Johnny Scarlotti


the door chimes as i walk in
it’s just me n the saleslady at the goodwill
she keeps telling me how good the 75 dollar queen size used mattress is
so good, she says, rubbing it
i had a nice mattress…i say
she’s like 100, i don’t think she hears me
you’ll love this, she says, sitting down on it
i can hear the metal springs groan as she bounces
i had a nice mattress…but it got punctured with a knife a bunch of times
so good, she says, stroking it with both hands
i had a nice mattress…but it got soaked in blood
she closes her eyes, head back, arms stretched,
hands gripping the sides,
moving her legs in a way
that’s got her dress climbing up them
exposing white flesh
and whiter flesh
and more wh—
bright pink (!?)

i give her my credit card
we tied it to the top of my acura
and i took it home

carl my neighbor helps me push it up the stairs
then carl tries to follow me into the apartment
no carl, i got it, i say, pushing him out
where’s heather, he says
why’s it so cold in here
why’s it reek of bleach
cuz i just got my asshole done carl
*slam door*

i wake up next to heather
and we fool around some
but it’s not that good …
i have a realization
i’m just not that into her anymore
i think i’m going to have to dump her

. . .

i bring the goodwill lady back to my apartment
she’s so old
she was probably going to die in her sleep tonight of old age anyway…

i roll her into a ball
using ducktape
so all that’s exposed is three holes (ass, pussy, mouth) (hee hee hee!)
*the sound ducktape makes when you rip it from the roll*

a couple days later i spot pinhead carl
and his pinhead wife and 8 pinhead children walking back from taco bell.
as they’re climbing up the stairs
i roll her like a bowling ball
knocking them all down

oh shit
the apartment complex is going up in flames
i save carl’s wife and two eldest daughters
put em in the back of my van and go
i’m a hero

and when you save a life
that life is yours to take
if you want it

we’re going to have lots of fun girls

i mean women
i mean whatever you identify as
it’s cool with me
ur life is short
be what makes you happy now
cuz tomorrow
you could be dead

hee hee hee!



Bogdan Dragos

the thing before the thing before the thing

because it’s nice to be young
because it’s nice to be in your
early to mid twenties
and it’s nice to do the thing
after you’ve done the thing

the thing that comes after you’ve
done the
thing is always
the same
but the thing that leads to the thing is
often different

this night it was white powder
they shared it neatly
between each other
and then climbed into bed

“Christ,” he said. “I still can’t believe you
sucked dick for this shit. And
a carload of it. What was it, like
four, five guys?”

“Oh, shut your hole, you pauper-ass.
If you had a job like a decent motherfucker
I wouldn’t have to do that shit, you know?”

“Shit, baby, don’t make this
trip worse than it is.”

“You started it.”

“Whatever, let’s just get to the next thing

“I haven’t even bathed. You know,
after taking on that carload…”

But it was too late to think.
the first thing kicked in
and it lead to the other
and a brain wasn’t needed for any of them

and the cold wind blew
through the broken
and dried their sweat

Anthony Dirk Ray


he walked into the room
unaware of the cum stains on the floor
drinks were poured and drained
the dog was let out and fed
a few records spun
made dinner and ate
washed dishes
tried to read and write
but the drink overruled
went to bed
got up the next morning
poured coffee and went to work
he worked like a slave
the heat was brutal
excuses were made to walk inside
just to feel the air conditioning
felt as if he was dying a little each day
which he was
returned home
no kisses to greet him
the stains were gone

drinks were poured and drained…

Jack Henry

the thinness of walls, 3

a crowd gathers outside room 13,
a battle rages inside –
i step from my room close by
as a woman screams –

scared faces look at me,
various people from various worlds –
‘do something,’ they say, without using words –
the proprietor runs up,
cops will be here soon,
but soon is not soon enough –

a woman screams again –
i kick in the door of room 13 –

a man holds a woman by the throat,
lets her go,
his hands clench into tight fists –
my hands clench too –

the first blow put him down –
blow after blow after blow,
knuckles bloodied,
bones broken –
knockout decision –

the woman looks at me,
grabs her clothes, steals his keys,
takes his car, and disappears clean –
i snatch up a rolled of bills,
a fat bag of dope,
and turn for the door –

the crowd thins, back to their hiding –
the proprietor says,
the cops will be here soon
but not soon enough –

i  make the interstate,
fade & flow into a shimmering night –
pull into a rest stop thirty miles east –
quartzsite, arizona

a beaten women frozen behind the wheel of a stolen
car looks at me,
waves meekly,
eyes glassy & gone
i give her half the cash recently acquired from an
unconscious man –

sometim​es life is worth everything,
sometimes only half –

Casey Renee Kiser

Ballad of The Gas Station Checkout Girl

Have you ever seen
the afterglow
of one who decided
not to go–
decided… in the nick of time
that the time…wasn’t quite right
I noticed her
from far back in the line
I always look at wrists
When it was my turn
to buy beer and chips,
our eyes screamed together
and our hands touched
as she gave me change–
always gets in the way

Joseph Farley


It was a week into refurbishing of the 5th and Market Street station of the Blue Line, also known as the Frankford El. The El runs above ground for most of its route, but in Center City, the downtown section of Philadelphia, it runs underground. 5th Street Station was the jumping off point for Independence Mall, the Liberty Bell, and Constitution Center. This made it one of the busiest stops for tourists coming to Philadelphia. It was also the closest stop to where I worked.

I worked in the Curtis Building at 6th and Walnut Street. Once the home of the publisher of Jack and Jill and the Saturday Evening Post, it now housed offices, upscale bars, and expensive condos. I would have had to work three jobs to afford the cheapest condo. I lived much farther north, in Holmesburg, where the rents were much lower. It was a short walk across the Liberty Bell plaza to the El stop which could take me close to where I lived.

Signs had been up for a few weeks warning of a “Deep Cleansing” of the underground station. It certainly needed one. Despite the red, white and blue silhouettes of Independence Hall on the walls, it was a dismal place. It had the usual smell of urine associated with all El stops, along with the typical herds of rats, mice, and various six legged creatures. It was not clear why there was a sudden desire to clean. There was a rumor a high profile politician had complained. I doubted that was the cause. Politicians were not known to ride the El. There was a rumor reporters had uncovered a massive bedbug infestation. That sounded more plausible. Bad publicity can get results.

During my daily trips I had seen the red, white and blue placards come down, and the spraying of some kind of foam on walls, ceiling and support beams. Cinder blocks were exposed. Pieces of paint and other materials hung from steel beams and the cinder block walls like peeling dead skin. I wondered why the station had not been closed during the cleansing. Whatever made the walls and metal peel could not be good for human lungs. I considered using a different station a few blocks away until the project was done, but that would have cost me at least 15 minutes more travel time each day. The thought of spending more time on my commute was enough to keep me using the 5th Street station. I would try to hold my breath.

As I said before, it was a week into the “deep cleansing.” I was waiting on the platform for a train to take me home. The station was darker during the construction. A gloomy place had become gloomier. I missed the red, white and blue walls. They had brightened things up a bit. I stared into the tunnel looking for lights from the next train. I saw movement. One or two objects fluttering. They were large and reddish brown.

“Butterflies”, I thought. “Now that’s pretty fucking amazing. I’m standing here thinking how lousy this place is with the poor lighting, the chemicals, the weird smells, and the sense of decay, when along comes some butterflies. One of God’s miracles. Some nature, the nice kind, underground at 5th Street.”

I stood and watched and smiled to myself, until the butterflies landed on a wooden board covering a construction area. As soon as the wings were folded, I knew I had been wrong. Cockroaches. A pair of them. Each as big as my index finger. Not God’s miracle. God or the devil’s joke on me.

I vowed to get on and off at the 8th Street station starting in the morning.

But I didn’t. 15 minutes was still 15 minutes.

And butterflies are free to fly.

Just don’t look at them too closely.

Charley Foster

Gothic Ghost Story

A 52-year-old librarian and her
15-year-old metalhead boyfriend
who ignites an electrifying passion
within her and who, unbeknownst to
her, is actually her half-brother
are forced by extraordinary
circumstances to kill or be killed
They panhandle, hitch rides, and
crash with total strangers
Generally, in such stories, the person
grows and becomes a good person
but this is no gothic ghost story
When the first reports surface of
the discovery of four skeletons
wrapped in burlap he walks out
of a mental hospital and into
the path of an oncoming train
Her demise in the electric chair is
prefigured by her abusive seduction
of prostitutes who advertised on Craigslist

David Boski

Coke Guilt

The worst people to party
and do drugs with are the
one’s who are consumed
with guilt. I used to know
a guy like this, every time
he did coke he felt guilty,
had coke guilt, and that’s
ok if you keep that shit to
yourself, but he wouldn’t.
he wanted to talk about his
feelings and his addiction
issues; he’d talk about rehab,
how he went, and how it helped,
momentarily of course. he talked
about going to meetings, and twice
he brought out some sort of
addiction treatment questionnaire,
once asking me to answer the
questions as he read them out
loud, and another time asking
one of my friends. I answered a few
before telling him, I wouldn’t answer
anymore. what a fucking buzz kill!
that’s what he was. I heard he’s sober
now, completely clean, no drugs, no
alcohol. apparently, he’s into fitness
and healthy diets, shit like that; and
anybody who still parties and does
drugs, even if occasionally, should be
grateful for this—I know I am.