John Grey

JUNK CAR

It was in a deadly accident.
The other guy ran a red light.
In fact, it’s a coffin
but the body’s been removed.
No need to search for clues
as to the murder weapon.
The crushed driver’s side door
is blood-stained in plain sight.
But that hood ornament is rare
and that’s why the guys
have bought along
their holsters filled with tools.
If it was a body,
they’d pluck the gold from his teeth
or slip the rings from his fingers.
But it’s a junk car.
A silver-plated horse will have to do.

DEAR ED

Dying is worthy of a good drink …or four.
Old age is a thirst more than anything.
Sure the light’s dying. Pretend it’s neon.

Good men, in your condition,
spend half their time praying.
At least, you’re smart enough

not to go down that religious road.
Order another. And another.
Nothing can hurt you.

Those with so little time left
are immune to everything.
Your kidneys could care less

how many beers go down to your gullet.
Your heart could do with a whiskey on the rocks.
And don’t forgot your poor wilted colon –

send it off with a good belt, a snort
and a rage against doctors who don’t know shit.
Remember, life goes around once. Living doesn’t have to.

WATCHING THE CLUB CROWD

Just another night, air algae-skunked,
I’m standing under the bridge
with the frogs and toads
up from dark brown river water.

Club scum preen like swans
in moon-molting neon.
Tonight the putrid gets its shot.
The plastered babes can hardly wait.

I’ve been where the hot chicks strut.
I know where good bad girls head to after dark.
Now, I’m outside, heart kicked by
the distant drum thump, rigid bass.

Now, I watch life from the bleachers,
take up my position where cars rumble overhead,
the ground’s a quagmire of pigeon-dropping soup,
brick walls trace their graffiti back to an invisible hand.

I’ve made it someplace clear of the action
but where’s the relief when I keep looking back.
That one could have been mine to wake up with in the morning.
And her, over there, she could have flipped me a defiant “No.”

And those are the trash I could have hung with.
Those beats would have sent my body wild.
Away from it all still means I’m in the thick of it.
The club is humming and I hum all the way home.

Bio

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Examined Life Journal, Evening Street Review and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Leading Edge, Poetry East and Midwest Quarterly.

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Judge Santiago Burdon

Desolation Angel

Just got out of prison Los Lunas, New Mexico.
She was smoking crack back in Chicago.
I was headed there to get my life on track.
She was living each day at two C-Notes a whack.
Oh mercy,
Sometimes it gets so crazy.

I’m dirty used and wasted
wearing turn around shoes.
Her kitchen’s full of garbage.
Her curtains all peeked through.
The dogs of years nipping at my heels.
I’m cheating sisters of the dice.
She all dolled up like Chinese food.
And l’m fool fried twice.
Lordy,
It can all get so damn crazy.

The best part of truth seems to be the lies
god gives his left handed smile.
I can’t live life in the middle of the road.
Traffic comes at me from both sides.
There’s nowhere to hide.
Desolation Angel
I’m a Desolation Angel

Last time that I killed myself.
There were no vacancies in hell.
And she was doin’ Jesus
in some stained sheet motel.
Life’s a bitch, and she’s in heat.
Looking for someone to screw.
Time’s cracking his knuckles.
Shes out working the avenue.
Tell me how’d get so crazy

I’ll play the hand that’s dealt me
Choke down what’s on my plate
I drew a crooked Tarot card to my inside straight.
She whispers to me like shuffling dollar bills.
Her banjo eyes are wanin’.
Come on take a hit it could be worse,
It could be raining.

Did I just feel a raindrop?
Thought I heard the thunder roll.
Another junkie that can’t stop.
Another addict outta control
Oh I sold my soul
Desolation angel
Desolation angel

Now the storm has ceased.
And I’m back in prison up here in Chicago.
How it ever turned so crazy?
I’m sure I’ll never know.
Desolation angel
Desolation angel

SHE BLEEDS FOR BROOKLYN

She lives with low rent day dreams,
on no name backstreets.
Dirty sidewalks made from
quicksand concrete,
There’s no yellow brick road.

In this city like desert
without an oasis.
Hope a disease
that breeds in places,
Where God wouldn’t go.

In the air there’s a stench.
The smell of desperation.
And lives are stamped
with a date of expiration.
The Devil’s grip on their souls.

Night crashes down with
the sound of a train wreck.
She’s on the prowl for love
and everyone’s suspect,
But they leave her cold.

She cries with a sound
that no one can hear.
Her eyes lost their voice
Now she can’t speak with tears
She wonders ’bout life
on the other side of the mirror.

Kneels down for one more
unanswered prayer.
But there’s no one
listening out there!

And she bleeds,
she bleeds for Brooklyn
She’s hemorrhaging
lies and alibis.

She bleeds,
she bleeds for Brooklyn.
Break free Persphone.

Brooklyn left the front porch light on.
W

MY SIBLING’S FATHER

Other children feared monsters
under their bed,
I feared the one
living under our roof.
His hair was nimbus black
with a storm’s thunder
in his voice.
His fists were freight train brown,
ball bearing knuckles.
Frostbite blue was his touch
with empty icebox eyes.
His smile untrusted
growling words spoken
like tangled spaghetti
He was my mother’s husband,
My sibling’s father.

A childhood of baseballs never thrown.
Bruises and shattered bones
medicated with lies.
Happiness diluted with tears.
In a house with screams undetected.
When asked what I wanted to be,
I testified “far from here.”

Now, fiber optic home front news,
Faceless words.
Cancer eating away at your life
with the fury of a piranha.
Your disease, my champion.
Fighting with the courage
I was unable to muster.
Your epitaph written
in my adolescence,
while plotting your midnight homicide.

Again you leave unaccountable
for your actions.
I’m left to wrestle with the demons.
Not the strength to forgive,
My memory too scarred to forget.
I’ll keep the battle lines drawn,
your monument.
Let the puzzle piece fall where it may.

Good bye old man
You’ll be missed like a pit vipers bite.
Your pain can no longer
touch me,
from the grave.

THE CHECK OUT LINE

I made the phone call
he’s holdin got the work.
We gotta have the “ins” this time,
said he wouldn’t front me dirt.
What we got between us
still ain’t enough to score
Let’s hit some jerk at an ATM
Or take out a liquor store

Warrants out for writin’ bad checks.
Pawned everything we stole or had.
I’m tired of doing small time crime,
rolling whores and fags.
Haven’t seen any gumball machines,
Just Dominos on the road.
Pull the piece from under seat
I gotta feed this Jones

She turns to me
grabs my hand and says,
“Gotta feeling we’re goin’ down,
goin’ down
We’re on the road to ruin
can’t find a place to turn around.
There’s no need to test the water
when ya know you’re gonna drown.
I gotta a feeling we’re goin down.
Goin’ down, goin’ down”.

We’ve shared a couple years together,
Still don’t know your real name.
The only thing we have in common
is this disease and it’s pain.
Dope makes magnetic friendships
Until the poles get turned around.
Look up ahead a Mini Mart.
We score then leave this town.

We only need enough,
to feed the monkey twice.
I’ll take the clerk
you hit the till.
Now listen to my advice.
Don’t turn your back to the rear door.
Don’t worry about the safe.
Lift and check under the drawer insert.
Grab the cash and we’re outta the place!

She forces a smile
and says to me…
“Gotta feeling we’re goin’ down,
goin’ down
We’re on the road to ruin
can’t find a place to turn around.
There’s no need to test the water
when ya know you’re gonna drown.
I gotta a feeling we’re goin’ down”.

I never saw the second guy
behind the office door.
Only heard the shots
And watched her drop
laying motionless on the floor.
I emptied my gatt
not one found home.
Used every hot rock in my clip.
Pulled the trigger on my 3×3
and only heard a click,
I knelt down
put my hands in the air.
He knew I was his bitch.
I called out to her,
there was no response.
Why did it go down like this?

It wasn’t all a lost cause.
Someone had to pay the price.
Emily Maxwell traded this world,
For a better life.

Invitation To A Funeral

The night cold with it’s sharp corners
Cutting comfort through my skin
With drunken footsteps of a soldier
I’m a tourist at your door again
My knock is full of empty
A vacant echo its reply
Consequence provides the answer
Circumstance the reason why.
Can’t mend my bleeding ego.
Pieces of me cupped in the hands of my mind
Memories dripping through my fingers
A painful pleasure suicide
Your broken promise castaway upon the waters
Now washed up on desolate shores.
I’ve become the company
That misery enjoys
My imagination without wonder
Muffled thunder in broken skies
Love is an invitation to a funeral
A memorial service where death is eulogized.

BIOGRAPHY

On an unseasonably cool July morning in Chicago, equivalent to Dickens’ David Copperfield , Judge Burdon was born on a Friday. His mother theroized it was so he would be in time for weekend festivities.
His fascination by the predominence of the written word inspired his study of English Literature. He attended Universities in the United States, London and Paris to continue his life’s scholarship focusing on Victorian novels and authors.
His writing career to date has been devoted primarily to poetry and songwriting. He is presently engaged in finishing his book “Imitation of Myself.” A non-fiction story encompassing his experiences as a drug runner for a Mexican Cartel. Judge celebrated his 65th birthday last July and is living modestly in Costa Rica.

Sally Johnson 

Scattered tribes inhabited a rock surrounded by the living water

Days to years to decades seasons passed.

Aware of each other but without conflict. Each one held the truth.

Days to years to decades seasons passed.

Language  was discovered  bringing about confusion and misunderstanding.  Giving birth to lies.

Days to years to decades seasons passed

Inner knowledge diminished and eventually disappeared.

Days to years to decades seasons passed

A barron rock surrounded by contaminated dust…….

Jack Day

Sun Dried

Inside I feel fried and dried, liken to the way a lichen feels.
Humor has lost its appeal and tears no longer fill.
The corners of my visual field from which the universe is built.
How many times have I died? Lied? Been tried?
Why am I still alive? 
Where was the good wine spilled?
I never really liked pills.
I didn’t take the bait, never had a need that couldn’t wait.
But where did the feels go?
Lost to the sauce? Maybe…
That’s is why she stole my baby.
But I dealt with that, I got fat and off my back.
Oh my GOD so many nice sacks.
And doses too often split with more than a few.
But then there was you, spirit molecule.
Ripping my head apart by the follicles.
Are you responsible for this soulless desert?
Or are these just the cards we are dealt.
Feeling things that should have never been felt.
Climbing up the robes of GODS, discarding the role of cogs.
Here enters the endless fog the desert bog land of petrified logs.
I guess I should have stop licking frogs…

Peter Jacob Streitz

 

MEAT

 

 

I spied her

From three stories up

Through the blinds

Beautiful

Black hair

White skin

Black sleeveless top

A rounded white logo

Highlights

her Lolita breast

As she squats

In a semi-circle

Like pre-dawn man

Around a campfire

With her street boys

One and Two

Hunkering out’a sight

But on the lookout

As One removes his

Doc Martin

Vigorously cleaning

between his toes

With a finger

Preparing the spot

While Two

Rolls his shirt sleeve up

And repetitively

slaps a vein

Like a nurse

drawing blood

There’s no interaction

Nothing said

Only life and death intensity

While other denizens

. . . like pigeons

but disguised as men . . .

Spot the trio

—pecking at their morsels—

Turning squabs to birds of prey

Skulking closer

As she pulls a compact

from her pocket

Purses her lips

and rouges

Her highly narcissistic

cheekbones

While One jams a needle

Deep between his toes

Two doesn’t even

tourniquet his arm

Just balls his fist so tight

the vein’s for the taking

She hungrily follows suit

The scene is a verity

of stalker and game

As she drops her compact

The mirror shatters—

in perfect harmony

With the now molten . . .

Nirvana

kneading her brain

Her chin nods

. . . down to her chest bone

The chalk white radiance

of a slightly exposed breast

Beckons . . .

like a homing beacon

Bait

The encirclement tightens

The street is sick

with addiction

and need

Amazingly, she lifts her head

A grim slip of satisfaction

crosses her lips

With an unseen lipstick

she hastily reddens them

. . . like an open wound . . .

As rival shadows of violence

hover

Within feet of her and

her shrinking Twosome

When a silent shriek

of warning

—from a suburban bygone—

—strikes—

Her preciously hooded lids . . .

flutter with a fleeting memory

Of some Teddy Bear past.

* * *

Clutching her belongings

to her bosom

She teetered to rise

Before toddling

. . . a step or two

Clownishly attempting . . .

an escape

Down Julia’s alley.

BUKOWSKI

 

 

That shitfaced

Pig

Nah, macho man

Loving

The limbs

Of ladies

Or the fattest

Asses

With smallish

Breast

And suckable

Nips

Like the quim colored lips

Of dead

Soldiers

Where beer

Flows

In winy utterances

Mixing sex

With fucking

Then love

Or appreciation

Of mirrors

Healing acne

With wisdom

Or cocktails

That pussy foot

From sacks

To racetracks

And back

To paddocks

Of saddles

And whips

Plus horns

And leads

With harnesses

That mount

And cinch

The saddlebags

In stirrups

Of lust

As fleshy bits

Rope heartache

To the rhyming

Of losers

And winners

Who’re eternally

Trumped

For never

Having placed

The bet

—that women who blush—

Train their flanks

To lap

The track

Where mares

And stallions

Collide

In a world

Of wonder

And words

Wasted

Unless the final

Thrust

Is

Human nature

And

Human nature

Is

the last word

Of his story.

SHAKESPEARE IN THE DARK

The tweeker’s

Boggy, alcoholic eyes

Bulged unblinkingly

Within inches of mine

Setting the stage

For mere players

In this mosh pit

At the intersection of ol’Frisco

And modernity

While the watery whirl

Of rush hour washed‘round

And Dino denied I’ve come—

To that very corner

Everyday

For the past twenty years

Awaiting my love’s return

from work

But on this day

Where the subway

emerges

And the street cars clank

Like two ships

Passing in the night

I unknowingly missed her

As she unknowingly missed me

But Dino didn’t miss a beat

Manically orating his resurrection

As a bookseller

And one who

Only reads the law

And fuck that storytelling

Crap

With his countenance

Increasingly inscribed

In an ominous glaze

And his lids hoisted

At half-mast

He pulled back the curtain

For the briefest moment

To inquire

Do you read?

What?

There was no answer

Other than His . . .

—Shakespeare—

Leading to

his sidewalk bibliothèque

Where ten tomes of prose

Sat dog-eared and dirty

Along with a soiled sleeping mat

And a rat

Disguised as a pet

Entrapped beneath

A milk crate

—Much Ado About Nothing—

Was crammed into my hand

While two bucks

departed this fool

And his wad of money

Filled Dino’s head

With sugar plums of theft

Or thirst for some complicity

Whose outright criminality

Got quenched with past drinks

And blackouts

At whore houses

In Alaska

And racist chases

In Texas by Rangers

Who took exception

To the pilfering

Of black velvet

Bedspreads—

when shit and damn

My cell phone vibrated

And a distraught

Wifely voice

Rung down the curtain

On two role players

In another performance

Of their life.

WINGED RATS

 

 

Bullshit

Unless you consider

They eat the same crap

But you’d be wrong

These low flying

Aviators

Of the cityscape

Got zip codes

And statues

And ordnances as white

As the driven snow.

In some hoods

They’re the only fauna

That doesn’t attack

And kill

As ordered

Or destroy the trees

With piss and shit

And forget the grass.

Instead, these citizens

Of aerial reconnaissance

Clean-up after bums

And partygoers

Doing such civic duties

As eating

the rice and beans

Regurgitated

By soup kitchen

Devotees

Or their counterparts

Boogieing in

From bedroom

Communities

Leaving their suburban

Blight

For clean-up

By those living

Aloft

On the ledge

With only one way

To fall

Pilotless

And no safety net

Dying alone

Earthbound

In their mourning suits

Having seen it all

On the hardest streets

. . . yet nothing . . .

Of remembrance

Not even the homage

Of never more.

THE CIRCUS

 

 

I hate

waking in this alley

Where crack-shits

Flow

like chocolate sauce

At least I’m not

a constipated

Ass-wipe

Like that Suit . . .

in the crosswalk

Look at the poor bastard

Probably escapes

Pleasantville

Every morning

Like his tits

Are on fire

Leaving the brat—

bastards behind

To burn

And his wife

Time to think

About new ways

Of getting laid

Shit, I’d smile . . .

at his fucking dilemma

If I only had teethIt’s one

Of the downsides

Of crank

Besides believing

You got a crystal ball

That sees a pathetic prick’s

Life

Looking down

On scumbags

Like me

Probably deluding himself

with the thought

That I screw crack whores

For rock

And a blow job

. . . that he don’t get . . .

No’moe

Plus, how the progressive

. . . pansy-asses . . .

Give me a hand

A hand-up

Like the hand job

He’s forced to give himself

As I’m thinking

The sad bastard’s

Even gott’a pay

His own medical bills

Shit, I just OD

And whoppee-doo

I’m scraped

from these urine

. . . soaked streets . . .

To lie pretty

As I please

On clean sheets

With the city

Paying the freight

Unless of course

One of them lazy wetbacks

Is hoggin’ the space

Should’a’shot’em

At the border

As they don’t know shit

About how we

Run this place

Or the rat race

That ol’ Suits . . .

And I

Live our lives

by.

 

 

 

Peter Jacob Streitz—I’m an old fart who was born an iconoclastic hick in upstate New York; raised by a single mom after my dad flew the coop instead of flying The Hump–over the Burma Road in World War Two–where he won the Distinguish Flying Cross by losing both the Japs and his mind. His inevitable departure didn’t affect me—as I morphed into an All-American boy and athlete who was awarded a four year, full-boat scholarship to Alfred University (which I rejected upon further review) before counter-culturing my way towards the only degree ever given by Boston University in Alternative Education.

Allison Grayhurst

Stage
 
 
No warmth in my
shoes. No gently touching
of my eyelashes.
The crater has left its imprint
and my only child is weeping.
Love has sunk below the line, grows painful as
a thousand papercuts. Why is there this
push into the primal darkness, where everything
is surface and small and contagious? Why can’t
we, of all lovers, overcome?
Touch my fingertips, tell me we can breathe it out
and return to the depths of our true connection.
Tell me we are brave enough to walk away
from this cancer breeding side,
face each other like we use to,
free of defense and the bitter masks
of useless pride.
 
 
 
 
 
Otherwise
 
 
I would make room for truth
to quicken me, and laziness
and anger would lose the reins.
 
my dreams would be pure
and my sense of justice would never be offended.
 
when the bank account ran out
and tension forked into my throat and
the trees have lost their glory, then I
would be humbled and know the way
is to let go.
 
my death-wish would be
but a small ripple in my soup,
and all my passions would be holy.
 
the bitter wrinkle would
not distort my face and forgiveness would
be part of my unconscious nature.
 
when the toilet floods I would laugh
and I would be grateful for the great loves I have.
 
there would be no fear of doing good
and I would kiss the faces of my enemies with pleasure
and with quiet wonder.
 
 
 
Door With No Dreams
 
 
The braid is made
of thorns and weeds.
The last brutal kiss is locked
tight in my throat. Breathing is
hard, as is smiling at the one
who rules with guilt.
I count four windows with
no opening. I place my
hands on the back of a cloud,
and know the cloud is all that I see.
 
 
 
 
 
The Bane of My Hypocrisy
 
 
Point – a head twisted backwards,
gazing with upside-down eyes
at the rainy world, a tightly woven
madness that is interrupted at the moment
of release, beauty recovered
but broken before experienced – an acorn
crushed by a car wheel – the treacherous and
oblivious – a candle looked at but never lit.
It is the time of a baby’s teething, when pain drools out in
a flooding aftermath of unnameable agony.
This is the child who
has no use for the outside world. This is me curled into
a dull surrender – unsure if there is a next move,
if there will be a time when I can rid myself of the bile
filling my belly – the corporate pimps and sluts, the self-
important money-makers, the big little people,
these devil’s minions who try to bury me in their fear
and their soulless security, panting at my doorstep
with their sewn-on smiles and breath
of fresh infant’s blood.
 
 
 
 
In Perspective
 
 
Watching with chaos
rampant in my head, the unbroken
bread leaves me dreamless.
But that will be for now and though
grace is dim, it is near like the ghost
of a dead loved one. The wind warns me
to keep breathing. These bleak months will
work themselves into a monumental miracle,
and every gesture I do today will paint my
room new for tomorrow. In all the places
that count, joy will be fed. It says
humble your sail and drift with the hungry tide.
It says, hold this sand and plan your next
sculpture. Soon these cruel days
will be a grain lost
beneath some ageless waters.
 

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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 1000 poems published in more than 410 international journals and anthologies. Her book Somewhere Falling was published by Beach Holme Publishers, a Porcepic Book, in Vancouver in 1995. Since then she has published twelve other books of poetry and seven 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 December 2012. In 2014 her chapbook Surrogate Dharma was published by Kind of a Hurricane Press, Barometric Pressures Author Series. In 2015, her book No Raft – No Ocean was published by Scars Publications. More recently, her book Make the Wind was published in 2016 by Scars Publications. As well, her book Trial and Witness – selected poems, was published in 2016 by Creative Talents Unleashed (CTU Publishing Group). She is a vegan. She lives in Toronto with her family. She also sculpts, working with clay; www.allisongrayhurst.com

B Bryon

dad.

 
 
I remember watching ‘Empire Strikes back’
with my dad for the first time
That scene appeared
where Darth Vader ask Luke to join him and rule the galaxy
I turned and looked at my dad and said
I would have so joined him.
My dad’s face red
his teeth crooked
he screamed –
do you want to go to hell?
that’s where Darth Vader is going … he’s going to hell!
my dad danced out of the room
i looked around for him
trying to explain
that it wasn’t Darth Vader I wanted to join …
it was him.