J.J. Campbell

suicide lovers

your lips tasted
like danger
like death was
just around the
next corner
your tongue 
danced in my 
mouth like i 
was the 
it was a cigarette 
on the front porch
the sad reminder
that suicide lovers
will never get a
storybook ending
so many years ago
now we’re flirting
with death while
burning every damn
bridge along the way
sometimes sorrow
is all we can get 
by with
like any fucking 
we’ll turn it into
something that 
someone will 
think of as 

Matthew Shovlin

A Conversation About Loud Orgasms

“You know, about two days into my freshman year of college it was brought to my attention that I’m an incredibly loud orgasmer.”

“Like, what, you moan?”

“More like scream.”

“Christ. Who told you?”

“The kids in my dorm.”


“They started calling me Scream Queen. At first I thought they knew about the vocal showcase series I put on YouTube in high school.”

“That would have been better, somehow.”

“I know.”

“But how didn’t you know? About the loud cumming, I mean.”

“I don’t know. I don’t feel like it’s loud. I guess I just get swept up in the moment. Like when you yell at the TV during the Knicks game.”

“Woah now. That’s different. I’m in full control of what comes out of my mouth.”

“Your neighbor almost had you evicted last year, the things you said were so vile.”

“Okay maybe now and then I lose my cool.”

“But that’s just what I mean. You can relate, sort of.”

“Okay, sure.”

“And you know what the worst part is? No one in my family ever said anything to me about it.”

“Figures. That would be quite the uncomfortable conversation.”

“More uncomfortable than listening to me scream my way to climax for, what, like five years before I went off to college?”

“No, not that uncomfortable. You’re right.”

“I didn’t know how to face my parents when I got home from school. I swear my mom sat me at the end of the Thanksgiving table so no one would have to use a serving spoon after me.”

“That seems passive-aggressive.”

“Yeah so anyway I drank a lot at Thanksgiving that year, you know?”


“I was kind of…well I guess the best word would be ‘distraught.’ I was distraught. I didn’t want to talk to anyone about anything, so I binged red wine in silence at the end of the table, separated from the adults by all the little cousins.”

“You don’t have the youngest sit down at the end?”

“I think the rule of thumb is that the table is seated from most desirable to eat with to least desirable to eat with. So that leaves the high-decibel masturbator in the caboose.”

“That seems to make some sense, on the surface.”

“Yeah well after all the guests had gone home I didn’t think it made much sense at all and was quite frankly furious that my parents had let this go on for so long–my loud orgasming, I mean.”

“Yeah, I got it.”

“So I downed maybe another glass or two of wine quite quickly and staggered up the stairs to my room. I was alone, drunk, angry, upset, and the lights were off. Needless to say, this all made me incredibly horny. So I waited until all was quiet in the kitchen and went at myself. I knew my parents could hear me and I wanted them to. I wanted my screams to haunt their minds. I know that’s kind of fucked but I was angry and as I said quite drunk. And it’s not like it was anything new–they’d heard me violate myself god knows how many times before.

“But this particular time I was quite savage with myself. Borderline self-abusive. Assaulting my crotch like some shit you’d find on a controversial porn site. Every ounce of energy and anger went right between my legs. I screamed, of course. I think I started crying too.”

“Sounds pretty intense, all that.”

“You can’t even imagine, I wouldn’t think. So I’m screaming, tears running down my face, body tensed so tight I can feel blood rushing to my eyes, and my dad kicks in the door. Literally kicks the latch right through the doorframe. It wasn’t even locked. Wood splinters rain down in front of my dad as he cocks a fucking shotgun and flips the light on with his front hand. He’d thought I was being murdered or something, but there I am, lying alone on top of my bedspread, my right hand entirely inside of myself and my left slowing like an abruptly unplugged chainsaw.”

“That’s some strong imagery, the chainsaw thing. What did he say, your dad?”

“Nothing. He just stood there shocked in the busted doorframe, shotgun still cocked and raised. I was certain he was about to shoot either me or himself, understandably. But he eventually turned back into the hall and shut the door, as best as it could be shut. We’ve never talked about any of it. I still sit at the far end of the dinner table.”

Trappe Mently

Always The Cult’s Bridesmaid, Never The Cult’s Bride

The first time I feel your touch, it’s as if heaven has graced me. My head is bowed. I am dressed in the robes of the lamb. I’m on my knees, in the church knave, praying.

You stand before me, and I feel your hand on my head. I’m so happy I begin to well up. Your touch only lasts a second before you move on, but in that moment, I know I’m closer to god. I feel divinity.

When you walk away, the deacons are on me. They grab my arms and pull me to my feet. I see you walking among the kneeling flock. I see you touch other women; two…three…four maidens. They are young and beautiful, like me, and the deacons seize them by the arms as well. They don’t need to. We would follow you through burning cinders. But as I take a step, I find my knees are shaking. The deacons keep me steady, and I’m grateful.

The flock continues to chant the Eternal Harmony. We lucky maidens are escorted out of the nave, through the chancel, and into a narrow hallway behind your holy altar. My breath catches when I realize the honor we are to be given. Two of the maidens swoon, nearly falling, when they see what lies ahead.

The deacons are taking us to your private sanctum.

The corridor to your sanctum is old, made of time-worn stone. Coal braziers burn on either side of your door, and we’re made to stand before the flames.

“Strip” We are told.

We do so. Willingly. Quickly. The deacons receive our clothes, our belongings, which are tossed onto the braziers. The heat washes over us as our earthly possessions are consumed, and the smiles on our faces are serene. At least, I am serene, until I see that Cathryn has arrived with the deacons…as the fifth maiden. And my smile withers.

Maidens are chosen for elegance, grace, and devotion. But I know Cathryn was chosen because it’s an affront to god to hide her body behind clothes. Her hair is swirled honey. Her curves are generous and sweet. Her gaze is sharp as she looks at us—the lesser maidens—and her smile becomes condescension.

The deacons bring four black veils to cover our faces, and one white veil, for the bride. Cathryn doesn’t act surprised when the deacons adorn her wrists, ankles, and neck with gold cord, and lower the short white veil over her face. Cathryn walks, pert, and proudly clad in firelight, to your door. And I fucking hate her.

When you open the sanctum, you’ve changed as well. You’ve abandoned your robes and you stand, breathtakingly naked, with the Elder Helm covering your face. The black marble visage of the first god contrasts with your taut muscles, your erect cock, and your hard eyes. You look like you’re ready to punish the unworthy. I quiver, imagining what form your punishments might take…

But tonight you have eyes only for Cathryn. Despite our collective feminine nakedness, your gaze never leaves her. I feel myself and the other maidens shrink, as you take Cathryn’s wrist, and lead us into the sanctum.

A massive bed with rosewood posts sits surrounded by candles. You take Cathryn and lay her on the bed, and she writhes, slowly, on silk sheets. We four maidens in our black veils stand, confused, until you point to us, indicating that we should kneel. When I hesitate, you grab the back of my neck roughly and force me down at the bedside.

You take my hands and press them together, then you hold my head down, and your cock is so close to my face I can feel its warmth. The other maidens kneel at the corners as well, and I’m a little girl again, praying at Father’s bedside.

You crawl across the bed and pull Cathryn, gasping, to her knees. Near the foot of the bed is an altar of stone with a velvet-covered book. You slap Cathryn’s ass so hard it makes the other maidens flinch, and Cathryn cries out. Then you press your palm to her back, forcing her down on all fours, which puts her face level with the book.

“Pray.” You tell us. And we begin the Eternal Harmony.

I mumble the chant until I hear Cathryn’s cries as you enter her. She is in instant ecstasy, bouncing as you plunge in and out of her, and I hate her. I hate that even with the mask, I can see how much you’re enjoying her body. I hate how powerful Cathryn looks, taking your cock in wild thrusts. I hate how pretty she is, pink and flushing. I even hate that I care so much; that Cathryn’s existence diminishes mine.

I watch through the dark veil as Cathryn bounces on your cock, pushing against you like a good bridal slut, and the candles begin to flicker and wink out. Around the bed, the circle darkens, and you slap Cathryn again, and again, turning her ass dark red in the shadows.

“The book,” You growl. “Open it.”

Cathryn, in rapture, reaches a shaking hand for the book. My voice falters, but the other maidens keep chanting.

A gust ripples the sheets and extinguishes candles. Shadows fall over the sanctum. Cathryn is pale and sweaty in the dying light, and you look like a marble carving of the First Man—your pelvis slapping against her ass.

Cathryn removes the black velvet from the book and opens the cover, leafing through it. She acts coy, running a manicured fingernail over the ancient script. She poses for you, looking back over her shoulder, grinning.

That’s when we see it. The dark forces. The arms of the elders. They reach from you, in the night, like ropes of shadow. Like writhing snakes protruding from your shoulders and back. Shades of black that slither around the bedposts, the headboard, and around Cathryn. We maidens see it through our veils, but Cathryn does not.

The shadow tentacles curl around Cathryn’s thighs, around her stomach, and between her breasts. The maidens have all stopped chanting. We are struck silent, witnessing a miracle, a curse, as the shadows envelope her.

When the darkness closes around her throat, she doesn’t choke. Not quite. Instead, she draws in a long, shuddering breath, her fingers and toes curl, and her eyes go wide. People refer to the air as nothing. But to breathe nothing, to fill your lungs with nothing, is truly horrifying.

You growl and bury yourself in Cathryn as she begins to thrash, hovering in the clutches of the shadows. Her eyes go white. Not rolling into the back of her head. They turn true white, as if the elder god has taken her sight. She claws at her face with her manicured nails, leaving long scratches that weep blood.

You huff and grunt behind the mask, and I can tell you’re close. Your hands dig into Cathryn’s hips. Your cock, hammering, makes her toned flesh bounce. She screams, and her horror is swallowed by the black void that has entangled her.

I hear your laughter, booming, as you spend your seed inside Cathryn, and her limbs begin to shudder.

I reach down with one hand, very slowly, and I finger myself, as I watch Cathryn being taken by forces dark and powerful and ancient.


It’s past midnight when we are driven home by the deacons. Cathryn is taken first to the hospital, but we all know where she’ll end up before the week is out…

Ivy Hills Crematorium is less than ten miles from the church. Sometimes, I think there’s providence in that. Or just prudent planning.

The deacons warn us not to speak about anything we’ve seen. We’re told to stay faithful. And to keep our bodies pure, and ready, for your touch. I don’t need to be told. I know exactly what, and who, my body is for. You’ll need a new bride, now that Cathryn is gone.

Over the course of a week, I visit with the three remaining maidens. They are giddy and frightened and elated and reverent in turns. They are torn between their attraction to your power, and their fear of the thing we saw reaching through you. I nod in agreement with them, and I humor their nattering. After our visits I leave each of them with a pledge; that no matter what happens, we’ll all stay friends. A pinkie-promise, like sisters, to remain devoted to each other.

I smile. I nod. I make promises. And every maiden suffers a terrible accident after our visit.

Every maiden…except me.

The deacons are furious when they pick me up on Sunday, but they aren’t surprised. Maiden Cynthia took a nasty spill on the stairs, which sent her to the hospital. Maiden Terry drank bad wine. Maiden Sara has gone missing, although her car is in the garage.

And that leaves me, your only bride, by the time Sunday services have ended.

Your sermon goes on for hours. You preach hellfire and damnation, eternities and infinities. You are powerful. Eloquent. Emotional. Evocative. I touch myself, frequently, throughout your sermon. I make sure you see it, too, and you lick your lips as the service comes to an end.

The deacons select new maidens from the flock. They are young, bright-eyed, and beautiful. They swoon when you touch their heads, and they are escorted by the deacons. I follow with a deacon at each elbow, but I move with purpose.

The new maidens are stripped before the sanctum, and the fire reveals their awe. I disrobe as I walk, and I toss my things on the crackling brazier. The deacons give the maidens their black veils. For me, I take the white, and gold cords are placed around my ankles, wrists, and neck.

I wait before your sanctum, naked, and eager, while the maidens titter behind me. I feel poised and polished until you open the door. When I see you, I am undone.

You are naked, save for the black marble mask, and an erection that looks like it could pierce plate aluminum. Your cock is so beautiful, so perfect, that I’m tempted to fall to my knees and worship it now. You see my gaze, my fixation, and you grin.

I hold my arm up, expecting you to take me by the wrist, but you don’t.

Instead, you walk around me. Inspecting me, and the other maidens, like a breeder inspecting livestock he might purchase. You linger on the new girls—getting close enough to sniff their hair, check the color of their eyes, and at one point, brush your cock across one of their asses.

Finally, you come to me. You stand in front of me, your erection aimed at my abdomen, and I see your eyes glimmer behind the mask. You sigh, loudly, and you make a show of seizing my wrist. You pull me along toward the four-posted bed, and I am smiling, despite my frustration.

You guide me to the bed where I’m to prostrate myself, and you instruct the maidens to kneel at the bedside and begin their prayers. Then you crawl over the silk to join me, and you find me laying on my belly, ankles crossed in the air, like a teenager on the telephone. I glance over my shoulder, and I watch you.

I am not smiling. I am not coy. This is not a game to me, like it was for Cathryn. She was given something that you are withholding, and this is my tiny, rebellious way of demanding the same treatment. The same…cruelty.

You register my little act of defiance, and you respond with the appropriate paternal instruction. You scoop me up, lay me across your lap, and you spank me like a petulant child.

Your night with Cathryn was special. You reached into the ancient, the forbidden, and part of that, I’m sure, hinged upon the pain you inflicted on her. Thus, I should be given the same pain before we start. Or so my logic holds. However, when you begin to strike me, I realize I may have been too free in my invitation.

You treat me like a child, but you don’t spank me like one.

Your hand is calloused and hard, and your arms are corded. Your first volly makes my ass glow red and brings tears to my eyes. The next ten drive the breath from me. I fall fully across your lap, and your erection presses hard into my belly.

I wriggle. I cry. I beg. I lose count after twenty slaps, so I start counting again in my head, and I lose track after another twenty. So much time passes, and you are so thorough in your beating, that my entire backside is hot, pulsing pain by the time you’re done. I’ve soaked your sheets in tears, and I have left your legs wet where I wriggled across your lap.

Just when I’m able to stifle my sobs, you haul me up on hands and knees, like Cathryn, and I feel the head of your cock resting between my cunt lips. That’s when you ask me;

“Are you ready, child?”

I don’t trust my voice, so I nod.

I think back on how wanton, how shameless, Cathryn acted when you took her. Her screams, her ecstasy…I thought it was an act.

When you enter me, and I feel myself stretching to accommodate you, I know it was no act.

It isn’t the bestial way you move. It isn’t the power you wield. Or the hardness of your body, or your cock.

It’s your spirit.

You thrust into me with an eagerness that speaks of joy and desperation. You take me, claim me, as one who is hanging from the cliff of mortality, and I am the fruit you pluck before you fall.

I’ve already screamed my voice hoarse during your spanking. Now my cries of lust are throaty, and I embarrass myself with little yelps as our flesh slaps together and I feel your cock filling me. I clench, and I wriggle, and I instinctively crawl away, but you pull me back. You always pull me back, like a compass coming to true. My legs begin to shake and my arms buckle, and you let me fall into the mattress, eyes and mouth wide, while you hold my hips and bury yourself in me.

Then you say the words that I’ve been imagining all week. The words I’ve obsessed over since I saw the shadows. But I’m so deep in my shameless lust, you have to repeat yourself before my mind can surface.

“The book.” You say. “Open it.”

I reach for the altar at the foot of the bed, and I peel back the black velvet. Underneath is a book of simple calf-skin binding, with uniform yellowed pages. I open the book to the inside cover, and I moan as I feel you slowing your pace. You’re close to coming. I can feel you’re close, and you’re breathing heavier than when you fucked Cathryn. That, more than anything, makes me smile as I look at the ancient pages.

The words are written in neat columns, but they are in no language that I recognize. Indeed, I don’t know that anyone on earth could recognize them. But they speak to me, nonetheless. As you fuck me, I see a story—the oldest story—shaping in my mind…in our minds. An interplay of light and dark. A dance of entropy and creation. The coupling of primal man and first woman. I see creation. I see pregnant eternity. And I feel the friction, and the war of power, within me right now. Within the pleasure, and the seed, of your vigorous fucking.

Unlike Cathryn, I see the shadows that emerge from you when the candles go dark. I see the shades of the god; the ancient one who derives its pleasure through you, as you take your pleasure from me.

Also unlike Cathryn, I embrace both man, and darkness.

I moan, and I wriggle, in the grip of those shadows. I spread my legs for them. I welcome them. I breathe it in, and the void fills my throat. I open myself, and they enter my every hole, lifting me high above the bed, weightless and twitching, as you plunge into me again and again.

I can’t breathe…can’t think. I am reduced to a vessel for your greed, and I shudder on the edge of blissful, orgasmic unconsciousness. You caress and squeeze and nibble my flesh, rapacious, and I hear you grunting as you approach the precipice. I am soft and warm and floating before you. And you unleash yourself into me, cumming, as I wriggle helpless on your cock, suspended by night given form…for your pleasure.

And that is when I lose myself. I cum, at the edge of sanity, desperate for air. I quake and shiver until I see stars. I shake and gasp until white pinpoints appear in my vision…except the stars never leave my eyes. They dance above the bed, as if my pleasure has summoned the cosmos above your sanctuary.

The roar in my head, and the fire in my loins, is slow to ebb. But ebb it does. And as you pull out of me, the darkness withdraws. Coils of shadow fall away from me, like unbound ropes, and they disappear, back into the doorway that is you.

You remove the black marble mask, and you look confused. Sated. Pleased. But confused.

“How?” You ask.

“I accept you, and I accept it.” I smile. “And it might have helped if any of your idiot brides bothered to read the first page.”

Jon Bennett


I wasn’t drunk yet 
and I went between the trees 
where I always go 
to take a piss 
I was looking at nothing 
thinking nothing 
and letting the piss  
take care of itself 
when I heard, “Hey!” 

Beneath the canopy 
of low branches 
was a little boy, maybe 4, 
with a Tonka truck 
loaded with a pinecone 
and I knew  
I was fucked 
because he had piss 
on his towhead 

“Oh shit,” I said 
and I backed out of there 
The dad was behind me 
“Did you see..?” he asked
My hands were in the 
“Who? Me?” configuration 
and I was distraught 

The little boy came out 
of the woods 
and he said, 
“He peed on me.” 

“I didn’t mean to,”
I said, “but I did.” 
and I sat on a stump 
and waited for  
the police to come 
and sort it out 

What should I have done? 
Lied? What should I have said? 
There was nothing I could do 
to make it right 

It’s like so much these days 
the facts speak 
for themselves 
but they don’t always
tell the whole story.

Judson Michael Agla


The city was hot like a burnt out cast iron frying pan. My sweat was dripping all over everything; I was cranky, homicidal with rage, and completely confused about my place in the world. All in all, a normal start to the day.

I had some projects lurking in my mind that I wanted to work out, so I flipped open my laptop to find that all the symbols on the keyboard had vanished; all the buttons were blank; I tried pressing them, but nothing happened. I have to say, I was really fucking creeped out. 

Stunned, frozen and drooling, I sat in awe with a subtle reactionary atrophy. I shook off my amazement and wondered if this bizarre phenomenon wasn’t just contained to my computer. Beside me was my journal; one that I’ve been keeping for about five months, more of a workbook/sketch pad, used to quickly get down ideas before they left my mind. Yesterday it was almost full up; today it was completely blank, the pages were all ruffled and creased like they’d been used, only nothing was on them, not a pen or pencil mark, just blank white pages. 

I’ve suffered through mental illness all my life, but it’s never evinced this kind of fuckery before. I went over to check my meds; sometimes I get confused and take the wrong ones. The meds were there but the stickers were all blank; this was turning into something I didn’t think I could fucking handle. I went to my books; they were all blank, covers and all; my cleaning supplies, blank, no words anywhere; my rulers, my calculator, no numbers. I went frantically through my boxes of old letters and tax returns; no words anywhere, Jesus-Fuck, what the hell was happening? I picked up the phone hoping to get some answers, or at least someone with the same questions I had, but again, no numbers, no numbers recorded, FUCK! 

I sat down, smoked a joint, and tried to gather myself and put this, whatever it was, into some sort of perspective. The television, nothing but static, the radio was the same; even the labels on my underwear were blank; this wasn’t going to put itself into any goddamn perspective at all, this was demonic voodoo fuckery in its truest form.

The next step would have to be clarification; was the rest of the world experiencing this clusterfuck as well? Or had I finally lost whatever was left of my mind? I hadn’t been out in weeks; clinically, it was agoraphobia, but actually, it was my distaste for people of all sizes and shapes; generally, I just hated people.

I was on the seventh floor; the top floor, kind of a ghetto penthouse with leaky everything; I had a great view of the courtyard and the neighborhood, I saw no one at all, no one standing on their balconies as I was, no one on the streets, no sounds of cars or screaming maniacs, which was a normal in this section of the city, but not one goddamn fucking soul. 

As terrified as I was, I’d have to get outside and check out the scene from ground level. I didn’t have much in the way of survival gear, but I loaded up what I could. I strapped on every knife I could find, loaded a bag full of cherry coke and leftover pizza from three days ago; I took my one flashlight and a twenty pack of batteries, which was useless really; it was daytime and the flashlight only took one battery at a time, but I was new at this sort of apocalyptic kind of thing and it was better to have and not need, as the saying goes.

I tied a collapsible chair around my shoulder in case I had to sit down and roll a joint; I brought all of my grass, whatever I had for cigarettes, and anything that made fire: lighters, lighter fluid, flints and wicks and matches. I definitely didn’t feel ready but I knew I was never going to, so off I went out my fucking front door.

I didn’t lock up in case I lost my keys along the way, but I did notice that there was no apartment number on the door either, so I left a cherry coke as a marker. Walking towards the elevator I saw that all of the doors were void of any numbers; I tried knocking on a few of them but nobody was answering; this was all just fucked right up.

I made it to the elevator, which had also been robbed of its up and down symbols; however, despite the clusterfuck at hand, I was able to discern that the bottom button meant down, so, I pressed it, and the elevator opened. Inside the elevator was another story; I’d forgotten which button was designated to what floor, so I just pressed my best guess. The doors closed and I felt the mechanical movements; I was on the top floor, so I surmised that I must be going down, but the doors opened onto a floor that wasn’t the lobby, FUCK! 

I pressed the buttons several times and ended up on identical floors; they all were blank of evidence of where the fuck I was; I decided that whatever floor showed up next, I’d get off and start raising hell, banging the fuck out of every door I found. The doors opened once again to some non-designated floor, and I went completely ape-shit, screaming, bouncing off this door and that door, like a wild fucking animal, until I turned a corner, and looked down the hall at a cherry coke tin sitting in front of a door, FUCK! 

I stumbled with my proverbial tail between my legs back to my place; I was fucking exhausted, pissed off and completely dumbfounded; I grabbed the cherry coke and went inside. I plopped down at my desk chair and proceeded to spark up a smoke, but, to my surprise, there was already one burning in the ash tray. Even stranger than that, there was one other thing I didn’t notice when entering.

A goddamn fucking monkey sitting on my fucking bed; the fucker was wearing a tailored suit and fucking about with some sort of mechanical device; it was like a sextant, a compass, about ten scrabble sets, a gyroscope and a bunch of containers of weird liquid got together and gave birth to a very complicated “what the fuck”. He didn’t pay very much attention to my presence, just an occasional glance, checking me out. I really didn’t want to disturb him; he seemed deep in concentration, and I wasn’t all that sure that he was even real.

After a few cigarettes and cherry cokes, the monkey seemed to have adjusted the machine to where he wanted it and turned, seemingly to address me in conversation. He apologized for his silence, as he had to concentrate on the dimensional position of the machine. I tossed him a cherry coke; he explained that the machine had to be in the exact spot it was, in order to function properly in unison with all the other machines placed in other geographical positions. And with that, he excused his uninvited presence and thanked me for the coke.

“What in all living fuck is going on?” This was what I conceived to be the most universally accepted question I could ask. The monkey described that certain places on Earth went through an unexpected multidimensional shift, causing a fracture in time and space; these machines, when all of them are aligned, will connect using sonic waves and hopefully put things back in order. After the explanation my next question was going to be “What in all living fuck is going on?”, but given its repetitive nature, and my conclusion being that I wasn’t going to understand a fucking thing he said, I decided to hold back and just let the fucking monkey do his shit; I offered up another cherry coke.

Mendes Biondo

Outlaw Wanderer’s Last Words

After a long ride
While the snow is falling
And your hands are hurting
Broken feet and legs
You tired and godless

After all the icy rivers
The bears in the middle of the wood 
Screams of Indians claiming their lands
Rattlesnakes and wolves
You scared and alone

After all the people you lost
False friends made in saloons
Moans of women who won’t remember your name
Gamblers and brothers
You betrayed and lonely

After all this great mess
The clouds will dance away from the moon

Bright stars to follow for the promised land
Gold and water
You blessed and holy

The moment when the tear falls
Life and its deep meaning
Before your very eyes

Suddenly, the truth

Ben Newell

Activate Anna 


Sitting on the toilet lid, Hector winced as he doused the wound with alcohol. His shin looked like somebody had scraped it with a cheese grater. It hurt like hell. But he was accustomed to such pain. Injuries and skateboarding were inseparable. And he had been skating since he was fourteen. 

At forty-six, he was definitely old school. Too old, Monica would say. His ex-girlfriend had given him much grief on the matter—

Put away that toy!

You’re not a teenager anymore! 

Grow up, Hector!

Monica had disapproved of Hector’s job, too. Working at a sex doll factory wasn’t her idea of respectable employment. In tandem with the skating, this had finally proved to be too much. She had dumped him some six weeks ago, packing up her belongings and moving out while he was at work. He hadn’t talked to her since. 

After topping the wound with gauze and several band-aids he went to his tiny kitchen and grabbed a beer from the fridge. He sat on his second-hand sofa and lit a cigarette. The beer was cold and good. 

His board was propped against the wall just inside the door. Hector admired it from afar. Skull Skates deck, Tracker trucks, Rat Bones wheels, the quintessential hardcore, old school set-up. 

He regarded his surroundings. Monica’s things had given the joint a touch of class; without them, the place looked seedy. Empty beer cans, overflowing ashtrays. The current issues of Thrasher and Hustler cluttered the table before him. 

Hector thumbed through the Hustler. Internet porn certainly had its place, but he still preferred print. Old school to the core, he thought—old, outdated tricks to accompany his archaic stroke mags. 

He certainly didn’t miss Monica’s incessant bitching. But the sex . . . damn, he missed fucking her!  She was a stick of dynamite in the sack. And now she was surely balling somebody else, some asshole accountant who played tennis or swatted golf balls on the weekend. What she called a “professional, mature man.” 

Hector admired some hot ginger with freckles, tatts, and big tits. He hadn’t gotten laid in quit a while. He unzipped, pulled out his cock, and spat on it. Then he tugged and jerked and grunted and blew his wad all over the ginger’s big tits. 


“Stealing a doll? Are you nuts? That’s crazy talk.” 

“I was expecting a little more support,” Hector said. 

They spoke in hushed tones despite having the break room to themselves. Judd, Hector’s coworker at the factory, took a bite of his liverwurst sandwich. They worked in the warehouse, packing and shipping dolls for the well-heeled consumers who could afford such luxuries. These weren’t cheap, inflatable dolls. Not by a long shot. These were top-of-the-line, ultra-realistic fuck dolls meticulously sculpted by a team of whiz-bang engineers. 

Judd said, “Forget it. You’ll get fired. Maybe even sent to jail.” 

“Only if I get caught.”

“You’ll get caught.”

“Thanks for the confidence.” 

“Hey, man, you asked for my advice. I’m not going to sit here and blow smoke up your ass. Don’t do it. Don’t even think about it.” 

“Easy for you to say. You’ve got a girlfriend, a very fine girlfriend at that. You can tap that ass whenever the mood strikes. In fact, I bet you tapped it last night.” 

“Well, not to brag . . .”

“That’s what I thought. You want to know what I did last night?” 

“Not really.”

“I jerked off to Hustler.” 

“You still use stroke mags?”

“You know me, man. I’m old school.” 

“Go to a bar, pick up a slut.”

“I hate bars.”

“Get a hooker.”

“Fuck that.”

“Well,” Judd said, “I guess you’ll just have to beat your meat.”

Hector sighed wearily. “Working around these dolls all day, it’s really starting to get to me. It wasn’t a problem when Monica and I were together . . .”

“Because you were having regular sex.”


“And now you’re not.”

“Yeah,” Hector said, “and it’s just so damned tempting. Day after day, man. I work in a state of perpetual horniness. I want to whip out my cock and fuck a doll right there on the warehouse floor. Those bitches are hot.” 

“I won’t argue with that.” 

“Especially that new model.”


“Oh, man. She’s something else.”

“Look, Hector. I hear what you’re saying. You’re going through a rough patch. Monica left you and you’re lonely. But you’ll get over it. This isn’t forever. You’ll meet some hot skater chick and everything will work out.”

“I don’t know . . .”

“Trust me, man.”

“Maybe . . .”

“Just don’t steal a doll.” 

Judd’s words went in one ear and out the other. Hector had already made up his mind. He was going to do it. 


Heart hammering with excitement, Hector hauled the large box into his apartment. He closed the door, locked it, and secured the chain. Safely ensconced within his lair, he opened the taped flaps with a pocket knife, finally digging into the packing peanuts where he struck gold—


A week had passed since his conversation with Judd. Good thing he hadn’t listened to his coworker. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be the proud owner of the Ferrari of sex dolls. And that just wouldn’t do. 

Hector placed her on the sofa. He actually gasped at the spectacle. Anna was a goddess. Supermodel slender with boyishly cut brunette hair, firm little B-cup tits, and the tightest apple ass imaginable. 

Hector’s cock stirred. He couldn’t wait. 

He shucked his clothes with much haste. Then he spat in his hand and lubed his prick, priming himself for the fuck of the century. He grabbed her ankles and pushed her legs back, opening her cunt for a deep, penetrative reaming. 

Hector mounted. 

Everything he had heard was correct; the countless glowing testimonials from satisfied customers were instantly verified. Anna’s pussy felt amazing; its silky folds and contours enveloped his shaft, eliciting a moan as Hector rammed it home. 

It was surreal. He had worked with these dolls for years, carefully packing them into boxes. And now he was fucking one, the best of the best.  Anna! And she belonged to him. He could have her again and again, later tonight, tomorrow morning, tomorrow night, whenever he wanted.

Anna would always be in the mood. 

Anna wouldn’t say no. 

Anna wouldn’t criticize him for skateboarding, wouldn’t badmouth his job, wouldn’t try to turn him into somebody he didn’t want to be . . .

Hector tried to slow his thrusts, but it was no use. Face contorted with ecstasy, he shot a massive load, filling Anna’s tight pussy with rope after rope after rope . . .


“Run that by me again?”

“Did I stutter?”

They were sitting in Judd’s car in the employee parking lot, talking and smoking cigarettes on their morning break. 

“I did it,” Hector said with pride. “I took my very own Anna right under their noses. It was a cinch, man.” 


“A few days ago, right after you clocked out. That big shipment out on the loading dock. Well, I was waiting on UPS, but the driver was running late. Everybody had gone home for the day, so I went for it. I backed my car in, tossed her in the trunk, and that was that. The driver showed up a few minutes later. Bad ass, huh?”

“Bad idea, Hector. These things are made to order. What happens when the paying customer doesn’t receive his doll?” 

“He calls, complains, and we play dumb.” 

“You’ve got it all figured out, huh?” 

“It’s no big deal. Nothing’s going to happen.” 

“What about the camera on the loading dock? Did you think about that? They’ll check the footage. They’ll see you heisting the goods . . .”

“I doubt it. I mean, it’s not like there was a break-in at the factory. They have those cameras for the cops, man. They won’t call the cops. 

“I don’t know . . .”

“Besides,” Hector said, “shit gets lost in the mail all the time.” 

“Yeah, shit gets lost in the mail. Small shit. This isn’t a goddamned paperback novel from Amazon. This is a six-thousand dollar sex doll. You can count on a thorough investigation.” 

“I’m telling you, man, everything will be cool. The UPS man, dude. It’s his fuckup, not mine.” 

“That’s your story?”

“That’s my story,” Hector said, “and I’m sticking to it.”


Days, weeks, months . . . . 

Hector settled into a nice routine: work, skating, fucking Anna. His shin healed nicely. He forgot all about Monica. Most importantly, nothing had been said about the missing doll. It was as if the incident had never even happened. Hector was the victor. He had rolled the dice and won in a big way. At least, that’s what he thought. 

Until the big boss summoned him to his office. 


Mr. Harvey Goldstein, the big boss, sat behind his desk. His was an opulent office befitting a man of his professional stature: cherry wood walls, exotic fish aquarium, and a stunning view of the cityscape. 

Dressed in his dirty work coveralls, Hector felt awfully out of place, as if his presence were steadily contaminating the room. He sat on the other side of the desk. He was nervous, yet tried not to show it. Play dumb, he thought. Admit nothing. Stick to your story and never waver . . . 

“Hector,” Goldstein said, “do you know why I called you in today?”

“No, sir,” Hector said. “I hope nothing’s wrong.” 

“Unfortunately, something is wrong.”

Hector didn’t say anything. 

“A doll is missing.”


“That’s right. One of our customers never received his order. We’ve tried to track the item, but our efforts have been unsuccessful.” 

Hector’s mouth was dry. His armpits began to sweat; he felt the droplets slowly slide down his ribcage. His heart rate increased, thumping a mad rhythm inside his chest. 

“Would you know anything about this?”

“Nothing at all, sir. Maybe the doll got lost in the mail . . .” 

“It’s possible,” Goldstein replied, “but highly improbable.” 

The office seemed to be getting smaller. Hector could feel the walls closing in, compressing him into a tiny, claustrophobic space. 

“We have certain safeguards in place. In a business like this, we find these measures to be an absolute necessity. Theft will not be tolerated.” 

“Sir,” Hector said, his voice cracking, “I can assure you that—” 

“You’ve been with us for a long time, Hector. You do good work, always have. If, for whatever reason, you suffered a momentary lapse in judgment . . .”

Hector didn’t take the bait. He remained silent, refusing to confess. 

“I’m not an unreasonable man. We all make mistakes. I can forgive a single transgression. Provided, of course, the prompt returning of the doll.”

“I don’t have the doll, sir. I don’t know anything about it.” 

“That’s your story?”

“It’s the truth.” 

Goldstein pinned Hector with an intense stare, his mouth set in grim determination. “Twenty-four hours, Hector. That’s how long you have to return the doll. After that, all bets are off . . .” 


A Friday night found Hector getting good and drunk in his apartment. It had been a long week at work and he was celebrating. 

The twenty-four hours had elapsed with no action on his part. Returning the doll would be an admission of guilt, and he wasn’t admitting a damned thing. 

Mr. Goldstein didn’t fool him, not for one minute. The big boss was bluffing. Hector wasn’t stupid. That garbage about a “momentary lapse in judgment” and forgiving “a single transgression” was total bullshit. If Hector returned the doll he’d be canned on the spot, perhaps even detained and subjected to criminal prosecution. 

“Mr. Goldstein,” Hector addressed the shabby walls, “I call your bluff.” 

Sitting on the sofa, he cackled with maniacal glee. Then he got up for another beer. His cell phone vibrated on the kitchen counter. He peered at the number with surprise. It was Monica. What the hell did she want? Hector hadn’t talked to her since the breakup. He didn’t feel like arguing. He was on a good drunk and he wasn’t about to let her ruin it. Then again, maybe she wanted to apologize . . . 

Against his better judgment, Hector took the call. As soon as he heard her voice he knew something was horribly wrong. Monica was hysterical. 

“My God, Hector! What did you do!? They’re going to kill me! They—”

“Calm down, Monica.” 

“They’re here in my apartment!”

“Who? What are you—”

But Hector never finished his sentence. He was abruptly cut off by a raspy male voice. “Hey, asshole. Shut the fuck up and listen. This is what happens when you try to screw the company . . .” 

Hector heard two things—

The whining of a power drill. 

And Monica’s screams. 


In a state of utter panic, Hector rushed into the bedroom to retrieve Anna. He crossed the threshold. And received the shock of his life. 

Anna stood there beside his bed. “I gave you a chance.” Her lips moved, but the voice was that of Harvey Goldstein. “You could’ve returned the doll, and everything would’ve been forgiven. Unfortunately, you had to do things your way. I’m actually sorry that it had to come to this. You were a good worker. But those days are over. Goodbye, Hector.”

Anna lunged with astonishing speed, covering the few feet between them in a split-second. She clutched Hector’s throat with both hands, squeezing with incredible strength. Hector clawed in desperation, trying with all his might to pry her fingers loose, but it was futile. Her strength was Herculean. Anna squeezed, harder and harder. Hector felt an immense pressure in his head; his eyes threatened to pop. 

He unleashed a wicked kick; his right foot slammed into Anna’s crotch. She released his neck and staggered backwards. Hector turned, fled the bedroom, and rushed for the door. He never made it. 

Anna caught him from behind, clutched a handful of hair, and hurled him to the floor. Hector’s head slammed into the hardwood with immense force. He was stunned, dizzy, unable to get up. 

Hector’s skateboard was in its usual spot, propped against the wall. Anna grabbed the board and wielded it with both hands. 

“No, no . . . God, no . . . Please don’t . . .”

She brought the board down again and again and again, pummeling Hector until his face looked like raw hamburger and the walls were coated with gore. 


Her work done, Anna raided Hector’s closet for some clothes. Luckily, they were about the same size. His shoes were too big, but she could make it in her bare feet. 

Board in hand, she exited the apartment and descended the stairs to the street. It was a long haul to Mr. Goldstein’s posh mansion in the suburbs, but Anna was up to the task. 

She skated all the way. 

Robert Beveridge

How To Write Poetry

Crucified, Jesus
spoke the world’s
most poetic line:

Heleva, the second:
“There is no poetry in that.”

Nail yourself 
to a cross built
from other dead girlfriends
and their suicide boyfriends
(preferably in mahogany)
glued together with blood
taken from the heart
with a 14-gauge needle.
Whisper the first thing
that comes to mind,
Aramaic optional.

Wash your hands in urine,
dry them on the stuffed
carcass of an armadillo.
Pink fairy is preferable
but giant will do in a pinch.

Touch someone beautiful,
fall in love, commit
suicide, repeat the cycle
as often as possible.
Don’t forget the urine.

Trim your adverbs.
Trim your gerunds.
And don’t be cynical,
whatever else you do.

Judge Santiago Burdon

Van Gogh Ate Yellow Paint

Made it out of bed and was grateful I had survived another day. Here I am, a frog taking temporary residence on the lily pad of another princess,  searching for the kiss to change me into the prince of a fellow I know exists.

I walked into the kitchen, and she stood at the sink, looking out the window. There was the faint sound of sobbing. I wasn’t excited at the prospect of dealing with a dilemma first thing in the morning, but I put aside my feelings and inquired why she was blue despite the possibility of any number of reactions.

“Good morning my love. What’s wrong? What’s got you so downhearted?”

She turns and hugs me placing her head on my chest.

“It’s nothing. Don’t worry about it.”

I had an idea as to the cause of her melancholy. There’d been an opening for her new series of paintings at a fairly prestigious art gallery last evening, and it didn’t come off as well as she would have liked. The review of her work was less than complimentary, describing her art as mediocre. However, she did sell four pieces and collected a tidy sum of cash. 

Damn it! The trap has been baited. When a woman is crying and tells you it’s nothing, trust me, it’s something. There’s no way to determine if you should take her word for it and not concern yourself or risk inquiring further as to the reason for her grief. I choose to honor her request and not pursue the matter.

“Okay baby, well cheer up. It could be worse, it could be raining. Did you make coffee? I’m starving this morning, gotta a taste for chilaquiles. How about you? Did you eat already?”

“Really, all you can think about is stuffing your face? Don’t you care that I’m depressed? Is a little compassion too much to ask for?”

As usual I had made the wrong  decision. Now I’d given reason for her sadness to develop into rage. Unwittingly I had offered myself, an innocent bystander, as a target for her displaced aggression.

“You know my dear, the symbols  for opportunity and crisis are the same in Japanese or Chinese, I’ve been led to believe.”

“Well that’s just fucking great. I’m not Japanese or Chinese. I don’t live there and don’t speak either language. So you’re saying I can count on all my opportunities to end in crisis?”

“No, what the hell? Why do you have to take it that way? I was just making a point that possibly your present crisis will provide you with a future opportunity.”

“I’m mediocre. Just mediocre. I expose my life, my feelings, my insecurities in color on canvas, and I am viewed as mediocre. No one wants my art.”

“You sold four paintings. That has to count for something. I consider that a success. Did you know Van Gogh only sold one painting in his lifetime? They say it was bought anonymously by his brother.”

“Is that supposed to make me feel better? It didn’t do much for Van Gogh in the end. He ate yellow paint to make himself happy, and it obviously wasn’t much of a cure because he cut off his own ear and committed suicide.”

I waited to see if she was done.

“You can sit down and write shit about poodles eating garbage out of a dumpster in an alley, and it will be interpreted as some insightful  sociological observation on prostitutes, drugs, booze and your personal  mental condition. People seem to just eat it up with both hands and have second helpings. They refer to you as a Bukowski protege or the bastard son of Hunter S.  It is all so easy for you.”

“Is that a compliment?”

“I’m not sure. I didn’t mean it to be.”

“It’s not your paintings I like, it is your painting.”

“You said that before, and you have to say things like that because you love me.”

Whoa! I couldn’t recall ever saying that I loved her. If this is her idea of expressing love, I’m definitely positive I never used the “L” word.

What do ya think? Should I address the love reference now, under these adverse conditions, or save it for a more appropriate time? Sure, I know there’s some of you out there wanting me to bring it up now. You sick bastards, hoping to witness my demise. It’s not going to happen just yet, I’m not totally masochistic, after all.

“I really like the poodle prostitute analogy. Can I use it? Secondly, no one has ever referred to me as being as talented as Bukowski. Don’t sully his reputation by putting my name and his in the same sentence. Although the bastard son reference, to Hunter S., is classic.”

“All I’m saying is that it is all so easy for you.”

“That’s bullshit! Nothing has ever been easy for me. I’m not complaining just stating a fact. The difference between you and I is that I’m not a writer seeking fame and fortune. I’m a writer because I’d been cursed at birth. It’s an affliction, not a blessing. All genuine writers will validate my statement. I write for me, not to please anyone else. I don’t care if they appreciate my work or not. Never should your success be determined by the judgement of others.”

“I know what you’re saying, I just don’t know how to think that way.”

“Well to start, I guess it’s bloody marys, Mozart and drugs to get this Sunday off to a better beginning.”

My prescription cured her temporary infection of self loathing. Within an hour, she was back to the person I enjoyed being with. Later that afternoon, after some angry sex and righteous cocaine, she drifted off to the place where nothing is real, nothing can harm you, nothing else matters, for her. I’m unable to find that place. My dreams are made from empty scotch bottles, plastic baggies, and the sound of my father screaming at me.

I sat in the kitchen, just staring out the window. Then I began to write.

I found refuge behind a dumpster to sleep that night. The noises of the city; the sirens, car horns, distant screams and gunfire served as my lullaby. When I woke the next morning, I noticed a pristine white poodle eating from a garbage can in the alley. I could hear the click clack of high heels coming closer, followed by the voice of a woman.

“Angel cake, angel cake, get out of that garbage baby!”

It was a prostitute, most likely just finishing up her shift, chasing after her dog.

“Hey, I like angel cake,” I said. “Did the dog eat all the angel cake?”

“Who said that..?”

And the circus continues, the show that never ends.