Archive for May, 2017

Fool or martyr… by John E. Epic

Posted in John E. Epic with tags on May 9, 2017 by Scot

Father or mother,
Brother or sister,
You or me,
All of humanity,
Can paint such beauty,
With strokes of the paintbrush,
And such murder,
With the pull of the trigger.
The contradiction
Lies within the confliction
Between these two extremes,
As you or me
Can be
Slave or master,
Creator or destroyer,
Fool or martyr,
All based upon
Of how we perceive This contradiction
Between the two extremes.
You and me,
Not in the middle,
But relate
To one of these extremes,
Thinking black & white,
That delight
Will lead to either heaven
Or hell,
That lack of sight
Is good or bad,
And the middle is forgotten,
And those that do wrong
Are not all rotten,
And those whom do good
Are not all given sainthood;
That sometimes martyrs are fools
And sometimes fate can be so cruel
Because this confliction between two extremes—the unobtainable intrinsic purities—
Does not exist
So, why should we persist
To expect That you or I
should pretend to define
ourselves and others
with terms so black & white,
such as wrong or right,
when we are human beings
than live someplace between those two extremes?…

1978 by Mike James

Posted in Mike James with tags on May 9, 2017 by Scot

my grandmother burned her outhouse down
insisted, at last, on indoor plumbing

my brother quit high school, amid my
father’s curses and my mother’s sighs,

joined the navy which sent him nowhere
more exotic than california in his three years

uncle mason finished building his fishing boat
used scrap lumber (called it crap lumber)

a heart attack took him the next summer
aunt virginia left the boat to rats and squirrels

around the world jim jones led the guyana mess
also a new pope came and left, quickly, in rome

i learned how to peddle my bike downhill
saw superman three times with my then best friend

This Is Not A Poem by JAMES DIAZ

Posted in JAMES DIAZ with tags on May 9, 2017 by Scot


I’m more of a Cassandra with
my fingers on the pane
of Gettysburg
and early in the morning
it’s the birds territory
we step into
borrowing things
that belong to them
not just songs
but language barriers
and sometimes
falling out of trees
at night
even if only on the inside


JAMES DIAZ is the founding editor of the literary arts & music journal Anti-Heroin Chic. His work has appeared most recently in HIV Here & NowFoliate OakChronogram, and Sick Lit Magazine. His first book of poems, This Someone I Call Stranger, is forthcoming from Indolent Books (Fall, 2017.)

A 35 year old Girl by Jon Bennett

Posted in Jon Bennett with tags on May 9, 2017 by Scot

We talk about money
her parents don’t
give her enough
“At least they pay
for my apartment.”
Sad brown eyes
she hasn’t had a drink
yet today
and it takes me
off balance.
“What’re you thinking?”
she says
but not that way
only to fill
an awkward silence
“Looks like I’m not
going to get fucked,” I say
and those sad brown eyes
begin to cry.

Poem by Victor Clevenger

Posted in Victor Clevenger with tags on May 9, 2017 by Scot

for nadia wolnisty

i assume that it is hard for people like us to keep
secrets from the coroner when our body is up on
the slab & our blood is no longer imprisoned
death & coffee are only as dark as you wish them to be
human brains confuse me a switchblade
penetrates & i’m not sure i even mind i once
wrote that i felt like a drunk hummingbird you
once wrote that you felt like a firefly leaking light
it’s 5:06 pm as i sit here writing this raindrops
fall down the window pane & two black birds sit on
the power lines outside clock hands chase the
ghost of a second ago & with a finger in the
hornets’ nest we are all eventually bound to have
something wet on the laces of our souls

For a Moment by Pris Campbell

Posted in Pris Campbell with tags on May 9, 2017 by Scot


I wake from a dream,
fingernails dug into his back,
his mouth hard on mine,
remembering those days that were
siphoned away and won’t return
in this lifetime.

I was the one to leave,
so why the crocodile tears now?

One of his emails popped up
in an old folder yesterday
and, for a moment, I forgot he was dead,
doctors exhausted from attempts
at a heart restart and I want to answer
the email all over again just
like when I called mother’s old number
until the line went silent,
telling her secrets I never
could utter when still alive.


Pris Campbell has been mostly housebound with ME/CFS since 1990 so writes her poems to escape into the world again. In addition to numerous journals, she has published seven chaps/books of free verse poetry and, most recently, her first romantic tanka book, Squall Line on the Horizon, through Nixes Mate Press. She makes her home with her husband in the Greater West Palm Beach, across the waterway from where Trump twitters in his southern White House.

Foreign Policy by Ben Rasnic

Posted in Ben Rasnic with tags on May 9, 2017 by Scot


A lunatic
is spraying nuclear missiles
over the South China Sea.

Meanwhile, the leader
of the free world
spends weekends spraying
Titleist golf balls

over manicured grounds
of his private
Country Club,

crying about fake news,
cheating on his scorecard.

Everything Gonna Be All Right (or, Trading Body Blows with the Ghost of Victor Smith) by Jason Ryberg

Posted in Jason Ryberg with tags on May 3, 2017 by Scot

The night was thick, black and nasty
and my mattress was a raft drifting down
a mighty Mississippi of memory,
a Viking longboat in which my broken
warrior-poet’s form had been placed
and sent downstream through the silver-grey mists
of eternity and on to the far bright shores
of my forefathers and their fathers before them,
only to be turned away from those fearsome
gates for being insufficiently deceased.

And, lately, it seems like I’ve been waking up
in the middle of varying stages of dream-state
at all my former places of residence, feeling around
the bed for some imaginary former spouse
or significant other, freaking out about
being late to some former place of employment
and whatever it is I’m gonna say (this time?)
to placate whichever former employer.

I can’t help but believe if things continue
at this rate, eventually, I’ll bolt awake thinking
I’m late for my first day of kindergarten (though,
hopefully my mother will also be on hand to say,
It’s OK, little man. It’s only Saturday. Go out and play).

And then there’s that recurring one where,
in what some new age, metaphysical,
guided meditation counselor type might
call a deep subterranean cave of me,
some here-to-fore unknown (or merely suspected)
part of me suddenly cracks and snaps off
like a massive icicle or stalactite, morphing
on its way down into another more fully actualized me,
a new and improved me, you could say,
and hits the ground running like Jesse Owens
at the ’36 Olympics.

And let’s just say, for the sake of the poem
(and your, most likely, all-too-brief relationship with it),
that this new and improved me is actually you
and it’s not a slimy or treacherous cave floor
that your feet have found but a cool, rain-slicked street
late at night in some industrial part of town
you don’t recognize.

And just over there to the right,
maybe fifty, sixty feet away at most,
there’s a freight train blowing out
its big, brassy basso profundo
as it slows down to take the curve
and it’s not even an issue of nerve
or wanting it bad enough ‘cause you know
you can make it this time, man,
and you don’t even have a suitcase
or bag or nothing

but that shit don’t even matter ‘cause everything’s
gonna be different from here on out if you can
just catch that train, man, everything gonna be just fine
if you can just keep runnin’ and sayin’ it
and sayin’ it and sayin’ it:

everything gonna be alright,
everything gonna be alright,
everything gonna be alright,
everything …

Spirit Lodge, Saturday Night by Kristofer Collins

Posted in Kristofer Collins with tags on May 3, 2017 by Scot


When in doubt return to what you know best
the gorgeous dark eight steps down
and the violent gaze of an archangel

this warm lacuna dim with blurry voices
and the boys in the back baking up pizzas
flour dandering their beautiful beards

the corner vending machine advertising smoke and coke
and the cool contours of a cherry red chopper
announce themselves like the last band to ever play The Decade

like the advent of winter’s first freeze
the streets of Lawrenceville are glazed sweet with the stuff
and old Allegheny Cemetery keeps her secrets stone-still

under the sagging cloth of early January
you say you could drink the bottom out of this town
and still have room for one swallow more

more of this black beer beading the glowing bud of your lips
more of this swirling organ aching as a broken femur
more of this dance floor dotted and luminous as a million freshly-minted pennies

the Spirit Lodge on a spectrally quiet Saturday night grants shelter
to all the spooky shit that goes bump in our brains
holds its arms wide in welcome to the demons of our damned foolish decisions

we share so much and say so little
sequestered here the new year creeping across Butler Street
calling our names and pointing to the clock.


Kristofer Collins lives in Pittsburgh, PA with his wife and their stupid cats.

The Day is a Song by William Taylor Jr.

Posted in William Taylor Jr. with tags on May 2, 2017 by Scot


The day is a song Leonard Cohen
didn’t have the chance to finish

and I’m caught inside it
like a wounded thing

and sometimes my poems leave me
like a woman
or the hours in a day
or a last breath at the end of things

and I’m left with this ghost of a life
and still this hunger for beauty
in whatever form it can still afford

outside there’s the rain
and the broken people beneath

a pretty uselessness that pulls the heart

and sometimes it seems
the best plan is to be forgotten
just as soon as you can manage

yet there’s a music to it all
that’s kept me going
so far

and when I finish this beer
I’ll go outside and find some alley
I’ve never seen

I’ll turn the corner and take
whatever’s there.