Rusted by David Bassano

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Rusted brick-red Chevy van

with our sleeping bags

spread out on plywood

in the back

 

Carrying our amps through

slushy parking lots at three AM

 

Playing those bars in

Wildwood

Somerset

Vineland

Stockton

Atlantic City

 

We lived from our music

and a little theft and dealing

eighteen, nineteen,

very poor and very happy.

 

We said a musician’s life

was the best in the world.

Enjoy your 9 to 5 prison, drones.

 

One by one, we left that life.

I remember Mike saying,

quietly and decisively,

“I’m tired of this,”

 

of having no money

of sleeping on friends’ floors,

of eating on the sidewalk,

 

of sex in back rooms

and hangovers

without stability

without love

 

So

we cut our hair

went to college

bought new clothes

 

Got jobs, wives, houses, and children.

 

And then

we got tired of those lives, too.

 

You get tired of everything

eventually

I guess.

 

It worries me about heaven.

I’m sure we’ll get bored with that, too.

But where do you go from there?

David Bassano gives history lectures for fun and rent money. He likes bike trails, Paris along the river, and Glenmorangie on the rocks. He published a novel called Trevelyan’s Wager. Any complaints should be addressed to: https://www.facebook.com/davidbassanoauthor/

F/24/Manic by Jenna Houchin

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The smartest mouth breather
In the conference room,
And I yell, “fuck a 9 to 5”
Mr. and Mrs. Miserable
On a good day,
Wish we could just
Fuck while getting high.
Wouldn’t take it back
Even if I tried,
I was raised poorly.
It feels like a waste.
Sitting right here,
Now with first class seats,
And still, with an economy sized taste.
No matter how sweetly
I write the chorus,
My therapist never seems
To comprehend
The duality of man:
I think apple juice
Is the best chaser,
And I’ll never be as
Close to the Son there again.

Jenna Houchin is an artist based in Los Angeles, California, originally from the midwest. She recently has self-published her first poetry book, FULL THROTTLE. For more information, check out her website at jennahouchin.com, or reach her on Instagram (@jennahouchin).

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 Poems by Capella Parrish

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Break

It is not the depression
I can handle quicksand
It always stops at the nape of my neck
It is the anxiety
The inability to feel / cuts me
Asked the question / I fall apart
I have no answer to

 

Trajectory of Decay

Recovery is a process
The road is fraught with demons
Looking for relief from the pain
Why should I try, I am not worthy of it
Everything shatters; This is why we can’t have nice things
Moment to moment, I shut down and go into my head
I exist in a hospital without walls
My soul is glass
Look inside: it is rotten

 

Press Start

Look in. Press start.
It does no good unless you turn it on. Press start.
Clear liquid. It also helps if you put a filter with coffee in it. Press start.
It is even more helpful if you flip on the switch in the back.
Coffee is overrated. I should wean myself from my caffeine addiction.
I should stop trying to make things work and just wing it. Cold turkey.
Not today.

Capella Parrish works as an intern in Behavioral Health and is a EMT Disaster Service Worker working with the homeless. She writes without a filter from the underbelly of life and is a first-year MFA Creative Nonfiction candidate with an emphasis in Narrative/ Poetic Medicine at Dominican University of California.

“ALONE WITH EVERYBODY” by Kat Giordano

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I was 22, and for the first time
I knew no one at the party

my friends had bailed,
and I just stood there, obscure
at the periphery of beer pong
with the smokers,
laughing when they laughed.

sometimes I’d bend to pick up a ball
that had rolled between my feet.
some guy would thank me
and I’d flinch when our hands met
in the handing-off.

it was kind of quiet there,
in the basement. with the door shut
you could barely hear the music,
the party up above a kind of mass
that swelled and settled
as the ceiling groaned under its weight.

down here it splintered off
into pockets of gossip
and aimless flirting. taken
under the wing of some girl
to a ring of friends riffing
on someone I’d never meet,
I stood darting my eyes
between their faces, searching
for ways around
the velvet rope of their grins.

they’d split to piss and come back
with dispatches from the field:
a pizza lost in transit.
Ryan’s Girlfriend.
some freshman passed out
hunched over the toilet and
when you walked in
you could hear his wet snores
echo off the bowl.

laughing at the right times, looping
all the right animations,
trying not to burp.

maybe the next joke will crack it open
and I’ll slide in,
the perfect size for that space.
I’ll say something
that everyone will laugh at
and they’ll lift me up
on wings of their acceptance,
up the stairs, out the door,
untouchable
and bathing in their light.

at 1 AM the beer was gone
and the basement near-empty.
two guys calling a ride,
another asleep in a lawn chair.
I wove past the stragglers and upstairs
trying to get un-marooned.
everyone left was on the couch
binging Vine compilations
to run out the clock.
it was a cuddle pile –
too much red tape.

I ordered the Uber
and waited out front, where Toilet Boy
was being coaxed back to life by his friends.
hey man do you want water? hey,
run in and get him some water,
make sure he has water.
alright buddy, just a little more
and once we get in the car
you’re golden. is he
going with you? yeah,
he can sleep on my couch.
you’re gonna be fine, buddy.

as I listened I pictured myself
passing out on the curb
and dying alone and friendless
in my own puke.

I spoke my first word all night
passing Toilet Boy to get to the car.
surfacing from between his own knees
with half-lidded eyes, he slurred,
“you’ve got a blood stain on your ass,”
and I said, “thanks.”

 

 

“there are trees here” by Stuart Buck

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there are trees here

that may never know the end of things
not us. we are forever gentle rot

you say look at the sun, here too is
something that waits for its dying

 

STUART BUCK  is a visual artist and award-winning poet living in North Wales. His art has been featured in several journals, as well as gracing the covers of several books. His third poetry collection, Portrait of a Man on Fire, is forthcoming from Rhythm & Bones Press in November 2020. When he is not writing or reading poetry he likes to cook, juggle, and listen to music. He suffers terribly from tsundoku—the art of buying copious amounts of books that he will never read.

“TRASH PANDA” by Josh Sherman

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I want to be a guy who goes bald
and tattoos stubble on his head
I want to be a girl with a bad thigh tattoo
but a pretty face
I want to be born into a family of astronauts
because failure would be reasonable
—if not inevitable

I want to be the dude behind the wheel
of a Dodge pickup truck 

with faux testicles
dangling from the bumper

who ran over a raccoon this evening
that had already been hit
as it tried to crawl onto the sidewalk
using its paws

which still functioned like paws (somehow)

and not care

Instead, I am in bed crying about a raccoon
and the way the wheels rolled over its torso

 

Josh Sherman is a Toronto-based journalist with fiction previously published in Hobart and poetry in Back Patio Press, Neutral Spaces Magazine, and Okay Donkey.

2 poem by Tex Gresham

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dental pick

i’ve used dental picks more often
to clean out spent weed from my pipe than
to clean junk from between my mostly rotten teeth
at the end of the day i’m too high to remember to floss
i’m not in any pain
it’s a good inside joke between myself and myself
that every time i go to smoke and clean out the pipe
with one of those dental picks
i realize i’ve used them more often
to clean out spent weed from my pipe than
to clean junk from between my mostly rotten teeth
ha ha ha
yeah

 

 

both ways

i feel an immense connection to the world right now
in this exact fucking moment
i love it
it’s a pulling in my chest, a cord connected
to everyone i know and those who know me
i feel grateful though i am so distanced from each
it’s a connection, like a call i wished someone would make
the phone in my heart answering, starting that connection
i want to hug people
i want to laugh until i cry with people
and i know like all calls this connection will end
like kind of how i don’t call my dad often
and he doesn’t call me often
but we talk and i love it when we do
we say this thing––
“you know the phone works both ways, right?”
and that’s how i feel about this connection i have to the world
it works both ways
and i feel it now
it has come to me
so when it’s gone i have to be willing
to send out a connection to someone like me
maybe my dad.

 


Tex Gresham is the author of Heck, Texas (coming Sept 2020 from Atlatl Press). He has other work online and almost never posts on Twitter as @thatsqueakypig. He lives in Las Vegas. www.squeakypig.com

“lady at the mailbox” by Tex Gresham

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she used a knife to break into the mailroom
she didn’t have her key
she was on the phone, laughing
her daughter and son, on bikes
they cried at the door because they couldn’t come in
i stood thirteen feet away from them, mask on my face
she used a knife to break into her mailbox
she still didn’t have her key
she pulled out an envelope
she screamed “we got our check. let’s go cash the motherfucker.”
she left the mailroom
i made sure our distance was always thirteen feet
her daughter took off on her bike, rolled into the parking lot
a car slammed on its brakes
she screamed “ay! ay!” at her daughter
her son rode in front of her, pedaled away down the sidewalk
she screamed “ay! we’re going the other way.”
her son didn’t stop
she said “okay. let’s go that way then.”
more to herself than anyone.
she laughed on the phone, followed her son
her daughter went the other way, still in the little street that goes through our apartment complex
a car slammed on its brakes
i checked my mail and got a package from my mom
two shirts and a credit card
they keep mailing the credit card to my parents’ house
before i left the mailroom i noticed she left her box open because she didn’t have a key to lock it
the mailperson will do it tomorrow
i’m glad i left the house today

 

Tex Gresham is the author of Heck, Texas (coming Sept 2020 from Atlatl Press). He has other work online and almost never posts on Twitter as @thatsqueakypig. He lives in Las Vegas. www.squeakypig.com

4 Poems by Andi Talbot

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Tinder

I remember
that first night we met,
smoking with you
on the doorstep
amongst the broken furniture,
the bottles and bed frame
that littered your garden.
Then, from nowhere,
you spoke about setting it all on fire,
and I knew
I wanted to fuck.

Doorman 
We crossed the road
and like rabbits
in headlights, we froze
watching on as the bouncer
bloodied his knuckles
on the face of
a once mouthy man
in his mid 30s

So it was ID at the ready
just in case he was the kind
not to need an excuse
I went first,
both to get it out the way,
and to make sure nobody
bottled it before we got in,

It was a quick, polite
and insignificant experience,
like a first fuck
with much less planning
and a lot more nerves,
but then it was done,
we had made it.
We were in.

Space Monkey

I am not just the fading definition
of my abdominal muscles
I swear there
there used to be six of them

I am not just the collection of ink
buried in the second layer
of my skin,
and no
I don’t regret them
but that doesn’t mean
I love them all

I am not just the colour of my hair
or the lack of my hair
or my glasses
or the fact I wear glasses
or the fact that
without my glasses
the world is nothing more than a blur

I am not just my job
what the hell is
a Warranty Analysis Technician anyway?
and how the hell did I become one?

I am simply, me.

Bank Holiday Isolation

My t-shirt reads “choose life”
while I swig relentlessly
on a can of Carling
my first of the day,
and I already know
there will be more to follow

“It’s bank holiday Friday!”
I tell myself
“It’s allowed”
lighting a cigarette
as I turn up the music
for this party of one.

Andi Talbot is a poet from Newcastle, England. His debut collection “Burn Before Reading” is available now via Analog Submission Press. He is an avid Oakland Raiders, San Jose Sharks and Newcastle United fan.