Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Aakriti Kuntal Walks Into The Ocean And Never Returns With An Insect Strapped Into the Day's Chest And The Carnival Of A Clockwork World


White salt out there,
your whitewashed twigs scowling,
set into motions unfamiliar

The night is growing thick
Like a matchstick,
the finger is aflame

It has sworn to shimmer
The teeth abandon the jaw
and float into the sea

A jawbone into the sea's eternity
A poet stood before the ocean

and never returned
Return he did not

and in my cupped eyelid,
a quarter of the moon, the man's weakening
steps, a half-knee dipped in water green

Arms swinging like ropes,
their jolly, an unfathomable absurdity

A poet walked into the sea
and never returned

Every day the sea washes
his stench from shells and crab skins

Every day the sea washes the sand's antenna feet

A poet walked into the sea
and never returned


a marble plateau,
sliced breath of the day

Red pomegranate seeds splutter,
turning the mouth’s estranged sky
into a velvet sienna

Lack of movement?
Lack of thought?

An elongation of emotion
A requiem for the living

The air
it seems
is suffused with a flat, ochre light,
static around the bark of all trees

A consolation,
A lullaby,
A long, long pause
Everything in the goddamn world
bending down
to stare at its very own miracle

Twilight’s veil flutters,
an insect strapped to the day’s chest

She moves

There are no mistakes made here
The day falls in precise moments,
just as it began

A cold shudder

A celestial beast
salivates over life’s porous face

and the horizon grins

the sly tongue of light



The peninsula of the feverish hand, the upturned hand, dwelling like a conundrum above stripes of skinned air. Throbbing needlessly, desperately, throbbing in blue and lavender dots, a circus, a forest, an entire landscape of paleness. Winter's old confidante, grey and ancient, flowing steadily, rapidly, ravaging all in its path, coursing through the giant tributaries of veins, their sputtering valleys, their saline consonance.
What is it that has been spoken? What have you learned that you cannot forget? What is this disease that you have caught from the warm belly of the night that you cannot let go of? What is this desire that you conceal in your grand stutter? Why must you run in ambiguities, make of this fragile clockwork a carnival? What is it that holds your tongue and makes your limbs, your tiny feet run wild in me, day and night, night and night? What is this, what is this ugliness that you have sworn to be?


In madness reigns the eccentric song of the heart. The dreadful rose heart, almost terrified, almost smitten with its own severe palpitation. Its unquenchable need to be, its admirable desire to not. Suffering in its own arms, it gathers, it steals all the songs of the world from all the curious corners, the brightened edges, the bizarre waterfalls, the ever-wading roundness of things, a pervading haze. It is its own demise, rotting behind the schizophrenic eye of the mind, quivering behind thistles and needles. It is own demise and its own solitary reed, fluttering through the atmosphere, the blind sky, the all-pervading grey lake; hiding, then flinging itself in desperation, into a bush of orange feathers, the armpits of unknown birds, into raven eyes and abhorrent beauty; burning in innocence, the unendurable truth in its vascular scream.


Spring forth, arms, from the remains of the day. Spread, seed by seed, knuckle by knuckle, eat the dust that glares from the edge. The wide-eyed sphere of air that watches with an unmistakable gaze, a hollow stare, the only one, the carcass of a large God, the aftermath of all truth and untruth. Spring forth, arms; arms of restless ache, restless lisp, incurable restlessness, seek in the white fade of emptiness the echo of your being, your calamitous birth, your undying being.

Aakriti Kuntal, aged 26, is a poet and writer from Gurugram, India. Her work has been featured in various national and international literary journals. She was awarded the Reuel International Prize 2017 for poetry and was a finalist for the RL Poetry Award 2018.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Charlie Farmer Among The Coroners, Honoring The Dead, Disdainful Lunch Box, The Needle On The Record, Belaying Hell As Well, And The Floral Prints Of Timeless Youth

 “Pride Care Cleaners”

I was 18 and bought my first suit and tie,
so I could go to Grady Memorial
and say,” This is Emily.”

Handshakes with coroners.

My attempt at dignity.
To be well dressed and say,
“This is Emily.”

To identify you.

You were 32, heroin chic.
Front page cheeks.

I found you in your bathroom.
Your hair matted, mascara a mess.

I did my best to clean you
before the ambulances.

I dressed you in my favorite sundress.

Floral print.

It was important
that ambulance drivers
found you important.

Men made fun of you
on bathroom walls,
but I still dry-cleaned that suit,
The best I could do at 18.

“the first funeral”

did you throw
your lunchbox
against the wall
as i did
when a car
crushed your
first dog?

learn how
to use a shovel,
dig, bury?

learn loss lessons?

if not, understand.
this is why everything
is so important to me.

 “Simple Machines”

Some of us want
To be in love every day.
It is demanding to those
Who can pack a bag,
Close a book,
Remove the needle
From a record,
Underline phrases
That moved the world
And walk away.
I can’t walk away.
I need those books, records.
Like I need you,
You in the dark, getting
Dressed for work,
Trying not to wake me,
But I am always awake,
And I will ask,
“Two more minutes?”
And you oblige.
A short cuddle.

My favorite days
Are when you
Show up
With your hair
In tangles
After work.
You are all underlines,
Everything important.
I have given up
Finding synonyms
For your grace.

“Drinking in Parking Lots”

Some spring days there are
girls checking out library books,
And they may not be my girls, but
There is such charm in sundresses,
A book in hand.
Let's delay hell,
and worship girls
who underline sentences
and bite us
where there are no bruises
but want them.
Let's delay hell.

“Whatever Happened to Sara Shaw?”

Friday nights we boys waited for the grind of the gravel
As the girls' car, borrowed from a parent, steered up the driveway
To a friend's lean-to

The girls blew in wearing tie-dye that fit like a mistake,
Unpracticed make-up,
Pleated jeans, their schoolgirl figures obscured, unrecognizable
But she would arrive in private school chic—
Sundresses, more often than not in a floral print
But sometimes, my favorite, a navy number with fine, white dot print

Youth expires, and ghost towns last so long

Charlie Farmer is a Georgia poet and professor who loves his wife, Erin, his friends, his cats, his students, his books, his LP's, and everything else a poet should love in life. He is a lefty on the guitar but two-fisted everywhere else otherwise. 

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Mark Young Returns With A Kestrel Attack In A Nordic Novel, Antarctican Kites, And A Bad Case Of Flood Denial

Nordic Noir

The kestrel in the churchyard keeps crying out for lingonberries.

"This is not a Nordic crime novel," I remind it. "I can give you jackfruit, or mangoes, or even those rotten-smelling durian whose popularity in China is rivalled only by the iPhone, but the lingonberry is beyond my reach."

I turn away, miss the kestrel flying to attack me, eyes first, & then that critical vein in the neck. My last thought just before I pass: "Lars Kepler might get a novel out of this."

Drag & Drop

An exhausted pair of pranksters needed police help to drag a giant metal cockroach they had moved six meters along Rundle Mall early this morning.

Domenic Esposito dropped a 10-foot, 800-pound sculpture of a heroin spoon on the sidewalk in front of a Coventry Pharmaceutical company.

Businesswoman dragging a giant heavy weight on chain, Guilt written on the ball. Cartoon vector flat-style concept illustration.

Hogan drops an elbow on the prone Giant, & another, & another.

Two German painters are dragging a giant pen through Utah, Colorado, & Wyoming.

Man uses bulldozer to drop giant boulder on a pickup truck & destroys its suspension.

Wilson will be traveling alone, using only skis & kites, dragging a giant pair of pink breasts full of enough survival supplies for 80 days across Antarctica.

Wilderness hill giants used to be an active place for F2P pking. Double the drop rate of Giant Key from hill giants in the wilderness. Hopefully this could add some interesting incentive to F2P players to enter the wilderness.

for Joe Zawinul, a weather report

Rising rivers vomit glossy
coffee table books on Brutalist
edifices of the 1930s. Sane adults

narrow down a list of options
for substance use. I'm camped
out here in the middle of a flood

reciting supposedly helpful
mantras for making the water
recede. I think I'm in denial.

Mark Young's most recent books are les échiquiers effrontés, a collection of surrealist visual poems laid out on chessboard grids, published by Luna Bisonte Prods; The Word Factory: a miscellany, from gradient books of Finland; & The Perfume of The Abyss from Moria Books. 

Friday, May 17, 2019

Adam Levon Brown Basks In The Dusk Of The Lyres While Jewels Cry From The Abyss In A Galactic Shine

Hallelujah Sunshine

Highways separate
into colliding stars,
wishing themselves
into being
from galactic shine

Singing Hallelujah,
I have found life!

I have found the pearls
of blood-drenched wisdom.

I have found the separate keys
on the piano which try to stay hidden

I have bled in rivulets of sunshine
to find my way home.

I have found the questions,
but never the answers.

Let them sizzle beneath
your skin,
and sing for awakening
in the grimmest of weather,

Bolted down to the doors
of your trust, and hidden
behind your gates
of razor blade truths

Let them in,
Let them in.

Hurtles go unheard

in the Sonnets of lyre

Preening themselves from fire
and hiding the dust
behind eyes of lust

Pretentious and declared
mute, the shadows quake
at the thought of eclipsing
your shame

Buried in the heels
of your feet, waiting
to give birth to Hermes,

Your smile erupts
and singes the emptiness
you call your home.

Darkness Reality

Lips of escaping
meadow signal
the depths of Abyss-worn

Cracked and smeared
with gun powder and silenced
by night fall

Jewels cry your name
as you fall deeper
into the ebony glance
of darkness reality

And luck calls
for you inside your mind,
as you attempt to claw
your psyche
from the depths of abyss

Adam Levon Brown is an internationally published poet and author in 14 countries. He has had his work translated in Spanish, Albanian, Arabic, and Afrikaans. Boasting over 300 published pieces, you can find his writing at such publications as Burningword Literary Journal, Firefly Magazine, Zany Zygote Review, Epigraph, Angel City Review, and Ariel Chart. He was long-listed in the 2016 Erbacce Prize poetry competition and received a special mention in the Pangolin Prize 2018 competition.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Tyler Wettig Is Soldering Misfit Ends, Eschewing Beethoven's Eschewing, Listening To An Angel's Death-Rattle, And Watching The Ceiling Of The Sistine Drip


Your goal is to suffer a little less
than you did yesterday, or so to do
for a different reason. You solder
the misfit ends, adlib from a sexless
lacuna, ponder/muse/regret seeds of
absurdity the maker (and maker’s
maker) planted, try to get it more
right every time. But sweet mortality’s
got its talon-grip on you, regardless:
grey, molting, and matted like the first sweet
cat you lost. You promise the first marriage
will be the last. Good. You anticipate
tragedy like it’s all you know: for those
seeds you saw planted, tilled?
They’ll grow and grow.

Pondering Romanticism

Foolhardy you plumb the standards, the hard
stuff: give thanks to Beethoven's eschewing.
Somewhere a conductor has lost his grip,
but you know hands that have seen weirder nights.

You’re lonely, in love, and engaged. Sharing
a bed has come easy . . . your thoughts: not so
much. The mind stays abuzz with repetition,
so the poems write themselves. You’re orbiting,

lucid and alive, at the crack of dark,
animus in tooth and claw to spear your
side. No, you’re not in love with your mother;
but lust, infernal muse, is burning in
her myth.


I’m interred in autumn’s naked dusk,
the earth-chapel’s blessed breath complicit
in my better angels’ death-rattle. The
Zoloft has faded, and my little black dog,
wriggling out of his fur to chase shadows,
could sniff out my cancer just as well: soul
effaced by fatherhood’s fugue—creation
condemned to being—is an etude piano-
hands, mine, can’t resolve. I’m about-face
enough to split out of my own skin, and
and in every white-noise baptismal,
I give this to all my unborn children:
“Go take care of your mother. And what’s
at either end of that leash.”


In a bed big enough for only one,
I’m thinking Michelangelo’s
David: the perfect man with the perfect
body. The ceiling drips Sistine, but maybe
that’s just you. Cold pizza’s in the
fridge; an unfinished fugue in my head;
and you, well, giving head. But we have a
city to explore (for a price). So, for
now, let’s explore us: this pantheon of
the absurd. With our idols adorned so
contrapposto, let’s think Bernini:
play the heretics and pray about
it tomorrow; our knees won’t make it
that far to the ground in church.

Tyler Wettig resides in Ypsilanti, Michigan. His latest chapbook is The Adult Table (Zetataurus, 2018). Tyler's website: https://www.tylerwettig.wordpress.com.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Ryan Quinn Flanagan Returns With Sewing Machines, Cell Phone Bings, A Black Balaclava, Hot Tags, Absent Moms, And The Paternity Hive Drones

Where Uprisings Go When They Are Finished

She sits at a sewing machine by the window
admiring the rain.
I pretend not to know her
and the way she hums in the shower.
How her children are all grown now
and will have nothing to do with her.
I am laid up in bed with a cast on my foot.
Flipping through one of her many magazines
on how to please your man.
The sewing machine keeps jamming
so that I think she is doing it on purpose.
To get a rise out of me that is not in my pants.
She pretends not to notice the sweat on the back
of her neck. 
How could she not notice that?
And a vacuum from next door keeps running up
against the wall.
Sanity is a temporary thing,
like taking your dirty clothes
to the laundromat.
When it is over, she is back at the machine
and I am still laid up in bed.
On top of the covers in my boxer shorts.
Picking old food crumbs out of my chest hair
and looking at them, before tossing each
to the floor.


She is waiting on the phone
for the next available customer
service representative.

Her call is apparently very important.
A voice keeps saying that as if
caught in a loop.

Then they play the same god awful muzak
over and over again.

I think this is what they play at Guantanamo
to drive the jihadis crazy,
I say,
really load them up on the high cholesterol
of bad days.

She waves me off
and makes her irritated face.

I wave back to her in that ridiculous way
the queen waves at everything
before leaving the room.

Then I go outside and shovel the driveway.
In a black balaclava that makes me look
as though I rob banks.


Standing in line
with my wife at the Dollar Store

this guy in front of us
turns and says:
“these new cellphones bing each time
you walk into the mall and leave the mall
and you can’t disable the damn things,
they’re tracking you all the time, pretty scary!”

I don’t say anything.
The wife nods her head yes politely
which I guess is an invitation:

“everything is made in China,
he continues,
no wonder there are no jobs

Again, I say nothing.
The wife follows suit.

She is learning all the time.

The guy seems to want to continue
the conversation with himself,
but the cashier calls him forward.

It is a great disappointment
to us all.

Chop Shop

the cars just kept coming
so that you were never out of work
and Delvin worked on the tags,
removing the hot ones and replacing them
with new ones;
the job wasn’t hard, not like the welders
and chop boys had to do
and even though the pay wasn’t fantastic
everyone got paid under the table
which meant a lot,
it meant your take home was
nothing to scoff at
and in a city where honest work is hard to come by,
dishonest work becomes the top employer
and since Delvin was small and not good at breaking legs
and didn’t want to hold up or have to kill anyone,
he took a job “cleaning the tags,”
laughing to himself each time he thought
about those take your kids to work
days of his youth.

Making a Change

You leave thinking you love her.
That you should make a change.
That is what she is paid to do.
It just means that she is good at her job
and you are bad at marriage.

I’m sure she didn’t tape it.
Blackmail is a whole different profession.
And diseases?  Well she seemed like a clean enough girl.
Knew where the shower was and everything.

Don’t worry about this motel.
It’s where open warrants hide out.
And you paid in cash.
Under some ridiculous false name.

You should probably pull your wedding band
back out of your sock though.

Drive home
and tuck your children
into bed.

That father of the year cup
always waiting beside the coffeemaker
each morning.

It’s a Small World 

I am standing outside the restrooms
at the Walmart in Sudbury
waiting for my wife.

Watching this little girl
work the steering wheel
of this 25 cent machine
in the shape of a car
which she sits in
as it plays:
It’s a Small World
over and over

“Look mommy!,”
the little girl says to
this rail thin woman
standing by her.

Presumably the mother.

Scrolling through her phone
paying no attention.
“That’s great honey.”

“Look mommy, look!”

The wife returns
and we are on
our way.

The Sherlock Holmes of Daytime TV

A real whodunit?
No need for Watson.

Twenty-six paternity tests
with the results on live television
and no one is the father.

And you think:
damn girl, who much honey
does one queen need?
And the way they always run offstage
as though going on television
knowing 26 different men could
have been the father was not
bad enough.

Ryan Quinn Flanagan is a Canadian-born author residing in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada with his wife and many bears that rifle through his garbage.  His work can be found both in print and online in such places as: Evergreen Review, The New York Quarterly, RASPUTIN, In Between Hangovers, Red Fez, and The Song Is.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Jason Ryberg Broken Down With Miley Cyrus National Enquirers, Amish Gangsters, And What They All Say...

1) Loaded Dice and Poisoned Candy 

Hardly even know it’s there
most of the time...

after all, we can be a (somewhat)
fundamentally oblivious species:

whether posited, serenely, in proper lotus position
in the middle of some shimmeringly pristine
mountaintop scenario or deeply steeped
in some sweaty, chaotic configuration of love,

or (just as likely), broke down
on the side of the highway,
I-35 let’s say, just south of Topeka, Kansas
(with five pallets of National Enquirers,
bearing the tear-streaked face of Miley Cyrus,
that has GOT to get through):

a weathered cargo ship
run aground under a brutal, relentless sun,
one-o-one in the shade
and a beer can rolling along all of a sudden
like a tumbleweed in an old cowboy movie,
(and now a dog barking off in the distance,
as if on cue).

So, we are allowed, now and then,
an absolution, of sorts,
from our inherent obligation
to fundamental attentiveness
to most of the obvious         
and at least some of the finer points
of the subtext, metatext and copious footnotes
to the post, post-modernist novel of Life.

But, still it hovers and circles,
always lurking just out of the corner of the eye,
waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike,
doling out fate and fortune,
good, bad and indifferent, alike,

the free-floating nucleus
of the all-encompassing,
all-permeating physics of context,
the fluid matrical mechanica
of how things really are,
the constantly shifting locus
of the very shit that happens to us,
again and again and again
in sloppy viscous loops...

The moment ultimately coming to a point,
like the point of a big red arrow
on the Metaphysical Highway
Rest Stop Map Of Life,

like the finger of God pointing,
just a little too accusingly,
at you (and you and you)
as if to say

(and here you are)!
everything else
is extenuating circumstances
and low-grade

loaded dice and poisoned candy.

2) Ironic, Aint It?

              while constantly
                                               being re-reminded
        by the representatives
                                                   of forces

                          larger than ourselves,
from time to time
                                to time, of one’s (seemingly

               pre-ordained and inescapable)
                                                  holding place
in whatever
                           grand (or even less than
             grand) schemata of peoples /
                                                   places / things
                      you happen to currently find yourself
steeped in,
                   is indeed sobering,
                                             it also,
                                   (maybe not-so) oddly enough,
                         in turn, makes the notion

      of pulling several monster
                                                  rippers off a bong
made from a google-eyed
                                             porcelain bunny and
                 sipping on a quadruple
           while flipping
                                      back and forth between
      a (sur)reality show about
                                               Amish gangsters and
bat-shit religious programming
                                         on the local access channel,
                   sound like just as good
                                                            a way as any
                                                                           to start the day.

3) They Say A Lot, Don’t They?

They say fools look for wisdom
stamped on candy Valentine hearts
and go for long strolls
where angels bury their dead.

They say the only difference
between an angel and a demon
is the mood you catch them in.

They say rude awakenings
come to those who nod off
waiting for phones to ring.

They say women who run with wolves
often get bit on the butt.

They say men who somehow manage
to mount a tiger will only begin to fathom
the true depth of their foolishness
when they have to take a leak.

They say those who sleep under bridges
become birds in their dreams.

They say a bird in the frying pan
is worth more than big talk
from a burning bush.

They say God may not play at dice
but He? / She? / It? has been rumored
to give the old cosmic roulette wheel a spin
from time to time.

They say where God builds a megachurch
the Devil builds a fireworks / BBQ / porn emporium.

They say conspiracy is the only true religion
(in which all other religions merely play
their assigned roles).

They say he who seeks vengeance
makes two grave mistakes.

They say desires never satisfied,
ambitions thwarted, needs never met
can cause the blood to cool and the soul
to pool and blacken like grease in a trap.

They say money may be
the root of all evil
but pussy is the fruit.

      They say a lot, don’t they?

They certainly do.

They certainly do.

Jason Ryberg is the author of twelve books of poetry,
six screenplays, a few short stories, a box full of folders,
notebooks and scraps of paper that could one day be 
(loosely) construed as a novel, and, a couple of angry 
letters to various magazine and newspaper editors. 
He is currently an artist-in-residence at both 
The Prospero Institute of Disquieted P/o/e/t/i/c/s 
and the Osage Arts Community, and is an editor 
and designer at Spartan Books. His latest collections of poems 
are Zeus-X-Mechanica (Spartan Press, 2017) 
and A Secret History of the Nighttime World (39 West Press, 2017). 
He lives part-time in Kansas City with a rooster named Little Red 
and a billygoat named Giuseppe and part-time somewhere 
in the Ozarks, near the Gasconade River, where there are also 
many strange and wonderful woodland critters.