Specious Present by Sally Evans

What is the specious present? asks the Hon Colin,
philosophy lecturer extraordinaire,
as we all sit and try to imagine the time not going by,
the present not changing into the past in a second
but the buzzing of bees which takes time, lap of waves on a shore,
a drowsy moment in a garden, in a lecture room:
the place you remember which takes its time being a moment.
It was long ago, some of the people are dead, others forgotten,
and I’d have to think hard to give you the year last century,
but I recall it was the hour that ran from 11 till 12.

Sally Evans lives in Scotland and has Welsh connections. She has had several books of poems published including Poetic Adventures in Scotland (2014) and the Bees (2008).

Sally Evans lives in Scotland and has Welsh connections. She has had several books of poems published including Poetic Adventures in Scotland (2014) and the Bees (2008).

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A Ten Question Interview With The Artist…Constance Ann Fitzgerald

Why do you write?

I write because it’s been my outlet for just about as long as I can remember. It’s something I turn to when I have a lot to say and no one to say it to, when I’m trying to sort my head out, when I’m trying to gain perspective, when I have something inside me that needs to come out. I mostly write for myself, and it’s only been over the last four years or so that I’ve realized that those words (the more personal sort) can be out there for other people to read and relate to.

What books do you read?

I read whatever catches my attention. I tend to be drawn to stories of people being lost, people finding themselves, people battling their demons. I’ve definitely been leaning more towards female authors and protagonists.
A few books that I’ve loved recently:
Black Cloud by Juliet Escoria
The Cult of Loretta by Kevin Maloney
Skullcrack City by Jeremy Robert Johnson
Anything written by Chelsea Martin or Adam Gnade
Every Kiss A War by Leesa Cross-Smith

What inspires you?

Kathleen Hanna, my Parents and the lives they’ve led, anyone willing to put themselves out there fearlessly, my fuck-ups, music, movies, reading a book so good that I wish I’d written it, the ocean, the forest, the creative drive of people around me.

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

I’ve always been scribbling in notebooks about my day or my thoughts or whatever was bugging me. I wrote a lot of terrible poetry through high-school and my teachers were always really encouraging and supportive. It was the only thing I was ‘good’ at.  It wasn’t until I was in my late teens – early twenties that I started to think about writing professionally. I sent a few stories to Kevin Shamel, who was an editor for Eraserhead Press at the time, and he strongly encouraged me to attend BizarroCon, meet people, and write some stories. I’m glad I listened. Without him I’d still be writing and hiding my words in shoeboxes.

How Do you deal with rejection?

With ice cream.

It’s difficult to not take rejection  personally. Professionally, I get a little down on myself, but I try to consider what I could do better, what I could adjust, what’s wrong with what I’m presenting, and the possibility that maybe my work just isn’t for whoever isn’t picking up what I’m putting down. I try to handle it with as much grace as possible. The only thing that makes being rejected worse is making an ass of yourself afterward.

Who are some writers you admire?

Leesa Cross-Smith, Jeremy Robert Johnson, Juliet Escoria, Sam Pink, Chelsea Martin, Adam Gnade, Mary Miller, Rios De La Luz, J. David Osborne, Lynn Breedlove,
Cameron Pierce, Cody Goodfellow, Virginia Woolf, Kyle Minor… this list could go on for days.

Is writing the only artistic medium you do?

Pretty much. Sometimes I’ll paint, collage, try to sew, I used to really be into photography, mixed media. I generally turn to other forms of art when I feel stuck with my words. Sometimes you need to get out of your head and make something with your hands.

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

Take it easy on yourself. You’re stuck with you, so you may as well make the best of it.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Keep writing. All the time.

What is your writing process?

I wish I had a more structured process, but really it’s just whenever I feel that nagging thing in my head that wants to spew words on a page. It hits me sometimes walking, working my day job, or on the bus, so I’ll type a bunch of notes into my phone and if I’m not able to complete whatever thoughts I’m having or direction I’m going, I’ll try to pick back up where I left off.
I try to just get it all out before I forget what I’m trying to say, and then shape it up during my first round of self-edits. I try to do at least three rounds before anyone else lays eyes on whatever I’m working on.

Constance Ann Fitzgerald is Head Editor/Curator of Ladybox Books and author of TRASHLAND A GO-GO. She lives in Portland Oregon where her happiness is wholly contingent upon whether or not there is a dog in the room.

Constance Ann Fitzgerald is Head Editor/Curator of Ladybox Books and author of TRASHLAND A GO-GO. She lives in Portland Oregon where her happiness is wholly contingent upon whether or not there is a dog in the room.

Alone With Now (for K) by Jennifer Lagier

Friday, we pump iron at the gym.
On Saturday, you’ve checked out
without leaving a note.

It’s a spur-of-the-moment decision.
The dog leash wrapped tight around
your neck, lashed to garage rafter,
a tipped-over kitchen chair,
lifeless body swinging,
your final dispatch.

No more useless therapy sessions.
Months of insomnia.
Years of depression.
Ineffective combinations of drugs.

Scheduled for hospitalization on Monday,
you couldn’t endure another painful moment.
Took yourself out of the picture.
Gifted Death the last word.

Jennifer Lagier has published nine poetry books and in multiple literary magazines. She taught with California Poets in the Schools and is now a retired college librarian/instructor, member of the Italian American Writers Association, co-edits the Homestead Review, helps coordinate monthly Monterey Bay Poetry Consortium Second Sunday readings. Website: http://jlagier.net

Jennifer Lagier has published nine poetry books and in multiple literary magazines. She taught with California Poets in the Schools and is now a retired college librarian/instructor, member of the Italian American Writers Association, co-edits the Homestead Review, helps coordinate monthly Monterey Bay Poetry Consortium Second Sunday readings. Website: http://jlagier.net

Sweetest Sweet Tea by Bradford Middleton

Walking out the alley one late and lonely night
And I come across two who are equally gorgeous
A lithe young thing smoking on something that smells real good
She stands tall and tight in an outfit that just begs to be removed
Whilst next to her sits a young punk rock chick and
Suddenly my youth comes flooding back getting me hard
And wandering, in vein, if I could take the pair?
But with the cash in my wallet a sneaky little blow is all I can afford

Bradford Middleton was born in south-east London in 1971 and spent the next thirty years trying to escape.  He now lives in Brighton and has been trying to escape here since about 2008.  He’s recently completed a novel, DIVE, and can be followed on Twitter @beatnikbraduk.

Bradford Middleton was born in south-east London in 1971 and spent the next thirty years trying to escape. He now lives in Brighton and has been trying to escape here since about 2008. He’s recently completed a novel, DIVE, and can be followed on Twitter @beatnikbraduk.

Universe by Ally Malinenko

It is your tenth wedding anniversary
and instead of being away
you’re in a hotel room in Albany
because this weekend
is your nephew’s high school
graduation

and your mother has snuck in earlier.
She set up a note,
a sign, some chocolate
and when you see it

you sit on the bed and cry
because it hasn’t even been
a week since the cancer
diagnosis
and she doesn’t know
and she has cancer
and your father does too
and your sister
dead now
13 unlucky years
from the same disease

because there is something wrong
in your genes
in your family
and the universe
has set about trying to undo
all of you.

Ally Malinenko is the author of The Wanting Bone and the novel This Is Sarah. Forthcoming books include Better Luck Next Year and How To Be An American. She lives in the part of Brooklyn the tour buses don't come to.

Ally Malinenko is the author of The Wanting Bone and the novel This Is Sarah. Forthcoming books include Better Luck Next Year and How To Be An American. She lives in the part of Brooklyn the tour buses don’t come to.

I Watch My Daughter Chew On The Drapery (for Ada Niela) by Glen Wilson

I am folding the freshly sewn fabric,
checking the new design is full coloured.
I see my daughter bat then grab the drapes,
tasting the flavour of the freshly stitched hem.

My first reaction is to go to her,
tap her hand, admonish as I should –
– But I stop myself, hold back the intuition,
knowledge should not just be a response to no.

She lets the drape fall from her soft mouth
turns towards me smiles, looks for something new.

Glen Wilson lives in Portadown, Co Armagh with his wife Rhonda and children Sian and Cain.  He has been published in Iota, A New Ulster and The Interpreters House.  In 2014 he won the Poetry Space competition and was shortlisted for the Wasafiri New Writing Prize.      He is currently working on his first collection of poetry.

Glen Wilson lives in Portadown, Co Armagh with his wife Rhonda and children Sian and Cain.
He has been published in Iota, A New Ulster and The Interpreters House.
In 2014 he won the Poetry Space competition and was shortlisted for the Wasafiri New Writing Prize.
He is currently working on his first collection of poetry.

Bryant Park by Gary Beck

A manicured slice
of controlled nature
tentatively exists
in midtown Manhattan,
a transit point
for workers, tourists,
the gibbering homeless
lost without their meds,
the lunch hour crowd
stealing a few minutes
from urban bustle,
almost ignoring
the screech of brakes,
the roar of engines,
urgent sirens
desperate to penetrate
the traffic snarl
conspiring to prevent
rescue of the endangered.
Idlers sit with newspapers
absorbed in disasters.
In season, children’s shouts,
the reading room,
opera, movies,
literary events,
combining to humanize
an alien city
with glimms of culture
for the  non-elite.
The women pass
in short skirts,
tight tops,
parading their flesh
in freedom,
unmolested
by the morals police.
The men wear short sleeves
shorts, sandals
in the brief, fading clime
of New York City,
none aware enough
how quickly things change
to sudden detonation.

Gary Beck has 11 chapbooks. Poetry collections include: Days of Destruction (Skive Press), Expectations (Rogue Scholars Press). Dawn in Cities, Assault on Nature, Songs of a Clerk, Civilized Ways (Winter Goose Publishing), with 5 more accepted. His novels include: Extreme Change, Acts of Defiance and Flawed Connections. He currently lives in NYC.

Gary Beck has 11 chapbooks. Poetry collections include: Days of Destruction (Skive Press), Expectations (Rogue Scholars Press). Dawn in Cities, Assault on Nature, Songs of a Clerk, Civilized Ways (Winter Goose Publishing), with 5 more accepted. His novels include: Extreme Change, Acts of Defiance and Flawed Connections. He currently lives in NYC.

They’re Nothing But Ghosts by Kate Garrett

Clear spirits drained: what’s left for me? Distort sunsets through an empty bottle, sitting in this chair. A dried cicada husk, she’s picked me from the bark of the tree – gently, gently – and flicked me away, skipping my shell over the electric fence and into the paddock. Let them trample my snapped insides. I’m crushed into anthills, feeding grass to feed the cattle, my corpse a smear of ammonia and juniper, damned to these dreams of release. I’m gathering dust. She said I ruined her: calm, matter-of-fact. But who ruined who? My fermented blood formed a bullet in my brain, ricocheting through, over and again. It was never my fault. She wanted me to love her. She wanted. She didn’t want. The rising dawn kicks a hole in my skull. She wasn’t supposed to grow up. Her ice-pick apathy stings as the blood-bullet comes to a stop. I sit here. She’s long gone. The bottles are empty. They’re nothing but ghosts.

Kate Garrett writes poetry and flash fiction. Her pamphlet ‘The names of things unseen’ is part of Caboodle, the six-poet collection from Prolebooks. She is a 2016 Pushcart Prize nominee, and the editor of Pankhearst’s Slim Volume anthologies, and the webzine three drops from a cauldron. She lives in Sheffield.

Kate Garrett writes poetry and flash fiction. Her pamphlet ‘The names of things unseen’ is part of Caboodle, the six-poet collection from Prolebooks. She is a 2016 Pushcart Prize nominee, and the editor of Pankhearst’s Slim Volume anthologies, and the webzine three drops from a cauldron. She lives in Sheffield.

Signing On & Smash And Grab Raids – Excerpt from the Novel ‘Kicking Back Drunk’ by Paul Tristram

I was in the dole two days later, when in walked Slave.
I smiled like it was my birthday.
“Way-hay, Jack my man.”
“Slave, it’s been a long time.”
“Too fucking long.” He replied.
“Six months,” I said, “how do I look?”
“Terrible, you look sober, and it doesn’t fucking suit
you one bit, mate.”
“Alright,” I answered, “let me sort these bastards out
and we’ll cure this sober problem.”
“Alright.”
“Alright.”
We echoed each other.
Now, Slave was a good mate, I’d known him since comprehensive
school. He was 6 foot and 15 stone. He liked to think that
he was big built and muscly, but really he was a six foot
bag of lard.
He used to shoplift half bottles of Courvoisier for me and
I, in return, would stop the other boys in our year from kicking
his fat butt.
We had a system working.
It had worked well, as far as I was concerned.
I loved him, we were blood brothers.
Everyone called him Slave.
He was slave to no-one.
Every time he walked down the street, he fell in love. He
never scored much with women, but he still fell in love or
lust. Call it what you will, but he fell in it constantly.
He was a slave to himself.
A slave to his own prick.
None of us are perfect, and he was far from it. This made
me like him even more.
There was something else that he was a slave to, which was
a little bit more annoying.
He was partial to glue sniffing, no, partial’s not the right
word. Gluttony suits it better and by fuck, did it annoy me.
It annoyed everyone.
I could smell none on him today, and boy did that stuff reek.
With a bit of luck, I thought to myself, he’d quit the shit.

After stepping out of the dole office, I felt like I’d just
been released from prison again.
After all those fucking forms.
After all those fucking questions.
My head was bouncing.
“I’m a pound short of a pot of glue.” said Slave, as
more and more pavement passed between us and the dole office.
“Oh no!” I said.
(He obviously hadn’t quit the shit then!)
“Are you still on that school boy shit?” I asked.
“Everybody has their drug of choice.” he retorted.
“That’s not a drug of choice” I replied, “It’s a sad,
sad way to restart a friendship.”
“Look,” said Slave shakily, “I haven’t had any for four
days, I’m going nuts, I need some, it feels like my fucking
brain is melting, mun. I am going to have to go hoisting.
Are you up for it, or what?”
“Nah! fuck that, mun,” I said, “Look, me old man’s in
The Angel. Lets go down and have us a drink. I’ll see if I
can sort your pound out for you.”

We arrived at The Angel. There was my old man singing, ‘Innocent
Man’ by Billy Joel, while counting someone else’s money.
I tried for 5 hours to get Slave his pound. The Old Man
wasn’t having any of it. He had over £400 on him, but he
wasn’t parting with a penny of it unless you were going to
drink it in front of him.
So we did.
I didn’t mind, I was drinking again.
I was happy again.
Slave drank 7 pints and 3 vodkas, and started shaking again.
It was time to try and help out my friend.

There was nothing else for it.
The ironmongers on Windsor Road was just too close to the
police station. We would have to go to the one on Stockems
Corner!
Ah, I thought, Stockems corner!
“Wouldn’t you rather have a hooker?” I inquired.
“Hookers, fuck hookers!” answered Slave, obviously disgusted
by my brainwave.
“I’ve got £2.50 in my pocket, mun. I don’t want to fuck
any woman who’ll do it for £2.50.”
“Right!” I said.
“I’ll steal you your fucking glue, then you lend
me the £2.50 and I’ll fuck one!”

We both laughed as we entered the subway, but there was only
one of us laughing when we came out the other side, and it
was not me.
Fuck, I thought.
I’ve just come out of prison.
Here I am about to do a fucking smash ‘n’ grab, and for
someone else.
I must be insane.
I could have gone back to my old man’s and carried on drinking.
I stopped myself from thinking about it. I had already promised
Slave. All I had to do now was get away with it.
C’mon boy, focus.
The first brick bounced off the window, landing in the middle
of the road. The second brick bounced off, hitting Slave
in the leg.
He didn’t even seem to feel it; he could see that big pot
of glue in the window. Nothing else mattered.
“This is no good.” I said “Someone’s bound to have heard
us. We’ve got about a minute.”
“Fuck!” hissed Slave “What we need is an iron bar.”
“No!” I replied,
“What we need is to be standing in a bar.”

It was then that I spotted the church wall at the other side
of the road. A car must have smashed into it, some of it
was lying on the pavement. There were four or five big,
old stones still cemented together.
“Grab them Slave!
They look like they’ll do the job nicely” I said.
Slave walked over and picked them up, staggered back across
the road to the shop window. Lifted them high and then………
BOOM!
The glass imploded.
It was like a fucking bomb going off.
Surely we’ve woke up half of Neath, or disturbed them a bit
anyway, I thought to myself.
Slave quickly reached inside and grabbed his pot of glue.
It was his, he had earned it.
“Fuck, look out!” I shouted suddenly.
A big sheet of jagged, plate glass was about to decapitate
him. He managed to pull out just in time.
He had his glue.
We’d done it.
As we started running, we heard the first police sirens. They
were too far away, we were Ok. We vanished into the back
streets of the Melyn, heading for the river. As quickly and
silently as two thieves, which was exactly what we were.
“Put your truncheons away, you won’t catch us today.”
I whispered to myself, as we dove into the first alleyway
of darkness.

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…John Grochalski

Why do you write?

The most honest answer that I can give is that it entertains and amuses me in a way that nothing else does. Writing amuses me less than it did say five or ten years ago, but I still do it. Maybe five years from now I’ll take up painting.

What books do you read?

Novels mostly. I guess it’s considered literary fiction as I don’t do much genre. Not as much poetry as you’d think.  I’ve been really getting into socio-political type books.  Stuff written by people like Chris Hedges and Noam Chomsky. They make many good points about the decline and fall of the American Empire. I mean look at the way the 2016 election is shaping up. You have all these GOP candidates who aren’t fit to run a lemonade stand, and they want to run the country. And on the other side you have a career-long Corporatist who’s only value is in breaking the glass ceiling. You need to read people to make sense of this madness. Oh, and I like some rock magazines like Mojo.

What inspires you?

My wife, bars without televisions in them, people who don’t own smartphones.

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

I don’t want to put this down to economics, but in twenty years of writing I’ve made exactly seventy-five bucks off of what I do. I get paid to work as a public librarian, so that’s what I consider myself. But I started writing at around seventeen years old.

How Do you deal with rejection?

It happens every week…so I’d say pretty well. I’ve been petty. There was a place that used to take my poems then they started rejecting them. So I haven’t sent them anything in about four years. But I don’t write anyone nasty emails.

Who are some writers you admire?

Boy, admiration is a tough word.  I don’t know if I admire him but without Jack Kerouac’s On the Road I wouldn’t be doing any of this.  It changed my life. But to admire someone who didn’t work and let his mother sweat and toil so he could play artist?  I don’t know.  There are some workhorse people out there who are at it every day, and I admire that. People like Kevin Ridgeway, Allyson Malinenko and Don Wentworth. I know they’re all up before the sun to write/edit. Those types.  People who write only when “inspired” I don’t really understand.

Is writing the only artistic medium you do?

I also excel in the fine art of complaint. Ask my wife. I’ll complain about anything. In my view the sun causes cancer, so I complain about people bathing in it.

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

Don’t sign anything without reading it first…especially student loan forms. College is over-rated and expensive and has no real world applications for what you are suited to do. Talk to mom and see if she’s willing to work while you stay home and play artist, like Jack Kerouac.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Do they have any advice for me?  What can you tell someone who’s chosen this?  I know people who’ve been writing diligently for decades and haven’t made a dent, yet they keep at it. I know people who’ve got an agent and a publishing deal on the first try. My advice? Be nice to waitresses, waiters, bartenders and anyone else who makes their living serving you.

What is your writing process?

I’m up at 4:45 in the morning Monday through Friday with the goal of being in front of my computer at 5:00 and ready to write. I work for around two to two and a half hours, until my work overlords deem I get ready for the job. I do fiction and poetry. Sometimes I have ideas in the morning and sometimes I start from scratch. Novel stuff is easier because you have the foundation there. Poems? I’ve been keeping an almost daily blog since 2008, so I’ve pretty well raked my life over the coals for ideas. I used to get a lot of poem ideas watching people on the bus and subway, but now everyone has their head buried in their phones. I try to keep the hangovers at bay.

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.