Archive for poetry

Four Poems by Mike James

Posted in Mike James with tags on August 24, 2019 by Scot
  • Night School for Cartographers


You start out tracing your hand, which is the first map any of us know. That’s the lesson plan for nine straight years. After that, you begin drawing your heart in all its many directions. People often drop out about this time. Some go back to the faucet drip of their old lives. Some run away to gag on swords in the circus. A few take enlightenment’s easy path as illustrated by matchbooks and local restroom graffiti.

The struggle to draw the heart comes from having to juggle with one hand while you draw with the other. Jugglers who love globes do best in class.

Stay a student long enough, eventually there’s no lesson plan. For your last seven years, there’s not even a teacher. If you make it to graduation, your diploma confirms you are lost.



“Where Do You Hide Your History?”


In the top hat of magicians. Sound too easy? It is. There’s a little box at city hall which says, Glass Broken for Emergencies. Like Medusa’s sleep cap, no one thinks to look there. Also, ditches. The more worn down the better. The best hiding-spots are in parts of town no one wants to go. A few say history is kept in a river. If that’s true, it’s a long and dirty one. Fish have short memories, but that’s often enough. You would think dreams are good storehouses. They aren’t. Images molt in first light. Plus, there’s a chance someone can read every dream a face holds.



Fallen Angel


The first job he took, after he quit Heaven, was at a butcher shop. His halo sliced meat pretty well. The shop owner liked the novelty, as did customers used to nothing more interesting than sausage plumpness. But, like even the best Broadway performance, the gig ended. The health department sent him out the door, amid the owner’s sobs and sighs. Halos are hard to clean, no matter how strong the disinfectant. Slicing with one violates regulations which date back before phone book popularity.

After the butcher shop, he became a cowboy. He tied a rope to his halo and called it a lasso. It worked almost as well as Wonder Woman’s golden lasso. Though she was from a different place.



A Good Day


That game where we pretend to be strangers and get married anyway. I think it’s called Paradox Heaven. Normally, it ends in a draw. Most days, we try to be angels though it’s hard not to curse in our prayers. Neither of us has a pedigree longer than a postage stamp. Family history is mainly a secret no one wants to share. On days when we don’t shoot stop signs we like to research circuses to run away to. Elephant riding is something we might enjoy. Like good cowboys we practice our gallop on broomsticks. If we don’t get splinters, we call it a good day.



Follow the Ground, Not the Sky


If I know where I’m going, I don’t get there faster. My pace doesn’t change.
I’m slow, unsteady. I can follow the sun, like on a mission, and still lose my way.

My past makes a trail I circle back to. Often, I meet an old self. Normally,
Look away. My satchel, stuffed with unsaid things, gets heavier and heavier.

Thunderstorms tell me the Devil is real. Lightening reminds me to shut
My eyes. Sometimes, I count or hold my breath. Sometimes, I play pretend.

I never gave the Devil up. He’s always around the next corner or ready
To steal my shadow if I turn away. He carries the long list of my fears.

In a way, the Devil is my oldest friend. If that sounds sad, it is. There’s
Never been an angel on my shoulder. Not once. And my shoulders are thin.


a better class of drugs by J.J. Campbell

Posted in J.J. Campbell with tags on August 24, 2019 by Scot


there’s this endless
madness inside of
me that never rests

i wouldn’t describe
it as insanity

unless of course,
that gets me a better
class of drugs

but i often wonder
when i close my eyes
each night

why do i even bother
to wake the following

the grind isn’t worth

the squeeze isn’t
good enough

and the hope if random
nudity doesn’t excite
like it used to

the end is surely near

Two Poems by Ramsha Ashraf

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on August 22, 2019 by Scot

Having Sex with the Author of the Hindoo

The dream of the nazi-Muslim woman died
Of welcoming you to the kingdom of peace
In the club when you asked:
“I know you get a lot of hits by other men but
I’d sing the Smiths to you in your eternal moments of darkness”
That night I didn’t stumble-walk to your place from the club
Night would’ve longed a little more
Only if it was not our parting night
The winter-town sulked over the fact
That your religion won’t be welcomed in my country
You were left alone after we explored
the protagonist’s indecisive shifts
from Seattle riots to Lahore’s Shahi Mohallah
After when you read the Hindoo and covered the Rafi’s vocals
Now I look back and curse the moment
I should’ve loved you and not the author of the Hindoo.
The nazi-Muslim woman who killed herself
for a minute hadn’t died and when I see you come back
in my dreams, I gasp.
I could be more loyal to your body
but you see you had read from the manuscript
the title of which my inner self loathes.
Such a perfect hypocrite I am.
Iqbal Bano’s record still plays
in the backdrop but in my dreams
I can have sex,
not with you but,
with the author of the Hindoo.



Oblivion is the Word

Can I shake you a little
before sleep lulls you
and you hide your lips
in my breath.

Oblivion is destructive
it kills the peace
and sleep too at times.

I’ve held you against myself
in small square hotel room
with bright transcendence
that bridged mahogany light
with the gloomed darkness.

I have wondered so far
what ecstasy looks like
if it is not our lips
tracing the brackets
of distorted shadows,
our hands anxious
at the spontaneity,
our feet embracing
the enigmatic silence
dissolved within curves
of flesh, joints & bones.

Oblivion is the word,
and may be a woe too,
hard to recognise
yet easy to love.

I have left pieces of you
wandering alone
in the spilt and aroma
of those sheets
where once I have stayed
with you.



Ramsha Ashraf is a poet and playwright who lives in Pakistan. She has published a collection of poetry, Enmeshed (2015), and she was a 2017 resident at the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa.


Three Poems by Marc Olmsted

Posted in Marc Olmsted with tags on August 21, 2019 by Scot


I saw the clouds rainbow’d
from the air & then then saw
the fires & when the plane landed
the beautiful horror of the setting sun
an angry red ball
on the tarmac horizon





In the public restroom
I am startled by my newly
bleached-out hair
but I’m still old –
now back in the ER
with suffering wife stretched out
in the harsh light
at the end of time
where nurses march through & little happens –
glare down o hospital light!
– fierce bardo glow –
suffering’s end is just a gap
between thoughts
– bedpans & ultrasound cables, her plastic veins to IV bag
suspended cool translucent
from the space
probe rack




the ants were exterminated
the prayer beads broke
I like hamburgers
prayer flags across my roof
how many thousand insect ghosts
blacked out in a white hot scream?
eat your carrots
recycle in the red smog
the plastic bottles
they no longer take

Three Poems by John Patrick Robbins

Posted in John Patrick Robbins with tags on August 20, 2019 by Scot

Package Deal


She said to me .

“We are a package deal me and my kids .”

I looked at her and was tempted but one thing I never lost from all the damage I have encored from drinking was my mind .

I took a stamp from my desk and stuck it upon her forehead .

Gave her some extra cash and pointed her down the street towards the post office .

I closed the door and locked it .
And knew I was a selfish prick .

Cause I should have given her more .

But who the fuck knows what postage is on woman and her kids .

And I had a serious drinking problem to support .

You have to get your priorities straight in life .

I chose to return to sender .

A life is something I have grown accustomed to living without for awhile now .

Besides the bear traps had managed to keep the kids off the lawn guess I needed some for the house also .

The true bachelor is becoming an endangered species these days .





I find late nights and bad thoughts usually make great bed partners .

I hadn’t been sober long .
And for once I didn’t have a excuse for my bad choices .

It’s hell when there is nobody to blame but the devil.

Course saying Jesus made me do it really didn’t sound right , when busted with a sack of cocaine and a hooker .

Looks like play time was over.


The Coyote And I


I’m like that worn out coyote that howls long through the night.

Just to let you know he still exists.

Fueled by bourbon and regrets .
Miles that taught me that isolation is never a bad thing.

And when it comes to other people it’s always better for me to keep my distance.

Drinking my comfort, the page my escape .
Tomorrow does not breathe hope .
But tonight the winds carry my existence .

Howling in spite of the rejections.

In this void I call my home .



John Patrick Robbins

Is the editor of the Rye Whiskey Review , Under The Bleachers and Drinkers Only .
He is also the author of Once Upon A Nervous Breakdown from Soma Publishing and Sex Drugs & Poetry from Whiskey City Press .
His publications include . The San Pedro River Review , As It Ought To Be Magazine , Punk Noir Magazine , Ariel Chart , The Mojave River Review , Red Fez , Angry Old Man Magazine, Blognostics ,

His work is always unfiltered.

Four poems by Rob plath

Posted in Rob Plath with tags on August 19, 2019 by Scot

incoming nails

when i was a boy
for a year
my room was
an unfinished attic
from up there
the bloody fights
below were muffled
but still i lay
for hours
on that old narrow
fold-up cot
w/ broken springs
gazing up
between rafters
at incoming nails
& praying to dream
of something soft


one for the lost

the critics will
never take
this knife away

this blade w/ which
i carve
these things

some call them poems
i’m not sure
what they are

& it doesn’t matter
the label
b/c they seem
to save some
of those who are lost
or foaming at the mouth
or so alone
they get vertigo

the critics
will never take
this blade
from my hands
never get me
to quit carving

b/c for all
their sloppiness
for all their
lack of technique
these poems seem
to save a little

& that’s enough for
my hand to never
let go of this knife


over the walls

the nature paintings
my mother hung over
all the fist holes
was too simple a fix
i preferred sneaking
out of my window
& running thru woods
a happy vagabond
blending into shadows
of maples & in love
w/ the rings of oaks

grave hands

i want to sink
both hands
into the wet
of my future
before it sets
& hardens
like those
dish shaped
plaster casts
we made
in kindergarten
for our mother
no name
no date
no epitaph
just palms
w/ cigarette

Two Poems by Dan Provost

Posted in Dan Provost with tags on August 19, 2019 by Scot
  1. When Sean the Hitman Developed a Conscious

Clear shot of conscious for the first time in his
life, Shawn left the gun lying on the ground

lacking the hatred to shoot Maize’s
little boy.

Or was it wisdom that led him away
From this existing turmoil, beleaguered
and beaten down can be so tiresome.

Shawn has shot a few; some with anger in
his heart, others for pay from some gangster
or gutless husband who wanted rich wifey out
of the way.

This time, he looked into the reflection on the lake–seeing the
silhouette of a man holding a shotgun, ready to tear a hole
into a crop of blond hair.

A nephew?
Maybe a son he never knew about?

He just could not stand the voices in his head—the justification of
soulless rendezvous with the dregs of mankind.

The man was tired of killing.
Tired of living.
Sometimes just tired of being.

Picking up his satchel, he packs up
His warm clothes and goes,

So far away from hugging mother and child.
No, he can never be part of that.




Playing Out the String

Winter sun-2:00 P.M.
is death, aging,
Looking up through
arduous eyes, trying to
feed out words of

Surely, we have slowed
down, as we suck on that
same joint…trying to fathom
the human condition in
some renaissance, reflective

Obsessing on new
portals to climb through.

Attempting to relive
the moment when it
was so cool to be disillusioned.

But the shine

And the vision

Then the parade ended
in a departure of broken bones…


Just another dismal failure…

Just another fade…of ideals.

Stuck within a millisecond…

Of time…