Frank Reardon

Posted in Frank Reardon with tags on September 29, 2022 by Scot

THE CHOICE

I feel how painful it can be
for myself and the world around me.
I carry this weight both by choice
and not by choice
and often I don’t realize there is a choice

Then I hear the woman across the street
dragging out garbage cans,
the metal cans scraping across the asphalt
underneath her voice
that cusses out her husband
for neglecting them yet again

Or the colorful bird chirping
in the trees behind my backdoor.
I watch it go up in the air, swoop
back down, peck at the ground
and up it goes again, glorious
and beautiful like a song in the air,
until it slams into a glass window,
and snaps its neck, a twitch,
a twist, the last gasp.
Soon to be food for a neighborhood cat

Or a photo I saw of Warren Oates
sitting bearded on his couch,
a smile on his face,
his big gut stretching out
a Triumph motorcycle T-shirt,
content with who he was:
a Gatling-gun Buddha
not knowing or caring
he’d be dead within a year.

____________

FOR THE CONMAN

The conman, the liar, the thief
is cold in the grave.
Rotting down from 240 pounds to
90 thousand self-inflicted
grifts.
I was told you were buried in sweats,
sneakers,
and a cardigan sweater
buttoned
over a New England Patriots
T-shirt.
I wasn’t there because
I didn’t want to be.
I said “so long, fucker,”
drank too much
and played the music
you would’ve liked.
It was more fitting, more
human than to turn
around
on a childhood
with open palms
full of vacant highways.
But I remembered your asphalt feet
always out on the road.
Your thick black hair,
mustache, and rolling a joint
with one hand.
I was seven, maybe younger,
you were everything to me then,
what happened?
You’d mouth the words
to a Bob Seger song,
the steering wheel of your
’76 sky blue Chevy Nova
gripped in your hands,
and at the end of Wilson Ave
you’d put me on your lap,
and let me steer the car home,
your legs working the clutch
and the brake.
I didn’t see then you’d leave
me your life shattering gifts:
PTSD and madness, tucked
behind the same pale blue eyes
we share.
It all fell apart,
a crumbling of walls,
when you decided to make me
lie with you
and for you, and I did.
The next morning I always felt
terrible. Awful.
I never told you this, but
it was me at 14 years old
who called the police
and told them about the red car
you stole
from the car rental place.
And as the tennis ball rolled
off the roof
of our apartment building
and I saw you being taken away
in handcuffs
I caught that ball in my baseball glove.
Instead of looking at you
being stuffed in to the back
of the cop car
I tossed the ball up on the roof
again
and again.
I caught it every time.

____________

DYNAMITE UNDER THE NAILS

People play it too safe.
There are too many do-gooders
hung up on how much
they have
and how they should speak
properly
in front of others.

No one rolls the sevens
and elevens
with rusty coffin nails
anymore.

No one watches Memento Mori
pull up her stockings
before putting on a pair
of black boots.

No one embraces her skeleton
in a dark, empty,
dance hall
and spins her until
she loses her ribs in
the face
of blushing
demons.

No one pours her another drink
when she moans because your
worked-over hand
is moving
up her thigh.

People are afraid.
Afraid of life. Afraid of death.
Snug and safe inside
the worthless worlds
worlds we are supposed to be
thankful for?

We should be into it for the beauty,
the lust, the tight,
the pain, the agony,
the real, the hard,
and for the scratches
across our backs
that erupt like
dynamite underneath
the fingerprints.

____________

 

TOO MUCH WORK

I woke up after five hours
of sleep
and a series of strange
dreams,
and said to myself,
“today is the day.
It’s finally here. I’m going
to scream like an animal in a trap
and jump out the window.
Forty-seven years and I can
no longer take it.
I’m done with it all.”
Then I remembered
I live in a basement
apartment.
I’d have to open the window,
stand on the couch,
pull myself up through
the window
and crawl out onto the grass.
No one would care. It would
just be me, exhausted,
embarrassed,
and winded.
My chubby body sprawled out
on the grass
in my boxers and T-shirt.
Doing nothing
but looking up at the sky
and feeling real stupid.
The woman across the street
would say to her husband,
“Jimmy, what’s he doing?”
They’d call the police
for being outside in my underwear.
The police would call an ambulance
to take me to the nuthouse.
Where they’d stick me with needles
and make me talk in group therapy
sessions
with drool running down my face.
It all sounded like too much
work.
Everything is too much work.
I made coffee instead.
I poured a cup,
lit a cigarette,
and said, “You’ll get me
soon or later,
but not today. Today
I’ll skip up and down
the aisles
of a graveyard
singing the songs
of the doomed
at the top of my lungs.”
I took another sip
of black coffee
and felt a spark,
the smallest of embers
knocking around inside
of me
like a pinball.
“There’s still some life
in you yet, Old man,” I said,
smiling through my stained,
chipped,
and broken teeth.
I pulled the coffee
up to my aging face
and took another
hot, steaming, sip
and began to laugh
hysterically
in the absurd silence
of my living room.

____________

 

Frank Reardon was born in 1974 in Boston, Massachusetts, and currently lives in Minot, North Dakota. Frank has published poetry and short stories in many reviews, journals and online zines. His first poetry collection, Interstate Chokehold, was published by NeoPoiesis Press in 2009 as well as his second poetry collection Nirvana Haymaker in 2012. His third poetry collection Blood Music was published by Punk Hostage Press in 2013. In 2014 Reardon published a chapbook with Dog On A Chain Press titled The Broken Halo Blues. In 2019 Frank published a poetry collection Loud Love on the Sevens and Elevens. Frank is currently working on more short fiction, and is in rewrite phase of a novel

Chris Daly

Posted in Chris Daly with tags on September 29, 2022 by Scot

Chacha for dumdums

My earliest educational system
Memory:

On the playground
Running with the boys

Un-individuated
We made a pass, then

Swooped around behind;
I was learning herd mentality

Aspects of which to work against every waking
Moment of one’s life lest one become a mob punk

Or a shallow alt yuppie in need of
Spiritual corrective action,

Or a mountain top freak
Still really trapped.

Salsa is becoming
The close-out to every poem I write.

It provides (re)introduction to connection,
Respect, responsiveness, the higher

Freedoms and illuminations of the bootee,
It will help you manage your drinking,

Face off dementia,
It’s good cardio.

One can hang with a crowd
&with the self, live in two worlds.

 

____________

 

Aria

He was from a mid-size town
With a medium amount of problems,
Not as bad as it used to be;
Still it was good to arrive in Long
Beach CA and make a life in the
Gay ghetto on the southern fringe of LA.
He had a decent lower rung
White collar job, some responsibility,
Not too much, and at night did
Community theater musicals. He didn’t
Have a big talent, but brought what
He had, and earned the affection
And respect of his colleagues.
Later at night though no drinker
He loved to dance
Till the lights came on.
Then he’d go down to The Shore for
Breakfast, taking Redondo Ave,
Which he did the final Saturday night.
People at 4th St. heard him
Approaching the intersection
And the police chase he did not hear
Singing at the top of his voice.

____________

 

Author resides West coast USA. Publications include Rolling Stone and Wormwood Review.

 

 

 

 

Jonathan Butcher

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on September 16, 2022 by Scot

 

 

The Spring

A broken mattress spring scrapes
across my shoulder, almost drawing blood.
I tuck it in with a feeble finger, a convenient
delay, rather than dealing with the inevitable;
a shoulder gash is far cheaper than the sensible
alternative.

We both drift from the kitchen to the living room,
our lungs sharing the same uncut dust.
Our fingerprints overlap each other like cogs
in broken watches, as yet again we fail to follow
our own time accurately.

This garden, still four shades of green,
its weeds and foxgloves now outstaying
their welcome. The cracked, leaking bird-bath
drips in time with each lost word spoken;
as we rise from those damp rocks, I then realise,
that neither of us will ever clear this lawn. .

Ted Jackins

Posted in Ted Jackins with tags on September 16, 2022 by Scot

Agoraphobic Blues

Everything arrives
in pieces,
now,
bite sized chunks
in place of complete
thoughts,
brief as Chinese
restaurant fortunes
devoid of poetic
device,
my thoughts laid bare
like unmarked graves,
swept clean.
Nothing left open
to interpretation,
and I’ve never felt
more alone.
(8/29/22)

Cord Moreski

Posted in Cord Moreski with tags on September 16, 2022 by Scot

Welcome

You hit the buzzer at the front entrance
to let me know that you’re here

so I make my way down the hall
between the company of neighbors’ doors

I pass by the smells of bong rips
and of burning dishes that set off alarms

I pass by the thunder of dogs barking
that I’ve been told were friendly

and of heavy basslines that try
to drown out the moans from people fucking

I pass by the looks of doormats that aren’t welcoming
and of eviction notices accumulated on the floor

I pass and pass until I walk down the stairs
and see you there waiting for me.

“Come on in,” I say, “just watch your step.”

____________

Apartaparty

These college kids
who recently moved in
invited all the neighbors over
for an apartment warming

I knew better though
than to stay for too long
so I poured a few Natty Ices
from the keg in the bathtub

made some compliments
about their used furniture
and beach towels replacing
curtains in their windows

before I finally
headed back to my unit.

The police came later that night
after more friends of friends arrived
and the alcohol started to talk

after someone’s girlfriend
kissed somebody else
in a bedroom closet
resulting in a kitchen knife
being wielded.

That was all last week
and I haven’t seen them since.

____________

Teenage Wasteland

for Tohm Bakelas

Eighteen is a few hours away
and with that you’ll leave

with only a high school education
a duffle bag full of clothes

a Greyhound schedule
you’ve memorized for months

and pay saved from washing dishes
and scrubbing away at shit stains in toilet bowls

your mother will be too busy
snorting oxy on the dinner table to notice

your stepfather too hungover to challenge
your manliness to another fistfight

you raise the volume on your radio
and hum along to the music playing

but not too loud
while you glance over your shoulder

then back out your bedroom window
into the quiet, inviting night.

____________

Dead of Night

for Stephanie Simonetti

You open the front door
because you notice
that it’s happening again

the stirring the lonely light

then ask yourself
what’s been keeping
the neighbor up this late
from across the hall

until suddenly
they unlock their front door
step out to notice
you standing there

asking the same thing.

 

 

 

Lynne Savitt

Posted in LYNNE SAVITT with tags on September 16, 2022 by Scot

THE VERY VERY LAST LAST LOVE POEM

spending months in rehab he’s
finally back in his apartment after
breaking hip & leg laying in pain all
night until someone found him in
morning unable to reach help he
told EMTs tell lynne i love her how
sweet i thought hearing him being
taken away on stretcher me on phone
hundreds of miles away but being ill
myself limited with how i could respond
still his first call to me was asking
for more than i can give paper cards
& telephone dreams he wants to be
remembered i sent glossy photos
from granddaughter’s wedding
he’ll be 75 next month milestone
i hit in june we’re old, my love, i tell
him & ailing i no longer will send fancy
lemon cakes or pink love notes or
porno dvds i still adore him like we’re
30 that’s the image i keep when we
were full of lust & love & promise
& prison was what kept us apart but
we made our beds & now we lie in them
alone or with others fading memories
ancient yellowed love letters swear
forever sleep on cool blue pillow
of no regrets i will whisper his name
when my ashes float on ocean’s kiss

Ryan Quinn Flanagan

Posted in Ryan Quinn Flanagan with tags on July 12, 2022 by Scot

 

 

For Every School Shooting, There is a Swing That Doesn’t Work

It doesn’t take much to crack, does it?
Use a carton of eggs as a general guideline.
Free range to shooting range is a short walk.
I am never as surprised as everyone else.
Things are fragile as fine china.

For every school shooting,
there is a swing that doesn’t work.

Tomorrow, I have to get up early
to install a new bathroom vanity
and tub.

A paid gig assisting some guy I know.
Mostly just demolition and heavy lifting.
I leave skilled labour to the skilled.

When I get home, there will still be bullies
and boa constrictors tight as blue jeans that
no longer fit.

And a market for old tape deck nostalgia,
but never the elderly.

Mj Taylor

Posted in Mj Taylor with tags on July 8, 2022 by Scot

 

 

sand castle

when we made love
i’d cum
falling on her
like a kicked
over sand castle
she’d blow gently
on my neck
grazing me
w/her fingers
trying to rebuild
something
that was never
meant to
last.

Tony Gloeggler

Posted in Tony Gloeggler with tags on July 8, 2022 by Scot

 

 

BELONGING

Playing basketball three on three
at one end of the gym, my eyes
would wander to the other side
where Special Olympians trained
every Saturday. Roly poly, down
syndrome guys underhanding
foul shots Rick Barry style, bony
stick figure, cerebral palsy girls
half running, half walking
toward a finish line like string
puppets. Though I wore a leg brace
for a year as a child and tried
to hide from all the attention
it brought my way as I slid
deeper inside myself, I still
looked too often, stared
and kept sneaking glances.
They made me feel uneasy,
even a little squeamish
and I wasn’t sure why.

I never expected to apply
for a job as a direct care/
recreational counselor
at a residence for developmentally
disabled folks, say yes
when they asked me
to manage the group home
a few years later, or love
the work for over forty years.
I don’t remember how long
it took before hockey helmet
wearing Robert collapsing
and shaking on the floor every
few days from seizures, Larry
ripping his clothes daily, James
Rosa who I called the Chief
like that Cuckoo’s Nest character
exploding with built up frustration,
over turning the table, flinging
chairs at the dining room chandelier
became ordinary events.

I don’t know how long
before I became annoyed,
offended when we walked
Brooklyn streets, supermarket
aisles and people whispered,
watched with pained, puzzled
faces and sometimes thanked
god for people like me, blessed
my heart because they never
could do that kind of work
as they spoke to the guys
in a sing-song, too loud tone
that turned my stomach.
How long before I grew
comfortable being the lone
white guy surrounded by Puerto
Ricans and Dominicans, Jim Crow,
migrated north black women,
guys and girls straight outta
the down the block projects
and tasting strangely seasoned
foods, talking music, hoops,
sharing family histories, cracking
on each other endlessly, constantly
complaining about low pay,
mandatory overtime, the lack
of appreciation from tone deaf
administrators? How long before
I felt part of it all, before it became
my home, one of the only places
in the world I ever belonged?

____________

 

OLD

A middle of the night ringing phone
shakes me from sleep. My mom
fell and can’t get up. I know,
she should be wearing that gadget
on a chain around her neck, the one
you press and a soothing voice
asks the perfect questions, sends
necessary help. I promise myself
to order it for her next birthday,
add it to the silly card I traditionally
give her filled with fifty dollar bills
for a trip to her favorite casino.
I ask about pain, newly inflicted
pain, not her ordinary complaints,
moans the grandkids mimic
in harmony as they help her
struggle to rise from the couch,
trudge to the table during Sunday
visits. Can she move, crawl
to the bottom of the stairs?
Maybe my sister living
in the upstairs apartment
would hear her yell? Wedged
between the edge of the bed
and the dresser, her shoulder
hurts too. My sister’s not
picking up her cell. I guess
she forgot to charge it again
and her landline’s disconnected.
While trying to think of something
else, I ask mom if she watched
the Yankee game. She says
Chapman still looked shaky,
but managed to close it down,
wonders when Judge will return
to the line-up. Soon, we hope,
and I think good, no signs of
concussion. My youngest brother
who played on the same softball
team as me for 20 years lives nearby
but is away on a tropical island
I never heard of. Every time
I ask, she pronounces all 3
syllables of my name, An-tho-ny,
don’t you dare call the fire
department. I’d really hate
to have to summon Uber, take
the hour long ride, get stuck
spending the night, when mom
interrupts, the floor’s not so bad,
Donna usually comes down
in the morning. I inhale, pause
to check the time. Three,
four hours until morning.
I can almost taste the lasagna,
that beef soup I love she kept
sending over as I recovered
from open heart surgery, before
saying no, I’ll get there fast
as I can while wishing she’ll try
to convince me to stay home,
that she’ll be fine, right before
she remembers Cousin Theresa
who lives two towns away
and winds up taking the quick
drive in her pajamas, banging
on the front door. Donna’s
man eating, psychotic dog
barked her whole family awake
and they all went downstairs,
helped her up and checked
for cuts and bruises, walked
her back to bed. I tried to go
to sleep, but the drip, drip
drop of the AC from the floor
above kept hitting the top
of my AC, filling my head
with a conversation about
the long term, in home care
my mom is beginning
to need and my worry
about growing old
with no kids or wife
to ease me toward death.

Our Bodies, Our Selves by Pris Campbell

Posted in Pris Campbell with tags on July 8, 2022 by Scot

 

Gloria Steinem, do you weep
over the loss of Roe versus Wade?
Do your tears fall on the ashes
of burnt bras, the footprints
embedded into the many marches
women have made to find our rights?

Do the ghosts of the Suffrage fighters
revisit their cells, weeping, too,
for the loss of power our votes
have brought us after their days
suffering for the best for us all.

Do the MeToo women, so filled
with hope at the rally in Washington
search for their hiking shoes
to try once again to keep men’s hands
and laws off of our bodies?

I add my own tears to the growing flood
that will one day wash us away
into the primordial pit of those
who have no hope of that rainbow
with bluebirds singing overhead.