3 Poems by Josh Sherman

Batteries 

My Tupperware™ container of used batteries 
is a constant source of anxiety 
I’ve been putting batteries in it 
because they aren’t supposed to go in the garbage,
but the container is almost full now

I think they can be dropped off at City Hall
or a school—some sort of institution,
an institution where they have the solutions 
to these kinds of problems
Unfortunately, I haven’t been to any institutions lately
I serve no institutional purpose;
I have no institutional knowledge

When the time comes, 
I’ll probably just dump the batteries in the garbage
Or maybe I’ll recycle them
Yeah
Putting batteries in the blue recycling bin 
almost seems eco-conscious
But if batteries don’t belong in either the garbage can 
or the recycling bin, 
is one choice better than the other? 
Is one decision less destructive?
There is something to be learned here of intent 

I guess I could try the composter— 
try composting the batteries for a million years
Maybe Green Peace would laud my dedication; 
an NGO committed to keeping batteries out of landfills 
would be founded in my name

Let’s be real, though
When I inevitably throw the batteries in the trash, 
They will meet their landfill fate
They will marinate in the soil; 
their acid will mix with Earth

But until then, I’ll feel good 
just having them right here 
in the Tupperware™ container on my table
It’s like I’m saving the world a little

Dendrology

Have you heard about the great bristlecone pine?
It’s the oldest living thing
It can grow to be, like, 5,000 years old
That’s what it felt like when I met her
Like something 5,000 years old
was suddenly alive

I said, “Describe his apartment for me”

I was a detective of depressing facts
You were a criminal of nothing
You told me you’d hooked up with him,
and I thought you were joking

I said, “Describe his apartment for me.”
And you said, “He has these shitty leather couches.”
That’s when I knew
you were telling the truth


“The Biggest Douchebag In The World” by Jon Berger

I was at this hipster bar in Detroit

I have this special power
random people give me free food

This lady I was sitting next to at the bar ordered chili cheese fries
She did not seem like someone who ordered chili cheese fries.
She looked to be around 40 and took care of herself
perfect white teeth
She asked me if I wanted some of the fries

I said yes and she asked the bartender for another fork.
She asked if it was weird sharing her food with me

My friend and I laughed and said it happens all the time.

The fries between us. I poked them with a fork and took a bite.
Got drunker
talked

in walks the biggest douche bag in the world
Alone, wearing designer clothes and a big diamond watch

The biggest douchebag in the world sat up at the bar next to my friend.
ordered wine, asked a bunch of questions about the year of the bottle and shit

he worked his way into our conversation
And once that happened the conversation was only about the biggest douche bag in the world

He told us he went to Africa and started his own mining company
He wanted to impress us
The mine collapsed and 50 workers died
He had to flee Africa and lost a bunch of money
He was upset about lost money
He really wanted us to know how upset he was

We all just nodded along
But I couldn’t anymore
I said, “man, yer like the biggest douchebag in the world.”

My friend slapped his hand on the bar counter and tossed his head back laughing
The lady giving me food giggled
The bartender bent over, covered her mouth, her hair drooping over her face, she twirled around and quickly walked away

“What did you say?” said the biggest douchebag in the world.
I repeated with a dead stare, “I said you are the biggest douchebag in the world.”

His face got red.

not impressive

“what … you can’t say that to me.”

I took a big drink of my beer then said, “yup, sure can. Just did.”

I ate more fries
I closed my eyes

The fries hit good with spices. The cheese so gooey and warm
The beer so cold
Tasting like exotic berries

I knew I would never drink this beer again
I did not know what kind of beer it was.
I don’t know anything
And
never will

My brain swam in the warm electric pool of an afterglow acid tab
Smiling mermaids as brain cells
Don’t bother me

“You can’t talk to me like that. You need to show some respect.”
Oh
I’d forgotten about the biggest douchebag in the world.
I opened my eyes
Turned to him
“Bro, nobody cares about your problems. Get the fuck away from us.”

It got quiet.

The biggest douchebag in the world left without finishing his wine

The chili cheese fries were gone now

The lady next to me put her hand on my shoulder
I felt the tips of her nails softly pressing into my skin.
she asked if I wanted to try the mac & cheese next
I did


No call, no show.

“How Did It Feel When You Deleted Our Photo Off of Your Instagram?” by Timothy Tarkelly

We don’t carry baggage, we carry lassos
and the time has come to move on,
rope someone else with our feelings,
drag their nights behind our galloping will
and hope they survive the long, painful cut through the mud.
It’s not that I mind the gesture.
It’s hard to sever ties, so we might as well start
by trimming the fat before we remove the heart entirely.
It’s just a picture. Two people smiling about something,
with a filter that made us look like sepia gods,
soaked in the sun of a beautiful, infinite day.
But I can’t stop thinking about the morning of.
We stopped for breakfast and you told me,
in between bites of your McGriddle,
that thing I promised I’d never repeat,
I reciprocated and we cried,
guiding our horses for another round
of circling the barrels long-since filled
with poison from our respective upbringings.
But we drove and eventually, we parked.
We found the sun and shed the greater weight
for the smaller moment.
For company so perfect
we had to save it. Smile into your camera
and preserve the day. Celebrate.
Not because we found happiness,
but because we’d found each other.

But fuck me, I guess.


Timothy Tarkelly is a poet from Southeast Kansas. He’s had two books published by Spartan Press. When he’s not writing he teaches English to Ninth Graders. One of them recently described his ponytail as “immaculate.”

3 Poems by Joshua Sherman

Swimming With Dog Sharks

There is an Asian man on the subway
He likes swimming with dog sharks
I know this because I just overheard him
He said this to his friend:

“I like swimming with dog sharks,” he said
“It’s nice,” he said

I have never been swimming with dog sharks
It is a regret I didn’t realize I had
I don’t even know what a dog shark looks like
I picture a German shepherd underwater
It is gliding towards me
with fangs exposed
The dog shark has tiny fins
and they are wagging frantically
like so many tails

I should have asked the Asian man
what dog sharks look like
if only so I could picture them better
and relay the details to you

If I was ever in the water with you and saw one
I could say, “Look, there’s a dog shark”
My knowledge of dog sharks would totally impress
(I hope nobody asks any follow-up questions about dog sharks)

I guess I’ll just search “dog sharks” on the Internet
but it’s not the same

I often eavesdrop—it’s something I can’t help
but I’d never overheard anyone
talking about dog sharks before
So I really should have asked that Asian man on the subway

I should have asked him about dog sharks
I think I would have learned something

Michael Crichton

I want to write the Jurassic Park
of Great American Novels
But I’m worried that might actually just be
Jurassic Park

Library 

I call the help lines on subway ads

Look for answers in phone books

I have an encyclopaedic knowledge of failure,

and I’m a glossary of defeat

What’s a synonym for all of this?

My life seems beyond definition

—only because nobody has come up 

with terminology so bizarre,

vernacular so flawed

I read Web MD entries to satisfy my neurosis

There are sick plot twists in books 

about the Bermuda Triangle

that I read as a kid


Josh Sherman does run the @iamdave_hello Twitter account.

3 Poems by Stephen Ground

Long Afternoon

light blowing through
slatted bamboo | across
faded carpet spotted with
reds | mustards | strands
of pale pup fluff and
shreds of shattered
leaves | washing tides
rolling and ebbing like
the years of
psychedelic trees
inconsistent in design
and direction
independent of the moon

Leftover Beer

the
last
warm sip
the next
morning
is even
sweeter
than
golden
nectar of
dreamed
up gods
luring me
again
inside a
predestined
quicksand
Wednesday
by hungry
overlapped
voids
unwilling to
be shuttered
unfed

Don’t Forget Breakfast

my nostrils flare & flap like dry
gills suckling air unsettled with
churning richness of butter-
drenched popped corn sagging,
stubborn, in its own congealment –
salty, lip-puckering & liquified
sunshine crème. or maybe it’s
the peeled & boiled eggs I left in
a foggy bowl next to the sulfur-
dank sink, steam twisting, oblique,
for the hills. I squeeze them
between finger and thumb like
plump cysts to be certain they’re
ready and, pleased enough, I
lock them away, droplets dangling,
tucked roughly on a too-tight
shelf that squeezes them like
shackles on a beauty awaiting an
unavoidable fate as the next scheduled
snack for a giant, drooling ape.


Stephen Ground recently packed his life in his truck and drove to the centre of the continent, where he makes movies and writes poems about the weirdness in the air.

2 Liver Mush Poems by Graham Irvin

I WANT A LIVER MUSH WEBSITE 

i want a liver mush website 

www dot liver mush dot com 

i don’t need to build it myself 

anyone can build www dot liver mush dot com

i just want to read liver mush dot com every morning 

after i read pitchfork and a blog about jeans

i want liver mush dot com to replace twitter dot com

the headlines will read “liver mush dot com is the most popular website ever”

“liver mush dot com in works to purchase facebook dot com” 

liver mush dot com tastes like selling your soul to make a friend and i’m here

for it 

once liver mush dot com exists there will be subcultures on liver mush dot com

ingroups and elites and innovators making liver mush dot com their own

weird liver mush 

alt lit liver mush 

podcasts hosted by liver mush personalities

a new yorker article getting it embarrassingly wrong 

quote liver mushes on liver mush 

re liver mushes 

sub liver mushes 

“the creator of liver mush dot come deserves the guillotine”

everything runs its course

“the creator of liver mush dot com is hiding at a mountain retreat meditating 

on the vaguest bullshit you can imagine”

the creator of liver mush dot com abandons all thought of liver mush 

we have to deal with it now

good luck 

CHRIST’S BODY BROKEN FOR YOU

a slice of liver mush crumbles

under the spatula’s pressure

as i try and flip it


Graham Irvin lives in Philadelphia, PA. His column, SOUTH x SOUTH JERSEY, is at BULL: Men’s Fiction. He has other writing at The Nervous Breakdown, Maudlin Press, and the Neutral Spaces Blog. His twitter account is @grahamjirvin.

“The Unraveling” by Maggie Petrella

The unraveling began when the barstools I bought on craigslist were too short for the counter. I laughed at the thread rustling out of the side of me. That was a sign, but I didn’t know. I just tucked the string back into the seam and the stools under the ledge, and went about my day.

The loose thread rippled my fabric gently, quietly. I felt the cloth twisting in my ribs as I held my breath in the middle of the night, wide eyes staring into blackness, trying not to move. The whiskey tugged at the strand mildly at first, but pulled harder and harder every night. In time, molten liquor burnt reckless holes in the swatches.

I wove apologetic patches. “Sorry” makes everyone feel better, even if it wasn’t my fault. I would hem delicate sheer shrouds with heavy yarn, thick and sweet. I could tell that something was off, but it held me together for a time.

The last stitch unwound itself on the day I moved out. My new apartment is an unwrinkled bolt of whatever I want it to be – wool, lace, twill, joy. I hang silence like bunting on the walls, to brighten up the place. I took the barstools with me.


Maggie Petrella (she/her) is a poet based in Buffalo, New York, but currently probably lost somewhere in the continental US. Her poetry has appeared in Detritus Online, dreams walking, and The Daily Drunk Mag. She tweets @maggie_425.

2 Poems by Kim Kishbaugh

I like my life but it’s unexpected
After Erich’s tweet

college degree, $100,000 in debt, slinging coffeehouse lattes at privileged mommies and daddies whose kids want cake pops and won’t be quiet till they get them

scan the job ads looking for a way to put four years of rhetoric and econ and history classes to use but there’s 1400 other college grads and laid-off middle managers competing for every one 

I want to do good in the world, make change, care for my parents when they grow old – but right now that looks more like someone else’s future or maybe no one’s

look around it’s the same for everyone, nothing special about me, a whole generation getting skilled at punching cash registers and clearing drinks from tables, thank you ma’am just happy for the work

my best buds have had bad jobs, no jobs, gone back to school hoping it’ll be different the second time around, most of us still living with our parents, sleeping in the same beds we had before puberty

friday nights I’m cleaning locker rooms at the high school picking up the left-behind jock strap of some kid whose future I can predict cuz I’m living it now

don’t get me wrong – I like my life 
but it’s unexpected

RIP Munchkin

Spoon-feed a sick hamster
from a jar of baby food
and you, too, will form a bond

Days later, when she dies on the table
during surgery you never imagined paying for,
you, too, will cry

Then you’ll stifle your sobs and sniffles,
collect your child from school,
and prepare to break the news

Later, you’ll gather your family around the dining table
still mourning, and draw together, 
pictures of hamster memories

One will become the memorial card
your child hands to friends
to harness his grief and theirs


Kim Kishbaugh is a former journalist whose poetry and other stuff has been published in some places, including here on the Back Patio. She wanders through the world looking for magic and sometimes finds it. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram: @kkish.

2 Poems by Based Mtn

Blade Runner 2069
Our sleek, candy and blue lit, forged-cast titanium pizzas are mind meltingly mouthable and come with your choice of sides, like fried spanners, everything the wired doll needs. Necromancy in case of malfunction is not advised.


Aqua Vitae
Emotionally numb, I walk, down, down, down, into the ocean. The vampire squid are in bloom. I can’t extract soluble oxygen. Don’t wait up for me. 


based mtn is a poet manque from Sydney, Australia

“Do Aliens Paint Their U.F.O.’s?” by Logan Roberts

When I was in high school, my friends and I were vandals.
We talked about burning down a house, 
spray painted penises on dumpsters,
and on more than one occasion,
a crowbar would scream into a mailbox.

One time, we filled a milk jug with old paint
we found in the basement.

We put it out in the middle of a busy road
really early in the morning.

We hid in the bushes for like,
20 minutes.

Just as we were losing hope, something happened.

It was straight out of a science fiction film—

a tractor beam started dragging the jug into the sky
towards some hazy blue lights hidden in the clouds.

I still wonder today, why?

Why do aliens need paint?

I thought they liked butts and corn.


Logan Roberts is an artist and poet from Ohio. He tweets @hello_im_logan.