Music by David Spicer

A boulder under an oak.
The misty-eyed soldier played the violin,
a masterpiece for a dead coward
grieved for by no one but his song.
I listened like a paralyzed dog
double crossed by his cool master.
An aggressive egotist with a knack
for chess and a smoky desire for fame,
I became jealous of the musician
and his angst: weary, a puppet
no longer talkative, nagged by angry
hussies and hamstrung by ogres
in blood test clinics. The soldier invented
another hypnotic tune I didn’t know.
Tarnished, persecuted, I disavowed venom
with the snap of my prominent finger,
no longer a figure on a crystal cross
nor an icon in a trashed trailer.
I thanked the soldier, told him
he liberated me, a baron of possibilities.
He turned toward me, grimaced,
his expression frozen in celebration, and spoke,
Motherhood is beautiful, isn’t it?

David Spicer

David Spicer has had poems in Chiron Review, Alcatraz, Gargoyle, Ploughshares, The American Poetry Review, and elsewhere. The author of Everybody Has a Story and four chapbooks, he’s the former editor of raccoon, Outlaw, and Ion Books. He is scheduled to have From the Limbs of a Pear Tree, (Flutter Press) released in the Fall of 2017.

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Full Moonies by Alan Catlin

Is what I called them. Late summer
night guys in the bar who looked as if
they’d spent night sleeping with Lovecraftian
beasts in caves even hard core stoners
wouldn’t go in to party.  The look this
one was cultivating was part Charlie
Manson in his glory days, part Yeti.
Smelled as if he’d done most of his
social drinking at bars that were somewhere
between low rent port a john and half
moon outhouse.  Wore a t-shirt that said,
Prophet of the Post Humans and jeans he’d
probably acquired from an out of work
resurrection man who wore a soiled robe
now and held out a begging bowl for quarters
for the slightly wilted cut flowers he sold,
“for the poor.”

Smiled when he ordered a drink revealing
teeth that wouldn’t be out of place in
something three weeks dead.
“How about a Cthulhu Cocktail?
That’s Gin, Chartreuse, Lillet and lime.”
“This look like the kind of place that
carries Lillet?”
“No but you never know.”

You don’t do you? But this was neither
the place, nor the time, for idle speculations.
“I’ll bet I could come up some Silver
Bullets for you, though.” I said.
“Never mind. I’ll try somewhere else.”
“You do that.”

Too bad he left so abruptly.
I never got to ask him if his cocktail
took Green Chartreuse or Yellow Chartreuse.
Not that it mattered. We didn’t carry either one.

acatlin multi

Alan Catlin is a widely published poet in the US of A and elsewhere. His most recent book is “Books of the Dead: a memoir with poetry” about the deaths of his parents. He is a retired professional barman and the editor of the online poetry zine misfitmagazine.net.

The Sinister Ambitions Of The Acolyte by Paul Tristram

I’m going to poison his wine with Deadly Nightshade
upon the first anniversary of his wife’s death…
it was ME who shoved her,
from behind like a warrior,
down that cliff face and blamed it on the eagles.
They claimed that I would never rise above
‘Mediocre’ and ‘Average’
that I was lucky to even be allowed
to stand bowed in the Great One’s shadow…
but, I have ‘Spite’ and ‘Envy’ on my side.
It gives me three and a half months
to learn and absorb all that I can
before his Magnificent Light goes out forever.
(Ooops, I dribbled down my chin again)
I’ve scoured his books and journals,
but, he’s hidden his secret weapon carefully…
and, I must have IT if I am to succeed!
That ‘Flair’, ‘Swagger’, ‘Coolness’
‘Brilliant Lightning-Swift Conversation Changes’
and that intoxicating ‘Thought Pattern’
which just Explodes with instant Magic.
They say that he was born with it…
but, I’m not having it…
what about the rest of us? What about ME?
It would mean that there is no God,
or that God is not Just nor Fair…
and everything would be pointless and a LIE!
(Oh, dear, I’ve made Myself bleed again)
He’s just being clever, hidden it well (I would)
I’ll keep watching and a-coaxing…
and if it comes to it… I’ll set fire to his feet
whilst he’s wriggling painfully upon his deathbed…
and STRANGLE that Formula right out of him!

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/

Desertion by John D Robinson

She was in a mess,
drunk and fucked-
up on speed:
her dignity and looks
had deserted her,
but I could see,
I could feel
more than that
and when I had the
opportunity to nail
her, I didn’t,
I loved her in a way
that stopped me,
not only that,
but she
was also a long time
friend of my wife.

john-d-robinson-2

John D Robinson is a UK poet: his work appears widely and frequently in the small press and online literary journals: He has published 4 chapbooks: ‘Looking Down Both Barrels’ with Adrian Manning is his latest publication.

Hotel by Robert Beveridge

again, after Apollinaire

out the window
almost every
fifteen minutes
I can hear
the hammer-
on-anvil
again and again
of the train
the train
the train

monotonous.

I can’t stand
to write anymore.
I would rather
smoke.

Robert Beveridge makes noise (xterminal.bandcamp.com) and writes poetry just outside Cleveland, OH. Recent/upcoming appearances in Pulsar, Tessellate, and Scarlet Leaf Review, among others.

They Were Caged In To Fatten by Gareth Culshaw

They were caged in
wrapped up by wire mesh.
The pine trees knitted away
the sky. Rustling from scampering
feet was heard when you walked by.
Feeding drums gave out snippets
of seed. A water trough left a skim
of daylight, for their beaks to break.
A landrover came by every so often.
Its wheels bringing camp closer
with every rotation. A flat cap
chewed away the hours, spat
it out when his feet hit the floor.
They scuttled from him as he entered
the regime. Their squeaks alerting
each other, to escape his fake hands.
Soon the gates will open and they
will roam. Then other landrovers
turn up and park in a corner.
Men wearing gilets, breeks, gaiters,
smiles. Mingle and natter, death
passed between each eye.

Gareth Culshaw

Gareth lives in Wales. He has his first collection by futurecycle in 2018

I Would Put It Down by Ryan Quinn Flanagan

my beer
comes to the table
under escort

my beer
must be someone important
to have a security
detail like
that

carried on a tray
like John the Baptist’s
head

my beer is a foaming
rabid beast among other
foaming rabid beasts

I would put it down,
but I can’t stop picking
it up

when I order another,
my beer must be gone
or it will grow jealous

one beer at a time fellas,
that is the secret.

Ryan Quinn Flanagan Black & White

Ryan Quinn Flanagan is a happily unmarried proud father of none. His work can be found both in print and online. He has an affinity for dragonflies, discount tequila, and all things sarcastic.

Innocuous Invitation by David Spicer

Have you tasted crow paté?
Myself, I don’t care for black birds
and the weather they prefer: rain
in October that encounters condors
coughing disease from their jaws.
No need to wrap your brain around that
and frown. Just grunt and grin like
a teenager posing as an adult. Forget
that. Climb the stairs to my attic,
no need for tickets. Don’t worry,
you won’t have to undress. I’ve got
sparkling water, a cupboard of popcorn,
and a sink to rinse your hair. You’ll
never catch the plague or any infection
because the walls are painted fuchsia
to guard against the rats. And you won’t
be my sex slave—I’ll even knock
on the door. If you have a brother
who reads Chinese, welcome him, too.
I have hundreds of notebooks he can
write Mandarin in. I won’t hedge:
the only rule I have is that you can’t
mumble, complain, or strut. Then I’d
have to use the hammers. There. Lean
against the wall, and don’t blink.
Now, now, you won’t die.
I promise on my daughter’s grave.

David Spicer

David Spicer has had poems in Chiron Review, Alcatraz, Gargoyle, Ploughshares, The American Poetry Review, and elsewhere. The author of Everybody Has a Story and four chapbooks, he’s the former editor of raccoon, Outlaw, and Ion Books. He is scheduled to have From the Limbs of a Pear Tree, (Flutter Press) released in the Fall of 2017.

Bring Out Your Dead by Alan Catlin

They were like creatures from
Defoe: passion players and peasants,
chess masters with no plans,
no boards to play on, yellow
hammered with fatal diseases,
jaundice colored eyes so polluted
everything they looked at died.

They were plague artists,
lepers without limbs, skin scaled
and withered, mummers without skits,
all of them tricked out with nowhere
to go.

They were masters of confusion,
exiled from courts, palaces, pilloried
in village squares: reviled, spit on,
and shunned once they were released,
red masqued and flushed by death.

They were daughters of Pandora,
sons of Oedipus, openers of locked
doors with dire Do Not Enter warnings,
drinkers of do not imbibe liquors,
potions that killed, or worse, allowed
you to survive.

They had yellow crosses painted
on their dwellings, signs that appeared
overnight as if by agencies unknown
to man, listened for the carts that came
in fog and smoke filled mornings,
those tumbrels, piled high with bodies,
and the hoarse voice of the cart man
calling everyone to bring out your dead
but no one ever answers, no one moves.

acatlin multi

Alan Catlin is a widely published poet in the US of A and elsewhere. His most recent book is “Books of the Dead: a memoir with poetry” about the deaths of his parents. He is a retired professional barman and the editor of the online poetry zine misfitmagazine.net.

Scurrying by Paul Tristram

She Nosferatu-shadows down the back lane,
light of step, back arCHed
and owl-wing silent.
A tom cat meows from a distant shed roof,
as she invades his territory
and uneases his midnight hunt
for rat, vole and mouse.
It’s the top right window
upon the far left she’s after.
Terraced walls blend and blur unnoticed
as she scurries quickly on by.
Counting gates with a clicking,
vindictive mind, eager in her nastiness
and side-stepping moon-reflecting puddles.
It’s cold enough for snow
and her breath forms twisted demons,
dragon-shapes and Reaper scythes
as it leaves her snarling mouth.
She almost squeals in terror
and instant thirst for vengeance
as she approaches the spot
of a thousand past heartaches and despairs.
When looking uP fearfully
at the bedroom window, curtains closed,
but alive with a warm, low light
and sees it decorated blasphemously
with CONDENFUCKINGSATION!
Ripping the spare key from a leather strap
tied around her own choking throat
and sliding the carving knife
out of her tear-stained sleeve…
she enters the back garden,
filled with a murderous energy,
having already decided the fate
of three completely separate and unique lives.

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/