Scott Halperin

One of Many Vices

I quit smoking pot.
For twelve years I rolled
a few joints a day.

I fantasized about endless motivation,
of cleanliness and doing dishes
right after I was done with them.

I imagined getting right on the job hunt,
and not eating pizza in bed, no way
could a man unstoned watch nine hours
of the Simpsons in a day.

It turns out I can,
and pot wasn’t the problem,
it was just me.

Peter Magliocco

Mexican Beer

You know nothing matters
But you, the muse who comes and goes leaving me
Thinking about your song & dance performances.
The way your voice quavered
Above the sidewalk sounds,
Or how your fashionably booted feet drummed
Footsteps of doom in my jaded being.
You are the Shade time can’t erase,
The karma chameleon who assumes
Whatever guise or form necessary
To affect me in some way.
At the supermarket as we shopped
The tacky cashier-bitch who totaled-up our groceries
Kept calling me Doll Baby; you didn’t care,
Though her patronizing pissed me off.
Then when we got to my apartment
To drink bad beer I asked you to sing
Like Madonna, to swirl about
In your sexy new Victoria’s Secret outfit
That cost too much, but you insisted
It made you stand out from the crowd.
I asked you to dance and go down on me
& you did all that, your blonde hair
Uncurling with sweat & your body
Swaying through a painful territory,

But Madonna wasn’t there.
Or any Victoria’s Secret model.
Only that damn outfit scattered
In colorful disarray, its thong
A purple-spotted rag
Tied around your throat
So the muse would never
Live to tell.

Eventually you fooled me again, coming
Back to say, “You know nothing really matters,”
Wondering where the worm was
At the bottom of the tequila bottle
I couldn’t believe
One of us had killed
The other – with love
(or love    hate    perverted)


From: The Underground Movie Poems

Donna Dallas

Evil is on the loose my friend

The world is on fire dear
come sit next to me and let’s
watch it burn
have no sympathy
we can at least
walk through flames
let the fire
scorch our soles
we deserve this burning baptism

lament over our sins
dredge up our treachery
as they roll out the war
in a stampede of hate

I want us to hole in
save food and water
build a bunker
there’s this noose
that attached itself to my neck
at birth
in case of emergency pull
this ripcord
straight to hell

who’s judging anyhow?
martyrs and militias
wrecking groups
the hostiles
the sign above our door says
‘Doom is in the bedroom’
a malingerer
sucks every breath

you don’t know about this do you?
run down the street in droves
I am afraid
not for me ever
but for my children
because when I nestled them
in my nook
and thanked God every day
for their little lives
I did not foresee
humanity unraveling
us back into the dark ages
as if every life does not matter
as if original sin could only affect
certain souls

but honey I tell you
there’s a pyre and I want to run
straight into it
if it would save my children
from this
I would gladly burn myself
to ash

Hank Kirton

Breaded Chicken

Driving through the drizzling night with the woman I share a home with and she’s reminding me I’m a fool. If I drank too much at the party why am I driving? She’s balancing a box of chicken nuggets on her angry lap. They served appetizers at the party but she can’t eat shellfish for reasons of faith and I’m allergic, so we drove through a drivethrough and came out the other side with a box of breaded god knows what parts of a chicken. I hear a lot of fowl anatomy gets granulated into the recipe; feet, liver, rectum, beak. Gizzard, feathers. The martinis I poured down my gullet scramble in my guts with these slaughtered thoughts. I picture terrified chickens toppling into a giant blender and I emit an accidental chuckle and she looks at me with a poison stare. I make a point of keeping my gaze on the road. She resumes telling me what a fool I am. I just agree with her, Uh-huh, and she tells me not to get cute. Don’t get cute, she tells me. Being cute wasn’t on my mind. Like, at all but I say, I can’t help it if I’m cute. It’s beyond my control. Isn’t the fact that I’m cute the reason you loooooove me?

She doesn’t like that. Like, at all. Her silence feels like another passenger in the car. We drive through seething rain, without speaking, for a long time. Then I tell her to give me a piece of chicken and ask her to open the sweet & sour sauce for me. She doesn’t like that. Like, at all. She looks at me and looks at me. What? I say. She says, You want some chicken? Yeah? You want chicken? And she’s rolling down her window and I know what’s coming. Here, here’s your fucking chicken! And she hurls the box into the moving night. So, there it is, the end of the breaded chicken and the story.


From: Everything Dissolves

Dennis Villelmi

Sweet Jesus Sausage

The Man born of the Child who always sat at the back
Of the classroom;
Never an astute, but I learned to read, write, and sharpen my knife
Well enough to cut my way through both womb and city into
The state of Forever.

Picture me in the Camp of Beasts.
I, and any given Night don’t get along.
Is your canine sleep more important than my lion’s weeping?
I’m on fire!
It’s a Catholic conflagration and I’m down on my knees
To Lucifer to put it out.

The Doll unwrapped on December 25 is alive!
Soon disfigured by the nuclear family dog and left
In the winter-stunted grass it grows now with a
Butchered prostitute’s soul calling the chewed plastic home.

The Doll puts the questions to God:
‘In what kind of carcass shall I sew myself up anew?
Where in this town is the shop in which you’ll sell me cheap
Again since You can’t by Grace grant me the Grave?’

-Magdalene ‘s Meats-
There the Jesus Sausage is made.
Whether its apostles or civil worms, they all rejoice.
Sweet Jesus!  By each bite we can walk on water, or wine.
Gravity is in the hands of the Damned.

William Taylor Jr.

In Which Jeffrey Attempts to Go See a Film

Jeffrey was walking down Larkin Street through San Francisco’s Tenderloin district towards the Civic Center Plaza. He was stopped at a red light at the corner of Geary Street and saw Jenny, a nervous, emaciated neighborhood junkie girl pacing about the doorway of the Outsider dive bar, talking to herself or someone Jefferey couldn’t see. She had shoulder-length dirty blonde hair and bright vacant blue eyes. It wasn’t so long ago that Jefferey thought her beautiful, or something close to it. Today she appeared particularly haggard, as if something unpleasant she’d been managing to avoid thus far had finally caught up with her.

“Hey, babe,” she said, wobbling on her heels, “you got a dollar or two? I need a fucking burrito and cigarettes really fucking bad. I’m dying here.”

“Sure, I got ya.” Jeffrey pulled out his wallet, planning to give her a few dollars, and opened it to find only a twenty. After double and then triple checking his pockets for something smaller, he pulled the bill from his wallet and handed it to her.

Her eyes lit up. “Shit man, you fucking saved my day!” She clasped her skinny arms around his neck and kissed his cheek. Her breath was hot and stank of whiskey, her body of old sick sweat.

“Not a problem,” Jefferey said, pulling away to cross the street.

“Pop by here on your way home, and we’ll get a drink, honey!” she called. Jeffrey smiled and waved his arm.

On the block between Ellis and Eddy Streets ragged tents of the homeless lined the sidewalks on either side. Empty-eyed addicts, street dealers, and the generally destitute wandered openly about the street, oblivious and impervious to the traffic. Undesirables, herded by the powers that be into the concentrated area of a handful of blocks and largely left alone, so that the rest of the city might remain tourist friendly. An impressive array of dreck was strewn about the concrete or loaded into grocery carts for sale or barter. Obscure videotapes, CDs, cassettes, and warped record albums. Tattered books and pornographic magazines. Expired food products. Piles of mismatched shoes and obsolete textbooks. Broken luggage and crates of busted cookware. Bundles and strings of useless wires and cords knotted and coiled together like piles of lifeless snakes. An open-air museum of things that nobody wanted or ever would. People were arguing with ghosts, aliens, the air. Pissing in doorways and on the hubcaps of cars. Prone and inert on the sidewalks and in the gutters.

An altercation was happening between two men outside a tent on the sidewalk in front of a Vietnamese sandwich shop. A scrawny shirtless man who bore a genuinely striking resemblance to Charles Manson was throwing what looked to be chunks of meat at another man who was holding a large piece of cardboard before him as a shield. “Get out of here!” the man with the cardboard yelled, “Get out of here or I’m going to fuck you up!”

The man with the meat chunks hesitated and then chucked another volley of three or four pieces. A skeletal woman sitting outside a tent drinking a tall can of malt liquor turned to the meat chucker and yelled, “Go! Just go! He’s gonna beat your dumb ass if you don’t!” The man’s meat ammunition appeared to be spent and he grabbed an almost empty bottle of something from the sidewalk, tucking it under his arm. He kicked over a crate of assorted broken things, flipped off the man with the cardboard shield and ran down Eddy Street yelling about how fucked someone was going to be when they saw him again.

Jeffrey stood among a small group of passersby who had paused to watch the scene. Carnage of some kind or another in the neighborhood was an ever-present fact, but some animal thing within him wouldn’t let him continue on his way if there were the possibility of violence to be witnessed. Things settled down to the usual level of minor chaos and he continued on through blocks of tents and waste.

Outside the Civic Center station the man to whom Jeffrey assigned the name Rasputin was at his usual place, pacing about, mumbling to himself, making indecipherable hand gestures. He was a cartoon version of someone who had been stranded on a desert island or neglected in a small prison cell for many years. He wore broken sandals and was adorned in tattered rags of things that once perhaps were valid pieces of clothing. Wiry, stray tufts of hair sprouted haphazardly from his otherwise bald head. He wore a long and matted gray-black beard. Rasputin spotted Jeffrey from quite a distance, as he always did, and raised his arm, palm faced open in front of him as was his custom, like an arcane greeting from some secret society. “My friend,” Rasputin shouted in Jeffrey’s direction, “my friend!” Jeffrey raised his arms in a gesture meant to convey that he regrettably had nothing to offer. Rasputin positioned himself at the entrance to the underground station and continued his two word litany as Jeffrey grew closer. “My friend! My friend!” “My friend,” Rasputin said once more when Jeffery reached the stairway.

Jeffrey again haplessly raised his arms and said, “Sorry man, I got nothing today.”


“Tomorrow,” Jeffrey assented. Rasputin nodded his head resignedly and put out his fist. Jeffrey bumped it with his own and headed down the stairs into the station. He made his way to the trains and waited with the late afternoon crowd at the edge of the platform. To his left was a large angry man stuffed inside a wheelchair that was a good amount too small for his body. He had gray stringy hair that sat heavy on his shoulders and a formidable beard, stained and unkempt. He wore a gray tank top, stained as well. Despite the chilly weather he wore dark blue shorts, his oversized legs spilling out of them, white and sad, with large bandages wrapped about the knees. He wore tattered black tennis shoes, only one of which had laces. He sat there scowling in his chair like a bitter and defeated Santa.

The man talked incessantly, a barrage of insults complimented by droplets of spittle. Jeffrey assumed the insults were aimed at no one in particular, just the traitorous universe itself, until he noticed a small middle-aged Asian woman standing to the left of the man’s chair. She had bobbed gray-black hair and thick glasses with large circular lenses and wore something that resembled surgeons’ scrubs. Jeffrey realized that the man’s tirade was directed at her. She occasionally nodded slightly with solemn contrition and offered whispered apologies. Or she would just listen with her head hung low as if she were a child being chastised. Jeffrey guessed her to be the man’s caretaker. At her side was a large aluminum trolley carrying four paper bags of groceries.

“Do you know how long I had to wait at checkout before you arrived?” the man asked. The woman stood silent, looking to the ground. “Twenty minutes. Twenty minutes! Do you know how embarrassing that is? Sitting there at the counter with my cart full of groceries like an idiot, with no way to pay for them! The guy at the register looked at me like I was a dog turd, It was a nightmare! Twenty minutes! I told you to be there at four, and you know I get done early sometimes! The ice cream must be half melted…the meat will be spoiled by the time we get home…unacceptable!” He looked around at the others waiting on the platform, hoping to find something in their faces that offered empathy for his incomprehensible situation. The people gazed expressionlessly at their feet and their phones. The man continued his berating, the bits of spittle flying from his mouth, the woman silently taking it. Jeffery tried to stop listening.

The train arrived and the sea of passengers exiting parted to either side of the man in the wheelchair as he careened onboard, yelling that he was handicapped and their ineptitude at departing the train in a timely manner could well prevent him from getting home at a reasonable hour. His assistant was close behind, pushing the trolley full of groceries.

Jeffrey filed on board with the rest. He passed the wheelchair man and glanced at the assistant’s face. In her eyes he imagined a momentary flickering of something he took as a plea for help, or mercy, or understanding, but it was gone as quickly as it appeared, her eyes once more dully resigned. He shuffled on and found a space two cars down.

The train was crowded and Jeffrey stood in the middle of the car pressed close against his fellow commuters. Laid out on his side across two of the seats in the center of the car was a man of no discernible age wearing a heavy trench coat. His eyes were glazed and half open. He held out his hand open-palmed in silent want when someone chanced to look his way, and mechanically lowered it again when it was obvious nothing would be offered. He was a figure from a haunted carnival ride, performing his rote movements repeatedly to the discomfort of those around him. Jeffrey stood a few feet away and from the corner of his eye he saw the man’s arm rise and fall in this manner numerous times before he dug around in his pockets to find three quarters, a dime, and two nickels. He put them in the man’s hand the next time it was raised. “Thank you,” the man said in a quiet and amiable voice.

“You’re welcome, sir,” Jeffrey replied, turning his attention to his phone.

“Hey,” the man continued, “I don’t do no drugs or nuthin. I drink, though. Just beer. I just drink me some big ‘ol beers.” The man smiled to himself, thinking about it.

“Nothing wrong with that,” Jeffrey said.

“Just some big ‘ol beers,” the man repeated, smiling. He stretched his hand out again as the train stopped at the 16th and Mission Street station and a good amount of people filed on and off, averting their gazes as they did so.

A young red-haired woman boarded the train and stood to Jeffrey’s left. With one hand she clung to the strap hanging from the ceiling of the car, in the other she cradled a cell phone. She typed into the phone with impeccable nails attached to fine, delicate fingers which danced across the tiny keyboard with remarkable grace and speed. The woman was engrossed with whatever was happening on her phone, which allowed Jeffrey to gaze upon her unabashedly. She had a pale, elfin face, perfectly adorned with a smattering of faint freckles. She laughed silently to herself and bit her bottom lip as she typed. A faint perfume drifted from her that brought to Jeffrey’s mind the color of pink.

Jeffrey imagined himself someone who possessed the power to lightly touch her shoulder, somehow, in a manner neither creepy nor threatening, and tell her she was beautiful. To strike up a conversation in a way that wasn’t awkward. People did it all the time, supposedly. He saw it in movies and on tv. It happened in books, and he’d witnessed it himself in bars, libraries and grocery stores. Yet it seemed such an impossible thing to put into execution. He could find no entrance to such a world.

He forced his eyes from the woman and back to the man stretched out on the seats, who put out his hand as he sensed Jeffrey’s gaze. Jeffrey gave him a quick smile and a nod then turned back to the red-haired girl to find her engaged in conversation with a young man of unremarkable presence wearing a backwards baseball cap and a San Francisco Giants jersey. They were talking as easily as a pair of intimate friends, though as best as Jeffrey could tell they had been strangers just moments before.

The train reached the 24th Street stop, Jeffrey’s destination. The man in the wheelchair barreled his way through the crowded car. “I need to get out first,” he shouted, “I need to get out first!” The assistant trailed with head hung low, pushing the melted ice cream and the spoiling meat in the rickety cart. The man was there, stretched out across the two seats, his eyes faraway and his hand stretched out wordlessly.

Jeffery emerged from the station out into the plaza at 24th and Mission Streets and maneuvered his way through people trying to sell him things he didn’t want, asking him for things he didn’t have to give. He sat down on a metal bench to tie his shoe. The plaza was scattered with people in broken wheelchairs, riding stolen bikes or electronic scooters, propped up with cranes or crutches. Boom boxes sat on the cement or on benches, booming.

A group of young attractive people were setting up tables and handing out pamphlets. A blonde woman who looked like any number of local newscasters from most any small town in America was doing a mic check in preparation for a proselytizing session. Christian country music was playing from the sound system as her associates passed out cookies and muffins to encourage the sinners to stick around for the Jesus talk. None assembled there had any real expectation of being saved, but from experience they knew more baked goods would be handed out at the end, so they found places to sit with their muffins and malt liquor. A Mexican woman was pushing an ice cream cart festooned with little bells in a slow circle around the plaza, giving the scene a surreal Christmas-like soundtrack.

Jeffrey headed South on Mission Street, his destination the art-house theater currently screening a newly restored version of Pandora’s Box, the silent film starring Louise Brooks. He made it a few blocks until he came upon a large police presence spread about as far as he could see. Assorted police cars and trucks were parked haphazardly in the streets, as well as a handful of ambulances, firetrucks and other official-looking vehicles.

He walked until the yellow police tape forced him to stop. He stood with the crowds of onlookers and denizens of the neighborhood who were arguing in vain with the officers in attempts to convince them to allow them return to their homes located within the taped off areas. Jeffrey asked some of the assembled people what exactly was happening. The best he understood after patching together various accounts was that a hit-and-run driver had plowed into three pedestrians, critically injuring two of them. The driver struck a man in a crosswalk at 19th and Mission, pinning him against the side of a northbound bus. The car then leaped onto the sidewalk and struck two passengers, a man and a woman, who were getting off the bus. The car continued awhile on the sidewalk at a very high rate of speed. The driver and a passenger initially fled the scene but eventually returned and were detained.

Jeffrey asked an officer how long it might be before the area were cleared and the reply was, however long it takes. Jeffrey stood there thinking how the comic book shop he had hoped to visit was in the restricted area as well. He turned around and walked back toward the station. When he got to the plaza the blonde woman was telling everyone how merciful Jesus was if you made the choice to open your heart. The amplification was turned up very high in order to drown out the boomboxes and the general cacophony. Some of those gathered about were sipping from tall cans in brown paper bags as they learned about the paradise that waited for them if they but cared to embrace it. Others were sleeping, making drug deals, wandering uselessly about, staring wide-eyed to the sky as the sun shone down upon it all like some unconscionable machine forged for the sole purpose of manufacturing loneliness. Two skater kids seated on concrete steps were shooting up between their toes, and Jeffrey started back down the stairs into the station wondering if Jenny might still be at the bar.

Dave Cullern

Mr Almost

I’ll give up the fags
This evening

The booze in a couple
Of days

Start writing that novel
A week Tuesday, gives me time to buy
A new pen
A new desk
A new chair

I’ll go running in my new running shoes
Next week
Do press ups and sit ups
And squats

I’ll even take the leap
And find a therapist, talk about
Starting fresh, that’s what my problem is,
Probably the week after that

I’ll cook vegetables for my dinner from
The third of next month,
Watch calories from then on,
I’ll probably only have a few a day
After that,
Be skinny by the end of the year

I gave up the class A’s
And I’ve done really well with that

So I think I’m ready to test
The limitations of my ageing body
In multiple ways
Starting first thing next month

I’ll get to doing yoga, magick, meditation
All that eastern stuff
But not until I’ve got all of
This other shit out of the way

I’m not a fucking
Miracle man.

Jacob Ian DeCoursey

Lines Intersecting as Seen from a Bus Stop

It’s 9 am
I’m waiting

A gray February overcast
tints the bus stop
and all surrounding things

Buildings lurch
through frozen sun
between statuesque
pedestrians while
the wind turns
a girl’s hair sideways

That same fucking sedan
beeps three times
while speeding past as
the pavements burst again
with cold pigeons like steam

A man and woman press through
and the woman is screaming

She hurls a whiskey bottle
at his head and
the bottle shatters
against the street

A truck blares its horn
and rolls over the glass

always is such a short time
when we live so long,
sings a distant ambulance

I cover my ears as
the 35 arrives

The doors slide open
and nobody is driving and
the windows are crowded
with demons


John Gartland


Heavier than any back-pack,
dude, the centrifugal darkness,
of three million murders.
That place has an awesome negative field,
and so does every trash-choked,
blood-soaked kilometre to the Thai border.
The highway bus stops have a bench
of the desperate and dangerous,
and more choking than the stench
of those unspeakable latrines is
the crocodile breath of Marxists,
and embedded Party reptiles,
gorged on graft and carrion,
still slithering among the corpses
stealing all the scenes.

In Phnom Penh you know
the jungle never really left.
A torture vortex, with tourists.
I swore I’d never go back.
And now this invitation
from Cadre Number One,
to edit his self-vindicating fiction.
The ultimate progressive scoop,
one last hubristic loop-the-loop.
charismatic journo skills
can sometimes prove the gift
that kills.