Jack Henry

mrs. samilian taught 8th grade math

every time
mrs. samilian
slapped a dusty
chalkboard
w/her pointer stick
i smiled.

no more than 5” tall,
mrs. samilian taught 8th grade math.

some days she wore
leather pants.
some days she slapped
the board w/ her pointer stick
while
wearing leather pants,
and i would smile.

one day
mrs. samilian
called on me to
answer a problem
at the board.

she wore leather pants,
slapped the board.

i could not stand up.
i did not smile.

‘is there a problem,
mr. jack?’
slap
‘you cannot come up
to the board?’
slap slap
‘why can you not
come up to the board,
mr. jack?’
slap slap slap

i stood
slowly.
girls cringed.
boys laughed.
one shouted,
‘jack’s got a boner.’
and i did,
proudly.

mrs. samilian took one look,
smirked.
‘you may go.’

instead of the principal’s office
i went to the boy’s restroom.
slap, slap, slap.

when i explained to the principal,
he let it go. he’s just a boy.’
when i explained to my father,
he let it go, as well.

when i explained to my mother
she grounded me for two weeks
and made me apologize
to mrs. samilian,
who politely declined,

when i tried to bring the subject
at hand
up.

Donna Dallas

Lonely at the Top

The Christian Louboutins, the first-class flights, the Botox, dinners at Del Frisco’s, lavish parties… I could go on and on… these are all part of a lifestyle you desire. You hate me because somehow, by the skin of my teeth, I have this. I have seen the Duomo in Milan and inhaled the air atop Machu Picchu. I drank water from a billion year old glacier off the coast of Easter Island. I hold you in my heart because you knew me when I was bone thin snorting coke with Vito in Lonni’s After Hours Bar. I was wearing fake patent pumps and Wet and Wild ninety-nine cent lipstick. I am lucky I escaped from the ghetto that sucked the youth and life from us, sucked us bone dry.

Some are dead, some numb, others living in a one room back in East New York peddling their ass for crack, smack or crank. I was spared from lice infested beds and dirty crack whores who beat the shit out of me, pummeled my face for crack. I lost some teeth back then… yes, but I have caps now, perfect whites. My body is in the gym at 5am for Pilates and yoga, but my soul stays locked with haunted memories of Atlantic Avenue. Don’t be jealous y’all. Don’t feel I have abandoned what I believed in… I watched the sunrise with you under the Far Rockaway Boardwalk where we lay flaccid from heroine highs in disbelief that the blazing sun was real, while sweat bathed our shaking bodies.

We can never be more than what we were born to be, we were the youth of a moment. We always think back to the days of smoking dust all night in the Blue Regency parked on Pitkin Avenue. Remember Sydney dying somewhere during the night of July 4th? We watched the fireworks in a hazed slow motion, following every light particle in the sky like a child glued to cartoons on a TV screen. We didn’t know he overdosed and lay dead right next to us we were so high. He was paper white with purple globes swelling from his sockets. Grey film pasted over his lips by the time we realized… Don’t marvel at my Chanel handbag, my Mercedes Benz or even my couture groceries that my live-in picks up every week from Caltone’s Italiano. I was selling twenty-five dollar coke bags at night clubs so I could get high from 3am to 3pm and sleep it off, simply to wake up and do it again. Once I snorted all the bags, I had nothing to sell and no money to cover. I had to fuck Tony and four of his boys in the back of the café. But we’re all human and make mistakes…

Every time I start my car, I turn in fear that someone will smack the window with a bat, drag me out and kick the shit out of me like they did on Eldert’s Lane. I keep telling myself most of them are dead and gone by now – gotta be. Then I run into someone that knows someone who spent time in Rikers Island with Mario and Jose and I shiver cuz they are still out there.

Peter Magliocco

Maybe the Illiterate Demigods

Poets are the most pedestrian people of all:
They can’t pretend to be Rock stars,
Wearing trendy garb & looking hip
Sporting Elton John sunglasses – no,
They are the everyday sorts you see
Looking like hell in supermarkets
Shopping for what might be a last supper.
From lips of bourgeois infidels
Streaming across minds of mad men,
The poets blend in with the crowd
& sing their songs in sotto voce
While mice & men wage war constantly
For the might of the illiterate demigods
Lusting for greater corporate oligarchy
To feed the mass media mendacity.
“But I’m not a poet,” you tell me,
“Just another whore jerking you off.
Don’t cry out at my illiterate hands
Caressing your balls while you pretend
To be jaded, in extremis …”
My words don’t mean shit, I know that:
All the profound rhetoric we flood blogs
& the social media quagmire are negligible, I tell you;
It took you to find me a phony underneath
The spasm-moments of the void
Evacuating the sperm count of humanity
Crying out its language of lusts
In a nanosecond where your clit
Merged with the colossus of time,
Riddling me with your tonguing slit-
Vacuum (where the cum resides
In sweet syllables for the one night stand?).

Give me one more head, Magdalene, then
I might learn the gospels of your lust
Written in the palm
Of your savior’s bleeding hand.

Michael D. Amitin

Holy Candle Blues

In the red-sweet sunset
angel brother bends his blown glass ear
over the wall of eternity
listening in on my restless rathouse jam

She entered peeling story-caked walls
riding lightning rod brooms
swept me out to half-dippermoon bridge
we swung downtown where
waltzing heirs warmed six-figure derrieres above smorgasboard fires
I faked all the right questions into hell’s paradise

panting at the emerald city orgasm
waiting beneath her olive skin gypsy thin cocktail feast
ignoring the runaway beast

and someone beamed
they make a great couple
as we dished sweat
to god’s blistering last-chance desperate romance bugle call
my ragged sailor heart pirouetting out the hornpipe door
where muddy cliffs lick their chops and more..

On the way down
the devil in white linen gown served dark red obsession wine
before flaming flambé soft brown coconut limbs stole my grin
a fly doing backflips in the honey pot

The lava-baked sea
million miles away
a moaning rusted ship creaked like a red infection
begging to be freed from the last ripples in that skin game port

You knew all along prophet of the beautiful tracks
that my ramble played in a forest of doom
I surrendered dear Monk in the sad samba night

That wind pushed me mountains away
flushed me out of hiding in the prehistoric pubescent
road-burnt grotto
at the piano bar you played me like a thundering chord
till a midnight candle grabbed the shades
fire roaring down in flames
we crawled like god’s sweet snails to the clear-as-a-bell day

Glaring up through the dark blue smoke
where red sunset angel rained wild, untamed amazing grace ashes
down on desperate love’s last twitch
applauding the singed curtain call
live! live! he cried from his bongo perch on heaven street
hot orange coals fading in the chilled breeze
words we’ll never speak again you and I
unless fate has too much time to deal strange train cards

This harp strung midnight reverie
sad violins hijack innocent dreams
and twist the arm of violet-coated wishes

In my hidden dark room
holy candle blues…
whispers a sea wind blowing

Dave Cullern

The Torture King

When I was young,
But not that young,
I wanted to run away
With the circus
Of course
But my skill set
Lent itself only
To banging in the pegs

I could have been a geek
I guess
But I’ve never liked
The taste of snakes
And I can only get so drunk
Before I vomit up
The reservations of sobriety

I read a book
About eating glass,
Dreamed of getting on
That ferris wheel truck
I saw from my parents car window
On motorway drives
To safe holiday villages

I lay on spiked beds
For my school friends
But my sinuses
Never accepted masonry nails
And juggling anything other than my balls
Was always going to be perilous
And end in bloody sheets

So I stayed home,
Read long books
About freaks
And carnies
And wrestlers and crime,
Dark shit
Of course

But I always wished
I’d learnt to fall,
Practised up a funny walk,
Picked up tips on
Taking a custard pie to the face
Like the clown
I always longed to be.

J.J. Campbell

certain rushes of blood 

she walked into the room
and immediately reminded
me of stevie nicks

i needed to pause for a second

certain rushes of blood can
bring me to my knees these
days

she had the laugh of the most
beautiful demon i have ever
seen

she saw me and said hello

i raised my glass of scotch
and she said i hear you write
some poems

oh shit, people are finally
talking about the elephant
in the room

she then wanted to know if
i wrote the poem about eating
her panties under a neon moon

i decided to take the bait and
said yes

she said she admires someone
that can use their imagination
in such a vivid way

i would love to replace the
imagined events with experience

she laughed and said buy me
a drink and see if you have the
balls to take the shot

Mark Anthony Pearce

Kevin

Kevin has a slightly inflamed liver
From drinking so much
He’s suffered from agoraphobia
And the alcohol takes away his fears
The flat where he lived
Became uninhabitable
And he was threatened
By some local gypsy
That if he didn’t get him any Valium
He’d cut his arms and legs off
Kevin knows a bit about dismembered legs
Nine years in the army
His best friend got his leg blown off
During friendly fire
While he was training up in Royston
He had to pick up his best friend’s leg
He said and take it to the doctors
But they said there was nothing they could do
Kevin has Lucy tattooed on his left hand
And doesn’t want to talk about the army much
He’d fought in the First Gulf War
But he said nothing much happened there

Ardleigh Ward,
The Lakes Mental Health Centre,
Colchester, February 2011

Bogdan Dragos

Failing Forward

in high school
he repeatedly told her
that he was saving
himself for marriage

and eventually
she left him alone
but after graduation
she approached him
yet again

and this time he told her
that he was focusing on
his career as a writer

they both had their dreams
and they kept dreaming and
fighting to accomplish them,
insisting and getting up
from every defeat

failing forward
as some would say

It took decades but
eventually both of their
dreams came true

they were married
and he still hadn’t struck a deal
with any publisher but
made a relatively okay
income self-publishing

he wrote for a very narrow niche
very trashy erotic fiction
and his lovely wife helped him
with inspiration and research

“C’mon,” he urged her,
“moan a bit harder,
cry some too.”

she did as she was told
as he went around her
with the camera

it was hard work but
at least the German Shepard
fucking her from behind
had fun