Paul Tanner

stuck in

this couple across the street,

they’re having it out:

she’s telling HIM to find work.

he’s telling HER to find work.

pretty mundane modern shit really.

he punched her in the tit

and she kicked him in the knee …

after a bit

he staggers across the road

and he says: can you believe her?

she’s out of order, isn’t she?

and before I can say anything

he yells over: there! see! he agrees with me!

WHAT? she steps into the road – 

cars swerve around her as she marches over –

the hate in her eyes for

me,

it feels like she’s known and hated me all my life,

like I’m married to her too,

albeit in a

mercifully sexless marriage …

I should tell her that.

J.T. Whitehead

Sgt. Pain exercises his right to petition the government to keep strip clubs open

Pain thought the economy was being
Shut down for no good reason: a disease.
Logic was unaffected by dying
Americans: “There’s no reason to cease

Doing business at restaurants, and
Doing business at barber shops, and
Doing business at theaters, and
Doing business at tattoo parlors.”

“Why should bankers, lawyers, and realtors
Be the only ones to survive the ban?”
He wrote, to his Mayor, Governor, and
His statehouse, Senator, and Congressman.

In his call for well-being, he mentioned
The strippers, adding that “they also spend.”

He and the President shared this same thirst:
Thinking the economy should cum first.

Doug Stuber

Rural Myth

After I skate off the last edge, bump into rough treatment,

fall off the cliff, the steady thump of boots-to-trail awakens

that spark, as I push up through bedrock, a lakebed

awaiting, through rocks, some shale, to start my frantic

swim to the surface where air stimulates: I feel the cold

water once life returns, but what did I learn buried so far,

sniffing the salt caves, alone at my age, noticeably nude

as I beat hypothermia to the leaf-barren trees, not yet

budding in the brisk new spring? Is there a precocious four

leaf clover rising at Onanda, the pine tree girl’s camp

turned into pristine, simple, non-electrified cabin resort? Is it

quick to be lost, cherished then missed by the heart of an

11-year-old boy, who, not having pets, wants to preserve it,

the fruition of a joke come true? “I see a four-leaf clover,”

he says, then reaches down and finds one to pick at once.

He’s not afraid to hand it to me, but, embarrassed by nudity,

I hand it back, borrow a towel, scamper to shelter, try to

find a phone, to remember the number of someone I knew

thirty years ago who might give up their sail, fish, swim,

trilobite hunt to take a funny trip to a clothing store, for starters.

Ian Copestick

   A Bad Juggler

I know there’s
something wrong
with me, but I
don’t know what.
All I know is that
I’m losing touch
with more and
more of my
emotions every
single day. It
scares me, but
what can I do ?
What could I
even say ? Who
the Hell would I
say it to anyway ?
I’m falling out with
my family, my wife.
It feels like I’m losing
control of my life.
I’ve known only
too well the pain
of depression, but
it doesn’t feel like
that, to me. I’ve
tried self-diagnosis,
but my suggestions
are way off, as far
as I can see. Drink
or drugs can’t be
the reason I’m losing
my compassion, and
empathy. Maybe in
the past, but those
days have passed,
now they don’t really
affect me.
Whatever it is, I’m
struggling, I’m starting
to dislike myself.
My pain, my emotions
I’m juggling, I’m
dropping the balls,
it’s not good for my
health.

Paul Tanner

“poem”

the fuck is this?

these here spikes

of words

coming out from

the left of the page?

this quest for

the next line

this quest for

THE line:

that one solid spike

of words

tighter

than a banjo string.

tighter

than your daughter.

indestructible lines.

lines carved forever

into the stone

of the page.

never for money,

always for love

… unlike your daughter.

seriously, what’s it all about?

I don’t know.

but if you do it

right,

you can get away with it

even if

you’re not actually

saying anything

about anything.

apart from your daughter,

of course.

Dr. Randall Rogers

A Hairy Loss

I can’t see for miles and miles,
anymore,
and I get freaked out
on details,
it is sort of like Kerouac said,
while trying to write “Memory Babe”
“The story is in the details,
and damn it I can’t remember them.”
And, commenting on Allen Ginsberg,
he declared Ginsberg was
little more than
“a hairy loss”.

Oscar Wild

Geez, I started getting
right with me dying
alone and stinky
unfound
in my early fifties.
And I watched older people
and saw how they reacted
when one of their group
died.

And I thought, wow, isn’t
it great that studies have
shown when you’re freaked
and freaking out you’re
losing your mind, it is not a
prelude to actually,
spontaneously, losing
your mind.
On the contrary, one eases
into mindlessness, and no
no one became senile
ever panic attack freaked
out about their thoughtless
slide into the abyss.
Of Satan.

Mindful Numbness

Oh shit,
redirect,
stop the too much
detail-notice
minute differences
uber-real,
and nip in the
half sentence
the intrusive/automatic
thoughts or
internal dialogue,
that sooner
than later
usually
may spiral down
soar in mis-judgment
and bring you
to where all is nonsense
seems a pity
and you wonder
feeling this bad
every sleepless waking
hour of life and is
it worth it? Appears, the
only way to stop
the most
horrible brain pain
is to act yourself
on yourself,
to ensure, Earthly
non existence.
Where all
the needless suffering
seems a colossal waste
and a pity
considering your
correct thought
non-rumination
very real philosophical and
problem solving
potential,
if you can ever get
over your present
condition.
Bet your bomb shelters
Marxist-Leninism
will rise again
in 2030 CE.

Paul Tanner

SPIN (or: super marketing for super marketeers in the supermarket)

you can’t refund her.

she shows you some cleavage.
she gives you compliments.
she runs her hand up and down your leg.
but you still can’t refund her.

next, she tries crying:
please! she begs. please, I’m a single mother
and I need the money! don’t you care at all?

and yet, you still can’t refund her.
so now come the insults:
petty little man. petty bitter little man,
bitter just because you
just work in a shop!

surprisingly, this doesn’t alter the refund policy either
so this is where she enters her political phase:
traitor! scumbag jobsworthy!
doing the dirty work for big business!
enabling companies to rip us off like this!

but still, STILL
you are incapable of granting her a refund
and now we move onto the threats:
my fellah’s gonna get you! she vows.
you wouldn’t last two minutes against my fellah!
like to see you tell HIM no! he’s put his prison days behind him,
but he loves me, he does!

alas, her current concubine’s violent attributes
do nothing to shape the refund policy
so now we move onto the final stage:
a nice bit of parting violence:
she jabs a finger into you,
she shoves you,
maybe throws a pen, or a stack of brochures
or whatever handy implement happens to be on the counter
at you
then storms out in a rage,
out, she storms, raged in outrage.

it’s all over, right?
well, no, because
aha! she has one final trick up her sleeve:
the online review:

turns out
YOU were inappropriate to her!
YOU insulted her!
YOU threatened her!
and YOU were the one who got violent towards her!
hashtag metoo!

you could’ve sworn it went down
differently
but hey
what do you know?
after all, you
just
work in a shop

and let’s not forget
that you’re bitter about it, too
for some reason.

challenges 1a, 1b and 1c

he was leaning over the counter
jabbing you with his finger
and calling you stupid
because you couldn’t reduce the price of something.

hey, the customer next to him says, leave off him.

the guy leaning over the counter,
he sneers
at you both
and walks out,
taking his finger and overpriced groceries with him …

thanks, you tell the guy who defended you.

why didn’t you just tell him where to get off? he asks you.

not allowed to, you say, as you start scanning his stuff:

beep. beep.

says who?

everyone, you shrug. if I fight back, he’ll tell my boss I’m picking on him.
he’s still gonna complain anyway. he’ll probably say
I got other customers to “gang up on him” or something …

oh, well sorry for trying to help you! he says.
ungrateful little …

… what? you look up at him.
I’m an ungrateful little … what?

but he just sneers,
pays for his stuff and leaves …

the next customer steps up.
something in the air today, isn’t there? she says

and once again
you are at a loss
for ways to safely respond
without offending
the customer

so you don’t:
you just give a noncommittal half shrug,
an indifferent half smile

and you carry on scanning:

beep. beep.

hey, she says. I’m talking to you!
you deaf or something?

Daniel S. Irwin

Mutant

Yeah, guess I’m a mutant, man.
I’ve often heard the phrase,
“Danny, you ain’t right.”
Mighta had something to do
With that bullet hole in my helmet.
Wasn’t nothin’ I planned on.
Some people say I’m just lucky.
Close calls been a regular thing.
But, I’m still here far as I know.
I found Jesus in the South of France.
I often confuse it with Mississippi.
Don’t know what He was doin’ there.
He didn’t say; I didn’t ask.
It’s always best not to fuck with Jesus.
I been in this institution a long time.
Where the hell’s my diploma?
Not sure what’s happenin’ here.
Strapped down, doped up most days.
Sometimes thoughts come jumbled up
Bad as Frankenstein’s dog.
Weird mutt, chihuahua with
Spare parts from a gelding.
Poor little fella draggin’ his
New nuts in the dirt.
Oh shit! Those look familiar.

College Days

I think back on my days at college.
Days of financial struggle before
All those easy-to-get student loans
That lead to a life of payback slavery.
Days passed without a decent meal.
Me and my homeboys hit the bars
Livin’ on free popcorn and beer
Snitched from untended pitchers.
Eat too much, drink too much
And ya see it later when upchucked.
My pal, Stormy, said that was like
Rippin’ sandpaper up the throat.
Stormy was cool, laid back, easy goin’.
His buddy, Paul, would always challenge him
To a contest of what he called ‘pig stickin’.
Pig stickin’, a game of who could get
The biggest, ugliest woman, take her home,
Eat the snatch, and put the meat to her.
It was a joke, and Stormy never caught on.
He was proud that he always won.
If he was like an Old West gunslinger,
He’d be runnin’ outta room for all
The notches he’d have on his gun.
We thought it was funny….until we realized
He was the only one gettin’ laid on a regular basis.

Paul Tanner

the logic of my class

the queue is too long.
there’s only one person serving.
who do you complain to?
while some supermarket shareholder
oils up a prepubescent rent boy
in a sunny tax haven,
the money he saves
enough to pay
for 10 more workers,
who do you complain to?
the rent boy braces himself
as the shareholder’s baby mushroom
pops in

as you have a go at
the only person serving
for being
the only person serving

and the queue gets longer
and nothing changes
but the width of the rent boy’s colon,
nothing changes
but the hatred
the only person serving
has for you:
hate,
swelling like the shareholder’s baby mushroom,
hate,
swollen like your hate
for the only person serving.

the blessed sickness

have her touch you.
have the female customer
shove you
because you can’t give her a refund.
have her shove you and declare
my name is Joanne Maddox
and I’m a victim of the male patriarchy!
have a phone.
have Facebook.
have your Facebook app hear her
say her own name
and then recommend her to you
as a potential friend.
stupidly click on her profile,
out of a curiosity most morbid
and marvel at her feckless newsfeed:
see it full of pro-working-class declarations,
about how she hates the capitalist hierarchy,
about how she’d never use big business
to hurt the little people
oh no, not her
that’s just what evil men do
to women, isn’t it?
and then puke,
puke on her hypocrisy
and wipe the green gut lining
from your chin
and concede:
you’re actually glad you met her:

now you can call in sick
tomorrow.

Michael Ceraolo

Stan Musial

I didn’t feud with sportswriters
I didn’t make obscene gestures at fans
I didn’t marry an actress or movie star
I didn’t play in New York
If I’m remembered at all,
it is for my unusual peek-a-boo batting stance
But in hitting, as with many other things,
it’s not how you start but how you finish,
and I finished in the hitting position
often enough to have as much success
as just about anyone else has ever had