Friday, November 18, 2022

Two Poems by Ryan Quinn Flanagan

Over

 

I was in a nasty mood 

all morning.

 

Three days drunk

and really feeling the harm

when I said it.

 

The wallpaper curled away in disgust.

Strips of fly paper dangling from the hairy insect gallows.

 

There was nothing I could have said

to fix it.

 

Pressing the bottle against my lips,

I surrendered.

 

 

Black Houdini

 

Talking to my neighbour 

off on disability 

a few days back,

I told him I lived in Kingston

and a smile came over his face

as he told me he knew a few guys

serving time in the Kingston Pen,

this one crazy African fella they called “Black Houdini”

because his entire left arm under the elbow

was without feeling, so that he could 

slide the cuffs right off and started

wailing on the guards

who quickly figured out 

that you had to cuff him above 

the elbow or you were in 

for a real surprise.

 

 

Bio: Ryan Quinn Flanagan is a Canadian born author residing in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada with his wife and mounds of snow. His work can be found both in print and online in such places as: Evergreen Review, The New York Quarterly, The Asylum Floor, Horror Sleaze Trash, Red Fez, and The Oklahoma Review. He enjoys listening to the blues and cruising down the TransCanada in his big blacked out truck.

One Poem by Dave Roskos

UPS

When I was 22 years old

I took a job loading trucks

at United Parcel Service

in Edison, New Jersey.

Five 4 hour shifts a week,

11 pm to 3 am,

8 bucks an hour,

no benefits.


During orientation

we were given

a very long list

of zip codes

& were advised

to memorize them

if we expected

to remain in 

their employ;

there would be 

a test.


Then they gave us a tour of the place,

a massive complex with an intricate

maze of conveyor belts.


Then we were escorted

to our work stations.


The conveyor belts had these

portable extensions that ran right into

the tractor trailers so that the parcels flowed 

directly to us as we loaded them floor to ceiling.

We’d break them down fast

& put them outside the truck

as it filled up.

The foremen were like football coaches,

sticking their short-cropped cleanly shaven

corporate heads into the trailers

every five minutes & heartily

encouraging us to work faster

faster.


They carried clipboards

& claimed to know

exactly how many

parcels each of us

loaded per minute.

 

I walked off the job

on my third night

& drove home.

 

The next day my coach called,

asked, “What happened?”


I said I couldn’t recall what happened,

but he offered me a second chance,

& I took it.


I worked another week or two,

hating every minute of it.


Then my father died

& my first night back,

after the couple nights

I took off for his funeral,

I walked off the job

again.

 

The coach didn’t call this time.


After a couple of weeks

of not being able to find another job

I went back to UPS & tried

to get my job back.

Someone from Personnel 

saw me & heard my case.

We chatted politely

as he looked at my file.


“You’re an English major?

I was an English major too,” he said,

“In fact, I edit our monthly newsletter.”


“Is that so?” I said.


“Who’s your favorite writer?” he asked.


“William Blake,” I said.


“I love Blake,” he said,

“Paradise Lost, great stuff.”


Then he asked me why

I had walked off the job.


I explained that my father had just died

& that I was depressed & stressed out,

had a lot on my mind,

& couldn’t take the pressure,

the FASTER! FASTER!

of the foreman,

& the absolute 

meaninglessness

of it all.


He said that he was sorry for my loss

but couldn’t see the connection

between my father’s death

& my walking off the job

in the middle of the shift.


“Milton,” I mumbled, “Milton.”


“Excuse me?” he said.


“John Milton wrote Paradise Lost,

not William Blake,”

I said, getting up to leave,

“Thanks for your time.”

 

 

Bio: Dave Roskos is the editor of Big Hammer Magazine & Iniquity Press/Vendetta Books. Currently editing a mag called Street Value, a print zine which is online at: www.outlawlibrary.blogspot.com He works as a life skills specialist for a non-profit independent housing program for folks recovering from mental illness & addiction. 

Sunday, November 13, 2022

One Poem by Mather Schneider

Normal 

I haven’t talked to Natalia in 3 days.

We had another fight.

I’ve been sleeping in the room out back

and drinking like a hole in the ground.

It’s 2 p.m. and I hear a knock on the door

right in the middle of a dream where all my hair was falling out

and spiders were crawling out of my veins.

Natalia says, 

The guy’s here to fix the water pump.

We’ve been waiting for a week for him to show up.

they never call first. 

I spend too much time reading Emerson’s “Self Reliance” 

to learn to fix anything.

I get dressed and go outside.

It’s sunny and a bit warmer. 

Natalia and I stand and watch him dismantle the water pump,

40-ish Mexican man with his son learning the trade

handing him tools.

He smiles and says, 

You need a new tank and a new hose,

I’ll go get the materials,

and you’ll be back to normal in no time.

Gracias, I say.

We watch them drive off in his old truck.

Probably the same truck his father used.

I put my arm around Natalia

but she twists away and goes inside.

I stand there next to the pieces of the water pump

laid out on the cracked concrete,

wondering how much it’s all going to cost.

 

 

Bio: Mather Schneider was born in 1970 in Peoria, Illinois. He attended several colleges but never attained a degree. After living in Washington State for eight years, he moved to Tucson, Arizona in 1997 where he married a Mexican woman and began travelling to Mexico. He has worked many jobs and now drives a taxi. He has had several hundred poems and stories published since 1994 in places such as River Styx, Rattle, Nimrod, Hanging Loose, Rosebud, Pank and New York Quarterly.

 

Friday, November 11, 2022

Three Poems by Richard Vargas

My Bullet

it follows me wherever i go

reading on the toilet 

shopping at Walmart

walking around Six Flags

or watching a movie

at the local cinema plex

it has learned

to say my name

it wants to be friends

 

i hold it in my hand

rub it between thumb

and forefinger while 

a stream of dread pumps 

through my veins 

 

it’s pointed tip presses

into the palm of my hand 

i envision how it

will pierce my flesh and 

ricochet off my bones 

only to exit a shredded mess 

as i bleed out for a 

30 second spot on the 

6 o’clock news

 

i throw it out the window

as i drive past dairy farms

and fields of summer corn

 

knowing that when it finds me

there will be hell to pay

 

 

Trickle This

 

it’s a tuesday afternoon

there are four or five people seated inside

eating or waiting for their order

one man is working the grill 

the deep fryer and taking orders

at the register all at once

 

he’s got the routine down

slapping raw patties on the sizzling grill

dropping a basket of fries into lava

hot cooking oil 

 

his cool concentration reminding me

of Kobe demanding the ball whenever

the team was down by 3 with a few seconds 

left on the clock

 

people keep coming thru the door

at a steady pace and now i realize

he’s also preparing online orders 

 

working the register

grilling the meat

bagging the fries

making a shake

he is an artist

a fast-food Picasso

lost in the spell 

of frenzied creation 

 

the burger is juicy 

grease drips down my wrist

it must be held a certain way

or it falls apart with each bite

my fries are crispy and salty

still hot to the touch

unlike the sad alternative

served by you-know-who

 

this is the real economy 

forget Wall Street’s smoke and mirrors:

we show up everyday

give it our best shot

 

with one arm

tied behind 

our back

 

 

60,000 Dead

 

it’s a tragic number but doesn’t hit home

until i remember what it feels like

to be with that many

fellow humans in one place

buying cold beer 

hot dogs and peanuts

sitting in the warm September sun 

at the L.A. Coliseum

cheering for our team

giving high fives all around

to perfect strangers sharing a

moment of joy when our 

team did something

spectacular and glorious

 

the postgame din and chatter

would be upbeat if we won

walking to our cars with

voices hoarse and strained

 

or the mood subdued

all of us simmering in 

the sour juices of a loss

blamed on refs who were

blind as mice

 

this is how i relate

to a death count of 60,000 

 

going into the stadium

with a raucous and lively crowd

none of us walking out alive

 

except now someone on t.v.

would pat himself on the back

tell us how it could

have been worse

 

Bio: Richard Vargas earned his B.A. at Cal State University, Long Beach, where he studied under Gerald Locklin, Dora Polk, and Richard Lee. He edited/published five issues of The Tequila Review, 1978-1980, and twelve issues of The MasTequila Review from 2010-2015. Vargas received his MFA in Creative Writing from the University of New Mexico, 2010. He was recipient of the 2011 Taos Summer Writers’ Conference Hispanic Writer Award. He was on the faculties of the 2012 10th National Latino Writers Conference and the 2015 Taos Summer Writers’ Conference. Published collections: McLife, 2005; American Jesus, 2007; Guernica, revisited, 2014; How A Civilization Begins, MouthFeel Press, Summer 2022, and a fifth book to be published in 2023. He currently resides in Wisconsin, near the lake where Otis Redding’s plane crashed.

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Two poems by Matt Borczon

Before it was the Access Highway

 

there was

a train

track that

ran from

up past

Bucyrus Erie

all the

way to 

the waterfront

and I

wanted to

be Bob

Dylan and

Woody Guthrie

that summer

 

and the

train that

ran down

that track

was slow 

enough to 

jump on

without dropping

my cheap

guitar and

I would

ride it

towards Lake

Erie watching

the water

reflect the

burning sun

 

and in 

7th grade

that  was

enough to

let me

believe

I had

hopped a

fast freight

to parts

unknown.

 

 

Portrait of the Artist at 57

 

my heart 

is a casino

my mind

is a garage

my feet

are slow

horses my

hands are

broken hammers

and my

spine is

missing and

my courage

is missing

too my

eyes are

a lighthouse

looking out

towards nothing

but an

endless sea

of stars

and words

and memories

and time.

 

Bio: Mathew Borczon is a nurse and Navy sailor who has written 14 books of poetry. His latest book Cancel My Subscription to the Resurrection is available from Alien Buddha Press.

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Three Poems by Catfish McDaris

Life and Death Got in the Way

Flying in a tumble like a projectile

Like an elephant stampede

 

I taste the words that fell

From your breath

 

I drink the rain from

Your treetop gardens

 

Bouncing through all

Perceptions of reality

 

Swallowing words with ears

And eyes and mouth

 

Scrutinizing reconnoitering 

Until touched exuberated comatose

 

I will cry into your hands and hair

Tears of blood and mercury

 

Fucked to life

Then fucked to death.

 

 

Yesterday’s Miracle

 

Fucked if you’re hot fucked if you’re cold

Fucked if you’re poor or own a ton of gold

 

Fucked if you’re skinny or real fucking fat

Fucked if you’re pissing and get bit by a rat

 

Fucked if you love fucked if you hate

Fucked if you’re hungry fucked if you just ate

 

Fucked if you’re a stinking drunk craving wine

Fucked if you’re sober as fuck walking the line

 

Fucked if you make windshield wipers

Fucked if you’re a baby with shitty diapers

 

Fucked if you’re taking or leaving a shit

Fucked when the bong comes and you take a big hit

 

Fucked when you suck a glass dick full of crack

Fucked when your mama lays on her back

 

Fucked when the coppers slap you in a cage

Fucked when your life book is missing a page

 

Fucked when you die and only the worms cry.

 

 

Cherokee Rose

 

Prolonging the heartbreak, baby 

baby, your love leaves me on a  

ten story ledge watching the side 

walk artists below creating master- 

 

Pieces vanishing in the rain, they 

smile like hundred-dollar bills are 

pouring down, they know that every 

thing is temporary even blossoms 

 

Floating on the xeric wind, apricots 

and nectarines make fiery love and 

replace the sun in the cinnamon sky, 

watching a video of Tommy Castro 

 

And the Painkillers, play his song,  

Ride, pretty ladies dancing, while he 

Kerouac struts past City Lights Books, 

keeping me alive like a Cherokee Rose. 

 

 

Bio: Catfish McDaris’ most infamous chapbook is Prying with Jack Micheline and Charles Bukowski. His best readings were in Paris at the Shakespeare and Co. Bookstore and with Jimmy"the ghost of Hendrix"Spencer in NYC on 42nd St. He’s done over 25 chaps in the last 25 years. He’s been in the New York Quarterly, Slipstream, Pearl, Main St. Rag, Café Review, Chiron Review, Zen Tattoo, Wormwood Review, Great Weather For Media, Silver Birch Press, and Graffiti and been nominated for 15 Pushcarts, Best of Net in 2010, 2013, 2014, 2016, and 2017 he won the Uprising Award in 1999, and won the Flash Fiction Contest judged by the U.S. Poet Laureate in 2009. He was in the Louisiana Review, George Mason Univ. Press, and New Coin from Rhodes Univ. in South Africa. He’s recently been translated into Spanish, French, Polish, Swedish, Arabic, Bengali, Mandarin, Yoruba, Tagalog, and Esperanto. His 25 years of published material is in the Special Archives Collection at Marquette Univ. in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Bukowski’s Indian pal Dave Reeve, editor of Zen Tattoo gave Catfish McDaris his name when he spoke of wanting to quit the post office and start a catfish farm. He spent a summer shark fishing in the Sea of Cortez, built adobe houses, tamed wild horses around the Grand Canyon, worked in a zinc smelter in the panhandle of Texas, and painted flag poles in the wind. He ended at the post office in Milwaukee. Just missed the cut on a 2021 Pulitzer.

 

Two Poems by Alan Catlin

The Dead Nazis

 

Maybe it was the white power

haircuts or maybe it was just

the profusion of really crude

offensive tattoos of screaming

banshees and death head rock

band logos, that put me off,

whatever it was I thought,

"Time to reach inside that

old box of barroom dirty

tricks for the shot that stalled

an alien invasion." I acted

calm and vaguely respectful

said, "How would you boys

like something really different?

Something no one has been

able to drink more than two of

and remain upright?"

"What's it called?" 

"I don't know if I should tell

you or not.  Might spoil the

surprise." Their response was

about what you expected,

"What's it called, asshole?"

and they made it sound like

a threat.

"Okay, you asked for it,

The Dead Nazi."

"We'll take two to begin with."

"If you're able to drink those,

the third one's on me, as in free."

"Start pouring and don't worry

about how many we can hold,

we'll take care of everything."

"I'll bet you will." I mixed them

fast, under the bar, so they

couldn’t see what was in them

and filled a couple of shot

glasses before they changed their

minds, holding enough elephant

tranquilizer in reserve, for the next

couple of rounds. I watched them

going for it as if it were some

kind of perverse game of liquid

Russian Roulette, started clearing

off all the remaining wads of

cash from the bar; where they

were headed, money wasn't going

to do them any good.

 


The Ernest

 

Maybe serious drinking became

an avocation instead of recreation

after Papa had taken one too many

African safaris that ended up as

Bushwhacking a path through

a jungle wall of vegetation after

the plane crashed, instead of

the more traditional routes and

methods of hunting as: on foot,

with porters & machetes, guides

& with a specific destination in mind.

Or maybe it was after he got to

the point where he could only

write word one after he'd had

a morning constitutional, the kind

poured in shot glasses that he'd

drink with sipper straws until his

hands stopped shaking. Judging

from most of what was published

from that period, after he took

the back of his head off with a shotgun,

his manuscripts were better off as kindling,

or lost in a briefcase on a train to nowhere,

like the youthful writings purportedly

were.  In those early days, drinking

was all part of making the scene,

an Art to be refined along with

everything else & it never took place

before noon & was a reward for hard

work well done instead of the be all &

end all of everything.

 

 

Bio: Alan Catlin retired from bar wars after thirty four years working in his unchosen profession as a barman in various establishments in the capital district including twenty five years at the Washington Tavern. He has published well over sixty chapbooks and full length books of both prose and poetry. Some of his more recent books are "Near Death in the Afternoon on Becker Street", "Self Portrait as the Artist Afraid of his Self-Portrait" both from March Street Press and "Drunk and Disorderly" a selected poems from Pavement Saw Press. To date he has received twenty Pushcart Prize nominations, seventeen in poetry and three in prose, but has never won one, which must be some kind of record for futility. 

 

 

 

Four Poems by J.J Campbell

Creatures of Mercy   these lost desolate angels   creatures of mercy sent to kill  off what little life i still have  to live   i never want...