Anthony Dirk Ray

New Orleans Pride

it was a long Labor Day weekend
although weekends never feel long
I took a few days off in
preparation for said weekend
that Wednesday I hurt my knee bad
so I hobbled with every step
fucking great, I thought
I’m going to have to do
a lot of walking this weekend
Thursday
I took the dog to the vet
I watched as my dog took shots
like a champion
a cute blonde with a lip piercing
and tight scrubs hugged my dog tight
and let him lick her in the mouth
as the doctor shot him up with drugs
and inserted a long cylindrical tube
into his anus for a fecal test
this lucky bastard, I thought
tests were negative
the dog healthy
I emptied my wallet and
we went on our way
Friday
the wife and I left for Ocean Springs
ate great barbecue
drank good bourbon and soaked
in a large tub by the bed
the next day we went to an
art walk where I purchased
an original piece from a hipster
I won’t hold that against him
because his work is amazing
we then headed for Biloxi
we gambled a little
ate a lot
and saw the comedian
we were there to see
I had strong drinks from the bar
and weak drinks at the slots
I ran into a coworker who was
feeding machines with hundred after hundred
“push it” he told me
“maybe you’re lucky”
I wasn’t
I never am
Sunday
we drove to New Orleans
as we were getting off on our exit
I turned to my wife and said
“I just remembered, it’s pride weekend”
we made our way toward the hotel bar
rumors have it that Bukowski stayed
there when he was in his twenties
we found a spot on the street to park
less than a block away
we entered the bar and ordered drinks
as we drank we watched
girls and guys walk by with wings attached
dressed in wigs, dresses or much less
I ordered another round and
we decided to take a walk
I fired up a cigar as we walked
I knew what they were probably thinking
me sucking on a long brown stick
many males and females in thongs
and jockstraps
chest harnesses abound
no problems among thousands of people
everyone was so festive and joyous
dancing, laughing, and singing
it’s then I realized how they
probably got their title
I was proud of New Orleans once again

John D Robinson

She Is Beautiful

My face just a few inches
from her pussy, her legs
spread wide,
she is beautiful.
and I watch as she
masturbates and
climaxes:
daylight is shutting
down as her
murmurs of pleasure
vastness and people
will begin to make ready
for the evening:
she softly quietens
and lays still as I
move and wrap my
arms around her as
my neighbours close
their curtains and
lock their doors,
shutting out the
world:
she is beautiful,
the street-lighting
sprinkles into being
and small garden
birds are now silent
as she brings me
between the moment
of life and death.

Matthew Licht

Zoo Tail

Her ass said, follow me. The way she walked, loosely translated from body language, said, look at my ass. The message was: look at my ass and follow me.

She headed towards the zoo.

This seemed an oddball destination for a woman dressed to hook. Hook up, I mean. Maybe with a friendly guy who doesn’t spend sunny afternoons in an office or shop. She spotted the tail immediately. I’m no private detective. She didn’t make a fuss or call the cops. She looked back to make sure I was still there behind her.

The zoo’s a good place to go because it’s free. Zoo management did some market research, and discovered the admission charge discouraged attendance. The free zoo became a popular attraction. Zookeepers made up for lost ticket sales with a popcorn stand. People stand in line to buy paper boxes of cloud-shaped kernels to feed the monkeys.

The lady with the wonderful behind sashayed through the wrought-iron gate. A zookeeper in a cop-like uniform said a big hello.

She was apparently a regular, well-known to the keepers and the sweepers who follow the elephants around. She’s on a first-name basis with the giraffes, zebras, warthogs and giant anteaters.

A hand-painted sign said, Monkey Island. A green arrow pointed left. She stopped and pretended to study the sign. She looked back.

Modern life means less and less contact with animals. Less genuine contact with other people too, even though we’re smashed closer and closer together, more and more of us every day. But those of us not confined to office space-and-time are free to go outside for fresh air, sunshine and a glimpse of caged nature. I hadn’t been to the zoo for ages.

Monkey Island isn’t a natural geographical phenomenon. Zoo architects dreamed up concrete poured into the shape of a tropical paradise. Just like the ones the general public saw on television while they were growing up, except no palm trees, no beach. Monkey Island is an island only because of its gray, garbage-strewn moat. People throw popcorn at the monkeys. Monkeys love popcorn. They wolf down as much popcorn as they can get their mitts on. But some popcorn inevitably ends up in the listless sludge that surrounds their artifical habitat. Kids in particular are not such amazing popcorn-tossers.

The woman didn’t stop at the popcorn stand. Either she had no dough to blow on frivolous fripperies like feeding monkeys, or else she thought it cruel to make imprisoned creatures turn somersaults for insubstantial snacks. She went to the wrought-iron railing that surrounds the water that surrounds Monkey Island and separates visitors from the resident apes, and leaned over.

Her rear curves were accentuated by how far she leaned.  Man oh man those lucky monkeys got one hell of a cleavage peep.

Perfecto. Time to sidle up, lean casually against the fence and say, ‘scuse me, Miss, but these monkeys sure are fascinating creatures. Sometimes when I watch monkeys I can’t help but think maybe them and us aren’t so different after all. Except the poor monkeys are stuck in a cage and we, for the time being at least, are pretty much free to move around and do as we please.

Then, if fate will have it, a pair of baboons will start humping. She’ll get the idea. Carnal blossoms will expand and unfold. In one of our formerly lonely bedrooms, or in a public toilet stall at the zoo.

She swayed back and forth against the railing, teetered on the brink between the world of people, captive ape territory and dirty water. The watery barrier reflected an upside-down face, a bosom about to spill from a clingy blouse and clouds. On the opposite shore, a pink-ass macaque daintily drank and shot a monkey moon at another monkey with a hard-on.

He was the biggest ape on Monkey Island, some kind of monster gorilla or mandrill, and he was looking at my lady.

He wasn’t exactly handsome, not even for an orangutan. Looked like the zoo barber had taken a defective razor to his pelt. His fur was thin, clumpy, tufted, in patches. He either suffered from simian skin disease, ape-zema, or else stir-craziness had gone psychosomatic on his all-over ape hairdo.

My fantasy girlfriend wasn’t offended by the balding animal’s behavior. Neither was she amused. Most people would go hurh-hurh check it out the freaky chimp’s pullin’ his banana. Then they’d wander off to gawk at the demon-faced hyena. My lady stayed put, bent over, waved her caboose like a cat, and stared.

The colossal howler monkey or lemur or whatever he was stared right back at the lady who was watching him beat his meat. No way to tell if he was just feeling good because the sun was shining warm and pleasant, or if he was excited because she showed up and leaned over. A feeling hit that this was a regular thing for the lady and the monkey. They were engaged in the only kind of date they could legally have, but someone had intruded on their illusion of privacy.

So I didn’t try to start up a conversation with her. Maybe I should’ve. She might’ve snapped out of her trance and come along for some human-to-human intercourse. Or she might’ve told me to get lost and that would’ve been the end.

Another feeling took over. This was something secret, forbidden, hot. The monkey component of my brain said, expose yourself and behave like the confined primate. But you can get locked up for indecent acts in public. There are kids at the zoo, most days. Kids shouldn’t have to see stuff like that.

Field day giggles galore arise from kids who watching a chimp slam the ham.

Ham was the first chimp to be blasted off into Outer Space. Black and white newspaper pix of a monkey in a space suit. He gave a toothy grin or snarled for the camera, but man did his eyes ever look sad.

Teacher, teacher, what’s the monkey doing? More snickers as the embarrassed schoolmarm hustles the punks along to gawp at the rhinoceros. The rhino takes a gushing leak on his bed of straw. Shit-eating scavenger birds scatter, and fly away because they’re free.

If the lady had noticed that a stranger stared, she gave no sign of it. The chimp shot an annoyed smirk, or as close as a monkey’s mug can get to one, and yanked harder. Then he stopped. Watery semen spurted and splatted on cement. Another caged creature, perhaps a female baboon, ambled over on all fours, stuck a finger into the milky puddle, sniffed, tasted, shuffled away to snuffle up a kernel of popcorn someone who hadn’t stopped to watch the monkey show had thrown.

The lady stared at the gorilla or orangutan and wiggled faster, bucked her hips. The monkey kept his eye on me. There, is that what you wanted to see? Will that do, for today?

The monkey won the staring contest, hands down. When I looked over, the lady was gone. She’d walked away and I missed her part of the show.

At least there was no admission charge.

The guy in charge of the zoo’s popcorn concession didn’t even look up when I paid for the smallest cardboard box of popcorn on offer. Big deal, another cheapo customer. First thing you learn in the Big City is don’t make eye contact. He played by the rules.

Zoo etiquette is you feed the monkeys one fluffy kernel at a time. Bond with a lower form of life. Feed the monkeys as though you were their lord and master. Make urbane comments on their antics. Instead, I winged the box at the jack-off monkey’s head. Either I missed or he ducked like lightning. Popcorn exploded all over a section of Monkey Island’s cement floor and started a furry feeding frenzy. The spent ape folded his arms over a patch of leathery chest and closed his black eyelids. For him, the rest of the world was gone.

It’s possible the sexy lady went back to the zoo the next day for another date with her monkey. True-life stories abound about desirable women who fix their love and souls on prison lifers, Death Row losers. They waste their lives in trailers parked just outside prison grounds. They live for full-contact visiting hours.

No more zoo trips for me.

But I learned something. The difference between monkeys and apes is that apes don’t have tails. I don’t have a tail. So maybe I’m an ape. An ape who tails weirdoes, unless they’re headed to the zoo.

Donna Dallas

Snake Charmer

You play your flute
maybe strum a guitar
I rise out of the basket
enchanted by the sound
or maybe just hungry

I slither across the white tiled floor
my skin taut and flexing
I hiss at your friends
—the ones you shove me back
into the basket for

You only want me around
when you are lonely
when you make your
sweet musical sounds
and persuade me to coil
around your hips wrap myself
around your penis

Today I want a rat to eat
I shed my skin and now
I’m scaled a high shine
the light makes me iridescent
I’m slick black and deadly
I wait in my basket for you
to come in with your flute
and coax me out

But you leave me alone
I’m still hungry
What will you do
when I outgrow this little hut
make a boot or two out of me?

Anthony Dirk Ray

Your Title To Decide

as this whiskey coats my throat
swells and scars my liver
as the cigar smoke expands
cooks my mouth and hardens my heart
I’m reminded of all the dissatisfied
that came before me
never did what they wanted
refused happiness for whatever reason
all in the guise of tradition or fear
afraid to say the wrong thing
scared to take that drink
or do that drug
petrified to fuck
or fuck who they want
trying not to let a deity down
not disappoint a loved one
make a good impression on a stranger
live a long life
or all of the above
at the same time
you have only one life to live
and it is up to you
how you live that life
some feel living a life of fear
and cautiousness is rewarding
but others crave the unknown
live for the different states
feel free when actions and
speech are not hindered
a tightrope of sorts
existence balanced
still
some fly
yet
some fall

Wesley Hunt

Loam

The old man, seated in the chair, moves his lips because his hips can’t talk. They’re too old. Too fat. But he doesn’t think she sees him that way. He thinks she sees him as a mystery-father because she’s too young, too stupid, to know otherwise.

Her fingers trace the lip of the glass of the drink he bought her before she sat down next to him and she listens. Her eyes move with his lips and she waits for him to drink before she laughs—a little too hard and a little too loud. He touches her shoulder for emphasis. He wants her tonight, she thinks, naked and splendid.

My husband is a writer, she says.

I’ve never read a book cover to cover.

How did you get so smart?

Television.

She takes a drink and smiles and waits for him to do something daring. Something a man aware of the urgency of death would do. He doesn’t. He thumbs the tumbler in his hands in a way he thinks she may find sexy. She doesn’t. She doesn’t bother to notice because she’s thinking about the audiobook she downloaded last night, and the way it made her feel this morning when her lips felt loamy and hard to chew on. And she’s thinking about her husband and the way his lips felt pressed against her loamy lips when he left for work with a lunch box and tool box in hand—and how they didn’t say anything to each other all morning—not even goodbye, just a peck.

Do you ever feel like you’ve been chewing on dirt since you spoke your first word? she says.

He hasn’t, but, oddly enough his wife had a year or two after they’d first married and has tried to make him understand the feeling ever since.

Are you related to anyone famous?

No, he says, but I’ve been told I look like a young Harrison Ford.

When were you told that? she asks.

When I was much younger and looked like Harrison Ford.

She laughs but doesn’t smile, her eyes focusing on the tumbler in his hands reflecting a silverfish sheen on the crotch of his dress pants as a subtle rainbow.

Are you gay? she asks him.

No, I’m middle aged, and at this point it’s best to dress nice to distract from the fact of my dying.

She thinks he’s witty and she knows he’s read more books than he lets on, but she also knows he’s taken medication to facilitate his sexual performance, and this makes her horny.

Would you fuck me?

Probably.

Would you enjoy it?

Probably.

They’re both quiet for a long time until she laughs softly but with a smile. He places the glass on the bar and readjusts his pants. She traces her finger along the edge of her lip. He motions toward the bartender.

Good.

She leaves without paying. He stays until after they close, and the bartender has to call him a cab.

John D Robinson

The Gold-Mine

‘Her pussy is a gold-mine,
her fingertips are velvet
flowers’ what is that
bullshit!’ she said ‘What
the fuck does that mean?
gold-mine pussy?
velvet fingertips?
she said after reading a
poem that I had
dedicated to her, I
didn’t know what to
say and then she
started laughing, I
looked on feeling
dumb and foolish,
after a few moments
she moved in closer,
‘Thank you’ she said
and then ‘That’s nice,
the gold-mine is all
yours’ she said,
her velvet fingertips
clutching between
her legs.

Alan Catlin

Brain Drain

“It was like being in hell -the stage version.”
Marianne Faithful

She wants to whistle
the mad chords of
‘All Along the Watchtower’
but the tune sticks
to the gummed edges
of her cracked teeth
broken by the fist
of a male nurse
who caught her sneaking
a stash of blow onto
the closed ward of
an enforced, involuntary
detox, “Getting clean is
easy,” she says, ‘All you
need is ten blankets and
a rubber room to freak in,
the first seven days
of the shakes.” Staying
clean is the hard work,
especially with no known
reason not to live the life
of a Honky Tonk Angel
hooked on the smoke,
the pills and juice that
gives your singing voice
all that character none
of the others have.

Irvin Lee

Every Roach Washes Ashore

hell bent
aching tooth
of the city.
every roach
washes ashore.
summer sleeps
like a fly
on its belly.

a whore
is bottomless
and picking
at her vagina.
a store keeper
cocks his shotgun.
pigeons scatter
atop project buildings.
the old lady
is swinging
her tits again.

the world
is numb,
once more,
as some kid
pulls into
his grave.