John Tustin

Adanna

Adanna says she loves me
But Adanna doesn’t really love me.
Adanna says she hates me
But Adanna doesn’t really hate me.
Adanna says she just wants to get fucked
But Adanna wants more than just to get fucked.
I understand. I just want to fuck
But I want more than to just fuck.
Adanna says, “Yes, daddy” when I tell her what I would do
But I’ll never get to do what I would do.
Adanna says, “Oh, John” when I get her worked up
But then Adanna says, “I am done with you” a moment later

Even though we’ve never even begun
And she does this again and again
And again.

Adanna says she loves me and she hates me
And that she just wants to get fucked when she wants more
Than just to be fucked.
Adanna will say she wants me
And I can have her
Just before she goes away.
Adanna says “this is why you can’t have me”
But this is not why
And she knows this,
As do I.

Still I wait 
For Adanna.

Micah Bates

Showtime!

The decor in my psychiatrist’s waiting room isn’t retro. It’s just old. And the green shag carpet always makes me sneeze. The worst part is I can’t see his office door from my seat on the stained floral-print couch. Every couple of minutes I wander over to the hallway to make sure Dr. Kildare isn’t waiting for me. 

I clutch the bright blue pill in my hand, Geodon 40 mg. I used to take the lower dose pill, half blue and half white. I must’ve said something wrong at my last appointment—’cause this was what came out of the new bottle. I usually take it with breakfast, but I don’t like when my meds get changed without anyone telling me. So, here I am walking around with it, like it’s a precious gem or something.

 Dr. Kildare greets me from the hallway, “John, good to see you. Thanks for being patient while I finished my calls. Come on back to one of my rooms and tell me what brings you in early.” 

I follow him back into his office. His shoes are terrible: white, clunky and sticking out below his pleated dockers. The soles are worn out at funny angles and just looking at ‘em makes my knees hurt.

 I like the brown leather couch in his office better than the floral print one in the waiting room. At least someone made a pretense of cleaning this one.

“How have you been?” Dr. Kildare asks.

“Okay. Surviving.”

“What’s in your hand?”

“The blue one.”

“Are you going to take it?”

“Yeah—but can I tell you a story first?”

Dr. Kildare repositions in his chair. He sets his pen down on his yellow notepad, which I’m pretty sure isn’t a compliment. He nods for me to continue. I feel patronized and want to clamp shut, to curl back down inside myself. But I don’t get a lot of chances to talk to other people.

“It starts on Friday, when I went to the movies with my wife. After the show, I was using the urinal when this massive guy stands next to me, which was strange ’cause there were a lot of other options. I was doing my best to keep my eyes forward and ignore that this guy is looking over at me, but then he sneezes. It was loud and wet. The germy droplets tinkled down onto my pecker. Which is a weird sensation, if you’ve never had it happen before.”

I look up at Dr. Kildare. He’s not smiling, but he’s no longer staring at the blue pill hidden in my hand. I knew this was a good story.

“Doc, I know we’ve been working on me standing up for myself more in the moment, but I ain’t ashamed to admit that I didn’t say a thing. The guy was twice my size and I didn’t have any one-liners prepared for that particular situation. I just waited for him to zip up and leave. When I went to wash my hands, I wondered if I should wash off down there too, but there were kids in the bathroom. So, it didn’t seem like a good idea.

“I should’ve done something different though, ’cause by the time I got home, my dick was sick. It kept sneezing and coughing away, which when you’re wearing pants, feels as muffled as it sounds.”

Dr. Kildare looks like he wants to stop me. I know he doesn’t like it when I talk so much about dicks—I mean who does? But I gotta get this story out.

“I had to do something. So, I opened a can of chicken noodle soup and warmed it in the microwave. My wife caught me in the kitchen, which was real awkward. Me with my pants around my ankles, pressed against the counter, standing on my tippy toes with my man-parts dunked in the soup. 

“My wife’s a gem, though. She got over the shock quick, bundled me off to bed, and took care of me. Course that meant she got sick too, which wasn’t pretty. You’d think a vagina sneezing would be cute—but it’s not.”

I look up at Dr. Kildare with hopeful anticipation.

He frowns and adjusts his glasses before answering. “I’ve asked you to limit vulgarity in my office. Don’t make me do it again.” He looks at his watch and then back at me. “I have to see my next patient. Take your medication and I’ll check on you when I’m done.”

Dr. Kildare leaves the room with his notepad. 

I stand up to follow him, but the doorway ain’t there anymore. The walls are gone too. I’m on an empty stage with a single microphone. The amphitheater in front of me is filled with the rustle of people waiting to be entertained. The spotlight’s so bright, I can’t quite make any of them out.

I walk up to the microphone, still clutching my blue pill. When I cough, the hall fills with the amplified echoes of my discomfort. I’m nervous, but I’ve always dreamed of making it big.

“You all get charged a copay to get in tonight too?” I ask the quiet crowd. “If so, I hope your insurance is better than mine. Mine seems to think it stands for con-pay. ’cause I’m the only one getting conned into paying anything around here…”

Nothing. Not even a chuckle. I grab the microphone and pace around the stage, trying to think. I’m not gonna get many more chances.

“Did you hear the local university is offering a course where the students watch the Tour de France backwards…”

I pause and count to three. Giving ‘em time to mull it over.

“…It’s gonna be called Reverse Cycle-ology.”

A single laugh. Short and awkward, but still a laugh. It gives me hope and spurs me on.

“I gotta tell you all that while I’m thrilled to be here, I just can’t wait to get home and rip off my wife’s panties…”

I hook my thumb into the waist of my cotton boxers and pull at ‘em. Grimacing real big, so even the people in the nosebleeds can see.

“…’Cause the elastic in these things is killing me.”

That gets me a scattering of chuckles. 

“You all like the wife jokes and potty humor, huh? Well, who am I to argue?

“So, the other night the old lady and I went out for dinner. It was a real fancy place. Didn’t even have prices on the menu. Now I know what you’re all thinking. That’s not such a great idea for an agoraphobic with schizoaffective disorder. But that’s where you’re wrong. How else are we gonna get all these great stories? Can’t argue with that logic, can you? 

“Besides, I had my wife with me. She was wearing a real pretty blue dress with a low-cut white sweater over the top. She’s a real gem. Did I say that already?”

“John,” a deep voice rumbles, filling the room and interrupting my bit. “It’s time to take your medication.”

The spotlight moves to my hand. I uncurl my sweaty fingers. The blue pill glows in the bright light. 

I sigh.

“It’s been a pleasure entertaining ya’ll tonight…but it seems my time has come.”

I try to swallow the pill dry. It catches, a lump in the back of my throat. I gag and it comes spitting back out. I cough up a storm and before I know what’s happening, there’s a sharp jab in my right shoulder. 

I sink back down into the brown leather couch and sit there for I don’t know how long. The amphitheater walls constrict back into the tan-striped wallpaper of Dr. Kildare’s office. A foggy version of him pockets a syringe and small vial. He picks the blue pill off the rug with a tissue and drops it in the trash. His stern face pops into focus, a little too clear, and he offers me an off-white dixie cup. The water’s lukewarm and waxy.

“Feeling better?” Dr. Kildare asks.

“No.”

“Would you like me to call the hospital? A few days inpatient would allow you to safely stabilize on the new dose.”

“No.” 

I’ve been admitted to the psych unit before. It never helps, and I still haven’t paid off the three grand from last time.

“Will you at least promise to take your medication?”

I want to tell him that he’s the one causing all the problems by messing with my dosage. But I know better than to say that.

“Doc, I may be crazy—but I’m not stupid.” 

“Good. The intramuscular Geodon I gave you works quickly, but won’t last as long. Take a 40 mg pill as soon as you get home and I’ll add you on for a check-in Thursday morning.” 

The bus ride home is rough. The medication makes my blood heavy and my gut sick. There’s a kid with big green eyes standing on the seat in front of me. I ain’t got nothing for him. Not even a silly face to make him smile. 

Back in my studio apartment, I go straight to the bathroom and flush the blue pills down the toilet. Crawling into my single bed, I look up the half-life of Geodon. Then fall back onto my pillow. 

Only twenty-five hours ‘til I get back to Showtime!

Jodie Baeyens

Grasp

You, who came to my bed
With just a book of Shakespeare 
And took me as your lover
And read me sonnets 
As your hands caressed 
My naked body 

You, who came to my bed
And took me as your lover
With such false confidence
That I believed each word you said
When you explored my body
And read me Baudelaire 

You, who took a girl as a lover 
Who you thought was a woman
You, who I thought was a man
When you were still a boy
Your hands tracing the skin above my hips 
And read me the poetry you wrote 

You, who took me as your lover 
Come back to my bed
You, now a man with softly graying hair
Take me as I am 
Leave the poetry on the bedside table
You’ve nothing left to prove

Matt Micheli

The City of Angels (as told by Bukowski at the bar)

She was one of the good ones, but she was a whore. They all were. They all are. 

I was young and at the bar. I had worked a long shift at the factory and would often come in this place to wind down, drink a couple drafts, whatever I could afford after a day’s work. This gal comes in. She has this bright beautiful red hair. She’s in a dress, really showing her legs, you know. She walks in. The bar stops. The few other scumbags who are drinking while the sun is still out stop what they’re doing and look at her. The mugs on these guys, all of them: lonely, worn, some more so than mine, some less.

So she comes in and walks past me, and I smell her perfume, and I look at her. And she looks away, scared. I’m not a looker by any means, so I’m used to that look. There are empty seats all around me, but she takes a stool several spots down, I guess not wanting to be too close to this monster. She orders a drink, something red, something classy, you know those drinks sophisticated broads drink. I had four, maybe five dollars on me, so I offer to buy. 

I tell the barkeep, ‘Hey Jimmy, I got it.’ 

The leggy vixen looks at me, and man, she’s a looker, with that fiery red hair and the brightest blue eyes you’ve ever seen, a total gem. Then she looks away and insists to Jimmy that she can pay her own way. 

I say, “Look. I offered to buy your drink. Let me buy your drink.” 

And she says, “Oh, thank you, but you really don’t have to.” 

And she plays with her hair some and looks off uncomfortably, so I insist. I’ve always been persistent when I want something. Why start if you’re not going to finish? 

She tells me “Thank you” and gives me a shy half-smile. 

I had only had a couple, so I was still pretty good with my words. I said to her, “Sometimes the kindest thing you can do is to allow someone to be kind.” 

She takes a drink and looks straight at me with those eyes. I have that sense. I know that I just broke through to her, and now it’s only a matter of time for ugly-old-me to wrap those gorgeous legs around me. I ask her, “Where you from?” 

She asks me, “Why do you ask that? I can’t be from here?” 

And I say, “No. You can’t.” Again, I had only had a couple, so I was careful and aware and chose every word I said to her with pure precision. 

She tells me, “I’m from Atlanta.” 

“Ol’ Hot-lanta,” I say which makes her laugh a little. “I’ve done my fair share in Hot-lanta.” Really, I had never been to Hot-lanta. 

The conversation seemed to be there, but there was no movement. She was still way out of reach, several seats away. My beer was running low, and I was out of money, so time was ticking. I said, “Why don’t you come down here, and I’ll allow you to kindly buy me a beer like the kind gentleman I am?” That was it, my final attempt to try and close the deal. 

She sits there for a moment before standing up, picking her purse up off the bar, and walking in my direction. Imagine this bright red fireball with gams out of this world walking toward you. She sets her purse right down from me, orders two drafts from Jimmy, and slides onto the stool next to me. Jimmy brings over the drinks, and I cheers to her and we clink our glasses, and now I know she is mine. My face will be knee deep in that fiery crotch before too much longer. 

We carry on and laugh for a while about something, I don’t remember, and then she calls Jimmy to bring over two shots of whiskey. But she calls it bourbon like the lady she is. I can tell she’s buzzed because her cheeks are starting to match her hair. We take the shots. I look down at those fantastic legs, her dress riding higher than before, showing her magnificent thighs. 

We finish our beers, and I ask her, “So Hot-lanta, where you going?” My words are still there but beginning to lose ground. 

“The hotel I guess,” she tells me and then asks, “You want to walk me?” 

And with that, there’s no turning back for her, now. 

I say, “Yeah, I guess I can walk you. Wouldn’t want you to get lost in this City of Angels.”

We get back to the hotel she’s staying in which is three or four blocks up from the bar. It’s one of those really nice hotels, clean, smelling good. I’m dirty from a long day at the factory and half-drunk so I feel a little out of place in such a classy joint, but that’s okay. We get onto the elevator. The button is pressed. The doors slide together. The elevator begins to ascend, dinging with every floor we pass. I look over at her, and she smiles at me and then looks down, and I’m hoping she hasn’t sobered up enough to realize her situation. We don’t say anything, and I can’t wait to see where those racehorse legs lead to.

The elevator dings one last time, and we get off. She walks in front of me down the hall, swaying, her behind a beautiful piece of art. I’m no looker, you know, so I don’t often get a behind like that. So I’m excited, and I’m beginning to bulge, and I can’t wait to fuck her. I follow that behind into her room. The door closes behind us and she immediately attacks, kissing all over my mouth, aggressively. I rip the dress from her, and she unbuttons my belt, and we get at it. I mean, we really get at it. I worked that gal. I was proud of the job I was doing on her. I’ve got her bent over, over the bed, pushing the mattress halfway off the frame and onto the floor, and I’m slamming her as hard as I can, and she’s loving it and moaning. And then she gets quiet, and I say, “What’s the matter?” 

The next thing I know, she tenses up and constricts around my purple monster, and I keep going, and I’m about to blow. Then, she convulses, her insides tightening even more, and she hurls onto the bed, and I lose my load inside of her as I watch this chunky orange liquid spew from her mouth, covering the bed sheets. I’ve always hated the smell of vomit. Still inside of her, I gag and hurl all over her back. And then more comes. My vomit isn’t nearly as chunky as hers as it’s possible I hadn’t eaten in days. I’m just standing there, now, my cowardly cock between my legs, and she throws up again, that poor gal. 

I guess I fall asleep there, because I wake up the next morning with the sun coming beaming through the blinds of this vomit-flooded hotel room that now stinks like absolute death. She’s awake and dressed and looking like she did when I first saw her. 

“I’ve got to go to a meeting,” she says, “and then I have a flight to catch.” 

She’s looking into the mirror putting in one earring at a time behind that hellish red hair of hers. I’ve never been one to overstay my welcome, so I get up and find my pants and slide them on and then look for my shoes only finding one. I put it on. I pick up my shirt from the floor—there’re some orange vomit stains splattered on it—and place it over my head. I think I put it on backwards, I don’t know. Looking at her, I can’t believe such a beautiful creature graced me with her womanhood. I’m thinking as she looks at me that she is probably thinking that she can’t believe she allowed such a repulsive being to enter her, but oh well. People make mistakes. We all make mistakes. 

She walks me to the door, I’m hobbling in one shoe, off-balance. We walk down the hall, her beautiful behind swaying in front of me. We don’t say anything. We get onto the elevator. She presses the button, and the doors close. The elevator dings with every floor we pass, breaking up the silence. Then it dings one last time, symbolizing the finality of our fragile encounter, and the doors open. We step out and walk toward the entrance. The sun is bright and getting brighter as we approach. We walk outside and she hooks a right, but I need to go left, so I do. I turn back to see her beautiful behind swaying and those thoroughbred calves of hers. I want to call out to her, and it’s then I realize I never got the ol’ gal’s name. 

I stand there watching her, the sun really coming down, her swaying behind getting smaller and smaller before finally disappearing, lost forever in this City of Angels. 

***

Originally published in “Notes for a Dirty Old Birthday – Buk100” from Newington Blue Press

Andrew Vuono

Orphans

Homelessness, like all orphans
Is the child of social neglect
And the dead beat dads
write the laws
With a pen and a check

These tents on the riverbank
Are a looking glass
Through which one can see
A future city of empty houses
Surrounded by a sea of
empty children
Forgotten
in the shadow of profit
Cast by the sickness
of the have-it-alls
Wanting it all, leaving ruin
Slavery, and half legal
Loitering lives
on park benches
Or bus stations, on ledges
Between alleys
At off ramps and traffic lights
Holding cardboard signs
Announcing the shame

Of a system that has pitiless
empty pockets,
with no change
And refuses to change

Kristin Garth

The Cry Shot

Forgot your own name some months ago.  Reinvention is the reason you leave when he asks you to go, from college dorm to his condo to be dressed in organza puffy sleeves, oversized JoJo bows in your hair, turned over to a “nanny” when he leaves — though this one’s only credentials are an obscene imitation in porn.  Plays you one where she spanked her employer with a thick bouquet of blooms in her fingers, offering only the thorns.   

Impressed him enough to procure her, like you, a girl he renames Dove to return to a childlike state to — if not undo, erase what she suffered before. Met you in a neurolinguistic programming chat room.  After he heard your sad incestuous childhood story, he swore to replace it.  Give you a childhood again.  Nap when he tells you.  Confess every fantasy, sin. 

Open your legs to strangers because he knows best who and what’s right.  Bathe every wound they inflict in his honor.  Turn you on and your Hello Kitty nightlight for tales of bad girls he hopes you to turn out to be, raised this time without abuse or Christianity, just consensual use, with some bruises, and some iPhone videoed tears.  

Collates digital files of you sobbing into labeled DVD’s reflecting the seasons and years of indignities.  Revisits them while you are sleeping when he is in need 

of release — how many ways will beauty suffer for your insatiable beast who placates his needs with these records to give you some peace?  Bespoke porn he directs and demands to service his own special niche where the most climatic scene is not a cum shot.  It is the closeup of a splotched, wet, weepy face of a womanchild who should run but will not. 

PJ Grollet

The Horny Lego Guy’s Little Lego Dick

Hey, have you guys seen that new Lego movie? 

You know which one I’m talking about. The one about the horny Lego guy in outer space who tries to have sex with all his female crew members. 

That movie was bonkers! 

Spoiler alert: 

I couldn’t believe the scene when the Lego guy had the massive heart attack while he was blasting the ship’s lieutenant commander. 

And then the ship’s doctors rushed in and pulled him right off that Lego woman!

That shit was crazy. 

The best part was when they rushed him to emergency on the gurney. They snatched him off the Lego commander without his Lego pants and I couldn’t believe they actually showed his little Lego dick! 

I always wondered what a Lego dick looked like. It was like a small branch with a thorn piercing through the middle of it to form a cross. 

I thought for sure that Lego guy was dead, man. I mean, with no pulse and all. And then they pressed the defibrillator onto his little Lego dick! 

I was like what are they doing!? 

And it worked! 

They shocked his Lego dick and the guy popped right off the gurney!

You guys gotta see that movie!

Jason Gerrish

Wall of Pervs

We were renovating five floors downtown, 
office space in the Atrium Building, 
and at noon, all the trades 
took the passenger elevators down 
to eat lunch, on the street.

More than a hundred construction workers 
that spring and summer, sat down on the edge 
of the veranda, out front, 
facing the sidewalk, all along 4th Street, 
from Main down to Sycamore.

The office women shed their winter coats and 
we could see their endless curves again 
bouncing within their blouses,
their haunches loose, then shifting taut 
again as they strode on by.

And for every quivering, 
wobbly peach in yoga pants, 
we hurried down to gawk
while chewing some basic boloney 
and cheese or egg salad sandwich.

‘God damn,’ said DC. ‘I’d do that.’ 
‘Thick,’ said Wade. 
Big Dummy just stared.
‘I’d eat the corn out of her ass,’ said Griff.

And while most the guys talked discreetly
to the persons next to them, 
Pretty Boy stood and whistled at a 
young blonde in a pink dress and heels.

‘Come on, man. You can’t do that,’ I said.
‘What?’ said Pretty Boy. 
‘These women aren’t dressed to sex you. 
They work here. They’re dressed to feel confident.’

‘Shut up,’ said Wade, 
‘She knows how she’s dressed. 
And if she didn’t want you to look 
she wouldn’t be showing it off.’

‘Well, she ain’t dressed like that for us,’ I said. 
‘You don’t think she’s hot as fuck?’ said DC.
‘Go sit somewhere else,’ said Wade, 
‘You’re ruining my fantasy.’

I couldn’t argue with them, and then 
Herb summed things up: ‘My girlfriend walks 
by here with her coworkers sometimes,’ 
he said, ‘They call this the wall of pervs.’

‘Do they, really,’ said Wade.
‘Yeah,’ Herb said, chuckled. 
‘Oh well,’ said Wade, 
‘I guess they’re right.’ 

Judge Santiago Burdon

‘Fingers In The Fan’ is another odyssey about Santiago, a recovering addict, ex-con, womanizer, gambler and ill-fated pilgrim, along with his ex cellmate, loose cannon, alcohol and drug fueled, Colombian carnal, Johnny Rico. 

While working as drug smugglers for a Mexican Cartel, the two encounter situations of structured devastation. This collection of short storíes is filled with the same gritty dialogue, dark humor and adventurous mayhem Santiago has popularized in his previous books. ‘Fingers In The Fan’ complements the Bohemian tales of bizarre and twisted states of mind first exposed in  ‘Stray Dogs and Deuces Wild’ and ‘Quicksand Highway’.

Adding to the book’s irresistible appeal is that these cautionary tales are well written. Santiago’s prose is clear and his language concise: spiced with the Spanish of his streetwise bilingualism. The indelible portraits of even minor characters in other stories of life’s disappointments make this collection something to get high on.

Dave Wolff
Editor/Publisher
Asphyxium Magazine
Cerebral Agony Magazine

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