Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Jeffrey Zable and His Request For Population Control, Tupperware and Bicycle Allowances, and His Appeal to the Presidency


If I say stop fucking more people into this world
until things level off, you must listen to me.
I can’t emphasize enough the need to improve
the conditions for the vast majority before we even think
of producing more people, most of whom just wind up
as numbers, throwaways, doing nothing more than
taking advantage of the system, skidding along on
tax payers’ dollars and burdening the rich and powerful
with a sense of guilt that they don’t do more philanthropic
work, donating to charities, and organizing food giveaways
outside their mansions. What I’m saying is that if more
women would just say no, and play more with dolls
instead of producing babies, and give men hand jobs
instead of allowing them to put their thing in that place
which should principally be used for expelling a variety
of liquids such as diet coke and coffee, the world could slowly
get back to the way it was when there still was an opportunity
for everyone to have their own plot of land, a refrigerator,
and an automatic dishwasher. . .


I wish they’d never been discovered, because if they hadn’t,
there’d be no rapes, child molestations, and unwanted pregnancies.
People would keep their hands to themselves and treat each other
with the respect that each person deserves. And there’d be no peeping toms lurking around backyards trying to catch an unsuspecting man or woman coming out of the shower or changing from their clothes into their pajamas. People would no longer need to lock their doors at night, frequent strip joints, or buy porno movies which only makes bad people a lot of money. Men would still be able to act like men, play real men’s sports like rugby, cricket, and tiddlywinks, and women would still be able to have Tupperware parties and wear the latest fashions without feeling threatened while walking in the street. There’d be more time to talk about important things in life like grandma’s new set of teeth, or how the girl across the street was finally able to buy a bicycle after saving her allowance for nearly a decade.


Can you feel my pain?
I can feel yours, so much so that I feel like giving you money
to take a lavish vacation in some exotic place
where you can forget about it for awhile.
I also feel like kissing your feet
the way Mother Teresa used to do
with the rejects of the world.
I’d do just about anything to alleviate your suffering,
not only because I feel it so poignantly,
but because in diminishing yours
I’d surely diminish a good deal of my own.
After that, maybe we could start a club
in which we take it to the people,
helping them with everything
from relationship problems to financial difficulties,
to the fear of growing old,
and ultimately the fear of death.
I would be president and you would be vice president,
spreading the word with regard to what we could do,
always comforting people and assuring them
that no matter how grim it seems
there is always hope,
always another way to look at things.
And with that, let us begin. . .

Jeffrey Zable is a teacher and conga drummer who plays Afro Cuban Folkloric music for dance classes and Rumbas around the San Francisco Bay Area. His poetry, fiction, and non-fiction have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines and anthologies. Recent writing in MockingHeart Review, Colloquial, Ink In Thirds, Third Wednesday, Fear of Monkeys, Brickplight, Soft Cartel, After the Pause, Rosette Maleficarum, and many others. In 2017 he was nominated for both The Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Jason Baldinger Enjoys A Poor Man's Apple Cobbler, A Nest Of Copperheads, And A Trucker's Tan With a Green-Haired Waitress

Lee’s Famous Fried Chicken

Josh works the counter
at Lee’s Famous Fried Chicken
he’s got long, stringy hair
no front teeth, he compliments
my Bowie shirt, says it’s his favorite lp

Dorsey and I take a booth
Josh is wiping down tables
he’s got a bow and arrow
tattoo on his left calf
a primitive line drawing
perhaps a prison tattoo

he asks how the food is
says he’s worked there nine years
he loves his job
his favorite is the two thigh meal
with red beans and rice
and macaroni and cheese
he says sometimes he gets
the biscuits and the apples
if you mix them together
he says, you get a poor man’s apple cobbler

Ballad of Thirty Hours

I jumped in a car
two pm
left Belle Missouri
for Saint Louis
for a reading
then drove to Effingham
Illinois to sleep in a Baymont
pinned to the interstate
the whine of semi’s
rocked me to sleep
I didn’t mind
the desk clerk
blonde and sweet
seemed as kind
as any angel

I woke up in Effingham
ate key lime pie in Greenfield
Indiana, said hello and goodbye
to Ohio, Pittsburgh popped
through the tunnels
at 7pm and I hit a mayday
celebration, read poems
to anarchists, socialists
and other ne’er do wells
the room was electric
the blue grass old tyme band
was great and capitalism
is still bad

then time seemed a nest
of copperheads
I fell into the night
and hoped like hell
home might find me

Truckers Tan and the Midwest Night

I got truckers tan
one half beet red
the sun only shines
on one side of the world

walleyed, almost 500
miles, blue highways
not wanting to get dropped

but nowhere all the same
some died about
the time of sundown
town, where there’s
nothing quality
about the inn

hundred a night for a bed
in a sea of strip malls
sleeping, second
Mexican restaurant
teenage waitresses
with green hair

there’s a hole in the evening
              a hole in the night
              a hole in the sky
         pretty sure
      you can fit
the Midwest inside

Jason Baldinger is a poet hailing from Pittsburgh and recently finished a stint as writer in residence at the Osage Arts Community. He’s the author of several books, the most recent are This Useless Beauty (Alien Buddha Press), The Ugly Side of the Lake (Night Ballet Press) written with John Dorsey and the chaplet Fumbles Revelations (Grackle and Crow) which are available now. The collection Fragments of a Rainy Season (Six Gallery Press) and the split book with James Benger Little Fires Hiding (Spartan Press) are forthcoming. Recent publications include the Low Ghost Anthology Unconditional Surrender, The Dope Fiend Daily, Outlaw Poetry, Uppagus, Lilliput Review, Rusty Truck, Dirtbag Review, In Between Hangovers, Your One Phone Call, Winedrunk Sidewalk, Anti-Heroin Chic, Nerve Cowboy Concrete Meat Press, Zombie Logic Press, Ramingo’s Porch, Rye Whiskey Review, Red Fez, Blue Hour Review and Heartland! Poetry of Love, Solidarity and Resistance. You can hear Jason read poems on recent and forthcoming releases by Theremonster and Sub Pop Recording artist The Gotobeds as well as at jasonbaldinger.bandcamp.com

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Laura Johnson Drunk on Karaoke, Catching Pillow Quills From Heaven, and Vultures Skulking in the Rising Sun


Stephanie’s driving and the music’s blasting;
We’re setting fi-i-re to the rain, singing karaoke
like drunks. My mother always kept it low—
To hear the sirens, she said.

I’m lying back; one foot resting on
the open window, wind whipping through my toes.
My husband would explain what would happen
to my leg, should we crash.

He didn’t want us to go alone. “Let’s
do it anyway,” Steph said. She slows.
“Look, Mom, the Florida line.” I lift and tap
My iPhone, capture the sign.


The moon half fills my rear-view mirror, 
pale blue fading into the blue of morning. 
Soon it will be gone, and where and when it
will reappear is almost the mystery
I recall from long ago. A child, I
sat on the lawn and pointed to the empty
sky, "The moon was right there yesterday,”
“Where is it today?"  I've forgotten
the answer I didn’t comprehend.

A couple of computer clicks, and
I could know whether it will soon
loom large and orange on the horizon;
shine through backyard branches, full and bright;
turn up sliced-in-half, an after-party cake;
teeter ghost-like on my neighbor’s chimney;
freeze mid-fall, a pillow quill from heaven;
or hide out for a while—a weary celebrity.

I could study its hows and whens and whys...

In my mirror, almost faded away--
It’s an outline of loss and wonder.
I won’t be visiting NASA dot G-O-V today.

Driving to Work       
Up ahead, the sun rises, cracking the bottom
of a tall white wall. The splinters capture color
and spill it over wheel-holding sitters
in glossy machines. I drive through pink air,
thinking of manila folders and the forms inside
to be filled, copied, scanned, uploaded, and filed
so the state auditors can nod the accommodations
for my English learners--enough, but not too much--
and the numbers and names to back each decision.                 
Far above the sunrise, an airplane inches
over the white like a tiny black bug
crawling across an immense sprawl of sheetrock.
And across the mist, vultures hunch, boss-like,
anticipating what they will pick at today. 


Laura Johnson is an English/ESOL teacher at Fayette County High School in Fayetteville, GA. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing in 2017, and her
work has been published in Time of Singing, Blue Heron Review, Snakeskin, The New Southern Fugitives, and others. Her first collection of poetry, Not Yet, will be released by Kelsay Books next spring.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

John Patrick Robbins Wants To Run With The Wolves, Collect New Scars, Take The Drug Of Love, And Leave The Old Dives

You Had To Be A Pirate

You saw us as outlaws.
Our lives lived by the sword was the appeal.

For us it was never a choice.
We dreamed cause it was our only escape from the shit that was our existence.

We paid our dues collected scars, broke hearts, and lost our souls somewhere along the way.

You saw our failures as something noble.
Hero worship is for bloated egos and old men who wish to cast their opinions down upon others.

I rather that you give me a beer and give me my space.

For you it's a path to walk maybe get laid, share some laughs, and be part of a brotherhood.

Every pup wants to run with the wolves eventually.

I never knew another’s shadow for I carved my own existence by clawing my way up and stepping on whomever tried to stop me.

You saw the bullshit and never the truth when others cast labels upon us, and you just simply wanted in the circle no matter the cost.

Once you’re in you realize the ocean is a lonely mistress and the sharks are many.

Welcome to the club.

The scars we bare are many and the rewards few.

It's not a honor its the only existence we know.

You never chose to be a pirate or outlaw it’s just a fucking label.

And I'm over it already.

Why I Got Into Poetry

The page was just there it was like that first little girlfriend we all find when the world is new and your hopes are many.
She was my first and remained my eternal passion.

Through the rest that leave you she remained and I grew to be the writer I am today.
Hearts break, people pass, and the embers of a once raging fire are all that remain.

She lays with you and eats at your very soul like any drug she can consume you like all the rest.

The best drugs all resemble some sort of twisted version of love.

And I am the worst kind of junkie that ever did exist.


I was lost to a degree and unable to find my place but I damn sure found the bottom of a bottle.

Emptiness is a disease that eats away like cancer.
I wasn't in the fight anymore I simply hung up my gloves and said goodbye.

I didn't haunt the old dives that once painted the page.
I was a recluse a former outgoing semi happy fool who now was just miserable fuck who waited to die.

My phone rang and most gave up.

I wasn't in the mood to pretend to be someone I wasn't anymore.

And no longer were my vices charming I was a addict and trying to hold a conversation while pretending I wasn't a full blown train wreck was just more than I was willing to give.

I found silence more soothing than conversation.

And I no longer cared to make up stories to entertain.

Nights were the worst and sometimes I found myself reaching out.

I mainly wrote someone who no longer cared for my words.
She never replied.
She was like the silence and I imagined within it I was still with her.

And she was as cold and empty as ever.
We shared that common trait.

See you at sunrise.

John Patrick Robbins is a barroom poet who's work is a hundred percent unfiltered. His work has been published with Piker Press, Outlaw Poetry Network, Red Fez, Inbetween Hangovers, Blognostics , Spill The Words, Horror Sleaze Trash, Romingos Porch .Your One Phone Call.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Chani Zwibel And The Daughter Of A Religious Fanatic, The Dust Of A Vesuvius Hippie's Dream, A Father's Minnow Basket, And The Chipped Nail Polish Awaiting Payday



I was tired of everyone and everything,
 the noise inflating in my head,
swelling like a fever.
 I wanted to quiet that tide of sound.
 I wanted to sleep,
rest my head against the pillow
 and have it
 not be so heavy with thought.
But it was.
 The night, outside,
 a dirty dishrag stained with soot.
 The light inside a snotty yellow.
The dog on the couch chewing a bone,
worrying it like anxiety was worrying me.
I did not know
 when the thoughts would cease.


In the dark, uncanny hours of the night,
 past my third or fourth beer,
 when my head was finally heavy on the pillow,
 the dancing demons inside my skull
began to scream and throw shit,
I open my eyes to the ceiling,
 and sighing, softly,
get out of bed to go write.
The only way to tame the monkeys
 is to get them down on paper,
or in this digital age,
trap the suckers inside a computer screen.
 I am no sword-wielding bad ass,
no heroine,
 just the daughter
of a drunk and a religious fanatic;
we all take our solace
 inside some obsession,
whether the cross or the bottle.
My husband sleeps the heavy sleep
of a man who has been working all day.
I feel restless,
 trapped in my day job,
 the purgatory of a health food store,
at home and comfy in my grey blanket,
going nowhere slowly.
Dust tickles as it settles on my skin,
 and I breathe it in,
 caught in the Vesuvius
 of some hippie’s failing dream.


Well, angels give respite
 and I’ve been out at all angles
 trying to call them down to save me,
but they keep taking me
back to the garden
 my mother grew
at my childhood home,
 and reminding me
of the little fish in my father’s minnow basket,
waiting in the creek
for a man who will not need them
 to fish with in this lifetime ever again.
Death’s pale mare takes them,
 same as the hand who set the trap for them,
 metal basket in creek water
 a grave just as much
 as yawning six-foot- deep rectangle
 in the churchyard.
 Dead father,
dead minnows,
anxious angels.


You see the demons
 keep dancing around
to the same jingle,
on an out-of-tune
of pain,
and they keep rolling
 the same dice.
Playing the” not-enough-money game,”
The “You’ll-never-amount-to-much roulette.”
 Spin the wheel for “you’ll-die-alone-and-obscure.”


I can hear rats
scratching and chewing
in the walls.
 My chipped red toe nail polish
reminds me
next paycheck
is a week away
I can hear rats
chewing in the walls,
and the rats can hear me typing.
 I type and the rats chew
 and it is almost like
 we’re collaborating
 on this poem for you.

Chani Zwibel is a graduate of Agnes Scott College, was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but now dwells in Marietta, Georgia, with her husband and their dog. She is an associate editor with Madness Muse Press. She enjoys writing poetry after nature walks and daydreaming.  

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Marianne Szlyk Runs Towards The Baseball Field Plane Crash

A Dream of November

The red, white, and gold belly
of the plane bulges above me.
November wind becomes roar of engines,
no longer October’s swoosh and swirl
of trees, of leaves, of hair.
I can no longer hear you.

I do not look up, knowing
I will see the cloudless sky
and the plane, the last thing
I may see.  Nothing good ever
happens on days like these.

I run away, denim skirt slapping
thick calves, bruising them, losing myself
on uphill streets past three-decker houses.
My heart races.  I brace myself,
escaping the city, the plane’s target.

Miles away, the plane crashes,
smashing against an out of season
baseball field.  Sirens throb, faster, faster
than my heart.  Someone else dies.

Catching my breath, I inch back
to the crash.  I find you,
still talking.

A Dream of Airports

I stand in line at Purdue’s tiny airport
on a brilliantly sunny day.  No clouds
to delay.   No turbulence to jar us.
No rain in the forecast.
I am going home from Indiana
with my bag of books and junk food.

I know this plane will crash
as it takes off from the airport.
Weighed down by hardback books
and granola bars, flaming,
it will fall into rows of soybeans.

As synthesizers play a peppy funeral march,
we queue up for the vehicle
that will take us to heaven or hell.
The thin ticket-taker wears a death’s head.

I step out of line.

September 10 in Indiana

Still newlyweds, we watched TV at your parents’.
In the background CNN hummed
a tune we’d never quite catch.

Perched on the scratchy couch,
we drank water—or tea—if
your mother was feeling festive.

Once again Chandra Levy surfaced
like the refrain everyone recognized
in a mumbled, droning song.

Your father thought that she was
his granddaughter snatched from
her husband and child in Chicago.

A woman my age, his granddaughter
looked like the missing girl
with bristling hair the color of

damp twigs and branches, taut arms,
a baggy sleeveless top with tights.
Both women leaned in for the camera.

Both women ran off gravel paths in parks.
You grabbed the remote from the table,
changed the channel to the local news.

A blonde meteorologist in a black dress
with long sleeves promised
blue skies until the weekend.

Marianne Szlyk edits The Song Is... a blog-zine for poetry and prose inspired by music (especially jazz).  Her second chapbook, I Dream of Empathy, is available on Amazon.  Her poems have appeared in of/with, bird's thumb, Cactifur, Solidago, Red Bird Chapbook's Weekly Read, and Resurrection of a Sunflower, an anthology of work responding to Vincent Van Gogh's art.  She has not flown in an airplane since Thanksgiving 2001.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Stefanie Bennett And A Star-Shaping Pencil Sharpener, A Speckled Bird, A Problem With Jules Verne, And A Looking-Glass War


         ... The burning tree quivers
         surrounded now by night.
         Talking to it I talk to you.

                              Octavio Paz

My misplaced pencil-sharpener,
How is it I’m to manage
The analogue without you!
Who beckoned you from
Your rightful place?
Was the act committed while
I was sleeping;
My head turned?
Did I simply
Neglect you
For too long?

Come back down... you don’t
Belong in the heavens.
Reshaping the stars
Is my judgement.
Forgive me. Forgive me.


Yet another one! The tongues click & off I go
demanding – this is no message – my
qualifications are shaky anyway...

The kind speckled bird has told me what depths
some will lean at. Whisperings. ‘Her trade’s
unisexual –& a would be blimp’ – & ‘don’t
you just know the poems flaunt a new left
set on self destruct?’

Well... that’s a bit much. As Dali
so pleasantly put it,

“instead of writing a history of art I am
writing the art of history.” Also, “If men go on dying,
blame Jules Verne – he was logical.” What I’m saying
is – I’ve no way of out-stating these things
& I’m not sure

if all of me wants to agree when I’m busily
being awed... YES, awed

by the sure flashes of colour – seemingly true – [dream
of a  Cosmic Unity] that I’d like to surrender myself
& would be cream-bun pacifists to. In full Spirit
can I again mime [Ah! manifestation] & toss this ‘other one’
... how the Great Speckled Bird rests

in the breast of each name-creed; that if – indeed – there
must be symbols, then best adopt this near divine invention

you need care for only when Unity stands its trial & much
is made of the perishing geometry; the detention of dance,
song, & fiction’s loss... the lingering anti-matter
we inspire – a whitewashed shy-hook & the Senses – hung,


What must word-play
Do with
A subject
That doesn’t exist!

Revisit the flaw
‘The Looking-Glass

Stefanie Bennett, ex-blues singer & musician, has published
several books of poetry & a novel & works with No Nukes, Arts
Action For Peace. Of mixed ancestry [Italian/Irish/Paugussett-
Shawnee] she was born in Queensland, Australia.