February 28, 2010

When A Pregnant Woman Reads the Surgeon General’s Warning

(previously entitled “Lucky”)

The upside-down brown cylinder sits
amongst the rows of circular white filters.
I slowly slide it beyond the gold foil,
and my fingertips raise the cigarette
to its resting position between my lips.
I flip the lid on my shiny silver Zippo,
as my calice-laced thumb rubs against the wheel,
it sparks the flint that combusts the charred wick.
The flaming orange cherry bursts the tip
in a cancerous cloud of crackling steam,
as inhalation lunges against my lungs.
I round my mouth so swirls of smoke
spiral in disintegrating circles into the sky.
The ash drags along the paper and tobacco,
until I flick it with a snap of my wrist
and watch as dust drifts with the wind.
Once the glow reaches the cotton butt,
I drop it to the cold concrete and snuff it out
with my moccasin, extinguishing the smoldering light,
although I will decompose long before the remains.

by Chris Butler

February 27, 2010

Red Light

by John Rocco

I rushed into the bar crowded with unknown faces
and Bianca wasn’t even bartending, it was that other
girl who said she got trapped in Vegas for three weeks.
Big tits and braces, I liked her but didn’t say hi because
I saw Jimmy sitting next to Eddie. “Jimmy! How do I
get to Billy Budd’s?” I asked. I had never been there
but I heard it was a great dive strip bar from the Hammer
and Jimmy was a regular. He gave me directions and said:
“Wait till I finish this drink and I’ll go with you.” “Can’t
wait, Jimmy,” I replied and here it comes: “I got two girls
in the car who just can’t wait.” Instant respect and awe from all
and the bartender—what’s her name? Milly?—repeated the
directions to Billy Budd’s incorrectly and smiled. I walked
out of the bar a hero, the night my personal Melville story
the white whale about to get speared fucked to death
the cold sidewalk my hot ocean as I walked to the car.

As I drive I look over at her in the passenger seat.
How straight and blacker than black her hair is,
night can never be this black.

The truth came out for me at the red light:
I really want to fuck her long black hair.

Then the light changed.

*John Rocco at MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/292819823


by John Rocco

This beautiful Chinese girl
with long black hair like a violent night
took me to a restaurant in Queens
that I’ve never been to because as she said,
“You couldn’t order anything here. You
don’t speak Chinese!” Everything was
in Chinese, the menus, the signs, the girl.
I was the only “American” in the place.
We had hot spicy steak with an egg
and noodles and soup.

Later, in the bar,
this tall, beautiful woman
said her ass was too big
and said something I’ll never
forget: “What’s this called?”
she asked leaning forward
lifting it off the bar stool.
“Ass,” I said immediately,
the word a holy relic.
“My ass,” she said
“Could play Mahjong
for four people.
All their tiles.”

I can’t stop thinking of the tiles
colored in symbols with powerful meanings
from a civilization older than them all
stuck to the glowing skin of her tight ass
licked off with my tongue
falling into my mouth.

February 25, 2010

at the waveland, 10:23am on a tuesday

by Justin Hyde

the man one stool over, lifeless eyes
like a pair of black marbles.
he tells me the old men
on the other side of the bar
remind him of his father.
says his parents divorced last march
after thirty-three years of marriage.
his dad committed suicide two months later.
i ask him what his father was like.
my old man was hitler
but he was mine, he says
looking toward me
but not at me. the overhead tv
talks about the recession.
everyone's taking their hunk of flesh, he says
tells me his jew landlord
raised his rent fifty dollars a month
didn't have the balls to do it in person
slid a note under the door
like a rat
in the middle of the night. man can only take so much
it's just a matter of time, he says.
till what? i ask.
till i hurt myself, hurt others, he says.
the sun is at window level
lighting up the dust
swirling around us like a snow-globe.
i ask what's holding him back.
but just barely, he says
twirling a dull silver cross
between his thumb
and forefinger.

3:39am in the hospital lobby

by Justin Hyde

my mother let my father
come and go
as he pleased.

when he did
finally show
it was often shit-faced
and reeking of perfume.

i didn't fully understand
why she put up with it
until i was

i physically
threw her ass
out of my house
after catching her
in the bathroom
needle in arm
right before
she was going to babysit
my son.

i called my dad.
take care of your wife
i said
and hung up.

then i got scared
mom might go off
and kill herself.
(she'd tried it before)

so i called her cell
and told her i'd let
dad know
what happened.

did he say
he was gonna leave me?
she whimpered
in a voice
that froze
my spine.

some women
truly believe
no one else
will ever
love them.

these three fresh stitches
in my gut
from a steak-knife
remind me
my wife is not
one of them.

February 21, 2010

the harsh chill of death

by J.J. Campbell

sometimes i'll put on some
old blues music and just
stare out the window

stare at a harvested field
and how soon we'll have

and the harsh chill of
death will enter the room
remind us all of these days
we’ve taken for granted

the faces of loved ones
we've driven into the
arms of another

the mistakes

the burdens

the endless missed chances
to become somebody other
than the nobody that greets
you in the mirror each

sometimes i'll put on some
old blues music and stare
out the window

picture myself drunk, gun
in hand, kneeling down in a
harvested field and telling an
unresponsive god

i'm sorry

lessons learned

by J.J. Campbell

i must have
been in my
early 20's

i wanted to
save you from

show you
what love

see if i could
find happiness
in the grass
on a cloudy

you died in
a car wreck
before i ever
got the balls
to share any
of this with

never went to
the funeral either

waited ten long
years to forgive
myself and write
this poem


February 19, 2010


We suddenly languish, thirsting after another truth
—Georges Bataille

Too hungry to eat
you rise as if to shake off this skin
and wear another
go into the world a stranger

Yet falling down
falling in falling over falling upon—

every stream finds its way to the river

You’re not there yet
with eyes and back burning

you long to float
weightless and wet, weightless and wet
She, formless, flowing everywhere
her second mouth locking the first in silence

The perfect answer, according to Anne Carson,
who wonders if there might not be another
code of conduct, another mode than self
defeating self

You wonder too but can fumble no further
than your fallen self

The tongue curls in a question mark
but has no taste for itself

as for such surely wandering
world-forming wonder
as two tongues to mingle,
the only hope for a fallen world

Mark Kerstetter

Docile Bodies

Mark Kerstetter

To keep their minds off their probable fates
the men were kept busy digging trenches and filling sandbags

which doesn’t work. A mindless repetitive activity is perfect
for obsessing on a single thought

Better to lie daydreaming

Oh—but that might lead to a thought followed
by another thought and soon a sequence of thoughts
before you know it you have a mutiny on your hands

Better to sandbag it

But let the men sit down
And put some drugs in the bags

analysis of the ongoing war in Afghanistan


Definitely worth a read.

February 18, 2010

Acid Rain

by Bobbi Sinha-Morey

He was never a manic
depressive like his
mother said. The doctor
who diagnosed him got
it all wrong, and my
cousin never took lithium.
No one knew why he was
screwed up so or why he
locked the doors inside
his brain. But he was a
rebel because of his
father who would burn
all his comics, drink
till he bled acid rain.
His mother would
punish him with a coat
hanger for his belligerent
rage. Nearly every day
he'd threaten to sue the
sun for daring to enter.
When he was sixteen
he broke his right arm
and left shoulder while
on vacation. He always
drew the wrong kind of

February 15, 2010

Last poem of a decade

by Mike Boyle

You don't know anything but production
in the concrete building but sometime
mid-morning, the snow stops. If
you go into the chemical room
a fan goes on with the light.
You can see outside thru
fan blades, oh.

In the last poem of the year,
you're in that room. 55 gallon
drums of solvent, the shit used
to wash ink of rollers. The smell
of it there & following you home
on your clothes. And

what of sublime states while
machine is rolling, there's your
mother 2003. There's your father
in his garden. Do not confront boss
so much in existential disorder, he's
a suffering blob of history too. There's
your ex feeding peanuts to birds last
spring. Let's be friends.

What are you doing, 25 cent
candles burning each corner of room.
Coming out of factory half-dead, scraping
snow from car caw of raven in 3/4 dead
tree. Each conversation an emergency
report. Over there, highway traffic
at a crawl. My father comes out of

the garden, hands me a shovel. It's
spring, 1973. You know what to do
now, he tells me. Shovel now in
basement. Crucifix on keychain I
cannot touch.

Wait a minute, baby

by Mike Boyle

It's a long walk uptown, &
careening, & cold. I begin
running. I run as much as
I can, half-mile or so,
walk the rest. I'll eventually
be able to run most of the way.

When I get there, there's free
hot coffee. They drink coffee all
day. They drink & chainsmoke.
Didn't I tell you this. I did not
speak of the machines, they
could eat your arm, and I did

not speak of tales heard of people
being drug through the machines,
nothing but bones & some pulp
spit out other end. People are
cold, baby. They look thru office
windows like watching TV.

Did I tell you about Dean, the
foreman. I know I did but what
I did not say was I found in Dean
a father figure I was lacking. It
began snowing, & your song came
on the radio. You do not know it's
your song, I put you there,

in my head, singing, so the machines
would not eat me.

Mike's blog: http://bohobait.blogspot.com/

Last Request

by Steven Kunert

Having known the pleasures of the female body,
someday on the cusp of death I will dread
what an afterlife has been described to be.
So mix my ashes in a cocktail of a Nevada whorehouse.
Read my will at an all-girls’ school.
Put my memoir in a gynecologist’s office.
But, God, don’t put my soul up there, and please
leave the very last smidgen of my DNA on the lips
of any sweet woman still above ground.


by Steven Kunert

Lust resists linguistics.
A tongue sliding
against an inner thigh
creates fuzzy lingo.

Sex opposes semantics.
A nipple brushing a testicle
disregards logic.
Semen defies syntax.

Libido mocks language.
A knuckle nudging a clitoris
denies consummation
of coherent rhetoric.

February 14, 2010

She must be

an Isodora Duncan
with consort
dumb show dancing
among white
wire brushed
They are listening
to inner show tunes
skirting brink
of perception
on cemetery hill
above twin ponds
Do they
return that night
to fuck
on felled
grave markers

by Alan Catlin

The Dancer

was some kind
of spaced
speed queen
dressed in
veiled ankle
length skirt
wind billowed
black wraparound
eye shades
way black
dyed hair
blouse cape
& skirt
She pirouettes
on cliff edge
glacial kettle
ponds in
Mt. Hope
an artless dance
of death

by Alan Catlin

February 13, 2010

Over The Mountains And Through The Woods There Is An Ocean

by Doug Draime

Cops to the left
of me
cops to the right
and here I am stuck in the middle with my
stoned self
and my .... almost
stoned wife.

We’re headed to a motel
on the
with an 1/8 oz. of dynamite
2 open bottles of beer
1 open bottle of whiskey
a loaded
and a roach
burning in
the clip.

My wife is driving, she’s my Bonnie.
I’m way way more fucked up than
She’s as calm as
a cool summer night,
with an open bottle
of beer
between her legs,
she turns down the blasting
Lou Reed CD,
checks the rear view mirror
and takes

February 10, 2010


by Peycho Kanev

I tried to drown my sorrow in these
rivers of whiskey
in these
seas of beer.
trying to forget her
but what I accomplished
is to destroy myself.
the way she always wanted.
now you see me
poor and humble
and in my bed I’m waiting for the sound
of your footsteps
and the sailing is coming down on me
and the walls get darker
and my love is dry as a torn
once red as blood
now just a garbage for the

Cheap movie

by Peycho Kanev

World War II
Somewhere in the Balkans;
Small village with ten cottages.

In the middle
Is the church:
Body like old woman
With the cross on the top.

All the houses turned into
Ruins from the bombing
And the air raids.

On the muggy streets
Corpses of animals:
Ducks, goats, cows, chickens,
Frozen in the dark wind.

No people in sight
No children’s laughter,
Stillness and black clouds
Over the ramshackle rooftops.

The only man alive is the village’s idiot;
He enters the church and tie around his neck
The rope of the bell-
He hangs himself.

His body goes up and down
Like some drunk angel;
Jumping puppet from the hand of

The bell tolls empty in the morning air,
One can hear the call for miles around;
Everything is calm now
And yet something is wrong

One white duck appear in the entrance
Of the church,
Leaps into the sky and goes higher in
The clouds.

This happened so many years ago
And yet I prefer it to your cheap war movies,

Because, you see, our souls are not

February 9, 2010


by Bobbi Sinha-Morey

He was fifty-seven,
and he cried at the table
when a friend sang happy
birthday to his wife over
the phone, knowing she
only had days to live.
Balloons in her room.
Cards on her bed. His
daughter-in-law goes
inside the room with
a small cup of cranberry
juice, but it does nothing
to stop his wife's cancer
and morphine barely
eases her pain. He longs
to hear her voice in the
night, the one thing that
soothes him besides
holding her hand or
being near her. Outside
her bedroom door in
the hall the hospice has
left a sign and number
to call. His youngest
grandson doesn't under-
stand the concept of
dying. He begs for an
answer like he does
water, never realizing
what's going on till
he sees his frail mother

Seasons in the uterus

by Peycho Kanev

Lying on the floor with one bottle of wine,
listening to sonatas from Brahms and Scarlatti
from the old gramophone on the nightstand

eyes closed
cigarette in the crooked mouth
hands behind the head

wondering where all the dreams are -

desires for millions and seventeen year old virgins,
first class cigars and ice-cream cones, tasty food and
easy life

evaporating in the stratosphere with the speed of
brain pierced by the bullet.

my daddy’s gun under the couch

my siege is over.

February 8, 2010

Dante and Ass

by John Rocco

They made a new video game based on
the big guy’s shit, the INFERNO no less
but I’m not one to say no even if they
do turn his poet big-nose-face into some
schmuck soldier home from the bloody crusades
to find his lovely Beatrice raped and
eviscerated and taken to H E Double Hockey Sticks
by a laughing El Diablo laughing all the way.
It’s all ridiculous, Dante screaming “BEEEAAT
TRICCCEEEE!” like he’s Braveheart or any jerkoff
screaming for murdered love and the box office.

The real Italian dude was much cooler.
Sentenced to exile and death if he ever went home.
Homeless he wrote
sending all his real enemies to HELL forever
covered in the vomit and all the toilets of the universe
in circle 3 or torn apart by shit-covered harpies
their ragged shit-filled nails tearing the tress apart in 7
or burning in the endless coffin fires of 6. He had his
ways of fucking them up big time with more no excuses.

My favorite
and yours
is upper Hell
the whirlwind
of desire
hammering the lovers
with their own
love and cum.
There’s Francesca and Paolo
Fran and Paul
and she tells the story:
One day
horny as motherfuckers
they read a book
of cuckold King Arthur
and Lancelot’s lance
deep inside the Queen
probing the kingdom and then some.

That’s what the videogame assholes
don’t understand.
It’s not about the rules
or the dues
or the lines.
It’s all about the lost ass, the ass lost
and how you always have to pay for it.

*John Rocco at MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/292819823

February 6, 2010

a hard man

by Karl Koweski

my daughter lies inconsolable

on the couch

sobbing herself to hyperventilation

convinced her world is at an end

my soon to be ex-wife glares

at me with a hatred

only thirteen years worth

of marital neglect

and sexual apathy

can nurture

and I revert back

to shadow form

a vaguely human-shaped blank

cast upon the walls

of this family

as the television

runs constant commercials

praising the latest

male enhancement formulas

successful men flanked

by their adoring women

claim the secret

to a blissful marriage

amounts to little more than

a little extra girth

a little extra length

there’s no pill in the world

that can negate

a history of

emotional abandonment

no topical solution

that cures

financial irresponsibility

when my wife tells me

I’m a hard man

I’m not what

the commercials preach toward

February 3, 2010


by Lyn Lifshin

slithers past
the backs of houses.
One’s boarded up,
glass maybe some
body threw a chair
through. Blue
Buick, a Why Pay
More billboard.
Grey air. Rusty
cars. Erie Lackawanna,
a blood slash in
mist as we move
past cat tails.
Nothing’s green
yet. Piled rail
ties. West of Albany,
Rennsalear where we
stop, change engines
as the grey goes to
grey green light
over the Hudson.
Days like this
I hate George
Bush, in white paint
on a metal rain
pigeons swoop from
to discarded plastic,
to dark bags of
garbage near where
a woman on the platform
dangles a cigarette
from her blood lips

*Lyn's website: http://www.lynlifshin.com/books.htm