“color ads with pictures of genuine shamans wearing cool hats” (Mark Sargent) by Dan Raphael

Catalogue, dating site, mug shots
every channel i turn to is a face, some in such extreme focus
i think i’m viewing a desert, a mud flat, a long untended parking lot

Occasional flashes of seeing the world in black and white
as if a short in my picture tube, a retsina-soaked retina;
while i’d hoped for a flamboyant, hybrid iris
i got the native iris foetida, aroma bigger than its flowers,
bright orange seeds barely a compensation & more of a threat

Coz i know no matter how often and vigorously i sneeze
a fraction of the cause—things my body either doesn’t know how
or doesnt want to dance with—gets through, usually
without a map or much company:  all these one way doors,
these sluices defying gravity, the constant echoes of that 4-valve piston
mighty in the drum of my rib cage

Whether what we call visions are revisions, disillusions, spontaneous surrealism
i’m never safe from the concrete edge, the invisible glass of beer,
the extra step the staircase added this morning.

When i realize everyone else in the block long store disapproves of me,
when the cars 5 lanes wide  move syrup slow and through each other,
like ourobouros spirochetes. when i need to let something unnamed
but pressurized out of my body and i don’t know what door its closest to
or how many obstacles between me and an outdoors i don’t have to clean later

Where my clothes will dissolve and i’ll be cured like a ham,
obscured by the clouds released when my body turns inside out
clouds that draw the rain, leaves & dust up to them in moiré-patterned stripes
making the horizon a pixelated lego mandala modeling a future space colony
with constantly intersecting, writhing, skin-shedding, micro-express
tube tracks (god forbid the star-hamsters would ever invade) shimmering
like an all-terrain medusa helmet with multi-channel eyes that can makewho sees them
                                                    stoned, edible. compliant, insatiable, repulsed

You not only have to pay to play you have to pay to work, stay hydrated
                                                    and arrive with most of what you left home with.
i fly to the place of organic, pre-lingual magic and sip my bowl of shaman ramen
til the truth comes by with an offer i can barely afford

For a couple decades I’ve been active in the Northwest as poet, performer, editor and reading host. Everyone in This Movie Gets Paid, my most recent book, came out June 1st from Last Word Press. Current poems appear in Otoliths, Rasputin, Mad Swirl, Oddball & Unlikely Stories.

Reverse Evolution by G. Louis Heath

Beware the big dogs in your neighborhood.
Treasure the huge shagbark hickory in your

Backyard. Practice climbing it, sit on a limb
That dares bear your corpulence. Swing from

Branch to branch. Give the foliage a brisk
Flossing. You need to leave your bipedal past

In the leaves. The dread return to the trees is here.
Animal Control just lost funding at a city council

Meeting where dog owners brought their dogs.
They strained on their leashes and growled a lot.

G. Louis Heath
G. Louis Heath, Ph.D., Berkeley, 1969, is Emeritus Professor, Ashford University. Clinton, Iowa. He enjoys reading his poems at open mics. He often hikes along the Mississippi River, stopping to work on a poem he pulls from his back pocket, weather permitting. His books include Leaves Of Maple, Long Dark River Casino, and Redbird Prof: Poems Of A Normal U, 1969-1981. He has published poems in a wide array of journals, including Eunoia, Episteme, Black Poppy Review, Lunaris Review, Indiana Voice Review, Whispers, Dead Snakes, Raw Dog Press, Weird Reader, Literary Yard, and Houseboat Literary Magazine.

The Dark Side Holds No Fiction by Paul Tristram

It has a stark, brutal Reality all of its own.
Beggars, Pocket-Thieves & Tuppenny Uprights
are much more than squalid, scenic decoration.
Violence, close-at-hand, but, not felt by impact,
ricochets in sounds…
Razors, a screeching whistle,
Kickings, bass drum beats,
& Strangulation, sounds just like a broken sewer pipe
a-hissing & a-gurgling.
Each Corner, inhabited by Foot Soldiers…
learn to read Gang Graffiti
or pay the way of the snare.
The Muggers refer to themselves
as Moonlight Tax Collectors.
Shoe-Shines are Lanterns (Lookouts)
& Errand Boys
are simply the best dwelling Scopers in Town.
The Abortion Clinic, at the back of the Abattoir,
pulses like a heartbeat
& smells of almonds & marzipan
as you saunter on past.
This is not the way of the tourist,
nor lightweight weekend-warrior.
There is nothing romantic about VD,
broken ribs whilst itinerant,
the DTs in a police cell after bleeding…
or bedding down where the stray dogs don’t even piss,
in the Winter rain, with busted mind & shipwrecked soul.

Paul Tristram is a Welsh writer who has poems, short stories, sketches and photography published in many publications around the world, he yearns to tattoo porcelain bridesmaids instead of digging empty graves for innocence at midnight; this too may pass, yet. Buy his books ‘Scribblings Of A Madman’ (Lit Fest Press) http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1943170096 ‘Poetry From The Nearest Barstool’ at http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1326241036 And a split poetry book ‘The Raven And The Vagabond Heart’ with Bethany W Pope at http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1326415204 You can also read his poems and stories here! http://paultristram.blogspot.co.uk/

Flashback by Alan Catlin

“I beat the bottle but
I can’t beat the war”
after an acrylic on canvas
by Ron Mann

30 years after
the fact a lawnmower
two yards over
backfires and just
like that I’m back
in-country sucking
in lawn chemicals
instead of air,
all that fertilizer
for a mind on a
perpetual edge
recalling an agent
oranged dawn that
colors all the jungle
a dark unnatural
light like the hand
of death pressing down
the sharp, bladed
grass next to a
recently roto-tilled
garden plot, that
graveyard for lost
crops, plowed under
plants, dead soldiers
composted a dark,
rich loam thick with
earth worms fattened on
the rotting skins
of the dead

Alan Catlin
Alan Catlin is the poetry editor of misfitmagazine.net. His latest books of poetry are American Odyssey from Future Cycle and Last Man Standing from Lummox Press

Jerry’s Talkin’ John Birch Society Blues by John Grochalski

jerry says
you know they never got back to me
the john birch society
i talked to a person at the number you gave me
a really lovely lady
she sounded like the mystical south
we talked about the state of the nation
and standing for the anthem
she asked me if i wanted a constitutional convention
and i told her hell no
jerry says
she gushed over the police
we trashed NAFTA and the U.N.
and i told her i would’ve served in the marines
if it weren’t for that bum knee of mine
and having to take care
of my mother
jerry says
gee, she was so nice on the phone
that woman from the john bitch society
it felt like i knew her for years
you ever meet someone like that?
feel like you know them for years?
well, that was what it was like between me and her
she told me that she was thankful
for my interest
in the john birch society
she said she’d mail me along some literature
and maybe some forms
but that was weeks ago
and i still haven’t heard a thing
jerry says
i wonder what went wrong
like maybe she didn’t feel the same way as me
or maybe she lost my address
gee, maybe i didn’t sound patriotic enough on the phone
i should’ve told her
how much i love the flag
jerry says
you know….next time i call
the john birch society
i think i’m going to ask
to speak
to a man.

John Grochalski 3
John Grochalski is the author of The Noose Doesn’t Get Any Looser After You Punch Out (Six Gallery Press 2008), Glass City (Low Ghost Press, 2010), In The Year of Everything Dying (Camel Saloon, 2012), Starting with the Last Name Grochalski (Coleridge Street Books, 2014), and the novels, The Librarian (Six Gallery Press 2013), and Wine Clerk (Six Gallery Press 2016). Grochalski currently lives in Brooklyn, New York, where the garbage can smell like roses if you wish on it hard enough.

The Vice- President Flies His Freak Flag by Melanie Browne

We women strut in our corsets,
in our pantelletes.
our men-folk call us “mamma.”
“mamma,” they say  ‘fix me
a sarsaparilla or
a soda-pop if you will’
We hustle into the Allsup’s
& powder our oily noses
sometimes we get
like in a Waylon Jennings song
‘settle down now mamma’
the straight- laced men  say.
‘set yourself right’
Every Monday the vice president
flies his freak flag
I like to hang mine out too
it catches in the mighty
American wind,
I watch it soar
across the highways
and zoom along
the conspiracy
call centers
until it finally
lands in the
martini bar on
a national cruise line,
Glory Hallelujah
life in Pence- land sure is fine

Melanie Browne
Melanie Browne is a poet and fiction writer living in Texas with her husband and three kids.

Lovely Dreams by Mitchel Montagna

I cannot sleep
because I fall
into a dream
as beautiful

as summer fields,
the aqua skies
and streams are clear,
the sun is high

above the hills
that line the plains,
a breeze rolls down
as sweet as rain.

The petals spark
like polished jade,
the sunset blinks
and stirs the shade.

We see the light
is fading there
while whistling winds
blow through our hair

so that we laugh
and wail and seethe,
we’re sure the air
is ours to breathe.

I’m driving through
a dimming dome,
with air enough
for me alone,

the moon comes up,
the breeze turns cool
through lovely dreams
of lonely fools.

Mitchel Montagna
Mitchel Montagna is a corporate communications writer for a large professional services firm. He has also been a special education teacher and radio news reporter. Publications include White Liquor Journal, Naturewriting, The Penwood Review, Scarlet Leaf Review, and Amarillo Bay. He is married and lives in New Jersey.

The Lonesome Cowboy by Grant Guy

The lonesome cowboy
Was lonesome because he did not drink.
Even his horse laughed at him,
“What kind of cowboy are you?
Can’t get drunk enough to fall off your horse.”

It was then the lonesome cowboy
Gave up the ranching life.
Moved to the big city.
Became an accountant for a large firm.

Died an alcoholic in 1907.

Last words: Trigger. Trigger.

Grant Guy is a Winnipeg, Canada, poet, writer and playwright. Former artistic director of Adhere + Deny. His writings have been published in Canada, the United States and England. He has three books published; Open Fragments, On the Bright Side of Down and Bus Stop Bus Stop. He was the 2004 recipient of the Manitoba Arts Council’s 2004 Award of Distinction and the 2017 recipient of the Winnipeg Arts Council’s Making A Difference Award.

Grappling by Len Kuntz

Me, I am always grappling
In dreams, falling down
A black hole whose muddy walls
Are too far apart
To reach or claw
To stop the constant dropping
I grapple with the wind
With the swollen moon so close
I can see her gray fetus roiling sea sick
In a bunk bed I grapple with
Each night wondering why
In the morning the sun
Even bothers to show up
When it’s the same old play everyday
The one about the woman who
Convinces her children they’d be
Better off dead but decides to
Use them as kindling because
That’s the only time
Their crackle sounds sweet
The only time
They burn bright

Len Kuntz is a writer from Washington State, an editor at the online magazine Literary Orphans, and the author of I’M NOT SUPPOSED TO BE HERE AND NEITHER ARE YOU out now from Unknown Press. You can also find him at lenkuntz.blogspot.com

The Shepherd by Gareth Culshaw

The fields were his home.
His walking stick his God.
The sheep blobbed fields
and his dog chased their legs.
He never knew sunlight
or the moon. He didn’t see
clouds or notice the sky
was blue when cleaned.
He only saw the boots
that crowded his feet.
And felt the prints leave
his steps then fade behind him.
The miles he walked laboured
with the years, fell away
from him with each day of work.
And his dog replaced another dog,
and the flock replaced another.
But he kept treading the hills
scared that if he stopped,
they would float away to a place
above his head, a place
he had never seen.

Gareth Culshaw
Gareth lives in Wales. He has his first collection out in 2018 by futurecycle.