Damian Rucci

Y’all Were Just the Pregame 

Some say life is like a river
& we’re floating from the womb
to our caskets & you always try to hold on
but we all drift away from each other
so it’s best to sit on your hands &
watch the world pass you by-
watch the breeze greet grasses
you’ll never step on; watch the gulls
dance in cryptic seafoam winds

& some say life is like a race car
& nirvana can only be found with 
the wind on your face, with a stampede
beneath your sternum, gulps of breath
are milestones to completion
life can end in a second & any second
without the thunder of release is too long
that the devil will get his due 
once we get our hands on ours

but some say life is what you make of it,
that men should build monuments
out of their bones, to stack boulders
on their shoulders until they break the heavens
another obelisk smited by our limitations
& we all fall short & we all die 
just a little more alone 

I want the last taste on my tongue
to be the bitter lightning of adrenaline
to have the hair on my arms marching
to the drum of my screaming heart 
to feel the wind beat these hollow bones
like it was the chorus of cherub angels 

You’ll know y’all were just the pregame
& that life can end in any second 
& when that second takes me 
just know that I fucking deserved it 

PJ Grollet

supermodel in the neon meat locker

she wasn’t much to look at—short, 
wiry and shrill. a supermodel with 
curly brown hair who thought 
she was the hottest thing on the planet. 

during the shoots, the director posed her
into increasingly ridiculous scenes to which
she responded with glee. 

the first shoot was the library. 

a giant, mechanical, hairy arm extended from 
the ceiling; it went up, down and into 
the aisles and she was ordered to run around it
like a scene out of King Kong. 

the next photo shoot was the neon meat locker. 

the model wore mirrored aviator sunglasses, a 
sequined mini dress and a white fur coat. 

she posed pretty before the fresh slabs 
of meat as the photographer shot 
the photos and his assistant 
doused her with buckets of blood. 

they mercilessly mocked her (and
she still didn’t get it). 

the director of the shoot then ordered her to 
growl like an animal. 

“whelp like a whipped dog!” he said.  

boastingly, the model replied, “oh, I can 
do that! I did the same thing for the 
movie I was in last year!” 

they splashed her with another bucket of blood 
and then the director said, 
“what if I said your dad was 
in hell so you could have your 
modeling career?” 

“oh, come on!” she said, “that’s not fair!” 

Kristin Garth

Behind Their Eyes

Only one hole of her hides in a tuft 
of the black leather daybed.  Still the right
auricle echoes the gentle and rough
that is said.  Led by educated insights 
into disturbed college girls, he knows 
she believes this is free will —  striptease 
of cardigan, pearls, surname and fore. Bow 
bestowed from a drawer of his desk, knees 
familiar with floor like any good Christian 
girl redressed in humility.  It is not 
the first time someone made her question 
if she is who she should be.  Needless thoughts,
she is taught, dissipate — clouds to serene skies.
Good girls are only empty behind their eyes. 

Daniel S. Irwin

Juan de Guano

Juan de Guano is the man.
He’s more macho than his Harley.
Juan speaks three languages that
No-one can ever understand.
Juan mumbles even when sober.
Everyone say “What?” & “Que?”
Only the priest knows what he say.
Juan’s Latin is excellent though slurred.
When down South, Immigration
On both sides of the border
Locks him up not knowing what he is.
His woman kicks his ass on a regular basis.
She never knows what he say to other women.
Other women wonder, too, what he say.
So he flirt with the eyes…sometimes 
Two black eyes.  I said he had a woman.
Life is hard for Juan de Guano but
He’s more macho than his Harley.
That’s all that counts.
Harley people understand.

HSTQ: Summer 2022

horror, adj. inspiring or creating loathing, aversion, etc.

sleaze, adj. contemptibly low, mean, or disreputable

trash, n. literary or artistic material of poor or inferior quality

Welcome to HSTQ: Summer 2022, the curated collection from Horror, Sleaze and Trash!

Featuring poetry by Daniel S. Irwin, John D Robinson, Jay Maria Simpson, John Tustin, John Yohe, Nadja Moore, Laszlo Aranyi, Andy Seven, Omar Alexandre, Willow Croft, Gene Goldfarb, Brice Fisher, Brian Rosenberger, Vivian Pollak, Matt Dennison, James Diaz, Jodie Baeyens, Jonathan Baker, and Dan Flore III.

Get your FREE ebook here!

Matt Dennison

Parable of Displeasure

He puked and he puked until he
thought now surely I must die, surely
there can be no more. He had brought
up the water, the coffee, the orange
juice, the whiskey, the wine, the
vodka, pasta, snails and love, but still
it kept coming. He was into the bodily
fluids now, and it would, later, scare
him. Now all he could do was watch.
And smell. Yellow, foul tasting stuff
that made him bite the back of his
tongue. Then green, then clear again.
Then brown. Then smudge, was all he
could call it, looking at the last grey
layer floating. Smudge. Yes. And
flat oil slicks, tiny fishes, nuts and
bolts, telephone lines, cardboard boxes,
file cabinets, tax forms, old photos,
death announcements. Then, eyes
bulging, bursting red, gasping like a
gored fish, he passed it, or, rather, it
passed itself, wiggling out into the sick
grease on top of it all only to grow
and grow and grow until it, in turn,
puked him out, after the water, the
coffee, the orange juice, the whiskey, the wine,
the vodka, pasta, snails and love,
but still it kept coming.

Jonathan Baker

One More Road

for CS Mathews

Ephemeral,
intangible,
spiritual,
like that night with the whiskey glass
and it wouldn’t work, 
and we tried, 
and we tried,
and we tried.
I was hurt,
and his license plates were expired.
She and I,
we held each other
through the puffs of smoke.
We were enthusiastic failures.
We were ecclesiastic quitters.
And the broken glass,
not from the whiskey glass,
but from the windshield 
cut my feet on the pavement
as I showed how I could 
walk tall and proud for the officer,
and he told me 
to turn around and return,
but I wanted to keep walking forever 
until I returned to her.
First to the ground 
that drank her blood,
and then to the sky 
that ate her spirit.

Bradford Middleton

Drinking the Days Away

I spent the afternoon in the pubs
First the one i’ve spent so many
Words on in recent years and then
Onto the one before that and damn
It all felt so damn good.

I walked in the first one and wow
What a wonder it felt as outside
The sun still shone high in the sky
And the breeze swept through the
Bar and immediately i was greeted
With “Hi Bradford”.

It was home i felt and i settled in,
Reflecting the time by just ordering
A beer and sitting back, only 2-30
After all, and i just sat there, happy
With life after all.

I just drank slowly, chatted to some
People, happily getting on with my 
Day until it turned nearly 5 and the
Second pub beckoned as happy 
Hour prices were due to kick in.

I smoked one on the little walk
Round the corner and settled again
At the bar, ordering another beer
Before letting it sink all the way down
As i simply ordered another.

A bit of time kicked on whilst a
Lonely soul chatted with me about
God damn football as i drank beer
Cheap beer that made me feel 
Good.

But as the prices went up the time
Came around to get back home, safe
In the realisation that drinking in a
Pub is far better during the day than
At night.

Those poor suckers who drink in
Pubs at night are so often frustrated
At their lives; how they always seem
To be at work during the happy hour
Moments and rarely see any sunlight,
Through that best view, a pub window, 
Ha i laugh at those damn fools.

Brian Fugett

Nicotine Wiggle of the Carcinogen Cowboy

what have we become? watch close
you might see

static positions
a voice lost somewhere behind the headboard.
hidden sinkholes in a sandbox

a breath drifts
from one strange mouth
to the next

erections rearrange the gal
while the carcinogen cowboy
does the nicotine wiggle

a voluptuous 
cigarette butt bouquet 
blooms in the ashtray 
next to her head.

palm sweat is dispersed
in a kung fu drizzle
that reeks of
Marlboro menthols
and Budweiser