To Absent Friends by Robert David Verdon

rubicund eraser
in red light

it is the tumbling year

fogbound wheels turn
                                        on the verge of a distant bend

the candle shimmers through itself
its horizon melting as I work, head bent, beside lukewarm coffee,
writing in pencil
a closed letter to absent friends

— like everything I write, some have
never existed, harpsichord echoes,
flames sunk in amber

I write, pointlessly,
losing my way,
complaining that
my mistakes have been made indelible, and follow me round
like a torturer’s bill for the electricity,

that my imagination lost the taste for power decades ago,

that the little city is growing sharper,
drive-by shootings held back only by the mountain,
and I am only glad I need not scour garbage pyres for a living,
tottering up to tumble down, and

finally,
hope you are well,
that I write on a rainy night, a rain through fog,
while the chair creaks, traffic thins, a cat cries far away at midnight,
and I know it is time to go to bed or check my email or do a thousand
inconsequential things to fill in the time between now and the pewter day I die;

the gravel clouds pile up above the ceiling, life gutters,
lone cars drip through night intersections,
traffic lights flicker in the soul, the red glow is almost gone now,
erased in a maze of tumbling days

— my coffee is cold,
I am old,
a bloodstain of light
at the edge of the curtain —

is tomorrow,
that phoenix,
absent too?

Robert Verdon
Robert Verdon has been writing for may years. He once belonged to Aberrant Genotype Press in Canberra. He came 2nd in the 2012 W.B. Yeats Poetry Prize, and was Highly Commended in the 2012 erbacce Prize, UK. His books include The Well- Scrubbed Desert, Her Brilliant Career, & Before we Knew this Century. He is currently completing PhD on the imaginal scene in poetry composition. His hobbies include cycling, walking and 10-pin bowling.
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Explain It To Me In Color by Michael H. Brownstein

A pink thread of mist
whispers
in the horizon,
the sky a grand shiver
of katydids
sun lit green
and handsome.

michael-h-brownstein
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).

Everywhere by Jennifer Lagier

“I can’t get no satisfaction…” – Rolling Stones

Camille starts her day at Starbucks
where the body pierced, tattooed barista
is unable to correctly fill her simple order
for a latte, flubs counting change.

Later, she navigates crowded freeway.
Drivers wildly change lanes without
using their signals; slow cars obstruct traffic.
Cal-trans blocks the exit she needs.

Swerving to avoid a moron,
she watches as $5.00 of designer coffee
splashes into her lap, onto the seat where
it stains beige sweater, gray upholstery.

At her support group meeting,
she recites the opening preamble,
seethes, shares an inventory of grievances,
is anything but serene.

Jen-2016
Jennifer Lagier has published thirteen books, taught with California Poets in the Schools, co-edits the Homestead Review, helps coordinate Monterey Bay Poetry Consortium readings. Newest books: Scene of the Crime (Evening Street Press), Harbingers (Blue Light Press), Camille Abroad (FutureCycle Press). Forthcoming: Like a B Movie (FutureCycle Press, 2018). Website: jlagier.net Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/JenniferLagier/

The Drug Widows by Paul Tristram

Its name is actually Fairfax Close.
It’s the last right, as you’re nearing
the bottom of the Council Estate,
but everyone refers to it as
‘The Drug Widows’
Besides the wailing, dirty children
out on the street,
at all times of the day and night…
there’s often adult screeching,
it’s painful to hear,
like anguish, resentment,
heartache and anger
all rolled up into one vocal misery.
It’s all ‘Skag’ and ‘Crack’, innit.
Men only go there for three things,
cheap/free, easy sex,
to sell drugs or buy drugs.
One of them’s just come out of prison,
after a couple of years,
so far, she’s injected three boyfriends
in the foot in the same bathroom…
everyone of them… Dead By Dawn.
Since we set up Camp
in the woods behind the playing fields,
me and Brittle’s been out tatting
with a local lad called Bobby…
he’s been banging a few of them for years.
Day before yesterday,
we pull up in the van to grab two cookers
and some copper piping outta a garden.
This little, snotty nosed kid
looks up from the pavement and says to him
“Hey Mister, are you my Daddy?”
and he answers him
just as honest as he can with a “Fuck knows”

skull-bones-red-black
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/

Hallway Mirror by John Grochalski

the hallway mirror
in the foyer of my building sees everything

it has seen me walking down the hall for ten years
marking my stupid cadence

it has seen me fat
it has seen me grow thin
then fat again

i have become a gray and old man in front of it
balancing groceries and the weight of existence

it has witnessed my excesses
it knows all the bad take-out food that i eat
it has seen me stumbling drunk
it has seen my hangovers

it has seen me racing to the door to take a shit
and coming home from a job half-dead

the hallway mirror
has caught me crawling home sick

it saw me bring my wife back
from three cancer surgeries
in a year we’d all like to forget

couples stop to admire themselves in the mirror

young couples so deep in love
they take selfies of themselves
because they can’t help it

little kids like to look at themselves in the mirror
they scream and yell and pound toys on it

and the women in this building play fashion show
in front of the mirror

they prance and strut like models in front of it

sometimes i open up and catch them
then wonder what in the hell else
goes on behind my door

once i saw the post-man twirling in front of the mirror
basking in his well-suited reflection

even i’m guilty of checking myself out

the hallway mirror
has caught me at my lowest

in the midst of obsessive compulsive disorder
unable to believe that the oven is off
and the windows are closed

unable to believe that the door is locked

tugging and pulling on it
getting sweaty with anxiety
begging for sweet release

getting so angry and scared
that sometimes i turn in the midst of a crisis
to look at the hallway mirror

not even recognizing my own face in it
staring back at me in abject fear

to shout
what are you looking at
you dumb motherfucker?

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.

Ramrod in Prison by Wayne F. Burke

“Hey Ram,” Tony says
“tell me about the guy
you shot–
why’d you shoot him?”
“Because I did not like the
look of his face.”
Tony laughs:
“yea, I can relate;
once I hit a guy because
I did not like the tone
of his voice.”
Tony stands in the corner of the cell,
mixing himself an instant coffee.
Sounds of some kind of argument in the hall–
screams–
I can tell
by the slant of the sun through the window
that it is time for “Andy of Mayberry” on TV.
We watch it everyday.
Tony calls it “Paleberry”
because of there not being any black people
on the show.
“But who was he?” Tony asks.
“I mean, to you?”
“Nobody. A scum bag. Had it written on his face.”
“So you were performing community service?”
“Cops did not want me to go to jail,
but the judge did.”
Tony stirs his coffee;
the spoon goes tink tink on the cup.
“It was an accident,” I say.
“You mean you did not mean to shoot him?”
“I mean I did not pull the trigger. It wounds weird,
I know–I don’t know how the gun went off.”
Tony smiles, the fucker.
He has a bull neck and big arms
but I can take him–
I can take anybody–
You don’t fuck with Ramrod!”
“Take it easy,” Tony says, “I believe you!”
I sit back down.
“The judge thought I was full of shit too.”
“Them judges, man…they be full of it themselves,
some of them. Judge give me five to ten for nothing!”
“You were framed?”
“Damn right!”
“I believe you.”
(Hell, why not? We got to live together here
in this
steel box).

wayne-f-burke
Wayne F. Burke’s poetry has appeared in a variety of publications (including “In Between Hangovers”). His three published poetry collections, all from Bareback Press, are WORDS THAT BURN, DICKHEAD, and KNUCKLE SANDWICHES. His chapbook PADDY WAGON is published by Epic Rites Press. He lives in Vermont.

New Faces by Marc Carver

I had an idea
for making love to the same woman
less boring
I would put a screen over their face
and you could pick anybody you wanted
I wouldn’t pick a supermodel though
I would go for the lowest dirtiest slut
I could think off
loads of makeup
smelly
the lower the better
I have never found a woman
low enough yet
but there is still time

Marc Carver
I have had ten collections of poetry published and over two thousand poems posted on the web but the main thing that gives me pleasure is that i am able to write in a way in which i want to and now and again i get an email from someone i don’t know saying they like my work.