Michael Brownstein

THE TEXTURE OF DECAY

 

She knew her father by the length of his bones

and her mother by the way she only heard music in the noise of a crowded store.

Her husband hummed words through a chipped front tooth

his hands heavy with calluses, dew and rust.

When the thaw came, the river broke into boulders

and the great band of trees at its banks reddened into sunsets,

graying into evening, always more gray than the night before–

death does this to features around us, she thought,

death and fissures, wrinkles and nosebleeds.

Late in the morning she would stare at her hands,

still soft in the palms but curling into something else on their backsides.

She did not like the way they looked. I’m becoming bone too,

but my ears can recognize music from noise and my teeth remain strong.

In the evenings after the bleach left the trees,

she watched everything shadow around her, ice, roads, the river,

and she watched her skin change, tanning with the smell of decay.

Yet she continued, never looking back, and in the dusk of her life,

found herself on the porch at noon holding her man’s hand,

touching his scars and burned marks, his grains of strength.

 

George Anderson

I Wish I Lived in a Western Film

 

1

I wish I lived in a Western film-

but not in one of those sickly sweet

Hollywood spun yarns

where a stranger with a questionable past

rides into town

with a lame name like Matt or Shane or Lance

& who heroically,

and against all odds

guns down the black hatted villain

thereby saving society for the meek & the good.

 

2

I wish I lived in a Western film-

but not in one of those nihilistic spaghetti westerns

the sort where children are butchered in cold blood

where you cannot clearly tell the good from the bad

where cowboys with thick moustaches

speak hopelessly out of synch

and who kill & rape & pillage

because they love it

& who sneer and laugh as they slaughter innocent folk.

 

3

I wished I lived in a Western film-

but not in one of those self reflexive TV series

where cynicism and circumlocution triumph

where gratuitous violence and profanity

fight buck naked for commercial supremacy

where you can order on-line

celebrity coffee mugs, t-shirts & key rings

or chat or download endless streams of show gossip.

 

4

I wish I lived in a Western film-

I’d wear a tweed hat and suave blue jeans

there’d be no need for guns or horses or whores

or saloon brawls or showdowns.

 

There’d only be me, my partner and our quest for unanimity

and like Browning and Yeats

we’d  inherit fabulous wealth

and we’d settle down onto our ranch

grow non-GM and chemically free crops

and paint & com

pose

co n tem por a ry

lo   vep oet ry.

John Patrick Robbins

Things I Can Never Say

 

 

That my road is certain.

Or I have a clear direction with my words.

That I will cast aside the bottle for good.

Or choose the company of one over the misery of isolation.

 

I can never pretend to be anyone’s true friend.

And most of all I can never say.

I love you more than myself.

 

Honesty hurts.

 

So it’s best you ask a liar than someone as damaged as me.

 

Ian Copestick

Beatnik Blues

I’m listening to free jazz, reading Ginsberg and Kerouac
No matter how much the past enthralls, I know I can’t go back
This place is always Stoke on Trent, not San Francisco
I’ve got to deal with what I’ve got, into the past I cannot go
I wish I could go on the road with Kerouac and Cassady
In a ’49 Hudson, but I know it will never be
Speeding from coast to coast, Bebop on the radio
Seeing Ginsberg reading ” Howl”, everybody shouting ‘Go!’
I have to live in the here and now, not in my dreams
And deal with 2019, no matter how dull it seems.

 

 

A (Non-Self-Promotional) Letter from The Editors

Attention to all contributors and readers of The Beatnik Cowboy,

The upper and lower head pleasing and recently remade literary journal Horror Sleaze Trash has just released a new print edition featuring many of our fearless and genius contributors, standing tall alongside several other poets of equal stature among each and every page. We hope that the underground scene can continue to be seen in the rare glimmers from the light of day.

David Boski

Winning and Losing

 

‘and remember boys:

winning isn’t everything,

but losing is nothing’

my father said to us

before our first soccer game.

we were 8 years old and he

was our head coach;

we ended up losing our first

6 or 7 games, all massive

blowouts, before the league

stepped in and my father lost

his voluntary position. they sent

us all to new teams, and at the

end of the season we were all

supposed to receive trophies;

my father woke up late that

Saturday morning, hungover,

and by the time we got to the field,

everybody was gone and I never did

get my trophy; but he reminded me

and my angry mother that I didn’t

win anything, so he didn’t know why

the fuck we were all getting trophies

anyways. he was right, and that quote

has stayed with me my entire life;

and I’ve had plenty of losses that

were a whole lot of nothing, and a lot

of wins that weren’t much either, and

even though he lost his volunteer job

as a head coach of a kid’s soccer team,

that was nothing too; because he’ll always

be a winner to me.