Paul Tanner

waiting for girlfriend’s bus

I needed a piss, so 
I went into the men’s, stood to a urinal, took it out and started 
doing my business …
someone stands next to me.
our elbows touch.  
there’s three other shanks and a cubicle, 
but this guy has to piss next to me? 
whatever. I finish pissing, zip up and turn – 
he’s looking right at me. 
up for it? he says. 
up for what? 
come on, he says. you’re Jim forty-five, aren’t you?
no, I tell him.
oh come on, don’t chicken out now. is it cos you don’t like what you see?
I looked at him: he was little and skinny. kinda feminine. 
and I hadn’t done anal in ages …
show me your arse, I said. 
he undid his belt, pulled his jeans and boxers down and bent over the urinal. 
spread ‘em, I said. 
he did. 
nah, sorry, I said. too hairy. 
you said you didn’t mind hair, he said. you fucking said! 
look, I’m sorry, I said. but I’m not Jim forty-five. 
fuck you aren’t! he turned around, his pants hanging around his knees. 
coward! get off on humiliating me like this, do you? he said
as his stiffy waved around. 
I went to the mirror and washed my hands. 
I checked my reflection,
buffed my quiff up, 
went back out
and waited.

John D Robinson

Sun and Coffee

Jeannie was plain but pretty
and by way of an ex-partner,
she owned a fucking big house.
We met whilst working in an illegal
fake ivory products factory.
I became homeless
and she offered me a room.
The factory boss disappeared
and the placed closed-up
and we spent our days drinking
and smoking and listening to music.
Then she found God and my habits
became unacceptable and again,
I became without a roof.
She moved town and married
and we lost touch but there
were times back then,
when she walked into my room
in a see-through night-gown
and she would pull back the curtains
and the sun would torch the room
and she would stand there
greeting me a good morning
as I sat up and gazed at the thick
mound of hair between her legs
and at her hard nipples
punching through the cloth.
I’d look knowing that I’d be
drinking coffee with her soon.

Peter Clarke

Richard Dawkins By the Light of the Moon

Seven witches gathered at London’s Highgate Cemetery to cast a spell on Richard Dawkins. They were dressed in black with hoods and shawls. As the sun went down, they placed candles on top of nearby headstones, making long shadows dance and flicker on all sides. 

“Fuck you, Richard Dawkins,” they chanted quietly.

A special potion (wine with mugwort and other herbal additives) was passed around. One of the witches snuck away to pop open a fresh bottle of merlot while the chanting continued.

“Fuck you, Richard Dawkins.”

“Okay, it’s starting!” a witch named Ada exclaimed. She was holding a cellphone, which was streaming a live speech by Dawkins at Oxford University. The witches gathered around to watch.

“You are stupid, stupid people only fooling yourselves,” said the esteemed atheist and evolutionary biologist, his voice projecting authoritatively from the phone’s tiny speaker. 

On the screen, the audience came into view: a group of Wiccans, palm readers, fortune tellers, Ouija board enthusiasts, followers of Cthulhu, believers in Odin, and other fanatics of the occult and the esoteric. 

“There is nothing magic about the world, and there is certainly nothing truly magical about your spells, paranormal beliefs, prophesies, curses, and whatever else you have chosen to form your identities around.”

“Curse his eyeballs, that they might pop right out of his face and go rolling around on the floor, where he’ll step on them,” said a witch named June, holding the spell-casting broomstick.

She passed the powerful item to the witch on her left, a runaway teenage girl named Sammy.

“Curse his head, so that his hair might catch fire and for that fire to form a mirror in his soul so he has to look at himself in the mirror for all eternity, not able to see anything else except for how mean and ugly he is.”

Gina, a lifelong witch and equally dedicated punk rock girl, was suddenly caught between the wine bottle and the broomstick.

“Come back to me,” she said, dead serious, taking the wine bottle and letting the broomstick be passed along to Karen.

“Curse his luck,” said Karen, “so that everything he touches turns to shit, including his food.”

With each curse cast, the girls became increasingly excited. Another bottle of wine was popped open. One of the witches lit a joint mixed with suma root and Avena sativa for stimulation of the libido. Another witch burned sage. As Dawkins’ voice rose in anger and disgust, the witches began to undress and touch each other.

“To live successfully, we must engage with the world—with the world as it actually exists, not as we project it to exist based on unsubstantiated beliefs. If prayer worked, we would see the results of prayer. And yet there is absolutely zero evidence ever documented of prayer’s effectiveness. If you have two sick children, you give one prayer and the other penicillin, guess which child gets well? The answer, of course, is obvious. The same is true for casting spells and playing around with magic. By engaging with these things, you are not engaged with what is real in the world, and so you undermine the core of human progress.”

“Curse his soul,” said Georgia, holding the broomstick like a microphone, “I hope he burns for all eternity in hell!”

Ada took the broomstick next, rubbing it between her legs as she cried, “Curse his big, fat, self-important brain, that it might explode in his head and his old, grey cortex might splatter all over the witches in the crowd, and so they might eat his brains.”

June crept behind Ada, kissing her neck and caressing her thighs as Ada made good use of the full broomstick handle.

“Go ahead,” said Richard Dawkins, “cast a spell on me! Pray to your favorite god to have me expire in a puff of smoke! Sick the devil on me while you’re at it!”

“Aww,” moaned Karen, leaning against a headstone with Sammy’s head sinking down between her open legs. “Fuck you, Richard Dawkins,” she said between moans.

“Fuck you, Richard Dawkins,” said Ada, kissing June and fondling her breasts.

Richard Dawkins loosened his tie and took off his jacket. “Is it getting hot in here?” he asked the crowd, taking a sip of water.

The camera zoomed out again, showing the entire auditorium turned into a giant orgy of spell-casting witches and occultists moaning in ecstasy. “Fuck you, Richard Dawkins,” they chanted, until Ada muted her phone and flung herself, body and soul, into an unholy tidal wave of multiple orgasms.

Willie Smith

Afternoon Zenith 

Turned on the TV, 
and the TV turned on me. 
A dog on the screen appeared. I 
sneered at how stupid the dog appeared. 
Barked, “Jump, Rover – jump!” 
And the dog did, jumped clear out of the TV; 
turned on me, how Sodom turned on God; 
and you know Sodom turned God on, 
all that bored-out butt getting stuffed. 
Enough to turn God’s Rod into a sly snake. 
The mutt onto my Levi cuff glommed, 
the day turning into a circus. 
With a fist I cuffed the beast. 
Grabbed a stick and beat the dog off. 
Let him lick up the mess. Chased him 
back inside the tube. Where he turned 
out to be the locomotive for an ad for 
Gravy Train. Turned the TV off, 
and the TV turned off all three rings of me – left  
on the floor, in the den, bored to death; shot 
to hell one more doggone godawful afternoon.  

Willie Smith

Joe’s Anus

For The Reader’s Digest

Hi, I’m Joe’s anus.
I like to talk, but Joe doesn’t very often let me.
My idea of a good sandwich
is liverwurst on white bread
with a side order of onion rings.
I turn my nose up at vegetarians.
I only have one eye and I
constantly concentrate on keeping
it trained on my inner self.
I don’t know anything about art,
but I do like Norman Rockwell.

If I had one wish
I would be Treasurer of the United States,
or maybe Bert Parks.
My favorite sport is baseball.
I thrill to the crack of the bat
and the towering blast exploded over
the centerfield wall
and into the mezzanine
where old drunks get their pockets picked
by truant schoolboys.

Like that of the housewife, my work
is never done. I have never slept a wink
in my entire life, and yet,
I am certain I have a firm grip
on what dreams are. 

Paul Tanner

us swellers

she had a beer belly like a man.
it was fascinating. 
she had the hips and the tits,
but then there was this dome of a belly 
and it wasn’t hard and shiny like a pregnant stomach,
it was soft with folds at the sides like a man’s beer gut
and even more amazing was that she wasn’t ashamed,
she’d sit on the couch in shorts and an open shirt,
those long strong legs out and crossed,
one firm slab of thigh on top of the other, 
her breasts that got bigger towards the bottom 
perfectly bunched up within the balcony of her bra
… but with this big old wobbly gut between them
and maybe it was the media shaming bellies have got,
but this somehow seemed even more intimate 
than if she’d shown some nips or lips
and it drove me mad,
the hot slut
sitting there 
with that big round thing that processed all her food and turned it into shit
just hanging out for all to see like that
and when I went down on her
I always had my hands on her belly,
stroking it
and she let me,
the shameless whore let me stroke 
the skin surface of the very balloon that all her intestines were coiled up in, 
how intimate is that? 
and she would look down
as she reached for
another beer.

Judson Michael Agla

The Dogs Are Hungry

You’ve beaten me, ripped my flesh to the bone,
and you’ve burnt me in your holy fires

But what’s left of this mortal coil
still hangs precariously on the threads of vengeance,
and an insatiable blood lust

I’ll return one day
My tomahawk brighter, freshly sharpened,
casting long shadows as it darkens with crimson

Many more will follow

These hills echo with the news of the fallen and oppressed
Your antiquated fables of eternal damnation
are beginning to fall on educated, enlightened ears

Like a monstrous black storm that passes by
dropping only a few subtle tears of rain

Send your men; they will die
Barricade your institutions; they will be brought down
Run; and I’ll find you

The dogs are always hungry in the twilight 

Zoltergeist the Poltergeist, By Douglas Hackle

Jimmy Green is a middle-aged limousine driver and a devoted fan of the insane TV sitcom Zoltergeist the Poltergeist. Once when he was a boy, Jimmy had an impure thought about the lead singer of The Bangles.

After confessing his sin to a drunken priest thirty-five years later, Jimmy is sentenced to six months’ penance in an old, isolated house—dubbed Penance House—in the middle of nowhere in rural Ohio. There, sequestered from civilization, Jimmy must repent for his sinful nature or else endure the Everlasting Fires of Hell.

As if Penance House weren’t creepy, whack, and janked-up enough, Jimmy is forbidden to enter the room at the end of the upstairs hallway. Does something sinister lurk beyond its closed door? And what about that leprechaun he keeps seeing skulking around in the woods?

Lucky for Jimmy, he has all forty-nine seasons of Zoltergeist the Poltergeist saved to his laptop to distract himself from his unsettling surroundings. Toward that end, probably the only thing better than rewatching old Zoltergeist episodes would be a visit from the show’s enigmatic, titular star itself…

“The head honcho of the absurd, the governor of wackiness, the top dog of insanity is back! Intelligent and imbecilic, Douglas Hackle is one of the most unique voices in bizarro fiction. Watch out, ’cause Hackle’s brain tissue is coming to town in a sleigh carved out of mad puppets and pulled by alcoholic poltergeists. Dare to see what Douglasgeist Hacklegeist leaves in your socks!”
Zoltán Komor, author of Flamingos in the Ashtray

“Zoltergeist the Poltergeist had me laughing, tittering, chortling, and popping out guffaws like nobody’s business. It even had me dancing for some reason—like I was listening to the hottest new bizarro track out this summer. Your kids are going to love it and so are you.”
—Luke Kondor, author of The Run Fantastic


James Diaz

Recovery In Pieces

“Addiction is a tunnel that wakes you up in the middle of the night.
Everything else happens out here in the light.” -Cheryl Strayed

The kid says he’s tired
of this way of life
and I’m hoping he means it

but we’ve been here before
knocking and then running 
back out the door

sleeping on motel floors 
while his mother-love 
cradles her johns 
in a bed wide enough 
for all of the pain in the world 

on this last run 
he lost all his clothes
returns home 
in a pair of womens Jeans
talkin about getting clean
it lasts a day

what can I say
I know well the way 
that wheel turns 
and turns
inside our damaged 
little heads

but this morning 
he asks for the number to rehab
and I give it and give it and give it
we’ve been here before 
and the spirit is poor
the body weary 

the kid says he’s tired
I’m tired too
but what can I do
except offer up what little I know
how you got to surrender to win
how you can’t go home again

feels like it’s written on the wall
the kid’s aiming for hope
but prepped for the fall

all I know is you gotta answer the call
give em that number again and again
just in case 
this is the bottom 
they’re calling you from.