almighty finished product

and a good blue-collar with two hands

on an orbital sander moving back

and forth in the daily grind continuum

smoothing out the rough edges

and all imperfections in their creation.

Mark James Andrews lives and writes in Metro Detroit. He is the author of five chapbooks. The latest is At The Ice Cow Queen On Mack from Alien Buddha Press. His poetry has appeared in Chiron Review, Nerve Cowboy, Hiram Poetry Review, Slipstream, Respect: The Poetry of Detroit Music, Rye Whiskey Review and many other spots.

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Half Buried By Susan Isla Tepper

Call it sex 

without really trying

the bottom of your shoe

licking the curb

a straight razor

taking a hike 

across your neck.

Worried a long time 

you thought 

it would be simple

as choosing a paint color.

All options dried up.

Behind the garage

the kids’ inflatable 

plastic pool 

flattened with rot 

& thirty year leaves

half buried.

Ripped corner 

hugs the drain pipe—

a pushed aside lover 

pitched left—


from the year of the flood.

Susan Isla Tepper is a twenty year writer in all genres.  Her stage play "Crooked Heart" will be featured in Origin Theatre Company 'May Play Festival', NYC.

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Drink to Them By Jonathan S Baker

Thick syrupy

chiaroscuro shadows

wrap a cape

around the old man

as he stumbles

off crying for his wife

in the wrong direction.

Tomorrow she stepped

into dreamland.

His old buddy, Gary,

bumbles the other way

pulling on the beams

of the streetlight

to find the way home.

Jonathan S Baker lives and works in Evansville, Indiana where the Sterling Brewery finally tarnished.  They are the author of several collections of poetry including Cock of the Walk (Laughing Ronin Press, 2022) and Long Nights in Stoplight City (Between Shadows Press, 2023).  They are also the host of the longest running and most prestigious poetry series in Indiana, Poetry Speaks.

Monday, February 19, 2024

Redemption By Greg Clary

Sundays nights at The Lantern

meant hunch dancing around

the shuffleboard table to

a country band playing

Wasted Days and Wasted Nights.

That’s where she found me.

 At the bar nursing 

a tall Falls City,

shrouded in blue smoke, 

 measuring one more

Ghost of Regret.

She was heading 

 home to Pittsburgh

to patch things up with her fiancé.

A great guy.

She never lied or misled me. 

Her future always meant him.

But we did have us some fun

before saying what we thought

needed to be said.

As the band shifted into

Merle’s Swinging Doors,

 a familiar arm 

 hugged my neck from behind.

“You have got to get out of here”, she whispered

“Let me finish my beer first’, I eagerly replied

She swatted my head,

“No, you knucklehead, not that! 

Look at me.

You have to leave this town.

This life you’re living.

There is more for you.

But it’s not here.”

She spoke truth.

I actually listened for once.

Chances were taken.


Changes were made.


I learned that

things work out in the end. 

And if they don’t,

 it’s not the end. 

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.

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...