Archive for December, 2017

The Night of The Raspberries by Lynne Savitt

Posted in LYNNE SAVITT with tags on December 18, 2017 by Scot


i’d forgotten about the first snow of the season
how black ice owns my fragile bones
ankle, wrist, ribs
keeping me locked inside against my will
how empty the refrigerator was after
eggplant florentine, cornbread stuffed
turkey breast, broccoli rabe filled
yr stomach all week & all that was left
were my elegant raspberries
reminding me of how, after decades in prison,
you wouldn’t allow me to lock
any of the doors & how always
you yearned for a full refrigerator
not an apple graced my table tonight
today you live snow covered hills
& winding roads hours away
the raspberries aren’t as sweet
& all my doors stay locked now

Two Poems by Wayne Mason

Posted in Wayne Mason with tags on December 18, 2017 by Scot

Thinking About Philip Levine

Midnight at work thinking
about Philip Levine and how
the factories are a little more
hopeless without him here

I wish I could have met him
to tell him his poems kept
me sane, his words got me
through many cruel nights

I would have told him that
he gave me hope… not that
I would ever be a laureate but
that I could survive unbroken

That because of him I could
find beauty amid the suffering
truth beyond bleak smokestacks
music in the hum of machinery

I’d tell him that I kept his letter
framed above my desk, and that
his kind words to a hungry poet
meant more than any publication

Not too long before he passed
he gave a reading close by but I
had to work instead, and I’m sure
he would have likely understood


3am Soundtracks

At 3 am in this old factory when
it’s all too much to bear and the
darkness of night consumes me
like a lifeless sprawling black hole

Sometimes words can’t capture
the weariness of these bleak hours

But bleeding through the solitude
is the soft hum of machinery and
a forklift moaning, in the distance
the sound of tired gravelly voices

While Coltrane wails on the radio
saying more than any poem could

Two Poems by Justin Hyde

Posted in Justin Hyde with tags on December 18, 2017 by Scot

that summer

we’d cut the top off a pop-can

one of us would steal a little gasoline
from our father

out on the west edge of the trailer park
tucked up under the highway overpass
like hobos

we’d drop one of our
g.i. joes in the
gasoline bath with
a lit-match

silent full

swirling the acrid burning fumes
with wooden sticks

squatting there
that last summer before our dicks got hard

women came

simple truth disappeared

& we turned inscrutable

like our fathers.



four years in

i think
you need
a different kind of man,
i told her
as we sat in front of the camp-fire
gin & tonics long

this was
mostly true
& generally desiccated
masquerading as pity

she flung her gin & tonic
in my face

slapped me
off the back
of my chair

i popped up

began vivisecting her
all over
the campground

she got away
long enough to call her parents
two & a half hours away

they showed up
with the sheriff
in & out
like a pogo stick

i fell asleep
on the grass
in front of the camper

a vineyard of
heaven & hell
wrapping my body
like a toga

in the morning
a hundred flowers

began to bloom
& rust.

Rodney was Afraid by John Dorsey

Posted in John Dorsey with tags on December 3, 2017 by Scot

Rodney was Afraid

to have a kid
“that’s why i waited so long,” he says
now in his 40s
he points to a framed picture
of his daughter dangling on a loose nail
in the hallway

“she could’ve ended up just like me,”
he says talking about our days
in a classroom for kids with learning disabilities

he tells me she has a real head for numbers

& here he is with a 9th grade education

afraid now that soon
they’ll be coming for our guns

i tell him that the world ended years ago
that they just forgot to tell us

he just laughs

saying “that if custer’s last stand taught us anything,
nobody is getting out of here alive”

the numbers just don’t add up

& here he is making 80 grand a year

driving a fuel truck in the dead of winter

the bones of sunlight
crushed out under his boot soles

just waiting

for someone

to light a match.

3 Poems by Hosho McCreesh

Posted in Hosho McCreesh with tags on December 3, 2017 by Scot

Caught Between the Boot-heel
And the Cold, Hard Ground…

Goddammit, now
either you

and suffer
for it;


you love


it has
to be


The Hell We’ve
Decided We
Can Stand…

She’s gotta be a
this starved thing,
drug-lean as a jackal,
her sunken face painted up,
wearing 1970s Goodwill fashions
thrown out by
a dead doctor’s
dead ex-wife’s

On the coldest, blankest mornings
there she is on 6th,
cigarette in a gnarled mitt,
smoke mixing with her
frozen breath,
heels clacking,
walking like a
young deputy
trying to impress
the Sheriff.

I can only imagine
where she’s headed.

I imagine offering her a ride

then remember every episode of COPS,
the police saying, “what’s going on here?”
and the sad, poor
whore in the crosshairs
saying, “He’s just
giving me a ride!”
and all the cops

So I drive on,
her taut-skinned skull of a face
shrinking in the rearview,
me back to my desk job,
and her to wherever,
each hoping for an easy day
and that we’re actually choosing
the hell we’ve
decided we
can stand.


It’s 12:19, Sunday Night,
Well, Monday Morning I Guess…

And even though I
have to be up early for work,
I can’t sleep,

don’t want to sleep,

don’t want to
miss something,

even though
nothing is

I lost my paying writing gig.

Found out another book has
just gone out of print.

And I got news today
that my novel was

Meaning my life
isn’t going to change.

Meaning I will stay
a small press nobody.

Meaning I’m not sure
I can keep this up,
can’t keep pretending
and trying to be a writer

So I write this poem,

shut out the light,

and listen to the
clock tick

Two poems by William Taylor Jr.

Posted in William Taylor Jr. with tags on December 3, 2017 by Scot

Three Days Into the New Year

It’s January again with the Christmas trees
all stripped and abandoned in the gutters and on
the sidewalks and all of us mucking about
in the 21st century like we have the right
it’s the hour between dog and wolf
and I walk the neighborhood
like always still frightened
of the world and its everything
as the wretched men in power
go about their wretched business
and us regular folk we read the headlines
like dark prophecies
shrug and get back to our dying
and here in San Francisco
they’ve torn down every bar
that ever had a soul but I manage to find
a dark little place with Roy Orbison on the juke
and the only other man in here
is lonely and talks to the girl behind the bar
about the colors of the jerseys
of the basketball team on the television set
and there’s not much else to say
we’re three days into the new year
and there’s a momentary lull
in bombings, nightclub shootings
and celebrity deaths
and the guy across the street
standing in front of the Walgreens with a cardboard sign
he’s there every day just like the pigeons
and the old Asian women who pull cans
and bottles from the sidewalk garbage bins
he’s a lot like this poem the way he drifts about
with questionable purpose
forgetting exactly what it was
he was trying to say but if you don’t
keep walking he’s gonna
tell you anyway.



They were filming a movie or a tv show or something at Vesuvio
so they wouldn’t let us in
and the hipster art show ran out of wine
just as we arrived
so we ended up at Jonell’s in the Tenderloin
at 10 o’clock on a Saturday night
like something from a William Vollman novel.
My poet friend had just won $9,000 from a slot machine
in Mendocino. He was part of some kind of gang that worked the
Casino circuit. Whatever they did, I don’t think it was completely legal,
and I didn’t understand how it worked, but he sometimes made money at it
and then take a week or so to just fuck around
until the money was gone and he had to figure something
else to do. Bonnie the bartender put our drinks in front of us
and my poet friend said, Bonnie, me and Bill here are the two greatest
writers in the whole fucking city and nobody gives a shit! Bonnie just laughed
and told my poet friend he shouldn’t always drink so much and he said,
Bonnie, I started drinking at 3 o’clock today, and I’m feeling pretty vulnerable.
This would be the perfect opportunity for you to take advantage of me!
Bonnie laughed and changed the channel on the television.
And then my poet friend was cursing and looking at his phone, flipping it off
before returning it to his pocket.
My girlfriend, he said, we’re in an open relationship but she hasn’t
returned my messages in 3 days.
I left flowers on her fucking doorstep and everything.
Man, I need some Blow, Hey Bonnie who’s got some Blow?
Bonnie punched something into her phone
and two minutes later a large bald woman
with face tattoos was sitting on the other side of my poet friend.
They exchange some things and my poet friend tells me to watch
his beer as he disappears into the bathroom for a good
fifteen minutes and when he comes out he sits back
down and gulps the rest of his beer. He slams the glass on the bar and yells
“I’ll fuck anything that moves!” but nothing moves so he
orders a whiskey neat and another beer
and he turns to me and says, “listen, motherfucker, I know
you’re gonna make a poem outta this, so make sure you mention
the thing about my girlfriend, because that shit’s fucked.”

Three Poems by Alan Catlin

Posted in Alan Catlin with tags on December 3, 2017 by Scot


They’d never seen
anything like her before,
this thin stick of a woman
lying naked on a bare
mattress, scratches on
her body from head to
toe, lying in her own
filth and moaning.
“Turn them off. Please,
just turn them off.”
The paras had no clue
what she was talking about:
no TV, no radio, no VCR,
nada, “Turn what off?”
the senior para wanted to know.
“The radios. 32 Teeth, all
of them receiving, all of them
tuned to different stations.
It’s driving me crazy.”
Yep, it sure would, the rescue
unit thought. Crazier than a
shit house rat. This was one
tweaker wasn’t ever going to
see the light of another day
on the outside.


Semper Fi (motherfucker)

No one took the Marine Fitness
Regimen more seriously than
he did, working out hours each
day: strength and endurance,
speed and quickness, all the good
stuff a perfect body needs.
Sparred three times a week
just for drill. Was asked,
“You ever fight professionally?”
“Strictly amateur stuff but
I like to think I’m good.”
“You mean like Golden Gloves?”
“Nah, that stuff is for pussies.
I’m in the Fight Club.
Was a movie based on a kick ass
book. Ever see it?”
“Yeah, I did. As I recall, it didn’t
end that well for anyone.”
“You don’t join Fight Club
for Happy Endings.”
“No doubt.”
“Lots of guys don’t have a
purpose to their lives once they
get out of the service. That’s
what Fight Club’s for.”
“Everyone should have a
mission in life.”
“Damn straight. I was just a kid
when I joined up and the Marines
made me a man. A lot of guys used
to make fun of me and pick on my
ass. They are one bunch of sorry
assed motherfuckers now.
I’m hunting them down one
by one and taking them out.
You can’t imagine how satisfying
it is to see the looks on their face
when they realize who I am and what
is going to happen next. ”


Florida Rum Runner

There wasn’t much he hadn’t
learned about boats and blondes
by the age of sixteen, though he
was eager to learn anything
he might have missed. Got cut off
from family inner circle after being
busted at Zero Tolerance, 50 grand
a year private school, a week
before graduation for knocking up
a teenaged townie tramp and holding
an ounce of Mexican weed.
A few years of on-the-road, learning
the hard way on the job trades,
he landed a decent bar gig and
met up with old prep school bud
married to local mob don’s gorgeous
only child. Bought a plan for a
big score running cash crop off
The Keys to the states: a few days
of clear sailing, loading shrink
wrapped bales and he was set
for a long happy ever after life.
The perfect fairy tale ending
if you didn’t include DEA agents
riding a coast guard cutter and going
down for a mandatory 30 year Federal
rap. Still it was a better deal than
his roommate got: dead of a sudden
“heart attack” at 34. Or so the official
obit said.

Edge of Wheel by Bradley Mason Hamlin

Posted in Bradley Mason Hamlin with tags on December 3, 2017 by Scot


the other day
I watched a woman
a plastic
drinking straw

the window
of her Camry

clipping me
her car

her hair
super tight
with a
synthetic claw

one hand
a smoking cigarette
the other
clutching a squawking
cell phone

the hell
she was driving …

I just
didn’t know

the kid
riding next to her
had her hand
on the edge of wheel
or maybe
she’s using elbows
to work it

either way
the pedestrian
she almost
in the parking

didn’t seem
to notice
or miss a beat
her grocery

her own vices.

between sharing cigarettes and asking for money by J.J. Campbell

Posted in J.J. Campbell with tags on December 3, 2017 by Scot


a homeless
guy once told
me the easiest
way to cure
was to never
fall in love in
the first place

sound logic
from a man
married to a
new brown
paper bag
each and
every day

i told him
that wasn’t
for myself

a relentless
from the

he laughed
and muttered
something about
a useless martyr

we all have
our battles

choose the best
lover with the
weakest right

after defeating hitler by Justin Hyde

Posted in Justin Hyde with tags on December 3, 2017 by Scot

after defeating hitler

the longshoremen
in france
were on strike

army couldn’t ship him
back to the farm
in gorwin iowa

we played baseball
& went to the movies
in paris
for two months

i ask
what else he did
play baseball
& go to the movies

he unfurls
his ninety-five year old
index finger

in the air

dancing it

through continents
like a bull

through the grateful
long-legged women
along the