Donna Dallas

Things Along the Way

Such obscurity as to how these monstrous
obstacles land in my lap
must have been an awful wretch – the me before me
as they say souls are recycled

The last broken 
busted Goliath in my path
shut me down
almost took me
like a cancer

tsk tsk…..what to do with this behemoth
y’all know I’m gonna invite it in
have a chat
probably sleep with it
maybe keep it around
for a bit
every coil it wraps around my wrist
pulls me closer to its poison
I want it so

bored out of my skull
dump it out there
cuz I’m done with its menace
place it strategically along the way
for some other sad and sorry sack
to pick up
where I left off

Mike Zone

The Feud

Kurt stared in the mirror at the milky white orb in wedged in the socket where a glass eye should be.  He dabbed the wet dead useless thing pretending it was some great star illuminating the immediate galaxy. It was dark in his world. He needed something and it had been missing for a while now but soon it’d return and there’d be a reckoning and it would be lost forever either way and then what would he do either here or the other side of eternity?

The feud had was a boyhood passion which had morphed into adult middle-aged obsession. 

A schoolyard brawl over stealing a couple of marbles from little Nancy, the cutest golden-haired girl in first grade. Dylan had to be a hero, as Kurt held them hostage for a kiss. A bit of shoving here and there with cruel giggles and sly snickers until tiny brittle Dylan reached through a hole in the fence and took a piece of glass to Kurt’s eye.

At 17 Dylan’s family won the lottery. His dad invested in several local businesses because that’s what you do when you get out the trailer park…start a business or buy someone else’s as the big local hero. Dylan was skateboarding and getting girls, playing bad music believing he was going to be the next big thing alongside his brother Jason, a square jawed football player type with a full ride scholarship on his way to Duke for basketball and football, didn’t matter how smart he was really was just how smart he could play and he knew how to play with plenty of practice until one day leaving the bar after a bit of drinking ‘cause you can do whatever you want from a family of money and being the hometown hero, something hard cracked him along the base of his skull.

Jason was left mentally disabled, barely able to process the simplest concepts. No scholarship. No sports. No glory. 

But don’t worry, the culprit got caught and was held accountable. Kurt would be spending some time in county and state for it. Before he went to prison, Kurt took a picture of the tire-iron he used and used it as his social profile pic as a wicked reminder. Being disfigured and poor didn’t leave Kurt with a lot of options for friends or job opportunities, he learned from his crowd that the best way to avenge a wrong was to hurt your enemy through their loved ones.

When he got out, he saw Dylan at the same tavern and put an arm around that cleaned up grunge puppy and grinned maniacally.

“Yo’…Jason still a fuckin’ retard?”

Dylan clutched the unloaded gun he kept in his waistband. It was his gimmick. Being the tortured artist he was, liable to shoot himself and deprive every one of his words and sounds as life was just unceasing pain. He learned well from Kurt and let a sadistic smile spread across his face.

“I got places to be.” He responded to the dark complected buzzed cut, toned figure wearing the same shabby clothes the night he did the deed.

Kurt got loaded and walked to the nearly empty parking lot to find his sister, pants down being taken from behind by Jason as Dylan held her down, smacking her with the butt of his pistol. She was screaming like a stuck pig, unfortunately before Kurt could do anything the cops arrived.

Turns out even with being a big deal with a substantial amount of money, you can’t always get away with everything, then again…Dylan’s dad couldn’t manage a business worth shit and the financial status quo was fading, and Jason wasn’t in his glory days while Dylan was just…whatever.

When Dylan got to state, he met a friend of Kurt’s, who wrote him a letter and Dylan became the stuck pig.

Like any good midwestern state, there weren’t any mandatory minimums for violent crimes, so seven years later on the day Dylan was about to get out, Kurt’s sister Carrie feeling guilty wanting to end the bloodshed. 

Her brother’s son drank weed killer and Dylan’s puppy now a full-grown dog waited for him with a nail through his head on the front door. Carrie wrote a note after sticking her head in the oven, but her mother burned it to avoid further shame on their “trailer trash terror family” as they had been labelled.

Both men were too remorseful to continue their feud until Dylan’s first day of work. See, Dylan’s father did the worst thing a poor person could when striking it rich…buy businesses people don’t really need during a pandemic like half a dozen donut shops and nail salons…so much for a small business empire.  Losing all that money, quite the fall from grace, Dylan found himself side by side almost with his old enemy at the Cluck Bucket Chicken Factory. 

Kurt was the Fryer Lead.

Dylan battered meat and mashed spuds. 

Nancy the one who allegedly started it all was the manager, inheriting the franchise from her dead husband, a veteran with honors. 

Dylan never really grew up and plucked her wedding ring from her finger, giving chase around the kitchen. 

Kurt went into the bathroom looking in the mirror at his milky white eye, mulling over this full circle situation. He took the boxcutter from out of his apron and thought about where it all went wrong.

Eye for an eye. 

There was never a reason for it to escalate the way it did.

It was time to set things right, to finally see…

Eye to eye.

Rob Plath


i have yet to love where i live 
almost 52 
& never been really home 
five decades of lostness 
the wine helped 
i looked thru dark red lenses 
& felt better 
but i was still a stranger 
w/ out a real home 
i often felt like i was loitering 
in my own room 
wherever it was 
as a boy i’d walk the streets 
looking in windows 
everyone else seemed home 
pushed in at brown tables 
reclining in green chairs 
standing at the sink 
holding up a yellow plate 
when i got older i’d gaze at paintings 
of cafes 
& the patrons seemed more 
at home than i ever was
i’d look in hotel lobbies 
in vestibules 
into plate glass windows 
full of beads of rain 
like i had a thousand eyes 
but nothing 
who put me here ? 
even my mother’s golden kitchen 
didn’t quite seem right 
all those rooms & people 
& walls & beams 
& doors 
& sinks 
yet no home 
tonight i cross my legs in this strange bed 
in this strange room 
on this strange avenue 
in this strange town 
& think the graveyards i stroll in feel more like home
the starlight feels more like home 
the bluebirds feel more like home 
& you, goddamn it, you, wherever the hell you are

Michael Lee Johnson

Poets Out of Service

Like a full-service gas station
or postal service workers
displaced, racing to Staples retail
for employment against the rules of labor,
poets are out of business nowadays, you know.
Who carries a loose change in their pockets?
Who tosses loose coins in their car ashtray anymore?
iPhones, smartphones, life is a video camera
ready to shoot, destroy, and expose.
No one reads poets anymore. 
No one thumbs through the yellow pages anymore.
Who has sex in the back seat of their car anymore,
just naked shots passed around online?
Streetwalkers, bleach blonde whores,
cosmetic plastic altered faces in the neon night;
they don’t bother to pick pennies
or quarters off the streets anymore.
The days of surprise candy bags for a nickel
pennies lying on the countertop for
Tar Babies, Strawberry Licorice Laces
(2 for a penny), Wax Lips, Pixie Sticks,
Good & Plenty are no more.
Everyone is a dead-end player; he dies with time.
Monster technology destroys crump fragments of culture.
Old age is a passive slut; engaging old age
conversations idle to a whisper and sleep alone.
Matchbox, hand-rolled cigarettes,
serrated, slimmed down, and gone.
Time is a broken stopwatch gone by.
Life is a defunct full-service gas station.
Poets are out of business nowadays.

Joseph Farley

Scrubbing the Toilet at 6 AM

Cleaning up the mess
left behind
by someone,
possibly even me.
It’s hard to remember
what happens
in the strangeness
of night.

I take my time,
make porcelain shine,
while doing what must
be done,
putting all the new ideas
that arrive in my head
into the movements
of the brush.

It is all art
if you want to see it
that way,
everything you do.
Same as with
the old monks
who viewed
all actions
as a form of prayer.

The results from
this morning’s efforts
may be as good
or better
than anything else
I have done
or could possibly do,
and I may have 
saved the world
in the process
without ever
meaning to.

Danny D. Ford

Ooey Gooey Goodness

is what she said
after making me cum
with her hands

my dorm bed
her top off
but no actual sex
because of boyfriend
back home in the States

she really went rough
above & beyond 
previously explored 

told me the girls 
in Wales 
didn’t know
what they were doing

I silently disagreed

a few weeks later
I walked into Boots
and saw her shopping
for toiletries with her man

ooey gooey goodness
I said to myself
& walked straight back out


Originally published by Hickathrift Press

Sara Corris

When The World Ends You Won’t Know It

“Tell me what he’s doing to you when I walk in.”

“He’s got me on my back, my legs up over his shoulders, and he’s standing and leaning over me, pounding me, and he’s holding my arms down over my head, so I’ve just got to take it.”

“Uhhh yeah,” Jay groaned. “Fuck, that’s so hot.”

Shit I still need to move clothes to the dryer I’m going to be up all night doing laundry–

“You like it? You like the way he’s fucking you, you little slut?”

“At first I pretend like I don’t,” Cathy gasped. “I struggle and hit and scratch; that’s why he holds my arms down. He knows what I need–ahhhh–”

“Yeah?” Jay panted. “He knows what’s best for you?”

Is Rory completely out of clean socks or is there one more pair maybe it doesn’t matter she’s not leaving the house slippers are fine–

“Uh … yeah,” Cathy told Jay. “He’s pounding me so hard, so fast, I feel like I can’t take it, but he knows I can. He’s squeezing my wrists so hard it’ll leave bruises, but I don’t care, it feels so good–”

“Yeah?” Jay asked. “So good you don’t care when I walk in, and see him fucking you?”

“No not at all, I just don’t want him to stop–ohhh–I want you to see me taking it–”

“Fuck that’s … you’re going to make me come. I’m close.”

“Me too.” Cathy gave a small unconvincing moan.

SHIT cleaner’s coming tomorrow I forgot to get toilet cleaner is the bodega still open–

“Who is he?” Jay gasped.


“The guy who’s fucking you–uuhhh–who–uuhhhis he?”

“Uh … the bodega guy.”

“What?” Jay stopped thrusting.

“The bodega guy … the guy who runs the bodega?” Cathy stammered. “Hey–” 

Jay un-straddled Cathy from his lap and deposited her onto the bed.

Cathy followed him to the bathroom. “Jay? What the hell?”

“You’re not taking this seriously.”

“What do you mean?”

Jay glared at her with disgust. “The bodega guy? Really?”

“What? He’s, you know, a … man.”

“You’re laughing at me. I’m trying to be vulnerable with you, share something really private and it’s scary for me, and you think it’s funny.”

“I’m not! I was going along with the whole dumb thing–”

“Yeah. Real supportive.” Jay swooshed one hand over the top of his head.

Cathy sighed. “What the hell do you want from me? It’s not my stupid fantasy, it’s yours. Next time, just tell me who I’m supposed to be humping in front of you, ok?”

“Never mind.” Jay wouldn’t turn to face her. 

This only pissed Cathy off more. Her first day off in over a week. She wanted to be sleeping, not coaxing Jay out of a wounded-little-boy mood.

“Jay, I’m sorry you’re hurt, ok? But I can’t do this now. I’ve got to put clothes in the dryer.” She turned and left.


“I’ve spoken to Sandy,” said Cathy’s mom. “She wants me to tell you that she won’t disinvite you from Thanksgiving. But she will feel uncomfortable having you there.”

Sandy was Cathy’s sister, and the fucking worst.

Cathy sighed away from the phone. “What am I supposed to do with that, mom? You and dad are the ones hosting. Just because Sandy lives with you–”

“Obviously your father and I want to see you! But you know how anxious Sandy is, with your work–”

“She’s judging me for going to an outdoor barbecue sixteen months ago. Sandy can call me herself if–”

“Cathy, please. Don’t make me take sides! You don’t know how hard this is on your father and I, seeing you and Sandy fall out–”

There had been no falling out. Cathy never liked Sandy. 


Cathy had the dream again that night.

In the dream, she is living in the dystopian future of The Handmaid’s Tale, and she is a handmaid. Her Commander is Michael Fassbender. She is brought into the room for their first-ever Ceremony. 

She seats herself on the bed, and waits. 

Michael Fassbender walks in. 

“Hi,” Cathy whispers shyly. “I’m Offassbender.”

Fassbender draws up a chair, sits, and looks deep into her eyes. 

“I’m so sorry,” he whispers. “I am so sorry you’re going through this–”

“Oh, that’s nice of you to say, but it’s ok! Really!”

Fassbender rakes his hands through his hair and gnashes his teeth. “How can I live with myself, if I do this–”

“Don’t talk like that; it isn’t your fault.” Cathy rests her hand on his thigh. “I know you’re a good person.” 

She clears her throat. 

“You know, back before the dystopia, I saw Shame. I thought you were wonderful in that dumb and boring movie.” 

Cathy gazes meaningfully at his crotch. 

“You have a talent that cannot be contained, it’s so huge. The biggest, most impressive talent I’ve ever seen, much bigger than anyone else’s. It explodes off the screen, your talent, demanding to be felt–”

Fassbender isn’t listening. “I hate this … all of it. I can’t bear the subjugation of women. I’ve got to fight it, whatever the cost–”

“Don’t do that!” Cathy blurts out. “Uh, I mean, that could get us both in trouble, and I’ve already been through so much. I think the best thing to do tonight is, let’s go ahead with the Ceremony as planned, and then you can do some brainstorming later in the week–”

“My god. You’re right; I’m being so selfish.” Fassbender falls to his knees and clasps Cathy’s hands. He gazes up into her face. A single tear trickles down his perfect cheekbone. 

“How can I help you?” he whispers. 

Cathy’s heart pounds. Her loins dampen.

“Well. I’d love it if we undress each other first, and then I want you to sit up and I’ll straddle you and we should spend lots of time kissing, feeling our naked bodies against each other, and then you take my breasts in your mouth one at a time while you’re squeezing my ass, and I’m moaning and bucking my hips and you can feel my dripping pussy grazing the outside of your cock, up and down, until it’s driving us crazy and we can’t stand it and I’m aching to feel you inside me, although I’ll need a vibrator to finish, did you manage to confiscate any before–”

Cathy realizes Michael Fassbender is looking at her funny. 

“I didn’t mean that. I mean, tell me how I can get word to your husband. Jay? I saw his name in your file; you must miss him so.” Fassbender seats himself again in the chair. “Tell me everything about Jay. I want to feel as though I know him–”

“I don’t want to talk about JAY… uh, because it makes me feel so sad,” she adds. “Yup, too painful. Best to just avoid that, and get on with–”

“But Rory? Your daughter? You must be going mad, not knowing where–”


“Yeah, but I’m sure she’s with a good family,” Cathy says. “This whole dystopia came about because kids are such a hot commodity, right? She’s probably being spoiled rotten, having a great time; not really anything to worry about there–”

“Cathy.” Fassbender sits beside her on the bed. 

“You can call me Offassbender–”

“Cathy, I’m going to make this right. I will see you reunited with your family. I promise.” Fassbender places his hand over his heart, his flawless face glistening with tears.

“Oh. Well, I’ll be looking forward to that, thanks. But in the meantime–”

“Mommy, I had an accident.” 

Cathy’s eyes flew open. 

Rory was standing by the bed, holding her urine-soaked nightgown away from her body. 

“I tried to get to the bathroom, but daddy’s in there and … I couldn’t hold it.” Rory began crying.


“Cath? Are you crying?”

Jay stood awkwardly, hands in pockets, waiting for his wife to explain.

“What’s wrong? Is it something I did?”

Cathy shook her head. “I’m so tired. They hate me, no matter what I do–”

“You’re talking about the nurses again.” Jay’s voice was flat.

“It isn’t just them.” Cathy closed her eyes. “I had to ream out one of my residents last night. He’s a good kid, but he doesn’t get it. They brought in someone who’s coding, ok? And I’m in the middle of dealing with it, giving the nurses instructions. Then he walks in, this friggin’ resident, and starts issuing his own instructions. All completely wrong. Not intentionally being a dick, just being an oblivious guy. But all the nurses stop what they’re doing–what Itold them to do–and start following his instructions! Because he’s a 6’2” bearded dude, and when he walks into a room and speaks in his big stupid guy-voice, people are going to defer to him over me. It doesn’t matter that he’s only a resident and fifteen years younger–”

“Yes, men are garbage,” Jay muttered. “Let’s generalize about all men–”

“I’m not saying men are garbage! But there are these dynamics, assumptions about authority, ok? And I like this kid. I’m not saying he’s an asshole, or bad at his job, but he needs to understand. It isn’t about ego–”

Jay snorted and swooshed one hand over the top of his head.

“Whatever, Jay. Think what you want. But with my work, it isn’t. People could die if some clueless resident sweeps into an already-crowded room and starts giving contradictory orders, ok?”

“So. You told your resident all this, and now he hates you.” 

“It isn’t just that,” Cathy mumbled. “It’s all of it. I’ve had three patients scream ‘gook’ at me over my last two shifts, as I’m trying to help them. Old men encrusted in their own shit and vomit, and they’re tugging at the corners of their eyes–”

“But you always get those, Cath–”

“It’s more than ever, a lot more.” Cathy rubbed her temples. “It feels like it, at least. I don’t know.”

“They’re crazy homeless Vietnam vets. Their brains are mush from drugs–”

“I don’t care if they’re veterans! That doesn’t make it ok!” Cathy shouted, before catching her breath and listening for sounds from Rory’s room. 

Nothing. Cathy and Jay exhaled.

Jay spoke first.

“I’m not excusing them. But this is nothing new, right? You’ve never let it get to you before. Don’t let these losers see that they’re upsetting you, Cath. That’s what they want! You think I love all the jokes about us? The Jewish guy, Asian chick cliché–”

“Except you aren’t actually Jewish,” Cathy cut in. “And that only happened the one time. Right?”

“The one time I know about. But I know people think it, and I don’t let it get to me–”

“Because you aren’t Jewish at all–”

“–but people assume I am, and I don’t bother correcting them. What difference does it make, whether I am or not?” Jay demanded. Cathy didn’t answer. 

He sighed. “Clearly, I’m not saying the right things. Why don’t you call Sandy, or one of your friends–”

“One, Sandy isn’t speaking to me, remember? Two, what friends?”

“What are you talking about? You’ve got friends. The Caseys–”

“I’m only friends with one Casey. I don’t think the other one even likes me–”

“Do you just disagree with me for the sake of it? Do you even hear what it is I’m saying, before you disagree?”

Cathy stared. “What?” 

“You never agree with me, on anything.” 

“That isn’t true–” 

Jay laughed and swooshed one hand over the top of his head. At the same time, they heard whimpering noises from Rory’s room.

“Great. Now Rory’s upset,” Jay muttered. He left the room.

Cathy sat alone on their bed, listening to Jay comfort their daughter through the wall.


What. Are. Those. Noises? 

Cathy stared at the ceiling, and listened.

It’s not even snoring really, it’s … the most disgusting breathing sounds I’ve ever heard. Snorting. Snuffling. Weird guttural things. Then that sucking, whistling sound before the hideous, lip-fluttering … I think the tongue is involved too. Oh god … 

She rose and stomped to the bathroom. Jay’s sleep carried on, untroubled.

Cathy tore through the medicine cabinet, chasing melatonin with NyQuil, dousing herself in lavender essential oil. She wondered, not for the first time, why she hadn’t prioritized getting a place with spare bedrooms above all else. 

If there was one piece of advice I could give newlyweds, it would be: separate bedrooms. I’ll have to remember to tell Rory, when the time comes.

After twenty minutes, she decided to give sleep another try.

You got this. 

Cathy re-entered the bedroom and nearly retched. 

Sweet jesus WHY? Why does my bedroom smell worse than my ER? How is that possible?

She approached the bed.

It smells like dozens of feral animals are simultaneously dying, farting, and going through puberty. This cannot all be Jay. One human can’t, just can’t …

Cathy leaned over Jay, and sniffed. 

It IS him! Why, WHY does he smell like Sloth guy from Se7en who’s been tied down to a bed for years? 

What the … 

Jay appeared to be covered in a filmy slime. Cathy poked at him with a trembling finger. 

BEER?! He’s literally sweating beer! Beer is oozing from his pores! Hell no, I … can’t. He’s a Cronenberg movie, not a person. 

Cathy looked around the room.

Every surface is covered in his pubes and body hair and beard hair and nose hair. How can he shed so much hair and still be so hairy? It’s all over me, my clothes; it’s in our food …  

She gazed back down at Jay. 

I can never look at this man again with any trace of desire. 

Jay snorted, then farted, then rolled onto his side whilst smacking his lips.

How did I EVER harbor sexual feelings for him?


Jay waited until they were standing on Cathy’s parents’ doorstep to tell her. 

“I’m going to head out as soon as we’re done eating. The main stuff, I mean, not dessert. I promised my parents I’d drop by.”

Cathy stared. “Why the heck didn’t you–”

Her dad opened the door. “Look who it is!” he trilled as he scooped up Rory. “Come inside, how have you been, how was the drive …” he continued autopiloting as he retreated to the TV room.

“Hello.” Sandy greeted them from the kitchen doorway, arms folded and eyes downcast.

“Hey.” Cathy handed Jay her coat and bags, then approached her sister. “What’s new?”

“Mom tell you I moved out?” Sandy asked. She brought a fingernail to her mouth and commenced chewing. “Got a place of my own now.”

“Seriously? That’s great, Sandster!” Cathy meant it. “Where, when, how–”

“It’s one of those tiny houses. You’ve heard of them? For people who care about their carbon footprint–” Sandy stopped as Cathy pushed past her to the windows overlooking the yard.

“Please tell me that isn’t your idea of moving out,” Cathy hissed as she stared at the twee construction where her dad used to grow tomatoes.

A series of defensive squawks issued from Sandy. Cathy rested her forehead against the glass.


“What are you doing over there?” Jay asked as he rose from the bed.

“How do you do this?” Nadine frowned and held aloft two ends of a man’s necktie. Save for the tie and her boots, she was naked.

Jay reached under Nadine’s arms from behind and took the tie’s ends. Nadine moved her hands up to her hair.

“Your tits look great like that,” Jay murmured as he looked over her shoulder into the mirror. His hands brushed against them as he worked. “This is hot, actually.” He pressed his pelvis forward, so she could feel that he was hard again.

“Where’d you get this tie?”

“The guy who was here before you left it.”

“Oh yeah? Who is he?” Jay pressed further against her.

“The guy who’s always on the treadmill next to you at Barry’s. You know who I mean–he’s like a foot taller than you, much faster than you? I think he’s a banker; he’s always in these expensive suits. You should see the way he fucks me.”

Jay tried to stay focused on the tie. “You like it?” 

Nadine nodded emphatically, tits bouncing. “I love it, even though I’m sore after, because he’s so big and he can go for so long. And then I had to take you right after–”

“Is that what you did, you nasty slut?”

“Uh-huh. I didn’t even have time to wash up, before you were pounding away–”

“There.” Jay adjusted the knot. “Very professional.” Nadine grinned into the mirror as he cupped her breasts. His lips traveled down to the nape of her neck. “Keep your hands behind your head, but step your legs out further apart.” She obeyed.

Jay lowered to his knees, then sat with bent legs out before him, in between Nadine’s. Releasing his head back, he reached up and guided her into position above him. Nadine continued watching in the mirror, giggling at the first flicks of his tongue.


“That is such a friggin’ strawman,” Cathy interrupted. She pushed away her pie.

Sandy glared across the table. “What do you mean?”

“The idea there’s this cabal of non-believers, who are preventing action on climate change. Most people believe in it,” Cathy continued as she re-filled her wine glass. “So what? That doesn’t answer what can, or should, be done. Or mean there’s consensus on exactly what is going to happen, and when …” She noted her parents’ furrowed brows.

What am I doing? Why?

Dunno. Who cares? It’s pissing Sandy off.

Cathy continued: 

“I mean, how do people envision shit going down? Do they think the whole planet’s gonna explode? Or picture simultaneous tsunami waves everywhere? Besides. If you are on the receiving end of a fatal tsunami wave, you won’t know whether it’s happening just there, or everywhere.” 

She paused, saw that Sandy was going to speak, and hurried on: 

“People have always thought they’re staring down end times. Part of being human, I guess. Makes us feel significant. Still. It’s unlikely the end of the world will happen to fall within our hot-sec, stupid-short lifespans, ok?” 

Cathy played with her glass. 

“It’s about your perspective, isn’t it? That’s all. Amalfi was a wealthy, powerful city-state for centuries. Centuries! Then one day, the earth beneath most of the city broke off and fell into the sea. One moment, their only rival is Venice; the next, 90% of their population’s gone. Or look at the Native Americans, ok? 80 to 90 percent of them wiped out by smallpox, before ever seeing the settlers responsible. Or during the Black Death, when up to two-thirds of Europe died … All of those people, they all must have thought the world was ending. They weren’t wrong.” 

“What are you saying?” Sandy asked. 

“I don’t know.”

John Knoll


I’m schizophrenic. I’m on TV, watching myself watching me. Persuaded by amoeba mind to rhythm time’s new measure I look for love in cold desert winds of prehistoric pleasure. A classic toy of delight the dildo I prescribe covered by a black mantilla and a fog-shrouded valentine.

Cancer cells chaotically repeat themselves in the clouds above my shoe. Adapted to catastrophe I dream lost cities and biodegradable mystical emptiness.

A disappearing trail through a nonlinear series of juniper arroyos where a mountain lion roars diaphanous screeches that magnify a zoo adjacent a red box in a cathedral of gothic sound where I crisscross space four times and with a perfumed delicacy fly into a dragon’s winged shadow nailed to a crucifix.

Distance disappears within my last breath a presence sensed there not there. Words pile up create a rattlesnake’s lexicon. A blind raven is my totem. I eat organic skunk. Road kill embellished with Ayurvedic herbs. Framed by sun splashed chrysanthemums, I barbecue the Holy Ghost. Blind with love I walk out the front door into the fresh rivers of morning.

Rp Verlaine

Clawing through shadows

of dreams  
to find her again 
real as a reflection 

water trades 
for depth when touching 
only the ephemeral. 

Her words, false 
as a pawned ring claiming 
absent ghosts in stolen 

I miss the outlaw 
she was before 
escaping the noose 
of excitement’s gallows, 
induced by narcotic 

She is now  
like the others, 

It is her victory  
I do not begrudge,  
or misinterpret 
and nearly accept 
as I will 
her wedding invitation.

For only dreams 
bring her  
former lives to me. 
Most nights 
it’s all I see 
when my eyes, 
starved for magic, 
close without it.

John Tustin


Pity the young man who,
As he grows older,
Loses his arrogance.
Confidence? He never 
Owned any.
His insolence,
Once interesting,
Is now merely crankiness:
His resolve stubbornness.
His desires fantasies.
All he owned,
Once so indelibly carved
Into his heart and his words
Was shown to be illusion.
He considered the palpable
He knows better now.

Pity the man whose words were once braver,
His eyes alive with the clarity
Of the zealot.
He rarely saw choices –
He just acted.
He doubted himself
But not his beliefs that were
Imbued by the books he read
And the feelings he felt
When he would lie in bed at night,
Alone but
Just knowing things should be a certain way
And that if he were true to himself,
They would be.

Pity the young man who,
As the skin of his trust and belief
Was peeled away,
Left him just tendons and bones,
Dressed in a costume
As to appear like the rest of them
Who never believed but still cried
During the romantic movies
When the movie heroine
(her hair done, her makeup in place)
Nobly died of cancer
Holding the hand of a man
(Who appeared to spend five hours a day in the gym
And the balance of his waking hours
Staring in the mirror practicing looking handsome
Yet also caring, empathetic and concerned.)

Pity the young man, who,
As he grows older
Loses his arrogance,
Displaying, his anger in helpless rants
Read by no one
Accomplishing nothing.
He is stabbed over and over
And bleeds and bleeds
But never seems to die.
Why won’t he die?
He is jealous of the convivially vapid
And the blissfully unaware.
He hopes to join them in their blank dull reveries
In the dark he closes his eyes
To make it darker.

Pity the young man now older,
His arrogance replaced by acceptance.
He is in agony.
It takes him longer to finish pissing
And his body aches all the time.
He sees a tired old man looking back at him
In the mirror
And he never believes a thing anyone says.
He has never owned anything
But the difference between yesterday
And today is that
Now he knows it.

It is the only thing
Which he is certain.