James Reitter

Trying Their Best

The girl on stage is cute:
Nice hair and tits
tats on each shoulder—
not close enough to see.

This will get old, quick.

This one’s killing me.
Older, playful.

Look at the clientele, I ask
what I’m doing here. I’m better.
I’m better. I’m better.

It’s all shit. We’re all dogs.
It’s all the same.

Good songs.
I’d fuck her ‘til I couldn’t go on
It wouldn’t be nice
She wouldn’t like it that way

I like her choice of persona.

John D Robinson

The Concerns

‘You only seem happy or content
when you’re stoned or drunk
or both, all your waking hours
are consumed by this and of
course, sex’ she said sharply:
‘That may be’ I said:
‘But I’m a poet’
‘So that gives you a free
licence to be an alcoholic
drug taking bum whose
only concern is with his
own little seedy world’
‘I haven’t signed a
contract’ I answered:
‘Don’t call me, I mean
it this time, don’t call
me again’
the door opened and
slammed shut, the sun
had spent herself and I
opened a bottle of wine.

Anthony Dirk Ray

Smoldering and Drained

as I smoke the cigar
my life dwindles and
burns toward the end
correspondingly
as I drain the whiskey glass
my time on earth swirls
and disappears in like manner
I ask for nothing more
than a distinctive feeling
I apologize unto all existence
if that is entirely too much
you promise everything
but give nothing
to me that is something

bank roll my existence
forego the inevitable
have sex with my mind
masturbate with intention
colder than an igloo
claustrophobic as such
indescribable sensations
masquerading as emotions
desensitized and mesmerized
hypnotized by the facade
painted faces and bloody cunts
long live the weekend
the towel is on the bed

an indecent desire
beckons my sensibilities
dragging my mindset to the
depths of earth’s core
hypnotized by the innate
led astray from moral concept
only to delve deep
within cranial blackness
dwelling on negativity
no escape foreseeable
tedium lingers
darkness spreads
and the song plays on

Elena Bello

Plague

I have seen people collapse
like nine-pins hit by a bowling ball
with faces slammed down on the concrete
inflexible, trembling trunks
spewing
 viral liquid from their mouths

a plane takes off
men in white suits
they scan the foreheads of the passengers
like they’re reading the barcode of a product

I have fuckin’ nothing, I’m here with my mom
the bank won’t let us withdraw our money
but I’m still alive,
not for long
so, I will cough on strong powers

too bad for the disgraced lady behind the counter
she’s just a puppet
who wants to go back to her geppetto

give my fucking chair back to me, woman
I have to break this window,
I don’t want to stay in isolation

yes, blood flows on the tables
here’s to you mrs, an infected hen
don’t you see your son is eating a living mouse
while he’s filming himself with his smartphone?

for the one who sits wearing black suits
he will say to media that
there is no reason to be afraid
no, he is not in the city right now

what are they doing?

there is a new tsunami
made of people
there are not enough masks for everyone
they scream, run away, push each other
who pays could skip the line?

a man asks to a hostess
may I sit here?
you can sit wherever you want,
she says wearing a white suit

the plane is almost empty now

Leah Mueller

Reunion on Sandy Boulevard

Perched on the edge
of the Howard Johnson
airport shuttle van
in my dark red clogs,

I turn my feet sideways,
place them slow motion
on the side panel,
descend into the parking lot.

Cold torrential downpour,
puddles on gray asphalt,
December air fuggy and close.

We waited two years,
and you look different
than I remember: pallid,
anxious, but familiar as shoes.

In an hour, we will try again
to find everything
we did our best to hide.

Afterwards, we’ll open the window,
exclaim about the unseasonable
warmth. Four days until

I return to my husband,
and you to the flatlands, defeated.
Meanwhile, my heavy soles:
all I have to keep me upright.

You devour a microwaved burrito
from the corner mini-mart,
our small room reeks of toxins.

“You’re in Portland now,”
I say. “There’s no excuse
for bad food or bad sex,”
but I’m sure you won’t remember.

Chris Butler

Fentanyl

Snorting our lives on the mirror of time,
forced to look into one mind’s eye
line by line.

Rolled up
treasury notes,
makeshift straws,
a pocket dusted
with lint.

Lost in
a sprinkling of
fresh powder,
only illuminated by
aluminum foil
cremation.

Ammonia pneumonia
seeping down the sinuses,

nasal drippings mixed with tears
are wiped with sleeves that smear,

pock marks and acne scars
are the divots on the surface,

in order for more staring contests,
opposing myself,
ojo y ojo.

John Tustin

Drowning in a Loneliness

Drowning in a loneliness that is so blue
and so complete that it is almost beautiful.
Almost beautiful in the same way
that I am almost good.

A gurgling water that invades the mouth
and the ears and the love
and the rest of it.

How it envelops, how it consumes,
how it fogs me up like a handful of pills.

Slow bullet train wreck blinking traffic light.

Being eaten by something so completely
it doesn’t even spit out the bones.

Ingested bones of present. Bones of past.
Bones of shipwrecks and murder and shrapnel
and folly and war.

Drowning in a loneliness that is so blue
and so complete that it is almost beautiful.
Almost beautiful in the same way
that I am almost good.

Joseph Fulkerson

Coagulated

It’s surprising the things you find
out about yourself at 3 o’clock
in the morning
lying on the living room floor
head spinning with drink
mind racing with regret,
wanting so desperately to send
that message, yet knowing it’s
inviting the devil back in
granting the succubus access
to my vital organs once more,
like the drag of the needle
tracing silhouettes of angels
wings down my arm, veins
clouding with the junk of us.