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. 

Monday, December 17, 2018

Ken Allan Dronsfield's Child Collages, Albino Ravens, Meteors, Sung Simoons, and Corn Growing Taller Than Words

Tasting of Fire

I've thrown myself into it;
thrown myself in.
And the fire has been lovely.
It's flames jump, and tickle,
leaping toward impossibility,
beautiful stars above.
So if today,
my body is dragged down,
the courage which hurled me
into the heart of the flame
has smoldered into mere embers.
The knowledge is there,
even today, when an albino raven
comes to sit upon my shoulder,
my vision doubling all objects
Those which I choose to see and
those which I do not,
the images imprinted on my eyelids
over lapping one another,
awkwardly, as a child's collage.
Yet I see beyond the darkness,
beyond the terror, beyond the spark.
Oh life of mine, incredible
harvest, the taste of fire, of
hope which we feed with ourselves.
I've thrown myself into it,
I’m warmed from within,
a soul afire, peace smolders.

Requiem of White Ash

An albino raven meditates

during an alabaster moonrise.

Darkness reaches from shadows

to grasp the soulless.

Hideous cries from the upper branches

of the tall Stone Mountain pines.

Ghosts from another time reincarnate

as swirling mists over fields of cotton.

Magpies joust upon the old sagging roof

of a forgotten plantation cabin.

Hooded one’s chant to their lesser being

who fulfills their twisted dreams.

They praise the Sun and Moon each night

as spirited white flames flicker.

Cherry blossoms scattered in the grip of

a heartless tempest blow.

Meteors strike the golden mountain;

a stark truth is finally told.

Life was hard in the Georgia of yesterday,

pantries stored nothing but memories.

The water from the pump was a hazy red,

smelling like decrepit sulfur.

Witches cast spells; send superstitions to hell,

as white ash rises under the full moon.

Wispy tendrils of foggy spirits rise into a red sky,

as he of the white flame greets the dead.

Tempest of Cold

By the graves I felt the storm

shall Death bring his batters?

Eagerly I looked for cover;

loud thunderstorm drumming

of the tempest that is blowing.

'It's that beat,' I muttered swinging;

That vicious, vicious pounding,

and the floodwaters never inhaling

I sing the splendid sudden simoom;

screech louder than the tearing sails;

crave the becalmed, blowy bellows!

I ignore the smashing, severe sleet;

take thy lashing from out my heart.

I threw its ghost against the walls

I await the defeated, dreich drum,

here stands an unflustered peach.

Witches and Stone

That which gives often...

often receives nothing in return.

Do not be deceived by writing in stone.

Corn often grows taller than words;

words often grow taller than deeds.

In what field strides a dark Witch,

through stalks as thick as bovine legs.

We take a cache and fill silos

forty moons per the fields.

Geese feed in flocks as a night

haze dissolves with the sunrise.

Wrung one’s neck for our bellies

now we give it spit and hot coals.

At dusk, we watch a coven of witches

feed the flames below their cauldron.

They gather petrified stubble and stone

to craft tonics and spells whilst the

crows and ravens pick clean all

discarded husk and bones.

Within a breath, the sun disappears;

darker times fill life’s circle.

Ken Allan Dronsfield is a disabled veteran, prize winning poet and fabulist from New Hampshire, now residing on the plains of Oklahoma. He is widely published in magazines, journals, reviews and anthologies throughout the US and abroad. He has three poetry collections, "The Cellaring", 80 poems of light horror, paranormal, weird and wonderful work. His second book, "A Taint of Pity", contains 52 Life Poems Written with a Cracked Inflection. Ken's third poetry collection, "Zephyr's Whisper", 64 Poems and Parables of a Seasonal Pretense, and includes his poem, "With Charcoal Black, Version III", selected as the First Prize Winner in Realistic Poetry International's recent Nature Poem Contest. Ken won First Prize for his Haiku on Southern Collective Experience. He's been nominated three times for both the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net for 2016-2018. Ken loves writing, hiking, thunderstorms, and spending time with his cats Willa and Yumpy.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Shawn Yager Presides Over The Airplane Graveyard Trailer Park Childhood, the Ennui Of Progress, Living High On The Landfill, And The Boy In The Plastic Bubble

Ballad of the Sad Trailer Park

Like that airplane graveyard in Tucson,
Here’s a place for mobile homes to die.
As they crumble, residents patch holes with old plywood,
Tarps, or plastic sheeting.

One trailer stands apart, abandoned,
Full of holes, a side caved in,
No windows, no plumbing—
Slanted floor,
A rusty shell.
Given up on.

The horde of kids living in these immobilized homes,
Wheelchairs with flat tires,
They haven’t given up on it.
They love that old broken down metal shack,
Made it their own.

It serves as a pressure relief valve--
When things get out of hand, they go there.
When Mom and Dad are fighting,
When Dad and Uncle Pete are drunk and the guns are out,
When Mom’s boyfriend comes over and they need alone time,
When the police come over to talk to Daddy about where he was last night,

The place actually helped raise these kids.

It is also a lab--
What kids witness at home, at school, on TV,
They try out here.
“Got some beer from my brother!”
“Stole cigarettes from my mom!”
“Let’s play house!”
“Ouch!  Stop that.”

The residents of this park
Could never afford a house in town,
Snuggled up close to its neighbors,
Down the street from the pizza place,
The library, the school, the police station.
They could not even afford the rent on an apartment
Over the general store.

(Besides, none of the families would fit, they tend to be large and unruly.)

Looking Out the Glass Door of the Last Subway Car on the Way to O’Hare

The rails move closer together
As they get further away

They touch the silhouette formed by downtown buildings--
A giant black crown.

You made it this far,
But you still haven’t left.
The car has you hostage.

You’ve gotten accustomed to your cell.

Your past is visible in the present

Your future is known—
Will you get off at the last stop,
Or will you choose to return to your origin,

Seeing the same thing
In reverse.

But the world rotates around the sun, and

Everything is in constant motion.
--So, even if you’re moving backward
` The things you revisit will be different.
Technically, then, you’ll be seeing things for the first time.

Does forward exist?
Does backward exist?
Is there such a thing as progress?

I AM NOT A GOD (But I play one on TV)

From my shack high on the landfill,
I see ships floating on the water.
The big ones bully the little ones,
The little ones call out to me for help.

Filled with sudden senses of purposes,
I, grunting like my cousin the ape,
Heave a cracked toilet seat into the air,
But the injustice continues.
I realize I must do more.

I grab a rope and some wax,
Run downhill as fast as I can,
Through sleazy waterfront neighborhoods,
To reach the harbor--

I am too late!  All the little ships are gone.
Victims of hate
Victims of philistinism
Victims of carpe diems.

I throw my rope and wax into the oily waters, and
Glare at the supertanker, smug in its berth.

Letter to Friends on Vacation in Florida
March, 2004

Hello, pioneers in the melding
of High and Low, alchemists,
Friends of long-standing duration.
Hope you're doing all right in
The land of strangeness and Geritol.
Hope you make it back with
Your insanity intact.
And your kitty cat.

The days of your absence are cold
And empty.

Return, renew, and replenish us,
With your absorbed, radiant warmth,
And stories of weirdnesses,
And all of that which is only dreamed of,
Talked about, up here.

Up here, where it is gray,
And cold and inward and
Hurry back,

And maybe we can rip the wrapping off this bitch,
Introduce some contaminants.
I'm sick of this Boy-in-the-Plastic-Bubble shit.

Shawn feels that writing is an act of discovery.  While he has had
seven short stories published online or in print, this marks the first
time that any of his poetry has been published.  He currently teaches English
to at-risk students in southwestern NH.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Matt Borczon Returns To Discuss Bones In Duffel Bags, A Three-Legged Horse, Tipping The Ferryman, Chem Trails, And A Messianic Sailor


is a
ghost town
it's a
duffel bag
full of
human bones
it's moths
drinking tears
from the
eyes of
birds while
they sleep

today is
afraid to
come forward
it's drunk
and horny
it's a
tire fire
out of
control and
a coal
mine long

today is
hung over
on a
park bench
it's reading
my mail
it's a
rusted out
VW bus
left in
a forest
of bare
trees and
it's turning
water into
wine in

today is
walking a
3 legged
horse into
oncoming traffic
it's fighting
dogs in
it's paying
its taxes
on time
it's demanding
our attention
and robbing
our sleep
and breaking
promises as
it wipes
the dust
off of
the moon.

Mother Angelica pray for me

 Tip the
your waitress
the dealer
before you
leave the
table exit
the restaurant
sail quietly
into the
hell you
made of
your life
smile and
hope you
get lost
along the

stare at
chem trails
like white
across ink
black skies
pray for
a star
to guide

and remember
that Jesus
was a
when he
on the

Matthew Borczon is a poet from Erie, Pa he has written seven books of poetry so far. His new book Code 3 the prison blues is now available from Alien Buddha press. When he is not writing he is a nurse for developmentally disabled adults.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Stefanie Bennett Holds Her Cain Renegade Neutrons During The Trepidation Lid Or Not


In my Mother’s House
A deceptive land,
An impulse
Waxes lyric...

While un-encumbered
The axe-head
And wood-block lie – seen
Only from
 The bi-fold window.

There, time steps through
The filaments’
Grasping squall, and
It’s found

How I am – now, twice
As able
As once
Was Cain.


Renegade neutrons
Fall apart
On the front lawn, yet
You, with
Your cold
Hand them
A clean
Of health. Seems

Strange how
A ‘for real’
Shooting star’s
Never around
You want one.


So much to answer for.
No-one to answer to.
Maybe add

An arthropod
With intent
And put a lid
On it.

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