HSTQ: Summer 2022

horror, adj. inspiring or creating loathing, aversion, etc.

sleaze, adj. contemptibly low, mean, or disreputable

trash, n. literary or artistic material of poor or inferior quality

Welcome to HSTQ: Summer 2022, the curated collection from Horror, Sleaze and Trash!

Featuring poetry by Daniel S. Irwin, John D Robinson, Jay Maria Simpson, John Tustin, John Yohe, Nadja Moore, Laszlo Aranyi, Andy Seven, Omar Alexandre, Willow Croft, Gene Goldfarb, Brice Fisher, Brian Rosenberger, Vivian Pollak, Matt Dennison, James Diaz, Jodie Baeyens, Jonathan Baker, and Dan Flore III.

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Matt Dennison

Parable of Displeasure

He puked and he puked until he
thought now surely I must die, surely
there can be no more. He had brought
up the water, the coffee, the orange
juice, the whiskey, the wine, the
vodka, pasta, snails and love, but still
it kept coming. He was into the bodily
fluids now, and it would, later, scare
him. Now all he could do was watch.
And smell. Yellow, foul tasting stuff
that made him bite the back of his
tongue. Then green, then clear again.
Then brown. Then smudge, was all he
could call it, looking at the last grey
layer floating. Smudge. Yes. And
flat oil slicks, tiny fishes, nuts and
bolts, telephone lines, cardboard boxes,
file cabinets, tax forms, old photos,
death announcements. Then, eyes
bulging, bursting red, gasping like a
gored fish, he passed it, or, rather, it
passed itself, wiggling out into the sick
grease on top of it all only to grow
and grow and grow until it, in turn,
puked him out, after the water, the
coffee, the orange juice, the whiskey, the wine,
the vodka, pasta, snails and love,
but still it kept coming.

Jonathan Baker

One More Road

for CS Mathews

Ephemeral,
intangible,
spiritual,
like that night with the whiskey glass
and it wouldn’t work, 
and we tried, 
and we tried,
and we tried.
I was hurt,
and his license plates were expired.
She and I,
we held each other
through the puffs of smoke.
We were enthusiastic failures.
We were ecclesiastic quitters.
And the broken glass,
not from the whiskey glass,
but from the windshield 
cut my feet on the pavement
as I showed how I could 
walk tall and proud for the officer,
and he told me 
to turn around and return,
but I wanted to keep walking forever 
until I returned to her.
First to the ground 
that drank her blood,
and then to the sky 
that ate her spirit.

Bradford Middleton

Drinking the Days Away

I spent the afternoon in the pubs
First the one i’ve spent so many
Words on in recent years and then
Onto the one before that and damn
It all felt so damn good.

I walked in the first one and wow
What a wonder it felt as outside
The sun still shone high in the sky
And the breeze swept through the
Bar and immediately i was greeted
With “Hi Bradford”.

It was home i felt and i settled in,
Reflecting the time by just ordering
A beer and sitting back, only 2-30
After all, and i just sat there, happy
With life after all.

I just drank slowly, chatted to some
People, happily getting on with my 
Day until it turned nearly 5 and the
Second pub beckoned as happy 
Hour prices were due to kick in.

I smoked one on the little walk
Round the corner and settled again
At the bar, ordering another beer
Before letting it sink all the way down
As i simply ordered another.

A bit of time kicked on whilst a
Lonely soul chatted with me about
God damn football as i drank beer
Cheap beer that made me feel 
Good.

But as the prices went up the time
Came around to get back home, safe
In the realisation that drinking in a
Pub is far better during the day than
At night.

Those poor suckers who drink in
Pubs at night are so often frustrated
At their lives; how they always seem
To be at work during the happy hour
Moments and rarely see any sunlight,
Through that best view, a pub window, 
Ha i laugh at those damn fools.

Brian Fugett

Nicotine Wiggle of the Carcinogen Cowboy

what have we become? watch close
you might see

static positions
a voice lost somewhere behind the headboard.
hidden sinkholes in a sandbox

a breath drifts
from one strange mouth
to the next

erections rearrange the gal
while the carcinogen cowboy
does the nicotine wiggle

a voluptuous 
cigarette butt bouquet 
blooms in the ashtray 
next to her head.

palm sweat is dispersed
in a kung fu drizzle
that reeks of
Marlboro menthols
and Budweiser 

John Patrick Robbins

I Always Forget Something

I tried to hurry along as always.

Purchasing things to clog my arteries and booze to simply maintain.

As I tried to ignore the nervous energy that made me want to scream out to some random stranger: 

“If you get in my way again, I will literally pound your head into the slab floor and keep on moving as if nothing happened!”

As some poor underpaid kid just thought to himself that he should get a raise for having to mop up this not-so-gray matter and remnants of my victim’s skull.

As I try my best to maintain the facade, I am a quasi-normal fully functional member of this mad society.

While I endure the ride home, listening to my friend babble about all the shit I could truly give a fuck about.

As my arm goes numb as my body yearns for its poison and I simply nod my head and try not to stroke out from having to endure the heat and pretend every breath is not a struggle.

As I arrive home to cram everything into a mini-fridge and pour a drink as I cuss myself for forgetting the razor blades for which I had planned on slitting my wrists that very evening.

I was angered, deeply out of air and beyond words in my lack of focus and frustration.

As that night a friend asked:

“Dude, what’s been going on with you lately?

You know you can talk to me, right?”

As I laughed within while saying nothing in return.

The truth does anything but set you free.

For I understood in this life you tell everyone whatever it takes to shut them the fuck up and in turn make them pay you no mind.

We as humans should have the freedoms to do as we please as long as our choices are not a danger to anyone around us.

But in truth, freedom comes with guidelines and way too many fine print agreements.

So I poured another drink to vanish externally to everyone around me.

And called my newly acquired friend to reschedule a return trip to town and remembered I should probably pick up a pen and some paper as well.

I wouldn’t want to depart from life’s station without leaving a note of explanation behind.

I may be selfish but I was far from rude.

Don’t worry, this isn’t a warning.

It’s a promise in the making.

I owe you nothing, let alone an explanation.

So fuck off!

The light’s out for a reason.

Jodie Baeyens

You ask if I remember

Those nights
almost a drunken blur
of bodies touching
bodies and of feeling
as if you being an inch away
was my heart
reached in and pulled 
from my chest

My bed
your car
any stolen moment
secret kiss

I remember narrow stairs 
and lavender
your beard against my curves
your lips against my neck

I remember it scared me
to love 
to care 
that much
for something
I could lose

So at the moment
I should have 
pulled 
instead
I pushed

Omar Alexandre

A Misconstrued Kindness

the big red muscle is on sabbatical
it took another dig at an empty human
a tainted canvas with damaging emerald eyes 
pulling the trigger has always been easy 
aiming is the problem and there’s only 
so many times that i can blow my brains out 
before i actually blow my brains out
but i’m not there yet so instead 
i’ll splatter my brain on to the page
and write about how cruel you were 
and title it after something stupid you said like 
a misconstrued kindness 
i guess i don’t know anything anymore 
maybe i really have lost my mind 
i’ve grown too old and 
the heart isn’t what it used to be 
the orchestra has been replaced by a dj
and now there is nothing left but rot and bones
a bad copy of the original barely crippling by
just trying to forget
and trying to remember how to do it all over again 
because the truth is little is known 
why a small thought of you
amounts to a drastic night filled 
with bad poetry 

J.J. Campbell

pissing blood

heard a bryan adams song 
on the radio the other day
and i know none of 
my fucking summers 
growing up were ever 
like that

yet another night of pissing 
blood and seeing if it is 
possible to replace it all 
with jack daniels

you notice a neon soul 
from across the room

she wants to shotgun a beer
and show you all the latest 
trends in pubic hair

you can spot a broken soul 
a mile away

and the first thing that comes 
to your mind is drop to a knee 
and produce a ring

and here come the nights 
of loneliness

troubled dreams

funneled by the ecstasy of
whatever that woman in the 
coffee shop was talking about

rinse and repeat

don’t worry, none of this 
is real

just a broken dream
caught in the seams

of a tortured soul

John Tustin

It’s Too Cold

I wake up in the middle of the night because I have to piss
but the room, it’s too cold,
so I just lie here in the dark
and I think about it.

I really have to piss
but I’m stuck under the blankets,
my nose sticking out like a thermostat.
I should get up, just do it fast,
without thinking about it

and 
I should learn how to change a flat tire.
I should clean the house, fix the toilet
and apologize to people.
I should undo my ponytail and fuck something up.
I should break some windows,
scream bloody murder,
take a writing class,
compose cranky letters to editors
and learn how to play the guitar

but it’s too cold.

I think that to myself – 
It’s Too Cold.

It’s always too hot or too cold
or I’m too tired
and who am I kidding? –

I can’t even get up to piss without pondering it:
waffling, as dolorous as Hamlet,
still undecided after an eternity;
my hands two pretend cubes of ice,
the floor between the bed and the toilet a vast tundra,
cartoon wind blowing loud and frosty
from the open bathroom door
and into that dimly lit cavern between my ears.