Jeff Weddle

You Say You Want a Revelation? Well, You Know…

God comes up to me on the street. Says, “Hey, pally-pally, how’s tricks?” 
“Tricks is good,” says I. 
God stares off down the street where the rats are eating the corpse of an old woman 
who died walking home from her crummy waitress job. 
“This shit makes me want to puke,” says God. “What a fucking mess.” 
“I don’t mind,” says I. “But if YOU don’t like things, why not fix it all?”
“I didn’t say I didn’t like it. I just said it makes me want to puke,” says God.
“Damn, bro,” says I. “You sure work in mysterious ways.”
“You know it,” says God, giving me a fist bump. “Stay chill.”
“Groovy,” says I. 
God walks down the street and picks the biggest rat off the old woman’s body 
and shoves it in his mouth. Swallows it whole.
“Mysterious ways,” he yells back at me.
And then the whole world ends, just like that.

Brian Rosenberger

The Throne

It’s been called a throne,
Probably dependent on location.
At my office building and on our floor’s restrooms, 
Royalty, or Corporate Executive not withstanding,
It’s just a public toilet.

A means to an end. It does not discrimate.
Piss stains, pubic hairs, unflushed fecal deposits.
Gods and janitors, bums and priests,
pro athletes and carnival acts.

All are equal here.

Today, the asshole in the stall next to mine has gone Nuke.
At best explosive diarrhea, maybe radioactive.
At a Godzilla level.

Does it stink? Like the wet feces of a dead skunk.
Probably worse.  

I struggle not to puke.
My neighbor offers a courtesy flush.
Kudos to him for that. 
And that keeps him out of Dante’s 7th circle of Hell.

I offer him my best wishes and better dietary choices,
And sympathies to the stall’s next inhabitant.
I notice the fucker doesn’t take the time to wash his hands on exit.

No hope for humanity.

Ralph Benton

Spring Cleaning

He woke to the stench of vomit. The stink made him sick all over again. He barely managed to get his head over the side of the sofa before his guts churned and heaved and twisted. His stomach was empty, of course, so all he could do was spasm uselessly and bring up clear yellow bile and spit. This went on for several minutes.

He wiped his mouth on the cushion, then lay back and breathed. His whole torso ached with the effort. He blinked at the ceiling. How could his gut burn so badly? Ulcers were for middle-aged suits, not dudes like him.

This has to stop. It has to.

He rolled over, sat up on the sofa, and took a deep breath. His nose filled with the smell from the pail on the floor. The deep, musty funk of the sofa, his sheetless bed for the last nine months. There was something rancid in the sink he hadn’t wanted to look at for at least three days. And his own self. His own bitter, acrid stink. He didn’t move for a long time. At least he wasn’t spinning. That was the worst. He opened his eyes and looked at the coffee table.

Sometime last night Billy’s dip cup had spilled, and foul black saliva was drying on the cracked glass. Empty cans of Bud Light, an empty fifth of Fireball, and two empty plastic bottles of Popov vodka, the cheapest stuff they could find. When did Billy leave? Two? Four? No idea. He had a vague memory of the two of them on the sofa, staring at some titty flick on mute, drinking vodka out of coffee mugs.

He found the remote between the sticky pillows of the sofa, but the TV wouldn’t come on. What the fuck. No TV? It was Sunday, at least let him watch some football. The little blue light stubbornly refused to illuminate. He tossed the remote across the sofa.

He decided to risk standing up. If he stood too fast he might black out. Or throw up. He put his hands on his knees and levered himself upright. Slowly. Not so bad. He had to empty the pail or he’d lose it again. He picked it up with one hand and held it as far from his face as he could. Head turned, he made for the bathroom. Just dump it down the drain, wash it out, you’re good to go. You got this.

He put his bare foot in a puddle of Bud Light or piss or something, and sprawled. The bucket bounced and spilled. Fuck me. Fuck. Me. He lay there. When did this become his life, lying on the floor of a filthy bathroom, watching a yellow puddle spread across the floor? He stood up, careful to avoid the now-mingled fluids, and closed the door. He went to the kitchen and pissed in the sink. Maybe this will kill whatever’s living in there.

He looked down at his bare torso, the sparse hairs, the scabs and pimples. So white. Like those cave animals in that video. Eighth grade? When he sat next to Monica Tullerio, and tried to peek down her shirt when he stood up. “Jesus, Todd, how about just one day without you eyeballing me, huh, can you go one fucking day?” He laughed it off, but didn’t look again all semester.

From eighth grade to now, and still a nasty little piece of shit. Self-loathing and rage swirled into the hangover headache and made his brain shriek. He grabbed his head with both hands and tried to squeeze his skull into a little ball, because somehow that made it feel better.

He let go to pound his fist on the sticky kitchen counter. He had to change. Make his life different. Please. He looked around his apartment.

The garbage can was filled to overflowing, because of course it was. He found trash bags in the pantry. Cleo had bought those months ago, but she didn’t come over anymore. He jammed everything he could find into the bags. Beer cans, cups, the dishes in the sink. He got an old t-shirt and wiped up the vomit and threw that away. He made three trips to the dumpster. The work gradually burned through the headache. Damn it felt good. 

After hours of work the place didn’t smell as bad, especially since he had opened the window. The TV flickered with football once he figured out that the remote’s signal had been blocked by a beer can. Like a goddamned rocket scientist.

But most of all, the booze was gone. Right? That was the important part. Some nagging part of him that didn’t trust him – Cleo? his mother? – told him to look again and make sure.

He opened the freezer door. A Popov bottle lay on its side. What was it doing in the freezer? He rewound the clip in his mind from when he cleared the coffee table. All the bottles were empty, weren’t they? No, not all. This one still had a couple of fingers left. He couldn’t remember what happened next, but he must have put the bottle in the freezer. He turned the bottle to the light. The clear liquid, now icy cold, oozed and flowed, more like oil than water. Why had he kept it?

It didn’t matter what he thought an hour ago, now he was cleaning! Spring cleaning his life. Unscrew the top, tilt it over the sink. No, scratch that. Start the water running first, so he wouldn’t smell the booze when he emptied the bottle. The smell might make him throw up. Or want one. Just one. To take the edge off.

He stood there with the bottle poised over the sink. Christ, he had heard of this. Alcoholics, real alcoholics, with a bottle of vodka stashed by their bed. Yes, vodka, probably Popov. For when the withdrawal kicked in and woke them up in the middle of the night.

When was the last time he was sober? Not buzzed, not drunk, not hungover, just… sober? Three weeks? No, longer than that. One of his dates with Cleo. Yeah, about a month ago, right? Yeah.

No.

He always had a couple before he saw her. Steady his nerves. Settle him down. He didn’t want her to think he was weird.

So how long had it been? Months? This year? Had he been sober just one day this whole goddamn year?

The bottle trembled in his grip. He knew what would fix that. Just one. The last one, for a while. Just have one, then dry out for a bit. Lots of guys did that. Billy, even Billy went sober for three months, last year, right? Court-ordered, maybe, but still.

Just one.

And then he was pouring it down the sink. Like it was nothing! His hand still shook, but now with relief. He breathed into his hand and sniffed it, just to make sure he hadn’t accidentally taken a drink without knowing it. Clean. He was clean. Sober. And hungry!

He knew the fridge was empty. He went through the pockets of his jeans. He found a twenty and some ones. He walked over to the Perfect Market. It wasn’t cheap, none of these Whole Foods knock-offs were, but they made good sandwiches and hipster mac-and-cheese.

He walked inside and grabbed a basket. A pyramid of yellow-green apples greeted him. “Why, hello there apples, I believe I will.” He made a show of selecting one and placed it in his basket. Yoga Pants Girl smiled at his silliness as she stacked tomatoes with a practiced hand. He smiled back, then became intensely aware of his mouth. How long since he had brushed his teeth? He found the Personal Care aisle and dropped a toothbrush and some toothpaste made by a farmer in Maine in the basket.

He didn’t look as he passed the Liquor and Wine aisle. He made an extra turn to avoid the Cold Beer! cooler. Not today, not today, not today. Maybe not ever.

Beard-Net Deli Guy made him a Reuben, an honest-to-god Reuben. Just like his dad used to make on Sunday afternoons. How long ago had that been?

It all starts fresh today.

He dropped his basket on the conveyor belt.

“Hey, Todd, isn’t it? How you doing?”

John, the checker, gave him a smile. An older guy, but friendly, always friendly. 

“Yeah man, I’m good, I’m good. Kinda, starting fresh today, you know what I mean?”

“Fresh, that’s always good.” John flicked open a paper bag. “Maybe you’ll get laid, huh?”

“Aw man, one thing at a time. But thanks!” It felt good to talk to someone. Someone sober.

“Let’s see, comes to $24.81.”

He dug into his jeans and pulled up his cash.

“Twenty-four, huh, I didn’t think I had spent that much.” He was counting out the ones.

“Yeah, adds up quick, that’s for sure. Even with my discount I can’t shop here. How much you got?”

“Uh, twenty-three.” Jesus, what the fuck was this? A sandwich, an apple, and some toothpaste? “What can I put back?”

“Well, that apple would do it. Or the booze.”

“The what?” His vision flickered. He hadn’t picked up any booze.

John reached into the bag and pulled out the pint of Popov. “Four bucks, with the tax.”

His tongue had gone dry so fast it was hard to speak.

“I didn’t put that in my basket! I didn’t! I’m, I’m sober. Yeah, I’m sober!”

John looked at him and shrugged. “Suits me, man, you do you.” He stuck the bottle in the returns bin.

“Wait.” His apartment, empty. Football tonight. Maybe he’d text Cleo. Cleo. He didn’t want to act weird around Cleo.

He pulled the apple out of the bag. “Put this back instead.”

John Tustin

She Looks Down and Laughs

She looks down and laughs
They look down and laugh

–While we thirst below with our dying tears–

From their perches above the sun

She looks down and laughs

They look down and laugh
At me at you
All of us deserted down here
With our sadnesses
And our ragged shoes
And our no love

She is pointing and laughing
And they are laughing with her

Her voice cuts right through
A laugh soaked in blood
In guts and blood

They all laugh and laugh
Laughing at us

Laughing from their perches

Their perches above the sun

Paul Tanner

the good pleb’s war on (more) drugs 

we, damn us, we
don’t ask for much.
we literally 
break our backs at work 
and like good plebs
we haul our broken backs 
to the pharmacies 
and we neck the cough syrup 
we pop the pill
we snort the mint 
and then we get back to work. 
and we break our backs some more 
until we dare to pester the doctor:
a middle man 
who won’t operate on the cause 
but graciously scribbles on a notepad 
thereby giving us his permission 
to buy more drugs
for the symptoms: 
more drugs,
better drugs,
hell – the SAME drugs 
but in nicer, branded boxes. 
and we thank him
we THANK him
and drink and pop and snort 
then get back 
to our back-breaking work, 
relieved that the NHS hasn’t been privatised yet.
no, seriously, we do! 
we’re the good plebs, 
us, damn us, us. 

Joseph Fulkerson

Steady as She Goes

Rise and shine
Part your hair on the left
Make sure to brush and floss
No cavities will be tolerated
Don’t want to get the dreaded
-GINGIVITIS- 

Hide your tattoos
Tuck in your shirt
and stop slouching

Eat your greens
Do your homework
Pay your taxes
Go to church

Get married and settle down
Your upside down mortgage 
not withstanding
The kiddos will need a college fund
Don’t forget the employer-matched
401k up to 6%

Embrace the two-party system
your choices being: 

-either-
-or-

It’s the same choice regardless;
death by a thousand cuts, or
a thousand little compromises

Don’t rock the boat
Keep one foot in front of the other

Careful not to say anything 
too progressive
too conservative

Wouldn’t want to make waves
make anyone feel uncomfortable

It would be a shame to tarnish 
your spotless record of never
having anything to add

Right down the middle
Keep it between the lines

You can’t hold an opinion 
so controversial 
as to upset the order of things
People may think you’ve gone 
and taken a side

You need to keep them guessing 
as to what you stand for
if anything at all

Once as a young boy 
There were two girls that liked me
both named Sarah
They called me on the telephone
asking which Sarah I liked the best
They told me I had to choose

Make one girl happy
make one cry
I was damned either way

So I chose
and have been choosing 
the wrong Sarah
ever since

Daniel S. Irwin

Self-Improvement

Well, we all look for a betterment in life,
Mainly an increase of income.
No doubt about it, ya need bucks to survive.
Workin’ for the man ain’t gonna make you rich.
Workin’ for yourself is where the money’s at.
Took some accounting classes,
Studied up on personnel management,
Looked into the lives of the rich and famous.
Gotta get the knowledge, it ain’t all from college.
Researched the market and I’m ready to go.
Sure wasn’t makin’ nothin’ as the preacher man.
That’s why I gave up the pulpit, packed away the collar,
And set out on my latest career endeavor.
I just need a wire coat hanger, a good bottom bitch,
And to keep my reference manual handy,
Yup, never know when I might need to refer back
To my Iceberg Slim’s: Pimp, The Story of My Life.

Noel Negele

Mango Woman

Last time I heard
beach bar waiters
and bartenders
were pulling her out of the waters
naked, in a manic state
her gorgeous pale skin
bare against the blue light of the full moon
and, against her will,
were dressing her with their own clothes
because her lips had turned blue
and because, as they said:
“We have sisters ourselves…daughters…”

Manic-depressive, mad-crazy, gorgeous Anna
thick black hair, straight and down to her waist,
a snake-ish body,
gift of her pill addicted diet–
her Animus perfectly engulfed by my Anima,
her Masochism hand in hand with my Sadism,
and it was so lovely for a while,
so lovely indeed, before the trouble came
before the downslide steepened.

Gorgeous, faded, mad-pussy Anna
stealing pills and all sorts of injection caps
I’m too uneducated to know about,
from the hailing ambulance taking us to the hospital
because of my lumped up skull
and my fractured ribs
because I’m the kind of stupid
to pick a fight with a wall, let alone
six to seven scumbags hitting on my beautiful Anna.

Psychotic, angry, dangerous Anna
chasing people with a knife she’s used before
because the sight of seven scumbags stomping
on her man is too much a sight to take–
and when the punks disappear like roachers
in pavement cracks
she turns her fists to street lamps until they explode
and the glass shatters into her knuckles
dousing her sexy clothes with her own blood.

Sweet, compassionate, flowery Anna
tying my shoelaces for me while I sit stiff
and nauseous in the wheeling chair in the hospital,
waiting for the results of my X-rays and angry
because I was promised mad fucking that night,
and as she kisses my shin in adoration
I tell her:

“Did you see how I dropped that first motherfucker
with a single swing? What type of man gets laid
flat on their ass like that, with a single punch? Did
you see Anna? Did you see?
Even the second one couldn’t handle me at my feet, Anna.
That’s why they wrestled me to the ground, Anna.
I wish I had another pair of hands, I’d fuck’em all up
if I just had another pair of hands, I know it, Anna.
If I just had another pair of hands.”

Clever, emotional, pharmaceutically educated Anna
arguing with the doctor
about the type of prescription I need for my rib pains.
Trying to get good drugs out of a bad situation.

“Ibuprofen and Algofren my ass.
He needs codeine and you know it.”

Soft finally, tamed, relaxed and beautiful Anna
lying next to me in a king size bed
after a long day at the police station,
feeding me codeine pills and beers
until I can barely remember who I am
let alone feel any pain in my body.

Pill junky Anna,
gobbling five to six codeine pills at the same time
after already having taken as much or more with me,
after getting fucked by me for what seemed like hours
while her heart still throbs in her chest–
finding her after my shower
with a yellow color on her face, laying there with her
tits barely moving.

Slapping her to keep her awake
because she didn’t want to go to the hospital
because she only needed me to keep her
awake for about three hours, until the danger was gone
but I kept  her up until dawn, just to be safe,
completely dozed out of my mind myself,
slapping her hard, bringing water, bringing fruits
which she sometimes took a bite out of
and half chewed for a second
before her eyes would turn sides
inside her sockets
and I’d lift her straight up, standing her on her two feet
threatening her with an ambulance phone call
to bring her back from the shadow realm for a while.

And when we finally decided it was safe to fall asleep
I put her head on my chest
and with one hand held her wrist,
feeling her slow pulse against the tip of my fingers
and with another hand around her gorgeous tits
I told her to finally sleep, that I’d watch over
her life as she rested,
and I hearkened to her breathing
and I prayed that she remained alive
because she is magnificent
and I prayed that I, myself, don’t fall asleep.

It was time to go
in the morning.
I had to go.

“I have to go” I told her
“I’m too heavy myself
to be able to lift another person.”

I hugged her and gave her half my money
because she didn’t have any homes left
to turn to–
such a beautiful woman with no friends–
imagine the bridges burned–
imagine the ways they were lit on fire.

When I limped out of the hotel
the sun was unforgiving, the heat
unbearable, and my foot
was bruised like a balloon that
barely fit in my shoe
and I walked without knowing
were to go
and the passerby’s stared at my bloated face
and at a foreign intersection I stood still
for a while, not knowing where each road would
take me.

But I knew I had to get out of there
and so I did.

I will remember the sensation
of your tiny trembling body
while I spooned you and
felt you with my hands to see
if the flame was still burning,
while I lied to you and tried to
convince you
you are strong enough to be on your own
just so I could convince my own self
that I wasn’t leaving anyone behind.

Johnny Scarlotti

Japan, 3/11/11

i go to a mansion party
oo lookielookie, there’s a pool in the backyard!
3 doofs challenge me to a 4 lap race
but 1 stipulation: they get a 2 lap head start… 
i still beat the fucking shit out of them (E Z) 
and win 15 dollars
ssthuckerthss 
that’s 15 mcchickens!!!
~DON’T MESS WITH POSEIDON, MOTHERFUCKERS!~
i pound my chest and spit a mist of water into the air 
one of them gets angry n calls me a cream faced loon
i riposte: three inch fool! 
we get broken up 
and the party rages on 
at about 4 AM i sneak off with the baddest bitch here 
take her to the masterbedroom (soO alpha)
15 minutes later 
the host is pounding on the locked door
yellin like a kook  
who in there!? get out my room! i call cops! 
i yell back just give us 10 minutes, kumquat!
the bitch laughs
AsHLeY?!?! he bellows, OpEn DoOr! 
n the bitch yells, NO
he roars COME OUT 
OR I KNOCK DOOR DOWN,
BANG BANG GUY DEAD!
just 10 more seconds, homunculus! i yell
he screams NOW!
but i call his bluff
working up to a climax… 
building… builDiNNng…
then stuff a huuge nut inside her 
ooouaaaww
could hear the man crying behind the door 
fucking loser
then i scramble out of bed 
tell her i’ll call her
slap her ass
good luck  
put my clothes back on, grab my bong,
jump out the window,
walk down the street to a motel for some sleep
————
then a bigass earthquake wakes me up
i immediately head to the ocean
the safest place 
I walk the beach
hit the bong (hhhwuhhbuhbubuhhbub)
WaKe aNd BaKe! 
most everyone else is running from the water
hmm— 
ahhhh, what is that? 
holy shizz,
is that what i think it is? 
tsunami?!
must be a few hundred feet
wwooaah
it’s b e a u t i f u l 
that’s going to fuck a lot of people up 
but not me…
I strip down
revealing a USA speedo 
I charge fearlessly 
as the wave is rolling in
I dive into it
like a hot knife through butter
sucks for everyone else hahaha
treading water, I look back and see the city
get obliterated, I beat on my chest,
best swimmer alive
michael phelps!  
I hit the bong again  
the best eva 
I’m michael phelps!
I made it!
I’m alive!

then I realize I’m in my mom’s bathtub in Califnora
it’s 2018 my name is Johonny Scalarti, i’m 30 years old
I haven’t had sex in 4, haven’t been to a party in 5—
no wait, that is untrue! untrue!!
I’m michael fucking phelps!!!! 

***

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