Howie Good

The Speech Police

What was protocol when I went to sleep may be heresy by the time I wake up. I live in dread of undergoing medieval rites of purification – having, for example, fire applied to the penis and the tip of the tongue. My words once had the force of acts. Now my voice comes out hesitant, muffled. I can almost feel the police hiding nearby, just waiting for me to trip on a forbidden phrase or state an unwelcome opinion. Space and light are shrinking. Where there was the peal of bells, there is only the squeak of history’s hinges.

J. Archer Avary

UNI-EAGLE

homage paid
to the motherland
an inspired creation
becomes ubiquitous
standard bearer

who becomes
arbiter of authenticity
rooster or eagle?
reptilian DNA reveals
a shared ancestry

two characters
in the Sunday sermon
the human ego identifies
with the soaring eagle
it so wants to fly

Charles J. March III

Oysters Rockefeller

The world is my oyster, but it needs blandishments to make it bearable. Life is just too raw. Only the Rockefellers of the world can have their oysters in such a way, whereas I’m left to toil in the sour blood, sweat, and tears of Tabasco. Even before I was a pearl in my Father’s protandric eye, I was spat out of his gash, and had to cling to survive. Call me an oyster crab, but I’m just venting through a bivalve. I wonder if my pedantically placed irritants will ever get a salve. Since I was dredged from the bottom of my demure demesne, I’ve been consumed for acts some consider profane. The sails in my sloop are still trying to unfurl; Oh shucks, whatever, I’ll still give life a whirl. And maybe, who knows, I’ll string together some nacre. Or I’ll denounce depuration, and be judged by my maker.

J.J. Campbell

like the war has never ended

the dying light
means something
completely different
when you are depressed

and on nights like these

the humid air surrounding
the house like the war
has never ended

loneliness on the verge
of winning the last fight
you may ever have

pour a glass of something
strong and get pen and
paper ready

this note may take the
dawn to complete

Daniel S. Irwin

Heard The Call

Yeah, I done heard the call
And got ordained on-line.
I ain’t whatcha would call religious,
In fact, heathen, infidel, and pagan
Might be more descriptive.
But to keep the Jesus people
Off my back, I got myself ordained
And got the ordination certificate
Hangin’ on my wall. Looks good
In its beautiful Dollar Store frame.
Quite unique. Impresses my friends.
Confounds the Mormon boys.
Sanctifies the orgies.
Yes sir, I’m an ordained minister
Of a very select organization.
Shoot, I bet Billy Graham didn’t
Even have an ordination certificate
From the Church of Beer.

Sweet Lust In The Saloon

He first spied his true love
On the bar room floor.
Jell-O shots and flaming hookers
Had taken their toll.
She had a particular radiance
With the pizza-like vomit
Crusting in her two-tone hair.
She looked up at him and smiled.
Then, adjusted her upper plate,
And looked up and smiled again.
It was pure passion.
He was the tallest man
She had ever seen…
From that perspective.
She wrapped her arms
Around his leg trying
To climb to her feet.
JoJo, ever the gentleman,
Unzipped his fly and presented
A handle to aid her endeavor.

Dan Sicoli

dream off taenarum street

from the shadowed storefront
long vacated
he beckoned

said he had this head
of a woman
he wanted
to sell

in from out
of the light
i hesitantly approached

it was in a sack
on the front seat
of his sedan
parked curbside
he spoke with a strange accent
as he moved toward it

like him
the car was
foreign
out of place
in need of a wash

i noticed his ears bristled
with more hair
than anyone i’ve ever known

what would i do
with it? i asked
just as he opened the door

imaginative people
would kill
to get their hands
on this precious treasure, he said
with a lascivious grin

stressing his asking price
was half
the head’s full value
he baited curiosity
please, come take a peek

people love a sinner
so i walked over like a river
bleeding into a bloated ocean

he hugged the bag close
to his chest as if holding a baby
then opened it slightly
my eyes widened
like a young boy’s at the circus

when a police cruiser passed by
like rolling tumbleweed
i shortened myself on the cusp
yet he didn’t even flinch

and though the clock
on the bank sign
blinked an illogical time
my toe began to itch in my shoe
yet i didn’t walk away

what was her
name? i asked

name? you want a name?
there are no names in
this business

this is a business?!!
the marketing
of women’s heads?

oh, my dear comrade
you are so naïve
but such is your way
i hold in my hands
the deal of a lifetime
and you only offer me questions

perhaps, he went on, you would
like to
touch it before
you make a purchase
maybe that will quell
your doubts

he opened the bag wider
the repulsive stench traumatized my nose
though he remained unfazed

no no i don’t need or want
to touch it
but shouldn’t it be
encased in ice?

more questions
why? she can no longer sense pain
this cloth satchel is enough

i sized him as a goldbricker
low-balled him with a handful
of petty coins

he slapped my hand
with an upward swing
and the metallic tokens flew out
like electric sparks
glinting in the brilliance of a boring sun

you know nothing of
business, my friend
you are a coward
and a philistine, he berated
and spat at my feet
as loose change rolled
across the hot cement
like fleeing kitchen roaches
seeking the darkest crevices

Tony Brewer

Our Solemn Debris 


In the quiet of the evening of the end
with the sidewalks empty and traffic nonexistent
one by one neighbors wheel separate trash and
recycling totes to the curb automatically
trained and uniform as their gray and yellow bins
 
We are keeping it together one foot from the street and
at least four feet apart so tomorrow morning
the mechanical arm of the upgraded trucks
can grip with assurance and hoist
receptacles like whiskey shots
 
knocking back into a wet brown gob  
compacted toasts for every human
the virus tucks away behind nuclear doors
inwardly thrashing with panic yet calm
enough to save reusables from a landfill fate

Anthony Dirk Ray

Left Blank

a catawampus catastrophe

one in which all hope is depleted

an exorcising of ostentatious thought

all for naught

upheaval of mindset blackness

cast away far fetched fascinations

only to reveal themselves as reality

oh to feel satisfied

oh to feel anything

oh to feel again

if only once more

the lips of a lover

the death of a loved one

trying to take it all in

and make sense of it

for one day 

we all will experience

the loneliness inside a buried box

A Spurious Spectacle

a mosquito hawk walks across the table

as stir-fry is on the stove

my glass is not yet empty

so I’ll attempt to write something

a pretentious

fantastical

far-fetched 

show about one guy trying to find

love from 30 or so different women

is on the television in the next room

this show has always struck me as

implausible and doltish

we are giving one man

30 women to choose from

all bidding for attention and

throwing themselves at him

such a foolhardy and asinine scenario

this show that numerous women watch

baffles me because this same man

on any given Saturday night 

would bend over backwards to 

bend over any one of these women

but now because of the cameras

and game show backdrop

he is king shit with the king dick

able to choose his perfect mate

but in actuality

a man goes out hoping he gets to fuck

a woman leaves the house

knowing whether or not 

she is getting fucked

it’s just so disheartening and counterfeit

my drink is drained

the stir-fry needs to be stirred

the mosquito hawk is nowhere in site

Ian Copestick

   The Little Drinking Imp

My mum’s family is from Ireland
maybe that’s how I got the curse.
The one that they are famous for,
that legendary Irish thirst.

But my dad’s dad was a  drinker,
and he was from Stoke On Trent.
I’ve heard he sang, and danced on tables,
in every pub he went.

It’s always been part of my thinking,
and at times it can get rough.
Whenever I start drinking,
I’ve never had enough.

I’ll drink till I’m unconscious,
make a fool out of myself.
It doesn’t do much for my confidence,
or my physical and mental health.

I just can’t seem to fight it,
in my mind is a thirsty, little imp.
He leaps around and gets excited,
whenever I start to drink.

He keeps on calling for more and more,
and he never, ever stops.
He says things that I can’t ignore,
and keeps on until I drop.

I’ve got to find a way to kill him,
or gain the strength of mind
to show that I am willing
to leave him far behind.

I’ve got to kill the little shit,
show him that it’s over.
Show him I can’t be messed with,
show that I can stay sober.

James Thurgood

disclaimer

     this is about another man’s love

my passion having dissipated

      long ago – I choose to blame

the myriad annoyances

     of domestic bliss

but it must have been before

between drinks and hangovers

     that I made my compromise with life –

a big word I was once advised

to avoid like death as no one believes

     you know what they mean

but like an inebriated mariner

     with an incomprehensible yarn

I will keep you here

     outside the wedding feast

and maybe that’s my real purpose

     but maybe it isn’t

and that hope too we share

     as if it were the last

drop of water on earth

     and our two tongues

in tasting its final sweetness

     taste each other

           finally