Archive for May, 2021

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.

Two Poems by Scott C. Kaestner

Posted in Scott C. Kaestner with tags on May 25, 2021 by Scot


I know a man
(or maybe he’s a ghost)

who inhales moments whole
to know his place in them

says it’s hard to breathe
caught in the world’s chokehold

he has wiggled free
but only temporarily

the outside world persists
so he insists on

digesting the magic within
holding on tight to what is his.



Sometimes when I look into my dog’s eyes I can see mysteries of the universe unravel and a sublime spiritual intelligence.

Then other times I watch my dog eat cat shit and puke only to wonder what the fuck is wrong with the universe.



Scott C. Kaestner is a Los Angeles poet, writer, dad, husband, and suffers from a severe allergic reaction to bullshit. Google ‘scott kaestner poetry’ to peruse his musings and doings.

Three Poems by Timothy Tarkelly

Posted in Timothy Tarkelly with tags on May 25, 2021 by Scot



For John Dorsey

They say a thick skin
can get you through anything.
Harsh winters, harsh words.

But resilience deflects
more good times than bad.
Hercules never had a lazy Sunday.

No smell of fresh biscuits,
honeyed crust. No slick armor
of grease all the way down to his knuckles.

Keep mine thin.
Fried golden.
A healthy mixture of dark and white beneath.



For Dan Wright

Dan is sick of people
hiding behind almost.

Their intentions weighing up
to a certified, though long winded, zero.

Me? I’m tired of “used to”
and the promises to start up again.

“I used to play in a band.”
“I used to eat better.”

As if any splinter of my old selves
would have any fucking clue

what we’re supposed to do next.
It’s not like we’d listen to them anyway.





“I am growing up, no more poems
about cigarettes and wine.”
I pour a glass of wine. I need
at least two before my throat
wises up, remembers that the
acrid taste of a menthol
is almost certainly followed
by a humming joy, flashbacks to its youth.
I light a cigarette and remember
what Tony Hoagland told me.

It takes me too long to realize
he’s never told me anything.
Maybe, it’s how we read,
the way we tie cords to the strains of beauty
so we can find our way home.
Makes us feel as if we’ve made a friend
every time we visit the local bookstore.

It all unravels. I go down the list:
the poets I haven’t crossed paths with,
the fathers we suddenly don’t have in common,
the tundrous nights they didn’t get me through.
It was just me, a blanket,
an unrequited call for help. Caring is a choice
sometimes and I guess I have to decide.
I start coughing, blaming the cold
hanging onto the end of October
for the sharp cough, the subtle smear of tears
across my eyes, like two sallow
reflecting pools in a courtyard
no one has ever visited.

I flick my cigarette into the grass
and regret my lack of foresight.
I regret my impulsive leaps into the night,
the way my knees feel when I fall,
my lack of interesting things to write about.

Three Poems by John Dorsey

Posted in John Dorsey with tags on May 25, 2021 by Scot

The Prettiest Girl in Dickson, Tennessee

can run her fingers
along the rough edges of a used tire
in the time it takes you
to check for a wedding ring

instead of playing with dolls
or imaginary horses
she fixed cars with her father
until the streetlights came on
until his lungs gave out
in the summer of 93

the wind torn loose from his body
like the seeds of a dandelion in spring

you study her hands
in the right light
everyone seems fragile

like an old tire
swinging from the heart
of a dying oak tree

taking its last breath
burning memories
from the inside out.




Megan Can’t See the River

blind 6 months after we finished high school
with an illness that gives and takes away
i wonder where you are now
did you ever get to teach a single class
or rest your tired pom poms
along a quiet river bank

these days i take stock of little things
in the morning i write a poem
about making oatmeal
as a tribute
to the days
when there was none

a few words buried
a faded picture
taken by a river
that never existed

a small price to pay
for everything we leave behind

hair flying
out the car window
i close my eyes
& you’re gone.



The Ghost of Jacob Johanson

walks into a bowling alley
wearing a flannel
like a portal to 1994

things were simpler then

there were more highways
you could take
to disappear.
















John Dorsey lived for several years in Toledo, Ohio. He is the author of several collections of poetry, including Teaching the Dead to Sing: The Outlaw’s Prayer (Rose of Sharon Press, 2006), Sodomy is a City in New Jersey (American Mettle Books, 2010), Tombstone Factory, (Epic Rites Press, 2013), Appalachian Frankenstein (GTK Press, 2015) Being the Fire (Tangerine Press, 2016) and Shoot the Messenger (Red Flag Poetry, 2017),Your Daughter’s Country (Blue Horse Press, 2019), and Which Way to the River: Selected Poems 2016-2020 (OAC Books, 2020). His work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, and the Stanley Hanks Memorial Poetry Prize. He was the winner of the 2019 Terri Award given out at the Poetry Rendezvous. He may be reached at






Wendy Taylor Carlisle

Posted in Wendy Taylor Carlisle with tags on May 4, 2021 by Scot


Why Not Say What Happened?


Coming home
from the Family Storage
in Nail, this cardinal
flies at my car,
Ill or thrill-seeking,
who can say?
I’ve seen too many
lives dehisce
on the verge to guess.
But he escaped,
even as the Arkansas road
gathered itself
for a hard-right turn.


Wendy Taylor Carlisle lives and writes in the Arkansas Ozarks. She is the author of four books and five chapbooks. Her poems have appeared on line and in print. For more about her work, check her website at


Come with me if you want to live by Sissy Buckles

Posted in Sissy Buckles with tags on May 4, 2021 by Scot

One more New Year to ring in 2019 and me back
from hiding in the joyful desert feeling kinda shitty that
I’d blown off my family this Christmas go-around
not keen on their maladjusted
holiday gaiety & non-stop soul crushing
pathological gossip sessions fueled by the
constant flow of yuletide booze these people I’m
supposed to call relations these people who
haven’t cracked an honest to god book since
high school, and so took up a last minute friend’s
offer to visit with her vast extended tribe in East County
and in a hopeful mood to hear some new stories
I’d even wore my snappy gold Italian flats, but course
it’s a same old world and now
desperately realizing
I’d do anything to not turn into that extra-thin dried
up woman I’d met in the still festive backyard neurotic
muttering paranoid about the fearsome “russkies”
under her breath who proudly told me she’d
made a little girl cry earlier on Facebook in one of
those noxious political discussions that I
avoid like the plague & oh yeah, another thing
just last week she actually threw out ALL of the
cookie making fixins she’d valiantly pulled together
on the kitchen counter along with the expensive
fancy schmancy electric mixer yup, just schlepped ’em
right on into the dumpster at the side of the house
after a huge blowup with her retired Navy hubs
recently diagnosed with dementia currently presiding
over near-charred steaks on the bbq who simply would
not agree to turning off MSNBC news in the
middle of the day so she could listen to
Christmas music on the stereo to get her in the
right mood wondering to myself why she didn’t just
put on some handy earphones besides they play the same
damn news every hour so it’s not like you are missing
anything and suddenly discovering the answer like
Archimedes shouting “Eureka, I have found it!”
that is, the only way I would not end up in those
dire straits was to not offer my hand
in the first place and who in hell was I
kidding anyway I knew I didn’t want to have to
make sure my nails were immaculate and I was wearing
honest to god sexy underwear and damn is there
red lipstick on my teeth dragging out sensual heels
instead of my comforting saddles/penny loafers
and all this putting me in a tired quandary just
imagining it and Oh! to give up my classes,
lectures/film group & occasional forays to the
biker bar down the street to break up the monotony
with the rest of the assholes at least they
don’t ask questions or go two-stepping at the
Moose Lodge without a second thought, put aside
my petite important-only-to-me things and
become enmeshed with somebody else’s city
have to make shy small talk with some
gang I’d yet to meet or revive that old excitement
over a scene that once upon a time I thought
was a gas yet still, fate’s insistent murmuring low like
Poe’s tell-tale heart — can you ever have it all? (but what
could I say now anyway, when sorry’s just not good enough)
coupled with the sudden sticky superstitious intuition
that if she fell down that rabbit hole again and started
making sandwiches for another man that all she’d
forfeited and suffered for
would irrevocably,
be once
and for all lost
and gee how possibly to live without my singular violaceous
dusks on the porch where in the quietness you
can just about hear
your thoughts
out loud and Lo!   the far-off cry carried on the
wind of Bashō’s solitary hawk circling and maybe I
should plant some night blooming jasmine come spring
and could be time to buy that Washburn parlor guitar I’ve
been hankering after and wondering again about
a certain type of histrionic woman writer who
doesn’t hesitate to pull a demented Barbie out of
her bag of tricks and into some edgy artistic
metaphor dealio and I always wanna protest but
hey man, we never played with Barbie Dolls
when we were kids shoot, I was all into
my books and scribbles, practiced music
for hours or we’d secret smoke in
Kelly’s brother’s backyard fort, climbed tall
trees to hide in and rode our bikes for miles and then on
arid summery evenings determined to eke out every
last minute of fun before twilight drew the darkness down
and our mothers called us in for dinner our little gang
gathering in the middle of the cul-de-sac to decide
what games to play Kick the Can or Red Rover
or Dodgeball while sparks would fly off our fingertips
in the dry atmosphere and my wild undulating tresses
would crackle and float as our feet dashed madly
about our neighborhood but we categorically did
not play with any fucking Barbies so I guess I must be
missing the point but hey, Sonny Barger burned
every bridge he ever crossed and besides
I’ve never been interested in the lousy business of
networking; then since ’tis the season and
the still veranda night mesmerizing,
so why not?
Slipping way way back with the recollections of
an old boyfriend who looked just like Paul Newman as
Fast Eddie, played pool too real good met him at the
Alibi where he was winning a tournament his
feather shot a sight to behold but turned out he didn’t
have Eddie Felson’s humanity in fact you could maintain he
was ’bout mean as a rattlesnake which I naturally ended up
finding out a little too late, yet still now content with the
momentary day to day bits of synergetic grace
I count on like last week when I was shopping at
Walmart and a sweet teen girl looks up and apropos
of nothing proclaims me to “look beautiful in
your round lavender specs” on my way
out the door holding up my receipt so the greeter
can see I did not steal the 12-pack of good beer I buy
a couple bucks cheaper here and also savor the
memory of a pure knowing smile from
gurgling buddhababy bundledup
relaxing in J/K’s “loom of peaceful time” in a
porta-crib on a McDonalds bench while it’s family
lustily gobbles yummy greasy cheeseburgers I pass
after checkout, my thoughts jumping around like a
cornered cricket or the young immigrant busker from Italy
who tenderly played the Cavatina for me on his accordion in the
parking lot for a few bucks and then there’s that
kid I followed when I was back on tumblr who
had shockingly read my poems and
told me in a mysterious DM that he was a “fan”
of mine which made me laugh in surprise but I said
how neat that you read outlaw mag the Truck and really
meant it then promptly quit tumblr the next day out of
acute embarrassment tra la la…or just the satisfaction
of working hard and actually saving some money but now
it’s just another year come and gone and today, yet we
determinedly turn our faces towards the sun, warmed
throughout with the still mild Santa Ana winds like
the more tempestuous megafires that forced evacuations
in Calabasas overnight decimating the entire little
little town of Paradise turning to ash late last fall,
the Camp Fire as it came to be called, the city

shrouded in apocalyptic haze burning down more
structures than any other California wildfire on record
the death toll making it one of the deadliest
(only the Griffith Park Fire in 1933 and Taunnel Fire
in 1991 have claimed more lives) several of the bodies
discovered in or near burned out cars melted to puddles,
the flames descended on Paradise so quickly that
many folks were forced to abandon their
vehicles dread running for their very lives
down the only road through the mountain town
all this colossal commotion caused
by those ancient devil winds
blowing through the rambling hills huge, hot and
fast enough to make you claw at your skin
rip panicky fingers through your hair
eyes dry as sandpaper sticking to the lids holding
your breath until the burning tempest is finally
over…..  and it was Veteran’s day so I took off work and
headed up North County square in the middle of the
wildfire hazard zone to the dentist for my appointment in
Fallbrook scanning the horizon for smoke driving the
Chevy plumb into the belly of the beast, and listening to
the radio where they suddenly announced that the
catastrophic bumbling war criminal
who lied his way through Iraq,
George W Bush & his wife Laura were given

the $100,000 Liberty Medal by Joe Biden at
Philadelphia’s National Constitution Center which,
in the massive scheme of things
and thusly getting right down to the real nitty-gritty
notwithstanding the ten years of devastating
Violence, Trauma, Death & Displacement and the
fabricated Al Qaeda psyops boogeyman
to be feared under our beds
so you might just as well say
this was nothing more than another
well placed kick up
America’s collective ass.