Song of Being by Grant Tarbard

In the pursuit of truth a poets health
is sacrificed. Be not for gray cage rest,
be not here, invigorate your death as
that is your true state, a beggar kneeling
on the street in a soil palette, be not
for hellos and goodbyes measured within
the hands of sleep. Be for the lovers that
wrinkle each other perpetuating
divinity. The books I read are latched
as the words have to be clutched to the page
crumbling in colonial syllables,
my ink is spiced with age and waiting rooms.
Be for tearing the pictures from the walls,
be for confiding in a lovers kiss.

Grant Tarbard

Grant Tarbard is internationally published. His collection As I Was Pulled Under the Earth, published by Lapwing Publications, is available now.

A Ten Question Interview With The Artist… Chumki Sharma

Why do you write?

I write to leave a legacy. My insignificance in the universe is strangely offensive to me. The fact that every morning I am a day closer to death and with me, everything I love will die too wounds me. Poetry is my war against mortality.

What books do you read?

I read a lot of fiction-thrillers and drama. Ancient history fascinates me too. Rarely poetry.

What inspires you?

I am inspired by life and the business of living. Pulling it apart at the seams and seeing what’s inside. Like an archaeologist digging for clues. I look underneath the surface of what is seen, to find the places that are not seen but felt.
The creative process itself brings me to a place of being totally present and that process itself is inspiring. Just the act of looking through the viewfinder of poetry slows me down and I am at once connected with what I see. I would say that I see my version of God or the energy of the Universe through the my words. The way the light falls on a leaf, the way your eyes sparkle in the sunlight, the way the shadows dance on the grass. The experience of really noticing the world around me and within me is the greatest inspiration of all.

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

I have always loved writing. It probably came alive in me from my love of reading. And Poetry was my chosen form of expression even when I was not conscious of it as an art form. I wrote my first poem at the age of 4, it was on my sister. It was terrible but the poet in me was born. I found writing and poetry to be liberating, it meant a freeness to plunge in, almost like doing a finger painting. It’s a free flow, suspending fact, meaning, sanity, then seeing, in what pours out uncensored, what can be shaped, fashioned, pared down or enlarged to become a poem.

How do you deal with rejection?

I take it as a game. A poem that is rejected by one editor makes another fall in love with it. You win some, lose some.

Who are some writers you admire?

There are poets and writers in the small presses whose writing I admire. None of them Big Time, just average folks writing for the love of it and often their brilliance takes me by surprise. They are the ones that get me thinking above the fray, even as we dredge through it, looking for the gold.
And then there is Jhumpa Lahiri and Khaled Hosseini. I wish I wrote “Unaccustomed Earth” and “The Kite Runner.” And Dick Francis steals my heart with his gentle thrillers. In poetry I love Mark Bibbins (“The Dance of No Hard Feelings”) and Billy Collins (the magical “Aimless Love”).

Is writing the only artistic medium you do?

I also model a bit. There is poetry in a picture.

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

I wish I could turn back time and tell myself to write more and submit more. While I have been writing from the age of 4, I have been submitting less than a year. So, for a long time, I had no clue how good or bad I was. I wish I hadn’t lost so much time.
Apart from that I would tell myself and reinforce the fact everything in life is transient. Your failures, your stupidity, your doubts, your confidence, your fears, your defeats, your triumphs, your equations with people, your perceptions about life. Everything that has come to pass shall pass. So lighten up.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Approach revision with the same reverence as that of inspiration with which you wrote the first draft of the poem. Go back to it again and again, love the process of revision and enhancing the nuances, making your poem or story the best that it could be.

What is your writing process?

I write whenever I can, at stoplights, at work, in doctor’s waiting rooms, at 3 a.m. There’s a poem always forming in my head. I am trying to acquire the discipline of writing it down.


Chumki Sharma is a poet, model and banker from Calcutta, India. Published widely across the world, she is a twice Pushcart nominee for 2016. Her debut manuscript “Running Away With The Garden” has just been published from the Blank Rune Press, Australia.


Dazzle Paint by Karen Little

At my post, I feel like a giant beating drums,
and calculate a bombardment that will rock
clouds, heavy as pears, green with poison.

Pink flowers of exploding shells will deck the ship
like a party, though dazzle-painted to invisibility.
I have learnt the art of seeing through camouflage,
and it won’t prevent me pin-pointing your position.

I wait until conditions are perfect to maximise
impact, before releasing poisonous fumes,
vivid and brief as a comet. Vaporised bodies
are imprinted onto the deck surrounding you.

Sickly and weak, you don’t project the right image
of a survivor, and your story will be repressed
by your leader, and unknown beyond your country.

Karen Little

Karen Little trained as a dancer at London Contemporary Dance School, and as a Sculptor at Camberwell School of Art, London. She has performed and exhibited internationally.. She regularly reads her poetry at events and has recently been published in over thirty magazines and anthologies, including Petals in the Pan anthology, Deep Water Literary Journal and Southern Pacific Review.

Desert Moon by Stephen Jarrell Williams

Facing the wind
A whispering low whistle past my ears
Shadow of my cross behind me

I am dead
To this surrounding world
Dying since I was born

But living the adventure
More than most
And still not enough

I am here in the desert
Licking the sand from my lips
Long hair like a beat Sampson

Buried up to my neck
My sins as the sand
Weighting me down
Still trying to dig out of this grave

The night sky filled with clusters of stars
Witnesses to my thirst

After so much time spent in the gathering crowd
Loners and self edifiers
Hanging on
To tall peaks of illusion
Not knowing how far the fall would be

I let go a long time ago
A swan dive
Down through swirling dreams of transparent ghosts
Voices calling me
My mother crying
My father yelling
My wife pleading about things I didn’t understand
My children applauding

Electrifying the fall
A flying death drop
Mouth open

I hit earth
Her marshmallow breasts

And here I am
Just missing her gaping throat to a deeper place

Praying not for rain
But for someone with a saving shovel
To dig me out
Or cover me over.

Stephen Jarrell Williams

Stephen Jarrell Williams loves to write in the middle of the night with a grin and grimace and flame in his heart. He is the editor of Dead Snakes at

I Bet She Tastes Great by Paul Tristram

She’s working again tonight, oh yes, she’s working.
The Tavern is always more crowded when she’s here.
Oh my, she’s dressed just like a secretary.
I can feel the muscles tingle in my body
as I drink her in with my eyes.
Pure white blouse, tight, ever so tight,
showing clearly the firm, mouth watering breasts
that push out tantalizingly into the soft material.
Black mini skirt that seems to purr with delight
at the delicious work it’s been given tonight.
The perfect dark, thin stripes that run down the back
of her silk legs until they reach the stilettos.
Stilettos with cruel heels which make the customers
drink their drinks faster and wince as she turns
and spins upon them with a balance that astonishes.
Shoulder length blonde hair, tied up at the back,
deep, blue eyes that moan and sigh whenever she looks
in your direction.
A horny god indeed, sculpted this fine creature,
a god aroused, trembling and desperate for perfection.
He succeeded this time, oh yes, he definitely succeeded.
I wonder what her pubic hair is like?
Does she have it shaved into a Brazilian?
Has she got that little wispy curl above her clit
like so many blonde girls have?
Mmm, I finish my drink and order another one, her eyes
flashing and smiling in my direction only.
As she passes me my change, her fingers brush against
my hand, I notice that her middle fingernail
is trimmed shorter than the others.
When she turns away, I glance at the clock, it says eight.
I have just over three more hours to marvel at this
beautiful, miracle before me.

paul smoking

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) ‘Poetry From The Nearest Barstool’ at And a split poetry book ‘The Raven And The Vagabond Heart’ with Bethany W Pope at You can also read his poems and stories here!

When They Came by Jane Frank

Between forest giants
bunyip eyes
watch the ship
glide through the Mary’s
tranquil waters.
From among  the kauri,
bloodwood, stringybark,
river flats wreathed
they are seen
encroaching silently
in steadfast early sun
older than time,
but they will bring noise
to this ancient place,
their voices more strange
than the whip birds,
their calls brasher
than the cockatoos,
the crash of their axes more sad
than the curlew’s
desperate call at dusk.

Jane Frank beach photo

Jane Frank’s poems have appeared in Australian Poetry Journal, Writ, Uneven Floor, Yellow Chair Review, Antiphon, The Lake and elsewhere in Australia and the UK. Jane teaches a range of writing disciplines at Griffith University in both Brisbane and on the Gold Coast in south east Queensland.

Eroticus Uninterruptus by Don Kingfisher Campbell

I can’t walk past a gumball machine
without thinking of you,
you suck my balls blue.

I gaze at rubber snakes
in the L.A. Zoo Gift Shop
and think of that wonderful numbness when we stop.

Every time we lie in bed,
we’re a sculpture unexhibited,
dwelling in our private pleasure palace of being
fucking humans.

Sleeping animals inside us wait
for the night or toddler sleep…
then we dive into our Marianas Trench
of ejaculate.

Before I shower I scratch myself,
cup my hand to my nose
for a mixture of reality dos.

I daydream of licking oysters from the shell,
of inhaling life in valleys and on hills:
a hint of leftover salsa, tequila, and lime.

Hell, I’m just glad to be your Energizer bunny,
because you only open your battery compartment
for my cylindrical energy.

Don Kingfisher Campbell, MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University Los
Angeles, publisher of the San Gabriel Valley Poetry Quarterly, organizer of
the San Gabriel Valley Poetry Festival, and host of the Saturday Afternoon
Poetry reading series in Pasadena, California. For publication credits,
please go to:

Any Fool Can Think They Are Home by William Merricle

The sadness was showing under your skin.
That was the day I found conclusive evidence
that my skull was composed of red dirt diphthongs,
pesticide residues, darned old socks, unfollowed
tweets, the top three rows of the medicine chest,
several Cthulhoid entities, cheese wheel turning,
wafts of methane, ponds of liquid nitrogen,
the seedier parts of Philadelphia, Mars in retrograde,
Titania, Oberon, Descartes, Lorca, half-baked conclusions,
Jesus wept, breadcrumbs disappeared, sighs in the night,
a squeak on the back stairs, a  light from the sewer grate,
lumpy dharma, governor in the Big House, an imminent
sneer, a lurking smirk, a halo flips a butterfly
knife, conscience lying there like a big fried egg,
awareness not capable of self-rule, whatnots, gimcracks,
baubles, knick-knacks, trifles, bygones, gewgaws, tchotchkes,
furbelows, curios, flummeries, doohickies, thingamabobs,
sweaty beginnings, rafters of laughter, acres of ache, corrupted
files, floppy assumptions, and an entire battalion of anticlimaxes.

William Merricle

William Merricle is the author of several chapbooks, including Chaos Theory (Nightballet Press, 2013), and the upcoming Fractured Fairy Tales (Crisis Chronicles Press). His work has appeared in many publications, including Pudding Magazine, Portland Review, and Slipstream. He assumes there is someone praying for him.

Death In Sleep by Noel Negele

I don’t want to die
While taking a piss
Or a shit-
My brother or someone
Breaking down the door
After two hours of silence
On my end
To find me lying on my own
My cock ridiculously withdrawn
Like a small piece of shame
Something that used to be majestic
At times-
With my lousy unbolted jaw
And my eyeballs vacant of emotion
And thought
Stubbornly trying to
Peak inside the skull.

I don’t want to die
While having sex
As opposed to many people
Who seem to believe
It’s one of the most glorious ways
Of getting out-
I think it’s embarrassing
And in all probability
Traumatic to the lover-
And the laughable me without me
Over her sweaty and vivid body
Unable to produce pleasure
Just a waste of space and expenses
For the burial-
A parasite until the final moment
Where the dirt will bloat out the sun

I don’t want to die outside either
Because I am slightly agoraphobic
And because let’s face it
No one wants strangers staring
At our most vulnerable moment.

Best way of heading out
Is in my sleep,
Just like a gentleman

Surely death in sleep must be
Like diving deeper than usual
A smooth and effortless descent
Into the welcoming nothingness

And I would also prefer
For some time to have passed
Before I am found on my bed
With a feathery smile
To reassure the relatives that it
Wasn’t scary nor bad-
Just about the time
When the cheeks
Have lost the blush of shame
And the rats have grown
Dangerously intimate
After  hearkening
To the silence of my body.

Noel Negele

Noel Negele was born and raised in Albania but currently resides in Greece. Some of his scribblings are alive on Dead Snakes and Horror Sleaze Trash, and a couple are featured in Midnight Lane Boutique. Not much else to say.


Cluster Bombs into the Faces of Small Children by Ryan Quinn Flanagan

Conquerors traverse entire oceans
hardly ever with the breaststroke,
I can understand cluster bombs into the faces
of small children
as industrial diarrhea, liquid hate
the burning gasoline brain –
and she told me I did not care for nothing
which was just another way of saying
I did not care for her,
saplings torn out the promising twist tie sky like backwards love
the nursed beers of pervert’s row forever tricked
by the fog machine
loud music to disorient the senses
like concussion grenades people listen to
when they are lonely;
a dart board full of holes
and a worldview much the same:
if you are drunk at ten in the morning
you are not happy with the day.

Ryan and the Beast Aug15

Ryan Quinn Flanagan presently resides in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada with a nurse that drives a big blacked out truck and many hungry bears that rifle through his garbage.