Ian Copestick

A Habit Waits for No Man

WOOOOOOWOOOOOOWOOOOOOWOOOOOO!

The sound of burglar alarms mixed in with the sound of the ambulances coming to collect the dead and injured.

NEENAWNEENAWWOOOOOOWOOOOOONEENAWNEENAWWOOOOOOWOOOOOO!

Through the massed crowds of black, white, Asian and all mixed races in-between, I could see him, Paul, sprinting up a side street with a laptop computer under each arm.

The riot vans screeched to a halt in the market square and armored police leapt from the sliding doors, Heckler and Koch submachine guns in hand. They let off a few rounds into the air, as a warning.

KOFF! KOFF! KOFF!

The shots didn’t sound like they did in the movies, they sounded flatter, almost like the sound had been cut off halfway.

KOFF! KOFF! KOFF!

The next round of bullets weren’t warning anybody. I saw people fall. Young girls dressed in miniskirts, their legs spread and knickers showing but strangely I didn’t feel horny at all.

Old men with their trousers up to their armpits, cardigans suddenly sprouting flowers of blood. Bright red, like poppies against the grey wool.

The people didn’t fall like they did in the movies either, there was no histrionics, they just fell, like puppets whose strings had just been snipped by scissors.

I turned my head, not being able to stand so much horror.

Then I came to my senses and started to run.

In the car park at the end of the pedestrianised section, I met up with Paul.

“Well, where the fuck are we going to sell these then?”

“At the moment, Paul, that’s the least of our fucking problems, don’t you think?”

“Okay Mister fucking Smart Arse, how are we going to score then?”

“I don’t mean to alarm you, mate, but it seems like getting away from the coppers is the most main thing. Where we’re going to score doesn’t seem so important at the moment.”

“Well it will be in a couple of fucking hours…”

Suddenly I saw the point of his argument. It didn’t matter if the world was about to end, we still needed drugs, and we would still for the foreseeable future.

“Well shit, do you think that the pawnbrokers will still be open,or should we just try Broady?”

“The pawnbrokers is on the way, so we’ll try them first, eh?”

My sickness was on its way, so I couldn’t be bothered to argue with Paul anymore. Anyway he was right, to get to Broady’s, we’d have to go past the pawnbrokers. So why not give it a shot?

Just because there was a state of emergency at hand, and there were armed forces in the streets, people still needed their drugs. A habit waits for no man.

As we walked up Picadilly we could hear the shots in the background.

KOFF! KOFF! KOFF! KOFF!

I didn’t know who they were shooting at, or why. It had to be the so-called forces of law and order who were doing the shooting. It had been happening more and more over the last few years. At first they blamed it on the Muslims, counter-terrorism they called it.

The thing is though, those of us who know who the big time dealers noticed that a surprising number of them seemed to get killed along with the so-called terrorists.

Then the coppers took over the dealing, well so they say. I’m just small time and that’s all I want to be, but from what I’ve heard all of the big time dealers are coppers now.

Then the curfew came into effect. I can almost understand that, I mean, the little fuckers were getting out of control. I myself got a kicking a couple of times off the little bastards.

I know that things are pretty bad, but the way it’s shown on the TV, you wouldn’t dare come out at night.

Anyway.

KOFF! KOFF! KOFF! KOFF!

It was almost like percussion, keeping the beat as we continued up the street.

Some people have told me that a lot of the gunshots you hear are just the coppers firing up into the air, just to keep the people scared, but I don’t know. Those poor fuckers I saw falling in the square, they weren’t acting, that’s for sure.

Anyway, end of the world or not, the Jewish pawnbrokers were still open for business.

Paul did the business, he’s a lot better with the blarney than I am. I always say, if things had been different, he would’ve made a brilliant salesman. No shit, he could sell sand to Arabs, or ice to Eskimos.

He walked out of the pawnbrokers with £200 in his hand, then headed straight to Broady’s.

KOFF! KOFF! KOFF! KOFF!

Up the piss stinking staircase we went.

KOFF! KOFF! KOFF!

Up to the seventh floor, Broady used to sell shitty, little £10 deals. Before all the “hostilities” started, you could have got twice as much from him as you did now. But, like all businessmen, he knew how to turn every bit of turmoil to his advantage.

KOFF! KOFF! KOFF!

After a while it was like you almost didn’t hear the gunshots anymore.

They were just something happening in the background, like a radio used to be.

KOFF! KOFF! KOFF! KOFF!

At the bottom of the tower block, we peeled off to the left, heading towards Paul’s squat. Well, I say Paul’s, but it was his and anybody else’s who needed to shoot up whilst they were in the neighbourhood.

KOFF! KOFF! KOFF! KOFF! KOFF!

I think it must have been the last KOFF! that got him.

Paul dropped in front of me.

“Come on mate, stop pissing about!”

Paul just lay there, a small patch of blood blooming on his jacket.

KOFF! KOFF! KOFF!

“Shut the fuck up!” I shouted.

It seemed to me that now they’d done their job, they could at least shut up for a bit.

I thought about the drugs in Paul’s pocket.

Then I felt guilty about thinking about the drugs in his pocket.

KOFF! KOFF! KOFF!

It was then I felt a hot, piercing pain in my side, almost as if I’d been stabbed with a red hot knife.

KOFF! KOFF! KOFF! KOFF!

I looked down and saw a mess of red stuff coming out of me.

KOFF! KOFF! KOFF!

I slumped over to one side. I didn’t mean to, I just couldn’t help it.

KOFF! KOFF! KOFF! KOFF!

Holly Day

Where I Shop for Fish

Street merchants with carts packed with ice and fish
shout commandments at each other over the bustle of the crowd
channel God in the most scandalous of ways. Via conversation, they strip away
each other’s damaged pasts—secret love affairs, attempted suicides—
until no one in the marketplace is truly naked.

I pull my sleeves down to cover the tiny “x”s
meant to stop my breath, too long ago to count
past the happy-faces made with rusted cigarette lighter tops
past the circle of blue dots made with safety pins and India ink
in an attempt to hide my own past from the fishmonger priests.

The newspapers the fish come wrapped in
prophesy either war or salvation, feast or obliteration
depending on which vender you buy the fish from
depending of what type of fish you buy. The small, flat sunfish I pick out
are handed to me, collectively wrapped, in pages from the Book of John
a picture of a small, pale boy with bat ears and vampire fangs on top.

India LaPlace

They’ll Say it Was Postpartum Depression

She isn’t 2 yet.
She’s in her stroller
And we are on the sidewalk
In the humid air
In a country where I am all alone,
Except for her.

Her fat little fingers are in my hair
And it’s only because she’s a baby,
But I am so good at pretending
And so I imagine she’s feeling my pain,
My turmoil,
My heartache.

I am so fucking selfish
That I project my adult conflict
On my child.
But I’ve never felt so weak
And I need someone to comfort me,
And for someone to understand
So, so desperately.

I’m not 20 yet.
I’m kneeling in front of her stroller
On the sidewalk
In the humid air
Of a country I shouldn’t have followed him to.
My head is in her lap
And it’s all I can do not to sob
While I choke out the same words to her
Again and again and again,
Busy city sounds in the background.

“I’m sorry.”
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”

Mendes Biondo

Cheers

you wanted to be me
so you drunk
because you said
that’s what you think
I do to feel better

so you pulled down your white,
soft throat
hard sips of rum
down like punches
down like razor blades
down while you were alone
seated at a sad cafe
with people passing near to you

I get drunk to meet gods
I do it when I see your perfect body
swinging on me
I drink rum when I need
to toast to victory
or to a friend
and your successes

so you drunk to be like me
but that sips where hard to swallow
and you cried them all out
as a poisonous rain

Stephanie M. Wytovich

Of My Wounds, There Are Many

Snapshot to blood and bone,
there’s a knife in my head,
but my migraine was two years in the making,
stitched to the side of my skull
like the arrow tip lodged behind my eye,
buried in my brain like the bruises
of last night’s thunder storm,
my teeth ripped from my mouth,
shoved down my throat
like how the sky pushes out rain.

Of my wounds, there are many:
see the delicate stigmata cut into my hands and feet,
the gashes dug into my thighs, the tally-mark slashes on my wrists;
I am the punctured female, the pincushion of hysteria,
a traumatized sack of feminine injury,
the flesh of my flesh, the scar of my scar,
I’m a collection of lesions and lacerations,
a patchwork of black and blue contusions
worn out from where you scrubbed me raw,
beat me till I seeped red like rare, woman steak.

Look to me on this table as I bleed and break,
a toy of operation, a surgical muse to the amputation
of bodily consciousness: hear me when I say I feel nothing,
that with each incision and penetration, I am dead,
gone from this world of torment and torture,
a disappearance, an acceptance to oblivion,
to the land where I can forget the flower,
the blossom of what I saw lies underneath.

Yes, use my soon-to-be-corpse as a nametag,
as a placard to the other girls who are destined to bleed;
I am closing my eyes to your knives now,
deafening myself to the fractures you inflict;
I will cease to be your canvas of mutilation,
Only a head, a torso, a heart,
best to photograph me while in transition;
it’s the last chance you’ll have
to locate my soul.

Mark J. Mitchell

Aces & Eights

For Neil

I learned a lesson
from Wild Bill:

Never tolerate a door
to your rear.

Distrust all windows.
If there are mirrors

use them as extra eyes.
I practice these things.

I worry that my desk
exposes my back

to the Kennedy Towers.
I know my death

will not be that
personal,

but when the flash
burns me

I hope I’ll be holding
Bill’s last hand.

Dave Newman

Bukowski University For Sissies

All these small press poets complaining
that Bukowski doesn’t get taught

at the universities—are they serious?
I’ve never attended a school

where Bukowski wasn’t taught
and all my professors liked him

and when I teach him now
one of my colleagues will say

“Hey, you’re teaching Bukowski,”
then congratulate me on my excellent taste

but my students, especially the guys,
complain that Bukowski is boring and tame

then they go back to writing their own stories
where someone always gets shot in the head,

usually on the first page.

Gregor Xane

Gruntwhore’s Triumph

1.

She leaves her final punter on a mottled mattress in the alley, spent and struggling for breath. The night streets are wet with autumn rain. Heavy with child, she lumbers to the only working streetlight, squats at its base, and opens a can of stolen clam chowder with the single fang hidden inside her sex.

2.

A belch echoes in her womb—the whore’s baby is finished with his meal—and the empty can falls from between her legs and clatters at her bare, swollen feet. Two rats squeeze through a crack in the sidewalk, tussle, and race up her legs to the clumps of chowder leftovers smeared around her vulva.

3.

The puddle at her feet reflects the scene up her skirt: a tiny hand springs from her vagina, snatches a rat by the scruff of its neck and drags it inside. Vermin bones crunch in her womb. The rat’s naked tail whips her thighs with its dying shit. Her hungry boy reaches out for seconds.

4.

She was born a thaumaturge, but doesn’t know, and yet she performs miracles of the flesh. She’s remade her internal anatomy according to her misunderstandings of biology. She’s constructed a single ovum, the size of a chicken’s egg, to trap spermatozoa from every man she’s serviced, to give herself a son with a thousand fathers.

5.

Felled by one great contraction, she slams down hard on the sidewalk. Her belly explodes, and out steps her infant son, coated in gore. Her screams bounce between warehouses, condemned homes, and shuttered bars. The baby grabs his mother’s intestine and uses it as a jump rope, skipping, splashing in a widening pool of blood.

Tom Over

GoD Moves In Delirious Ways

The ghost of the driver squinted through the partially obscured windshield despite being able to see perfectly well. It was more a habit carried over from once owning a body than anything else. Not having eyes spared him from any stresses that might arise from poor driving visibility. GoD, to his friends, was mostly omnipotent within a 20-foot radius, meaning he could see outside of the car just as well as he could inside it. This factor gave him an inadvertent edge over the other drivers in the race, not that they were particularly aware of being up against a non-physical, ectoplasmic entity.

This spectral advantage was just as well because with each passing hour the view of the road shrank a little more. The windshield, now a squirming morass of vegetation, glowed with networks of throbbing lights. The interlocking roots of some unknown organism pulsed and flexed against the glass like the blood vessels of a shifting psychedelic skin. This occurrence had come about days earlier when GoD ploughed unwittingly through a pasture of sentient mushrooms, the fungus emitting a barrage of tiny screams as the vehicle tore through its homestead. Sometime later, GoD began to notice strange tendrils emerging from the hood. Within hours it was clear that whatever had latched itself onto the chassis was coming along for the ride.

By now the interior of the car resembled the very same patch it had not long decimated. Crops of iridescent toadstools erupted from the AC vents and gaps in the dashboard. Fungal clusters of every size and texture sprouted up through the floor, and a shimmering moss coated the seats and steering wheel like a carpet of shaggy slime mould. GoD couldn’t tell if the organism was aware of his presence, but he knew it would be able to detect what lay in the trunk. He only hoped that the driver’s body had been sufficiently encased in Bio-Mend to resist any mycological intrusion. At least until his limbs had regenerated enough for him to take his place back at the wheel.

Before GoD could ponder what ridiculous obstacle might occur next, the ground beneath the car started to rumble. Christ, thought GoD. Not another fucking earthquake. It wasn’t another fucking earthquake, butwithin minutes he was sorely wishing it had been.The marshy land ahead of the car quivered and sagged before a giant detonation of earth erupted into the sky. As rugged chunks of road rained down, a colossal and terrifying shape moved beneath the veil of debris. GoD tried to spin the vehicle clear but the crumbling ground pulled it further into the yawning sinkhole. Inside the car the mushrooms squealed – this time they were not alone. Trying hopelessly to reverse out of the pit, GoD noticed a terrible dark shadow fall across the hood, then the windshield, and the dash. The fungal colonies recoiled against the silhouette, their collective glow appearing to shiver.

With terrifying speed something enormous lashed itself around the car and heaved it out of the rubble. Plate-sized suckers gripped the windshield, shredding through the strobing roots as if they were flimsy Christmas decorations. If GoD had possessed jaw muscles he imagined they would have been entirely slack. Like a child’s toy the vehicle was rotated in mid-air and brought level with the most repellent face anyone, alive or dead, could have imagined. The creature resembled some kind of mutant toad, but one of gigantic proportions. Between suckers GoD could make out a head the size of a desert butte, a monstrous living cliff-face of frothy warts and boiling pustules. Vast tentacles thrashed about its bubbling skull like some huge amphibious Medusa. With wet amber eyes the size of dirigibles the thing peered in through the windshield. Whether it registered the empty interior wasn’t clear, but the way it then started cackling could only mean one thing. GoD gawked helplessly down the creature’s hellish throat as the car was dangled cruelly above it.

Thoughts of him becoming dinner suddenly diminished as the vehicle was whipped away and thrust southward. The beast appeared to flip onto its side, exposing its undercarriage and a spectacle of pure horror. Through the windshield a gargantuan swampy vagina puckered and oozed impatiently, looming ever larger as the vehicle was swung toward it. GoD could do little else but clench the steering wheel and his ghostly butthole before the car was shoved into the putrid maw. You gotta be fucking kidding me, he hollered at the toadstools. The automobile-shaped dildo was pounded again and again as the toad beast gurgled in horrific delight. Waves of viscous sex gunk rolled off the windshield and with each mighty plunge the car’s bodywork crumpled up more.

Just as GoD thought all was lost – the race, the possibility of ever returning to his body – something happened. The fungal organism both inside and outside the car began to hum. Its collaborative song grew shrill and then, as the next thrust seemed imminent, each mushroom ossified into a rigid crystal shard. When the car entered the beast again it was for the last time. On its way out each diamond-hard spine took a piece of toad vagina with it. A torrent of genital gore rained down and with a deafening animal scream the vehicle was hurled into the air. Flipping twice, it somehow landed on its wheels amid a downpour of chunky viscera. GoD allowed his omni-vision to kick in, navigating swiftly through curtains of blood, around the treacherous pit, and back onto the road beyond.

As the flailing monster receded into the distance, the battered, gore-soaked car chugged away in the direction of hope. The stiffened crystal colonies melted back into organic matter and seemed to exhale in glowing union. The blood seeped into them, absorbed by their roots – and later, flowers bloomed.

Peter Magliocco

The Truck Stop Café

Will you hear my growls tomorrow
wrestling a fine-toothed devil
in the paroxysms of alpha fits?
Girlfriend has her bad moments
trolling the gods that be
in the discount supermarket
where cannibals shop on Sunday,
content to buy cow brains & salsa
(a real treat for braindead kids?)
 
& time has no meaning
when you’re too late for life
in the first place.
The highway pit stop is even worse,
their toxic nacho chips will kill you
at the faux café where ghouls reign
& truckers pause to ogle teen-trollops
buying smokes & bad smoothies:
this country is gang-bang heaven
where violence is food for thoughtlessness
 
swallowed by the freaks of Rob Zombie
chilling your underweight funny bone
their mad dogs will later gnaw on
 
as you slowly
starve
tonight