The Devil Went Down To Merthyr by Paul Tristram

… and panicked like a right old beauty.
Intimidation and insecurity
crept in rather rapidly,
as he viewed the madness and aggression
through straining, tearful eyes.
“Fuck This!” he exclaimed nervously,
as he climbed a mountain
away from the insanity,
with his limp, pointed tail
between his cloven legs.
He stopped in an old red phone box
(Camouflage, innit!)
and called up ‘The Samaritans’
but all their lines were busy
dealing with battered husbands
from the aforementioned town.
Next he tried
‘The Suicide Prevention Hotline’
and eventually got through
to a lovely lady named Margery,
who liked cats (Like a lot!).
“I’ve made a mistake, Marg,
can you not hear me a-stutter and a-shake?
This has all gone too far…
Anarchy and Chaos is supposed to be fun…
but this fucking thing
is like Frankenstein’s Monster.
All bets are off as of right now…
I mean ‘Hell’ looks like a playground
next to this fucking living nightmare!”

“Well, you shouldn’t have brought your naughtiness
over the bridge into Wales, you soft cunt.
They drink beer like there’s no tomorrow
and they’re so good looking it’s almost a crime.
If the Vikings couldn’t take ‘em,
then what chance does a whining shit like you have, eh.
Get yourself back over, there’s a good lad,
to the middleclass suburbs of England…
and stop fucking with Pagans and Barbarians
afore they pack-turn and fuck with you, sunshine.
Grow a pair, yeah… there are other people waiting,
and some of the poor fuckers are actually bleeding!”

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) ‘Poetry From The Nearest Barstool’ at And a split poetry book ‘The Raven And The Vagabond Heart’ with Bethany W Pope at You can also read his poems and stories here!

The Drunk Whisperer by Alan Catlin

Some have said the reason I relate
so well to the degenerates with
drinking problems is, I’m kind of an
alcohol psychotic myself, had my brain
cavities reamed by drain snakes as if
someone intentionally had given my
grey matter a root canal all the way
to the stem, and replaced the vital grooves
with concrete and electronic sensors
that sent faulty messages to my body
and my tongue. They would be people
who didn’t know me well. The truth was
something darker and much worse.
When I leaned close to confide to one
of those obviously over the edge personalities,
trying to obtain fresh fuel for his interstellar
flight through the bar, he could smell
a hot metallic scent on my breath,
the taint of rotten flesh from somewhere
deep inside my very core, leaking from my
lips like cranial fluid that had been artificially
sweetened with pure two hundred proof spirits,
something they had heard about but never
actually experienced. What I said to them, in
such close proximity, quietly whispered so
that no one else could hear, was some awful
truth, some blasphemous insult they would
rise from the bar as if a shock had been applied
and commenced yelling,
“Your brains are seriously fucked.”
an assertion, that was no doubt true, but
was not something I was going to admit to
the public at large, who, after all had not heard,
or seen, our little chat, but are witnesses to
something else; his pointing a finger at me,
shaking his fist, attempting to cross the bar,
where I was reaching for a Louisville Slugger .
Generally, members of the staff were
on him long before I had to swing,
enacting the ritual rite of  the laying on
of hands for a bum’s rush into the night that
cost him teeth and skin and a broken rib or two
if he continued to talk back.  They always talked back.
There were always a rare few who shook off
the bouncers  but I was prepared for those,
as well. You had to be, working with the mentally
handicapped and the emotionally disturbed,
the way that I did.
“What set him off?” One of the larger,
more inquisitive members of the staff wants
to know.
“Damned if I know.  Maybe it was something
I said.  With people like that, who really
“No argument there.”
“Crazy drunken lowlife’s, you just never know
do you?”
“No, you don’t”
I saw what could have been the drunk’s evil
twin hit the door as we spoke.  Thought about
what I might whisper to him.  It was going to
be a long, lively summer night.

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

Even To Say No by David J. Thompson

Everybody laughed right out loud,
then asked if I was kidding,
when I told them my wife ran off
down to Texas with a rodeo clown,
but I sure as hell didn’t think
it was funny at all.

She called a few months later
to say he’d been stomped
and killed by a bull in El Paso,
asked me if she could come back home,
but I couldn’t stop giggling long enough
even to say no before she finally hung up.

David J. Thompson 2
David J. Thompson is a former prep school teacher and coach who grew up in Hyde Park, New York. He is currently obsessed with the life and work of Patricia Highsmith. His poetry/photography book Grace Takes Me is due out in May from Vegetarian Alcoholic Press of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Please visit his photo website at



Monad by Simon Cockle

I pass from here to there
pausing in places
only to adore myself
in mirrors faces

they call me atomic
they worship me
when I fracture
at light speed

I set my dot-to-dot
trails in the snow
and the energy
makes you swoon

a child put me together
so I was strands of hair
strawberries rainbows
and the Crab Nebula

but so much space
in me inside and out
the emptiness is dizzying
leaves me deaf mute

watch us form chains
see how we collapse
time then expand into light
like blooms from a trick hat

Simon Cockle is a poet and writer from Hertfordshire. He writes as part of Poetry ID, a Stanza of the Poetry Society. His poems have been published in Envoi, iOTA, Prole, The Lampeter Review, Picaroon Poetry, Skylight 47, An Algebra of Owls and the London Progressive Journal, amongst others. He was invited to read at last year’s Ledbury Poetry Festival, and will be returning again this year. He teaches English at a local comprehensive school, and has a wife and daughter who nod reassuringly when he reads them his poems. More of his poems can be found at https://simoncockle.wordpress. com/

Unfortunately These Generalizations No Longer Meet Our Requirements by Colin James

All done this,
found an article of clothing
in car or house
tried to put a face to it.
Unable to, imagined someone else.
A game of improvisation.
Colors to match eyes
and obvious flattering bits,
pinkish researched for hours.
A meal is planned thoughtfully
emphasizing spices.
I pick saffron, unmistakable,
or perhaps that was you.
Trying next to describe their walk,
effortless and distinctive.
Then we see them, confident
happily oblivious to us all.

I used to live in Chester and it is quite likely we met at The Bear And Billet.

Ramrod on the Avenue by Wayne F. Burke

they were walking down the street
and up to no good
I could see that
two black guys
one with a hood
the other a red bandanna tied
around his head
the hooded guy walking in and out the road
cars swerving to avoid him
the bandanna walks
right at me
like he can’t see me
and I say’s “excuse me!”
and I look at the yellow yolks of
his eyes
before we collide
and he spins on his heels
and say’s “you white mothafucka!”
The hooded guy comes at me
from the side
and I kick him in the ribs
then doo-rag punches me in the face
and I fall onto the roadside gravel
and hooded guy’s boot
comes at my face
and I catch it, jump to my feet
and kick the guy where it hurts the most
and he falls down
then egg-yolks pulls a knife
about 4 inches long
“you dumb son of a bitch,”
I say’s
and pull my 10 inch steel blade
and we circle each other
until he lunges
and I stick him in the wrist
and he starts spurting blood
as if from a hose
and then a passing cop car stops
tires squealing
and the cop jumps out
and handcuffs the hooded guy
then pulls his gun on the other
still spouting blood
“good job Ramrod,” the cop says
“we have had our eyes on these two,”
he pats me on the back
as I turn to leave
and I think
the day has just started
what will the rest be like?

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.

Autumn Dawn Sketch by Jake St. John

the morning mist
rises up

off the pond
floats out

over fields

into woods

a parade
of ghosts

a lost army
of dreams

marching off
under the sun

Jake St. John
Jake St. John writes out of New London, CT and is the author of several collections of poetry and pamphlet poems including, Rotations (Night Ballet Press 2015), Looking For Sunflowers (Good Cop/Bad Cop, 2012), and Change of Address (Unarmed 2010). His work has appeared in numerous literary and arts magazines such as, The Blue Collar Review, Big Hammer, and The People’s Tribune. Since 2007 he has served as the editor of Elephant and co-editor of Flying Fish.