Archive for February, 2021

$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