Jeff Weddle

Into the Wild

The limp of the tiger 
stalking the ragged ape 
under a dying moon. 

Nothing lasts. 

Even the kudu understand. 

They don’t run. 
They don’t even skitter. 

The limp of the tiger, 
the puzzle of a dead man 
beside a dirt road, 

a man roaring 
just yesterday. 

His woman will never know
the truth. 

The ragged ape
turns to face the tiger, 
sizing up the limp. 

In a small house
miles away
a woman
who does not yet know
she is a widow
makes hard love 
to a boy half her age. 

Everything is vicious. 

The boy basks in his good fortune 
as the ape continues on his way
and the tiger gives up
and looks for a place 
off the beaten path
to sleep.

Waking up
or sleeping forever,
each is just the same. 
The tiger is ready for what comes. 

The widow screams in ecstasy.

The boy believes he 
understands something  
he had not known before, 
but he is wrong.

Love is a possibility 
but, as even the most ragged ape 
will tell you, a good death
is less certain 

and definitely matters more.

Daniel S. Irwin

So Cool

Aw, man, you are so cool.
At least, that’s what you tell everybody.
Some people are goofy enough to believe it.
You spout some words that don’t mean shit
Tryin’ to entice some ho to wrap her long legs
Around your head and koochie-koochie her
Taint in yo face so she can alternate pressin’ her
Cunt and her asshole in your face.
You don’t mind if she’s not all that clean
And don’t wipe away her crap so well
That it smears across her butt cheeks,
In turn, smearing across your face.
Jizz leakin’ from an encounter before you
Just tastes like prison juice.
Yeah, bitch, you so cool, you deserve
A face smeared with shit while you profess
To be better than everybody else.
Talk shit, loser, crawl back under your rock.

Damon Hubbs

Not with a Whimper but a Bang Bot

it turns out 
the Swiss futurologist 
was right

the Autoblow robot 
was the beginning 
of the end

Harmony 
Nova
Serenity & 

the rest of the TrueCompanions 
have left the lab
to take over the world

the question 
of whether it’s ethically dubious 
to force a toaster to make toast

is of no concern
when Wild Wendy & 
S&M Susan

fuck us to death 
while quoting Shakespeare

Kristin Garth

Star Power 

If you strip long enough in a small town 
even ghosts of sexual assaults past 
are eventually found at the round
end of a phallic shaped stage being flashed
by some “sexy librarian” in cat-eyed 
glasses, reminiscent of college girl you,
tormented in his daddy’s McMansion, pine 
forest views.  Sneak past three piece suits
to the dressing  room.  One hour to ply baby lotion,
perfume, plaid skirts, kneesocks, pigtails 
conjure innocent skin he has never been in — 
college stoner cum businessman.  Want details,
how he wailed when ejected from this bar.
A body broken by him makes you a star. 

John Yohe

autogynephilia

I have worn women’s underwear at night
I have looked in a mirror and wondered
my nylonned legs smooth and shiny in black
worrying if I even look alright
identifying my greatest asset
telling myself I’m still not good enough
but feeling sexy in panties and bra
feeling how women can dress for themselves
wondering if they desire themselves too
I have wanted to fuck myself somehow
while wanting to be fucked by a real man
I have wondered 
what would happen for real
wondered what for real for me even means

Noel Negele

The Mayhem of Our Youth

Sure it had its appeal—
that time in life
you were so unbelievably young
you were almost
legitimately insane—
and yes, looking back
at all that degeneration 
was a thing to behold—
the nonchalant 
and mindless
booze consumption 
and drug intake and
the countless stumblings
from whorehouse
to whorehouse—
and all those girls 
even wilder than you 
on your wildest—
naked, pale girls 
leaning over the plate
on the nightstand 
to take a good line
of Devil’s dandruff
as their breasts dangle
like firm but ripe fruits

Yes, the frenzied
drug-fueled nights 
with the one-on-one fights 
that made you beat your chest 
like a Gorilla
after it was done
or the group brawls
in slumping bars
under a shower of broken
beer bottle shards—
Yes, the dripping bloody
faces of people 
you had never met before that night 
and the knife threats
the knife attacks 
the Molotov cocktails 
against riot police
because you’d read Bakunin 
back then 
and because you were angry 
and willing to hurt people

Yes, you were lucky to
get out of that youth 
scathed but very much alive

And the older I get and
the less I bullshit myself,
I’ll admit I never did have
the stomach for all that 
and it never even came close
to filling that black hole 
in my heart
that always remained
and felt infinitely empty
and there’s no more absolute
nothingness
than infinitely empty 
and no matter how many people
I pushed into that hole 
the love attempts 
the literature
the intoxication
the anger
the affection
it made no difference

But now,
much older than then,
I’ve stopped dropping 
things into that hole 

Now, I’ve learned to live with it
Now, sometimes I’ll look 
deep into that hole—
and the deeper I look
the more probable it becomes
that it might not be so empty

Now, I am much older
and the thought of that lost 
and misplaced youth 
sounds loud to my ears,
it sullies my peace of mind

Now, I sit on my porch
and drink the first cold beer
in weeks 
because I promised myself I would
on the first day the temperature 
would reach thirty degrees
and I stare at the tree tops
swinging with the warm summer
breeze and notice the sound
of a particular twig 
that sounds like a creaky door 
with each mild gust 
and I think of my steaks
marinating in my fridge
the whole day now 
and even though I’m hungry 
I light a cigarette and wait
until I’m famished 

And I look deep into that hole
within my bloated heart
and realise 
I haven’t heard Edith Piaf
in a long time

William Taylor Jr.

Even Though Ginsberg is Dead

Cafe Trieste in North Beach on a Sunday afternoon 
is still a place to be seen

even though Ginsberg is dead
and Kerouac is dead
even though Ferlinghetti is dead
and Paul Katner is dead
even though old Jack Hirschman is dead

even though everybody who was ever anybody is dead 
they’re still here posing and pretending 

millennial hipsters and fading hippies
bohemians and businessmen 

with their espresso and mineral water
their laptops and fashionable notebooks
their flamboyantly scribbled words that nothing 
much will come of 

no one here high on anything stronger than caffeine
but for me and a woman at a table across the room 
with golden earrings and a glass of red wine 

her laughter like a torch in a graveyard

she’s the only one here with any grace
or style, and she surely knows it

like something in technicolor
something from a time long gone
they forgot to cancel

she meets my gaze and condemns me 
with the rest of them as she should

and then she’s gone

and it’s just me and the rest of the fools
talking nonsense and looking at their phones
dreaming they are doing something immortal

it’s all too dreary and I take my beer 
outside where it’s easier

to be seen.

Jeff Weddle

Not So Strange a Sight, If You Think About It

The man with the stuffed unicorn 
is no longer married. 

He is mostly bald and a little fat. 
The man, I mean. 

The unicorn is pink and plush 
with a single, white snowflake 
in each of his coal black eyes, 
and hooves that put you in mind 
of mother of pearl. 

He doesn’t look like 
you would expect, really. 

The unicorn, I mean. 

He looks more like a hippopotamus 
with a festive horn 
than he does a magical stallion. 

The man looks exactly 
as you would expect: 
Lost and weary. 

The man with the stuffed unicorn 
no longer has a child. 

He was a late addition, 
but that meant he was treasured 
all the more. 

The unicorn, I mean. 
But you could say the same for the child, 
if that’s what you want to talk about. 

No one wants to talk about that, though. 

His name was Samuel, 
but no one ever wants 
to talk about him at all. 

His mother was Ruth.
The man with the unicorn’s mother, I mean.
Samuel’s mother was Lydia. 

No one wants to talk about her, either. 

The man with the stuffed unicorn
keeps walking. He keeps walking 
until he is just gone.

No one notices. 

The unicorn remains plush and beautiful, 
and the man will not let him go,
but he will never have a home. 

Ryan Quinn Flanagan

Bumming Smokes

He waited 
until she was in the bathroom
to rifle through her purse.

Emptying her pack of smokes
out on the floor
in a line 
before pulling down his shorts
resting his body weight on his hands
and running his bum cheeks 
back and forth over her cigarettes.

Then he quickly gathered them up,
put the smokes in their original pack
and placed it back in her purse.

When she returned from the bathroom,
there was grease on her face 
like a dirty fryer.

She spoke about a Rorschach test
the whitecoats wanted her to take.

But this was his moment,
the Time of a great man!

Any man could bum a single smoke,
he thought.
But an entire pack at one time,
I think not.

Michael Lee Johnson

Jesus and How He Must Have Felt

Staggering out Wee-Willy’s
dumpy dive bar, droopy eyes,
my feelings desensitizing,
confusing my avocado fart,
at 3:20 a.m., with last night
splash on Brut aftershave.
Whispering to my outcast
self-sounding more like pending death.
My body detaching from myself,
numbed by winter’s fingers.
I creak up these outside stairs
to my apartment after an all-night drunk,
cheap Tesco’s Windsor Castle
London Dry Gin—on the rocks.
I thought of Jesus
how He must have felt
during His resurrection
dragging His holy body
up that endless stairwell
spiraling toward heaven.