John Grey

MOVIE CHANNEL

I'm watching another movie from the thirties.
A woman coughs. Two scenes later she's dead.
A bevy of beaus is courting Bette Davis. But why?
Black guys wheel suitcases down railway platform.
They smile. Sometimes, they even sing.
Fred Astaire, in black and white, has no discernible body.
I still giggle at the Brothers Marx.
Charlie Chaplin keeps his mouth shut.
Rin Tin Tin saves the day.
And when Errol Flynn swashbuckles,
I have no doubts that they don't make movies like that anymore.
It's more than just lounging on the couch,
the television remote dozing at my side.
This is time travel.
Clark Gable's ears protrude and yet the women love him.
Those same women know their place.
Except when they don't.
It's the time of the depression,
yet it's all about how not to be depressed.
Even when the hero dies, the sobbing keeps its distance.
Besides, murders are solved. Good triumphs.
The girl behind the perfume counter
meets and marries Ray Milland.
Blacks open doors, take hats from visitors.
They smile. Sometimes they even sing.
The war is on its way yet no one's fighting it.
Not when the west needs to be won.
Indians are shot in vast numbers.
They don't smile that I've noticed.
And they sure don't sing.
But, against the odds, people are brave, do the right thing.
And, in the end, they invariably choose the right one.
It's America in black and white,
except it's extremely gray from where I'm sitting.
And, whenever the opportunity arises,
Old Glory, that ubiquitous flag, is raised.
It smiles. Sometimes it even sings.
 
 
 
 
 
TOO MUCH TO ASK
 
That my juices stay vital.
The Civil War finally be over.
Fading black and white photographs regenerate themselves
and even add a little color.
 
That cockroaches no longer breed like cockroaches.
My earwax doesn’t smell.
The chip on my shoulder is chocolate.
A certain side of my personality doesn’t emerge at all.
 
That gas fumes never again mix with the odors of fish. 
My tuneless punk band has a shot at stardom.
Drummers master their skills without ever having to practice.
Fruit stick to their guns, don’t go rotten.
 
That faith is rewarded at least once a week.
Mozart replaces Valium in the medicine cabinet.
The shaman’s instructions actually work when carried out.
Ghosts are real and friendly.
 
That the guy on the barstool next to me is not a cretin.
Bureaucracy is less Kafkaesque.
Strip joints exist only to help in giving directions.
Interaction runs smoother.
 
That book-reading militias replace the gun-toting kind.
Vacant lots find something to do.
The gas station urinal is not stuffed with paper.
There’s a parking space at the bakery.
 
That anyone who wishes to be alone can be.
The forest remain deep, secret and just noisy enough.
Shell-shock be reserved for those seated near the amps at heavy metal concerts.
Charlie Parker’s not forgotten.
 
That, should the occasion demand, the air be full of horns and hallelujahs.
Or, if not, be as quietly dazzling as the stars.
Wishes, once vetted for possible harm to others, come true.
Four generations of my family can exist peacefully in one house at one time. 
 
That I’m invited to the right parties.
There’s still old hippies in the world.
All my motives are genuine.
That it’s not too much to ask.




THE UNDENIABLE VIEW 
 
From this whirlpool
as it spins through space,
the view through 
windows of the massive
inscrutable buildings 
has an unreal quality,
fine furniture 
and shiny waxed hardwood floors
like occasional glints of hope,
but the man in the chair
with bald head and glazed eyes
suffering through the doom
of every last one of his ambitions.
like a lizard 
without the tongue reflexes
to zap that passing fly
as his fingers tap
the inevitable thrum
of the grave,
the clogged artery
of dust and worms
that ultimately puts
every last one of us
out of circulation –
did I say “window”?
I meant mirror.

An Announcement from an Editor

Pick up your cocktail, spark up your j, snort a wide line or take a sip of your latte, our co-editor Chris Butler’s latest book, DOOMER, has been published by Ethel and is now for sale!!! The chapbook includes 20 poems in one collection for the very first time, just as the x’s on the calendar cross closer towards the capitalists’ holiday season!!! Pick up a copy the book now here:

https://www.ethelzine.com/shop/doomer-by-chris-butler

Please help a starving artist and an independent publisher by selling out the 1st Editions in this season of giving! 

Randall K. Rogers

Selected Drinking Poems by Randall Rogers



(Smelly) Moments In Time

A universe 
is a 
river of alcohol
spreading capillaries
of experience
and love
to growing bodies
minds and souls:
the mouth is the
gateway
to the asshole
the eyes are
the windows
to beauty
but it is the breath

that makes

one smelly
both good or bad
for life.



Firing Blanks/Parental Practice

Sometimes
because I have

no child and drink
(as so many do)
I look next to me
and start teaching 
air to grow up
and not choose 
voluntary death
because I
fashion myself
a drunken single parent

bachelor INCEL

with potential.



Mendacity

Drunken friend
there are no others
out there
life on Earth
is it
Eve made it so
discovering the
secret
of life and death
- original sin -
sealed our fate
begging God to return
ever since
no reason to
offer up – set up - 
another morality play

(for us to knock down)
allowing matter
consciousness enough
to create
transcendent ideas
enough

to make life beautiful

without booze.



Omnibus Drink Selection Happy Hour

Into conscious
mechanization I 
pour

into the fluid life
of a margarita machine
solid state
meandering
pulse
free to ripple

surge develop

ice cube
sugar electricity
spark enough
to blow our minds
to smithereens
weeping depression
melancholia
restricting life support

till visions

and breakfast
pull us all back

from the brink

of sanity

still breathing

pure magic.



2021

Attending a concert

drunk
nowadays is a lot 
like entering a hot 
dog eating contest:
you take your 
life in your hands.



Glorious Abandon! 

Mystify your world
look for souls you’d
want to go to heaven with
and drink with them
love them
toast them
share truths
and insanity with them
boast
as brothers
fight
spend time 
in sweet inebriation
drunk

with their wives 

in carnal knowledge

with them
hold dear to

mystery to
define them
in alcoholic shining armor!

enhance amber clarity to
obtain 
position in their 
thought where they
rest assured 
come fortune or naught
failure or success
grounding of a middling
stifling drudgery life

or cognitive tempest

sex with you

is the answer

too all will be well….
With another round.

J.J. Campbell

chalk lines of bodies in the schoolyard
 
i feel like an old whore
 
out of luck
out of time
 
out of any useful thoughts
needed for what this world
has become
 
broken rainbows
 
chalk lines of bodies
in the schoolyard
 
the first hit is for the pain
 
next is the chase for the
elusive dream that brings
relief
 
the poor are more likely
to die from attrition
 
yet it is easier to swallow
that we're all junkies
 
wastes of flesh
 
the excuse for the rich
to get away with never
paying taxes
 
we'll go dancing under
the bridge near the
great river
 
with any bit of life left
 
we'll slip into the cold
water of tomorrow and
never be heard from
again
------------------------------------------------------------------
three or four days later
 
i remember dreams
when i was younger
and i always had a
woman by my side
 
some tantalizing muse
that would whisper the
most evil shit in my ear
to make me laugh
 
and we would write
and paint and drink
until the sun came up
three or four days later
 
and every time i thought
i found that dream woman
something always got in
the way
 
be it life
 
be it my fragile ego
 
be it the inability to
ever be good enough
for something other
than my hand
 
the nights i drink myself
to sleep increase with
every passing year
 
eventually,
 
the clock will
run out

Bruce Mundhenke

The Wire

Come on out of your shell,
Take a walk upon the wire,
Watch that you don’t fall,
Beware of the fire.

Look down at the abyss,
Fire down below,
Careful as you move along,
Take it nice and slow.

Fire down below you,
No way to ascend,
No way to know what is ahead,
When the wire has reached its end.

Don’t think about the abyss,
Pay no attention to the fire,
Dig each righteous step you take,
As you travel on the wire.

No way to go backward,
Back into your shell,
The wire is now your home,
Your shell has served you well.

But the wire might lead to heaven,
Or the wire might lead to hell,
But it’s your wire to travel,
Pity if you fell.

Noel Negele

The Many Depressions of Life


One of my grandmothers
had dementia toward the end.
A ten-year old end.
My other grandmother
who is still alive has schizophrenia.
Not good to have so much
mental illness in your family DNA.

I don’t bring that shit up on dates.

I went to meet the dementia one
because this time, 
she was way too close
to the end.

She didn’t recognize me at all,
nor my father and worse yet
she wasn’t herself anymore, either.
Everything that made her my grandmother 
was no longer there.

We could as well be two strangers
communicating through two different 
languages 
while suffering from different mental illnesses.

Five months before she was diagnosed
they’d flown her to the USA
for a very expensive eye laser therapy.
This old husk of a woman could see
as well as a cyborg.

“ What a waste” I had told the room 
after I’ve given up getting through to her 
“ such a waste of money just for her
  to turn Ike this now.”

My relatives has scolded my thinking.
My father had put both his hands
in his pants pockets and said:
As much as good timing can help
bad timing can harm.

They scolded him, too.
They didn’t understand 
that my fathers pants pockets
were once full of money and relief 
but were now empty.
My relatives hadn’t counted coins
on the palms of their hands
anxious that they’re adequate for
whatever sad purchase you might
need to make in decades.

I never saw that old lady again.
I got a picture some months later
of my father leaning over the open 
casket of his mother
and planting a kiss on her forehead.
She looked peaceful. Done with it all.
The sadness of my father’s face
baffled me. 

He always had a great disdain for his mother,
for her intellect or lack thereof 
and the fact that she never helped him once
in an essential way, or at least
that’s what he maintained. 

“Put the smartest man in the world
To live with the dumbest person of the world
and I guarantee you the dumb one will win.”
Addressed to his mother for when they lived together.

But family is family.
I guess.
There’s a biological factor
in the stubborn love
of a relative you would never 
befriend in your life.

That old lady was once
my grandmother
washed my baby butt
tought me how to take a dumb
in a Turkish toilet.
Kissed my tiny weenie when we were done washing
and always told me
that I’ll become a lover boy.
That I would see, some day.

What can you say?
Plenty of reasons to get depressed
while in the joy ride
no matter the joy— the fleeting joy.
It’s a game of turns.
In time, I’ll be leaning over my dead father 
thinking of all the time we wasted not talking
about art or women or anything at all
and I’ll wipe my tears over his forehead 
and soon enough
it’ll be my time to be weeped over
and who knows 
I might finally look peaceful then.

Misty Rampart

Pinch

You stretch, getting out of bed, and I’m as tightfisted as the trees with my love. I could cut you but that would hurt too much, so I smile at you instead, my gainful governor. See, I’ve given up so much territory already, given you my hopes for some kind of trip to the sky. But we can’t afford it, you say and shrug.

Here’s payment, I say, jaded but educated in what turns your body on. You don your protective suit, shy but exultant as I’m busy fumbling with your parts, making slow but tidy love. You enter my halls with enough force for four as the naked nymphs of the past bathe in a fountain beside where the poets educate and the fairies are lying, waiting for various forms of approval from the romantic Gods.

My main interest is to toy with you, but don’t be concerned, I’m deranged. I want to rule you and obey you and maybe that’s why I’m upset, filled with worry for the daily. It’s a great morning though and I promise I won’t be so aloof and overwrought. I don’t tell you these things I’m thinking for fear of your reaction. You’ll just have to split my legs and wait for the result. 

Howie Good

Author Bio
 
I could advertise the network of scars I bear 
from a neurotic upbringing, or say I live mostly 
 
in my head, or even joke that I am a noted writer 
of blurbs for other people’s poetry books, and 
 
I could do it, just as required by your submission 
guidelines, in “50 words or less,” but it wouldn’t 
 
be the whole truth, more like the article of clothing
given to a search dog to learn the scent of a person 
 
who has gone missing.

Linda Lowe

What the Billboards Say
 
They say, NO DREAMING.
It’s true the world has fallen
through the looking glass,
but no dreams?
Just last night
I dreamed about a truck, a dog,
and a field of poppies
growing near my house.
Tonight, they’ve brought search lights
shining them into my windows
as if to say, Hand them over.
What will they do with my dreams
of armored trucks, brave dogs,
and a field full of soldiers
fighting to save us?
Now they’ve finished with our land,
they’re searching deep into the heavens.
Now it’s up to the stars,
so far failing to shoot them down.