Gwil James Thomas

Everybody

Should
get at least
one bad tattoo,
eat Nikkei,
learn a chord on
a guitar and then
use that same chord
for at least twenty two
punk songs
and then hate punk,
realise that no strings
attached sex rarely
exists outside of
porn movies,
find love and
then lose it,
win at ping pong,
read Bukowski,
emulate Bukowski
and then redraft,
plant something
and watch it grow
before
they’re gone.

Anthony Dirk Ray

More Than Expected

perusing the telephone
singles lines in the late nineties
listening to 20 second messages
a decade or more
before any dating apps existed
where pictures are seen
and locations are known beforehand
this was the Wild West
Russian roulette in a sense
a true gamble
you went by voice and actually
had to trust that the person
on the other end was who
they said they were
trust in humanity?
I know it sounds ridiculous
but I digress
I used to make actual
lists while talking to girls
as to why I shouldn’t be
talking to said girls
but sometimes against
my better judgement
or out of sheer desperation
I would want to meet occasionally
so after a little while on the phone
one night with a cute sounding girl
I got her address and headed her way
it was about a half hour drive
with vague directions
roughly a decade before
regular people had GPS
I was somewhat familiar
with the area so I had that
going for me
as I made the left down
the dirt road into a trailer park
I started to get that
‘what the fuck are you doing’ feeling
and when I pulled up to the dilapidated
mobile home I audibly said
“what the fuck am I doing?”
I soldiered on
I got out of my car and
walked toward this movable home
I passed piles of trash
dogs on chains
and a beat up
El Camino on blocks
I knocked on the door
and a dirty kid answered
I asked for whoever
and the dirty kid screamed out
whoever somebody’s here for you
as I peered through the door
numerous inbred looking faces
looked back at me
there must have been ten
people in that living room
finally she emerged
In all her glory
we locked eyes
and both gave a good
once over to each other
I was shocked
but the first thing she said to me was
“you are bigger than I thought you would be”
I was taken aback
and a little embarrassed
but totally confused at the same time
because as I eyed her I noticed
a well defined at least eighth month
pregnant belly on her
I took a step back and said
“well that makes two of us”
I laughed and cursed all the way home

Mitch Green

Ivory Lizards

the tapestries are half done on
the walls above the open kitchen.
there are potholes spotting the
tile floor at where the worn
wooden table sits and the bare
heels of a woman in a bathrobe
stands. we slowly pan up, framing
pasty legs sleeved in tape and clay.
her lips are wrist wiped, smeared
boisterous up her left cheek and
down across her cold purple breasts.

towering above the threshold of her
crown, we see an unshaven phallus
half erect, sprung between her legs.
eyelashes flash blue irises to spear
brightly among mediocre makeup and
fibers of false hair falling out. there
are polished toes, chipped red and
another naked body on the couch in
the next room.

this one is frail, wrangled to the soles
of the vintage furniture, grain gouged
to expose poor complexion and a
broken fever. there blooms a garden,
green and yellow from tongue; wallowed
in wiry roots. contagious sensitivity is
all that exists. the third alive, hangs from
ceiling fans on fire with smoke detectors
for eyes. the box television on the night
stand speaks static noise to ivory lizards.

Matthew Licht

jh ghost 7

A Big Star, Part 4

Porn actors have parents too. Some of them lead normal lives, in houses. Another telephone operator said there were over five hundred Holmes listings in greater Orange County. Since I’d already paid for a search, I asked to be connected to the John Holmes residence on Stackpole Drive. The late adult star might’ve dropped the Jr in his screen credits. It was a shot in the dark, but it only cost the client half a buck.

A woman with a raspy voice picked up. “What do you want now?”

“Hello, Mrs Holmes?”

Her tone changed. “That’s me. Why, did I win something?”

“Sorry, Mrs Holmes. Not this time. I’d like to ask a few questions.”

“Who is this?”

“I’m a private investigator.”

“Oooh. Has there been a murder?”

She sounded as though nothing would please her more. Mrs Holmes was a bored OC housewife, the stuff on which adult loops are made. You could practically hear the ice cubes tinkle in the third gin and tonic of a late afternoon.

“The murder happened a long time ago, Mrs Holmes. That case is closed, but a man with the same name as your husband’s…”

“Ex-husband’s, you mean.”

“Oh. Anyway, one John Holmes, a suspect or an accessory to the fact, was released due to insufficient evidence. You might’ve read about it in the papers.”

“Oh yeah, I’m old enough, if that’s what you’re trying to find out. But my ex is not that John Holmes. Far from it. How many times I gotta say that? Goodbye now, jacky-boy.”

“Wait. You mean you get calls from adult entertainment enthusiasts?”

“Oh, not a whole lot. You sound different, though.” Mrs Holmes wasn’t just a bored OC divorcee housewife, she was lonely. Even her voice was lonesome.

 “You’ve seen his films?”

“Hah! Whatever it took to get my former husband in the mood, I was willing. We used to have quite a collection of dirty movies.”

A heavy glass went down on a hardwood table in the twilight.

“Look at me, spilling my drink and my former sex-life to some shamus over the goddamn telephone. I oughta have my head examined. And my name’s not Mrs Holmes anymore, it’s Gladys.”

“Listen Gladys, your former human marital aid died from drug abuse and AIDS.”

“Too bad. All those happy memories. Well, he was good at what he did. His work lives on.”

“My client thinks that John Holmes was his father. His mother said that was the case, but she’s dead too, from dope and/or disease. Holmes’ last known residence was in Orange County. Is it possible he was related to your ex-husband? Do you think he’d submit a bone-marrow sample?”

“Doubt it.”

“Do you know where John Holmes is buried?”

“How’d you find out about me, anyhow?”

“Phone operator.”

“Well maybe there’s a phone book for dead hard-ons somewhere.”

“Sorry to bother you.”

“Wait a minute. I wanna help you,” Mrs Holmes said. “Me and my ex had us a nice lawsuit. There was nothing amicable about our divorce. He claimed I was unfaithful. I should’ve been, but I really was taking mah-jongg lessons. He claimed constructive abandonment. Anyway, we both avoided taking each other’s phone calls after he moved out. In between writing checks to the goddamn lawyers.”

There’s a sound people make when they bring up their experiences with lawyers.

“Hang on a sec. I bought a doo-hickey that gives nuisance callers a permanent no-answer. I got a list of phone numbers for the police, just in case. Some of the guys who call at awkward times might have something for you.”

The receiver hit the wall-to-wall carpet.

Shots in the dark never entirely miss. Some weird particle physics guides them.

Gladys dictated phone numbers. One of them was Johnson’s.

The client only called her once, she said. He wanted to know about her husband’s family too, and was satisfied with her negative answer.

Gladys said we should watch some Swedish Erotica movies together. She had the full series.

I didn’t leave the phone booth.

The conversations with Mrs Holmes’ phone molestors weren’t nearly as friendly. The fellow fan act failed to convince. Most of them hung up without a word. One guy said, “Kiss off, pig.” He didn’t say why he thought the police might want to pester him.

An inspiration hit. Fan clubs, like AA and religious groups, have meetings.

When the next guy picked up, I said, “I heard the meeting’s on for tonight.”

Long pause. “You heard, huh?”

“You know what I’m talking about, but I got a problem: no car. Blew a gasket on the 405. Leaking oil all over the place. Overheated. Possible ring-job. In the shop till next Tuesday.”

“That’s rough, bud. Have we, uh, had the pleasure?”

“I’m up from San Diego. You’ll recognize me. Will you give me a lift to the meeting?”

“Sure, pal. No problem. I’ll pick you up at the Girl Talk Bar in Redondo. We can watch the sunset and get better acquainted.”

***

A Big Star, Part 1
A Big Star, Part 2
A Big Star, Part 3

Mitch Green

Eaten By God

In lights we are visible to the darker
sectors of a silhouetted branch of
man. Whirling rifts of smoke,
bail in bold grey like clouded chalk.
Pale masculinity mulled over in sequence
of the suspicious novelty blown up before
his beak and crooked cock; the white
denim love affair.

Unmarked boulevards gored bare a
valley of victims. The channeling
chasm led us here ahead of our
triangular transgressions barking badly.
Escorting the figure of smoke to waft
out, like spider on wire.

Spear the clout of wind to stalk the tender
variables of whining women spilling out
of open windows, manholes, and the mouth
of Osiris.

He who cannot be beat,
must be eaten by God. 

J.J. Campbell

the poet took over

twenty-five years
since one chapter
of my life faded
into the next one

the pay was better
but the hours fucking
sucked

a few too many nights
closing down bars
instead of clocking
in and eventually
the poet took over

now the creep is
hoping his winning
lottery ticket gets
pulled one of these
nights

pacing a small
room

broken down
television

and endless amounts
of shit scribbled on
page after page

this is what happens
when the smart kid
decides he doesn’t
want to make money
for someone else

Matthew Licht

jh ghost4

A Big Star, Part 3

Bonehandle confessed he directed the Johnson loop, and went misty-eyed about his late star. “You know, he wasn’t the way most people think.”

“You mean, straight?”

“That’s not what I mean, although…”

“Listen, do you have in your possession any object that bears traces of John Holmes? Genetic material, something that’ll register on a laboratory DNA scan. My client will pay.”

Bonehandle didn’t want money. What he had on John wasn’t much, he said, but it was precious, and not for sale. If I promised to behave myself, I could come over to his place for a look at his Holmes relics.

Hideseekers’ closing time was never. Bonehandle gave a West Hollywood address and said he didn’t wish to be disturbed before 3:30 in the afternoon.

***

Bonehandle opened his door dressed in a tooled leather kimono. Leather hats and leather hockey masks crowded a leather hat-rack in the vestibule. The black leather jackets stuffed in the wide-open closet elbowed each other out of the way in a futile attempt to escape.

An over-designed kettle blew. Bonehandle made tea. We sat in his leather living room, lit by a low-watt bulb suspended from the ceiling. He pushed a spiral notebook across his hidebound coffee table. “John wrote these,” he said.

The notebook was full of poems.

I riffled the pages, selected one at random. The title was “Stripped Away.”

Not bad. Spelling mistakes and bathos galore, but sincere. A man hacks and wrenches away the parts of himself he feels aren’t worthy of a human being. In the end, there’s not much left.

Bonehandle slurped Earl Gray through his moustache. “They’re so touching, his poems. He wrote stories too, and movie scripts, though not as successfully. He used to read at the Young Adults Community Center in El Segundo. The kids there loved him sincerely. They didn’t know he was a star.”

Exhibit B was a bigger spiral notepad filled with watercolors, ink washes and chalk pastels of female nudes in erotic poses. There were close-up studies in sunset shades. Nothing recognizable as the client’s mama.

Bonehandle couldn’t mask his distaste. “Johnnie thought female pussy was beautiful. Sometimes I couldn’t tell if he was really one of us. He had depths I couldn’t plumb, and shallownesses.”

I asked about the women who starred in the Johnson short. He claimed amnesia about the women in his straight loops. There weren’t many of them. He’d directed gay porn almost exclusively, made an exception for Holmes. “Pussy is pussy,” he said, and waved unpleasant memories away.

“How well did you know the guy?”

“Our relationship was mostly professional. I don’t think he had any friends. He used to show up unannounced every now and then. Occasionally, he’d stay over. This was before he got hung up on blow.”

Bonehandle rose from his leather club chair. His kimono flapped open like the wings of a giant bat. He crossed the room, turned on an outdated hi-fi system. He let the tubes warm up, then flicked on the reel-to-reel. Someone with a reedy baritone accompanied himself unsteadily on a steel-string guitar.

“Holmes.”

Bonehandle nodded. “He wasn’t what you could call talented, but he tried so hard.”

“Aww, poor Johnnie.”

Bonehandle shut the music down in a huff. “Are you sure you’re a private investigator? What exactly do you want, anyway?”

I showed him my license, reiterated the request for an item that would yield sample DNA and stand up as evidence in a court of law.

“Evidence of what? That murder case was settled ages ago. Johnnie was cleared.”

“Nothing to do with that old business, but I plead client confidentiality. I’ll take whatever you’ve got, but if whatever you give turns out bogus, I’ll be back to settle accounts.” I wasn’t interested in keeping Bonehandle as a friend. “I’m authorized to go as high as half a grand.”

He waved the idea away. “Can’t help you.”

“In that case, do you know where your soulful friend’s buried?”

“Why? Is it some State secret? I guess down in Orange somewhere. That’s where he used to live, anyway.”

Orange County is, as the dead man was, large.

***

A Big Star, Part 1
A Big Star, Part 2

David Estringel

little deaths

We implode—
explode—
in raptures
of liquid light
that set the skin
to sizzle on the spit
like slow-cooked meat,
pulled apart
in greedy clutches,
peeling
skin from skin,
limb from limb,
sinew from bone
until all is gone,
fallen away
in shreds
and trickles.
Tongues prodding,
hungrily,
for the taste of coppery bliss
of chewed lips,
these beautiful bodies—
diminished
heartbeats and exhales
of viscera and vasculature
with eyelids, aflutter—
fade
into black, into white—
dick-teasing,
mind-fucking
strobes of abstract consciousness.
hand-in-hand,
together,
we die
little deaths,
again…
again…
and again—
every morning, a resurrection.

Maté Jarai

Chomping

I’ve got holes in my skin
where feathers used to be
mind full of wisdom
full of verse
but she’s been cursed
it was a witch on a volcano top:
Gypsy warlock, new-age mage.
No coins, no water, just plastic
like all the other body parts
chowed down by ocean worms
microscopic danger-like premonitions
chewed up body parts and chipped faces
no lips and noses, eyes and ears,
holes, crevices, craggy forms,
plugged up feather holes
filled with a million dead rabbits
from a million false-bottom
top hats as only the ancient
chuckle onwards and clap
in sweet oblivious ignorance.