In The Barrel of a Beautiful Wave, By Gwil James Thomas

GJT

In The Barrel of a Beautiful Wave,
By Gwil James Thomas
Holy&Intoxicated Publications

Gwil James Thomas is a poet, novelist and inept musician originally from Bristol, England. His written work can be found widely in print and also online. He is the author of the poetry chapbooks: Gwil Vs Machine (Paper & Ink), Hidden Icons & Secret Menus (Analog Submission Press), Romance, Renegades & Riots – W/John D Robinson (Analog Submission Press) and Writing Beer, Drinking Poetry (Concrete Meat Press). Other work can be found widely in print and also online. He was also once a member of the Spanish/British band Irreparables (Nominal Records). He currently lives in San Sebastián, Northern Spain.

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Sales and inquiries:
johndrobinson@yahoo.co.uk

“Gwil shoots from the hip and pours out barrels of heart onto each page of this new collection. His unique and nuanced perspective will make you want to read each poem again and again. Gwil’s writing continues to get stronger and stronger and this is another great addition to what is becoming a fantastic bibliography of work.”

— Martin Appleby, Editor of Paper & Ink Literary Zine

Thumper Devotchka

Doomed

When I spend nights in,
reading celebrity news,
am I avoidant or
the smartest girl
alive.

World news
is killing us all,
obviously.
Sneaky murder,
weird ideals.

Thank you, internet.
Now I know in real time
that all the weed
won’t ever cure me,
nor will food,
beer, girls, or
even lovely
money.

We are doomed.
Life is futile,
and beautiful people
are even sadder
than the mentally ill
on long-haul flights.

What a nuisance
we have to bother
staying sane,
staying sober.

Instead
I will map out
playgrounds in my head
where everyone is team Kayne

Ian Shearer

Spilling Blood

They had been beating this guy for hours, and still they had gotten nothing.

Frank McCarthy had skipped town four days ago and nobody had any idea where he was. Nobody but this guy – Tom – Frank’s brother. Frank had been a fucking nonentity until his older brother Tom brought him in. Fucking Micks and their brothers. Frank was Tom’s soft spot. Unfortunately that also meant covering for Frank would be one of his strong points. He was ready to let these goons beat him to death, and by the look of him they were already about halfway there.

‘Tommy,’ I said. He was slumped forward, bleeding onto his own knees. His feet were bare and charred around the edges from where they had used the blowtorch on the soles earlier. ‘Tommy!’

He finally looked up and noticed me standing there for the first time.

‘Fuck,’ he muttered. He knew what it meant, my being there. He slouched forward again.

‘Untie him,’ I said. The two guys just looked at me. That goes to show what a tough bastard Tom was. Even beat to shit and outnumbered three to one, these guys didn’t want his hands free. ‘If I have to say it again, I’ll tie you to a fucking chair,’ I said.

They untied him as ordered and retreated to their posts on either side of the door.

‘You want a drink, Tommy?’

He looked up at me, held one nostril shut, and blew a clot of bloody snot at my feet.

‘I’ll take that as a yes,’ I said, handing him my flask. ‘Careful now, that’s the good stuff. You might not be used to it.’

‘Fuck you,’ he said and took a hit. He grimaced and wiped his burning lips, smearing blood across one cheek. ‘Just get it over and done with already,’ he said.

‘You know I can’t do that Tommy,’ I said. ‘I’ve got a reputation to uphold. I at least have to try my best.’

‘Won’t make any difference. You don’t get to Frank, you still lose face.’

‘Looks like you’ve already lost half of yours,’ I said. ‘Luckily for you, I’m not in the mood for any more violence tonight.’

‘You gonna fucking talk me to death?’

‘Actually I was gonna say I could go for some pussy,’ I said. ‘How ’bout you boys?’ I said, turning to the big bastards at the door. ‘How long since you had a nice piece of ass?’

They just chuckled in response. Beavis and Butthead on gear.

‘Reason I ask is, I bumped into Frank’s ex on the way down here. Ellie, isn’t it? I mean I figure she’s his ex. He sure as shit didn’t take her with him when he lammed it.’

I had his attention now. He went for another swig and I smacked the flask out of his hand.

‘I say I bumped into her, but really it was her front door. Bumped right into her pretty face when I kicked it in. She’s a real firecracker. How the fuck did a guy like Frank ever get a piece like that?’

He dove out of his chair at me, figuring to tackle me to the ground. I met his face with my foot and sent him sprawling back, falling over his chair. Then the boys were on him again, and he didn’t bother struggling.

‘I decided to bring her along,’ I said. ‘Maybe take her out for a drink after we finish here. Problem is we were in such a rush to get going, she didn’t have a chance to put any real clothes on. Must be getting cold now.’

‘You’re full of shit,’ Tom said as they tied him back into the chair. ‘They’d never let you touch a woman.’

‘Who the fuck’s gonna know? Who’s gonna say anything? These guys? I’d put a bullet in both their fuckin’ heads if I even got a whiff they might rat me out. And you know you’re not walking out of here.’

He was starting to believe it.

‘I told you I have a reputation, Tom. I always get what I want. Now you’ve got one more chance to tell me where Frank is, or I’m sending one of the boys next door for the best piece of ass he’s ever had.’

‘Fuck you,’ was all he said in response.

‘Fuck me? Really Tom? You’re gonna let this chick take herself down to the A and E to get stitched back together just because your brother can’t pay his fucking debts? You going to the grave with that kind of guilt?’

He didn’t say anything. He was weighing it up. Just a little more would tip the scales. I dug a coin out of my pocket.

‘Alright then. Call it fellas, heads or tails? Or maybe I should send them both in, eh Tommy? Let one get some head and the other get some tail?’

They called it and I flipped the coin. Heads.

‘You’re up,’ I said, and Mr. Heads left.

There was silence for a few seconds, then the screaming started. Panicked, frightened screaming, just hoping someone would hear and come to help.

That’s when Tommy finallt cracked.

‘Alright, call him off,’ he said, hanging his head low. I sent the other goon next door, and the screaming shortly stopped.

Tom gave Frank up and I put a bullet between his eyes. Eighteen hours later, over a hundred miles away, Frankie got the same.

I know what you’re thinking – did I really have the dame in the other room, or did I just pay one of my girls to scream on command?

Well shit, Tommy never found out.

Why should you?

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.