Martin Appleby

Respair

I had to go to my ex’s
to pick up some post
and turned up with
a raging hangover
and a busted and bloody
mouth from God only
knows what happened
the night before.
She told me that I need
to look after myself
and I told her it was fine
because I was going
to quit the booze when
I turned thirty* and
as she wiped away the
dried and crusty blood
from my mouth, she told
me that quitting the booze
at thirty was a good idea, but
it didn’t mean that I had to
destroy myself in the meantime.

*I didn’t

India LaPlace

First Date

He has a way with words
And I have no sense of delayed gratification,
Which means that for the last half of our time at the bar,
I fantasized to the sound of his voice
And forgot that I had decided not to sleep with him
on the first date.

And I remember nothing
But the way he looks when he smiles
And the thought of cumming to that laugh.

Anyway, I went home with him.

Stephanie M. Wytovich

Under Take Her

He painted my cheeks with rouge,
dabbed a nude shade of pink on my lips
I didn’t like the way I looked,
so fake, doll-like, a mere reflection of my former self
but he took me to his room
sat me in his reading chair, propped up,
my glasses on, my hair freshly curled,
formaldehyde running through my veins
I don’t remember how I got here,
I just remember rain and sleet and the hum of my car
but now he’s underneath me, inside me, next to me
a taking of body, of flesh
my voice silenced, my fists unclenched,
there’s no fighting back once you’re dead.

Marc Carver

Flip It Baby

I have to feel sorry for you
if you really think you have free will.
All these people that come randomly into your life
you think you choose them.
You think you pick when you are happy
and when you are sad.
You think you can walk down the street and avoid
that person you don’t want to see.
You know they are out there waiting for you.
Even if you stay indoors for a week
they are still out there waiting for you.
So why not accept it
your choices are not yours to make.
So pick up that coin
and flip it.

 

Pushing Away the Hours, By John D. Robinson

A Review By Wayne F. Burke

 

“Police and ambulance sirens…everyday, everywhere,/just listen”

 

Screen Shot 2018-12-06 at 4.29.44 PM

 

I like these poems by John D. Robinson. Poems that give no quarter, expect none. Poems as explosive, in some cases, as sucker-punches. A hard-arsed narrative voice also, but with a tinge of romanticism, and some nostalgia (not much) over loss. Poems in the raw, like life lived on the other side of the tracks. Life and verse unfiltered. Think Camels and Lucky Strikes instead of Marlboro Lights and TRUE (air-o-dynamically engineered). The first handful of poems–from the opening, and great, “A Day Off,” to “The Profit”–roll smoothly down the road, like on the Interstate. The 2nd handful (this a 2-handful chapbook) a rougher ride, due to Robinson’s dependence on the colon. The reading experience analogous to driving through a town that has a STOP sign every corner, a stylistic switcher-roo that changes the pace somewhat, though not the quality of the language, which is excellent throughout.

 

GET A COPY HERE:

http://www.lulu.com/shop/john-d-robinson/pushing-away-the-hours/paperback/product-23872337.html

 

Ian Copestick

A Habit Waits for No Man

WOOOOOOWOOOOOOWOOOOOOWOOOOOO!

The sound of burglar alarms mixed in with the sound of the ambulances coming to collect the dead and injured.

NEENAWNEENAWWOOOOOOWOOOOOONEENAWNEENAWWOOOOOOWOOOOOO!

Through the massed crowds of black, white, Asian and all mixed races in-between, I could see him, Paul, sprinting up a side street with a laptop computer under each arm.

The riot vans screeched to a halt in the market square and armored police leapt from the sliding doors, Heckler and Koch submachine guns in hand. They let off a few rounds into the air, as a warning.

KOFF! KOFF! KOFF!

The shots didn’t sound like they did in the movies, they sounded flatter, almost like the sound had been cut off halfway.

KOFF! KOFF! KOFF!

The next round of bullets weren’t warning anybody. I saw people fall. Young girls dressed in miniskirts, their legs spread and knickers showing but strangely I didn’t feel horny at all.

Old men with their trousers up to their armpits, cardigans suddenly sprouting flowers of blood. Bright red, like poppies against the grey wool.

The people didn’t fall like they did in the movies either, there was no histrionics, they just fell, like puppets whose strings had just been snipped by scissors.

I turned my head, not being able to stand so much horror.

Then I came to my senses and started to run.

In the car park at the end of the pedestrianised section, I met up with Paul.

“Well, where the fuck are we going to sell these then?”

“At the moment, Paul, that’s the least of our fucking problems, don’t you think?”

“Okay Mister fucking Smart Arse, how are we going to score then?”

“I don’t mean to alarm you, mate, but it seems like getting away from the coppers is the most main thing. Where we’re going to score doesn’t seem so important at the moment.”

“Well it will be in a couple of fucking hours…”

Suddenly I saw the point of his argument. It didn’t matter if the world was about to end, we still needed drugs, and we would still for the foreseeable future.

“Well shit, do you think that the pawnbrokers will still be open,or should we just try Broady?”

“The pawnbrokers is on the way, so we’ll try them first, eh?”

My sickness was on its way, so I couldn’t be bothered to argue with Paul anymore. Anyway he was right, to get to Broady’s, we’d have to go past the pawnbrokers. So why not give it a shot?

Just because there was a state of emergency at hand, and there were armed forces in the streets, people still needed their drugs. A habit waits for no man.

As we walked up Picadilly we could hear the shots in the background.

KOFF! KOFF! KOFF! KOFF!

I didn’t know who they were shooting at, or why. It had to be the so-called forces of law and order who were doing the shooting. It had been happening more and more over the last few years. At first they blamed it on the Muslims, counter-terrorism they called it.

The thing is though, those of us who know who the big time dealers noticed that a surprising number of them seemed to get killed along with the so-called terrorists.

Then the coppers took over the dealing, well so they say. I’m just small time and that’s all I want to be, but from what I’ve heard all of the big time dealers are coppers now.

Then the curfew came into effect. I can almost understand that, I mean, the little fuckers were getting out of control. I myself got a kicking a couple of times off the little bastards.

I know that things are pretty bad, but the way it’s shown on the TV, you wouldn’t dare come out at night.

Anyway.

KOFF! KOFF! KOFF! KOFF!

It was almost like percussion, keeping the beat as we continued up the street.

Some people have told me that a lot of the gunshots you hear are just the coppers firing up into the air, just to keep the people scared, but I don’t know. Those poor fuckers I saw falling in the square, they weren’t acting, that’s for sure.

Anyway, end of the world or not, the Jewish pawnbrokers were still open for business.

Paul did the business, he’s a lot better with the blarney than I am. I always say, if things had been different, he would’ve made a brilliant salesman. No shit, he could sell sand to Arabs, or ice to Eskimos.

He walked out of the pawnbrokers with £200 in his hand, then headed straight to Broady’s.

KOFF! KOFF! KOFF! KOFF!

Up the piss stinking staircase we went.

KOFF! KOFF! KOFF!

Up to the seventh floor, Broady used to sell shitty, little £10 deals. Before all the “hostilities” started, you could have got twice as much from him as you did now. But, like all businessmen, he knew how to turn every bit of turmoil to his advantage.

KOFF! KOFF! KOFF!

After a while it was like you almost didn’t hear the gunshots anymore.

They were just something happening in the background, like a radio used to be.

KOFF! KOFF! KOFF! KOFF!

At the bottom of the tower block, we peeled off to the left, heading towards Paul’s squat. Well, I say Paul’s, but it was his and anybody else’s who needed to shoot up whilst they were in the neighbourhood.

KOFF! KOFF! KOFF! KOFF! KOFF!

I think it must have been the last KOFF! that got him.

Paul dropped in front of me.

“Come on mate, stop pissing about!”

Paul just lay there, a small patch of blood blooming on his jacket.

KOFF! KOFF! KOFF!

“Shut the fuck up!” I shouted.

It seemed to me that now they’d done their job, they could at least shut up for a bit.

I thought about the drugs in Paul’s pocket.

Then I felt guilty about thinking about the drugs in his pocket.

KOFF! KOFF! KOFF!

It was then I felt a hot, piercing pain in my side, almost as if I’d been stabbed with a red hot knife.

KOFF! KOFF! KOFF! KOFF!

I looked down and saw a mess of red stuff coming out of me.

KOFF! KOFF! KOFF!

I slumped over to one side. I didn’t mean to, I just couldn’t help it.

KOFF! KOFF! KOFF! KOFF!

Holly Day

Where I Shop for Fish

Street merchants with carts packed with ice and fish
shout commandments at each other over the bustle of the crowd
channel God in the most scandalous of ways. Via conversation, they strip away
each other’s damaged pasts—secret love affairs, attempted suicides—
until no one in the marketplace is truly naked.

I pull my sleeves down to cover the tiny “x”s
meant to stop my breath, too long ago to count
past the happy-faces made with rusted cigarette lighter tops
past the circle of blue dots made with safety pins and India ink
in an attempt to hide my own past from the fishmonger priests.

The newspapers the fish come wrapped in
prophesy either war or salvation, feast or obliteration
depending on which vender you buy the fish from
depending of what type of fish you buy. The small, flat sunfish I pick out
are handed to me, collectively wrapped, in pages from the Book of John
a picture of a small, pale boy with bat ears and vampire fangs on top.

India LaPlace

They’ll Say it Was Postpartum Depression

She isn’t 2 yet.
She’s in her stroller
And we are on the sidewalk
In the humid air
In a country where I am all alone,
Except for her.

Her fat little fingers are in my hair
And it’s only because she’s a baby,
But I am so good at pretending
And so I imagine she’s feeling my pain,
My turmoil,
My heartache.

I am so fucking selfish
That I project my adult conflict
On my child.
But I’ve never felt so weak
And I need someone to comfort me,
And for someone to understand
So, so desperately.

I’m not 20 yet.
I’m kneeling in front of her stroller
On the sidewalk
In the humid air
Of a country I shouldn’t have followed him to.
My head is in her lap
And it’s all I can do not to sob
While I choke out the same words to her
Again and again and again,
Busy city sounds in the background.

“I’m sorry.”
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”

Mendes Biondo

Cheers

you wanted to be me
so you drunk
because you said
that’s what you think
I do to feel better

so you pulled down your white,
soft throat
hard sips of rum
down like punches
down like razor blades
down while you were alone
seated at a sad cafe
with people passing near to you

I get drunk to meet gods
I do it when I see your perfect body
swinging on me
I drink rum when I need
to toast to victory
or to a friend
and your successes

so you drunk to be like me
but that sips where hard to swallow
and you cried them all out
as a poisonous rain

Stephanie M. Wytovich

Of My Wounds, There Are Many

Snapshot to blood and bone,
there’s a knife in my head,
but my migraine was two years in the making,
stitched to the side of my skull
like the arrow tip lodged behind my eye,
buried in my brain like the bruises
of last night’s thunder storm,
my teeth ripped from my mouth,
shoved down my throat
like how the sky pushes out rain.

Of my wounds, there are many:
see the delicate stigmata cut into my hands and feet,
the gashes dug into my thighs, the tally-mark slashes on my wrists;
I am the punctured female, the pincushion of hysteria,
a traumatized sack of feminine injury,
the flesh of my flesh, the scar of my scar,
I’m a collection of lesions and lacerations,
a patchwork of black and blue contusions
worn out from where you scrubbed me raw,
beat me till I seeped red like rare, woman steak.

Look to me on this table as I bleed and break,
a toy of operation, a surgical muse to the amputation
of bodily consciousness: hear me when I say I feel nothing,
that with each incision and penetration, I am dead,
gone from this world of torment and torture,
a disappearance, an acceptance to oblivion,
to the land where I can forget the flower,
the blossom of what I saw lies underneath.

Yes, use my soon-to-be-corpse as a nametag,
as a placard to the other girls who are destined to bleed;
I am closing my eyes to your knives now,
deafening myself to the fractures you inflict;
I will cease to be your canvas of mutilation,
Only a head, a torso, a heart,
best to photograph me while in transition;
it’s the last chance you’ll have
to locate my soul.