Cameron Morse

Posted in Cameron Morse with tags on July 15, 2021 by Scot

Cameron Morse is Senior Reviews editor at Harbor Review, a poetry editor at Harbor Editions, and the author of six collections of poetry. His first collection, Fall Risk, won Glass Lyre Press’s 2018 Best Book Award. His latest is Far Other (Woodley Press, 2020). He holds and MFA from the University of Kansas City—Missouri and lives in Independence, Missouri, with his wife Lili and two children.

The Hill

My house holds a place
on a hill. To my right,
terraces retain the earth.
Blocks interlock
above the lower alleyways.
To my left, the hill
slopes gently to the chain
links below. Between
these extremes, I wrangle
a push mower. Along
my left half I carve vertical
lines, letting gravity
pull my sputtering green
engine toward the hedgerow
where I swivel and drag
the handle behind me.
Along the right I go
horizontal. Nearest the gnarly
roots of the old maple,
where the chopper wants most
to tumble in my arms, I leave
the tall grass to heighten.

____________

Smiley Faces

I drown myself
in the smiley faces
of rain, the grainy
newsfeed of rain-
stirred maple leaves
motioning to me
feebly in the dark air.
My children compete
with themselves for
my attention, and with
so much else besides.
Lili complains I am
absent, I am elsewhere.
I read about Tzu-ch’i
leaning on his armrest
staring up at the sky, as
I do, and breathing:
downhill the hedgerow
absorbs daylight
in darkness. Alone in
my own house, I nurse
two bites taken down
to the red meat of my
left foot: I am hurt.
My brother asks to mow
in my stead. But for
this rain, I say yes. Re-
turn to what’s at hand:
range of motion exercises
for the bum left hand.
Tzu-ch’i claims to have
lost himself. Lili complains
I have myself lost
in this plaintive rain, drives
the kids to their playdate.

____________

The Fountain

iPhone-lit palm of a hand
draped over Lili’s
head, very orangutan,
as my semen seeps
inside her elevated lower half.
It’s the fourth and we’re trying
again, determined. Baby
number three. As if we weren’t
already exhausted, maxed out,
to the max. Sex is hard
work, manual labor. When you’re
dead-set, you’re deadest.
Our extant children are sleeping
during the drum solo. We stay up
late to make sure they’re asleep
and Theo doesn’t walk in
in medias res murmuring he’s afraid
there’s something with him
in his canopy of blankets, something
snakelike, insidious. Outside,
41st Street is on fire. A fountain
of sparks in the shape of a man
strides toward me standing naked
in the window corner dripping
and wilted and utterly spent. A red
starfish explodes above the black oak,
not loud enough to wake the kids.

____________

A Light Existence

Writing let me right myself.
Admit you are right:
Writing poetry should be a light
existence. Light is right,
even this cloud light beats
darkness, this lighthouse light.
The plumber leaves a dark
stain around the floor drain, an ink
blot of unrefined oil. He clears
the blockage only as far as
his augur is able. Cold clouds
from the west add a layer
of darkness. I change shirts.
How far down to earth
must I be before I drown
in sludge? Plumb the pipe
and you will dredge,
you will regurgitate
your breakfast. The tooth
breaks. Empty your tool bag.

____________

Warts

I hobble into the restroom: McCoy Park,
the loose straps of a sandal flopped
around a swabbed foot, beefily
gauzed, swaddled brown with co-bind,
and there’s this boy seated upon
the stainless steel urinal. His cherubic penis
confronts me. There is no shame.
“Can I get in here?” I ask, awkward
with the knowledge of the way this looks:
I am a stranger, strange and getting
stranger, even to myself. Warts,
I learn from my podiatrist, are a virus
that spreads under the skin. Never knew
I had them. It took five applications
of acid before Mrs. Gonzalez offered
to incise me, unfolding a blue bundle
of swabs, knives I didn’t have the guts
to peek at, fixing my eyes on the porous
ceiling panels, imagining myself miniaturized,
curling up inside a squiggly pore. My bandage
bled through, smudging floor planks, so I
crawled to the bathroom and knelt to pee, lifting
my penis just above the rim. Felt like
my son Theo, who stands on a stool now.
In the public restroom, my other boy hops
to his feet. I say, “Excuse me,” and angle
my body away, clearing myself
as much for myself as for anyone else.

Iris Berry

Posted in Iris Berry with tags on July 13, 2021 by Scot

 

Iris Berry is a native Angelino and one of the true and original progenitors of the L.A. punk scene. She is the author of several books including, Two Blocks East of Vine, The Daughters of Bastards, The Underground Guide to Los Angeles, and her most recent release, All That Shines Under the Hollywood Sign. Internationally known, her wit and often dark, factual accuracy and empathy for her subjects has brought her critical acclaim as well as a huge fan base. She writes her experiences with grace and deadly precision. Her lullaby-and bedtime-story voice is like a haunting tour of Los Angeles that lingers like one of the city’s unsolved murders. Berry has appeared in numerous films, TV commercials, documentaries, and iconic rock videos. In the 1980s she was a singer for the punk band the Lame Flames. Later Berry co-founded and toured extensively with her band The Ringling Sisters, who recorded with legendary producer Lou Adler (A&M Records). Berry also sang and wrote songs and recorded with the Dickies, the Flesh Eaters and Pink Sabbath. She’s received two certificates of merit from the city of Los Angeles for her contribution as a Los Angeles writer and historian, and for her extensive charity work. From 2010-1014 she served on the Board of Directors for Beyond Baroque Literary/Arts Center. She has served as the mentor to many up-and-coming writers. Berry is co-founder, editor and publisher for her imprint PUNK HOSTAGE PRESS, where continues to champion for original voices.

 

 

–from Daughters of Bastards

As Good as it Gets

In the past two years
I’ve learned
that just because
you’re loyal
honest and devoted
does not mean
it will be reciprocated
that sometimes, sadly,
no good deed goes unpunished
and most movies
do not resemble real life
especially the ones
with the big budgets
and what my grandmothers
told me about men is true.
I’ve also learned
that no matter how much you know
and love somebody
they can still have secrets
that could break your heart
and possibly kill you.
Don’t rely on fortune cookies
but never let a good wishbone
go to waste
and that nothing is personal
and everything is personal
no one is perfect especially me
and the more mistakes I make
the more human and nice
I am towards you
and the more powerful
I think I am
the more danger
I am in.
I’ve learned
that everyone dies
some quickly
some slowly
so it’s best
to live the life
you really want
it’s taken me forever
to realize
that I still haven’t
grown-up
and that somehow
I still have the fantasy
that as long as I am
a good person
life will get better.
But what I’ve really learned
is that the clock
is tick, tick, ticking
and maybe
I should do my best
to leave this place
with a smile on my face
and love in my heart
for you
and for me
and maybe
that’s as good as it gets
and if that’s the case
I will consider
myself
lucky…
____________

 

–from All That Shines
Under the Hollywood Sign

 

Thank You Henry Mancini

Thank you Henry Mancini
for all the neon boulevards
and all the city streets
of all the cities
and the jazz
and the poetry
of the downtowns
and the uptowns.
For Sunset Boulevard
in the rain,
Hollywood Boulevard
at twilight,
and Wilshire Boulevard
at dawn.
For the Pacific Coast Highway,
Union Station,
and the view from
Mulholland Drive
both sides;
the San Fernando Valley
and Los Angeles.
For Jazz gliding its way
down translucent highways
at one in the morning
through the steam
of car headlights
in the pouring rain.
For making me feel clean
when I was dirty
and for the fantasy
that my life
was somehow better than it was
and for the romance
when there wasn’t any.
For crazy but surprisingly
smooth hung-over mornings
when an all-nighter
should have been painful.
Thank you
for the lengthy warm
Santa Ana summer afternoons
overlooking a city
from a dingy apartment
with only the view
and you
to save me…
Thank you Henry Mancini
for those
ephemeral evenings
draped across Hollywood
at midnight
like a ghost town
timeless
glamorous
and still
for the exquisite
and the calm
and for the clean
and regal lift of elegance
on to a stairway of stars
leading to a luxurious
and illustrious world
where nothing earthly
can touch me…
Thank you

____________

 

Christmas in Van Nuys at Ralph’s Market at Midnight

The lights are cruel
at Ralph’s Market
in Van Nuys at midnight.
Apparently, it’s Christmas
according to the aisles
at Ralph’s Market.
But if I had to guess
by the customers
I’d say it was Halloween.
It’s desperate
here in Ralph’s
at midnight
and the lights don’t help.
Florescent lights
are never good for the complexion.
There’s a young homeless couple
walking the aisles buying food
and looking happy
at least they’re in a relationship
I think to myself.
Freshly home
from a trip to The Big Apple
I went with my boyfriend
and came home single.
We had to go
3,000 miles to break up?
It happened
in bed
in the dark
at 3 in the morning
in a dingy
Times Square
hotel room.
It was epic
and when that plane landed
20 hours lateron California soil
I clicked my heels
and quietly chanted
there’s no place like home
there’s no place like home
there’s no place like home
And now I am home
in my neighborhood Ralph’s Market
feeling like I don’t belong.
The thing about California
with its constant sunshine
the only way to tell the seasons
is by what’s selling on the shelves
at the Supermarkets.
I have a thing for the Supermarket
it’s a form of meditation
nothing in here
reminds me of my life
I can do this…
I’m a spiritual giant
in the frozen food section
I’m Gandhi
in the Greeting Card section
and I’m Mother Teresa
in the check-out line
forgiving all the tabloid sinners
and connecting with something
greater than all of this.
“Credit or debit?
Paper or plastic?”
“Peace… please?”
I’d like to give it a chance
after all,
it is the Holidays.

____________

 

L.A. River Lullaby

It’s 2:06 am
I can hear
the sounds
of a distant train
as the constant
passing of cars
drive the 5 freeway
alongside the L.A. River
heading north
and heading south
going to places
called home.
Home for me
is not a place
with walls
windows and doors
where framed photographs
are placed on mantles
over fireplaces
and lined hallways
or embedded in refrigerator magnets.
Home lives in my heart
and in my breath
and in the unsaid exchange
of knowing glimpses
with loved ones
and kindred spirits
ignited by the reciprocity
of trust
kindness
safety
love
and the generosity
of a spirit
that goes beyond
material items
beyond coaxing words and gestures for planned outcomes
beyond any exchange
of anything
wanted
or needed.
Home is not the room for the life
but for the life in the room.
Home lives
in the conversations
that our souls
are having
with each other
without words
where truths
are unspoken
with an unconditional love
that rings louder
and with more power
than mere words
could ever express
with an emanating
everlasting
unstoppable
force.
Home is anywhere the heart thrives…
As the passing cars
on the 5 freeway
get quieter and quieter
until all I can hear
is the distant train
and the unspoken words.

____________

 

Shooting for the Stars in Kevlar

We run
from hot summer days
and broken air conditioners
we run
to chilled movie theatres
make out like teenagers
who’ve never had sex
never been kissed
by tender mouths
and never cradled in the arms
of an unconditional love.
We make
our own movies
back in the back
of the theatre
laughing like there’s no yesterday
yesterdays that begged us to stay
and tried to kill us
in our sleep
then chased us
in our waking hours
begging for salvation
and a hall pass.
We are the bright spots
in the road found in dark alleys.
A pair of lives
lived hard
treated hard
and discarded harder
and as we
hit the pavement skipping we forgot
that we were only playing hopscotch
to the tune of songs
lead by a symphony
of sirens and howling dogs. Can we believe
that we can believe in love?
After we have let so many
put their unloving hands
around our hearts
souls and throats
x-friends
x-loves
x-drug habits
x-drug dealers
still trying
to strike a better deal
with empty promises
empty pockets
and empty souls.
Leaving open wounds
like bullets holes
as the winds blow through them
hollow and scarred
and that sometimes
most often are unhealable.
A catalog
of catastrophic events
shaped our lives
and sculpted us
into who we are.
It doesn’t always mean
that who we are
can carry us
into who we want to be…
but that doesn’t mean we’ll stop trying.
As we dry our eyes
while no one’s looking
in dark theaters
waiting for the next
movie to start.

____________

 

The Ghosts of Punk Rock Past

 

The First time we met
was on a Saturday night in 1978 or ’79.
He was running down Sunset Boulevard
with about
five other people,
they were all covered in peanut butter.
He stopped right in front of me
and sweetly said,
“We’re smearing peanut butter all over ourselves,
you wanna do it with us?”
My friends were horrified
and pulled me away.
I was intrigued.
About a year later
we were in his apartment
on Cherimoya and Franklin
which was literally
in the shadow
of the Hollywood Sign.
There was about 10 kittens
running around
and bouncing off the walls,
it was a flying cat circus.
He liked to say my name backwards,
“Hey, Siri! Give me your arm?”
and before I knew it
he grabbed my wrist
and just as his lit cigarette
was about to hit my skin
one of the kittens
flew into us
and knocked it
out of his hands.
The last time
I saw himwas at Oki Dog
It was about 2:30
in the morning
he was walking around
saying goodbye
to people
one by one…
and the next day
just like that
he was gone.
Since then
there’s been
so many others
and I think about it
these encounters
brief and fleeting
and otherwise.
These bonds
surreal and otherworldly
in life as in death.
These chance meetings.
And I don’t know
what any of it means
I’m just glad
we met
along the way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two poems by Ashley Cooke

Posted in Ashley Cooke with tags on July 13, 2021 by Scot

 

NOOSE

As we walked further
into the woods
we saw it
between two trees
the noose hung down
fraying rope
the symbol of death
hung so still

But as we got closer to it
we discovered
it had only been
an old rope swing
for children to place their feet
and swing across the skyline
how that changed the scene.

____________

 

KEVIN,

You laid on alleyway mattresses
and grabbed dinner in liquor stores
now you’ve become a phantom
that nobody has heard from
I saw your boy the other day
well, a picture of him at least
he is the closest thing to you
his mom said he has your spirit
and I can only pray
that he listens to her
when she tells him calmly
to stop lighting his soul on fire
letting the edges burn
along the tips of his fingers
as he molds the shape
into some sort of origami
and lets the ghost of his father lay to rest
just like you needed to do with yours.

 

____________

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ashley L. Cooke is the author of Seven Sins (BetweenShadows Press). Her second   chapbook, Tenses will be out soon. Her work has been featured in various online magazines including Horror Sleaze Trash, Rye Whiskey Review, and Moontide Press and Cajun Mutt Press.

Mutual Respect

Posted in LYNNE SAVITT with tags on July 7, 2021 by Scot

i always showed for
kind hearted lovers
respected their idio
syncrasies body parts
secret fears but today
on the internet i found
some gossipy little bitch
i fucked in the eighties
had spilled some of my
personal info poet who
said he feared sex with
me because i’d write about
it i never did record liaison
it wasn’t worth a poem to find
images for the world’s tiniest
penis so thank you for reminding
me of that pinky in yr pants
i never uttered until i turned
seventy-one & read what you
had to report to your pals
one million orgasms ago

Lynne Savitt

Three Poems by Marc Olmsted

Posted in Marc Olmsted with tags on July 7, 2021 by Scot

OXY BOY

Alex did the yard work
Bottomed out borrowed $20 in sunglasses vanished
Reruns from Hell, now
clear-eyed $20 forgotten but wants to works –
so happy to see him can’t tell you
as he rakes the
leaves again

____________

2020 HINDSIGHT

Year of the Iron Reporter
Year of the Golden Jackass President
Year of the Monkeybutt Blockbuster 3D
Year of the New Virus Corona
Year of the Dragon Elements
Year of the Poor Meth Hooker suddenly illumined
Year of the Derelict Oblivion Jones
Year of my white kitten covering the world in her shedding bless-fur amen

____________

VIVID RECOLLECTION

She thought
no one noticed her
putting on make-up
in the rear-view mirror

Poetry of Steve Henn

Posted in Steve Henn with tags on July 7, 2021 by Scot

Cvr_GuiltyPrayer_Ad[44792] 

Losing My Shit

Just sat down in a big pink pile
of Himalayan Salt and boy do I feel
no different! How does it feel?
How does it feel? You tell me.
I’m not in touch with my emotions.
I only have two: neutral and
breaking the sound barrier. It’s
overwhelming. Like being sad
with a raging boner. I love a good
sadgasm! I’ll rip off Homer anytime,
he’s funnier than me but I’m more
intentional. Feeling good about myself
is what I’m all about! I’m so self-assured
I can power a fleet of animatronic ninjas
with my mental energies. People speak
without thought endlessly all the time,
don’t worry about it if you’ve just started
paying attention. God Bless Your Merry Gentlemen
and Carry On Your Wayward Sons. Gimme,
gimme the days upon the highways of the night.
A good whoa-woah carefully inflected adds
minutes to your life. It’s the only reverse cigarette
I’ve ever heard of! People say it works
better than you might believe. You know
what I hate? I hate when I’m losing my shit
and some faux-Zen phony tells me to “just breathe.”

*from Guilty Prayer (Main Street Rag 2021)

____________

 

a Species of Creature*

I’m the kind of guy who would hire a hooker
so she could hold me while I ugly-cry
into her breasts

The more true it feels the less funny
it gets

Are animal zoos cruel?

  1. yes
  2. no
  3. is it okay if I sit this one out one damn time, dammit, Jesus…
  4. let’s ask Twitter

According to @Uberfacts there were human zoos
as late as the 1950s, where white people put people
of other races on display. There’s no sitting this one out, bub
Shame, anger, and guilt seem like normal responses
to this information so don’t read the comments – someone

is bound to respond #AllLivesMatter

We are a fucked up species of creature.
Do you think horses have this many
varieties of mental illness?

Somebody retweeted somebody saying “Disney Withdrawal
Is the Absolute Worst FOR REAL”

Call me if you have any idea what we think we’re even doing

#IThinkTheresSomethingWrongWithUs

*first appeared in Trailer Park Quarterly
*from Guilty Prayer (MSR 2021)

____________

Steve Henn wrote Guilty Prayer (Main Street Rag 2021), Indiana Noble Sad Man of the Year (Wolfson 2017), and two previous collections from NYQ Books. Find out more at
therealstevehenn.com

American Youth in Asia–a song by Larry Rogers

Posted in Larry Rogers with tags on June 30, 2021 by Scot

American youth in Asia
I hear your jungle boots
Moving in the elephant grass
And the bamboo shoots
What a chilling mercy killing
Yours is gonna be
American youth in Asia
A generation put to sleep

Ask the old men on the draft boards
Why their sons aren’t here too
And tell Mama instead of piano
Wish I’d studied Kung Fu
What a chilling mercy killing
This is gonna be
American youth in Asia
A generation put to sleep

They took the stripes off a tiger and put ‘em on me
And the other boys of Company “B”
Don’t know when he plans to attack
But there’s a big cat scratching at my back
What a chilling mercy killing
Mine is gonna be
American youth in Asia
A generation put to sleep

Another plane lands at Travis
So many lost souls inside
While on the rolling hills of Arlington
Tombstones multiply
What a chilling mercy killing
This is gonna be
American youth in Asia
A generation put to sleep

___________

I was raised in a potting shed trailer in the piney woods of west central Arkansas–a sanctuary for moonshiners, marijuana growers, and merry (and not-so-merry) pranksters. I’m a poet and singer/songwriter. In 2017, Golden Antelope Press published a collection of my poems titled, “Live Free or Croak.” I was drafted and served with the First Air Cav in Vietnam in ’67 and ’68.

Lynne Savitt

Posted in LYNNE SAVITT with tags on June 2, 2021 by Scot

FOR MY 74TH BIRTHDAY & TWO OF MY HUSBANDS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

current husband

there are women so beautiful
staring at them makes one
dizzy as half dozen mimosas at
sunday morning seaside resort

i am not one of them

there are men so magnetic
they mesmerize one pulling
you into their lustful arms
like star studded wyoming skies

you are not one of them

a year ago when i got my cancer
diagnosis you said nothing not
one “sorry” or “i love you” or
“don’t worry” or “i’ll be there”

i hate myself when i see me through yr eyes

last ex husband

there are women who struggle
with scars & missing pink flesh
aging & aching with rallied grace
day after week after painful month

i am one of them

there are men who know how
to love stumps & bones bald
frail female shadows black
with disease & golden hope

you are one of them

i feel loved when i see me through yr eyes

irony current husband does caregiving
ex husband needs care giving but
he tells me happy birthday a week early
so he won’t forget & wishes me many
more times than not words ARE enough

Poetry of Mike James

Posted in Mike James with tags on June 1, 2021 by Scot

 

 

How Many Angels Can Dance on the Point of a Needle?

 

There was one needle all angels danced on
No measurements were taken
None were asked for
There was room for all the angels and twice as more
And still their laughter sounded like singing
And their sighs sounded like singing
Though none sang a lullaby
Not one angel slept or remembered sleep
If you asked what sleep was like they would say the white moon

After by Pris Campbell

Posted in Pris Campbell with tags on May 26, 2021 by Scot

 

After she had tried the scalding baths,
drank gunk someone told her would work,
she used the coat hanger. No blood gushed .
The boyfriend broke it off
when he heard, leaving her
still in love, desperate and too broke
to go for a backroom abortion.

Years have deepened and Roe vs Wade
has released our bodies, our right
to say yes. Bad back, ten hour work days
in a career I studied years for,
no wish to marry the rage-ridden father
of the just fertilized egg in my womb,
I sit where my back-then friend should have sat.
She disappeared with no warning.
I wonder if she’s still alive
or another abortive attempt took her.

The spirit of my own child follows me
for a year…

Why didn’t you have me, he asks.

I try to explain, feeling a bit crazy
to think this is real—I’m not psychic.
I tell him I love him.

When his footsteps finally head in another direction
I sense he’s been born elsewhere.
I hope he found a good home, a mother
to sing pretty lullabies.

When strangers ask me if I had any children
sometimes I say yes,
with no explanation.