Fine Dining In America by John Grochalski

twelve or thirteen of them
plates and napkins stacked in dirty piles
beer mugs like chess pieces

more leftover food on the table
than some people consume in a month

she is bitching at the manager
because one of their meals came out later than the rest
someone had to watch the others eat for a minute
and now she demands satisfaction

this is fine dining in america on a saturday night

seated with a smile
chain restaurants with twenty big screen televisions
the music is so loud that you have to scream
to the person sitting next to you

stacked, slathered, smothered,
tender, rich, juicy, stuffed, heavy, drizzled, dripping
oppressed, choked, asphyxiated, loaded, piled, amassed

adjectives that will most likely
end up on your coroner’s report one day

everybody looks the same in here
dirt tans and t-shirts with some ordinary sarcasm scrawled on them

tired, over-worked, flabby masses
lifting forks and spoons and knives
digging into the two for twenty dollar meals

as the manager leaves the angry table
gift cards and free coca-cola for their troubles
stalking this circus space for the next misery

with a sweaty waitress grinning over them
at the ready to kiss their fat, greasy asses
because their contentment almost pays her rent

asking that eternal question
do you still have room for dessert?


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.


“She Came From Somewhere” by Alan Catlin

near where the Yeti’s live after
being cast out of lairs by wolves.
A few years in a Lady’s Detention
Center supervised by behavioral
scientists using shock therapy as
a weekly reminder of who was
boss, mostly domesticated her.
Still, when motivated, she could howl
with the best of them. After awhile,
she’d act out just to get, “Some volts”,
a side effect from the therapy no one
could have predicted give how it excited
it made her in most unusual ways
almost, “ like an aphrodisiac to a sex fiend,”
one doctor said. A few years of close
observation and faking it, making nice,
for the keepers, and it was time to take
her show on the road. Used feral incisors
to sever veins of inattentive night watch
guards, humming melodies from favorite
Zappa tunes from “Weasels Ripped My Flesh”
as she bit, tunes she learned from fried hippie
chick whose brains had been made into
silly putty after years of blotter acid milkshakes
with peyote button chasers.  Left a trail into
the wilderness no one could follow, not even
tracker dogs who either lost her scent or refused
to follow after her.

Late at night, in rundown roadhouses
somewhere past the edge of nowhere,
old timers, barely able to breathe and
swallow at the same time, recall having
seen a wild woman with brambles in
her hair, a voice like a banshee in training,
and eyes like stop lights that glowed in
the dark. They claimed to know she
had an unnatural taste for uncooked flesh
and raw red wines and the kind of sex
no ordinary man could provide.
Wounds she left behind during acts of
lust never completely healed.  Look into
their eyes and you can see her looking back.

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

Misfit by Mike Ferguson

Detect misfit,
their judgements

separated from

Measured and

robust to

misfit data.
Scale shares

scale the

which can be useful.

be required.

The traits are

being used,

measuring progress
of the misfit model.

Possible pairwise
pairwise possible


A judge
judges if

there is no consensus
amongst judges over

the quality of the

Mike Ferguson 2

Mike Ferguson is an American resident in the UK from ’67, permanently since ’76 when Michigan then presaged the Trumpworld of today. Published widely in the poetry small presses as well as education texts, he is now retired from actual teaching.

The Luckiest Man in Town by Jon Bennett

The luckiest man in town
was king of something once
king of football maybe
his girlfriend was the prom queen
later she became a nurse, him a contractor
plenty a dough
but then an autistic son
who was bad at
and tried to push
the luckiest man in town
off a cliff when
he didn’t get his Big Mac.
I watch them at Burger King
where the luckiest man in town
still takes his grown son
the drool
and spit and pickles
dribbling onto the paper place mat
and the luckiest man in town
that day on the cliff
had turned out different.

Jon Benett

Jon Bennett writes and plays music in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood. You can find more of his work on Pandora and iTunes. For booking please contact

Mouse by Ruth Z. Deming

This new pope we have makes quite an impression on everyone. To me, he is a great man. Not everyone thinks the same way. “Too radical. Too forgiving. Too humble.” Not to mention he loves people of all nations, all religions, all sexual orientations.
“Who am I to judge?” he said in that laughing voice that reminds one of the songs he sang in his native country of Argentina.
Some things are immutable. Abortion is forbidden and always will be. Period. No pun intended, though the former Jorge Mario Bergoglio certainly has a sense of humor.
Later on I will tell you a story of his going incognito and becoming Jorge once again. Jor-ge – Jor-ge – Jor-ge, like the blind librarian of Chile, known as Borges.
The two of us have known each other since the simple days in the beautiful countryside of Buenos Aires. This trusting relationship spans his days as a “bouncer” in a night club, a chemical engineer, and his decision, made after much prayer on bended knees, to become a man of the cloth.
El Papa does what he wants.
Up the ranks of the hierarchy he climbed with the confidence of a child shinnying up a rubber tree.
We travel the world together. Believe it or not, I am the only person he can trust. Little me. Far from powerful. But knowing my place. Once, his mother knew him better than anyone else, but now it is me. I feed him the news in bite-size chunks like the Ritz Crackers he eats between meals with a hunk of goat cheese.
“Shocking” is the only word to describe the discovery of the bespectacled John Lennon’s stolen artifacts, including a few pairs of his famous round eyeglasses, much like the ones El Papa wears upon occasion.
“Thou shalt not steal,” commanded Moses, in his Ten Commandments. Jewish scholar Maimonides did Moses one better. He viewed stealing as one step in the progression from covetous desire to murder.
German police recovered a trove of stolen artifacts belonging to John Lennon, including a set of diaries. What could be more personal than this? On the very day he was assassinated, he had written his final entry. We were quite familiar with Mr. Lennon’s statement that the Beatles were more famous than Jesus. And found it an amusing bit of hyperbole.
But the Pope wept when Lennon was pronounced dead. We all prayed together in the guesthouse behind the Vatican where he makes his home. Do not be fooled. The guesthouse is as big as a five-story hotel. He prays by himself or with others, his white vestments protecting his sensitive soul whose feelings are as wide as the hill on Golgotha, where his Lord was crucified.
In this mortal world where all things are possible, The Pope insists on traveling around the globe to minister to his people, The Catholics, and to other faiths, as well. He wishes to heal broken hearts, to meet the sick as Jesus once did, and bless the now billions of humans, many, like the Dalits of India, who live in squalor and are as black as the dung on which they make their living, shunned by society. They crawl like dogs among the steaming piles of trash.
He knows all this. Through prayer and meditation, His Holiness is able to touch suffering humanity while remaining as solid as Noah on his ark.
So it was that we were on our way to the great continent of Asia.
We were noshing on his special Alitalia airplane. He is a man who makes himself comfortable wherever he is. He greets reporters who travel on the plane, with the familiarity of an uncle. Brings them little gifts. What kind of man is this? How has God created such a man?
Touchdown to the land formerly called Burma. The air is crisp. The sky a brilliant blue that can only occur at such a high altitude. The pontiff wears now a red vestment that sways with the freezing-cold wind. The chill he feels is quickly forgotten by viewing the mass of humanity come to see him, to touch him, to offer their faces, their cheeks, to the man they consider the human face of Jesus.
With his hand he blesses them and signals that they relax, calm down. They wish to kiss his ring, the Fisherman’s Ring, fashioned anew for the reigning pope. Francis is reminded of his high school ring and the mischief he would get into, praying that his mother wouldn’t find out about it.
“The presence of God today is called Rohingya,” the pontiff acknowledges to the hordes before him. Yes, he has said the word. Rohingya. The cast-off Buddhists,  “despised and rejected by mankind… and familiar with pain.”
I mingle with the crowd. Their bodies smell of sweat, of sweetness, of anise and turmeric, of hope, and the bracelets of the women – so many on each wrist and ankles, too – jangle, before our padre – as they hold up their dark-skinned children who have little idea of what is going on. Francis holds a little one up toward the sky. “Dios sea contigo,” he says, many a time.
Finally, as dusk settles upon us, we view the behemoth of the airplane waiting patiently for us. Its red and green designs on the tail match the Italian flag, “il Tricolore,” little different than when the fascist Mussolini ruled the land seventy-two years ago.
There is no doubt the Pope is aware of the tides of history and knows, too, that a previous pope – Pius XII – sanctioned the persecution of the Jews during The Holocaust. After all, it was the Catholic Church itself, for shame a million times, who insisted on calling the Jews “Christ killers.”
I, myself, am Jewish, as el Papa well knows. Sixty-one years ago I was born to my Jewish mother, Berenice, who fell in love with her next door neighbor. Bruno was a married man, but they often met secretly on the banks of the river. There he would line the ground with soft pine needles and murmur about her beauty, her dark eyes, her eyelashes that seemed to whisk the very sky above. They made passionate love and wanted to run away together. They knew this could not be. When she was with child, the former Jorge Mario Bergoglio arranged for her to deliver her child with a midwife.
The room, I am told, was white, with a dark cross on the wall, scrubbed clean and smelling of pine soap.
First I was cared for by Jorge’s parents. When they passed from this earth, Jorge took me in. No man could have been kinder. “My little mouse,” he would call me. “Raton!,” though my real name was Joshua.
Aboard the airplane as we left Myanmar, we felt the take-off, as gentle as a breeze. We reminisced about the time when his Joshua was just twelve years old and el Papa dressed in khaki pants, a red T-shirt saying “Turner Classic Movies” and a New York Yankees cap, visited Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
Few people paid attention to the Spanish-speaking father and son, as we stood in line to ride the gilded Ferris wheel. “Raton! My little Mouse!” he exclaimed as our carriage door snapped shut and we swayed back and forth over the colorful crowd.
“El Paradiso, may look like this,” he said, pushing back his Yankees hat and smiling out over the crowd. “You know,” he continued, “when I ascend to be with my people above, I wish, my Little Mouse, that you have all my books.”
“Always thinking,” I said to him. “Always with your head in the clouds.”
We laughed. Nothing could ever stop our laughter.
The Italian airplane afforded a magnificent view as we left Myanmar behind. “Is it not wonderful to believe, little Raton?”
I did what I always do when we’re up in the air. Looking out the window, I made shapes of the clouds. Whales, trombones, pouncing tigers. And before I knew it, I was asleep. And so was my Papa.

ruth deming

Ruth Z. Deming has had her poetry published in lit mags including Literary Yard, River Poets, Blue Bonnet Review and JonahMagazine. She lives in Willow Grove, a suburb of Pennsylvania in the US of A.

One Poem Is Not Enough by Tom Sheehan

One poem is not enough for the last man you remember
walking down the street wearing scars for cosmetics,
backs of his gnarled hands gathered like hose joints,
blue hoses running up under faded, ragged sleeves.

What he wears is memory of wound night’s old luster
under frightful cavities beyond new and full moons,
what he wears is severance, detachment; and night’s
fear that morning will not dare him its daylight.

Old men are particularly sorry as such messengers;
appear never to have been home and no way to get there,
and outside subway stations or restaurants, doubled over
in corded mismatches of suit coats and pants, crow-handed,

eyes at thin lies about their recent pains and ills,
their mouths mouthing the last profanities of the day,
their faces like hard edges a map of Kentucky has
or the Pennsylvania’s Poconos or Badlands bulging.

They are acrylic and indelible renderings of life,
war’s empty shell cases, unclaimed tickets, garbage
excess to junk, of stuffed bags at roadside barrels.
Old men this way fade into impossible waysides,
find themselves fashionable in odd mirrors.

Sheehan served in the 31st Infantry in Korea 1951-52, graduated Boston College 1956, published 30 books, multiple works in Rosebud, Literally Stories, Linnet’s Wings, Serving House Journal, Copperfield Review, Literary Orphans, Eastlit, DM du Jour, In Other Words-Merida, Literary Yard, Rope & Wire Magazine, Green Silk Journal. He has received 32 Pushcart nominations and 5 Best of Net nominations.

Virgo In The House by Jay Passer

recaps all the disposable pens
dusts in all the unreachable places
employing stepladder, feather duster and
a subtle flick of the wrist
turns on the AC full blast at 7 in the morning
don’t forget the orchids, water with ice cubes
twice a week at most
masturbates in the shower
twice a week at least
102º San Joaquin valley heat
rewriting the recipe for vichyssoise
in a feverish lull of couch induced slumber
hummingbirds in the hydrangeas
and mated ducks in the swimming pool and
skunks scouting eggs
at dusk too beleaguered to frequent the taco truck
parked in the Union 66 gas station parking lot
picks up the mail every other day
all the modern conveniences
even the pets are robotic
expected to narrate the sports section and comics
and collect grandma at the airport
scouring the toilet bowl with antiseptic musings
free to strut about the waxed floorboards naked
3 AM dance hall mannequin animation
every inhabitant of the world ignorant
of His Majesty’s pristine velvet finery
oh and don’t forget to launder the bedding
you maudlin hobo you

Jay Passer 2

Jay Passer’s work has appeared online and in print since 1988. He lives and works in San Francisco, the city of his birth. His latest chap, Flower Omelette, co-authored with Misti Rainwater-Lites, is available from Lulu.

Is This How Gulliver Felt? by Wayne Russell

I tripped over my beagle on my way to the loo,
smashed my head upon the porcelain throne, yet
much to my surprise; blood was not forthcoming,
ebony letters started spouting from the wound

All the letters did a war dance and surrounded me,
the letters T, K, and O knocked me over the back
with a plank of wood, I plummeted onto the floor,
aching back, aching head!

What to do?! What to do?!

I bellowed out half in pain, half in disbelief, but as
I lay sprawled out upon the restroom floor the dark
letters caught a rope, lobbed to them by the cockroaches
that were regulars in my flat.

The vermin assisted the letters to tie and stake me down,
onto the piss stained floor, I would have screamed out
for help, however those buggers, between them; managed
to gag my mouth with my wife’s dirty knickers!

As they all gripped their torches and thrust them closer to
me, I felt the heat and started flop around like a salmon that
had been flung ashore by a famished grizzly bear!

I believe it was at that precise moment that I wet my trousers!
I moaned in terror, to silence me the letters and the roaches
started jabbing me with their pitch forks, but that only made
matters worse!

Just as I wandered is this how my life was going to end, tied
and fastened to the piss stained loo floor, while held captive
by a myriad of small creatures; that I was jolted awake!

Terrified and with my heart now in my chest, I found one of
my brothers sticking my hand in a small bucket of hot water,
while the other pricked my naked toes with what appeared to
be a sewing needle!

Wayne Russell

Wayne Russell is a creative writer from Tampa, Florida, but he has seen most of the world. At different points in Wayne’s life, he has had the privilege to reside in Dunoon, Scotland and Wellington, New Zealand. Wayne has recently founded his first online writing magazine known as Degenerates Literature, it can be found at the link below.

Where The Greens Deepen & The Raindrops Don’t Fanny About Dropping From The Skies (A Moving Picture Postcard) by Paul Tristram

‘Country Road, Take Me Home To The Place I Belong…
West Glamorgan, In The Valleys, Take Me Home, Country Road’
-Welsh Gypsy Bar Chant, sung/shouted/slurred to the tune of that John Denver song.

Across the Border and back into the Motherland…
breathe freely now,
feel your spirit widen within you.
She’s beckoned you Home
and you’ve answered the call, boyo.
A Welsh Man’s Dragon Wings are attached to his Soul.
To the trees and mountains, now, mun,
your footsteps fall easily…
as you re-enter the Valley of your Birth.
There’s a solo pibgorn player
aloft upper fields serenading the meadows…
as you and your smile traipse on by.
The sound of the crwth
through the first tavern’s window,
a pibau cyrn at the second…
and of course, you stop for a pint in each of these.
The musical ‘Diolch Yn Fawr’ from the pretty barmaid,
as you rascal-wink and call her ‘Cariad’
whilst warm-handing over your pocket change.
You hope for a good hour before being noticed…
to watch, absorb and listen
to the vibrant, beautiful melody
and scaling voices of them all.
Then, off back out to face the weather,
which greets you with a slap
for being the other side of the Bridge for far too long.

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!

Thin Soup by David J. Thompson

We were starving to death
in the final weeks of the war
before the Americans came
with their Hershey bars,
canned peaches and Spam.
My sister used to go out
at night with a short-handled hoe
to scavenge cabbages or sugar beets,
anything to add to the thin soup
that barely kept us alive.

One morning she didn’t come back.
We never heard her laughter again
or her singing in the kitchen, just
the sound of the local farm dogs
howling in the night wind. I guess
they were hungry, too.

David J Thompson

David J. Thompson grew up in Hyde Park, New York, and currently lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. His latest poetry/photography chapbook, A World Without Horses, is available on Kindle. Please visit his photo website at