incognito youth by Giovanni Mangiante

Posted in Giovanni Mangiante with tags on March 1, 2021 by Scot


scrapping stains
off of bathroom tiles
we ripped apart
the remaining potential
we had,
and then we drank
all night
to cauterize
the wound.




Giovanni Mangiante is a poet from Lima, Peru. He has work published in Anti-Heroin Chic, Heroin Love Songs, Rat’s Ass Review, Three Rooms Press, Horror Sleaze Trash, The Raven Review, Cajun Mutt Press, Crêpe & Penn, Open Minds Quarterly, and more. He has upcoming work in Newington Blue Press, and The Daily Drunk. In writing, he found a way to cope with BPD.

Drifter by JAMES DIAZ

Posted in JAMES DIAZ with tags on March 1, 2021 by Scot


good god
he’s swinging the sink
out the window again
and just how many blue birds
can one man chase around the yard
until the cops arrive
lovable little creature
of the neon mountain
come chew the size of this hurt
down for me
cancel all my debts
lend me a good pair of shoes
for the road I’m walkin’ on

how hard did you drive those dreams
into the ground,
must have hurt when no one saw what was comin’
and you had no clean clothes
upon release
shufflin’ along the highway
aching to be
but only dyin’ in time

there is a pure flash of life
you chase like a dog his tail
linger on what could have been
like the yellow
patch of light on the surface of the water
you aren’t really there
but you are still a sight to behold
ragged brother
I know what went wrong
I know it ain’t ever gonna get better

three drinks in
it’s the one thing I have left to give you
a poem that ain’t gonna lie to you no more
not tonight –
tonight, brother, I can feel the cold
coming off your bones,
I’m handin’ over my shoes
cause some things words just can’t fix.




James Diaz is the author of This Someone I Call Stranger (Indolent Books, 2018) and All Things Beautiful Are Bent (forthcoming, Alien Buddha Press, 2021,) as well as the founding Editor of Anti-Heroin Chic. Their work has appeared most recently in Cobra Milk Mag, Bear Creek Gazette and Resurrection Mag. They live in a far too cold and snowy upstate New York, where they are waiting patiently for the Spring. 

Two Poems by Dan Denton

Posted in Dan Denton with tags on March 1, 2021 by Scot

It’s a January Day

it’s the removing
of a fresh blanket
of new snow
every morning

the careful way
you pluck
the windshield wipers
letting them fall
three times
against the glass

it’s the tires
always leaking air
in January
as if tire air
migrates to Florida
for the winter

it’s the 24 years
of kicking snow clumps
off already
too heavy
work boots

the 24 years
of doing two days
worth of work
every day

it’s a life
of only making enough
to get by
a week at a time

it’s an aging pick-up truck
with arthritic brakes
and an engine
in desperate need
of a massage

it’s a tiredness
that rides shotgun
uneven railroad tracks
sleeping streets
ice cold factories

where machines growl
before you’ve even
had time
to warm up



America is Ranch Dressing

America is
Applebee’s margaritas
at 7pm on Tuesday nights

America is
a dollar store
on every
50 cent street corner

America is
a dying
Frisch’s Big Boy
in every neighborhood

America is
rising 2×4 prices
because Wall Street
all the sawmills

America is
Olive Garden wine
and an endless bowl
of pasta

a c-pap machine
with a smartphone app

civil war politics
in local elections

tinder hookups
in a meat grinder

social media
and oxymoron

America is
50,000 dollars
in student loan debt
and no job
to go to

America is
ranch dressing
in your stocking
on Christmas morning

Two Poems by Nathan Graziano

Posted in Nathan Graziano with tags on March 1, 2021 by Scot

A Crib Sheet for Middle-aged Dilemmas


When asked if you want to look at a picture of yourself,
the correct response is to chew off both pinkie fingers.
When your teenage daughter prefaces any conversation
by asking you if you love her, you knit her a wool scarf
and buy her a one-way ticket to Buffalo in February.
When your wife asks you if it looks like she gained weight,
answer her using the metric system, compliment her hair.
When you find yourself staring into a mug of draft beer
and wondering how 45 years disappeared, stare harder.
Realize you were never as cool as you make yourself
seem when retelling the tired stories from your college days.
Realize your life is half over, human skin naturally sags
and it’s now better to ugly cry than lie about your age.




My Great Idea


Last night, while flopping like a fish on the futon
in the basement, after a small but spirited discussion
with my wife landed me in exile, I had a great idea
for something to write, something of real consequence.
But as Rodney Dangerfield’s Back to School shot colors
and voices and the cartoon music through the room;
as I found the one cold spot on the waif-thin pillow I snuck
from the bedroom, I forgot to write down my great idea
as my eyelids fell like white screens followed by sleep.

The next morning, the great idea knocked on my mind,
asking to be let out, but I was too late to the door
and by the time I straightened my spine and stood up
to find a pen, my great idea was gone, nothing remained.
So I went upstairs to apologize and make some breakfast
but my wife was gone, too, and my son ate all the bacon.


Nathan Graziano lives in Manchester, New Hampshire, with his wife and kids. His most recent book Fly like The Seagull was published by Luchador Press in 2020. For more information, visit his website:

$40 fix by Tohm Bakelas

Posted in Tohm Bakelas with tags on February 18, 2021 by Scot

by the way he walked up to me
I could tell he was in bad shape—
his skin was 6 shades paler than his
usual olive tint, he was leaking sweat
all over, his jawline was tense, and
he never made eye contact.

“listen man, i need $40 to get
home. i’ve asked everybody, but
no one’s got cash, can you help me?”

“sure” i said “hold on.”

i dug deep in my pockets, fumbling
around chapstick, a fallen button,
loose change, and lint before
handing him two twenties.

that was the only time he looked at me.

“i’ll pay you back as soon as i get paid.”

“forget it, it’s all right.”

he walked away and never thanked me.

he was withdrawing at 2:45pm
on a wednesday at work.

i accepted the possibility
that whatever gas he bought
was going to be shot or snorted,
and that it could be the end of him,
but i couldn’t stand to see him
suffer like that.

a few weeks went by with him
being labeled a “no call, no show.”

i didn’t think much about it.

a few months later he called me
and said: “leave work early and come
down the street where the old
hospital was, i got something for you.”

twenty minutes before the shift
ended i drove to the place
and parked behind his car.

before i could get out he opened my door,
handed me a 12 pack of beer and $40.

he never said a word, then drove off.

i put the car in drive,
turned off the radio,
and drove in silence.



Tohm Bakelas is a social worker in a psychiatric hospital. He was born in New Jersey, resides there, and will die there. His poems have appeared in numerous journals, zines, and online publications. He is the author of several chapbooks, one full length book of poetry, and his work has been nominated several times for the Pushcart Prize. He is also the editor of this press.



Instagram: @flexyourhead







Debt by Shirley Rickett

Posted in Shirley Rickett with tags on February 14, 2021 by Scot


How can I make it up to you?
What water shall newly baptize us?
Which dream will not leave a nightmare?

The sky soothes me, the mockingbird
saves me. When they are gone, absent
like stars everyone knows should be there,

my footing fails, and I try to patch up
the earth and sky for the millionth time.
The Lakota say all roads are good.

I wave to you from my new trail.



Shirley Rickett has been writing for longer than she cares to remember. She and husband Charles left their lifetime home in Kansas City to retire to South Texas in 2006.  She is the author of three chapbooks, “A Minute of Arc,” Dam Poets Press (out of print), Dinner in Oslo, Ardvaark Global Publishing, poems based on interviews with the children of Nazis, “Love:  Poems for Vintage Song Titles,”  Finishing Line Press, and a full length book of poems, Transplant, FlowerSong Books  Her work has appeared in over thirty anthologies, journals, and other publications and one of her poems was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize. A work in progress:  A Parachute of Broken Things.

Two Poems by Xi Nan

Posted in Uncategorized on February 14, 2021 by Scot

Mental Hospital

In this mental hospital there are
A whole hospital of doctors and
The only patient
They show all their magical powers, do everything
So that when she wakes up in the night
No longer sees shadows dancing





He was traveling in Spain
He went to a supermarket to buy things
Standing in front of the supermarket, he saw
On the ground
Full of sewage and trash
On this pile of sewage and trash
There sat a fairy-faced girl
With her legs bent
In her twenties
A crew cut, she was
Injecting drugs into herself
A few seconds after, the injection was done
She suddenly, looked ahead
And burst into hearty laughter
Extremely happy
Extremely pure
Don’t know what, her fantasy was?
He asked
For the rest of the day, he
Felt very depressed
He said his existing worldview
Could not explain
This fairy in the trash dump


About the Author: Xi Nan (西楠), born in China, writes and translates, indie publisher, author of different genres. Some works of hers are published in English. Her translation work of ten poems (originally authored by Fish Lu in Chinese) was nominated for the 2020 American Pushcart literary prize. She graduated from London School of Economics and Political Science, now lives in Hangzhou and London.

Her Twitter : @XiNan_WhaleStu

Facebook :

I Told Myself by Brian Rihlmann

Posted in Brian Rihlmann with tags on February 14, 2021 by Scot

I remember the day
the thought crept in
it was a Tuesday…no—
a Wednesday
yes, I’m sure of it
after I’d just blown
the two twenties I had
in my wallet
on beers and shots
at the corner dive
to erase another bad day at work
another day wasted
unloading trucks
stocking shelves

and I thought my god—
I just spent my entire day’s pay
in a few hours
(minimum wage was 4.25, then)
and I realized that
for the rest of my life
I will do just this
or something like it
trade my days for dollars

then the long
and bloody rebellion began
with the words Fuck it—
and another shot
and another beer

I may be wrong
it could have also crept in
on that Friday night
that Eddie and I got high
drove out to Mustang
and each banged
two whores a piece—
hundred bucks a pop

and as we drove west
and coming down
back toward the neon city
Eddie turns to me
and says Shit…
I’m gonna have to
hock one of my guitars
again….that was rent money

for me it was a week’s pay
and I sat there
imagining a whole week‘s worth
of bullshit down the drain
just so I could stick my dick
in some strange pussy

well…I’d make it back
I told myself
fuck it—
at least I didn’t make my living
with my legs in the air

there was a distinct difference
I told myself
between taking my boss’s abuse
and pretending
I enjoyed a stranger’s cock
inside of me
telling him Oh yes
as he pumped away, whispering
You love it, don’t you? 

Two Poems by Linnet Phoenix

Posted in Linnet Phoenix with tags on February 14, 2021 by Scot

A Pocketful of Rusty Stars

It was a hell of a night.
I woke up with a pocketful
of rusty stars,
wearing a denim jacket.
A guy called Jacob
asked me to call him
an Uber with a Sat Nav
back to previous night.

I sighed, breathing out
fire-engine rose petals,
caught in bay hair
as he lay cat stretched
on a February sunbeam.
I asked about my envelope,
an origami bird unfolded
as if the stars were mine.

He nodded slowly “We all need
a patina to know ourselves.”



Valentine’s Day

The only
I want
is my own,
in the same
I posted,
long ago
I knew me.

Soldier At My Door by Dan Holt

Posted in Dan Holt with tags on February 9, 2021 by Scot

For Matt Borczon


My doorbell rings
there is a soldier at my door
He’s carrying
a crutch
instead of
a gun
Looking at him
you can just tell
he still feels
the foot
he no longer has
I want
to speak to him
to thank him
for his service
to ask him
How I can help?
But I’m not sure
he can see me
through the fog of ghosts
that live behind his eyes
I’m not sure
he can hear me
through the screams
of war ringing in his head