Judge Santiago Burden

My Kevorkian Alter Ego

Please go ahead jump
Put me out of your misery
You don’t have the balls
You’re all talk no devastation
This charade is an overplayed drama.
A boring non event
The only thing that has died
Is my interest
Stop with the Greek Tragedy
Cutting your wrists
Swallowing pills
Attempted O.D.’s
Pathetic cries for help
But no one is listening.
It’s embarrassing to watch
These acts of a coward
A gun in your mouth
a hair trigger nice touch
An electric appliance
in the bathtub
Use a toaster
Makes a great headline
“He’s Toast!”
These are methods sure to end it.
Your slow boat to death
Has run out of rivers
The Heroin Cocaine Oxys the Meth
Condiments used to flavor your depression
So let’s get it over with
Time to make the grand exit.
What makes you think
Anyone gives a fuck
Go ahead and jump
Make a big splash
That’ll show ’em
You don’t give a fuck either.

Andrew Hanson

The Drink

The boat skims out of the cut and bracing,
stops and bobs on the sea.
My brother and I tend the gunnel
like a pub, rods hung over, plopping sotted
yellows by the school. And Dad, with a big one on,
snaps: grab the gaff, Trey. And before me,
Trey snatches the staff off top shelf
and sinks it in the sea. After a slip or two,
Dad guides his quivering grip to hook and hoist
the mack, slapping on deck. The mackerel’s fins hack
the boat and sucks air. It wriggles in
a puddle of its own blood, and Dad, stiff, shakes off
the hook from the fish’s lip, rips the barb from its liver,
and tosses that tippler in a box with the sloshy anonymous.
After the ice box is filled, Dad shoots us straight through to Haulover.
Skimming back into the inlet, the boat braves little waves
as Dad, decked in yellow wet gear, aptly navigates
back to land. Quick hook and loop,
the boat floats, roped to the dock. My brother and I pile
off the ship and ride off; we watch Dad unravel
the rope and putter off, sucking booze like air.

Thames

The city washes up
on its own shore: smooth speckles
of a broken beer bottle
are cradled by the rocks,
while each day the harsh tooth
of its shards is renewed when
the sun briefly emerges.
This same shore, a child chases
a daisy blown in from the park above,
where his parents enumerate
at the edge of a sidewalk,
and the sand salts their shoes,
but that’s not poetry. The chain
that hangs from the docks
may look like a smile, and the rats
might playfully chase one another
beneath the train tracks, but none
of it like the tracks could twist
back to an old Polish man
who holds a pocket-watch
in his palm like an apple.

For the Summer’s End

Scars are the poetry of the skin,
and the hands of Thetis dance on the Styx.
The eggs of a chicken end when breakfast begins.

A couple of words are kicked out like cans of tin
and tassels of thyme unwind behind them.
Scars are the poetry of the skin.

You trip into a bathtub the same size as sin,
and the water brims over the cracked porcelain.
The eggs of a chicken end when breakfast begins.

The white knife and chaos of the water pin
the dagger of Demosthenes on fathers long dead.
Scars are the poetry of the skin.

The bow trembles but cleaves to the violin,
and a baitfish descends on its thicker wire’s end.
Scars are the poetry of the skin;
the eggs of a chicken end when breakfast begins.

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
place.

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
concerning
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
arguing
with my
mother
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
Afghanistan
I stop
and say
mom
they gave
me gun
in Afghanistan
just like
they gave
me nightmares
about spider
webs across
dead children’s
eyes
they gave
me a
gun like
they gave
me angry
ghosts and
PTSD and
a paycheck
but they
took back
my gun
before
they sent
me back
here never
thinking that
I slept
with it
like the
first stuffed
animal you
ever bought
me like
my first
blanket
like something
you don’t
let go
of until
someone
takes it
away.

Tanya
Was the
new girl
in gym
class bottle
blond hair
almost white
she wore
shorts and
stockings
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
wouldn’t
be enough
time for
me to
fall in
love.

Band reunion
You laugh
at hair
lines and
waist lines
then count
your kids
jobs divorces
dead parents
and dead
classmates
eventually
you tune
up and
play one
you all
remember
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
anything
at all.

Strider Marcus Jones

POETS IN THE BACKFIELD

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

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
Writing
Something
Interesting.

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
Nothing
Interesting.

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
ago

loneliness is when
you actually care
about being lonely

this is something
different

an apathy at an
expert level

each night you
fade to black

accepting that the
morning is never
a given