Anthony Dirk Ray

Essentials

this coronavirus called COVID-19

hasn’t been good for my creativity as of late

my hats off to all still pushing words

I am deemed having an ‘essential’ job

so I have to leave the house daily

and enter into a real life zombie land

while my stepson and wife remain at home

that in itself is enough to drive me mad

that I could bring some bullshit back home to them

with my wife having pre-existing conditions

and a weakened immune system

I feel like a diseased carrier

every time I break the plane of the door

this shit is making everyone OCD

people with it before must now feel a sense of justification

I am sanitizing my hands, keys, phone

wallet, debit card, door knobs

hell, I’m even sanitizing my hand sanitizer bottle

when all of this started there was a run on toilet paper

you couldn’t find it anywhere

my local government closed all ‘non essential’ businesses

including numerous liquor stores

and rumor had it that more would be shut down

now I’m all for limiting the spread of the disease

but I have to take a stand at some point

I can wash my ass off with water in the backyard

but I cannot distill my own whiskey

J.T. Whitehead

A Baker God?

– After reading Giambattista Vico.

1.

Christ had twelve.
Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, James, Thaddeus,
Simon
. . . &, of course, Judas.

2.

Arthur had twelve.
Galahad, Colgrevance, Perceval, Bohort, Gawain, Galegantin, Kay, Moraunt, Tristram,
Palamedes, Breuse
. . . &, of course, Launcelot.

3.

Even Lenin had twelve.
Bukharin, Trotsky, Kamenev, Volodarsky, Rykov, Zinoviev, Blyukher, Shaumyan,
Sverdlov, Tukhachevsky, Molotov
. . . &, of course, Stalin.

4.

Dear God, let us find, already among us,
to save us from those who have screwed us,
yet another one, plus twelve.
Amen.

5.

Dear God, on Second Thought . . .
Perhaps this time, make it eleven . . .
as opposed to your most generous twelve . . .
Amen.

Dan Provost

Living Irregularly (the Who Keeping me Company)

Please pass the aggression to me;
Pete, Roger and Keith—

Smash your equipment.
Feel my disease.

Growing within septic
soundbites—spewing
crashing cymbals
through my twenty
buck speakers.

I kind of want to
buck the system,

Break the news that
my services here on
this dinghy rock called
something by many,

Is no longer required.

Because my dreams
are empty Mr. Townsend,

No more considerations
of job,
of status,
of playing out the
clues provided
by a thought out guitar
chord, a note written
to carve my soul into
Bits and pieces of

nothing.

So, crank up another
beer Roger.

Get the mirror and
snort another line…

The snow outside is
falling at an inch per hour…

And I have the next two
days off…

I have all night to
criticize my being…

Keep the TV on low
and listen to The Who by Numbers…
Until Dr. Jimmy needs to
be contacted again.

John Grey

WHY JESSIE DOESN’T LEAVE THE HOUSE

To leave the house

is to risk

the bird shit from the sky,

to be flacked white

at intervals.

And then there’s the rain

washing away

the poop

but not content

to leave it at that,

drenching the body

right to the skin.

And then some stranger whispers

“Why don’t you come inside

and take off those wet things.”

To leave the house

is to risk it all

in the house of another.

Brian Rihlmann

PLAIN GIRL, UNKNOWN

Before work, parked in the back
corner of the lot, he spills another
load into a sock he uses for the
purpose, dreaming of pornstar
bodies and red lips.

He’s 25 and 300 pounds…
likes his video games.
Football. NASCAR.
Never been laid, but
it seems overrated anyway.

He wipes himself off, tosses
his whore into the pile
of fast food wrappers
on the passenger side,
then grunts his way out.

He shuffles toward the
grey building, toward
another 10 hour day
of packing boxes.

As he settles in, a plain girl at a
nearby station smiles at him,
but he looks away.
He doesn’t know her name.

Wayne F. Burke

Blow Me

I asked the wife to blow me
she said
blow yourself
I said
I can’t
she said
then get one of your girlfriends to do it
I said
I don’t have any you bitch
she laughed bitterly
said
who do you think you are fooling?

I wondered how much she knew and
how she came to know it–
I said
why would I have a girlfriend with you
around, honey?
She said
I don’t know MISTER, you tell me.

I hated that MISTER
hated those black knee-high boots she
sometimes wore
too
(they always meant trouble for me).

She stamped her foot and
threw her mane of auburn hair around
like a prima-donna racehorse in the gate
at Saratoga
she said
do not think you are getting away with anything
Mister! I can see right through you!

I asked the wife if she was comfortable
she said yes
as comfortable as I can be around you
I said
what does that mean
she said
figure it out yourself
I said
you bitch, I should
she said
should what?
I said I don’t know what
she said
how about you should wise-up a little?
I said
how about you should shut-up, a little?
She said
don’t tell me “shut-up,” who do you
think I am, one of your bimbos?
I said
my BIMBOS? Oh boy, you have really lost it!
She said
you think?
I said
yeah, you are gonzo, way out there…
She said
and how about you? Do you think you are “normal”?
I said
I never said I was
(whatever “normal” means)
she said
it means not you
I said
oh, it means you though, right?
She said
more so than you.
I said
do you know how idiotic you sound?
She said
me? Oh brother! You are something!
Said
people see through you from a mile away
and you don’t even know it!
I said
what the hell you talking about?
She said
wouldn’t you like to know?
I said
yeah, I would
she said
I bet you would
MISTER.

1st Book

since my book was published
I feel as if I have grown
an inch or two,
added an additional foot to my
intestines;
more hair,
harder fingernails,
a darker shadow;
the future has more substance,
I want to hurry it
into existence;
but I fear too
that
it will all end
abruptly
and I will be on my back
in a hospital bed
in Marsailles or
elsewhere
and still
unilluminated.

David Sprehe

red bug
on
rotten tree stump
covered in green moss
small yellow yellow flowers
everywhere birds
many birds surround
everywhere flowers
and singing birds
weak ships on horizon
mirrors
like an alien
huckle-wooing
a whale or something