Rp Verlaine

Clawing through shadows

of dreams  
to find her again 
real as a reflection 

water trades 
for depth when touching 
only the ephemeral. 

Her words, false 
as a pawned ring claiming 
absent ghosts in stolen 
photographs. 

I miss the outlaw 
she was before 
escaping the noose 
of excitement’s gallows, 
induced by narcotic 
entanglement. 

She is now  
like the others, 
safe.

It is her victory  
I do not begrudge,  
or misinterpret 
and nearly accept 
as I will 
her wedding invitation.

For only dreams 
bring her  
former lives to me. 
Most nights 
it’s all I see 
when my eyes, 
starved for magic, 
close without it.

John Tustin

Arrogance

Pity the young man who,
As he grows older,
Loses his arrogance.
Confidence? He never 
Owned any.
His insolence,
Once interesting,
Is now merely crankiness:
His resolve stubbornness.
His desires fantasies.
All he owned,
Once so indelibly carved
Into his heart and his words
Was shown to be illusion.
He considered the palpable
Tangible.
He knows better now.

Pity the man whose words were once braver,
His eyes alive with the clarity
Of the zealot.
He rarely saw choices –
He just acted.
He doubted himself
But not his beliefs that were
Imbued by the books he read
And the feelings he felt
When he would lie in bed at night,
Alone but
Just knowing things should be a certain way
And that if her were true to himself,
They would be.

Pity the young man who,
As the skin of his trust and belief
Was peeled away,
Left him just tendons and bones,
Dressed in a costume
As to appear like the rest of them
Who never believed but still cried
During the romantic movies
When the movie heroine
(her hair done, her makeup in place)
Nobly died of cancer
Holding the hand of a man
(Who appeared to spend five hours a day in the gym
And the balance of his waking hours
Staring in the mirror practicing looking handsome
Yet also caring, empathetic and concerned.)

Pity the young man, who,
As he grows older
Loses his arrogance,
Displaying, his anger in helpless rants
Read by no one
Accomplishing nothing.
He is stabbed over and over
And bleeds and bleeds
But never seems to die.
Why won’t he die?
He is jealous of the convivially vapid
And the blissfully unaware.
He hopes to join them in their blank dull reveries
Someday.
In the dark he closes his eyes
To make it darker.

Pity the young man now older,
His arrogance replaced by acceptance.
He is in agony.
It takes him longer to finish pissing
And his body aches all the time.
He sees a tired old man looking back at him
In the mirror
And he never believes a thing anyone says.
He has never owned anything
But the difference between yesterday
And today is that
Now he knows it.

It is the only thing
Which he is certain.

Kristin Garth

Fucked Up

I don’t  have to pretend to be healthy 
when I fuck you — that I like everything 
you expect me to do.  Brutality 
is something I crave — so sick of smiling, 
mimicking girls, behaved, who just to want to cum. Wandered
towards the summer camp boys for distraction 
and fun until I could run to the thunder,
your theater again, where satisfaction
includes suffering and requires my childish
tears (I should have outgrown a decade 
of years past but fear I never will). Wish
for a dangerous man to invade 
my windowsill, disrupt my buttercup
bed who could corrupt a girl foregone, fucked up.

David Estringel

Cough Syrup

Bad medicine 
going down,
doled out in loving spoonfuls,
still leaves burns
your sugar can’t temper.
What cruel apothecary —this chemical romance—
that blisters wanting lips
and scalds the tongue,
makes flush the palest cheek—
red hot—
with a heat, synthetic and caustic, 
making me hollow—this playground for echoes—
and smoke-choked.
What to do with this melted skin
that blurs the line between
you and me,
this addictive crash 
of candied pain 
that boils and bubbles 
like black tar heroin in a dirty spoon, 
leaving nothing 
but pitch in its witchery’s wake,
except wait…
…for that next opiate kiss.

***

Originally published at Fugitives & Futurists

Ken Goldman

Skin Flick

They met on midtown Manhattan barstools inside a crowded 5th Avenue pub. She exchanged ninety minutes’ worth of the requisite loungespeak with him over the several white wine spritzers customary for the Friday night ritual. When the time felt right he hailed a taxi to take them uptown, escorting her into his Park Avenue walkup where the young attorney went belly-on with the girl for over an hour. 

Although one night stands were quickly becoming anachronisms, tonight fortune had smiled on Gittleman & Silvestri’s star player. A small part of that fortune probably had hinged on the photo which had recently appeared in the Business section of the Sunday Times above a caption listing the man’s name and credentials, a fact not lost among the bistro’s more aspiring female patrons. 

Another evening spent doing the bedspring hula was not a bad way to pass a wintry midnight. Still, Vincent felt the evening called for a little more creativity on his part than he had thus far demonstrated during their short time together.

***

At first Vincent did not believe Moira would  go for his idea, especially not this quickly.  But neither had he pictured himself sharing the covers of his brass bed alongside the new paralegal from Shengold and Roth three hours after they had exchanged introductions at Marabella’s Alibi Tavern. Early impressions made from a bar stool’s perspective were not always accurate given the sexual paranoia of the 90’s, but black spandex tells no lies. 

Moira had proved herself as enigmatic as a cheerleader with a bullwhip, even enthusiastically assisting him when he slipped the condom on. The raven-haired stranger gave him a surprising E-ticket ride without the traditional waiting period. Considering the evening’s circumstances the suggestion Vincent contemplated sharing with her did not seem so out of line as it would have an hour earlier.

Typically, serendipitous sex amounted to little more than masturbating with a partner. But there seemed a rhythm to his encounter with Moira that went beyond sexual parameters. From the get-go the woman seemed completely in sync almost as if she had known him, and he enjoyed a good verbal sparring partner as much as he did an ebullient companion beneath his sheets. Still, holding her in his arms during those disquieting moments after such cavalier fucking felt vaguely ridiculous. He did not even know the woman’s last name.  Maybe she had told him back at Marabella’s, but if she had he didn’t remember it. His mind had  been on other things, specifically on how much he would enjoy wearing Moira’s long legs around his neck.  The two lay beneath the cool sheets in a gray silence lasting the entire length of Vincent’s Marlboro. 

“You know, the first person who speaks after making love usually says something stupid.” She slid closer to him. “Do you feel like saying something stupid, Vincent?”

He touched her cheek, turning her face toward his so he could look into her eyes.  The gesture seemed almost tender, a strange counterpoint to what he was thinking.

“Can I be honest?”  

“Oh fuck. Is your next sentence going to end with the words ‘genital warts’ or ‘blood test’?”   

He stopped her question with a finger to her lips, offering his most reassuring smile. “I’ve had my shots, okay? It’s just that I don’t often make a suggestion like this.  So if you plan on turning indignant and smacking the shit out of me, tell me now and I can spare myself a lot of embarrassment, all right?”

Moira returned his smile, indicating that she might consider sharing this diversion. “Smacking the shit out of you?  Is that what you’re into?”

An audacious little piece of ass as well as an excellent lay. Vincent liked her. He pulled himself from the bed.

“We can negotiate that part later.” Slipping into his jockey briefs he stepped inside the walk-in closet and returned holding a small video camera. “What I was thinking we might try is a little home movie.  Watta ya say, kid? Ya wanna be a star?”   

Staring at the camcorder she giggled, but her twisted grin revealed nothing of the cogs turning inside the young woman’s head. 

 Moira climbed from the bed and walked to Vincent without covering her nakedness as so many women did on first nights. She squeezed her breasts into his ribs, brushing her lips against his ear while flicking her tongue at it with soft butterfly kisses. When she spoke he felt her warm breath heat his skin.

“That Sony’s got video stabilization, I hope. You know, in the event of bumps or  knocks on this casting couch of yours, that sort of thing?  Wouldn’t want that picture out of focus when you whack off to your video memorabilia, would you, Cecil B.?”  

Vincent smiled, knowing that beneath their repartee Moira had discerned the uneasy demons lurking behind his pig-in-shit expression. Most nights the space alongside him in this bed remained empty, and even a videotaped  remembrance of a warm body seemed better than that empty space. In place of the touch of a woman’s flesh an inventive home video would see Vincent through those nights spent alone. The adage about Nature abhorring a vacuum proved especially true for single men.  Whenever a woman’s hand was unavailable, there was always his own.

Moira paused, contorting her face in mock concentration while she pretended to consider his suggestion.  She was toying with him, but he expected that much. Women enjoyed doing that, as if false modesty were a coy remnant from some earlier age as tight-assed as the new millenium was in danger of becoming.  Finally she answered, “Sure. Why not?  But I’ve got a suggestion too. You want to set up that fancy shutter box while I share it with you?”

She did not have to ask him twice. He pulled a tripod from the closet and placed it beside the bed before the woman might have second thoughts. When he rejoined her Moira was holding her nylons balled in her hands.

“You ever play blind man’s bluff?” she asked, tugging at the sheer material  like a child twisting a long strand of taffy, hiding half her face demurely behind the extended nylon. 

“Not since I was a kid.”

“Well, Vincent, tonight you get to be a kid again.  Shut your eyes.”

Like an obedient child, he did just that. He knew this game, and playing it was going to make for one hell of a mind fucking video.

She tied the stocking securely around his face, covering his eyes and wrenching the fabric so tightly his temples throbbed.  He forced himself not to wince with the sharp pain.

Blinded, he heard the young woman sifting through her hand bag for whatever paraphernalia she had brought along.  Some object jingled and snapped, something metallic sounding like locks twice being opened and clicked shut again. In workmanlike fashion the woman secured his wrists to the supports of the beds brass head rest. She had handcuffed him, and the cuffs were strong suckers from what he could tell. Unable to pull free he yanked himself into a clumsy sitting position, preparing himself for a whole lot more action than, up to this moment,  he would have had any right to expect.

“I’m guessing you’ve done this before,” he said.

“Oh yes. That I have. Wipe that smile off your face, please, or I might become very cross with you.”

“The stocking’s a little tight. Could you loosen it a little?”

“I could. But no. I won’t. You don’t want to spoil the surprise I have planned for you, do you?” She kissed his mouth hard,  her tongue playing hide-and-seek with his. Pulling away she shoved him into the mattress so abruptly he lost his breath. While he gulped for air she tore his jockey briefs from under him. He lay twisting naked before her.

Vincent felt the sudden rash of a blush heat his face.  The reaction to his complete vulnerability first startled, then fascinated him.

“Got you where I want you, huh, Vincent?  Excuse me for just a moment, will you, sweet cakes? I’ve some business to attend to.”  

A moment later Moira’s voice came from what sounded like the kitchen. “Just getting a few things I may be needing. Don’t miss me too much.”  Drawers opened and slammed shut as if the woman were searching for something, but Vincent could not imagine what.

 …or maybe he could . 

“Moira?”

Nothing. Not a word.

“What the fuck–?”  

In the momentary silence a disquieting thought occurred to him. Had he been scammed? Was this woman playing him for a sucker,  seducing him just to rip him off and leave his sorry ass tied here while she ransacked his apartment?  Bar sluts stung wealthy schmucks all the time as a way of life. Christ, some made a living of it. He probably didn’t even know this woman’s real name. Maybe she had lied to him about working for Shengold and Roth too. How could he have been such a stupid shit not to see this coming? 

He pulled at the cuffs that bound his hands to the posts, feeling the flesh of his wrists chafe against the tight metal shackles that scraped harshly against the brass supports. Moira had done a damned good job making certain he could not pull himself free. She was probably robbing him blind right now.

No, not blind.  

Blindfolded.

“Hey!  Come on, Moira! Let me in on it, will you?”

Stupid… Stupid… 

The attorney inside his brain told him that something didn’t add up. There were easier ways to pull this off besides fucking him, and what would the woman hope to find in his kitchen anyway?  Maybe this scenario was part of her game, meant to keep him anxious inside his darkness, intended to make him feel weak and vulnerable. It was a power thing, probably rooted in dated buzz words like penis envy. Moira needed this master/slave bullshit to get herself off.  That had to be it. 

 Had to… 

As silently as a panther she had returned to him. Probably she had been standing aside for a minute or two watching him squirm, savoring the moment.

“I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille,” she said in a throaty whisper that was not an altogether poor imitation of Gloria Swanson. “I turned the camera on, okay?”

Before Vincent could respond she pressed her mouth against his with such breathy force the woman could have been administering CPR.  She smeared his face with wet kisses as if tasting him, sucking and biting at his flesh as she progressed slowly down his neck, kneading his chest with her sharp nails as her tongue slid south in long serpentine streaks. Stopping at his inner thigh she teased him with her fingertips, thumping on his skin, then scratching at it.  He could not tell if she had drawn blood, but he would not be surprised if she had.

“What were you looking for in my kitchen?” he finally managed, aware his voice had lost its wise ass edge.

“Nuh huh.”  

Her mouth curled into a smile as her lips touched his warming inner thigh, and he could not help smiling too. Moira’s open mouth continued its voyage upward. Her lips airbrushed his cock, then took it slowly inside her mouth while her tongue did a mad dance around it.

“Christ, that feels so good–”  

The woman stopped his words by touching his lips with cold fingertips.

“Don’t speak.”   

He felt a  sudden freezing wetness between his legs and recognized at once what the woman had taken from his kitchen.  Moira had slipped ice cubes into her mouth, and Vincent throbbed and swelled with each flick of her chilled tongue. Something bestial reawakened from deep inside him, some ravenous and unwieldy ogre taking its commands from the blood-gorged member pulsating between his legs. Forcing himself to remain silent he concentrated instead on the soft skimming of the woman’s cold lips touching his balls with quick angel kisses. In his mind’s eye he pictured Moira’s lips blue with the icy chill of the cubes warming to the hot flesh of his prick, and he thrust himself at her so she could take him full into her mouth.  

She did. Moira filled her throat with him, licking and biting at his cock like an insatiable animal finally come to feed. Her mouth became a living thing, moving in a rhythmic stop-action motion strobing inside his brain. He wanted to break free of the blindfold and cuffs, to tear his fingers inside his tormentor’s snapping pussy and to fist fuck her raw, then to dine on Moira’s dripping cunt until she begged that he shove himself inside her. In the same moment he almost spilled the volcanic ash bubbling within his groin, she stopped herself cold.

“Do you want to fuck me, Vincent?”

“Yes.”

“Let me hear you say it.  Tell me how much you want to fuck me…”

“I want to fuck you.”

“How  much,  damn you! Tell me how  much  you want to fuck me!” 

She scattered a handful of ice cubes between his legs. The freezing sensation first numbed then excited him while she lapped at the icy puddles in his crotch like a thirsty cat. Vincent’s body twitched and heaved almost against his will.

“I want to fuck you more than anything Ive ever wanted! I want to fuck you in your mouth, in your cunt, in your ass. I want to fuck you six ways from Sunday!  I want to fuck you until your goddamned eyeballs explode!”  

 “Do it!”  she screamed at him, sitting on his chest and pushing her damp vagina into his mouth.

“My hands?” he asked, his voice pleading like a horny teenager’s. “Will you free my hands so I can touch your tits?”

She slapped him open-palmed across his face, slamming him so hard  his front teeth came down painfully on his tongue.  He tasted his own blood.

“No pleasure without pain, you bastard! Do as I tell you!”  

And now her cunt came alive too. It rose and fell on his mouth, and Moira pressed herself so hard against his face he almost could not breathe. Despite the blood inside his mouth he crammed his tongue into her, eating her while grotesque animal noises escaped from deep inside his throat, eating every inch from inside the woman’s vagina until his jaw throbbed with flashes of sharp pain.

She took his cock into her hands sucking it more vigorously than before, almost chewing on it. Vincent pictured his own blood dripping from her teeth into the reddened flesh surrounding his balls, blood she had swilled from his torn skin. Still he engorged inside the woman’s mouth.  She lifted herself on him, and as he slid himself inside his cock grow even harder.  

Straddling him, she leaned and arched her back as if reaching for something above her, then heaved and swelled like an ocean wave breaking on him. The release of hot semen seared through his prick as if he had ejaculated battery acid.

He screamed.  He had to scream. And just as quickly he stopped.

Because something hit his head hard…  

Vincent had only enough time to feel the thick pain explode in his temple.  He passed out that moment into a darkness blacker than what lay behind the woman’s nylon stocking that he still wore tied to his face.

***

Damn. 

Vincent’s head hurt. It hurt bad. He rubbed his temples to soothe the throbbing of the turbojet engines revving inside his brain. It took a moment for the realization to hit him.

 My hands are free!  

When he pulled the nylon stocking from his face the burst of sunlight almost blinded him. Squinting through the mixture of pain and daylight, he looked at his digital clock on the night stand. It was 10:32 a.m.  

 …and the girl was gone. 

Maybe he had been right about that harpy all along, and he was not sorry Moira had left. There certainly was no kick in waking up with the Marquis de Sade. Pulling himself from bed he stepped on the cracked remains of what had been his Sony camcorder. She must have used the video camera to bludgeon him.

“Crazy bitch,” he muttered.

He checked his belongings on the bureau.  The Rolex remained where he had left it and seventy-three dollars lay untouched inside his alligator wallet. At least the woman hadn’t taken anything expensive that he could tell. The videotape cartridge of last night’s performance lay in the middle of the bureau as if Moira had cleared a space for it. Vincent knew he must look like shit. He stared into the wall mirror to verify it.

Moira had smeared four words in blood red lipstick on the glass:

PLAY THE TAPE, VINCENT

He felt genuinely curious now.  Something seemed very squirrely about all of this.  He snapped the video cassette into his VCR and sat on the edge of his bed to watch the Toshiba’s monitor.

Moira came on screen standing in his kitchen. She wore the black spandex mini and was still combing her hair when the picture came on.

What the hell is she do–? 

He leaned forward while she spoke to him with words uttered the night before.

“Hello, Vincent. You couldn’t videotape this particular scene with me because at the moment you’re chained to your bed post waiting for me. And I’ll bet while watching this you’re still wondering, ‘Now just what the fuck was that lunatic bimbette doing in my kitchen making such a racket?’” She pulled a  drawer open and quickly slammed it shut, opening it again to rattle the contents. “See, I didn’t want you to hear what I was really doing in here when I let a very special guest into your apartment. Damned clever of me, wouldn’t you agree, Vincent?”

He scratched his head. The woman was making no sense. Clearly she had come more unzipped than he had imagined.

He heard his own voice on the videotape call to her from the bedroom.

“Moira?” 

On screen, Moira smiled.

“You were getting pretty antsy all chained up in there, weren’t you, sweet cakes? I don’t have very much time, so I guess I should explain what–”

He heard himself on the tape interrupt her again.

Hey!  Come on, Moira! Let me in on it, will you?  

“That I will, Vincent.  That I most certainly will,” the woman said directly into the camera. “Tell me, Vincent. Have you asked yourself who’s been holding this expensive Sony while I’ve been making my little speech?”

Almost answering her aloud he felt like an idiot because the thought had not even occurred to him.

The video camera jiggled for a moment, and Moira’s face lost its clarity. The camcorder exchanged hands and now Moira was holding it. The automatic focus kicked in. Once it did, Vincent’s mouth came open as if his jaw had dropped a screw.  

Some other woman was staring at him from the television’s screen. She seemed a sickly imitation of Moira, and her emaciated image roused something sinister inside the shadowy caverns of Vincent’s psyche as a distant memory struggled to be reborn. 

“Vincent, meet my sister. You see, she followed that taxi we took here tonight. Look hard at her. I imagine the family resemblance might be difficult to spot now. But you already know her name.  Think back a few years. You know my big sister, don’t you?” Moira leaned closer to the camera lens. “You  do  know her, don’t you, Vincent?”  

He formed the name on his tongue without uttering a sound. 

“See… Seena…”   

 But the ashen faced woman staring back from the television screen was nothing like the Seena he remembered. 

“I know I’m not very pretty to look at, Vincent,” the woman said in a loathsome mimicry of her sister’s voice. “But you once thought I was. During our one night together you told me I was the most beautiful woman you had ever seen. Is that what you tell all your women? Is that how you get them into that big brass bed of yours?”

Moira zoomed in for a close-up of Seena, enabling Vincent to take a more intimate look at the woman whose ulcerous skin hung in fleshy tatters from her face like a ruined patchquilt. He had to force himself to look at the screen. 

“It’s syphilis, Vincent. The final stages of venereal disease and extremely contagious, caught during one intoxicating evening back in those decadent 80’s when safe sex wasn’t even a part of a man’s vocabulary. Certainly it wasn’t a part of yours. But you always had Lady Luck in your corner, didn’t you? Yours was a dormant form of the spirochete, making you only a delivery boy for the bug, so to speak. Lucky you. That’s what my doctors told me can happen, since you don’t appear to have been infected. Me, I wasn’t so lucky, as you can see for yourself.”  

The picture jiggled as Seena reached to her sister for the camera. Moira came on the screen again while putting on her coat.

“But that doesn’t mean Seena can’t return the favor with some of those micro-organisms you were so willing to share with the women in your life, Vincent. Still feeling lucky enough to roll those dice again? No pleasure without pain. Remember?” 

Moira’s smile evaporated. She finished buttoning her coat and walked out, closing the door very gently behind her. Vincent understood why.

He sprang from the mattress to watch close-up while the videotape’s prologue played out. But already he knew where the rest of the previous night’s documentary was heading.  Elbowing the beads of sweat from his forehead he watched the remainder of the recorded drama unfold on the screen.

“I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille,”  the bony creature on the television’s monitor joked to the blindfolded man handcuffed to the brass posts. 

And Vincent gagged as he watched Seena crawl naked into his bed…

Vivian Wyrick

Traffic

Do you remember the time I slipped myself into the lobby of your building early in the morning, without buzzing you first, when the UPS man arrived with his dolly full of packages, and then exhausted and traumatized, but relieved at how easy that was, I climbed the four flights to ding your bell and surprise you and you let me in because you knew you had to because it was the morning after I found out you were cheating on me with a woman you had been with for close to four years and even though I had suspicions, which you gaslit out of my silly-willy head, I had nothing concrete on you until precisely 7:02 pm the evening before when you finally called me back after I texted you those two photos showing the smoking gun stuff and you said in a voice I hear over and over in my head yes it’s true I’m so ashamed and my stomach mutinied and my stomach said I am going to pull some seasick queasiness on you for maybe six months and I tried to go to sleep that night when Brenda gave me three sleeping pills and said better living through chemistry and I had never in my life taken sleeping pills before and didn’t realize they were so small and that amused me somehow and I lay down in her master bedroom which she gave up for me but I just tossed and turned for hours until I finally decided to get up shivering, throw on unflattering sweats and drive my betrayed self to Manhattan and I found parking near your street and waiting until after 8 am so your son would have left for school I snuck in with the UPS guy and dinged your door and you had to let me in and I sauntered angrily into the living room and craning my head to peek around corners and down the hall I said oh I see you slept alone last night all sarcastic and you just stood there wringing your hands with your eyeballs peering left to right back and forth left to right and your mouth stretched into this lame grin like maybe the cavalry would come or something and I guess just feeling like shit and not knowing what to do or say to this woman whom of course you loved madly but mostly you just fucked pretty hard and intense and squish was a word you used to describe the sex we had once and I thought that was a bit unsettling but that was before I knew you were cheating on me for the entire length of our relationship and I sat down on your couch and you came over just standing in front of me like a derp with nothing to say so I got up and grabbed a Pretty Lady apple from your kitchen like I always used to do and you tried to make a joke and say oh you only like to come here for the apples I bet heh-heh and I didn’t think it was too funny and I didn’t even eat it in the cute way I used to do which was to bite it all the way around the middle and make a little trench belt but this time I just took bites like some hungry wounded ferret and then I said did you tell her you love her and you squeezed your eyes shut, tilted your head back and shook it to mean yes and then I said did you tell her you wanted to marry her like you told me and you shook your head no with eyes still shut and that seemed to ease my stomach a bit and then you said look I have a lot of work to do today and interviews too and I think you said you had to tape your podcast and I said go ahead I’m gonna take a bath and I proceeded to take off my clothes and take a bath because I was shivering from waiting outside for 8 o clock to come and my stomach hurt from that Egg McMuffin I bought at 6 am from the McDonalds across the street and so I turned on the hot water in that tub that I had been in so many times and looked to see if the paint was still chipping off the tub walls and it was and I wondered if sometimes she ever peeled that paint too and after I warmed my bones I hopped into your bed and tried to close my eyes because I’d been up all night and the tiny sleeping pills were taking effect but first I called Mimi and told her I was in your apartment and she screamed, I mean literally screamed into the phone get the hell out of there right now what is wrong with you bitch because I was crying to her on my way into the city that night telling her how you had admitted you cheated on me and I guess she thought I was going to go into the city to kick you in the balls or something so anyway she did not approve of me telling her I was in your bed all naked but I didn’t listen to her but I figured I should at least put my clothes back on so I did and then I jumped back under the covers and dozed a little and then about an hour later you came in and said you had to go soon but I should stay while you took a shower and maybe I wish I had gone into the shower to fuck you hard now in retrospect but I am writing this three months later and I am not sure if that would have been a good idea or not and so I just kept my eyes closed and then after the shower you came into the bedroom in your ass-tight boxer briefs with your wet hair slicked and combed back which was a look that always got me hot and you sat next to me on the edge of the bed and kissed me on the forehead and cheeks and then you said thank you for catching me and I took my hands and ran them over your slicked and combed backed hair because you were hot when your hair was like that and you had and still have an amazing head and we kissed on the mouth I think in a gentle way and you had a big smile on your face and then you said come on we have to go and I got up and with hands on hips I said what were you thinking to lie for thirteen months and you said hell I am terrified of women and I am even terrified of you and that surprised me and then you said women always end up leaving me and that made me think that you couldn’t be evil just really fucked up but it only served to upset my seasick stomach big time and then you said come I’ll walk you to your car and we held hands and the city seemed silent for some strange reason even though it was bustling with traffic and you asked me where I parked and it was up on Amsterdam and we walked hand in hand and then there was a ticket on my car because I was not in a position to read parking rule signs that morning and you said oh you have a ticket and I laughed and said oh no you have a ticket and you said that’s right and you took it and put it in one of the pockets of your black skinny jeans and then you said I am going to change you’ll see and you said I can assure you that you will never see this behavior from me again and please don’t tell your brother and you said cats can learn since you had a habit of calling yourself Cat as if referring to a third person and this was another weird thing about you but I liked it and it always made me hot when you would do the meow thing and when I got into my car and shut the door you crouched your six foot two frame down to see me sitting bewildered behind the wheel and your face was grinning like a little kid who didn’t have a care in the world and I drove home and the world through the car window seemed silent for some strange reason even though it was bustling with traffic?

Dustin King

The Unlucky

I smoke my last one, 
“the lucky” as they call it, 
in St. Louis or Louisville,
these Midwest towns that share names, 
landscape in between unchanging,
cornstalks as tight as a fresh pack, 
plastic ripped off. 

Rivers converge, widen. 
Oceanless, no coast even close,
they don’t know which way to flow. 

You lit my cigarette in 
the back of Chez Charlie’s 
on a Wednesday like 
the start of any good romance. 
Why did you have to quit?
We played a game- 
I’d hide it from you, I’d lie. 
You’d notice me ashing 
my pen at my desk, 
say you knew I missed it.

Blow smoke up my ass, 
I blow smoke in your face, 
and so on.

I snuck out of the house.
From inside you read 
the messages written in cinder, 
a wayward drill across metallic night. 
We doused it all in lighter fluid,
watched it fume across the moon. 

Now I’m heading back east,
these final few drags like 
you’re hitting the good spot,
cherry to filter like you come too fast.

Casey Renee Kiser

I’ve Lost My Head and Gained Sight

he thought the head he gave 
would have me razzle-dazzled
like the others
he thought the head he gave
would make my mind frazzled
when he ghosted
he thought the head he gave
would be all he needed to kill
my spirit one day
let’s hope someone comes
and changes that bulb of his,
that dull, dull light

Dave Cullern

Homesick

there’s no kids left in the parking lot
no hidden porn in the woods
no stolen kisses beneath the wooden roof
of the playgrounds lonely slide

there’s no mistakes which need to be lived with
no gum to drown out old cigarettes
no pretend friends sleepovers
covering up for dangerous nights

there’s no circus to run away with
no vans waiting at the gates
no threats to the spaces of safety
where the playing is played for free

there’s no chance of getting lost here
no judgement, no curses,
no questions left to ask,
no unknown facts

there’s no fuck ups, no fights
nothing much left to hide
from past generations,
whose ugliness is seen through ironic eyes

there’s no dirty floors left on the high street
no art left on the walls
no home made bombs to wow whispering parents
from their easy chairs

there’s no sex
there’s no hate
there’s no fire
there’s no pain
there’s no need for excuses
when nothing’s left out
in the rain