J.J. Campbell

the poet took over

twenty-five years
since one chapter
of my life faded
into the next one

the pay was better
but the hours fucking

a few too many nights
closing down bars
instead of clocking
in and eventually
the poet took over

now the creep is
hoping his winning
lottery ticket gets
pulled one of these

pacing a small

broken down

and endless amounts
of shit scribbled on
page after page

this is what happens
when the smart kid
decides he doesn’t
want to make money
for someone else

Matthew Licht

jh ghost4

A Big Star, Part 3

Bonehandle confessed he directed the Johnson loop, and went misty-eyed about his late star. “You know, he wasn’t the way most people think.”

“You mean, straight?”

“That’s not what I mean, although…”

“Listen, do you have in your possession any object that bears traces of John Holmes? Genetic material, something that’ll register on a laboratory DNA scan. My client will pay.”

Bonehandle didn’t want money. What he had on John wasn’t much, he said, but it was precious, and not for sale. If I promised to behave myself, I could come over to his place for a look at his Holmes relics.

Hideseekers’ closing time was never. Bonehandle gave a West Hollywood address and said he didn’t wish to be disturbed before 3:30 in the afternoon.


Bonehandle opened his door dressed in a tooled leather kimono. Leather hats and leather hockey masks crowded a leather hat-rack in the vestibule. The black leather jackets stuffed in the wide-open closet elbowed each other out of the way in a futile attempt to escape.

An over-designed kettle blew. Bonehandle made tea. We sat in his leather living room, lit by a low-watt bulb suspended from the ceiling. He pushed a spiral notebook across his hidebound coffee table. “John wrote these,” he said.

The notebook was full of poems.

I riffled the pages, selected one at random. The title was “Stripped Away.”

Not bad. Spelling mistakes and bathos galore, but sincere. A man hacks and wrenches away the parts of himself he feels aren’t worthy of a human being. In the end, there’s not much left.

Bonehandle slurped Earl Gray through his moustache. “They’re so touching, his poems. He wrote stories too, and movie scripts, though not as successfully. He used to read at the Young Adults Community Center in El Segundo. The kids there loved him sincerely. They didn’t know he was a star.”

Exhibit B was a bigger spiral notepad filled with watercolors, ink washes and chalk pastels of female nudes in erotic poses. There were close-up studies in sunset shades. Nothing recognizable as the client’s mama.

Bonehandle couldn’t mask his distaste. “Johnnie thought female pussy was beautiful. Sometimes I couldn’t tell if he was really one of us. He had depths I couldn’t plumb, and shallownesses.”

I asked about the women who starred in the Johnson short. He claimed amnesia about the women in his straight loops. There weren’t many of them. He’d directed gay porn almost exclusively, made an exception for Holmes. “Pussy is pussy,” he said, and waved unpleasant memories away.

“How well did you know the guy?”

“Our relationship was mostly professional. I don’t think he had any friends. He used to show up unannounced every now and then. Occasionally, he’d stay over. This was before he got hung up on blow.”

Bonehandle rose from his leather club chair. His kimono flapped open like the wings of a giant bat. He crossed the room, turned on an outdated hi-fi system. He let the tubes warm up, then flicked on the reel-to-reel. Someone with a reedy baritone accompanied himself unsteadily on a steel-string guitar.


Bonehandle nodded. “He wasn’t what you could call talented, but he tried so hard.”

“Aww, poor Johnnie.”

Bonehandle shut the music down in a huff. “Are you sure you’re a private investigator? What exactly do you want, anyway?”

I showed him my license, reiterated the request for an item that would yield sample DNA and stand up as evidence in a court of law.

“Evidence of what? That murder case was settled ages ago. Johnnie was cleared.”

“Nothing to do with that old business, but I plead client confidentiality. I’ll take whatever you’ve got, but if whatever you give turns out bogus, I’ll be back to settle accounts.” I wasn’t interested in keeping Bonehandle as a friend. “I’m authorized to go as high as half a grand.”

He waved the idea away. “Can’t help you.”

“In that case, do you know where your soulful friend’s buried?”

“Why? Is it some State secret? I guess down in Orange somewhere. That’s where he used to live, anyway.”

Orange County is, as the dead man was, large.


A Big Star, Part 1
A Big Star, Part 2

David Estringel

little deaths

We implode—
in raptures
of liquid light
that set the skin
to sizzle on the spit
like slow-cooked meat,
pulled apart
in greedy clutches,
skin from skin,
limb from limb,
sinew from bone
until all is gone,
fallen away
in shreds
and trickles.
Tongues prodding,
for the taste of coppery bliss
of chewed lips,
these beautiful bodies—
heartbeats and exhales
of viscera and vasculature
with eyelids, aflutter—
into black, into white—
strobes of abstract consciousness.
we die
little deaths,
and again—
every morning, a resurrection.

Maté Jarai


I’ve got holes in my skin
where feathers used to be
mind full of wisdom
full of verse
but she’s been cursed
it was a witch on a volcano top:
Gypsy warlock, new-age mage.
No coins, no water, just plastic
like all the other body parts
chowed down by ocean worms
microscopic danger-like premonitions
chewed up body parts and chipped faces
no lips and noses, eyes and ears,
holes, crevices, craggy forms,
plugged up feather holes
filled with a million dead rabbits
from a million false-bottom
top hats as only the ancient
chuckle onwards and clap
in sweet oblivious ignorance.

John Tustin

The Wolves Are at The Door

The wolves are at the door
I can hear them howl
Scratching at the floor
Mouths are sharp and foul

In here all alone
Just a skeleton in skin
Mere flesh upon the bone
I know they’re getting in

I’ll miss my loving daughter
And my understanding son
Thinking as I’m slaughtered
That the predators have won

No more will I hold you near
Your love dissolving hate
I shed my clothes, I shed my fear
And just accept my fate

The wolves have breached the barricades
The shit has hit the fan
My eyes are blood, all feeling fades
Turns out I’m just a man

Cee Martinez

it’s common sense to swallow

I took three spells and split them with roses
spit take the outtake from this it reveals
the pains in the way I strain to avoid
the ideas that might make
your sperm take root

first swallow

the common sense that tastes
of salt and self sacrifice

money shot

the sticky and dry you rinse
at a sink and blink
to the moment
you didn’t let it in your ass

that pass was the slip into quim
and the moment you’re praying
for a nuclear arsenal
to erase any traces
of him

Mitch Green

Arson Doves

Perplexed to prolapse the bargain of beast.
Haven coerced by gloom of grey spit.
Shadow the sheen veins of aroma to frighten.

The damsel underneath cold coal shivers.
qualm the gills of goading heresy.
Be it a boy to wander the passage of the passenger.

Anatomical wonder.
Bed wetting worry.
Just as the anthill billows; the
lips of love swallows.

Jab beauty hideously to
unravel diamonds.
and give birth to dead doves
in arson fields.

Matthew Licht

jh ghost_bonehandle

A Big Star, Part 2

The job was to track down a dead adults-only performer and get a DNA sample.

Life is a lonely, mediocre business. Some LA porn-freaks must collect relics. The star’s co-workers might’ve kept mementoes. Another scan of Johnson’s loop would possibly yield credits, not that many people use their real names in porn films. 

The motel where I live features color TV sets, but no video equipment. 

Usually I work from photographs. The walls in my room are covered with pictures of runaway kids. 

The guy at the TV repair shop on Vine hung his hand-lettered “Back in 5 minutes” sign on the door for the screening. When the happy ending rolled, he punched the air like it was a football highlight.

Holmes had two female co-stars. I asked the TV repairman whether he’d seen the brunette before. Uh-uhn, but he’d sure as hell bang her if he ever saw her again. He said, “That’s too bad,” when he heard she was dead.

The credits were minimal. John Holmes played himself, and got top billing. Mr Johnson’s mother was either “Candy Lane” or “Sugar Brix”. The director signed himself Bonehandle.

There were no other names. Bonehandle was the cameraman, set decorator and lighting engineer. He worked solo, in secret, hoped the Park Rangers wouldn’t shut down the production, hold him and his stars prisoner until the cops showed up. You could almost smell the nervous sweat.


A few glass telephone booths still stood, in Hollywood. One of them had a phone directory chained to its fold-out shelf.

A patient operator said there was no listing for anyone named Bonehandle in the entire LA basin. Neither were any subscribers named van Bone, McBone, Hueso, Osso, Knochen. 

On a hunch, I drove to the La Brea Tar Pits Museum. None of the curators in short sleeve shirts and bow ties, ticket clerks, janitors were amateur nature-movie buffs. Nobody vibed hard-core auteur.

The foreign word jigged a spark. There were trace elements of art in the client’s loop, something fetishistic about its focus.


A preliminary canvass of West Hollywood turned up zero on Bonehandle. Many of the residents had heard of John Holmes, though.

Boys’ Town has many neighborhoods. A friendly leather man with a walrus moustache said Bonehandle was not only still alive, he was a regular at Hideseekers. 

Hideseekers’ doorman wouldn’t admit anyone improperly dressed. He was an imposing figure, and meant business.

Beat-up motorcycle jackets go for $20 at late-night second-hand clothes shops on Melrose Blvd. A legit client expense.

Hideseekers was like jail, with monotonous music. Leather squeaks within its stifling near-darkness were the mating-calls of bats. 

The leather barman rolled his eyeballs at my new old jacket. “Get you, Dorothy.” 

I ordered beer, slipped a twenty across the counter. I asked if any regulars went by Bonehandle, and won the leather lottery.

“Yeah, he’s here. He’s always here.”

“Point him out, please. Discreetly.”

Another eyeball-roll, with spin. Bonehandle spent his evenings out in the toilet. 

It was even more womb-like in there. No doors on the stalls. Bonehandle held court in the third cubicle from the left. He had a walrus moustache too. He said he wouldn’t talk to me unless I pissed all over his face first.


A Big Star, Part 1

Anthony Dirk Ray

Waiting Room

in the crowded room
waiting on the second
nerve pill to kick in
surrounded by
young and old
black and white
men and women

I don’t think the old black women
are here for a vasectomy
it is a gender fluid world now
so I could be wrong

maybe they have trouble peeing
what if their occupation
was that of a degrading dominatrix
specializing in water sports
the inability to pass urine
would be affecting their income
and livelihood

it could be a tax write off