C. Renee Kiser

Remember When We Watched Kill Bill Together

I cheered, maybe a little too much. 
The next day, you said you loved me 
then called for my hearse 
You are so impatient 
You couldn’t even give a girl time 
to get ready 
to die 

Before I knew it,  
my ride was there 
And you had me all set, pale-faced  
to your two-faced 

I didn’t get a chance
to show you my underwhelming 
zombie-cheerleader kick 
You would’ve been charmed 
I’m sure 

You always said I could make you laugh
like no other
So, now I’m a good little dead girl
’cause I know 
You will never laugh the same

James Diaz

Everything and Everyone 

I was only just beginning 
I was only just 

I took off my layers 
my shame my skin
I said “if I know you I know you”
and everything we need to be good 
and settled is just a small breath away

I took it lower
my whole face 
against the parking lot pavement 
some are born this way 
I’ve seen it happen 

enough gets taken 
and a person becomes gone inside 

I’m done with cruelty
with small hands mouths minds 
let them have it
whatever this is

when they ask you what you love
tell them: everything

and everyone

and I am only just beginning. 

Kristin Garth

Bunny Nightlight 

Still seems innocent on the wrong side of 
the screen, wan smile some degenerate broke
of a child beauty queen.  Refracted love, 
filtered in pink, bottom lip quiver bespoke 
or rose colored wink dependent upon 
her audience tonight.  Is she a good girl 
in obsidian, bad one in white, fawn 
or predator camouflaged in digital 
peonies, pine trees, backstory by 
Ovid, quotations of Sophocles? 
Most cannot decipher mirror image lies 
she scribbles in notebooks the naive 
fantasize to be pleas or private invites.
Shows scars to strangers by bunny nightlight. 

Joseph Farley

A Man Walks Into a Bar

I had been in Irish bars in America, and a few in Dublin, but I had never been in a bar before like Harrington’s. 

I had visited a female friend who lived in another town. I had arrived on a Friday evening. I had expected to stay the weekend at her apartment, but was kicked out early on Saturday afternoon. Permanently. I won’t go into details as to why this occurred. Lets just say that neither one of us was without faults.

I had time to kill before my train home and good reason to drink. Harrington’s was near the station. I went in to get mellow. 

It was in some ways a typical neighborhood bar. It was dark. The walls and floors were faded wood with faded stains. Not many people attempted eye contact.

I took a seat at the bar and ordered a draft beer from the bartender. There was a bowl of salted nuts and a bowl of salted pretzels for sharing, items intended to stimulate thirst. There was also a bowl of dry cereal with multicolored marshmallow bits in it.

I asked the bartender about the cereal when he plopped a frothing mug in front of me.

“What’s that for?”

“To keep the leprechauns away.”

“You’re joking,” I said. “There’s no such thing.”

“Oh there is. Believe me. My family’s been under a curse from them for centuries.”

“Really? And this cereal scares them off?”

“No. It helps us pick them out of the crowd. If a short fellow, or a lass, comes in here, especially if he or she has a brogue or reddish hair, and eats only marshmallows from the bowl, we have good reason to suspect it’s a leprechaun.”

“That doesn’t seem a logical test. I would think there would be something more magical involving iron horse shoes or the like.”

“You’d be surprised how susceptible leprechauns are to modern advertising. The ad campaign for this cereal has taught them to believe that it is a prized food for them. That’s what advertising does. It creates the need then you are stuck with the need.”

“This cereal is advertised in Ireland?”

“Doesn’t need to be,” he said. “There are plenty of leprechauns in America.”

“How do they get here?”

“Stowaways. They hide in the luggage of tourists coming back from the Emerald Isle. Once here they set up home and breed like any other immigrant. The one’s born here are a bit taller due to the diet. They’re partial to those Mc burgers and green milkshakes truth be told. Some even intermix with the locals. In the old days we would just keep an eye on anyone under four foot tall who came in. Now we have to check out anyone under five foot five.”

I was glad to be five nine.

I asked, “Are there any other tell tale signs that a customer is a leprechaun?”

“They only order whiskey. Never beer or a cocktail.”

“For sure?” I asked.

“Dead sure,” said the bartender.

“Do they cause any trouble when they come in?”

“The sure do. They have a tendency to puke all over the bar, piss on the bathroom, and skip out without paying.”

“Don’t other customers do that?”

“On occasion, but leprechauns dance a jig on the sidewalk and jeer you through the window before disappearing in a puff of smoke.”


“Weed or cigarettes. No clay pipes. America changes people.”

“While bothersome that doesn’t seem so bad a curses go.”

“You’re not a bartender and you’re not a Harrington. You have not grown up with tales from great grandparents, grandparents and parents about the annoying antics of leprechauns. It gets to you. Hits you in your pride. Hits you in your wallet. I keep a shotgun under the bar loaded with rock salt. They move so fast I’ve never hit one. Maybe winged one, but she just stuck out her tongue and kept dancing on the sidewalk.”

“How did the curse start?”

“As I was told it started over a hundred years ago, back in Ireland. My great great great was a part owner of a pub in County Kildare. He was known for his drinking and for his strong bladder. He had some bad habits. The worst was that he hit the product. A wee nip here and there. Something you shouldn’t do if you run a bar. Eats away the profits. One slow night, he did much more drinking than pouring. After closing up he was heading home across a field. There was a pile of large stones that had been there for ever and a tall, wide tree that had been there close to forever. My ancestor’s bladder, which was large and could hold a lot, suggested that he empty it. The tree looked like a good spot. My ancestor undid his buttons and lifted his hose out. He sprayed gold all over that tree. He just kept going and going. Although he did not know it, a leprechaun lived under that tree, a leprechaun that was well connected in leprechaun circles. That leprechaun noticed a trickle leaking through his ceiling that fast became a flood. He rushed out to confront the man damaging his home, but my ancestor just laughed at the leprechauns threats and shaking fists. He kept on letting all that gold stream out, much of it on the hat and clothes and face of that leprechaun. The wee man, I mean the leprechaun not my ancestor, was angry but could do nothing about it because of the religious medals my ancestor was wearing. Still, he put a curse, a wide and lasting curse, on my sacred ancestor and all his descendants.”

“And the curse was…”

“I don’t know what the words were. Probably said in Gaelic or another tongue anyway. But I know the result. The leprechaun knew my ancestor was barman. It was stuff a barman hates. Vomit on the floor of the bar, piss on the floor of the bathroom, and unpaid tabs.”

I was about to tell the bartender that he was serving baloney, or should I say blarney, when a smallish man, no bigger than five foot two, with a pale face and red freckles came into the bar. The bartender eyed the new arrival with suspicion, but said nothing. The new customer sat down at the bar two seats away from me.

The man called out to the bartender, “Give me a shot of Jameson.”

“Are your sure of that?” replied the bartender. “We have a special on Guiness. Draft. Three bucks a mug.”

“No thank you,” said the new customer. “I’m more of a whiskey man.”

“Suit yourself,” the bartender replied. He wiped down the counter with a brown rag, using this more or less as an excuse to lean over the bar and sneak a better look at the man. When the bartender straightened up he looked at me and touched his nose.

I snuck a glance at the character. I didn’t see anything particularly odd about him until I saw his socks. Green socks. Emerald green. This suggested bad fashion sense to me, not evidence of the guest being a leprechaun. He notice me and winked. I turned away, focusing on my drink.

The bartender set a bowl of cereal and a bowl of salted nut on the counter next to the man. Then went to pour a shot.

There was a mirror on the wall behind the bar. I could tell the bartender was watching the man while trying not to be obvious about it. This of course made it even more obvious.

I tried watching the little man out of the corner of my eye, curious to see if he would reach for the nuts or the cereal. The little man seemed to ignore both bowls next to him. I noticed all the marshmallow shapes in the cereal. I was relieved when the man glanced at the bowls, reached over and took a handful of nuts.

The bartender had taken his time getting the shot for his customer, but finally put it down in front of him. 

“Six bucks,” the bartender said.

“Can I run a tab?” asked the man.

“No tabs. Cash now.”

“No problem.”

The little man pulled a wallet out of his back pocket, He took six crisp dollar bills from the wallet and placed them on the counter.

“Here you go.”

The bartender seemed to relax. He reached for the money.

What happened next was a blur. The little man downed the shot in one gulp and slammed the shot glass on the counter. The sound froze the bartender for a moment. One of the man’s hands snatched the money back from the bartender while the other moved across the bowl of cereal. When the hand left the cereal bowl all of the marshmallows were gone.

The little man jumped down from his stool, shoved the marshmallows in his mouth with one hand and the dollars in a pocket with the other. He jumped back further from the bar and did a little dance. Then he threw up on the floor. 

The bartender reached for his shotgun. As he did so the door to the men’s room at the back of the bar began to open. 

The leprechaun whipped his cock out of his pants and let loose a stream of golden piss. It jetted across the room, winding around wooden pillars and startled customers. It dodged the customer coming out of the men’s room and splattered on the bathroom floor before the door had a chance to swing shut. 

The bartender aimed the shotgun and fired. The blast of rock salt his the leprechaun in the chest, propelling him into the air. It landed hard on the floor, but popped to its feet right away.

“So it was and so it will ever be,” it laughed.

The bartender let out another blast.

“Get out you bastard. May all your gold turn to rot.”

“Fine with me,” said the leprechaun. “I traded it all for crypto.”

The leprechaun ran out the door of the bar with his cock still hanging out. He did not pause to do another dance or shout more rude remarks. Instead it took off down the sidewalk. 

This showed that the bartender’s information about leprechauns was not necessarily correct. I wondered if he would update his check list.

The bartender ran out of the bar and chased after leprechaun. No one was tending the bar.

I left a tip on the counter and prepared to leave. I had seen enough. I figured someone must have called the police about the shotgun going off. It didn’t matter that it was rock salt. The police wouldn’t like it. I didn’t want to be there when the police arrived. I didn’t want them to make me miss my train. And I didn’t want them to ask me any questions. That usually led to trouble.

As I got up to leave I noticed no one else in the joint seemed upset. I asked an old man seated further down the bar why no one showed any surprise or concern.

He replied, “Most of us are regulars. Seen it all before. Something like this happens a few times a year. It’s part of the charm of the place. Where else can you see such a show?”

I asked about the cops. He told me no one bothers to call them anymore.

One after another the regulars helped themselves to free drinks. Not a lot. Most just topped off what they already had.

“It’s a tradition now,” said the old man. “Whenever there’s a leprechaun incident. The surveillance camera doesn’t work and the owner blames any losses on leprechauns, and none of us says otherwise.”

I wished I had known that sooner. Still, I thought it was time for me to leave, and best that I do so before the bartender returned. I grabbed some marshmallows from one of the bowls on the counter. And some of the nuts. I l left the cereal. I stuffed them in one of my pockets as something salty and something sweet to chew on later. Then I climbed over the bar and took a bottle of the good stuff. Then I decided to go for two. I stuck both bottles in my travel bag.

I left the bar and walked to the train station, just as fast as my legs would carry me. That’s kind of fast. Believe me. I can walk rather quickly. Almost a blur. 

My father, all six five of him, used to say, “You have to keep changing. Adapt. Move with the times.” I’ve always tried to do so.

My mother used to say, “No matter how much you change, never forget where you came from.”

I never have. I always listened to my momma. All four foot five of her.

Daniel S. Irwin

Erin Go Bragh

I said, “Erin go bragh.”
That’s ‘bragh’ not ‘bra’.
Tell that drunken woman
To quit waving her bra
And flashing her titties.
Every year the same thing,
St Patrick’s Day in an Irish
Bar, ‘pub’ in the old country.
Buncha damn drunks here.
And everybody’s Irish today.
By now, I’m used to the
Polish and the black Irish.
But, it’s the goth-type Irish
That I’ve overlooked before.
What’s the matter with you?
No, we don’t pull the wings
Off of fairies and we never
Would roast our leprechauns.
Oy vey, Aaron. Please, man.
Not still another round?
How can a man raised on
Kosher wine drink so much
Irish whiskey and still stand?
Aha! There she is, me dream,
My red headed darlin’ with
The twinkle in her eye and
A smile to melt your heart.
Tonight, I would make my
Move, but, I’m so loaded
That I can’t talk, just drool.
And, I’ve a noticeable bit
Of half-dried vomit crusting
On the front of my shirt.
Better wait for another time.
But then, being Irish, herself,
Maybe she’s into party animals.

John D Robinson

Moments After

She lit a cigarette and
inhaled, then blowing out
silver shapes at the ceiling
she looked across at me,
as we lay side by side
after just making love.

‘I hope you’re ready
to go again by the time
I’ve finished this’ she said.

‘So do I’ I said.

I couldn’t remember her
name and I watched her
smoke the cigarette and
then mash it out into the
overflowing ashtray.

She blew one final stream
of silver from between
her lips as I felt her hands
exploring between my legs
and my stoned blood
began rampaging through
my body once again.

Joseph Farley

The Narc in the Cupboard

Zack woke in a haze. It was hard to focus. The prior night had been wild from what he could remember. All he knew now was that he had to get up. It was necessary.

He went to the bathroom, emptied his bladder and took a dump. That was enough work to put him in a mood to go back to bed on most mornings, but not today. He had other needs to fill.

He touched soap and ran water over his hands. He called this washing. 

There was a dirty cup on the sink. He filled it and drank it down. His mouth was still dry and pasty. He filled and drained another glass. His mouth still didn’t feel right. He considered brushing. He didn’t see any toothpaste laying about. He looked around and couldn’t find a tube anywhere. Then he remembered he was out of toothpaste. He had meant to get some at the store yesterday. And the day before that.

Zack dipped a toothbrush in the soap dish. The soap was still damp from washing his hands. It would do.

His mouth felt a little better, but his belly was saying other things. A rumbling in his stomach told him to eat, but a rumbling lower down in his guts told him he would need to shit again, real soon. The signal from down below took precedence.

A half hour later his hands were clean again. The bathroom stank, but he could live with it. It smelled worse on most days.

He needed something to eat. His stomach was bossing him about. It would have to be something easy, something even he could not mess up. His head was in worse shape than his asshole was. It had been a late night.

He went to the small kitchen in his apartment, opened a cabinet and took out a box of cereal, all oats and sugary sweetness. He took a half empty bottle of milk from the refrigerator. He placed both items on the kitchen table. He took a spoon from a drawer, and reached up to another cabinet at eye level, next to the stove, to get a bowl. He opened the cabinet and stopped. All the shelves had been removed from the cabinet and all the plates, cups and bowls that had been inside were missing. Instead, a short man with mirrored sun glasses, a waist length leather jacket, jeans and army boots was curled up inside. The man’s chin was tucked to his chest. His shoulders rested against one side of the cabinet. His knees were bent and cramped against his body, almost touching his mustache. 

“I’m just a dream,” the man said. “Close the cabinet and go about your business.”

“Ah, I can’t. I need a bowl for my cereal. What did you do with my bowls?”

“Everything that was in the cabinet, including the shelves, is in a box under the kitchen table.”

“Why did you put them there?”

“I didn’t put them there. You must have done it and forgotten about it.”

“I didn’t do it. The plates were there yesterday. You must have moved everything.”

“I couldn’t have moved anything. I’m not really here. I’m a dream. An illusion.”

“I don’t know about that. You look pretty real.” Zack noticed the man had a lanyard around his neck with a photo I.D.. Zack’s vision was blurry but he thought he could make out the word ‘Police.’

“You and your friends got real high last night. You haven’t come down yet.”

“Do you have a warrant or a court order saying you can be here?”

“Of course not. I’m not really here. You’re imagining it because you have a guilty conscience.”

“What do you mean?”

“Come on. You know you met with that dude in the parking lot. The guy had something in the trunk of his car, a big package wrapped in a black plastic trash bag. He let you open the bag. You stuck your finger inside, then put your finger on your tongue. You exchanged a few words and you gave him a big roll of bills. He checked the roll and put it in his pocket. You took the bag, put in your car and headed home.”

“Man, it’s like you were there. Have you been following me?”

“I couldn’t have been following you. I don’t exist. I’m all in your head.”

“What did I do when I came home? I’m having a hard time remembering.”

“You carefully unwrapped the package, divided the contents, and used a scale to weigh out and fill small zip lock bags. When you were done, you put all the small bags in a shoe box and hid them under some sweaters in your bedroom closet. Then you called some of your friends to come over and party with the leftovers.”

“Are you sure you weren’t really there? You remember more about last night than I do.”

“I am you, in a sense. I’m in your head.”

“Okay, so if you’re me, tell me what happened after my friends came over?”

“You all drank a lot, snorted, shot up, and took some pills. One of the girls who came kept you busy while your friend Phil searched your apartment. Then you drank more with your friends and did some more stuff. Finally, you passed out.”

“Really? I can’t remember most of that, especially Phil searching my apartment.”

“You were busy getting laid. After you passed out Phil went through your bedroom. He found your stash, took most of it and all the cash you had. He also found the gun you bought last week at the playground.”

“Shit! Phil did all that? Why didn’t any of my other friends stop him?”

“They were all in on it. Phil gave them a cut.”

“Damn those mother fuckers. I’m going to kill them all.” 

“How? You don’t have a gun anymore and you have no cash to buy one.”

“Damn it. Damn it. They were supposed to be my friends.”

“How can someone in your business have true friends, especially as a freelancer. You have many more enemies than friends. At least they decided not to kill you.”

“They were going to kill me?”

“Phil wanted to put a pillow over your face while you were unconscious, but your other friends wouldn’t go along with it.”

“I guess they’re not that bad, except for Phil.”

“Nah, the others figured you’d be killed by the loan shark you borrowed money from to start up your business, since you won’t be able to make any payments now. No need for them to get involved.”

“Mother fuckers. Those fucking mother fuckers. What should I do?”

The man in the cabinet pulled out a typed statement and handed it to Zack along with a pen.

“Just sign this statement. I’ll take care of the rest.”

“How can you help? You told me you don’t exist?”

“I don’t exist, but, you can think of me in some ways as your fairy godfather. You sign this, date it and go back to bed. I will magically take care of the rest. Best of all, I’ll keep you safe.”


“Safe from Phil, your friends, and that loan shark. I believe their names are all in the statement. But it would help if you could write in the name of the guy you bought the stuff from.”

“That’ll help?”

“You will sleep easier.”

“And what about my kitchen? Who will put all this stuff back in the cabinet?”

“Don’t worry about it. After you sign the statement, and go back to bed, everything will be fine. Sleep for an hour or two. Take a pill if it helps. “

“Okay, if you say so. But you’re really me, right?”

“That’s right. I’m part of you. Your conscience and your higher self.”

“Higher than I am now?”

“You’ll never know.”

Narcotics and the organized crime unit made the arrests, fourteen in total. Zack denied signing any statement, but a figment of his imagination had suggested he put his thumbprint on the paper in addition to his autograph.

There were some questions about the arrests. Captain Davis from Narcotics defended his diminutive operator to Chief Inspector Morton and the DA.

“Detective Smalls is a good officer. Honest as they come, and dedicated. His methods may be a bit unorthodox but he gets results.”

“Well,” said the DA, who had his doubts, “Lets just hope the evidence he obtained doesn’t get thrown out by a judge this time.

Willie Smith

Bleared ’68

Things aren’t so good at home. 
So, when Dad conks out, 
after the doorslamming, wallpunching, 
dogkicking, hysterical cursing ceases, 
I steal the keys and cross the river to D.C.; 
to drink legally in topless bars, 
ordering zombies,
ogling bored sluts tease. 
So far this year they (not the dancers) 
shoot King, Bobbie, thousands of soldier boys; 
LBJ throws in the towel; war rages distantly, 
televized in your face.
My draft card, despite turned eighteen 
last October, in lieu of 1-A, reads: 1-SH; 
standing NOT for: One Shit Head.
My keenest memory 
from that blear called ’68: 
find myself stopped at a light; 
wee hour, road empty. 
Crack the door; 
tilt chin over asphalt;
copiously bepuke the 
double-yellow. Contemplate, under 
a foot from my nose, rejected booze. 
Light strobes green. Wrestle door 
shut; right self in seat; hands 
discover wheel.
Cruise the ununderstandable night, a 
drunk and very lucky warm bucket of spit. 
Jumpcut to carport; exit vehicle; 
stagger inside split-level 
upstairs to bed, 
Dad’s vodka snores strangling the dark; 
Mom, beside the breadwinner, 
tortured, drowsing. 
Amazingly – credits rolling – 
hero pinned as me – 
spinning in my room off to sleep – 
fail to focus enough to masturbate, 
for once in a moon super and blue.  

James Diaz

When You Don’t Know The Why 
or The Way of It

how the wind tail-ends
across the rivets 
of the George Washington 
how there is so much more of everything 
underneath all of this

a child crosses her heart and hopes to try
and remember these things
that no one else can see

and pain will replace it
we know this
but there is a sweet spot 
between then and now
hovering like god’s own 
across the water 

we are not so great, you and I
but we are sturdy
at times
do the right thing 
by accident 
time and place 
rhythm and swarm 

in spring 
the earth pulses
with it
and winter will replace it
we know this
but for now there’s a wild blooming
things are born
and torn 

the prayers you say in the morning 
are always easier than the ones 
you say at night 

Noel Negele

Small Entertainments 

Most of my boxers
have a gaping hole
underneath where
my balls laid comfortably
now they spill through them
all hairy when I wear them
because I have no lovers
so why bother to shave.
I don’t know how and why
my boxers have those holes there
but there they are
and every morning
I wear them 
and I see a testicle
spilling through 
and although this is
such a clear attestation
of my financial struggles,
it puts a smile on my face 
every morning.