wasted in a local bar
fooling myself that I can start again
the world moving slower than before
hanging on to the hook of that song
that I believed would change my life
it was easier than having faith to pray
smelling of whiskey
before drifting off
I leave in the darkness
wasted on the always waiting
just a part of the scenery
dancing to the Ravens song
it's lyrics holding my name
in a melody of broken wings
leading me to where they roost
underground in tombstone trees
lost to the winds
trying to gather my broken parts
back into a whole with all the cracks
asking the Ravens to let me start again
terrified of what that might mean
afraid of what the Ravens sing
to sin each day because we can
Joseph A Farina is a retired lawyer in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada. drawing from his profession and his sicilian-canadian back round, he is an internationaly award winning poet. Several of his poems have been published in Quills Canadian Poetry Magazine,The Wild Word,The Chamber Magazine, Lothlorian Poetry Journal,Ascent ,Subterranean Blue and in The Tower Poetry Magazine, Inscribed, The Windsor Review, Boxcar Poetry Revue , and appears in many anthologies including: Sweet Lemons: Writings with a Sicilian Accent, Canadian Italians at Table, Witness from Serengeti Press and Tamaracks: Canadian Poetry for the 21st Century . He has had poems published in the U.S. magazines Mobius, Pyramid Arts, Arabesques, Fiele-Festa, and Philedelphia Poets . He has had two books of poetry published— The Cancer Chronicles and The Ghosts of Water Street .
You will open, like the
rose blossom, bitter,
but still necessary:
a slow mineral stream
so like night, so dark.
This is to give
such nourishment, as if
from soil, to wake
fiends such as I,
and your very own,
almost to breathing.
A Moon, Shattered
We cried, and we clawed at the sky,
but the ocean drew fast on.
No longer content in their drawing
and rushing away, it swallowed
every shard of light,
and nothing and no one
persisted, not so much as
a sigh, or bedtime prayer.
Beloved of Salamanders
I'm never leaving them
in their calm nest, and
cloud-ring of golden eyes.
We all belong together.
You can fade, or self-bury,
in mud, or snow,
and we will reach from them both
to touch spring fingers,
cool and gray in satisfaction.
The Tribe: A Dream
Seven black kittens dropped
from the warm night space
of their great mother, mewling
in a crescent of
waxing, waning. Grasping
was the power of their
claws in which no heart could win,
only perish in the bright
slash of stars.
Eyes in Springtime
How well you love in green,
if only moss that never fades
among brookstones and felled trees.
The water rise to pearls of ice
opening like notes from schoolgirls,
and reading thus:
"I was betrayed."
"I will surface, in the hunger of worms,
awaking in your sight."
Meg Smith is a writer, journalist, dancer and events producer based in Lowell, Mass. In addition to previously appearing in The Chamber Magazine, her writing has appeared in The Cafe Review, The Horror Zine, Dark Moon Digest, and many more. She is author of five poetry books and a short fiction collection, The Plague Confessor. She welcomes visits to megsmithwriter.com.
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A classic cliché
that everything comes back
three times over
but its true as though the
energies we briefly borrow,
cups of sugar,
stirred into morning
coffee, reflections drunk that
flow back in concentric
karmic waves, all the
birds flocking home—divorces,
broken promises, lies, the
pack of bubblegum stolen as a
child, secret kisses, the kicked
dog, all distant beating wings
settling down at evening—
and that final big black
bird has been following
you, like a stalker, a loving shadow
The Misfit’s Brother
He stood there as I drove by,
standing at the edge of a parking
lot— behind him a ruined
industrial building, shattered windows, weeds,
gravel, filth—some 1940s postwar
structure, as dead as most of the
His clothing matched that era, chilling,
black dress pants,
black suit coat,
straight black tie,
black shoes, all dark as
November crows in a stubbled field.
When he looked at me, his eyes were
dark opal, expression blank. I felt
as though I had been marked,
that O’Connor and Dickinson were
his dead sisters.
In my dream that night he stood by
the bed, gazing at me like the empty
space between the stars. I knew then
how the dead feel
run hands over cold bodies.
A Dark Renaissance
A pooling of wet leaves remind me,
clumped there in summer’s autumn
languor, despite all this late August
butterscotch light, that it is the dark,
the dark, that returns soon which never
No Renaissance maidens walk in the
sun. None remain.
If there were, they would say the shadows of the
leaves is dark enough for me.
History is dark.
Today is dark.
No matter how much one seeks the light,
drinks it in, let the summer sun bake
skin to a tanned sienna, dream of green
iguanas basking in the light—
the universe expands outward
flung by unknown dark particles.
Melodies of light never the dominant
tune, the vibrations of the sable cello
give song to those maidens walking in stubbled
fields where crows domino about and fiddle
the same earth theme on wet, beating wings.
History is dark.
Pages written in black ink.
The maidens themselves now part of concealed
stone, brunette song long faded, they
could not dip finger in night’s inkwell, write
of the dark time like a court fool grinning at the
They know the dark.
Long after the perishing expiration
Following All Souls Day
November, now past All Souls.
Still I was eager for the mist & darkness clotted
among the clouds waving to
the fat swollen apples shattering the sky.
The root of the earth we share like buttered
brushstrokes hammering out visual
meaning in a place of parallel trees.
It is the moon falling from umbra to penumbra that
links women’s lives in that they roost from one
calling to another, one kingdom seeking a key
whether or not the realm exists.
The key could be made of rustproof silvered nickel
with many doors, multiple locks to turn like a bride
shucking off her wedding dress.
The women will weep and look for lost souls
in those vacant gates & dream of mystics, mediums,
signs from the dead.
But here, in the moment, the last pumpkins hold
court in siennaed, stubbled fields. Frost
has made them sweet & they know no kingdom
save their own. Their own jesters, holy vegetable
souls, they pour mute salute to that which is,
will be, and never was
Sonnet 73 an Homage
When you look at me now and see the years
piled up as a few staggering burgundy leaves
clinging like scarecrow tufts upon my boughs
shivered by cold, where of late the birds made
caroling lament—with me now the sunset
umbra envelops as a cloud and sinks westward,
toward the ancient land that barracks all.
Now you look at my fading red embers,
behind me nothing but gray ashen days,
my fire spent by those same nourishing hours.
Know that this, too, is the fate birth moment
prescribed for you as well.
Embrace the moment, open perception’s doors,
love obsessively what tender hours you may.
Ralph Monday is Professor of English at RSCC in Harriman, TN. Hundreds of poems published. 4 poetry collections and a humanities textbook. Member Lincoln Memorial University Literary Hall of Fame.
The rain has moistened, softened earth,
my spade, I take, my bulbs, my worth,
I slice into its grassy girth.
Clouds gather low, no sound, no soul,
I dig, I dig, the boggy hole.
I strike a rock; I fling said stone
beyond the hill so overgrown,
a crack resounds and then a moan.
I dare not raise my head, a soul!
I dig, I dig, the boggy hole.
A beetle zooms into my teeth,
a sharp, cold shell, a clack so brief.
Did stone smash to the skull beneath?
I dare not look to see the soul,
I dig, I dig, the boggy hole.
I plant the bulbs, so glistening white,
roots gritty, straggling in the light.
I pray, I wish with all my might,
not limp like leaf, lies below soul,
My tears, they soak the boggy hole.
Boarding Bush Girl
They talk rough with me at that place.
I’m gunna run away miss, I’m gunna run away after school.
I’m gunna get on the wrong bus miss.
They talk rough with me.
They say I hav’ ta clean the bus.
Yeah, I ride in the bus.
But I don’t wanna clean the bus.
This weekend, they say we gunna hav’ ta clean it,
I’m gunna run away.
It’s a prison, miss.
I ran away before,
to the river,
me and my friend, we camped by the river.
That was me miss,
I was running through the bush at the back a’ your place.
You in Katherine East, miss?
That was me and Junior,
we was running, we was laughing in the night.
Nah not me.
I’ll get a big, ya know…
a big club miss, from the tree
and I’ll hit him and run.
I run real fast miss.
Nah, I can run faster.
I’m not homesick.
I don’t want to go home miss.
My brother, he’s a man now,
he said if I run away again,
he’ll break my jaw.
I’m gunna run away miss.
They talk rough with me.
It’s a prison, miss.
I’ll hit him and run.
I run real fast.
Nicola currently teaches English and Literature in Cairns, Australia. She has worked as an actor, script writer, voice-over artist and creative producer. She enjoys writing poetry in her spare time.
An Ode to Nothing
On the road the morning besoms
hum Horatian odes to the leaves and blossoms
fallen. The night passed belonged to a storm.
An ant leads and follows, the marching of one.
I know what these remind and I cannot recall.
A car stalls at the red; no other vehicle
rolls from that side or from this,
but the signal stays static.
The First Blood
You will not realise
the first born, a river
with two blind ends,
spreads like a lake unless
you fly high and see
the body of truth with the drone-eyes.
He opens the door for the house.
Others have so many chores.
He grins, welcomes the folks visiting
and drips his shoulders when
winter ebbs, and the gadabouts
become only the feathers they leave.
He is all our mistakes while fishing
for truths. Beneath his rippling skin
lies desires died and secrets jettisoned.
At night he gurgles, "In me
my father sleeps with a stone chained
to his neck." You shiver.
A swirl of fireflies ribbons
the gift of darkness.
You Know These Are Questionable Truths
I told my friend Amit,
I forget what I write.
Once a reader queried
why I wrote some lines
and I vivisected my love like a critic.
That night we strolled into a fort
for a drink with a stranger
who would declare
a no-man's land between us,
Did we? Perhaps I fake my life,
live the lies, forget
the creation and believe tales as truths.
The author of ‘Postmarked Quarantine’ has eight books to his credit. He is a journalist, father, and the editor of ‘Words Surfacing’. His works have been translated into twelve languages.
Inane ambition perpetrated
by scoundrels injecting evil
into the body politic
needs to be obliterated.
is toast of the town,
comes and goes
exactly as it pleases.
Coastal cliffs crack off,
victims of cold rain,
although in two months
high heat will cause pain.
that defy evolution
are here to stay
no matter what we say.
It’s as if rogue weasels
mate with boll weevils
destroying cotton crops
while the public wanes.
escapes his furnace,
stumbles down the street,
gets arrested for vagrancy.
Longing after Thoth
just adds to the loss,
and embalming but delays
With nothing left to steal
they were still insecure
so looked to the sky
for some God to deify.
We’re strapped to a wheel
whirling infinitely fast,
by the titanic blast.
Thomas Piekarski is a former editor of the California State Poetry Quarterly. His poetry has appeared in such publications as The Journal, Poetry Salzburg,Modern Literature, The Museum of Americana, South African Literary Journal, and Home Planet News. His books of poetry are Ballad of Billy the Kid, Monterey Bay Adventures,Mercurial World, and Aurora California.
my body has been slowly diminished
my heart quickly fell victim
the ventricles soon consumed
just an awareness
of a thousand mouths
the dead can’t forget the world
rain seeps in insidiously
dripping so slowly through
the coffin joints and cracks
the summer heat sits stubbornly
on the decaying brain
My first death anniversary
not much left to celebrate
a skeleton, soon to be
shiny and slick
as a Halloween
a bag of old bones
to be shaken
one bag quite like another.
I could be Hamlet
but more likely Yorick
or just a minor role
at last he can RIP
I don’t like to disappoint you
a graveyard’s a lively place
they’re digging graves
close to me
someone’s leaving flowers
then there’s the courting couples
the most disturbing of all
I think by the second
it will be quieter
I’ll have almost
The house is darkness itself.
Ancient beams stretch stiffly
Across white plaster ceilings.
Behind my bed, a portrait-
A young girl in fragile blue-
Moves restlessly, imprisoned
behind the frame’s gold bars.
Whispering, secret gossip,
Here the listless dead,
Huddled round the cold,
Brick fireplace, speak
Of old tragedies:
Sheep lost in deep snow,
Ploughmen, drowned in floods.
Outside the yew trees brood,
Dour, dark in the east wind.
Loose, leaden panes
Chatter glassily of scenes
Of past bloodshed.
Footsteps sound softly
Tiptoeing up narrow stairs,
Seeking long gone rooms.
From far away haunting notes
As pale, skeletal fingers
Press yellowing keys.
I turn to sleep,
Behind me, the past
OUT OF THE SEA
Green slime clings
to skeletal forms.
Mouths slowly drip
onto the sand.
long talons sharpened
on flesh and bone
claw their way
over sea-wet stone.
a white-washed path
over a rough and
One by one these
Monsters of the deep
each cast looming
the midnight beach.
In the dark
they crawl their way
to grass covered graves
where the dead lie
saved from the storm.
Skeletons, the rotting
dead snatched in
to be devoured
to be digested
by knife-like fangs.
As daylight dawns
into the waves
they return to sleep
back to darkness
in the depths
of the deep. . .
Sarah Das Gupta is a retired teacher who lives in Cambridge, UK; She has taught in UK, India and Tanzania. Her interests include: equestrian sports, the countryside, Medieval History and Ghosts. She has had work published in a number of magazines and anthologies: ‘Paddle’, ‘Dipity’, ‘Dorothy Parker’s Ashes’, ‘Cosmic Daffodils’, ‘The Flying Dodo’, ‘Waywords Lit; Journal’, Pure Haiku’, ‘The Plumtree Tavern’, ‘Sciku’ and others.
You were death
cold and silent
a staring Medusa
a heart of stone
kissing my eyes (blinded)
You were death
an aegis shield
a clouded mind
drowning my breath (suffocated)
You were death
inciteful and hissing
a fire to the deities
a flame of humanity
branding my flesh (burning)
You were death
invisible and crying
a passage to hades
a helmet of thoughts
bleeding my veins (dying)
You were death
a journeying breeze
a sleeping dawn
a keeper of winds
devouring my body (passing)
I am dust
scattered through air
lamenting my soul
falling into your aching arms (dreaming)
I am lost to this world, where
light reflects human form.
I have travelled beyond reality into
a mirage of shadows.
Encased in fear, dark forces hold me fast,
My struggles are in vain.
I am lost to this world, where
hearts beat in a human frame.
My vitality lost, coldness instils, for
blood no longer flows to vessels.
A savage force tears me apart,
stagnant pools of sanguine now lie.
I am lost alone without a heart.
I am lost to this world,
where intimate touch triggers hope.
Where sensations bind human hands
in synaptic connection, my tears now
fall as crystal droplets.
Tears shredding moments of life,
frozen upon porcelain skin.
Haunted scenes hold me in a shrine,
I strain to see past the quiet.
I am lost to this world,
where angels have left me
in solitude and dark.
I'm cut from the earth,
Yet rooted in madness
Straining to protect a world
Caught inside graves of greed
Lands forlorn weep
Struggling in a world of fire
Vultures of wisdom fly in darkness
Where everything dies
A bird dropped some eyes into
A fragile human mind
Planting seeds into hands to
Create the trees of life
The stronghold, the bark shudders
A world encased in illusion
Winds of change unravelling
Leaves into open minds
Take my eyes to a higher plain
Wash toxic tears from our lands
Seasons burning, a swift deliverance
Shedding reasons into spiralling eyes
I'm cut from the earth
Bold and beautiful
Fragile under a cracked sky
Don't let me sleep again
Screeching vulture's cry
Uncaged days lament
We to need to survive
Falling ashes of our lives
Sinead is an Irish poet who explores the human condition through surrealism and dark imagery. Sinead has had many poems published in magazines and also has two solo collections self published. She has a loyal following on Instagram @sineadmcgpoetry where you can also see her love for artwork and music.
murky memories slide in daily
about my muddled stint
i grasp on
performing my show
in a run-down bar
to drunk after midnight audiences
three nights a week
for a month
a twisted thing
with the body-builder security guard
from the twenty-four-hour club
and the passing friendship with a famous painter
who i’ve heard has died of cancer
and how one dusk we sat on a silvery lake
in a broken boat
drinking whisky from the bottle
and making up poems about what we were feeling
in the very there of then
as a pair of white swans glided with us
blue heron called above us
and the sky turned orange-pink and whispered to us
through our thoughts and words
if life ended now
we’d know we’d experienced
far beyond what many ever will
a heart-felt bond between two misplaced artists
un-restrained creative chaos
and life pushed as far as possible
regardless of judgment and consequence
by those who live to box and punish
and these hazy fragments i decipher
through anxious bouts of reflection
crawl closer bit by bit
i thought they had vanished forever
and a single tear dances down my cheek
as a messy recollection of waking up in a dirty gutter
shocks to remind me
makes me flush burning hot
and if you’ve never jumped on a train
of indulgent destruction
to find out who you are
and lost almost everything
to a washy game of anarchy
punctuated with humiliating dysfunction
you can never understand
about coming back
slowly and gradually
and coming back
is what i’ve done
Stephen House has won awards as a poet, playwright, and actor. He’s received international literature residencies from The Australia Council and Asialink. His chapbooks “real and unreal” poetry and “The Ajoona Guest House” monologue are published by ICOE Press. His next book drops soon. He performs his acclaimed monologues widely.
I had cashed my check
just a half hour before
and though her kiss
tasted of a fetid shore
she'd long naviagated
I opened my billfold
emptying ½ of it
money I earned in cold
blooded stupor when
the wine had its say
and i took them bills
and left them far away
inside her undrgarments
telling me how closely she still shaved
I who once went to church
for sins that remain unpaid.
I demanded crucifixtion
though there are many ways to die
each of them outlined in all
the pitfalls of her eyes.
Later, I watched her shoot up
raw whiskey had me vomit blood
the end for both of us was close
we raced to with half open eyes.
Full Time Trouble
She always needed a fixer or a diversion
to grease the fall
high pointed heels necessitate
when rescue's cheap
or a prelude to a darker segue
full of surprise.
“No cab, we'll walk” she always says, just
to target needed eyes.
The streets are her mood music
rising above the chaos.
I'm already thinking of past and
present sundry delights.
That come with her wrapped
in sin and negative charm.
When a crack head pulls out a knife
two blocks from club.
She pulls out a gun and waits till
he's run half a block.
Shoots him in leg, “I love to watch them
limp away” she says.
We walk fast to her place around more
corners than her last.
A patrol car passes “don't you love sirens?”
she asks-not a question.
Later, I'm almost sure that I haven't
fallen for her again.
As she kisses me full and hard on lips
then everywhere else.
For Marilyn Monroe.
Sharon fights the urge
To fight through an
invisible barbed wire
3d blitzkrieg of sound
that is the Ramones
in a bar and order
Singer Joey the leather
wearing preying mantis
of punk echoes
off dank dirty walls from
a spit shined jukebox she's doing lines on.
Alternately eating the free popcorn
Joey ate with endless handfuls
½ empty as time
fate would not grant him.
The sneer in his voice
on her lips as a loser keeps
eyeing her braless tits…
under a Ramones t-shirt
and won’t fuck off.
She clenches her fists
wanting just a little
high on the coke and ready
to accelerate to dealing
pain with fists
karate/MMA classes have stolen
But the loser's
told to leave.
Sharon nods to bartender
then closes her eyes
for seconds/ minutes.
when a hand grabs her ass.
Enraged. she scans the
crowded bar wanting to fuck
someone up bad.
A habit like the coke
she finds hard to
Just another asshole
touching her as they
have since she was eleven.
She sits back down
orders another drink
with a smile of alluring poison.
Couldn't god just give her this?
A little revenge...
Nothing particularly lethal
just a quick beat-down
with an ambulance
taking her victim
to a room -
where doctors look and say “oh shit.”
Rp Verlaine lives in New York City. He has an MFA in creative writing from City College. He taught in New York Public schools for many years. His first volume of poetry- Damaged by Dames & Drinking was published in 2017 and another – Femme Fatales, Movie Starlets & Rockers in 2018. A set of three e-books titled Lies From The Autobiography vol 1-3 were published from 2018 to 2020. His most recent book, Imagined Indecencies, was published in February of 2022. He was nominated for a pushcart prize in poetry in 2021 and 2022.
Words and guns
which yields more power?
I can create a world where guns and bullets
are like suns and droplets.
I can call into being the spirits of our forefathers,
open your eyes to a time
before the first man, before the railway lines.
For before the world was,
the word still was.
I can turn the pages
to a time before the sunrise of my being,
step into worlds I have never been
touch and not feel the sting of a bee,
imagine a world that will never be
for with words,
I can create and let it be.
I can create playgrounds in concrete jungles,
where kids can touch the grass and throw marbles,
stories of heroes
gone and living,
grow boys to men,
girls to women,
for with words,
destiny will be what they set,
not what they spell.
With words on a page,
minds bow at our feet
Njeri Wangarĩ is a Kenyan poet, writer, editor, author, and communications consultant with a career spanning over 15 years. She is the author of “Mines & Mind fields” and has been published in various regional and global publications. Njeri has performed at events such as the Kwani Festival and Tedx Nairobi. Find her on @KenyanPoet on social media or at kenyanpoet.com.
Late night after the freight train has rumbled
along case-hardened tracks, where the well-lit
overhead walkway leads to a light rail terminal,
some unseen, unhinged lunatic’s F bombs echo.
He is no grifter, not guilty despite his rage,
mere victim of the all-inclusive media age
in a world where 3000 gods have thus far
been worshiped, products of indoctrination.
The crisis in belief means no one is immune
to trafficking of bogus mottos, myopic blab,
incredulous religions, absurd gesticulations,
and rhetoric that restrains one’s sovereignty.
Shall we grant the clerics of maniacal sects
enforcement of standards ruining the planet,
deny men simple pleasures Aphrodite gifts
when she slips between the sheets in dream?
Half past midnight some crickets strike up
a cacophony of unintelligible chatter which
inspires a racoon to squeeze under the gate
and gallop across our building’s parking lot.
Tropes are hidden from the eye. Oh so scary
our flesh crying out hysterically for release,
bizarre visions like sex in the grave typical
now that cyber automatons are ubiquitous.
Artificial intelligence has programmed us for
telepathic communication. Whether we accept
or toss it willy-nilly into into a big black hole
is a decision distinguishing wise from naive.
Sweet charity in the sensible robin’s twitters
pierces inky blackness with a fine symphony.
No stars visible, but the crescent moon dozes
in a sky filled with billions of invisible sprites.
A little blinking red light drifts overhead,
airplane on its way to a hole in the ozone.
Seas are born anew, species come and go
as rifle shots reverberate around the hood.
Even itty-bitty inferences will elicit
violence when charged with hatred,
taking very little to set off a nut case
who may spread bullets in his wake.
King Alfred unified England though
the Scots and Irish resisted intrusion
into their virgin lands encompassing
histories wholly sacred to the tribes.
Ideologically speaking, what’s mystical
is not an illusion nor possibly accessible
to other than finely-tuned senses zeroed
in on extermination of tyranny’s brood.
Dawn could be centuries off for all anyone
cares. Yosemite once more aflame tonight,
July bringing the full force of hideous heat
to bear down upon its most illustrious host.
Ladybugs, roaches, spiders, wingless moths
crawl across the hot asphalt at about 2 AM.
The still summer air is pregnant with
countless hours of suppressed daylight.
While specious conspiracies go viral
collecting likes by the thousands, flash
the gyres of corruption, animus and pain
in this nation lacking bona fide identity.
No one ever learned better than Romans
switched to Christianity by Constantine,
you will never fell the genuine barbarian
with dull sword and twisted prophecies.
Thomas Piekarski is a former editor of the California State Poetry Quarterly. His poetry has appeared in such publications as Poetry Quarterly, Literature Today, The Journal, Poetry Salzburg, Modern Literature, South African Literary Journal, and Home Planet News. His books of poetry are Ballad of Billy the Kid, Monterey Bay Adventures, Mercurial World, and Aurora California.
"There will come a time when it isn't 'They're spying on me through my phone' anymore. Eventually, it will be 'My phone is spying on me.'" - Philip K. Dick (1928 - 1982)
warm against my cheek,
caressing like pages
of sacred scrolls.
Your eyes are
vacant hotel rooms,
in the dark.
The slack of
your jaw, the heat
of your breath,
Through the mirror,
rivulets of black
and red crawl
into your mouth,
lining your throat,
wiring muscle and bone,
deep inside pink folds.
Your voice, your body,
Our silver station wagon
is peeled open and spilling
across Rogers Avenue
like a can of tomatos.
Bent through the window,
my father speaks glass and teeth.
My mother siezes in the
front seat. White eyes
of an oracle, quivering.
The phone rings on the
hospital wall. "How is she?"
a quaking voice asks.
The shock of my mother's
broken body speaks for me.
"We're fine," is all
I can say to the driver.
I still think about him
sometimes. Just out
of high school then,
he might have children
of his own by now.
The burden he must
still hold weighs on me,
and I wish he could see
my parents, smiling, as they
play with their grandkids.
Conjured once again,
she lies in an exhausted
heap of cream linen and
feathers on my kitchen floor.
I wait, impatiently, while
she peels off another piece
of vellum skin. Ignoring her
frantic screams, I place
my inkwell beneath the
crimson fountain, pluck
a quill from eider wings,
ANXIETY OF GUILT
There never was a time when guilt
didn’t sit just below my clavicle.
If genetic guilt is possible, I know
how it travels packaged in the lining
of the uterus where it feeds on my soul
just as pregnancy ate the calcium from
my bones and teeth,
yet births continued, through ignorance
and the too infrequent pleasure of sex,
but like a drug addict’s call, the beckon
of climax too great to ignore.
I know it’s contagious
and always there, hardly buried
in the day-to-day issues of life
where it arises on a perfect day
to swamp pleasure with anxiety.
I can see the veins on the top of my
hands that used to be smooth, a cliché
reminiscence of mother’s hands.
the skin so thin, a tap leaves a reddened
rose of remembrance, like guilt,
it fades slowly.
His name lies on our tongues
a memory that wanders through us
dragging its pain like shredded flesh,
bloodied and defiled.
We talk around him when we talk at all
as if his being doesn’t sit with us still,
as if his mind wasn’t beyond his learning.
his guitar playing so natural
all who heard were amazed.
As if the adoration of his dog,
big and clumsy and mourning
at the top of the stairs
didn’t tell us what we already knew.
We never talk about the night;
the police refusing entrance
his body hanging stilled
as if our imaginations didn’t speed past
the reality of the horror, the loss, the emptiness,
the gut-wrenching explosion of pain upon hearing
he was no more.
Pat Tyrer is a writer and lover of literature who walks the canyons of West Texas watching birds when the sun is up and star gazing when it’s not. She loves poetry that sits in your mouth and fiction that speaks in mysterious and haunting ways. See more of her work at www.wordstreet.net
I WONDER WHAT I WOULD BE LIKE HAD YOU LOVED ME
HAD YOU CRADLED ME IN YOUR ARMS INSTEAD OF USING THEM TO SUFFOCATE ME
HAD YOU BEEN PROUD OF THE CHILD YOU CREATED INSTEAD OF WISHING YOU ABORTED ME
HAD YOU NURTURED MY DEVELOPMENT INSTEAD OF REGRESSING MY CAPABILITIES
WHAT WOULD I BE LIKE HAD YOU LOVED ME?
HAD YOU INSISTED I WAS VALUABLE INSTEAD OF TELLING ME TO KILL MYSELF
HAD YOU SUPPORTED MY ASPIRATIONS INSTEAD OF CALLING ME YOUR BIGGEST MISTAKE
HAD YOU CONVINCED ME I WAS IMPORTANT INSTEAD OF LABELING ME A STUPID CUNT
WHAT WOULD I BE LIKE HAD YOU LOVED ME?
HAD YOU PROTECTED MY INNOCENCE INSTEAD OF DEFENDING THOSE WHO SEVERED IT FROM ME
HAD YOU GUARDED THE SECRETS I ENTRUSTED UPON YOU INSTEAD OF EXPOSING AND BERATING ME
HAD YOU CALLED ME BABY OR PRINCESS INSTEAD OF ABORTION CHILD
WHAT WOULD I BE LIKE HAD YOU LOVED ME?
WE WOULD HOLD HANDS AT THE PARK AND ADMIRE FIELDS OF BRIGHT YELLOW DAFFODILS
WE WOULD WEAR MATCHING SUN HATS AND SHARE AN ICE CREAM SUNDAE, WITH TWO BIG SPOONS
WE WOULD GO ON DAY TRIPS AND LAUGH UNTIL WE COULDN’T STOP LAUGHING, THEN WE WOULD LAUGH, AND LAUGH SOME MORE
WE WOULD WEAR FLEECE PAJAMAS AND WATCH MOVIES TOGETHER UNTIL I FELL ASLEEP, THEN YOU WOULD KISS MY FOREHEAD AND WHISPER, I LOVE YOU
I WOULD WAKE UP THE NEXT MORNING AND YOU WOULD STILL LOVE ME
HAD YOU LOVED ME
Morgan Phaneuf is an aspiring poet and author from the Quiet Corner of Connecticut. A proud mother, wilderness enthusiast, and karaoke queen, she strives to bring consolation to those who relate to the uncomfortability expressed in her writing. Focusing on authentic experiences, she re-creates trauma into words of empowerment.
We slog through thick, wet foliage, our leather boots sinking in summer’s decay
Gone are the olive groves and aqueducts of home, the assurances of mortar and stone, order and symmetry
Our imperial writ probes ever outward, seeking purchase where none exists
And in so doing, we encroach upon inhospitable climes of godlessness
Its demonic denizens challenge our foolhardy advance, as rabid howls soar through the pitch black of night, followed by gurgles of agony and cackles of glee
Daylight reveals crimson growth overhead, along with pools of crimson carnage underfoot
Slick, red wicker-hewn standards hung with the entrails of our dead loom at the peripheries of civility
Such brazen mockeries of our might expose the pink underbelly of imperial overreach
Earth’s appendages retract and wither as frost proclaims its presence, and our beacon of dominion wanes with the light of day
The devil’s deluge continues unabated, sapping our vigor in an implacable torrent of indifference
The ground hardens, and thieving winds steal away warmth, stranding us in a world wanting for succor and mercy
Our tattered legion eventually splinters on the devil’s predatory persistence, his arbitrary malice overrunning neatly fashioned defenses in waves of feral bloodlust
Disemboweled and bled dry, our husk of imperial zeal is too brittle to sustain the weight of its own avarice
Night eventually outlasts day, and for our surviving few, the devil now has a name
Arminius speaks to us in fleeting whispers, and while his words are strange, his intentions are not
We are told of his travels, and of his ship, a blood red halo in the sky
Soon we'll depart, he says, seeding our minds with assurances, and promises of the void’s wonders
But we've endured his unholy culling, seen him unearth depravity’s deepest depths, and know the reality will be far worse
Andrew Leonard (he/his/him) is an aspiring speculative fiction author and poet with a passion for all things science fiction, fantasy, and horror. He lives in Illinois with his wife, daughter, and two Golden Doodles, who rule the roost. He has written numerous articles on foreign policy and geopolitics, and, admittedly, has what some call an unhealthy obsession with the war in Ukraine.
crucifix is hollow,
dancing by the fire
straight into the morrow.
Stomping on the ashes,
cawing like a crow,
dressed up in the ire,
down and down we go.
Smoke is in the air,
blood is on the ground,
inhaling all around.
Two are in the cabin,
one is in the sea,
dancing by the fire
to the tale of misery
Sammy T. Anderson is a Writer, Actor and Filmmaker originally from Pierceton, Indiana. His poetry has been featured in Halcyon Days, The Twin Bill and The Poetry Cove. For more of his work, follow him on instagram: @sammytanderson
a halo of blood
frames her head
her outstretched hands
clutching roses -
their red petals hemorrhaging
at her sandaled feet-
black husks- withered
to be swept away
with unanswered prayers
of burnt out votive candles
to empty benedictions
the danger in reading words in darkness alone
succumbing to social media
voices constant texting
- multi windowed messages
in your darkened room
door locked -
no one aware
they will all
you showed no outward signs
just a lingering love
of dead poets
and their dead words.
the serpentine river
coils its path
kissing the mold covered rocks
weathered and torn
by night's wicked waves
gulls gibber mournful
a garbaged sigh
beneath the arch of whispering lies
where words of love intently die
etched in lace
brown and rotted
hung in rooms, lighted
by TV sets
shining the cruel light
that man cannot live by
while practicing joy
of hair oil and grease
between the late movie
that offers no peace
and stale crumpled linen
of his unmade bed
where day break shall find him
Joseph A Farina is a retired lawyer in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada. An internationaly award winning poet. Several of his poems have been published in Quills Canadian Poetry Magazine,The Wild Word,The Chamber Magazine, Lothlorian Poetry Journal,Ascent ,Subterranean Blue and in The Tower Poetry Magazine, Inscribed, The Windsor Review, Boxcar Poetry Revue , and appears in many anthologies including: Sweet Lemons: Writings with a Sicilian Accent, Canadian Italians at Table, Witness from Serengeti Press and Tamaracks: Canadian Poetry for the 21st Century . He has had poems published in the U.S. magazines Mobius, Pyramid Arts, Arabesques, Fiele-Festa, and Philedelphia Poets . He has had two books of poetry published— The Cancer Chronicles and The Ghosts of Water Street .
You must have forgotten
how many holes you have,
those unguarded doors
leading to dark wet places
you can’t reach to itch
if something sinister crawls
up in there, while you sleep.
That pesky stray eyelash
you keep trying to flick away, rinse out,
is not an eyelash after all.
It’s me: that spider you barely missed,
now decorating your eye socket
with tiny eggs by the dozen,
using your eyelid for a blanket
and dangling out just one leg, to stay cool.
I learned that trick from you.
Just wait till I teach my children.
Mike Lavine is a lawyer, biker, and writer of fiction somewhere between horror and comedy. A native of Barbados who now lives in San Francisco, Mike spends his spare time eavesdropping on other people’s conversations for dialogue ideas as he walks to the office.
I dreamt my love there lost on a raft.
I dreamt I tried to care
And clung to the other half.
I dreamt I offered her a drink
The dregs white
As the white heart of a ghost.
I dreamt she started to sink
Her hand upraised in a skeleton’s toast,
And I dreamt I tried a sexy wink,
And my closed mouth
Tried a clenched kiss.
I dreamt she whispered bitterly:
Thomas White has a triple identity: speculative fiction writer, poet, and essayist. His poems, fiction, and essays have appeared in online and print literary journals and magazines in Australia, the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. He is also a Wiley-Blackwell Journal author who has contributed essays to various nonliterary journals on topics ranging from atheism, the meaning of Evil, Elon Musk, Plato, The Matrix, and reality as a computer simulation. In addition, he has presented three of his essays to the West Chester University Poetry Conference (West Chester, Pennsylvania), as well as read his poetry on Australian radio.
for Michael Mushrush
Take off your mask.
If you have one.
Let the world feel your wounds.
The first one to scream
is your angel.
Close your eyes.
And follow its wings.
If it bleeds
you are damned.
was never an option anyway.
So shake it off.
And smile louder.
True terror lies.
By a soul.
A.J. Huffman is a poet and freelance writer in Daytona Beach, Florida. She has published 27 collections and chapbooks of poetry. In addition, she has published her work in numerous national and international literary journals. She is currently the editor for Kind of a Hurricane Press literary journals ( www.kindofahurricanepress.com ).
If you liked this poem, you might also like the dark, modernist short story“The Masks” by Kimberley Luxton.
THE ROOM IS YELLOW
The room is yellow.
The yellow of withered fruit,
The tinge of mildew, sickness,
The haze of misremembered bad dreams.
The room can only be yellow.
Never red or green
Or even blue
Because the room has never held you
As I have and
As I do,
Although I cannot hold you without
The room has never held you as you slept
Or stared into you as you laughed
Or seen you dress
Or heard your whispers
Both tender and tranquil.
I would give anything
For this room
To be green or red
Or even covered
In the sad pall
But the room is yellow
And my soul is blue and bruised,
Covered in this yellow film
Like diseased and turgid
I lie upon the rack
Spitting nails into the air
That land upon me –
Pointing down and driving into my flesh.
Again and again I spit
And the metal missiles itself upward
And then dives downward,
Into me, into me, into me.
I do not spit fire.
I do not spit ice.
I do not spit calm or salve
Or paint or passion or knowledge or love.
I only spit nails that hold me fast and immobile.
I have never spit out that key
To fit the lock
That fastens the chain
Held to me
By all those spitted nails
Although the key has resided in my belly.
It sits there still.
I spit another nail that aims for the sky
To my flesh.
I spit and I spit.
Leonard Cohen is dead after ohming for years in the ashram
And leaving his offerings of written flesh from time to time
In piles in the middle of the street
For the flock to ponder.
Rumi whirled like a dervish for the Lord
And Allen Ginsberg sang Kaddish
Into his grandmother’s old black shoe.
Tonight, like every night,
I lie in this bed alone
Stigmata blood soaking
Black, thick and homely
Right through the brains
Of my coarse gray bedsheets
And onto the endless cosmos
That is my floor.
John Tustin’s poetry has appeared in many disparate literary journals since 2009. fritzware.com/johntustinpoetry contains links to his published poetry online.
You are afraid of the light
that burns inside you
like an unborn child
A thousand tiny spiders
gnawing at your bones
You are cautious of the wind
that brings a plague upon its wing
A fetid, ebon miracle
like a monster in the clouds
that swallows cruel men whole
You are sure that something's breeding there
Your body is not your own
And the sky is full of tumors
that terrorize the soul
You inhale the song of the universe
Fall asleep inside its chaotic womb
You find refuge in a lullaby
as the cancer chews away
The stars shed light that blinds your eyes
Your home is the darkness of a dream
A coldness in the white,
We cling to childhood
That epileptic dance
Of chaos and lace
A fire burning
In the face of madness
Where the death bell tolls each midnight:
The lonely sound
Of a heartbeat
You wear your crown so perfectly
both saints and sinners weep.
You whisper dirge songs in your sleep
while the blood runs warm, still, in your veins.
You shed your skin in hopes to join your
lover in the grave,
To save your mortal soul from the heat
of a burning flame.
You play the martyr much better than I.
There's a sacrifice I'm not willing to make.
But, aren't we all like lambs to the slaughter,
hobbling about on broken knees?
Our demon seed strewn over this doomed land.
Bodies splattered across the threshold of paradise.
Morgues and graveyards fill to excess.
And I am left to clean up the mess.
Stephanie Smith is a poet and writer from Scranton, Pennsylvania. Her work has appeared in such publications as PIF MAGAZINE, WHISTLING SHADE, NOT ONE OF US, THE HORROR ZINE, ILLUMEN, and LIQUID IMAGINATION. She can be found on Twitter @horrorsteph78 or at imajican.blogspot.com.
I have at times been one
possessed of fire and darkness
in the black hours courting evil
in sight of the silent sacred houses
and the fearsome moonlit woods
mumbling words only I understood
made signs of earth and stone
survived the madness and returned
ashamed at times and wanting blood
I have been both within and out the circle
and have kissed the serpents tongue
drinking cheap whiskey at one night stand hotels
sirens moan outside down empty weed choked alleys
homeless gypsies in rags like ghosts pass by broken windows
ambulances and police cars leave trails of red and blue
the skidyard holds its secrets as boxcars rumble through the night
cheap glasses on scarred tabletops hold ice cubes
melting in the weak air conditioned barroom
stains on warping wooden floors both blood and piss
mark where lost souls fought and lost dignity and more
alone against the wall afraid and drunk, he stands
his night ends here in a musty backroom and unmade bed
the sounds of diesel engines roaring in the darkness
his shadows conspiring to choke him as he tries to sleep
as he slips into the coldness of unconsciousness
waking without memory in sweat and grime
his morning a hoarse continuation of his nightmare
a resident of the madhouse that is his life
the terrible morning revealing beggars, heretics and thieves
in silence he walks down cracked avenues
his head droning like flies on roadkill
walking in his sunrise's twilight curse
he sees behind uncurtained windows
faceless inhabitants under flickering lights
echoes of yesterdays before his horror took him
bathed in red and blue the sirens sound as the boxcars roll
Joseph A Farina is a retired lawyer in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada. An internationally award winning poet. Several of his poems have been published in Quills Canadian Poetry Magazine, The Wild Word, The Chamber Magazine, Lothlorian Poetry Journal, Ascent ,Subterranean Blue and in The Tower Poetry Magazine, Inscribed, The Windsor Review, Boxcar Poetry Revue , and appears in many anthologies including: Sweet Lemons: Writings with a Sicilian Accent, Canadian Italians at Table, Witness from Serengeti Press and Tamaracks: Canadian Poetry for the 21st Century . He has had poems published in the U.S. magazines Mobius, Pyramid Arts, Arabesques, Fiele-Festa, Philadelphia Poets and Memoir (and) . He has had two books of poetry published— The Cancer Chronicles and The Ghosts of Water Street .
If you liked these poems, you might also like “Nightwalker” by Joseph Farina, which was published in August 2021.
In view of the bleachers and the Little League diamond.--
night game, or no, we will make our way.
The sand drifts into the dry grass, and the killdeer cries
in its dust bath. Moths dither in the light that
cannot devour the moonlight.
Our cars arrive, and then, the pack -- on motorcycles.
There will be laughter, and scraps of remembering
the last month, and then we will move into the circle.
Our one high note of defiance will plume upward,
a demand for dark sky, before skin melts
and teeth erupt, and claws shed their civility.
Nothing clings -- not wedding rings, not wallets
tucked with kindergarten portraits, not passports,
or even the smiles of the littlest basemen.
All of that will fall within teeth, tails and tears.
You are blue of jewels,
on your skull, and ribcage,
and I do not mock you.
Someone has found a blessing within you --
a gold coin, a star -- rose petals, even.
Love is not lost with the dissolution of atoms.
Only, leave for me one sacred splinter.
This is enough for me to carry home
for my own fine and secret bones.
At 2 a.m. I sit at the kitchen table,
looking at bills, drinking Coke.
There's a creak, and my husband appears.
"What are you doing?" I ask.
He smiles and says, "Wandering."
He is not a ghost, just then,
but a man clinging to the Earth
with its tendrils and vines, its October crows
and poetry in passages of dark and light.
I summon him aloud, on the same stairs.
This house lives for the living, but
a word abides in an unquiet heart.
The Crocodile, Bound
When I realized I had forgotten you,
I rushed to the chamber of purple lights
and dull music. You, waiting, ensconced,
for me -- what was there then, but
these strips of linen, failing?
In your golden eyes of sleep,
in your river of dark space,
close, we are, in this cloth,
with no blood unraveled.
I caught you laughing at the purple bones,
draped in their satin, sitting upright.
Then did my love for you melt away
like sugar in a drink of rum.
Skeletons rise up, and dance, until they
tire of you. And I once wept to hold this
body of knowing, warm, in some
fiction of sleep. Every shadow body of mine
walks in waking, flesh in red hair, singing,
sighing, but not apart from me,
as now I lie in dreams apart from you.
Meg Smith is a writer, journalist, dancer and events producer based in Lowell, Mass. Recent publication credits include The Cafe Review, The Horror Zine, Dark Moon Digest, and many more.
She is author of five poetry books and a short fiction collection, The Plague Confessor. She welcomes visits to megsmithwriter.com.
If you enjoyed these poems, you might also enjoy the tale of horror, “Thin Skin” by Kilmo.