Dear Sephora / It Must be Difficult to be a Poetry Editor / Vacancy – by MONICA FLEGG

Dear Sephora,

 

I sprayed my wrists with the

sample of perfume you sent

called Alien which should

be renamed Alienate,

because even my dog won’t

come near me, and that feels

disturbing because

he’s an Australian Shepherd

that never leaves my side.


However, this morning he bolted

out the door and self

walked 50 yards ahead of

my assaulting aroma,

best described as

Chaos of Mall, with

base note of Play-Doh,

hints of synthetic sweetness,

metallic air conditioning,

and overtones of

whatever the heck they blast out

from Abercrombie and Fitch-


likely some fake pheromone

that only attracts zombies

and teens with impaired

olfactory senses because

their parents met on Match.com

and didn’t use their own

olfactories

when choosing their mates,

which resulted in offspring with

deficient immune systems,

zillions of allergies and

insipid senses of smell.


So scents like Alien

are being mass produced,

and dogs everywhere are

running ahead,

even running away,

as the earth sprints toward

reeking stratosphere where

only aliens can exist.


I simply can’t thank you enough.

M.F.



#

 

It Must Be Difficult to Be a Poetry Editor

 

Once you’ve seen fireworks

with an orchestra


it’s hard to go back to

just the lights and bangs.


Once you’ve heard the roar

of your son’s two stroke engine


firing up a Yamaha TZ250, shooting form

forward, spraying earth behind it’s hard


to be thrilled by doggerel, tricycles or

the uneven creak of training wheels.


Speaking of two strokes,

I met a guy drinking a pint


of Rookie’s  root beer

in  the Northeast Kingdom,


He quoted Bart Simpson and Anne

Sexton in a single conversation.


Word is he’s a med student/meth head

and goes by the handle Two Stroke.


A golden haired dentist from

Long Island also showed up.


I drove her to Bread and Puppet to

hear astonishing visual voices.


She said, “Some people have

too much time on their hands.”


I have nothing more to say

to that dentist,


but I’ll spark up carbonated conversation

with Two Stroke any old time.


“He who has ears to hear, let them hear.”



#

 

Vacancy

 

Now that you’re gone, time hangs slack.

Hours swing around like a nuisance

like an untied shoelace

like a brocade curtain shifting

hoarse whispers in a windstorm.


You arrived here

straight from the Heartland

full of basketball and buoyant hopes.

From Hershey High

you graduated smack

into the Harrisburg Hood;

and you tell better stories than

the Europeans ever could.


Yes, restfulness resumes;

cards and cognac are stowed away.

The linens washed and bed remade

for a different guest

a more guestly type

with much less hype,

with deathly protocol

and decent hours

and boring stories of foreign travel.


So, I’ll fix time.

I’ll sew it into honey fabric

tucking up loss in sticky liquid stitches

hemming you into a language space

a safe circular space

for vacancy to swirl



***

IMG_3493

Monica Flegg lives on Nantucket Island where she walks dogs of various breeds and reads poetry of all creeds.  Her work has been published in numerous journals including; Rat’s Ass Review, Ruminate and Unbroken.

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Coming Home / The Great Railway Station Robbery – by NICK KITTO

Coming Home?

 

We lie entwined, the silence

Between us punctuates the

Bardic tangle

Our very joining

Elemental, and now I

Feel all of me

Deep within, her

Murmured moans as

Moorland wind


The warm enclosure

Of her

Unforgettable, burned

In memories, suspended

At synapse, who could

Have known, that chance

Meeting, a poet, catalyst

To digital unfurling

“Single?” Maybe

“For you?” Definitely

Gin- trap mind

Perfectly encased, a

Porcelain shell


Living paradox

Powerful, brilliant, brave

Yet fragile, butterfly

Wings, perfect

Webs, freshly spun

Delicately poised in

Corners behind the

Weary facades of a

Long forgotten town


A star

Some other space

Long hidden in

Routine’s shadow, now

Burns bright, fierce

As flame, draws me

Now, moth-like. I drink

Your scent, touch

Your words


I know that

To bathe in the light

That’s you

Will wash

Warm

Fill me

And I will wake in

Another place, unknown

Yet familiar

I will ask myself

“Is this home?”


 

The Great Railway Station Robbery

 

Surrounded by the kind of silence

You only don’t hear at night

Broken only by thumping heart

And tinnitus hum of expectancy

Creeping to the fence with shotgun footfall

Grasping tight the tools of our temporary trade

Black bin liner to the left

Car wheel brace to the right

Something big going down the night

Of the great train station robbery


Trying to find a place to cross

We almost missed the gate

Where we could walk  right on through

And reach the platform

Sleepy enough by day

But now under an umbrella of silence

That I call palpable

And our footsteps

Turned cacophonous

Amid our sensibillia haze


Before us we see

Its dark outline

We creep up close and there

Like the golden fleece

To the munchies crazed, the very stoned

Yes,oh mechanized wish granter

The cadburys chocolate machine

Furtive looks around us

Pulses race within us

Smack………..


I bring the wheel brace down hard

For a first time shatter

We reach beyond the sharded edge

Of the jagged hole, grabbing

Furiously at the pocket sized bounty

Bin liner greedily swallows

Dairy milk, whole nut, dairy crisp

Fruit and nut and we’re off

Tachycardia cuts through the bong haze

I swear I hear the bay of the hounds

And banshee wails of sirens abound


We burst into our place

Laughing manically now

Contents spilled out onto bed

And I remember the giggle of boy men

As they watch the multi coloured cascade

And brace themselves for the sugar rush

Of the finest cadburys could offer

A  difficult journey lay ahead

Wasn’t gonna be easy I knew the risks

I’d never really liked dairy crisp


All of it was a game to me

Spent my nights smoking bongs

Snorting coke and talking shit

Listening to endless prog rock

My accomplice though

On the great train station robbery

He really was there to get a degree

Not to fuck about, playing Frisbee

At first we both went astray

But after a while it was just me


And while he knuckled down

I carried on peddling dope, going to gigs

And he didn’t want to play anymore

So I found new friends

Easy to do when you’re the dealer man

The man who can

In the end though

They didn’t want to play either

They were there for a reason

It wasn’t just about  having fun

Like it was for this one


Then years later I saw him again

The great train station robber

Settled down, married and happy

Baby on the way

They called him doctor now

Didn’t seem like my rustic mate somehow

And me, I was still mooching around

Wearing black, an enigma

In my own mind

A high plains drifter


It struck me then and now

Maybe felt my first hint of regret

Him a respectable member of society

Not my country sidekick anymore

High flying research positions

Being flown off to Singapore

Me in illicit retail management

And words from school

Came back to me

A gifted student

Could do more


***

11026025_10205715351701497_6604131366409654914_n

Nick spent most of his childhood in Cornwall, hanging out at the beach, enjoying the outdoor life, a mad- keen surfer and cyclist which he still does to this day. He is a musician and poet. Coming from a songwriting background Nick has been writing poetry with a view to performing for the past 18 months or so, although he has written simple little poems for as long as he can remember. A regular performer on the Devon poetry circuit, Nick writes on a whole variety of subjects from ecology, to food obsessions, dysfunctional upbringing, addiction, anti-Islamophobia, to an ode to a guitar. He may well not be as funny in real life as he is in his own head!

Poetry from PAUL TRISTRAM

Looking Straight Down Her Nose, Always

(She Blames The Very People She’s Being Mean To?)

 

There is an unnatural fury inside, hippopotamus size.

Cold, murderous stares

from a ridiculously unfair, judgemental mind.

Her little black book is quite fat in size, actually

and is full of victims/punch bags not lovers.

Yes, that’s a husband scolded again around her

in several different ways

over several different imaginary offences.

Mirrors are for scowling into

and to be taken on the trot,

for you cannot bend and warp the truth in them

and the eyes are a prison cell to the blackest of souls.

 

© Paul Tristram 2015

 


 

That’s The 3rd Time She’s Settled This Year

 

“Well, just look at that, he’s a new one, ain’t he.

She likes the pretty, younger man, doesn’t she.

The last one wasn’t around long after the polish

had worn off but at least there wasn’t all that

police and trouble like the one before him.

Heartbroken and bewildered that poor bugger was

but violence is violence and you can’t be kicking off

like that and be expecting sympathy and the like.

Tanya…have you seen this new one’s motor yet?

…is it blue?…aw, I bet it’s bloody blue and all.

Do you think it’s on that dating site she must be

finding all these fella’s at? ‘Middle-aged Slapper

looking for pretty, young boy. Slim with no sense

at all. Must like leftovers and drive a blue car’

Oooh, you are awful Jackie, laughing at the crap

that comes out of my mouth but I know you’re

all thinking it as well, ya bunch of wicked bastards.

Anyway, here comes the 1A…Linda pass me them

other two Lidl’s bags will you, let’s get some seats

up the back so we can have some peace to gossip!”

 

© Paul Tristram 2015

 


 

Piss & Vinegar

 

She’s filled to the absolute brim with both,

you can hear them boiling and bubbling away

each time she opens up that vipers pit of a mouth

to hiss out vicious blasphemies.

Blames everyone but herself, it’s pathetic,

you can’t treat people mean and expect to keep them,

no lessons learnt with this one.

She wants vengeance for breaking her own heart,

dominion over other people isn’t love, it’s wickedness.

Her pretty, colourful bird flew the nest,

broke its bullshit chains and escaped

the day her chickens finally came home to roost.

Now she plots and schemes the downfall

of the one she misses so much,

have him murdered, imprisoned, destitute and broken

if only she could, and believe me, she’s tried.

But it never works and Karma

keeps slapping her back harder each time.

Stubbornness and nastiness make the ugliest

and bleakest kind of painting palettes

yet applied daily is the perfect colour for ruining your life.

 

© Paul Tristram 2015

 


 

There Are Several Different Types Of Unpleasantness

And You Look Like All Of Them Wrapped Up In One Stinking Bow

 

I find myself having to look away.

What is going on inside the human being

that you call yourself? is fascinating.

It’s like most of the physical mechanics

are working properly (You can wave

your arms around in anger well enough!)

But there are other important ingredients

missing, a ‘Botch Job’ so to speak.

I have to squint my way through

your unnecessary quick-fire lies

(and you’re not even talking to me!)

All you want to do is ‘Take’ and ‘Hurt’

and ‘Control’ everyone around you,

yet you’re not happy when that’s achieved?

I feel like picking you up and shaking you

just to check that there really isn’t a soul

in there somewhere but I’m not allowed to.

I’m having less respect for Mary Shelley’s

‘Imagination’ by the day, after all I’m practically

surrounded by the damned things almost constantly.

 

© Paul Tristram 2015

 


 

I Don’t Like You, Not Because I’m A Horrible Person

… But Because You Are, Silly!

 

I’ve seen you stab innocent people

both mentally and emotionally

who were minding their own business.

Sucker punching friendly folk,

cutting kindness to the quick,

and tantruming over pleasantries.

Targeting the happy and contented

then raining trouble and strife

down upon their now ruined day.

Then pointing fingers of accusation

at the freshly, disorientated victims

beneath your ‘Little Hitler’ jackboot heel

and blaming them for upsetting you?

You are ugly to be around

yet, fascinating to watch from a far.

Just imagine what it must be like

to have to live 24/7 within that skin

of squirming, disgusting fury…

ych y fi, mun… gives me the shivers!

 

© Paul Tristram 2016


 

Why Are You Asking A Liar & A Cheater

To Behave Differently?

 

“Because I want what’s best for them.

I just know deep down inside that they can change.

They simply need to see sense, is all.

Everyone deserves a second chance.

Everybody has the right to love.

Besides, I’ve seen the nice side of them,

granted, it’s hidden pretty well most of the time

…but sometimes when we’re alone…it’s there.

I want to help them, I’m a good guy!”

 

“No, I don’t believe you, one iota.

You want to manipulate and passively aggressively control them.

Bind them to your will…there’s nothing ‘Good Guy’ about that.

What care you about their deceitfulness and bullshit?

If you don’t like what they are…stay away from them.

If they want help to change they’ll ask for it.

You are not a preacher, nor a saviour, nor very nice.

And your life so far is hardly a blueprint for anything, is it?

You are either like them yourself

or you are looking for love and friendship in the wrong place?

Which means you are either foolish and it’s you who needs help

or blind and should not be trying to lead anybody anywhere!”

 

© Paul Tristram 2015

 


 ***

paul smoking

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’ athttp://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/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dulla Bhatti – by PRERNA BAKSHI

Dulla-Bhatti

(First appeared in Pear Drop)

 

“Sundar Mundriye ho!

Tera kaun vichaara ho!

Dulla Bhatti walla ho!”

 

Catching me by surprise,

sang my father, in Punjabi on the phone,

when I called on Lohri – a harvest festival.

Excited like a young boy whose Christmas came early,

he sang the folk song that had been till then

resting on his lips for years,

until one fine afternoon

it finally awoke from siesta,

until it finally erupted from his mouth,

like a ticking bomb that suddenly explodes

after it failed to detonate.

Its first casualty – My virgin ears

that bled in joy.


The sound of the long lost folk song

pierced through my ears and into my soul.

When my father sang,

my every heartbeat danced

to the tune of ‘Dulla-Bhatti’

in perfect rhythm,

as if I knew it all along

even when I didn’t.


Papa, why did you never sing this song in front of me before?

Why did you never teach me? I asked.

He paused, thought for a while and said, I don’t know.


Post Partition things never remained the same.

Though the wise old trees of Partition,

now divided, are to be found on both sides of the border,

holding secrets of the unknown, and

many stories of the bygone era,

the horrors of humanity,

the roots of these trees

run deep.

Underground

they will intermingle.

And somehow, someway,

will find their way,

will find us, and

will not let us forget

our songs,

nor our roots.


***

unnamed

Prerna Bakshi is a writer, poet and activist of Indian origin, currently based in Macao. She is the author of the recently released full-length poetry collection, Burnt Rotis, With Love, which was long-listed for the 2015 Erbacce-Press Poetry Award in the UK. It is available for purchase from – http://bit.ly/1TZwA30 For more information – http://prernabakshi.strikingly.com/

Stars and Struggles of Love / Dopamine / Bukowski, and the dog-eat-dog world – by SUVOJIT BANERJEE

Stars and struggles of love

 

The little cosmos inside you

had died a million deaths, and

like big bang

you’ve woken up from the comatose

hands that surrounded you.

 

Sex felt like a cage.

The body ached hence and forth on

a dying afternoon. The verandah

stood still, like the city

with yellow cabs and

a blackhole of

love.

 

Blood

on the floor, inside, outside you.

I was just a soul; a lost balloon

wandering across. You were

the blade on my vein, kissing.

Promising me utopia.

 

We both lost, but the

stories remained. Dogeared memories

quagmired into lullabies. Unshaped

forms of existence

ventured into nothingness

to become someone else’s

elysium.


 

Dopamine

 

 

Hello, are you

the one? The drug-filled psychedelia

runs amock in the kid lying on the station benches.

Because death is a bliss for him.

Hunger is but another mate.

Pain another

passion.

The little streetbulbs twinkle on

a pitch black suburban night

like long lost dreams saying

goodbye. Hello, are you

the one?

We are soulless husks

swaying to and fro – like the

mindless boats floating across

a grey river. Our entities are ever

depressing, ever scampering,

ever so never fulfilled.

Like that station with fifteen platforms

and five million crushed

destinies, we are playing on a loop. Hello,

are you

the one?


 

Bukowski, and the dog-eat-dog world

 

Universities filled with fire, and

student’s hearts with napalm.

Outside, eerie protests sparking day and night,

waiting for an explosion. There’s no blood in sight,

yet there’s gore everywhere.

Masks of happiness and facades of

anger is being shown in television

like soap opera. The local dialect

is a cache of bullets, the casteism

a burning weapon of mass

destruction.

The Himalayas is silent tonight. ’tis a year

since it has rained thunder on the

humans and spared none, but now

it laughs at the darkness

that spreads the valleys. For a purge

is about to commence; Bukowski’s love poems

are propaganda posters to freedom here,

speaking in languages unknown yet

familiar, marked in bullseye,

covered in venom.

A war is being fought inside our minds

and a plague dominates our physique with

its brutish will. We are waiting for a spark,

inside the walls of the university.


***

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Suvojit Banerjee is from India and the United States.

He started writing early, but found his niche in his early twenties. His works have been published in many Indian and International journals and magazines and featured in several anthologies. He currently works in a software company, and has worked as a lead writer/reviewer for a technology website.

He observes, sometimes giving up consciousness in return. It is a dangerous thing, this silent stalking of nostalgia, but he has a maddening urge. He follows the trail, from decaying jetties to swanky corporate buildings, picking up little breadcrumbs of memories and then giving them their due place in white and yellowed out papers.

He continues to juggle between poetry and prose, not deciding on where his heart lies. May be it lies in both of them, may be in none.

Find him online at:

Der Auslander (wedreaminneon.tumblr.com) and Hiraeth (wedreaminneon.wordpress.com) that represent the chronological order of my literary evolution (or decay). My works have been published in several magazines such as Scarlet Leaf Review, Indiana Voice Journal, Visual Verse, Whispers, The Stray Branch, Tuck Magazine, UUT Poetry, Danse Macabre, Silver Birch Press, Voices de la Luna, eFiction India, Bactrian Room, The Camel Saloon, Red Fez and Hackwriters.

 

*Featured image provided by contributor Sara Codair*

 

 

Love’s Thunder Or Crying on my Piano / Ketchup Kid – by SAIRA VIOLA

Love’s Thunder Or Crying on my Piano

Stripper heels , French nylons, a bottle of Jack, and Cobain on rewind ,

dust balls line the wooden floors with gauzy trails of powdered sorrow ,

and your eyes meet mine behind a wooden photo  frame

I laughed at all your words and saw notes of love

on your palms ,

secret wishes made the days sparkle

but you were just a wish

floating like a cloud in an old paper bag .


 

Ketchup Kid

Her day was punched with silence

and shredded with hand me down promises ,

only ten summers young and already her dreams

are splintered with hate,

through the filmy curtain of her left eye ,

there is a coral ring of sadness ,

it weeps across the school room desk

and scoops her into the arms of misery

———-

She ate cooked rat on Sunday ,

her mamma told her it would be okay

but the scabby hump of her intestines

had already made her puke three times ,

yellow chunks of phlegm

glutting her tender craw

——–

In the canteen, she copied Bernadette and

jammed 18 free ketchup sachets into her pocket ,

She would mix it all up later ,

they called it hill billy consommé,

it left a sweetened trail of squalor

in her maiden mouth

——-

Home was a burnt out Lincoln ,

she was meant to be in heaven with her Barbie doll , Casey J,

just another ghetto abortion statistic ,

bloodying the sidewalk ,

but her mamma changed her mind

——-

Mr Weezer , let them use his trailer in exchange

for  favours

and creepy dress up games ,

he had a golf ball size cyst on his cheek

she wanted to jab,

his breath smelt stale

like warm beer pooled with

cigarette butts, and lard

his lips were greased with evil

—–

She would sit alone at recess rocking

herself to sleep

the chairs were comfy

and the sun filtered blinds

warmed her cold fingers ,

she avoided the fish bowl stares the

other kids hurled her way ,

and   retreated to her

make believe castle,

decked with pink balloons

and Minnie Mouse dresses

spotted with candy balls

of glitter

—–

Her one friend Ellen got taken away ,

‘child services,’ they said

Ellen was capped with bruises on her twiggy arms,

above her eyes ,

and on her back

they left wheels of blue ,purple and whitish green ,

on her fragile skin like climbing snap dragon ,

she missed Ellen’s goofy laugh

and the way she drew violet unicorns

with indigo eyes

————

As winter came and the trees shimmered in pearly soft silks

and the leaves sang on the breeze

she dreamt of a real Thanksgiving dinner

not pop top beeferoni

but a sit down meal with soda

and even a Christmas Tree ,

on Fridays, she got her weekend

snack pack from school ,

but that didn’t stop her

festering need for normality ,

she is the canker sore of

fetid greed

a shameful statement on the landscape of

red, blue and white

the banner hatred of the poor .

Is that the triumphant call

of those stars and stripes

that blister the lonely Vegas night ?


***

12734055_926361867442101_8356622679085788348_saira

 

Saira Viola is a critically acclaimed best selling fiction writer, poet , satirist and creator of literary technique sonic scatterscript . Most of her work is infused with undercurrents of social commentary  , and philosophical arcs . Her trademark style blends: prose, fiction  pop culture , and a smart , spiky wit that permeates a never ending range of controversial topics . She has produced two  collections of poetry “Fast Food and Gin On The Lawn,”

“Mini Rebel Book of Poems”, the crime satire Jukebox
which hit top spot in the US and UK Amazon satire chart  twice and her poetry  has been published widely on both sides of The Atlantic including  IT International Times magazine, The Kitchen Poet, Dissident Voice, Poetry Times, The Canon Mouth, Artvilla, Crabfat, Dead Snakes, Longwood Press  Push magazine ,  her anti war poem “Flowers of War,” was published  by the Stop The War Coalition UK. Viola  continues to pen the literary walls with pyretic  prose and can sometimes be found under the flutter of a butterfly .
Jukebox: A thrilling crime satire eBook: Saira Viola: Amazon.co.uk: Kindle Store

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rhyming Rues – by SRISHTI DUTTA CHOWDHURY

 Rhyming Rues

-Srishti Dutta Chowdhury

 

 

trimmed claws across gran’s terracottaterrace sounds of a lonely conchshelledanklet,
as a wayward windmill lands against notes of sonatamoonlit,

while
auburnish-yarned-fur steps across stackedkeysbrown,
pleasing cinnamon-cochlea;

i will rush back to the moonfield soon, cross
whitefence-picketed to
get my
crookedsweater knitted neat-right.

***

Screenshot_2016-05-13-09-13-34-01

This year’s recipient of the CWIT Scholarship for Creative Writing at the University of Edinburgh  and a student of Comparative Literature for most part of the day, Srishti Dutta Chowdhury reads, listens to whatever catches her fancy and writes a tad bit whenever she cannot do without putting some words to paper. She has been published at TFQM, Visual Verse, Coldnoon Travel Poetics, Bangalore Review, Muse India, Quail Bell, the Norwich Radical, Kindle, etc.

I’d Rather Capitulate to Satan – by MICHAEL MARROTTI

I woke up on a Saturday morning hungover, but with good intentions. My head was throbbing, so was my urine erection. I rolled over on my right side to the sexy, soft body laying next to me. I slipped it in with ease. She had a post evening moist vagina. I cupped her tit with one hand and roughly pulled her head back with the other as I bit her neck. Unprotected sex first thing in the morning. I diligently tried to fuck away that hangover. It worked for the most part. The symptoms were subtle after that.

I haven’t woke up early in the morning since I dropped out of high school. Today was a special occasion. The winter season is about to begin, and they need help sorting and separating jackets at the Light Of Life donation center. I received the Gmail a week ago asking if I were interested. It sounded like a noble, worthwhile cause, so I signed up for assistance.

It must’ve been a hard night of drinking for the majority of people in Pittsburgh. I wasn’t the only one suffering from a hangover. The people who accompanied me onto the trolley looked like shit. For once in my life these assholes and I were in solidarity.

I sat in the back like usual with nothing but a hilarious book by Monica Drake called, “Clown Girl,” to keep me company. I was dealing with periodical bouts of nausea. Nothing I couldn’t handle, though. By the time I reached North Side I felt better and ready to go vigorous at the Light Of Life.

I stopped at Sunoco to get a pint of orange juice. My body desperately needed vitamin c. I was thinking fortification.

I was in a state of confusion by the time I reached my destination. All the doors were locked. Homeless people were congregating around the premises. I looked in the window and saw volunteers, so I knocked a few times to get their attention.

After that I was let in and greeted by the woman who sent me the Gmail. We made our introductions. Then I followed her back to where all the action was happening.

I’ve never volunteered at this building before, which happens to be an old dilapidated school. Usually I’m putting in time at the soup kitchen. This place had a creepy vibe to it. For some reason the notion of Satanists making human sacrifices in the dark abandoned room down the hall came to mind.

It’s ridiculous, I know. The mind thinks of absurdities when detaching itself from a hangover.

I was led to an old classroom with ten Christians and forty large trash bags filled with winter jackets. We separated them by size, making piles on the table. Our routine was efficient. There wasn’t much talking, but it wasn’t awkward either. I noticed the guy across of me pull out his star of David necklace after five minutes of sorting.

This was a first, I thought. I’ve never volunteered at a Christian organization with a Jew before. I kinda felt honored. I’m a huge Woody Allen fan.

The feeling of self gratification brought on by this act of philanthropy was phenomenal. I felt extremely beneficial to humanity. It was a beautiful thing until he showed up.

A man came into the room wearing conservative dress attire. By the way he walked I’d assume he had a stick up his ass. He was definitely a republican. In fact, if he’s not, I’ll let my girlfriend blow you.

I’m well aware of how judgmental I’m being. That’s fine. I don’t claim to be a Christian. Besides, you get what you give. Keep reading, I’ll explain.

I’m having a great time, minding my own business when I felt these judgmental eyes upon me. I looked over and saw the conservative prick giving me dirty looks. I was immediately irritated by this act of bullshit first thing in the morning.

It’s not like there’s thousands of people in Pittsburgh that give a shit about people they’ve never met before. This is a very small gathering of good hearted people in here right now. The last thing a philanthropist wants to deal with is persecution, especially by one of the people who claim to be on his side. I continued to sort the coats until he walked over to confront me.

“Excuse me,” said the conservative prick who had a personal problem with someone he never met before. “What’s your name?”

“I’m Mario.”

“Okay,” he said with blatant disdain in his voice. “What are you doing here?”

I’m trying at this point not to have an episode, but this prick was making it hard on me.

With a coat in my hand I said, “Is it not evident what I’m doing here, bro?”

The prick took it a step further by saying, “Who let you in here? What are you doing?”

Now approaching indignation.

I slammed down the coat I had in my hands on the pile and said, “It’s too early in the morning for stupid questions. Do you treat all the volunteers like shit, or am I special?”

I looked around at all the alleged Christians and the one single Jew. They were all minding their own business, sorting and separating as I dealt with an early morning asshole.

I raised my voice a notch and said, “Answer me! Am I special? What did you think, I was some kind of vagabond off the streets that snuck in here to help! This is fucking ridiculous! Who the fuck are you?”

He arrogantly stuck his chin up and said, “I’m the pastor around these parts.”

I grabbed him by his dress shirt, and threw him onto the table. All the Christians scattered. The lone Jew stayed put. I’m betting he’s dealt with plenty of these pseudo-Christian scumbags before. He wanted a close seat to the action.

I open hand smacked him right in the mouth. The sound of the impact reverberated throughout the room. Then I grabbed him by the hair and started yanking his God fearing head around as I said, “Be gone Satan! Be gone! Leave the spirit of this pseudo-Christian alone! I command you!”

I bitch slapped him a few more times and continued to yank his head around until his toupee ripped off. I screamed, “Kill it with fire!” as I reached in my pocket for a lighter. Then I set it to blaze. After that the pastor hysterically ran out the room.

“Ladies and gentlemen, you’ve just witnessed my very first exorcism! What do you think?”

An older woman who reminded me of my grandma said, “I’m so sorry you had to deal with that, son. I’ve never seen him behave in that manner before. Maybe he was possessed.”

“Or maybe he was a pseudo-Christian,” I said.

“Well, don’t let his actions tarnish our Christian image. We’re not like that.”

“I would never think like that. It’s close minded.”

“Good. I’m glad to hear that, dear. All we can do is pray for him.”

“Cool. Pray all you want. I’m not going to waste my time.”

“Why not, dear? It’s the Christian thing to do.”

“I’m not a Christian.”

“But Jesus saves. Don’t you want to be saved?”

“Exactly. He saves all the wrong people. Spending eternity amongst the company of pseudo-Christians, or my drunken mother sounds more like hell to me than heaven. I’d rather capitulate to Satan than endure that perpetual headache.”

They all just looked at me in a pitiful way. All except the Jewish guy.

He gave me a thumbs up.

I’ve accomplished everything I set out to do, and then some. I left the donation center feeling better than I had when I first started.

***

 IMAG0009_1

  Michael Marrotti is an author from Pittsburgh using words instead of violence to mitigate the suffering of life in a callous world of redundancy. His primary goal is to help other people. He considers poetry to be a form of philanthropy. When he’s not writing, he’s volunteering at the Light Of Life homeless shelter on a weekly basis. If you appreciate the man’s work, please check out his blog:www.thoughtsofapoeticmind.blogspot.com for his latest poetry and short stories.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Empty Electronic / But / Still Haunted / The Second Coming/Don’t Choke / Easy Does It – by SCOTT THOMAS OUTLAR

Empty Electronic

 

 

Flash drive oblivion

white washed

with scarlet light fever

soothing the scabs

with a salve of scratches

down

to the bone

that grinds to dust

that fades to dirt

that dances on the ash

and laughs

with full moon madness

under pulsing stars

puncturing black holes

in the empty night

while webs

of electric sirens

sing woven psalms

across the sky

 


 

But

 

 

I am not in love,

and so I have

no one

to whom

I can write a love song.

 

But her hair was lovely,

and her smile was amber honey.

 

But her lust was eager,

and her comfort was an even greater gift.

 

I cannot remember

the way electric currents

traveled from

her fingertips

to mine.

 

But her skin was a garden,

and her light was purely born within.

 

But her breath was an ocean,

and her voice was soft whispered lilacs.

 

I am not in love,

and so I have

no one

to whom

I can sing a love song.


 

Still Haunted

 

 

On a day such as this

with the weather so nice

I remember what it was like

to just drive

with you by my side

toward any destination

so long as you

were still there

when we arrived

 

On a day such as this

I know exactly

how it feels

to be alone

 

 


 

The Second Coming/Don’t Choke

 

 

Maybe the funniest thing

I’ve ever heard

(at least in the past day)

was a woman

from the crowd

of a deep fried asparagus

speed eating competition

screaming lines such as,

“Don’t overstuff your mouth!”;

and, “Keep swallowing!”

Sage advice,

considering the circumstances.

I had to pause the video

to document her wisdom for posterity,

so there’s no telling

what message

she might still

decree from God.

 

Part II

 

“Make sure you breathe,”

wound up being the next eternal nugget

heard after hitting play.

 

 

All cynicism aside,

I must admit,

that’s some pretty solid stuff

for any situation –

 


 

Easy Does It

 

 

Sitting here

with a stupid

silent smile,

I wait patiently

for the words

to flow

while meditating

on the absolute

splendor

of God, nature,

and all that is good

in this world.

 

No wars in my mind.

No hatred in my heart.

No chemicals in my blood.

 

Sometimes it’s just fine

to be at peace

while pondering

how beautiful

this gift of life

truly is.

 

No metaphors.

No hidden meaning.

No uneasy urges.

 

The birds sing,

the wind blows,

the season of Spring

cycles into bloom,

and I

close my eyes

to feel the source

kiss my soul

as a gentle caress

soothes

all my wounds

with a salve

of blessed bliss.


***

Chaos Songs Cover

Scott Thomas Outlar hosts the site 17Numa.wordpress.com where links to his published poetry, fiction, and essays can be found. His chapbook “Songs of a Dissident” was released in 2015 through Transcendent Zero Press and is available on Amazon. His poetry collections “Happy Hour Hallelujah” (CTU Publishing) and “Chaos Songs” (Longsword Press) are both forthcoming in 2016.

 

 

Invisible Man – by C. C. O’HANLON

 

I can’t say when, exactly, I became invisible.

There were intimations of it – in the eyes of shop assistants

focussed elsewhere, or not at all, when I spoke to them, and

younger, busier people that bumped and jostled me, saying nothing,

I am not a small man. I am robust and upright. I occupy space.

But my presence had receded, withered. I had become less.

 

Less here. Unseen.

 

Look at me. No, don’t look.

My eyes have sunk into my skull. Framed by ursine droops and

dark shadows, the irises are paler, a little watery and unclear.

My hair, what little of it I have left, is grey, and while my face is

unwrinkled, my jowls, chin and neck are fleshier.

 

Every trace of the middle-aged man I was not long ago is gone,

the essence of him – the thoughts, imaginings and memories he had,

the itchy energy and will – gone, too. Did it all abandon me as I slept –

like rats from a reef-wrecked ship, scampering over rusted gunwales,

repelled by some grim inventory of decay?

 

I am, somehow, other.

 

C.C O’Hanlon, 2016

***

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***C.C. O’Hanlon is what the Germans call a lebenskünstler (‘life artist’). He has also been called ‘an indisciplined polymath’ and ‘a rogue’. He refuses to be called a writer, although he has published numerous essays, short stories, and diaristic photographs. He currently lives in Berlin. Find him on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/ccohanlon ***

*Featured photo courtesy of Brian Michael Barbeito*