August 31, 2009


by Chris Butler/Randall Rogers

I’m an
against everything
kind of guy,
with a keen eye
for the blandest detail
and insightful knowledge,
readily able to spill onto a page
with the latest and
coolest thoughts about
what it’s all not really much
in the grand nasty brutish and short
scheme of things,
the something that helplessly ripens into nothing
and is better left unsaid or muttered,
the only neutered thing that is really worth it,
matters lots if it’s beaming out
into space and beyond.

A Being Buster

by Chris Butler/Randall Rogers

There was once a me
that could write no wrong,
singing songs to instigate
race riots across Denver,
as hookers routinely robbed us
for our emptied wallets
when our pants were down
around crooked ankles,
dirtied by the rocky ground,
so we couldn’t run after them.

August 29, 2009

BAD DREAM # 279, JUNE 22

by Lyn Lifshin

I go back to Vermont, to Middlebury.
It’s been a while, another life time?
And the uncles, the dead ones hover
in shadows, ghostly, their lips and
cheek bones on faces that some
how aren’t there but then, nothing is
as it was. The beautiful bookstore
with the flat above it where I dreamed
in my lavender back bedroom of
starring on Broadway or writing a book,
now looks like collapsing bricks about
to be bulldozed. This can’t be. There’s
no bookstore, no sign there’s ever
been one. The bricks shift, the building
looks like something too dangerous
to enter after a hurricane, a house of
tooth picks one small breath could
make fall down. Even Main Street, a
perfect New England small town
where Life magazine came to photo
graph this perfect calendar frame, the
red and green lights strung for Christmas,
children on sleds and of course the traffic
police who checked out every boy who
came to pick me up for a date my
mother would wait up for me from.
Have I been comatose a hundred years?
Where is the town I knew? What could
be left but mice and droppings in the
mostly abandoned street. Drug vials litter
the street instead of flower boxes and
geranium. When did the town become
a slum, a torn blighted disaster? The
only color is grey. It’s as if the mortar,
whatever held all that mattered together
dissolved. A heart beat. Just the touch
of one brick and everything I thought I
could keep will crumble

*Lyn's website:

August 28, 2009

Innocence and Conquest

by Louisa Casanave

boy with butterflies out-shooting from arms that stretch to my spleen
he stalls, pretending to be a tree, stolid in sight
from touching inside of me my ball of light
with hands so clean
boy whose light house sight and caresses leave fireflies

I see smiling crocodiles and a boiling stock of laughing monkeys
within me here lies conquest and innocents, a dichotomy
and on the scale is Cortes and faeries
crescent moons of varying colors
stalking cats and the mice they go with
but instead of being at each other's ends, they beautify blend:
the feline's smile becomes the planet that the Spaniard triangulates with
through the winged reptilian waters and jungles alive with primates, love and rodents
oh Boy! the conquest and innocence in both of us!


Lightning Bolts In Their Arms

by Louisa Casanave

He was a heroin addict. She was a heroin addict. They shook, they wanted more, they soared; they soared. He was a southern wind blowing sugar on her. She was a telepath, screaming things with smiles. He was a crab apple that when she walked by she just had to pick up. And she squeezed her palms until her arms swallowed. She would beat at the river in her. He was a tree with golden red meat, a pale green heart and hand like leaves. He sung when he breathed; it stung when they met; they dissolved and they sweat; she glowed when he pleased. They were iron mail made out of each other. She had five living hearts that beat all around him. He had fifteen arms and they all covered her. They became tangled: “Whose foot is mine?” They stood on their heads and roots grew from their minds.

*Louisa's blog:

August 27, 2009

A Joint, A Shot Of Whiskey & 2 Pints

at 11 a.m.
on a hot
4th of july
hitting the
of an
old man
some call
a poet

is a
sight to

but don’t
my word
for it

just ask

and it’s
a sure
he never
it to the
that night

but did
end up
in a bar fight
with 2
40 years

by Doug Draime

American Box

by Doug Draime

Now we can
send him home
mama’s baby boy
blown apart
4 thousand miles away
Finally put back together
in a shiny new
American made

August 26, 2009

Afraid of the Sun*

by James Hannon

I brought you red carnations
and white German wine,
and in the cool shadows of your room
you brought me to my senses.
Your voice slipped into my blood.
In an hour, it’s true,
we lived forever.

Out in the summer sun
our love seemed to wither.
Glare stabbed our eyes.
Heat baked our skin.
The sidewalks were burning coals,
like the eyes we passed on the street.
We were drenched in sex
and they sniffed us like angry dogs.
We shaded our eyes
and scanned the scorching street
for a wife, a husband,
for dangerous friends.
We longed for a cloak of darkness.

You had survived this passion
more than once
and shared with me the arcana,
how to drink the night like wine
and sleepwalk through every day--
'til the night when the pain
breached the walls of my heart
and I learned where those stories began.

* from Willard and Maple XI (2006)

If I Were Chet Baker

by James Hannon

If I were Chet Baker I’d be dead this year,
worn out a decade ago,
with ten bonus years
for good genes and the fear of death
to keep me alive.

Tracks seem to collide
in the distance but we know
there’s always space between them;
paths in a wood look familiar
‘til we’re pretty far down the wrong one.

Lots of people grow up hard
and never turn to crime
so make no excuses for some barrio kid
whose life was just the same
as all the others.

I hated music lessons
and never wanted to play a horn.
There was no smack in my little town
in the summer of love--it was the time
for pot and acid, the drugs of LIFE

we called them, not death
and I got sober and went sometimes to meetings
and couldn’t tell you even now
why I am more or less well and don’t
need the drink or drugs to feel it’s good to be alive.

August 24, 2009

truck-stop ghost

by Justin Hyde

they call you
the truck-stop ghost,
says the new overnight janitor
stepping out back.
just another third shift insomniac,
i smile
trying not to stare
at the dragon tattoo
flying out from between her tits.
join the club,
she smiles
lights a cigarette
and offers me one.
i tell her i don't smoke.
good time as any to start,
she says
sliding one behind my ear.
i thank her for it
put my headphones back on
and shuffle out towards the highway
to watch the sun rise
with the one legged man
trying to hitch
to the
korean war memorial.

The Precipice

by Timothy Buckeridge

Momentary visions appear
along the winding archipelago
as we stumble on the edge,
solemn and strung,
an anchor for the fallen,
a memory of agony;
the impressed memento
of another too soon.

Led to the river's edge
with transparent intentions,
the water glistens below —
I brush your raven hair,
take your bloodless hand,
feel the rush of air
as you squeeze back.

You met your fate
down by the river
and every year I return,
longing to follow.
So easy to collapse
into the deep,
yet a spark remains
in this shallow soul.

August 21, 2009

Yellow Wife Beater

by Chris Butler

The Louisville slugger,
wearing a mustard stained
wife beater, struggles with
his anger, as he swings for
the fences and hits the misses
in her kisser, then
kisses her to make
it all better.

August 20, 2009


by Lyn Lifshin

one shape, like an
ice cutter only this
animal was in water.
I rarely see a single
duck or goose and
it’s too late this
morning for a beaver
but something dark
is cutting thru the
melt, thru morning
earth smells. Last year’s
acorns soften. Blue
lights on the tree,
glitter on my finger,
pale yellow flowers,
chartreuse tinged
in the holiday
light glow I am
trying to pull
inside me

*Lyn's website:

August 19, 2009

Burning Amy

by Alan Catlin

No death from above
napalm run, no car
crash turned fireball,

no girl in the picture
carrying burning jelly
on her back,

but a working girl
in an argument
gone terribly wrong,

soaked with lighter
fluid and set on

"My husband is not a
monster," his wife would

But what kind of man
is he? Burning Amy
on Backus St.;

something from a nightmare
that leads to Westchester Burn
Unit, relived nightly

something that could never
be forgotten, maybe not a
monster, maybe something else.

August 18, 2009


by Joseph Hargraves

"I was a week from graduating High School
and walked into this big bathroom at
the end of the Hall where it was real quiet and
right after me comes these 2 guys and
one asks 'Are you George?' yeah I say
'Why'd you call Barbara last night, punk?'
I didn't, I said and he sucker punches me
in the face then his friend
throws a coat over my head they
start beating the living piss out of me and
next thing I know I'm on the concrete
with this mother in the air
ready to land on my head with his feet
then there's blood shooting out my nose
and it hurts so bad I think a vein's popped in my head
and somehow I get superhuman strength and
throw the big collard-green-eating fucker
out the window he landed on an awning
and bounced onto the cement I
had 56 stitches in my head he broke a few bones
the school sent us to different hospitals
him to Einstein me to Mercy
to protect us from each other
that was 9 or 10 years ago
and last week I run into that motherfucker he
smiles shakes my hand and asks
if I've seen Barbara lately
I said no and only after he walked away
did I realize she was a lousy fuck
and I should've killed them both 10 years ago."

August 17, 2009


by Michael H. Brownstein

My day ends in the custody
of a damp mop
and too many dishes,

When everyone I know
only the stranger in me,

When night comes
like a hungry spasm
thick with sweat,

When a muscle bound
takes out
the light of the butterfly.

August 16, 2009

The Block

by John Rocco

In Baltimore
where Poe died
in the gutter
at 40
drunk to death
drinking still at
his grave
buried alive
in a booze tomb
womb bar
the bill too big to pay
there is today
a place called
the Block
one city block
with all the city’s
bad stuff
the strip clubs
the porno shops
the fucked-up good bars
a wasted girl
telling Bone
she needed money
for dresses
and when Bone and I
were there years ago
the D.C. Snipers
were shooting people
just pumping gas
all over the news.

We went to
the Block
and I met two strippers
I’ll never forget
because they taught
me a lot.

They told me their
real names
not their dancing names
but I was drunk then
so I’ll call them

The first night I met
stacked southern girl
with a demonic abandon
I poured dollars over her curves
long and tight curves
erasing the Red Death
the burn mark on
her upper left tit
from the curling iron
that day late for work.
She told me she once
went out with a guy
really into anal porn.
“Wanna watch some
with me?” she asked.
I licked her burn
during the lap dance.

The second night
I was supposed to
but I was on the wrong
floor where I met
sad dark Russian girl
who told me her life in
America was like the
mad depressing Björk movie
When I showed her the pamphlet
about Poe’s grave
she snapped it out of my hands
and asked to keep it
carefully folding it
and putting it with
her tips. She really
hated her time in America
but after the lap dance
she gave me the greatest
“Do you always get
lap dances like that?”

*John Rocco at MySpace:

August 15, 2009


by Stephen Jarrell Williams

Lost my touch on you,

now wandering streets looking for your twin,
never going to find your equal,
I'll settle for someone less,

taking your memories,
painting them all over her,
squeezing the sounds of you out of her,

ready for a slow slap of her hand,
twist of her nails in my flesh,
wilting under me...

She is not you.

August 14, 2009


by Lyn Lifshin

she was like that
with him. She was
Luna, waiting for
hand outs, ignoring
the other whales
urging her to be
with them. She
couldn’t move away,
move back. For
years he seemed
amused by how she
followed so close,
made the move to
cling to his body,
seemed thrilled by
each crust of bread.
Luna, not that
different from this
woman who shut off
the others, the ones
wanting to swim
with her, more her
kind everybody
said, more where she
would have a future,
but like Luna she was
stubborn. She did things
her own way, would
not listen when
friends said get on
with your own life.
It was the old you’re
like a fish out of
water blues but she
just heard the waves
ripple, the rocking
of his bed until in the
end, like the whale,
wanting to stay, be
even closer, he tangled
in the ship’s propellers
as she tangled her
time, her love with what
could only drag her down

*Lyn's website:

August 13, 2009

the british rail

by Jack Ohms

glancing off
the fly-spattered head
of an engine
has always appealed
as a viable option

one afternoon
by a single leaf on
Chesterfield Station (Platform 1)
I considered
rugby-tackling the train
over taking it to Sheffield
second class:

Barber-pole off-cut

by Jack Ohms

“ - survival
seems like writhing
in a pit
of starving adders,
these days”,

I said,..

but everyone looked away
or took a sip,
fingered a rolled

me and my
big mouth

but I feel it


and it’s real

and the personally-executed
death sentence seems
too good for me

I know,

that’s why I’m still around

and something to do
with mercy

for the Hell balance of it all;

hence the white-wall backdrop;
the €12-a-day per patient
seven days-a-week.

quite cheap.

*(€ -- Euros)

Fair trade cigarettes

by Jack Ohms

The people I told
shed a certain side of their characters
before me
as I proceeded with the tale
as if just hearing about the whole process
was getting too close to
going through with it

They stare at the ground
and assume the position
of one who hasn’t quite gone that far
it’s a wise and safe and
understanding look
they've cultivated alone for the occasion
and I immediately regret saying the words
knowing they will never understand
what I have understood by the words:

"One day, leaving this place will be like
getting on a number seven bus
and just not getting off again;
it’s as plain and simple as that."

And then they tell me “Smoking Kills”,
you know,
and ask if I’ve managed to stay off the booze.

I leave off at this point and go talk to
the friendly white tiles in the smoking room
and wait for the nurse with the bell;
those pills.

August 11, 2009

Sad Height*

by Michael Aaron Casares

Wind sweeps over the sullen
city as rats rampant, reside
in the streets and cracked buildings.
The wind pushes passed our dwellings,
mere boxes painted and carved to taste–
our foundations feed fleas and termites!
Our home the food and fodder of a meeker
being. Roaches, scared, they scamper,
carrying the memory of the world inside
their mind. Roaches, wise men of old
cry out, “Waste no compassion on these
separate dead!”
Separate in a unity that binds
us in stagnate desperation, a notion
bound, a truth be told:
it is in our boxes we learn,
in being bound, we are separate
to each other. It is in these hidden
truths the subtle lies have disguised
the idea of the individual. We are a
homogenous routine that ticks
like a clock. Our life an open
book upon a screen, predictable
and designed to be shelved away
with the other thoughts that would
otherwise dissolve the illusions
we defend as our reality.
“Waste no compassion,” he says,
“waste nothing on these separate dead
for they are lost among the fallen
as the wind passes them by,
and they are fast asleep as
the wind leaves them behind.”

*from "The Terrorist" Virgogray Press, 2009

The Choice of all Man

by Michael Aaron Casares

That all men are created equal,
that all men are the same—all are one
and so an expression of the same.
That all are experiencing life with similarity:
unaware, unawake, unknowing the true origins
of what we have been born into. That we are
all born into the same situation without control
and live life with the same motivation, to live and
learn and with that experience to learn and grow.
I did not know this. I had to learn this, to use this
in day-to-day dealings with my friends and neighbors.
This empathic mentality, calling it like it is, receiving
what the other emotes and assimilating. I was blind
for the most part. I was secure and well fed. I was
cared for. My sweet rewards, my years of freedom
to grow and cultivate my stakes in this network of
living energy, this net all the same, pulsing, vibrating,
gyrating, the pockets swell to withering heights, sad
heights that juxtapose the reason to survive.
This cyclical vocation from birth to adulthood and
into death, but given a chance to learn before the
strings that tie us to this plane release their locks
to solid ground and let us drift into a space, a home
a place where the soul has chosen to wait and has
chosen to be found.

August 10, 2009

the moon cries

by DB Cox

just out of range
of a street lamp
under tree branches
that shadow-dance
the empty avenue--
drawn here
every night to stare
at the small house
on the corner
her new friend’s
beat-up blue chevy
planted like a conquering
flag in the driveway
every dirty detail
behind those cheap
curtains burned
by time
into my brain
every whiskey-driven scar
fixed in faded walls
every shattered glass
& broken promise
every meaningless minute
spent apologizing--
begging mercy
for every wrong thing

feeling strangely numb
i slide a hand
inside my jacket pocket
where it grazes
the cool metal
of a waiting .38
crazy time of night
when lost wolves
are silent
& the moon cries

friday night in the drunk tank

by DB Cox

floating over drunk tank hum
a voice
at the back of the holding cell
demands a phone call

warm blood
begins to move
back into my numb hands
from cuffs--too tight

tiny shards of glass
from a beer-bottle bar fight
embedded in my
blood-matted hair

crystal ringing
in my brain
like a beautiful
girl’s name

left eye swollen shut
thirteen dollars
stashed in the soles
of my old dingos

not enough for bail--
another friday night
in the city jail
for trying to make something

out of the emptiness
that crawls along
this boulevard
of half-remembered things


in this corner room
windows closed
doors bolted
a shit-city statistic
into the half-light
as a worn needle
scrapes over
smoky songs
blown by
the cracked lips
of long dead gods--
drunken stereophonic
dreams mingling
with the smells
of rotting back alley
trash--gnawed at
by fat rats
& starving dogs
too spent to howl
into the un-obligated
electric dusk
of men & volts

to confess
the crimes
that have left me here
ready to admit
how at each
i chose this way
toward this place--
from light
to dark
note to note
line to space
all taken apart
screamed into

for something
to come back
an answer
an explanation
other than the empty
echo of my own
dying away
against the walls
of this tomb
this waiting room

by DB Cox

August 8, 2009

Powerless Access

by Sarah Ahmad

Chances of making sense
in the slim cabinet

Disappointed decline of the last fantasy
Narrowly revealing the shared controversy

Declined and decayed

Never increasing the fragile uncertainty
As promise of a greater power ends

Instability is the cause
of the crisis
that infuses the mind.

*Sarah Ahmad lives in Pakistan. She considers herself a struggling poet and artist as in her world where life is so fragile, not knowing if you will return alive every time you step out of the house, getting someone to acknowledge your art is a real struggle. She hopes to do some good in the world, just don't know what yet.

Seeing Beyond

by Sarah Ahmad

When it comes to enable the liars
It is only better to be shameless

In the current afterlife
where pride stands.

August 7, 2009


by Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal

I tried to be invincible.
I read books.
I searched every sentence.
It did not help.
I tried to find the truth.
I should have sought the lie.
I should have sought out
hope, but I found despair.
I did not know
the difficulty I would face.
I attempted to find phrases,
words, which I could swear
by. Each time a new thought
put its fist through the old
thought, and perhaps
it was a good thing.
Yesterday was yesterday.
The future will come.
In the end no one is invincible,
not even your enemies.


by Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal

The dead don’t take good care
of themselves.
On earth
they appear lost.
They are too frail
to turn doorknobs.
In ghost form
wind blows them away
like smoke.

The dead don’t feel embarrassed
when they appear
and decomposed.
When they go to bed,
they dream
of being alive.
But their dreams
never come true.

August 6, 2009


by Alan Britt

The woman with ebony eyelashes
presses the elevator
as my waist
past her perimeter.

The door closes.

Intimate thoughts
are vaporized
by green numbers
illuminating each floor.

A breath of cloves,
or gingivitis?

But I imagine a leisurely stroll
through moonlit surf
if only
to taste the purple coquinas.

Her toe pounds twice,
calf stiffens
as the elevator oozes to a stop
1,000 stories
above my wildest expectations.

No one enters.

No one departs.

We descend
at a rate faster
than you can imagine,
falling about 10,000 years per second.

At around the third floor
we begin the false stop
so often experienced
on public elevators.

Then the door opens;
we exit like two swans.


Too much attention is paid
to sanctioned marriages.

Not enough
to impulse.


by Alan Britt

If I woke up
in a house, post WW II,
Tampa, 1956,
walls half-painted,
plastered, of course,
by wisdom enthusiastically delivered
via radio,
do you think I'd still
a suffering cello,
or do you imagine
that our new mushroom horizon
should include every poet
living on this planet
to be the freest
of citizens
howling in protest
before a stainless-steel General Electric toaster
reflecting our country's innocence
like a sentimental mirror
held up
before the wicked Queen
in a Brother's Grimm fairy tale?

August 5, 2009

Pale Diva

by Ivan Jenson

she is offbeat and quirky
like an indie star
or a sexy suicidal
resident of the Chelsea Hotel
she is black slacks
and Jack Kerouac paperbacks
both post beatnik and somewhat seventies
she is of skinny
and retro punk decent
she belongs on St. Marks place
and she earns
every stare up
and down her endless legs
she is and always will
be somebody
that drags you
through drama and desire
and leaves you desperately
in need of
another hit of her

August 3, 2009

grave clothes

by Jack Ohms

under the weight
of hard and dirty lies
I sit in a room
painted yellow
with cigarette smoke
three months behind
on the rent
a few hundred here and

as the clock
staggers drunk
at all hours

what a glorious existence
what a beautiful career
my name; the first insult
my grave clothes
the last


how to write her last
words in the note
book it’s the last
page in, goes
back to the poem
four pages before and
reads “the mad girl
can’t deal with
competition,” as
“with carpenters” and
knows that couldn’t
be true, having
wanted so many guitar
players, men who
could use their
hands to make wood
sing, could use
fingers, not to tear
or rip or bruise
but build something
she could live in,
lie down in and
feel safe,
not that the floor
could slide a
way or the wood
rot where she steps

by Lyn Lifshin

*Lyn's website:

August 1, 2009

Dirty Wings

by Chris Butler

Bleeding out
for a week or so,
all possible exits
leak straight through
hemophilic skin
into an adult
sized tarred and
feathered diaper,
but with all of
the blood rushing
to my head,
I should be dead
after that time
of the month.

After the Movies

by John Rocco

She told me these awful stories
about her friend whose boyfriend
used to rob drug dealers
handcuffing them to the bathtub
before they caught up with him
and shot him in the back of the head in
Poe town, Baltimore.
The friend's sister's husband
had a killer heart attack
from coke
leaving her broke
with two kids.

For some reason
this reminds me of
Neal Cassady
who did hard time for
two joints
in between driving
Jack everywhere
and piloting the bus
bomber boat driver
further, further.

He used to write Jack
great letters about
trying to score with girls
on buses, watching the
world fly away.
He stole his first car
at 14 and then many
more, but never for profit,
always just for the drive.

He died near some
railroad tracks in Mexico
walking alone
dying alone
the right way.

*John Rocco at MySpace: