David Estringel

3 A.M.

at the Devil’s hour,
in the room made void
by your indentation
(my lamentation),
Sleep tantalizes,
echoing infernal lullabies
of leaky faucets
and bathroom-mirror punchings— 
my cradlesong. 

My love—red and hot—
sprawled on motley white walls 
and the cracked basin, 
like graffiti in disappearing ink, 
cascades to the sobering tile,
like icicles during Spring thaw—
leaving specters and tragedies
stitched in hands (and time),
rank with the smell of sweat and pennies.

Its 3:15—
knee-deep in the Devil’s hour—
only a quilt of coppery ghosts and shadow 
to keep me warm.
Where’s your affection
(my confection)
that silences the symphony of raining glass 
and pleas from my mind
(and scars),
crying for a new page? 


Originally published at Fugitives & Futurists

John D Robinson

Just to Keep Him Happy

‘He asked me to wank him
whilst I breast-fed
our baby daughter.
I found it disgusting but
he wouldn’t stop asking,
so I did it,
just to keep him happy.
It wasn’t nice for me,
but I love him and I know
that he sees other women,
he tells me, brags of it,
I know he uses me and
I can’t tell you of the pain
when he fucked my ass!
I asked him to stop,
maybe three or four times,
but he said he couldn’t stop
and carried on; I felt so dirty
and self-disgusted.
It’s been four months 
since I saw him last,
he may be dead, murdered
by a jealous husband!
I hope so,’ she said, 
lifting her little girl
to kiss and stroke her
soft and beautiful face.

Paige Johnson

Pink Flamingo & Silver Tinsel

Note to self, literally.

I can’t write “Dear Claudia,” because I don’t know if I’ll have earned my own affection by the time I reread this. I’m giving myself three years to decode my own love language, starting with this letter. Three years to assess and essentially rewrite my life seems to be the sweet spot for this self-esteem experiment. One year would make me too time-pressed to meet my goals and two would be too soon to forget where I came from.

Turning a potential suicide note into a spark of motivation, a pinprick of promise, will be the best Christmas present anyone could give this Cigar City stripper.

I’m told, by self-help books and balding TV personalities, that tough love is the first step towards transition.

So listen up, you stupid hoe. There are going to be some changes.

Instead of getting the cops called on you for blasting Mariah Carey’s Christmas album at ungodly hours, you’re going to lay low. Stick your goddamn nose in a book, why don’t you? Let the septum piercing anchor you in.

No, scrolling through Wattpad erotica your friend Bambi writes from her iPhone doesn’t count. We both know that bitch can’t spell, let alone produce thought-provoking material. (Secret Santa-style gangbangs, no thank you.)

How about reading some Nietzsche or Terence McKenna? At the least, clients will buy into your cliché college fund excuse for stripping. Babbling about psychedelic mushrooms in Kris Kringle lore as men throw dollars at your elf heels—now that’s festive.

But if studying philosophy proves to be as boring as perusing dimly lit comic shops late at night, check real estate listings. Girl, we are not letting the Capital of Crazies consume us until we’re putting around Bealls Outlet, complaining our senior discount only works on Fridays. A diet of chew tobacco and Publix subs is not doing you any favors, you hear me?

You are not the Florida trash you’ve befriended, fucked, loved, then begrudged. 

Scraping glitter out of your ass-crack is only glamorous if you’ve accepted that you’re never leaving the trailer park. 

It may take a cranberry red eviction notice, but you’re destined for things brighter than a tin roof strung with shoddy Christmas lights.

Savor your surroundings now because you won’t want more than a memory three years down the line. Next time you trudge home from a night of awkward lap dances and eggnog shots, trace the porch’s rotting rings. Remember the musk of torn window screens and piling fly corpses. Sit on that muddied lounger and relish the tinkle of homemade wind chimes, the sizzle of the electric bug zapper.

One day—instead of cowering behind the blinds—you’re gonna smirk when you look back on your crackhead neighbors scouring the dirt for dropped pills. You’re gonna forget the ball of brawling stray cats you watched for entertainment when you were too high to remember your Netflix password. 

Speaking of getting high, that’s one thing we need to stop if we’re ever going to move on from this sagging mobile. Swimming on molly until you have to call out from a Saturday night shift is worse than treading water.

Remember that night we spent sweating out a pint of Pabst Blue Ribbon, worried our face was permanently frozen in a creepy Casey Anthony leer? What about the time we tried to pass off to our friends that puking on the pristine grasses of a golf course was a woke political statement?

Yeah, fuck that. The only white powder we need is what awaits us up north. Even if we don’t ever get to take a bite out of the Big Apple, we’ll see snow. (I’m sick of thinking trading in a tank top for a Tapout T signifies cold weather.) Hell, we’ll eat snow on sticks with syrup like the Canadians do. 

Keep stuffing your stockings with dollar bills and this hoe will laugh all the way into the next three New Years. 

Okay, so now that I’ve titillated you with dreams of life beyond chicken wire and powdered party favors, I know you’ll heed what’s written.

This is called the miracle season for a reason. 

So, twenty-three-year-old me, what’s life like away from America’s balmy taint: Tampa, Florida? 

Are your nights still riddled with cute clothes and unappealing faces? Are you still working the stage as a bruised minx named Midnight, the Edgar Allen Hoe of strip clubs? Still playing Pokémon Go between half-hearted hand jobs?

Tell me, did you truly escape the skeeviness of living inside a Fiona Apple music video? Or have you moved onto more traditional hustles? Being a hair salon receptionist or small-town real estate agent might suit you. During high school you loved overhearing gossip and snooping around. Hey, maybe you’re something in-between but cooler, like a bartender or news reporter.

Now that you’ve surely stopped dyeing your hair a Grinch green, have you cuffed anything better for yourself lover-wise? (I’m not talking about bedroom cuffs, missy.) 

You learned the hard way that only Gulf Coast swaggots meet for coffee at 4 AM. Yet don’t feel bad if the best you’ve brought home is a stray cat to sleep under your martini-pink Christmas tree. The gift of self-love comes in parts—not parcels. 

Speaking of loved ones, are you answering invitations to festive family gatherings again? Or do you feel too guilty knowing “performance” once meant singing “Hallelujah” in front of steeples and stained glass, instead of gyrating between a wreathed pole and drunken deadbeats? Do you still have nightmares about Mom and Brad finding out you suckle from candy canes while posing in scarlet fishnets for a living?

As I’m sure you’ve learned by now, a profession can’t define you. Can the same be said about an address though? Even if your night-terrors have ceased, I bet there are whispers during the day: “You can take the trash out of the trailer park, but you can’t take the trailer park out of the trash.”

Does driving by an untouched tire swing or an empty dog house trigger your nostalgia? Remember how you cried when your artificial tree crashed to the ground, all its little bombs exploding into neon shrapnel? You swore to do better every year, acquire more comfort than garland and glass keepsakes from childhood to remind you of the good times.

Well, the good times—or marginally better—times are here. At any rate, I bet you don’t miss scrounging up the courage to smash cockroaches into smears on the bathroom wall. What about binge eating under piss-yellow lighting or rolling on sob-inducing substances that make you question if you actually ran over a baby alligator that one time?

Clean. Legitimately employed. Properly housed. Did you listen to me? Did this shitty snapshot in time (capsule) work? Were the resolutions worth waiting three years?

As long as a cord of Christmas lights isn’t twinkling around your neck like a noose, I suppose I’ve done my job.

The bitch who knows you best,

-XO, Claudia

Jack Henry


a bed lay in tatters 
from a night well spent. 
two lovers coil 

the room remains hot, 
a/c cannot keep up. 
rain beats relentlessly 
against motel walls 

i light a cigarette, 
take a long drag, 
blow smoke through 
a cracked window 

a gray fat horizon fills my eyes,  
storm clouds thrash in anger. 
thunder sounds, but lightning  
never comes 


i always 
answer his call 
his text 
his time 
but he wants me 
needs me 

sometimes i sneak 
in his backdoor 
creep past  
family pictures 
on a wall 

sometimes i answer 
his knock 
on a seedy motel door 
wearing a jock strap 
and a smile 

sometimes we sit 
and talk at a restaurant 
over lunch 
about the future 
about things that will never occur 

the last time 
i met him 
at our motel 
on the edge  
of the town one over 
far from our own 
he tells me 
i love you 
and i wonder 
if those three words 
are the same lie 
i’ve heard before 

send pics 

i contort my body into strange positions 
take pictures with my cellphone  
ass, cock and balls. 

i am too old for the game  
but there are those 
in the queer crowd that request 
proof before letting games begin. 

and i really don’t have anything better to do  
on a Friday afternoon. 


there’s not a lot of planning 
putting things together 

pants to ankles 
bent just enough 
press it in 


his weight pressing 
onto me 
hot breathe on my neck 
nothing spoken
grunts and moans 

pace quickens 
he’s close now 
i think of winter 
holiday gift giving 
a long vacation to Jamaica 
or France 


he tenses 
stabs deep 
releases his poison 

he zips up 
mutters something 
i pull myself together 
he says, 
see ya later 

i sit in the corner 
watch crows peck at dead cowboys 
i lick powder from a mirror 
load one last round  
into a gun

Ben Newell

Lady UPS Driver

is a blonde destroyer
of antiquated gender norms.

behind the wheel
of that iconic brown truck.

And that 
iconic brown uniform
fits her perfectly –

I’m tempted
to blow the rent money
on stupid shit 
I don’t even need.

Stupid shit
I don’t even want.

Just to experience 
the utter bliss 
of having her handle
my package.

Judge Santiago Burdon

The Director

Quiet On The Set 
Roll Sound 
Camera Ready 

We’d just scored eighty bucks in  crack from the black dudes in the Sugar Hill neighborhood. The car I’m driving burns oil and produces a trail of gray smoke still visible at night. Adding to the car’s unique characteristics is that the license plates were stolen from an abandoned car in South Tucson and on top of it, they’re expired.

Also there’s no registration for the car and I’m driving without proof of insurance. That’s not even the Bingo, my driver’s license has been suspended for over two years with outstanding warrants for my sorry ass. I don’t have any type of identification whatsoever. Yet, here I am at 1:00 in the morning scoring drugs with a prostitute and an ex-convict still on parole as my passengers. I’ve failed to mention one detail, the brake lights don’t work. Every day I say I’ll fix them, but somehow it just never gets done.

It’s only a couple miles of Tucson neighborhood back streets to navigate until we reach our room at the Paradise Motel on South Sixth Avenue.

“Hey Messiah, get me a beer will ya? Do you want one Santi?” Selma asks. 

“What the fuck is wrong with you? Don’t want to get stopped for open alcohol in the car! Damn, you’re just inviting the cops to bust our asses.”

“Sorry, I figured it would calm you down some. You look all uptight.”

“And drinking a beer in the car would just add to my stress level.”

“Is it okay if I do a hit real quick like? I’ll hold it down out of sight. I promise.” 

“Then Messiah will want a hit. Five minutes later you’ll want another, flicking the god damn lighter off and on. Even a rookie cop knows what that signifies.”

“You know what you are?” she asks. “Do you know? Huh?”

“This ought to be good. No, tell me. Better pick your words wisely, it’s a long walk back to the motel.”

“You ain’t scaring me. You’re not the director of this movie, ass clown!”

“That’s a good street name for Santi, Director,” Messiah chimes in from the back seat. “Selma, it’s perfect! Director, it fits your personality.”

“Just fine, I can live with that name. Now I’m about to direct your ass to get the fuck out of the car and walk. You’re really pissing me off, Selma.”

“What’s wrong with you, Director?” Messiah asks. “Why can’t you lighten up, relax and have some fun?”

“Why? Did you just ask me why I can’t lighten up? I’ll tell you why! Because I have to babysit you two all the fucking time. Both of you don’t have any type of safety filter. You just go about your lives doing what you want to do, without any concern for the consequences of your actions. Just think about it for a few minutes. How many times have I saved both of your lame asses in the past two weeks? I can think of seven, maybe eight times. Do either of you try to change your inane witless actions? Hell no! You both act with a blatant disregard for simple social standards of conduct. What’s even more incredibly amazing is you’re clueless, you have no idea of the level of stupidity you demonstrate.”

“Are you done putting us down? You’re treating us like some kind of lowlife street trash.”

“Sorry you see it that way Messiah. This reckoning is long overdue. I’ve tried to make you aware of this personality defect for a while now. Neither of you would pay any attention to my pleas. You went on ignoring my advice. Maybe this is the only way to get through to you guys. And I apologize if your feelings were hurt. I’m not purposely being disrespectful, if I didn’t love the both of you I wouldn’t take the time to even mention this shit.”

“So what’s this then, your idea of tough love?” Selma asks. “Are you practicing some radical new kind of therapy you read about in one of those books you’re always reading? Let me tell you this, Director, you can’t control what everyone in the whole world does. Life isn’t a movie, so you can shove your bullshit advice up your ass. Stop the car, I wanna get out now!” she screams. “Don’t want you to have to be responsible for me no more. I’m taking two rocks with me, I put in twenty bucks.”

“Ya me too Director,” Messiah demands, “hand over two rocks.”

I stop, give them the crack and put the car in gear.

“Ain’t ya gonna try stopping us, tell us to get back in the car?” Selma asks.

“Hey Messiah, don’t forget your beer in back. Selma, I didn’t tell you to get out. You both said you wanted out. I’m just doing what you requested.”

“You’re a limp-dick son of a bitch!” Selma screams as I drive away.

“My mother was a very nice lady, I’ll have you know!” I holler back at her.

Forty-five minutes later, there’s a knock on the motel door.

Wonder who that could be?

Michael Devine


Your semi-liquid remains trickled down from the cross 
Formed pools of black sludge in the cracked dirt

I writhed on the ground before you in pain and disgust 
Your promised return a poem gone to fuck

You spoke of the God inside the pus in your brain 
The Devil that gnawed at the valves of your heart

I sucked your flesh and drank your juice 
You tore at my eyes so I’d be blind to your rot

As they dragged you away your deified 
Face shot me a look as sure as a cock

With cruel bliss they plied me with ant covered 
Snacks and a bedspread of xanax and spikes

Then I knew they had won so with  pleasure and pain 
I spewed up our hate that you called our love 

Now I sit by a chemical lake plastic shovel in hand 
Digging your grave and licking the coal from my heart

Ryan Quinn Flanagan

Never Shit Your Own Pants 

Heidi came running down the hall  
and said that Frank had done it again. 

Amy was charge nurse, 
responsible for the entire building 

And all the residents at the Guildwick 
Home for the Elderly. 

Sam was sent with Heidi to deal with Frank. 
He did the same thing at least three times a week. 

Went into others residents’ rooms
and stole their pants before shitting in them 
and walking around the ward. 

The smell was horrible. 
Even for seasoned nurses and staff. 

Ok Frank, pants off!, 
said Sam. 

Heidi stood back to avoid the splatter. 

Don returned from lunch break and laughed. 
Ah Franky, I see there was an accident!

Frank said nothing. 
An acquired brain injury had left him  
largely mute. 

Sam double gloved and ran off to dispose 
of the pants. 

Leaving Heidi and Don to clean Frank off 
and get him ready for bed. 

Whose pants do you think they were this time? 
asked Heidi. 

Who knows, 
laughed Don. 

Frank kept cupping water in his hands 
and splashing it against the wall. 

His wife had died six years ago. 
Frank had no one now. 
Just a power of attorney who lived 
in a different city and couldn’t care in the least. 

It’s pretty smart if you think about it, 
Don said. 

What is? 
asked Heidi. 

Never shit your own pants, 
Don said. 
Look in Don’s closet. 
He has at least twenty pairs of pants, 
but never shits in any of those. 

Heidi looked over to the large brown wardrobe 
across the room and laughed. 

So you think Frank is some kinda genius of something? 
Heidi laughed. 

Crazy, not stupid!, 
Don said. 

I think you’re going to steal other people’s pants 
when your time comes, 
Heidi nudged Don jokingly. 

I’ll have my own gig, 
announced Don. 
Shit really isn’t my thing. 

Are pants? 
joked Heidi. 

Just then, 
Sam returned to check and see 
how things were going with Frank 
who kept grabbing at the towel 
as Don dried him off. 

I need you to go check on Natalie, 
Sam told Heidi. 
She’s up and screaming bloody murder again. 

Heidi ran off to check on Natalie. 
Amy was at the nurse’s station. 
Having already begun the paperwork  
on Frank’s latest incident.

David O. Hughes


“Don’t you dare stop now, motherfucker!” Jade gasped, gritting her teeth and peeling her lips back, exposing her gums. A giggle escaped her, her eyes glassing over. “You’re right on the mon— Oooh! keep going!” she continued, grabbing a fistful of his slick hair and twisting it, keeping his face pressed against her soddening pussy. 

Jade arched her back, thrusting her hips, driving his lapping, twisting tongue deeper. “Fuck!” her voice quivered.  “You’re enjoying this, aren’t you, you mucky bastard!” she managed, panting and wriggling, her jeans and panties down ‘round her ankles.  

“Uch-urggh…” he groaned, his wet, soggy noshing sounds bringing a smile to her face.

“Such a good boy, aren’t you? Mummy’s trained you well.” 

A fresh jolt of ecstasy pulsated through her dripping snatch, punching her in the guts, her g-spot numbing. “Just one more orgasm, and I’ll be satisfied. It’s been so— Oh, God,” she said, throwing her head back, her eyes rolling in their sockets. 

And why shouldn’t I enjoy? It’s taken him long enough to figure out what the fuck he’s doing down there! Men, she thought, her hand patting the ground, searching for his arm. My tits aren’t going to play with themselves, are they, dickhead? Guess I’ll have to show this slow fuck everything! she continued to muse, discovering the cuff to his jumper, pulling, the stump where his hand use to be landing on her pert breast, covering it in gore. 

“That’s it, rub the nipple,” she said, manoeuvring his limb, manipulating the stump that had soggy, pus-dripping veins hanging out of its glistening end. “Where’s your other— Shit, never mind! Don’t. Stop!” 

Jade’s fingers dug into the ground, her body quivered, a third orgasm washed over her.

Yes!” she declared. “Yes, yes, yeees!”

Spent, she opened her thighs and pushed his head away, getting to her feet and pulling her knickers and jeans up. “That’s more like it,” she said, fastening her belt, eyeing the zombie before her. “That’s the first decent bit of coming I’ve done since this whole shitshow of an apocalypse kicked off, pal. Still want to eat blood, guts and brains, now you’ve had a taste of the good life?” Jade laughed. 

The zombie groaned, staggered to its feet and shuffled towards her. 

“You want cuddles now, eh? Well, I suppose you’ve earned them this time,” she said, accepting him, placing his head against her chest, his sunken cheek pressing against her. “It was worth keeping you alive, painstakingly training you, as I knew you wouldn’t let me down.”

Ugh,” he gargled.

“The struggle I had in yanking your teeth out with those rusty pliers and sawing your hands off was worth it.” Jade grabbed him by a tuft of hair and pulled his head back, looking him in his white, sunken eye, the other one missing. “I love you—in a platonic way—even though you stink worse than an arsehole filled with diarrhea,” she said, swatting flies away from around his head, brushing her fingers through his blood-gelled hair, scalp dropping away. 

Jade smiled, grabbed her top from off the floor, and pulled it on. “Phew, I’m all hot and bothered,” she said, fluffing her tee, wiping sweat from her brow. “Right, where did I put your collar?”

When she turned, she spotted his metal neck cuff—a six-meter chain acting as a lead hung from it—lying next to a tree. “Brilliant,” she said, retrieving it, placing it around his throat. “We better get going, find shelter before sundown, Paul. Once we do, you can show me more tricks you’ve learned with that tongue of yours,” she said, leading him off into the woods.   

Daniel S. Irwin

Heaven Wasn’t Made For Elves

Heaven wasn’t made for elves.
Santa’s boys just get recycled to the Christmas shop.
Some of them don’t like it, always toilin’ for Big Red
While he gets to fly around every Christmas Eve
Like it’s a party.  Ho, ho, ho!  What ya know, Joe!
That big lump of lard hits most the houses,
Hits the women that are willing and waiting, too.
One night outta the year, he works the heck outta his chubby.
Mrs. Claus knows it, has for years.  So, she does the elves
While he’s out.  Christmas morning, they’re all beat.
So beat, they skip church.  That works out fairly well.
If they hit the confessional, they’d have it tied up till next year.
All the elves that met with accidents on Nick’s rounds:
Falling from the sleigh, trampled in a reindeer stampede,
Shot scaring the Hell outta people by coming out the fireplaces
That have chimneys too tight for Santa’s fat ass.  All those elves
Magically end up back at the shop.  It’s that reincarnation thing.
Ain’t one of them wouldn’t love to come back as one of
Satan’s helpers, his imps that rejoice in causing pain and misery.
Hurts the face smilin’ all the time being slaves to happiness.
Maybe they could mix it up.  Yeah, some good/some bad.
If they could, the rum tab might go down at the workshop.