Friday, December 22, 2023

Three Poems by George Anderson

The Haunted

While writing the opening 2 chapters of Part II 

of The Idiot in Geneva, Dostoyevsky’s daughter Sofya

developed inflammation of the lungs 

& died, aged 2 months.

 

His second wife Anna Grigoryevna

wrote that he stood in front of

Sofya’s body until it grew cold & 

covered her tiny white face & hands 

with burning kisses & he “sobbed like a woman.”

 

Ten years later while working on his masterpiece

The Brothers Karamazov his 3 year old son Alyosha 

had an epileptic fit that lasted 12 hours & 40 minutes 

and he subsequently horribly died.

 

Dostoyevsky wept inconsolably 

the entire evening on his knees

beside his son’s bed, crushed,

helpless in the notion that Alyosha

had died from a disease that he had

most likely inherited from him.

 

Despite his grief & his mounting

health & financial worries, Dostoyevsky

picked himself up & toiled relentlessly 

on his novel until it was completed,

shortly before his death, aged 59.

 

 

The Bigger Picture

 

I like it

that I have

no goals

 

that I’m past

my prime

 

that I’m not

on TicTock

or X

 

that I don’t

pray to an

imaginary 

being

 

that I hate

the profit

motive in

capitalism

 

that I don’t

have to work

for a living

anymore.

 

I truly dig it 

that this obsessive

life-long

accumulation

of wealth

of friends

of knowledge

 

can ALL

be lost

 

in an instant.

 

 

Too Much Coke

 

I was on another beer

the other bloke was on a pint of vodka

& orange juice.

 

We talked about growing up

below the tracks in NDG-

of Pinto, Big Larry, Mich, Rocko,

Toe, The Mechanic, Pud & several others.

 

Most of them now dead

many from enlarged hearts.

 

Too much coke

He reckoned.

Fucks you up real bad.

 

Hey Buds, do you remember

that crazy motherfucker 

who used to chase us down the dump 

when we raided his garden

so we could chuck his tomatoes

at passing cars on the Decarie Expressway?

 

Pinocello.

 

Yeah, that's him. What ever happened to the bastard?

 

He cacked it. Too much fucking coke.

 

We laugh ourselves stupid, imagining that 80 something psycho

snorting a few solid white lines & then charging at us in full fury!

 

 

Bio: George Douglas Anderson is a teacher and writer who lives in Wollongong, Australia. He edits the blog Bold Monkey Review and sometimes adds to the pile. Jump Out of Any Window (Backroom Poetry, UK, 2024) is his latest publication.

Thursday, December 7, 2023

Two Poems by Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozábal

Planned Destinations

In the morning

on the shoulder

of the freeway

with a flat tire,

the cars zoom

by in hurried

haste to planned

destinations.

Walking to the

back of the car

to the flat tire

at right rear side

of the car, I feel

deflated as well

as the Auto Club

tow truck driver

puts on the spare

after finding

the big hole on

the flat tire.

I spot a broken

meth pipe on the

shoulder of the

road in the gravel.

I think of all the

clients referred

for conservatorship

this month, over

half of them struggling

with this drug as

the cars zoom past

to their planned

destinations.

 

 

His Life and Her Life

 

They took his life and her life

in the middle of the day

because they were poor

because they worked low wages

and they never ate well

because they did not have the means

then or now, and there were

times they slept on the streets

without a tent or blanket;

they slept in the dirt

under trees.

They had good souls.

They were treated worse than dogs.

They worked so hard.

They could barely walk in those old shoes.

They were kept down

and they got up

only to be thrown down again.

They were buried without a dime

to their name; just the debt

they could never pay back;

and what was owed to them for their pain

and sacrifice, no one felt obligated

to pay them back.



Bio: Luis lives in California and works in Los Angeles. His poetry has appeared in Blue Collar Review, Escape Into Life, Kendra Steiner Editions, Misfit Magazine, and Unlikely Stories. His last full-length poetry book, Make the Water Laugh, was published by Rogue Wolf Press.

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Two Poems by Alan Catlin

Sober Ten Years, Seven Months, Twenty-One Days:a Lament

The wife and I were holed up

in some place, not even sure 

which wife, they all blend together 

after a while. Might have been 

the third one, that’s when I was

at my worst, though it could just

as easily been the fourth one.

I was bad then too.

All I know for sure was we had

all this cash on us, well, I had

all this cash, and it seemed like

totally necessary, vital even, to hide 

some, bury it good, you know, just in case,

you know, for like one of those unknown 

contingencies that inevitably turn up

when you’re drunk. So we started 

putting stuff in places: under mattresses, 

cushion covers, under lamps, even in 

the room safe and off we go to do

some damage, though, we called it

something else euphemistic, something 

like a, night out of the town. There was

gambling where we were, either Vegas

or Atlantic City, you know how drunks

love to gamble and casinos love drunks.

Anyway, I’m sure I had some cards too.

Once I shot my wad at craps and cards, 

but they would have been in my wallet 

which I shrewdly left back at the hotel,

whichever one we were staying at,

like no one forgets where they are staying,

right? This is back when hotels still

had room keys. We’d lost those a long

time ago along with the car keys.

Who knew what car we were driving?

I sure as hell didn’t. I had lots of cars

back then. And money too. You think

stuff like that is going to last forever

when it’s going good. Ha! So, I asked

the wife, “You know which car

we had? And she says, “The red one.”

“They’re all red. (….)

“So.”

“What am I supposed to do, go out in

the parking lot and look for a red car?”

“Why not?”

Now you understand why I got divorced.

Anyway, we’re in the lobby of

wherever, no room key, no car keys,

all my money in the room somewhere

and I’m tapped, so I ask the wife,

“Babe, you have any cash on you?”

“Gee, honey, I don’t know. 

You always say for me not to carry

cash because I spend too much when I do.”

“Could you look, just in case. We’re 

going to have to crash some place

and we can figure out where the rest

of our stuff is later on. That’s what 

room service is for.”

I’m leaning on the front desk counter

while she’s rummaging through Pandora’s

handbag, and I’m starting to freak

at all the stuff that’s flying out of there.

I’m thinking, I’m going to need a fifth 

of Jack Daniels to settle my nerves like, 

pronto, when the night clerk taps me on 

the shoulder and says, “Your room key, Sir.”

It’s almost enough to make you believe

in God. Actually, it was the drunk’s precaution

of folding up a portrait of Andy Jackson

and slipping it to the kid on the way out

“to remember me by, in case I forget later on”

that saved the day. Still, I was so relieved,

I could have kissed the guy but I restrained

myself. For all I know, the wife is still

down in the lobby rummaging through

her bag. A sensible man would have

given up drinking right then and there

but no one ever accused me of having

a grain of sense. It would take something

a whole lot worse than losing a couple

of grand, a room key, a wife, and a car to 

knock some sense into me.



The European Tour

 

“She was the type of woman who would

have brought tears to the eyes of John Ruskin"

Maurice Dekobra

 

Her idea for a gap year was

to save all the tips she made

working as a cocktail waitress in 

an upscale pub and from some soft

core hooking on the side. Soft core

hooking, to her, meant causal tricking 

without a pimp, casual hints dropped,

beverage napkin dates, cell phone

numbers exchanged. “I like the older

guys. They have more money, 

are more than likely married, 

and don’t ask questions and, man,

they expect the same. I don’t do 

perverted. Not for money anyway.”

Was planning on doing the European

tour, on her back, first hand, in depth

research for a Baedeker’s Guide

to Getting Laid, she was going to 

call, Do it on the Rails: Getting 

the Most from Your Euro Pass

and Have Fun Doing It. Something

like that, anyway. If that didn’t work

out, her back up plan was a Sociological

study on the sexual habits of the horny

European Male: You Don’t Need

a Translator to Have Good Sex.

Sociology wasn’t her major, and she

couldn’t write worth shit, but that

was something she’d worry about after

the research was finished, and recorded

in a diary she’d lose somewhere between

Buda and Pest. Thought protection during 

intercourse was “for wimps, was like playing 

Russian Roulette with an empty gun,” 

when it was more like playing with one 

chamber empty, high stakes stud poker 

with someone else’s money, drawing a card 

for an inside straight.

 

 

Bio: Alan Catlin is a former barman with way too much experience in that unchosen profession.  His most recent full-length books include, Bar Guide for the Seriously Deranged (Roadside Press) and How Will the Heart Endure (Kelsay Press)

Monday, November 27, 2023

Three Poems by Frank William Finney

Urban Vignette

I’m perched on top 

of these granite steps

 

close to the entrance

of Betty’s Used Books.

 

I pull out a sandwich 

and forget where I am.

 

A pigeon swoops down

to remind me. 

 

 

Three Square Fare at Hollow Home

 

I

Sally from Somewhere sent back her breakfast.

“I told them, over easy and look what they gave me:

 

Yolks running a marathon!

Can’t even fry us a bloody egg

 

and then they have the gall to say 

we piss our pajamas and moan through meals—

 

As if we had a choice. 

 

II

I don’t know. 

He’s usually early.

 

Something’s up.

He’s seldom late.

 

Shall I ask the nurse

to save him a sandwich?

 

 

III

You could smell sickness &

Pine-Sol & canned green peas

the instant you got past the lobby.

 

Most of the lifers 

were still at their meals 

when we spotted Aunt Lucy 

 

already at dessert,

spooning up the remnants 

of her crumble and cream.

 

 

The Dicker of Wakefield  


When everything

you try

goes wrong.

 

When words

are worse

for loss.

 

Remember

Jams, 

the Ginger Man,

 

sends 

dick pics

to his boss.

 

 

Bio: Frank William Finney is a Massachusetts poet and retired lecturer who taught literature in Thailand from 1995 to 2020.  He is a joint winner of the Letter Review Prize in Poetry (May-June 2023). His poems have appeared in numerous journals including Door is a Jar, Moss Piglet, and Slipstream. His chapbook The Folding of the Wings was published in 2022.

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Two Poems by Mather Schneider

Suegro's Tour 


Suegro was my father-in-law

and he didn’t die gracefully.

He made a big damn show of it,

squalling at his wife from his deathbed in the house

calling her a crazy old lady,

a fucking bitch,

getting even for all the things that pissed him off his whole life

telling her to come in there and help him go to the bathroom.

He would fall on purpose 

and wipe shit all over the walls.

He would go into the kitchen and yell from the window:

THEY’RE KEEPING ME PRISONER! 

SOMEBODY HELP ME!

The neighbors would come.

Once the police came too.

Suegra had to explain.

 

Poor old Suegro.

He was a sweet man when he was healthy

but dying, no.

 

During his last years he always talked about taking a tour of Mexico.

He hadn’t been anywhere in his whole life,

just that same dirty town 

but he had seen they had tour buses that would take old people

around Mexico to visit the towns and sites,

the “magical pueblos.”

He wanted that tour so bad but it cost too much. 

 

He finally died in midsummer 

when it was hot as fuck.

The funeral was in a church so he could go to heaven.

That funeral probably cost more than the tour but somehow

they always find money for funerals, 

funerals and beer.

 

After the ceremony 

we all got in the procession to head to the cemetery.

The hearse was in front and kept making odd turns.

I said to Natalia, 

Isn’t the cemetery on Progresso?

She just shushed me and we followed.

 

The hearse ended up going all over the place,

through neighborhoods I didn’t even know existed.

The kid driving the hearse 

didn’t know where he was going

and was drunk

so we all just drove around the city for an hour.

Finally some fed-up uncle got out of his car at a red light 

and set the punk straight.

 

We pulled into the cemetery as the sun was setting.

I guess old Suegro finally got his tour.

Now he’s seeing places we can only imagine

and he can’t even send us a postcard.

 

 

Trout Fishing

 

Natalia and I get in a fight on Christmas morning.

She’s sick, in fact she’s dying

and just wants me

to get away from her.

I stay out in the shed all day and night.

When I go to sleep on the floor

 

I dream I am driving my green car to a lake

to go trout fishing. 

A kid pops out of the pines and hitches a ride. 

It’s my old classmate Ian

who never had any friends

and killed himself one summer.

 

At the lake we don’t catch any trout. 

Some cool boys wander over

and begin to make fun of Ian. 

I don’t stick up for him though I should. 

I walk to my car,

get in and drive it 

straight into the lake.

 

Later I see Ian and my dead Uncle Harry 

outside the Stop-n-Go

where I am buying two frozen trout.

 

Uncle Harry says, 

We know you and your friends purposely stopped Ian

from catching any trout

and you also tried to kill him

and we’re going to take you to court.

 

He looks at me with a terrifying hatred.

 

I say, 

Nobody caught any trout that day, Uncle Harry.

 

So you admit you were there? he says.

 

I’m sorry, Ian, I say. 

 

I roll my wheelchair away from them

because my spine was crushed 

when I drove my car into the lake.

They fished me out 

but the car is still down there.

 

I feel sad for Ian. 

I feel sad for Natalia

and Uncle Harry.

I feel sad for damn near everybody

and that’s the truth so help me God.

 

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 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.

Saturday, November 25, 2023

Four Poems by J.J Campbell

The Apartments Behind Us

 

a loud boom in the 

middle of the night

 

go check and see if 

your mother is still 

in bed

 

i checked there and 

she was snoring under 

three blankets

 

i went to the kitchen 

and everything looked 

like it did when i went 

to bed thirty minutes 

ago

 

probably the apartments 

behind us

 

kids blowing up shit 

in the dumpster again

 

or the adults destroying 

shit before the cops 

show up

 

 

Most of Humanity

 

here come the holidays

 

never easy for those of us

that dislike most of humanity

 

thanksgiving is a quiet meal 

alone while watching football

 

and putting up the charlie brown 

christmas tree

 

no one ever said i couldn’t enjoy

my own kind of festive glee

 

turn on the lights that have been 

up since last christmas

 

and you wonder why there isn’t

a woman in the picture

 

 

Watching from the Corner

 

she had the eyes 

of some beautiful 

ancient creature

 

the kind that jim 

morrison would 

write poem after 

poem about

 

she saunters through 

the room, cigarette 

dangling, bottle of 

whiskey by her side

 

i was watching 

from the corner, 

as usual

 

made eye contact 

with this dream

and soon the bottle 

was empty

 

it was an old song 

from bowie that 

got us talking about 

all the memories of 

the club drugs back 

in the day

 

her lips tasted 

like regret

 

still asleep in my bed, 

left ass cheek poking 

out for some sun

 

 

Wallowing in the Facts

 

watching the fools 

dancing in the rain 

 

never remembering 

any time in my life

i was ever that free

 

i’m not seeking pity

only wallowing in 

the facts

 

the thing about 

loneliness is when

a bottle becomes 

a friend

 

a needle is 

a lost lover

 

the shotgun in 

the corner starts 

whispering sweet 

nothings in your 

ear

 

when those are 

the only friends 

you have the end 

is nothing more 

than that

 

no tears

 

no remorse

 

no need for feelings

 

just sweet relief



Bio: J.J Campbell (1976-?) is trapped in the suburbs wondering where all the lonely housewives went. He's been widely published over the years, most recently at The Beatnik Cowboy, Horror Sleaze Trash, Synchronized Chaos, Disturb the Universe Magazine and The Rye Whiskey Review. You can find him most days on his mildly entertaining blog, Evil Delights

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...