Ian Copestick

Sensitive And Intelligent

I read in a magazine
the other day, where
someone said that
most drug addicts
were simply too
sensitive and too
intelligent to face the
world the way it is.
It’s the discrepancy
between how harsh
and cruel real life is,
and how beautiful they
know it could be that
causes these poor
souls to anaesthetise
themselves with heroin.
Yes ,it sounds good, and
it’s a great excuse, but of
course it’s total bullshit.
I’ve met quite a few
heroin addicts who were
incredibly sensitive, and
intelligent people.
The majority though were
as sensitive as a sledge
hammer, and about as
intelligent too.
Of course, it’s a nice thing
to read if you want to
fool yourself.
We are the best people
at doing that, if we weren’t
we wouldn’t have ended
up as addicts in the first

DB Cox

cisco sits bleeding

felony face
cuts down the alley
like a breeze
police sirens
sing the same name
as last night
darkness covers
the bloody footprints
of a young desperado
as he takes refuge
inside the gentlemen’s john
defunct Exxon
new address
for the dispossessed
a spider-cracked mirror
hides out-of-luck eyes
hard as Roman nails
bony back to the wall
he slips to the floor
laughing at nothing at all
shaky tones
fall into a full-blown hack
bell-cracked saxophone
bouncing death-rattle tones
round and round
the obscene sanctuary
top floor of hell
that smells
like a waiting room
for the cemetery
a young life fades
& slips away—madly backward

repetition of a blue bass line

take me to a place
where midnight accumulates
don’t want to see the sun anymore
put me on a train
with no windows
where nighttime lasts forever
& a speed-mad engineer
with a mechanical heart
highballs a coal-black engine
through time tunnels
like a bullet leaving a gun
where the speed of darkness
is faster than the speed of light
dreaming up a nocturnal scene
Mingus & Monk softly
behind a tan-skinned lady
with a white flower in her hair
singing “keeps on raining”

just give me things
I can depend on
red wind, old times
the repetition
of a blue bass line

forgotten songs

rotting shack
watched over
by three ceramic angels
casting cold eyes
over a weed-covered
yard of wrecked cars
& a black cat parked
under a front-porch swing
that dangles
like a hanged man
from a single chain

a derelict mockingbird
rests on the rusting frame
of a 1964 mustang
& sings forgotten songs
stolen from
an unknown bluesman
who once slept here
small truths falling
in slow 6/8 time
12-bar compositions
Louisiana hurricanes
with hellish ladies’ names
& skies
that won’t stop crying

Jonathan Butcher

Scraping Pockets

Overseen by pockets, that fall
deep over backs. The secrets pile
high like mould, that mapped out
places of refuge; skylines of needles
and torn sleeves slowly dim under
this retreating light.

Fishing for the facts you know we
each held private and gorging on
amour dents and family lies; a bribe
or two each evening left you feeling well
fed each time, the bile that lined your
stomach a conductor for negativity.

Never one to question, even as you
shifted without guile from street to bar,
from adopted home to field. Each time
the cloud of your presence refused to disperse
and separated you like torn scabs from scars,
that you never allowed to heal.

And once exposed, crawling from beneath
rocks light enough for your back to lift,
yet never fully remove. Running like rattled
rats, your followers deplete yet again and sell
you short for the slightest glimmer of silver.

A Crack in the Shell

Across classrooms and street corners,
that same sense permeates each street
you turned. Your hair never straight enough,
your voice that never broke through collective
chatter and never produced an echo.

Your eyes faced downwards, past laughter
and insults, which those tree-lined roads failed
to shelter. The hand-me-down wardrobe never
kept out this incessant chill, that constantly
lingered without respite.

And past that window in which you sat,
amidst the smoke and dust clouds with no
exit in sight, other than the turn of each day,
that brought you back again to the start
of this perpetual cycle.

Then finally those years in this cluttered
home were over, where education was
gambled for an easy afternoon, and that
shield you relied upon was slowly lifted,
whilst the rest held on for false protection.

Dorothy Widelka

126 Days

I lost myself when I found you. Ripped holes in the map of who I used to be and replaced every page with the promise of you. If only promises didn’t burn like the vodka I use to forget the taste of you.

You, who once promised to spend your whole life proving to me love exists, decided that I was just a drop of water, not large enough to swim in, and not enough to make you stay.

My presence never enough to cover you with warmth, only avalanches follow in my footsteps. Maybe if I spend enough time practicing, I could learn how to conform myself into whatever shape of me you need. I’ll hide my rough edges and erase a few sides until I become someone more than a stranger.

You, the protagonist and antagonist of all these poems, have deflated me into someone I no longer recognize. It’s been 126 days since I’ve looked into a mirror, that’s how many days I’ve forgotten about myself. It’s hard to believe in beauty when I’ve blindfolded myself with longing and a desire to find you again. And I want to so badly believe that you are out there putting together the torn pieces of my map and trying to locate where we buried our love. But I know that is nothing more than a fairy tale I will never live, those endings don’t come to girls like me.

Howie Good

The Laughing Gull

Because I was watching the waves
roll in and not where I was walking,

I very nearly stepped with bare feet
on a decaying wing, all that drearily

remained of a so-called “laughing gull,”
dirty white flight feathers flaking off

a now-fatuous frame of hollow bones
that nature had designed for soaring.

Matt Borczon

What they take away
So I’m
with my
about politics
when she
says stop
getting so
worked up
you will
end up
shooting somebody
I don’t
even own
a gun
I tell
her yes
you do
you got
it in
I stop
and say
they gave
me gun
in Afghanistan
just like
they gave
me nightmares
about spider
webs across
dead children’s
they gave
me a
gun like
they gave
me angry
ghosts and
PTSD and
a paycheck
but they
took back
my gun
they sent
me back
here never
thinking that
I slept
with it
like the
first stuffed
animal you
ever bought
me like
my first
like something
you don’t
let go
of until
takes it

Was the
new girl
in gym
class bottle
blond hair
almost white
she wore
shorts and
told me
she had
skipped most
of her
freshman year
just sort
of forgot
to get
on the
bus since
her mom
worked early
and didn’t
know until
the school
sent the
police to
their trailer
she told
me she
was dropping
out as
soon as
she turned
16 in
about a
week which
was good
for me
since their
be enough
time for
me to
fall in

Band reunion
You laugh
at hair
lines and
waist lines
then count
your kids
jobs divorces
dead parents
and dead
you tune
up and
play one
you all
and for
a few
minutes you
do remember
rock and
roll rebellion
young love
and the
police shutting
your practice
down early
you remember
it like
everything else
life taught
you later
Didn’t mean
at all.

Strider Marcus Jones


Stay a while?
The subliminal cuts are coming through
These days of deadly boredom,
And poets in the backfield

Hardy, would not like today,
Life’s become an angry play;
And our deoxyribonucleic acid
Carries no imagination,
That’s not already put there
By a rival TV station.

I can hear you saying,
Yes, but we have the right to choose:
A colour and a ball of string-
Or poets in the backfield

You said:
“The Golden Bird eats Fish
In South America
And most of the peasants let him,
Because of Bolivar.”
Yet, millions starved in Gulag camps,
And Czechs cried fears when Russian tanks,
Thundered through their traumoid streets
Pretending not to be elite.
As one old soldier put it:
“The West and East preach different dreams,
But ride the same black limousines.”

Stay a while?
These sheets are cold
Without your sighing skin;
And this poet in the backfield
Is writing

J.J. Campbell

from too many years ago

a light breeze
saunters into
the room

you finish off
a glass of scotch
and think about
an old lover from
too many years

loneliness is when
you actually care
about being lonely

this is something

an apathy at an
expert level

each night you
fade to black

accepting that the
morning is never
a given

Steven Croft


Apache helo guns blister out green beads into a dark sky
through our night vision lenses, splitting the metal of cars
by this Iraqi police station taken by insurgents.
Exchange of fire lessens between our semi-automatics
and the IP station’s shot out windows. Radio crosstalk while
a room clearing team readies — time slows, then, “Go” —
they jog, weapons ready, one by one along the line
of blasted cars, until — frag grenade tossed in doorway
and they’re in. Time moves fast. More tap-tap shots.
Quick talk sitreps over the radio: “many enemy down”
“no casualties” — and soon, officers start on after action
reports as the scene of corpses is handed over to Iraqi soldiers.

And for us, the lowering dark of an Iraqi night falls back
into a long, usual rhythm of winding street patrols.

Wayne F. Burke

Closing Time

and George, the bartender
shuts me off
and I throw my handful of coins
down behind the bar
and some guy
a stranger in town
cracks wise and
I try and sucker punch him
but miss
and he hits me twice as
two of his friends grab my arms
and the guy bashes a billiard ball down
on my skull–
“fuck this,” I say to myself and
throw both guys off
WHOOSH my buddy Leno with
a pool cue, swinging it like
a baseball bat
breaks the billiard-ball guy’s arm
as a cop
runs in
spraying mace from a can
and everyone, six of us
are brought to the
Police Station where
I am allowed to sleep
in a bed in the break room,
instead of in a cell
my Uncle
is mayor of the
rinky-dink town.