Sunday, June 30, 2024

Reaching 0ut by Peter F. Crowley

 I’ve seen people like her before, those who have been cast adrift from their partner. 

     The moment she steps into the packed Spanish restaurant bar, there’s a wine glass in her hand that follows her everywhere. 

     Soon all words and glances have meaning, looking for physical comfort in eyes that linger. Her words lash out in bluntness, forgetting chalkboard rules. Club music blasts and she waves her arms to the beat, her face increasingly blurred, bare belly button showing. She falls for the “smokin’ hot” bartender who goes around the bar with a bottle of anis that he pours into patrons’ mouths.

     I’ve seen her before. She will be there until the end of the night, double-fisting Spanish red wine and sangria long after her friend leaves. As midnight nears, she’ll reach out to someone who can fill the gaping hole in her chest. Her hips will still be gyrating, and she’ll be smiling. 

     What happens when the night’s music stops? When she’s at home on a rainy Sunday morning with her a five-year old and two teens? Will the rain eat the psychical trauma that she writes about? Will she be able to sleep through her five-year old’s tantrums?

As a prolific author from the Boston area, Peter F. Crowley writes in various forms, including short fiction, op-eds, poetry and academic essays. His writing can be found in Pif Magazine, New Verse News, Counterpunch, Galway Review, Digging the Fat, Adelaide’s Short Story and Poetry Award anthologies (finalist in both) and The Opiate. He is the author of the poetry books Those Who Hold Up the Earth and Empire’s End, and the short fiction collection That Night and Other Stories.

Friday, June 28, 2024

Interlude by Susan Isla Tepper

Some are built for love

count it out, Mister

Nice of you 

unlocking the back door

in secret

Me blowing in 

the tail end of winter

Dried out leaves

frozen to the ground

stars seem half-lit

& thanks again

for the generous pour

the single candle flickering

on the bar

For saying you appreciate my company.

Susan Isla Tepper is a writer in all genres and a Playwright.

Thursday, June 27, 2024

Mollie By Keith Gorman

My neighbor’s border collie is rolling

in the cow dung. That’s right, back first, then

flopping face down, making sure that she

receives a complete covering. And as I am 

leaning on the fence watching this event,

it occurs to me that this dog—this collie— 

is loving every second. Her eyes glass-like, 

like a shark’s eyes, and each time I call her: 

Mollie! Mollie! Come, girl! she continues 

rolling and ignoring me. But soon the spell

breaks, and she leaves the trance long enough

to approach the fence, shaking side to side,

swishing her tail, then jumping to place 

her paws on the top rail. As I stroke her head,

she pants herself to the brink of letting out 

a loud, primordial bark, a signal of sorts that 

I should join her, the sour odor of the dung

wafting into my nostrils as she ricochets

back from the fence and resumes rolling

side to side, paws flailing into the first light

of the morning. I open the door to my Ford

F-150 and adjust the side mirror where I can

still see Mollie’s movements. As I pull away,

my mind turns to the day ahead:

the traffic on the turnpike, the rent, and taxes.  

Keith Gorman is a retired factory worker, poet, and classical guitarist who lives in Eastern Tennessee near the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. He received his BM degree from the Sherwood Conservatory of Music in Chicago, Illinois. His poetry has been published in various journals, including Verse-Virtual, Delta Poetry Review, I-70 Review, Muddy River Poetry Review, Chiron Review, Impspired Magazine, and The California Quarterly Review.

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Honky Tonks by Chuck Sweetman

“Close up the honky tonks, throw away the key
Then maybe the one I love will come back to me.”
—Dwight Yoakam

The motion before this council is whether
to “Close up the Honky Tonks”
and furthermore “throw away the key.”
—“As long as there’s a honky tonk,” claims
the petitioner, “she’ll never settle down.”
However practical, valid, even obvious 
this notion must have seemed to one
dancing with a memory in the kitchen,  
listening for returning tires in the driveway, 
the Greater Honky Tonk Association
warns against social costs of such closings 
in their Powerpoint presentation titled
“Two Doors Down There’s a Jukebox”
featuring signs of neon martinis, 
bucking broncos, and dancing couples. 
It begins with praise for the two-step
as heart-ache therapy, especially for those 
working “for days and nights on end 
just to walk and talk again.”
Testimonials like, “The only time I feel the pain 
is in the sunshine and the rain,” overheard 
by bartenders and sung in stalls, suggest
the desire for lyrical graffiti in its many voice-
breaking forms, “Girl you taught me how    
to hurt real bad and cry myself to sleep.”
And the Association closes its case 
for honky tonks—for all those places of music
that bring us together—with a section called
“Requests,” including this one: preserved by a DJ,
scraped into a whiskey-stained bar napkin across 
Rodeo Bar and Grill’s emblem: “Hey, Mister,
Turn it On, Turn It Up, Turn Me Loose!

Chuck Sweetman is a senior editor for december Magazine. His essays, stories, reviews, and poems have appeared in such places as Verse Daily, Brilliant Corners, River Styx, Revel, Poet Lore, Black Warrior Review, and Notre Dame Review. In addition to chapbooks, he is the author of a book of poems Enterprise, Inc. (2008)

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Miles Ago and Years Away By Ken Gierke

thirteen and fourteen during those summers

sleeping bag and a rolled-up shirt

for bedding, we slept in the backyard

John’s, Mike’s, mine, in rotation

every weekend under the stars

not that we slept all that much

too much to do and never enough darkness

especially if a yard light came on

as we hopped into a neighbor’s pool,

skinny dipping of course, the neighbor

yelling as we made our exit

bare-assed and clutching our clothes

on to the next adventure, yard to yard

I’m sure those people finally sold their house

but it probably didn’t help

when they woke every Saturday morning

to find their For Sale sign

sitting on their neighbor’s front lawn

and that garage with a covered side patio

sure came in handy, not that we needed a garage

but the picnic table was a nice spot to sit

and have a beer from the tap in the wall

I wonder if that guy ever figured out

why his keg of Schmidt’s emptied so fast

or that early Sunday morning late in the year,

when I walked to John’s house, I Can See for Miles

playing on my transistor, to find him

loading the Courier Express into his mom’s ’62 Caddy

I hopped in so I could run the papers as he drove

the car, back before his dad was any the wiser

skinny dipping and swapping For Sale signs

are decades behind me, and good luck

finding a bottle of Schmidt’s – give me craft beer

any time, preferably a stout – but every time

I read the Sunday funnies I can see for years

as I think of that joy ride back in ’67

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, As It Ought to Be Magazine, Amethyst Review, Rusty Truck, Trailer Park Quarterly, The Gasconade Review, and River Dog Zine. His first collection of poetry, Glass Awash, was published in 2022, and his second collection, Heron Spirit, was published in 2024 – both by Spartan Press. His website:

Monday, June 24, 2024

I Don’t Miss Your Saturday Nights By Troy Schoultz

I don’t miss the straining voices growing louder

As hours crawl to morning.

I don’t miss broken glass on fractured sidewalks

And women walking on broken heels.

I don’t miss walking home, counting red taillights

Hoping later I’ll be able to locate my car.

I don’t miss waking in strange apartments

Looking at stranger’s faces on the wall.

I don’t miss the vicious Sundays

And outraged seagull eating from graffiti dumpsters.

I’ll tell you what I do kind of miss…

I miss not knowing death

Or the feel of a hospital bed.

I miss the sense of neon and lightbox possibility

And eyes meeting in the mirror behind the bar.

I miss throwing punches at tomorrow,

And falling in deep, frenzied love with werewolf moons.

I miss,


Most of all

I just miss.

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...

Sunday, June 23, 2024

UNTO by Glenn Armstrong

There is only me contrasted with everyone

and everything else. I don’t go to Scottish

games and log toss. I identify as being

separate. That includes so-called connectivity

and your feelings. Not to be a cad, 

just unto myself. We’re alone beyond

the illusion: bawling, sour-faced newborns

seeking to hide before being classified, 

stamped, and turned loose as statistics. 

Glenn Armstrong enjoys reading old pulp fiction and piloting the way back machine. The result is sometimes poetry. His work has appeared in The Beatnik Cowboy and The Rye Whiskey Review, among others. He lives in San Diego. 

Friday, June 21, 2024

Mosquitoes are attracted to me By Doug Holder

There will come a time
Closer than I think
When only mosquitoes 
Will be attracted to me.
Even the fleas will flee
On a fragrant summer breeze
And the bees
They will do
What they please.

Perhaps I would like them better
If there was some courtship
Some more flirtation
Before they try to penetrate me.

In any case
I will be discreet
I won't sleep
With everything
That is attracted to me.

Doug Holder is the co-president of the New England Poetry Club, and the founder of the Ibbetson Street Press. He teaches creative writing at Endicott College, and his work has appeared in Molecule, Soul-lit, Worcester Review, South Florida Poetry Journal and more..

Co-President of the New England Poetry Club
Boston Area Small Press and Poetry Scene

Ibbetson Street Press

Poet to Poet/Writer to Writer

Doug Holder CV

Doug Holder's Columns in The Somerville Times
Doug Holder's collection at the Internet Archive

Thursday, June 20, 2024

Some say By Richard LeDue

only broken people read Bukowski,

and it made me think 

of my old favourite beer glass

with a large chip out of it,

while there's a newer mug,

almost untouched,

that I often let make love to the dust,

yet neither help delay Monday mornings, 

when dead writers seem the furthest away.

Richard LeDue (he/him) lives in Norway House, Manitoba, Canada. He has been published both online and in print. He is the author of ten books of poetry. His latest book, “Sometimes, It Isn't Much,” was released from Alien Buddha Press in February 2024.

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Recovery Valley By Alec Solomita

They say St. Peter cried so hard after his betrayal

that his tears formed two fixed furrows, one down each cheek.

Richard II imagines himself and the loyal Aumerle

weeping until their tears “have fretted us a pair of graves.”

Hamlet compares his own hesitance to a visiting actor’s 

show of feigned torment. “What would he do,/ 

Had he the motive and the cue for passion/

That I have? He would drown the stage with tears . . .”

I wept at your quietus 

when what was really demanded

was a decade of barking and moaning.

I should have wailed, whimpered, roared, and shrieked,

rooted my broken heart out of my broken body

and flung it into the seas incarnadine.

Well, people no longer speak 

with such high-flown passion

and they rarely grieve in the old-fashioned way,

at least in the suburbs of Boston.

So I’d missed, I thought, the chance 

properly to say goodbye.

But here in Recovery Valley 

amid the tall green trees,

bears, bobcats, therapists,

and ticks, the real thing sneaks up

on me as I lie on my hard

mattress, once used

by silent monks after

their evening beaker of port.

Grief grips my heart,

hurling out tears till they

raise the sea level of my small room.

Soon, though, it’s all too real

and my own liquid solace,

even a mug or two 

of sherry, is nowhere

to be found in this healthy,

duplicitous wasteland.

So much,

I whisper between sobs,

for mindfulness,

so much for social support,

so much for coping skills.

and so much for Shakespeare’s

keening minions.

I still need a bottle, some ice

and a glass to smooth 

my journey as the evenings pass.

Alec Solomita is a writer working in Massachusetts. His poetry has appeared in many journals, including Poetica, Lothlorien Poetry Journal, The Galway Review, The Lake, The Rye Whiskey Review, and several anthologies. His chapbook “Do Not Forsake Me,” was published in 2017 by Finishing Line Press. His full-length poetry book, “Hard To Be a Hero,” was released by Kelsay Books in the spring of 2021. He’s just finished another, “Small Change.”     

Monday, June 17, 2024


I walked these streets this morning feeling a renewed

Sense of understanding as before me people went

About their lives in this town where some have everything

They could ever possible desire whilst others sit

Fumbling cans of Desperadoes on church doorsteps

And I know forever which grouping I’ll always be closer to

And how close I’ve come on many occasions.  His face,

Beaten and bloody, suggests a war which will surely

Only end in an early death as this session seems never

Ending, lasting from that first fateful taste right through

To that ultimate state of release when all those troubles

Will come crashing to an end.  

But today, with things to do, I walked on...

It wasn’t long before I saw another, this time three guys

Strung out, crowding around a mobile phone desperate

To get fixed and working out how they were going to pay

For it and suspecting that the answer would be to steal it

I walked on...

Further down the road, in an empty shop doorway, sits

A woman, clutching a sleeping bag, looking dirty and

Crying, crying her heart out to some kind soul who

Stands, listening, sympathizing as another life circles

The drain and I walk on...

Arriving at the shop I need to visit the entrance is a

Gaggle of activity, a Big Issue seller surrounded by

A mix of street drinkers and more needing to get fixed

But navigating my way through the scene the first 

Thing I see is a panicked looking security guard 

And a group of workers all keeping their beady eyes

On a suspect placing large fillets of salmon into his

Carrier bag.

I managed to make it around and out and back home 

And after seeing all the street life out there I think I’ll

Stay in and hopefully write a few more words about

This life of mine.

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.  

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...