Matthew Borczon

PTSD

PTSD is an unfinished
symphony played
on the screams of
wounded Marines
and the cries of
Afghan children

The percussion
is a helicopter
the woodwinds
are all wound vacs
it’s free to come in
and listen but it will
cost you everything
if you ever hope
to leave

PTSD is the space
between my wife
and me in bed

The space she fills
with pillows
blankets
and two dogs

The one I fill
with sweaty sheets
fear and the desire
to once again
be the man
she married

PTSD is the look
on my pharmacist’s
face when I don’t
want my anxiety
medication

It is the note
my mother sent
asking me when
will I get over
all of this

And it is the taste
of vomit
in my mouth
when anyone
thanks me for
my service

John Maurer

Quiet Master

Like the cellulose encased chunks of Einstein’s brain
They want my prose in rows, my poetry about a gust through the trees
My poetry doesn’t give a singular phonetical fuck about your doctor of philosophy
There is no healing for those who wound themselves

‘Art School Drop Out Aficionado’ and a roach clip on my desk
Taxes require income, poets only know the inevitability of death
I’m digging a mine shaft with my fingernails and a fountain pen
The artists’ creed, I blink therefore I am
For what is thought without vision?

I am your favorite writer’s favorite writer to plagiarize
At school, they told me to explain more but when I did, they understood less
I don’t interfere with my peers when they sell their souls to paperback presses
When they give eighty hours a week to a job they hate to pay for their chic Soho loft
So they can ‘be on the scene’
When we speak two years later they say they haven’t written in a couple of years

Leah Mueller

Confessions of a Phone Slut

If you drop out of college before you turn 20, you might end up selling sex for a living.

At least, this was true in 1979, before the internet was a prayer inside the testicles of porn entrepreneurs. Jerking off to glossy images was a man’s sovereign right. No one wondered whether the models were oppressed while off-camera.

Magnates like Hugh Hefner tried to make his Playmates seem more human by including lists of their turn-ons and turn-offs. In painstaking balloon handwriting, young women detailed such howl-inducing faults as “Men who are dirty and loud” and “stuck-up people.” No one stopped to wonder if these descriptions fit them.

Instead, guys turned up their stereos and cranked tunes like “Imaginary Lover” as they worked themselves over. Afterwards, they drove around Chicago in their Gremlins and Pacers, looking for hot pickup action in the streets.

Chicago, before the dawn of the AIDS crisis. I worked on Howard Street on the second floor of a porn sweatshop called TRA. The acronym stood for exactly nothing. Mike, the owner, just liked the way the letters looked together.

Eventually, Mike made up an ersatz female CEO for his company, a woman called Tracey. In his irritating nasal voice, he painstakingly coached me. “You must always say, “Hello, this is Tracey, what ad are you answering? If I ever find out you’re saying something else, there will be hell to pay.”

Mike placed ads in publications ranging from Playboy to the Chicago Reader. Our boss’ daily amphetamine dosage made him dream big. TRA became so popular that he drilled holes in the wall and ran additional phone lines into the building. Employees labored at mismatched desks, scooping up receivers seconds after our phones jangled.

Our crew sold lists of swingers for $25.00, women who “liked to travel to meet sexy friends.” The process of extracting callers’ home addresses proved surprisingly easy. Men with dicks in their hands seemed eager to believe that beautiful females would travel hundreds of miles to meet strangers.

I imagined their thought process. “Oh, here’s one in Iowa City. She can jump in her car and be at my place in four hours. I’ll just give her a call, tell her I’m ready.”

Mike kept hiring new women to work the phones. He hovered over us, alternately praising and criticizing our sales tactics. Each captured address netted a $2.00 bonus. This, on top of our $3.00 hourly wage, added up to a decent weekly paycheck.

No one owned a credit card, so sales were done via COD. When the postal clerk arrived, a caller’s ardor was long spent, and he’d say, “No, I don’t want this envelope. I don’t even know who ordered it. Not me. Get it the hell out of here.” But sometimes curiosity and lust prevailed, and the stupid fucker shelled out $25.00 for a worthless list of disconnected phone numbers.

As soon as Mike left the building, the fun began. Phone protocol flew out the window. My best friend Astrid was the worst of the lot. “We have hundreds of Swedish women who like to tap-dance on your floor and braid their pussy hair into tiny dolls!” she’d say brightly. Half the time, she ended up making a sale.

My co-workers and I dug inside filing cabinets and unearthed hardcore kink. I felt both horrified and titillated as I gazed at photos of sad-looking women with mousetraps hanging from their nipples.

One night, I discovered several stacks of newsletters, all written by men with saddle shoe fetishes. Deranged souls loved to share stories about jerking off while fantasizing about pleated skirts and bobby socks. I didn’t want to imagine them washing out the shoes afterwards, but how could I not?

I’d spent my adolescence in the rural Midwest, surrounded by jocks and farmers, so I should have known how fucked up men were. I avoided jocks, preferring the company of mordant intellectuals. My boyfriend Mark was a philosophy major at Eastern Illinois University. We ran away to Chicago together, and he scored a job in a bookstore. I cycled through a series of ill-fated waitress jobs, until I finally landed the porn house gig.

My shifts lasted eight hours and often seemed interminable. Men called Tracey all night long, demanding to know how they could meet sexy friends. Phone sex for hire didn’t exist yet. The clever fellows had figured out how to get it for nothing.

A particularly terrifying man called every weekend. “I’m using a vacuum cleaner on my dick.” His voice sounded timid, almost inaudible. Perhaps the powerful machine had sucked all the air from his body. I could hear a mechanized whooshing sound in the background.

“What, is it really dirty?” one of us always guffawed.

“Yes,” he replied. “Very dirty. I’ve been so bad.”

Another fellow called nearly as often, demanding that Tracey forgo her evening’s duties and come to his home for a foursome. He played a cheesy porn tape in the background while we discussed the benefits of obtaining Tracey’s list. The two actors shrieked and moaned. Every so often, the caller turned his head away from the receiver and hollered, “Would you please be QUIET? I’m on the phone!”

The Phone Sluts all had imaginary boyfriends, guys who called and asked to speak directly to us. We employed clever monikers; false names so far removed from our real ones that no one could ever figure out who we were.

My Phone Slut name was Melissa. Over time, I acquired a coterie of male admirers. I attracted brainy guys who wanted to discuss cinema and literature. They didn’t jerk off until after our conversations had ended. It was polite of them.

Though Mike had forbidden us to meet in-person with our phone boyfriends, several of us flaunted his authority and did exactly that. The Phone Sluts played a dangerous game, but it was 1979 and we felt invincible.

One night I picked up the phone and heard a low, soothing voice. Its cadence sounded almost familiar. “I’d like to meet women who are into oral sex and light bondage.” A couple of drunk men chuckled in the background. One of them dropped a bottle on the floor and cursed.

“Only light bondage?” I replied. “What are you, a wimp?”

The caller laughed. “Nothing sexier than a sense of humor. Actually, I just made that up. My name’s Paul. Tell me something about yourself.”

A week later, he called again. “Melissa, it’s Paul on the line,” one of the Phone Sluts said, giggling.

“Oh shit, he’s a goddamn alcoholic,” I said. “I don’t want to talk to him.”

I accepted the receiver anyway. A week later, Paul became my boyfriend. Mark and I had drifted apart. We didn’t have much to say to each other anymore. The porn job had turned me from a naïve girl into a cynical, angry bitch.

My new boyfriend wore a black leather jacket and owned a Fender Stratocaster. He drank quarts of beer and played scorching blues riffs, using his toilet paper spindle as a slide. Paul wasn’t an intellectual like Mark but could be quite entertaining when he wasn’t in the middle of a blackout.

Though Paul had met me via the porn house, he exhibited an inordinate amount of jealousy towards my imaginary phone boyfriends. He insisted I quit but had nothing to offer as an alternative. If I wanted to keep my independence, I needed to hold on to my sleazy gig for as long as possible.

I worked the night shift, from 5:00 PM until long past midnight. After continued practice, I developed a brisk, business-like style, one geared to attract high bonuses. My co-workers’ phone romances blossomed and developed cartoonish dimensions. Though I felt more than a bit jealous, I had my hands full with Paul.

The phone room drew a young crowd. We either rented cheap studio apartments or shared cockroach-infested flats with roommates. One of the employees, Mary, was in her mid-forties. She lived with her cop husband, a man so addled that he often called the phone room, threatening to use his vast network of police connections to shut the place down.

Mary was the most promiscuous Phone Slut of the lot. Men liked her even more than Tracey. Her phone jangled several times every night. Breathless male voices whispered, “Is Mary there?” as if they were high school boys calling an unattainable prom queen.

Mary’s favorite paramour was a man named Buddy. He called almost every evening and promised eternal love and the contents of his bank account. Buddy owned a successful gas station in rural Alabama. He adored Mary and wanted desperately to meet her. The poor man proclaimed his ardor in a loud, fervent voice, as we all covered our mouths and tried our hardest not to laugh.

There was something poignant about Buddy’s love. Also, the routine entertained us so much that we didn’t want to hasten its ending. Mary sometimes wondered whether she should egg him on, but her only other option was to go home and listen to torrents of abuse. Who could blame her for preferring a fantasy?

One night, at the end of an especially long shift, Mary’s phone rang. Without thinking, I scooped up the receiver. “Hi, this is Tracey.” My mechanical voice seemed to emanate from the other end of the room. “What ad are you answering?’

Buddy’s thick twang assaulted my eardrums. “Please, can I speak to Miss Mary?”

I thrust the receiver in my co-worker’s direction, but she shook her head. Sensing her distress, I covered the mouthpiece with one hand. “What’s wrong?” I hissed.

Mary buried her face in her palms. “I just can’t do this anymore. He bought a plane ticket and plans to come see me in Chicago next week. I don’t have the heart to say I won’t be there to pick him up at the airport. Tell him I quit or something.”

I removed my hand from the mouthpiece. “I’m sorry, Buddy,” I said, without skipping a beat. “Mary left town. We’re not sure where she went. She hasn’t been here for three days.”

Buddy emitted a low, shuddering gasp. “Oh no. Does anybody know where she lives?”

“I’m afraid not, Buddy. It’s a complete mystery. None of us really knew her.” I gazed around the phone room and noticed that several of my co-workers had collapsed on their desks, shoulders heaving with laughter. Astrid tittered, then cupped her fingers around her mouth so she wouldn’t completely lose it.

Buddy burst into noisy tears. “Oh no,” he gasped. “That’s terrible. I loved her so much. I was going to marry her next week. How could she do something like this?”

I needed to say something to ease the guy’s pain. Reaching onto Mary’s desk, I jostled a disheveled stack of porn magazines. “Wait, I just found a note.” I rustled the pages again. “It says, “To Buddy, from Mary. Hang on, let me open it.”

Buddy emitted another sob, then fell silent. “Dear Buddy,” I continued. “I am so sorry, but I cannot be with you, or with anyone. I will always love you and treasure our conversations. With my deepest love, Mary.”

The crescendo of Buddy’s sobs increased. He cried hard for a couple of minutes, stopping occasionally to catch his breath. Finally, he said, “It’s okay. I don’t know why she did this, but I still love her.”

“We don’t know either,” I intoned. “At least she left a note.”

Buddy sniffled. “Well, thanks for your help. Let me know if you hear from her. Please.”

“I certainly will. If you don’t mind, I have to go now. I’m sorry, Buddy.” I pulled the receiver from my ear and prepared to return it to its cradle.

“Wait!” Buddy cried. “I have one more question.”

I was willing to do anything to offer succor to the pathetic, deluded man. “Sure, Buddy. Go ahead.”

“What’s YOUR name?”

My job couldn’t possibly last much longer. A few weeks later, I called my boss a pimp. He told me to get the fuck out of the building, or he’d call the cops and have me arrested. Astrid grabbed her purse and quit out of solidarity. “Mike’s got some really bad karma coming to him,” she said as we fled down the long flight of stairs towards the street.

“The sooner the better,” I agreed.

Paul and I sputtered along for two years, but his drunken escapades became increasingly violent. The two of us split up on a frigid November night, and I ran barefoot to the local YMCA. Eventually, he suffered a complete breakdown and went to live with his fundamentalist Christian parents in Wisconsin.

Mike sold his business and became a fervent anti-porn crusader. I ran into him four years later on Michigan Avenue. He spotted me from a block away and dashed in my direction. I’d scored a short-term job as a horse-drawn carriage driver. As I stood on the sidewalk, shivering in my cheap overcoat and top hat, he threw his arms around me and said, “Thank you for being honest.”

“What the hell are you talking about?” I asked, puzzled.

“You were the one person brave enough to call that place what it was. A porn house. I hated hearing you say that, but you were right. It was a filthy, horrible, disgusting business, and I’m glad to be rid of it. Thank you.”

Several years later, Mike vanished from the face of the earth. He disappeared without even leaving an electronic paper trail. Only the building on Howard Street remains, with its long stairway leading up to the office where Phone Sluts once labored over rotary phones.

Of course, the phones and the sluts aren’t there anymore. Most porn is online. People meet on Tinder and Grindr, or they watch flickering, naked images on pockmarked computer screens. So much has been lost to convenience. The porn of the 70s possessed a certain organic innocence that can never be regained.

Maybe I’ve just gotten old and moved backwards into feeble romanticism. I hope Mary divorced her shithead husband. I hope Buddy eventually found the love he wanted so much. That’s the least any of us deserve. We’re either searching for sex and calling it love or searching for love and calling it sex. In that respect, nothing has changed at all.

Dave Cullern

Ben Weasels Mothers Basement

I hear they’ve cancelled Genghis Khan
from history,
presumably because of all the raping
and pillaging
and generally being a massive dick,
so they fudged the books,
deleted him out.

I get it, I really do,
they cancelled that one episode
of that one sitcom
where they took the piss out of black face
and racists
so now you have to watch it on your computer,
illegally,
if you want to see it
and grumble about all those Millennials
with their painless backs
and opinions.

I wonder what’s next,
will they cancel Hitler?
At least they’d be no more heroes to celebrate
and flags to wave
and the sales of red crosses
would plummet.

They could cancel Bill Hicks, I guess,
he was kinda homophobic
and really sexist
but he had some really special things to say too,
be a shame to lose out on all of that.
GG’s pretty much gone from history already
and no-ones interested in Ben Weasel anymore,
particularly since he punched that woman
and made excuses for himself rather than apologise.
Come to think of it,
I bet, of anyone, he’s really enraged about all of this,
which is comforting if nothing else,
I couldn’t think of a better person to be miserable
than that prick.

He probably sits in his ageing mothers basement,
spitting feathers,
and asking,
as I am now, (but probably for very different reasons)
exactly who “they” are
and exactly who “they” will choose next.

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.

Michael D. Amitin

Holy Candle Blues

In the red-sweet sunset
angel brother bends his blown glass ear
over the wall of eternity
listening in on my restless rathouse jam

She entered peeling story-caked walls
riding lightning rod brooms
swept me out to half-dippermoon bridge
we swung downtown where
waltzing heirs warmed six-figure derrieres above smorgasboard fires
I faked all the right questions into hell’s paradise

panting at the emerald city orgasm
waiting beneath her olive skin gypsy thin cocktail feast
ignoring the runaway beast

and someone beamed
they make a great couple
as we dished sweat
to god’s blistering last-chance desperate romance bugle call
my ragged sailor heart pirouetting out the hornpipe door
where muddy cliffs lick their chops and more..

On the way down
the devil in white linen gown served dark red obsession wine
before flaming flambé soft brown coconut limbs stole my grin
a fly doing backflips in the honey pot

The lava-baked sea
million miles away
a moaning rusted ship creaked like a red infection
begging to be freed from the last ripples in that skin game port

You knew all along prophet of the beautiful tracks
that my ramble played in a forest of doom
I surrendered dear Monk in the sad samba night

That wind pushed me mountains away
flushed me out of hiding in the prehistoric pubescent
road-burnt grotto
at the piano bar you played me like a thundering chord
till a midnight candle grabbed the shades
fire roaring down in flames
we crawled like god’s sweet snails to the clear-as-a-bell day

Glaring up through the dark blue smoke
where red sunset angel rained wild, untamed amazing grace ashes
down on desperate love’s last twitch
applauding the singed curtain call
live! live! he cried from his bongo perch on heaven street
hot orange coals fading in the chilled breeze
words we’ll never speak again you and I
unless fate has too much time to deal strange train cards

This harp strung midnight reverie
sad violins hijack innocent dreams
and twist the arm of violet-coated wishes

In my hidden dark room
holy candle blues…
whispers a sea wind blowing

Nirvana: Radioshead

Nirvana is a Kurdish artist and student. She makes paintings and collages and is very passionate about art history, which is how she began mixing old renaissance/baroque paintings with modern culture. She feels lucky that people are inspired and supportive of what she creates. We caught up with Nirvana to ask some questions about her creations.

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Horror Sleaze Trash: First off, we’d like to thank you for taking time out of your day to talk to Horror Sleaze Trash. I happened across you on IG and I was an instant fan of your art!
Nirvana: Hello! Thank you for your interest in what I do.

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HST: Have you always been interested in art?
N: I have always been interested in art. I have been a painter for about 6 years and started making collages about 4 years ago. Art is the most important part of my life.

HST: What got you started in/interested in art? Why did you choose to start creating collages?
N: I started doing what I do because art history is my favorite subject, and mixing it with modern culture and imagery is very fun for me. I keep on doing it because It’s enjoyable and unique, and it makes me happy that so many people support it and enjoy it.

HST: When did you first begin making collages of the renaissance/baroque paintings with modern art and photography?
N: I started July 2016. I had seen some similar stuff on tumblr, but I didn’t find them easily so I decided I would start making some of my own. I’m so glad I did.

HST: Well, you have almost 135,000 followers on Instagram, so it seems like a good move! You’ve had such an incredible response. What most inspires you?
N: Inspiration is so hard to define! Anything can be inspiring, really.

HST: That’s a very good point, especially if it’s something you are looking for in your life. How do you feel your art has changed and developed over the years?
N: I think it has largely stayed the same. I have always been interested in beauty and different concepts and mediums coming together. I think I have gotten a lot better at mixing the images.

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HST: What other kinds of art or hobbies do you indulge in? What else do you like to do in your free time?
N: I am an artist! I paint most of the day, but I also love to read.

HST: What other artists do you look up to and admire?
N: I love Matisse, Monet, Derain, Bougeureau, and Degas. Some of the contemporary artists that I love are Matthew Gaulke and Lucas David.

HST: Is there a piece of your work that you are most proud of?
N: I’m proud of all of them, I like them all equally.

HST: That’s good. I mean, a lot goes into creating them. Do you have a favorite movie or book?
N: Oh, that’s so hard to choose! I love way too many! Some movies that I will probably always love is Mystic Pizza, Closer, and Pulp Fiction. One book that I adore is The Kite Runner.

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HST: Are there any fictional characters that you personally relate to?
N: I relate the most to Phoebe Buffay from Friends.

HST: That’s awesome. My sisters are obsessed with that show. Thank you so much for taking some time to talk to us! It’s been a pleasure and we can’t wait to see more of your art in the future! Where can people find and connect with you online?

N: Thank you for reaching out! I don’t have a website, but I can be found on Instagram as @radioshead.

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Mike Zone

Argonaut’s Agony

naked hydras
melting sexes
slithering form unicorn skin
husk is what you’ve got
full of radioactive gum drops
he-she chants in ironic devotion
semblance of the humane
in the realm of species splendor
mythos point
Saturn’s rings jumbled
in the trench of Hades’ rainbow
Neptune washes
none of it away