I’ve always walked
As a boy I walked — now a 39-year-old man-boy I continue walking
Never owned a driver’s license and never drove a car
I had the benefit of a weirdo grandfather who would drive my pussy-ass to work then pick me up — plus all my friends had itchy boners to get their respective licenses after turning 16
Small towns breed the need to move,
I moved too, just a little slower, one foot in front of the other
A few times I stole a bike to get where I needed to go, that was shitty I guess — if you’ve ever had a bike stolen and we ever meet you can spit on me or punch my arm — I deserve that much
Late night walks under black trees that built stilts for humid arcing skies — miles of gravel underfoot — tarmac macadam asphalt concrete tar weeds rough paths receded into dirt from years of the same trod clop foot motion
In 1998 hitchhiking in Ireland was a recognized form of transportation, like the bus or train — walk until you get a lift, and if you don’t get a lift keep walking
Remember to carry a pencil and a scrap of paper, because when you get into that stride and care fuck-all about anything but forward motion, the poems come come come — bukkake imagery spurting ideas and lines, slick sticky rhythm all over your face — a whole fucking book can be written on the jizzy road
fuck blisters, just keep moving
John Thomas Menesini is a raconteur and a jerk. He says terrible things and people sometimes applaud.
and the wait begins pushed up against each other
a crowd of bodies before the first chord,
me too, sweaty against the stage,
and now you’re crushed, some guy’s arm
and now the electric hum, jostling for position
the wordless rise of pitch
felt in the body from your toes then it begins
you feel it in your asshole and your stomach
the band takes the stage in instantaneous waves
guitar cords plugged into amps
walking out and there’s a stranger behind you
but that sound rises now then those first chords explode
back out your ears and someone’s out into the air
someone’s jumped from the balcony
to the sonic reverberation from the mic
and you get a boot in the face unfelt
the singer screams saliva through electric
clicks from the throat
the guitar player looks agitated his mind on
PA speakers in crowd’s circular motion
in the old hall peeling paint the waves widen
’cause now the whole place is a rumble that thunders
the bass is moving got some shit entrained
you hope is a girl climbing over you
sometimes the singer offers the mic out
so learned from mail-order vinyl records/EPs/12”s
you don’t fall while those sometimes climb
from flailing on the outer edges
most of the time on a sea of hands they catch you
clasp their hands in front the stage and dive
or you circle the pit to protect the balls
the drummer plays fists and elbows
and conveys fast flailing arms
two strings the bass player has broken but doesn’t care
snot shoots from his nostril and a wordless comprehension
suddenly locks eyes with you
the sudden smile that morphs his face you comprehend
moves you the crowd flowing
the weight of a body you have to go with
back forward over light on your boots
the singer grabs and bites his face
later you sleep on someone’s cold floor and awake
with a number of bruises, a scrape, and
though you don’t smoke the snot in your nose is black,
you hobble to the bus station in the cold
inhabited by the beasts and grotesques
of drooping flesh
who ogle me from doorways,
their guns are trained on me
as I walk by rotten wooden archways
ink freezes on a ballpoint,
props on the street of slang,
you lick the power, uttered out,
perpetrating unhollow words
my teeth that chomp the pavement
one wakes up in the middle of the night,
eyes battered by fatigue
dreams of breasts, spermatozoa,
figurines of ancient deity,
the hairy rim of the toilet bowl
flatters the fungus beneath it
I do not want to go home
(a train whistle in the distance)
Michael S. Begnal has published the collections Future Blues (Salmon Poetry, 2012) and Ancestor Worship (Salmon Poetry, 2007), as well as the chapbook Mercury, the Dime (Six Gallery Press, 2005). His poems, essays, and reviews have appeared in journals and anthologies such as Notre Dame Review, Free Verse, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Wake: Great Lakes Thought & Culture, and Avant-Post: The Avant Garde under “Post-” Conditions (Litteraria Pragensia, 2006). He lives in the city of Pittsburgh and teaches at Duquesne University.
WE ASK FOR SMALL DIFFERENCES
In the middle of our backyard,
We grow a tree house; cities.
We grow innumerable differences.
Climb, root, dig, burrow. We sit.
I ask for a small dark room and get a study.
I ask for a prayer and echo sweetly:
Bring back, bring back,
Bring back my bonny
To me, to me —
I invite the room to shake my hand.
I say to the room:
I will litter you a Monday
If you long-face my Tuesday.
I will trot off in your pajamas
If you snake oil my suitcase.
The room loops, dives
From the bottom of her feet,
At the top of the stairs, she cries:
Tell the hijackers, No thanks.
We got one already.
Litter the earth with banana peels.
Cultivate sons of bitches.
Dana Killmeyer is the author of a poetry collection, Pendulums of Euphoria (Six Gallery Press, 2009), and a novel, Paradise or the Part That Dies (Six Gallery Press, 2006), a semi-autobiographical account of her time working on a small farm in South Florida.
casualties of the invisible war
kicking & counting
& licking the bodies
marbleeyed men & flush women
dressed as if to mourn
something not known
& never met
upright & still breathing
pulling stainless steel splinters
from their petrifying heads
in union with the alien
solid state animals
blood in the water
year of the snake
& a wind in the wires
Jason Price Everett was born in Orlando, Florida in 1972. He was educated at Lafayette College, Cornell University and the University of Paris. He has held thirty different positions of employment to date, one of the more recent being that of English professor at a university in Xi’an, China. His first book, Unfictions, a collection of short prose pieces, was released by 8th House Publishing in 2009. His collection Hypodrome: Selected Poems 1990-2010 was released by 8th House in the spring of 2012. Xian Dyad, a poetic travelogue, was published by Spuyten Duyvil in the summer of 2012.
WHY I DYE MY HAIR RED
While drinking a Bloody Mary, I think I almost died.
Is that puke, blood, or did I just spill
my glass before I passed out?
All I know is when I woke up,
the whole floor was covered in red
and I was alive again, but forever haunted.
Inside my head, sharp glass flies around the room
and won’t stop spilling out fast. I’m silently screaming
inside my head, don’t drop me, don’t drop me,
but they always do, fall down and break
when I’m awake and fly when I’m asleep,
and suck the red out of my hair again.
Spit the top of my head down on the floor.
Juliet Cook is a grotesque glitter witch medusa hybrid brimming with black, grey, silver and purple explosions. Her poetry has appeared in a peculiar multitude of literary publications, most recently including Arsenic Lobster, Menacing Hedge, Mojave River Review and Tarpaulin Sky Press. You can find out more at www.JulietCook.weebly.com.
THE LAST STRAW
Little Texas slow dance
bad sex that left chest yawned open
a week away
pickpocket bus station
three black toe nails
negative account balance
fights in writing
wet ground and flat tire, bent bell
our road trip full of lightning
Nikki Allen is the author of numerous chapbooks, including “Gutter of Eden, “My Darling Since,” and “Quite Like Yes.” Her poetry has appeared on a plethora of stages and pages including The New Yinzer, Crash, Open Thread Regional Review Vol. 2, out of nothing, and Encyclopedia Destructica. She has recorded musical tracks with hip hop artist Jack Wilson as well as the Poogie Bell Band. Her latest collection of writing, “ligaments of light tigering the shoulders,” will be out in summer of 2014 via Night Ballet Press. She loves couscous and garlic breath.
HIDE; GLIMPSE THE FALL
fertile womb of abandoned
boiler walls. I am
autumn’s cemetery in
a town where I no longer live.
Leaves bent by blue
guitar, a homeless horn
chimes in. Trees shimmy,
leaves drop like coins,
animatronic bears narrate.
The bar hums while patrons
drink their dignity away.
The familiar ring of eviction brings
rise to an inauspicious sun. I’m
stepping on cracked bones, craving
a barbequed cure. The palate
in panavision, where typically gray.
Trees. They must have those
in England. I’m thinking but can’t
conjure foliage, just comfort. Which
brings me back to this sidewalk,
radiating heat where my mind
wants rain. A horn honks
my cover is blown. But
no, he merely wants to turn.
Squirrel skips along a lime wire
I am covetous of his ignorance.
The world is only as large as
he’s seen and his only
purpose is to get a nut. No lies
in the mirror or emptiness
in the northern sky.
Blue bombs and cumulus
bursts count the ways, the days
until I find myself again
on a stoop some six blocks
stray from a nest I once
built, sold for silver to repay
an education long forgotten.
Streets watch confused. I can’t
tell which is enthused less.
Breathe deep, these three days
are your only autumn.
Spat Cannon is a Pittsburgh expat living in Leeds, England. Goer of places, doer of stuff. His first novel, Press Here And It Will All Make Sense is due out in early 2015.
CITY SKETCH IN CHIAROSCURO
New York, 2005
The chandelier, dimmed, hung dressed in wings;
dangling modifiers and ricocheting anxieties
flung themselves around the room, bumping
into the ghosts of ex-wives and old flames —
moths died in candle fires while the young
newlyweds proved too stupid to know
how to go about things: bodies need
warmth and space to breathe, both.
He’s twenty-three and she’s nineteen
and the world’s their rolled-out red carpet,
they’re convinced of it. No, sir, look closer,
she’s thirty-four and he’s three years her
elder, I can tell by his graying moustache,
I can see her veins varicose. The Architecture
of Dancing Around a Creature New to One’s
Habitat or Diorama: it’s intense, man!
As they say in the hinterlands, it’s more than
merely inviting a second toothbrush into the
fold. She wants to argue, he wants to cuddle.
He’s hungry for a fight, she’s desperate
to remain in accord. And around they go.
In a late evening, he signals her from
the fifth-floor window: blink-blink,
blink-blink; he fancies himself a Hatteras
lighthouse. But she’s busy worrying the sidewalk
of 30th Street with her eyes, studying the park
shadows from the corners of suspicious lids.
It’s hard to see anything after sunset but
you make your way anyhow: Gary was
four stories underground when it happened.
Gary who shot his way out of World Trade
Center Number Seven, chinks of flash he
sent through the dust and the dark with his
trusty camera, his livelihood. Hark: the fog’s
always heaviest in morning, except in dire
circumstances. Gary, he made it out all right,
back into the sun, thanking God or
someone, terrible as some sights were
that afternoon. Besides which, ninety-five
year-old women sleep every OTHER
night, and the lover leans over, whispers
in a tender moment: Death is chasing me
down the avenue; I don’t think this
condition is human only; surely the rats
and the cockroaches live this way, too; but
no, she doesn’t know what to tell him,
instead she draws his head tight to her breast
in hopes it could matter a whit. Whatever else
is right, it’s clear that books don’t help,
drugs no longer help, even the paper trails
are helpless, unless you go on choosing to invest
your entire ego in a crapshoot longshot at
immortality. When you’re on the throne, the
sink hits your chin; it’s true, the apartment’s
that small. Only tonight your friend cried
to you across a table: It’s been too long
since she made any ATTEMPT to reach
me, and I don’t know why I try, I don’t
know why I’m trying. The C train flickers
and buzzes, rides the third rail, the air goes
black save the lamps in the tunnel. Commuters
bat nary an eyelash but the recent and the lost
give a start, miss their place, peer around the
opaque pissoir holding skipped heartbeats in
their hands, just three instants, until the car
takes a corner, trips the light fluorescent
Karen Lillis is the author of four novels, including Watch The Doors As They Close (Spuyten Duyvil, 2012) and i, scorpion: foul belly-crawler of the desert (Words Like Kudzu Press, 2000). Her poems and stories have appeared in Evergreen Review, Everyday Genius, Free State Review, Guide to Kulchur Quarterly, Occupy Wall Street Poetry Anthology, Sensitive Skin Magazine, Toad Suck Review, and Trip City, among others. Her writing is included in two forthcoming anthologies: Wreckage of Reason II (Spuyten Duyvil, 2014) and From Somewhere To Nowhere: The End of the American Dream (Autonomedia, 2015). She is a small press advocate who blogs at Karen the Small Press Librarian and runs Small Press Pittsburgh and Small Press Roulette. Her new poetry chapbook, The Paul Simon Project, is due out from Night Ballet Press in 2014.
WALKED DOWN A BUSY STREET RUNNING THROUGH SEVERAL TOWNS
Passed a building painted yellow, orange, purple, with something written above the door in gothic script. I really wanted it to be a spiritual or joyous message because of the exclamation point at the end and the birthday cake paintjob of the building but when I got closer I saw that it just said ‘The Sink Factory!’ which would normally be satisfying but I have been feeling like I’m on a pilgrimage of sorts, searching for purity or something, and I was looking for inspiration in gothic script.
Wanted to smoke the last half of a spliff I started earlier at home. I walked quickly and got in front of this Berkeley hippie looking dude in a ‘no fear’ tshirt and waited until there was enough distance between us and lit it, but by this time the untrodden area I was walking in had become strip malls and Thai food places and I passed by a family with two kids getting into their car parked in the parking lot I was passing by and hid the spliff in my hand until I had passed them.
Passed an old white man with white hair and a white mustache wearing a Members Only jacket and a black ball cap with the word ‘Compton’ spelled out in the same letters as the sign above the door of the place I had wished was a church.
Used my phone to get directions on how to get to the sex toy store but as I got close and figured out where I was I exited out so that the weird voice on my phone didn’t say ‘you have reached your destination’ before I walked into the store, notifying everyone passing outside that I needed to googlemap to get a vibrator.
Got carded at the sex toy store by a lady putting away dildos. She told me that I have a young face, then told me to let her know if I have any questions. I said thank you to both things. When I went to the counter to pay for the vibrator the same lady checked me out at the counter, like she took my money for my purchase. Told her I didn’t need a bag and put the vibrator box in my purse.
Thought about writing some things when I got home with the vibrator, but only after trying out the vibrator.
Listened to cocaine raps from 2007, two different albums with four different artists, and sent a bunch of snapchats.
Thought about making some netart when I got home with the vibrator, but only after trying out the vibrator.
Stopped at a bar on the walk home because the bar is close to my house and I wanted to rest for a moment and write some things down.
Thought about how I hate how people walk in California, but how I’m also kind of getting over it.
Thought about Marilyn Monroe getting arrested.
Decided I like doing things alone because I notice things more.
Wrote part of a poem about feeling like a Hitchcock character.
Thought about people I used to follow on livejournal like this one girl who wrote on her blog about her eating disorder and using meth and working in the shoe department at Macy’s and working out during two hour lunch breaks that she would take and not wearing underwear. I met her once, she came to my house, and my mom asked her if she wanted anything to drink and she didn’t even want a glass of water because she was fasting.
Thought about fasting as cleansing like emptying yourself to feel more pure when you feel used up and worthless.
Decided that I like coming to bars alone. Feeling like a freak sitting here with a notebook. It’s great.
I don’t remember the first time I ever ordered a greyhound but I’m happy I did. It’s a perfect cocktail, unless you’re drinking at a really dirty dive, because they probably don’t care about a quality grapefruit juice. I wrote this while drinking a greyhound in a dive that I really like.
Feeling older. Slightly more mature. But still don’t feel like a grownup.
Feeling like a failure and knowing it doesn’t matter but also feeling content with what I do.
Wanting to be like Ghostface.
Wanting to be better than Ghostface.
Thinking I got too drunk off two drinks.
Hating things that you probably hate more but won’t cop to.
Feeling like I want purity or the idea of it.
Left the bar and ordered a large fry at a fast food chain. A lady was on her knees behind the counter counting money in Spanish while two guys stood around idly. Asked the guy behind the counter if he could please give me a cup of water. He said sure and then went over to watch the other guy put some fries in a container. I waited a few minutes and then asked him again for a cup of water because I felt kind of drunk standing in a brightly lit store suddenly and didn’t want to be as drunk. He looked like he just remembered when I asked the second time and I felt bad about asking but I really did want some water.
Walked home and ate all the fries and smoked another spliff and got in bed to watch House, MD and forgot about the new vibrator in my bag.
Alexandra Naughton edits be about it and hosts That Lit Podcast. She wrote I Will Always Be Your Whore, which is a published book of love poems for Billy Corgan. Friends describe her as being ‘hella prolific
ONLY LOVE CAN BREAK YOUR HEART
When you’re young and on your own
or maybe not that young
drunk and howling
deep in the Maryland night
trying to get the poison out of my soul
while still poisoning the body
At 4am everything is alive
and the alcohol kicked in
and you want this to last and last and last
and instead you try to kick a few hours sleep
before the hangover sun make its move
and then Richmond, fucking Richmond
you sick southern belle just waiting
for me to make a bloodshot fool of myself.
It takes truck stop shits and hoagies
hair of the dog to make everything right
blues in the Maryland night
and her red hair and blue eyes watching
as you strum the
d minor and a seven following
the g around to the chorus
Following her to her dorm room
she wishes you could be there all the time
it’s a college girls statement to college boys
but nearly ten years after your clear
on when your being placated
still it doesn’t change the struggle through the night
our ghosts dream lovers
who turn to stars and arrows grasping hands
if you don’t find what you want
at least your get what you need
and she asked as the sun
would you like to get high
she slides out of bed, into panties
moves to the desk, meticulous with makings
sparks and returns, trying to crawl
into your chest as the smoke hits lungs
I can see all the tragedy of the future
in her eyes
I can see the miles through
Annapolis to Philly
run ahead, slow motion
the snow a thin crust
to make your way through
tracks that maybe someone
will follow or cover over so you
never need to be tethered
to any of these places again.
Jason Baldinger has spent a life in odd jobs, if only poetry was the strangest of them he’d have far less to talk about. Somewhere in time he has traveled the country, and wrote a few books. The latest of which “The Lower 48” (Six Gallery Press) and the chapbook “The Studs Terkel Blues” (Night Ballet Press) are slated to be released in 2014. A short litany of publishing credits include: The New Yinzer, Shatter Wig Press, Blast Furnace, B.E. Quarterly and Fuck Art, Let’s Dance. You can also hear audio of some poems on the bandcamp website by just typing in his name.