The Benefits of Despair by Howie Good

I thought I was dead. I wished I was dying. My poor mother! It was her heart that eventually killed her. This part of the river is popular for suicide attempts. But what if I can’t? I kept thinking. What then? Small gray birds from last night’s dream flapped in the bushes. I needed an introduction to myself. A woman who looked vaguely familiar was playing an invisible piano. Those Parisians, they all wanted to see her. Rain started falling, and a good thing it did, full of smiling fish and neon swirls and squiggles.

Howie Good

Howie Good is the recipient of the 2015 Press Americana Prize for Poetry for his collection “Dangerous Acts Starring Unstable Elements”.

A Ten Question Interview With The Artist… Sheikha A.

Why do you write?

It is through words that I can go back in time, replay the past, forward to the future, be mobile, inane, inanimate, immanent, say the impossible yet still be able to find an audience that relates…there are a host of reasons.

What books do you read?

There was a time when I read a lot of suspense and horrors, but, now, since many years, I haven’t been reading full books anymore. I read in bits, but have mostly begun reading poetry on ezines, in magazines, blogs, network sites, etc.

What inspires you?

(To write?) Visuals, like incredible, fantastical, lore-ish, tale telling kind of cinematography that spurs the mind with subtlety and nuance.

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

I started writing without an expectation to be published. Soon, I started getting published and soon after, I started being referred to as a poet. I have been progressing without a plan, but if writing it where it all leads, then, so be it.

How do you deal with rejections?

I won’t be hypocritical by saying they don’t upset me, because they do. Especially when I find my work was just as good as the contents published in/at a venue’s current issue. I don’t mope around all day all week about it, though. I move to the next bookmarked venue, and submit.

Who are some writers you admire?

I admire a hoard of writers hard to list without feeling terrible for forgetting one to mention. I admire, generally, writers who are dedicated and diligent towards their writing (sometimes which I lack) and how they push forward with zeal and zest to realize their publishing dreams.

Is writing the only artistic medium you do?

Yes, so far. I doodle once in a while. Nothing fancy, though.

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

To have been less footloose but to have always kept believing in myself that would’ve avoided the fluctuation of/in my self-esteem over the years from all the rubbish kind of people that interjected my path of life.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

To learn to survive both critiques and reviews. Both, if friendly or harsh, can tend to offer no insight and growth. One should always keep learning to polish their craft, and be modest about it. Overconfidence and over acceptance can bring about a level of deterioration in the quality of one’s work.

What is your writing process?

I haven’t any. I invite the thought that knocks on the door of my mind and allow it to stay a while and then see where it goes from there…

Sheikha A.

Sheikha A. is from Pakistan and United Arab Emirates. Her work appears in a variety of literary venues across quarter-ways of the globe, that can be accessed on her blog She edits poetry for eFiction India.

When the Wind Blows by James Babbs

when the wind blows
I hear the chimes ringing
hanging from the tree
in my neighbor’s back yard
and I shiver
but I’m not really cold
I just feel old tonight
like I’ve lived for too long
standing next to the window
the lights in the distance
scattered across the darkness
like tiny little holes
and I imagine
what it would be like
crawling inside any one of them
and making my escape
the lights keep blinking and
they remind me of stars
and every star’s a sun
and there are an infinite
number of planets spinning
through the lonely vacuum of space
I lean forward
peering into the hole
at the top of the bottle
before raising the beer to my lips
and taking another drink


James Babbs is a writer, a dreamer, a three-time loser and an all-around nice guy who just wants to be left alone. James is the author of Disturbing The Light(2013) & The Weight of Invisible Things(2013) and has hundreds of poems and a few short stories scattered all over the internet.

All the Faces Become Walls by Jennifer Lagier

Camille is tired of grouchy men,
scowling women,
holier-than-thou preachers,
know-it-all saviors.
Wonders when humanity
forgot about kindness,
the mechanics of smiling.

She refuses to participate
in one more argument
among passionate
but ignorant persons
over trivial subjects,
discredited conspiracies,
bogus opinions.

Renounces memberships,
social gatherings,

Discovers she prefers
the company of goldfish,
Netflix comedies,
mute shrubs and flowers
in her own garden.


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 : :

Aye, When He Ain’t All ‘Fucking & Blinding’ He’s Lovely by Paul Tristram

He’s not exactly a bad ‘un, see.
Don’t get me wrong, mind,
he can be a little hella & a terror.
But there’s a big heart of gold
in there behind the mayhem.
Quiet when alone, he is see,
and not because he’s scared of owt
just goes all thoughtful like.
A little world of his own,
‘Away With The Fairies’
like his Grampa used to be.
Now, put him in a room
with his brother or cousins
or God forbid an adult male
from his family and all that
niceness is out the window.
He’s like a cowing lunatic then,
like the rest of ‘em,
turns all pagan & barbarian.
I hope he moves far away
when he grows up, see,
away from all this nonsense
the poor bugger’s been born into.
He needs to find his own path him,
he’s different than the rest of us.

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) ‘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!

The Bugs Stopped And The Cars Stopped And My Heart by Paul Koniecki

she let me drive her
blue four door ford
it was nicer than the
description makes it sound
we pulled over
nearly three feet
off the road
it was less secluded
than it sounds
my sneaker
hit the floorboard
like a bottle
or a cramp
elliott smith was in
the front seat and
on the radio
i pushed my pants down
i had less ass then
outside it was all-dark
in her car and in my hurry
i couldn’t find the switch
to turn the interior light off
the rear view mirror
and the world held its breath
her body was a long fine slim
and verdant hill
i counted to the rhythm
of the car door is still open
warning bell
Bing Bing Bing Bing Bing
pealing out our own private
eternal sunshine of the
spot-lit backseat choir
Bing Bing Bing Bing Bing
i thought my toenails
would explode through my soul
and my fingertips and goodness
through my eyelids and through
the burden of my load
she lifted her hand
to touch my face
asking are you okay
i lied and said i was
thank god she came first
i am the bottle
i am the cramp
thank god she came first
my name is ophelia
who are you
thank god she came first
and the bugs stopped
and the cars stopped
and my heart
thank god she came first


Paul Koniecki is a poet, performer, and founder of Pandora’s Box Poetry Showcase in the greater Dallas area. His chapbook Reject Convention was published by Kleft Jaw Press in 2015 and his poems appear a variety of places including, Richard Bailey’s film, One Of The Rough – which was recently picked up by AVIFF Cannes.


To See Us Now by William Taylor Jr.

If there was a time
it’s surely not anymore

and I have come to understand
that death
is a thing after all

I’m sorry for god
and all the other things
that failed

and if we can’t be beautiful
anymore let’s just fake it
for a little while

with so little time
and so much not to say

I suppose we’ll speak again
in dreams we wake from

the afternoon is tired
as the bus pulls away

and though you wouldn’t believe it
to see us now
in our best moments
we did what we could.

William Taylor Jr. lives and writes in the Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco. His work has been published widely in journals across the globe, including The New York Quarterly, The Chiron Review, and Catamaran Literary Reader. He is the author of numerous books of poetry, and a collection of short fiction. He is a Pushcart Prize nominee and was a recipient of the 2013 Kathy Acker Award. To Break the Heart of the Sun is his latest collection of poetry. 


Animal Magnetism by John Doyle

Her cousins were the nicest folks I’ve ever met,
sheepdog the size of Norway,
a few ducks running wild,

when her 2nd cousin left the yard-gate open
and the horses galloped like thunder,
it was like they could read minds through time and space,

her eyes flashed like forked lightning,
her fists flapped like hurricanes locking antlers,
and a single colt cleared a buckled fence never to be seen again.


John Doyle is from County Kildare Ireland, or so he alleges; he finds poetry to be a therapeutic release from horrors he must endure every day, like television sets fat to their faces with celebrity chefs and cops shows, and endless wailing of neighbours’ children having overdosed on ice-cream. He is one year older than the age David Brent was when he said he was in his 30s.

Fade Away by Matthew J. Hall

she is a burnt out matchstick
bruised by thought battles
lost in the war of herself

I picture her being saved
by myself or anybody else

taken to a safe place
where there are
clean towels and avocados

she could lock the bathroom door
stand naked under hot water
all soap and steam and skin

but she holds her own hand
and she doesn’t want to be saved

I guess I am soft, overly romantic
I ought to mind my own affairs
and let her fade away


Matthew J. Hall’s poetry chapbook, Pigeons and Peace Doves, is available through Blood Pudding Press. He reviews small press books at


The Oracle up the Alley by Ryan Quinn Flanagan

He used to shit in his own hand
and read it like tea leaves.
Many in the neighbourhood went to him
because they said he was gifted.
That he could divine the future.
I think he was Haitian but you can never tell.
And they paid him in tall cans of beer,
most unorthodox,
but I guess it is always better to cut out
the middle man when
you can.
He wore a woman’s nylon stocking on his head
and a collection of shark teeth
around the neck
that rattled wildly when he
was conducting
Many people went to him but I never did.
I already knew the future
because it was the same as the present
and the past: crappy.
And I didn’t need a man who shit on himself
in ladies’ stockings
to tell me that I’d be shit on
by others.

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.