Anck O

Just a Bit More

When man seizes himself
Walking down the crowded pavement, amidst strangers
Helplessly laughing to deceive himself
That he is not all alone in this world,
That moment,
He believes he won’t bend
At the cold blade of a knife in his back,
He won’t grieve the blood
Painstakingly lost from his hot flesh
And at that same time,
When he hears sounds of music
That softly meet his ears, he tells to himself:
Listen? Someone’s singing to you tonight.

How quickly does man find a reason to kill himself,
O man, how much quicker,
Hundreds of excuses,
Thousands of lies,
To live but just a little bit more.

Judge Santiago Burdon

Los Sureños

LOYALTY is what we live by. RESPECT is what we die for.

I’ve never had an attraction to guns. I’m not against people owning them, I’m just not a big fan of them myself. In most cases if a situation requires you to carry a firearm, then it’s probably a situation you should reconsider. Most are familiar with the saying, “If you point a gun at someone, be prepared to use it.” Unfortunately, and I’m not proud of the fact, there’ve been instances where I’ve had to adhere to this motto.

Gator and Crazy Carlos were Chicanos I became acquainted with through my employment in the Mexican cartel. I had dealt with them on a number of occasions and they considered me a carnal (friend), accepting me even though they considered me a “guero” (white guy), ignoring the fact I was half Mexican. Side note: Mexicans and Chicanos are two vastly different cultural groups. Mexicans are born in Mexico, some having migrated across the border. Chicanos are born in the United States with a Mexican ancestry. Never should the two of them be thought of as the same. 

I’d gained the respect of these particular Chicanos because I spoke Spanish, and they found me quite hilarious, laughing at my almost every comment. Both of them had a fixation with guns; owning, buying, stealing and selling a large quantity of firearms. Between the two of them, they were in possession of enough guns and ammo, their stockpile could be considered a small arsenal. 

Gator was an ex-con, having done time in San Quentin. He was the quiet type, soft spoken, letting his facial expressions and body language do most of his talking. His message was often interpreted without him ever having to say a word. When he did speak in his quiet tone, you listened, his voice commanding your attention. His body was a tattooed marquee advertising his gang affiliation, girlfriends, children and an assortment of religious symbols; the Virgin of Guadalupe, Jesus, angels, etc. He also had a large drama mask with SUR XIII tattooed across his chest, which I learned didn’t mean he was a fan of the Ancient Greeks. He often commented on my own lack of body art, attempting to persuade me to submit to getting tattooed on numerous occasions. I politely declined, using a fear of needles as an excuse, which he grudgingly accepted although the tracks on my arms told another story.

Crazy Carlos was a character straight out of some dark, bizarre movie. In fact, the word ‘crazy’ fell far short of describing his general demeanor. He’d have to be clinically diagnosed as a psychopath. I had no doubt of his homicidal tendencies, although I don’t believe he was ever actually convicted of a murder. His rap sheet included multiple assaults, robberies, and almost every other felony on the books. It was rumored he had a collection of fingers he had cut off of rival gang members, stashed somewhere in a freezer. He had just been released from the Arizona state penitentiary in Florence eight months ago, but he’d never bothered reporting to his parole officer. Despite all this, he was surprisingly friendly and almost even likable. However, he had these crazy eyes… Oh, those crazy eyes! I was terrified by his glare, although never letting on to how much it scared the shit out of me.

In any case, I had just finished driving a load of cocaine up from El Paso to Los Angeles, delivering it to the Chicanos in question. They’d invited me to their house to kick back with a few beers while I waited to get paid for the run. It seemed like an extremely bad idea, so of course I naturally accepted their invitation. 

The house was located in East Los Angeles, a territory I would never entertain entering under any other circumstances. I felt it might’ve been taken as a sign of disrespect if I’d turned down their hospitality. Besides, what’s the worst that could happen? My decision to accept their offer is a perfect example of why common sense is not really all that common.

The front yard and porch of the bungalow were guarded by a small group of ominous-looking vatos. Various athletic teams were represented by their jerseys with ball caps, but the common theme among them was blue, the signature colors of Los Sureños. For once I’d gotten lucky, wearing my Cubs jersey to fit in with the guys. Still, they didn’t attempt to conceal their menace as we approached. In typical moronic style I waved, greeting the crew in blue with a friendly “Como te va?” (How you doin’?)

“Carnales, escucha yo!” (Homeboys, listen to me!) Carlos yells at the muchachos.

“This is Santiago, street name Bigotes, and he is family. He is to be treated with respect. Do you all understand?” 

He puts his arm over my shoulder, patting my chest with his other hand. 

“You fuck with him, you are fucking with me! Entiendas?”

They nod their heads, indicating their understanding.

“Carlos, venga ese,” Gator orders. “Quit screaming at everybody.”

We enter the house and I am completely taken by surprise. It’s not at all what I expected inside. It is absolutely immaculate with contemporary furniture, fine rugs, and Latino artwork adorning the walls. 

“You want a beer, Bigotes?” Gator asks. “Also, I have some cocaine that will make you so high, you won’t feel your face. You like cocaine, si Bigotes?”

“I don’t take cocaine to get high,” I reply. “I just like the way it smells.”

“You’re a very funny guy ese,” Gator laughs, slapping me on the back as he makes his way into the kitchen.

I take a seat on the plush brown leather sofa, admiring the artwork and the Mayan masks hanging on the walls.

“Bigotes, what are you doing, pinche guey?” Gator yells at me. “You can’t sit in here! Get up! My grandmother will beat the hell out of us both with a broom if she finds out. Follow me out the back door to the garage.” 

“Desculpe carnal, I had no idea. Your grandmother lives here with you?”

“Well, I live with her, really,” he confesses with a touch of embarrassment. “She raised me and my sister. My father was always missing in action, met him only once. Dear mom was a junkie and died of an overdose when I was six. Mi abuela (my grandmother) took care of us, and now that she’s older, I don’t want her to live alone.”

“You’re a good man, Gator. You’ve got a good heart.” 

We head out into the backyard, and in comparison to the house’s interior, it looks more like a military compound. The garage walls have been reinforced with bricks, and the yard itself is enclosed with an eight-foot chain link fence, topped off with razor wire. Up on the garage roof, there’s some type of crow’s nest or lookout point towering over the confines of the enclosure.

I enter the garage, following behind Gator. I can hear Carlos already inside, singing along to a classic tune by NWA. Unlike the main house, the garage’s interior is exactly what I’d imagined; three large sofas covered with colorful Mexican quilts, two enormous televisions, one being used for video games and the other playing porno, a stereo with four giant speakers in each corner, and two refrigerators with terrariums placed on top, one containing scorpions the other tarantulas.

Besides us, there are three attractive Latinas present, along with two other guys who appear to have no interest in them whatsoever. Instead they scream at one of the TV screens, deeply involved in their video game.

The aroma of marijuana fills the air; I’m sure I’ll get high by just breathing it. There’s graffiti covering the walls as well as nearly every other surface, street art in lettering I am unable to decipher. It’s a disability I attribute to my suburban upbringing.

I wait to sit down until I’m sure it’s okay to do so without causing another incident. Carlos slaps me on the back, hands me a beer, passes me a lit joint then pushes me down onto the nearest sofa.

“So que piensa guay?” he asks, dancing around with a grin on his face. “Pretty fucking righteous place, huh? This is our home, our place, our church. And you are the first outsider to ever be in here.” 

“Gracias jefe,” I say, coughing as I pass the joint back to him. “It’s an honor.”

“Bigotes, do you maybe want some fuckie fuckie, or a blowjob from one of the chulas?” Gator offers. “It’s okay, they’re not anybody’s novias. They’re members, so it’s part of their duties.”

“Appreciate the offer but I think we need to discuss my payment. I was told it would be ready for me upon delivery. And with all due respect, I would like to take care of business first if you don’t mind?” 

“Carnal, you need to lighten up. Tranquilo,” Gator says. “We were not expecting you until tomorrow, but as usual, here you are a day early. Just like you, Bigotes. You are never late and the count is always good. I know why you are El Jefe’s favorite.”

His words are flattering, but the soft tone of his voice still manages to carry a hint of menace.

“We don’t have the plata right now,” he continues. “It’s gonna take us a few hours to pull it together. I’m sorry, but we’ll have it for you later tonight.”

“Okay,” I accede, “but understand I need to call my contact and report all is well. Then return the rental van and get to the airport for a ticket to Tucson. Or should I consider a hotel for the night, taking care of my tasks in the morning?”

“Bigotes, you can stay here,” Gator offers. “We will take you to the airport in the morning. How does that sound?”

“I just think I’d be more comfortable at a hotel,” I attempt to explain. “Don’t want to be a problem for anyone. Plus, I’m beat from the run and could use a good night’s sleep.”

He sets a plate piled high with cocaine on the table in front of me. 

“Here,” he says. “This will keep you awake until the money arrives. Now relax and have some fun.”

He doesn’t have to twist my arm any further. I obey his suggestion, snorting up a righteous line of coca. After three minutes, my face is so numb you could pull my teeth. Damn, he wasn’t lying about the stuff. Unfortunately however, it puts me on edge, as I’ve never been quite comfortable getting coked up in such unfamiliar environments.

Moments later, two of the sentries that had been posted out front enter the garage, hurrying over to Gator with an urgent message. His expression instantly changes from the friendly guy from before into that of an enraged beast.

“Call every member!” he yells, louder than I’ve ever heard him before. “Every carnal, now! Those motherfuckers just shot two of ours. Pinche Norteños are gonna pay! Tell Calle 18 and the Playboys to meet us in 30 minutes. Death is coming to dinner. Let’s go, Bigotes!”

I could have sworn I thought I heard him say, “Let’s go, Bigotes!” That wasn’t what I heard, was it?

The garage is swiftly occupied by a large contingency of gang members. I rise to my feet as they begin to move the couches, pulling back the rug to expose the flooring underneath. Several sheets of plywood are pried loose, revealing a large hole in the concrete where their arsenal is stored. They start handing out a staggering array of weaponry — AK-47s, Mac-11s, Uzis, M16s, M14s, MP5s, and a variety of handguns as well — to each of the assembled gang members. Carlos pushes an AK-47 at me. I push it back, but he pushes it at me again, and I’m forced to take it from his hands.

Next, I’m handed a kevlar vest.

“Just in case someone gets lucky and shoots your ass,” Carlos laughs.

Now, you should know that bulletproof vests are not exactly bulletproof; they’re more like bullet resistant at best. Nothing is 100% bulletproof, and while the vests may stop a .44, .45, and small-caliber rifles, 9 mm and .357 rounds travel at a higher speed, often piercing right through. A well-aimed shotgun blast can penetrate the body armor like it’s nothing at all. So, what you see in the movies and TV shows… all total bullshit.

Carlos brandishes some pruning shears, furiously snipping them close to my face. “These are for dedos (fingers) to put in my collection,” he laughs, shoving them in his back pocket. “Now we have some fun!”

As for myself, I’m not at all excited to participate in this impromptu round of gang warfare. It’s not that I’m a coward; I’ve experienced a few gun fights in my life. As I’ve grown older though, I’ve developed a sense of survival by avoidance. This type of recreation is what I consider to be a very high-risk activity, but I’m unable to excuse myself without sounding like a pussy.

Meanwhile, Carlos is helping me with the kevlar vest, grunting as he tightens the straps around my sides. In this moment, I’m reminded why I always make “business first” my priority, but this time unfortunately I have failed to follow my own philosophy. Now I’m coked up, stoned, haven’t been paid or returned the rental van yet, and I still haven’t even reported my status to El Jefe either. I must be suffering from JRS (Johnny Rico Syndrome)!

Soon I’ve become just another body in the wave of warriors being pushed out the door, unable to fight against the current, forced to go along with the flow. As we reach the street, Gator grabs my arm and pulls me into a white lowrider with him.

“You better ride with me, Bigotes. You will be safer, the other members don’t know who you are and just might cap your ass.”

“Thanks Gator,” I say, “but I’m not quite sure I want to be a part of this little confrontation…”

“You’ll be fine. Just stick with me, okay?”

I squeeze into the backseat with three other heavily armed muchachos. As I attempt to get situated, I inadvertently point my gun at the driver’s head up front. Gator grabs the barrel and pushes it down, nearly causing me to pull the trigger on accident. 

“Who’s fucking side you on, pinche guey?” he says. “You gonna get one of us killed!”

“I’m sorry carnal, it won’t happen again.”

“Vamonos jefe,” he orders the driver.

Just as we begin to pull away from the curb, however, a police cruiser pulls up and parks in front of our caravan, blocking the street ahead. Two more cruisers pull up behind us with their lights flashing.

A unmarked black car pulls up alongside us. Two detectives exit the vehicle and motion to Gator to come with them. 

“Damn, it’s Detective Graham from the gang unit. I guess they want a pow-wow. Everyone just be cool, let me see what they want.”

Gator exits the vehicle and walks toward the two detectives. Meanwhile, the uniformed cops have taken up positions behind their cars with weapons drawn. The tension grows thick as we wait to see what happens next.

After a few minutes of heated discussion with the detectives, Gator returns with a disappointed look on his face.

“They arrested the three Norteños who shot our brothers,” he tells us through the window. “They don’t want to see any revenge in the streets. They’re armed and ready to put down a gang riot. Graham said all that’s going to happen is that a lot of people are gonna get arrested and killed. So we’ll wait for another day to get blood for blood. Head back to the house, I’ll be there in a minute. Gotta tell the other vatos.”

I’m so damn happy with this development, it takes all my will not to let it show.

As we file back into the garage, someone turns on the stereo, and we slowly begin to restock the armory. I open the refrigerator, grabbing a beer and pausing to check out the scorpions on top of it. When I turn around, there’s a group of muchachos standing behind me with angry looks on their faces.

“Hey gringo,” one of them says, “you just go in people’s fridge, take what you want without asking? You weren’t raised with any manners?”

“Who the fuck you think you are, guero?” says another one. “You don’t give us no respect.” 

“Desculpe carnales,” I say. “Gator told me to help myself, and since I wasn’t going to ask one of you to get me a beer, I got one for myself.”

They all start laughing, slapping me on the back and giving me high fives all around.

“It’s okay, we were just fucking with you,” one of them says. “You were ready to go to war with Los Sureños, now you are one of us.”

I laugh it off and help them put the room back together. Gator returns with Carlos close behind, walking straight up to me without a word to anyone else present.

“Bigotes, I have to let you know that you showed me the true person you are today. You were ready to come with us and defend our honor. I want you and everyone here to know you are family para seguro (forever).”

He places his hands on my shoulders as Carlos hands me a blue bandana.

“Escucha jefe, I have to go and pay respects to the families of our dead brothers. Luis will drive you to a hotel, and I will come by with your money later tonight. Is that okay with you?”

“Sure patron, absolutely fine. Who is this Luis that’s going to drive me?”

“The carnal you almost shot in the car. He will take you, I hope?”

Gator laughs as he walks away.

Donna Dallas

Regretful Wretch

Hold on Dark Lord – when I brimmed
with your eggs
waited
open legged and wild-eyed
I moved soooo fast then
now I’m slowed to a dumb
bleary-eyed
shuffle-to-a-stupor
old mess
why didn’t you make me
your vampiress 
while I oozed with potent venom and froth
you lifted me up
shared my blood with
your dark angels only to
drop me
as I fell I realized I would break
(thanks…for nothing)
into a thousand pieces
(and I did)
some old hag 
swept me into a plastic bag
tried to glue my parts
I came back
all fack-yacked 
an awful science project gone awry
I begged
to be put out of my misery
howled for you…… 
your icy cold fingers poke me
your horsemen scream a laughter
that shatters through my days
I swear I didn’t swear
if I did……………………. 
my fingers were crossed

Harry Whitewolf

YouTube Dickheads Banned My Video

Check out my brand-new poem YouTube Dickheads Banned My Video on YouTube.

The poem about online censorship and the coming death of free speech was written in response to YouTube recently banning my poetry performance vid Constable Cunt.

It would have to be the only poetry vid of mine that went viral (with 4.3K views) wouldn’t it?

CHECK IT OUT BELOW

Paul Tanner

chinked kink

I dragged her by the hair.
stop! she kicked. please!  
shut up! I gave her a slap
and cuffed her to the radiator’s pipe.
no, seriously! she said, my phone’s in the other room! 
so?
so my dad’s still in the hospital! what if someone rings? 
don’t care, I shrugged. in fact, I hope he dies. 
then I’ll adopt you and be your new daddy, won’t I?

I left and went to the shop on the corner. got a little thing of milk. 
some Doritos. pack of custard creams. Sanjeev asked me if
I saw the match. told him I don’t follow football. but you’re
from Liverpool, he wailed. home of the greatest team in the world!
it’s boring, I said. bunch of rich shampoo models prancing about.
now hockey, that’s a game. can I have a bag, please? 

I got back and peeked my head in.

well? I asked. 
to be honest, she shrugged, I could take or leave it.
I didn’t go too far?
no, it was exactly like we said, it’s just … 
she looked around the room … well, kind of boring. 
yeah, I agreed. bit forced, isn’t it. 
yeah, that’s it, she said. it’s too over the top, really. and 
it’s boring, just lying here, waiting for you.  
fair enough. want me to uncuff you? 
please, daddy.

then we ate all the custard creams 
watching two seasons of Friends. 

Judson Michael Agla

BOMBSHELL

When you walked through the dance floor,
everyone turned their heads

You wore a gold sequined dress
and rainbow sparkles through your hair

I didn’t even mind when you stole my spleen,
I wasn’t using it anyway 

Besides, a man has to give up something
of value to sip bourbon with a Princess

You were talking of existential surgery;
I was thinking about the bomb in the basement,
and the machine gun under our table

I thought it was a shame that
she would soon be blown to pieces;
It seemed such a dirty demise for royalty

Separating gold sequins from entrails
hanging off the ceiling, so as of not to
mix her remains with the bourgeois

Strange, how even in death,
the struggle between classes rages on  

Mather Schneider

Hermosillo Fire

Saturday, Saturday, pretty Saturday. The melon-man drives by in his little truck selling cantaloupe and watermelon. Yesterday was Black Friday. People trampled themselves bloody in hideous stampedes for discounted luxury items like mile-wide TVs, video games, flavored underwear, microwaves, who knows what else. I barely got out of bed all day. 

Before Natalie got deported, we used to get up at 3:30 a.m. Natalia worked the breakfast shift at McDonald’s and I drove a cab. For 15 years we did that. We hated it, and dreamed of escaping it. Then the decision was made for us. Now we live in this tiny house in Hermosillo with Natalia’s parents. We make do. We try to look at the bright side. 

On Thursday night a vagabond lit a fire in the dump behind the house here on Avenida Economia. The houses stretch for a few blocks in a straight line, all flat-topped with cement roofs, separated by a 3-foot gap, so that an agile child can run the length, leaping like a steeplechase over the empty spaces. 

I was good and snozzled when we all saw and smelled the smoke. It was no joke, really barreling up like a locomotive. I climbed up the old home-made ladder to the roof of the house to do some surveillance. A cement block wall separates the houses from the dump. The blaze was rising like crazy in the dark night. Holy shit! A million mercurochrome tentacles. The unspeakable crackling, like glass hibiscus flowers crunched between the yellow teeth of Godzilla. Too much dry grass and garbage back there. 

“Hand me the hose!” 

I stood up there on the roof and used my thumb to arch the hose water, what little pressure came out of it, over the cement block wall into the flames. It helped, I warded it off our little area at least. Soon others were up on their roofs doing the same, or just using buckets. The children were having a hoot, running, screaming, laughing. Everyone else was flooding the street, watching the show. Hell approaching, let’s party! The heat and red light on our faces up there on the roof: booga booga! Good thing Natalia paid the water bill.

I stood with that hose water arching out and it was like pissing in a dream and you just piss and piss and piss. Existence, yes? It took me back to the fires of my youth. All the weenies roasted, all the ants killed with magnifying glasses on summer Illinois days in the ditch-weed. My grandfather’s bonfires in the back 40, throwing an old tire on there to really get it going, that furious black tunnel of smoke crawling up into the sky, so thick it seemed you could climb it like Jack and the Beanstalk. Fires on the banks of the Illinois river among the dead fish and the oily water and the train tracks where the trains came with their howling wind and madness. 

The fire seemed to come under some control there behind that cement wall in the Hermosillo dump. Whew! Hey, somebody toss me a beer! I stood up there and drank a beer and a neighbor kid launched himself over the gap from the next house and stood next to me, his brown face glowing.

“And you? What do you want, chamaco?” I said.

“Are you from the other side?”

“What gave it away?”

“Is it true what they say?”

“What do they say?”

“That life is better on the other side?”

“No, that’s not true.”

“But people have money there.”

“Some do, yes.”

“Do you have a computer?”

“No. I have a notebook.”

“I don’t have a computer either. Do you have a cell phone?

“Yes I have a cell phone.”

“I don’t. You wouldn’t have an old one you don’t want anymore?”

“I’m sorry, I don’t. Who you gonna call, anyway?”

“I don’t know. Somebody.”

“Does your father know where you’re at?”

“No.”

“What’s your father do?”

“He’s a bricklayer.”

“That’s a noble profession. He sounds like a good man.”

“Yeah.”

I gave him a 20 peso note and he shot off like a spark over the rooftops. Other children watched me from the dark, little raccoon eyes. The crowd on the street was giddy and we were all almost sad to see that the fire had given up. It never did leap the cement block wall. I climbed down from the roof and finished my beer at my little table with the spiders. Natalia and everyone filtered back into the houses. 

An hour later the fire truck came. The firemen stood around the truck looking at the remnants of the coals for a while, then they left. I sat in the dark. I wondered how we were going to make it, living in Hermosillo with our money running out. I reached my hand into the beer cooler but there was nothing but dirty melted ice.

William Taylor Jr.

The Confession

I was in North Beach just drinking and walking around.
It was a bright and lovely day with people outside doing things
and feeling generally good about the world.
A scruffy young fellow on the sidewalk
outside a grocery store asked me for a few bucks
but I only had bills bigger than I was willing to give.
I felt bad because there was something about his face
that I liked, an earnestness in his voice that struck me.
I went to the neighborhood record shop and bought 
some old Springsteen on vinyl, 9 bucks a pop, 
and when I came out I passed the kid again and gave him
the few dollars I had left.
He thanked me profusely with his earnest voice
and I told him he was quite welcome and continued on.
I was two blocks away when he ran up behind me
and touched my arm. Hey, he said, hey!
I stopped and turned and he said, 
I just wanna be straight with you bro, 
all I’m gonna do is buy a beer!
I gave him a thumbs up and told him 
that I planned to do the same.
He smiled and nodded, returned my thumbs up 
and disappeared into Big Al’s liquor store.
I went home and drank a sixer of some new 
hipster ale as I leaned back and listened 
to the Boss tell it like it was. 

Paul Tanner

pervs without sluts 

mum’s got a job in a morgue. 
she’s not trained or nothing, but they’re letting her help out
as some trainee assistant blood drainer, or something like that.
she said she’ll take me some time to watch.  
if she leaves the room to go the toilet or whatever,
I could suck a tit. maybe stick my fingers in the corpse’s fanny.
maybe more. 

jesus, don’t you have any imagination? I asked.  
wank about it if you have to. 
but you don’t have to actually do it. 

it’s ok, he said. they’re dead. they can’t fight back. 
and anyway, you don’t need their permission,
cos it’s not them anymore. it’s just a body. their soul’s gone. 

or, I suggested, you could just, you know, 
go and meet someone real and maybe charm them? 

he shook his head. you’ve got no ambition, he sighed. 

look, if it’s the lifeless thing that does it for you,
at least, I don’t know, get a mannequin or something. I don’t know. 

a mannequin! he clapped his hands. shit, of course! 
bit hard, all that plastic, like. but I can always drill holes in them 
and put like, cotton in them or something, can’t I? no, 
not cotton, fluff would stick to me bell end. what can I …

warm jelly? I proposed, before I could stop myself. 

warm jelly! genius! he hugged me. you’re a genius, you are! 
can you get me one? your shop does clothes, doesn’t it? 
they have mannequins, don’t they? you could get me one,
couldn’t you?

I didn’t say anything. 

or do you have already have one? you do, don’t you? 
you’ve already nicked one. 
that’s how you knew to use warm jelly, wasn’t it?

I didn’t say anything. 

and you can’t steal another, because then they’ll be onto you. 
well that’s ok, I can just borrow yours. what’s her name?

Rosanna, I said.  

nice. nice slutty name, that. so can I borrow Rosanna? 
I’ll put my own jelly in her. 

she left me, I said. 

he narrowed his eyes and studied me.
you’re weird, he concluded …

couple of days later, I’m walking to work 
and a car horn beeps.
I turn and it’s him and his mum.
he waves out of the passenger window. 

they on their way to the morgue? I wondered. 
wait till Rosanna hears about this.