28 July 2008

heroin love songs, vol. 2

p o e t r y

working girl

samantha ledger, england

the humdrum whore;
for a penny
and there are prettier ones
that smile for less.

But I have standards,
don’t you know.

Mother taught me to wash
behind my ears,
so I guess that entitles me
to the upper class drunks;

with their avid humping
and childish giggles
as they -


wondering towards
orange street lamps
where we all hang;
some scabby corner
littered with empties and fag butts.

Us kids.

Fifteen, sixteen going on
Too much life held back
in watery eyes,

coughing up our guts
and last customers.
I would say sucker
but the irony stings;

much like the reminders
of you
and him and them and others.

Are you ugly?

I know my baby doll dress
arrests your aging heart.
There are, at any given time,

at least two of you,
or three.
Blurred vision is such a

when undressing old farts;
stifling a laugh at
colossal egos.
I forego foreplay.
Why prolong
what they came for?

One quick kiss on the forehead
and a rushed goodbye,
wife and kids to feed,
to see and tuck into bed.

So long, farewell,
have a nice life
in your 2.4 ideal.
I’ll be a good girl.
See you next week
Wave meekly as we part
and mumble

"So long Daddy."

the tax collector’s tour
william doreski, new hampshire

All the houses of this city
open into each other, room
after room strung together.

Following the tax collector
I pass through hundreds of homes
without ceremony, people

eating or bathing, drinking beer,
gambling, rapt in adultery.
The rooms stink of dead pizza,

tobacco, popcorn, and farts.
Stalled traffic murmurs somewhere
on the edge of mere being.

The tax collector appointed me
assistant tax collector but
so far we’ve collected nothing

and I’ve lent him no assistance—
the houses cringing as we pass,
the doors unlocked, cries of lovers

and squall of jug-eared children
competing with the roar of TVs
tuned to deadly violent game shows.

I can’t even name this city
although the black velvet paintings
of the pope, Elvis, and John F.

Kennedy suggest a familiar
liberal political outlook
tempered by the usual racist

and anti-Semitic murmurings.
After walking five or six miles
we pass from a bedroom directly

into the tax collector’s office.
File cabinets grin like St. Nick.
Clerks grumble at computers

with silver-blue screens. We slump
at steel-gray desks and he asks
if I understand the job. I do.

He nods. Somewhere out there, snow
addles the streets and commuters sob
as criminal intentions fulfill

themselves one victim at a time,
their stolen dollars grimacing
as they crumple in the dark.

the didactic view of art
william doreski, new hampshire

Leaning against the chalkboard
you sigh through Tolstoy’s argument
about the didactic view of art
then tell the crowd that children
are the only form of expression
you admire. Your colleagues offer
safely academic applause.

As most head for the refreshments
I remain planted in my chair,
hoping you’ll remember me
from wine-sipping Paris evenings
with lamplight crawling over us
and the smell of the river ripe
with a history of suicide.

But you ignore me so formally
the planet creaks with the effort
and I exude a single tear
that scars like a Heidelberg duel.
Congratulations clot in my throat.
A handsome bearded fellow nods
as you smile your famous pink smile.

Unfair to expect scholarship
to tell the truth about anything—
but you dislike the fuss and mess
and sentiment of children
and prefer Tolstoy’s fiction
to his foolish pronouncements
about sainthood and creation.

The academic crowd admires
the angle at which your head
sits on your neck, your sturdy
tripod stance, your readiness
to answer questions with insults.
While you earn tenure at Harvard,
Berkeley, Michigan, and Cornell

I leave and stagger to my office
and clench myself with critical force
that should kill me. When you knock
at my door the fossil part
of me refuses to answer,
accepting the distance between us
as a warp in geologic time.

visiting the postmodern sublime
william doreski, new hampshire

The house your husband cobbled
from a dozen competing plans
hogs four acres, enclosing
two for a barren courtyard.
The drawing room looks like a gym.
We rattle like dice, our drinks
foaming in our fists. The furniture
refuses to comfort our rumps
so we stand around fuming,
wondering why we’ve accepted
your invitation to admire
the nether regions of a house
built by a famous tax fraud.

At last the tour begins. We mope
along plain brick corridors,
passing tiny unfurnished rooms
smelling of plaster and paint.
Through a metal fire door into
absolute dark. Where did you go?
Someone screams so painfully
I gnash like a garlic press.
The walls squeeze in. Someone
pops like a boil. The horror
wrings the blood from my body
and I smear and stain the carpet,
my spirit a whisper of lint.

A light flickers. We’re alive:
the walls haven’t crushed us,
and you’re so apologetic
I almost believe that isn’t blood
you lick from the rim of your mouth.
The tour continues. The rooms
feature appliances no one
can identify, exercise
or torture devices, office
or educational machines,
computer displays of numbers
of unknown significance.

At last we emerge in a kitchen
of granite and stainless steel
and many blocks of carving knives.
No wonder the government refused
to confiscate the property.
We lean against the ceramic tile
and agree that your house repels
the human so successfully
you have reason to be proud,
although your imprisoned husband
has warned you for legal reasons
never to state that pride aloud.

visiting the postmodern sublime
william doreski, new hampshire

The house your husband cobbled
from a dozen competing plans
hogs four acres, enclosing
two for a barren courtyard.
The drawing room looks like a gym.
We rattle like dice, our drinks
foaming in our fists. The furniture
refuses to comfort our rumps
so we stand around fuming,
wondering why we’ve accepted
your invitation to admire
the nether regions of a house
built by a famous tax fraud.

At last the tour begins. We mope
along plain brick corridors,
passing tiny unfurnished rooms
smelling of plaster and paint.
Through a metal fire door into
absolute dark. Where did you go?

Someone screams so painfully
I gnash like a garlic press.
The walls squeeze in. Someone
pops like a boil. The horror
wrings the blood from my body
and I smear and stain the carpet,
my spirit a whisper of lint.

A light flickers. We’re alive:
the walls haven’t crushed us,
and you’re so apologetic
I almost believe that isn’t blood
you lick from the rim of your mouth.
The tour continues. The rooms
feature appliances no one
can identify, exercise
or torture devices, office
or educational machines,
computer displays of numbers
of unknown significance.

At last we emerge in a kitchen
of granite and stainless steel
and many blocks of carving knives.
No wonder the government refused
to confiscate the property.
We lean against the ceramic tile
and agree that your house repels
the human so successfully
you have reason to be proud,
although your imprisoned husband
has warned you for legal reasons
never to state that pride aloud.

feet of clef
luca penne

Miming the silence, mining the silence, mini-silence. Trying to ignore your presence, your arms crossed across your arrogant bosom, I prong the dark for a definition I can take to bed and console. Stars excite themselves unnecessarily. The television gloats like something a gourmet has left uneaten. I pluck a string, but it’s actually a nerve. You knew that, didn’t you? You knew my clef was G, while I mistook it for B-flat. Flat flat flatty-flat. You want me to learn the sharps, as well, but my fingers trill along the white keys and stumble on the black. We know so little about each other that our clefs clash and jangle, and my G trips over its triads, triggering accidental fifths, and your D-sharp regrets nothing with a laugh. We’re successfully ignoring each other’s more aggressive features, yet we inhabit a roman รก clef of aggressive forms and de-forms, and the other characters are watching, hoping to catch us at play.

loon laugh
luca penne

Did a loon laugh that loony laugh right here in public? Traffic jolts along with shouts and waves. You’d think someone was naked the way the tourists are crowing. I slurp a pint of ale and rehearse my dotage. Chuckles and chortles, but I can’t risk a loon laugh of my own, not here amid the Friday afternoon crowd. You, of course, adhere to the hippy beads and peasant dresses of an adolescence so fizzy it should have been bottled. I’d advise you to delete the flowers from your hair, but the guys who sweat for a living love your bare legs and fast-forward posture. They buy you so many drinks the beer glasses line up before you like trophies. I want to tell them they’re wasting their dough, but I’d better not get involved. I’m reading a novel about a man too terse to express the failure of his internal organs. His life story represents the failure of the Versailles Treaty. As I purse a timid greeting your loony laughter skitters through the alcoholic haze and sparks a brush fire in the part of my hair.

puma perl, new york

ghosts walk with me
there are no fresh footprints
on scarred souls of old streets
once we were everywhere
now i fade soundless, blind

NYU students sit on a stoop
once a guy stumble down those stairs
blood spilled from his head
pills fell from his pockets
an english girl said oh my

i use old student ids
buy tickets in the public theater
remember a memorial for a poet
the women who loved him were there
they cut their eyes at each other
waited for their names to be called
or for a mention in poems and stories
the boys that he abused were there too
chasing each other across the stage
his sisters collected autographs
from movie extras, failed players
not a word of truth was spoken here

i used to hate seventh street
Ukrainian women stood in doorways
glared at me, they knew me
from the hotel rooms they cleaned
today a man waits for his wife
she comes out of the boutique
does a little tap dance for him
dances in my space, in my sidewalk square
another day i might have danced back
flirted with her man just cause i could
today smoky spirits surrounds me
invisible to dancing women in newsboy caps

yet i can’t stop thinking about her
why is she wearing that hat
was she dancing for his amusement or her own
does her head explode in firecracker bursts
does her husband ever dance with her or does he watch
she tap-danced so close she almost touched me
invisible i floated away with my ghosts
down different streets where once we danced

i am invisible in black leather and jeans
i am invisible in boots and mascara
ghosts carry me through cell phone chatter
girls who sing when they talk
tough boys who crumble at night
November threatens all who live here
with dark afternoons and holidays
i am invisible, ghosts fall like leaves
women tap dance on sacred squares
i am invisible, imprinted, scarred,
i am invisible, ghosts dance away with me
every step is a memory, imprinted, unseen

like a normal person
puma perl, new york

I didn't want to go home
There'd be no one there but me
I'd end up talking to myself
Baseball is like life
I'd say for the thousandth time
Shut the fuck up
I'd tell myself
As I stared morosely out the window
Thinking about sex and cigarettes

I wanted to go to a bar
Watch the Yankee game like a normal person
Drink a few beers like a normal person
Get really drunk if they lose
Like a normal person
Probably get thrown out of the bar
Like a normal person
Stagger down the street to another bar
Realize I'm drunker than a normal person
Go shoot some dope
Just a little once in awhile
Like a normal person

lori williams, new york

She wants to rip her tongue out
slowly, with pliers or maybe
a sharp knife from her kitchen set,
slicing down the layers to the first one,
before the unforgivable--

the skin of pink that licked
her father's dick with eye's closed,
wishing she were somewhere else
but she was there and that night
a seed of future fear sown

in her womb, vodka-drenched
and salty. She tried to make it work
with yellow and teal borders that she did
herself. She scrubbed her stomach in the bath
and hoped for a girl, olive like her,

nothing hanging between joy and despair. A boy
is what she had, but she loved him, kissed his penis
with open eyes -- he was hers.
The tongue of seventeen years ago has withered
and there is no plumping of it, he's gone away

and she is left with knives and pliers,
a flat mother's tongue,
wishes of death for dads and moms
and olive skinned children.
Forgive her.

old man on the R train at 5pm
lori williams, new york

Stars rush from his mouth as he sings,
his breath is the beach I knew, when pails

were full of possibility -- a penny or a pop-top.
He sings the 60's songs, cane taps along

to the pole, and my simple dollar is scrunched
into his paper cup, as if

it's enough. I could thank him
for those moments he brought back;

of dad with his yellow cab full of sand and shells
and mom, with her fear of water, humming

as her girls swam out too far. But when he says
bless you, for that dirty dollar,

my throat is full of salt,
envying his stars.

channeling erin brockovich
misti rainwater-lites, texas

"No, baby. Stay in the yes zone."
Jackson crawls into the no zone.
I'm sitting in the yes zone holding my cell phone up to my ear.
This ringing has lasted for approximately five minutes.
The same mousy bitch from last week drawls her nasal
greeting into my ear, finally.
I dispense with the basic courtesies and get down to business,
Julia Roberts as Erin Brockovich style.
"My son's Medicaid expired on June 30th. I need to
reapply over the phone because I don't have a car."
I need a phone interview. I DON'T HAVE A CAR."
"Ma'am, I'd be happy to mail you an application."
"NO. I was told I could get a phone interview. My son
"Ma'am, how it usually works is we mail you an application
and a worker has thirty to forty days to process it."
I wish this bitch could smell my sweat right now.
I would love to put her in a headlock and shove
her nose up my right pit.
I'd like to tie her to a chair and make her watch
me hold my squirming baby boy while I try to
hold the mask up to his face so that he can breathe.
I'd love to entertain her in this crack whore shack.
I'd give her lukewarm Sam's Choice bottled water
stale Cheez-Its Party Mix and my a cappella rendition
of "My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys."
I would give her a poetry reading
she wouldn't soon forget.
I'd give her something to think about
besides Jesus and Oprah and the latest
Olsen Twins gossip.
I think about all kinds of deep stuff.
I think about how fortunate I am
that I did not live in the lower 9th Ward
when Hurricane Katrina came to town.
I think about mothers holding babies
in filthy diapers on rooftops.
I think in terms of formula and not having it.
I remember when there was no formula
in the house several months ago,
how I put my son on my breast
even though I only breastfed him his
first week of life.
I think in terms of howls that cannot
be placated.
I think in terms of not having
and not getting
anytime soon.
How does a mother tell her baby
"You are just a number. Welcome to
the line."

misti rainwater-lites, texas

The July heat in Albuquerque is dry.
The July heat in Las Vegas is veldt.
Daddy is on safari.
I've been on safari inside the MGM Grand.
This July heat throbs with a funky stench
and burns my nostrils with the wafting
of the primordial stew.
There are alligators and nutria in there.
My body is stuck in the crack whore shack
on Ford Street. Numb in places, tingling
in others.
My spirit is on a voodoo tour in New Orleans.
The Big Easy is hard on my longing.
My favorite photograph ever
even better than the photograph
I took of my vagina when I was numb
from Paxil and mourning the loss
of multiple orgasms
is the black and white photograph
of Fred and Cindy sitting together
at the Hurricane littered table
in Pat O'Brien's. Her face smeared
with drunken this love is as good as
it's ever gonna get resignation
his face Cherokee Irish stone tablet
engraved by God's burning finger
underneath black cowboy hat.
My favorite literary love scenes
hands down easy
are found in the pages of
Pachinko's SWAMP!
How can cockroaches
and crawdads and mosquitoes
be romantic?
I don't know how he did it.
Perhaps he was with the right woman
at the wrong time
in the wrong place
and because he was with the right woman
the other wrongs
were canceled out.
All I know for certain
is that I am here
stewing in my mire
but am flying there
haunting hearts
convinced they have found It
and It will never die
and leave them buried
in memories
and phone bills.
I'm black cat bad luck.
I'm Santeria.
I'm wicked candles dripping wax
all over the best intentions.
Bloated but not
with any amount
of regret.

unanswered calls
lester allen, pennsylvania

it is late perpetually
like me
for a dinner invite or pretty much
I lie on my back eyes
making love to the
cobwebs on a stranger's
yet all the bills arrive addressed
to me
and if I lay still enough
preach patience enough
the stranger will often times grow
bored and
it's just me & the
dim walls of this room
hunting shadows through
these pages
& dreaming
of leaving

death waits
lester allen, pennsylvania

In a rusty soup can
In a little girl’s smile
Where I first saw the
In the holes of my department
store shirt
Where the buttons would go
if they hadn’t
already went

In the miles of highway
This life and
The next

let’s hope he’s one
patient motherfucker

arrogance, belief, and perspective
annette stenslien, wisconsin

Tell me, how absolutely
absolutes are true
and how lutes fit
neatly in small square boxes,
tell me how it is
not possible
to combine ideologies
theologies and philosophies,
that this spot is the one
definitive, the one right
religion, the one perfect race
that black and white is clean,
the lines clear and trailing
across and through
hilly pastures are sheep.

I think, I smell hypocrisy.

Tell me, with so many
factors to include,
how will that equation
result in the same
answer every time.

michael lee Johnson, illinois

Do what I tell you to do.
Your face is like flour dough,
your nose like a slant directionally
unknown like an adverb
tossed into space.
Your hat is like an angel
wedding gown draped
over vodka body
like a Christ shield
protecting you in innocence.
It is here I kiss your lips as a total stranger;
bring myself closely to your eyes;
camp out on your narrow lips
and wait for the morning
before I slide like a sled
deep snow, away.

charley plays a tune
michael lee johnson, illinois

Crippled with arthritis
and Alzheimer's,
in a dark rented room
Charley, plays
melancholic melodies
on a dust filled harmonica he
found abandoned on a playground of sand
years ago by a handful of children
playing on monkey bars.
He now goes to the bathroom on occasion,
peeing takes forever; he feeds the cat when
he doesn't forget where the food is stashed.
He hears bedlam when he buys fish at the local market
and the skeleton bones of the fish show through

He lies on his back riddled with pain,
pine cones fill his pillows and mattress;
praying to Jesus and rubbing his rosary beads
Charley blows tunes out his
celestial instrument notes float through the open window
touch the nose of summer clouds.
Charley overtakes himself with grief
and is ecstatically alone.
Charley plays a solo tune.

if you find god, keep him in your pocket
jason “juice” hardung, colorado

My old man saves quarters
with Wyoming's bucking bronco
on the back.

Only Wyoming

never New Jersey or Vermont.
Like they will be worth twenty-six cents someday.

People never find God
unless things are going
horribly wrong.
Prison cancer addiction
being lost in the Amazon rainforest
with cutter ants gnawing
on your broken leg
while an airplane writes
Will you marry me?
With its exhaust.

The pilot never sees you.

God sees everything and laughs.
Michael Vick found God
so did Tonya Harding.

Yesterday I found a quarter
with God's face
on the back
a stern profile chiseled in silver
a handsome white man
with his hair parted to the left
a cocky grin
and it said
"In me I trust"

nurtured like a cactus in a single man’s apartment

jason “juice” hardung, colorado

I never learned how to make a bed properly
do the dishes
mow the yard in diagonal lines
comb my hair
make cereal
feed the dog

My dad just said
do it
it better be done before I get home
grabbed his black lunch box
silver thermos
and slammed the door

His rail yard bibs would walk out
into yellow mornings
come home in blue evenings
and I was dirtier
than I was before

I didn't figure out that the shower curtain goes
on the inside of the tub
until I lived on my own
The floor was always wetter than me
and I was a newborn calf
doing splits
every time I tried to stand on my own

Now I just take baths
I never learned what dinnertime talk meant
parent teacher conferences
sack lunches with half cut sandwiches
like that red-haired kid Roy Edge flaunted
just before I took it from him

When I was a child I dreamed
of being a single father
in a house painted two shades of brown
because I started something I couldn't finish

I never planned that I'd be the age
I am now

Women were like
family trips to Disneyland
Other people's families
I never learned to decode ancient Mayan hieroglyphics
or read the nutritional values on bread
I never learned that when a woman says
I'm fine nothing’s wrong
she really means
we need to talk
and when she says
we need to talk
it's usually over by then.

i watched the stoplight change in your eyes
jason “juice” hardung, colorado

We drove to a sex shop.
I said I'd by you that purple waterproof dildo
that curves to the left.
Just like me.
But sex couldn't wait.
You took my swollen ego into your mouth.

As I drove, the shadows of branches
brushed your back through
stained glass cathedrals.
Me I played with your hair,
tried not to crash,
used turn signals
and drove the speed limit.

Streetlights in rain ran
the length of the blacktop.
Obsidian in the throes
of city heat, cars
pulling up next to us,
honking with Barney Fife smiles
and a hemp necklace I wish
was a noose.
instead, raising thumbs up
like dumb simians do.

We didn't care
and suddenly the price of gas
didn't seem that bad.
Four dollars is nothing
compared to the warmth
of your mouth.

The place where I came from,
your smile will make
you a star kid.
So we drove
into tomorrow, our future
windshield wipers
pushed yesterday
off into the street
and I watched it
fall on its face in the rear view.

I finished off and pulled
your head up for a kiss.
The reflection of the stoplight
turned green
in your eyes.

blue collar, white heat
dan provost, massachusetts

She told me that “If I didn’t
know you personally, I would
never approach you…you’re very blue
collar and always have a sneer on your face.”

Well baby, I wear that persona like
a battle scar…never wanting to
wear my poetic side on my sleeve.

Ronnie Van Zant once told me
that all the pencil-pushers better
get out of his way.

I took that to heart and never allowed
phoniness to creep into my grill.

Abilities should always speak for
themselves, if the personality is bigger
than the talent—than it’s time to try
a new game with a another set of rules.

I do not carry bullets out the door, or drive
a steak through the heart of malcontents
Who call themselves disillusioned.

And people more talented than I sang songs
about hiding behind blue eyes and asking
if anybody’s in there.

Uh, uh…There’s a true challenge inside my
being that exposes itself everyday. But I will
not let it fuck with me because I have a
right to survive.

It is then I walk out the doorway and
spit on the sidewalk to remind myself
who I really am…

witnessing a man dying who wants to live
dan provost, massachusetts

To watch a man dying that
wants to live.

You look inside yourself and feel ashamed
and embarrassed of your own pain.

To see him struggle to say a word.

To see his face grimace with pain in some hospice, where the scent of death lingers in each saddened room.

This is the end of the spree.

A later eulogy.

A tear left in some alleyway.
The night steers its course.

No end…
No end…

your Zapruder film frame DNA
melanie browne, texas

I apologize. I tried to read your poem
With the arbitrary roman numerals
Some of your stanzas were
Not in a numeric order as one
Would have expected nevertheless
I tried to stay on track and I almost made
It through the first stanza
But the numbering made things smaller
And smaller till your words disappeared and then I saw
Nothing but white and the white became the pixels
And then I saw clearly what it was you
Were trying to say to me
You wanted me to see your tiny erector set
I see it!
I see your bread crumb Jesus!
The DNA in your Zapruder film frame!
But I'm still not exactly sure
what your poem was about

heaven is a giant pawn shop
melanie browne, texas

Heaven is
a giant pawn shop
with no 90 day interest
pawn tickets

You can trade
a bladder skin
for a
Lord of the
Flies Ballet!

I think about this
as I'm listening to
in the car,

trying to calm myself
down, having a
panic attack
in the parking lot

outside of Starbucks,
worrying about
whether I would be
cool or cast out,

and I'm still thinking
about heaven
and that pawn shop
built of gold
in a rainbow filled sky

death is a breakfast cereal
darryl salach, canada

will not

said it
stand a

pack up
the truth
to a

a shot
darryl salach, canada

no poetry today
only a hangover
with my tongue feeling numb
my eyes swollen
and burning a dry red color
the smell of garbage
and cat piss is everywhere.
my apartment needs a powder puff
and I need to bite that dog in the ass.

fly posters will be prosecuted
simon philbrook, england

Muslim students with rucksacks
will not be sat next to on trains,

young blacks will be stopped
and searched,

children will be driven to school
in four-by-fours,

gays will be beaten
and jews will be spat at,

men will fuck whomever they can
and lie to their wives,

politicians will smile
and kiss babies,

the homeless will die on the streets
when the weather turns,

prostitutes will take crack
and executives will take cocaine,

targets on CO2 emissions
will be talked about,

footballers will get away with rape
and drunk driving,

McDonalds will sell burgers
and Starbucks will sell coffee,

fly posters
will be prosecuted,

this is england
have a nice day.


amanda boschetto, sweden

she gazes upon the world,
the same she created
with orgasms of smiles

and her legs are always open,
for every man who wants to
visit some cheap cunt

one day she shall paint her
walls with brain and bones,
maybe already tomorrow,
in her soft cell of dust

she is night during day and
never sees any children
alive under her hands,
they turn to naked trees,
they turn as she does,

into words and air,
forever here

the mirror reflects
amanda boschetto, sweden

my face in the mirror
is void of truth,
that trembles along
with the trees outside,

the ugly ghosts of summer
swim in a puddle
of death or a sweet suicide,
a haze of unawareness,

chasing me back to childhood
where i grew up
and ran to catch the rain
clouds were higher than
heaven then
and the pale sky was full
of mourning,
a lonely beauty that
left a mark on my skin,

all this within

happy days?
mike carson, tennessee

Happy daze, floating on the beach
Happy in No-Fuck, Vagina
That’s quite a task for the sailor boys
Sent by their kindly Uncle Sam
To Hell for a year, Hell incarnate
Aboard the Devil’s own fireboat
The U.S.S. Zippo, I mean Forrestfire, er, excuse me, Forrestal
4,000 strong, unless you count the 500 ghosts
Happy daze, purple haze
Angel dust at dawn’s fresh meat
An opium lover’s delight -
Remind me again, please? Duty, Country, Honor
What about my God? Oh, please help me find my God
What the Hell is happening to me?
Please tell me - am I having fun yet?
Tell me about your Vietnam
I’ll tell you that the military doesn’t need a war
To mess one’s mind, they do a fine job of that all the time
Peacetime vets let me hear your voice
How many Hells must you endure?
Happy daze, floating
Find a vein to pump the drugs in
Was ‘Nam like this? Did we learn well?
Return to where? The Forrestal? To burn?
Go ahead - Fry us all, great gray God of sailor’s fears
Floating - I dream of floating in the black burning
Waters of the dark aftermath -
But ships don’t sink anymore, do they?
They simply vaporize, what a comforting thought
Happy days turn to happy nights
Floating on the beach
In Ocean City
Give me some kind of reason

To break my happy daze
Of purple haze
Born in the crazy days
Of yesterday
What happened to the Beatles?
Where are the Rolling Stones?
Open the door, Jim - open the fucking doors!
Speak to me of a fine and happy day
When the words war and army mean nothing anymore
And I can stop dreaming
In my solitary opium den of a mind

hot summer night
benjamin nardolilli, new york

Uptown is Downtown,
And the tenements
And the skyscrapers
Have all gone dancing
With each other, as
I run trying to get to you.

The park is melting
And its lights are filled
With incandescent cobwebs,
The rumbling under me
Threatens the whole infrastructure.

Your window is broken,
So I howl with the rats
And you’ve become the moon,
The cream oval is looking away,
Trying to set and leave me alone.

In the flatlands, I walk,
Until I find friendly monkeys
Holed up in a brick cage.
We drink cheap imports
And when they turn their backs
I run, trying to get to the mailbox

Hoping to stop the money from getting through.

waiting for the night train
benjamin nardolilli, new york

Burnt or buried,
Death will take me as I am.
I will not worry
About what to wear:
Death comes even to the naked,
Or who I am with, for
No crowd can fight an enemy
That makes no sound and is swift,
With the twist of the heartstrings,
And the crashing of all memories.

The dark curtains are drawn.
I must approach, to enter
The cave behind them,
Not with too much sadness,
Or with fear,
I must be willing to leave
It all behind, yet
I must not be happy,
Or come running,
To look eager to leave is wrong for me,
What would it make my life seem?
A painful affair, a drawn out race
That I am quitting in disgust and exhaustion?

Death will not come to me,
I will come to it, and come
With a cryptic smile on my face,
A jagged line across my lips,
To keep the reaper guessing,
If its game is just a joke,
And I am the straight man
Setting death up for the punch line.

how it is
howard good, new york

The pretty young receptionist
reaches up for a file,

and the tops of her breasts swell
like luminous snow clouds,

and I savor the glimpse,
though a husband and father.

It’s just how it is,

the heart hoboes around,
dirty, unshaven, living on handouts.

to the owner of a shoe: rupert's tale
paul perez, new york

*based on a true story*

To whom it may concern,

I have stolen your shoe.

It is a black Adidas skating shoe,
with write stripes.

I apologize.

Wear and tear shows me
what fun you must have had together.

Skating down the street,
getting into fights with the preppy kids

The time you were caught
kissing a girl on your bed one night.

The state fair, running in the rain,
hackey sack, soccer,

Your right shoe
must be rather lonely,

being only one
in a pair of two shoes.

For that I apologize,
but you can't have the shoe back.

felino soriano, california

Tell me time, the innate proclamation
of invisible visual requirement of
hour mouth opening excreting language
of birth, rising of mauve tone
intertwined with visual
horizon too near
to verbally touch with
specific forgotten
laughter of the mind's
explosion imagery.

felino soriano, california

Against the mind, huge gloved in
well fitted reason, havoc performs
its birthright, its predetermined definition
worded, glamorized within the romantic angle
alerted by society, rubbing off a jagged edge
close enough to yank its sharpest fang.

Mind mayhem decomposes
sensatory blind explanation. Via
neo-literature found without the act
which sound reading once designed its

Television replaces with cultural
happenstance clear paths with mazed
confusion creating uncritical thinking
abilities, the monotonous with the
unblinking eyes unwavering.

love's sweet song
rose morales, florida

I need a little pain
to get me through the day.
Please leave the hugs and kisses
to the namby pamby throngs.
Love means
a kick in the groin
sharp and quick;
but make it last.
Because two hard rights
can never make a wrong.

Feed me monkey brains
in a heart shaped box,
intestines stored
in a tarnished gold locket.
Weave worms and roaches
through my filthy hair;
put leeches in my
empty pockets.

Tell me you hate me
and make it stick.
I find it the most passionate poetry.
Use only curses to tell of repulsion
and I will be putty in your hands.
There is no need for subtlety.

I hate sweet nothings
and colorful foreplay;
just give me the hard parts,
let love flow
down the drain.
When all becomes a ceaseless drone
and I can hardly stand it,
well, stop a second,
turn me over,
and start it all again.

My love will last
through death and birth;
I treasure you;
you slimy, filthy beast.
What I crave is not
what others want the most,
but rather, what the sane
would only want
the least.

back alley parliament
tim kucharski, illinois

The day I walked the same menacing path
Without realizing
Who I am
Or what harm can befall me
Was the day
I knew I made it
A graduation of sorts
Albeit the roughest kind
No longer tangled in fear
I was now seated in the inner circle
Of the knuckle dragging hooligans
Hitting first
Expected out of every encounter
Here I now traveled
In the blanket of nightfall
Against the thrashing sound of the el
Shaking the alleyway with its vibrating chorus
Grinding the debris with boot step
And not a soul to cower to
Yeah Ma this is me
I’m not the victim in pain no more
I even scored
Down the dimly lit path
To now go and take on the world
Without cares
Cuz there are none
Who can steal this vision

post mortem 2
tim kucharski, illinois

I’m writing this now
Cuz I wont be able to later
They stick a tag on my toe
Slide me in a drawer
What the hell just happened?
I was playing cards
Then I took a drive
It all happened so fast
It’s funny when it hits
Pain is the last thing you feel
Shock overwhelms
That bright light they talk about?
Every image flashing at once
Your card being pulled
Your battery shutting down
I think I was a good man
I think I did the best I can
Aw hell
To late for any of that nonsense
It was a thrill every last minute

build yr barricade against the bones

rob plath, new york

coffee stains on counter
like several malignant melanomas

mold on ceiling above kitchen sink
green Rorschach test tattoos
signifying nothing

pieces of dust flying out of
box fan like no-souls shot
into void

skin flaking from my frame
fallout of rotting human form

trembling more out in the open
getting key into lock
pushing buttons of phone

bones knocking on door of flesh
some day'll shoulder their way
through jamb

in the meantime--
building barricade of:
beer bottles
coffee pots

a good day
rob plath, new york

it's 92 & muggy
2:23 p.m.
one of the fans
just stopped working
the other pushes thick
air around
dust balls moving across
the floor
like tiny tumbleweeds
the unamused cats
dangle their
limbs off furniture
trying to keep loose
& cool
the cicadas & the hum
of the box fan
team up to compose
the aural backdrop
to the neural madness
within my skull
last night a few blocks away
there was gun fire
the police chopper's whirling blades
drowning out the music
on my little black radio
i pulled the thin bed cover
up to my chin & lay still
as in other places
the sheet is thrown over
less fortunate faces

f i c t i o n

ash hibbert, australia

The night air was lukewarm, and the unshielded sky revealed the summer heavens.

Relaxed, I walked through the small tree-lined park, with Jonsie - my sheepdog - scouting out the nearby trunks. Darkness owned the reserve; the only source of illumination was streetlights in the distance, and stars from the moonless dome above.

Stones of the path crunched beneath foot. A dog barked in the distance, joined by another. A family laughing and talking, a car sped across the road ahead of me where the path ended: the town’s perimeter, the backwater, hiding in a secluded, warm corner facing rolling hills, paddocks, beyond an initial plantation of huge eucalypt, pines, and wattle.

A faint breeze carried the smell of summer’s dawn, spring’s dusk and the waning hours of Thursday. The sun had set an hour ago left a faint reminder on the horizon I was aiming for.

The small park sat in a gully between the ends of two courts - the better part of town. The road I was approaching shared the gully, dipping and rising in equal measures.

I looked instinctively for Jonsie as we approached the road – and found him sniffing large branches felled from the huge natives above us. He stared expectantly after giving up trying to lift one of them, looking for what direction I would choose.

On a whim, I walked on ahead, across the road and into the paddock. We had both walked this area of town countless times on nights similar to this one, which hung around us like a gentle, haunting tune, but we had rarely traversed the area beyond the road, over past the line of trees and shrubs where the paddocks began - and only at day.

I called to Jonsie who had begun up the path, and he turned, quickly intercepting me as I crossed the road. We passed beyond the trees together, into the fallow field.

Stumbling on the unfamiliar terrain, we eventually reached the even-mowed plateau of the oval. It was empty, vacant, and silent. With certain steps, I walked forth, letting my feet plot an invisible path across the open space.

Then the solitude descended, heavier than before. I felt at peace, alone, beyond the conventions of town and home. I breathed deep, letting my muscles relax, and my guard - down. I opened to the universe, and the night’s haunting tune.

The coolness gave a sense of stasis, of stillness, of time stopped. I felt like a diver entering the airless world of a pool, in a world that prohibited breath.

With the solace of silence almost complete, something else took its place like a stranger’s face recalled from a childhood dream.

I slowed down, and stopped completely.

Jonsie ceased trotting and turning to stare up at me, as if he too felt it, yet was surprised that I did as well. I looked around. On the perimeter of the oval to my left, the ground rose rapidly, crowned by a line of pine. To my right, the ground rose as well, yet sharper and higher, blotting out the lights of the town. If I kept walking, I would come upon a tall line of fencing. Turning around 180 degrees, I saw the steady ascent that would lead me either back home. Town, however, seemed distant. The sound of cars had dropped to an almost silent background, and my breathing and the beating of my heart grew surreal, like a needle dropped in a domed amphitheatre. I felt isolated, alone, as if I was the alien, and the new emotions native. I was vulnerable - yet not threatened. I stood within a nexus, where town and wilderness met.

I stood by a window, blinded by an unworldly glare, staring out. It was as if waiting just over the tip of the hill, to the West, where the pines lined up, an army awaited - a stationary force in another world, watching me. The feeling of their stare hung over me, descending like a net, running in me, like a million tiny spheres spinning around onto every surface of my body and racing down my blood stream, into my heart and head.

Invasion, I thought. It was like some extra-terrestrial force, scanning their first encounter. Yet then I realized that it was no violent entity – rather, the maelstroms that spun within me like a tiny whirlpool, whispering to me - a primitive nomad who had drifted from the safety of the herd – had always been there. It was something subtle, frightening, and even angelic.

I glanced upwards instinctively, and it was as if suddenly, just for a moment, the stars flared up. Then the brightness died away, back to the interrupted darkness of the sky.

I called out to Jonsie, and together we headed east.

Back to town - back to the herd.

and the sky fell
j. a. tyler, illinois

Bring sky down he called and the sky fell and crushed him. The sky sloped downward at such an angle that it mangled him. The sky plummeted. A strong metal bird. Wing-locked. The sky fell on his head and burst his brains onto an adjacent sidewalk. The sky made him graffiti.

He was a turtle tucked into his own legs and there was nothing saving him except his shell. But his exterior, the parts that should have been rough were polished smooth and thin with rubbing. It left him vulnerable. Crumpled his shell like a front bumper. He no longer existed.

But there was nothing special about him. Apart from his being a turtle. Or his rubbed skinny shell. The sky that he called down upon himself. So being crushed didn’t really mean anything. The loss of another turtle. The devastation of another man. The misplacing of another sky. Nothing nothing nothing new. Just another sky coming down.

monosyllabic “love” letter
misti rainwater-lites, texas

Dear You:

The spuds are in. Do not skimp on the salt. I do not need a pat. Not one. Not two. Not three. Four? Hell, no! Five. No. Six. No. Mash for my gums. Spoon white mush to my mouth. Part my lips. Feed me soft and smooth. I vow not to burp but won't vow not to lick the yum and beg for more. What would Jay do? Jay would add too much milk. Jay's mind is on the next pot of soup.

Cake...yes. Three eggs. Not two. I will not beg for crumbs. I want at least half the cake. I like when it sticks in my throat. I like to wash it down with milk. Skim. I like to moo like a cow. That is one way in which I show the world my shine.

I do not cloak my heart in shame. My heart is nude and will sit for a sketch. My heart glows pink as the day it was born. How did I pull that one off? No one knows. God? God, no. I'm strange like Maude. I do not age. I give and give but hide what I keep. This is for me. I like to share.



rose petal portent
misti rainwater-lites, texas

Place a rose petal beneath your pillow and dream
of the man you will someday marry. If you live in
Texas and have long black hair and big blue eyes
they won't ask you if you can read or tie your shoes.
If you are a little girl they will ask you if you have a
boyfriend yet. When you play pretend your friend's
mother will chastise you for pretending to be Jesus.
Girls cannot be Jesus. Boys cannot be Jesus. Girls
can be Snow White. Boys can be just about anything
else. You will swim in a mud puddle and your mother
will show you the color and scent of anger when she
puts you in the tub to scrub you pretty again. Don't
make your Barbie doll steal pork chops from the dream
house kitchen. Don't show your naked Barbie doll to
your cousin Shane. Belt whipping. Shame. Dirty dirty girl.
The first time I placed a rose petal underneath my pillow
it worked. He came to me. Not the me I was, the me I
would be when I figured shit out. He was Jewish. Dark
hair. Dark eyes. Killer smile. He had that Scorpio charisma.
He had that Libra charm. He had that Aries attitude. He
had that Gemini wit. He had that Leo style. He was happy
to have you. He was an attorney. You woke up confused.
You were certain you would dream of the youth minister's
son or maybe Ricky Schroeder. In Midland you drove to the
cemetery at night and stole fresh roses from the graves.
You have been cursed ever since.

sissy ain’t nothin’
alan smithee, california

“That bitch ain’t nothin’, you know? I mean, you know what I am sayin’, right?”

“No, actually. No clue. Your mouth keeps moving and moving, changin’ the direction of the breeze.”

“You know who I’m, talkin’ ‘bout, don’tcha? Seriously? You know. Sissy Big Tits. You know? That bitch from Texas.”

“Her last name is Big Tits?”

“You know what I am sayin’. Don’t be so dumb.”

“I ain’t dumb.”

“Yeah, okay.”

“I ain’t dumb!”

“Anyway. You know, what kinda name is Sissy anyway? I mean, really. Sissy? I know some fags named Sissy.”

“I think they’d just be sissies.”


“You know feminine acting gays are sometimes called sissies. It’s derogatory.”

“Deroga-what? You been readin’ the dict’nary at night, or somethin’? Don’t get all uptown on me.”

“I ain’t uptown.”

“No shit, fucker. You keep that in mind.”

“Alright. Fuck. Are you gonna shut up?”

“No. So back to what I was sayin’, okay? Anyway. That bitch she took my boyfriend. Fucked him from what I heard.”

“You have a boyfriend?”

“Yeah. So hard to believe?”

“A little. You’re such a chatty bitch. Who would stand you? You hate everyone. Everyone. Jesus don’t have that kind of patience to put up with your bullshit.”

“Yeah, well. I ain’t no bitch, fucker. And I have a boyfriend.”


“Arden Moore.”

“Arden Moore? That preppie dude from Westchester. With the BMW? The big house and all that? Really? Whad’ya do to get with him? Fuck him on the first date?”


“You fucked him. I see it in your eyes. Who you callin’ whore and bitch and shit when you’re fuckin’ some dumb fuck rich dude? You ain’t got no play to go down that road.”

“Yeah, well. Least I’m fuckin’. Who you fuckin’?”

“Wait you said Sissy took your boyfriend from you?”

“Yeah. Man, get on board with the conversation. That’s what I heard.”

“That bitch.”



“Oh now you’re on my page? Fucker, what took you there?”

“Cuz my girlfriend is Sissy Big Tits.”

No comments: