Cheaters (V1) by Michael Lee Johnson

I am tired of cheaters
online, weary eyed crossword
players complicated chest moves
drift dancers, lies, laid soft peddle,
pillow, dark closet dreamers.
Campaign whispers,
infidelity, sex objects
shoved up orifices
in open private places.
Sex joints open late, consummation
nightclubs, cities corners.
Ashley Madison registered dating
service for married people to date,
innocent, aggressors, victims.
Video, digital, selfies everywhere.
Two doctrines of selfishness
you should know about
penises and affairs most are short.


Michael Lee Johnson lived ten years in Canada during the Vietnam era. He is a poet, editor, publisher, freelance writer, amateur photographer, small business owner in Itasca, IL. Mr. Johnson published in more than 925 small press magazines online and print. His poems have appeared in 27 countries as of this date, he edits, publishes 10 different poetry sites, with over 103 videos on YouTube. Michael Lee Johnson was nominated for 2 Pushcart Prize awards for poetry 2015, and Best of the Net, 2016.


A Ten Question Interview With The Artist… Strider Marcus Jones

Why do you write?

I like the company of people but prefer solitude. I like to listen to people talk, the way they see it and say it. Poetry is real life actions and their chain of consequences, mathematics, music, art. In most group conversations and gatherings, I am usually the quiet one. Nobody minds your natural shyness in a group. Anonymity suits me. I have no need of attention to feel accepted. I am at ease in my own skin and mind. Life is hard for most of us, but also rare in our corner of the universe, so express your own understanding of it. I don’t like wasting words and thinking time is my creative cove. I don’t know why I started writing poetry when thirteen, but it has grown with me and reflects much of who I am now. Some poems sleep for years, jumbles of words, themes and rhythms in subconscious gaseous clouds, form and meaning evolving out of Spinoza’s orderly chaos, while others just happen, triggered by a single word or phrase, a sound, smell, or shape that relates to something from our past, present, or future. Writing a good poem makes me feel like the artist who can paint, or the musician who can play – joy in creating something that others enjoy and feel inspired to try doing themselves.

What books do you read?

Boyhood books that had a great influence on me were The Last Of The Mohicans and The Northwest Passage. The archaeology of Native American Indian Tribes, their cultures, oral history and music remains something I empathise with and profoundly respect in some poems.

My first poetical influences were the Tin Pan Alley lyricists and composers like Sammy Cahn, Cole Porter, Rogers and Hart and the Gershwin brothers. I love the fun, rhythm and interplay between lyrics and music. Bob Dylan, Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen influence my poetry in the same way, allowing me to experiment with metaphor, form and rhythms.

Relationships and love are one of the main themes in my poetry. Two books which have travelled with me through life are Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy and Tess Of The D’urbervilles by Thomas Hardy. Tolkien’s Lord Of The Rings trilogy is probably the biggest influence on my work. Other fantasy fiction authors I read include – Geddings, Moorcock, Feist, Jones and Kerr.

My favourite poets include most of the Romantics, Thomas Hardy, Dylan Thomas, Sylvia Plath, Larkin, Neruda, Lorca and W B Yeats.

What inspires you?

Salford – my home town. My working class Irish and Welsh roots. My Muse and Children. The natural and industrial landscape. Archaeology. Astronomy. Social history. The struggle to overcome adversity and oppression. Contemporary poet, musician and artist friends. Trying to play more than three notes on my saxophone and clarinet. Working on my next poem.

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

When the Professor of the English department at Swansea University read some of my poetry at my interview, then wrote to me, offering me a place to do a degree in English and Literature, and stating that those poems showed I had real potential to become a writer. That was in 1979. I was 19. Too young about the world and didn’t believe him. I went to Liverpool University instead.

How do you deal with rejection?

I give each one the finger while quietly thanking the editor for keeping my feet on the ground. They make you widen your creative range and work harder on any weaknesses.

Who are some writers you admire?

Adding to those previously mentioned – e e cummings, Bukowski, Brian Aldiss, Chaucer, Marlowe.

Is writing the only artistic medium you do?


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

None really. I have enjoyed finding my own way on life’s road.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Read other writers. Don’t be afraid to leave your comfort zone. Take risks and experiment.

What is your writing process?

I write most days with pen on A4 paper folded into quarters. Strings of ideas and phrases. Any time of day, but I prefer the evening and through the night. Some poems survive the first draft. Others go through minor edits to language, theme and structure. Some get butchered and others are sent to hibernate until I return to them.

Strider Marcus Jones

Strider Marcus Jones – is a poet, law graduate and ex civil servant from Salford, England with proud Celtic roots in Ireland and Wales. A member of The Poetry Society, his five published books of poetry http//…. reveal a maverick moving between forests, mountains, cities and coasts playing his saxophone and clarinet in warm solitude. His poetry has been published in the USA, Canada, England, Ireland, Wales, France, Spain, India and Switzerland in numerous publications.



Hate Preacher by Noel Negele

Yesterday something awful happened to me.
That unrelenting, constant ball of hatred resting on my chest
Gave away to a feeling dangerously close to remorse—
I remembered of all my wrongdoings and all the guilts
Began to swell up inside of me, my eyes started to cloud
Like morons—
But then I laughed and I freed myself from that discomfort
far more easily than any honorable man should.

Dear unknown reader, to presume than you are there is
Enough self-indulgence on my part to render me an asshole
But nonetheless hear me when I say
That what shapes you more substantially than anything else
Is the two choices you come across constantly from very early
In your life— The repeating dilemma : To make the right choice
Or the convenient one?

And unfortunately for us, the two choices are mutually excluding
More often than not
And if you make the convenient choice enough times, you will
Question the very meaning of “right”.
And if you question the very meaning of right, it will not take
You much time to see it for what it really is:
Just another word in the dictionary dictating bullshit.

Why would you stand there, faithfully trying, anchored
In an uncomfortable life because of a despotic notion
Inside a society that doesn’t care anymore?

People have broken free from the chains of righteousness.
They don’t allow morality to restrict them anymore.
Virtues are obstacles they jump over to reach their goals.
Everything is permitted now.
Every man for himself and God for all.

The only thing that matters is for you to be alright.
Everybody else that is not you is an enemy.
Your good side is your enemy. Get rid of it.
Pluck out all the useless kindness.
Strip away the goodness, become a mirror
Reflecting the ugliness back at their bloated faces.

To be a good person has to be the single most
Overrated thing in the history of the humankind.

Deny them.
Face the darkness.
Conquer it.

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.

There Ain’t No Rest Or Relaxation This Side Of A Prison Gate by Paul Tristram

Who’d have thought food would be
such a hassle, right?
I hate being upset and heartbroken
but it does make me anorexic,
which is a good thing
when you’re homeless.
Just watching people chewing down
all that crap outside McDonald’s
& Burger King
when I’m ‘Sparing For Change’
makes me nauseous.
I live on a tin of cold soup a day,
I get them from The Salvation Army,
people donate them.
I pick out one with a ring-pull
and drink it walking down the road
just like it’s a beer.
But when I’m not upset,
Jesus Christ! I’m ravenous.
I’m in those litter bins
scavenging for any morsel I can find
like a demented seagull.
I only get to sleep in a bed…  in prison,
I only get physical contact with people
when I’m rolled or being handcuffed.
Warmth is a strange concept,
it’s either something to do with whisky
or some almost forgotten childhood thing?
I learnt a new word in the library
the other day ‘Contentment’
I still shake my head when I think of it.
It even sounds foreign when I say it.
That’s another word
I won’t be getting too familiar with,
like ‘Limousine’ or ‘Pedicure’
Loneliness is the only true company
I’ve got… that and this sodding arthritis.
It’s Hell in the Summer
and Purgatory in the Winter.
There are Hostels and Drop-In-Centres
but you can’t climb back on the ladder
when you are so lost and damaged.
If I bust an arm or a leg
I can crawl over to A&E
and let them deal with the problem.
But a broken heart and fractured soul,
is a different story all together.
They haven’t yet invented a crutch,
wheelchair or Band-Aid for that.
And until they do, me old sunshine,
well, it’s hand to mouth constantly
and only ever scraps of almost everything.

Scribblings Of A Madman

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!

Like a Movie by Jennifer Lagier

An interchangeable cast
of cranky actors costumed as nurses
or white-coated specialists
move in and out
of your hospital room.

They ignore the name
listed above your bed,
printed upon wrist band.
Wordlessly perform a variety
of medical functions.

So far, they’ve pricked
your finger, mistaking you
for the unresponsive diabetic
on the opposite gurney.

Administered respiratory therapy
intended for a guy across the hall.
Tried to dose you with
the incorrect chemo.

Food service bungles
90% of your orders.
Twice they forget
to deliver your dinner.

Over and over
you remind them
you can walk on your own
when they insist
on a walker or wheelchair.

You wonder if the pathology report
of metastasized malignancy
actually belongs to you.
Try to convince yourself
it’s just one more mistake.


Jennifer Lagier has published twelve books and in literary magazines, taught with California Poets in the Schools, co-edits the Homestead Review, helps coordinate Monterey Bay Poetry Consortium Second Sunday readings. Newest books: Scene of the Crime (Evening Street Press), Harbingers (Blue Light Press). Forthcoming chapbook:, Camille Abroad (FutureCycle). Website: : : Poetry by Jennifer Lagier : :






The Last Orders by Jonathan Beale

I’ve seen them every where
On the corner of terraced St’s
Row upon row after very

After row these strikingly
Different epochs when industry
Was another brutal animal.

Once the very epicentre
Of the street.  The mainstay
Of Tanner Street from…

East London,.  Manchester
Liverpool, Glasgow,
Bristol, to anywhere in-fact.

From those sepia times
Easier times some say
The world was held up

And sown together
By vast lines of Dockers
In their duffle jackets

Caps and capped
Boots – forming lines
In a formicary mode

Their vast hands
Consuming pint after
Pint interspersed

With fingers of fire
And spark as Thor
Or Phaethon

The world suspended
With the weight
Of responsibility

As Damocles learn
When once that thread
Pings any one is caught

The now very aged
The Last Orders
Stands with blistered paint

And threadbare carpet and
Estate agent signs
Awaiting its next fate

Burial or cremation
The next generation might
Not know

There everywhere tucked away
You’ve seen them too, you may
Forgotten I’ve seen them every where

On the corner of terraced St.’s
For ever until the hammer must fall
It remains.  Row upon row upon row….

Jonathan Beale

Jonathan Beale has 500 plus poems published in Penwood Review, Poetic Diversity, Ink Sweat & Tears, Down in the Dirt, Mad Swirl, Pyrokinection, Ygdrasil, Van Gogh’s Ear, The Beatnik Cowboy, The Jawline Review, Bluepepper, Jellyfish Whispers, The Outsider, and Yellow Mama. His first collection of poetry ‘The Destinations of Raxiera’ is published by Hammer & Anvil. He studied philosophy at Birkbeck College London and lives in Surrey England.

Talking Euthanasia Blues by John Grochalski

the vet says,
blood pressure pills
and i tell him
no, but i don’t think you understand
she’s seventeen years old
deaf, blind, senile
she walks around the apartment
in the same goddamned circles
yowling as if she were being beaten
and the vet shakes his head in that kind vet way
i tell him look, man, she’s eating like a horse
and she still dropped two ounces from the last time
she shit outside the box three times this week
do you know what it’s like
to have to clean cat shit off your bare feet
at three in the goddamned morning?
i can’t stand all of the meowing
she meowed for two and a half hours this morning
i couldn’t get any writing done
not the poems, not the novel
just meow! meow! meow! meow!
my wife caught her yowling at two in the morning, man
besides, those thyroid pills aren’t even working
like you said they would
we shove them down her throat twice a day
and it’s still meow! meow! meow! meow!
until i’m ready to toss the animal in the estuary
we’re going to get thrown out of our fucking place
if this shit keeps up
the vet nods at me, nods at my wife
we look down at the cat
and she’s sitting there like none of this is true
like i’m some sort of selfish prick
who wants to end her life on some sick whim
instead of regaining some peace of mind
something has got to change, i say
we can’t live like this
it’s nonstop, it’s like madhouse in our home
a madhouse of crying and shit
and circling around and smacking into things
every day i come home from work
and hope the cat is dead
two nights ago i almost tripped over the beast
and did a header in the hallway
i almost cracked my head and landed in her shit
what kind of life is this for her now? i ask the vet
what kind of life is this for us?
haven’t we given this cat a good life?
but the vet doesn’t answer
he turns his sad, empathetic eyes to his charts
scrawls something and reads for awhile
looks at his expensive watch
then he looks from me to my wife to the cat
says again, let’s try her on some blood pressure pills
as if he hadn’t heard a word that i’d said
and i knew there was no mercy for that animal
for us
for the smallest living creature in his service
that misery and longevity have a hard price to be paid
and we’d be shoving more pills
down her throat for sure
and it would be meow! meow! meow! meow!
until i cracked
and headed for the estuary myself.


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.

BLEAT: After Charles Simic by Stefanie Bennett

With the egg nesting
In the attic –,
And the ‘Spotted Dog’
To a synonym…
Any other
Trivial –.

Stephanie Bennet

Stefanie Bennett has published several books of poetry, a novel & a libretto. Of mixed ancestry [Italian/Irish/Paugussett-Shawnee] she was born in Qld., Australia, worked with Arts Action for Peace & tutored at The Institute of Modern Languages – Cook University. Latest poetry book ‘The Vanishing’, 2015