will read this and think,
they’ll be thinking,
thinking awfully hard,
Who is this? What is this moving toilet of words?
There are rats
everywhere in this house.
Five or six creek rats.
Thick tails, oily bodies, all the things
you’re thinking about rats, probably.
They squeal and stomp
inside the fireplace, in and out and in holes
they’ve chewed into the sheetrock,
low to the floor where the trim should be.
But rats. Rats by mountain load.
And still this moving toilet of words.
full of rats that write in cursive
threats across my walls
inside of my skull. Nothing makes me feel better.
Not even X-Files.
I hate the way
my face looks.
Drooped, unsacred, tired in a way separate
from drooped, scarred, stroke-drooped,
My face is a rat. I’m like a swollen rat.
Like the swollen rat in a trash
can full of rainwater at the end of my house
that I will never ever touch
and will leave forever placed where it is rotting.
These are my goodling shoes.
She probably has some kind of
woodpecker cushion brain
A posthumous existence 1
Floating in a butterfly’s eye.
A Pavlovian rock hound.
Do you play Pokemon Go?
Nine inch nails of snow.
Sing for me as you once did
when the river caught your tongue. 3
Happy birthday, Spraynard.
I’m disappointed in you. 4
1 John Keats in a letter describing how his life seemed during the bout of sickness that would eventually take his life at the fair age of 25. Later, he would yell at those around him, asking when his posthumous existence would be over.
2 From one of those Facebook questionnaires asking if I play Pokemon Go. This was my answer, trying to be as clever as I possibly could on social media.
3 From the television show Taboo. In episode one of the first season, Tom Hardy’s character, James Delaney, says this while having hallucinations of dead people coming back to life to try to kill him.
4 A line from Tim and Eric’s Awesome Show. The episode, from season one and called “Dads,” involved a prank phone call during which Tim said his son’s name was Spray, short for Spraynard. Later the two sentences used in this poem were put on a wall in decoration for Spraynard’s birthday party.
I sense you are religiously unhappy with me
so don't call the alligator
big mouth til you cross the river. 1
kind of like birds so
all birds look like chickens to me. 2
I always liked to see my
stepdad kiss my mom.
I wanted them to love each other.
Let me be your filicide muse;
we will fight in the shade 3
round the basement of my soul.
I’m more of a whatever.
I’m more of a
God’s incest jam. 4
1 A line from the 2016 remake of The Magnificent Seven. It’s a part where they’re crossing some country apparently rife with Comanche. Not sure which character said it, but it wasn’t Vincent D’Onofrio, who played, by far, the coolest character. I guarantee you he thought of that voice for his character on his own.
2 From a song by Sweet Papa Stovepipe, which I was turned onto while reading Michael Robbins’s Equipment for Living: On Poetry and Pop Music.
3 From the film 300 and beautifully and badassedly said in response to this line: “Our arrows will blot out the sun.”
4 My revised version of a comment made by Jereny Tackett after reading Cy Est Pourtraicte Madame Ste Ursule, et Les Unze Mille Vierges by Wallace Stevens. I can’t write what his original comment was here for the same reason I can’t right it above. We all fall victim to censorship from time to time, even if it is self-inflicted. But I do hate myself for it. So you know.
Bio: Sheldon Lee Compton is a short story writer, poet, and novelist from Kentucky. He is the author of three books of fiction and an upcoming collaborative chapbook of poetry. His most recent fiction and poetry has appeared in Wigleaf, BULL, Mannequin Haus, and Vending Machine Press. You can find him @bentcountry on Twitter and by visiting bentcountry.blogspot.com.
Bio: Daniel de Culla is a writer, poet, and photographer. He’s member of the Spanish Writers Association, Earthly Writers International Caucus, Poets of the World, (IA) International Authors, Surrealism Art, and others. Director of Gallo Tricolor Review, and Robespierre Review. He participated in many Festivals of Poetry, and Theater in Madrid, Burgos, Berlin, Minden, Hannover and Genève .He has exposed in many galleries from Madrid, Burgos, London, and Amsterdam. He is moving between North Hollywood, Madrid and Burgos
Threadbare Hearts in the Eternal Summer Night
Do you remember those deathless summer nights,
drinking gallons of red wine on the balcony porch of our apartment?
Parading our worth like an orchestral work of self-indulgence
and keeping our tattered inadequacies shielded behind the volume of drunken grandiloquence.
Can you still hear the jubilant charade of our significance?
Our time, our moment, our voluptuous laughter in the dark
serenading the passing strangers from high upon our grandiose veranda?
The echoes of our shameless bravado, ripe with the luscious taunting of debauchery.
Hollow eyed dreamers desperately clinging to the sweet inebriation of our youth,
and never giving it a single second to sober.
Do you remember drowning through mad days of incoherent despondency?
Our will confined to the ornamented escapism we had built into a life.
Oh, how we felt the weight of living so much stronger than we ever had before!
With our reckless sentiments bashed to rags against one another’s hips
our loins swollen and sore, with the names of former lovers on our lips.
Then lying awake in suspended midnight, brimming with unfulfilled passion,
and confused by the aftermath of our choices,
the loosened stitches of our threadbare hearts unraveling.
Do you remember so many inarticulate disappointments with the world
and how they all made us want to die?
Song of the Autotelic Charlatans
Writers must keep reading one another's work.
Artists must keep talking about one another's visions.
In doing so we convince ourselves,
that the torment and eternal weirdness is significant,
that the shame and the guilt and the lust
and the humiliation of being ourselves,
is a part of something broader
than our understanding.
Superior to normalcy,
richer than mediocrity,
more true to life
than societal projections of decency.
Musicians must sing and celebrate each other's songs
because it nourishes the false religion of ourselves.
The constant chatter that speaks in empty circles,
the complicated ways of saying very little,
masked as some individualistic affair
philosophizing the inexplicable,
translated through elitist jargon
from behind cabernet stained teeth,
eluding to nothing.
A transcendent smokescreen,
a forced idea that's more comforting than reality,
that is easier for us to accept,
than the aching truth of our inadequacy.
It is a mass generated spell of hysteria,
that reverses our importance to the world,
that grants us value for the more broken we are.
Do the poets truly talk to god?
Or do we just covet our own reflection
in the idea of omniscient deities?
Awkward, misfit, self-absorbed romantics
with lies on our tongues and desperate dreams
bleeding from our heads.
Nevertheless, I know not how to silence this voice,
nor do I really want to stop it from speaking.
and I don't really want you to turn off your voice either.
Bio: Aaron Conklin lives Warrensburg, MO on a small farm with his wife and two sons. Having graduated from the University of Central Missouri in 2014 with a BS in Education, Aaron is a high school English teacher and a middle school wrestling coach. His hobbies include studying chess, practicing martial arts, and writing poetry. When asked about where he finds his inspiration for writing, Aaron stated: "I choose to live simply, close to the earth, and in service to others."
you look like hell,
but i wouldn't say it
to your face
i'm wondering where
the laugh lines went -
replaced with metal
sold down the river,
like so many slaves -
mouth of dirt cheap
to worry vile;
he is quick
with his whip,
lashing out in leather
(you know who this is)
keeps you locked
away from me
in a cavern.
i'm sending in a troll,
with payment of 40 baby teeth;
a goat, and
my 200 foot long
braid of gold
ive got to save
you from your
you already seem
more bald -
worse for wear.
is harder than
using a knife -
writing a note,
giving up life
grab hold of
my hair, my spine
i can handle
so can others -
an effort like
floating on water
below and blood
as much as the flail
comes to mind,
don't do it
take a look around -
leaves are falling
bread needs baking
levees need mending
you could go, you are right, for
then it might stop the hurting -
but there would be no wayward light -
no broken wings
no charcoal smudges;
no bad hair days, neither
your dad's vinyl;
even mittens by and by,
only clear blue abyss
still floating above it.
i wouldn't come too.
i would stay here in
the mess-fuck world
thinking of you.
Bio: Elisabeth Horan is a poet, mother, student, lover of kind people and animals, homesteading in Vermont with her tolerant partner and two young sons. She hopes the earth can withstand us and that humans may learn to be more kind to each other and to Mother Nature. She has recently been featured at Quail Bell Magazine, Dying Dahlia Review and The Murmur House. Elisabeth is a 2018 MFA Candidate at Lindenwood University and teaches at River Valley Community College in New Hampshire. Follow her @ehoranpoet.
was what we called the local
long before it became
a popular film genre
and each time my parents
bought ground meat
I tried not to think
of the animals
that went into dinner
the blood against the plastic
as the cashier rang it
As I get older,
things don’t bother me
There is life
and then there is death
and the world goes
But Tarantino can’t take credit
for this one.
The slaughterhouse was there
long before him
and it will be there
long after him
I told him
he should make
which is a hell
of a thing
to say to someone
that doesn’t know
they are incarcerated,
but I was skunk drunk
coming off three straight twelves
and looking to prance
the flea collars out of
televised dog shows,
and the face he gave me
as though he were
a contestant on a
who didn’t have the answer
but knew he had to
and the way I shrugged
and walked off
knowing it was not one
of my finest moments
Bio: Ryan Quinn Flanagan is a Canadian-born author residing in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada with his wife and many bears that rifle through his garbage. His work can be found both in print and online in such places as: Evergreen Review, The New York Quarterly, Anti-Heroin Chic, In Between Hangovers, Red Fez, and The Oklahoma Review.
The Last Folk Singer
The last folk singer steps out onto the stage.
He carries his guitar and an old banjo.
They say he learned to sing from a
Jew in Kansas City but I know for a fact
he learned while in prison in the State of Utah.
They don’t call him a folk singer because
of his broken teeth. They don’t praise his looks
or his buckskin jacket. The last folk singer can barely walk,
and when he talks you can see his stained teeth. His voice
stands out and so does his ugly nose. But when he sings,
he makes grown men and women cry. They bawl.
When the last folk singer was young, the ladies held their breath.
He’d just wink and they’d fall out, as their friends screamed
and carried on, begging for more. He looks a hell of a lot like Pete Seeger,
but has had white hair from 30. He looks a little like Johnny Winter
and a whole lot like Andy Warhol.
People can remember him so well from when he was young.
He had long hair and never wore a shirt. They say he got his tattoos
while in state prison and he was sent there for stabbing his sister.
He croons and strums, hollers and cries; he plays his guitar real loud;
then he’ll get mad and storm out over nothing.
Furry Lewis who hailed from Memphis was said to have been
a friend but not his neighbor B. B. King, who didn’t like him one bit.
Rumor had it he came from Alabama, but Furry swore
he was born in a shit hole somewhere south of Jackson.
The happiest time of his life was the summer his tomatoes grew
the size of his wife’s favorite dinner plates. They were gigantic
and he took them with him to church in a basket to give away.
This went on for what seemed like forever, and he never forgot it.
The rest of the garden was fine, but when he thinks of those tomatoes he smiles.
The last folk singer began to lose his balance. His body began
to fail. At last, they wheeled him out in a special chair, a golden
throne on casters. He sat through most of his songs, but he always
stood for the Star-Spangled Banner and America the Beautiful.
The last folk singer hasn’t long to live. He’s given away most of his prized
possessions, including his Stetson and his Gibson guitar. Last week he sold me
his red boots and his silver buckle. He’s down on his luck. As he lay dying,
his manager, Burt Cole, waited for his final words. Even the doctor leaned in
and everyone hushed: “I never sing about nothing I didn’t know;
I never sing about love.”
An idle tree wants cutting down.
If we apply the rules of thermo-
dynamics, growing radishes in one’s
back yard makes no sense. Let
it be raspberries on prickly bushes,
not dirty little roots in the ground.
This is a treatise on good sense.
Like Swift’s argument in favor of eating
children, mine is a defense of watching
too much TV. Let’s distribute footballs
to the redskins; let’s send the whites back
I once knew a fat chick named
Trish whose boyfriend knocked all
my teeth out. My braces held them
in place as the blood ran out of my mouth.
Even at 16, young men in the South
fight over women’s breasts; only in my
day, we called them tits.
Peaches bruise easily in the heat.
I wouldn’t leave the pool gate open
at mid-summer. The neighbors might
walk in on an afternoon orgy. One
forfeits one’s right to privacy when
one makes oneself available.
I wouldn’t advise working for a company
that withholds anything, least of all
one’s lunch money.
Pecan pie is overrated, like a lot of
Southern dishes. Half of sales go
to tourists who haven’t a clue.
They’d buy a bottle of molasses
with a ribbon tied around its neck.
Hell, they’d go down on a dick painted
red. Most tourists are out and out liars,
like first-time home buyers and
The squealing never stops.
There’s a lot of commotion.
Our President’s been caught with his pants
down; our priests have stopped smoking.
My best friend built a yurt with a marble floor
and a padded cell for throwing tantrums.
The transformation is now complete.
The destroyers are triumphant; the victims,
silent; and the observers, transfixed. Is it
time for advancement or retreat?
I’d say, where are the people of color?
That’s always the question; or that’s the always
Rose bushes will snag. They’ll catch if you don’t
watch it. It’s not just your stockings that’ll run.
Roses draw blood. I’d get to work, and while
you’re at it, prune the damned bird of paradise.
After that, you can head for the basement.
When all the work is done, you can lay your
head down in the oven.
Different strokes for different folks;
we are all part of this tale.
For reasons that cannot be easily
explained, this author is distraught.
17,000 Union and 11, 600 Confederate soldiers died on this site.
They fought at dawn in the rain.
There’s a monument for the Generals in the local town but none for the soldiers.
Now they want to take the monuments down.
They can have the monuments for all I care.
Just don’t cut down the trees.
Then men were so hungry they gnawed the bark.
To this day you can see their marks.
Men relieved themselves where they stood.
They couldn’t bathe.
Best friends committed mercy killings and then killed themselves.
There is nothing natural about war.
The calm here clears along with the fog.
Look carefully and you can see the blood.
Grown men cried and hid their faces.
Men said goodbye in the dark.
They say now they fought for nothing.
They say now they were vain.
They say now they were racists.
They say now they were weak.
It may be true; maybe not.
Cousin Verne, though, was no chump.
At 6’3” with feet size twelve, he was a strapping lad.
He didn’t die to protect slavery.
Verne fought alongside his dear cousin, Al.
His mother asked him to tag along, that’s all.
Verne had poor eyes but could throw a knife.
He couldn’t eat for a week when Al got killed.
This land here is a pretty sight, I’ll say that.
If I were a deer, I’d be happy here.
If I were a rabbit, I would make a family.
As I’m only a man, I’m content to look on.
Bio: David Lohrey grew up in Memphis. He graduated from U.C., Berkeley. His plays have appeared in the UK, Switzerland, Croatia and, most recently, in Estonia. They are available online at Proplay (CA). His poetry can be found internationally in Softblow (Shanghai), Cecile’s Writers’ Magazine (The Hague) and Otoliths (Australia). In the US, recent poems have appeared in Apogee, Abstract Magazine and Poetry Circle. Several have been anthologized by the University of Alabama (Dewpoint), Illinois State University (Obsidian) and Michigan State University (The Offbeat). His fiction can be read in Dodging the Rain and Literally Stories. His study of 20th century literature, ‘The Other Is Oneself‘, was published last year in Germany. Machiavelli’s Backyard, David’s first collection of poetry, appeared in August, 2017. David is a member of the Sudden Denouement Literary Collective. He lives in Tokyo.
Writing My Life Away
If I could write
like other poets,
I would have a voice that the world would listen to.
But I have taken the book off the shelf
too many times.
Dog eared pages staring back at me,
doodles in the margins.
Your words piercing my heart again.
I have them committed to memory.
A merry-go-round of emotions,
never stopping long enough to ask why.
Lost years of desire
and notebooks filled with rhymes.
You were the reason that I wrote.
Never a thought for nourishment or wealth,
only words of dying affection.
The years have passed,
and so have you.
I hold the book in my hands,
wanting my poems to sing out to others,
but the shredded confetti on the floor
tells a different story.
Bio: Ann Christine Tabaka lives in Delaware. She is a published poet and artist. She loves gardening and cooking. Chris lives with her husband and two cats. Her most recent credits are The Paragon Journal, The Literary Hatchet, The Metaworker, Raven Cage Ezine, RavensPerch, Anapest Journal, Mused, Apricity Magazine, Longshot Island, Indiana Voice Journal, Halcyon Days Magazine, The Society of Classical Poets, and BSU’s Celestial Musings Anthology.
That time I got ejected from a Golf Cart and my Girlfriend Dumped me
It was a school night
She dropped me off
At a party at the gun club
That I worked at
“If you do something stupid tonight
We’re breaking up.”
She had a test in the
could eat through
Melted butter on a
Taking out the governor
Shotguns and pistols
Like fireflies on meth
Driving down cement stairs
Jumping homemade dirt
and drinking and
Landing so hard the brakes came
bent the roll cage
and hit a guard rail
And flew out
My body caused
$500 in damage
That I didn’t pay
Limped for a while
With some hematomas
She got straight A’s
And moved away.
one chromosome above the rest
is the king of recess that barely reads
a debonair of kickball against the gen ed. kids
starts games of tag in the classroom
writes poop on the board when no one looks
he doesn’t know the word puppy
cringing his brow like a scholar
he rubs his head and thinks real hard
a mouse dog. of course. a better answer
than puppy. but the teacher shakes her head
he drinks her discrimination like mt dew
the chromosome gives him this power
he sees past my mr. mask that i am a person
be he remains his genetic title forever
a knight in shining gym shorts
my job is to be his dread of everything.
sentencing him to an isolated detention
a dungeon is an empty room. a dragon torturing his
ability to create gold out of daily life. he slays it all
returns smiling and flashing people his balls, running free.
Bio: Jon Berger lives in Saginaw, Michigan. His work has appeared in Five 2 One Magazine, Jellyfish Review, The New Engagement, fluland mag, The Bitchin’ Kitsch andOddball Magazine.
Buddhas of Bamiyan
Oh Buddhas of Bamiyan,
You are broken to dust.
Your grottos empty,
your limbs battered,
You feel no sorrow.
You do not exist in this world.
Oh Buddhas of Bamiyan,
You gazed unflinching
while humans fought over
crumbs of land, over drops of water.
over bankrupt ideas of what is,
and of what is not moral.
Oh Buddhas of Bamiyan,
have pity and compassion on us,
the human insects who destroy,
the murderous scoundrels who
scar the land, and take life without a
Om mani padme hum.
Someone really hurt you when you were young
You know, man.
I don't want to upset you.
I do back flips just to avoid
Someone really hurt you
When you were young
And now everyone who has the
Misfortune of crossing your path
Does like me: make ourselves small
Just so you can indulge in the fantasy
That you are powerful, dominating,
But guess what?
You are just a bullying snowflake.
You are afraid of
Someone really hurt you
when you were young.
And now, you are as powerful as you will ever be:
Someone with really very little.
Someone without friends,
Without true respect.
You might even indulge in the fantasy that
You are happy.
You could not be farther from happiness.
Someone really hurt you when you were young.
And it's not my job to take your shit.
Bio: Russ Van Rooy is a guitarist/songwriter software tester armchair philosopher and cosmologist who likes to write poetry. When not contemplating what conditions were like during the first five hundred million years, Russ can be found making pancakes or playing music. Russ has been published by Creative Colloquy and by Oddball Magazine.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.