I awoke to the sound of birds chirping and the early rays of dawn in my eyes. I don’t know how I arrived here behind the blue rusted skip bin, where roaches scuttle and rodents scamper. All that I know is that it felt like a jack hammer had been mercilessly unleashed upon my skull.
The details from last night are sketchy at best. I can remember sitting alone in the dark, dank, pub; drinking my usual rot gut draft, observing the punters, writing bits and pieces of my muse down on scraps of any paper that I could find.
Life seemed almost bearable last night. I mean there I was; the solitary alcoholic, minding my own business. I can vaguely remember the shadowy figures that quietly slid past my lonely drunken universe.
There were all the usual suspects last night, clean cut and foul mouthed sailors, dodgy street urchins with ripped jeans and tattooed biceps, painted ladies with leather miniskirts and frayed stockings, and so much more.
At one point I could have sworn that a Goth inspired cross dresser attempted to chat me up, but I ignored his advances. Eventually, he lost interest and sauntered away into the shadows of the night. After a quick sigh of relief, I took a shot of rum that the weathered old barkeep had brought over as a on the houser.
It seemed to be just another night at Mort’s, the booze flowed smoothly, for what must have been hours on end, the people came and went, as per usual and then blackness came.
Did I pass out? Was I knocked unconscious? How did I come to be outside by this smelly old skip bin, all battered and bruised? Something like this has never happened before, except for that time in Barcelona, when I tried to pick up some lady that was allegedly already spoken for.
Suicide crept into the blurry corridors of my mind; a ragged cat appeared from out of nowhere and started to rub against my bloodied left rib cage, its purrs brought feelings of solace. For a moment, the dark thoughts of ending my life lifted like a fine mist, my mangled left hand ascended, coming to a terminus at the nape of the cats’ neck. I found the reverberation of the felines purrs soothing, my right hand took a halfhearted swipe at some dried blood that had collected near my nostrils and chin.
Bio: Wayne Russell is a former Army soldier, Navy sailor, Freelance Graphic Designer, and Plumber. Wayne is a creative writer that got fed up with the status quo of internet zines, so he started his own lit mag called Degenerate Literature. Wayne's writing can be found in Black Poppy Review, Poppy Road Review, The Bitchin' Kitschs', Jotters United, Writing Raw, Paper Plane Pilot Publishing, and Danse Macabre.
compared to train
speaking for itself
in no language
to what we do not know
plans of distant stars
galaxies floating as
Sneaks under shadows lurking
in corners ready to rear its head
folded in neat lab reports charting
white blood cells over edge running wild.
Or hiding along icy roads when
day ends with sea gulls squalling
through steel grey skies.
Brake belts wheeze and whine
snapping apart careening us
against the long cold night.
Official white envelopes stuffed with
subpoenas wait at the mailbox.
Memories of hot words burning
razor blades slash across our faces.
Fires leap from rooms where twisted
wires dance like miniature skeletons.
We stand apart inhaling this mean
air choking on our own breath.
riding dark horse nightmare
to prison library
backs up flooding
cages of books
my brains are washed
by a short scientist
detectives trail me
arrested by police
giving up to
now on train
1942 1962 1982
2198 1892 1294
screaming off track
burning 3rd rail
in swamp struggling
to reach green reeds
i am a
*pull trigger*fire pin*thru barrel*into muzzle*
b u l l e t s h o t
Joan McNerney’s poetry has been included in numerous literary magazines such as
Seven Circle Press, Dinner with the Muse, Camel Saloon, Blueline, Poppy Road Review, Spectrum, three Bright Hills Press Anthologies and several Kind of A Hurricane Publications. She has been nominated three times for Best of the Net.
As Far As This Light
To be at the point of breaking, always
but never torn.
A season that fills my skull, steals
embraces from my arms.
All is new like the first
like the squirrel and the centipede
witnessed for the first time
as pure presence.
Such clarity I cannot cloud with
distraction, cannot thin
the intensity of this load.
that finds me, bends me, wills
The Path I Followed
The topping night
presses its muddied finger
on me. Wounded, like
a country seized by internal strife.
Wounded, like a forehead fraught
with grief as ghosts spy on
and dissemble sensual minds.
The unmarried night, companion
to discordant prayers that rise as hopes
fall, handcuffs my despair to its
wet, warmless belly. My breast breaks
as I walk past porches, a schoolyard, new-cut
grass, breaks to hear the voices of strangers
so unconnected to my own, breaks in the night
like a sparrow between talons, says not a word
but walks further to where
no eye summons the gift of kindness,
and love is given without a gentle tongue.
Allison Grayhurst is a member of the League of Canadian Poets. Three of her poems have been nominated for Sundress Publications “Best of the Net” 2015, and she has over 850 poems published in more than 375 international journals and anthologies.
Her book Somewhere Falling was published by Beach Holme Publishers in 1995. Since then she has published twelve other books of poetry and six collections with Edge Unlimited Publishing. Prior to the publication of Somewhere Falling she had a poetry book published,
Common Dream, and four chapbooks published by The Plowman. Her poetry chapbook The River is Blind was published by Ottawa publisher above/ground press in December 2012. In 2014 her chapbook Surrogate Dharma was published by Kind of a Hurricane Press,
Barometric Pressures Author Series in October 2014. More recently, her chapbook No Raft No Ocean was published in October 2015 by Scars Publications. She also has a chapbook Currents pending publication in 2016 with Pink.Girl.Ink. Press. She is a vegan. She lives in Toronto with her family. She also sculpts, working with clay; www.allisongrayhurst.com
Allison's work has appeared in include Parabola (Alone & Together print issue summer 2012); Elephant Journal; Literary Orphans; Blue Fifth Review; and the The American Aesthetic.
Time machine station wagons
combat the future.
I miss the spit out
corn fields of Iowa.
Burnt stalks reveal the hollow
All the farmers gave
their half-filled little dolls
I miss a cliché.
The wind: an ogre.
Do you still
want to own things?
a peeled husk.
The sky broke.
Sunset became a fatality in
Maples blazed up,
giant persimmons against
the battleship sky.
This time of year,
trees in the Midwest are
on fire with color.
Clouds: ash and smoke.
I've got itchy feet.
There are new faces.
Not as many Nick Cave
fans to bring me my Jam Jar drinks.
I like to be served with pretension.
Have you reaped vineyards?
Hid from helicopters?
Where is your center?
I am a ventriloquist’s dummy.
My eyelids screen
of others’ belongings.
Duct tape and sharpies
identify the missing.
cardboard crushes the curb.
The universe tips
scales to an even keel favor.
Dusk dematerializes the paper.
I never witness
trucks load unwanted clothes,
knick-knacks bought in past lives.
Sprint from the attic
Fallen from mantel
in all wheeze
The old photos shoved in heavy black yard bags.
I’m not supposed to mourn the past.
I’m supposed to say an eternal yes
a giveaway prize
of knock-off Ikea tulip vases.
Anesthetize all the little feet,
snug bugs in a rug,
the furnace gate slams shut.
I follow the Real Simple guidelines
but am ashamed
at how un-simple it all is.
There is a latch lock outside the laundry room door, am I living on the wrong side?
Jennifer MacBain-Stephens went to NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and now lives in the DC area. Recent chapbooks are out or forthcoming from Grey Book Press, Dancing Girl Press and Shirt Pocket Press. Her first full length collection is forthcoming from Lucky Bastard Press. Recent work can be seen or is forthcoming atJet Fuel Review, Pith, Freezeray, So to Speak, Entropy, Right Hand Pointing, Chiron Review, and decomP.Visit: http://jennifermacbainstephens.wordpress.com/.
Meg Tisinger graduated from the University of Iowa and takes photographs and writes poetry in Iowa City. She makes a mean kale lasagna, and likes to watch horror movies. She has poems published or forthcoming in Pretty Owl Poetry, Inferior Planets, F.A.L. D. (Fuck Art, Let’s Dance,) and ITWOW (In the Words of Women.)
I sat at the wooden picnic table on the back deck when Simone came to the screen door carrying two iced-teas. Are you going to be out here, she asked.
Yes, I said, it’s cooling down.
Are there any bugs, she asked jiggling the latch on the door.
No, I said, none that will bother you. She came out and joined me at the table. There are no mosquitoes, I said, or moths. I know how you feel about moths.
What do you mean, she said. Why did you have to say that? She took a swig from her iced-tea.
I didn’t mean anything, I said, there are just a couple June bugs wandering around, that’s all, that’s all I meant.
And earwigs, she said pointing to one crawling across the table. There are more earwigs around this year than I remember from previous years.
I once ate an earwig, I said. When I was six, seven, something like that, I ate one. I had left a bottle of soda out on the kitchen counter overnight. In the morning I picked it up again and just started drinking from it, as if I had only put it down for a minute. There was an earwig in it. I could feel it swirling in the flat, syrupy liquid in my mouth. I spit it out and threw up; I think I stayed home from school that day.
At least it didn’t get in your ear, she said. They give you nightmares if they get into your ear.
Is that true? There was a burst of light in the sky over the McHugh’s house followed by a loud bang.
I hate fireworks, Simone said.
I know you do, I said. A bottle rocket went up from the sidewalk outside our fence where our neighbors were crouched around an empty Coke bottle. The bottle rocket hissed as it rose, drifting up over a street lamp. They usually quit at ten, I said.
But this is only July second, she said. What will the fourth be like, I hate them.
It’s only a couple days a year, I said. I could hear whistles a few streets over.
There are bugs out here, she said.
Yes, I said, I guess there are. I hadn’t noticed them before. I really hadn’t.
Goodnight, she said, tipping her glass to finish off her iced-tea. The cubes slid down the side of the tumbler, crashing against her upper lip.
Goodnight, I said, I’ll be up in a couple minutes. I heard a loud boom from the neighbor’s yard, an M-80 probably.
I can’t wait until the fifth, she said, I just hope they don’t keep me awake.
I know, I said, me too. The screen door swung shut behind her as an earwig climbed along the aluminum frame.
She will sleep; she sleeps well. She will be asleep when I slip into bed. The fireworks will have stopped, only two more days to get through. Another blast goes off; kaboom. It is so loud that it sets off a car alarm in the parking lot across the street.
A mosquito lands on my thigh. I watch it there for a moment, its pencil line thin legs supporting its body. I watch its dedication, its work ethic. I bring my hand down swiftly and
crush the mosquito. There is a deep red blotch on my skin like a spray of colored lights across a summer sky.
Bio: Thomas O’Connell is a librarian living on the banks of the Hudson River in Beacon, NY, where he happens to be the 2015-2016 poet laureate. His poetry and short fiction has appeared in Elm Leaves Journal, Caketrain, Jellyfish Review, Otoliths, and The Los Angeles Review, as well as other print and online journals.