Damian Rucci


I don’t hang out with the devil
much anymore but he still calls 
from time to time; when it’s night
or when it’s morning or when 
these stubborn feet don’t wanna move
or when the bed calls me to sleep 
before it is even ten pm 

I don’t tell my girl 
but he leaves voicemails every so often 
asks me can I even remember 
the last time I’ve tasted three am? 
Asks me can I remember the last time
I’ve felt like Adonis? Been the Uberman?
Grooved my footsteps into the wooden floors?
Can I still get it up without a burning nose? 
Do the whispers still keep me up at night? 
Do I really feel comfortable 
in the realm of the living? 

Because I’ve lived a thousand lives before dusk 
I’ve haunted midwestern cow towns 
for cigarettes and adventure 
I’ve sold my last ounce of honor 
for a bowl of Elysium in dim-lit rooms 
I’ve slain friends in my hearts 
over minor quarrels and burned effigies 
of my future in gasoline pyres 
linoleum melting from the house 
like crystal balls dripping through the hands 
of the soothsayers 

I’d say I didn’t know any better 
but I’d be lying, I saw the crash 
before I ever even signed my name 
but I guess I needed to find my way 
I guess I needed to see oblivion 
for myself, I guess I needed a scar
I could write about 


Originally appeared in Big Hammer 

Judson Michael Agla


Which way does the wind blow for you, my brother?
Does it come in and cover you in despair?
Does it come from behind
like some kind of ethereal sodomy?
Does it manifest your guilt
into a torment of heartburn,
and gut-wrenching indigestion?

Does it bring back the ghosts?
Does it raise the dead?
Does it comfort you,
when you’re curled up in warm covers,
on moonless nights when all your crimes
surface into your dreams?

Does it blow cold, when your woman
leaves you in the middle of the night,
without a whisper, without a note?

Does it blow dust in your eyes as you watch
the war machines pass through the streets?
Does it blow hot when you kill?
Which way does it blow when you bleed?
Does it blow furiously when
the hounds are at your heels?

And I ask you at last;
which way does the wind blow for you, my brother?

James Diaz

The Way We Came

all that we lost
returning to us 
somehow / in the dead 
of light / this mad laughter 
carried on the wind

the man just barely holding on
against a 7-Eleven wall 
repeating the word “mom,” 
into the night 
reminds you 
how important it is to care 
for a stranger’s pain
and why not start now

and so you do
you ask him his name
and a little about his mother 
who, come to find out
has been dead for 20 years
still feels like yesterday,” he says 
through a wet slosh of hair 
and it’s all right there

are you helping or are you hurting?
someone has painted on the walls all across town,
are you getting this down?

you need to know 
that there are so few reasons why
we are here at all
and they start small 

and like this thing that will only get worse 
if you don’t do something about it 
like opening up a window 
and instead of jumping out
just breathing in
you gotta know sometimes
that just holding on is enough for one day.

J.J. Campbell

swimming in a river

she told me to dream
about her
i asked her why would
i do such a thing
she sent me a pic of
her naked and i said
i understand
she asked me the 
next morning about 
the dreams
i said we were swimming 
in a river and you tried 
to kill me
she asked me why
i said i started to kiss you 
underwater and you thought 
it would be funny to keep 
my head down there for 
hours and when i tried to 
do the same thing
you wanted to kill me
she laughed and said that
was probably exactly how
she would have reacted
i asked her when she 
wanted to go swimming
i haven’t heard back
from her yet

Anna O

Allegory of a Junkie

We’d gather at this one kind of a house,
more of a gallery hub

The underground nest of maveric philosophers,
wacky artists, dropout painters, depressed poets
and their drunk ass dads, sometimes,
hoping to get laid with any kinky tutee.

Red lights and ambient music,
antique pieces of furniture,
some broken, some taped,
Some broken on purpose

Surreal paintings and interrupted thoughts
written in lipstick and manicure
Strains of paint and booze on the couch,
an old dusted piano at the corner,
a ripped lampshade from a white bedsheet,
piles of best books one could ever find
And a large painting of many public toilets
would welcome us for the weekly poetry night.

There was plenty of good stuff
but we would bring our own, just in case.
That night, after reading his poem,
under the melancholic sounds of a guitar,
he stood up and left the room,
probably disgusted by his own pathetic life.

I was too careless after 3 shots of GHB,
which i mistook for some vodka or raki.
Enough, not to even question why it didn’t smell like booze.

Fishes were floating from one painting to another
and red eyes of amorphous creatures
were penetrating me right through.

I never paid that much attention
to what before seemed like scribbles of an autistic child.
I was awestruck, until i heard his faded voice
from the back of the bathroom door
and a white thin arm reaching for the knob to let me in.
There he was, drenched in his own vomit,
pale as dead against the wall painted in red wine
but making an effort to smile a bit
and spit those horrible words ” i love you”.

I felt like I could swim in this red sea of puke and piss,
admiring the aesthetic of a drunken miserable poet
who had already lost 5 years of his life
on a book which would probably never see the light.
But he loved me much, and i loved him for that.

Nobody was giving a damn about him,
but still preying on me like salivating hyenas over fresh flesh.
Called a cab and we drove to the emergency room.
The doc put the needle on his skinny arm,
with some good shit on it while I silently stood in the back.
I think, he needs some more diazepam: I told him.
He did coke also.. and, some other stuff..

I myself was sweating alchohool but looked pretty collected.
He gave me a suspicious look, doubled the dose
and disappeared behind the green sheets
of the hospital compartment.
Alex was still unconscious and I thought:
He’s sleeping at least.
I took out the needle from his arm,
put it in mine and i layed beside his pale cold body.

When the last honey drop was over,
i shaked him hard to wake him up
and we left the hospital, like 2 white ghosts,
running to find the only bar open at 4 am.

I heard, everybody had got sick that night.
We kept drinking beers and telling jokes
until the sun rose and threw a golden shade
over his still pale face.

2 days later, he left to Prague.
Not even booze and dope could drown
the pain of unrequited love.

He wrote me a poem which i hold dear
as a requiem of those cold decembered days.

Yesterday, Manxhi died.
In a car crash they told me.
Good, sweet Manxhi who’d take care of me
every time i would fall like dead
amongst the blood sucking hyenas.

I would go for dinner at them almost every night.
His girl would call me often because she needed help.
But, we didn’t make it.
I couldn’ t do much because i was in deep shit myself.

And here, Sweet Manxhii gone at 33.
I never felt worse but, that first month
he learned he had cancer.
His girl called.

She said: Manxhi is asking for you.
Don’t be a stranger.
It was February.
I promise I’ ll come, i said. I lied.
Not only did i not call,
but I dissapeared for months,
unreachable, dragged by my own shadow.

Until I later learned, he died.

As a friend of mine once told,
Drugs are no good anymore.

Jack Henry

hipster in tight jeans 

asks for a craft beer in a PBR bar 
accepts his fate 
takes his drink out to the patio 
and i follow 

creeping up from behind 
he is pretending straight 
nothing but bro and dude, and hey man 

chats up a waitress who just rolls her eyes 
she looks at me and says, this one is yours 

and i say, am i that obvious? 
i’m pretending straight 
as i get my turn 

he chats me up and i ask 
about his tight jeans 
and how good they’d look 
on my hotel floor 

he smiles nervously 
says I’ll be right back 

and he will  

we all play games until we finally  
wake up 

Paul Tanner

waiting for girlfriend’s bus

I needed a piss, so 
I went into the men’s, stood to a urinal, took it out and started 
doing my business …
someone stands next to me.
our elbows touch.  
there’s three other shanks and a cubicle, 
but this guy has to piss next to me? 
whatever. I finish pissing, zip up and turn – 
he’s looking right at me. 
up for it? he says. 
up for what? 
come on, he says. you’re Jim forty-five, aren’t you?
no, I tell him.
oh come on, don’t chicken out now. is it cos you don’t like what you see?
I looked at him: he was little and skinny. kinda feminine. 
and I hadn’t done anal in ages …
show me your arse, I said. 
he undid his belt, pulled his jeans and boxers down and bent over the urinal. 
spread ‘em, I said. 
he did. 
nah, sorry, I said. too hairy. 
you said you didn’t mind hair, he said. you fucking said! 
look, I’m sorry, I said. but I’m not Jim forty-five. 
fuck you aren’t! he turned around, his pants hanging around his knees. 
coward! get off on humiliating me like this, do you? he said
as his stiffy waved around. 
I went to the mirror and washed my hands. 
I checked my reflection,
buffed my quiff up, 
went back out
and waited.

John D Robinson

Sun and Coffee

Jeannie was plain but pretty
and by way of an ex-partner,
she owned a fucking big house.
We met whilst working in an illegal
fake ivory products factory.
I became homeless
and she offered me a room.
The factory boss disappeared
and the placed closed-up
and we spent our days drinking
and smoking and listening to music.
Then she found God and my habits
became unacceptable and again,
I became without a roof.
She moved town and married
and we lost touch but there
were times back then,
when she walked into my room
in a see-through night-gown
and she would pull back the curtains
and the sun would torch the room
and she would stand there
greeting me a good morning
as I sat up and gazed at the thick
mound of hair between her legs
and at her hard nipples
punching through the cloth.
I’d look knowing that I’d be
drinking coffee with her soon.

Peter Clarke

Richard Dawkins By the Light of the Moon

Seven witches gathered at London’s Highgate Cemetery to cast a spell on Richard Dawkins. They were dressed in black with hoods and shawls. As the sun went down, they placed candles on top of nearby headstones, making long shadows dance and flicker on all sides. 

“Fuck you, Richard Dawkins,” they chanted quietly.

A special potion (wine with mugwort and other herbal additives) was passed around. One of the witches snuck away to pop open a fresh bottle of merlot while the chanting continued.

“Fuck you, Richard Dawkins.”

“Okay, it’s starting!” a witch named Ada exclaimed. She was holding a cellphone, which was streaming a live speech by Dawkins at Oxford University. The witches gathered around to watch.

“You are stupid, stupid people only fooling yourselves,” said the esteemed atheist and evolutionary biologist, his voice projecting authoritatively from the phone’s tiny speaker. 

On the screen, the audience came into view: a group of Wiccans, palm readers, fortune tellers, Ouija board enthusiasts, followers of Cthulhu, believers in Odin, and other fanatics of the occult and the esoteric. 

“There is nothing magic about the world, and there is certainly nothing truly magical about your spells, paranormal beliefs, prophesies, curses, and whatever else you have chosen to form your identities around.”

“Curse his eyeballs, that they might pop right out of his face and go rolling around on the floor, where he’ll step on them,” said a witch named June, holding the spell-casting broomstick.

She passed the powerful item to the witch on her left, a runaway teenage girl named Sammy.

“Curse his head, so that his hair might catch fire and for that fire to form a mirror in his soul so he has to look at himself in the mirror for all eternity, not able to see anything else except for how mean and ugly he is.”

Gina, a lifelong witch and equally dedicated punk rock girl, was suddenly caught between the wine bottle and the broomstick.

“Come back to me,” she said, dead serious, taking the wine bottle and letting the broomstick be passed along to Karen.

“Curse his luck,” said Karen, “so that everything he touches turns to shit, including his food.”

With each curse cast, the girls became increasingly excited. Another bottle of wine was popped open. One of the witches lit a joint mixed with suma root and Avena sativa for stimulation of the libido. Another witch burned sage. As Dawkins’ voice rose in anger and disgust, the witches began to undress and touch each other.

“To live successfully, we must engage with the world—with the world as it actually exists, not as we project it to exist based on unsubstantiated beliefs. If prayer worked, we would see the results of prayer. And yet there is absolutely zero evidence ever documented of prayer’s effectiveness. If you have two sick children, you give one prayer and the other penicillin, guess which child gets well? The answer, of course, is obvious. The same is true for casting spells and playing around with magic. By engaging with these things, you are not engaged with what is real in the world, and so you undermine the core of human progress.”

“Curse his soul,” said Georgia, holding the broomstick like a microphone, “I hope he burns for all eternity in hell!”

Ada took the broomstick next, rubbing it between her legs as she cried, “Curse his big, fat, self-important brain, that it might explode in his head and his old, grey cortex might splatter all over the witches in the crowd, and so they might eat his brains.”

June crept behind Ada, kissing her neck and caressing her thighs as Ada made good use of the full broomstick handle.

“Go ahead,” said Richard Dawkins, “cast a spell on me! Pray to your favorite god to have me expire in a puff of smoke! Sick the devil on me while you’re at it!”

“Aww,” moaned Karen, leaning against a headstone with Sammy’s head sinking down between her open legs. “Fuck you, Richard Dawkins,” she said between moans.

“Fuck you, Richard Dawkins,” said Ada, kissing June and fondling her breasts.

Richard Dawkins loosened his tie and took off his jacket. “Is it getting hot in here?” he asked the crowd, taking a sip of water.

The camera zoomed out again, showing the entire auditorium turned into a giant orgy of spell-casting witches and occultists moaning in ecstasy. “Fuck you, Richard Dawkins,” they chanted, until Ada muted her phone and flung herself, body and soul, into an unholy tidal wave of multiple orgasms.

Willie Smith

Afternoon Zenith 

Turned on the TV, 
and the TV turned on me. 
A dog on the screen appeared. I 
sneered at how stupid the dog appeared. 
Barked, “Jump, Rover – jump!” 
And the dog did, jumped clear out of the TV; 
turned on me, how Sodom turned on God; 
and you know Sodom turned God on, 
all that bored-out butt getting stuffed. 
Enough to turn God’s Rod into a sly snake. 
The mutt onto my Levi cuff glommed, 
the day turning into a circus. 
With a fist I cuffed the beast. 
Grabbed a stick and beat the dog off. 
Let him lick up the mess. Chased him 
back inside the tube. Where he turned 
out to be the locomotive for an ad for 
Gravy Train. Turned the TV off, 
and the TV turned off all three rings of me – left  
on the floor, in the den, bored to death; shot 
to hell one more doggone godawful afternoon.