John Grey


The night sky
stirs in the window.
Mountains hang
like a dark mutation

from the last fretted
sliver of sunlight.
Trees surrender
their singularity
to shadow
until the forest
is gray and shapeless.
The lake is longer, deeper,
for disappearing in the darkness.
Wave after wave
slaps buried drums
under its shores.
All is immutable, impregnable
but for your kiss
gifted to my neck’s
quiet ridge
and the moon’s bright landing party
somewhere behind my eyes.




He sticks an unloaded gun in his mouth every day.

Better than prayer, he figures.

He revisits the war zone in his dreams,

turns to his comrades, not God.

He lives in a mobile home.

It’s nothing much but at least it’s not a hell-hole.

He once tried to slash his wrists but failed.

These days, he prefers going quietly insane.

He chats with his neighbor from time to time.

But the guy’s not shell-shocked enough

for a decent conversation.

And he doesn’t miss female company.

If he wants something to wail at him

then there’s always the wind.

He tried the needle once

but it picked out a vein when he

was aiming for his soul.

So he reverted to alcohol.

All his dead buddies prefer it to heroin anyhow.

He avoids his parents, his brother, his sister,

prefers silence to recrimination.

He has a wife and child somewhere.

And a few lawyer’s letters that he’s never opened.

The days go slow. The empties pile up.

The enemy is still out there.

He’s ripe for ambush

but thankfully out of range.

Bradford Middleton



I’m an addict, an addict for bad love

Bad drugs, bad friends, bad jobs

They all come and go but never for

Too long because, well, I’m an addict


I fall for mad terrifying women who

Fall in love at the drop of a hat

Only to turn off once they’ve turned

You on cos I’m addicted to finding the one


I drink to forget and right now

There is an awful lot I need to

Get out and writing can only do

So much.  These words help but

Not as much as the bottle will later


Then again none of it helps as

Much as that stuff which convinced

Me I needed help but all I want

Now is to forget, get stoned and

Cry my heart out because, well,


I’m an addict and there’s only one

Way to end this tragedy but I ain’t

Ever been brave enough for that option,

Not yet anyway. 





I been smoking legal highs for a while now as the old habits of yore move to the past, long to be forgotten and never to be returned too

As the hashish is hard and makes my throat ache and whilst it makes me feel good mentally it always ends with me being ill

And I was never a fan of skunk-weed as for my tastes its too strong and just makes me want to nod off to sleep

All I really want is for a nice bit of weed, something to soothe, something to chill me out, calm me down

So I can pretend to be normal when amongst other people.


But the main problem with this legal high is just that, it’s legal so you feel you can do it anywhere at any time and it can soon take a grip

A grip on your psyche, telling you it’s fine whilst all the time feeding you the idea that you must have more

More and more until you think of nothing else, you awake at half 4 in the morning and can’t face the night outside

It’s inevitable that you’ll reach over for your tin of delights, roll one and smoke it down hoping it can solve the insomnia

But sometimes of late it’s been bad and made me go a little mad.


The first time was about a month ago when it felt like I had a seizure that caused my body to contort without a musical soundtrack

I collapsed in my chair and shook with a fearsome terror, sweat enveloping my skin, telling me to stop right that minute

Then again, a night in the local, ended with me in the A & E, after I woke shaking violently after only a couple of hours of black-out

I feared for myself as my heart pounded as if it would burst through my rib cage, exploding as my pulse raced

It was unlike anything I’d ever taken and all I wanted to do was cry, talk to my Mum and tell her I was sorry she had a mad son.


So what is there to do, getting away from the source will never be easy as I buy this shit from a place near my work

And after a stressful day which I know I’ll need to forget, it always tempts me as I leave my work at 3pm, bored and alone with nothing to do

Except keep getting higher, more deranged, demented and growing ever so madder

But when the madness really kicks in is when I mix it up with the lovely booze as then they battle for supremacy over who should win

And the nights when I don’t smoke and I do get a drink on, it’s huge oceans of booze overflowing my mind with their liquid delights

More often than not though I’ll drink down a couple, smoke another couple and very soon be a drawling, horrid wreck.


John Grochalski

wonder of the world


people in the neighborhood

are impressed by the mound of shit

planted there in the middle of the street


they say, wow, watch that shit!

watch that poop! if they are with kids


it looks more human than canine


the middle schoolers and high schoolers

like to come by after class to look at it


the middle schoolers use the crap mound

as a chance to try out their swear words


shit, they say….ew gross, fucking shit


the high schoolers just roll by stoned and say,

dude…shit…. dude


still, they all look at it like it’s the next wonder of the world

unbroken by torrents of rain or high winds


occasionally someone steps in the shit mound

they seem pretty unimpressed by it when that happens


personally, i wonder if the building’s super

has seen the mound of shit


maybe when he’s taking out the trash or blowing around leaves


i wonder if he’s as impressed by the shit mound

as the people in the neighborhood


it has to be why he hasn’t taken out the hose

and washed the shit mound away down the street

sending it off to shit mound hell


that’s okay though

the other day some cherubic family came lolling up the street


most probably from the park


they rode two huge strollers through the shit mound

the kids landed in the middle of it with their new sneakers

squishing it and sending shit streaks everywhere


you could hear them outside cursing

wondering who would leave a festering mound of shit

right there in the middle of the street


trying to get the shit off the stroller wheels and sneakers

for at least fifteen minutes while their kids cried


it was like something magical had died

seeing that shit mound reduced to rubble


but i didn’t have to take heart for long

two days later someone left another shit mound on the street


human…canine…take your pick

only this one more impressive than the first


and now the middle schoolers and high schoolers are back

saying, shit, man, shit man, fucking shit-man-dude


and people with strollers are careful to go around it


it feels like i live right outside the egyptian pyramids

and i’m thinking of charging admission


tell all the people that if they look hard enough

into the center of the turd


that they can see the face of jesus christ


then call in on the super

and see if he wants to go 50/50

on whatever it is we make.






came from westchester

where parents handed kids cars

on their sixteenth birthday

the way others peeled off a five spot

and told their needy spawn to have a good time

that’s not to say she’s pampered

tricia’s parents

only bought her two cars

they only paid for her grad school twice

and are on record as saying they’ll only pay for one marriage

first she was a scientist then she was a lawyer

now she’s a teacher but she hates that too

tricia hides in the bathroom on her lunch breaks

and updates her twitter and facebook statuses

to make it seem like she has a much better life

than the rest of us

she always asks, is it wine o’clock yet?

always has some anecdote about a student who needed saving

tricia says she’s sacrificed her health for her job

she chokes down her salad when she gets the chance

otherwise her happy pills

will upset her empty stomach

and her therapist says that tricia doesn’t need

anymore drama in her life

she’s already married to a guy named bill

who can sing and draw and makes the most wonderful foods

only he won’t do anything with his talent

bill is content to just go to his office job

who just goes to an office job? tricia’s mother always asks

no one from westchester that’s for damned sure!

oh, and bill leaves piss dribbles on the bathroom floor

this kind of stuff enrages tricia

both the lack of ambition and the pee on the floor

she tries to get bill motivated

get him to read good books and go to art galleries

just like her mom did taming her dad

she tries to get him to sit down when he urinates

but bill doesn’t seem to care about any of it

so he and tricia spend their weekends in their apartment

streaming tv shows and playing on their phones

taking happy pills and eating popcorn

that is until tricia wrote a book

a wonderful kid’s book

all about a turtle who’s afraid to come out of his shell

two hundred words that took her two years in secret

in the bathroom of her job to write

she says it’s about self-acceptance

but tricia’s mother says, why not write a REAL book?

she says it’s about bill

but bill doesn’t see himself in it

he shrugs and says, if you say so, dear

only tricia wasn’t going to do anything with the book

but a lack of ambition on her end would’ve been hypocritical

and thankfully she has an old high school friend and ex-flame

from westchester, blair

who’s a big shot literary agent in midtown manhattan

a down-to-earth guy

and…oh…if you’d only reacquainted herself with him first!

tricia’s mother squeals

a guy with all of the ambition that bill doesn’t have

blair…whose parents only bought him one car

blair…whose parents only paid for his grad school once

so he understands the value of a dollar

blair…. whose still unmarried and straight and probably pisses in the bowl


thankfully tricia was wise enough to send her book to blair

all two hundred words that took her two years

of inhaling salads and her colleague’s farts

and her mother’s criticisms on sunday night phone calls

so that blair could read it and fawn over it

and give it to his editor friend at the big publishing house

where the book will be out in time for christmas next year

and when you ask tricia how she did it

how she reached out into the clear blue sky

and snagged her own little piece of the american dream

she doesn’t think about westchester or

cars or college or teaching or bill or piss on the floor

or how growing up everyone told her she was pretty

but not as pretty as her mother was at that age

tricia always says it was, hard work and tenacity

as she fingers her bottle of happy pills in her purse

and watches blair schmooze some blonde from across the room

as bill nods his head until it becomes awkward for everyone

and he goes off alone, scratching his ass

to get himself another helping of that delicious shrimp cocktail

that they always serve

at even the most mediocre

of literary events.



today’s drunkard


is stumbling around


pulling encyclopedias off the shelves

and throwing them onto tables

with slaps loud enough to wake the dead


today’s drunkard

keeps opening doors that he’s not supposed to

while we employees


but sir…. but sir…. but….


occasionally he stops and shakes

like he’s having an epileptic fit


he scares children

but their parents keeping saying

don’t worry, honey, everyone is different

and that’s what’s so great about the world


right about the time

today’s drunkard bends over and makes

like he’s going to vomit on the floor


then the parents aren’t so open to diversity


they take their kids by the arm

and pull them out of the building as quickly as they can


as today’s drunkard

stands tall and farts and laughs

and bares his broken yellow teeth


looking around to see what he can do next


while i man a mop

and clutch the telephone

waiting to see if i have to clean up

today’s drunkard’s

puke or excrement


or if i’ll have to dial


once again.

J.J. Campbell

splashing in an ocean


i once met ezra pound in

a dream and he told me

to fuck off


the neon drips out of

my mind


splashing in an ocean like

rebellious teens ready to

finish off a revolution


i once was the master of

my own domain but was

quickly domesticated by

a few old souls in spanish



there’s something about a

mamacita and those hips

that will have you willing

to murder any soul on

earth if given the chance


we once danced naked as

we dared to shoot down

the moon into a cold, dark

night in rome


she told me i was the wrong

color for her to ever fall in

love with me


i started to peel off my skin

to reveal the cool motherfucker

that sometimes lives in the

back of my dreams


she now lives in a castle alone


and i hear voices when i wish

for death driving on the highway


J.J. Campbell

the taste of blood on christmas morning


there’s a joy

in her laughter


a sense of danger

with the stare


it’s the taste of blood

on christmas morning


lost in the neon haze

of an old string of

lights and another

glass of something



two old souls passing

like ships in the night


you meet some people

in your life and just

know if this or that

would have happened…


you wouldn’t be the

miserable fading fuck

lost in this terrible



although, world peace

as your wish for

christmas is something

you should know by

now is a myth reserved

for children


no adult should even

think such a thing is



the new kitchen floor


i can remember

fucking you on

the new kitchen



i made you

breakfast in

that kitchen

the next



a week later

you decided

you were better

off as just a



i offered her

the bed but she

had to have it

right there


and the floor

wasn’t dirty



let’s just say

anytime i see a

white linoleum

floor i get slightly



a loaded shotgun


these are the mornings

where i imagine myself

on my grandmother’s

bathroom floor


and instead of my

cousin’s nipple in

my mouth, it’s a

loaded shotgun


and then i imagine

just how much easier

life would have been

if that was my fucking



i never lived all these

years expecting anyone

to understand my pain


i just wanted someone

to tell me it was going

to be okay


no one could understand

that either


all these hard truths

forced down my throat

like i was an unwilling

participant in life


no one could wrap their

heads around the fact

that my taste for pain

is an infinite shield

that only i can control


and as soon as i fully

believe that lie

i’ll truly be immortal


a nightmare to all

and the envy of none


Rob Plath

star bath





a lesser burden

i used to sit during winter
on the midnight train
gazing out the window
counting peaceful trees
praying it was just dream
that i was not really a man
but rather one those trees
gracefully bending beneath
the weight of snow

Grant Guy

I Can Handle It


Grant Guy


He said

He could limit himself to one meditation a day


He said

“I can handle it”


But before long

He and the boys were doing Zen everyday

Often in the back alley out behind the school



He can be found

Living on the streets of East Vancouver

Doing hard yoga