Leaving That Goddam Place by

The wind is lost in the trees,
it drops to the floor in the shape
of leaves.

My last few days of a sunlight
that never grew. The stepping the ladder
and wearing a tie.

Never came to anything but concrete
eyelids. Arthritic minds eroded
my view of things.

A few more bus trips and I’ll be
waving away the clouds. See a new
horizon,  bless the sunlight

that others find but never see.

Gareth Culshaw

Gareth lives in Wales. He has his first collection by futurecycle in 2018


An Open Letter to Flies by Ryan Quinn Flanagan

I apologise for the recent strips of fly paper, seems
rather drastic I know
but your buzzing has become intolerable
of late, the many eyes upon me
at all hours
your maggot offspring in my sink
where the dishes go
we must have boundaries, countries do it
and seem to get good results
which reminds me: why are you always
trying to fly in my nose and ears?
What may seem a natural den of procreation
is in fact a biological way for me to breathe and hear
and live.

It is not that I wish to deny anything else its health
or general well-being, but your continued presence is harming mine.
Always buzzing against the windows from which you came.
If you want out so badly, then why did you ever come in?
Please leave me alone and I will endeavour to do the same.

Sincerely yours,

xxxx xxxxx xxxxxxxx

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.

Snowing, Brightly, Snowing by Les Bohem

I woke up in the dark. I was afraid to go back to sleep.  I had gotten decently drunk in the early evening and hoped to sleep straight through until morning, but now I was up and there was no going back to sleep. It was a nightmare that had awakened me. It was the nightmare that I was afraid of. I could feel myself dropping back into it and I had to force myself up out of it as if I were really climbing.
I always dream in strange beds and these dreams are usually nightmares. That’s why I had gotten decently drunk, because I knew a nightmare was coming. I have spent many nights shivering on the edge of a bed, unwilling to risk the terrors waiting for me on the other side of my pillow.
I reached out now and looked at my wristwatch. It was just past ten. There was nothing to do but get dressed and go out again.
I had dreamed that I was watching myself sleeping.  I was in a relative’s bed, a bed I had often seen as a child but had only slept in once, rather recently.  There were large worms crawling along the wall towards me.  I (the watcher) reached out with a butter knife towards the worms to keep them from entering my ear. I cut them in half as they moved across the wallpaper. But then I was no longer there watching; I was just in the bed and one of the worms was entering my ear. I knew that it would grow until there was a huge and angry thing inside me.
I took the dream with me out of the hotel and into the cold street. It was snowing and there was no one outside. The streetlights reflected bright off the piled up snow and that reflected lights made the buildings look artificial. I walked towards the river. It was late and there were only a few people in the square in front of St. Stephen’s.  The top of the church was hidden in a fog.
After I’d passed the church I was alone again.  I walked over to the Donau Kanal and across it. The wind off the water made it terribly cold. I walked through a part of the city in which I’d never been. There were no bars or cafes, just shops, long ago closed for the night.
Finally, I came to a large intersection of several streets. Past the streets, the elevated S Bahn ran. There were some squat buildings on either side of the track. It seemed to be a terminal of some sort. There was no one waiting there for the trains.
Beyond the tracks, there was something big in the darkness. As I approached it, I could see that it was the top half of the Riesenrad, the famous Ferris wheel.  I walked slowly towards it. Its old cars, not moving, looked solid and sad.
The entire Prater was closed for the winter. There was no gate.  I walked past the Ferris wheel and through the deserted stands.  The Fun House, the bumper cars, the carnival booths with their fading, festively painted faces and the large grey steel shutters of mouths, closed down tight.
I kept walking, passing through an area of new and depressing apartment houses.  At last I reached the river.  It was like the back end of a railroad yard there, deserted and grim. I followed a street along the front of a housing project that faced the river. When I came to the next street, I turned back towards the Ringstrasse and the center of the city.
I came to an U Bahn station and went down into it. There was no one waiting for the train and, once it came, only a few people on it, sitting alone and silent. I rode the train to Karlsplatz and changed to another. The dream was still with me and wanted to ride. There was no one at all in my car on this second train.  I got off at the Volkstheater stop because I had to use the bathroom.
It was cold in this stop. The lights were dim.  I went up the escalator and found the men’s room.  I opened the door. Hot air came out at me. Hot air and the smell of urinal cakes and the bright white of light on white tile.  It was harsher than the reflected streetlight on the snow outside my hotel.
Sitting on the floor in front of me were at least ten men. All ragged, homeless drunks.  They looked up at me with animal eyes from the warmth of their cave. A few of them grunted something. I shut the door quickly and went down to the other side of the tracks.
I took the U Bahn back to Karlsplatz and then from there to Stephansplatz.  In a city where you hardly saw any people on the street at night, I hadn’t expected to find ten homeless drunks in a subway men’s room sitting on the floor.

Les Bohem has written a lot of movies and TV shows including Twenty Bucks, Daylight, Dante’s Peak, The Alamo and the mini-series, Taken which he wrote and executive produced with Steven Spielberg, and for which he won an Emmy award.   He’s had songs recorded by Emmylou Harris, Randy Travis, Freddy Fender, Steve Gillette, Johnette Napolitano (of Concrete Blonde), and Alvin (of the Chipmunks.)  His short novel, Flight 505, was published last year by UpperRubberBoot .   His new album, “Moved to Duarte,” was just released on Jack Rabbit Day Records to much critical acclaim and no sales whatsoever.  

Gay Cowboy Erotica Sells Well by Russell Jones

You can’t dally when you’re high
on horseback, riding. Men
ripple in the shirtless sun, cavalier, throbbing
guns ready to hit the saloon. They suck on
shots of neat rum, whiskey, chase hard
hands at the poker table. Careful, boys,
you never know who might turn you
in to the sheriff. You may have to pound his
door, ask the town for mercy. They’ll strip you
of your wins. Sure, you’ll be full of spunk
and go out fighting, but they’ll kiss your ass
goodbye from this two-bit town, dripping, hot
and lonely. You’ll scour the desert aching for more
than a piece of death, almost, almost, until you come
to Tonto’s place, find him winking, beckoning you inside
and before you know it, you’ll be fucking his brains out.

Russell Jones

Russell Jones is an Edinburgh-based writer and editor. He has published four collections of poetry, and has edited two writing anthologies. He is deputy editor of “Shoreline of Infinity”, a science fiction magazine. Russell also writes stories for Disney and YA novels. He has a PhD in Creative Writing.

Wasps In Autumn by Wanda Morrow Clevenger

is thought
these stinged
things know
is emanate
thrusting chitin
in earnest
onto incinerator panes

a throng of
black corpses
in white sills


Wanda Morrow Clevenger is a Carlinville, IL native living in Hettick, IL. Over 459 pieces of her work appear or are forthcoming in 156 print and electronic journals and anthologies. Her magazine-type blog updated at her erratic discretion: http://wlc- wlcblog.blogspot.com/


That Undertaker’s Creepy… Just Look At His Fingernails, Ew! by Paul Tristram

Ghostly pale white skin with a bluish hue
like a morgue-frozen corpse…
I doubt he was born to anything but this trade.
Eyes which resemble bloodless bullet holes,
thin grey, stretched cobwebbed hair
almost phosphorescent,
beneath his Stovepipe Top Hat.
Look at the dandruff upon his shoulders,
it’s like cloud-gazing,
see, there’s a half skull & cross bones shape
upon the left hand side.
That protruding, pointed chin,
excuse me whilst I shiver,
is the stuff of nightmares,
and the crooked nose, I bet it’s natural,
and that ‘Violence’ and ‘Accident’ were not needed.
As Solemn as Debt…
trailing a foul aroma of mildew and urine.
The chalk dust upon his Herringbone sleeve cuffs
makes it look as if he’s been shoving his hands
into the gaping abyss in his spare time.
But, those long, slender fingers,
Oh My God Have Mercy,
are enough to make you swear out loud…
the nails are the colour of dead fish eyes.
I am really not at all happy, I could cry,
with him touching our poor Jeffrey,
it’s sending shivers all up my petrified spine.

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) http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1943170096 ‘Poetry From The Nearest Barstool’ at http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1326241036 And a split poetry book ‘The Raven And The Vagabond Heart’ with Bethany W Pope at http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1326415204 You can also read his poems and stories here! http://paultristram.blogspot.co.uk/

For Gus Blaisdell, Sort Of by Carl Mayfield

Glasses are no help
when I’m looking for you.
Eating today where the sidewalk
meets the Frontier Café
I am reminded
how a cinnamon roll
can be a time machine.

Unsad, reading what
passes for language,
I think of you, Gus,
think of your voice,
not exactly booming
but not timid either.

Your presence balanced
with your absence
beckons, but no contact.
Mired in consciousness,
how can I keep up with you?
No matter–I never could anyway.
Now that you’ve dropped
your shoe size and your name,
any chance we could be pals?

Carl Mayfield’s most recent chapbooks are All the Way Up and High Desert Cameos. Lacking the decency to be discouraged, he pushes on.

Closing Time by Alan Catlin

She was maybe 19 and had a swollen
eye lid that suggested a right cross late
at night, broken bottles, arguments,
disfiguring confrontations that always ended up
in jail.
In profile, she looked worse, strung out
downtown with a card under her face
that said Albany Police Department.

Her seven sisters in crime were more
bummed out than she was: half dead
in their middle teens, bags sagging
under their eyes, skin popping tattoos.
Off screen you could see them selling
their souls, if they ever had one,
for a used needle, a six pack of beer
and a pack of unfiltered cigarettes.
They would have been better off pregnant
than where they were now, screaming
their heads off, crawling walls, fingernails
broken down to the flesh almost to the bone,
bleeding cold turkeys in a place
where no one cared.
I said:”I don’t know any of them and
didn’t want to.”

But I knew them all.
The cop that asked, folded up his stuff
chugged his second Lite beer and said:
“Just thought I’d ask, you never know
what you can find out at closing time
in a neighborhood bar.”
At 4AM you never know.

acatlin multi

Alan Catlin is a widely published poet in the US of A and elsewhere. His most recent book is “Books of the Dead: a memoir with poetry” about the deaths of his parents. He is a retired professional barman and the editor of the online poetry zine misfitmagazine.net.

Situation by Sanjeev Sethi

In the realm of a muddled and messy silo
not of my hiring, I cache proxemics of
irreducible flavors, from uncertainties of
a patented trim. Sky crochets analogies
that aren’t for me. High seas bristle with
wisps of suspicion. Sans water wings, a
non-swimmer, I’m left to the adventitious.

Sanjeev Sethi

Sanjeev Sethi is the author of three books of poetry. His most recent collection is This Summer and That Summer (Bloomsbury, 2015). A Best of the Net 2017 nominee, his poems are in venues around the world: The Stray Branch, Ann Arbor Review, First Literary Review-East, Right Hand Pointing, Grey Sparrow Journal, The Synesthesia Anthology: 2013-2017, Scarlet Leaf Review, Peeking Cat Anthology 2017, Communicators League, and elsewhere. He lives in Mumbai, India.


Ballpark by James Benger

I drove everyone to the little league game
in my over-the-hill station wagon.
The wagon originally belonged
to her husband,
and I felt she took a certain comfort
riding shotgun
as she did all those years earlier.

Beforehand, we’d had a small meal,
she hardly ate;
couple spoonfuls of corn.

Sitting on the bottom bench
of the aluminum bleachers
in the evening July sun,
watching my sister at bat
(possibly her last at bat ever),
Grandma bent over,
wretched up mucusy corn
into the dirt and cigarette butts.
It didn’t take long,
and when she was done,
she gently put a hand on my shoulder,
“Son, can you take me back to your house?”

I loaded her back into the wagon,
this time, her five-foot-nothing,
ninety-pound frame
sprawled across the back bench seat.

Got her upstairs to the
living room of the spit-level,
laid her on the couch,
got her a glass of water,
made her promise she’d be okay
while I went back to the park,
picked up the rest and brought them home.

A half a year later,
she sunk into the beyond,
several states away,
as I desperately tried to finish high-school,
and recovered from a back injury
sustained on I-70,
the same wreck
that ended my sister’s baseball career.

Going on two decades later,
I still can’t imagine a world without her,
and I still get nauseous when I think of
her helpless eyes
asking me to take her home.

James Benger

James Benger is a father, husband and writer. He is the author of two fiction ebooks, “Flight 776” and “Jack of Diamonds” and two chapbooks of poetry, “As I Watch You Fade” and “You’ve Heard It All Before. He lives in Kansas City with his wife and son.