Mir-Yashar Seyedbagheri

I, Penis

I, Penis,
inherit the Earth.
The meek, not so much.
meek penises are worms
crushed by pusillanimous ambitions,
ambitions too polite
and sensitive. Pardon me,
proclaims polite, pussy penis.

I, Penis,
sound barbaric yawps over the rooftops
of my trousers, the beret my master
wears concealing bald exposure.
commercials and shows offer advice,
take what you need

I trample the bathrooms, the poetry texts, history
I, Penis. I, Penis. A title imperial and full of verve,
insert my ice-cream cone tip into the metaphors
and similes and
visual erasures
erase this.

misbehaved ladies may make history,
but to the penis go the spoils.
Soli Penis Gloria, proclaim the priests
in their collars. for the glory alone
of, I Penis.

problematic, proclaim the snowflakes,
with lyrical predictability,
paradigms, binaries
all these are foreign,
to I, Penis,
I trample, and my head marches
on and on, for the glory

of I, Penis.
don’t stop me now, for there is but one opinion,
I, Penis. There is only the I,
emboldened by the fact that
I am penis.
I, Penis.

OMG: The Five Books of Inundations

AIRSTRIP OMG cover final

Outrunning God-on-a-motorcycle, flood apocalypse, nightmares pulled from a Christmas cracker, assembly at the Institute of Mockery. Get ready for the Flying Dutchman’s bus, the River and the Abyss, and the BIG wave. AIRSTRIP is weaponised Techno. English performance poet, John Gartland, known as the Poet Noir in Bangkok, plus composer / film maker, Nico Mesterharm and musician / producer, Jan Mueller, two Germans based in Phnom Penh, together are AIRSTRIP.

Phnom Penh to Bangkok: 17 Planekillaz was their first album in 2017.

OMG: The Five Books of Inundations was launched February of 2020, at Heart of Darkness in Phnom Penh. A recording from that event below:

HST readers can claim an exclusive promotional download of the entire album from slingsnarrowz@gmail.com. Just quote “AIRSTRIP@Horror SleazeTrash”, and help spread the word!

 

Joseph Farley

Sleep on it

If you should love me in your sleep
It would be a fruitful dream.
And I asleep shall in turn
writhe and sweat and think
who this night came for
and with whom it stayed,
and who found joy this evening
and who found pain
when these ghosts of what we lived
came visiting.

Joseph Fulkerson

A Six-Pack for Chinaski

It was around midnight when we pulled up to the hotel exhausted from the trip and ready to stretch our legs. “Let’s see if the bar’s still open,” I said dropping my luggage on the bed.

“I can go for a drink right about now,” Isaac said pulling a from his jacket pocket. “When’s closing time in Cali?”

“Hell if I know,” I said, “two or three maybe? We have plenty of time.”

Isaac and I go back a long way. We both grew up in church, but his dad was a preacher, or more accurately a traveling evangelist. So he was dragged to every tent revival and bible study in the tristate, expected to act like a cherubic faced saint. Services every Wednesday and twice on Sunday, and that’s not even including revivals. He had more than his fair share of altar calls and baptisms, withering in the humid summer air of a tent. Needless to say it was more than a disappointment when he decided not to take up the family business.

We both grew up in Kentucky where I still live, but he managed to make his way as far west as Phoenix. As a result we lost touch for a couple of years while I raised a couple kids and had a couple of marriages. That all changed last year when he showed up out of nowhere at a favorite watering hole of mine, and picked up right where we left off. It turns out we have the same mindset and opinions about our shitty jobs and our shitty lots in life. He took the road less traveled and I took the path of least resistance, yet we ended up at the same fucking place; empty shells searching for meaning out of a meaningless existence.

“This trip was fucking genius, Joe,” Isaac said, “I’ve meant to come to California since I moved out here, but never had the chance. It never felt like the right time.”
“I know man,” I said, “Fucking inspiration strikes sometimes.”

Over a series of whiskey fueled conversations, I decided to take a trip to Phoenix to try and jumpstart my writing. From there we rented a car and headed to San Pedro to visit the grave of one Charles Bukowski. We found a cheap hotel in Long Beach. Isaac puts out his smoke as we walk up to the entrance of the bar. I’m almost knocked over by a young man in a toga, painted face and glow sticks around his neck.

“Sorry,” he said.

Isaac shot me a look as we walked in.

“What the actual fuck?” I stopped in my tracks.

Inside we were immediately on the dance floor, along with about twenty couples salsa dancing. I’m not talking about the twerking you see any given Saturday night at the club; this was dancing. This was choreography between two people in sync with one another’s breathing and steps as if they were dancing as one. The whole place was reverberating with rhythm and song. The walls were pulsing energy. Sweat glistening on the foreheads and faces of the participants. It was glorious.

The bar was on the opposite side of the place and we hesitated to encroach on such a beautiful display. After a few moments, I found a hole and danced my way over and ordered a Jameson.

“Can you believe this?” Isaac walked up and hailed the bartender. “This is what I was talking about, man. I needed this. A total shock to the system.” Laughing he took a long pull from his draught beer.

“People go their entire miserable life in the same place, working the same mind-numbing job, fucking the same woman, and never pull their head out of their own ass long enough to see past their own fucking noses. That’s why there’s so much pent-up aggression. They’re so miserable they wouldn’t recognize happiness if it walked up and started giving out hand jobs. Bunch of zombies, the lot of them,” I said.

“To not being a zombie.” Isaac lifts his glass.

“To getting hand jobs,” I said downing the remainder of my whiskey.

Just then the song ended and a crowd came up to the bar and ordered. I ordered another Jameson and asked the bartender what was going on.

“Salsa lessons,” He said, “one Friday a month they teach a class and afterwards they dance. You boys timed it just right.” He turned and poured another beer.

“Indeed,” I said cheering to no one in particular.

As another song started, the woman standing beside me was pulled onto the dancefloor by a different fellow than she had been with before. I looked around for him, but he was on the other end of the floor also with a different partner. Even those watching participated in the dance, having just as much fun cheering them on. The sense of joy and happiness was contagious. There was no fighting it. I didn’t want to. All I could do was smile and take it all in. It went on like this for another hour, everyone dancing, laughing, sweating and moving to the rhythm. We had a few more drinks, then walked back to our room. As I lay there in the dark, the warm west coast air blowing through the palm trees, the anticipation of the trip, the rhythm of the music and the intertwined bodies all danced in my thoughts, lulling me into a sweet and satisfying slumber.

The next morning, we dressed and found the closest Denny’s to figure out our next steps. “I’ve been thinking, man.” Isaac pulled out a map. “Buk’s gravesite is in San Pedro, which is here. But did you know the liquor store he used to buy from is right here? Also, the apartment where he wrote a couple of his books is just a couple of blocks away. Dude we could walk in his fucking shoes for a day. Buy a six pack from the same store he did!”

I took another bite of my eggs and thought about it. How awesome would it be to check out the places this man went, try to get a feel for what he was like?

“Let’s do it,” I said, “we can pick up some beer to drink at his gravesite. Do it up right.”

With that, Isaac went to writing down the addresses and we finished our breakfast reflecting on the possibilities of the day.

We pulled into the lot of a gaudy pink building called the Pink Elephant liquor and grocery. I took a couple of photos and went inside while Isaac finished his smoke. I bought a large can of Lite beer and some Jameson and Isaac got a pint of vodka. We asked the clerk if he knew of Charles Bukowski, but to our chagrin he did not.

“The women, the jobs, the fights. All the stories and we’re actually here,” Isaac lights up another fag.

“It’s surreal man,” I said.

“He walked these streets. Breathed this air. Lived, fought and bled on these streets,” Isaac said.

I stood there looking for the right words to say when a sharp abdominal pain woke me from my daze.

“I have to take a shit!” I said.

I quickly crossed the street to the CVS pharmacy and found the bathroom locked. Panicked, I went up front and retrieved the key, barely making it to the bathroom before unloading. As I returned the key, I laughed to myself knowing Bukowski would’ve been proud of the piping hot beer shit I just took.

We spent the next couple of hours driving around L.A. taking in the sights and sounds of the city, trying to get a feel for what draws so many people here just to sleep on sidewalks and park benches and in tent cities. “They would rather chase their dreams and have nothing, less than that and sleep on the fucking streets than live a life of compromise,” Isaac said. “Meanwhile the rest of us sell our souls for a nice house with a two-car garage and a 401k. We work our whole lives chasing the unattainable, only to die of a fucking heart attack or eaten by cancer in some vital organ. What a sham.”

We pull up to Bukowski’s old apartment on De Longpre Ave and get out to take it all in.

“This is where the magic happened,” I pull out my camera and take a couple photos.

“You mean talent. He wasn’t a wizard, he was a writer,” Isaac said laughing.

“He’s a wizard if there ever was one,” I said walking into the courtyard.

On the second level of the apartment complex behind us, a beautiful woman walks out of an apartment followed by two men, one with a camera. He sets up as she strikes a pose. He takes a picture, then coaches her on the next pose. Again and again she strikes a pose, as Isaac looks on, and me frozen in that moment in time, just a snapshot of a life, with the bustle of the city humming all around us.

We make a stop at the post office where Bukowski worked all those years but was refused entry by the security guard, so we admired the architecture of the old building and was on our way. It was getting on in the evening, too late to visit the cemetery, so we went to the San Pedro fish market to grab some dinner. Isaac suggested we stop by 49ers Tavern, a place Bukowski drank occasionally. It was a little hole in the wall with some charm, but the previous owner had run the business into the ground and neglected to pay her employees. According to the bartender, a man the size of an oak tree, they were struggling to get the clientele back. After the nostalgia of sitting at the same bar that Buk did wore off, we choked down our beers and headed towards greener pastures.

“Let’s see what Long Beach has to offer,” Isaac pulls on his jacket and heads out the door. “That guy shooting pool said to head down to 2nd Street.”

“I’ll call a Lyft,” I said pulling out my phone. “There has to be more to the scene than this.”

We get to 2nd Street and pop into a place called Simmzy’s. A nice pub filled with enlightened souls with finer palates than I’m accustomed to.

“What’ll it be?” the bartender asks as he sets a coaster down.

I don’t know if it’s the rebel in me or me just being a fucking dick, but I never use the coaster or the napkin, or whatever else they want to put down. I want my drink to make contact with the bar.

“What kind of Bourbon ya got?” I said adjusting my stool.

“I’m not sure, let’s see.” The hesitation in his voice lets me know my choices will be limited.

“Do you have Jameson? How about an Old Irish.” I asked.

“Good choice,” he said handing Isaac his beer.

Always on the move, Isaac had gotten into the habit of asking the locals about the housing situation and the cost of living. He and the bartender talked at length on the subject, while I eavesdropped on the conversation going on behind me. I’ve heard it before. Hell, I’ve had the same conversation a few times in my life. You know the situation. They’re telling you something they’re going to do, and you both know it’s bullshit but you just nod and let them finish. The sad part is they truly want to believe, as if telling you would make it real. It’s human nature to be optimistic, a kind of defense mechanism against the harsh realities we’re dealt, but the reality is people rarely change. If given the opportunity, we would rather cling to what’s familiar, what’s safe. While society spoon feeds us a warmed over version of life, we’re so engorged on mediocrity, we never see what our life could be if we’d just take a chance.

We move on to Shannon’s Tavern and I’m starting to feel pretty good. The place is long and narrow and it’s shoulder to shoulder all the way. I grab a beer and head to the back of the bar. I’d lost Isaac by that point, but noticed some space around the pool table and posted up close by to take in the scene. I watched as a young man in a beanie won a couple games of pool. Enjoying the music, I finished my beer and stepped into the bathroom. While I’m finishing up at the urinal a couple people come in behind me. I zip up and turn around to see the pool shark in the beanie sniffing cocaine off the outstretched finger of a guy taking a piss in the toilet. I nodded, washed my hands and stepped out the door to find Isaac.

The next morning, we both felt pretty rough. I showered, we packed up all our shit and got ready to head back to Phoenix. After breakfast we stopped at a dispensary then we headed to Rancho Palos Verdes where Charles Bukowski is buried.

We pulled into Green Hills Memorial Park and much to our surprise it was a very well-kept cemetery. We went into the main office and inquired as to the whereabouts of the infamous author.

“Oh yes, I’d be happy to help.” A tall middle-aged man in a three piece suit led us into his office. Isaac and I exchanged looks before sitting. He asked us where we were from and what had brought us here. “We came to see the final resting place of one Charles Bukowski,” I said. “He owes me twenty dollars.”

“Do you get a lot of visitors for Bukowski?” Isaac asked.

“Why yes, yes we do. We’ve had some come as far way as Germany. He was really big in Europe,” the man mused. “We get them by the busloads. They go on a sort of pilgrimage, if you will. Stop at all the usual places.”

“That’s kind of what we did. We went to his old apartment, job, a liquor store and a bar he used to frequent,’’ Isaac said shifting in his seat.

“This is our last stop,’’ I said.

The gentleman gave us a short history of the place, along with details of a few other residents known or otherwise, and sent us on our way.

“Thank you for your help,” Isaac says as he takes a map of the grounds.

As we pull up, I notice a young woman walking amongst the plots.

“I bet she’s here for the same reason,’’ I said grabbing my beer and whiskey out of the backseat.

Henry “Hank” Charles Bukowski Jr., 1920-1994

The phrase “Don’t Try” with an image of a boxer

inscribed on the grave marker

It was a nice plot, nestled on the side of a hill that overlooks a valley with a small cathedral. Standing there in front of his grave, the warm sun on our backs and a nice breeze blowing, the words escaped us. It was a mutually recognized reverence for a man whose words meant so much to us, we didn’t dare cheapen the moment with our own.

Suddenly, the woman came back into view. She made her way over and came to stand next to us.

“Bukowski?” I asked.

“Yes, of course,” she said.

Her name was Michelle, she was originally from Illinois. She had moved to California a year before for college.

“I’ve been meaning to come here for a while but never made the time. I needed some inspiration today so I came,” she said.

“So did we,” we said.

We talked for a while about writing, finding inspiration, we talked of the man and his exploits and what he meant to us, and then she took her leave.

“To Chinaski,” I said taking a pull from my whiskey.

“Don’t try,” Isaac said as he downed some vodka.

Just then a young couple, arms around one another made their way over to pay their respects.

“Bukowski?’’ Isaac asked.

“Bukowski,” the man said.

Jason and Claire, originally from Tennessee, were big fans of his work. The whole Southeast was represented on this sunny California day. I took another long pull of whiskey then offered them some. They held it out to Bukowski for a moment, then each took a pull.

We talked for a while about nothing in particular, and when we ran out of things to talk about, we stood in silence. They said their goodbyes, then left Isaac and I standing alone once again. I poured out the remainder of the bottle and left the can of beer there as an offering. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and stood there for a moment with the sun, the chapel, and the wind-swept valley. I opened my eyes and made my way back to the car. As we drove back to Phoenix, we marveled at how this man and his writing had brought us all together on such a marvelous afternoon and what exactly it all meant.

Days later I was boarding my flight back home. As I waited, I reflected on the events of the last few days, filled with a renewed vigor. Tired but content. My horizons had been expanded. I felt as if something had been accomplished, that some wrong had been made right within me. And then, just as the plane left the tarmac, the people and places and conversations all still fresh in my mind, eager to get home and put into action all the things we’d discussed, suddenly my bowels were on fire once again.

Ben Newell

fieldwork

It’s happened
yet again.

Another educator arrested.

This time,
a high school teacher getting it on
with her 16-year-old student.

Many of the liaisons
took place in her car—

In her defense,
she was a biology teacher.

Book learning is great
but there’s just no substitute
for real world experience.

J.J. Campbell

at the top of their lungs

searching for nirvana
between the thighs
of a lovely woman
in rome

i want to believe in
love, the future, a
destiny deserving
of all this pain

but i’ve choked on
my disillusionment
since i was a child

one night it’s
the bottle

the next night it’s
a butcher’s knife
thrown across
the room

there isn’t any love
in the room if someone
isn’t screaming at
the top of their lungs

i’m still searching
for nirvana

soft skin on a
sunny beach

worries swept away
with the tide

not all sins can be
washed with blood
or simply brushed
under the last dirty
rug in the house

John Gartland

Bring out your dead

There are some consolations in a plague year.
You’ve a polite excuse,
to duck unwelcome social invitations
to skip the banal drudgery
of self-opinionated company
of overbearing liberals
and pontificating radicals.

You’ve good reason to dodge
the intellectually occluded
and the patently deluded,
the would-be salon-keepers
and the throne-lickers and creepers,
the dipsomaniac ravers
and the posturing face-savers,
obsessive Trump-haters
and embittered second-raters,

the unregenerate hipsters,
and fatcat investors
narcissistic exhibitionists,
the wannabees and ego trips,
the drama’s failed protagonists,
all constipated scribblers and
football-obsessed dribblers,
those whom vanity disposes
and hypocrisy discloses
with each fatuous
pronouncement from their lips.

With all that said, bring out your dead.

It surely is a tonic to escape
these dull discourses.
What’s not to like
about a plague, apart
from quarantine and panic,
food shortages and corpses?

Hank Kirton

Amy’s Arms

we’re in her basement
table cluttered with cans
a drying dying
bottle of whiskey
and her awful diet Sprite

I drink in chased shots
Amy a mix of whiskey and
warm flat diet Sprite
I see the red lateral scars
on Amy’s arms

I say something
and forget it
instant amnesia
but whatever I said
it gets her yelling

her face is a twisted grimace
and it strikes me as funny
I laugh
she doesn’t see the humor
she stands up with a shriek
and curses me

I’m trying to figure out
what I just said
I can’t stop laughing
Stop laughing!
she grabs a badminton racquet

wields it like a weapon
like a samurai sword
like a lance
with my name on it
I still can’t stop laughing

she hits me in the face
with the racquet
I stop laughing
Wap!

I keep smiling and lean into her
Wap!

I want her to blacken my eyes
break my nose
knock out my teeth
Wap!

I feel the blood start
it runs over my smile
staining my teeth
I let it ruin the front of my shirt
she drops the racquet

Oh! Oh I’m sorry
I’m so sorry baby
she finds an old rag
presses it to my nose
Lean back
I’m okay

she hugs me and says
she loves me
when my nose stops bleeding
we sit back down
have another drink

so many years ago
the memory reminds me
I’m gonna die
like Amy
she died in a bathtub
in warm soapy water

she used her old friend
the razor blade
only this time she meant it
the radio was on
when they found her

it sounds stupid but I wonder
what song was playing
as her veins emptied
and the water clouded red
I hope it was something beautiful

not some dumb DJ
or obnoxious commercial
that might have messed up her soul
cheapened it
as it drifted away

I don’t go to the wake
because I can’t face her family
because if the casket is open
I might scream

I don’t go to the funeral
because I can’t face her family
because when they lower her
into the ground
I might puke

Amy, so long girl
I still can’t remember
what I said that day

Anthony Dirk Ray

Rye Whiskey and Pork Jowl Pizza

your wife asks you to put
a bullet in her head

normally this would be
taken as a joke but
recently she has been in
immense pain and is in
no joking mood whatsoever
trust me I know
I don’t even get a smile
when I speak of Asian
hookers or dog dick
I know it’s serious then

I feel pure guilt enjoying
this ten dollar cigar
and rye whiskey
while she aches and moans
in bed well before bedtime

I’ve gotten her water
rubbed her back
and put a heating pad
on her as requested
but I still feel empty
as if I’m incapable of helping

I am making a pork
jowl cauliflower crust pizza
I put the crust on for the initial bake
I try a sample of the cut up jowl
the dog stares at me
I take out a chewed piece
for him to sample as well
he devours it and continues
licking the patio pavement
where it landed
now the fucker won’t leave
me alone and go to bed
with his ailing mother
as a dog he’s a mama’s boy
lays on her legs at night
I have to move him constantly
he also gets up out of bed
every time she rises

here lately with the disease
this has been constant
with multiple trips to the bathroom

as my cigar now burns down
I refill my glass of rye
I’ve become a fan of rye recently
a competitor to my usual bourbon

sometimes more spice is nice
my wife needs to feel
some spice right now

more than I do

as I relight this nub
I am hating myself for enjoying life