My Grandfather Died Immediately When He Had a Stroke by Justin Karcher

Summer in this town is a giant ashtray
Where dead grandfathers scrub themselves
Until they have skin again

Summer is when we swallow bars of soap
Until our songs are clean again
But summer is also when drug sniffing angels

Break into our homes late at night
To confiscate the tumors
Hidden in dresser drawers

Then they fly to the American side of Niagara Falls
And put our tumors in barrels
And push them over

When the barrels break open on the rocks below
Our tumors form cancerous constellations
Shedding light on our deepest darkest secrets

Meanwhile tourists on the Canadian side
Are hitting each other with blue bouquets
Lamenting the start of pain in America

But at least there’s a breeze
Blowing through your hair
At least daylight is popping Viagra so it lasts longer

We’re trying to make the best of a bad situation
Slathering sunscreen on abandoned train cars
And bringing them back to life

Riding the rails straight into the heart of the sun

Justin Karcher Author Photo copy
Justin Karcher is the author of Tailgating at the Gates of Hell from Ghost City Press,, the chapbook When Severed Ears Sing You Songs from CWP Collective Press, and the micro-chapbook Just Because You’ve Been Hospitalized for Depression Doesn’t Mean You’re Kanye West from Ghost City Press,, as part of their 2017 summer micro-chapbook series. His recent work has appeared in Thought Catalog, Occulum, L’Éphémère Review, Anti-Heroin Chic and more. He is the Editor-in-Chief of Ghost City Review. His one act play When Blizzard Babies Turn to Stone premiered in February at Alleyway Theatre in Buffalo, NY. He tweets @Justin_Karcher

A Knowns by Paul Brookes

It is an honour to be an acolyte
in the temple of the knowns.

We are surrounded by mystery.
In the secret religion of the knowns

We are given awareness and knowledge.
Darkness is knowledge. All mystery

Is in the light. We journey underground
To smell, taste, hear and touch the dark.

Each level of a known is a deeper darkness.
Light is so shallow and insipid.

I pray the dark becomes deeper
that I may be an absolute known.

Paul Brookes was, and is a shop assistant, after employment as a security guard, postman, admin. assistant, lecturer, poetry performer, with “Rats for Love”, his work included in “Rats for Love: The Book”, Bristol Broadsides, 1990. First chapbook “The Fabulous Invention Of Barnsley”, (Dearne Community Arts, 1993). Read his work on BBC Radio Bristol. Recently published in Blazevox, Nixes Mate, Live Nude Poems, The Bezine, The Bees Are Dead and others. “The Headpoke and Firewedding” (Alien Buddha Press, 2017) illustrated chapbook, “A World Where” (Nixes Mate Press, 2017) “The Spermbot Blues” (OpPRESS, August 2017).

Daniel Dandelion laments (prose poem) by Mike Zone

The mad swirl of it all, the brain of Daniel Dandelion groping about in goop- GOOPEDY-GOOP! Concerned with excrement expulsion, today’s pending bowel movement the waste that is my life, a preoccupation to living, The X-terminators are legion in which the institution is the institute, where all the lunatics have superpowers or are made to believe they do but what is the power of the belief in the face of revelation and the prophecy of an ever fluctuating sanity? Who are we but a bundle of electromagnetically animated nerves and twitch-meat marrow filled pies? Zen breakdown in the stream of sickness in the entirety of it all and not so much a river but a deluge resulting from the battered levies of broken armaments in the war against the poor or war of the poor against the poor to avoid being poor in the first place; predating birth of life prison realm- PHOOEEEEY! -Hindu deity guided caste systems, cash driven “freedom rings” got nothings on them. Ahoy, there’s a fallen mate, cast-iron away grilled imperfection scarred protoplasm spastic mind, shriveling bhikkhu blues in psionic caves, sonic scream echoes bounce off cavernous void unfeeling hearts fraught with: pulsating anxiety, mortally crippling paranoia at its very best- a quality of misery never anticipated or to be lived again via cycles of calculated multifunctional, malfunctioning lives…do I dare disturb our universe, in a not so conventionally established manner? How dare I love my insane asylum concepts and good works rot somewhere or incubate in another…yet not so forlorn cavern. GOOPEDY-GOOP! GOOPTS-GOOP-DO! Daniel Dandelion trudging through moth-eaten cotton fiber highway wasteland, gnashing quiet yellow, desperate lives away between pollen dead teeth.

Michael Zone is the author of Fellow Passengers: Pubic Transit Poetry, Meditations & Musings and Better than the Movies: 4 Screenplays. His work has been featured in Because Eileen, Dead Snakes, Horror Trash Sleaze, In Between Hangovers, Sick Lit Magazine, Three Line Poetry, Triadae Magazine and The Voices Project. He scrapes by in Grand Rapids, MI

Beachcomber by John Grey

On this gray beach of sand and pebble.
Raymond, in yellow polo-neck sweater,
shabby shorts, bare feet,
catches some Autumn sun.

Be thankful, someone whispers,
that you’re not him.
That’s how he exists these days…
in the un-thanks, the un-blessings, of others.

He runs like a gull.
He floats like a loon.
His jaw sloshes back and forth
like a pelican
with pouch full of fish.
What need we have nature
when we have him?

So what’s next on his agenda?
To mate with the crab?
To crawl on the sea-bed like a mollusk?
To slither like a sea snake?
Or to kill like the eagle?
Or be killed as the mouse?

Be careful, someone says.
These are the beaches of your mind.

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.

One Armed Bartending by Bruce Mundhenke

I once worked
As an one armed bartender,
In a downtown whiskey bar.
The crowd was rough,
The music loud,
Fights happened quite a lot…
While drunk, I fell down
And tore my rotator cuff,
Lost most of the use
Of my arm.
Couldn’t work for a while
At my regular job,
Thought the bar job
Would just be a lark.
Tax free money,
Rock & Roll,
And all the tips
I could make…
I didn’t figure on hecklers,
Who sat barstools
And pestered all night.
I also found out how hard
It can be, with one arm,
To try and break up a fight…
I learned fast also
That tips aren’t so good
Without the advantage of tits.
I was happy whenever my arm healed,
To go back to my job from before,
And I was glad to be
On the right side of the bar,
I’ll never tend bar no more.

Bruce Mundhenke 2
Bruce Mundhenke is an unknown poet who lives in Illinois with his wife Mary, their dog Max, and their cat Gracie. He is an avid reader and finds in nature both inspiration and revelation.


Saturday by Ruth Deming

Some Jews choose to celebrate
Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.
Mom is one of them.

I cannot say for sure if there’s
a God or not. But there are a
number of godlike creatures
here on earth I do celebrate.

The long-necked giraffe,
The thick-barked maple tree
growing in my front yard
Dappled leaves that plunge
to the ground,
My neighbor Zeke who just
learned to ride a bike at 7

And sipping on a cup of pumpkin tea
hot and spicey as it slides
all the way down. I do hope
God or his affiliates are pleased
with me in my one-stop
adventure here on Planet Earth.

ruth deming
Ruth Z. Deming has had her poetry published in lit mags including Literary Yard, River Poets, Blue Bonnet Review and JonahMagazine. She lives in Willow Grove, a suburb of Pennsylvania in the US of A.

Poems From Invulnerable (III) by Sean Burn

post heart attack & fine
almos sang across two hospital
night-time attack & after
no dignity an elderly livin dementia
forced to take meds unaid
con-dem marchin us back to wigan pier
rather than sing one the truly
social/ist britain-europas great-values
welfare state – nhs to arts council
heart in countdown live
invulnerably as poss
write(riot)-singe out
love&rage right to ends
temperature @ which data burns?
suicidal & psycho aye but another
poem’d be nice right to ur ends
pen to paper, finger to keyboard
pencil to notebook arthritis & too many
beatins walls punch night(ly) t/errors
speakin up ur duties

Sean Burn
sean’s last volume of poetry – is that a bruise or a tattoo? is still available from shearsman press.

The Color Of Mud by Michael H. Brownstein

If we are to believe the Bible, all of us came from the dirt of the earth. Can this be why God created so many colors of mud?
                        —Deborah Wymbs


Everything present, first mud.
Everyone in place, first mud.


a dimpling of clouds/a shadow of sunshine
like the farming wife’s farming husband,
the nurse who somehow knows of him,
and their easy way of talking.


A ghost is always in the equation,
near death but not dying,
or a remembered dead, sasha,
or the hunter who went into the forest
and never came out,
zamani, the forgotten dead,
until his grandson asked,
“What ever happened to Granddaddy?”
and the grandchildren of the great snake
near the bones by the dry stream bed apologized

and venom that took a life, healed it.
            Muscle knitted to bone.
            Blood vessel attached to muscle.
            Layers of skin protected lifelines.

            A wind threw itself up.

The man gasped,
            sat up,
            felt the need to run.

He was able to fly.

When he arrived home,
he held The Artifact of Great Value.
His family lined up to receive it,
and his neighbors, friends, an enemy or two.
He had eyes only for his grandson
and he reached for him,
his hands slipping.

He could not hold weight.

But The Artifact of Great Value was real.
The boy picked it up, placed it to his ear,
heard the digging of the dead.
He went on to be a great healer of The People.


A bridge is necessary most of the time.


Here we only found blonde sand
and over there, sand gray with age and wrinkled.
Elsewhere dried beds of water offered nothing.
Near the quarry, red clay, and under the tree,
rich blackness full of worms and beetle larvae.
In the cave and near an opening, just mud.


When my son digs the pond for his garden,
earth and grass and small branches stain his skin.
The rains come with thunder and brilliance,
the pond fills with water, twig and turtle.
Frogs avoid it, but snakes come to drink,
and the King of Deer leaves its track in the torn grass.
The pond is a great success and water lettuce take root.
Many days he watches an egg become
whole and living and dead. He remembers
many things and keeps neatly printed journals.


My wife studies wood,
            a shape to root and decadence,
            the forms of men in grain.

What color superman when his strength comes from a tree?
What hunger photosynthesis? Carbon dioxide? Radiant energy?

She sees a man go into the tree,
            find a sleeping place safe within its folds,
            and she draws him a power over rain,
            directions for sun-heat and light-fire,
            strength over the movement of root.


My daughter expresses color in algebraic equations.


And my grandson holds his hand out to be cleaned.
Inarticulate, he waves it like a wand,
an incoherence we understand to mean:
“Please, take this mud from my palm.
I only meant to see how it felt,
but now it is a part of me.”


Somewhere ash is running,
Building waters,
A great turbulence underground.


The importance of life
            is always in the remembrance of the dead,

not the hell we fall against,
            but the blazing heat of the Laplanders,
            the fierce fire that cannot go out in Vinland ,

a prayer to wood and fresh kindling,
the anger needed to warm a soul,


how mud bakes itself into brick

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).

Getting Off On Time by Willie Smith

Swallow a time capsule.
Recite a spell to beat out time.
Breathe, beat, fidget; wait for a time.
Find myself too soon on time. Time
slows; space quickens; thought thickens.
Lose consciousness. Win just in time
the flower. Knead the dough to make
the bread for a ticket to the show.
Listen to the bee buzz. Time
no sooner is than time was. So
seek the gift allowing the
present to open, the bee
to wing away a way to hide
by the skin of the teeth the
sweet every moment taken. Awake
at a wake for my own afterbirth –
what a gas! Coffin-lid solid. Now,
who’s that witch in the front row
coughin’? Stake her heart quick.
Make no mistake, before she takes
you for a ride inside the capsule gulped
at the start of this our now-broken spell.

Willie Smith’s poems and stories have appeared in the toilet, the recycling, the gutter and in his worst nightmares. He is a retired office boy living off, in the form of a dubiously-deserved pension, the taxpayer.

Palm Reader by Benjamin Blake

Fretful since the day we met
Strung up with strands of blonde hair
Just hanging around

Palm reader, you lied
When you said that the One would come along
Palm reader, you lied
You were staring right at my love life

Maybe we should just fake our own deaths
It’s much too cold waiting in the wings

Benjamin Blake was born in the July of 1985, and grew up in the small town of Eltham, New Zealand. He is the author of the novel, The Devil’s Children, the poetry and prose collections, A Prayer for Late October, Southpaw Nights, Reciting Shakespeare with the Dead, and Standing on the Threshold of Madness, as well as the forthcoming split, All the Feral Dogs of Los Angeles (with Cole Bauer). Find more of his work at