First Guitar by John Grey

somebody’s discarded guitar
was my sign

like a book of music
open to the first page

just sitting there
atop a box of old clothes –

before running my fingers
along its fretted neck,
I’d already chosen it
for my next twenty years

this drifting debris
of someone else’s old flood
washed up in a yard sale –

I slapped down my money
and grabbed that guitar’s waist

turned back
to the traffic

drove back home,
struck my new rock star stance in my head

looking up at the sky
from time to time
as if a storm had passed
and there ought to be a rainbow.

John Gray Copy
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in New Plains Review, South Carolina Review, Gargoyle and Silkworm work upcoming in Big Muddy Review, Cape Rock and Spoon River Poetry Review.

Getting Old by J. K. Durick

I’m getting older. I know it now —
Feel it, live it. I’ve become

That gray and forgettable person
They don’t recognize in family pictures.

They say, who’s that she’s with,
And more often than not
It’s me.

J. K. Durick is a writing teacher at the Community College of Vermont and an online writing tutor. His recent poems have appeared in Social Justice Poetry, Tuck Magazine, Stanzaic Stylings, Synchronized Chaos, and Haikuniverse.

Bones Stitched Together by John Tustin

Bones stitched together
Just wire and paper clips

I tripped over love
And I fell into the maw
Of failure

Convalescing in these spartan rooms
Of bare walls
And loveless paranoia

Safe from the slashing touch
Of the rain
Save for the jangly sound
That permeates the roof
And makes me think of how

I slipped and fell
I slipped and fell
And looked into you
And now
Here I am

Trying to learn how
To walk again
Without the assistance
Of anyone

You walked on
Without me
And suffered
A scratch

Face stitched together
Filled in with rubber and sand

My eyes keep filling with tears
And blood

It hurts like a sonofabitch

When I try
To smile

John Tustin is currently suffering in exile on Elba. His published poetry is available at


Little Desert Flower by Michael Lee Johnson

Out of this poem
grows a little desert flower.
it is blue sorrow
it waits for your return.
You escape so you must from me
refuge, folded, wrapped in cool spring rain leaves-
avoiding July, August heat.
South wind hellfire burns memories within you,
branded I tattoo you, leave my mark,
in rose barren fields fueled with burned and desert stubble.
Yet I wait here, a loyal believer throat raw in thirst.
I wrest thunder gods gathering ritual-prayer rain.
It is lonely here grit, tears rub my eyes without relief.
Yet I catch myself loafing away in the wind waiting fate
to whisper those tiny messages
writer of this storm welded wings,
I go unnoticed but the burned eyes of red-tailed hawk
pinch of hope, sheltered by the doves.
I tip a toast to quench your thirst,
one shot of Tequila my little, purple, desert flower.

Michael Lee Johnson lived ten years in Canada during the Vietnam era. He is a poet, editor, publisher, freelance writer, amateur photographer, small business owner in Itasca, IL. Mr. Johnson published in more than 925 small press magazines online and print. His poems have appeared in 27 countries as of this date, he edits, publishes 10 different poetry sites, with over 103 videos on YouTube. Michael Lee Johnson was nominated for 2 Pushcart Prize awards for poetry 2015, and Best of the Net, 2016.

West Hollywood by John Pursch

Speeding away all wrong, I’ll gong for stunners in bicameral bikini atolls at all hours, hovering nails, deleterious egrets defecting toward wee thespian bezoars attaboy of spoon, whodunit boon to fluke of spinning viaduct.

Inner beauty repatriates progressive fitting pants of drooling doorstep domiciles in turbaned welts, bandy-legged deep-sea dogwood croquet fouling a loop a snitch an allegorical allergy, adrenergic bulk-snail sortie, lusty faint, fistula of oar box oaf in forced collusion cantering through tantamount of manly motor estuary scythe.

Dangerous injection, uncouth traction, practical Parisian parasites fulminate in trench coat ballerina trough of supper second stagecoach separation, primpers waving effulgent sneeze between aha and ohm reactor sisters.

John Pursch
John Pursch lives in Tucson, Arizona. Twice nominated for Best of the Net, his work has appeared in many literary journals. His most recent book, Intunesia, is available in paperback at Check out his experimental lit-rap video at Follow his work @johnpursch on Twitter and john.pursch on Facebook.

Casualties Of War by Michael H. Brownstein

There are things you must explain to me
darkness is one, the red flare of light another

Again the morning sky overcast and dust,
a pallor of bruised flesh and blackened eyes.
Again the rains do not come, a stutter of thunder,
lightning the blink of a bulb burning out. Nothing more.

Every child who died before birth from Agent Orange poisoning
entered the night sky a new star—
every child who died before the age of ten from Agent Orange poisoning
entered the day sky dust particles and acid.

Again the afternoon dry and quiet, the wind
curse words and disease, a spread of injury.
Again evening came with the silence of the screech owl.
Again the sky cleared, the stars shined,

we could see clearly exactly what we caused.

Michael H. Brownstein has been widely published throughout the small and literary presses. He has nine poetry chapbooks including Poems from the Body Bag (Ommation Press, 1988), Firestorm: A Rendering of Torah (Camel Saloon Press, 2012), The Possibility of Sky and Hell: From My Suicide Book (White Knuckle Press, 2013).

The Hour by Paul Tanner

Another shift done,
another unpaid hour
locked in the shop to tidy:
hardly original, is it?

it happened the last place I worked
and it’ll happen in the next place:
it’ll happen every night you work
forever, mate

this is simply the boss way
to remind us and herself
that she is the boss
to remind us and herself
that she can
can’t she?

yet I hear the shrill snippets in the canteen:
her fellah has liked another girl’s facebook picture
her fellah has been texting another girl
her fellah wasn’t home when she got in
even though she got in
an hour late

so yeah, go on sweetheart
tell me all the shelves need polishing again:

that will reverse the ravages of the clap.

Paul Tanner photo
Paul Tanner’s new book ‘Notes of A Pleb Vol. 4’ will be available soon and this poem’s from it.

My Old Skin by Wanda Morrow Clevenger

I really don’t think it’s me.
Even though I know it’s me.
Who can’t get past the past.
Can’t crawl over the last hurdle
and into my former skin
the way everyone thinks
I should
—by now.
It’s a disease
or symptom
of a disease.
An acronym.
It’s a prison
of pain
of grief
of flashes of
unending grief
induced flashes
circling the drain
but never empting
the sink.
It’s going through
the motions.
It’s one good flash
in a thousand.
A dry hump
at the kitchen skin.
Me, remembering
my old skin.

Wanda Morrow Clevenger
Wanda Morrow Clevenger is a Carlinville, IL native. Over 365 pieces of her work appear in 131 print and electronic publications. Her debut book This Same Small Town in Each of Us released in October of 2011. She is currently polishing a full-length poetry manuscript.

From the Prodigal I by Jonathan Beale

Winter was not that far behind, it never was, it was there touching the shoulder.
Feeling the cold breath on my shoulder, unaware of the seasons touch:
time trawls…. Still under the enchantment of this Yorkshire moon,
just as Phosphorus is welcoming the opportunistic hand that drops
down the through the saturated clouds: drawing and invigorating –
some blind puppeteers fumbling.

I find the first cigarette – the mechanics of the arm deposit between my
lips the metallic click – Then silence.  My brain needs that double espresso of nicotine –
the orange and the blue – The first spark of smoke filling my lungs.
The dawn – every day I seek out coffee my Lourdes and my Matins from lists of places
up the cobbled streets and down ravenous tramlines: –
From Samford Bridge – to – Howden – to – North Ferriby – to – Elloughton – to – Brough –
and finally to –Beverly. Back across The Moors.

Jonathan Beale
Jonathan Beale has poems published in Penwood Review, Danse Macabre, Poetic Diversity, Down in the Dirt, Mad Swirl, Deadsnakes, Bitchin Kitsch, Pyrokinection, Ygdrasil, Van Gogh’s Ear, The Beatnik Cowboy, The Jawline Review, Bluepepper, Jellyfish Whispers, The Outsider, and Yellow Mama. His work has appeared in such books as ‘Drowning’ (Scar publications) and ‘The Poet as Sociopath’ (Scar publications). He is currently working on his second volume. His first collection of poetry ‘The Destinations of Raxiera’ is published by Hammer & Anvil. He studied philosophy at Birkbeck College London and lives in Surrey England.

Teen Spirit by Gary Huggins

When I was young I wanted to be Kurt Cobain
so I cut into my skin leaked teen spirit
not understanding at the time
that teen spirit was merely the name of an American deodorant
I romanticised suicide
made several attempts
no thought of the pain
it would have caused others
When I was young I wanted to live the rock and roll dream
so I learnt how to play guitar
started a punk rock band
stole money from kids who wanted me to buy them cigarettes
drank underage started fights
baggy jeans t-shirts and patches
got me beat senseless by the local hood rats
Mum and dad broke up
so did most my friends parents
Dad got made redundant
at a factory my late granddad helped to found
we lost the house
I destroyed the remains
breaking in through the kitchen window
throwing a party
bigger kids came
causing thousands of pounds worth of  damage
my parents had to pay
still I was told a wife a job a mortgage
was the path every sensible citizen should take
it didn’t seem sensible to me
as I watched the twin towers fall on tv
the country joining up with the yanks and going to war
death death and more death
after that there was mass unemployment
riots broke out on the streets and everyone was struggling
apart from the politicians and bankers on tv
maybe I should be more like them I thought
they seem to have wife’s jobs and mortgages
but I wanted to live the rock and roll dream
so I moved in with my nan started drinking
moved in with friends discovered powders pot and poetry
now I carry two lighters a collection of notebooks and several pencils
in case I need a quick fix
still it doesn’t help this city smell any less like bad weed and piss
and it certainly wont fix the state of global politics
but at least I’m not alone now
we link arms scream under the stars
and celebrate the death of our creators dreams

Gary Huggins is a Kent/ Brighton based poet, writer of short fiction and experimental musician.
He is an active member of the Brighton poetry scene. And is in the process of publishing his first chapbook with ‘Famous Seamus’.
His poetry is often but not exclusively based around; addiction, activism, alienation, mental health, and jazz music. Often blending dark humor, with heartbreaking honesty, alongside both grotesque and alluring imagery.