Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Hard Decisions By Tobi Alfier

Stuck at the crossing of another glass of red and time to go, he weighs his options even while signaling the barmaid for another. Not a tough choice for him, she’ll be righteous and pissed-off at home no matter what. Thinks she keeps it to herself but he can tell.

The barmaid brings him a boilermaker instead of merlot. What the hell, the sound of glass clunking glass is nostalgic, like when he used to run across the gravel lots down by the water, toward or away from someone, the crunch that said you’re almost there, keep going.

The crunch like ice in a tall glass of rum and coke, drink of choice for the steal booze from your parents set. They never noticed even as the levels went down, down, down like Alice down the rabbit hole. How some people survived is something he’ll never understand, though he knows he barely made it himself.

Those gravel lots are now stacks of soulless condos and he’s a fugitive in a soulless life, one he would never admit to. His nerves strung tight as new fenceline over acres, insomnia full of guilt and smalltime phantoms—but it’s all her fault, or so he claims. The words she spoke to him so sweetly now beyond remembering. He thinks of her silence as doing him wrong.

He signals for another, then his time is up. He moves toward the door with something less than grace, a country-western song on the jukebox singing him goodbye. Tomorrow he’ll play their first dance if he can remember it. If he has to ask, her eyes may look away and never look back.

Tobi Alfier is published nationally and internationally. Credits include War, Literature and the Arts, The American Journal of Poetry, KGB Bar Lit Mag, Washington Square Review, Cholla Needles, James Dickey Review, Gargoyle, Permafrost, Arkansas Review, Anti-Heroin Chic, and others.  She is co-editor of San Pedro River Review (www.bluehorsepress.com).

Monday, April 29, 2024

Pentimento By Andrea Moore Johnson

The anticipation created anxiety

or perhaps the unknown resulted in fear

the outcomes so uncertain

immediate and unfolding long after

I am no longer a witness.

After the birth

the concerns had reasons

which quieted over time

watching with joy  

worry receded

layered, barely visible, pentimento.

Andrea Moore Johnson was recently published in the Cervena Barva Press, August 2023 newsletter. She currently is working on a collection of poems about her neighbors during her childhood in the Bronx. Andrea is a psychotherapist and cofounder of Women Thriving, an organization gathering communities and individuals to work together to create an impact.  

Sunday, April 28, 2024

Public Service With A Crooked Smile by JPR

Sometimes, I get a great laugh from the perceptions of others.
All the trivial bullshit, the faux hardasses who can barely handle a paper cut, let alone punch to face.
I've been my own worst enemy for ninety percent of my life.
Apparently, my subconscious has been hanging with my detractors.

That no good backstabbing prick.
I don't hate people; I just prefer them to hold their breath in my presence until they change colors.
I'm always a tad bit blue myself.
I heard the rumors, I could just frankly give a shit less that, and I always did hate drinking alone.

I'd hold my breath, but death truly interrupts my cocktails.

I never let a good drink go to waste.
Gossip is great for old ladies and weasels minding the hen house.

I only mind my own business. I suggest if you want to remain topside of the tundra, you best mind your own.


JPR is an indoor parasailing instructor. He also teaches creative writing in the summers at Chernobyl; he is currently training for the Olympics as he is captain of the US drinking team, where he hopes to once again stomp a mudhole in those communist bastard Canadians again.
He is currently accepting submissions for his new mag, the Go Fuck Yourself Review. 
Dedicated to asshole writers who throw temper tantrums after being rejected, which is weird because I would think after remaining virgins into their late thirties, they would be used to it by now.

Remember to include your address and which day you would prefer to depart this earth.
John resides in his personal vineyard upon Mt. Doom somewhere in North Carolina.
He is preparing to tour Norway in support of his newest collection, the Donner Party coloring book, which has already gone platinum.
He is allergic to poets and oxygen. He is also an immortal who sleeps in a coffin and is a 100000-year-old demon.

He once drank water; it damn near killed him.
Your tits look lovely today, sir.
He has mental health issues and possibly brain damage. You are probably not shocked to learn this.
He is listed in the Guinness Book as the greatest bio-writer in history.

Saturday, April 27, 2024

Kansas 1935 By Arvilla Fee

the wind blows through the cracks—

cracks in the doors, the floors,

cracks around the window sills;

it wails like an injured animal,

feral, enraged—

looking for a way in, a way out,

and I rock in the rocker

in this tar-paper shack,

stopping only to slug down

a half bottle of whiskey

and curse the drought

which cursed the prairie

which left me with nothing 

but a bowl full of dust

Arvilla Fee teaches English and is the managing editor for the San Antonio Review. She has published poetry, photography, and short stories in numerous presses, including Calliope, North of Oxford, Rat’s Ass Review, Mudlark, and many others. Her poetry books, The Human Side and This is Life, are available on Amazon. For Arvilla, writing produces the greatest joy when it connects us to each other. To learn more about her work, you can visit her website: https://soulpoetry7.com/


Friday, April 26, 2024

Impossible Standards By Terry Allen

Impossible standards just make life 

difficult, she said, above the buzz

of Spike’s birthday bash, trying her best 

to be attractive, charming, witty

and memorable in her new scoop neck, 

deep magenta, peasant blouse.

It was raining outside and those on the deck

had already retreated into the great room,

careful to bring the bruschetta, canap├ęs,

and smoked eggs with them.

You have to try the pinot noir,

her voice broke above the waves of chatter

and laughter as she held her glass under my nose.

It has wonderful berry overtones.

I’ll stick with my beer. Thanks.

Are you two together? the youngish man in the yellow

cashmere sweater asked, glancing at

us as he tried to balance his plate and scotch

whiskey at the same time.

Yes, I said, into my glass.

He nodded and walked away, 

as if that confirmed some important

piece of information needed later when detectives

grilled him about where he was last Friday evening.

I watched him through the bottom

of my glass, when she touched my arm,

saying something out of the corner of her mouth

as she somehow still managed to smile 

at a couple across the room by the Orchid Cactus.

What was that? I asked, 

really trying to listen to Brubeck’s piano

and thinking to myself that the writing

was already on the wall

and the ceiling

and across the back of the white leather sofa

and down the side of her rich red-blue blouse.

Don’t be so judgmental all the time,

she said. And remember

what the prophets tell us: 

Understand yourself so you may understand others.

Terry Allen was born in Brisbane, Australia, grew up in Kanas City and is an emeritus professor of Theatre Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, where he taught acting, directing and playwriting. He is the author of four poetry collections: Monsters in the Rain, Art Work, Waiting on the Last Train, and Rubber Time. His poems have appeared in many journals, including I-70 Review, Third Wednesday, and Popshot Quarterly. In addition, his work has been nominated for an Eric Hoffer Book Award, a Best of the Net Award, and a Pushcart Prize. His books are available at Amazon, Kelsay Books, and locally at Skylark Bookshop in Columbia, Missouri.

Thursday, April 25, 2024

Reflection By Jake St. John

I have 

a fear 

of bridges 


that's why 

I've burned 

so many.

Jake St. John lives in the woods on the edge of the Salmon River. He is the author of several collections of poetry including Lips Leave Scars (with Jenn Knickerbocker, Whiskey City Press, 2023) 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."

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

-The Self-Righteous Sermon- By Nick Wentzel

Jazz guitar spills from the bar

on the first room temperature night

of the open mic. 

Porch lights glow like artificial stars

and a shamelessly preachy dude bro

who is surely unaware of himself

is proselytizing about the pitfalls

of self-righteousness

to an audience

held captive but less like ‘captivated’

and more like they were stuck captive with

nowhere else to go and 

nothing else to do. 

And he smiles brightly,

as if he has just won supporters

or more like he has invented the concept of philosophy. 

He is outwardly proud of the 

puddle deep point he has made.

All the while, free form jazz guitar 

spills from the bar like spilled beer or spilled ego,

and coats everything he has just said in an air of 

complicated riffs and loops.

And somehow, 

the bebop blues has failed to undercut

the message of the dude bro,

as he wrestles with the straw in his drink,


Self-righteous people go to hell, 

he mutters to himself, self-righteously

Nick Wentzel, more commonly known and referred to as Frick, is a poet and spoken word artist residing in Southern Indiana. He enjoys writing mainly about love, loss, and the all-encompassing feelings in between, but has a slew of poetry at his disposal on many topics. You can always find him at The Bokeh Lounge, the third Tuesday of every month, performing for Poetry Speaks, the longest running Spoken Word Series in the state of Indiana. He is always available for readings and bookings and can most easily be found on Facebook.



Monday, April 22, 2024



The year you died  

I was just a teenager,

cold and confused:

the fire extinguished

long ago. I would 

soon turn to the word;

Shakespeare, Nietzsche,

Blake, Plato, Socrates.

I was alone and searching:

for what? I did not know.

I had never read a school 

book, but was well 

acquainted with the 

words of those I mentioned.

I tried to understand 

their words--I had to learn:

the answers were there

I was sure, and once I 

unlocked them, my life 

that I could find nothing 

in; would certainly

change. And the years 

following: hours and hours

of Wilde, Blake, Chekhov,

T. Williams, Dost, Burroughs,

Miller, Kerouac, Brautigan, 

Rimbaud, Thompson:

my heroes were Chekhov

and Blake. I saw a little 

of myself in their words.

I was now 23 and in a

T. Williams play. Talking 

about writing to another 

actor. He said I should read 

you, our writing sounded 

very similar. I was suspicious,

though decided to look for 

one of your books. A few 

months later I found a 

whole shelf full of them at 

the now out of business 

bookstore on Pitt Street.

One by one. Line by line.

I read them all. I felt close 

to you. As if we were 

somehow related. Me, now 

a young man. Writing.

Poor. Working stupid jobs.

Rejection slips from

every magazine. The 

young man who had once 

felt completely alone. 

Now knowing he wasn’t.

Now knowing that

maybe, just maybe: he 

had a chance.

Brenton Booth lives in Sydney, Australia. Poetry of his has appeared in Gargoyle, New York Quarterly, North Dakota Quarterly, Chiron Review, Main Street Rag, Naugatuck River Review, Heavy Feather Review, and Nerve Cowboy. He has two full length collections available from Epic Rites Press.  

Sunday, April 21, 2024

Candy is dandy by Zvi A. Sesling

Candy is dandy
But liquor is quicker
--Ogden Nash

I dated her three times and couldn’t even so much as get a good night kiss. When I failed on the fourth and fifth dates I decided that on the sixth I would try a different approach, and bought her a Margarita followed by glass of chardonnay at the Blossom Bar. That seemed to work. Not only did I get the kiss, I got a bunch of them, followed by an invitation to spend the night.
It reinforced my feeling that while Candy is dandy, the liquor made her quicker.


Zvi A. Sesling, Brookline, MA Poet Laureate (2017-2020), has published numerous poems, flash fiction and short stories. 

Friday, April 19, 2024

Spirited Away By Ken Gierke

No wet blanket,

it kept her dry.

Bottle or can,

didn’t matter.

Kept her warm.


Where it matters.

Until it didn’t

let her forget

what ailed her,

what haunted her.

Until it became

a wet blanket

and the fire inside her


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, Amethyst Review, Rusty Truck, Trailer Park Quarterly, The Gasconade Review, and River Dog Zine. His first collection of poetry, Glass Awash, was published by Spartan Press. His second collection, Heron Spirit, is forthcoming. His website: https://rivrvlogr.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...