Rob Plath

the unwanted cloak

while i shimmered
in the milky way
afloat unborn
my birth waited
like the gallows
& at last they
dragged me
to the apparatus
& looped a noose
over my silver hat
& the trap door
flapped its dark wing
& i dropped
into a bone-lined
cloak of terrible meat
dangling by a red greasy
braid of umbilical
my blue tongue unquiet

yr plans mean zero

first day of june
in the graveyard
6 feet above idle bones
little islands
of bustling anthills
dot the plots

Matthew Borczon

Santa hates the working man

At my job
they give you
100 dollars
for each of
you’re first
four donations
of plasma
as long as
your vitals
are within
an acceptable
range to donate
I laugh when
we call it a donation
since most people
only come for the money
two day before
Christmas and a
forty some year old
has a pulse rate
of 120 bpm
I joke and ask him
what he’s taking
and he says
I got fired
from my job
today  I worked
at that plant in town
that’s been on strike
for the last six months
the strike we settled
earlier this week
and today
I got fired for my part
in the whole thing

standard procedure
in my job at
the plasma center
is to offer a recheck
after the donor sits
for 15 minutes
so I ask him if
he has time to
wait around
to see if it will
come down
he says he is
pretty sure it
won’t not two
days before Christmas
not with having
three kids
and just as I
am deciding
I am just going
to change his
number just
pass him anyway
he sees it
in my eyes
and says don’t
no reason we
should both
be unemployed
at Christmas
then he walks
back to the lobby
and out the door
while I finish my shift

hating myself more
and more each
and every hour.

Emalisa Rose

Me and Bob, Joe and Marie

We sit like schlubs in the bleacher seats.

I should have married Joe.
Mother knew best.
We’d be in box seats; even better
those luxury boxes, with the giant TVs
appys and cocktails, elbows rubbed
with the ball players.

Instead I’m with Bob in the bleachers.

It’s loud and it smells; sun baking my head
beer spilled all over, by the fat drunk that leans on me.
Chick that he’s with, stinking like beans
and green onions.

Mother was right.
I’m hearing her voice now.
“You could love a rich, same as a poor man.”

But I missed the boat.
I married Bob. Joe married Marie.

Mom preferred Joe, but I sit here with Bob -
like two schlubs in the bleacher seats,
while Marie lives my best life.

Tampons and Tanqueray 

“Lay down with dogs, you’ll wake up
with puppies.”

“That slut in 4C, knocked up, having

“Ya gotta get in there, scrub like you mean
it, or your house will stay filthy”

Bernice of the lacquered up beehive, 
cracking her gum while opinning. And the

gals on the bench, while the men went to
work, living paycheck to paycheck, with the
dream to move up from the projects to suburbs.

South side of Queens, the ladies speak trash 
talk, tampons and Tanqueray, stuffed bras and
stuffed cabbage

making me wish, that I’d snuck out to Woodstock.

Daniel S. Irwin

Friday Night In Chicago

Friday night in Chicago, I head to the salsa bar.
I love the music and I love those Latin women,
Eventhough there’s always the threat of you
Getting your balls cut off…just a tradition.
The party is lively, the liquor flows freely.
And Juan says, “Let’s go home…Mejico.”
The plan:  load up on booze, drive all night,
Cross the border in the morning, get home,
Spend the day with the folks and drive back.
Seems a good idea to everybody.  My car, I drive.
Four amigos and me race south on Highway 57.
With any luck, John Law won’t slow us down.
It’s a fiesta party on wheels.  Music blasting,
Laughter, dead soldiers thrown out the window.
Fifty miles south, the inevitable starts to settle in.
Luis announces that he starts a new job Monday.
Paco says his sister said she could just watch
The kids overnight.  He needs to pick them up.
Martin calls them pussies, then starts to sober up.
To his horror, he realizes that he left his girlfriend
At the club with the wolves and no way home.
Juan don’t give a shit either way.  He just wants
Us to pull over somewhere so he can take a piss.
I stop for gas, turn the car around, head north.
No one seems to notice, they’re all too tired.
We reach the bar early evening.  Time to pay.
Paco’s sister had been calling the club all day.
He’s not in the ‘hot water’, he’s now in the fire.
Martin meets his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend.
Luis will make it to work, Juan buys another round.
Months later, after the memory of this fiasco fades,
We’ll be on the road again with the same result.

Stephen Jarrell Williams

"Coming to Your City"

Sky lit

distant shake
thunder bombs

you know
what's happening

odds are
you'll be deaf or dead

trees already filling
birds on every branch

city graffiti
soon blood wet

basements and tunnels
hopeful safety spots

metallic whistling
now overhead


even by those that don't

J.J. Campbell

the endless question of why
the darkness
surrounds you
all alone
just the quiet
and your thoughts
the endless
question of
the one question
your father never
could answer
the endless desire
to never be like him
and it's a subtle glance
into the mirror and you
can clearly see all the
evil you desperately
wanted to avoid
you refused to see
him before he died
your remaining years
will show you what
you missed

Abdulrazaq Salihu


I have lived long with dead people
Like colours of cloud

No, dead people.

How did you live with them
Too happy or not living, perhaps both

Why stay with them
I was not alive, anything could have pitied me.

Do you think you're alive now
I don't think I can talk about that.

Why did you leave them
They once, when so small,
Pushed me into mud and ruined my face.

Do you know how they are now
When the river dries,the land becomes road again.

Do you miss them
See, the falling of a leaf is worst than it's death.

Noel Negele


Too many sleepless nights
to count—
the dark circles under your
eyes become like
craters over time
which sucks cause
you’re no junky anymore
but you sure as hell
look like one
and in those awfully
slow hours of the nights
you rummage
through childhood memories
just to test
your memory’s span

and don’t let anyone
tell you they remember
as far back as four years old—
there’s no way of knowing
for sure
unless a parent puts a date
to your memory
but then again
parents lie all the time.

I mean you remember your first kiss
but you don’t really know
how young you were exactly
unless it happened in your teenage years
or even later on—
all you remember is her
chewing gum and spitting it
sideways in a vulgar way
before clasping her mouth
against your mouth
and how you thought
you were in love
right there and then.

The first fight
and the taste of blood
like a mouthful of
liquid rust on your tongue

the dog you killed
with negligence
and how fast a corpse
becomes stiff

the brain matter
you came across
on a street someone
was shot dead on
and how you almost
scooped it up
thinking it was mince for cooking
back then in a time
of civil war in a white
third world country

your dead father’s face
who was always absent
and who can now
only be visited upon
in retrospect

you browse your memories
almost teary-eyed
30 years old now
sitting by the window
unwillingly admitting to yourself
that the absence of a father
and a long string of bad stepfathers
might have something to do
with how fucked up you are

realizing for the first time
amongst other things
that a ticking clock
can sound deafening
when you’re alone

there’s no way in hell
you won’t be humbled by life
and if it hasn’t happened yet for you
it will happen soon enough

Sayani Mukherjee

Knitted Warmth

Part of the story lands in gaps
Somedays, a whirlwind
Of silhouettes
Mischievous, a creative zeal.
Unbuttoning the core
Is a spinning wheel
Onion like, wearing frames in

The humidity feeds
the sea fogged town
The night bugs keep
The sound feels warm
A finicky sensation
Buzzing each nerve
In unison-
A familiar nocturnal path.

There is no way to escape
What is my very own
I cannot just turn away
From looking
My mirror self, she keeps
The night window open.

When I keep my
Pawn in the game alive
I know it is small
But it pierces my own.
After closing the buttons one make
A warm embrace
Within, with my core
The inner furnishings longing
To look within
The mirror, a playful tapestry.

My hooded gaze
Needs a warm coat
The finished product is
A knitted muffler
Each intricate day
We jump out of the pawn
And at midnight
Look tomorrow's sun
Within our knitted warmth.