John Tustin


Clinging to your bogus patriotism
and your antique religion:
your misguided and blind acceptance of 
– and deference to-
the family,
as if they are a connection of lily pads
leading from shore to paradisical shore.

Each false feeling, every comfortable untruth
sinking you deeper into your complacent morass.

You redesign your mind in orange florescence
and knock down all the load-bearing walls
for the sake of aesthetics.

There you are,
clinging to the life raft of sentiment.
There you are,
clinging to the clods of misguided duty.
There you are,
shining a torch into the already well-lit corners.
There you are,
behind the barbed wire
of blanketed rage and human frailty;
of human stupidity and human pride.

With the subtlety of a rhinoceros,
charging to the foot of the volcano
then standing fast;
painting little acrylic islands
on fingernails that have never felt dirt underneath.
The lava escapes the volcano,
down the other side,
rushing down toward all you know.

As you pretend standing guard,
all of your life and love is devoured
in the flame and the spew and the ash;
in the vitriolic spume much like that 
which constantly emerges 
from your own dumb and insatiable,
execrable mouth.

Eleanor Karinthy

He says

He says
Let’s get naked
And do ketamine
While we fuck

You’re bleeding
So you spread
A moss-green blanket
On the couch

He dreams
Of decadent abandon
Watching you
Undress, obey

You get on top
Dip the spoon in the bag
Hold it up
To his nose

The crystals sparkle
In your head
Drip down
The back of your throat

He is a wave
Beneath you
You’re fucking
The sea itself

Rolling and roiling
In your depths
(And when you tell him so,
He only laughs)

You come up for air
Open your eyes
The city glitters
In the windowpane

He will say “please”
When he takes off
The condom, later
And you won’t protest

You’re high
On his desire,
His need,
However false

This sea may
Swallow you
It’s time to
Learn to swim

Doug Hawley

Good Demons


Beverly woke up at 2am after doing some ill-advised self-medicating the night before.  She heard some scratching and bumping noises and mumbled “What the hell is that?”

A voice which resembled that of James Earl Jones came from under her bed “I’m the night monster”.

A groggy Beverly slurred “No you’re not; I’m either dreaming or you are a side effect of mixing vodka and my migraine prescription.  I don’t believe in you.”

“Oh, you will, but if as you say I’m not real, you wouldn’t mind if I get in bed with you.”

“Sure, why not.  I don’t have any need for the extra space.”  Beverly fell asleep again after what appeared to be a human male in the faintly lit room had crawled in next to her. 

When she next woke, she decided no more mixing alcohol and meds, then rolled over and bumped into something.  She felt scales on a mostly human body and a normal bald head.  The body spoke “Do you believe in me now?” 

After a few seconds to calm herself “Still not sure – it could be aftereffects.” 

“Do you mind if I convince you?” 

“Go ahead.” 

The night monster burrowed under the covers and used his long-forked tongue to full advantage while humming the Led Zeppelin song ‘Kashmir’.  Beverly had an orgasm which produced body waves accompanied by a mental montage of her favorite times – she cuddled her favorite kitten Batface, had sex with boyfriend Joe in the backseat of a Ford Mustang when she was a teenager, and won a $10,000 lottery.

“Ok, I’m starting to believe.  Do you mind if I explore you now?”

“Seems fair.  Your turn.”

Beverly didn’t know what to expect between his legs.  After his previous masterful performance, she was disappointed to find something soft and small.  She asked, “Is that it?”

“Oh, I didn’t know your taste, so I started off small.  Try again.”

This time she found an eighteen-inch tent pole.  “Umm, if you take requests, how about something in-between?”

“As you desire.  Climb on cowgirl.”

Thirty-seven minutes later Beverly asked, “Can you come again?”

“That could have two different meanings, but the answer to both is yes.”

“I mean if I want you to visit again, how do I get in touch?”

“Knock on the headboard three times.  Probably a bad idea if you have company.  If I’m available, I’ll get here.  I do have other appointments.”

“Why didn’t I think of this earlier?  Will I have monster babies like in ‘The Demon Seed’ or ‘Rosemary’s Baby’?”

“It won’t happen unless I revise my DNA.  We aren’t fertility compatible.”

“Another thing.  What do I tell my boyfriend Bob?” 

“I don’t think that Bob will mind if you break up with him.  My sister is visiting him tonight and has spoiled him for human women, much as you would be disappointed by any human man now.  Both of you may want to have fake relationships to give the appearance of normality, but nothing will compare to night monsters.”

Angel of the Night

When Bob woke up at 1:56Am, he was surprised that there was a very warm body next to him which smelled of jasmine and musk.  He was amazed that Beverly had come to bed with him after their date.  He had always thought of her as somewhat prudish.  Her perfume surprised him more because he had never known her to wear any, but it was all good.  It got better when he felt a hand manipulating his cock in a very non-Beverly way arousing him in a way he had never experienced before.

Wait a minute; he hadn’t had a date with her.  “Beverly when did you show up?  Not that I don’t like it, I love it.”

A deep but feminine voice with an alien vibrato responded “I’m not Beverly, I’m Night Angel, but you can call me Angie.”

“I brought home a hooker?  I don’t remember anything like that.”

“Not at all.  My brother and I just like to do favors for deserving people and don’t worry about Beverly; my brother is taking care of her like I will take care of you.”

Bob is stunned and his brain is spinning.  Is Beverly cheating on him?  What should he think about Angie?  Quickly his dick makes his decision for him.  “Um, I like what you are doing for me now, is there anything else that you do?”

“Why don’t I take you for a spin?”

Night Angel mounted Bob and pulled him into her.  In the pale light she appeared as one of the Playboy models that he had sneaked looks at as a teenager.  Tactile exploration showed that unlike the models all of her parts felt original and she had hair where normal women have hair.  Her arousal based on her wetness seemed to match his.

Even while the experience was exploding his brain with pleasure, Bob noticed some disturbing things about Angie.  She played her vagina like a symphony, vibrating, relaxing and contracting Cleopatra’s grip and changing tempo and theme.  When he grasped her buttocks he felt scales rather than skin.  Something brushed his inner thighs up to his butt.  Her assurance that “Oh, that’s just my tail” didn’t assure him.

When his brain returned to minimal function he whispered “What are you?”

“You don’t have adequate language or knowledge for me to answer you.  Let’s just say, that like my brother who likes to be called ‘Night Monster’, we are good demons.  We ask nothing from worthy humans but mutual pleasure.  As much as you have enjoyed me, I have enjoyed you.  Would you object to me calling on you again when we are both free?”

“Uh, no.  Could you stay longer tonight?  I don’t know if I can go again, but we could cuddle.”

“Oh, we can go again.”

Good to her word, Night Angel had Bob fully prepared in five minutes.

Teen Angel

Paul was having another one of those dreams at 3 AMSince he had turned twelve he had been having nocturnal emissions and since fourteen he had been experiencing embarrassing daytime erections, but no real sex.  He had grown used to encountering movie stars or attractive classmates at night, but this time it was somebody he didn’t recognize and didn’t seem entirely human.  Whatever it was had a tail and scales on parts of ‘her’ body, but otherwise looked like a girl of his age.  As her hand wandered across his abdomen, he immediately ejaculated.  She handed him one of the tissues he kept next to the bed for cleanup.

The bigger difference from his earlier dreams was that this partner spoke to him.  “The thing that I like about teenage boys is that they rebound so fast.  I love teaching sex education.”  To prove her point she quickly prepared him for sex.  Without any preliminaries, she easily pulled him on top of her as is he weighed ten pounds and inserted his penis in an appropriate location.  Her hands on his butt guided him into a slow rhythm for awhile, followed by rapid thrusts and a mutual orgasm.

“Now that we know each other better, I should introduce myself.  I’m a good demon that specializes in helping teen boys become proficient at sex.  You can call me Teen Angel.  I hope that you enjoyed your first lesson.  If you agree, we can cover hygiene, erogenous zones, various positions and practices and ways to find appropriate, agreeable partners.  What do you think?”

Paul found it difficult to talk, but managed to squeak ‘Sure’.

“One last thing.  When you wake up tomorrow, you will think this was a dream, a vivid one, but still a dream.  Check your sheets.”

When Paul woke up, he remembered the last thing that Teen Angel said.  He found some of her scales in his sheets.

The Black Lagoon

Sheryl woke up around midnight to find a roughly humanoid giant monster in her bedroom.  As she started to scream the monster tore the covers off her bed and her pajamas off her body.

As she continued to scream the demon roughly rubbed all over her body while lingering on her more sensitive parts.  His long forked tongue invaded all of her orifices not stopping until he had poked into both ears at once.  Her self-defense training was no match for his strength.

“Continue screaming, that just makes this more enjoyable for me.”

By the time his cruel treatment was completed, her screams had become whimpers.

He then picked her up by her waist as though she were nothing and lowered her slowly onto his organ.  The whimpers became moans as they established a rhythm.

After five mutual orgasms Sheryl spoke “God, that was great, but what would you think of a new scenario?  We’ve done monster assault a lot.  You don’t exist in the daytime, but I’ve got a pool and a white bathing suit for after dark.”

“You’re thinking ‘Creature From The Black Lagoon’?  Great.  I can become Gillman without scales so you don’t get scratches as in my natural form.  If we get tired of that there is always wife at home with pool cleaner when husband works late.  Been done too often?  If we want to stay dry, you can reinforce the chandelier for something really acrobatic.  How about I become a hopeless high school boy and you are the sexy math tutor?”

“I don’t mind the scratches.  They lend authenticity and I love the new ear trick”

“See you at your pool 10pm Friday?  I’ve got a date with newbie Beverly on Thursday.”

“Works for me.”

“See you then.  Love you babe.”

“Love you too, monster.”


Consists of four night demon stories in Terror House

John Gartland

Nong Kai Train

An old Bangkok hand, 
was drinking with me 
on the Nong Kai train.
“Same old story, I’m afraid,
‘Don’t ever rent a room without 
a spy-hole and a chain, my friend.
The girl says she’ll get more to smoke,
and calls someone, then gets the door,
they burst into your hotel room,
she’s gone, and now you’re ransom bait 
for crooked cop extortionists
that work out of their station
in Thong Lo.
Your wrists are cut from
handcuffs, for a while, but …

The girl? … sold you out
to stay out of jail, probably.
None of them want to go back
to the monkey house, certainly.

In the station, as cops pocketed 
my cash, and checked my cards,
I recognized the officer in charge
as one of my ex-graduates 
from TLAK University. He’d been one 
of the few with any English skills.
Guess the family business never will be
sexy as the drug trade in a uniform.”

He laughed aloud, as the night blew in, 
and the fields rushed by,
and I’d rate that as a major high,
that night on the Nong Kai train.

“I got off with a less than crippling bribe.
He wouldn’t want the TLAK Alumni
tribe at their bullshit banquets,
hearing he’s corrupt. But, after all,
why else do people join the police?”

Never, never rent a room without 
a spyhole and a chain.
Sounds like a comic opera song 
or some virginal refrain; 
or the cool night breeze 
he’s shooting 
on the Nong Kai train.

“You bear the wounds of handcuffs
for a while, but …
that gut-paranoia never goes,
ammoniac fear that whips you sober.
Could be a social paradigm in there, 
who knows? For students of police states.”

The steward brought more drinks;
and the night was far from over;
with a sweet breeze off the ricelands,
as the night blew in, 
and the fields rushed by;
and we rode, with the immortals, 
on the night train to Nong Kai.

Kristin Garth


Manifest a mausoleum of the miniature house father fabricated the fall you turn four.  Erected where the backyard abuts the meadow and the edge of the marsh, you are instructed of its cherry wallpapered purpose before you skip through the bee balm towards it in a periwinkle pinafore.  

Enter a door without any bolts, too scant for adults, a place only accessible to the most minuscule.  Play there, wile away long summer days in a tiara and your step-mother’s borrowed jewels, practicing the rituals of becoming a nobleman’s spouse.  Perfect patrician place settings, calligraphy and walk in plastic kitten heels until you are old enough to be of use.  Old enough a father can ignore how you feel.  Can no longer crouch beneath its childish ceilings, cower inside its cedar pretense.  

Father offers your hand in town and considers candidates while you, morose, in a marsh in a gingham babydoll dress, layer two sets of long leather gloves — only the gardener ever requests you dress for experimentation rather than love; the very same man who taught you the names of each plant, the noxious as well as the nice.  Though he does not have a clue the power you derive from his horticultural advice. 

Fill your covered fingers then coffers with what resembles dried Queen Anne’s Lace though you would tell the truth of their toxins if anyone ever bothered to asked — 

water hemlock you save for your final disgrace Wind some around your locks as a crown.  Drown sorrows in a skeleton bridal teacup, hand painted at 12 and stored four more years safely away.  You knew the next time you would see it, it would summon tears with the most toxic of teas one must sip on that most miserable day.  It’s kept in the back of the cupboard in the too-small house where you played.  Skin a hip on its jamb as you crawl.  Another season, you would be married away away or no longer fit inside of this place at all.  Happiness you are outgrowing.  Rest in peace where you were small.  

Preacher Allgood

out of my league

a night so cold 
the river to hell froze over 
and I hotwired a Kawasaki mule
and I spun and skidded my way back among the living

why, the living asked

because, I said
I saw the ice
I saw the mule 
I didn’t hesitate
I didn’t deliberate
I didn’t ponder the consequences
I just hopped on
and goosed the shit out of the motor

no, the living protested
you didn’t want to be one of us when you were here
you wrote horrible things about us in your poems
you refused to make small talk with us in checkout lines
you spit on our holidays and mocked our beliefs
why would you come back and bedevil us?

for the cheap beer at Vern’s Tavern
and a game of eightball
I inform them

too many superb hustlers in perdition
they beat me every time
I’m so out of my league
I’ve been barred from the tables for eternity

Robert Guffey

mom 2.0

what’s far more painful than your absence
is the knowledge that you
lied to me 
and snuck around 
behind my 
and refused to discuss your
feelings with me, 
despite the fact that for ten months I had to endure constant 
of lying cheating satanic sacrifice and murder, despite the fact that every emotion 
i could give 
was given willingly
with no strings attached, no recompense demanded–
except for openness 

now that i think about it,
how much you resent your mom for cheating on your
how much you resent her for not appreciating all he 
sacrificed for you, your sister, your mother,
how much you resent her for playing games with your dad’s emotions,
how much you resent her compulsion to shut down her heart when situations get too stressful,
how much you resent her for running away rather than face a difficult situation head-on,
how much you resent her for molding you into a newer,
more elegant and sleeker version,
of her.

Judge Santiago Burdon

Bad Poetry is Bad Poetry 

“I just can’t figure it out,” she moaned. “No one seems to be reading my poems. I post them in my writing groups and even on the rest of those bullshit social media sites. I’m not getting any comments or likes.” She

“Wish I had an answer for you.”

“I’ve been thinking I should change the font of my poems. Maybe print them in a classical style format. I know, then post them over an image of a scene that captures the poems’ themes. What do you think?”

“My opinion isn’t important. I’m not at all familiar with how to present a piece of literature. Marketing is a mystery to me. I have no taste. People think I suffer from ageusia.

It was my poor excuse for not wanting to give her the actual reason.

“Why won’t you answer my question? I would really appreciate your professional critique. I’m trying to reach a larger audience and I believe the reason for my poor readership is the way my poems are presented. If I make them more attractive by adding a few features to capture their attention, I will become more popular and recognized. Don’t you believe it’s true? Tell me what you think.”

“My professional opinion? I’m not sure I can be categorized as a professional. Okay, if you want my take on your conundrum I’ll offer my honest assessment. And please don’t get all defensive and uptight and shit. Don’t take it as a personal attack.”

“Of course not. I know you’ll be honest. Why are you going to put me down?”

“I’m going to offer my opinion.”

“Okay, tell me.”

“I think you’re way off course. You’re not seeing where the actual problem lies. The early classic poets didn’t have social media and marketing tools available to dress up their work. Dylan Thomas, Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson and the Beat Poets as well, their poems became favored because of the content. The poem stood as a great piece of literature solely on the words alone. What is your reason for writing a poem?”

“I’m not really sure. I guess because it is something that is easy for me to do. Plus I think I can become famous and wealthy for my poems.”

“Your purpose for writing a poem is insincere. If your intention is to use it as a tool to attempt to win a popularity contest, receive sympathy, praise or become famous and shit like that, then you’ve missed what the purpose of poetry is about.”

“What, you don’t think I’m a real poet?”

“I think anyone that creates a poem is a poet. But not every poet is talented. Some just produce ‘bad poetry’ pablum, doggerel, drivel or pure shit.”

“So you think my poetry is shit?”

“Your poetry is always about you. About your thoughts, desires and dreams. You believe your experiences, your emotions and your opinions are as important to everyone else as they are to you. ‘Just because it happened to you doesn’t make it interesting’. You’re so depressed, so misunderstood. What I interpret from the poem is that it’s a pathetic cry for attention and sympathy. Then there’s the sappy, cheesy love poems filled with grammar school rhymes and overused phrases. Love and dove or above, home and roam. When’s the last time you roamed? Pure shit. How can anyone not see their poems as mediocre or ordinary? You’ve spent more time thinking about and planning the its presentation than the 10 minutes you spent creating the poem itself. And then you use cliches and idioms that were created by someone else and have been overused, worn out. Have you ever considered the fact you may just be a shitty poet? And as far as your ideas to gain attention, when I see a poem overlayed on a picture with fancy, hard-to-read fonts in some jumbled format, I don’t even take the time to read the title. I think if it takes all of that bullshit to giftwrap the poem, its content can’t possibly be worthwhile. Then people wonder why their poem has been rejected by every magazine they’ve sent it to.”

“You don’t have to be so mean. I just asked for help, not your degradation. Ya know what, fuck you. Your opinion doesn’t make you right.”

“That’s correct, I never claimed to be right. I said I would give you my honest opinion.”

“No sex for you until, when? Maybe forever.”

“If that’s the case I may as well add one other point. I see it so often that a poem with a creative theme turns into a mumbling, stuttering piece of rhymed words, completely losing the poem’s original theme. The emotions become secondary to a line or verse written to appease the rhyme. What’s left is that the feel becomes lost in a mixture of tangled words.”

“What makes you Mr. Know it All, huh? I don’t see your books on the bestseller list or your poems being quoted. Just who do you think you are?”

“Guess I shouldn’t have said anything like the hundreds of others that don’t read or comment on your poetry. Now here you are reacting exactly like everyone that doesn’t receive flattering comments. You said you wouldn’t become defensive. You believe everyone should shower you with praise. Do you know what else I see as a problem? There’s this undeserving praise or kudos given to someone who obviously has no talent for writing. They post their poetry and it receives a false positive response. What people are doing with their bullshit comments of approval is giving the person an unrealistic assessment of their writing. An untruthful evaluation of their poem or talent is a cruel act. False encouragement will backfire on them sometime. It’s considered being nice, but I’d rather have an honest critique of my writing, positive or not, instead of bullshit. I don’t need anyone to be nice, I prefer the truth. 

“You hurt my feelings. I thought you would give me advice, not belittle me. You don’t know what being nice is.”

“Please, whatever you do, don’t write a poem about it, trust me. I’m sorry if you’re upset but it’s just the way I see things. Ya know what, didn’t you take some painting classes a couple years back? Maybe you should take a shot at being an artist instead.”

Ken Kakareka


Now I know why 
Bukowski quit at 35 
and went on 
a 10 year drunk 
after 10 years
of hammering 
the keys 
with little 
to no return

I am in 
a similar boat
35 is a scary age – 
especially when 
you’ve worked 
so hard 
for so long 
at something 
with little to show

Especially in 
a society where 
we have to show
Maybe that’s why 
show and tell 
was such a big deal 
in grade school
Maybe that’s why 
there was so much 
if you didn’t have 
much to show

Bukowski didn’t have 
much to show 
after 10 years of 
pouring his soul 
through words, 
so he quit 
he bounced back
I don’t know 
if I’d be so lucky 
if I quit

I’m trying to use 
the wisdom at hand 
not to quit
It’s not my wisdom, 
but I’ll borrow it 
for the time being 
if it gets me 
out of a jam

Daniel S. Irwin

The Stranger

Now, here’s a bearded wonder
Wandering into the bar,
Red suit, boots, hat and all.
“Ho, ho, ho!  Drinks all ‘round!
When Santa drinks,
Everybody drinks.”  Okay,
Fine by me.  He could be
Tinkerbell for all I care.
But, I’ll have a drink
Or two or three on him.
Whoever this guy was,
He came in on ‘empty’.
Guzzled down whatever
Like he was a fish.  Hell of a
Dayshift bender.  Ol’ Nick
Could really put it away.
Then he headed to the door,
“Merry Christmas to all!”
Barkeep says, “Who’s payin’
For all this booze, Santa?”
“Why, my elves of course.”
“What elves, Mr. Claus?”
“My elves, everyone drinkin’
Here with me.”  Ain’t nobody
Pullin’ that stuff at Fred’s Bar.
Me, and the rest of the ‘elves’
Ran out the door chasing after
That fat bastard.  Didn’t matter.
He eluded us all.  That’s the fastest
I’ve ever seen a fat man run.
Drained our pockets and gave us
A good reason to look forward
To Santa’s next Christmas visit.
We’ll surely be waiting with
Milk and cookies and a
Baseball bat.