James Diaz

As Much as We Are Able

I wanted a poem to carry me
Thus far
I have only been hurled
By every sentence I could not give full birth to

My friend has cancer
And has lost her sight
Lives alone in a cold trailer
Hasn’t spoken to her son in years 

I can’t make that okay 

I wanted a poem to carry her
But she is only thrown
Closer
Every day
To her end

I can’t make sense of it
Why we’re always given more
Than a poem (we) can carry 

Why nothing makes anything okay
Why We’re just thrown
Every day into our lives
Like a bullet with no one’s name on it

We carry as much as we are able
And we are not able to carry
Very much at all. 

James Hippie

Death By Misadventure

Most of his friends had sold out. Once they hit their thirties they started dropping out of the scene; women, careers, children, the whole lame adult checklist. He was one of the few that stayed the course. He was in it to win it. Rock and roll.

Some days he had his doubts. He knew most people considered him a loser. They looked down on the unemployment scams, hocking his gear for drugs, the trips to jail for petty hustles and expired warrants. It hurt to know that people thought he had wasted his potential and turned into a lowlife drug addict, some fucking wastrel that was stuck in a pathetic adolescent fantasy world. He was on the wrong side of thirty and still passing himself off as a musician, still waiting for that big break. What a joke. But when he had his shit together, high and kicking it in a room somewhere, he knew he had made the right choice. He never sold out. They were the ones that traded their youthful ideals for the safety of their parents’ path. He was living the dream. He was going down with the ship. It was all or nothing.

One night he managed to score some 80mg oxys from some guy he met in Long Beach, a so-called fan that remembered him from “back in the day” but still charged him full price for the drugs. They picked up a twelve pack and a pizza and he got a room for the night. They drank and bullshitted while they worked on the pizza, then they crushed up the pills and started doing lines. He was watching something on the History Channel when he nodded out. The guy from Long Beach relieved him of the remainder of the drugs and $17.00 from his wallet and left him there, comatose but technically still alive. Later when he regurgitated the pizza, the vomit pooled in his windpipe, choking him.

That was how the maid found him the next day, purple and bloated, his head wedged between the bed and the nightstand. The coroner attributed it to “death by misadventure,” which was also the title of a shitty Ted Nugent song. He would have approved of the irony.

When word of his death got out, a few people that remembered him and his band left flowers and candles on the curb outside the motel. It was his best performance ever. Always leave them wanting more. Rock and roll.

David Estringel

Coffeehouse Romance

I see you,
alone,
reading Raymond Carver
at a table for two.
Straight, black hair—
lightly greased—
falling in your face.
You brush it away,
saving a page
with your right thumb,
I notice
the smoothness
of your hands,
the fullness
of your fingers.
Your eyes
are lost in ugly life—
I think they are brown.
The angles
and curves
of your face
sing
in their own silent poetry.
You turn a page.
I long
to dip my face
into your cupped hands
and drink in
the smell of you.
To taste the sweat of your palms.
To kiss the fingertips
that have touched
the sum of your parts.
You catch my eye
so I look away.
You keep reading.
I wonder—
for a moment—
what it’s like
to be that chair.
You close your book
and get up to leave.
Passing me by—
warm—
smelling
of faded cologne
and sweaty jeans,
I devour you
at every inhale.
You leave me,
unaware
that for a moment
you
were everything
that mattered—
my cathedral—
and with the ghosts of fingerprints
lingering upon my tongue.

 

(Originally published at Cajun Mutt Press)

Don Stoll

Sick

Joe Halladay figured he’d had enough of Ellen Flay, but this morning was the topper.

“Better not get sick on my shoes,” he said. “One thing you did it on the floor back at the station, but won’t be a darky with a mop here.”

“Fat ass keep you getting out of the way in time?” Flay said.

Halladay couldn’t believe a woman had been put in charge of catching the Leopard of Leeds. Him with thirteen years on the Leeds City Police and her on loan from York and North East Yorkshire, waltzing in to give orders like the Queen to him and other blokes. And didn’t know enough to stay in bed with her flu, make everyone at the station sick starting with Joe Halladay.

“We pretend we’re a team, Joe?” she said. “For Mr. Smythe’s benefit?”

Halladay knocked on Tommy Smythe’s door.

Flay tried the handle. The door opened.

“Wasting time,” Halladay said. “Bloke killed four women going to leave his door unlocked?”

Flay entered the flat.

“Need me to go over all the rubbish that connects Smythe to Jill Melvin?” she said. “Got your head up that fat ass so I need to pull it out for you?”

“Means you reaching up my ass I’m all right with it,” he grinned.

He followed her until she went left to the sitting room. He went right to the kitchen. That was teamwork: she could sit for a minute, Fat Ass would probably look in the fridge.

She barely had her own ass on the sofa when she hears Halladay.

“Might owe you an apology, Ellen.”

She heaved herself up. She followed the voice.

There’s Halladay, gloves on, great whacking brassiere stretched out between his hands dripping into the sink.

“Label says 42D,” he snickered. “If Smythe’s the Leopard then he’s a hardy lad, able to pack our Jill up into a tree.”

With the blood-stained bra still stretched out he made it see-saw. He raised the right cup and then the left.

“Which one you think he ate first, Ellen?” he said. “Bloody knickers in the sink too.”

“Need the loo,” Flay said.

She received a shock upon raising the lid. She slammed it down.

“Bog’s stopped up.”

“Might be evidence,” Halladay laughed. “Remains of Jill Melvin.”

She went into the hall. Door at the end opened. Pulled out her warrant card. Flashed it as she headed toward the middle-aged chap coming out, him speechless.

“Thank you to use your loo, sir” she said brushing past him. “Police business.”

Not shutting the door—too much of a hurry—she retched into the clean empty bog.

“You really police?” she heard someone say, middle-aged chap no doubt.

She retched again. A real chunder this time, felt like her whole insides coming up.

She heard him saying “Late for work, but you’ll lock up, Officer?”

Flay needed a few minutes.

She left, locking the door, and went back to Tommy Smythe’s flat. Halladay had closed the door but not locked it.

Halladay not in the kitchen, not in the sitting room. She found the bedroom. There’s Halladay with tape over his mouth, eyes huge, and next thing she sees must be Tommy Smythe, eyes getting huge when he sees Flay.

She sees Halladay’s hands behind his back and then sizes up Smythe: the Leopard for sure. Powerful build, and why else tie up a copper?

“You police too?” he says, puts a knife to Halladay’s throat.

Flay’d drawn her service weapon without thinking. She pointed it at the floor.

“Don’t want more trouble Tommy, killing a copper,” she said.

“Think this’ll make it worse on me?” he laughed. “Let me by.”

Flay stepped to her left. Smythe came forward keeping Halladay in front. On reflex, Flay raised her gun and put a bullet through his eye.

Fucking hell, that was lucky, she thought as he hit the floor.

Next she ripped the tape off of Halladay’s mouth.

“Could of missed and hit me, you cow!”  he screamed.

Flay didn’t tell him he was an ungrateful twat. She was too busy thinking how tired she was of feeling sick every morning.

Time to get rid of the sodding baby, she thought.

Jack Henry

stuck in traffic at 530am on my way to work

traffic’s bad today
well, at least, worse than usual
i don’t like using the word worse in a poem
but this time
it fits

the usual traffic is a soul sucker
read in Time Magazine
your lifespan decreases a minute
for every minute you sit in traffic

locked in a metal box
all us lemmings queued up
inch by miserable fucking inch
we go

every day i almost die in traffic
the lunatic fringe surrounds me
maniacs race for every foot forward
brake lights flicker like sparklers on the Fourth of July
Death Race 2000 on speed

this morning
i pulled next to a young entrepreneur
in a new BMW
leaving 100-foot gaps between cars
i scream my profanities
but he just smiles languidly

his co-pilot performs fellatio at 530am
his head bobbing, up and down
i can’t imagine performing fellatio
at 530am in the morning
stuck in traffic

i’m not opposed to fellatio in a car
in traffic on a freeway
but at 530am i am pretty much
opposed
to everything

Ian Copestick

It’s Happening

It’s happening tonight in the local estate
It’s happening in the council houses
As people wobble home in an inebriated state
Fall asleep as they drop their trousers

The fog is licking at the windows
It’s sniffing at the doors
It’s sneaking through the keyholes
Bringing something not seen before

Escaped from hidden army base
Only a few miles out of town
Clean-up crew, to the scene they race
They’ve got to shut this fucker down.

In the estate, some people stir
Upon hearing an eerie growling
They see their loved ones covered in fur
Enjoying their disembowelling

Only a few houses could have been infected
At least, they hope that’s it
The inhabitants must be inspected
And dealt with as is seen fit

In the morning, the fog will be recovered
Several citizens  “removed ”
When their disappearance is discovered
The neighbours will simply be told, they moved.