Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Jeffrey Zable Joins A Bull(Shit) Company, Learns The Speechlessness Of Discovery, And Inherits A Wolf-Bitten Grandma


 I was running with the bulls when all of a sudden
I shouted out, “This is bullshit!” and turned to face
my assailants. With that, one of the bulls nearest to me,
responded, ‘What did I just hear you say?” And realizing
the peril of my situation I answered, “I said ‘this world
is run by bulls,’ animals who know how to take charge
and not feel guilty or remorseful when they trample over 
someone who’s in their way!” With that the bull told me 
to write my email address on one of his horns; that he 
was a CEO and could use me in his company. He said 
he’d be in touch soon and that he considered our meeting 
to be prophetic. He then told me to exit through the door 
on my left before they’d made another turn, because there 
was sometimes killing, and at the very least, several who 
got hurt and wound up spending considerable time recovering. 
Thanking him, I did exactly as he suggested but realized 
that I forgot to ask him which company he owned 
and how he planned to use me.


 is that it’s the down time that really matters.
What we do between the seconds of joy and the waiting 
for something to happen that turns out to be a dream 
in which the spider sucks the juice out of the fly
like the proverbial milkshake we used to enjoy
before our favorite hamburger joint went out of business. 
What else I discovered is that my 7th grade Spanish teacher 
put all the pretty girls in the front of the class
so he could look under their dresses, laugh with them,
and teach them the good stuff like Te quiero
and Tu casa es mi casa while us boys sat in the back
imagining violent birds flying through the window 
and pecking out our eyes for no other reason than they could.
And in the end I realized that each and every one of us
wants what we want for ourselves first, 
that only if we’ve grown tired of what we have
are we willing to share with the person who fell by the wayside,
who can hardly lift themselves up to take another breath 
between the fumes in the air 
and the putrid smell of excrement on the water. 
It’s all a discovery that leaves most of us speechless, 
wondering why we continue to live in such a condition, 
which is always conditional 
on the day, the time, and century in which we live. . .


After Little Red and I were married we bought a cottage
near her Grandma so that we could keep an eye on her. 
At first, we visited Grandma every day, but as Red and 
I got busier and busier we were only able to stop by once
or twice per week. 
Knowing how vulnerable Grandma was to wolves in the area, 
we bought her an alarm system that sounded at our house 
if there was trouble.
Everything was fine for a few months until one night
the alarm went off at about 3 a.m. and Red and I rushed
to Grandma’s house as fast as we could. 
When we opened Grandma’s bedroom door we saw that she 
was half way down a wolf’s throat. 
Immediately, I picked up a chair and slammed it against the wolf’s 
back which made him cough up Grandma, who understandably 
was shaken and confused.
And before I had a chance to slam the chair over the wolf’s head, 
he fled through the open window. 
After this incident Red decided that Grandma should live with us, 
which turned out O.K. because most of the time she was never 
in our way. 
Eventually we sold Grandma’s house to a nice family of bears 
who soon became our friends and trusted neighbors.
Everything was fine until three depraved little pigs and their
sociopathic mother moved into the neighborhood. 
From there, things went from bad to worse, the specifics of which 
I’ll save for another story. . .

Jeffrey Zable is a teacher and conga drummer who plays Afro Cuban Folkloric music for dance classes and Rumbas around the San Francisco Bay Area. His poetry, fiction, and non-fiction have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines and anthologies. Recent writing in MockingHeart Review, Colloquial, Ordinary Madness, Third Wednesday, After The Pause, Tower Journal, Fear of Monkeys, Brickplight, Tigershark, Corvus, and many others. In 2017 he was nominated for both The Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Matthew Borczon And The Irony Of Call Of Duty, Bars Filled With Ghosts, And Leaving Your Son For War


The young soldiers play

call of duty on their x-box

with the war right outside.

Post deployment

On the first night we were home

all the bars were filled

with the ghosts of every soldier and marine I served with.

Pre Deployment

When my son asked  if I was gonna die

I told him no

only mostly sure.

Matthew Borczon in a poet and navy sailor from Erie, Pa. He has published 6 books of poetry the most recent of which is The smallest coffins are the heaviest by Epic rites press. He works as a practical nurse in Erie, Pa where he lives with his wife, four kids, three cats and two dogs. He publishes widely in the small press.

James Diaz And The Total Dark Encompassing What Kafka Said Until The Last Bomb Of Autumn

Sirens, How I Miss Being The One They're After

I come from a dark so total
light itself is the accident
how air hits the open wound
how the mirror refuses to show you
what you show it
once I put the whole damn town
into that gaping hole
and when it closed
all these refugees
were just trapped inside
my broken body
and when I look a little pinched
pained in my posture
it's all these poor substitutes
looking for a way out

The Arrow's Deepest Kiss

"The weapon of choice made a hole in my heart,
a hole so deep nothing else mattered" -Annie Gallup

in my bones
I lean
toward you
thirsty from
I wear
my heart
all wrong
all these sleepless nights
I see the silver lining
go dark
around my eyes
and every ghost in this room
speaks the language
of another country
I haven't got what it takes
or what I had was taken
from me
I think you know
what I know
that at a certain point
there's no coming back
that's the point we must reach, Kafka said
well, now we're at that dark edge
and lost isn't always as lost as we think
or as lasting.

I Was Never What You Thought I Was

winter wonders how i am keeping
things from her door
i search the aubergine valley
but only orphan socks will
do, when you walk alone
you walk as you were born
this is what i know about dying
i'm better at living, for now-
in the quiet between the last bomb
of autumn, the dial tone
of a friend's voice
and static when the weeping
is all that you remember
of love

James Diaz lives in upstate New York. He is the author of This Someone I Call Stranger (Indolent Books, 2018) and the founding editor of Anti-Heroin Chic. His work has appeared in HIV Here & Now, Quail Bell Magazine, Ditch, Cheap Pop Lit and Foliate Oak. @diaz_james

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Rus Khomutoff Is Witness To Hither Swarms, Dizzying Hybris, An Echo Drug From A Culvert, And The Blacklist Of Preeminence

3 poems inspired by Ric Carfagna

Vintage ghosts of 
joy and sadness
a saccharine statement
the highest expression of the autopoetic force
the incarnation and withdrawal of a God
declaration of hither swarms
accretion of the torrential becoming
instances emancipated from
all anxieties and frustrations
in the anagogic phase
made dizzy by the hybris
a regular pulsating
metre of recurrence

This is not a method 

O blacklist of preeminence
louder than life itself
countdown sequence
of aired mysterious booms
natural coction
the shadow of a shadow of an
obtainable new order
to bathe in the splendor
of lathe and labyrinth
as momentum grows
that bold and legitimate certainty
of endlessly repeating variations
and recollections that
erect their desire to exist
like a new sensation
articulating lifelong repeal

In this mode and vague notion
of a stay in your placeism
event horizon
a derangement of senses
dragging the echo
from the culvert

from the book of common prayer
eschewing the copula
almost like the pace of a dream
ordered fragments of a 
disordered devotion
a space we can enter
the bareness of time’s passing

My name is Rus Khomutoff and I am a neo surrealist language poet based in Brooklyn,NY. My poetry has appeared in Erbacce, Poetheah, Occulum, X-Peri and Former People Journal. Last year I self published my debut ebook Immaculate Days. I am on twitter @rusdaboss

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Connor Stratman and Fallen Angels, Harvest Seedlings, the Nantucket Light, and The Dander of Morning


Sing, fool, sing to me,
the shadow of the centrifugal
serpent. Angel to angel,
faceless face to form
and space, come with the fire
to swing the sphere into focus.
If in our song, you’ll permit
a field to crumble into weeds,
may the oil burn at midnight
as well as at the bloody sunrise.
By then, our shirts will be dry
and the cities will call to us
in shipless drowning gestures.
They’ll know then the fixtures
were never fixed nor stern.
Your motion is your negative
gorgeous twin vision of night.
For me, the moon unhinges
on the brink of demonic dispute,
something for my six lost sons
to pull towards their barren chests.


The scream is natural. It
panders, pleads
like a seedling at harvest.
Neither life, nor glass

is this, the predictor
of the rod. Now they
swish over and again.

Only the echoes
of fingernails

in the dirt.


Nothing was wrong with the light.
In Nantucket for now, my sense
of humor is now stationed. Window,
sing in a arpeggio of prismatic fury.

Show me, wall, where my limbs extend,
disappear, burn. Thread by thread,
my dead cells crowd every head that
hits the pillow. Radio’s out: asleep.

Soaplessly washed in the dander
of a morning that won’t come, soon.

Connor Stratman lives in Dallas, TX. His books and chapbooks include Some Were Awake (plumberries, 2011), Volcano (2011/2017, Writing Knights), and An Early Scratch (Erbacce, 2010). His work has appeared in journals such as Ditch, Counterexample Poetics, Earl of Plaid, Etcetera, Backlash, Moria, Dead Snakes, and Otoliths. He currently is a PhD candidate in English at the University of Texas at Arlington. 

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Ryan Quinn Flanagan and Things Made in China, Public Beheadings, Evel Kneivel, and a Couch Cushion Half Moon

George Foreman Grill 

Her aunt has moved in up the street.
And we borrow her George Foreman grill.
The missus swears by it and I just swear.
Not too often, just enough to make my point.
Like drilling for oil and stopping when you find it.
Anything extra is just showmanship.

And the old German across the way 
got drunk and started driving recklessly
and now they’ve deported his mail order bride.
One more thing made in China.
The first time the cops were on him, 
it was for the cameras he had installed 
pointing at his neighbour’s hot tub.

Now his license is suspended 
and he has to tug his own tuba.

What a mess we all get ourselves into.
Burst water mains that never learned to swim.

The last time I went to the zoo
all the animals were drugged.
It was like paying to watch heroin addicts with fur.
A few toppling over like ancient ruins
so the crowds snap a picture. 

Waking themselves up periodically 
and looking around like the many nodders 
on the subway.

People in Large Groups  
Make Me Think of Public  

sound like crying 
by other means.

I carve a half moon into the couch cushion 
and wait for night.

People in large groups 
make me think of public 

It is that kind of uneasiness.

Sitting in parked cars 
waiting for the lines in the street
to do away with themselves.

When I scratch my head 
it feels like excavation.
As though I am that much closer
to water on the brain.

The scalp peels away like stickers.

A large cheer goes up 
from the collection of people
on the other side of 
the wall.

Something must have happened.
I am relieved that I have missed it.

Ironed shirts have always looked 
like demolition sites
to me.

Another roar from the crowd.
The arena is demanding 

Evel Knievel Would Never Be Your Bank Teller 

The New York to London has bedbugs. 
Heathrow wont catch them because they aren’t looking. 
There is a list of Terror suspects like reading out morning roll call. 
As stupid as that sounds. 
That is all they have. 
Though I give them credit for the sexy name. 
The Cobra committee. 
Sounds lethal and immediate and final. 
The truth should never get in the way of a smashing name.
Evel Knievel would never be your bank teller.
Wondering how to better serve you today. 

It is all in the name.

The rest of it 

Ryan Quinn Flanagan is a Canadian-born author residing in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada with his wife and many bears that rifle through his garbage.  His work can be found both in print and online in such places as: Evergreen Review, The New York Quarterly, RASPUTIN, Blue Mountain Review, Red Fez, and The Oklahoma Review.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Laura Carter lives and teaches in Atlanta. Recent chapbooks are out with Dancing Girl Press.


The day I remember leaving
was almost
as lovely
as a mixed-use
no use for
your face
as quiet
as a tall glass of milk,
pure eon,
the world I thought
I loved.
By the time you had
left for the other
side of the world,
I could have measured
a tactile forest
between us.
But there was
nothing left
of your cynic’s synergy
for me to pull
back into
as I moved
ahead with a
tenuous frame
around me.


was once code for poem, as if what the world knows of music could be measured in the interim that the poems provide. I wanted “my” poems to be a singular affair, but I had no proof that this would relieve others of their pain. Once, in a longish sort of dream, a man said that all poems are sugar. I thought of all the poems I know, including the yews and the horses. Sugar? Is there a place for an incorrect poem in the world that might somehow touch what a poem can feel? It’s simple, or so it seems. I guess poems are meant to convey all that is lovely or intense about a person, place, or thing. No verbs allowed. Or are they?


I always began
the world, likeso, likeso,
learning how to sayso, sayso,
keeping my hands
out of the hellmouth.


Yesterday seemed
at least as ornery
for many as when
the first morning
fell away.
No tricks.
No options.


The last time I saw
what the first brother
wanted, there
was a mosquelike
place behind him.
The temple where
only a few
would escape
without risking every-


Laura Carter lives and teaches in Atlanta. Recent chapbooks are out with Dancing Girl Press.