Jack Henry

the square 

a gaggle of kids squawk and chirp into the night air, 

smoke weed and wave at cops shyly passing by. 

 

tired and bored i sit down with them. 

a pretty girl, with long legs and spider tattoos, 

sits next to me, puts her hand on my shoulder, 

 

says, wanna get high? 

i say, i’m always high. 

she says, cool man. i’m Tammy. 

i say, wanna get warm 

 

she smiles, nods, says, ya cool 

and lets me take her hand. 

 

we walk across the street and up the stairs to the Hotel Arcata. 

strip naked, crawl into bed, and blissfully fall asleep. 

 

dinner out 

my kid and i sit 

in a beer hall 

wait on a waitress 

to take an order. 

 

kid uses the men’s room 

that’s a new experience 

transitioning 

i have to check it first 

to make sure it’s safe 

cuz shit happens in Arcata 

if you don’t how to act 

or where to go after dark. 

 

i tip the waitress big 

with money i borrowed 

from a dead-end 401k 

and she sneaks us 

into a live streaming 

of a local band. 

 

my kid knows the bass player, 

which makes sense. 

my kid seems to 

know everyone in Arcata. 

 

we get the boot 

after hanging around too long 

and walk outside, 

back into the cold night air 

where our breath lingers 

long into the night 

 

and Tammy walks up 

saying, hey baby it’s awful 

cold. 

 

 

eating a sandwich in a bar at a distance 

i wander into a dimly lit bar 

order a double diet and bourbon 

Ian places a tumbler in front of me 

10 bucks 

 

okay 

want something to eat? 

 

i order a roast beef sandwich 

and a side of tatter-tots 

 

Ian clears a spot 

on the other side of the bar 

sprays it down with 

disinfectant 

says, here you go 

 

Krystal Something 

brings a plate, sets it 

in front of me 

asks where i am from 

i say the Hotel Arcata 

she asks if i’m passing 

through 

 

i don’t know, i say 

i just don’t 

Alan Catlin

Winter’s Bone

If she actually had a picture

in the high school yearbook,

it would have shown a tall,

maybe one hundred pound,

flat chested girl with a half dozen

clearly visible homemade tattoos

suggesting a like amount of ink

in places no one was ever likely to

see this side of an autopsy table.

Where her full name and activities

should have been listed would be

a single phrase in quotes, “Bones”.

Activities: None

Awards: None

Voted most likely to die before

the age of 30 of an overdose.

Unanimously.

Ten years later she is still kicking,

barely, though, if anything, she’d

lost weight on her special Organ

Failure Diet that ages one double time,

guarantees hair loss and sallow,

sagging, discolored skin.

She won’t smile since she lost

most of her teeth, only opens

her mouth to insert cigarette,

light, inhale, exhale, and repeat when

necessary. 

She still hangs by the old

school as that is where her best

customers/ suppliers hang. 

Might even have graduated if she’s

Actually, gone to class as they were

putting everyone through as long as

their names appeared on an attendance

sheet in order to score more state aid. 

Everyone is hooked on something

these days.

J.J. Campbell

from some other century

the rain hitting the

roof feels like how

she used to move

her tongue down

your spine

she had the greenest

eyes you had ever

seen

smoked her cigarettes

like some queen from

some other century

she always promised

she would come see

you long before the

sad inevitable end

she died in the arms

of her other lover

the needle still

dangling

heroin said i do

before i ever

got the chance

Judge Santiago Burdon

Heaven Is A Dive Bar In Tucson   

Heaven is a dive bar in Tucson,

just past the Pac’em in Steakhouse on Drachman, once  called Miracle Mile, the street name was changed, a place where nobody knows your name.

Neon odor of a whiskey jukebox, scratching memories of the 70’s 

on warped 45’s, no way to tell what song you choose, there’s no labels for the selections, bar stools with exhausted foam padding, has the ass impression on the seat, of the last person who sat there, there’s the one beer sign, with the light that flickers, resonating a low hum refusing to die, an outdated beer slogan ‘If you’ve got the time we’ve got the beer” advertising a brand the bar doesn’t serve, red vinyl booths in a horseshoe shape, placed around tables with matchbooks under the legs to keep them level, a single bulb hangs from an electric cord, a fake plastic cover made to look like stained glass, above a pool table with a once green felt top, 

now stained from spilled drinks, and burns from cigarettes left too long between shots, pool cues made from crooked trees, no need to chalk up, there’s no tip on the end, the bathroom doors have no locks, the mirrors are broken and no paper towels or blower, one of the two urinals is covered in plastic, with an”Out of Order” sign, that is ignored and gets pissed in anyway, I don’t remember there ever being a toilet seat, but there is a condom machine, the dingy floor made up of twelve by twelve mismatched and different colored tile, where drunks and defeated fighters have fallen,

as well as an occasional glass, I’m sure it  hasn’t been mopped in years, cheeseburgers and grilled cheese the only items on the menu, the bartender usually says they’re out of what you want, but they have the same beer on tap they’ve had for years,

pictures of possibly everyone whose shadow has graced the doorway, are pasted on the walls,

mine is there somewhere, I’ve never checked to see, I was probably drunk at the time, God lives on the premises, in a room near the front door, always with a smile as  your blessing, I’d invite you to come on by for a beer or two, you might get branded with a likeness of God,

but Heaven is closed, I’m sorry to say, it had a good run, maybe I’ll look for a dive bar in hell.

John D. Robinson

TASTE

I could sense the

evening slipping

into my glass

like a diamond

ring onto a

slender finger,

like our lives

forever slipping

away from

the light:

I lifted the glass

and drank

deep and could

taste the

breath of a

neglected

poet

perched on the

words of a

promise,

I drained the

glass and knew

that I had

known of the

end from

the

beginning,

the bitterest

of tastes.

Ian Copestick

Spring Mornings

I wake each day
to the sun shining
brightly through
the curtains of our
bedroom.
I turn over, say
‘Good morning, babe. ‘
to my wife.

Then I sleepily walk
downstairs, pour a
saucer of milk for our
beautiful black cat,
Ebony, as she purrs,
and purrs, and purrs
rubbing around my
ankles.
I make my coffee so
strong that the spoon
could stand up in it,
pour my wife a glass
of fresh orange juice,
and walk back upstairs
to watch TV.

I roll a cigarette, pull
the smoke hungrily
down into my lungs.
Just like the first drink of
the day, the first cigarette
is the best.
On weekdays there’s
nothing but comedies
on until nearly midday.
‘ Cheers’, ‘ Everybody
Loves Raymond’, then a
hour and a half of ‘ Frasier.’
It’s fantastic to slowly
wake to the sound of
laughter.
As long as it’s not aimed
at you.

I love the mornings, the
day is fresh, still alive with
promise.
It could be the best day of
your life.
Nothing has happened
yet to spoil it.
Yet.

I think that sunny, early
mornings may be the happiest
I ever get. 

Donna Dallas

Dirt bag

Cinderella wanna be

blue eyes

with thick black

tire-track circles layin

right under

Where’d the boys go?

lift your skirt send them running

as if you had a hairy penis

what would they do with your clit anyways??

scrawny numbskulls

couldn’t caress a peach let alone a golden box

want them

to want you but you don’t even know why

or who

all of them perhaps

the whole pimply awkward lot of them

They’ll run home and tell everyone

what a white trash whore you are

with your dirty panties

blackened feet

and ankles

as if they actually saw your panties close up

wretched boys

saw their own boners

rise in the blistering August sun

Roosters pecked

hens clucked

your virgin bones

ached for attention

your dumb ass thought that’s what you were

supposed to do

to summon men

men baby, men

boys will crumble

men will hold you

drop you later

You’re so in need of a daddy

there ain’t been one since you was

born and you can’t ‘member him

or his beautiful face

if there ever was one

had to have been

or your skinny ass wouldn’t be

you try with your wretched self to

seduce

without a real understanding of what that

word means

But lordy

when you finally grasp hold of it

on the rim of sixteen

working in Key Food Supermarket

tall

blonde

and fresh like a newborn

you finally know

your little peach

is the end all

as they line up now

beg to touch it

Jason Ryberg

Big Mutant Buzzard Motherfuckers

for John Dorsey

There’s what, maybe 9, 10, 11 of those big

mutant buzzard motherfuckers up there

at the top of the rise of HWY D (right there,

where 705 becomes the road to Methlehem),

and they’re chowing down on whatever it was

that had the misfortune of failing to deftly

side-step out of the way, when it became clear

that the theory of the unstoppable force and

the immovable object was about to be put to

the test for real, out here, some early evening,

right about sundown, or late moonlit night, even,

when there’s more deer than cars and so, for the

last couple of days, has been a regular all you can

eat buffet for this wandering tribe of old monks. 

Frederick Pollack

Sighting

Someone’s cousin intermittently

appeared in that pre-virus family

swarm. Obese; complexion

ineffectively concealed; party dress

another burden; the genes

behind the face precluding [“conventional,”

you’re supposed to say “conventional”

or “accepted”] beauty. Furtively checked

(“it’s impolite!”) her phone

to see how she was currently being mocked.

Boys wandered, bored, from aunt to uncle,

who asked in effect if they were already

millionaires; she watched. Country club …

was there an outside,

or way or desire to get there? Nameless

familiar horror of being noticed and

of not. Worse horror of advice;

and what could mine have been? My dear,

a science-fiction writer of the ‘50s

told me that somewhere in the galaxy

lives someone lonelier than you.

Julene Tripp Weaver

The Photoshoot I Desired A Lifetime Ago

I wanted a session with Mapplethorpe

wanted to be draped in a long silken

cloth, lying against his naked body,

a brick backdrop wall

in an East Village

loft walk-up.

Wanted to be up against his tattoos—

like Patti Smith curled into him.

I’d never be next to her, wasn’t that

what always got me into trouble—

loving a girl too much

who didn’t want me.

The nude photoshoot I did do

was shot by two gay men. Naked

up against a random dick—I don’t remember

his name, it doesn’t matter—who would have

mattered was Robert 

and vicariously, Patti,

definitely Patti.