Band-Aind Wrappers by John Grochalski

mornings of death
caked toothpaste and cat litter back rubs

toilet rings that elucidate decades of deep thought

bath tub stains of misery
with empty shampoo bottles loitering

a thousand soy sauce packages
and rotten tomatoes

antarctic freezers
full of vodka kamikaze ice cubes

broken blinds to keep the world out
a man could do much much worse, i know

dust ball racetracks
yellow paper hoarding and snot rag piñatas

memories nailed to the wall like crucifixes
and calendars marking off the days

the traces of last month’s meals
make splattered pollock’s on the kitchen floor

coffee grind fortunes
tea bag mountains and beer can havens

cracked floors, drawers that have given up

mounds of clothing strewn from porno daydreams
mingling with loose change and chapstick

an everest of poems unsent and unwanted

broken screens
and cracked window panes
bookshelves of failed genius

thin walls full of fetid breath
and other dull lives

static radio and cigarette smoke
wine bottle chimes

telephone horrors and internet virus ghosts

nights alive like suicide
with bloody feet splintered from decaying wood

and nothing left in the cabinets
but empty boxes

and band-aid wrappers
stuck to the floor.

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.

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.

Advertisements

Trumpet Smuggling Motherfucker! by Paul Tristram

It had been a bad morning, first of all I got caught smoking opposite the cricket nets by the
side of the drama hall, there were around twenty of us standing and sitting about but I was the
only one who didn’t see the teacher approaching. I was sitting on a little brick wall someone
had knocked up during a construction class, with my head down, spitting a anarchy symbol
into the loose cement dust between my scuffed Sergeant Peppers boots (I’m artistic like that)
It was the sniggering and giggling which first snapped me back from my other place, I lifted
my head, a No. 6 dangling from my lips to see one of the drama teachers looking down at me
with a big sunshine smile upon his face, I smiled back, ripping the cigarette from my mouth
and casting it to the floor.
“So now you’re littering Paul? Why don’t you pick your little cancerous friend back up and
escort it to the headmasters room!”
I didn’t know this teacher, except by sight but he obviously knew me, I bent down, whilst
walking and grabbed the smouldering dog-end from the ground and replaced it in my mouth
and took a drag and headed towards the main building.
There was a shout from behind me, I turned, his smile was gone completely, replaced with
something I was far more comfortable and familiar with, I smirked.
“You little Bastard! Put that cigarette out this instant and take it to the headmaster unlit. You
made me swear, I can’t believe you actually made me swear, tell the headmaster that you also
made me swear in indignation, I will be checking with him later!”
What a load of crap, why not just leave the fag on the ground in the first place with all the
other butts laying there and just send me to the headmasters room? I’d have gone, I was no
longer afraid of their laws and rules anyway. I’d already had the rugby tog across the thighs
and the metal rulers across the knuckles a few times, I’d stopped walking out of detention
awhile ago, now I just didn’t bother turning up in the first place.
No, he had to try and embarrass me, didn’t he, well, it backfired and I embarrassed him, I
wasn’t scared of him and he knew it, he was nothing to me and he hated me for it, oh well,
life’s hard, innit.
The headmaster shook his head and smiled
“Well, at least you weren’t fighting this time or climbing in the girls changing room
windows. I expelled your brother a few months back and he’s in that place down Port Talbot,
rough as rats down there but I’m sure he’s told you all about it?”
“He, likes it there.”
“Really? Look, one more big thing and you’re going the same way as him, only not to Port
Talbot, you’ll be going off to The Farm School up the Cimla where the real naughty boys go.
I’ve already been speaking to them about you, I’ll give you 2 months and you’ll be gone, now
get out of my sight!”
He was wrong, I lasted 6 months, 6 weeks of those were summer holidays but I proved him
wrong, slightly…yet, wrong all the same.
After leaving his office, I started wandering aimlessly around by the dinner hall, trying to
decide what to do with myself, I didn’t really feel like another lesson and was contemplating
going munging (leaving the school premises without permission) when I heard the fire alarm
and saw my mate Slave running towards me laughing and shouting “Scatter!”
I found out later that a girl he’d fancied for ages, Jessica had promised him ‘free feels’ at
dinnertime if he’d punch her older brother (he’d grassed her up to their ‘rents for smoking)
and got her off art. He’d done both within seconds of each other, her brothers nose was
bleeding and she would now go to the nurses room complaining of a migraine and shock
from the fire scare.
We ran back past the headmasters room, took a right through the double doors, leaving them
swinging like cowboy saloon doors behind us and burst into the long corridor which was
busy with people doing their in between class thing.
We were still at a half run when this force came swooping from the right of me and had me
up against the far wall with a crunch, nearly taking the wind out of me. It was Mr Midlands,
the girls typing teacher, the only teacher everyone was scared of, I wasn’t scared of him, I
just didn’t like him, my Father had knocked him out with a head-butt in The Grandison Pub
a few years back.
I winced my eyes as the spit flew in my face and he screamed like a mad man,
“W-W-Who’s Got You N-N-Now, Boy-y-y?”
“You have, by the bloody throat, sir!”
He laughed, tried to compose himself, then chuckled
“I mean which teacher and class are you going to?”
Slave saw the opportunity and jumped right in, he grabbed hold of two confused first formers
walking past and looking as angelic as he could exclaimed excitedly,
“He’s a hero, sir! He was busily leading us all to safety from the fire, he should get a star of
distinction for this, sir!”
“There is no fire, it’s a prank, all the alarms go off if there’s a fire…now sod off to class the
lot of you and no running in the corridors!”
We walked off smiling, then started talking about going munging, I was all up for selling
some of our dinner tickets (we come from council estates and poor families) and going down
the back lanes to Cat the Rat’s flat (short for Catherine) and getting her to go up the shop to
buy us a flagon of cider. She was a hell of a woman her, all the boys went round there, she
was 19 years old with 2 kids and her own council place, as long as one of you went in the
bedroom with her she would let everyone else hang around her living room and drink, sniff
glue and smoke dope.
Slave said he wasn’t into it, there was only one more lesson before dinner break and he
wanted to be around to see if Jessica was going to pay up on the ‘free feels’ she now owed
him, besides Emily Magic would be there and she had declared to everyone that it was time
she gave someone rubs and I was the lucky winner.
The next class was Music, we were 13 years old, next year we would have ‘Options’ and
would be able to pick which lessons we wanted but right now we were stuck with what we
were given.
I hated Music, the lesson that is, all that classical crap that the posh idiots listen too, boring,
Mrs Price the teacher had told us all to bring in a single of our favourite song at the end of
term last year, everyone brought in ‘Adam & The Ants’ ‘Madness’ or ‘The Specials’
I took in ‘Crass – Bloody Revolutions’ she played exactly 4 seconds of it.
Anyway, in we walked, Emily Magic had saved me a seat next to her on the back row,
everyone smiled as I walked on over, it was common knowledge, the reason she had picked
Music class to do this was because Mrs Price suffered from headaches and turned half of the
lights off in the class, the other reason was that she got so into all her Mozart crap that she
almost forgot we were there.
I liked Emily, I was quite happy to be friends with her if she wanted to be but she wasn’t my
type, I liked bad girls a year or two older and she was a nice girl, very pretty and …well,
lovely, too lovely for me.
Almost as soon as I had sat down, she slid her trembling hand over onto my lap, she let it lay
there for a second or three, all shaking and nervous and then started stroking, my cock flew
into life instantly, trust me a teenage boys cock has a mind and a life of its own, it only takes
the fucking wind to change direction and all hell breaks loose.
I couldn’t watch TV at home anymore, the moment Christina Applegate walked through the
door in ‘Married With Children’ I had to get up and leave the room sideways, even some of
the adverts…Jesus, it was like genital Russian roulette and my house was always full of
people, I was glad to grow up, I can tell thee.
The stroking got harder and firmer, the people on the nearest tables around us started
whispering and giggling, after a minute or so the murmuring had spread to the front of the
classroom and Mrs Price turned around to investigate but could see nothing amiss so carried
on talking shit and writing on the blackboard.
Then Emily’s best friend Debra leaned over from the next table were she was sitting with
Slave and said, a little more loudly than was needed
“Pull his zip down, get his cock out and give us all a gander!”
Five or six other girls laughed loudly at this and Mrs Price spun around angrily, Emily slowly
moved her hand from my lap but was blushing fiercely and that drew Mrs Price’s eyes like a
beacon, she looked from Emily’s face to me and half yelled
“Stand up Paul!”
“Nuh!”
“What do you mean No? Stand up right now!”
“Nuh!”
“If you do not get up onto your feet this instant I am sending up the corridor for Mr
Midlands!”
There was no way out of it, I rose up out of my chair slowly, I was wearing sta press
trousers and my hard on was at full mast, sticking out in front of me like a right old beauty, if I’d had
jeans on they might have deflected some of the fanfare going on down there but no, I was in
sta press and you could practically see the veins through the thin yet extremely trendy cloth.
The more I tried to ‘Will’ the Bastard down, the stronger it got, it was like throbbing iron and
just when I thought that it couldn’t possibly get any worse, I felt a dribble of pre-
cum
escaping like a sneak-thief through a back lane gate…and of course I didn’t wear underwear
(at least not in those days) and the sta press were light grey, so my pre-cum was merely
seconds away from everyone seeing it.
When I was finally stood upright, the room went silent, followed by gasps and then laughter,
Mrs Price, went purple and her face started twitching neurotically as she hissed
“Sit down immediately, you animal!….Emily, swap seats with Slave!”

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 book ‘Poetry From The Nearest Barstool’ at http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1326241036  And also read his poems and stories here! http://paultristram.blogspot.co.uk/

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 book ‘Poetry From The Nearest Barstool’ at http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1326241036
And also read his poems and stories here! http://paultristram.blogspot.co.uk/

A Ten Question Interview With The Artist… Mercedes Webb-Pullman

Why do you write?

To find out what I think about things

What books do you read?

Mostly novels, now reading Elias Khoury, Gate of the Sun

What inspires you?

Usually my response to something I’ve noticed

How did you know you wanted to be a writer and when?

I’m not sure I want to be a writer. I started writing 8 years ago, during some tough times.

How Do you deal with rejection?

It makes me feel rejected for a moment but I know that editors’ tastes are all different, and the piece will probably suit someone else.

Who are some writers you admire?

The three R’s – Rumi, Rilke, Rimbaud.

Is writing the only artistic medium you do?

It is now – for thirty years, making stained glass panels was my creative outlet. Now I have elevated lead levels, and bad lungs, from not taking enough care while working.

What would be some advice you would give to your younger self?

Don’t give up!

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Don’t stop writing. Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks. Write every day.

What is your writing process?

I write best in the early morning, first drafts fly out. I revise, sometimes by posting to online poetry forums or workshops, sometimes with a local workshopping group. I find there are two different processes, the flow, and the fiddling. I love the flow, and get cranky with fiddling. But it has to be done.

Mercedes Webb-Pullman graduated from IIML Victoria University Wellington with MA in Creative Writing in 2011. Her poems and short stories have appeared online and in print, in Turbine, 4th Floor, Swamp, Reconfigurations, The Electronic Bridge, poetryrepairs, Connotations, The Red Room, Otoliths, Cliterature  among others, and in her books. She lives on the Kapiti Coast, New Zealand.

Mercedes Webb-Pullman graduated from IIML Victoria University Wellington with MA in Creative Writing in 2011. Her poems and short stories have appeared online and in print, in Turbine, 4th Floor, Swamp, Reconfigurations, The Electronic Bridge, poetryrepairs, Connotations, The Red Room, Otoliths, Cliterature among others, and in her books. She lives on the Kapiti Coast, New Zealand.

White Girl Sang Blues by Bryn Fortey

(For Janis Joplin)

Beat Chick
Rock chick
Dope
Sex
Cheap cheap thrills
Felt it
Meant it
Passed the Bessie Test
Rode horse
Rode studs
Rode a short life
Down to hell
Couldn’t live it
Only sing it
White girl
Sang blues

A veteran of the writing game for more years than he cares to remember, Bryn Fortey edited the well received (at the time) OUTLAW, a post-Beat poetry magazine from the 70s and at the same time had short stories in FONTANA anthologies, among others. After a while away from the literary scene he recently returned with both fiction and poetry acceptances. In 2014 The Alchemy Press published his debut collection MERRY-GO-ROUND, combining short stories and poetry in one book.

A veteran of the writing game for more years than he cares to remember, Bryn Fortey edited the well received (at the time) OUTLAW,
a post-Beat poetry magazine from the 70s and at the same time had short stories in FONTANA anthologies, among others. After a
while away from the literary scene he recently returned with both fiction and poetry acceptances. In 2014 The Alchemy Press published
his debut collection MERRY-GO-ROUND, combining short stories and poetry in one book.

Moving On by Brenton Booth

sometimes the seconds
play out for hours
with a perfect soundtrack
of pain
& gods & angels
seem the farthest thing
away
& there is no option
but to let yourself  bleed
dry
then walk away to a
completely new &
unknown place
for the unfamiliar streets
though uncaring don’t
always kill
& our blood only comes
in limited amounts
we can only bleed so much
before any further pain is
a choice:
or nothing more than a
lodging we refuse to leave.

Brenton Booth lives in Sydney, Australia. Poetry and fiction of his has appeared in many small press publications. To read more of his work visit brentonbooth.weebly.com

A Ten Question Interview With The Artist…Susan Castillo

Why do you write?

This, to me, is like asking “Why do you breathe?”  I can’t not write, and writing keeps me breathing on a regular basis.  I write to try to carve clarity, and I hope create a bit of beauty and meaning, out of the raw chaos of lived experience.

What books do you read?

At the moment, lots of scholarly tomes related to theories of trauma and haunting, linked to an essay collection I’m co-editing on the Southern Gothic, and to the monograph I’m writing on race and slavery in the Early Atlantic.  For pleasure:  I love detective fiction, particularly novels set in Italy by authors such as Donna Leon and  Lucretia Grindle.

What inspires you? 

Nature; the wonders and the weirdness of family; sounds and accents and voices; incidents when I travel; the language of children, which is wonderfully direct and uncluttered with stale metaphors; old photographs; songs; paintings.

How did you know you wanted to be a writer and when? 

I’ve been writing stories and telling stories as long as I can recall, from the age of about four.   I wrote and directed a play when I was 8 years old called Rough Road Home, about intrepid pioneers.  One scene required that I climb a chinaberry tree with the family cat and cast him out upon my cousin, whose line was “Eek!  A wildcat!” She shrieked like a banshee.

How Do you deal with rejection?

Pretty well, actually.  In this poeting racket, one has to have a high degree of sensitivity along with the hide of several rhinocerii.

Who are some writers you admire?

Where do I start!  Among prose writers, Flannery O’Connor; the immortal William Faulkner; George Washington Cable; Mark Twain; Nathaniel Hawthorne.  Among poets:  Natasha Trethewey, a stunningly good Mississippi writer. Louise Erdrich, Denise Levertov, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman. W.H. Auden; Sally Evans.

Is writing the only artistic medium you do?

No…I enjoy painting with acrylics.  My paintings aren’t exactly Immortal Art, but that feeling of being completely absorbed and in the flow does give me huge pleasure.

What would be some advice you would give to your younger self?

Don’t be so hard on yourself. And don’t imitate…find your own true voice, and go for it.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Read good writers and learn from them. Believe in yourself…and persevere!  I know someone (who will remain nameless) who submitted a screenplay to 86 agents.  The 87th took it, and got him/her an advance of 100k plus a 3-book deal and film rights.  Remember as well that great writers often weren’t critically acclaimed in their own lifetimes…the important thing is to write words that last, and that make us look at the world in new ways.

Also: listen to children…their language is wonderfully fresh, direct and uncluttered with stale metaphors..

What is your writing process?  

For scholarly writing: once the research is done, I break the project into manageable chunks and set myself a target of X words per day, and stick to it relentlessly.

But poetry is a very different thing.  I write when I feel the poems nibbling at my head and refusing to go away.  And I write them on my laptop…it makes tinkering with line breaks so much easier.  Wordsworth’s comment about emotion recollected in tranquillity rings very true…most of my poems come from a place of emotion, but then I try to pare them down to the bone.  However, I’ve had to learn to avoid editing the life out of a poem!  Still, that feeling one gets when a poem suddenly comes together is just about as good as it gets.

 Susan Castillo Street is a Louisiana expatriate and academic who lives in the Sussex countryside. She is Harriet Beecher Stowe Professor Emeritus, King’s College, University of London, and has published two collections of poems, The Candlewoman's Trade (Diehard Press, 2003) and Abiding Chemistry,  (Aldrich Press, 2015).  Her poems have appeared in The Missing Slate, The Stare’s Nest, Nutshells and Nuggets, I Am Not a Silent Poet, Snakeskin, Message in a Bottle, Literature Today, York Mix and other reviews. She is a member of three poetry groups: 52, Goat, and Slant 2015.


Susan Castillo Street is a Louisiana expatriate and academic who lives in the Sussex countryside. She is Harriet Beecher Stowe Professor Emeritus, King’s College, University of London, and has published two collections of poems, The Candlewoman’s Trade (Diehard Press, 2003) and Abiding Chemistry, (Aldrich Press, 2015). Her poems have appeared in The Missing Slate, The Stare’s Nest, Nutshells and Nuggets, I Am Not a Silent Poet, Snakeskin, Message in a Bottle, Literature Today, York Mix and other reviews. She is a member of three poetry groups: 52, Goat, and Slant 2015.

Tulsa by Kyle Hemmings

She keeps returning to a man
with dirty fingernails &
artificial clouds for eyes.
Never gets further than Tulsa
or a town of half-naked windows.
Her excuse: I am pig-headed
on dry afternoons. When perfectly alone,
I am burning mulch & bitternut bark,
my twigs are too high to see or grasp.
He stares past her & lights a cigarette,
needs someone to unclog the bathroom tub
of coarse hairs. He loves the swoosh of hot & cold.

Kyle Hemmings lives and works in New Jersey. He has been published in Your Impossible Voice, Night Train, Toad, Matchbox and elsewhere. His latest ebook is Father Dunne's School for Wayward Boys at amazon.com. He blogs at http://upatberggasse19.blogspot.com/

Kyle Hemmings lives and works in New Jersey. He has been published in Your Impossible Voice, Night Train, Toad, Matchbox and elsewhere. His latest ebook is Father Dunne’s School for Wayward Boys at amazon.com. He blogs at http://upatberggasse19.blogspot.com/

their indifference as love by J. J. Campbell

i think
the cats
are finally
starting to
realize that
i am moving
on and they
aren’t

i was pleased
when i saw
some bird
feathers in
the stall
where i
feed them

maybe their
instincts will
get them
through

though i can’t
promise that
the new owner
won’t have the
county come
pick them up
and take them
to their death

i rest comfortably
knowing i gave
them more than
i give most
humans

as usual for cats

i’ll take their
indifference
as love

J.J. Campbell (1976 - soon) is old enough to know better. He's been widely published over the years, most recently at Dead Snakes, The Camel Saloon, Horror Sleaze Trash, NewPoetry.net, and ZYX. His last book of poems, Sofisticated White Trash (Interior Noise Press) is available wherever people buy books these days. You can find J.J. most days bitching about things only he cares about on his highly entertaining blog, evil delights. (http://evildelights.blogspot.com)

J.J. Campbell (1976 – soon) is old enough to know better. He’s been widely published over the years, most recently at Dead Snakes, The Camel Saloon, Horror Sleaze Trash, NewPoetry.net, and ZYX. His last book of poems, Sofisticated White Trash (Interior Noise Press) is available wherever people buy books these days. You can find J.J. most days bitching about things only he cares about on his highly entertaining blog, evil delights. (http://evildelights.blogspot.com)

Roxy Makes House Calls by Ben Newell

“I see you’ve got
your porn,” she said,
commenting on the stacks
of magazines and DVDs.

Something about the way
she said this
rubbed me the wrong way,
dismissive and whatnot
as if she had seen my type
far too many times
and was rather jaded with
the predictability.

So I tried to ram it home
with extra force
but far too many beers
had rendered me
far too soft—

“It’s just sex,” she said,
trying to rub some life
into my organ.  “What are
you so nervous about?”

Then she placed her hand
on my chest.  “Your heart
is racing,” she said.  “Are
you okay, baby?”

“I think I’ve had too
much to drink,” I said.

We tried a bit more,
an exercise in carnal futility
as my blood had fled
to the wrong areas.

And later,
sitting in my apt.
with beer and cigarette,
I told myself that was it,
no more booze
prior to pay for play,
whatever play
was—

In this case,
more or less a physical
and psychiatric examination
by a sex worker
whose bedside manner
put my shrink’s
to shame.

Ben Newell is a fortysomething library clerk in Jackson, Mississippi.  His poems have appeared in Carcinogenic Poetry, LUMMOX, My Favorite Bullet, Nerve Cowboy, Pink Litter, Yellow Mama, and other underground publications.

Ben Newell is a fortysomething library clerk in Jackson, Mississippi. His poems have appeared in Carcinogenic Poetry, LUMMOX, My Favorite Bullet, Nerve Cowboy, Pink Litter, Yellow Mama, and other underground publications.