Brian Rosenberger

Missing

I miss the dude who drank a pint of Jim Bean
on summer weekends at the beach,
not by himself necessarily.
He had friends, was willing to share, 
and rose like Lazarus from the sand,
fresh from the grave, with no place to go.
Life was easier then. Less demands.
Less expectations. 

I miss the dude who loved comic books,
wrestling, horror movies, and Heavy Metal,
the glory days of VHS and CDs.
When you could smoke in clubs and restaurants, 
when kids went to school and the worst
they had to deal with were bullies, 
instead of being target practice.

This dude drives 45 minutes to work
and at least 45 minutes back.
He hates his job, tolerates his co-workers,
and barely survives his daily drive
without inflicting physical violence
on his fellow commuters.
God knows he thinks about it often enough,
but his road rage remains internalized. 

This dude spends his time analyzing stocks,
worrying about the cost of being a homeowner –
dead trees to be cut down, house to be painted,
the fridge dying a slow death,
etc, etc, fucking etc. 

This dude scrolls through the tits and asses
on Instagram instead of fucking his wife.
He masturbates when he can maintain an erection.
He blames it on his high blood pressure
and means to reduce salt, get more exercise,
switch to red wine instead of bourbon,
and finally see a damn doctor.

This dude…
He sucks.

Joe Rolnicki

Nice to Meet You

After we met

I thought of my hand wrapped around your throat

& how you’d close your eyes and beg for pressure

I pictured you crawling my figure
Positioning
Preying and pawing and slithering

I want to watch you thrash

Brand me with your claws
Fill my pores with your sweat
Stick your taste in me

Make me breathe the air that doesn’t deserve you anymore

The pleasure’s all mine

Charles Rammelkamp

The Psychonaut Discusses Life’s Goals

“A quaint Victorian term
widely used in the fifties
to describe a woman who couldn’t
have an orgasm during sex,”
the Psychonaut explains to the stranger
he’s just met at the cocktail party.
Was his name Jim? John?

“So this woman, writing
under the name of Constance Newland,
describes her participation in an experiment
using LSD to overcome ‘specific neuroses.’
Her neurosis? Her self-described ‘frigidity.’”

The Psychonaut takes a long drink
from his gin and tonic,
waiting for Jim – or John – to comment,
but he stands there transfixed,
like a cat watching a squirrel
behind a pane of glass.
So the Psychonaut goes on.

“‘For the first time, under LSD,
I found pleasure in sex,
rather than terror and pain,’
she writes in her 1962 book,
My Self and I.

“Psychedelic research has demonstrated
LSD can enhance sensations,
the pleasure involved
in touching and being touched.

“Which makes me think of the Kama Sutra,
the ancient Indian Sanskrit text
that says desire, sexuality and emotional fulfillment
amount to one of the proper goals in life.”

Pete Able

A Premature Romance

I stopped, took a breath and jumped into the deep end of the pool. The water was lukewarm, like a bath that had been run and forgotten about. Reflections of moonlight glittered on the water’s surface. The night, the house, the car in the driveway, everything was familiar. Everything aside from the woman.

The woman was unique even from other women I had known and thought unique before. Over dinner it had come out that she illustrated children’s books, owned an antique shop and had lived for two years in Peru. Also, she had grown up on a dairy farm and knew all the different chores. She boasted she could run such a farm singlehandedly. Not literally of course. It was understood she would need both her hands.

Now she swam over to where I was treading water. I was beginning to breath in quick, gasping breaths but made an effort not to show it. She came smiling. Though she wore no lipstick her lips were almost unnaturally red and her teeth perfectly white, making her smile resemble a diamond set in rubies. Had she done commercials for Aquafresh, the result would have sold millions on the product.

We looked at each other close up. Her eyelashes were longer and darker above her left eye. I preferred the right, which was naked and honest. She noticed, I’m guessing, how my clear blue eyes gave her a feeling of calm and clarity. We reached out and touched fingertips. The kiss came and we slipped under, finishing it off below the reflected moonlight. When we came up for air she reached down into my trunks. I immediately spilled at least a twin’s worth of baby batter into the water.

***

Sitting poolside, we were reclining in Adirondack chairs. The night air was cool and we had our towels draped over our shoulders. Her name was Andrea. It seemed to me that I had once known a girl of the same name, but I couldn’t recall from where. It wasn’t unlikely that in all my forty years I had come across another “Andrea.” It wasn’t like a “Marisole” or a “Zariah” or something.

“The moon is big,” Andrea said. Her tone was intimate. It sounded as if she were confiding in me some beautiful secret from her childhood.

I looked at the moon and found it was indeed “big.” It was low too. It hung just above the roof of the large hotel on the other side of town.

“The moon is low,” I said, trying to maintain the intimate tone of her comment a moment before. It was my turn to confide in her.

“What else is it?” Andrea asked. She spoke to me as if we were already familiar partners. I was somewhat remiss that I could think of nothing else to comment on. Her question hung in the air like the moon itself.

“It’s made of cheese,” I said finally with false solemnity.

She rose slowly but purposefully, came over to my chair, and straddled me. As soon as her rump landed in my lap, I immediately splooged a few more skeets into my already skeet-spoiled bathing suit.

“Aw,” she said. She kissed me on the forehead and traced my jawline with her fingertips and said, “I love your dimpled chin.”

***

I offered and Andrea agreed to stay the night. We made popcorn and watched a movie. It was one of those old “creature features” that you wind up just cracking jokes about and laughing at all the way through. The monster from this one was basically a miniature Godzilla that lived in the woods of Tennessee, and a wannabe Elvis-type was in town to investigate. Whenever the creature made a sudden appearance Andrea would simulate fear and curl up against me on the couch in mock horror. For my part I’d put my arm around her and say soothing things as if to calm her. It was a funny schtick for awhile.

Towards the end of the movie we were both a little drowsy and tipsy from wine, and I was nodding off somewhat. At one point I woke up to feel Andrea undoing the drawstring of my sweatpants. The credits were rolling on the TV that hung on the wall, and yet the plot continued to thicken. The female lead freed the one-eyed monster. And just as she was about to give it a little kiss to break the curse of the 3-month dry spell, it spat right up her nose.

***

In the morning I heard it when Andrea quietly pushed her feet onto the hardwood floor. I could hear her footfall as she made her way to the bathroom. I wanted to get another glimpse of her naked body as she came back to bed but at the same time I didn’t want to wake up just yet. A peak at the clock told me it was 6:56. It felt like it was at least an hour too early to wake up. When I heard the toilet flush I pulled the blanket up past my eyes.

Andrea quietly and deftly got in bed and sidled up alongside me. Her body was cold but I resisted my instinct to roll away. Her arm stretched over my shoulder and slowly rubbed my chest. Then her hand moved down over my abdomen and I came to see what she had in mind. It was the best sort of wakeup call. It was probably the only sort I won’t hit the snooze button on. Just before it was about to begin, it was all over. My polyester sheets were a mess with a puddle of more of my bonkjuice.

***

There was no going back to bed now. It was 6:58 and it was too late to pretend I was asleep. Andrea went to the kitchen. She made no comment about my little problem. She hadn’t the night before either. I was surprised at how much I liked her. She seemed genuinely kind and generous.

In the kitchen she seemed to know where I kept everything. She was thirty-eight so I guessed she had been in a hundred similar kitchens before. It was nothing out of the ordinary. Silverware was in the drawer, glasses were in the cabinet and the trashcan was under the sink. My design scheme wasn’t a Rubik’s Cube.

As she went about her work she wore her bottoms but graciously left her top off. It felt like a small gift she was giving me. I watched her intently through the open French doors as if she were some kind of wildlife. She came back into the bedroom smiling at me with her Aquafresh smile.

“I need a shirt,” she said. “The bacon grease is jumping out at my chest.”

I pointed to a drawer. I was not yet ready to be jovial or verbose and said only, “There.” She opened the drawer, picked a shirt out and pulled it on. It was a gray Polo shirt. It was one of my nicer shirts but it didn’t matter. I could afford more.

The savory smells coming from the kitchen were not an ordinary occurrence. Rarely did I do anything more than boil a pot of water. Andrea had eggs, bacon and French toast cooking all at once. She danced to and fro in front of the stove with a spatula like a Motown singer up on stage. My Polo shirt hung well below her ass but her smooth, tan legs were on display. More and more Andrea was proving her complete perfection. I took a moment to marvel at my luck at having met her. With a view of her shapely legs and pretty feet, I reached down and fondled my joystick, immediately adding to the gobs of wang sputum in my bed.

***

The breakfast Andrea prepared was delicious and bountiful, and gave us the energy for the early afternoon hike we took. I had taken another woman up the same hill before but every time she had opened her mouth it was to whine about the pain in her feet or the sweat that was forming on her brow. Andrea uttered not a word of complaint. She even seemed to be in better shape and more enthusiastic than I was. When we reached the summit we stopped and looked down on our sprawling town. I was wheezing but she was perfectly fine.

“I bet you take all your girlfriends up here,” Andrea said with a grin.

“Yeah but none of them handled it half as well as you.”

“It’s such a clear sky today. There are no clouds at all. It’s really terrific.”

“Yeah but where’s the moon?”

“It’s so low that only people in China can see it.”

I thought about this for a moment. I’d never had a good grasp about how the Earth spun and how the moon revolved. She was joking of course.

“Have you ever been?” she asked.

“To China? No, I haven’t. Have you?”

“No, but I desperately want to go. China is at the top of my list. I want to get lost in the throngs of people, hearing no one speaking any English at all. And I’ll go to the Forbidden City to take pictures. There is tons of stuff to see. I have it all mapped out in my mind.” She seemed halfway gone just talking about it.

On the hike back down the sandy path she went on to describe the whole fantasy trip to me. China had never appealed to me before but she made it sound great. I would have gladly accompanied her there that very day if plane tickets and time off were somehow magically produced. I found this was yet another side of her to be smitten with. She was an adventurer. This spoke to the quiet voice in me that wanted to do and see exciting things.

After we got back to my place we made love in the shower. Or, that is to say, she began to wash my Borat and I made a romance explosion, leaving her fingers all sticky. As before she didn’t seem to mind at all, patting me on the bottom as if I had just sunk a free throw.

***

After two days I called Andrea. The call went straight to voicemail. “Hello, you’ve reached Andrea’s voicemail. Please leave a brief message. Ciao.” Her tone was casual yet professional—perfect for what was called for. Right down to the smallest detail I hadn’t yet found a single thing I didn’t like about her. I was beginning to get excited about a relationship with a shelf life.

I noted the time (2:47pm) and began to wait for Andrea to return my call. She seemed the type of person to return calls quickly but I tried not to be impatient. I sorted my mail, I checked the chemicals in the pool, I scrubbed the tub, I sorted the junk drawer—anything to keep me distracted.

She called at 4:02pm. I answered the phone by the end of the first ring.

“Ciao,” I said.

“What are we doing tonight?”

Straight and to the point—always refreshing. As we discussed our plans I heard in her voice all the things I would hope to hear in a woman I was seeing. There was fondness, there was sincerity, there was eagerness, there was joviality, there was camaraderie, and, of course, there was sex.

“What are you wearing?” I asked.

She laughed but then she told me. Slowly. I knew it was unlikely she was actually wearing a black negligee with garters and everything, but I still made with the gentlemen’s relish in my Levi’s.

***

Andrea and I went to a sushi restaurant that was owned and operated by Chinese immigrants. I had never been before but Andrea assured me it was good. The host said the Japanese words for greeting but then carried on in broken English. Later, when I heard the staff talking amongst themselves by the restroom, they were speaking another language entirely. Evidently it was a trilingual workplace. A golden framed portrait of Bruce Lee hung on the wall.

Andrea ate her sushi dry with no soy sauce or wasabi. She deftly moved her chopsticks from plate to mouth as if she had been using them all her life. I was much less capable. More than once I dropped my morsel just before reaching my open mouth. Andrea chuckled and gave me some pointers. After awhile we discussed our plans for dessert.

“Shall we go to your place or mine?”

Again, Andrea was very direct. I hoped she would keep it up.

“Which would you prefer?”

“Yours,” she said readily. “I feel like another moonlit dip in the pool.”

“Okay, let’s do that.”

“Lucky for you I forgot my suit.”

***

We started up in the pool, groped our way into the bedroom and dropped down on the mattress still dripping wet. She was high energy and, once I made an adjustment, it was very welcome. We were just like a couple of rabbits. She was nimble and attentive and I was more stimulated than I’d ever been. After we got our suits off I, of course, fizzled out in seconds, losing my hot brogurt deposit on her stomach just as I was about to bury the weasel.

“I’m sorry that keeps happening,” I said.

“I don’t mind,” Andrea said, sighing and rolling onto her side. “I don’t even really like sex. Or at least, it’s not that important. I like the idea of it much more than the act itself.”

What she said sort of made me think. I propped myself up on my elbow and looked at her. I guess I’d never really considered the idea of sex before. The more I thought about it, the more I found that I actually agreed with her. Sex wasn’t that important. Even for people without my little problem, it was all over so quickly.

This was a startling realization. I wondered why it’d never occurred to me before.

Joe Surkiewicz

The Shit to Lose Weight Diet: Its Decline and Fall

Every trend has a beginning, although it’s not always easy to trace. 

Take the Hula Hoop craze. 

Eleven-year-old Suzanne Miller of Alexandria, Virginia, blew off flute practice and was experimenting with an abandoned barrel stay in front of her house. She was spotted by Marvin J. Truland as he drove to his job at a plastics supply company, where he appropriated some decorative, half-inch plastic tubing, and made appropriate adjustments. 

The rest is history.

Yet the recent, nationwide obsession with defecation had its start in a less innocent way. 

The Maritime Journal, the premier magazine of the shipping trade, had commissioned an article on the dead weight tonnage reduction of a supertanker–and the subsequent efficiencies that resulted–after a makeover in a Dubai shipyard. 

Boring stuff, unless you’re in the business of transporting oil. But the editor, whose name is lost to history, made a fatal error when posting the article online. Instead of “Ship to Lose Weight,” the title came out (you can see this coming) “Shit to Lose Weight.” 

Like the Hula Hoop, the rest is history.

How could this happen? Wouldn’t a person reading the accompanying article about structural changes to a million-gallon oil tanker realize it was an innocent typo, rue the pathetic state of copyediting, laugh and move on? 

As any media expert will tell you, fewer than two percent of readers (“readers”) get beyond the headline, never venturing to the small squiggly marks neatly arranged in columns that fill the space between the pictures.

The article, or rather the headline, went viral. 

Within days, an entrepreneurial freelance writer, Udo Boltz of White Plains, New York, published an ebook on Amazon, “Shit to Lose Weight: The Eat-Whatever-and-How-Much-You-Want Diet That Really Works!”

Momentum started to build. Boltz, now fabulously rich from his instant bestseller, made appearances on the morning network news shows. Taking a crap was coming out of the closet as millions of viewers contemplated the new diet, all of them wondering why they hadn’t thought of it first.

“It’s really simple,” Boltz explained to Oprah. “It’s just a matter of speeding up the process between your lips and your anus, and really letting go.” On Joe Rogan’s podcast, he said asshole.

Soon, shit was on everyone’s lips. 

Major follow-up trends included a move to outhouses after indoor plumbing and the convenience of six bathrooms in your typical suburban McMansion was perceived as outré. Portland, Oregon, led the pack, as outhouses began popping up in leafy yards and along streets, especially those designated as bicycle routes.

The outhouse craze moved down the coast to San Francisco and L.A., then leapfrogged across the country to Atlanta, D.C., the Big Apple, and even Boston, where solar arrays dwarfed the crappers hidden under a frenzy of light-seeking panels. 

Like most trends, it skipped over the Midwest, leaving Chicagoans puzzling, as usual, as to why they were left out.

Outhouses evolved into status symbols, and ranged from the rustic (paneled in wood recovered from abandoned Vermont barns, but still with de rigueur features like heated seats, air conditioning, flat screen monitors and WiFi) to the ultramodern (clad in sleek, gunmetal gray titanium sheathing, solar-paneled and voice-activated).

As the country began to shit itself to svelteness, sub-trends proliferated. Toilet paper tanked as back-to-earthers embraced techniques and tools used by earlier generations—for example, damp forest floor fauna, except now it had to be imported from Ecuadorean rainforests. 

Sticks with charred ends made an unexpected comeback. Online debates raged over the advantages of oak versus maple, with softwoods like pine and cedar dismissed as only suitable for children and the elderly.

Competitive shitting wasn’t far behind, with elaborately wired outhouses utilizing integrated cameras, digital scales and space-age digital aroma analyzers to determine whether your morning effort could be a winning entry. 

Weight and length, for sure, could snag your turd’s immortality (and a first prize!). But other factors, like firmness, color, texture and funkiness were all included as competitors posted their results online. Points were accrued based on thumbs up/thumbs down votes from a nation of intrigued shitters. 

The culminating event was the annual finals held in (where else?) Baltimore, Maryland, where champion defecators gorged and produced results on live television (also available streaming).

With the growing realization that everyone shits (and it’s okay!), efforts to establish a top tier of human defecators reached fruition: an obsession with celebrity shit. 

A new wing to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, enshrined the preserved turds (the process a closely guarded secret) of the rich and famous. The honor roll included the discharges of Hilary Clinton, Paris Hilton, the aforementioned Oprah, and Jeff Bezos. 

The infamous weren’t forgotten, with their own wing offering the preserved eliminations of Jeffrey Epstein, Mark David Chapman and Vladimir Putin on loving display, like those of the famous, in tinted glass enclosures bathed in sodium vapor lighting.

Alas, like all trends eventually must, the shit-to-lose weight fad lost momentum. Then, the coup de grace came when a rival trend, the urination diet, gripped the nation. 

Its genesis? A bored Google censor bot, just for fun, pushed a literary website to the top of all its search results. 

Within days, everyone wanted to piss wine into an ocean of alcoholics.

Amory Paul

the vulva in your bedroom wall

You press your ear to that fleshy opening in your wall, there since you were five. You figure it’s time to listen.

From within, a voice –

“Oh, I love my man. I love my man. He is 6’4. He is strong. He has a dick. Like. A. Horse, baby! Hahaha! And ooh, he can dick me down all day, I tell you what. All day, honey. I won’t say no. Oh, I’ll never tell my beautiful man no. Not that dick. Ha ha. Not to all that Holy, Holy, honey.”

Your hand strays down – the room is warm, the air is thick. Split of the hymen, spill of the vulva. Your fingers are sticky, thick warm – blood, warming your cold body – the hole keeps talking.

“And my man thinks, you know? He’s smart. He thinks. He thinks about grand things – he thinks about God. About God, about all that Holiness. And all I gotta do is suck that dick, honey. Hahaha! I’ve got no problem there, do I? Do I? No, ma’am. Haha. No, ma’am. He can choke me, honey, with his hands, with his dick, Hell, my God-loving baby, he could choke me with those big, dirty feet – my man has a dick. Like. A horse, baby! He can breathe for me! Mmm. His breath’s probably better, anyway. Smells like my pussy. You love my pussy, honey. Haha.”

Your tongue flicks out. You keep bleeding, this hole keeps talking. You lick to shut something up, you’re not sure what. Little bloody bits slip between your fingers, down your thigh – your room smells less like 2007 summers now, more like his cologne – the hole keeps talking; you can’t eat out words.

“Oh, I’m loyal, too, baby. Don’t need no dick but his. No dick Holy like his, baby. No dick so Holy, Holy. His dick’s big enough for two of me, ha ha. He’s tall enough for two of me. He’s smart enough for two me. He exists enough for two of me, doesn’t he? Doesn’t he, baby – lick that up. Oh, lick that up, honey. He’s God, ain’t he. God, Holy Holy. God enough for two of us. And all I gotta do is suck that dick. Just suck that dick, honey. In God’s name. Yeah. Yeah, in God’s name.”

Your legs are red, your tongue is tired. Your face is wet – juices cover your mouth and nose, sweat plasters your hair to your forehead. You work desperately at a pleasure factory making no product – your legs shake and the room is so warm.

“You just gotta suck that dick like it were God. Like he were God. You just gotta kneel down before that cross…”

Your hands sift through the blood and clasp onto something hard.

“You gotta call Him His Holy names, he likes that. You gotta call Him His Holy, Holy names; call him Master, Daddy, Christ, Yahweh, Muhammed, Baby, ooh, Daddy always works..”

Your hand moves back and forth. Along your cock. Your manhood. You stroke it and it’s clean as an angel, untouched by all the blood that was there a second ago.

“Oh, Daddy. I missed you, Baby. I love you, Jesus. Come here, Honey. Oh fuck me with that good dick. Hit me with that good dick, God.”

You jerk your cock, Man, and dip your head into the hole – it is warm and your ears are full of worship, mouth full of vulva, you don’t breathe and, airless, breathe for it. If vaginas ain’t gold on the inside, then, Man, you must be crazy, cause that’s all you see, Ha Ha Ha!

“Oooh, Baby, that’s it! That’s it, Daddy! Oh, yes! Oh, yes! Oh, Jesus Christ of Nazareth!” 

Sucking you in – your feet slip in last, suctioned into Gold and Warm and Wet just like the rest of you.

“Use that sweet dick, Honey. Use that sweet, sweet dick, my Holy, Holy Baby.”

You begin to thrust and the hole closes behind you.

The bedroom is empty.

Anna O

Good Ol’ Times

Of course
I’ve had good times,
I told him,
squizing my brain
for a given memory
While wiping my chapped lips 
with the back of my hand
Booze and bullshit spilled
from my misaligned jaw

It starts like this:
You grab a bottle of wine
and your favorite dolls 
Going off to dabble
in the dark arts

This I can say,
I’ve had much fun
actually,
most of which i sadly
don’t remember at all

But i can tell you,
for example,
about the feeling of lying down
in a field of sunflowers,
as magnificient 
as a Van Gogh painting

Or swimming naked in the rain
upon a murky lake
My man watching me enraptured
as the reeds lightly whip
my bareskin butt
He’s too afraid to jump in
(of something entering his meatus)
Funny, isn’t it?
I sure thought so

I know this isn’t wishful thinking
’cause I’m not much of a romantic
But man, these pills fucked me up

What about trying ice skating
for the first time totally drunk 
because some dude had his birthday 
and he wanted to surprise me
We even went to play pool
with a swinger couple after

I realized that night
I sucked balls

And yet, my very likely best nights
Come as axes to my skull
and the fuckening steeps somewhere
between the second and third bottle
Balls-in is always a good idea

My strongest memories though
fall between arousal and horror

Like the image of some guy
Can’t even remember his name
Washing his face 
with my blood
after fucking me hard
in the vintage chair
of a run-down Belgrade
hotel room

I think,
his magic mushrooms 
had gone bad, but
his sphincter was quite mighty

It happens to fall 
and break your nose
sometimes
when you drink from
green bottles offered free 

Me, I’m lying in my piss
in a university bathroom
Which, to be honest, seems kinda odd 
and not much my style anyway

More like a fistful of shit 
from a trans Russian’s ass
and more good ol’ times
yet to come

Johnny Scarlotti

a poem for all the dads out there

it was summertime 
she told me she was a virgin 
i went over to her house 
in the kitchen 
she gave me a cherry
with all 10 of my fingers 
i popped it 
it gushed 
she walked up to me
got on her knees 
took my fingers in her mouth 
her dad walked in on us 
what the fuck he said
i had to leave
he said that kind of stuff is not allowed in my house, son 
i told him not to call me son, dad
he said don’t call me dad, boy 
as i walked out the front door 
i turned back and said 
ok old man
he came after me 
he started wrestling me on his front lawn 
my girl 
she was screaming 
stoppit dad!
he had me in a deeep headlock 
tap! he said 
never
i could feel myself losing consciousness 
but i could feel his strength weakening 
stoppit ur hurting him my girl screamed
but i gave her the thumbs up 
i got out of the headlock 
i told her watch this 
and i belly to belly suplexed him 
and he went unconscious

and ever since then 
she called me daddy

Daniel S. Irwin

True Compassion

For some reason,
She took offense
At him calling her
A psycho bitch.

So,
She bashed him
In the head
With the plate
Of macaroni
And cheese.

It made quite
A colorful mess,
Mixed with the
Gushing blood
And all.

Still,
He thanked her
For bandaging
The head wound,
Taking that as
A sign of true
Compassion.

When actually,
She just didn’t
Want to go
To jail.