A Mohawk Spirit Guide & Rabbit’s Scrotum… Aww, like Twice by Paul Tristram

I’m not even remotely nervous. Everything will go well at my Case Review this afternoon (The voices have told me so). Oh, you’re allowed to ‘Hear Voices’, it’s acting upon negative advice and prompts which is frowned upon… and I’ve not done that since the kidnapping episode.
Thank you, yes, I’m feeling much better. It’s all down to a new book on meditation which I’ve been reading, literally changed my life, made me a new person. It was quite boring at first, just laying there (With the voices laughing and mocking), until an Oak Tree appeared out of nowhere… no, no, I was on the Ward bed, it appeared inside my mind.
Between two thick branches up the top of the trunk was a hollow, and a head popped out, ‘How Bizarre’ I thought, then concentrated more.
I just knew that it wasn’t imagination, because I wanted it to be wearing a hood or feathered cap or something, you know Merlinesque… but instead it had a liver and white, half-erect Mohawk, with the sides growing back… bit tawny owlie, if you ask me.
It was a male, dare I say it, Spirit of some kind, not of this realm obviously, piercing green eyes like baby fern shoots cwtching up emerald chunks of magic… yeah, I know, right, Wow!
Then he/it got its telepathy on… it’s not as pervy as you’d think it would be, a little tingly at first, almost like the gentle beginnings of foreplay before that FUCKING BEAST COMES OUT! Sorry, ‘Circle, Square, Triangle, Wave’, there, all better now, I use those four words as a steadying mantra.
Where was I? Oh, yes… the telepathy, it was images as well as babbling brook sounds at first, a kind of audio Celtic knot-work with Times New Roman subtitles… ace, yeah, I focused sturdier… and fuck me sideways but it spoke”

“You are not Mad, Madness is a fixed term stuck and nailed to Logic. There is nothing ‘Logical’ about the evolving seasons of the mind. A Shaman does not see the truth, only possible ‘Directions’ and ‘Eventual Outcomes’ (Of which there are many), ‘Chance’ swings her fat-arse into the equation quite regularly, and ‘Choice’ is a matter of individualistic perception, based upon underlying fears, phobias, likes, dislikes and a whole gambit of personal pressure-gauges ‘Dare-I-Cross-This-Line’ initiatives, strengths, weaknesses and ‘Streetcars Named Desires’.
You’re fucked if you start to wander along another person’s mental safety rope… whilst your very own is close at hand, dig?
‘Confused’ and ‘Muddled’ are a slight tone different… yet, they both lead to the very same point of ‘Uncertainty’. Tearing down the barriers of conformity and the walls of structured reasoning will leave you open and vulnerable to shit. There is no protection against the ‘Darkness’ except ‘Light’… and that is what you should be seeking. It hides in many forms and places… beware ‘Gypsy Music’ and use the word ‘Nuh’ as a talisman, often.
Nietzsche had it wrong, and is now a fucking milkman on the ‘Other Side’, I kid you not…
‘Empathy’ is your biggest strength, but it has to be earthed with ‘Common Sense’ otherwise you’re leaving yourself open to opportunistic vampire vultures… and remember ‘Narcissistic Rage’, besides being hilarious, is simply ‘Dark Applause’, it’s Nature’s way of showing you that you’re on the right track :)
Inside Out always, unless you are only glancing off and not stopping. Carry everything inside your head, mate… except beer money and things deemed irreplaceable… ‘Marley’s Ghost’ was in the wrong book and should have had top billing in the Bible.
‘Letting Go’ will build confidence. ‘Stubbornness’ is powerful, yet it has to work with the grain. You can want something as much as you like, but if it’s not on your ticket… you’ll simply end up losing your soul to pettiness and personal mishap.
Take ‘Courage’ and ‘Heart’ from the small things. You are Alive and Breathing… that’s a good start… there are other people out there clutching blindly at gravestones.
Your job is to survive, progress and learn. Knowledge is critical, yet Experience is the other side of that coin… use The Hermit and The Fool cards as willy-nilly and often as possible.
Stay away from people who use the word ‘Humble’ not in reference to themselves… they are merely trying to diminish your ‘Shine’.
You will hurt and upset people… the less the better… Karma’s not a bitch but a wrecking ball on fire… when not dealing from her happy hand.
Surfaces are for skimming pebbles off, eating vittles on, and painting Masterpieces upon… look in between things, always around corners before stepping, words are never empty and flattery is bait only. Sincerity almost became a Ghost Town in the 1980’s. Look backwards selectively and forward with hope… don’t fight them on the beaches, you’ll get sand in your talent, focus not upon success but on achieving.
A stopped clock is not right twice a day, it’s a falsehood, it’s asleep and unaware of the unwarranted praise it’s being given.
Some would say that being scared of the shadows is half the way to cleverness.
There is buried treasure in imagination, but it takes alchemy to gateway it home and nail it Fact.
Two wrongs don’t make a right, that’s just a pathway to an extended prison sentence.
Love is soul medication not a destination. Hatred a childish merry-go-round. Compassion a gift, to both giver and receiver, desperation a weakness, and Sloth a pox of the Soul.
Stay both ‘Unique’ and ‘Brilliant’, never follow ‘The Joneses’… and remember a sycophant is just the arse-end of a Fool.
Oh, and stay away from Ketamine, Lead Weights and the Guest Houses of Merthyr Tydfil.
Now, tutty-bye, I have shit to do elsewhere… take this gift and keep it safe. Teleport your negativity and anxieties into it daily.”

“With that, he/it winked, rather violently, and the whole tree shimmied and dissipated back to whence it fucking came from… bringing me back with a jolt to my body, which was still laid upon the hospital bed, listening to ‘That Woman Who Had Her Heart Broken And Now Makes Recordings To Help Other People In Despair To Relax’ repeating “now breathe out once more and open your eyes to a New You”
I felt something within my clenched right fist, and upon looking saw a little summer-sky blue velvet drawstring purse with two crystals inside, one ‘Rose Crystal’ and t’other a ‘Tigers Eye’.
Here, just take a look, I’ve carried it around in my pocket ever since. It reminds me of a rabbit scrotum, with its little two lumps… how cute, yeah.
Yes, sure, I’ll lend you the meditation book, I no longer need it… I’m mind-travelling all over the shop almost nightly. But, remember, opening up the gates of the mind is only the beginning… it’s the sophisticated traversing onwards and upwards that matters most… you are never really crazy if it’s all just a muthafucking journey, innit, like.”

paul smoking - Copy

Paul Tristram is a Welsh writer who has poems, short stories, sketches and photography published in many publications around the world, he yearns to tattoo porcelain bridesmaids instead of digging empty graves for innocence at midnight; this too may pass, yet. Buy his books ‘Scribblings Of A Madman’ (Lit Fest Press) http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1943170096 ‘Poetry From The Nearest Barstool’ at http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1326241036 And a split poetry book ‘The Raven And The Vagabond Heart’ with Bethany W Pope at http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1326415204 You can also read his poems and stories here! http://paultristram.blogspot.co.uk/


Today I’ll Be An Artist by John Grochalski

when i want to feel good
about myself
i’ll get out the paper and pencils
and start drawing things
like cartoon dogs and batman
wonder woman and birds with long beaks
and the kids will gather around me
and say, how’s you get so good at drawing?
i’ll tell them practice, children, practice
then i’ll send them away
with their own paper and pencils
and i’ll feel good for a minute
like some wizened old sage
until i inevitably think back
to art class in high school
and the teacher who made me
walk the campus looking for a new pencil
instead of letting me sharpen the one that i had
how he wrote in red all over my final assignment
“maybe choose something else
to do with your life”
or sometimes i’ll just sit there
and think about how there’s still
twenty some years until retirement
if i even live that long
and that pretty much gets me right back
to how i was feeling
in the moments before i sat there and thought
today i think i’ll be an artist.


John Grochalski is the author of The Noose Doesn’t Get Any Looser After You Punch Out (Six Gallery Press 2008), Glass City (Low Ghost Press, 2010), In The Year of Everything Dying (Camel Saloon, 2012), Starting with the Last Name Grochalski (Coleridge Street Books, 2014), and the novel, The Librarian (Six Gallery Press 2013). Grochalski currently lives in Brooklyn, New York, in the section that doesn’t have the bike sharing program.

The Really Bad Stuff by Howie Good

The whole night it was slam, bang, boom. It bubbled up from the doors, seeped in from the windows. You just looked around and saw things were totally gone. All the shops were empty. It’s like a tornado went in and swept everything up. I was shocked. I didn’t think it would happen. They told us to keep inside, to be ready for anything. It’s had me spooked for years. Now we’re also worried about our houses blowing up. You know how they say you hear the train noise? I heard it.


I’m really having a hard time understanding today right now. Dave put a shotgun to his chest so we could study his brain. I didn’t like him staring at me. He often talked to himself. Now we’re kind of like: How do we know if he was telling the truth or not? I’m not a big fan of dialogue. What I fill it with will only be known when it comes spilling out. People are left wondering if it’s going to be a disaster. There will be others out there who will make connections we haven’t seen. To be honest, we just cook bacon and eggs. But sometimes you need bacon and eggs.


I’ve seen the really bad stuff on television. But actually experience it? No. Never. I’m not used to this. What might make sense in one place might not in another. Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God. Everything is thrown everywhere. We don’t have anything to stop it. I just feel so sad and empty. At one point I couldn’t see for about five minutes. You press a button, an alarm goes off. A lot of laughter, crying, yelling, tears. They’re laughing at us, every one of us. I don’t care what they do as long as fire doesn’t start coming out the windows.


There’s a lot of screaming and praying to Jesus. I guess I’m confused about why this scene. I come and I go and I come and I go. It all depends on the path. I don’t know where I am. I don’t know where we’re going to sleep tonight. I just know it’s totally different from before, when you could get killed for a pair of sneakers. Some people are trembling. I’m composing, if not music, sounds like waves on the beach or perhaps wind in the forest. Do you realize how dangerous that is? I dream of standing ovations.


It’s important to test during the day whether or not you’re dreaming. I had a dream and then I turned on the lights and discovered that I had blood all over me. I don’t ever want to forget the shock of that discovery. We’re recreating it with historical obsession and mesmerizing detail. The school there is full of dead bodies. First thing Monday morning, I want to find out why. Anything can happen: I take more medicine than I should; there’s a bloody knife on the bed; they burn the man to the ground.

Howie Good

Howie Good is the recipient of the 2015 Press Americana Prize for Poetry for his collection “Dangerous Acts Starring Unstable Elements”.

Satisfied by Mike Ferguson

I don’t want
to come to it
too soon

to deify
just need

but if looking
for a surprise

up the street
that garage
passed by
next door

any yard sale

each temple of
no longer of any use

well, now is
the time

it has to be
an apocalyptic find

to be sanctified

unlikely a knick-knack
something electrical
but frayed
and most definitely not
the seller
in a bath


just that other
kind of
perfectly unexpected

and for some
small exchange
a token of give and

here is a
of want
and hoping

that can be

Mike Ferguson 2

Mike Ferguson is an American resident in the UK from ’67, permanently since ’76 when Michigan then presaged the Trumpworld of today. Published widely in the poetry small presses as well as education texts, he is now retired from actual teaching.

Stroller by Jon Bennett

By afternoon the stack
of milk crates are gone
the baby strollers
the bums use
can’t bare their weight
so they sit on the crates
When I was new here
I once looked inside
a baby stroller
I saw some used syringes
a couple adult diapers
a half pint
of milk
and one loose cigarette
clean, and white
and all potential.

Jon Benett

Jon Bennett writes and plays music in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood. You can find more of his work on Pandora and iTunes. For booking please contact jonbennett14@hotmail.com

One of My Municipal Subterraneans by Tom Sheehan

He comes up, goggled,
out of a manhole
in the middle of a street
in my peaceful town,
sun the sole brazier,

like an old Saharan
veteran, Rommel-pointing
his tank across the four
year stretch of sand,
shell holes filling up
quick as death.

I think of Frank Parkinson,
Tanker, Tiger of Tobruk,
now in his grass roots,
the acetylene smile
on his oil-dirty face,
the goggles still high
on his high forehead.


Sheehan served in the 31st Infantry in Korea 1951-52, graduated Boston College 1956, published 30 books, multiple works in Rosebud, Literally Stories, Linnet’s Wings, Serving House Journal, Copperfield Review, Literary Orphans, Eastlit, DM du Jour, In Other Words-Merida, Literary Yard, Rope & Wire Magazine, Green Silk Journal. He has received 32 Pushcart nominations and 5 Best of Net nominations.

Rather Than Be Held Dear by Christopher Barnes

Wear BlueBurn™, be unforgettable,
Glorifying a lipsnarl.
      (Drag queen.  Monumental hair.
      Cold-blooded finger.  Black telephone.)

Ground-breaking – not rash –
Our cyanide-spot kisser-gloss
For all your high-toned belittlings.
      (Sage-constant Royal typewriter.
      Dorothy Parker grin.)

Make biting wit
A delicate life or death response.

christopher barnes photo

Christopher Barnes’ first collection LOVEBITES is published by Chanticleer. Each year he reads at Poetry Scotland’s Callender Poetry Weekend. He also writes art criticism which has been published in Peel and Combustus magazines.

Understanding Media by Les Bohem

Understanding Media 1

Rachel held the handle of her blue overnight bag tightly in her hand. Staring out through the inland window of the Greyhound bus going north, she watched herself move closer to Mendocino. Her reflection looked back at her as she moved north, a young, thin stranger with sunken eyes and wisps of mousy brown hair.  She knew that anything that was about to happen was all right, because she was now on the other side of the television monitor.
Megan, pretty in her schoolteacher blue dress. Her hair was short and brown, didn’t know that Rachel was coming, or who she was, and, of course, she also didn’t know that she herself was merely a video image, a projected sequence of zeros and ones.   When Rachel entered through the back door of the classroom, she only looked up from her desk and smiled. The classroom was too long and too thin, narrowing even thinner towards the back of the room. The light shadowed the tan desk-seats harshly, giving them a crystal sharpness that was clearer that it should have been. Most of the desks were occupied by children, maybe ten or twelve years old, who sat like borrowings from an English boarding school.  They fidgeted inattentively in their seats while Megan taught them arithmetic.
Rachel took a seat at a desk near the door and waited for class to end. Across from her, out huge windows, the Mendocino countryside had taken on a green shine in the afternoon light. It looked cold out there now, colder than when she’d come in.  Megan answered the children’s questions and class was dismissed.
She led Rachel out of the school past the redwood dormitory for girl students, to a slope of richly green pine trees. A wooden staircase had been built into the hill towards one side of the pine grove. Rachel followed Megan up the staircase to a house that was hidden from the school behind the trees. The last step was onto a small porch.  Past the porch, the house reached back out in the direction of the staircase.  It was held above the hill on stilts.
At the door, a girl with ribboned pigtails was kicking nervously with one foot at the heel of the other. She handed a note to Megan who read it smiling, and kissed the girl on the forehead.
“It is my birthday,” she explained, almost to the trees. She opened the door and followed Rachel into her home; the little girl’s footsteps rolled away down the stairs. They stood in a modern living room. The wall facing them and its opposite were both lined with books. Out over the stilts, the third wall was a window giving a view across the top of the pine trees to the other side of the valley and a hazy range of mountains beyond. The fourth wall was grey brick with a fireplace in its center. To one side of the fireplace was a door-sized opening shut with a bead curtain.  Through the beads, a hall led to the bedroom. Off the left of the hall was a bathroom and off to the right, a kitchen. The kitchen was furnished with a brown metal electric stove on which a bright enameled blue coffee pot sat on a white heat pad. There was a refrigerator of the same metallic brown as the stove. A sliding glass door opened onto a balcony.

Rachel spent the time, her time, with Megan, and never forgot that since she had crossed the line, anything was all right. Sometimes, as she became closer to Megan, she thought of telling her—Megan we’re just the television; watch it fade in and out—as they lay on the hearth in front of the fireplace watching the darkness out the window with the fire light creeping from behind them along the books.

It is late afternoon; Rachel is down near the school telling a few of the children stories about Canadian timber wolves. The weather is warm and the early evening air is filled with gnats. She blinks her eyelid once as a gnat gets in; it feels cool and squirming against her eyeball. Her eye tears when she lets the bug out.
Turning, she goes to the staircase and begins to walk up, the footsteps giggling slowly along the wood. Anything is all right. At the top of the stairs, the door is open. She walks in. Megan is lying into some pillows on the far side of the room, a half empty cup of coffee, blue enamel, on the floor at her feet. She is reading. Rachel crosses the room. She has a long thick knife which she takes over her head and brings down repeatedly into Megan, stabbing just about the left breast. The blood splatters out over the pages of the book, into Megan’s coffee. Megan screams, not understanding that nothing can hurt. From somewhere else in the room, a more metallic scream follows closely after hers. Rachel turns to look for the source of the second scream. Her eyes stop on an iPad screen on a shelf above the fireplace on the other side of the bead curtain.
On the iPad, she can see Megan’s bloody face, and this Megan too, the iPad Megan, is screaming. The volume has been adjusted a little too softly and can barely be heard above her screams.

CLOSE SHOT of Rachel as she realizes that she is still on the real side and begins to scream too.

PAN the room as Rachel’s growing screams blend with Megan’s fading ones.

CAMERA STOPS on Rachel facing TV set.

CLOSE SHOT: Rachel’s tear-streaked face as she yells and cries towards the television.


Understanding Media 2

The girl switched the radio to an all news station. “I like to listen to the news a lot,” she said, turning the volume down. Her voice was sharp and nasal. The boy lit a cigarette. “If everyone listened to the news all the time, they might realize what’s going on around them, get more involved. People are so apathetic. Besides, the best stories are on the news.”
“It’s an art form,” observed the boy.  “Reality.”
“If artists got into reality, “ Sam turned into the conversation from the window, “it would become a lot more interesting.”
“How do you mean?” the girl sounded patronizing.
“It’s happening a little,” Sam answered. “When someone, anyone is on the scene, with a camera, their phone, whatever, they force or control the events. That makes them artists, creators, only they haven’t realized it yet.”
“Like that sniper they showed live last week shooting people from the Howard Johnson’s?” the boy turned through his cigarette smoke to ask her, and to smile.
“Right, and suddenly, not realizing that he’s always on some kind of camera, he realizes he’s performing and blows a couple of extra brains out.”
“You think the cameras are responsible for that?” the girl asked.
“In a clumsy sort of way,” Sam answered.
“That’s going pretty far,” the girl said flatly. “What do you think, Harry?”
“You don’t think he would have killed those people if he hadn’t had the coverage?” the boy, Harry, asked. The girl glared at him.
‘It wouldn’t have been the same,” Sam explained.  “All he understood was stardom. They were laying it on him. It’s all anyone understands, really, but he only had the one part down.”
“It was his show then,” said the boy, “but he didn’t realize it. Is that what you’re saying?”
“Right, a God trip. Gods can create or destroy. He wasn’t on to the create end but he was God.” She paused, annoyed at herself.  “Anyway we’re talking about the example. All I was saying is that the media, and we are all the media, has the power to make events, which puts them (us) in the place of real artists, but not being real artists, they’re (we’re) still bumbling around like a bunch of idiots.”
“That’s a deep insight,” said the boy.
The girl looked at him with real annoyance. “I suppose an artist controls his visions then,” she asked Sam angrily.
“The controls are up for grabs,” Sam answered. “It’s just a thing of degree. We’re all artists; practice just shows us when to let go.”
She faded back out the window. The news played soft while the couple talked about their drug experiences. The girl had forgiven the boy for his interest in Sam. Sam paid little attention to their conversation, telling herself instead the story of a woman who thought that she was on television and had killed her friend by mistake.

Les Bohem has written a lot of movies and TV shows including Twenty Bucks, Daylight, Dante’s Peak, The Alamo and the mini-series, Taken which he wrote and executive produced with Steven Spielberg, and for which he won an Emmy award.   He’s had songs recorded by Emmylou Harris, Randy Travis, Freddy Fender, Steve Gillette, Johnette Napolitano (of Concrete Blonde), and Alvin (of the Chipmunks.)  His short novel, Flight 505, was published last year by UpperRubberBoot .   His new album, “Moved to Duarte,” was just released on Jack Rabbit Day Records to much critical acclaim and no sales whatsoever.  

Ouija on the Rag by Jeff Bagato

Buttered up and slippery across the board,
fingertips press Ouija into service
so degrading it can only be
spelled in blind letters,
frittered off like dandruff
from a sucker shoulder:
angels believed to fly
salvation for passed innocent
children who best could use
a ten-spot for the boatman:
and Ouija’s on the rag
smiling evil in a fan blade
spread across your eyes
and keeping hopes at bay,
boys running satyr with ceramic
out front, swinging vine
over river and dropping pure load
of whole self into cold
running blood: A—N—D—B—U—Y—
kaleidoscopic montage molluscs
a screen that Ouija knows has sucked
her magic like menstrual blood
and spit it back bottled and labeled
up for a good-time roll from spirit
world to you—
advertising stole my shit
but it won’t go good
with donuts
and disaster in the morning;
revenge is sweet
like blood-soaked porn husk
on the tip of Satan’s mind

Jeff Bagato 2

A multi-media artist living near Washington, DC, Jeff Bagato produces poetry and prose as well as electronic music, glitch video, sticker art, and pop surrealism paintings. Some of his poetry has appeared in Empty Mirror, Futures Trading, In Between Hangovers, Otoliths, Your One Phone Call, and Zoomoozophone Review. His published books include Savage Magic (poetry), Cthulhu Limericks (poetry), The Toothpick Fairy (fiction), and Dishwasher on Mars (fiction). A blog about his writing and publishing efforts can be found at http://jeffbagato.wordpress.com


The Stop-Tap Exorcism by Paul Tristram

Holy Mother of God… she’s become Possessed!
Quick as you can, hold her arms & legs down
afore she takes someone’s eye out
or does some other flailing-about, Evil mischief.
Yes, I am quite aware that sometimes
she has been known to fake an epileptic fit
when running out of beer money
or when being ejected from this fine Establishment,
but, on this occasion it is something far more Sinister.
Everyone here witnessed the dreaded Tolling of the Bell
coming from the derelict Chapel down yonder harbour
not 15 minutes gone… aye, nail-on-the-head, sir,
it was the very time that Last Orders was rung.
Audio Echo? I think not, complete & utter tosh,
your innocent mind is struggling to find logic
in what is obviously a Supernatural situation.
I have been Pastor to this Parish nigh on forty years
and the Devil’s work is never cloaked
to my righteous and inquiring mind.
Bolt the doors immediately, I tell thee,
draw the drapes and dim the main lights,
and for Christ’s Sake, good Barman,
a couple of Jameson’s for my raging nerves.
Port all ‘round for the Helpers
and without proper ‘Holy Water’ for the Exorcism…
you’d better fetch the Vodka (Smirnoff not the cheap shit!)
and make sure there’s enough to last a gruesome hour or three.

Arty Pic Of Pauly

Paul Tristram is a Welsh writer who has poems, short stories, sketches and photography published in many publications around the world, he yearns to tattoo porcelain bridesmaids instead of digging empty graves for innocence at midnight; this too may pass, yet. Buy his books ‘Scribblings Of A Madman’ (Lit Fest Press) http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1943170096 ‘Poetry From The Nearest Barstool’ at http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1326241036 And a split poetry book ‘The Raven And The Vagabond Heart’ with Bethany W Pope at http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1326415204 You can also read his poems and stories here! http://paultristram.blogspot.co.uk/