“GATEWAY 2000 & Other Poems” Excerpt by Mike Andrelczyk

This book of poetry is available for pre-order from Ghost City Press. For more information click here


Gateway 2000 

our first computer  

came in a big box 

that looked like a cow 

like a computer disguised as a cow  

a computer harvested from a farm 

I guess it was their marketing thing 

it was supposed to be the computer of future back then 

the name was even futuristic   

Gateway 2000 

it was like Christmas 1994 

we also got an Encarta ’95 encyclopedia CD-ROM 

what even was time back then  

we also got a chess game and a golf game and a skiing game 

there was also a fighter jet game that made flying stealth fighter jets 

seem very boring  

until you were pelted with missiles  

and you exploded 

I mostly played the chess game 

the CPU was named Ziggurat 

in the beginning I liked Ziggurat 

because on the Beginner level I could win 

and Ziggurat explained the openings 

there was the Giuoco Piano, the Queen’s Pawn Gambit 

the Ruy Lopez, the King’s Fianchetto 

I liked the Fianchetto for its dramatic sweeping bishops 

and you could even occasionally catch Ziggurat off guard on Beginner 

that’s when I felt smarter than the cow computer 

(and if you ever feel smarter than a computer that’s a bad sign) 

(to outdo a computer with emotion is another story) 

after a few weeks on Beginner I skipped right to the Grand Master level 

then Ziggurat wasn’t my chess pal anymore 

Ziggurat got deadly serious 

its moves were instant, efficient and played with menacing intent 

it was a wolf in a cow suit in a computer suit 

I never won again. 

soon I switched to the golf game or searched the Encarta ’95 CD-ROM 

I fell absently into a portal to infinite information 

I searched for Rutherford B. Hayes because my dad’s mom’s like great- great-grandmother 

was Lucy Ware Hayes, the First Lady 

they called her Lemonade Lucy, I think it was because she liked  lemonade and hated alcohol 

I liked lemonade and hated alcohol too, but I was like 10 

the article on Rutherford B. Hayes said he was considered an average  president 

it seemed weird to me that a president could just be considered average,  but I was like 10 

I wondered if being related to a president made me anything special 

but no I was not anything special 

I wondered who the last president would be, probably nobody that special  

the last man on earth  

might not be all that great either  

(I wonder when men will stop 

needing someone to tell them what to want and to do) 

I wanted a lemonade and I was bored of Rutherford 

I played the skiing game 

the skiing game started slow and got faster as you slalomed further    

down the slope and you could jump on the jumps and do tricks  

like flipping through space  

until a big furry monster inevitably gobbled you up 

then that was the end 

the randomness of the ending bothered me, but I was like 10 

then like a bunch of years went by 

ok 

then I was in college and tripping on psilocybin  

absently accessing a portal to ancient info 

I was alone  

and I had my head on my pillow  

and my head was like exploding onto my pillow, but, like sweetly and  softly exploding 

and everything was a pale purple 

a white and black pyramid grew out of my brain 

and it kept adding levels and levels and  

anxious levels 

and I knew it was Ziggurat  

a wolf dressed like computer dressed like a mushroom growing  

from inside cow shit (my brain) 

and I still sucked at chess 

and Ziggurat was probably like three moves away from 

gobbling me up furry monster-style 

checkmate 

but it was different now  

it was cool  

because I could just open  

my eyes whenever 

and everything would disappear 

and I could just keep flipping through space  

just like this 

until 

the end  

The Paranormal Enthusiast Frat Boy Sees a Ghost Palindrome  

Bro! Orb! 

A Disembodied Voice Makes a Command Regarding Muffins (chill out mix) 

I stopped at the grocery store late one night  

And I heard a computerized female voice say: 

Enter your muffins.


2 Prose Poems by Rickey Rivers Jr.

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Conversation

I don’t like quietness in conversation. At some point it’s not a conversation anymore. It’s just me talking and the other person sitting or standing there listening. Not even a sound of confirmation, not even a head nod, just silence. It’s at this point where I begin to wonder where their mind has taken them and why have they not chosen to take me there with them. It’s important to involve others in your mind, to not let conversation become stagnant. It’s okay to let others in. One time I held a one way conversation with a woman and she stared at me the whole time. Once I was done talking I expected a response, actual politeness. At least acknowledge me. But no, even after I finished she stared blankly as if transported to some pleasant far away land. I didn’t ask. I just walked away from the rudeness. What use is conversation with a corpse? I ask you this question seriously. Even now I’m reminded of her rudeness, her sitting there leaning, her blankly being present and yet not present in conversing. A person is a shell if they refuse to converse. You might as well be discarded if you’re a shell, and she was a shell sitting there, quiet, like she hadn’t moved for a long time.

 

Bounce

At the club people dance, romance; you want to join but you don’t know the meaning of coordination. So you sit back and watch, merging with the walls, becoming a pattern of flesh and bone colors. The people don’t notice. No one notices the person who has now become the scenery. They continue to dance and romance, so many bodies on the floor. It stinks in here and yet the smell is not unpleasant. Someone rolls over to you, almost catching your eye but you refuse their iris and instead pretend to be elsewhere. So they roll away and romance with another. The unrecognizable song blaring from the sound system suddenly changes and the people begin to bounce. They behave as if drug induced, bouncing off the ceiling and hitting the walls viciously. They move in coordination, booming and splatting against you, their bodies sweaty and large. How much longer can you last before you leave? Will you die here unnoticed? Finally, you exhale and withdraw from your self-made walled enclosure. Almost immediately vomit exits your body and the people are still bouncing. Some land in front of you, splashing and slipping in your waste. They seem not to notice in their current rate of motion. You apologize to no one and stand to make your leave. Just then someone grabs you, placing something small into your retched mouth. Now you are bouncing as well. There is no care in the bounce, no worries or troubles. It is almost like life itself is pulling you away from it all.

Rickey Rivers Jr was born and raised in Alabama. He is a writer and cancer survivor. He has been previously published with Fabula Argentea, Back Patio Press, Every Day Fiction, (among other publications). https://storiesyoumightlike.wordpress.com/. You may or may not find something you like there. Tweets at @storiesyoumight. His third mini collection of 3×3 poems is available now: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07VDH6XG5

3 Prose Pieces by Rickey Rivers Jr

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Funeral

Thank you to the obituary but the funeral wasn’t as funny as it should have been. You see, it should have been hilarious. There should have been dynamic colors and sounds. There should have been animals and puffy outfits. There should have been something worthwhile. Instead there was nothing, suits and tears. Imagine being told of a clown dying and expecting a speculator funeral showcase but instead receiving mundane mediocracy. It was enough to make me sick. I felt like I’d been tricked. A bunch of suited men and women without face paint, they probably weren’t even clowns. I had more make up on than anyone there. You understand how embarrassed I was? And this was a closed casket funeral too. I wanted very much to open the lid and see what the big deal was. Imagine if the clown in the box died wearing a funny face. Wouldn’t he want people to laugh one last time before his burial? Am I the only one with a sense of humor anymore? I know some people are afraid of clowns but the idea is so foolish that I absolutely refuse to acknowledge the phobia further. After the burial I walked around the cemetery looking at the gravestones. I began to make faces at them. Every single row of bodies received a silly face. I was so angry that I had to do this, childish as it was. I was so angry that I began to laugh hard and loud. No one came to me in concern and I ruined my face with wetness.

 

Care

I’m a nurse. I’m in the business of care and pain management. I’m firm. Pain relief should be priority. Even when the doctor doesn’t agree I still help the patients. I have to. It’s my job. I don’t want them to suffer. It’s cruel. Being in a lonely hospital bed, staring at the walls, ceiling and television is no way to live. Imagine being surrounded by so many beeping machines and such, of course you’d want relief. They’re fragile. I feel that way. Of course they’re in pain and if I can relieve then I relieve. I won’t let them suffer so needlessly. If they buzz I run. I relieve. Trust that doing so doesn’t lead to addiction. No. I’ve never had a patient become a slur. Doing so instead leads to thankfulness and oh, such euphoria. Why buzz when you no longer suffer? Why buzz when pleasure has left you unable to lift even a finger? I satisfy. I relieve with the care and gentleness of a mother. When you’ve suffered for so long of course you’d want someone to whisk away worries and manage your pain so sufficiently that you’re left in brilliant states of bliss. As an angel, dress certainly doesn’t hurt, alas no wings for me. Oh, I do live to serve. I do live to assist. I care so dearly for them and I notice their affinity. It is accepted, respectfully, as are they.

 

 

Streets

I’ve been walking up and down for a while. These streets are lonely. People are cruel. They give dirty looks as if I’m a beast. I know this isn’t true. I am who I am. My life has led me here. Yesterday evening I saw a little boy sitting on the path. The boy was crying. I planned to walk on by but the boy’s crying began to anger me. What did he have to cry about? Past approach I stopped in front of the boy and asked what was wrong. The boy looked up at me, his eyes were stained red. He told me that his parents were fighting again. He said he left home because he didn’t want to see what would happen next. I looked behind him and asked him if his home was the one that seemed to be splitting down the middle. The boy nodded confirmation. I asked him if he had ever been struck. He nodded again. I wanted to take that boys hand and lead him to a better place, a place where he could be free from such violence, a place where he’d never have to cry from pain again. I felt for him, so much so that it physically hurt me to speak with him further. The boy asked where I was going. I said nowhere. He said “that sounds nice, to be nowhere.” I told him that’s wrong. He insisted, said “I want to walk with you.” I told him no, because my road doesn’t end. Cruel as it was I had to leave him there. He deserves a future, no matter if troubled.

 

Rickey Rivers Jr was born and raised in Alabama. He is a writer and cancer survivor. He has been previously published with Fabula Argentea, Cabinet of Heed, Back Patio Press, (among other publications). https://storiesyoumightlike.wordpress.com/. You may or may not find something you like there. His third mini collection of 3×3 poems is available now: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07VDH6XG5

Twitter: @storiesyoumight

“Wounded” by Mileva Anastasiadou

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The wounded bird appeared out of the blue. I take it in my hands and carry it onto the operation table. I hold the scalpel tightly and clear the wound, pouring water over it. I’m the best of surgeons, but not a veterinary. I call the nurse but she doesn’t answer back. We have a life or death situation here, I yell. She ignores me again.

The bird stops making sounds, or movements. Cold sweat runs down my spine. I push up and down its chest and yell at the little creature, as if it was its own choice to pass out, as if it fell asleep and I only need to wake it up. The poor bird stands still, enduring my efforts, its eyes wide open, staring at me, as if blaming me for my incompetence. 

The nurse finally rushes in. 

What are you doing, she asks. Stop the nonsense, I tell her. She rolls her eyes like I’m stupid. She urges me to swallow the pill she’s put in my mouth. That’s my job I say, to repair reality, to step in and fix things, when the end seems inevitable. That bird is dying, I yell at her. She seems perplexed at my words. That stupid nurse is so incompetent, she hasn’t noticed the bird yet. I show it to her. It’s still on the table. 

She holds the bird in her hands, squeezing all life that was left out of it, and I cry and yell but she doesn’t seem impressed. That useless nurse is killing the bird. Until there is no bird anymore. She’s now holding a piece of cloth in her hands. And she’s my daughter, her eyes blue like her mother’s, her brown hair cut short, the pixie haircut her mother likes. How did I end up in here? My brain is slowly penetrated by oblivion or illusion. Where’s the bird? Where’s my wife? I ask. 

She turns around and I see her tears. I wipe her cheek with the back of my hand, and she smiles, but it’s a forced smile, like she’s still sad but wants to hide it. I can’t stand seeing tears on her face. When did I see them again? When she broke up with that boy from school.  I’m sure that was the last time. Or was it later? I was standing above her mother’s dead body, a wounded creature who wished to live, a last attempt at resuscitation, but it all happened so fast. I’m a good doctor who’s saved many lives. How did I fail this time? It’s a complex thing, when your loved ones suffer; you suffer along, you may even ache more watching them suffer, yet from a safe place, where you’re safe and sound and slightly relieved you’re not in their shoes. And that complex emotion includes guilt which can’t be easily erased. I’m holding my head between my hands and close my eyes, as if memories will be obliterated if I shut down my senses. My legs are trembling, my heartbeat rises, while this painful reality fades away, like bad dreams fade and I won’t open my eyes before I wake up to a more tolerable version of the world. 

It wasn’t your fault, the nurse tells me.

I’ll never forgive myself, I say. But then I see the bird move, then stumble, then spread its wings and fly high in the room and out of the open window, and I feel like a hero, for that’s what heroes do; they repair reality, despite all hardships, defying all rules.

 


Mileva Anastasiadou is a neurologist from Athens, Greece. Her work can be found in many journals, such as the Molotov Cocktail, Jellyfish Review, the Sunlight Press (Best Small Fictions 2019 nominee), Ghost Parachute, Gone Lawn, Ellipsis Zine, Queen Mob’s Tea House, Bending Genres, Litro and others.

“We Are Fucking Happy” by Kristin Garth

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A steakhouse parking lot, first date, first dom
will ask to tickle.  You’ll cooperate —
a subtle nod, half-closed eyelids.  His palms
first touch your trembling ribs.  Breathe against, wait,

until fingertips pry paroxysms,
open thighs, one hand around a throat, can’t
cum until you will comply — conditions:
you are a pleasure, denied, he may grant,

unexclusively, to you — and then some
friends.  You could learn to like it or you can
hold it in behind a cervix fingers strum
numb. We are fucking happy. Understand?

A protocol practiced, parking lots before,
brings college girls to his living room floor.

 


Kristin Garth is a Pushcart, Best of the Net & Rhysling nominated poet from Pensacola and a sonnet stalker.  Her sonnets have stalked magazines like Five: 2: One, Yes, Glass, Luna Luna, Occulum, Drunk Monkeys, and other places.  She is the author of eleven books of poetry including Pink Plastic House (Maverick Duck Press), Puritan U (Rhythm & Bones Press) and Candy Cigarette Womanchild Noir (The Hedgehog Poetry Press) and the forthcoming Flutter: Southern Gothic Fever Dream (TwistiT Press, 2020) and Dewy Decimals (Arkay Artists, 2020).

Follow her on Twitter: @lolaandjolie 

and her website (kristingarth.com)