Dennis Williamson


‘Coming off the fryer…careful! 
I’m a customized nightmare, 
loaded with all kinds of weird virtues 
that’ll make this prick recipient ‘s shrink wince, 
for fucking sure.  
Man, so this is what happens to damned souls- 
you’re not consigned to a circle or pit of Perdition, 
or nothing like that.  
That shit’s just to earn writers cash, or give pulpit gospel 
boobs their big break in the almighty salvation scam. 
No, you ain’t consignment; it’s assignment.  
You’re the cerebral bacon, my friend, lifted fully cooked,
like Minerva outta Jupe’s brainpan. 
You’re Ephialtes exalted.  
But it’s a one-time gig before oblivion; 
no appreciation from managers; 
no “Nightmare of the Month” recognition, 
or anything of the sort. 
One.  Time.  Gig.  
Repeating is defeating is the attitude.  
When I was alive, I believed with the best of them. 
Boy, I was a dumb fuck, too! 
You have to be stupid with credentials to chase those
Thankfully -yeah, I say thankfully- my wife’s fuckin’ 
My “best friend” woke me up.  
‘Course, I killed ’em:
shot ’em right there in that bed that I’d bought before our
wedding, along with the perfect house, the sedans… everything. 
AMERICA, baby! 
Then, I lit a cigarette, 
and held it so close to my eyes I thought I saw pitchforks. 
I couldn’t let the police take me in.  
Honestly, the thought of a trial that was just so much bullshit 
and Alka-Seltzer.  
The image of my defense sitting there going through files;
going through the motions, cause he knew I was fucked anyway.
So I finished my cig and plunged headlong down the muzzle of that 
Smith and Wesson.  
And ya know, I seem to recall that as that bullet was 
knocking down the walls in my head, I saw it all for what it was- 
it was never there, that “life” of mine.  
You see, you’re born, and then they blind you.
Everyone, from ya mother onwards.  
They explained it to me when I got here that it’s like the 
Somme offensive in that world:
between reflections and regrets.  
Dreams, and the stale wafer aftertaste when you die;
or, you fucking go crazy.  
The perfect liars laid to rest occupy the penthouses, while 
Honest losers like you and me hug fitfully in the trenches.  
Those who are living?
Well, living ‘s an act of attrition.  
They’re gonna send me up soon. 
For now I don’t want to do anything except
sit here and finish being sick. 
Hurry up and finish that cigarette, will ya? 
Here in Hell it’s so damn dark a cigarette ‘s 
might as well be an oil lamp.  
It’s my reflection in your eyes which sickens me. 
In the image of the Almighty, why are we so fucking greasy? 

Zeke Jarvis

The End of Most Things

God spoke to me in a dream last night, and I was informed that the end of the world would be much more absurd and a bit less dramatic than most of us assume. It will begin with squids rising from the earth. The squids will be equipped with flamethrowers on each tentacle for some reason. Like teenagers, the squids will be angry, horny, and confused. After they shoot flames and try to mate for a while they will turn into land dwelling dolphins. The dolphins will have caustic urine and full bladders. Said dolphins will urinate on a wide variety of human beings. Half of said humans will dissolve at the touch of the urine, but half will turn into clowns. The clowns will masturbate in public for reasons unrelated to Diogenes. This cycle will repeat for a few days, and then teddy bears will sprout from the ground. The teddy bears will split open, and those murder hornets that you’ve heard so much about will emerge. The murder hornets will carry with them miniature bass guitars, playing ominous basslines while they destroy humanity. 

But wait, there’s more. Even after mankind is vanquished, the apocalypse will continue. Specifically, giant bagpipes will fall upon the earth, cracking it open. Lava will flow over the land. The lava will turn into sentient creatures who will, unfortunately, begin holding committee meetings. While talking, the lava beings will melt the earth’s surface. Eventually, the earth will devolve into an amalgamation of tiny Geraldo Riveras. Then, it will wither away into ash, disappearing from the universe. This is how our world will end. Please plan accordingly. 

Kristin Garth

Black Heart

Could remove the onyx tinted contacts 
and boys would be surprised to see the blue
irises hidden, like blonde roots you must dye 
every week to keep from public view.  
Carry a charcoal parasol when there 
is the slightest forecast of sunbeams 
on skin that goes golden everywhere 
within a half an hour, it always seems.
If it all happened at once, you’d look like 
some ordinary girl who bakes oatmeal 
raisin cookies with fair hair pin curled tight,
a cinnamon sweet heart that will make them feel
love in lieu of fright at the black heart you hide.
You need to look as dead as you are inside.

Dan Flore III

The Poet

there is no room for the poet to sit
he is in the standing room only section
even though there’s 3 people there for the reading

the poet looks at nothing in particular
and sees everything
he is the disease
and he orgasms the cure

the poet is at his strongest
right after reading the masters
he bows knighted into dust
and from the dust he shall rise

this poet thought it would take a lot more cigarettes
to finish this piece
he will smoke the rest later
when the decent line eludes him
and he daydreams of sex instead

the poet dies in the end
he can tell by his book sales
there is no place for him
other than to chase elusive beauty
like a stripper that talks to him
even though she knows he has no money

the poet will follow her to a beanbag chair
back at her place where there is no lighting
and cry on her nipples
and she will rub them in her pink
till they are castles dripping with holy oil
she wore her cross
and she liked it when he nailed her

the poet will go off topic
to devote a few lines to a stripper
and find his way back to the subject
when the loneliness of the blank page passes
and his wife stops snoring

see the poet is drowning
and all he wants to do is
pull you under with him
with a few metaphor meteors
simile smiles
and altercations of alliteration

has he placed a pleasing offering on the altar of beauty?
he can only wonder
and the poet is not talking about a facebook thumb up the ass
he is speaking of that dark cavern
where beauty fornicates with beauty
and a connection of light illuminates
the poet’s beard catches fire
when phantasms such as this occur

the poet has lost his athleticism
his tan
even his torso
all to make a stand
when everyone else was sitting
he is a gunslinger
a cat whisperer
a lover in black and white movies
you’ve seen him a million times
but it feels like you are just now getting acquainted

the poet has killed his muses
he’s captured them like lightning bugs
has kissed them goodbye
has written them long unanswered letters

the poet has no generation
he is of the family of God
he is not of this world

shhh it’s time to go
Jesus said “a prophet is never welcome in his hometown”
will you run with the poet to his car
with the old upholstery
dusty dashboard
and change in the ashtray brightly smiling
where he will lull you to sleep with the turns of the wheel?

the poet knows lullabies
and prayers before bed
will you follow him to the cloud of the next town
to give a reading to gnats and pestilence?

has he taken you this far
only to leave you on the side of the road
or the end of the poem?


the poet’s eyes
are your own lonesome eyes
reflected in a pool of words

J.J. Campbell

around three each morning

the world is on fire again

floods near the mountains
of my youth

the spanish princess wants 
to run away with me after 
one of us wins the lottery

i kiss her goodbye as i know 
sadly, neither of us will ever 
be lucky at all

and the ghosts come to visit
around three each morning

so vividly that old souls are 
conjured into an existence 
they have never even known

and with the hands firmly 
gripped around the neck 
of life

squeezing it to death

i wonder if i’ll even bother 
to have an obituary

maybe just put me in the 
ocean like a terrorist

burn me on the closest cross
and mix the ashes with the 
shit roses grow in

i once thought i was in love

turned out it was indigestion

Margo Griffin

Dive Deep

My husband messaged his girlfriend about me. His careless text said she gave better head than me. I told my therapist I didn’t give a shit. But deep down, I gave a big massive shit. And to be honest, I am slightly less upset about my spouse’s repeatedly cheating on me than I am pissed about his criticism of my fellatio skills. He knew I could work my mouth around his cock like a boss, and so, well, fuck him! “Does this make me sound shallow?” I asked my therapist.

My therapist said my marriage is like an inground swimming pool with a deep and shallow end. And I mostly waded in the shallow end of my marriage, where I kept my head above water, breathing freely. I avoided the deep end whenever possible, refraining from diving down too deep to the bottom of things because I knew if I investigated the bottom closely, I would suffocate and drown. “Am I a coward?” I asked.

  A few weeks after finding my husband’s traitorous text, I told my therapist I got drunk, met a cute musician, and blew his fucking brains out in the parking lot of a local Chinese restaurant. The musician said I had “mad skills” as he pulled up his pants and it made me smile. “It didn’t feel wrong,” I admitted.

My therapist asked why I didn’t leave my marriage, a loveless and unfulfilling union. And I said I thought a therapist is supposed to be like a lifeguard, teaching me how to swim and dive deep, keeping me from drowning. But the therapist said it was his job to ask me the questions so I can figure out for myself where and when I needed to dive. “Fuck that shit!” I exclaimed, “I can barely swim!”

My marriage pool continued to fill with stagnate water and disloyal semen, eventually, jamming its filter. Soon I stopped thinking of my therapist as my lifeguard and considered him nothing more than a pool guy who skims and vacuums the pool, stabilizing it with chemicals until the water becomes crystal clear. But my pool remained cloudy and unswimmable, so I fired the pool guy. And then a year after my husband’s betrayal, I threw myself a life preserver and filed for divorce, draining my own damn pool.

John Tustin


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


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.


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


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


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